The loud sound of artillery shells ringing against a barrier field. It really is unlike the sound of them colliding against anything else, since barrier fields create repelling force the noise is strangely distorted, as if only part of it could reach you.
The bright crimson of the explosions shines above you as they connect against the crystalline field protecting the entrance to Masharas, and you stand at it's edge. A small tent with supplies, as requested for whatever plan you've elicited to concoct to deal with the tanks
Serenity‘ doesn’t really have much of a plan aside from get closer to ask all their equipment to shut down.
Six tanks, which look quite utilitarian in how square and blocky they are, each with a single cannon turret perched on it's top and the front and all four corners of the tank adorned with what seems like automated or remote-controlled machineguns. You see in both their front and their back, near the ground, flamethrowers
Anton: "So what's the plan, Hugh?"
Amal: "Hmm."
Hughbert: "How close do you need to get to disable them, Serenity, and how long will it take you?"
Serenity: "I duno, never really tested out a range. Probably close enough that we can get a decent look at it?"
Serenity: "Probably not in range of the automated turrets though."
Anton: "Close enough for the flamethrowers, then."
Serenity‘ slaps Anton upside the head.
Anton scrunches up his face. "So abusive."
Amal: "Hm hm hm."
Serenity: "I mean, if you didn’t want me to hit you, you'd know how to prevent it."
Harriet: "Is that really how that works?
Serenity: "It is when you're an Oracle."
Anton: "I'm feeling some occupational bias here." He grins.
Hughbert: "Alright. I believe the easiest way to handle this would be to distract them from a distance- preferably without being seen- until Serenity disables them. At that point, we retreat and let the diplomatic corps finish the job. Harriet, you're good at making noises. And, Anton, you can make some shadows for them to jump at. Amal, what's on your mind?"
Amal: "I'm just trying to figure out if there's any cheat codes I can use."
Amal: "If I think of any, I'll let you know." They grin.
Serenity: "What?"
Amal: "Don't worry about it."
Amal: "I mean, we're not gonna lose! We know /that/ much going in, everything else is gravy."
Serenity‘ stares at Amal for a second before rolling her eyes. "Anyway. Hughbert with me in case, stick to the walls and outcrops as we go down yeah?"
Harriet pulls out one of her grenades, and starts tinkering at it. "Let’s see, a distraction…"
Hughbert: "…Codes? What, are they using some sort of encrypted transmissions?" Hughbert's expression gets serious for a moment. "…Huh. But we don't have time for that right now, unfortunately."
JayM: This is going to be a stealth op, then? Serenity's [Mystic] can cover disabling the tanks, but i'm going to need someone who has [Infiltration]
JayM: Does anyone?
[OOC] Hughbert: for the right price)) ((the price is 1 LP)) ((I'm paying 1 LP
Hughbert walks over to one of the guards on patrol. "Excuse me. May I see your radio? I must send a message to the R+D Corps."
The guard nods "Certainly" he hands it over
It isn't difficult for Hughbert to get access to someone to guide the stealth portion. Jeremy's not reall much of an athletic person or really that skilled but… Given his work on anti-detection technology in general he has an extremely good set of knowledge of what to do and what to not, so though you have to set forth without him you've got all the right pointers to do it successfully
JayM: What distraction type are you planning, Harriet?
Hughbert thanks him, then gets a line patched through to his troops. While he's waiting, he leans over, "Just a minute, Serenity. I'll get us a scout- would be surprised if they kept us waiting." Once connected, he requests a specialist…
Serenity: "Also fine."
Harriet is planning the best kind of distraction, by amplifying the grenade's ice-energy output. Once everyone's in position, she's going to toss it up into the sky over them using a modified fireless shell on her flare gun to launch it, and… have you ever seen fireworks? Fantastic offbeat usage of explosive ordinance. It's gonna snow.
The initial move isn't difficult, sticking to the right cover to avoid the detection radius of the tanks (seems like they have no infantry support at all) you manage to get somewhat close.
That's the point wherein Harriet fires her ice-flare. It flies above and slows down and seems like it won't go off for a moment- But then detonates into beautiful intricate patterns of ice dust that hang in the air for a minute before dissolving into a fine mist
JayM: You notice a slightly longer delay between salvoes, a good time to get c loser and start operating, Serneity
Serenity‘ lets out a breath before stretching out her hand in the direction of her breath as she begins to mumble loudly under her breath as her eyes glow slightly.
Serenity` blinks a few seconds later, before shifting her position slightly as most of the surrounding tanks shut down, then refocuses her attention towards one of the ones in the back.
The tanks apparently have their operators turn away from the distraction in the sky as you see their cannons turns towards the barrier again… But they don’t fire?
The cannon furthest in the back, however, fires a single shell. It strikes against the barrier and… After a moment, it starts to back up and turn away
JayM: The others remain, however. You see three persons jump off one of the tanks, one of them moves to the back of the tank to do something while two others run to other tanks
Amal manages NOT to yell "HARRIET THAT WAS COOL" and fuck up the stealth mission but, like, the sentiment is there,you know?
Serenity: "Makes a mental note of that one that left Hughbert."
JayM: It seems the cannons have been disabled now
Hughbert: "Got it. Then, we're done here? Let's get back and report in."
Serenity‘ takes a deep breath as she stands back up, raises her hands, then quickly lowers them again with her fingers sprayed out, then shakes her head as her eyes stop glowing.
Serenity: "Okay should be good for a few hours."
With the tank crews busy trying to figure out what caused them to stop you’re free to return unnoticed, whence you're met at the barrier by the Major again. She's accompanied by another five people, two of which are dressed in somewhat odd dress, very modern looking robes and almost a stereotype of what a diplomat from a religious nation should look like. The other three are apparently unarmed, though at least one of them is familiar to Serenity
Harriet: "Hi, yeah, we're amazing, you're welcome."
Serenity‘ tilts her head. "…Oh right you were in the military, okay."
The Major puts a hand on her chin as she considers what just happened "Indeed you are, that’s why I asked of you"
Anton: "Just a little~."
Hughbert salutes. "Tanks are disabled, and we went unnoticed. We leave the rest up to you."
The one person nods at Serenity "Yep, we're off to talk them down now" he salutes Hughbert "Time to do what do we best" and the group moves out
Major: "Hrm… That went smoother than I expected. I want to be hopeful but I really don't have any evidence to back that up"
Serenity: "Well their commander did fuck off so who knows."
Hughbert: "One of the tanks managed to pull back from the formation before Serenity could disable it. That was the only complication we could see."
Amal: "You should always be hopeful when we're around~!"
Major: "Hrm… I will have a tracker unit sent ahead and see if they can intercept, then."
Major: "Either way, your concerns about this are over for now, Fatebreakers. I'm certain the Divine Oracle will be happy to hear your reports on your mission, but…" she tilts her head to the side slightly "If you want to take your time to rest, i'd be permissible"
Serenity‘ rolls a shrug.
Anton: "We should at least get some food…"
Serenity: "Anton’s probably going there immediately anyway so - oh right. Yeah that's a good point."
Hughbert smiles. "You know me, Major. I'd rather we take care of the report quickly, then take care of ourselves while the Oracle's planning the next move."
Serenity: "Fuck! We can get real food here!"
Serenity‘ starts making her way back to the truck.
JayM: Ah… The food of home.
JayM: Whether you do so at home proper or in one of the many restaurants in town means little as the quality of the food is always great here, be it the expertly designed to-go boxes or the lavish buffets avaiable
Serenity` definitely headed straight for her favorite restaurant, that last job was long as shit and she earned it.
Though you do notice something interesting in town while you’re at it, seems like there's quite a few construction crews around, they seem to be carrying large pipes and in one place a street had to be closed entirely while they removed an entire underground pipe segment from the water piping
Harriet definitely goes to crash home, to surprise her parents and get home-cooked food. Plus, she can reassure them she's still not dead. Bonus!
The segment they removed seems to have suffered some really akward damage, it's entirely cracked and one portion seems to have suffered a violent explosion- From the inside, not from the inside of the pipe but from within the pipe's wall. Persumably an effect of the ragnite of whatever force gear embedded on it had suffering a conflagration somehow
Serenity: "I'd of figured they would have replaced that ages ago. Unless there was a *second* attack when we were gone, I guess."
At some point, however, it's finally time to go make your report. Seems like there's a sizeable crew of engineers just off the side of the Grand Chapel busy working on something you can't know at a distance
Hughbert winds up eating a to-go lunch box at the R+D base. Not much time for telling stories to the others, but that just means there's still more for next time!
Serenity: "Also enjoy the water pump Hughbert. From everywhere in the city. Above everything else. … Actually it's a little quiter with them doing work on it so you're not quite getting the full experience…"
Amal gets the GOOD stuff with Serenity. It's not like Masharas food is /home/ but it IS really really good!
Either way, the way to the Grand Chapel is unobstructed and the way to the usual meeting room is clear as it's always been. There's the sweet smell of tea permeating the room, you see Pope Aldiva sitting at her usual table, papers and books spread all over it as she writes something down and then goes re-check another book
Anton waves. "Long time no see."
Hughbert: "Quite the racket. It isn't bad, in a way, though. It's less like chatter, and more like a desk fan."
Harriet heads on in, all fed up. "So, what's the next impossible thing we're gonna knock off the bucket list?"
Differently from normal, however, when Cor stands up to greet you from the meeting table she doesn't have time to put in a word, however. Pope Aldiva notices your presence and stands up quickly "Ah, you're finally back" she walks over, though she's obviously tired she looks positively wired "Please, forgive the indiscretion, I know you just arrived and already were pressed into further dangerous matters, but…"
Serenity: "Uuugh Pooooope there was something I wanted to ask you about your other self but it's been so long since the thought crossed my mind I can't remember what it was."
Pope Aldiva: "Harriet, I have heard about your current side-project and I was wondering… Do you believe you could make a different variant later, less equipment to be worn, and more like… An effect over a room?"
Hughbert salutes. "We've returned. No need to apologize, you chose the right people for the job."
Pope Aldiva: "I would like to incorporate it's effect on my future plans, I heard news it's working?"
Hughbert: "I can confirm most certainly that it's working." He taps the gear gently. "I was just telling Serenity my thoughts on the water pump."
Amal: "Well, that's promising."
Harriet: "Localised effect, huh…? Well, I mean, if I could get one person to broadcast it might work… right now it's tapping into the type B field, so it's gotta be tailored, but… assuming I could construct the proper receiving equipment? Yeah, I might be able to do it."
Harriet: "Don't get me wrong, it's completely impossible, but I still might be able to do it."
The Pope smiles widely "Oh, that's wonderful, that will resolve a problem I had as of yet found no solution to" she starts turning around, blinks "Wait… Other self, Serenity?"
Cor, at this point, is just watching
Amal laughs at Harriet and grins. "That's the spirit. Lemme know if I can help?"
Harriet: "Oh, you and your impossible knowledge are definitely helping."
Serenity: "Yeah the you from Lola's place."
Serenity: "I can't remember what it was though."
Anton scratches his head.
Amal: "Don't look at me."
Pope Aldiva: "Oh, I see"
She thinks for a moment, nods at you and returns to her work
Serenity: "She was talking about how her, Alcor and Anton used to work with you in some Super Group over there and then alt you and Anton fucked off or… something… and was wondering if there was some kinda analogue."
Cor Caroli: "I can help with that"
Cor Caroli: "I don't believe there is, Her Holiness is hardly adept at field operations and I have not glimpsed a future in which she would be. If anything, it'd had to have been a different Pope altogether"
Cor Caroli: "On the other hand, seems like you've got… Quite a bit of information this time. Although I dare say for your feats themselves in Rissan i'd hardly need a briefing given how… Excited most were in utilizing their new radio to share that information"
Harriet: "We made the radio into a deadly laser. It was awesome."
Amal: "Haha! That's kinda awesome."
Serenity: "Radios are good."
Serenity: "Hmm…"
Cor nods "They are, indeed. To give an update, turns out they eventually chose the Promenade Clan as their representative in the end. Apparently only after the Postal Service's refusal to be"
Amal: "They'll probably do a really good job."
Serenity: "Are you sure? Maybe it was someone else. I could of sworn it was her though since I vaguely remember making some kind of joke about the three of you… maybe the pope was your commander?"
Serenity: "Augh, should have written it down. Oh well."
Cor Caroli: "Well… You certainly could have made a really crass joke about us all that time ago"
Cor Caroli: "Well… This time i'm giving you a bit extra time to rest, i'm certain the weather in Rissan wasn't too good. So I want to start up on the briefing about Akavir as soon as possible. The situation there is somewhat… Different from how it's been in other places up to now"
Serenity: "It's okay we all know you two are still fuckin' no one cares. OH RIGHT no it was Alcor and Anton that left Lola, because they didn't want to destroy the world to fix stuff over there. Which is why OUR Alcor is working with her…?"
Anton: "I think you're overthinking this…"
Anton: "Who even told you all this?"
Serenity‘ plops down into a chair and grabs a lollipop.
Cor sits down, waving for you all to take places in the meeting table "Hrm… If Alcor was the Divine Oracle at the time, there is no way in which he would have gone along with the plan. Even less so than now"
Serenity: "It was either Alcor or Lola, I was having different conversations with both of them at the same time."
Amal: "Serenity, you really need to keep a journal or something."
Serenity: "I could of sworn I mentioned it after the fact? Maybe not I was kind of almost dead for a while."
Serenity: "Dead tired, I mean."
Hughbert helps himself to some tea once he takes his seat. "Is this force gear going to result in multiple simultaneous conversations, as well?"
Serenity: "Anton or Amal which ever one of you’d it'd be easier for, you should TOTALLY try and find Lola's Alcor and Anton at some point."
Amal: "I'll tell Paws to keep an eye open!"
Serenity: "Anyway you can talk now." Serenity makes a dismissive motion with her sucker in Cor's direction, before shoving it back into her mouth.
Cor sighs, and shrugs "Thank you"
Anton: "As far as I could see last time I looked over there, there's just Lola and the machine now. I can look into the past but in terms of the worlds being linked together…"
Cor Caroli: "Right now, you're seen as enemies and, in fact, criminals in Akavir. They have been utilizing a group of imposters to defame you, and ensure you will find no popular support"
Serenity: "Oh man does that mean we can roll in in full blown terrorist mode? That would me WAY easier than talking things out."
Cor Caroli: "That is certainly a possibility, depending on how you want to handle the current social uprising"
Amal: "Hahahaha, oh man. Serenity wants to make up for lost time, all the battles we've wound up avoiding."
Serenity: "That was not the hard no I was expecting."
Cor Caroli: "As it is, they're undergoing a social reform, or about to anyway. The current imperial system can't hold anymore, and for the upcoming changes three different groups have arisen. All we need is for whatever is going on there to end and whoever ends up in charge prefferably being amenable to us"
Harriet: "So, who's the players?"
Hughbert: "Right. The most efficient way to handle a powder keg is to be a spark, but not if we're trying to keep the barrel intact."
Amal: "Yeahhh they need some good freedom fighters."
Cor Caroli: "As it is, the Iron Chancellor, as he's been nicknamed by the people, is the lead of the commoner class. He's risen to influence through political intrigue and subterfuge, earning a position usually taken by a noble as the head of the House of Commons"
Serenity: "Why would a noble lead the house of commons….?"
Cor Caroli: "So they can pretend to listen to the commoners while not doing so, obviously"
Cor Caroli: "You can imagine there's been tension rising up over time"
Serenity: "Aha."
Cor Caroli: "Then, though there technically is a group of nobles known as the Noble Alliance working to remove him form influence they are… Badly, badly outmatched. They want to keep the current imperial system, and honestly, they're too incompetent to reach their goals. No, they're not an important player in the final outcomes, but they might become involved"
Anton: "Well I mean… we DID cause a giant chasm to open up and ruin a few of their cities. I can't imagine they'd have to defame us THAT much. Lots of Akavirs citizens were at ground zero of that."
Hughbert: "Think we can rule them out as the winning faction, but we do have some friends from House Geist we can call on, at the least."
Serenity: "Hey."
Serenity: "NO ONE outside of this room other than Alcor knows that,"
Serenity: "So."
Anton: "Ah yes, the guy who until just recently was working with Akavir."
Cor Caroli: "The other two important players are King Alfred and Prince Elijah. Both are also working towards a reform from an imperial system and towards a republican system, but in different goals. King Alfred wants a smooth transition maintaining the status quo and pruning incompetent noblemen in the process- Give time for the noble houses to get their proverbial asses in gear, build some influence with the populace and estabilish a good mercantile base and perform the transition in such a manner the same people remain in power, under a different system of governance"
Serenity: "Assuming he told them AND they believed him, which is SUPER UNLIKELY given he was using them as pawns and why the fuck would they trust him anyway."
Cor Caroli: "Prince Elijah, however, wants roughly the same, in a different manner. He doesn't wants to give the current noble houses the time nor the means to prepare, meaning a somewhat more troubled but fairer transition."
Cor Caroli: "The Chancellor, of course… Wants a bloody revolution, which will neatly put him in a position of power as their first president"
Amal: "RIGHT YEAH the Prince, I remember hearing about him from…. somebody."
Cor Caroli: "Of course… Unfortunately a lot of influence also goes to whoever owns the largest armies. They do not have a specific unified army, as it is each baron controls a portion of land and has their own provincial army, and all the barons technically answer to the king who directly only owns his demesne and the Imperial Guard. The Chancellor, of course, has secretly been raising a very powerful army behind the scenes, which easily equates in power the entire mass of the provincial armies"
Cor Caroli: "Mostly on account of technological superiority, mind"
Serenity: "On a scale of one to ten how hot is Elijah?"
Hughbert: "Is there any future you've seen where Prince Elijah isn't the most suitable fellow to place our bets on?"
Cor Caroli: "I'd give a seven, down from a nine on account of him sharing an excessive amount of personality traits with Anton"
Cor Caroli: "Long term? Doesn't matters. Short term? None"
Serenity: "Daaaaamn." Serenity laughs.
Hughbert stops mid tea-sip to dart his eyes between Serenity, Cor, and Anton, eyes wide open.
Anton plops a lollipop into his mouth before he silently sulks.
Amal: "Wowww."
Amal pats Anton on the shoulder consolingly.
Cor keeps an impassive face
Serenity: "Sounds like we're all agreed on hot prince then."
Cor Caroli: "Well… Getting inside the country will be troublesome, as well. You'll have to sneak inside. But once you're in we do have a small handful of friendlies that can assist you in positions of… Relative… Power"
Serenity: "How'd you manag - right, oracle."
Cor Caroli: "Hrm… What i'm telling is a secret, so keep it so. But a particular noble house of Akavir has always worked very closely with us, all of their members join the Imperial Guard and they are the personal bodyguards of the king. In fact they… They all come to study here in Masharas, even right now their youngest is attending to college here"
Cor Caroli: "Currently, you'll want to get in contact with Major Sanger, bodyguard of the prince. I suggest some caution, of course, as he is technically a knight to two masters and situations may force his hand but he has agreed to help you."
Cor Caroli: "I believe… Some of you have met with him before, during the early incursions in Masharas"
Serenity: "Huh.
Cor Caroli: "I do find it really curious that the royal line's bodyguards not only all studied here but they are all apparently mediums as well… And have been so for as long as recorded history is intact. Though they are the only recorded mediums native to Akavir"
Amal: "Wait, was that that guy…"
Serenity: "Uhh…"
Amal: "I think I ran into him once a long-ass time ago."
Cor Caroli: "Their line isn't particularly adept at hearing, by the way, and their energy control is also rather limited in range to mostly their body and whatever they are touching immediately. But it does allow them feats of supernatural physical proweess. I ncase this knowledge is useful"
Serenity: "I thought that mediumness was slightly heredatary? I'm like 80% sure the Old Priesthood Did Some Shit that awakened her and gave us our powers."
Serenity: "So that's not too weird I don't think."
Cor Caroli: "Hereditary after a point, research has shown that any medium has some tie to the Old Priests at some point in their family tree. But from them onwards is rather random. The strange part, Serenity, is the relationship they have with us. There isn't any apparent obligation of them to us, but there they are as if they were forced by tradition to study here"
Cor Caroli: "If you could look into that as a secondary objective?"
Hughbert: "That, I can certainly try to investigate, as well."
Serenity: "Easy enough to assume someone way back in the day knew what was up and did in fact set it up as a family tradition and nobles gotta adhear to that shit, I think? So."
Cor nods "Well… That's the gist of your situation there"
Cor Caroli: "Hrm… Tell me, when I was looking for you while you were away I saw something… Or rather couldn't see something. I'm going to imagine you had a fight with Alcor, presumably where Serenity spoke about alternate versions. How'd that go, did he say anything strange, show any new behaviour"
Hughbert looks directly at Serenity for that explanation.
Serenity: "Oh."
Serenity: "Well."
Serenity: "So we were talking for a bit right,"
Serenity: "And at some point I kind of realized that literally every single time we've run into them and they wanted to force a fight it only continued up until they had pissed me off enough that I threw caution to the wind and did something semi reckless,"
Cor Caroli: "It matches with him wanting to be defeated, whatever he's trying to accomplish he's counting on me to clean up, it's what I think is going on"
Harriet: "Uuuuugh."
Harriet: "This is so dumb."
Serenity‘ tosses Harriet a sucker.
Harriet catches it and pops it in her mouth.
Amal just laughs. "Bunch of goofy edgelords."
Cor stretches back "Yes"
Cor Caroli: "And it just makes all of this even dumber"
Amal: "It’s okay, we'll save them too. Or we'll lock 'em up in a transdimensional cardboard box. One of those two."
Cor Caroli: "Well… I don't think i'm going to be able to get much further than this right now…"
Cor Caroli: "At least now we got radio for long range contact, so if you need anything it'll be much easier"
Harriet: "Serenity was brilliant on that by the way."
Harriet: "You should really give her more opportunities to do radio shit at home."
She pulls a piece of paper from a pocket "This is the frequency for the radio here, you're the only ones that know it, plus I asked the Postal Service to encrypt it if they can. Should be safe, but be cautious"
Cor closes her eyes "You're free to go, unless you got anything else to ask. I'll look for a way to get you inside Akavir, I should have the answer in four days"
Harriet: "Sweet. That'll give me time in the lab."
Hughbert: "Would anyone like to have dinner with my family one of those days? Or perhaps apologize to my parents for cursing in their home in the dead of night?" Hughbert stares Serenity down with full eye contact.
Hughbert: "There'll be free food," he adds, not breaking.
Serenity: "I will do the first of those, sure." Serenity slides out of her chair and strides up to Hughbert.
Anton: "Oh, man. I was starting to question if that actually happened on this timeline."
Hughbert: "Great. Very good." Staaaaaaare.
Anton: "Someone finally brought it up again."
Serenity: "We totally talk about his jammies all the time Anton."
Amal just starts -laughing- and grinning at Anton.
Amal: "I mean you could have just asked."
Harriet gets up, goes to Serenity, and whispers: "(Okay but you've gotta show up in formal wear.)"
JayM: I think that'd a good line to end this session in tonight
JayM: Today is transition day, time to get ready and soon embark in a hwole new adventure.
Serenity` tilts her head back at Harriet, considered, then shrugs. "If you say so."

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