"They cut the power? What do you mean "THEY cut the power"? How could they cut the power, man? They're just obsolete animals!"
-- Godfrey Barton, Alliance Park security, AS 2783
Stannis Law -> Gateway
Meanwhile, just before leaving Stannis' Law, Maury reminds Kith to tell Ciernan to continue the conversation with Janina later, but in the meantime, could she do the clear tube prototype test that they've been talking about? So, Kith gets Ruehan and Sophia to implant a little green nanite generator and a little clear nanite generator in her wrist and foot, respectively, but she decides that it would be best to run the test after her incisions heal, lest all the nanites escape.
The crew finds a message from Hippocrates that Dr. Kye has left word that he'll meet the group on Gateway. There's some confusion as to whether he needs to be rescued on Gateway or just met there - but it seems it's just met, so the group figures they might as well go.
Max pilots, his first time in the Hippocrates pilot's chair, but he can't resist the urge to scan a bit in hyperspace - there's something massive overtaking them at a high velocity. Max shifts to the sensor console, while Ruehan takes over as pilot - his first time in the pilot's chair too!
Max records everything as a massive body similar to the Hippocrates swooshes up at high speed behind them, passes them, and then recedes in the forward distance at tiny size. Hmm. Kith checks for influence on Ruehan, and notes that he's not being influenced but maybe he's influencing things. Ruehan thinks that the tiny ship receding into the distance ahead is active psi of some sort, using "I'm small" psi powers. That's also somewhat confusing. Max notes that they got overtaken at about the halfway point between jump gates, for what that's worth.
Ruehan gets them out of the jump gate, at the cost of several reliability, and the Hippocrates heads down to the Gateway capital spaceport.
Meanwhile, Banyan and Kye sneak off of their starliner, and head towards the IPX office on Gateway. En route, they notice that they are being followed by someone extremely good at this sort of thing, so they stall out before the office to consider.
Kith and Mirris chat about whether there will be a psychic charge issue with Katya and Jayla overlapping.
Max and Ruehan recriminate bitterly about who is a worse pilot; luckily, Jim has finally woken up, and takes over for the landing. Max tries to psychically Find Kye, and notes that maybe someone else is looking for him too. Ahah, it's probably Franklin DeWitt, Max's nemesis! Mirris explains, with much waving of arms, that their psychic antennae are getting tangled together.
Ruehan calls IPX to see if Dr. Kye is there yet. They report that he's not, but is expected soon. Then Kye, still lurking around outside, calls IPX in order to tell an intern to go out and give the watcher that he and Banyan noticed a Sparky Cola. The intern wants to know: a real Sparky Cola or one of the "special ones"? Oh, a special one, definitely. They give Kye the message that Ruehan called.
Eventually, Kye manages to reunite with his comrades, much to Mirris' disappointment. He explains that there are a bunch of detectives following him; he thinks they're sent by Memento Mori.
The intern delivers the cola to DeWitt, who throws it away, expecting it is a trap. DeWitt then runs off and returns in a completely different disguise.
Max rents a van, and checks for bugs. In fact, there are a couple of bugs. Hmm. DeWitt is good.
The group drives by who they think is DeWitt while Max keeps them not anyone's problem, and Ruehan tries to read his mind. Instead of DeWitt, he seems to hit a little old lady who just came into existence moments ago, to sit and wait for a bus. But with a higher difficulty, he also gets a little bit from DeWitt's actual mind.
Ruehan explains - this guy is really good, most detectives can't extend their undercover operations all the way into their psyche like that. Ruehan found out from the deep parts of his mind that he was hired to hunt down Dr. Kye and find "the fifth ring", because it's not on the Hippocrates. He gets his contact from the Well, but he seems to not know who it is.
"So, is he working for Memento Mori?" -KyeKye checks his email via Banyan's portable phone. There's a message from Janina Megaera, telling him to let her know a precise time, and she'll be there. Back on the Hippocrates, Mirris notes that the message was just traced. Banyan erases his phone and throws it away, and everyone heads back to the ship. Banyan notices that there's a kid messing with with a gumball vending machine who almost noticed them, but not quite. Surely that can't also be DeWitt?
"He ... doesn't ... know. He ... gets ... his ... contact ... from ... the ... Well." -Ruehan.
Then, it's time to subject Kith to Perilous Medical Experiments! The nanite generators in her hand and wrist get turned on, the nanites play Risk (TM) with each other, and the surgeons have to cleanse particular organs (via an Operation (TM) mechanic) that get too infested with nanites or damage. As it turns out, the breadbasket is a very easy operation to perform, and thus it is the Great Battleground of the Body.
"It's probably going to look like Hippocrates' conference room when you're done."In the end, Kith takes a lot of temporary damage, and permanent damage in the Wishbone (fortune checks are for 8s) and the Charlie Horse (-1 to move).
Kye sends mail to Janina, telling her to be there at 8 pm, local time, tomorrow. Banyan sends mail, to convince the detective from the starliner that he's meeting Dr Kye at 8pm at the other side of the planet. Hopefully, this will draw some of the pursuit off.
Kith takes a bubble bath, while Mirris and Sophia hover over her and make her tea. Max demonstrates his SEP field to Banyan, wandering around the ship, and a die of psi gets eaten. Oh, right, there's a shadow ninja around again. Banyan is a little worried to hear about this.
The evening passes uneventfully, and the next morning, people start puttering about Gateway.
Max worries that someone might try to bribe Banyan, and tells him if anyone says "whatever they're paying you, I'll double", then whatever they're paying, Max will double. Banyan finds this amusing. Kye reserves two large trucks in each of the major cities on the planet. Perhaps this will confuse the detectives keeping an eye on him.
Banyan pages Talia on the intercom "Experimentation, psychic, safe location, interrogative?" Basically, he wants to know where she is, so he knows where they can experiment. Also, he's interested in hiring her. She says she's currently in service, but is willing to discuss matters with him when her current service is concluded. He gives her the Banyan Detective Agency card, and she goes to her quarters to meditate.
Killing time, Jim looks around for self-defense classes on Gateway. In the immediate area, he turns up some for women, some for older women, some for kids, and some that suggest that if he is Worthy he will be Chosen.
Kith sends Trails of Blood off to find the Jaylaists 'cause Kith isn't feeling well. Trails is quite nervous about going out alone, but returns with best wishes from various Jaylaists for Kith's speedy recovery, and +1 skill in her health check.
Max and Mirris chat about opening up a designer boutique with Mirris's designs; apparently LaStralle thought that the Well would be a good place for Mirris's style.
Max notes Grimblemaury is around on planet, but then about five minutes later, he's gone again. Interesting.
Upon being asked to check, First Frost of Autumn says there are no bugs in the ship, but there are bugs all over the outside of the ship, and on the van. Max fusses with the bugs on the van, detaching them from their original adhesive and reapplying them with scotch tape.
After all the puttering, it's mid-afternoon. The last time the party was at the dig site, it was in a field behind a bunch of trees, in a wooded area in the middle of nowhere, about an hour away. So, a couple of hours in advance, they pile into the van and start driving in the wrong direction - at a rest stop, Max switches the bugs to other cars. Then, they turn in and drive the other way, still nobody's problem. As they're going back towards the city again, several people spot a car driving a little unusually - it keeps pulling over and then passing them. It's as if he can find them, but not follow them.
Kye calls the cops to report the reckless car. ("Tell people: Don't drive while you're on the white. Think safe.") They say they'll check it out.
A little while later, the party spots the mysterious car, pulled over with a police car behind him. Ruehan attempts to mind control the driver into going the other direction, but finds his mind confusing. Then Franklin's car whooshes off, and the police car whooshes into a U-turn and drives off in the other direction. Then a bunch more police cars follow the first car. Then Franklin's car follows the mob of police cars. Well, that's all very confusing.
Max checks the police scanner - all the police in the area have apparently been given a consort-level order to go to the wrong location and take the party van into custody. Good thing the party isn't going that way.
Kye has to make some driving rolls to avoid being hit, as the van is not anyone's problem, but the trouble with Franklin following them seems to be sorted out. Is it time to get the trucks? Well, not any of the trucks already reserved, as those will all be watched. Banyan pockets 100 asters of party funds and requisitions two trucks from one of his businesses.
Kith thinks there's something that they're missing, and Ruehan thinks that maybe Memento Mori actually already knows where the site is. Weren't they trying to get a dig permit too, back when Kye got his?
At this point, everyone is hungry, so they stop for pizza, and then head back out towards the site. Banyan is mimicking Max's SEP field, so there is a bit more trouble with the two trucks sideswiping each other invisibly, but then they get to the winding road to the original site. Last time, the road came around a wooded hilly area and then petered out. This time, it comes around the hilly area and passes a huge parking lot, and another parking lot under construction. Well, that's no good.
Jim's tactical analysis doesn't think that the parking lot is an ambush, just a parking lot. As the trucks drive on a little further, they come to two more parking lots, one filled with cars. There's a flagger (who doesn't see the trucks), and a gatehouse and a giant fence and flags.
The big sign over the gatehouse says "Welcome to Alliance Park."
"Unexpected." -BanyanMax decloaks the trucks a few feet from the flagger, startling him within an inch of his life, and asks about the service entrance. The guy wants to know what they're delivering; Max says food.
"Food for what? Patrons, employees, or attractions?"They get sent around to the employee gate.
"Um... cotton candy. So attractions?"
"The attractions eat cotton candy? No, you must mean patrons."
People look up Alliance Park on various portable network devices. It is apparently a park devoted to "preserving knowledge of our past," funded by a number of different organizations, including Memento Mori. There are a bunch of attractions designed for kids, but it's not open yet. The publicity talks about "ancient creatures from Alliance time" and "bits of nature that haven't been seen since the time of the Alliance". Everyone is deeply suspicious.
Both trucks drive trucks up to the service gate, and claim to be here "for a pickup". Max claims to not know what they're picking up, he just has a work order, and hands the guard a random piece of paper, while Ruehan mind controls him with "these are not the trucks you're looking for. Oh, and give us back our paper."
The gate guard opens the gate (which turns on several lighted warning sirens) for just long enough for the trucks to get through. There are signs for Hotel, and Facilities. Max contemplates which way to go to get to the vault, but he bounces. So they head towards the giant luxury hotel, and pull up to the back.
Several people (Kith, Banyan, Jim, Sophia and Ruehan) stay with the trucks, while Max gets Kye and Mirris through the card lock at the employee entrance, and they wander around not anyone's problem. The main lobby is quite busy, with guests checking in. So maybe it's open after all? Wait, there's a sign: "Welcome Memento Mori, Alliance Park Family Day".
There are other signs directing people towards the adventure tours, the accomodations, and so on. The party stages a quick raid on the laundry to find some park employee uniforms - they're apparently made of silver mylar and helmet-bubbles, "just like they used to wear in Alliance times."
Mirris sneaks off into the electrical rooms and notes that there are a lot of electric security fences.
A security guard shows up at the trucks. Kith pretends to just have woken up, and claims that the driver went to find the forms to fill out. Nobody at the truck professes to know what they're picking up. The guard, suspicious, says he'll go check on this for them. Ruehan mind controls him into thinking it's all fine.
Dr. Kye finds a map in the lobby. He notes that there are lots of dotted lines between the "Enclosures", and an adventure tram track. There are some greyed-out restricted areas - the dig site might be the restricted area in the top left area. Max disguises Dr. Kye to keep him from being completely obvious to Memento Mori.
Mirris finds the door to the control room, which has two guards in front of it. She extracts their background, but they're from two different groups - one is Alliance Park Security and one is Memento Mori Security. This makes infiltration a little tricky - she joins the Alliance Park security side, but now the Memento Mori security guy wants to see her ID card. She claims to have left it elsewhere, and heads off again to find it.
The tram seems like the best chance to get close to the restricted area, though that won't get the trucks in. It'll be a chance to figure out what's over there, at least. Eventually, everyone but Mirris pretends to be part of the Memento Mori Family Day, and hops on one of the trams - all the humans in the first car, and Banyan in the second car, with Dr. Trine and her daughter, who wonders whether he's an Alliance tree-person.
The tram driver issues instructions, as the tram heads to the gate. "Keep your hands and feet and other appendages inside the tram. Do not touch the fence." He opens the gate with his controller box, and again lights flash at the top of the adjoining fence.
The tram driver begins to tell them about Alliance ecology, and the various deadly sharp trees and ferocious animals that were around. He points out a rhinotiger browsing nearby, and the timber wolves, which leap from tree to tree. Note their sharp claws, suitable for hanging from trees.
The party finds it a little worrisome that the trees get up to twenty feet tall, but the fences are only fifteen feet tall. Dr. Trine is also appalled by the misinformation.
Sophia points a small red and white ball at one of the timber wolves, and it vanishes. When people notice this, she claims it's "for Science!"
Several people notice that there's a timber wolf climbing on the electric fence eating leaves. That suggests maybe the fence isn't so electric as all that. Banyan manages to point it out to the driver, who tries to turn it into an educational lesson - timber wolves can climb fences - but Kith notes that his emotional response has gone straight to terror. He tries to raise the control room on his radio "Base, this is tram two...", but they don't seem to be responding.
Meanwhile, Mirris has acquired a badge from a particularly marshmallow-minded security guard, and heads back to the control room, where she gets in this time. The door actually leads to an airlock-type small room, with buttons for L and C. She presses the C button, descends one level down, and the other door slides open. It's dark, or at least dim, within, there are blinking red lights, and sparks, and a big screen displaying "Alert Status 5." There are several people here, but they're all sprawled about with their throats torn out. Uh oh. And a lone voice comes from a nearby speaker: "Base, this is tram two, please come in."
Mirris also spots an opening into a ventilation duct, torn open and dripping acid.
"You think something came in there." -Mike "I was hoping something went out there!" -RoseMirris hits one of the panic buttons in the control room, and all along the fences, lights and alarms go on. Unfortunately, the gate that goes up and down, ahead of Tram 2 (the party tram) is now kathunking locked, rather than just closed.
The driver notices the alarm lights, and tries to claim that they're for dramatic viewing pleasure, but let's keep moving.
The next section has "velocipedes", large centipede-like creatures moving very fast. One of them scuttles onto the outside of the tram and then away again before anyone can react.
Contemplating the creatures so far, Jim thinks the rhinotigers are deadliest because they can stalk and charge and probably have a lot of dice. The timber wolves probably do double damage against plants (Banyan looks perturbed by this). Velocipedes will be hard to hit and probably get multiple attacks, but aren't very big.
Now that the panic button has been pressed, all the phones in the control room have started to ring. Visitors who were outside are being herded back into the hotel. Of course, the monster is probably in the hotel, so that's not that great.
Max sends Mirris a video camera, so she can record her exploits for the later glory of the Emerald Knights. She sows panic in the security forces, beseeching them to think of the children, and checks out the map of the complex. There's an outside road with its own gates, she notes - ahah, that's where the trucks can go.
Sophia catches a velocipede in one of her red-and-white balls. Kith decides that there's no way these things could have ever naturally existed - someone made them. On that note, the tram reaches the next gate - the arch above it says "Welcome to the lair of Carnivosaurus Rex." Mirris gets the door open for them, and tells the driver to keep going.
Mirris notes on the control room display that Tram Number One stopped briefly, but is now on its way back to the hotel. She calls the driver - everyone is sure the tram will be full of monsters - but no, the driver seems to be human, and reports that his passengers all jumped out in Sector Seven. Mirris confirms that the passengers included Dr. Crichton.
From above and to her right, Mirris hears a faint noise - she spins and points her blaster at it. It's some sort of small scorpion-like creature with a very long tail. Still recording, Mirris shoots it, and, surprisingly, one shot is enough to explode it, spraying acid everywhere. As more systems in the control room fry, the alert status goes up to six.
Improvising wildly for a plan to get the party off the tram, Mirris tells the Tram Two driver that Crichton got off the previous tram, and needs rescuing. Does this tram have any boy scouts aboard - they're heroic and helpful and might be able to save the day! The driver thinks this is somewhat odd, but Dr. Trine suddenly recognizes Jim and then sees through Dr. Kye's disguise. She entreats the party not to kill her daughter, and throws herself over her daughter to protect her.
Dr. Kye declares that now there's no way Dr. Trine will let them go off alone. Kith and Max disprove the assertion by making her drowsy and then dosing her with Turquoise. This gets the daughter a bit more upset, though.
Jim gives the driver a small radio, instructing him that if he runs into trouble before the hotel, he should call them. Ruehan turns into a mynoc and takes to the air, but can't spot the Crichton party. He thinks they're in one of the buildings in the restricted area, to his mental sense.
Kith, Kye, and Jim hop out of the tram and start sneaking towards the restricted area, while Banyan, Max, and Sophia stay on the tram to make sure that the unconscious Dr. Trine and her daughter get back to the hotel. Once they're there, they head for the trucks.
In the control room, Mirris finds the camera controls, and sees the security forces at the front of the hotel escorting groups of people out the front gate. She also sees Dr. Crichton and several flunkies climbing down into a trap door in one of the outbuildings. She opens the gate for Kith/Kye/Jim so they can get to the outbuildings.
A large black creature with a carapace and a long tail leaps out of a tree and onto the fence after the group, but that fence still has its electricity, and the creature leaps back into the trees again.
Sophia and Banyan start driving the trucks to the outer road. A large black creature leaps in front of Sophia's truck - she tries to catch it in a ball, but it's too big. Instead, she hits it with the truck, and it leaps back into the trees, leaving the front of the truck splattered with acid and smoking. The truck dies at the gate to the outbuildings; Banyan uses his truck to push the front one in, and then everyone closes the gates.
Mirris cautiously looks in the duct of doom, and another scorpion-critter promtply leaps at her. She shoots it, this one splashes her face with acid as it dies. Everyone else has regrouped by the trucks, behind the outbuildings. The acid-splashed truck needs its radiator patched and refilled.
While people are refilling the radiator, a timber wolf jumps off of the roof at Banyan, but he dodges. The timber wolf thinks this is terribly unfair - trees shouldn't dodge.
The group heads down the trap door, avoiding various deathtraps. One of Crichton's goons has been caught in a deathtrap, and is stuck to the wall (these appear to be the not-so-fatal variety of deathtrap). Banyan brokers an agreement with him - if they let him go, he won't attack them, even if the boss says to. He's fine with this, as the boss left him there stuck to the wall. Max tunnels the guy away from the wall, leaving him stuck to Max. A liberal application of kerosene later, everyone is unstuck.
Up ahead, Ruehan senses three minds. He mind controls the two small ones to just stand around and not do anything. Then the group comes through into the large room with the steel door, as previously discovered. Crichton and one of his guys are behind large metal boxes; the third guy is by the door.
Crichton tells Kye to "stay where you are"; Kye keeps walking, of course. Crichton tells one of his guys to get Kye, but the guy just stands there, as per Ruehan. Crichton shouts "Oh no, he's coming right for me!" and shoots Kye - having successfully lured Crichton into shooting first, Kye opens up on Crichton with his plasma-enhanced blaster. Max video records it all for posterity.
(Sophia gives Kith her monster-catching pokeyballs, as Sara has to leave. She reassures Kith that they're happy and gives her instructions on using them. There are two timber wolves and a velocipede caught so far.)
A firefight ensues, but it's not a very long one, as two of the combatants are mind controlled to not move. The metal boxes prove to be partial cover and also partial reflectors for incoming damage, so people shooting at them do take some damage. Crichton and Kye seem intent on killing each other, ignoring everyone else. Jim tries to grab Crichton, but he escapes; Ruehan claws him as a gith, and discovers that that damage reflects too.
Eventually, Crichton falls down, which causes an electronic cord from his belt to unplug from his box, and the box starts to glow ominously. Jim grabs Crichton and starts to drag him away; Kith shouts "Save yourself" to the other guard and gives him an action, but he's still mind controlled to stand still.
Jim thinks plugging the cord back in is some skill he doesn't have. Which is somewhat unusual for Jim. (No, not demolitions). He drops Crichton by the door and runs back for the other goon, who is similarly connected to the box. Getting his belt off is a simpler job of lockpicking, however. Max grabs Jim and the goon, and tunnels them both to the hallway.
The boxes both explode, bouncing a lot of energy back and forth, and then hitting Ruehan, Kye, Kith, and Banyan with it in the explosion. When the explosion gets to Crichton, he's healed for all the accumulated damage.
He attempts to flee, but Ruehan mind controls him to stand there too and Jim grabs him and turquoises him. Kye takes his gun and his ring, and Jim takes his belt. Kye starts to take his wallet, but Jim makes him put it back.
Meanwhile, Mirris gets a phone call that there's a monster in the spa eating people! The call ends in a scream and a gurgle. The cameras mostly show mist and a large dark form swooshing through it. Mirris locks down the doors to the spa, and reports to the other security people that there's a monster in the spa.
Then, it's 8pm, and Maury and Janina appear next to the door. The party puts on their rings (Kye, Jim, Ruehan and Max), and open the door.
"Welcome to the vault of the Motley Crew. What you find within is now your responsibility, for we have passed it on." -a voiceThen, Maury and Janina vanish. (There will later be much argument as to whether or not they teleported straight into the vault and looted it first, or just left again).
On the floor inside the door is a circle of raised letters spelling out KINGDOM CHOOSES BADGE FORGONE again. Perhaps it's an elevator? ("Group Hug!" -Kith)
Jim contemplates it tactically. It's certainly not a Trap, though it's not impossible that someday it could be trouble. Jim stands on the letters one at a time to spell out GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS, while everyone else crowds in the center. The circle goes down, and dramatic music (Beethoven's 9th) plays.
The vault holds:
Kith catches one of the scorpions in Sophia's pokeyball. Ruehan discovers, to his chagrin, that they're immune to mental attack. One of the scorpions leaps at Kith's head, and grabs her face, wrapping its tail around her neck.
"Wait! Those were face-huggers jumping at me? Suddenly the kicking object in my abdomen is very freaky." - RoseKith releases the face-hugger in the pokeyball at the carnivosaurus; it runs forward and then just circles the larger creature, confused. The two big carnivosauruses attack Jim and run for Dr. Kye. The first one claws Jim, and then a little head pops out of its mouth and bites him, to add insult to injury.
As a gith, Ruehan attacks one of the carnivosauruses. This gets him sprayed with acid for his trouble; perhaps at range is better. Dr. Kye keeps retreating, mindful of this concern.
Max pulls Kith under the truck. Moments later, "her" face-hugger runs under the trick after her... and leaps into Sophia's pokeyball.
The other face hugger has been leaping at Jim, who manages to get it off long enough to shoot at it, not quite killing it. It runs towards Kith, who flees; Jim shoots it again and it explodes in a shower of acid.
The two carnivosauruses are finally defeated as well, just in time, as Dr. Kye is at one hit point. The party jumps in the trucks and takes off, stopping only long enough to pick up Mirris, and then, after they've left the park, dumping their prisoners (Crichton and his two guys) unconscious on the side of the road.
Nobody will let Dr. Kye take Crichton home just to space him later.
"I never get to keep anything nice..." -Dr. KyeDespite having been face-hugged for a little while, Kith appears to be fine now.