Princesses:Amazon Brigade/Chapter 05

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Note: This log is still in IRC format, and may be awkward to read as a result.

Chapter #5:

<Capn_Ascii> As we join our heroines, we find them settling into their new arrangements. A couple of weeks have passed, and thanks to the wonders of modern-day medicine, Suyana is as good as new! ...well, almost. She might still smell a bit like bacon. Sweet, delicious bacon. Mmm...

<Capn_Ascii> The four of you are meeting up on the airship to welcome Suyana home from the hospital and show her around the place.

<Selphie> Selphie leads Suyana to the hidden hatch that leads up into the airship. "This is my little mobile home, where the others have already settled in. I bought it with my pocket money that I saved up for three whole months. It was going to be scrapped but I salvaged it. Now I use it to sneak out of my dad's facility to go and meet Durian - my boyfriend. He doesn't know about it. It's a secret. But each of us superhero girls is kind of a secret, so we must be good at keeping secrets properly. It would be SO MUCH BETTER if I could just be open about where I'm going and who I'm spending time with, but NOOOOO... nobody's good enough for daddy's little girl. Well, I'm not going to wait like a damsel in distress in a castle 'protected' by a fierce dragon. I'm going to go out and explore. So let's see. It's not really your average airship. It's a discontinued prototype, when R&D was told to focus more on certain areas and they needed to design a new airframe to do so. It has a hatch with winches and ziplines for rescuing people! Also for an emergency escape, should the need arise. Jenny's car is winched into the garage, being tuned up by the workshop drones at the moment. Oh yeah - there's workshops for repairing the little drones and a drone hive where they recharge. There are several spare bedrooms. There's a minimal bathroom - I couldn't fit the jacuzzi in due to space limitations." She seems a bit disappointed. "There's a battle simulation tactical expert system left over from its original military construction - I haven't had much use for it. And of course voice activated autopilot and guidance system to avoid all the commercial flight paths. It's got three decks. We're on the lower one now. These monitors show everything's running smoothly. Nothing to worry about!"

<Selphie> She hands Suyana ample toast and jam and fresh coffee as she continues the tour of the small berths and the expansive views and the basic essentials and the fire escapes and the bridge.

<Selphie> "It's using valmorphanisation to hover and a portable Somebody Else's Problem Field Generator so that people don't notice it. It hasn't let me down in nine months. Well, except when I want to descend of course. It's not really anything we can bring into close-quarters situations, but it can take us over long distances if ever the need arises."

<Selphie> "Make yourself at home!"

  • Suyana blinks. "You have an airship," she says incredulously.

<Selphie> "Yeah. It was going to be scrapped otherwise. Didn't want to waste it."

<Andrea> "Yes she does. Quite more interesting than my simple house, isn't it?"

<Jenny> "You know I love me some toast and jam, but does this thing make anything else? I'm no carnivore, but a bit of meat or cheese after a couple weeks might be nice."

<Suyana> "Well, I can't turn down an airship just because it's weird," Suyana says and shrugs.

  • Selphie approaches the kitchenette autochef and prods a few buttons ineptly. "Well, you know, I've only ever found out how to get toast and jam from it, apart from this one time it produced marmalade on a crumpet. That was the best day! It didn't come with manuals." the latter sounds a bit forlorn.

<Capn_Ascii> The machine clicks, grinds, whirrs, and spits out something that looks like Spam pressed into the shape of a piece of toast.

  • Jenny shrugs and eats it.

<Selphie> "Initially there was Nutri-Matic which consistently produced something almost but not quite entirely unlike tea. I got rid of it."

<Capn_Ascii> The machine clicks, grinds, whirrs, and spits out a cup of No Tea.

  • Selphie storms off to check the weather forecast upstairs at the bridge.
  • Jenny sips the drink that is not tea.

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: It's not a drink that isn't tea, it's No Tea.

<Capn_Ascii> You can't drink No Tea, since you have No Tea.

  • Jenny pretends to sip the tea that isn't there.

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: How can you pick it up if it isn't there?

  • Selphie runs through the status schematic, making sure all systems are green, and scans the logs to see if any unusual activity was recorded recently, coded signals intercepted, or anything else that needs a pilot's attention.
  • Jenny looks down sadly at her lack of tea, then heads off to watch Selphie.

<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: According to the readouts, there's a spam clog in the powdered toast chute, the kitchen is out of No Tea, the No3 engine needs re-synching, and there's inexplicable seismic activity coming from a lot several miles outside of town.

  • Selphie shows Jenny the drones' report on the progress made to her car in Hangar Bay 3.
  • Jenny pretends she understands the progress report.

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: The report reads 'finally got this busted-ass POS back together with something more than Krazy Glue'.

  • Selphie nudges the AutoAdjust button for the Number Three engine, realigns the main deflector dish, and tears off the dot-matrix printout from the infocom before heading back downstairs to the crew with Jenny. "Look! Seismic activity." She puts the plot hook down on the kitchen table where everyone can read it and heads to the autochef. Jammed with spam, eh? She switches it off and switches it back on again. That oughta do it.

<Andrea> "An... earthquake? Well that's better than nothing I suppose. This isn't California, is it? Guess we'd better check it out."

<Andrea> "Probably due to fracking, really."

<Selphie> "I'm keen to check it out! Should I haul anchor and set a course?"

<Andrea> "We have an anchor? Uh, I mean, sure."

<Jenny> "Yup."

<Selphie> "Without an anchor, we'd drift into a building. That would be hard to explain."

  • Selphie presses the blue switch on the kitchen table, then clearly enunciates, "Helm to One Oh Eight!" A robotic voice replies, "Helm one-oh-eight" and immediately there's a gentle lurch and the airship is moving.

<Andrea> "What's the 108 mean?"

<Capn_Ascii> Outside, the invisible anchor lifts up into the air, a very surprised stray dog dangling from what appears to be thin air.

<Selphie> "It's the heading indicated on the printout." Selphie points at an inconspicuous part of the readout where various grid references and contours are recorded.

<Capn_Ascii> She's right. It's all right there on the printout. Very scientific.

<Capn_Ascii> As the airship travels, the sun begins to set, as for some reason Selphie decided late afternoon was the best time to show off her airship. By the time you arrive near the site, it's already dark.

  • Selphie tests the autochef can still make coffee. Or even hot chocolate. Just not spam soup.
  • Andrea checks to see if the USGS has recorded the seismic activity and what they're saying about it.
  • Jenny puts her feet up on a coffee table and plays on her phone.

<Selphie> "In case you don't have reception out here Andrea, you can hook into the shipboard repeater." She flips a panel aside to expose a standard array of ports. Main screen turn on. We get signal.

  • Andrea plugs in to assure herself of quality Internet access.

<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: The USGS is aware of what they're referring to 'small localized tremors' from this location, and are planning to send survey teams out in the morning to investigate.

<Capn_Ascii> <more>

<Capn_Ascii> According to their records, the activity is originating from a mostly empty lot out in the woods that used to be a small town, but is now mostly abandoned.

  • Selphie puts up ground visual on the projector and activates the thermal overlay.

<Andrea> "So... set down here, I guess?"

<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: The scope reveals that you're hovering over a small bit of farmland a little ways away from the highway, and about a half-mile from your destination. There doesn't seem to be anything down there at this time of night. Except, of course...the corn.

<Andrea> "Are you going to make a crop circle with your landing?"

<Selphie> Having found an unpopulated clearing of a suitable size, Selphie presses the large red square labeled "Stop". Another gentle lurch and a whir from a winch tells the passengers the airship has stopped. A canine yelp tells the passengers the anchor has stopped, some distance below. With her hand hovering above the gangway extrusion system control, she asks, "Are we ready? Let's gather our party before venturing forth!"

<Capn_Ascii> Hail, hail, the gang's all here.

<Selphie> "Crop circles were an earlier prototype. That propulsion system was abandoned as soon as valmorphanisation was discovered."

  • Jenny climbs down the ladder and heads in what she thinks is the right direction.

<Andrea> "Oh."

<Selphie> "Yeah. I think the client's feedback included words to the effect of 'Unacceptable drive signature'."

  • Selphie sallies forth with Jenny, and waits at the bottom of the gangway until everyone has disembarked with their gear.
  • Andrea is ready to go, computer and all!

<Capn_Ascii> You descend the stairs and find yourselves standing alongside a cornfield in the middle of the night. Aside from the little pair of dog feet sticking out of a nearby dent in the ground and the general creepiness of the scene at this late time, there's not much of interest here, so you head off towards your destination.

<Capn_Ascii> You soon find yourselves approaching the woodline at the edge of the farm lot.

<Selphie> Once everyone is on the ground, she presses a button on her watch. A quiet whir indicates the gangway is being retracted - a sound easily missed in more noisesome environs.

<Capn_Ascii> You enter the creepy-ass woods. It's...well, creepy. You hear the occasional owl hoot and/or rustling of underbrush.

<Andrea> "Anyone else getting a creepy feeling here?" Andrea whispers.

<Selphie> "I haven't felt the earth move under my feet. So that's a good sign. Exciting isn't it!"

  • Selphie checks Suyana is feeling OK. "Is everything good with you? Low energy after all that bland hospital food?" Selphie hopes the jam on toast was an improvement in that department anyway.

<Capn_Ascii> Naturally, right about the time Selphie brings it up, you all actually do in fact feel the earth move under your feet. It's subtle - a gentle rumbling. Selphie is reminded of the time the inertial dampeners on the ship failed and subjected her to unexpected turbulence.

  • Selphie spoke too soon.

<Selphie> "I feel the earth... move... under my feet. At least I don't feel the sky tumbling down, tumbling down." Selphie sings Carole King's music to herself quietly.

<Andrea> "Can we not continue to tempt fate, please?" Andrea hisses at Selphie.

  • Jenny hums Metallica's Nothing Else Matters, just to get that song out of her head. Meanwhile, she presses forward toward their target.

<Selphie> "I didn't write the lyrics" she complains, but instead focusses on the task at hand.

  • Selphie feels hemmed in by these creepy woods. If not for the spindly branches everywhere, she could launch her drone to give them some aerial surveillance and advanced warning of any hazards ahead. But no chance it could safely manoeuvre in here.

<Capn_Ascii> You push through the trees, and soon find yourselves standing on the outer edges of a ghost town. There are several wooden homes and storefronts arranged along a single wide, dirt path, not unlike the Wild West boomtowns on TV, although these are all reasonably modern. There are a few rusted-out pickup trucks and a couple of old wooden wagons, and several of the buildings have the remnants of posters and billboards

<Capn_Ascii> hanging from them, all sporting various farming-related advertisements. Looks like this was a farm town in a former life.

  • Andrea looks around for anything unusual or suspicious

<Selphie> Noticing how still and quiet this ghost town is, she reconsiders the wisdom of launching a drone that could give away their presence.

<Capn_Ascii> The whole place is very quiet, with no obvious signs of life - except for one. There's an old church across what passes for the town square that clearly has lights on inside.

<Andrea> "Head for the lighted place?" Andrea proposes.

  • Jenny nods and starts walking in that direction.
  • Selphie casts her mechanical eye over each vehicle they pass, assessing its condition - whether it was used recently to drive church-goers or if it's an abandoned derelict. Then she picks up her mechanical eye and continues on.

<Capn_Ascii> You approach the creepy church, taking note of the large and even creepier cemetary off behind it. The front door is closed, but there's a sign hanging from it that reads 'All are Welcome'.

<Andrea> "Perhaps the individuals that are competent in hand-to-hand should go first? Just in case."

<Selphie> "Is this the only door? Maybe we could slip in through another. Or maybe if we interact with the obvious door, those within will slip out through another."

  • Jenny opens the door and walks in.
  • Selphie peers through the darkness to see how viable circumnavigation would be.
  • Suyana tags along cautiously up to the door

<Andrea> "It says 'All are Welcome', I doubt they'll just leave when we go in."

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: You try the handle. It's lo...oh, wait. No, it's actually open. Huh. Not what I was expecting. You open the door and step inside. The church looks like what you would expect from a backwoods--er, ahem, a 'charming rustic community' such as this. It's mostly made of wood, it's dull and dusty, and it's lined with wooden pews and candles along the walls. <more>

<Capn_Ascii> There's a pulpit at the far end, and an altar with a crucifix above it beyond that. Bowed before the latter is a man in a priest's clothes, kneeling in silent prayer.

  • Jenny coughs loudly. "Hey,"

<Capn_Ascii> "Hmm?" He stands up and turns to face you. He's an olde, wisened man, with greying hair and a gentle countenance. "Oh, hello there. I wasn't expecting anyone at this time of night. What may I do for you?"

<Jenny> "Do you happen to know anything about these earthquakes?"

  • Selphie peers out into the darkness away from the lit interior.

<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: The darkness peers back at you. It's as if it's daring you to cast Magic Missile...

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: The man nods. "Ah, you must be the USGS people. I'm afraid I don't know much. I'm the only one left in town these days, so I was the only one who was here when the tremors started. I informed the authorities, and they told me they'd be sending someone out." Hmm...he seems to think you're the survey team that's due in the morning.

<Capn_Ascii> "I was expecting you in the morning, but since you're here, feel free to stay the night. There should still be useable beds in the hotel across the way."

<Jenny> "Why are you here, and why are you the only one here?" Jenny asks him frankly.

<Capn_Ascii> "Why, I'm doing the lord's work." He motions toward the crucifix. "I used to be the pastor for this town, but we had a few bad crop seasons and everyone began to leave. I couldn't bring myself to abandon my house of worship, so I've stayed here, trying to find a way to reinvigorate the town."

<Suyana> "Doesn't it get lonely here?"

<Andrea> Andrea frowns but doesn't say anything.

  • Selphie wonders where he gets food. Or any services really, apart from spiritual ones.

<Jenny> "Has there been anything unusual going on, other than the earthquakes?"

<Capn_Ascii> "Not really, it's been quiet overall."

<Suyana> "Does anyone else ever come by?"

<Capn_Ascii> "On occasion. I have food delivered from town, and my family comes to visit."

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: You can sense that he's hiding something, but you also sense that he doesn't seem to mean you any harm. He seems more like the sort who's keeping something personal to himself for fear of being judged.

<Jenny> "Well, it's good to meet you. If you think of anything that might be relevant to the earthquake, let us know."

<Capn_Ascii> "I shall. I expect we'll talk more tomorrow after your investigation."

  • Jenny nods goodbye at him and heads back out of the church.

<Capn_Ascii> You once again find yourself outside in the darkness. What a horrible night to have a curse.

<Selphie> "Hmm. Well, it doesn't feel like bedtime yet to _me_."

<Andrea> "Let's walk around, look for anything suspicious."

<Jenny> "Anyone got a flashlight?"

<Selphie> "Of course." Selphie hands her an LED arclight.

  • Andrea simply pulls out her phone and turns on the flashlight app.

<Andrea> "There's an app for this."

<Jenny> "My phone got cracked a bit ago. The light doesn't work on it anymore."

<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: Your phone light begins flashing on and off at blazing speed. Looks like you hit the 'disco strobe app' by mistake.

<Suyana> "I have an old-fashioned flashlight somewhere..."

  • Andrea sighs and corrects her app selection.
  • Jenny takes Selphie's light and begins walking through the town, looking for beasties and things that go bump in the night.
  • Selphie crouches low like she imagines a ninja would, and furtively darts along after Jenny, keeping in Jenny's looming and sweeping shadows.

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: The question now is, which way do you go? The chursh is behind you to the west; you can go east to the hotel, north to the storefronts, or south to the residential area.

  • Jenny picks north and heads that way.
  • Selphie ninjes along in the shadows, thoroughly enjoying herself.
  • Andrea follows Jenny
  • Suyana tags along

<Capn_Ascii> Heading north, you find yourself outside of the storefronts. There's an old abandoned hardware store to the west, an old abandoned farmer's market to the east, and an old abandoned undertaker's to the northwest.

  • Andrea still scans the area for anything suspicious
  • Jenny leads the group towards the undertaker's, on the grounds that the creepiest place is the most likely to be a source of Evil.

<Capn_Ascii> As you enter the building, you could swear you see a shadow moving against the far wall of the store, for just a brief instant - then it's gone. Then again, perhaps your eyes are playing tricks on you...

  • Jenny points her light all over the wall where it was.

<Capn_Ascii> The inside of the store mostly consists of uncarved tombstones sitting against the walls on display, along with a couple of simple wooden coffins. There's a counter and a door in the back.

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: It looks like whatever it was may have gone through the door. If you actually saw anything, that is.

  • Jenny heads towards the door.
  • Andrea aims her phonelamp at the door, carefully checking for movement.

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: You slowly open the door, which opens almost noiselessly. Beyond is a small workshop, where you assume the former owner assembled his wares. There's another wooden coffin in here standing up on end against the wall, lid closed.

  • Jenny shines the light all over the workshop. "What do you guys think? Vamp?" she says in an undertone.

<Andrea> Andrea nods. "Seems likely."

<Selphie> "Seems empty." Selphie suggests.

<Andrea> "I'd say we're not going to learn anything by standing here. Try opening it."

  • Jenny quietly moves forward and opens the coffin.

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: You open the coffin, and...A CORPSE SPRINGS OUT AT YOU!

<Capn_Ascii> Well, okay, not so much 'springs' as 'limply falls onto you from where it was propped up lifelessly'.

  • Selphie jumps out of her socks.

<Capn_Ascii> It is a corpse, though. Rather dessicated, which means 'old and dried out' if you don't already know that. Judging from his overalls and flannel shirt, this was once a farmer. Now he's a dead farmer.

<Capn_Ascii> It ends up draped on Jenny like a particularly clingy boyfriend. Eeeeeeew.

  • Andrea helps Jenny get the corpse off her
  • Jenny frowns angrily at the corpse and shoves it back into the coffin, slamming the lid shut.
  • Selphie takes a loud puff from her inhaler, echoing unexpectedly in the small room.
  • Jenny looks around for anywhere else the shadow could have gone, still frowning and angry at having been shocked.

<Capn_Ascii> You slam the lid closed. *SLAM!* *SLAM!*

<Andrea> Andrea looks around for anything else that might be the culprit.

<Capn_Ascii> Jenny, Selphie: ...wait, *two* slams?

<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: It occurs to you that someone is resting their hand on your shoulder.

<Selphie> In the process of putting her puffer away, Selphie asks, "Are you OK Suyana? You're kinda heavy there. Need to sit down?"

<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: Suyana's standing in front of you. In fact, everyone is. So...uh.

<Selphie> "Hey guys. Umm... HEY GUYS! Who's behind me?"

  • Jenny looks behind Selphie.
  • Suyana also looks

<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: You glance behind you, at the space where the door to this room was halfway against the wall. You realize that A) it's now closed, and B) there's another corpse standing where the door was blocking it from sight. It's looking at you, straight in the eyes.

<Capn_Ascii> "YEEEAAARGH!"

<Capn_Ascii> ---END SESSION---