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  #46  
Old Dec 17th, 2020, 08:11 PM
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Oh good, he lived...
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The Abbot reholstered its blazter while scanning the transmission and running a new analysis. It turned back to Shōri.

"Shōri', yes, perhaps metals. Perhaps energy currents, or even heat. We can test it out once we have the ship ready to rescue the captain from its current predicament."

The robot set a hurried, but not quite running, pace in the direction it could best figure the ship was located, based on the what it recalled from the onboard locator context clues from the surrounding topography.

"We have 34 minutes before the shuttle attempts to take-off. I know the Captain is confident that it cannot launch, but I am concerned that it might still make the attempt. It could explode more violent, or even gain enough altitude to slam back into the ground in an attempt at full thrust. We should hurry.

I think the ship might be this way. Do you know if this is the direction the Gerald went?"
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  #47  
Old Dec 19th, 2020, 02:37 PM
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In the Ravine
CONTEST
[x] [x] [ ] Amphibian Scavengers
[x] [x] [x] Gerald

Dice Gerald - Physique:
4df+3 (1, 0, -1, -1)+3 Total = 2

Dice Critters - Physique:
4df+0 (-1, 1, 0, 0)+0 Total = 0

*((Using the GM Fate Point to tag their ***** **** aspect, which I'll mirror in the description. A +2 gets a tie, which just prolongs it, so I'm going for the long shot and a reroll.))
Dice Critters - Physique Reroll:
4df+0 (-1, 0, -1, 0)+0 Total = -2


Lucy proves well worth her mettle (heh) in driving back the amphibious creatures, even as more drop into the ravine surrounding Gerald. Drenched in sweat and heaving for breath, Gerald leans for just a moment on his wrench and eyes one of the bigger critters -- its mouth hinges open at the back of its head, as a long tongue slides out and licks the clay clean from its eyeless face. This is a rare moment as they don't seem to pause, and self-concern hasn't deterred them in the slightest. But they're tired, and so is Gerald.

"I'm too much... for you... kiddos, Gerald manages between breaths. Stars he could use a cigar right now. "Go find an easier target

With that, he rushes at the bulk of them blocking the path down the ravine. It's a move out of their own playbook -- reckless and direct -- but not something they're used to. In fact, their own recklessness proves their undoing. The mob collapses on itself like a giant scrum of slimy creatures with Gerald at the center. A few excruciating seconds later, however, the engineer burst from the other side, hurtling two hangers-on that were trying to get into his equipment pack. The rest don't seem to realize he's free and continue to tussle with each other in a giant mob of clay and brightly patterned flesh.

Twenty running paces away, Gerald turns a corner in the Ravine to find an ascending slope that can get him back out. So far, none of the creatures appear to be following.

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  #48  
Old Dec 21st, 2020, 03:40 AM
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The Marisuvian had come to this ridge, lingered a bit, backtracked, and then was driven off by the salamander creatures. The signs told the story as Roki crouched down to study them. Carefully, the raptor follows the tracks to the top of a ravine. There were so many salamander tracks that he doubted his prey still lived. A pang of sadness echoed in his higher mind, and he quickly suppresses it. He was on the hunt, and emotions were only distractions. Peering over the edge, Roki makes out a bundle of the colorful creatures fighting among themselves. Perhaps they were fighting over the last scrap of Marisuvian meat.

Roki silently slinks back out of sight. He smells the air, and feels the psychic resonance of his quarry. The marisuvian was still alive, and it was close. It had escaped the pack of alien creatures somehow and was just around that outcropping. Roki could sense it getting closer! His dress blues had hidden him from the aliens, but they would not hide him from the mammal he hunted. The mud had been churned up from all the activity. Rolling in the mud proved to be a quick and easy way to camouflage himself. He looked at himself approvingly, he was completely covered in the read earth, his dress blues were now dress reds. With clawed fingers, Roki ritualistically wipes away some mud on his face, making three stripes down each side of his snout. It was time to end this hunt.

Silent and unseen, the Zephron stalks along the top of the ravine until he spots the marisuvian moving up toward him. He crouches near the lip of the ravine, and waits motionless.

As soon as the furry pink primate's head comes into view, Roki's eyes dilate, his nostrils flair open. He pounces! His back legs grab his victim's chest, knocking it backwards. They both topple over, rolling back down into the ravine. Time seems to slow and the creature's exposed neck catches the slightly greenish alien daylight, a vein protrudes temptingly.

The two slide to a stop at the bottom of the ravine, covered in the red clay. Roki stands on top of Gerald, his jaws around the scrapper's neck.

*nictitating membrane blink*

Well, this was awkward. He lets go and leaps off Gerald's chest.

"I uh... You left and...uh... then those creatures came so...Ya... I followed you. We...uh...we should get back to the pod."

He gives the man a sheepish look, shakes some clay free from his head, then turns to walk back up the ravine. He stops about half way up, making sure Gerald is able and willing to follow.
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Old Dec 30th, 2020, 03:13 PM
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It's easiest to follow Gerald's tracks, as even in the muddy clay Roki has a way of slinking and obfuscating his path that's quite deceptive. Shori and U-P-48807 eventually meet up with the duo pacing back to the "front" ominous black ridge, or at least the side facing the grounded shuttle.

It's precisely where the beacon has been pointing, and even a quick jaunt around to the other side provided no further clarity. It's like the ridge itself is the ship, as Gerald had suspected earlier. Or maybe, perhaps, inside of it.

Just as the gang is gathering back together, however, there's another distant explosion -- low and weak in this atmosphere, but unmistakeable.

<<Another short message from Captain Graef -- brief, but explaining that, as suspected, another engine blew. Interior is fine, but shuttle is definitely not taking off again>>

A mob of those amphibious interceptors slinks out of a nearby ravine, bee-lining toward what you presume to be the shuttle as well. That's when the ground begins to shake.

It's slight at first, perceptible only to the Abbot's finely tuned receptors; but soon Roki and Shori, with their acute senses pick it up as well, almost as an instinctual panic. Gerald too notices is only a second later as the ground begins to shake enough that all the muddy paths through the clay begin to smooth and entirely disappear. Liquifaction from the rapidly growing tremor begins to slowly pull you all down into the soil as if standing in quicksand, though gradually enough to pull free easily as long as you continue to move.

One of you, your choice, swears they see the ridge move -- not like it's sinking as well, but as if it were sliding, shifting... slithering?

What do you do?
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Old Dec 31st, 2020, 04:34 PM
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All this hiking through clay was exhausting. He knew he worked for Transgalaxy, but this was becoming labor. When the second pod engine exploded, he knew they would be stuck here for a time. There was no hurry. He didn't have to hike a ridge today, did he?

Then the ground begins to shake, but this was no normal earthquake. He had written two or three dissertations on seismology and two or three more on continuum mechanics. For the liquefaction to occur in this way the wave propagation would likely be quite shallow, almost surface level; unless, of course, this moon had a non-viscous liquid interstitial layer between the clay crust and whatever its core was composed of. In that case...

He felt himself begin to sink! He thinks quickly. If these sorts of tremors were common here, and the clay liquified, it would flow around rocky outcroppings or more solid material. The black ridge seemed too smooth to climb easily, it he suspected it wasn't a normal ridge. Roki didn't want to think about his leading hypothesis, that the 'ridge' was the spine of some organic behemoth. Were those colorful aliens its young; like baby spiders clinging to their mother? This image reminds him of their captain. He opens a channel on his coms, to all the crew.

"Don't sink! If the tremor stops, the clay will solidify instantly and we'll be stuck. Worse game of 'can't touch floor' ever. Get to firm ground or keep moving quickly!"

As he's speaking he is dancing from one foot to the other rapidly, trying to stay on top of the liquified clay surface, looking a little like shovel-snouted lizard. He looks about for firmer ground, a rock outcropping or otherwise more solid surface. The Zephron does his best to leap onto one such rocky outcropping. He looks down at the ripples in the clay, trying to observe where the source of the tremor might be originating from. The wave patterns seem to indicate the ridge, the same 'ridge' that their ship was apparently incased (swallowed?) within.
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  #51  
Old Jan 2nd, 2021, 08:30 AM
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Shōri Ha-kata
Hikari and robot regroup with the marisuvian and zephron easily enough, thanks to Cranks' prints. Still, there was no sign of the ship they were supposed to recover. The ridge was too big, and it wasn't on the other side, which left two possibilities: underneath, or inside.

That begged the question. What was this black feature?

A chirp in Shōri's ear interrupted his musings. The Captain reported another engine exploding. Hardly relevant. He saw more of the lizards heading towards the egg shuttle. Again, not his problem. What indeed proved to be both relevant and problematic was what started as minute vibrations in the ground that suddenly turned all the clay surface into liquid. Shōri had seen the effects of suffocation in such a medium one of the hapless servants who managed to severely displease his former mistress. It was... not pleasant.

When Roki began to move, Shōri quickly followed suit. The hikari used the strength and coordination brought about by consistent and rigorous training to get both his legs out of the mire and on the surface. He regulated his breathing, used as he was to all kindsof stress. The most obvious topographical feature unaffected by the liquefaction seemed to be the black ridge itself, so climbing it became Shōri's goal.
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  #52  
Old Jan 4th, 2021, 11:36 PM
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It's not an impossible climb, but for anyone other than Shōri it would have been quite exhausting. With agility and poise, even somewhat deprived of oxygen, the Hikari bodyguard scales the ridge quickly. The very second he reaches the top, however, is when it begins to move in earnest.

The low rumbling continues, reverberating through the soil and up through your bones, but now the ridge dives into it. Like a serpent skimming the top of water, or a needle through fabric, this exposed section slips down into the loose clay just as unimaginable lengths pull out behind to take its place. Then, nearly 50 meters back in the direction of the shuttle, something erupts in a shower of water and clay that even you get soaked with. Whatever shot up from the soil looks like the same texture as the black ridge passing before you, but is covered in hundereds of orange, glistening orbs that blink in the light of the gas giant before diving back into the vibrating clay.

Distance can be deceptive, as the new curl in it's winding body doesn't look so imposing from so far away -- especially without anything nearby and familiar in the landscape to directly compare it to -- but this slithering section before you is easily large enough to encase an entire starship. Most of you certainly have a grasp of where this ship you've been sent to recover is as well.

More importantly, though you can no longer see any tracks in the pristine, shifting landscape, every one of you can tell exactly which direction this thing is heading as well as what it's after.

--------------------------------------------------

Shōri, how do you fare from the top of this thing? If you just intend to get free, you could leap as the part you're on nears the surface without much struggle. It's moving fast, but you're agile and the soil is soft. If you have any other plans, however, those may require a roll depending on their recklessness .
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Old Jan 5th, 2021, 01:07 AM
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Standing firmly with each foot planted against two rocky outcroppings, Roki watches as Shōri is lifted along the ridge-spine of what was clearly a ship swallowing serpent. With his com channel still open, he appends his last comments,

"It's going to swallow the pod."

He looks over to Gerald and tries to see his ship-scanner. Was the blip moving with the creature or was it stationary? If it was moving, it meant their ship was inside this thing...and maybe that's where they wanted to be too. If they could get to the pod first, maybe it could act as a pill. The fact that the ship's transponder was still sending out a signal from inside this thing suggested that maybe its digestive system was not too aggressive. Something this large might digest ships over decades rather than hours.

The ground rumbles again and the spine-ridge cuts smoothly though the clay, coiling back around as its head or something bursts out nearby. If they were to reach the pod first, they'd have to slow this thing down.

Roki looks at the Abbot and thinks like a predator. He has a simple but ethically questionable idea...

Bait.

"Abbot. It might want to eat you. Maybe you can draw it away, give us time to reach the pod. We can meet up in its gizzard later?"

Roki's own gizzard gurgles in guilt at the suggestion that his friend potentially sacrifice himself on a half-baked (literally) plan. If the ship could survive inside, The Abbot would be fine for a little bit, right? It's fine. We'll all be swallowed in the pod soon after anyway and we'll all be fine. He glances up at Shōri and shrugs. Did the Hikari have a better plan?
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Old Jan 5th, 2021, 01:44 AM
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Shōri shielded his eyes with an arm as water and clay spattered everywhere then the head of the serpent emerged from under the wet ground. Its length and size was too immense for him to comprehend; clearly the hikari was atop the tail section of a magnificent, albeit terrifying, creature.

Suddenly the communicator bud in his left ear began to chirp. "It's going to swallow the pod."

Indeed, that is the intent Shōri deduced as well, and there seemed to be no way for them to reach it in time. He didn't know it at the time, but he had wondered the same thing as Roki did at that moment. Where was the blip now? Did it move with the gargantuan black stone serpent?

Shōri hopped down from the thing as the ridge he was currently on descended rapidly into the mud, then trotted briskly toward his crewmates. While Roki said something to Abbot, the hikari tapped on his earpiece to send a message to poor Graef. "Captain, we have incoming your way. Something... big. Brace yourself," he added, as an afterthought.

Having done what he perceived to be his duty, Shōri asked the zephron what he had just said. "If the serpent wanted the Abbot, I doubt he would still be here standing with us. Seems likelier to want bigger prey." It wasn't a bad thought, though. A hostile approach might get its attention, but it would probably just get them all whipped into pulp by its tail. Or arms, fins, claws, who knows. "We could try to get inside the pod. That might be an easy way to reach the other ship, once swallowed... Or we could simply tail this beast, track it down after it ingests the shuttle." Some creatures with similar characteristics tended to return to their lairs or burrows to digest sizeable prey... Shōri was no expert on xenobiology or ecology, though.

"Either way, we need to move quickly. Cranks, where is the blip now?"
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Old Jan 5th, 2021, 10:38 AM
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Old Jan 5th, 2021, 07:11 PM
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A quick glance at Gersld’s beacon, held out but shaking before him, reveals that the signal is most definitely moving with the subterranean creature.
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Old Jan 6th, 2021, 09:19 PM
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The Dirt Must Flow
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The Abbot pivots to an all-fours position to distribute its weight and make it easier to traverse the difficult ground. It ponders the the suggestions and potential alternatives.

"Roki, it does not appear to be terribly interested in me. I don't think I would make a sufficient lure for something that big.

Shōri, I don't think it would be wise to be consumed, even if encapsulated. We don't know enough about its digestive acids. Unless, Roki, you might know more on the topic?

We have to get the Captain out of the pod. Perhaps we could then initiate a self-destruct sequence on the pod. That might at least at least upset its system enough to dislodge our vessel... but it may also destroy the ship... I am not certain what to do in this situation. I have not previously encountered this type of situation."


After a moment of hesitation, it begins bounding back toward the pod and shouts "We must save the Captain!"
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  #58  
Old Jan 6th, 2021, 10:20 PM
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Some part of Roki's brain had hoped that maybe such an advanced robot like Abbot could maybe mimic a starship...somehow. It appeared his collogues were right, that neither of them made very good bait. The raptor leaps off the rocks and runs. Where possible he leaps onto firmer ground and does this run-leap-run technique back towards the pod.

As he runs his mind churns the problem over. He liked the idea of giving the serpent indigestion. The pod was designed to shuttle different species around the galaxy, maybe it could be configured to fill with some kind of gas? He speaks over his com,

"Transponder is still sending."

Leap!

"So digestion is slow..."

Slide but recover thanks to having a tail.

"... to dissolve metal and plasteel. The way it was resting...."

leap over a bubbling flat area of clay that looks really bad to step into.

"...maybe doesn't move much - slow metabolism, probably monogastric."

Stops atop a rock and looks back toward the others to make sure they were okay.

"Emetic pod is a good plan."

Roki clicks his com over to include the captain, and then realizes he's been broadcasting on all channels this whole time.

"Captain, set the pod's environment for a Glorkuvian, then skedaddle. Pod's about to be swallowed mam."

It was a guess. The atmosphere here was fairly typical. Taking inspiration from Leadbetter bacteria, known to eat manganese, he chose the Ammonia rich atmosphere of Glorkuvia because ammonia was particularly toxic to Leadbetter bacteria. No sooner had the others caught up than he was leaping and bounding ahead once more.

"Oh, and set self destruct as you leave. Is there a remote for that? "
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Old Jan 7th, 2021, 04:33 AM
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Shōri Ha-kata
The blip was indeed moving with the monster, confirming Shōri's and the others' suspicions about the location of their supposed new ship. The hikari ran alongside his compatriots, racing to reach their old shuttle; but his effort was half-hearted at best. Typical of a Class D job to send them on a remote planet on a badly retrofitted public transit drop pod to retrieve "TransGalaxy PanGalactic property" inside the belly of a writhing, clay-burrowing, ship-swallowing, million-eyed trillion-ton beast.

The Abbot was on all fours, on a mission to save the bug-eyed captain. Roki was in a reflective mood, spouting metabolism, monograstation, and other medical jargon that went over the hikari's fluffy, sensitive ears. Cranks was present, but absent.

Shōri had a sudden thought.
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The hikari was by no means having an epiphany - he hardly had the analytical brain power possessed by any of his three crewmates - and so his thought was hardly a well-conceived one. But as he slightly altered course to run directly alongside the exposed portion of the ridge-monster, as he withdrew his elegantly-curved tritanium monoblade, a signature weapon of his culture, Shōri was suddenly possessed by the thought that bracing his hips on the soft clay surface and running the tip of his blade along the smooth, stone-like hide of this gargantuan creature was an effective way to draw its attention away from the egg shuttle. Hikari are not known to be particularly intelligent; nor are they particularly long-lived.

Perhaps this was the reason he was in a Class D Freight division and not an esteemed figure in TransGalactic society.

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Old Jan 7th, 2021, 03:46 PM
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It’s a brilliant plan, Roki, you’re sure of it. The ship must still be inside, and in good enough condition to be transmitting, which means digestion is a slow process. The creature also clearly isn’t highly active, which means… So what would agitate a system like that…? Oh yeah! Glorkuvia…! Like a puzzle you work through the possibilities in your mind, leaving lower priorities - like running for your life and avoiding being sucked down into the soil – almost on autopilot.

-----

And U-P-48807, of course you would know about the self-destruct capability. The uproar in the media when such a protocol was discovered on a public transport was appalling, but swiftly rebutted with fringe scenarios of ludicrously outlandish, life-threatening situations in which a patron might possibly benefit from such an option.

In the end, even though the outcry against the option far outweighed its ailing support, Helialia Transit kept the protocol and simply hid it behind a whole mess of convoluted processes. That way they could laud their own safety measures, claim the social currency of accepting feedback, but still light up the firework themselves in case of the very real possibility that one of their Egg Pods should be involved in something shady that they needed to cut out of.

You’d have to be deep in the Helialia Corp to know how to do it, or quite the ship aficionado. Stars, you might have some parts welded on to that body of yours that Helialia manufactured, so it’s possible you could be both.

-----

<<“’Skedaddle’ must mean something different to you than it does to me, Mr. …. Mr. Roki.”>>

This might be the first time the Captain has addressed you directly and is just realizing that without a last name she isn’t sure of the proper form of address. You clearly did well at slipping her attention on the flight here.

<<”Do I need to remind you of the adage regarding Captains and their ships?”>> Captain Graeff continues through the com. <<“And these xenomorphs are still a long way from ‘swallowing’ this pod. I’d say that’s quite the exaggeration. In fact, they seem to have altered their behavior. A moment ago they stop assaulting the craft and began… growling, chirruping… singing perhaps? It’s hard to say. But this mild tremor has their absolute attention.”>>

Pause.

<<”I do appreciate your concern though. Please just locate our ship so that we may resume our critical mission.”>>



 


-----

Shōri, your exquisite blade scrapes along the seemingly impenetrable surface of this behemoth’s skin. New scratches are etched, in contrast with the patterned grooves left by years of slithering through this loose clay, but you may as well be trying to fight with a blade of grass – in fact, it evokes a few memories of trying to reason with your Mistress.

Then it stops. For a few, crucial seconds the leviathan pauses with its head surfaced.

It’s muzzle rests just above the clay, still for a moment though the vibrations continue. It’s snout tapers a bit at the end, tilting up into a viper-like snout, and its collection of eyes blink open in the light. Even the smallest of these ocular organs is larger than any single member of your crew.

You can all see a bit of greasy, black smoke climbing in the distance where the shuttle must be. You’re close.

((What do you do, Shōri, to really get the attention of this thing now that it’s paused momentarily? You won’t be able to really harm it, but I’m sure you’ve got something properly megalomaniacal to draw attention to yourself. Then feel free to describe it swallowing you whole, like the inconsequential nuisance it believes you are, before it beelines for the shuttle again.

Oh, and take a Fate Point!))

Last edited by kdtompos; Jan 7th, 2021 at 03:47 PM.
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