Saturday, May 28, 2016

Book 2, Part B

Welcome once again to the Shifting Horizon blog, or as I like to call it, "Let's kill everything the GM throws at us before it has a chance to shoot back." Your time is coming, guys... your time is coming.

First, introductions; unbeknownst to the others, two more crew members were sent by acting Captain Grainer to help out; the followed behind the others, arriving at the mayor's office just behind them: an android engineer named Gadget, and a female Kchk'Trrs - a medic, finally. And also a pacifist. How she got on this ship, I'll never know. Anyway, they joined Gus the android and Kiri and Julian the humans to talk with the mayor, a pleasant man who didn't seem upset when the Kchk'Trrs drank half his liquor cabinet...

The mayor had a problem, and had been watching the crew long enough to see that they were quite capable. A gang had been forming, starting fights and getting people hurt; people were worried. They were mostly outside the city proper, so he couldn't get to them. And speaking of which... he handed out maps:

If you click the image, you can zoom in - it's pretty big. They began in the purple building in the very center, the mayor's office. The mayor offered them $1000 each to stop the criminals. Of course, rather than jump into action, the crew decided to actually hang out and shop first. Kiri, still wounded, went to the hospital (in red, #14 - the trapazoid); in a thoughtful act, the medic purchased a card, some chocolate, and some flowers, and had them sent to Kiri's room. Meanwhile, the two androids went exploring, hoping to buy some gear; they had little luck. They did, however, get rejected from touring Science I (#20), the grey's laboratory, though they were able to get a quick tour of the Ralva Tech Center (#22). Poor Gus was shown an AI science lab, and the trauma of seeing (and hearing!) the injured AIs gave him a major phobia - he won't be able to see disassembled robots without reliving that traumatic experience. He's going to need some major repair work, I think... However, the medic received a quest from some symbiontoid scientists, as well as a biology lesson: Symbionts are actually a symbiotic collection, made up of:

  • The brain, the only sentient part of the body, which controls the rest through electronic nerve pulses;
  • The skin, a form-fitting lump of a creature;
  • The circulatory system, a toxin-filtering plant;
  • The digestive system, a nutrient-expelling omnivore;
  • And the splanch nodes, something akin to a slug that can grow coral, used as bones and muscles.

The scientist wanted the group to fetch a number of each (non-sentient) creatures for further study, hoping to grow them in a laboratory setting; it was much easier than shuffling off to the forest every time someone had a baby.

The next morning, all four trooped over to visit the Queen of the Apes. Kiri attempted to communicate with some outside, perhaps trying to become the next Jane Goodall. No such luck.
Inside the court was cool and beautiful, and filled with red apes scurrying around on one task or another. They were lead into the queen's chambers, where she was seated on a huge puff-ball of flowers, nearly immersed. Her face was much more human than the other apes; as the crew would soon learn, the queen controlled the other apes through a psychic link. Only queens and short-lived males were intelligent; the drones were part of an animal-like hive mind. Unlike the other red apes, the queen was quite human, and spoke clearly. She greeted them warmly, and stood to welcome them. As it turns out, the ape queen did enjoy the customs of the other apes, in that she wore no clothing. To make it worse, she had the kind of radiant beauty that transcends the boundaries of race... Gus and the medic managed to keep their eyes front, and most likely will receive medals; Gadget, entranced by the, uh, symmetry, prolonged his gaze somewhat longer than strictly polite, while Kiri... sigh. Kiri barely managed to keep from tripping over her own tongue, lolled out on the floor. When the Queen touched her shoulder, she felt a psychic touch as well, and obsessed over it for the next hour. Meanwhile, the queen asked if the group (she too had seen their work on the surface) could assist her.
When a red ape dies, the queen gathers its consciousness to herself, then implants it in a dormant egg, which births a new red ape; however, her children had been vanishing - not only did she not know where they were, physically, but she could not feel them through her psychic connection. Each time a red ape went missing, she felt a piece of herself vanish. She pointed them to the north-east corner of the city; the medic almost immediately decided it must be the grey's lab they were kicked out of earlier. Kiri managed to come to her senses in time to begin asking more and more intrusive questions, culminating in asking the queen to place a red ape personality into herself; the queen firmly denied the request. Even if it did work, the act would destroy Kiri's mind. Kiri was crushed, but vowed to find a way to renew that psychic bond she felt. However, she did ask for more resources, using the queen's connection to the mayor to beg some more money. Sigh. Murder hobos, indeed.
For those of you keeping score at home, this is three quests, zero action thus far.
As soon as they left, Kiri and Gus went to get outfitted, purchasing ungodly amounts of explosives, knives, and so on. Gadget and the medic investigated Science I; as the android annoyed the secretary, the medic crawled into an air vent and crept about, eventually managing to get a picture of a cage, with some red fur just visible. However, before she could return the way she came, she saw two guards heading towards the entrance; she turned around, but made enough noise to alert another guard. Scrambling to get out of the way of the guard's laser rifle, she called over comms for Gadget to create a distraction. Gadget took off running at top speed, leaving the guards in his dust, and laid out 10 feet of blast wire behind him. As soon as the guards were in range - boom! Both were reduced to a pair of smoldering boots in a stunning double-homicide. He also trapped four guards in a room, which he hosed down with flames; two sustained burns. The medic managed to escape her pursuer, as the androids and Kiri met up outside. Bolstered by the medic's picture of something vaguely red, the three decided to murder basically everyone. As they approached the door where the four guards were still struggling to get out, one guard finally managed to bend the doorknob enough to wrench it open, and fired uselessly at Gus. Kiri, taking affront to this, nuked them all with a sonic-tipped arrow, knowing it wouldn't injure the android.
As it turns out, the red fur was not a red ape, but a red ape skin - though they didn't know it, it was donated to science by the red queen, and had nothing to do with the abductions. No matter! The four found an elevator and rode it down to the lower floor, where they were met by six guards. Six slow guards... somehow unable to surprise the group, the guards were so slow on the trigger than Kiri blew up three of them, Gus hit two more with a sonic grenade, and Gadget incinerated another with his handheld flame-thrower, leaving... oh wait, that's six.
As Gadget freed the caged red apes they discovered, Kiri menaced one of the scientists cowering in the back corner until he spilled the beans; they were hoping to clone the apes into mindless servants to run the city, operating from funds provided by an anonymous grant. The cages that cut off the psychic link were incidentally using the same power supplies that Gus and Gadget found at the tech center... Coincidence?
The red apes freed, the heroic crew talked among themselves, trying to decide if they should murder all the surviving grays. As it turns out, the red queen had her own ideas, and asked them to leave; more red apes were waiting above, having rounded up the other grays on the surface.

For saving all the apes, but mercilessly killing all the guards, the group was awarded 4 XP; tune in next week, as the group slaughters indiscriminately, and still managed not to be locked away! Probably!

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