An encounter with Alcor, some would call it a chance enconter, but we all know there is no such thing involving that man.
Yet, despite all the trials and tribulations, despite Serenity going (metaphorically and not) nuclear, despite the terrible distortion in space and the direct interference of Lola… The party has emerged victorious, and is now left under the sun of Rissan, car slightly rattled but still perfectly intact. And a mission before them: Reach the Dustfire settlement in the volcano Mount Hope and see that the Akavir interference there is well and truly gone
Anton is still dozing off in the car.
Serenity‘ wasn’t really in any condition for more long distance driving after all that, though, and opted instead to pass out after saying Anton's in charge when he wakes up.
Hughbert: "Would you like to drive, or shall I?" Hughbert looks to Harriet.
Harriet: "You drive, I've gotta get some notes down."
Hughbert: "Alright. I will try my best to give us a smooth drive to our destination. Amal, will you be resting from your exertions as well?"
The drive isn't difficult, surprisingly enough. One would expect that driving up a volcano would be an ordeal… But as you drive towards Mount Hope you spot what is perhaps the only actual road you saw in this entire country… Okay, second, if you count the underwater pathway. It's paved with something that looks like black stone bricks, a path up the mountain, still steep but nothing the car can't handle, given how wide it is you imagine it's designed for those incredibly large transport vehicles
Amal: "I think… I'll be taking it easy for a little while, haha. Anton already got his beauty sleep, he can cover for me when he wakes up…"
As you start the climb, however, the heat of the volcano becomes quite clear… Particularly because the road seems to follow what looks like a ridge that's been carved into the mount, a ridge that is, at the moment, filled to the brim with glowing red lava. It flows as if it was some form of gel, moving in globs and folding upon itself. You spot across from this ridge another, the separation is too clear to be natural, that one appears empty
Further up you go the less what little vegetation the terrain of Rissan has appears as the ground turns to a darker and darker color, the heat only makes getting more intense and the air has a quite unusual smell
But perhaps you meet the strangest part as you get about halfway to the mouth of the volcano, metal objects sticking from the lava flows. They're not just any objects they look like pumps, they arc up from the molten rock and into the side of the road wherein blackened metal boxes sit. You can't ascertain what exactly is their purpose, but the boxes don't seem to contain molten rock either- There's a pressure valve on them.
Further up those contraptions become more common, larger. Some of them seem to have some other systems they go through before leading into the boxes, everything seems pretty automated, and further up you go the stronger the heat becomes, it's not impossible to deal with but it's the worst you've seen up to now
Amal: "Huuuh."
And eventually you finally reach the Dustfire settlement- The already complaining about the heat. On the edge of the volcano's mouth a large area has been flattened, you see in the distance, hanging from the mouth of the volcano, large metal frames from which hang entire buildings made of blackened metal, metal tubes going down in the volcano below, some form of gas pouring endlessly from the vents on the top
Harriet: "Holy shit. This entire place is a marvel of engineering."
Farther away from it, safely anchored in the rock, are houses of varying sizes, they have a certain look to them that make you think of the buildings in Orsis, perhaps it's the excessive use of metal in their construction, but they have a much more organic feel to them, like designed to be actual buildings. Of interest is that every building appears to have a rather large ragnite engine attached to it's outside, there's tubing that appears to be pumping ragnite from a central storage to the engines of every house. There's strange darkned lines on the ground as well, as if the ground was set on fire- But they follow very specific patterns, connecting the houses in orderly fashion
Hughbert pulls up closer to the settlement. "Will the car be alright enduring this level of heat, Harriet?"
Amal: "That seems… is that… Harriet is that even structually sound? Like… aren't there laws about this? Like… the ones about physics, not-"
There are people out and about, milling and working. You find a place to stop near what looks like a central market area… But you notice something awkward, you can't see the faces of any person, or get any grasp of their appearance. Bodies covered in cloth, heads covered by keffiyahs and faces obscured by gas masks
Harriet: "There are definitely laws about that, but they must have some method of making that sound, or else it'd be falling away in front of us. And… I did shield the engines against extreme weather, but I'm gonna be honest, I never expected to drive into a fucking volcano."
Upon closer inspection, the doors to the stores, as well as every house, appear to be pretty tightly sealed as well
Harriet: "I'll rig up one of my cryogrenades without its explosive device to do a slow seep. It should keep things cool enough to avoid problems."
Serenity: "Nnnghhh… Anton did you drive into the sun…?" Serenity whine groggily as she starts to wake up.
Hughbert: "Should we have masks like that before stepping out…?" As his eyes wander from the people to the houses, he ponders, "Odd machines… Perhaps they're for helping endure this miserable heat?"
Amal: "Nope! A volcano!"
Serenity: "Uugh gross. Hughbert your gear is focused on water, right? Make it not a million degrees."
Serenity: "Or uh yeah Harriet's thing works too."
Anton smiles at Serenity. "Welcome back."
Harriet has already grabbed her multitool from her belt and is working on one of the grenades.
Hughbert makes sure his keffiyah is still snugly tied. "Wait here, I'll ask about those masks before the rest of you risk it. My gear should be able to keep my air a little cleaner, for a while." With that, he parks the car and steps out to wave to a local merchant.
In order to acquire the attention of a merchant, Hughbert would have to actually enter a shop- There's a promising one, clothing store from the looks of it, with masks visible for sale. Hughbert will find that the door is quite adamant on not opening, but eventually gives in- And he soon discovers why it was so adamant given the difference in air pressure. A different of pressure borne out of a vast difference in temperature, the temperature inside being far cooler and more sustainable than outside. The shopkeeper still, however, has their mask on "Oh, man, are you okay there, outsider?"
Serenity: "Hey Anton where the hell were you during all of that anyway?"
Harriet: "Yeah, usually when you go to la-la land you don't literally disappear."
Anton scratches his head. "As much as I'd like to say I was doing something important, the truth is I was simply dragged on to another plane by Lola."
Anton: "She quite literally just took my threads and tugged me out of existence."
Amal: "Ugghh."
Serenity: "Huh."
Hughbert blinks a few times, taking in the suprising difference, before responding. "Thank you for your concern, I'm well. I've got a force gear that lets me adapt to the climate. But, if possible, I'd like to get myself a mask and save its energy. Four more beyond that for my companions, if you'd be kind enough to show me what you have."
Anton: "I'd imagine she didn't want me to get involved in what could have easily been Alcor and all of you dying. Especially given how much we worked together on her timeline."
Harriet: "That or you could have helped us actually slap the smug off her face."
The shopkeep crosses their arms "Oh, haha, you don't need one unless you're going in the refineries. What you are looking for, however, are those" they walk out from behind the counter to show Hughbert a set of clothing, they look kinda like robes. Then, then the shopkeep turns them inside-out showing thin tubing "Temperature control gears, all of clothing has those. They're specialized for the… 'weather' here in the main settlement, so batteries last very long and they're quite comfortable. Most wear the ones that go under their clothing but since I doubt you're in for a full outfit change, i've got the robe variant too. How about it?"
Anton: "Trust me though, I feel terrible. That's not one, but the last two engagements I've not been present for. It's almost as if our enemy has decided that fighting with me present is a lost cause." He grins.
Anton: "You forgot about the critter grenade, I bet!"
Harriet: "Well I mean, with your weird shadow people there's a lot more of us."
Serenity: "How do you do the future seeing thing by the way?"
Anton: "I just follow threads."
Serenity: "Okay… then how do you find those?"
Anton: "Couldn't tell you. I've always been able to see them as long as I can remember. I see the world differently than most."
Harriet: "Don't worry, I'll figure it out eventually."
Anton: "It's not a concentrate thing, they're just… always there around each of you."
Serenity: "…Hmm…"
Serenity: "I think Paws is full of shit then Amal."
Hughbert nods. "Sounds like a wise investment. We're going to be doing business here for a while, so neglecting to stay cool would be a foolish mistake." He points to a few different ones, that are approximately the right sizes for his team. "How much for these?"
Amal: "Chalk it up to qualia continuing to be hard."
The shopkeep waves you over to the cashier to recieve payment, we handwave this section because the GM haven't come up with plausible values for money since the system does not uses them
Anton: "You're basically presenting this like I asked you how you hear the goddess?"
Anton: "Dunno how I can answer this better."
Serenity: "Well,"
Hughbert ends up with a set of cooling outfits for the party!
Serenity: "Amal said Paws said I was an Oracle now,"
Serenity: "So I was wondering if I was just doing it wrong…? But it seems more likely she is mistaken if you can just see them in general."
Hughbert was (and is) just going to send the bill to the Major anyway! Hughbert opens the door to the car and promptly shuts it to keep the precious cryo-air inside it. "Alright, as it turns out, we do not need the gas masks… But. I did get us some robes that will counteract the heat." He passes them out.
Amal: "I mean, there could be a seeing-the-future part and then a whatever-you-did part…"
Amal: "it's not like there's an instruction manual for this stuff!"
Anton: "Well, I mean. Just because you can't SEE something isn't like you can't interact with it."
Anton: "I can interact with Paws even though I can't see or hear them."
Serenity: "Putting on more clothing to avoid heat seems counter intuati - oh they're geared up okay."
The robes are, in fact, cooled. It's a bit awkward to feel the heat on your face and be cooler from the neck under but otherwise not bad
Anton: "Well, not entirely true I guess? As I can follow the threads and know where Paws is at the moment but I can't see them, see them."
Serenity‘ glances back and forth between Anton and Amal. "Well I mean if I can’t see threads and thus the future or emotions then I don't think it really counts as being an Oracle as that's… what being an Oracle is about?"
JayM: Now, I wonder, how would you go about seeking your mission
Amal: "Mmm. Paws says that the stuff you do is like Anton's shadows somehow! And now /I'm/ curious!"
Harriet shrugs on the robes and heads outside to set her defanged cryogrenade under the car's hood. It should help keep the car's systems from warping beyond recognition.
Serenity: "…Doesn't that explicitly rely on being able to see into the past via threads and plucking them forward…?"
Hughbert decides to wait a bit before bringing the group onto the task- figuring out if the group's one oracle richer suddenly seems important. "She did something like seize an area of space. Perhaps doing something like that again under controlled conditions will provide a hint?"
Serenity: "Hmm…"
Harriet: "It seems pretty likely that all this metaphysical bullshit is connected. It may just be one of those 'physics is applied mathematics' things."
Serenity‘ Makes A Face at Harriet.
Amal: "Somethin’ like that."
Amal: "Especially if it makes Serenity mad." They grin.
Serenity: "I'll eat your imaginary friend, Amal.
Harriet: "Oh, sure, eat a puppy."
Serenity‘ slides the robe over her head, then lets out a puff of air. Scrunches up her face,
Amal giggles!!
Amal: "Both of you, I swear."
Anton: "My three Oracle mumbo-jumbo talents work a bit differently. Images draw upon an action someone in the past or future has performed before on our timeline. Alcors magic draws upon attacks that were executed on other world lines."
Anton: "Dunno what Paws meant, though."
Anton: "Not that its entirely accurate though as I can also distort the images and make them way cooler than they were originally."
Amal: "Oh! Paws says that makes sense and that what Serenity does is more like Alcor’s thing… like… drawing energy from a different point in time."
Serenity: "Oh."
Serenity: "I'm pretty sure that's not an Oracle thing but okay."
Serenity: "Well, whatever. IF we find someone else we want locked away in a sealed space we can try some stuff out I guess, Hughbert."
Hughbert: "Won't be long until we find such a candidate, I am sure. On that topic, Amal, do you know where we should begin looking, now that we have proper equipment?"
Harriet: "It's always best to employ the scientific method with this sort of thing, after all."
As you discuss you see someone pass by- From the looks of it a parent with two children carrying groceries. The children wear pretty much the same outfit as the parent, sans the mask. They do not wear children-size masks but they each do have adult-sized masks strapped to their shoulders
Serenity: "How come we didn't get dumb ass headgear too?"
Anton: "Now now, Serenity. Give it some time and I'm sure you'll come to appreciate the headgear too."
Serenity: "Doubtful." She pulls the hood of the robe up over her head, then finally gets out of the car.
Harriet: "It's not that bad with the robe gear, at least."
Hughbert: "We only need it if we're going into the foundries. If our business takes us there, I presume we'll be able to find an entrepeneur with a finger on the heartbeat of the gas mask economy seeking to tap into the market at its point of greatest demand."
The dull orange and black colors seem rather oppressive at first given how pervasive they are, then you notice lots of signs of other colors, generally everything that has strong contrast and cooler colors. They're used to adorn doorways, clothes, pathways. It's an interesting contrast
Serenity: "Aha."
Amal: "Uhhhh well… hmm. I know the firedivers are pretty much in charge here, so…"
Amal: "…maybe find the people in charge of those factories?"
Serenity‘ glances around. "…nothing in particular about these buildings screams ’im in charge' to me."
Anton: "Leave it to me."
Anton furrows his brows for a moment before nodding to himself. "Right, then. Let's head to the second level."
Serenity: "I gotta ask Amal,"
Serenity: "Why the fuck do they live not only on the volcano instead of at the base like sane humans, but also hanging over it's mouth."
Anton starts to walk off, but he isn't going to a factory specifically.
Hughbert: "Alright then. Stop me if you spot anything I should brake for." Hughbert scoots the car over second-level-wards and looks for a factory to park near.
Amal: "I mean, they're firedivers! Hecking around in lava is kinda what they do. It'd suck if you had to climb a mountain to go to work every morning…"
[OOC] Anton: Oh right we're in the car
Serenity: "Man, not even. You just set up a cable car lift and ride that up. Give you some time to read the newspaper in the morning to boot."
Anton: "We want to go to a building detached from the factories. I'll point it out. There's someone that has a very impressionable aura on the second floor there."
Anton: "My guess is it's someone we want to talk to."
[OOC] Hughbert: I think we started to get out of the car, but, suddenly it makes more sense to car over? probably.
Hughbert gets directly not to a factory, but to a nearby building. It's kind of small and understated but instead of the more common blue decorations it's doorways are marked with an imposing red color. Given it's location as well as how the ground has been marked by constant traffic to and from the factories this seems like it'd be an office building.
Serenity: "Now I'm even more disapointed Paws is dumb and a liar. I was all exciting for more synesthasia."
Serenity‘ hops out of the car and heads inside.
Hughbert looks out for stairs to the 2nd floor.
Harriet heads on in with the others. Hood up!
Serenity` tilts her head in a direction, then glances back to Amal. "Is there a ragnite refinery or something around here?"
Heading inside, first you must struggle with the doorway and make your way in. Inside it’s cool and comfortable, the temperature control force gear on your new outfits automatically adjusts to the temperature, shutting down completely
Hughbert: "Ah, is that what that rumbling sound is? The force gear picked up on it too."
Serenity: "I have no idea what the hell it is to be honest, that'd be my best guess though."
There's an entry room, this is very clearly an office. In the front desk the reception is… Wearing a mask too? They look at you and stare for a moment, then they slowly remove their mask. Her darkened skin and almost-golden eyes staring back at you "Good morning, how may I help you?"
Serenity: "It almost sounds like it has a distinct voice but doesn't actually talk…?"
Serenity: "Not even the usual drone."
Serenity: "Uh anyway we're here to talk to whoever's in charge."
Hughbert: "It almost sounds a little… Depressed, I think. Like it does not know what its purpose is." Once he steps in, he greets the receptionist with his name and rank. "We were hoping to discuss some things, as envoys from Masharas."
Serenity: "Huh?? Oh are you still wearing Harriet's circlet thinger?"
Receptionist: "Ah, master Cid. And who might…" she stops for a moment "Wait, aren't you the Masharas envoys?"
Serenity‘ flashes a thumbs up to the receptionist.
Harriet: "Yeah, here we are, fixing problems, et cetera et cetera."
Reception: "Ah, that’s good. I heard about you on the radio, you're amazing, you know that?"
Serenity: "Yup."
Harriet: "Yeah, we're pretty great." Harriet grins.
Receptionist: "Cid even wanted to show you around the Fire Dam" she blinks "Oh, but look at me getting sidetracked. Just take this stairway up to the second floor, first door to the left"
Hughbert: "Thank you. We'll do our best to live up to your expectations, miss." He salutes, then leads the group onward!
Heading up as indicated you find your way into a large room- It's dominated by a central meeting table with a variety of diagrams displayed on walls that seem to show the workings of the factories, the meeting table itself seems to be flooded with documents unrelated to what's displayed ones.
Harriet is, of course, instantly fascinated by the diagrams.
Hughbert knocks on the doorframe as he steps in. "Excuse us. One party of Masharasian envoys here to see Mr. Cid."
Poring over the materials on the meeting table is an old man, his mask is on the desk and it looks slightly different from others, decored with silver and red. His greying hair is long and he keeps a shaved face, he turns to face you as you enter, pulling a case of glasses from his shirt and puts the glasses on his face "Ah, I was informed, it's good to see you've finally made your way here"
Cid: "I'm the head of the refineries, so what passes for a leader of this clan. I hope you didn't find the weather too unbearable?" he nods "I see you've prepared yourselves"
Anton: "Given how much you stood out, it was an easy find." He smiles.
Serenity: "Not really a great place for a city, all the same."
Cid: "It was never supposed to be a permanent settlement, mind"
Serenity: "What happened that made it one?"
Harriet: "Fascinating infrastructure, though." Harriet still isn't looking at the guy.
Cid: "Used to be a seasonal settlement for working the refineries." he points to one of the diagrams in the wall "Then the Fire Dam project begun, it slowly got bigger" he points to the papers on the desk "Then we needed tools, and what few people we had left were needed here… So it became more permanent" "
Cid: "Not like our people aren't used to working in those conditions, we do make a living out firediving, but nontheless i'd rather not raise kids here"
Serenity: "Should build a base camp or something, yeah."
Serenity: "Ugh this is really driving me crazy though - do you have a hugh pile of ragnite laying around somewhere and have it stored in a weird way or something?"
Cid: "Ragnite? Oh, right, i've been briefed on people with your gift"
Cid: "What you hear is probably the lava. Sure we have a central storage of ragnite we use to power the house's cooling systems, and the heat converters probably sound strange. But ragnite is actually abundant in the lava flows, the heat and pressure from the flows combined with ragnite generates the most important alloys we extract from them"
Harriet examines that diagram he points out, tilting her head in consideration.
Harriet: "Well, that explains why it's not powered…"
Serenity: "…Oh, ragnite in the lava. That would explain that."
Harriet: "But hey, random question, what materials did you build that dam with?"
Cid looks at Harriet "Hah! You must be Harriet" he nods to himself "It's a unique form of thermal concrete made of limestone, igneous rock, titanium and ragnite mix"
Harriet: "Yup, that's me. And that's fascinating. How'd you come up with that mix?"
Cid: "It has immense heat tolerance before it breaks down, sufficient to withstand being immersed in lava for a long time. Coupled with the venting system it utilizes, the Fire Dam can remain submerged in the lava ad infinitum" he sits down, crossing his legs "Testing, a lot of intense, feverish testing and a visionaire with I guess a lot of hope"
Harriet: "Yeah, but hope doesn't get this shit done. Genius gets it done."
Cid: "He had the idea of the Fire Dam, and started working on his own by testing various materials for heat resistance, he tried first with metals since we use high transmission metals for our building struts so we can recycle the heat for use. That proven not enough, so he started researching the natural materials lava sits against, rock."
Cid: "Well… He was also pretty reckless… Midas didn't really come back from one of his research expeditions alive. But others picked up on his research, and well, as the situation in Rissan grew more desperate so our engineers grew more invested"
Harriet: "Huh, that's too bad. I would've liked to meet the guy."
Cid: "I'd never seen the entirety of the clan's engineers working on a singular project before, but damn if they don't make an amazing team when they do. That's how we came up with thermal concrete and the nanopores theory"
Cid: "Unfortunately, as you've probably heard, tools to create the nanopores aren't easy to come by"
Harriet: "Highly-specialised tools are like that, yeah."
Cid: "Do I know that. But in the end, we built the Fire Dam, and it's proven effective"
Cid: "Sure, it's only one river we have control of, but now we can make fertile lands alongside the path of Mount Hope's flows"
Cid: "… Actually, on the note of those tools"
Serenity: "Basically anything's an improvement out here yeah."
Cid: "We could use your help overseeing a… Transaction"
Cid: "We had to make some pretty bad deals to get access to the tools we need. Particularly, we hired out a lot of people, and we want them back now."
Cid: "There is a price to be paid for breaking the contract early like this, supposedly too high for us to ever pay, thankfully we had a real lucky break, so we can pay it and get our people back"
Cid: "I'm… Not sure if the RF Company is going to appreciate that, however. I'm afraid the entire situation might end up badly"
Harriet: "Oh, we can get people back easy."
Amal: "…so they're holding your people hostage and calling it legal because there's a contract. Classy."
JayM: "Essentially"
Harriet: "Yeah your suppliers are kind of garbage, but luckily we're here to fix shit."
Cid: "We're about to break the contract… Getting our people back is going to be another ordeal, but we need to make sure breaking the contract goes well"
Cid: "The representation of RF here, his name is Jacke, is a rather… Heavyhanded individual. I don't trust his integrity either"
Harriet: "I mean, there's an entire lake of lava right there."
Amal grins at Harriet.
Hughbert: "Harriet, your solution to this problem is noted, and will be called upon as a last resort. We should try diplomacy first."
Harriet: "Uuuugh fine."
Cid raises an eyebrow, and nods to Hughbert
Serenity: "Who's RF again?"
Harriet: "(You never let me toss people into volcanos while cackling with dramatic lighting and shit.)"
Cid: "RF Company, or Reinford Company, is a heavy machinery production company from Akavir"
Cid: "It's who we made the contracts with"
Serenity: "Aha."
Serenity: "Where's he staying right now?"
Cid: "We should be holding the meeting later tonight, when it's somewhat cooler"
Serenity: "Even easier."
Cid: "He and his entourage took over the worker's barracks- Admittedly it's more like a little hotel, since we try to give our workers good conditions, but that's where they've been"
Hughbert: "That gives us some time. I'll try to find out some facts about our soon-to-be good friend in preparation for the meeting."
Cid: "He's been pretty secretive to us, but he is a very overbearing kind of man, the sort that very obviously believes himself far better than what he is"
Amal: "Soooo you're saying he's from Akavir." Beat. "I mean, uh…"
Cid: "He seems to have brought his niece with him, apparently she's going to inherit the company? I've seen them fight sometimes, however"
Serenity: "Your people are… still in Akavir, right?"
Cid: "They are still, yes"
Serenity‘ leans towards Harriet, "(That’s why we can't just chuck him off the ledge.)"
Cid: "… I've the feeling they're not going to leave easily. But i'll call upon a few favors with Horizon to deal with that"
Serenity: "So what's so special about your people that you think Akavir wants them over a fat stack of cash, anyway?"
Serenity: "Their weapon devs aren't exactly idiots."
Cid: "Correct, they're not. However, we're still unmatched material engineers. Particulary the creation of alloys and adjusting the properties of materials for specific goals"
Harriet: "(It would've been funny though,)" Harriet asides back to Serenity.
Harriet: "And yeah, like, money can't buy skill on a one-to-one basis."
Serenity: "Well right, hence the question."
Serenity: "Most stuff Akavir cares about is easy enough to reverse engineer with enough funding though,"
Harriet: "They'd at least want to learn what they learn, thus making them obsolete and even more useful as hostages because they're not necessary any more."
Cid: "You want someone that can make metal with best ratio of malleability and durability to not break nor allow a bullet through? Our people can do. Want someone who can make an anti-arts material layer for armor, we can do it"
Serenity: "So I'm curious what especifically they need their researcher for."
Serenity: "Hmm.
Serenity: "So what exactly are they working on?"
Cid: "We haven't heard a lot from them for a while, bit a few letters seem to indicate they've been working on tank armor as well as construction metal"
Amal: "Oh, fun."
Hughbert: "So we should expect a hostage situation when you pay off that fine… Which means we can prepare a counter-response before that happens, to prevent things from escalating as best we can."
Cid: "However, Mid recently sent me a letter indicating they've been wokring on something extremely large, he was a bit roundabout with it but from the looks of the specifications of the required metal we're also talking about a building that needs to withstand pressures much higher than a volcanic eruption"
Harriet: "Oh boy."
Serenity‘ scratches at the back of her head.
Cid: "Indeed, we can expect a hostage situation. But as long as they’re out of justifications to keep our people I think I can trust Horizon to deal with the rescue, but if you can help with that as well"
Serenity: "Deep sea city…? Or… hmm…"
Harriet: "Post-explosion city."
Serenity: "Hrrmm…"
Harriet: "Even if Akavir weren't, like, exclusively awful, there's been an awful lot of end-of-the-world events going on."
Serenity: "Well yeah but nothing they should know about."
Harriet: "I mean, giant scar in the world, kinda hard to miss."
Serenity: "…What's the point of Alcor setting them up with a fall out shelter if his main goal was to save masharas and fuck everyone else?"
Hughbert: "If we meet this Mid fellow, we can try to get details. But I'm assuming, since you said 'a letter'… He is not very likely to be here today, is he?"
Serenity: "If they were worried about THAT they'd be worried about heat and lasers, not pressure."
Cid: "Unfortunately no, my grandson's among the people we hired out"
Harriet: "Yeah, I guess that's true."
Cid: "Admittedly he… He was rather enthusiastic, although I feel like he might have regrets on his decisions now"
Serenity: "oh."
Serenity: "Oh."
Serenity: "OH."
Serenity‘ slaps Anton upside the head.
Anton winces. "Ow!"
Hughbert: "Serenity, please stop, we need that head. Anton’s head is important and I would appreciate it if you treated it more gently."
Serenity: "Why didn't you mention this was the lead in to the apocolypse where they build a cannon big enough to take out entire cities in a single shell???"
Serenity: "I only JUST now remembered that was a thing."
Anton: "Because I didn't want to create a zero-fate by giving information early!"
Serenity: "Holy fuck why is Alcor helping them with that????"
Serenity: "Thats like the MOST dangerous for us of the apocolypses I'm pretty sure."
Harriet: "Uh, Alcor's awful, Akavir's awful, I'm pretty sure they're made for each other."
Cid blinks "… The specifications do match any theoretical sort of weapon you'd use explosive energy to proper a shell that big"
Cid: "I'm not sure structural integrity of such a project is solvable, however"
Cid: "But if that's what they got our people working on… Much the better to get them back sooner"
Serenity: "There's totally at least one future where they figure it out and kill everyone."
Anton: "More than one, but yeah…"
Amal: "Ugh…"
Hughbert: "…Huh. But, consider his obsession with being a villain beyond all logical purpose. He may be trying to lead us astray, or… In the right direction, in a weirdly and infuriatingly unhelpful way."
Serenity: "I guess."
Harriet: "Uuuuugh how is someone so smart so fucking dumb."
Serenity: "…Uh anyway." Serenity turns back to Cid. "What exactly do you need us to do, if not extraction? Just keep him from shooting you when you give him a bag of money and tell him you need your people back?"
Cid: "Keep him from running away with the money while pretending we didn't pay, yes"
Hughbert: "That was my impression- he seems vulnerable to some manner of dramatic twist in which he throws himself in the line of fire at the very last moment to save us all, for he was truly on our side the entire time, or something from a silly young adult novel."
Serenity‘ tilts her head to one side.
Cid: "And, well, even if he does. Keep the most enthusiastic on our side from doing anything drastic, as long as we can claim we did our part of the contract we can get the rescue opeartion going without drawing unecessary aggression"
Hughbert: "Keep him honest, and prevent a hostage crisis. Sounds like we know where to begin."
Serenity: "So… give a tattoo on his forehead saiding breech of contract was paid in full…?"
Harriet: "What if we… you know… just got concrete proof that the transaction took place and sent it over indepedently so the guy can’t go back and pull a he-said-she-said?"
Cid: "That is also perfectly acceptable"
Harriet: "I mean, I was gonna go for a signature, but a tattoo works too I guess."
Cid: "Essentially having a third party that can ensure this transaction goes well is what I need, as I said, I don't trust his integrity"
Serenity: "I cannot imagine they're going to trust you anymore with US being there to be honest but,"
Serenity: "I also suspect at this point they probably know better than to try anything directly."
Serenity: "Given every time we've clashed head on with them before has ended… poorly for them."
Hughbert: "…Oh, I know. I can try to contact a professional witness. Er… Do you have professional witnesses in Rissan? People who make a career of an impartial and photographic memory, for the sake of testifying in the courtroom." He pauses. "…I think you have courtrooms."
Cid chuckles "Sorry, son. Clans are kind of too small to have courtrooms, in general
Cid: "So slightly out of luck there"
Harriet: "So what do you use instead? Old people?"
Serenity: "Oh."
Serenity: "Speaking of photographic memories,"
Serenity: "Just have Harriet take a picture of everyone and the contracts."
Harriet holds up her calotype. "Oh yeah, I can totally do that."
Cid sighs "Why do you have to sound so disgusted when you're correct, Harriet? But yes it tends to be the clan leaders doing abitration"
Hughbert looks a little dejected. "Have you considered the potential benefits of implementing a system of courts? …Nevermind. I think that's a fine idea, as long as RF headquarters understands the device and trusts its accuracy."
Amal giggles at Hughbert. "You can bring it up with the clans after we've saved the world!"
Serenity: "I think it was more the other clans having proof that was the issue, yeah?"
Serenity: "That way they could breech Akavir lines and do their rescue op if shit gets out of hand."
Harriet: "Well, then let's get a clan leader in and take a picture and get the guy to sign off on it. If we throw enough verification systems at the wall, one of them is bound to stick."
Serenity: "And have everything be on the up and up."
Cid: "There are consistent attempts, generally led by Promenade, to make some form of unified court system, Hughbert… That's your name right? But getting anything doing in a somewhat unified manner in Rissan is as difficult as pulling gemstones out of the flow barehanded"
Cid: "Though I hear you're working on that"
Serenity: "Instant communication across the country should help a ton there yeah."
Cid: "More or less, Serenity. With sufficient proof we're on the right side we can hopefully even turn the Akaviri legal system on them if they go too far. That's my hope anyway"
Cid goes over to inspect the calotype "Oh, I haven't seen one of those live before"
Cid: "I believe, however, it should suffice. I don't think they're unknown just… Rare"
Serenity‘ nods.
Hughbert confirms that is his name. "You’re right, Amal, that's a task for another time. If we don't need any personal information on Jacke, then I'll focus my attention on throwing the law of his people at him instead."
Cid: "So we seem to have a plan"
Cid: "Do you need me to work on any preparations?"
Serenity: "Don't think so…?"
Harriet: "Well, we could always get a book, so that when we throw the book at him we can literally throw a book at him."
Cid: "Alright, then the meeting will be held here two hours after sundown"
Harriet: "Buuut you're about to tell me that that's not diplomatic, huh," Harriet says to Hughbert automatically.
Serenity: "Okay. Lets go eat then I'm starving."
Hughbert: "Prepare a plan of action in case we do wind up with a hostage crisis. Don't worry about it if it isn't your specialty- I can help you work it out if we do need it, before it is put into action."
Anton: "Now THAT's something I can agree on." He nods to Serenity.
Harriet: "Oh right, yeah, we haven't eaten for a while, we should probably fix that."
Cid: "If you want to try something different, you could the melting grill" he heads to a window and points to a building "Bit crazy that one, Lende came up with quite an interesting way to make barbecue and it's amazing. She uses plates heated on the lava flows to transfer heat for the grilling, seems to give an special flavor to the food. She says it's from the igneous nature of the heating method"
Hughbert: "You know the sort of resources and personnel you have on hand better than I do, after all." Hughbert nods. "I'm curious what sorts of things people who live over a volcano would eat. I just hope that device that's cooling our car will help keep our fruit fresh…"
Harriet: "It should last a while, when it doesn't have to explode the cooling mechanism is pretty robust."
Cid: "You'll be disappointed to know, however, all of our food at the moment is imports. You literally cannot grow food in this kind of place"
Hughbert shrugs and smiles. "We're from Masharas. Somehow, we will recover from such a heart break."
Serenity: "Works for me."
Harriet: "Food is food."
Amal: "Hey, even if they're imports, they're -lava-seared imports-. Can't get THAT anywhere else."
To spend your time until the night comes, it's good to eat. The 'melting grill' that Cid suggested appears to be rather popular and the barbecue there is quite good, there's some difference in the taste you can't quite point out what it is. You've heard arguments for wether barbecue should be done with old-fashioned coal or a ragnite-heated grill, you've never seen it done using a lava-heated plate and it's pretty different, in a good way.
Still, there's a fair bit more time until night comes. Of particular note of the happenings in this place is when the refinery seems to turn into full drive, you hear a single loud whistle and then the clacking and clanging of the refinery amps up for a while- As it sounds louder you see it spew out from one side a torrent of what seems like earth and sediment as you see the pipes that dive into the lava below glow brighter as they pull up more. After a while it settles down and you see various workers goin in and, eventually, heading out carrying varieties of metal containers
Amal: "…this place is so cool."
Serenity: "Okay Amal."
At one point you spot some maitenance going on- Those patches of darkened earth on the ground? Apparently underground tubes that seems to be made of some sort of copper-alloy that are searing hot, sufficiently they burn the ground on top of it. If you question the maitenance team you learn they're heat transfer pipes, rather than count on just the ragnite engines Dustfire has developed a kind of heat conversion system, it can use heat energy to recharge ragnite, so instead of transfering just ragnite to the housing units for power they also harvest leftover heat energy from the lava for additional power
Serenity: "You know how loud all that machinery is?"
Harriet: "Honestly, it's fascinating. The amount of work which went into making this work is staggering."
Serenity: "Imagine that but like, triple it with all the various forcegears powr it screaming their function."
[OOC] Serenity: force gears powering it^
Amal: "Ohshit that sounds -awful-." They frown. "I… I wonder if Paws can make magic earmuffs."
Harriet: "Once I finish untangling the metaphysical nonsense surrounding you I'll be sure to make you a pair of earmuffs."
Serenity: "That's kind of weird though, the lava got quiet when the machines were running."
Serenity: "So I guess it balances out."
Hughbert: "I agree, Paws and Harriet should collaborate on a project and develop fasionable and effective Goddess-cancelling earmuffs."
Serenity‘ laughs.
Harriet: "I mean, sure, I guess I can collaborate with Paws."
Hughbert: "…Even though this gear doesn’t hear things as well as you do, Serenity, I still made out that 'purify' perfectly clearly. You have my sympathies."
Serenity: "It's alright, once I familiarist myself with the soundscape it's easy enough to tune out. Remind me to make you wear that near the water treatment facility back home." Serenity shoots Hughbert a grin.
Hughbert frowns. "Oh. I see. Well, for the sake of solidarity, I am willing to try."
Serenity: "You can hear the main pump from anywhere within the city. Going directly to the source is, uh. Fun."
Hughbert: "Now that we have had our dinner, I will be looking for a library. I should only need an hour or so to pull up all the laws we need to throw at our future friend… Has the sun set yet?" Hughbert examines the ashen skyline.
As time passes, finally nighttime arrives… It's harder to tell here than usual, mostly because the constant glow of the lava makes everything so bright. Still, there's time for research, if need be
Serenity‘ will head back to the main office while Hughbert hits the books.
JayM: And they do have a library, what do you take them for, barbarians? Admittedly it’s not in super good condition at the moment, it's actually inside one of those giant transport vehicles that's been sitting unused here. You're told the library's being organized on an as-needed basis ever since they had to move it from the old main settlement to this. So good luck hunting what you want in there
JayM: Still, 'as-needed' basis makes so searching for what you want, specifically, easy. Books not just on the current Dustfire contract law as well as the various legal agreements they got going with the other clans are easily avaiable if that's what you want
[OOC] Hughbert: of course I am burning a charge of investigation on digging up the dustfire laws, I guess Akavir counts as another clan in a broad sense
As night closes in, Serenity sees people arrive in the office building. Ahead of the pack is who is clearly Jacke, wearing a business suit in akavir style, a simple haircut, his very movements as he walks by without looking at you indicates he doesn't cares for your presence
Right behind him is someone else, considerably younger around the tail end of her teenage years, hair a fair ways blonder than Jacke's and wearing a red jacket. She looks annoyed as she walks by, but she takes a moment to nod in recognition of Serenity's presence.
Serenity‘ lazily raises a hand to the woman, then pushes herself off the couch she was lounging on and follows behind them.
They’re accompanied, of course, by three guards. You've seen akaviri infantrymen before, but this guy with a layered ragnite shield on his back you haven't seen before
Serenity: "Oooh, that's new."
JayM: The shield is a sound concept, really, utilize the ragnite plate repulsion property to create an impact-absorbtion device, let the repulsion field absorb the entirety of the kinectic energy. His shield is surprisingly clean and unmarked, however, showing the signs of someone who didn't see much, if any, action
The entourage heads up to the second floor, for the meeting room
Serenity enters behind them, not in time to get the start of the conversation, but enough to get this "As agreed, the meeting will start in thirty minutes" Cid said pretty emphatically "I hope you understand the necessity to stay by the agreed terms. There will be others participating as well"
Serenity‘ finds a place to sit and plops herself down.
The half hour remaining is spent in deafening silence, Jacke gets increasingly antsy, the younger girl seems to fiddle with something hidden under her jacket, the guards are just there being guards
JayM: Is Serenity fielding this alone?
Amal is totally there! They’re smiling a smile that somehow manages to be both completely innocent and menacingly panoptical at the same time.
Hughbert shows up five minutes or so before the meeting time, but is mostly reviewing some notes.
Anton seems to be around. He doesn't seem to be paying attention to his surroundings though.
Harriet shows up with Hughbert. She wasn't really much help with researching laws, but she was interested in all the other things they've written down.
As everyone arrives, Cid looks at you from across the meeting table, closes his eyes for a moment. He looks at Jacke "So, according to article twenty six of the hiring contracts presented here" he pats a large pile of paper, pushing them slightly closer to the center of the table "There is a fee for early termination of contracts, correct, mister Jacke?"
Jacke: "Correct, Cid"
Cid: "So, then, for ninety eight contracts I have calculated the termination fees" he pulls up a briefcase "And I believe"
Cid clicks it open, showing it completely full to the brim with money "That this should be enough"
JayM: I wonder how this meeting will go down
JayM: Is Jacke really dumb and greedy
JayM: Or just greedy?
JayM: Wonder what the significance of the teenager in the room as well
JayM: Either way, those are questions best saved for next time
JayM: It was fun, and I Dragged on too much

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