A strange quietness fills the air, were this anywhere else in the world this would have been the perfect time for a bird to chirp in the distance. Sadly, here in the land of Orsis the wildlife is silent as the grave itself. The only thing to accompany you is the sound of the engine of your car-
The road stretches before you, left behind is the way into where the terrible machine created by Alcor was set- Not where it is anymore, though. Carefully cut from the ground it was fused to it now lies on the roof of the car, carefully secured with with iron rope
JayM: Where to, now?
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Hughbert Hughbert traces some routes over the map in his hands with a finger. "Hmm… Wait a minute." He lowers the map and looks off to the side. Where the map once indicated a road is now a bit of a ravine, off in the distance. He sighs. "…Not entirely reliable now, isn't it."
JayM: Anyway
Serenity: "Extra0dimensional death lazors have that effect sometimes, I guess."
Harriet: "At least it'll keep the mapmakers in business…?"
Serenity‘ Serenity` will just drive along side it for now until it ceases being a rivine, or Hughbert points out another route.
Hughbert: "Regardless, keep going straight ahead for now. It will be a bit slower, but we can finish up our business and examine this site without falling off of a cliff on this route. I can’t recall if I asked, after all the commotion, Serenity… Do you have any idea what your friend is pointing us towards?"
Serenity: "A gigantic pain in the ass."
Anton Anton quietly chuckles at the remark.
JayM: So, heading in that direction?
[OOC] Serenity: y
Hughbert: "Sorry to have pried, then…"
Serenity: "That was my actual answer, not sassin' you."
Serenity: "No idea but it's probably going to suck."
Harriet: "You mean, like, more than this already does?"
Serenity: "Yes."
Harriet: "Damn."
Hughbert: "Ah, quite alright then. For now, I'll be looking over some documents. Let me know if there are any unexpected changes in the terrain." Hughbert reaches into a compartment in the car containing some notebooks taken from the thumper bases.
Amal: "It'll suck but it'll lead us to valuable information that will help us reach our goals!"
Amal Amal smiles brightly.
Anton: "Out of the many ways things COULD have gone up until now, I think we're on the better side of the spectrum…"
Then off you go, northeast! Sadly, it's a long trip, long enough to take until the next morning at the earliest. Sleeping in the open right now… The breeze is refreshing, and thankfully you still have supplies from your visit to Glacies. Some of those supplies are still frozen to this point in time! On the other hand, if you put those cans over a fire and heat them, turns out the broth
JayM: inside is rather tasty.
With nothing but coordinates to guide you, you're forced to make an educated guess at what might it be that you are looking for- But as you come closer it becomes clearer what it is. At first it doesn't looks like something obvious, but you notice a certain emptyness around you, one that wasn't there before
As you head further you start seeing strange things near the road, metal stakes with what looks like a tube of ragnite coiled around them
Serenity‘ Serenity` sighs.
JayM: In fact… They’re spread around what looks like a large perimeter
Amal: "What're those?"
Anton Anton scratches his head. "Beats me."
The terrain slopes downwards ahead, so you can't see what lies ahead-
Hughbert: "Most interesting…" Hughbert tries to get an eyeful of the stakes and tubes on the way in.
And Amal's question is answered not by anyone in the party, but by the second set of those you pass by.
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Serenity: "They're kind of like those locks I open up in the ruins sort -"
Anton Anton glances at Serenity before smiling. "Say, you feeling awake now? Or you still groggy from the whole Alcor thing?"
Harriet: "Someone figured out how that crack theory actually got applied? Damn."
Serenity‘ Serenity` glances at Anton while trying to break in front of the device having realizing what it is and what it’s supposed to do.
JayM: I hope you're feeling awake, Serenity. As you turn to face Anton you see something else turning to face you- The barrel of a rifle turret concealed in the bush.
Anton: "I wouldn't slow down. It'll be harder to avoid the bullets." He nods.
Serenity: "You're sure it won't zap all the juice anyway?"
It takes a bit of a quick reaction time to avoid the initial salvo- But it doesn't seems to have a second burst in it
Harriet: "See, there's a force gear active somewhere, and these things sort of transmit - WAIT WHAT," Harriet ducks down, having been completely and utterly surprised by the bullets.
Serenity: "Guess not." Couple more jerky motions to straight the car out.
Amal: "Huh."
Amal: "Guess that, uh, answers that question?"
Anton: "Still. That's a pretty big force gear, huh? What's it saying?"
In the aftermath you're left askew in the road for a while before Serenity gets it in position, thankfully the car's undamaged and so are you. Should you elicit to stop and inspect, you'll notice the device is connect to a hidden turret and likely reacted to the car's engine. This particular turret ran out of power rather quickly, however, and not ammo?
Serenity: "Anyway they're SUPPOSED to be like, remote switches that get flipped if another active gear it nearby it by pseudo siphoning off it's R-Field."
Hughbert: "…A trap? Should I be worried?"
JayM: Given you see more of those along the road ahead?
Serenity: "On the bright side they're still in the development phase so they kind of suck tits?"
JayM: Probably
Amal: "Toss an activated force gear down the road in front of us as a decoy?"
Anton: "I think we need to expend some of our team budget on Harriet making this vehicle bulletproof. Maybe rocket proof."
JayM: You can't tell if they're all connect to traps, after all you passed others that did nothing
Harriet: "But reactive field switches were always just a theory, I'm really kinda impressed they've got such a wide network going on."
Harriet: "Proofing the car… it'd make it a lot heavier, but maybe… I'd have to have a look at what materials I can get hold of back home."
Hughbert: "For now… Hmm. No telling where the other traps are hidden up ahead. Wonder what's the best way to proceed… Any weaknesses to this system, Harriet?"
Serenity: "Keep your shield running?"
Harriet: "Yeah, I can do that. And this is a network, so if we can figure out where the force gears are and neutralise them that'd make the whole thing fall apart. Nothing to transmit."
Amal: "That makes sense. Hmmm…"
Anton Anton holds back a small yawn before rubbing his eye.
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However, should you continue down the road, you'll notice that past the third set of reactive switches (which you notice are arrayed in concentric circles) that they are… Smashed up, most have had the post snapped clean off, other just bent
Hughbert: "Alright, I have a plan for how to advan…ce… … Well, that is quite barbaric. Effective, but barbaric."
Serenity: "Best way to do it, honestly."
And as you come further ahead you see in the distance… A very large building, that looks strangely square, also squat as it is only two floors high. Yet there is an interesting beauty in that place, as you see the glow of ragnite on it's walls, covering like a spiderweb… Such a large structure, it is a gigantic force gear.
Harriet: "… huh. That's cool."
Amal: "Woah…"
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Serenity: "The fuck…?"
Serenity: "It's not making any noise."
Hughbert: "What could that thing be used for, I wonder…?"
Anton: "Of course not. If you couldn't hear it earlier when I asked, it wouldn't doing anything when we got closer either."
Anton Anton reaches into his pocket before pulling out a lollipop.
Serenity: "Oh, shut the fuck up. Do you have ANY idea how weird it is for me to see a gigant ass pool of ragnite that may or may not be part of a gear and not hear ANYTHING?"
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Amal: "It IS super weird!"
Serenity: "This is probably right up there with how that static in your field of vision was for you."
Harriet: "Maybe it's shielded, too?"
Serenity: "Ugh okay I can kind of sort of… barely… make it out now? Weirdly quiet for how big it is."
Serenity: "Maybe! Shielding's never really made a difference for the spooks before though. Maybe it's way better shielding, I duno."
Strangely enough, as you come closer you still have a foreboding feeling of… Emptiness? Of there not being enough people around?
Anton Anton gestures towards the building. "Could always take a minute to look at it if the Suit here is okay with it."
Hughbert: "If we start to get closer, and it sounds dangerous, pull us back. Otherwise, let's investigate."
Serenity: "I think it was counting but now it's just saying 'run', for what it's worth…?"
Harriet: "That's ominous."
Amal: "…eep."
Amal: "Like… a countdown?"
Anton Anton nods. "Now we definitely have to investigate it!"
Serenity: "…No."
Serenity: "It's reciting formulas."
Serenity: "Weird."
Harriet: "What formulas?"
Serenity: "…Starting to get the feeling it might be more like a living computer actually."
You come closer and closer and finally do you arrive at the building… This is definitely no shielded force gear as you can feel all of your force gear have a slight tension- Like an outside force was trying to move them very lightly. The telltale sign of an incredibly powerful force gear with no shielding
Amal: "…huh."
Harriet: "I guess this is the opposite of well-shielded. Ugh, I bet I'm gonna have to recalibrate everything afterwards…"
There is a large double door in the front of the building, although there are no windows visible in it
Serenity‘ Serenity` scratches at the back of her head as she slows to a stop.
Serenity: "This thing is creeping me out."
Amal: "Why’s that? I mean, besides all the obvious reasons."
Serenity: "Just… between the formula, it sounds like it might be asking for help? Or that's just it's primary function. It's hard to tell."
Serenity: "It's weird and vaguely uncomfortable."
Amal: "Are you okay, weird force gear?" They pause. "Did he say anything about what this was for or who built it?"
Serenity: "Nope."
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Harriet: "Maybe there's something wrong with its functions and that's why it's repeating all its formulas and asking for help? That's what I'd do if I was a machine."
Hughbert: "I'll lead the way, then. Perhaps there is more information inside. Again, if you feel it's dangerous, I'm counting on you to notify me, Serenity…" Hughbert puts one hand on each door and pushes them both open.
Serenity: "Maybe, I duno. I THINK it wants us to do something at the control core…? But it's hard to tell."
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The front doors, sadly, appear to be locked. But as you check for that suddenly you her a click- The door opens on it's own, as if inviting you inside
It leads to a very spartan lobby, there are schedules posted in the wall to the left and information for the researchers who apparently work here on the right wall. Those seem like really brutal work schedules, what slave-driver must lead this place?
Amal Amal stares at the schedules and frowns. "Even for Orsis, wow…"
Harriet Harriet checks out the right wall, of course.
There is, also, a front desk. Spartan, too, but empty. Sure there are papers (useless, everyday forms for General Office Stuff), safely stored in the desk. But one thing shows up in the papers that is of interest: The symbol of Terra Medical at the top of the forms
Serenity: "Mai's never given anyone a single reason to like her."
Anton Anton chews at his lip before jotting something down on a piece of paper. He hands it to Hughbert.
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The information includes alot of safety measures (they deal with not just force gears but also chemical hazards and biological hazards here, it seems), there's a few slightly more inane things (like cafeteria menu), there's a note about Lab 4 suffering complete failure, there's also a note about Thinker undergoing complete maitenance sometime around three days ago
Harriet: "You think that big ol' thing you're hearing might be described as a 'Thinker'? 'Cause it says here that a Thinker had complete maintenance like three days ago."
Serenity: "Probably."
Hughbert Hughbert shoots him a concerned look, then hands the note back after adding to it.
Anton Anton scrunches up his face before taking a deep breath and closing his eyes.
Harriet: "Oh, and there's chem- and biohazards around, so, like, don't lick the science."
Serenity: "Hey Anton you busy?"
The lights in the walls go dim for a moment
Anton: "Just one escape route assuming we're talking about running. Two if you count the teleportation force gear."
And then only a set of them go back to full brightness, they lead towards one of the ways inside
Serenity: "Way more thinking of getting in without being seen actually, exactly 0.5 out of 5 of us look like we should be here."
Anton Anton shakes his head. "I'm good. Mai and another scientist are testing on a 3rd human deeper inside this building. They're the only ones here."
Serenity: "Uh…"
Serenity: "Thinker says to go this way?"
Serenity‘ Serenity` shrugs slightly, before shrugging and following the lit pathway.
Anton: "While we managed to avoid fighting her in Terchuan, the possibility seems more likely this time around."
You head further into the building… You’ve seen this kind of place before quite a few times, arrays of laboratories for different disciplines. There's quite a bit of interesting things here, although the most interesting is this laboratory full of monsters- Or once-monsters I guess, wherein they're testing samples of their bodies against a variety of different chemicals for some reason.
JayM: It doesn't even looks gruesome or anything it just looks really interesting- Because there is a very large focus on the nervous system here.
Hughbert: "Good enough odds. Let's move- show me those routes when we're in range." He scribbles something down in a red notebook on the way…
Harriet: "Shouldn't we, like, go help that test subject?"
Harriet: "I'm pretty sure that's what Amal would do."
Serenity: "Huh?"
Harriet: "Anton said that Mai and some dude are testing on a third human, right?"
As you follow the brighter lights you finally start heading up the second floor
Serenity: "Oh, I duno."
Serenity: "I'm just following the giant creepy force gear."
Harriet: "Oh, yeah, I wanna know what's going on with the giant creepy force gear too."
Anton Anton chews at his lip. "Not really sure what's going on. That 3rd human I was talking about is moving towards us. Or was. It isn't moving at all now. Collapsed, maybe?"
Harriet: "Just seems like if that guy's still being described as human we might wanna drop in and help before he becomes some sort of weird creepy horror novel antagonist."
Harriet Harriet scratches at the back of her head. "Unless that already happened."
As if to punctuate Harriet's words you enter a room as you're guided- And a heavy metal door slams closed behind you
Serenity: "Was that supposed to happen?"
Before you, you see the person who collapsed- Exceter is there, albeit bleeding profusely, with deep cuts on his entire body and no longer wearing the force gear he once was
Anton: "Yup."
Harriet: "Uhh…"
Serenity: "Oh."
Serenity: "Hey, dumbass."
JayM: … This room is really bizarre, however, because it is completely empty aside from the door in (that just closed) and the door out
Hughbert Hughbert frowns and kicks his force gear into action. He nods to Serenity. "Whatever you decide to do here, I'll cover you."
Exceter coughs- Coughs up some blood that is- and looks at Serenity "You're… Here…"
Exceter: "Don't… Dammit… Do't-"
Serenity: "No thanks to you, yeah."
Exceter: "Don't listen to… Thinker… He's loyal to-"
Anton Anton makes his way over to the other door to check if it's unlocked.
JayM: The heavy metal door, with no lock or handle or way to open?
JayM: Nope
JayM: You're sealed in here
[OOC] Anton: So is there one door and not two?
Serenity: "To Mai yeah, gathered as much."
JayM: Two, the way in that just closed behind you
JayM: And the way out across the room, that is also closed
Hughbert Hughbert closes the distance to Exceter and kneels down. "Anything I can do for you…? Amal, I think this is your, er, wheelhouse? I have been hearing that expression a lot and believe that's how it's used."
Harriet: "Yeah, full marks." Harriet frowns, glancing from door to door.
At this point in time, however, you hear something. Clanking and whirring as ports open on the walls as four turrets come out of each wall. Apparently the road wasn't the only place with traps "Welcome to my little laboratory" says a familiar voice- Mai, through a speaker
Mai: "I have to say, you've been terribly useful to me. And as much as I'd like to say that now that you're not anymore I should dispose of you…"
Anton Anton jots down another note and slips it to Hughbert.
Mai: "We all know that's not going to be easy, do we?"
Mai: "Have fun with my little toys… I need a little more time. But thank you for the data, Serenity. You've helped me finalize it"
The guns all train on the party and spin up for a second…
Serenity: "Finalize what, I haven't done anything."
Serenity: "Yet."
Harriet: "Uuuuugh." Harriet pulls her goggles down over her eyes.
Anton: "So, how's Summer School version two going? You make a breakthrough yet?"
Hughbert Hughbert nods to Anton. "I'll keep up the usual, then."
Amal Amal did, in fact, rush over th Exceter when Hughbert mentioned their name- is there anything they can even do?- but then Mei's got them all exactly where she wants them…
Amal: "So… you're trying to make manufacted ragnite? That's pretty audacious."
Mai: "I've found a solution. I'll introduce you to Red Ragnite soon enough"
You hear Exceter chuckle- The guns whir up and fire- Except- They don't?
The guns do absolutely nothing other than spin
Exceter: "Didn't… See that one… Coming… Right?"
Serenity: "Oh."
Serenity: "Are you working with Alcor?"
Amal: "Alcor must have designed a super special awesome crucible for you, that's sweet of him."
Serenity: "That seems kind of stupid because even without being a Oracle it's pretty obvious he's going to kill you off before the end of this."
Hughbert: "I thought someone mentioned that Alcor talked about Mai when you were reporting the events to me."
Anton: "They're both taking calculated risks and benefitting from one anothers actions."
Anton: "That's about as close to 'working together' as Mai can muster."
Serenity‘ Serenity` makes a vague gesture to Hughbert.
Serenity: "Dramatic effect."
Harriet: "Wow, and I thought I was bad at making friends."
Amal: "Anyways, what’s your deal, anyways? You can't just be in it for the science, I'd almost respect that."
Serenity: "Mommy didn't love her enough when she was a little girl because she was different from the other kids."
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Mai: "There are too many things to be known in this world, Amal… And not enough people brave enough to do what must be done to learn them"
Hughbert: "Your little trap fizzled out, by the way. Would you mind opening the door for us? You'd hate to see what we're about to do to it if you don't." He turns around and gives Harriet the stoic sort of thumbs up and nod combination that can only be made in the opposite direction of an explosion.
May: "Not going to pretend I don't sound like a villain straight out of a bad novel, I just don't care about that. And what makes you think I didn't prepare for this, Hughbert?"
Mai: "Go on, waste your energy… I need a test subject for the red ragnite anyway"
Amal: "Heck, that -is- pretty close to 'doing it for the science'. Hurting people… /isn't/ okay, though! I promise there are ways to learn everything you want to know without resorting to such measures, it just takes longer, but, you wouldn't have people trying to stop you? Which is a plus side in most peoples' book…"
Hughbert: "Call us one-for-one, then. Yesterday a young woman fell from the sky into my arms, and now you've got that going for you. Now don't go developing a secret crush on Anton that fuels you to destroy us completely, or we'll have to unbox another tired trope in retaliation."
Harriet Harriet grins at Hughbert, and hoists up her ECC, pulling the crank and flicking a few switches to start it spinning up.
Amal: "Anyways, it's not like Masharas doesn't hire mad scientists if they're willing to play by the rules -a little-, I'd rather -not- have to stop you." Frown!
Anton Anton scratches at his cheek. "The human experimentation thing is reason enough to take her in."
Harriet's great gun powers up for a dragged out while… And finally fires, it's lightning tears right through the door as if it were a blade cutting through butter
Amal: "I mean, obviously, but I had to at least give her the chance to come of her own free will."
Harriet: "Yeah, they hired me! Check out what I can do with state backing -" ZAP.
The door falls to the floor… And there's a long corridor into a different room
Serenity‘ Serenity` helps Amal pick Exceter up and move out.
Hughbert: "Oh, before we move, er…"
The corridor is… Kind of oppressive, until you reach the room at the other end… It’s bright, mostly white floor and ceilings but the glow of ragnite lines the walls brightening it up. The intricacy of the tubing that runs inside the walls is… Immense, beyond anything you've seen other than Alcor's machine. There is a great pedestal in the center, and the entire assembly of ragnite
JayM: tubing coalesces there, around a singular object that looks perhaps even comical- A flat board, with a few square objects as part of it, the board itself is l-shaped. It's quite obvious the entire force gear here is focused around that
Amal Amal squints.
Serenity: "How do you fuck up a chess board, Mai?"
Hughbert: "…Nevermind. That isn't another trap, is it, Exceter?"
Amal: "Wait, that's the core she's missing. What the frilly fuck are you even -doing- to it?"
Harriet: "I'mma blow it up."
Hughbert Hughbert looks over to Amal. "Viper, you mean?"
Amal: "Yeah. And, I mean, don't blow up the thing in the middle if you can help it, she wants it back."
But in front of that is something else… There us tubing coming from the ceiling and walls into something else that is at the center of the room, they connect like tethers to something- Someone. Hair a deep dark blue, eyes the color of crystal and skin as pale as death itself, aside from the glow of ragnite in each of her veins. She stands at the center of the room with her arms crossed,
JayM: staring at the party "Nothing, Serenity" the voice is familiar for her "To answer your question earlier"
Harriet: "Oh, sure." Harriet starts spinning up her cannon again.
Serenity‘ Serenity` pauses.
Amal: "…guah, what."
Serenity: "You know blue isn’t a color hair actually comes in, right?"
Hughbert: "Why would Mai offer that on a silver platter right on our main route…? Of course it's a trap. Everything is covered in traps here. Harriet, how many traps do you have in your lab? I bet it's an impressive array."
The person looks at Amal, at Harriet too "An interesting little relic… If you inject eletricity in one side electricity comes out the other. But if you pulse electrical charge with the right pattern it gives a different pattern in the other end" she raises her right hand as a glowing white barrier field appears between the party and her "If you match the pulse to the R-field patterns
JayM: of certain objects the patterns of others come out. Analyzing those has given quite… Interesting results "
Harriet: "Hughbert, if I answered that question I'd have to strip 'em out and replace them with different traps."
Amal: "Hahaha, dang, you're good. I -really- hope we don't have to kill you."
The woman chuckles "I'm aware, but the ragnite eventually seeps into the hair and eyes apparently" she looks at Hughbert "Trap, no. Distraction… What made you think Mai was in me at any point?"
Harriet: "Oh, you're the Thinker, cool."
Hughbert Hughbert looks up at the Thinker and points to Anton. "He's the next Divine Oracle, you know."
Serenity: "…But you don't even have a body, that's clearly a projection…"
Anton Anton doesn't seem to be paying that much attention to the present at the moment.
Thinker: "Then why don't you come and test me, Serenity?" she spreads her arms open wide "I can't go anywhere after all… I'll have to take you down at this moment"
Serenity: "Test you?"
Anton Anton lets out a sigh before shaking his head. "Mai isn't in the building anymore for the record."
Harriet: "Okay, let's see. Barrier between us, aaand… hey, everyone, clear out from the right wall."
Amal: "Sure thing, boss."
Harriet Harriet swings her ECC to the side, and aims a blast at the tubing running along the right wall on their side of the room.
Hughbert: "Should we grab the core and make a run for her, then?" Hughbert ducks and covers his face with an arm.
Amal: "Heads up Lola is poking around here."
Amal: "Dunno if anyone else noticed."
Serenity: "Uuugh everything about here is dumb."
As Harriet's blast flies towards the wall- The lightning arcs towards Thinker's right hand instead "Yes. After all, I was built to test things" []

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