chaos awakening act 2
session 11: mesmer 7
The crisis on Aemos averted, the party takes Waya and decides to do some housekeeping before leaving the compound. Remembering that the land cruiser is nearly destroyed in the wing pack, Krazo thinks it might be a good idea to take some equipment while the base is abandoned so they can sell it for repairs. Cobalt agrees, and has the foresight to turn the power off to the facility after unlocking the armories. The two of them then proceed to stuff the vehicle with weaponry before stuffing it back in the wing pack, and take a bit more on their person.
Miliardo and Vandor go up to the security rooms to loot imaging equipment for Vandor's helmet, and are successful in finding infrared and UV scopes; Cobalt and Krazo join them shortly.
Then Vandor decides it's time to reveal the purpose of his business on Aemos. He mentions the data disk he hid in the vehicle, and recovers it from the engine bay. It looks a bit banged up but the contacts are fine. Remembering that there was a terminal in the command room where he could read the disk, Vandor leads everyone up to the command center and plugs in the disk.
The disk contains a dossier and a bunch of encrypted data. The dossier summarizes the project that the base was incubating: the Awakening is a scheme to enhance the Scions' spiritual and psychic abilities over multiple lifetimes, and the base was participating in an experiment to artificially replicate and accelerate the process. This led to some of the soldiers going insane. At the end of the dossier file is an outline of the main data ina tree format, encrypted.
Horrified, Vandor descends to the works and throws his armor in the magma pool by the pump. Miliardo follows down with Krazo and Cobalt, and creates a set of broaches from his stash of ball bearings in the shape of the tree outline at the end of the dossier.
Everyone leaves, drops off the cruiser full of weapons at the mechanic shop (the mechanic looks at them funny but is convinced to let it go since Cobalt says it was spoils from bounty hunting for the government), and gets a room for the night.
The next day, with the vehicle repaired, a profit reaped, and a Waya recovered, she splits to the forest. Cobalt gets a message from her oldest brother — their youngest brother has been MIA for a few days. Cobalt messages back that they should meet, and that they're on their way to Mesmer 7. He responds he can be there in less than 2 days.
They go through the rift, and emerge on Mesmer 7. It is a stark moon with craggy features, and clear lime green sky. Visible above the horizon is the planet Mesmer, which is a melange of dark green and creamy grey. In the gorges between the crags are lush forests on the rivers.
Vandor scans with his infrared scope and spies lots of activity in the trees and on the cliffs of the gorge, presumably the monks. As the party walks down into the gorge on the paths, they run into two monks, who bow to them and ask what brings them. The party presents the slab they found on Zant, and the monks, not knowing specifics, decide to introduce them to the abbess.
On the way to the temple, everyone catches sight of strange movement and realizes they are tarantula-like animals (longer bodies and stouter legs than tarantulas, but otherwise similar). Coming to the temple facade, it is a beautiful building made of stone and wood, embedded in the cliffside. The party is led inside, through the entryway, and down a hall. The part is briefly told to wait outside while one monk went inside a side room, the monk soon returns, and the two of them take leave and tell the party to enter.
The abbess introduces herself as Aida, and asks what the party's business at the temple. Vandor holds up the slab, and Aida looks to her side, behind the table, and a tarantula crawls up Vandor's arm and grabs the slab before he can respond.
Aida recognizes the script on the tablet, and says that she will do some research in the library and meet everyone back in the temple at dinnertime.
Cobalt and Krazo ask around and find out there are hot springs an hours' hike or so away, and decide to go for it. Vandor and Miliardo, curious about the monks' culture here, stick around and are invited to tea.
At the springs, there are two monks already there and they welcome Krazo and Cobalt to the water. Cobalt takes the time to release her tension, thinking of her brother, and Krazo asks about this moon and how the monestary ended up here.
The local monestary is mostly made from immigrants from Enceladon, an ocean world. With changing waters from industrialization and galactic market prices, many Enceladonians were eager for a fresh start, and founded this monestary for a more sustainable lifestyle. Most of the monestaries on Mesmer 7 were formed in the same fashion from various diasporas.
At the tea ceremony, Miliardo and Vandor learn that the spiders are called Tarantula Moles, and that in addition to being very social creatures, they are also great gardeners and produce a medicinal pseudotoxin. They also like tea, and produce small amounts of the toxin on their backs as gifts when offered some.
At dinner, Aida reveals that the tablet is written by a previous Scion (one of the four's past lives). It describes the process of storing consciousness in a Core and using it to accumulate experience over lifetimes. This is the methodology for the Scions' reincarnation.
Aida suggests that while the darkness the party observed on Aemos may not be directly related, the accumulation of energy in this way would not be without side effect; and that there is an order that the Mesmer 7 monks are in touch with known as The Key which hunts down anomalous and threatening forces in the universe.
The Scions entrust the tablet to Aida to take care of, Vandor mentioning it may be dangerous for them to keep it. Aida motions to Mesmer on the horizon out the window, saying their secret archives are not here, but there, on that harsh and irradiated planet and secured in deep impenetrable vaults.
With a day or so before Cobalt's brother can arrive, the party stays on Mesmer 7 for the night, digesting this new information and contemplating their next moves.
session 12: the freeborn system
The party stays overnight on Mesmer 7 and has a bit of downtime while waiting for Cobalt's oldest brother Remmington.
Vandor continues to study the customs of the moon monks and, enamored with the Tarantula Moles, soon finds himself serving a group of them tea and acquiring another vial of their toxin, which he later uses to craft a regeneration potion.
Cobalt, brooding over the situation with her brothers, explores the reliquary and finds some old sake which she takes a couple gulps of before continuing her leisurely round of the grounds.
Krazo decides to take a walk in the gorge by the river, and stumbles upon a shiny object hidden in the bush. Upon reaching for it in the underbrush, he's impaled by a finely engraved golden needle. Immediately wondering if he's been poisoned, he laments his fate and begins solidly freaking out — removing the needle (wrapping it in some cloth and putting it in his pocket), and sucking out blood from the wound; but a Tarantula Mole soon crawls up his leg and spirals onto his hand, secreting some venom on his wound and easing both his pain and his nerves.
Taking another look in the underbrush, Krazo still sees the metalic glint that caught his eye, so he carefully reaches back in and pulls out a book-sized golden box engraved with arcane script. Opening it, he finds a velveteen interior pillow on which sits an octagonal plate with iradescent circuitry surrounded by eight small golden orbs. Picking up each orb in turn and placing them back, they seem inoccuous. But as he gets to the plate, as soon as he picks it up, the orbs rise up and begin to surround him. Frozen in place, Krazo watches the orbs but they just hover around him. Trying to grab one as it floats, it dodges his hand. He places the plate back in the box and the orbs follow it to their resting place. Convinced he's found something rather special, Krazo turns back to return to his comrades at the temple.
Upon returning to the gardens where Vandor, Miliardo, and a group of Tarantula Moles are having a tea party, Krazo tells his story and shows his treasure. Vandor immediately recognizes this technology: "It's a funnel system! I haven't seen it in person, but a system like this will protect you automatically. This one is vintage! Amazing it still works!"
Cobalt joins the party after her wanderings and sits with her comrades, and shortly after a monk stops at the threshold: "You have a guest." Cobalt perks up her head and watches. Her brother Remmington enters, a tallish blue man with long slick hair, a trenchcoat, and derby. "Fancy meetin' you here Remy. Thanks for comin'! So tell me what the story on little Colbrae is."
Remmington says that Colbrae took a job to protect a corporate operation having to do with some biological research, but has been missing for four days. His last known position was in the Freeborn System, the same system given by Aida as the location to meet the Key's emmisary.
With that information, the party decides they should head with Remmington to Rise, which is the hub of the Freeborn System, accessible from The Rift.
Arriving in Rise, the group is met with the Vanguard of The Rift's outpost on a mountaintop, the cloudline visible with ships slowly descending below and launching out of it. The guard on duty tells them they can take the path around the mountainside to the spaceport.
The spaceport itself is little more than a large platform jutting out from the mountain road, with ship traffic descending to and ascending from its underbelly. Across the road are a multitude of buildings embedded in the mountainside itself including shops, the inn and tavern, etc.
After some light shopping (Vandor got a vibration blade to upgrade his spear and some potion materials, Krazo some extra grenades), the party enters the tavern to meet with The Key's emmisary and maybe get some info on Colbrae's location.
Upon entry, Krazo gets distracted trying to find some black market weapons — approaching a shady goblin-like man in a corner, he manages to weasel out of him after shelling out 50z that he should find dock 261 and ask for "Lorelei", and is gifted a scrap of paper with as much info.
The rest of the party, standing around like bumpkins at the entrance, catch the attention of a lanky man with short, dark, yet shaggy hair and wearing a power suit walks up to them. "Looks like you might be looking for somebody," he says, brandishing an ornate key and swinging it on his index finger. Sharing an embarrassed glance at each-other, the party acknowledges that this much is true. "Well look no further! Name's Nike, and my merry band of misfits are a division of The Key. After your friend over there is finished," pointing to Krazo and the goblin, "I'll show you to our dock and we can get down to brass tacks."
Krazo joins after interfacing with the goblin and the party leaves, crossing the street to the dock and stepping down the stairs to the lower deck where a door is embedded in the wall. Nike opens the door with a keycode; it leads to an elevator. The display shows thousands of floors leading to different docks. Nike punches in 42069 and the elevator plummets. After a moment, the elevator stops gracefully and opens to an enclosed dock with sealed bulkhead on the far wall, a mid-size ship moored in the central space, and a U-shaped gangway surrounding it providing access to several rooms including dormitories, mess hall, meeting rooms, etc.
Nike leads the party to a meeting room, where they discuss dark energy and anomalies detected on a small planet in the system home to a biological research lab. Remy and Cobalt look at each-other and think this must be one and the same as the place where Colbrae was working. There may be more intel coming soon but Nike suggests storming the gates anyways to save Colbrae if nothing comes in by the next day.
Krazo decides to check out this black market tip, and Miliardo, curious and also wanting to provide backup to his friend in a strange new place, goes with him. When they reach dock 261 via the elevator, the doors stay closed and a voice on the intercom says "State your business." Krazo says "I'm looking for Lorelei."
After a brief pause, the doors open to complete darkness. "Step out." They do so, and as the elevator doors close behind them, suddenly light pours in in front of them — they were in some kind of revolving door. The room looks something like a prison yard, with concrete benches surrounding a bleak and featureless central clearing, and unsavory looking characters talking in small hunched groups.
A raggedy looking man with thinning but long dark hair and an eccentric asymmetrical face walks toward the duo. "Are you Lorelei?" asks Krazo.
The man sneers and says "That I am. What's yer biz?"
Krazo explains that he's on the hunt for a wider selection of weaponry, and Lorelei says "I got ya covered, come over this way." He walks to the wall and kicks it, and a large drawer like you'd find in a morgue opens, full of gear. "Take yer pick and I'll tell you what you owe me."
Krazo rifles through the mess, finding a small gun that piques his interest — it looks like an old-style revolver, but sleek and largely featureless.
"What's this one do?"
"Toss it here."
Krazo gives Lorelei the tiny gun, and Lorelei takes it, walks to the middle of the yard, and fires. The barrel of the gun lets loose a glittering blue cone of light about 12 feet long with a 120 degree angle. "It's called The Toad!"
"I'll take it!" exclaims Krazo.
"Soon as ye pay up," says Lorelei, walking toward Krazo holding the gun by the barrel and holding out his other hand for payment.
Krazo pays for The Toad, Miliardo buys a power suit and vibration blade on discount, and they leave.
Meanwhile, Vandor verifies the activity records of The Key, hoping not to find records of scuffles with the Neo-Mars military, which he doesn't. Cobalt gets drunk and loses a bet on a YuGiOh match (tabletop size but with the holograms and everything!) in the bar.
session 13: storm the gates
Next day, everyone wakes to a message from Nike that they have the location of a side entrance and the group comes to the consensus of a diversionary tactic, where Nike and his team will lead a barrage of the front gates, and the Scions plus Remy take out the guards at the side entrance and inflitrate to get Colbrae.
Everybody boards the ship and they make quick work of the distance to Zaneh where the labs are. The Scions and Remy break off of the armored caravan moving from the landing site to the front gates and position themselves at the edge of the trees atop an embankment above the service entrance. The two mecha soldiers (similar to ZX units but without any obvious Neo-Mars affiliation).
The party has a few minutes to wait for the attack to begin, and discusses their plan. It's decided that Vandor will load his spear with a Hacker Core and try to shut down one of the soldier's sensory systems. Krazo will fire a Blaze Core shot at the other and try to take it out in one shot, with Cobalt and Remy on standby to clean up.
Krazo charges the Blaze Core, Vandor crafts his program and readies his spear.
Nike's message arrives. "Send it." Sounds of combat can immediately be heard in the distance, and the mecha guards jerk around abit, but hold their positions.
Vandor hurls his spear and makes a direct hit at the mecha on the left. It goes limp, then back up, but doesn't respond. The hack worked.
Krazo fires his gun at the right mecha with the Blaze Core charged, the shot glinting red as it zooms across the expanse. It hits. In a flash, a sphere of red and orange appears where the mecha was, and then contracts leaving a crater. The mecha soldier is down, on the edge of the crater, with damage sustianed, but gets back up quickly. Still, Cobalt fires both her guns and dispatches the guard. One down.
The other guard is a sitting duck, inside his mecha with no sensory data to act on. Krazo commands Brawl to run and jump on the mech, try to knock it over. It doesn't work. Cobalt and Remy take shots at it though, and Brawl runs back returning Vandor's spear to him.
Vandor makes a final throw, this time aiming to deal damage to the incapacitated machine, flexing every muscle in his body to enact a pristine olympic feat of a javelin toss. The spear pierces the cockpit, causing an explosion that rocks the mech and knocks it down. The explosion blows the spear back, causing it to land right in front of Vandor, stuck in the ground.
The guards dispatched, the party descends the embankment and Vandor checks to make sure neither of the pilots is dead. Not so lucky, but he does manage to heal and bind the first one to fall, stealing his clothes. As the party gathers at the entrance hatch and keys it open, Vandor's visor detects movement within the facility...
session 14: dark research
As the scions proceed down the hall, they see a group of people lined up near a door at an intersection. Krazo goes ahead of the rest and tries to lure the people down the hall to the group (to steal their clothes). The first person in line says "sorry, I really gotta go," but the other two agree to go down the hall and see what the deal is. The party manages to subdue the two workers and steal their clothes, and they agree to a cover:
- Cobalt & Remy: researchers (disguises)
- Krazo: mecha pilot/retainer (disguise)
- Vandor: security (as-is)
- Miliardo: adjunct researcher (as-is)
- Brawl: research subject (as-is)
In the meantime, the person in the bathroom came out and the researcher waiting in the hall still went in. Vandor was able to see on his visor where the one who just left the bathroom went to, and the party followed them there. After a moment's deliberation, they opened the door, finding the security officer seated at a computer terminal with low music playing, looking at a set of maps and some technical documentation.
They catch the officer off guard with some smooth talk, feigning being new and being sent all over the place. They ask the researcher where they can take their biological specimin. The researcher responds asking if it's for "that" project, where they've been splicing all kinds of genes into "it". While Cobalt and Krazo smooth talk the researcher, Vandor memorizes the map, noting the locations of the cryo-storage rooms for the specimins. They also learn of the presence of "that" project's main specimin in the lab on the tenth level.
Checking the nearest cryogenic storage room on the current floor, the specimins were organized by project and size, mostly small animals. The small e-ink displays beneath each specimin tank gave a short description of the applications and projects of each specimin. No humanoid specimins existed in that room. So Vandor suggests going back and asking the officer which level had the humanoid specimins, and the party was able to return to the monitoring room and smooth talk him again (quickly this time so as to not attract suspicion), finding the humanoid specimins are stored on level 5.
In the 5th level cryo, Vandor stands guard at the door while Miliardo, Cobalt, Remy, and Krazo search the tanks. They find one empty, with display reading "ID: DX-7727; Species: Ulu; Name: Unknown; Applications: Unknown; Project: Elixir". Emerging from the depths of the cryo room, the party mentions this to Vandor, who saw a researcher returning from the break room to his office with a cup of coffee earlier and suggests they ask him.
Miliardo goes and asks the researcher what he's heard about Project Elixir lately, and is told that specimins are being sent to the 10th level one after the other. The party regroups and gets ready to storm the 10th level lab. Krazo readies the Blaze Core.
Emerging from the elevator, the lab is a short way down a hall. Inside, it's a large circular room with storage on one side, a large trasnparent specimin tank on the other, and a desk with computer console and other research tools diagonally in the middle. The transparent tank is shattered and the specimin inside is hunched over eating a researcher's corpse. The monster appears to be like a griffon, but instead of wings it has a back writhing with long, powerful tentacles. Krazo nods to his party members and fires the Blaze Core, further shattering the glass and knocking the beast back.
A voice is heard on the other side of the storage array, "What the f was that?" Cobalt responds "Little brother, we're here to bust you out!"
The chimera responds by causing an explosion just next to Krazo, surpising and burning him as well as knocking him back a bit. Krazo sends Brawl to give some spare weaponry to Colbrae; Remy and Cobalt fire on the monster, and it does a sidestep dodge and whips its tentacles at them. Colbrae pulls a couple pistols out of Brawl's bag and Brawl starts running back. Krazo and Vandor make a one-two freeze-and-stab combo, disabling the beast. Suddenly, a blood-curling scream is heard when two giant Megapedes with large antlion-style mandibles emerge from the floor and devour the chimera.
Miliardo hits one of them with a stalagmite but it spits acid on him, ruining his new power suit. All the gunners including Remy and Colbrae take shots at the beasts, but they're too hardy — they don't budge. Vandor suggests they run, and makes to cover the others. He activates his Knockback Core and knocks one of the beasts back, and Miliardo casts Lifestream to try to get the other one to attack it. He succeeds in his initital attempt to link his consciousness with it. But as everyone else is escaping, the Megapede that was knocked back bites Vandor, clamping down with its huge jaws and seriously wounding him. Vandor barely manages to hold onto his consciousness, and then to add insult to injury the other Megapede gains control of its senses again and makes to attack Colbrae.
Suddenly, a powerful shot is fired from the entryway, and Nike and his elites come in with guns blazing. "You guys get back! We'll handle them!" While The Key holds their own against the beasts, the party retreats outside, noting the research base and surrounding landscape is marred by the Megapedes' crawling traversals.
At the ship, everyone nurses their wounds, especially Vandor, and they shortly recieve a message from Nike that they are returning. Colbrae thanks the party for saving him, and when Nike and crew return, everyone thanks them in kind. Nike expresses his thanks that everyone is alright, and that they made it in time.
Colbrae reveals what he found regarding these experiments and their sponsors. The biological experiments were being considered for use in Psycho Ore mining projects as well as various weapons projects for both private and government military actors.
Tired and worn out, the party contemplates these findings...
session 15: cards
Remy and Colbrae split for greener pastures and Vandor ups his training even while recovering from his wounds, and also picks up his heavy beam sword from the engineers at The Key. Miliardo has his armor repaired.
Cobalt decides to blow some steam at the underground YuGiOh tournament. She convinces the underwhelming up-and-comer to give her his cards if she gives him half her winnings, and after dominating in the lower divisions she ties with the champion, winning 2500z for the party.
session 16: ghost ship
The party convenes with Nike's officers for a debriefing of the situation with the shipping route. Not only has it been the site of strange activity regarding dark energy and anomalies on the ships, but pirates have been very active in the area as well. Krazo notes that this area was one his old pirate crew frequented.
Gathering their equipment, the party joins Nike and his two officers again in the ship, and they blast off for the sector where they will intercept the next ship on the shipping route. As they approach the rendezvous point, they spy the target vessel. The Key's instrumentation senses dark energy about the shipping vessel and their navigation seems to be erratic.
Suddenly a pirate ship approaches the shipping vessel and docks. The party tries to hail the shipping vessel, and after a long pause they respond that they have the situation under control. Vandor insists that they (the party) was also called for backup and would like permission to board. After another long pause, a begrudging approval is given and The Key's ship docks on the same docking bay where the pirate ship docked, in the adjacent hangar.
rough notes from here on, I hope to refine them later
- no activity at the pirate ship upfront
- in the lower deck, there are scratch and gouge marks suggestive of the earlier insectoid enemies, with bulkheads sealing the opposite cargo bay
- in the upper deck, Vandor discovers a 100-gallon propane tank in the kitchen and decides to take it as a makeshift bomb - he and Cobalt position it in the upper deck near the elevator to the cargo hold where his infrared visor suggests the most inesctoid activity is
- miliardo and krazo investigate the dorms but find it a shambles, people hiding out in fear, and one giant spider in a dorm feasting on a corpse. Miliardo collapses the door so they don't have to deal with it
- the party ascends to the bridge where they find Captain Ishmael, Krazo's former superior, along with a pirate vanguard soldier. Ishmael insists that they leave or cooperate, helping his crew battle spiders in the cargo hold. After double-edged negotiations, Ishmael tells his crew to expect help from the party, and the party acts as if to go to the cargo hold, but at the last minute Vandor launches his spear with hacker core at Ishmael, disabling his comms, and they engage in combat
- The battle is quick-paced, with Ishmael launching a magic barrage off the bat, but the party manages to overwhelm the two pirates with their numbers. Ishmael is wounded by gunfire and helped back up by his companion, but Krazo fires again almost depleting his HP and Miliardo casts Bloody Lance, managing to pull Ishmael into a rift gate. Brawl then proceeds to maul the lone pirate soldier, and Vandoor takes his comms terminal and uses his hacker core to spoof Ishmael's credentials.
- Plans are made to detonate the propane tank in the cargo hold and take out any remaining spiders and pirates there.
session 17: dropping bombs
- detonate the bomb at the cargo hold
- announce to the remaining workers that the main danger is passed
- return to the docking bay, quickly dispatch remaining pirates which were trying to prepare an escape
- search the pirate ship, Vandor returns to the cargo hold to inquire with the inventory system
- cobalt decides to comandeer the ship and, finding a well-aged mini-barrel of brandy from a remote hermitage, pours a glass and shatters it on the wall, chirstening the ship as her own
- vandor discovers the shipment was bound for Earth, which was not known to be habitable or have any active industry; he calls the highest ranking officer left on the ship to the hangar
- they appear to be the only one who knows that this shipment was bound for earth; vandor, seeing this and being very conflicted, kills this officer
- they plan to abandon the shipping vessel, sending it into a star, while evacuating the remaining crew via the Key's gunship