Confused by Bex’s merciless killing, but knowing she’ll open up on her terms, the group decides to get an early start on the day’s travels. The next day passes without event. That evening Bex tells the group about where she found her synth-steel dagger. Not too far off their path is a ruin, built into the rockside made completely of metal. The group decides to take the detour and explore the ruins.
All is quiet as they approach the 10 by 10 cave entrance in the ruin. Jace tells everyone he doesn’t plan to venture into the cave, and that he’ll watch entrance. Not being a fan of closed spaces that limit his defensive capabilities, he is understandingly apprehensive. Activating a glow globe, the group decides to venture inside, with or without Jace. Seeing that no one else is willing to wait outside with him, including George the lizard, he reluctantly decides to join, staying in the back watching their escape route. It’s about 20 meters in when the floor, walls and ceiling transition seamlessly into metal. There is a faint hollow sound on their footfalls, as if the ground isn’t as solid as it seems. After 10 minutes or so the path abruptly opens up into a massive room. The floor is the same, but the walls round out, their edges unknown. The ceiling distance is likewise unseeable.
As they gather and look on into the absolute darkness, Jace decides to test the upper bounds of the chamber, happy to have three dimensional movement back. The ceiling is about 40 meters up and seems to still be made from the same metal material. It is cool to the touch. As he floats down to convey his findings, the rest of the group is analyzing what they can see and what they might do. It seems pretty clear this place has been untouched in many years. The dust build up on the ground suggests no disturbance in quite some time. While they discuss amongst themselves, they hear strange noises from inside the cavern. “Bezzzeep…beep…..beep….sswooossh..” They can’t make out what is making the noise, but Adric recognizes some of the sounds from Zog; something certain machines would make while moving. Just then they see a some light arc, then a white beam with a slightly bluish haze appear, travel a short distance then disappear. The spectacle is about 400 feet away. As they watch on, the sound seems to move from place to place in the massive room.
Not knowing what else to do, but being carried forward by curiosity, they travel further into the room. Adric takes the glow globe and rolls it on the ground, hoping to have it settle about 20 feet in front of them and extend their forward line of sight. Unknown till this time, the floor must have had a slight slope, for the globe doesn’t stop, but continues to slowly roll away from the group. They keep pace with it, so they remain on the edges of it’s light as it continues to roll. The sounds they heard earlier stop for a moment, then seems to pick up in frequency, then in volume, as it seems like whatever is making them is coming their direction in a hurry.
The group prepares itself for contact, not sure with what it will be yet. Jace is now even with the group, but flying 20 feet above. Coming full pelt into view at the edge of the light, some 30 feet away, is a large spherical machine with six “arms” protruding from its side at regular intervals. The arms end in nasty looking blades, hooks and pincers. As is moves more clearly into the light, it’s center shifts upwards towards Jace and a small blast of energy comes out from underneath it as it launches itself towards Jace. The events happen so fast that no one is ready for the mechanized creature, especially not its upward movement. Jace drops his gravity field and tries to free fall under the creature, thinking the 20 foot drop will be nicer than a pair of pincers around his waist. It will also allow his companions to engage the creature. Chasing him down towards the ground and battering him into it, the mech bounces off the ground, which makes a deep and far away sound of a bell, to hover again about three feet in the air.
Jace hits the floor just a few feet from the mech, laying prone on the ground and at it’s mercy. Adric comes flying in, targeting the nastiest bladed weapon, and smashes down with his beatstick, trying to rip the arm clean off. The blow hits hard and reverberates through his body and he strikes metal harder than anything he has felt before. It slightly dislodges the arm from it’s connection point, exposing the cabling and wiring inside. On que, Bex uses the moment to rush in and target a vicious stab and slash at the exposed joint. In response the mech whirls around preparing to snatch Bex off the ground. Jace releases an empowered onslaught blast from his finger, which curls in time and blasts the mech right in it’s exposed joint, sending electricity arcing throughout and beaming light through the joints all over the mech. The blade arm goes limp as it whirls to snatch Bex. Moving quickly and vaulting over the arm, Bex lands safely on the far side of the mech. Mathis unleashes an arrow from his bow, but it glances harmlessly off the solid metal armor. Frozen in place, Jeck looks on in horror at the abomination, clearly something from his worst nightmares.
Screaming a war cry “For Motherrr!” Adric drops his shield and puts all his weight behind a thrust aimed at a sealed shutter at the center of the mech. His aim is true and the thinly armored shutter bends easily to his blow. The beatstick drives deeper and deeper into the heart of the sphere making a metal shearing sound as delicate electronics are mashed and ripped asunder. As Adric continues to drive forward the lights go out and the mechanized ball drops abruptly to the ground as gravity regains control of it. Adric also hits the ground, being driven down with the mech as it suddenly turns to deadweight. He pulls out his club with a satisfying rip and Bex runs off to collect the glow globe, which has drifted about 60 feet away. Once she brings it back, the group inspects the mech, they’ve dubbed a “disassembler”. Jace is particularly interested in the inner workings and goes to work quickly trying to break into it’s shell and find the treasures within.
Mathis and Jeck hold perimeter, Jeck looking thoroughly defeated at his inaction in the last conflict. With Jace’s instructions, Bex places precise strikes in the armored shell with her combat knife to open rents in sphere. From there Jace finds a moment of brilliance and is able to identify and scavenge all manner of cyphers and artifacts from this treasure trove wreckage:
Gel – Nanite Gel – Repairs mechanical construct – 20 points of dmg
Ring – Gravity Nullifier – Once activated can float in the air for 1 hour – moving vertically a short distance per round
Intelect enhancement Liquid – +1 edge (Int) for one hour – drink it
Living Solvent – Lv 5 – Burn through 1 cubic of material each round for 5 rounds (can only burn through materials of a lv = or lower than itself)
Phase changer – Lv 6 – push user out of phase for 1 minute – medallion worn over heart – can pass through walls as if ghost up to materials its level or lower
Cel Disrupting Ray Emitter – shoulder mounted, interfaces with nervous system – trained in use of attack – Lv 6 (11 dmg biological only) – 200 foot projection
ID Synth Shield – A transparent round shield – has a HUD on the inside that displays the weak points of targets, allowing the person to use INT to boost for dmg on attacks. If used as part of an attack assist action, will allow the person to also ignore 2 points of the targets armor.
Synthetic Nano Disruptor – Fires a beam of white light (with a bluish haze). If it hits a non-organic target, it will deal 10 points of damage and atomize part or all of it. Depletion: 1d10.
After piecing the disassembler, the group notices a beam of light coming down and illuminating something on the ground about 600 feet away. They would all swear there was no such beam when they entered the room, but there it is. Jace decides to test his luck with his gravitational power and launch himself forward at an incredible rate in order close the distance quickly to the new feature in the pitch black chamber. He controls the gravity quite well this time around and is able to settle himself nicely on the ground about 15 feet away from the structure. Bex runs ahead of the rest, part of her childish exuberance coming through, so she doesn’t miss any of the action or discovery. The rest of the group follows, at brisk yet casual pace.
As Bex arrives, she notices Jace eying the strange structure on a pedestal in the center of the light. Three wiry pieces of synth protrude from the ancient pedestal, each curling into a loop at the top. Jace is on his knees sorting through a strange bag he hasn’t opened since coming together with the group, at least not when they were looking. Bex watches on, intrigued by the man’s maneuverings thus far. As Jace pulls out a circular piece of small light blue glass from the bag, the rest of the group is nearing the scene. He slowly brings the disc up to one of the loops, it being opposite another loop that seems to be filled with an object the same color. As he brings the piece towards the loop Bex gets a strange look on her face that Adric notices. He brings the disc in line with the other loop, to see if it will fit. Bex’s body convulses slightly and she has a look in her eyes that puts her in a place far away from here and now. Hearing the jolt and turning to see Bex’s face, Jace quickly pockets his disc and removes the one from the other side. It isn’t long before Bex comes to, a look of confusion and relief on her face. She settles cross legged on the floor right where she stood, taking some silent moments to compose herself.
Adric is flabbergasted by the events. There are things in play that others know about but aren’t telling him. He starts to ask questions of Bex and Jace, getting more and more agitated as the conversation continues with cryptic answers or no response at all. He goes into a mini tirade about his honesty and openness with his plans, and his expectation not to necessarily know the inner workings of his companions, but at least the pieces they directly interact with in their travels together. His frustration peaks as he continues to get little response from his companions and rather than continue to fight decides to leave and cool off. Mathis and Jeck go with him, but Jace says he is staying to explore the rest of the cavern. Bex stays as well to explore. Once outside Adric vents his frustrations to Mathis and Jeck, who share a willing ear, but not much else.
Before they explore the remainder of the cavern Bex asks Jace to repeat all the movements and place the disc actually into the slot to see if it will trigger anything or spark another more clear vision. No combination of discs triggers anything. It isn’t long before Bex and Jace emerge from the cavern, having found it’s far side in short order and discovered nothing else of note. As it is nearing dusk, the group finds a place to camp. Tensions are high, but unbroken as the group settles in for the night and their watches. When Bex is up to watch, she quietly wakes Adric and Jace to have a private conversation. She explains her history, her escape from Zog and the visions that find her at random moments. She explains that she is sure these visions are from ancient history and that there is a reason she has them. So, it’s her mission to explore the known world writing down the histories long forgotten. In this she hopes to find her purpose. She then tells them of the latest vision she had in the cavern earlier that day:
“When Jace brought that small blue disc up to the slot, it triggered a vision. I saw what looked like a silhouetted lady in Jace’s exact position drop the first disc into a slot, then the second, and finally the third, all that same light blue color. As the third one dropped, the figure snapped around, just her head coming into view. All I can remember from that face was glowing whitish-blue eyes and a green stripe under them, pulsing with power. The vision ended as soon as the face turned, but there was an ominous feeling, like danger in those eyes.”
In this moment of sharing Adric confronts Jace on the glass discs, called decants, and an explanation of them. Jace tells him they are hard to explain, as they can do all manner of things, but their primary function is unknown to him. He admits to being a little obsessed with them, but is also sure their secrets will lead to long lost power, especially if their indestructible nature is any indication of the power within. He shows Adric one that plays a quiet song when put to the ear. The music is lovely, like nothing Adric has ever heard and the quality is pure, perfect. He then shows him another, which projects a holographic image of a schematic in some long lost language.
Seeing an opportunity, Adric asks Jace what it would be worth to learn the purpose of the decants. “Knowing this would be worth anything I could offer,” was his response. Adric propositions Jace for honesty and openness in the future and a commitment to his cause to topple Zog. Jace agrees, if the question is answered. Adric pulls out a ringed cypher about the the size of the palm of his hand. He activates it and tells Jace to ask his question.
“What is the purpose of the decants?”
The face of a woman materializes above the device and begins to answer the question. “The decants preserve the wonders of past ages. Waiting to be unlocked by the worthy. They have been scattered to the winds to protect their secrets until the time of transcendence comes again.” The face abruptly disappears and the device starts to glow red, then bright white as it melts to nothing in a matter of seconds.
As they sit there quietly, looking at the burn mark in the ground, Jace begins telling a story from his past. “As a young boy I traveled extensively with my father. During my fourth Summer I found my first decant, though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. We were on an exploratory dig in the Radadune Steppes and I noticed a small crevice in the rock face near our dig site. Inside I discovered a three inch round light blue glass disc, it seemed to call to me, though I can’t explain how, it just felt that way. My father later saw the disc and asked for it. When I told him no, he demanded it from me. I ran away, finding a quiet place to collect my thoughts. I was afraid then, I’d never seen my father act that way and was shocked by the behavior. When I returned I hid the decant in a slot I cut into the sole of my boot and told my father I’d lost it when I ran away. He was back to normal then, just happy I was safe.”
“That event has always stayed with me though, I think it was a turning point in shaping my view of authority. The next time I was treated in such a way was by the aristocrats of Zog, bastards. I travel now to discover knowledge and wealth and more specifically to discover these decants. After hearing the answer to my question I feel even stronger that I’m on the right path. That these are the key to the power I’ll need so that I’ll never be talked down to like that again, like an inferior. I gave you my word, and my word is my bond. I’ll help you take down the corrupt elite of Zog. It may not be my only focus, and you may not always agree that my actions drive towards this goal, but I will follow you in your mission.”
Bex also pledges herself to the effort. The Toppers uprooted and mistreated her family, casting them into exile. That’s good enough reason to take them down by itself. Secretly, she knows full well how many visions she had in Zog and believes it to be a place where she can experience and learn much from her visions. As the center of the known world, it must have had a profound impact on all manner of history over the years.
With the tensions eased, the group wakes in better spirits and continues on towards lands uncharted. About midday as they group summits a small rock outcropping, Jace notices a young Kesh clearly scouting and looking for someone or something. He has the high ground and has caught the Kesh unawares. He arms his singularity cypher and chucks it straight at the face of the unknowing Kesh. It detonates on cue and vaporizes the rock in a 15 foot sphere centered on the Kesh. The Kesh itself isn’t vaporized, but is littered with holes as the surrounding rock gets pulled into the center of the singularity. Because the blast the terrain isn’t really reachable by the rest of the group, so Jace floats down to inspect the body. He pulls out a good sized light blue kouri crystal from inside the Kesh, a fine prize. On the open market it could be worth as much as two royals.
The next day the group comes up to a jagged choke point, the path between two steep and unstable mountains. Their only clear route is through a ravine, which drops below the standard level of the badlands. They drop down into this ravine and things get dark in a hurry. It isn’t so dark as to be unable to see, but it’s as if it was dusk, light levels are just low. They near the bottom of the ravine, where it starts to climb back out up towards the light on the other side. Jace catches a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye and snaps his head quickly to see the hindquarters of a Kesh dip behind a rock ledge above. He shouts out warning and fires a blast of energy up towards another Kesh he sees peeking out above. It ducks behind the ledge just in time to avoid the bolt of energy. As the group takes up defensive stances around each other the Kesh attack.
Mathis is torn to pieces in an instant by one massive Kesh that rushes out from behind folds in the ravine wall. Two Kesh jump from elevated positions blocking retreat back the way they came and close in on Jeck in the rear. He takes a nasty blow to the head that opens up a long gash in his face. Six more in total join in the combat, two closing on each remain person. Bex fumbles terribly in the chaos of the ambush, and nearly has her blade cypher smashed to pieces in the assault. She manages to save it, but takes a nasty blow from one of the Kesh, getting battered to the ground by a powerful fist. Jace for a change is on point defensively and moves with a grace not common to him. Adric flows around the oncoming attackers, baffling them with uncharacteristic movements and well placed shield blocks that keep him safe from harm. The scene looks grim, surrounded on all sides and outnumbered four to nine.
(Read text at timing listed in the song)
(0:00) Before anyone has time to think they hear a sound of a beautiful female voice, echoing down the ravine from the direction they came. At the sound of the voice combat stops and the Kesh freeze in place, all craning their necks and ears to listen. Music can be heard faintly coming down from the ravine.
(0:35) The Kesh start to gather together, slowly disengaging from combat. Dumbfounded by the events and also captivated by the song, the group stay where they are, watching, frozen in place.
(0:50) The sounds of the music grows louder and a herd of creatures comes into view at the top of the ravine. Jeck, still mesmerized, says “Calyptors” in awe under his breath.
(1:17) The song transitions into a steady rhythm as the herd starts to move down the ravine towards them. Jace tries to act, to shake the compulsion and take advantage of the distraction. It’s too powerful though and he quickly forgets even about his thought to act.
(1:45) The Kesh start to back away towards the cliffs, moving slowly, but deliberately, never taking their eyes from the herd marching down the ravine.
(2:15) There is a slight lull in the music, and everyone snaps out of the reverie for a few seconds, held still, but not as firmly. They look around and notice the Kesh are all but gone, having retreated back into the caves and nooks that line the ravine.
(2:55) The Calyptor herd breaks into a run, stampeding down and shaking the ground and walls of the ravine. Only the song can be heard though, it’s sound near deafening as the beasts approach the group. The group gets their first glimpses of the source of the female voice, running effortlessly in the middle of the herd.
(3.23) Each person gets the feeling that they should run with the Calyptor, the compulsion to run with herd is overwhelming and they see Jeck fall first to it. In turn they all do the same.
(3:45) As they run the group catches glimpses of the lady, beautiful and strong yet moving with an effortless grace as she sings. The Calyptor continue to move around her blocking access to her and obscuring any constant view. Bex catches the corner of her eye for a split second and her sight starts to blur as she feels a dream vision come on. It fades before beginning as a Calyptor breaks the line of sight.
(4:23) The song builds into a finale and then suddenly the creatures abruptly break apart and run in different directions, the lady in the center mysteriously no where to be seen.
The group realizes they are out of the ravine now and out in the open expanse on the other side. The compulsion completely broken, they fall over in exhaustion, the full measure of their run sinking into their brains. As they lay there trying to remember the experience, for it seemed like dream, they realize they aren’t sure how long they’d been running, and also that there truly is only four of them left.