Slowly, the morning comes by… You've been given a place to sleep in the guest quarters of Cobra's home-slash-office. They were considerably small rooms, little more than places to sleep and the beds were somewhat unusual, though merely mats on the ground rather than beds as you know them they were still very comfortable and soft, the only reminder you were on the floor level would be if your hand would slip off.
Hughbert made sure to take a moment to show off his R+D uniform pajamas to Anton, just so he's in on what had Serenity so thoroughly agitated.
Thankfully, said small rooms also came with cooling force gears as what first brings you to wakefulness is not the sweet smell of the breakfast that's been prepared, but the heat you're not used to having in the morning. Still, as soon as you are awake you are welcomed by the smell of food, which guides you to the central room of the office, a long table has been set in place, full of breakfast food- Unlike any you're used to, however. Mostly sweet pastry, though they are a bit hard they crumble in the mouth not unlike cookies, but there are more savory variants if that's your prefference. Something that tastes suspiciously like honey but simply cannot quite be it is also avaiable for dipping
Anton gives Hughbert a thumbs up. It's probably easier if he just acts surprised.
Serenity‘ has her hair tied up a bit higher than normal as she makes a face at the crumbling pastry. "This isn’t breakfast food."
Amal seems used to it! Not that they're not comfy and soft, but some people take a bit of getting used to these, so. It's nice to be home. "Sure it is~!"
Yet of the breakfast the most interesting part is the drink- First is the tea, an interesting tea with a light sweet taste and a hint of ginger, the pots with it are decorated with those teardrop-shaped flowers. And there's coffee of course! The coffee, however, is served in a wide bowl in which there is what appears to be a light grey form of sand… You see someone use a strange kind of… jar? wherein they press the bottom against the sand, extracting the coffee, before serving themselves
Serenity: "Who the hell eats this much sugar immediaitely after waking up?"
And on the subject of someone else, you also notice that there are quite a few people here, most you haven't seen before, maybe you recognize the faces of a few you saw in the streets. But it's like the entire little city had been invited for breakfast
Amal: "Why do you -think- I'm so out-of-it in the morning back in Masharas?" They grin.
Serenity: "Guah. Hopefully the coffee isn't drowning in sugar and milk too."
Anton: "Certainly a way to jumpstart the morning, that's for sure!"
Amal: "I'm pretty sure you can ask for it to be served light on the sugar. Although I don't get why you'd want to??? Anyways, try the tea too, it's… kind of a tradition and a specialty."
Hughbert: "When you put it like that… Perhaps we should get some recipes, I should have some of this made for the morning after all-nighters at the lab."
Serenity: "Your people are weird, Amal. What's with the sand anyway?"
Amal: "This is the way -all- the clans serve coffee! We don't all do the communal breakfast thing, but- the sand is really hot- don't touch it!- and it brings the coffee almost to boiling while it's in the little metal thingy, you can control the temperature really well that way!"
Serenity: "Bizzare but okay."
You hear a light chuckle coming from behind you, there you see Cobra who seems to tower over almost everyone else in the room "When you often have your breakfast on the move, it's wise to be full of energy. Plus" she walks past you to pick a pastry, she's already holding a mug of tea "They are quite tasty"
Serenity: "If you say so."
Hughbert has already downed a plate or two without any complaints, and is following them up with some tea.
At this point you notice there is absolutely nowhere to sit, because there's no chairs at all here "So…" she rests her back against a wall "Did you manage to rest well?"
Amal nods. "It's been a while! They don't know how to make bed rolls for camping in the other countries." They grin insouciantly.
Serenity‘ goes to try some of the coffee and the tea. *something* here has to not be sweet.
JayM: Coffee and tea you can sweeten as you wish
JayM: Careful, the coffee is quite strong
Cobra grins back "I would imagine. I’ve slept in one of those beds on a trip once, it was quite uncomfortable I kept feeling as if I was about to fall"
Serenity: "Okay I guess this'll work." And now she's dunking pastries into the coffee and soaking them a bit before eating them.
Serenity: "Beds own you guys are fucking nuts, it's not hard to sleep without moving."
Amal: "I mean, /beds/ are okay."
Cobra: "Hah, i'll have to get Lion to tell me how used he's getting to them"
She takes a long sip of her tea "On the note of people with a mission, however. Have you decided how to proceed with yours? I remember you planning on delivering your gifts to the Postal Service next"
Amal: "That seemed like the best thing to do first, yeah."
Cobra: "If that's the plan, first I wish you good luck, the only thing harder than finding the Postal Service's only settlement is finding an Ironclad caravan, and second inform today is delivery day for the mail, as well as shift change. You may have some luck at the post office if you can convince someone to show you the way"
Hughbert: "Right, the sooner construction starts, the better… Plus, I'd like Lorelei to get to the safety of the work camp quickly as well."
Amal: "Hehe, I'm sure we'll be fine!"
Lorelei seems to have turned quite fond of the tea, which she is happily consuming
Amal has slightly more tea than is advisable. It's been a while! (and Masharas has good coffee, even though they won't say that out loud while they're home.)
It isn't longer until you hear the sound of an engine in the distance "Speaking of mail" Cobra looks out the window "There they are… An empty bin, again…"
Serenity: "Is that bad?"
Cobra: "Yeah… There was a time where there'd be a lot of deliveries, mostly goods. Make deals over radio, deliveries by mail"
Cobra: "An empty bin means… We're missing things once again… Especially bad now since I was hoping we'd have a delivery of new sunlamps"
Hughbert: "What changed? Are the deliveries getting intercepted, perhaps?"
Amal: "Is it because of what happened to the land, or?"
Cobra: "A lot of factors. They've got less mailmen those day, deliveries happen less often and those at the end of delivery routes are often out of luck, like us. People are becoming less and less willing to trade over time as well."
Cobra: "Not to say, after what happened recently… Well, the roads aren't as safe anymore. Though we all respect the Postal Service for what they do, sometimes survival takes priority"
Anton: "I can't imagine most people would want to be driving around with what's been going on lately."
Serenity: "Why even bother coming out here if they got nothing?"
Amal: "Huh, that's pretty disheartening. Maybe the new projects we're working on will help bring people back together. The winds are fierce this season, but the roots don't come loose."
Cobra: "This one's also a shift change. There's usually someone from the Postal Service manning the office in the settlements, they take shifts doing deliveries, manning offices and working at headquarters"
Serenity: "Aha."
Cobra grins at Amal "That's the hope we all keep. The post office's just down the street, why don't you go bother Kyra and see if she can be your guide?
Amal: "Good plan!"
Cobra: "She's the one leaving today. Good one, she is, she makes a point of staying here at least once a year, used to be one of us"
Serenity: "Works for me."
Hughbert: "That sounds like the best starting point to me."
Whensoever you decide to leave, the sun outside hits strangely strong- It reflects off the ground and upon the ashen clouds and back down, amplifying itself. Either way people seem to be unbothered out here.
And just down the street, though you may not know what signs identify the post office there is one particular vehicle there you have never seen before: Much like a bycicle, but with an engine and a slightly reinforced frame, the engine seems dangerously powerful for such a small vehicle. There's a large box attached to the back of the vehicle, said box is both open and empty at the moment
Anton whistles.
Serenity: "Two wheels? That's stupid as fuck for rough terrain."
Amal: "Hah! They do take a lot of training, but you'd be surprised."
Amal: "I… I never got the hang of it…"
Serenity: "I mean I'm sure you could deal with it but it's far from ideal."
Serenity: "Anyway."
Anton: "I'd prefer a good pair of force boots myself. It'd be killer if those could actually maintain high speeds like vehicles without burning up."
Heading inside the office you end up in a rather small room, there is a counter over which you see two people working frantically moving stacks of letters and boxes into an organized pile
There is, however, nothing on the shelves labelled "in" , unfortunately
The two working here are both wearing rather garish yellow and blow colors, but their oufits are clearly uniforms
Hughbert: "Excuse me, is Kyra here?"
A tired and somewhat hoarse voice answers "A moment, please, as soon as the transfer's ready"
It takes a few minutes before the two of them actually give you attention, you notice their movements are organized and precise as they organized the material for delivery into tightly packed piles and then move the piles to the back of the vehicle outside. Once that is done they head back on, one of them hands a letter with yellow paper to the other one. The one who recieved the letter looks at you "Sorry, always awkward when someone walks in during the transfer, I hope you didn't wait long. Either way, i'm the mailer Kyra, at your service"
Kyra is, now that you pay closer attention, quite a small lass which contrasts quite strangely with her considerable muscular mass, her outfit seems like just slightly too small for her size, perhaps purposefully so. Even as she speaks she opens up the letter to read it
Amal: "Hehe, no worries. It's always kind of amazing to see your people working!"
Kyra: "We do take pride in our work" she looks entranced by her letter for a few more moments, before looking straight at you again "Either way, if you have any deliveries take the chance, i'll be leaving in a few minutes"
Hughbert: "Afraid we've got a delivery that won't fit in your cargo box. I believe you're expecting a truck from Masharas to bring some building supplies, right?"
Kyra blinks, looks at the letter in her hand "Wow you people are fast"
Kyra: "This is literally the first time i've heard of this, the news of your arrival has only been broadcast today"
Anton smiles.
Hughbert: "Sometimes, we actually get to stay on schedule. It's rare, but isn't it wonderful?" He grins.
Kyra: "Actually" she turns to the other mailer "Jeremy this is opmail, why didn't they broadcast this via radio?" he shrugs "You'll have to ask at HQ" she raises and eyebrow, and looks at Hughbert "Well, I for one can appreciate someone that knows to stay on schedule"
Kyra: "Either way, the news is that you've permission to visit Headquarters and every mailer is free to guide you should it not impact their delivery routes"
Kyra: "Which for your luck is me today since i'm heading back anyway"
Anton: "Handy!"
Kyra: "Hrm… How did you arrive here, though? Unfortunately I can't carry you all back with me"
Hughbert nods. "That sounds like what Cobra mentioned. We have our own truck that we're carrying the materiel in."
Kyra: "Ah, Cobra's involved, okay now it all makes sense, she was particularly adamant I leave almost a whole week earlier. Alright, how about we meet up at the north exit?"
Kyra: "Be sure to pack for a very long trip, however, we're going to the western shores, that's around two days on average speed, just one if you can match the windseeker's speed"
Amal grins. "You might be surprised. We'll see!
Hughbert: "That suits us fine. We'll get the car warmed up and meet you at the north exit. … That long, is it? Amal, can I leave tallying our camping supplies to you, in case there's anything we're missing for this particular voyage?"
Amal: "Sure thing! I think we're probably good but there's a few things I wanna pick up~ Local specialties!"
Hughbert nods. "I'll help you get them packed in then. I'm interesting in seeing what you recommend."
Hughbert salutes Kyra and heads off toward the markets and the car!
It doesn't takes long to get ready and then head up to the north exit. You find her there readying up her windseeker- It's quite the interesting vehicle on closer inspection, instead of using coils for suspesion it uses bonded ragnite plates giving it a somewhat magical look as the wheels aren't quite directly connected to the rest of the casing aside from the drive train. As you approach she gives the engine one strong spin to make sure it's working, unlike most engines this makes an interesting noise as it it's somewhat more open, letting the rattle of the gears be heard
Kyra: "Ah, ther eyou are. Ready? Just follow me and be on your guard, there were a few territorry skirmishes on the path we're taking and you never know what's left in the wake of those"
Anton chews at his lip.
Amal: "Let's… try to stay out of any of those skirmishes, if we can. Always gets messy when outsiders are in the neighborhood…"
Hughbert: "We'll keep our eyes open. Got a few extra pairs of them to spare, after all."
Anton: "A pack of armored cats, huh?" He shakes his head. "Haven't seen those since we fought Akavir in the sewers."
Serenity: "They still haven't had enough…?"
And then you ready up, the car is ready and so is the windseeker. Kyra stops for a moment, turns around "Wait, what about armored cats?"
Anton: "They're going to ambush us eventually."
Hughbert points at Anton. "Oracle."
Kyra: "That's- Uhn- what?"
Serenity: "Fortune teller."
Kyra: "Uhn… Really? Well, i'll believe that if we run into any Scorpioras in the way, then"
Kyra: "I doubt, though, they don't roam alone"
Kyra: "I mean… Maybe if they've lost their partners I guess… But that'd just be sad on top of it all"
Anton: "Also as a heads up, Alcor does intend to engage us at some point during our visit at this country. Other than it being after the cats I can't tell you much though. It's on the road and the scenery is very nondescript out here so I don't have any landmarks to reference."
Kyra: "You must be quite the VIPs with so much trouble chasing you"
She hops on her vehicle "Anyway, get ready" and she speeds off northwest
Serenity: "Awesome, I've got *so many* ways to fuck with her bouncing around in my head as is."
Serenity‘ follows after their guide.
It doesn’t takes long before the windseeker starts speeding quite fast. One would think that the two-wheeled nature of the vehicle would make it difficult to ride in the terrain, especially when there's a dune, but that is quite untrue. As you come full tilt to the very top of a dune she doesn't slows down in the last, the car goes flying in the air just as expected- But somehow her windrunner stays firmly stuck to the ground as if glued to it, sure it bounces a little but it doesn't even wobbles sideways
Serenity: "Weird."
And she only makes gain speed as you go downhill, you're going as fast as the car will go without the boost active as well and it is quite tiresome to drive like this. The trip continues like this for quite a while, in fact unless you request a stop earlier by now you're already clocking twelve hours of travel at maximum speed, the car's starting to complain a little bit as it was not really built for this travel at it's physical limit of speed
Serenity‘ definitely isn’t driving that long without stop, gotta fucking eat at some point to remain focused.
As you travel, however, you see the scenery change, as there is more than just sand now and you see here and there some sparse but resilient trees growing, a few strange growths of vine that seem to sprout from under the ashen layer- Very slowly the scenery is slightly and slowly changing from a desert to a savannah. Thankfully Kyra notices you need to stop, so she slows down and eventually stops near a small group of trees that almost feel like forms a path
Anton scrunches up his face. "Not too much variety on the snacks with us being on the road this long."
The trees aren't too tall, but they have thick trunks with char marks, they're certainly not fruit trees but their plentiful foliage offers good protection from the light ashfall that just recently started
Kyra: "Ahaha, i'm surprised you lasted as long as you did on the wheel" she seems entirely alright, as if she hadn't been driving all this time "
Serenity: "Been driving around the continent basically none stop for a couple months, but I'm definitely not super thrilled with the sand's lack of traction."
Kyra: "Yeah, honestly, the only vehicles that can do speed well here are the windseekers"
Serenity: "On the bright side not much to worry about crashing into, I guess…?
Kyra: "Quite an apt name they got too" Kyra nods "Yeah, until we're past the sandy zone there isn't much and even then there isn't much shrubbery arou-"
Serenity: "How the hell do you guys manage to find enough food out in this wasteland?"
Kyra stops herself as she sees some ash fall from the foliage above her, she looks around, then shakes her head "Oh, with a lot of work"
Kyra: "That's why we travel a lot, we go where the lava flows have cooled, that's fertile land, very fertile. We plant, we stock, we travel again"
Serenity: "Aha."
Kyra: "There's a few places around though, very good places shielded from the elements. A clan runs into one of those? That's their new secret golden land, their final fallback"
Kyra chuckles "Like the Headquarters. Admittedly most of it's been taken over by the the new antenna, the thing's a monster"
You hear the ruffling of the leaves in the wind
Except there is no wind at the moment
Kyra: "… Oh come on… Your friend can't really be a fortune teller can he?"
Serenity: "He really is. I'm also a witch and Amal is a figment of an extra dimenional being's imagination."
Kyra sighs "Oh, well… I really hope you are all that, then… Because I think we really do have a cat problem" she's looking around cautiously
Serenity: "I don't remember them being THAT scary. Annoying sure, but. That's all cats really."
Around this moment five savannah cats drop down from the sparse few trees, they're armored with force gear jackets, including their tails
One of them has scars on their body and is carrying a strange kind of pistol in their mouth, it's like a cross between a pistol and a shortsword
Kyra: "Ah, dammit… I mean, look i'm not a combatant here… But, uhn… Okay I know this is probably not what you want to do b ut if you have some food to give they'll go away"
Hughbert: "Stay behind us with Lorelei. We'll cover you." Hughbert fires up his force gear.
Hughbert: "Oh, that's it? What do we have to spare?"
As Hughbert readies himself the cats scatter quickly around assiming a semicircle position and readying to pounce, tails up and trained at the party
Kyra sighs "Uhn… Try not to scare them, alright? Whatever skirmish went down here went badly awry… Either their siblings are badly wounded or dead"
Hughbert shuts his gear off and backs up a bit. "They're not moving yet, at least…"
Serenity: "I mean, they're also cyborg'd up trained killer animals from an enemy faction? Not super sure feeding them is really in anyone's best interest anyway, but."
Amal: "A cat problem… or a cat solution?!"
Amal: "I packed extra rations for the cats, by the way."
Amal: "It was hard making sure there was enough room in storage for it but I managed!" They grin ear to ear.
Kyra: "Nah, Stingers aren't quite… Enemies. I mean they'll fight you if they're paid for that but clan skirmishes don't tend to end with anyone dead"
Kyra looks at Amal "Uhn… Well, that's some good luck"
Amal cheesy grins. "We make our own luck! That's why they call us the Fatebreakers~!" Kiraboshi emote, then they scamper off to go heck around playing Supplies Sokoban until they figure out where they actually put them…
The perfect kind of snack for cats, something soft and derivative of meat on some form!
Amal: "Aha!"
Amal: "H… hey Hughbert… what's the best cat feeding strategy, help me out here."
Serenity: "This is a dumb thing that is happening right now."
The cats ease down once they see Amal foraging for food, in fact they all sit down rather obediently as the scarred one takes a couple of steps closer, just little bit, though. It doesn't have a wary posture at all, though, and it lowers it's head
Amal: "Hey, it's okay. I brought food for you -and- your friends~!"
Hughbert: "If anyone can handle feeding them with the proper [Care], I would wager it's you. Just do whatever your instincts tell you, I think…"
It looks expectantly at Amal
Amal is talkin' all quiet-like and calming, as one does. Resisting the overwhelming urge to pet it between the ears, let's be honest. Maybe after it's sated.
As Amal comes closer to the scarred cat it waits until Amal's feeding it… And suddenly with immense speed all five cats mob him! It happens in an instant, they snatch the food out of him- While the scarred one stuffs it's face on his pockets and removes your entire [Gilead Balm] stack out of there, tossing it back. One of the other cats grabs it and the other four quickly scatter to the four winds. The scarred cat pulls something out of their force gear and drops it in the ground, gently puts a paw on the head of a grounded and confused Amal for a moment before running away itself
Amal: "EEP!"
Amal did not get the chance to pet the catte!
JayM: You lost [Gilead Balm]x4, gained [Scorpion Mine]x1 - [Scorpion Mine]: [Q] Mark a target with Scorpion Mine(U), anyone that hits the target can spend it for +50% damage
JayM: The catte pet you, though
Serenity: "Yup that was a dumb thing that happened."
Amal: "Aw, they engaged in trade! That's adorable!" They're a little winded. And trying not to giggle at Serenity, and mostly failing.
Kyra sighs "I guess they're still alive, that was medicine, right?"
Kyra shakes her head "I hate this, those new guys have shown up and whenever they do they ignore all the rules…"
Hughbert helps Amal back up and get back towards the truck. "So, about how much worse were you expecting, Anton?"
Amal: "New guys?"
Anton glances at Hughbert. "Danger has passed for now."
Anton: "So let's enjoy some food, yeah?" He grins.
Kyra: "Warriors in black, incredibly powerful weapons. Sometimes they hire people from the clans to fight with them, but they're the cheapest hires if you need warriors"
Amal: "Oh, I… I think we had a run-in with them already, actually…"
Hughbert: "The truck could stand to use some rest, as well. Taking a break for food is an excellent idea."
Kyra: "Hrm… I'm not a fighter, though, so I can't tell. And i'd rather not spin the rumor wheel myself"
Kyra looks up at the sky "Hrm… If we can pull a 14-hour stunt we can get to the shore the fastest, or two eight hour trips. I'll let you choose the pace
Kyra: "Myself I wouldn't have stopped, i'm eager to get to my time off"
Kyra: "Either way this is a good stopping point I guess"
Hughbert: "Up to our driver, I believe. What do you say, Serenity?"
Serenity: "Yeah fourteen hours in one go definitely isn't happening, that's insane."
She pulls out a canteen from the side of her vehicle ""
Serenity: "Not without a break or, well, I guess Anton could take over halfwya through."
Amal: "Even Serenity's not -that- hardcore."
Kyra: "I'll be honest, it takes training"
Kyra: "Don't think i've managed to pull an all-day drive before my second year"
Kyra: "Well, rest up, we've a lot of ground to cover still. Not like we don't have some time to go…" she looks at her vehicle "We don't have anyone to spare to deliver those anymore, anyway… *sigh*"
Hughbert: "That sounds like quite the intense training. Aren't you worried about any possible ill effects on your muscles that staying tense for that long might cause?"
Kyra: "Well, I know I haven't had an issue with that, I think it's something about the windseeker's build. It's really relaxing to drive it"
Serenity: "Hmm."
JayM: Well
JayM: Let's give our driver some time to decide, shall we?
JayM: For this driver of a story here doesn't feel like he's doing a good enough job to continue
Hughbert: "I wonder if there IS something that unique about it… I'd love to examine it, but sadly, my Peacetime Checklist is already quite long as it is." He stretches a bit… "Well, best to get started on it as soon as possible, once you've come to a decision."
JayM: But no matter, for the decision of how to pace oneself shall come in the next session
Anton: Thanks for running
Serenity: "Well I mean it's explicitly built for and tuned for long distancing riding in this exact enviroment, so…"

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