Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Episode Nine (part two) - Thrilling Air Adventures
The group now finds themselves in a dilemma- their orders clearly stipulate that they are to defend the cave entrance at all costs. However, by the sound of it, the cave complex is already being infiltrated by the enemy. After a hurried conference, it is a agreed that everyone is to take up defensive positions nearer to the cave entrance, while Ratchet, Mirage and Max climb down into the Mine to conduct recon.
By now, Putanesca and Kyoshi join the party from the Air Boat hangar and confirm that the Rats appear to bent on abandoning the place.
As everyone crouches down with their weapons trained down the bloody trail, a shadow passes them swiftly, accompanied by a thrumming mechanical sound. They look up and catch a glimpse of a large contrivance cobbled together with string and canvas over a stretched frame. It is a two or three winged aircraft with a large rotating propeller in front. They clearly see the leonine mutant pilot hunched over the cockpit, in his furred leather helmet and flyer’s goggles. The craft swiftly rises and disappears far behind the cliff above. From afar, there is a sound of a machinegun being fired repeatedly.
Max and the two Androids rappel down the shaft and find themselves in a familiar stone chamber with a steaming pool of water – the same place where the Mutant Puccini met his untimely and gruesome demise from the Brain Lashers HERE. The place is littered with corpses of Rats and all manner of discarded gear. Echoes of gunfire and the sounds of combat reverberate from further down the tunnels. If anything, they seem to be getting louder.
The Androids anxiously rush to the erstwhile central chamber where their former masters, the Brain Lashers, set up their command center. They find the place a mess. Scattered equipment and garbage are scattered everywhere. Ratchet arrives at the inner sanctum where the Regen Chamber HERE was left behind by the group after taking down all the Brain Lashers. Alas, it is but a pile of spare parts, having been gutted and cannibalized by Ratsputin and his ilk. Making the best out of a pointless situation, the Androids fill their packs with useable parts and technological odds and ends. Being natural tinkerers, they reason that these spare parts may always be worth their weight in gold when the time comes.
Max alerts them to ever-nearing sounds of approach of the feline mutants. The Cats are using grenades and automatic fire to clear the outer chambers of the Mine and are getting dangerously closer by the minute. Together, Max and the Androids climb back up to the cave entrance. The party then agrees to make for Ratsputin’s Air Boat.
They make it to the Air Boat seemingly with only minutes to spare, as the metallic saucer-like craft is rising from the ground with a thrumming sound. Putanesca leaps into the closing hatch and finds Ratsputin frantically engaging the controls, attended by two of the sorriest looking Rats in his force. She screams for him to hover, and Rasputin, after momentarily fixing her with a calculating gaze, halts the Boat’s ascent. Putanesca uses her Chameleon Metamorph mutation and takes on the shape of a large resilient stringbean (!) thereby providing the party with a rope-like ladder of sorts to gain entrance to the rising craft.
The Air-Boat rises above the crater lips of the mountaintop and zooms off into bloody redness of the setting sun.
They are cramped and crowded within the Boat’s confines and all they could do is look out the many windows along with craft’s sides. There does not appear to be any exists as the hatch they entered through has blended seamlessly to the wall. Below, they see the mountain receding in the distance. The lesser Azure river is evident, as is Krat’s floating fortress, Cat-tamaran, still pounding away at the Mine, with its armed complement of Cats doubtlessly mopping up the remaining Rat resistance.
Kyoshi could not resist watching Ratsputin deftly manipulate the controls on the craft’s dashboard using his long sinewy fingers and pink, ribbed tail as well. Without warning he leaps atop the dashboard pulling a lever here and pushing a button there.
“Watch it!” squeaks Ratsputin, but it is too late. There is a muffled bang within the craft, followed by disturbing groan amidst the hum of its drives. Then, Ratsputin has all he can handle, trying to right the bucking craft, all the while aiming curses and invectives at the diminutive mutant. With difficulty, the Tech-Rat manages to right the bucking craft and fly it straight on.
Link Seyz is the first to see the ominous approaching shapes from the aft porthole.
What appear to be blips from afar resolve themselves as attacking biplanes. Four of them, in V formation bearing the sigil of Captain Krat are gaining on the Air Boat. Ratsputin sees this and once more cursing vehemently, struggles to get the Boat to speed up even faster. Unfortunately, it is apparent that planes are gaining fast.
Mirage sees what look like orbs of flame shoot from the planes racing almost lazily towards the Boat. Then, there is a thump and another ominous mechanical groan as the orb makes contact with the Boat’s hull.
ML's note: This scene is another attempt on my part to up the Kirby-esque-ness of the game. In case you're wondering, the nearby panel is from Kamandi issue no. 7 which features Mutant feline pilots in biplanes. I left out King Kong this time, but I found the idea of Lion pilots too precious to resist!
“Tracers!”, screams Max. “Everyone get down!”
Everyone is thrown about haphazardly as Ratsputin puts the Boat through desperate aerobatics to escape the planes’ fire. They hear the staccato sound of machinegun fire through the Boat’s hull, but the planes outpace them. Like blood-mad sharks, the Lion pilots circle the stricken Air Boat. They feel the Boat losing altitude.
Up front, there is a muffled hiss and Ratsputin’s pilot seat is encased in a web of resilient film. He violently tugs a nearby switch and then both Rat pilot and seat disappear through a deck hatch which irises shut.
“Damn,” curses Max. “The Rat ratted out on us”.
Kyoshi and Ratchet take the controls and through combination of skill and not an insignificant measure of luck, manage to bring the stricken craft under control. As it descends, the Lions break off their attack, with the last one doing a final pass. Putanesca and Link Seyz see the feline pilot momentarily alongside the Boat giving them the finger as a final parting gesture.
ML’s note: Or should I say ‘the paw’ instead of ‘the finger’? We never really figured that one out.
Down below, they see what looks like a vast expanse of desert rolling beneath the Boat. At the western horizon is an expanse of green and what appears to be water, but their Boat doesn’t look like it will make it that far. Orua sees some sandy mountains below them, with gleaming metallic objects on the summits. The craft is put down nearby. To their surprise, it lands itself gently without any mishap.
Stepping out, they are struck by a wash of desert heat and the ever-present smell of sulfur-like sand. Indeed, in the distance to the south is a gleaming topped hill standing out amongst the giant sand dunes marching wave-like in the desert. Orua looks fascinated as it catches the crimson glow of the setting sun.
Evening comes and the party makes camp in the rising wind of the desert. Everywhere, the sand is granular and metallic, making a distinctive crunching sound when walked upon. Shai takes stock of their existing supplies and commandeers the two remaining and demoralized Rats.
In the meantime, Kyoshi and Max have been busy discussing how to return Link Seyz, to his “natural” synthetic state, having convinced themselves that their sentient constructed companion is suffering from delusions that he is human. They hit upon a plan and immediately endeavor to carry it out. Max takes Link Seyz aside and repeatedly warns him that “everything Kyoshi says is a lie”. Immediately, Kyoshi sidles up to Link Seyz and earnestly attempts to convince him that he, Link Seyz, is human. They keep this up without let up, and Link Seyz eventually feels he is losing his mind.
ML’s note: It seems both Nikos and Matt are at it again, in their attempts to play mind games with their Android friend. The session now revolved on a lot of role-playing and tech rolls – all of which were improvised. This was never really touched on in the rules, but it seems that all these attempts to re-boot their fellow Android is taking the game to places I never figured it would go….
As Aleph, the silver moon rises in the skies of Cygnet Delta, Link Seyz feels likes his head is going to burst. He is palpitating, he can’t breathe. To make matters worse, certain words of power are being called out by his companions sibilantly and continuously. Eventually, the camp is shaken by Link Seyz primal shriek as the he collapses bonelessly to the sand. He is turned over to Mirage and Ratchet, the Android techs who appear to know what to do to restore their shut-down brother to his former operative condition.
In the glow of a campfire, the group has a peaceful meal – the first one for the entire day of slaughter. Link Seyz is still inoperative – lying still like a human in a coma. Mirage and Ratchet are attending to him while the others take stock of their provisions. Shai says they have three days of food and water.
It is then that they notice Orua is missing. A hurried search fails to turn up the young human. All they find are her footprints – leading away from camp and heading out in the distance. It seems Orua has headed out towards the sandy dune-like hill in the distance.
The one with a metallic top gleaming in the pale silver light of Aleph.