The breeze on the way back to the worker's camp feels warm and unwelcoming. Having just fought the Core at Site Seven, the man tied to the giant drill as it's control system, having seen the two guildmasters Volke and Strumm be terrified at what had happened, having lost Exceter even though Serenity put him under seal
Serenity‘ is just staring out the window, not saying anything.
Anton isn’t all that talkative either, less so from the recent event specifically and more so because he often gets pretty quiet after anytime something goes poorly.
Now Strumm is taking you back to the camp, wherein they are going to bury the poor man. There isn't long to go before you finally reach the camp/town hybrid "Volke, get that damn shocked expression out of your face and come with me to the graveyard" Strumm looks back at the party that's been riding ont he back of her converted truck "We're going to bury him as properly as anyone gets here, and see if we can figure out who he was…"
Strumm: "Can we meet up after? You can rest up in the guildhouse, there isn't much of use there to recovery sadly but"
Harriet frowns, scribbling something down in her notebook. When Strumm speaks up, she looks up and nods. "Yeah, sure."
Hughbert pulls out his portable radio on the trip and calls in someone to help with getting these two (mostly Volke, of course) on the right path.
She nods at Harriet, picks up the Core's body and stares at Volke. The two of them head off elsewhere (a place not even hidden or properly cared for, almost like a mass grave) while the party finds their way to the guildhouse
Serenity‘ quickly makes her way into the build, towards a couch, then throws herself down onto it and pulls her coat up over her head.
Once there, however, they’re greeted by someone, wearing an outfit matching that of the security staff of the company that owns this place (you've seen their name on the box houses, you've probably seen some of those uniforms in the farms you saw on the way here). They look at Hughbert and chuckles "So it's you, huhn? Nice to meet you, call me K" they head in with you, towards the rest area "So, what's up?"
Harriet isn't gonna bother Serenity right now, so she follows Hughbert instead.
Anton chews at his lip not really going towards anyone in particular.
Hughbert walks in, sets about grabbing whatever resembles a teapot, fills it with his canteen's water, and begins making some tea for the group. Hughbert introduces himself, name and rank, to K. "What we're looking at is two guild leaders willing to lend us an ear towards modernizing their kit to be far less lethal. However… Creating a newer, safer model will take time. We're going to need your help for developing temporary
Hughbert modernizations that use on-hand parts to reduce injury rates for users for, well… Nearly all their equipment. All of it has terribly high injury rates. All of it needs to be fixed. "
Anton makes his way over to the sofa before holding out a plastic bag above Serenity. "… bagel?"
Serenity: "…Maybe later."
K crosses their arms, thinking "Hrm… Can't do anything on the technical level, sadly… Tech here in this place is weird, it's like they stopped even trying. On the other hand, hrm… We can work on procedure… It's definitely not enough but there were old attempts at making better, safe procedures"
K: "I could get the old manuals out of where they're hiding, or well someone else could, and spread them around. Getting around the general melancholy around will be tough, but two or three days should be enough to implement something. If we have the guildmasters' aid in this, not much we can do with the little influence we have"
Harriet: "I can help with the technical level as soon as I get access to their blueprints."
Harriet: "Or I could just get at the machines themselves, but we've kinda got shit to do."
K: "Blueprints? You're wanting a miracle there, kitten. That you'll have to wage a war for. If you wanna make do without you'll also have to fight to get sufficient access to any of the important machines, companies don't like anyone poking at their stuff." they put a hand on their chin "I'll get a message to the convoy, though. Maybe another infiltrator got better luck with that. We'll get to you once there's some more substantial information, so worry about the other stuff for now"
Hughbert: "Harriet, if you could flip through the manuals and jot down some comments in the margins in the meanwhile, that would also help."
Harriet: "Sure, I can do that."
Harriet: "Depends on how thorough the manuals are, but I'm sure I can get something useful out of them."
K nods "Alright, i'll see about getting those, meanwhile…" they look at the doorway "Seems like the guildmasters are back, do work on their cooperation" K does a half-hearted salute and heads out
At the same time K passes one way through the door, Volke and Strumm pass the other way. Volke looks at K "Who was that? I thought they agreed not to bring any of their people into the guildhouse itself?"
Anton nods before sitting down on the arm of the sofa. He speaks up. "So when I was looking into yesterday I did notice a few things. The drill being installed and the events that happened to Exceter were both events Mai had already setup with a lot of foresight. I haven't detected Mai in the vicinity even once since we showed up but the events that have occurred are all things she's planned over a year in advance. So she likely had
Anton: advance. So she likely had already figured out how Exceter would end up before even coming into contact with him. "
Anton scratches at his chin. "Still, to not come check in on your project even once, she's certainly confident."
Harriet: "If she's not here, that means we can fuck up her shit, right?"
Hughbert: "That was a friend," Hughbert dismisses the question. "More importantly, the tea's almost done. Care for a cup?" He begins pouring it out into a lineup of mugs he grabbed lying about and polished while the water was boiling.
Anton: "She almost certainly expects us too, my budding scientist~. I just don't know her angle on it."
Strumm blinks, shakes her head "Figured you'd need to get your hands dirty here, everyone has to" she takes a seat and picks up her tea "Hrm… Surprisingly good"
Harriet grabs a cup of tea. "Well, once we start screwing around I'm sure you'll find some thread or another to follow."
Volke sighs and takes a seat as well, lookes at the sprawled over Serenity, takes a mug of tea "Alright… Okay, let's start this"
Serenity‘ just keeps her coat up over her head and desn’t otherwise respond.
Volke: "I admit i've been in the payroll of every one of the great companies, alright? Not like I had much choice, it's how I got here, implausible to impossible to get out once you're in"
Anton: "I should also mention that there have been traces of Alcor in this country as well. Unlike Mai however all of his interventions have been stopping a lot of these sites from catastrophic results. Which have been avoided quite a few times, mind you with the safety measures they have in place."
Volke: "But that thing today… That's past even my limits" he sighs "Not like i've anything left to lose at this stage. So what is it, then? What's the judgement the goddess has in place for me?"
Hughbert: "Right, let's start there. Have you ever heard of Terra Medical doing something good for someone that didn't actually turn out to be catastrophically life-ruining a little further down the line?"
Volke shakes his head "I haven't actually heard much out of Terra Medical other than… Well, the production of that drug years ago"
Volke: "Not much worse than anyone else, I imagine"
Amal keeps giving Serenity worried little looks, but, Anton offered her food and she said no, so, they don't wanna pester her or anything. :( They're /mostly/ listening to Hughbert and sipping some of his tea. "Somehow, despite everything here, Terra Medical manages to make the word 'worse' have meaning."
Strumm: "And here you see a man who has been doing enough terrible stuff his entire life he can no longer different between 'a little bad' and 'horrifying'"
Strumm: "Hrm… Terra Medical, however, has provided somewhat decently-priced medical care to a lot of workers. But don't take me wrong, there has always been far too many people involved, and often far too many invasive procedures than would be sensible"
Strumm: "But at least the people come back out some measure of healthy, enough to work at least"
Harriet: "Ten coin says they're doing something horrible on the down-low with that."
Amal: "Alternatively, they're just trying to build goodwill."
Volke: "At least someone is still pretend to care out here"
Strumm: "And as always, you're happy with just pretending to care, rather than caring"
Amal: "…I know people back home who've died rather than accept their help. It's the right choice to make." They frown.
Hughbert: "Gathering data, no doubt, for their projects like…." He gestures vaguely in the direction of where the Core was. "That. I won't say turning down their medical aid is a good long-term strategy… But they have a lot to be held accountable for. Don't get caught under the gavel with them when Terra Medical has to face judgment."
Volke: "Alright, we'll try to"
Amal: "It's okay, I'll say it." Grumble grumble. "…anyways, Hughbert, do you think we can get Masharas medics set up here?"
Hughbert: "We don't have the extra manpower to make all that much of a dent in the problem, unfortunately. If we have motivated young learners, however, I believe we'd be able to send out some instructors. I'm certain those of Orsis would prefer to accept treatment from their own, as well."
Harriet: "There's bound to be a bunch of smart kids here who'd love a chance to do something."
Volke furrows his eyebrows, but remains silent. Strumm looks at him "You're going to have to speak up if you're going to get anything done. IT's not time to be silent anymore" Volke closes his eyes and sighs "Hrm… Well, it's not like they've been very effective over the years, but the Wandering Doctors could probably use having actual medical expertise, and perhaps someone that actually believes in their cause"
Volke: "They're… Honestly, i'd call them na├»ve, but they're some people that go around trying to take care of people in need. Not a single one of them has any medical knowledge, little first aid at best, but they try"
Amal: "Yeah, that's what I meant anyways, Hugh."
Volke: "I guess… Some help and instruction from Masharas would certainly be a boost to their morale. I could… Try getting in contact with them"
Hughbert sighs heavily and puts a hand on Volke's shoulder. He gives him a pained smile. "I'd appreciate it. That wasn't so hard, now was it?"
Harriet: "Yeah, training up a group which already exists would probably be more effective than just sending out some people."
Strumm: "Hrm… You'll have to work hard for him to listen to you, Volke, but i'm sure he will at some point. That'll enough to get them in contact with these people"
Volke sighs "You'd never understand…"
Strumm: "I hope he never does" she looks at Hughbert "Well, that will at least alleviate some problems in the short term"
Hughbert: "It's never too late to start trying to make amends. You'd be surprised how many people would be willing to forgive if you truly work at it."
Volke: "Well, it'll be hard to try"
Hughbert: "Right. Longer term, we're looking at new tool models that are less likely to kill or injure the wielder, better protective equipment, better safety practices, and off-switches. Ah, did we not cover that? Why in the name of the goddess did that drill not have an off switch?"
Harriet: "(Thank you,)" Harriet stage-whispers to Hughbert, exasperated.
Strumm: "Well, nobody expected it to be turned off. Most of the companies produce equipment with the expectation that they'll be put to work forever nonstop, since that has the highest yield"
Amal: "(Turning the drill off might hurt profits!)"
Strumm: "Of course that's dumb, but they also are… Traditionalist. They're not very likely to accept any new technology other than 'what already works'"
Amal chuckles. "We're gonna blow their minds when the new plans come in, aren't we?"
Hughbert sighs again. "So what will it take to pressure these traditions until they break? I'm getting sick of hearing 'that's just how the way it is' as an excuse."
Harriet: "The way it is fucking sucks."
Strumm: "The truth of it? The only feasible way? To put the entire command structure of all those companies six feet under" she sighs "Or behind bars, I guess"
Strumm: "And then do away with three fourths of the public administration too"
Amal tries not to perk up.
Hughbert grins. "So, we'd need an armed uprising? Now we're making some progress."
Strumm: "And with the way things are? Nothing short of civil war will do this… I do hear some people have been trying a more… Or rather, slightly less bloody way, if they can strike fast and true but, eh…"
Anton holds back a yawn before glancing to his side. Talks like this were never really his thing. "(Y'know, you're actually taking this pretty well considering some of the alternatives I saw.)"
Amal: "It's not even that hard to minimise bloodshed. You just need to be careful."
Strumm: "It'd be good if we still had homes to go back to after all is done with, but I doubt we're going to be lucky. Of course, who knows"
Serenity‘ probably is listening, even if she’s not really responding.
Hughbert nods. "To tell you the truth, there is a high likelihood we're going to talk to those visionaries you have in mind soon. We have many stops to make on our mission. What can you tell us about them?"
Volke: "Hrm… Well, there's people like the Wandering Doctors, there's small groups going out and trying to just… Help people stand on their own. Honestly, they're often completely helpless themselves and hardly effective. The most effective group of them I guess is also the most… Unorthodox, I guess is a way of saying it, the Icy Maiden's monsters. They tend to take care of the poor who end up in the ghost cities, and are just dangerous enough to not get bullied too much by the companies' enforcers"
Volke: "There used to be a group of lawyers that were getting deep into most ancient and effective laws, gathering proof and evidence of vast amounts of illegal activities of the companies, enough to hang them by their own rules or make them admit they care not for them… They're not around anymore, however"
Strumm: "Not quite, one of them got silenced by being bribed with a position as a judge rather than by being cut down. I was quite angry at him up until… Well, he got there and had two executives arrested no longer than two days after his appointment- Has had a mark on his head since then"
Amal: "Did they keep notes?"
Strumm: "Legend goes this guy kept with him all of his friends' evidence, but that's hopeful whispers of what few young lawyers still believe in justice"
Amal grins a little creepily. "Even if something seems impossible… don't give up on it with us around. Just you wait. Tell your friends." Pause. "Out of curiosity, who's -buying- all this stuff that you're making, anyway? What is it, arms supplies?"
Strumm leans back "Akavir's military has been buying most of our raw resources, they pay very well. There's two other Rissan clans that have recently been acquiring construction supplies lately, rock and cement and wood"
Volke: "Those guys are weird, they came around almost begging for those materials, most them wind up selling bodies for work- Never saw anyone so dedicated to helping their family. Also never saw workers so shrewd, most people here get stuck with slave-contracts. Those guys? They've been managing to avoid them so far"
Amal: "Mmm, thought so." They lean back in their chair, nod a little.
Hughbert tilts his head. "What're you thinking, Amal?"
Amal: "Prime Minister of Akavir's gearing himself up for civil war~."
Harriet: "Huh, you think so? Guess we'll have to deal with that eventually too."
Amal: "Sorry to say, we'll probably have to smash some of the arms and armour you guys have spent blood, sweat, and tears, on. Hopefully not too much of it, though!" They smile brightly.
Strumm: "That shit can go to hell for all I care"
Amal: "You're already sending it to Akavir, so…" They scratch the back of their head wryly.
Strumm chuckles "I like you"
Amal grins.
Amal: "Anyways, would it surprise if you I said we were going to go act as impromptu bodyguards for that judge you mentioned as soon as we were done here?" They lean forward, eyes sparkling. "Like I've said, don't count anything out as impossible while we're in town."
Volke blinks "Wait, what? You are?" he raises an eyebrow "Well, i'll have to wish you good luck, the only reason he's still alive is because he's been hiding very well"
Amal: "Can't change the world from inside a foxhole."
Harriet: "I've got, like, several weapons which say he's gonna be fine even when he steps out."
Strumm: "I've seen the kind of weapons you carry. Molinar's going to be fine under your protection"
Hughbert nods. "So when he arrives - which I assume you'll agree is a likely outcome - you ought to be ready. Remember, the gavel is coming."
Strumm: "We'll be ready. Not going to let any company's death flailing take the guilds down with them"
Strumm: "Heh… And to think those companies used to be guilds themselves a thousand years ago"
Amal: "Huh. Well, shoulda stuck to what worked."
Strumm: "Isn't it?"
Amal: "Anyways, they'll have their chance for atonement by the time we're through with 'em."
At this point someone else arrives, it's K. They'res carrying a small satchel "Here, i've got a friend to get me the operations manuals" they it down near Harriet "Take a look when you can"
Hughbert: "Much appreciated." Hughbert salutes K.
Harriet: "Great!" Harriet grabs the satchel, pulls out a book, and starts scanning through it. Hughbert can handle talking to the guildmasters.
K salutes back, starts heading back and stops in the doorway looking at the guildmasters, nods to them, and walks out
Amal: "So."
Harriet tilts her head, grabs her pen, and starts scribbling down notes in the margins.
Volke: "Huhn? Those old things? It'd take some work to get people to follow them… But I guess we could see about implementing those sometime this year"
Amal: "Try 'this week' and maybe you'll save some lives." They scowl.
Strumm: "How about 'as soon as possible' Volke? Don't fall back on those habits"
Hughbert leans closer to Volke. "This… Year?"
Strumm: "See?"
Anton jots down a note on a piece of paper before holding it out in front of Serenity.
Volke seems to almost shrink as Hughbert gets closer "Right, this week, we'll send messages out to other branches
Amal: "Harriet finishes up her notes, then you get 'em out where they gotta go. Do what you can, 'cause we're not gonna be able to sit around and babysit you."
Hughbert smiles, and backs off. "Thank you."
Serenity‘ still has her coat pulled up over her head, but it’s not like Anton really has much of a sense of personal space and might've just slipped it under…
Strumm crosses her arms. Once Harriet is done putting down notes she takes the manuals. "Alright, i'll make sure this gets properly spread"
Strumm: "And that Volke actually does his part"
She looks at the wall, there's a clock there "Hrm… That's one machine that's well designed here at least… We've been here for a bit"
Amal: "Anyways, we'll be back before you know it. With a gavel."
Harriet is a fast writer! She finishes scribbling down a final set of instructions, and hands the manuals over to Strumm.
Strumm: "We should probably let you get to Molinar, then. I don't think he's going to last that much longer"
Anton would certainly have no problems doing that, yes. If she bothered to look at him she'd even see that he had a genuine smile. He was 100% serious.
Harriet: "Most of that's just common sense, so it should be pretty easy to implement. Oh, are we going already?"
Amal: "We've got the law to save!"
Harriet: "Right, let's go, uh… Anton come on help me out here you're great at the cheesy one-liners."
Serenity‘ makes a very loud, tired sounding noise before returning a balled up peice of paper back in Anton’s general direction.
Anton catches the paper before hopping off the sofa. He makes his way towards Harriet. "Have we finally vanquished my arch-nemesis, my friends? I do hate serious conversation!"
Harriet: "Yeah, I think they're done. You guys done?"
Strumm starts giggling "You're anything but common, i'll give you that" she stands up, Volke does alongside her "Let's do our thing, you do yours" she nods at Harriet "And good luck"
Amal stands, finishes the tea satisfiedly.
Harriet: "Yeah, good luck, Strorm."
Anton nods before slamming his fist into his palm. "Then let us go, excitement awaits! Don't worry though, I won't give spoilers~." He winks.
Onwards to… The car! The night has already settled in, however, whether to leave now or later is up to you
Hughbert: "Looks like it." Hughbert salutes Strumm and Volke. "Best of luck to you two as well. Volke, do your best so that Strumm doesn't smack you. Strumm, you have my permission to give Volke a tactical smack if he's being unreasonable again." He heads out with that.
Serenity‘ takes a moment to get moving, then gets out to the car and plops herself into the passanger seat before pulling the coat back up over her head.
JayM: Now that’s a rare occurance
Harriet drains her tea, hops up, heads out and sits in the back.
Anton has no problems driving. He had more than enough time to scope out things during that conversation.
Amal heads out, quietly whispers "(Hang in there!)" to Serenity, flops in one of the back seats.
On the map, then, you see where your next destination is. Molinar lives in a high class district, actually, it's written right there on the map. It's far, sadly, you'd arrive shortly after sunrise if you kept going without stop, if you stop to rest you'd arrive closer noon than sunrise but still in the morn
Harriet leans over to whisper to Hughbert. "(Should someone… uh… talk to her? … I'm not really sure what to do in this situation.)"
Hughbert: "(I saw Anton pass a note earlier. It may not be for the right reasons, but Anton never fails to give Serenity a spark of energy… If that didn't do the trick, there is a high probability she just needs to be left alone.)"
Harriet: "(Yeah, I guess that makes sense. It's too bad people aren't more like machines. I know how to fix those.)"
Hughbert: "(But then you'd get Volke.)"
Amal: "(Bleep bloop.)"
Harriet: "(I mean, is that really a bad thing?)"
The travel takes a long time, but eventually you finally get there, wether in the early or late morning you finaly reach the district. As you come closer you see… A very different sight than you've seen most places. The entrance of the district is pretty distinct as you come in under an arc of white stone (surprisingly not actual marble, despite looking a lot like it), the road is paved with perfection.
The houses are large, mansions in and of themselves with large courtyards. The air feels fresher here, and in the streets are restaurants and stores, clothing of high class and opulent appearance are for sale, gadgets and tools for the residence are also for sale, including some which are among the most costly exports from Masharas such as the automated cleaning machine
Amal: "Huh. So they have decent building materials -somewhere-."
Harriet: "Looks like we found the rich."
You also notice there's security here, you'd expect the police but no, you know to which company the people in each mansion lives by the uniform of their security staff. Servants and houseworkers are those you most commonly see in the street, off doing maitenance or buying dinner.
And the house you're looking for- There is a sign in the front with the name of the resident: Andreus Molinar. Unlike the other houses this one has but a single member in it's staff that you can see from here, one scrawny looking young guard- He has a pistol on his belt and stands at the entrance to the mansion, he looks like a rabbit in how he looks around scared
Serenity‘ pokes her head up as the car starts to slow down. She squints as she takes in the new surroundings
Hughbert: "We’re here." He gets out of the car and salutes the guard, usual name and rank introduction.
Interestingly, the buildings are made mostly of white and black stones, often in artistic patterns
The guard doesn't takes one, but three steps back, hand on his pistol- You've probably haven't seen anyone as wary as this guy "Wh- Oh… Are you…"
Guard: "Ah, yes… The… The Masharas people"
Serenity: "…I guess this place doesn't look like shit."
Amal: "We're here to help~!"
Harriet gets out of the car, probably at the worst possible moment considering how armed she is.
Anton: "The rich had to exist somewhere, after all."
Harriet: "We're here to break fate yadda yadda yadda."
Hughbert doesn't drop the salute just yet. "At ease. We're… Here to help. Yeah."
The guard looks around "Okay… Alright, okay, look-" he looks at Harriet "Look, look, get in quick okay? Don't let anyone notice you too much" he opens up the gate "You really are the Masharas people, are you?"
Guard: "I mean you kinda fit the description, look at that thing she's carrying, but…"
Amal flashes an insignia that they COVENIENTLY were carrying, if Hughbert wasn't on top of that already.
Hughbert gestures from his coat down to his pants and just stares, followed by pulling his sleeve down to show the R+D Corps insignia on his bracer as well.
Harriet hurries on in. "Yup, that's us. Harriet Babbage, resident genius."
Serenity‘ stares at the guard for a few, long awkward seconds before rolling her eyes, dropping out of the car, and sthomping past him into the building.
Amal: "Harriet, you should invent a way to record us all doing the introductions thing for times like these. Anyways…"
The guard ushers you in. There is no denying the opulence of the palacial manor- But there is also a certain level of maitenance that’s been lacking, like there isn't a lot of people who help keep this place.
Amal: "Can't trust the hired help? Must be rough. We'll get you out of here soon."
Once inside you are there without company nor guidance, but it isn't difficult to find out where judge Molinar is- You hear the noise of people, two people talking. And there you find them, in the dining room
One of them a man in his late fourties, looking beaten down by time and stress. The other a younger woman, you'd think her another resident if not for the apron she wears. The smell of the food comes to you- And it's strange and awkward, there's a certain… Unnatural effect to it
Harriet crinkles up her nose. "What a weird smell."
Serenity: "Smells like cattle feed."
Amal looks concerned for a second, then the corner of their mouth twitches up in an amused smile.
Serenity‘ drops herself into a chair without introduction, folds her arms over the table and rests her head in them.
Anton: "Are you an animal lover, Serenity? I figured you’d have your nose up into books like Harriet."
Serenity: "There's a small ranch at the university." Mumble.
Hughbert clears his throat and introduces the group - yes, he makes sure to call Harriet the "resident genius" - while saluting.
Anton opens his eyes and starts to laugh. "Oh, man. They really don't pull any punches."
Harriet grins and waves, taking a seat of her own.
Anton: "I know I said no spoilers, but I just can't resist~."
Amal raises an eyebrow at Anton.
Anton: "As soon as we try to get into the car outside we're going to get attacked by a double agent in his security team."
Anton: "Impatient lot!"
Harriet: "Oh, good to know. Who is it?"
Amal: "I'm surprised the security team's big enough to even have a double agent. Thanks for the heads-up, though."
Molinar looks up at Anton, he chuckles "A lively lot… That brings back memories"
Amal: "Anyways, nice to finally meet you!"
The judge is eating something that looks like pasta- Except it's in a cup full of water. There is a deep sense of loneliness in this room "I imagine you're the ones Lumes spoke about. I am Judge Molinar"
Amal: "We've heard a lot of good things about you. Like, you've got enough dirt to bury all the corps in Orsis in a mass grave?" They grin.
Judge Molinar: "That I do… Somewhere"
Hughbert nods. "We're here to get you where you need to go."
Judge Molinar: "I hope you do not take it against me if I were not to disclose information about it, however"
Amal: "Haha, if you tried I'd yell at you to stop. Who knows who's listening? Anyways, we're gonna get you somewhere… better. Safely."
Serenity: "We have like three different ways of figuring out where it is anyway." More mumbling without lifting her head up.
Amal: "We should… probably hurry, too? I dunno how much you need to pack…"
Harriet: "Yeah, let's get you outta here before people have a chance to realise we're here too."
The judge moves his eyes towards Anton without facing away from his food "Hrm… So you would be an oracle, I imagine?" he stands up slowly, looks at the woman beside him "Lynne, i'm sorry, but you can consider yourself dismissed. Use the underground entrance, they're safe" she nods, and scurries away
He walks over to you, you notice he has a strong limp on his left leg. He heads towards the door- You didn't notice the hanger on the way in, there's a black cape in it. He dons it "I'm ready"
Serenity‘ sighs, leans back in her chair enough that her head tilts back so she can look at the Judge and others.
Serenity: "Probably should… answer Harriet’s question first…?"
Serenity: "Or not, I clearly have no fucking clue what I'm doing out here."
[OOC] JayM: Okay let me glassless self find out what that question is
Anton nods with a smile. "That I am~. You'll have to excuse my silence for a moment though. I'm playing a game with Alcor." He closes his eyes again.
Amal: "Sounds exciting~."
Judge Molinar: "Hrm… I only have one person as security, however. Falco is… Faithful, if untrained, and completely unready"
Harriet: "Well, let's cut a wide path around him just in case."
Serenity‘ stares at the judge a moment, then rolls out of her seat. Walks to the foot door, opens it.
Serenity: "Falco?"
Judge Molinar: "You must have met the young man at the gate."
Serenity` was intending to direction that question to the very same man upon opening the door, yes!
Outside- Falco nearly jumps out of his skin once you speak his name, he hurries over "Ah, your excellency, are you leaving already?"
Serenity: "God you all have stupid names."
Serenity: "Okay kid."
Serenity: "Look at me."
Serenity: "This is a bad week."
Judge Molinar: "Is not going to see me agin"
Serenity: "And if you do something stupid, I’m going to rip your fucking neck out."
Falco looks at Serenity, she sounds both tired and scary
Falco: "D-Don't worry ma'am"
Hughbert scowls a bit and watches behind the group. "…Where does that tunnel let out, exactly?"
Serenity: "ANTON ARE YOU SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT?" Shouting back into the house.
As the party approaches the car they notice that a couple of police officers has gotten to it- One of them is writing a ticket
Amal: "Anton always knows what he's talking about!"
Serenity: "I mean if this is the only person on his security detail then he was wrong."
Anton: "Those police officers are assassins. Sorry a bit busy at the moment!" He calls back as he exits the building.
Serenity: "Unless he ment security in general?"
Serenity: "Okay."
Judge Molinar: "I'd rather not share that information here, Lieutenant. I would not want anyone to hear it"
Serenity: "Harriet can I blow the engine up?"
Harriet: "Oh, it's the police officers? Okay." Harriet pulls down her goggles, hefts up her gun - doubletakes at Serenity. "What?! No!"
Harriet: "Do you know how hard I worked on tuning that thing to perfection?!"
Serenity: "Fine."
Being loud as you are, the police officers must have heard what you just shouted, because they take action. One of them turns around and pulls out a- A grenade?!
Anton takes a deep breath before shaking his head. "You probably shouldn't blow them both up. One of them is in the Lost Vipers."
Serenity‘ slips her coat back on, then points her finger at the grenade. "Bang."
And a second later, it implodes.
Amal squints. Friggin… not being up to date on all the undercover ops.
Hughbert: "Wise. Alright, Anton, when you get a moment, can I leave covering our judge to you? I’ll get their attention." He looks over - grenade? - and rushes towards them, kicking his force gear into effect and gripping his air blade!
The second officer- Moves with great agility, and jumps out of the way by process of kicking the first officer into the floor, right on top of the now-explosive grenade
Serenity: "The what?"
The explosion is quite terrifying- Thankfully it's not… Fully explosive- A firebomb. That looks ugly
The second officer lands on his feet about two meters away "Goddess above, the boss was right, you people are scary"
Officer: "And here I thought you needed some help or something like it?"
Amal: "Not gonna say -no-."
Harriet: "Oh, so you're not an assassin? Goddess it's so hard to keep this all straight."
Serenity: "Huh…?"
Anton glances at Amal. "(So, I figured a few points in time that we're going to have issues. But I'm unable to look past a certain point since Alcors blocking it by firing an artillery strike at us with a 'HI ANTON' message on the timeline. The entire building gets leveled with us in it.)"
He clear his throat "Anyway, kind of and kind of not" he walks over slowly to the party, just in case one of them flips out, and hands Amal a sealed letter "Here, I hope you appreciate the work I put into getting their plans for you"
Hughbert gestures towards the flames his his blade, fanning them but at the same time, suffocating them. Shouldn't catch any buildings on fire.
Officer: "And with that, I can finally ditch this stupid job. I knew infiltration work was shady but really? The people here are nuts"
Harriet keeps holding her cannon, but doesn't spin it up. "Yeah, I like it a lot better when I know who the bad guys are."
Hughbert puts a hand on his shoulder from behind. "You're not going anywhere just yet. Who are you working for?"
Officer: "Me? I'm with the Lost Vipers, the boss hired me out to these guys after you left the convoy, wanted me to get information for you"
Serenity‘ scrunches up her face, before shrugging and climbing into the passanger seat of the car after kicking the other guy out of the way.
Officer: "She’s got a few of us working for shady people out there to gather intel, try not to kill them if you can"
Harriet: "So you were spying on the spies? Like some sort of… double spy?"
Amal stares at Anton and tries really hard not to giggle and mostly succeeds. Alcor is kinda great, let's be honest. He takes the letter, bows to the agent. "Thank you. It's much appreciated. Walk in shade and peace, friend."
JayM: Serenity do not kick a flaming body, you'll hurt yourself
Hughbert: "And… him?" He gestures to the pile of cinders.
Serenity‘ wears thick steel toes boots for a reason.
Officer: "It’s called double agent, miss. Also, don't… Try to make much sense of it, it's not worth it" he looks at Hughbert "Malus & Co. Mining Concerns, biggest of the mining companies"
Amal tears open the letter, scans it briefly, hands it to Hughbert thereafter since the strategist will probably want to know the enemy strategy.
Offier: "I guess he also is a police officer but that don't mean much here,it seems"
Harriet: "Double agent, right. Well, I hope they know enough to let us know they're not the enemy before we shoot."
Hughbert releases his shoulder and lets his force gear return to standby. "Understood. Apologies for the scare, but I hope you understand why it was necessary."
Harriet: "Thanks for the help, that was a pretty cool kick."
Harriet heads over to pile on into the car.
Officer: "Hey now, I've been in this function for years. I know how it works" he smiles at Hughbert, then looks at Harriet "Thanks I practice"
In the letter covers the details of the attack plan, those first two are really just there to give the signal when the judge was going to leave and to delay you. After that, it indicates a minefield in the road to the capital- It doesn't indicates what road, however but there was assurance from their 'special agent' that it is the road the party will take.
Hughbert gives the judge a helping hand getting into the car before buckling himself in.
Hughbert: "Serenity… What sort of things would a landmine say? Is that how landmines work?"
Amal: "(Wheee I'm gonna blow up now!)"
Serenity‘ blinks in confusion, then glances back at Hughbert. "Huh?"
Amal: "(Probably not that, actually.)"
Given the position of the minefield, however, even if you take other side-roads there are ambushes planned in the uneven terrain, they indicate the usage of ’drillmasters' to block the road with the nearby landscape. There is the indication as well of a sniper near the entrance of the capital, they are instructed to find a perch on their own, but the instructions show three different zones (rather large ones) they could have good firing angles on anyone entering the capital
There is also assurance that the 'special agent' has a last resort option should all else fail- And to not fail as to avoid costly collateral
The judge sighs as he gets into the car "There used to be a time where this would faze me"
Anton jots down a few things on a piece of paper before ripping it out of his notebook and passing it to Hughbert.
Hughbert squints at Anton after reading the note. "President, or judge?"
Anton: "Err… judge."
Anton: "Sorry, I'm really multitasking here." He scratches his head.
The judge closes his eyes as he picks something up from his pocket. It seems like a very complex three-dimensional cube puzzle, like a rubik's cube on steroids. He fiddles idly with it as he waits
Amal: "Don't worry. One way or another, it'll be okay."
Hughbert nods. "Hmm…"
Once the car gets going, there is a certain sense of tension as you head out of the district- You see people looking from far away windows, you see servants steal worried glances at you. Everyone, however, ignores the burning body. Everyone ignores the attempted assassination, curious as they may be
Harriet: "What a weird town."
Amal shudders. "How'd things even -get- this bad…"
Anton: "Basically, Hugh these events are GOING to happen so we just need to decide the best way to deal with them."
Hughbert rips the parking ticket off the windshield and pockets it. "I'd like to state, before we begin this trip, that I will be claiming this as a travel expense."
The way out of the district is clear, however, and from here there's many a way to the capital. There's the main highway, wide and direct. There's side paths through worker camps, and one through a small ghost town. There's other large roads that eventually snake back to the highway should you wish to avoid portions of the highway
Hughbert: "And, yes, I'm aware that the officer that would've reported this fine is currently on fire."
Anton: "Also Amal, do me a favour, buddy?"
Anton: "If we drive over a landmine fix that up, okay?"
Amal: "Haha, yeah."
Amal: "That would be pretty dumb if I let that happen."
Serenity: "…"
Serenity: "Wouldn't it be easier to not drive over them?"
Amal: "I mean, ideally, yes."
Amal: "But just in case…"
Serenity: "He can literally see the future."
Serenity: "And is driving."
Harriet: "Yeah, no driving over landmines in my baby."
Harriet: "Any plan where the car blows up is a bad plan."
Anton: "Every single possible path to our destination has tons of them, but sure if you want me to drive slowly I can do that."
Serenity‘ shrugs.
Anton: "Or you know, get someone else to drive so I can actually do that."
Hughbert: "Hmm… The roads are mined, but what’s stopping us from going off-road? Harriet, how well does she handle bad terrain?"
Harriet: "I did what I could when we were back in Masharas, but this just isn't an offroad vehicle. It'd be a really bumpy ride, but I think we could do it with a good driver."
Anton laughs. "Why Harriet, we have a good driver in this very car! How fortunate!"
Hughbert turns to get a good look at Serenity's rifle, gesturing towards it. "And about her, what sort of range is she good at?"
Anton then slowly turns his head and stares at Serenity.
Serenity‘ puts her elbow on the car door, rest her head in her hand and stares out the window.
Amal: "It’ll be fiiiiiine."
Harriet: "We'd need someone really good at snap judgements and pinch maneuvers. Someone who could manage the car when it's acting like an angry bull."
Anton: "Serenity~. The man in the suit is asking how capable you are at dealing with counter snipers!"
Hughbert: "Is it possible to perform a quick modification using what we have on hand to make her mobile on worse terrain?"
Serenity: "Oh. I duno, Probably shit. Like everything else." She gives a small shrug.
He says to Harriet, then expectantly stares at Serenity's gun again.
Hughbert: "How many yards constitutes " shit ", Serenity. I am formulating a plan."
Serenity: "…Sixty maybe? No clue from inside a car."
Amal: "Only one way to find out~?"
Anton: "I know I'm REALLY bad at spoilers, but there are three main threats we need to keep an eye out for. Landmines along every route. An oracle helped them get placed so pretty much every road we take has them. We're going to get hit by a rockslide and get ambushed by assassins at one point. Not much to say here, we just have to fight them off. Then when the capital is in sight it's likely the judge will get taken out by a sniper."
Anton: by a sniper. "
Hughbert: "Serenity, I'll need you to handle the rockslide at the least. You or Harriet should be able to trigger it safely from a distance, no?"
Harriet: "Okay, so if I… no, I'd have to gut the whole thing. But - that might - okay," she speaks up. "Here's what I can do. I can make the car less responsive so it's easier to handle off-road."
Hughbert: "Maybe Anton can get a clone to shove them off the lip of the valley to prevent the ambush."
Anton: "Unlikely. There's over three dozen variations of the ambush."
Serenity‘ sighs. "It’s usually not hard to blow up the side of a hill to make stuff fall, no."
Anton: "My odds of picking the right one to stop are not all that great."
Hughbert gives Harriet a displeased look. "I was secretly hoping you'd say you could teach her to fly."
Harriet: "Otherwise, the wheel's gonna jerk all over the place. It'll take thirty minutes, if someone gives me a hand."
Harriet sighs, dramatically. "I would love to teach her to fly, but the data on that is still out and even I'm limited by what supplies I've got in the boot."
Anton: "Can't we just attach twenty pairs of force boots to the bottom and wire it up to a remote control or something?" Anton is great at science!
Hughbert: "As for the snipers, we could make do with a decoy. We may need to swap clothing at some point, sir." Hughbert says to the judge.
He looks at Hughbert "Very well"
Harriet: "See, that would work just great right up until the significant mass differential between humans and cars made the entire experiment fall on its face."
Anton scrunches up his face. "… fifty, then?"
Harriet: "You can't just add more force gears until it works! Trust me, we've tried."
JayM: Well, sounds like you have some degree of plan
It takes some work from Harriet and a helper, but you manage to get the car adjusted for somewhat easier offroad travel. Travelling like that is difficult still, however, and the ride's bumpy- But at the very least you can control the car
Hughbert: "If the off-road terrain is manageable with that fix, we'll avoid the mines. If we trigger the landslide prematurely, we'll avoid… er, getting landslided. Anton can fly ahead and spook any ambushes, make them lose their surprise. I'll disguise myself as the judge so that sniper fire is concentrated on me instead, as I have much more effective damage control. Any other foreseeable problems, Anton, just let me know."
The travel to the capital is thankfully not going to be excessively long, no more than eight hours. It's a little past the third hour of travel, after the time taken by Hughbert and Molinar to trade clothing, that something else of interest happens- At this point you're certain you've passed the minefield- you notice you're entering pretty craggy terrain. It's not so much hills or mountains but the entire terrain starts going down, in an uneven manner. As if you were going down a giant crater.
Anton gives Hughbert a salute before rolling down the window and hopping out of the car. "I can follow the car in the air, sure."
JayM: This place, Anton. This first place. Unfortunate, Someone doesn't wants you to succeed in finding that ambush
[OOC] Hughbert: for the record, I'm gonna wait to do the outfit swap until we begin approaching city sniper range
JayM: Oh, okay
JayM: I'll take that into consideration, gomen
[OOC] Hughbert: would be unhelpful if I was spotted in disguise whilst being Clearly Not The Judge too soon
JayM: You probably know his name, and his Pressure is 30. You will need an Ars Aero skill check, the base CoS is 40, you have the skill so +20, the PRessure is 30, so -30. Final CoS is: 30
JayM: You can wager luck for +10, max of 90. Someone else can do so too, if they think they have a skill that can help
JayM: You're trying to spot something, much like a hawk
Harriet handles the driving, since everyone else has their respective jobs. She's not bad, though she has this nervewrecking habit of driving riskily.
Anton surveys the landscape. If they were going to cause a landslide they'd probably be on the higher parts, at least…
JayM: What's a little risk when you know you got your machine to cover your mistakes, eh Harriet
Anton rolled 1d100 and got 45 ( Total: 45 ) for 80 - 5 LP
JayM: No LP expenditure due to success!
Anton swoops down from the sky before landing on the windshield. Guess he wants you to stop so he can get in.
[OOC] Anton: Hood of the car, rather
[OOC] Hughbert: I had a mental image of him gently plopping onto the windshield, but like, perfectly perpendicular, so making an acute angle with the hood, arms crossed and pouty
Harriet stops the car! It's a bit sudden but it works.
JayM: The noise of the car jumping a bit over rocks and sticks
Amal: "Hi Anton!"
Harriet: "How'd it go?"
Anton: "Six people at the top of the mountain, Hugh. Five of them were heading into a small cave and moved a large stone to block the entrance. No idea what's going on with that part of their plan. The last guy is at the top of the hill on our right. They all have large cannon force gears and are going to fire on us in fifteen minutes."
Amal: "That's exciting."
JayM: The most difficult part here is that there's ALSO a hill to the left, so going around would be difficult
Anton: "We're basically in a valley with one road."
Anton: "So outside of stopping the car and scaling the mountain and beating them up first, I don't have many ideas."
Anton glances at Harriet before pouting. "If we had a flying car, however…"
Harriet: "Okay, okay, I'll work on the flying car when we get back!"
JayM: Do you have ideas, though?
Serenity: "Air raid." Serenity rolls a shrug.
Hughbert: "They're going to fire the force gears… From inside the cave?"
Amal: "Magic nuke the top of the mountain, cause a cave-in?"
Anton: "The guy staying outside is going to cause the rockslide, I think. I have no idea why the others blocked the entrance to their cave."
Anton: "But it's part of their attack plan?"
Harriet: "Maybe they're coming down here to finish the job if we survive."
Harriet: "I mean, Alcor knows we got through one landslide already."
Harriet: "And isn't he the guy pulling the strings here?"
Anton: "Definitely. No one else would use a giant crossbow bolt full of purple ragnite with an engraving of 'HI ANTON' to level our destination building."
Serenity: "…"
Serenity: "…Purple ragnite?"
Amal: "Goddess that's so amazingly dumb."
Anton: "Blue and purple to be fair, it was mixed but, yeah!"
Amal: "Isn't that kind of ragnite super bad news?"
Anton: "Don't look at me, you're the ragnite expert!"
Serenity: "The weird gravity and transportation stuff…"
Anton: "Which by the way Hugh, when we do get past all the assassins Alcor may destroy our destination building. I'm not sure if he's ACTUALLY going to do that or he just created the future so I can't see past it."
Hughbert: "Hmmm… If we knew where the cave was already…"
Hughbert glances towards the stone barriers on either side and [Investigates] them from a distance.
Hughbert points to an area of soft stone about 15 meters ahead. "That's the entrance, right Anton? If we destroyed that entrance, would you be able to tell us where we'd likely to get ambushed from?"
Anton: "Those attackers would be SOL. So… we'd just have the guy on the outside to deal with."
Anton: "They'd get out eventually since their force gears have laser mining drills but we'd be long gone."
Hughbert: "I'd like a volunteer to blow something up. The something is that rock covering the cave entrance right over there. As for the last fellow, if we set off the landslide he's poised to detonate pre-emptively, would he have anything else chambered?"
Anton: "I uhh… how would we get the car through the only road if we blocked it?"
JayM: I doubt anyone with two brain cells to rub together wouldn't try to engage your entire party solo
Hughbert: "More explosions?"
Anton scratches his head. "Yeah, I guess you do have better odds doing it that way if you want to forgo trying to stop the landslide."
Hughbert: "Alternatively…"
Hughbert: "Harriet collapses the cave entrance, and Serenity scares off the lone straggler with a warning shot."
Anton: "If you do that though the ambushers will get out of the cave while we're dealing with the road."
Hughbert: "A simultaneous strike on both targets. In the chaos, neither fang of their pincer will be able to apply any bite. Any objections?"
Amal gives Hughbert a big thumbs-up.
JayM: Sounds like a plan
Serenity‘ shrugs.
JayM: Despite the fact Serenity seems uncaring about the entire exchange
Harriet: "Unless Anton sees a hole in that, too, I’m down."
Anton: "You have decent odds!"
Anton: "Just be aware that if the landslide does go off they'll get out of the cave collapse while we're still around."
Harriet: "Good enough for me, let's do it."
So thus you drive closer, then. By the road, no need to make it more difficult on you by going offroad where you can't really avoid anything in particular at this stage. You drive closer- The step of the plan, to block the ambushers. It takes good timing from Harriet, however, they're a little out of range of her ECC without getting yourself in the landslide trigger range. Thankfully, after all of your adventires with this party you've gotten used to the timing of your weapon, to manipulating well that timing. It's always a thing of beauty watching an arc of lightning cut apart solid matter, with sufficient tension it cuts like a blade, and in doing so at the top of the cave entrance it collapses on itself
Serenity‘ fires off a couple of shots in the general location of the guy up top that Anton mentions, i guess.
You hear a noise from above, a noise somewhat similar to the ECC spinning up. There’s the light of something- From this angle you can see it, the one wielding a cannon-like force gear has fired it. A deep blue beam strikes against the rock before him, cutting it not unlike a drill
The man is startled at the shots being fired, was he noticed?! He dives for cover! And that buys the party enough time to hit the pedal hard and drive right through
It's a good few minutes before you're certain you're clear, but you are
Hughbert swats a few stray pebbles out of the air. "Perfectly executed. You did well, Serenity." Hughbert gives her a pat on the back, and a bit of praise for following his [Command]s. (+1 LP)
Hughbert: "That was a fantastic light show, too, Harriet."
Serenity‘ opens her mouth, before deciding against whatever she was going to say and resumes leaning her head against the window.
Harriet grins. "You know it!"
And after another hour or two of travel you can finally see the capital in the distance… It is… Impressive, for certain. Towers of stone and metal rise up, out most smoke pours. It’s like a city that was built upwards. The towers are incredibly thin, but around each level of the towers are floating rings made of the same materials- That is an ancient construction technique for tall buildings, a single strong and tall spine that uses bonded ragnite plates to support rings of rooms. It's been abandoned a long time ago because the rings are unstable even if safe, make living and working in those a little more difficult than it needs to be, also such thin towers might be able to get a fair bit taller than a buildings with a wider base, but they are susceptible to wind
JayM: (thankfully this is not a very windy area at all)
Hughbert: "Alright, let's pull over and get out of sight of the capital before we get closer." Hughbert begins prep for the outfit swap part of the plan.
Amal: "…that looks super hazardous… but also, pretty cool…"
Anton scratches his head. "So, if we give Hugh some enhancements or something during this it'd be too obvious, right?"
Harriet parks the car somewhere out-of-the-way.
There's a nice place to stop, it's not hard to
Serenity: "Huh?"
Serenity: "Oh, the towers…?"
Serenity: "They're fine, just, wobbly."
Judge Molinar looks at Hughbert "Hrm…" he chuckles "You know, this haven't been a bad trip. You remind me of my old friends after a fashion… I hope you have better luck than we did" he steps out for the outfit swap!
Hughbert: "Hmm… As long as a trained sniper wouldn't be able to detect them, then it'd be no issue. Are you perhaps thinking of Amal's protective ward?"
Anton nods. "Got it in one, Hugh!"
Amal: "I could probably make it relatively unobtrusive…"
It's not too difficult to change outfits, actually, since apparently he's wearing the judge apparel for the travel- Which is really strange, or maybe not? There's the cloak, and a special jacket to go with it. Otherwise, the rest isn't part of the apparel.
Hughbert smiles at the judge. "Your friends must have been quite the interesting lot to compare…"
Anton: "Should we lay the judge down flat or put him in the trunk just in case they know what he looks like?"
Serenity: "Sure."
Harriet: "Lay him down in the back seat, the trunk's full of spare parts."
Hughbert: "If you don't mind, sir. We should have a spare blanket or a jacket to help cover you up." Assuming Serenity isn't hogging it.
Judge Molinar: "Quite a colorful bunch, Katia quit engineering school after her brother was arrested on unlawful charges, took on law instead to free him. Ned wouldn't smile to save a life, even when he was happy. Hahaha, oh Jonas would have loved this trip, he was actually a military lawyer, wasn't supposed to hang out with us, he did though"
He shakes his head "I've done worse, thank you"
Serenity‘ has not raided back of the car for the blankets, yet.
Amal frowns a little. They’re not gonna get maudlin about not being in the right place at the right time to save those people…
It takes a little bit more space than normal for him to lie down hidden in the back seat, but he appears to be the sort of person who had to take cover inside a car more than once, so he can get comfortable there. Meanwhile, Hughbert actually manages to look the part of the judge very well, it's even a little awe inspiring when he turns to head to the car and the cape billows behind him
JayM: I'll give you the preparation, Hughbert
Hughbert: "I'd love to hear some stories when we've got time to share a cup of tea, sir. Of course, that'll have to wait." "
JayM: You need to survive [800] ranged physical damage
[OOC] Hughbert: does it count as a battle for purposes of our perks?
JayM: Yes
Serenity: "…"
Amal is a helper, and applies a nearly-invisible prismatic barrier to absorb some of the inevitable attack. [Protect]
Hughbert activates his force gear and keeps his blade hidden behind the seat in front of him. "My thanks, Amal. I'm ready."
Hughbert slowly spreads the blade out to form as invisible of a wall as he can. Should blend in perfectly with the heat glare.
Once ready, you start driving again. Takes a while more until you're nearing the entrance of the city… You never hear a sound… And there's suddenly an impact, a very powerful impact that shoves the entire car sideways a little bit, there's the familiar beeping of Hughbert's force gear. The impact of the bullet strikes him for a massive [800] damage, unlike what stories might tell you not a shot aimed at the head that is so much harder to hit.
Hughbert clenches his fist as the bullet pushes into the wall. It's slowed- until it hits Amal's barrier, at which point it ceases movement. The compressed air wraps tightly around it, and the sound of screeching metal stings the ears of everyone in the car. A twisted, unrecognizable mess of a ball-bearing falls into Hughbert's hand. [-40% SnS, -30% Protect, -20% first D.T bonus, -10% and -1 LP = -100% damage]
Serenity: "The fuck? That wasn't a rifle."
Harriet: "… damn."
For a moment Hughbert destroy the bullet you get to witness the sheer size of the bullet, not quite an anti-tank round but designed to tear apart a hole on any squishy target it hits. The raw impact force after it gets dissipated by all the barriers in place was still enough to move the car a little
Amal whistles.
Hughbert: "Quite the impressive caliber, I suppose, for a country that prides itself on cutting corners. Perhaps they should put more of their overstuffed coffers into their defense budget."
Amal: "…ahaha, I remember getting torn apart by one of those bullets."
Amal: "That was fun."
Serenity: "…I didn't realize anyone made guns that big that weren't cannons."
Harriet: "It's possible, just… at that point most people skip to cannons."
Unfortunately, tracing the sniper would prove to be rather futile, perhaps needless. Wherever the shot came from it was very far away, and they probably lost their only opening to fire
Amal: "Which… was that even an Orsis gun that shot me back then? I don't think it was."
Amal: "Those were Akavir infiltrators, right?"
Amal: "So they're probably protecting their logistics pipeline here…"
Yet still, you make your way into the city. The city is… It is actually considerably busy! And while it doesn't looks as rich as the high class district it looks… One would dare say almost normal
Ofcourse, you never saw beggars and homeless before, if there's one thing Masharas lacks are those, one of the great problems of the world that they managed to solve, at least for themselves. And those poor people line the streets as people in business attires walk by ignoring them. Although perhaps 'beggar' is a bad descriptor, the poor here have long since learned there is no use in asking for kindness, and mostly keep to themselves
The way to where you need to take the judge is no more than five minutes ahead…
Amal frowns…
Anton glances up at the sky.
Harriet: "So what's with all the people just hanging around on the street?"
Serenity: "Uh…"
Serenity: "Harriet,"
Serenity: "So as fast as you possible can."
[OOC] Serenity: go^
Serenity: "Something is about to nuke us and everything from the sky."
Anton: "Yeah. That's Alcors weapon I was talking about."
Amal: "What the fuck-"
Harriet: "- shit." Harriet slams on the accelerator.
Amal looks up.
Anton: "The giant crossbow bolt with purple ragnite saying 'HI ANTON'."
Serenity: "Is he seriously going to explode this town just to fuck with you???"
Harriet accelerates as fast as she can
Harriet: "Come on, baby, you can do this!" Surely all the work she's put into this car will pay off?!
Anton: "So uh… why are strings from the car all flying upwards into the sky?"
Anton: "Cars shouldn't even have strings."
Serenity: "You're the only one that can see them, you tell us."
Hughbert blankly stares in the same direction as Amal and desperately tries to make any sort of plan on the fly. "…why is… it's engraved… what purpose…"
Anton scratches his cheek thoughtfully.
Amal: "It's… frickin… tracking us…!?"
Amal: "This is bullshit…"
Anton: "Oh. That's what it was. Okay."
Serenity: "This is such a stupid way to die."
Amal: "…park the car somewhere with nobody around, Paws wants to try somethin'…"
Serenity‘ sighs.
Anton: "For what its worth, he’s exploding the town to mess with ALL of us. But he wrote 'HI ANTON' on the weapon because he knew I'd probably see it way in advance."
Amal: "Your friend has -no- chill…"
A parking lot, that's a good place to stop, this one's got only cars in it
Amal: "Grr.."
Harriet: "You want us to stop?! Fine!" Harriet yanks the wheel around violently (she has to, with the alterations she made) to take them tearing into the lot, slamming on the brakes in the middle. The car screeches to a stop, crossed over two parking spaces in the worst park possible. That's definitely another ticket.
Amal is staring up into the sky and then starts grinning like an idiot -
You cannot see what is coming as the sheer speed of the bolt makes it impossible to see- A tense second, two… There's a screeching sound, three… The sound of the explosive impact is immense, like a bomb going off- Except all around scatter petals of flowers of different colors, the floor around the car turns covered into a field of flowers gold and silver- But just a little bit beyond that the impact force sends everything flying away
Serenity‘ winces at the sound.
Hughbert covers his eyes with his arms reflexively.
Amal: " - ahahahahahah THAT WAS SO COOL!"
JayM: But the shield absorbed almost all the impact, and the damage is minimal. Sticking out of the field of flowers are two shards of a black material
Harriet is just glad she has goggles and she’s used to things exploding, because even as she is her heart lurches up into her throat for a moment. And then it passes, and she starts cackling. "Goddess shit that was amazing."
Serenity: "… The fuck."
Amal: "RIGHT!?"
Anton: "So uh…, Harriet what's that black thing?"
Hughbert lowers his arms… "…It's over? Where is… the bolt?"
Serenity: "I think it turned into flowers."
Serenity‘ stares down by her feet, frowning.
Serenity: "Along with part of the car."
Hughbert also stares at the flowers.
JayM: No the car’s intact
JayM: Just the floor that got turned to flowers
JayM: The bolt? There's scattered fragments of ragnite around too
JayM: It likely shattered on impact
Serenity‘ obviously isn’t an expert in spontanious flower apperances.
Anton walks over and picks up a black shard. "
Amal: "Paws, uh, parried the bolt. Also, Paws is a tremendous nerd." They grin, and amble towards the black shards curiously.
Hughbert wanders over towards some of the fragments and examines them.
Harriet gets out, and goes to investigate the black shards. "That's a good question…"
Anton: "Well, uh… it's not ragnite. I can say that much."
Hughbert: "Any other threats we should be aware of, Anton?"
Anton: "Ah, yeah. I should start looking now that I can see past this point on the timeline."
Hughbert cannot quite pick them up. It's like trying to pick up an object that is out of focus and you think you got it but you can't. It takes a lot of effort to finally do that, but you pick one up. It's sharp, metallic maybe
Amal squints at the shards for a second or two and then starts giggling.
Anton: "Seems we're in the clear until our dropoff, Hugh!" He gives a thumbs up.
Anton then pauses and glances at the rest of the town.
Judge Molinar has taken cover of course "Okay, so. I've seen a lot"
Judge Molinar: "I have not seen things like this"
Judge Molinar: "What just happened?"
Anton: "Welcome to Oracles, buddy!"
The judge blinks "You do some really, really uncanny things, then"
Amal: "Ahahaha. Welcome to hanging out with us. When I said 'don't rule out the impossible', I meant it!"
Anton: "You just encountered a dick waving contest between me and Alcor. No contest~."
Amal: "Wait, nevermind, I said that to those two idiots."
Anton slams his fist into his palm. "Alcor isn't going to one up us because he has no friends!"
Harriet pulls out a measuring tape, sets to trying to measure an out-of-focus shard.
Hughbert seals the odd shard in an evidence bag and stores it safely where it shouldn't poke anything and get loose.
Amal: "Literally true."
The judge looks at Anton, then at Amal, then at Anton again "Hrm… And if this Alcor person- Oh… Hrm… The name is familiar…"
Serenity‘ gives Anton a sidelong glane.
Amal: "Also that’s… iron, it's just, nerd iron that can't exist here so it's tilted slightly away from reality. Which might make it fun to study, I dunno."
Anton: "Also just as a point of reference those black stones look different to me when I'm in aura reading mode."
Amal: "Anyways let's get somewhere less shooty?"
Judge Molinar: "Ah, yes. Malus & Co. have recently hired a special consultant by that name, apparently working as a weapons developer and special operations agent"
Hughbert: "Is it safe to pick these flowers, Amal?"
Anton glances at Serenity and winks.
Amal: "Hahahaha holy pants they're actually called Malus & Co.? That's amazing."
Amal: "And, uh, probably."
JayM: Feel free to drive elsewhere if you so wish. The place where you're supposed to take the judge is another 10m down that way
Serenity‘ makes a loose O shape with her hand and waves it in the air vaguely in Anton’s direction before rolling her eyes.
Anton: "Ah, good. You did understand despite us not actually having that conversation on this worldline. I knew I could count on you!"
Hughbert picks a handful and gently presses them between pages of his journal. "Are they ordinary flowers, at this point, or are they still mystical barrier-forming ballista-stopping flowers?"
Judge Molinar: "For what's worth Malus is their founder's surname."
Harriet: "Right, right." Harriet straightens up, trying to no longer be distracted by the science. She does grab a sample of not-iron if she can, though!
Amal: "SUSPICIOUSLY CONVENIENT. And, uh. They're probably just normal flowers now?"
JayM: It takes work to do that, Harriet! But you can
JayM: And they're just normal flowers, yes
Serenity: "…Is there something special about the name Malus?"
Anton glances at Amal before slipping him a note.
Harriet wraps it in cloth, tucks it into one of the pouches on her belt. "Now you stay."
Amal: "Actually, it's probably only funny to me, now that I think about it. IGNORE ME I'm a dork." They scrawl something on the other side of the note and pass it back to Anton.
Judge Molinar: "Well, the company is one of the eldest companies of Orsis, founded when old guilds started to turn into actual companies. It was a mining guild at the time."
Judge Molinar: "The name Malus itself wasn't the founder's original name, it was given to him in some sort of ceremony by the elusive silken priests. Unfortunately almost all knowledge of that era was lost when they destroyed almost all of their temples in Orsis"
Serenity: "…They existed in Orsis too?"
Serenity: "I thought that was a Terhuan thing."
Amal: "Okay so maybe they -were- being incredibly dumb, haha. I almost want to look into this now, but, jumping at shade-ews was never really my style."
Judge Molinar: "Unfortunately I am no historian, I have simply attempted to track the origin of the company as far back as I could"
Amal: "I appreciate it, for what it's worth."
Eventually you finally reach the Central Court. The building looks like it needs maitenance, like it was purposefully left badly maitained in relation to those around it, but this should be the place.
Harriet: "Wow, talk about a fixer-upper…"
Amal: "And, here we are."
The judge looks at the building "And here we are…" he pulls out the puzzle toy he as playing with, nd looks at it "If I could ask one more favor out you, however"
Hughbert: "What is it, sir?"
Anton chews at his lip before handing Amal back the note.
He offers it to Harriet "This appears to be beyond me after all. You remind me of Katia a fair ways, would you be able to solve it?"
Amal reads the note, giggles a little and gives Anton a thumbs up and then eats the note.
Harriet takes the puzzle, turns it around in her hands. "Huh, this looks interesting."
Harriet: "Let's see, you were working it like…" She starts puzzling around with it, turning it in her hands.
Serenity: "You should probably give him his clothing back too."
It takes actually a noticeable while, but Harriet manages to solve it
Once finished, it looks like a perfect cube
JayM: Hrm… It's made of vanished wood, you don't see a lot of that around here
Harriet: "Ha-ha!" Harriet holds it up once it's done. "That was perfect, they just don't make puzzles this difficult, where'd you get this?"
The judge picks it up, smiles. He holds it in his hands and presses it, and the entire thing collapses and folds- He repeats a few different motions as the box folds, splits, articulates
After a few more movements it's turned into a complex triangular-like object. A key. "Katia designed this cypher key… The safe where the evidence is can only be opened with this key"
He grins "Well… And it's finally time to put it to use" he turns around, cape fluttering behind him. It's time he gets to work
Serenity: "Weird."
JayM: And i'm going to end this session right now, at least on my end
Harriet: "You can tell a lot about someone through their designs, and this Katia must've been great."

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