Princesses:Amazon Brigade/Chapter 17
Chapter #17: Tricked, Tracked, Trucked
<Capn_Ascii> As we join our heroines, we find them in the lair of someone who is clearly not quite right upstairs. Isn't Selphie's erratic behavior enough to deal with?
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: You sift through the paperwork on the desk, and discover a chaotic mess of seemingly random information. Some of the papers appear to be pages in a journal, but they're written in some bizzare runic script you've never seen before. Others appear to be financial spreadsheets. Still others look like arcane diagrams and obscure magical rituals. Buried under one sheet of paper, you find a handful of coins. Actual US currency this time, rather than more gold.
<Andrea> "I do love me some good ol'-fashioned US Dollars. Or cents, as the case may be."
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: Your puzzle sense is tingling. Something tells you that these coins are important.
- Andrea examines the coins more closely.
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: Several quarters, a few dimes, and a nickel - $2.45 in all. You're rich.
- Andrea tries 245 on the safe, for lack of any better idea, but unable to shake the nagging feeling that the coins are important.
<Selphie> "Maybe they are actually miniature mines, and they only look like coins. Could be military R&D."
<Andrea> "In a barrel shop in a town with no known military connection?"
<Suyana> "Maybe that's just what they want you to think..."
<Jenny> "Maybe they're chocolate," Jenny says hopefully.
<Selphie> "Well, the writing's on the walls!" Selphie gestures at the word "MINE" written on the walls.
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: 2...4...5...*click* The safe opens. Inside, you find what appears to be a portion of the treasure cache - a solid gold crown, a few gold bars, and several loose coins and gems. There's also a worn book.
- Selphie looks at the book, and wonders how one would wear it.
- Jenny puts the crown on. "How do I look?"
<Selphie> "You're wearing a crown. I wonder how you'd look wearing the book too?"
- Jenny wrinkles her nose at the thought of having to read a book.
- Andrea frowns and gets the book and *opens* it, and starts reading.
- Jenny takes the crown off and hands it to Selphie. "Where to now?"
- Selphie searches the crown for military markings, instructions, buttons, sensors, and other things her background has predisposed her to.
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: It appears to be a journal...
<Capn_Ascii> Page 1: "I'm FREE! ...well, not physically, but metaphorically. The sight of all that gold...it finally broke his fascade of 'enlightemnent' and set me loose. So far, I can only take control for short periods of time, but with practice..."
<Capn_Ascii> Well, that's...ominous.
- Andrea keeps reading
<Capn_Ascii> Page 4: "By my estimates, there's more money in that vault than the entire GNP of some foreign countries! But, it's all useless unless I can find a buyer..."
<Capn_Ascii> Page 11: "ARGH, I'm sitting on a fortune and I can't *do* anything with it! I can't even remove it from the vault, I've got nowhere else to hide it! It's driving me crazy! And those stupid zombies keep sniffing around...!"
<Capn_Ascii> Page 17: "Get AWAY from my GOLD, it's MINE you hear, MINE MINE MIIIIINE"
<Capn_Ascii> page 20: "MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE"
<Capn_Ascii> ...the last few pages devolve into little more than psychotic gibberish.
- Andrea sighs and looks for an indication of ownership
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: You flip through the rest of the pages, and...oh, boy. There, inside the back cover - a small icon of a cross. Looks like this belongs to the church. Which means...
- Selphie looks at the safe's locking mechanism and Investigates how easy it would be to change the access code.
<Andrea> "Well, great. Looks like the Padre found the gold. And might be behind all this."
<Jenny> "So the padre is probably the Thing after all? Yeah. Let's go hunting."
<Andrea> "...but wait, if he's complaining about the zombies, he can't be behind the zombies in the first place, so..." Andrea frowns.
<Andrea> "...are they unrelated? Or deliberately opposed actions? Who's creating the zombies?" Andrea muses.
<Jenny> "You think too much. More hunting," Jenny suggests.
<Andrea> "I need to think, otherwise I don't know WHERE or WHAT to hunt," Andrea retorts.
<Jenny> "Back at the Thing's lair?"
<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: It's an old safe. The combo was mostly likely locked in at the factory.
<Andrea> "Which will go back there when? Look, when that USGS team fails to report in, the FBI's gonna get called in, and then this will get *really* nasty. Especially because we might get locked up under suspicion of causing some or all of the problem."
<Andrea> "We need a more efficient strategy than simply 'wait and hope'."
- Jenny grumbles.
<Suyana> "Ah, jeez. I bet it's really hard to talk your way out of being investigated by the FBI."
- Selphie scrapes through the loose change at the bottom of her sports bag, only coming up with a few $100 notes. No coins. "Any of you have a coin we can add to the collection here, to mess up the mnemonic for remembering the safe's code? I only have hundreds :-("
<Andrea> "And *you* don't even want the FBI to know you exist, dear," Andrea replies pointedly. Andrea frowns at Selphie. "The way we screw it up is by taking all the coins with us, of course. I'm not leaving money lying around."
- Jenny gives Selphie a Look.
<Suyana> "Right. Further complications..."
<Selphie> "Oh, well I guess we could do that too."
- Andrea scoops up the coins and drops them in her change purse. "There."
- Andrea also scoops some of the loose coins and gems. The bars, we can come back for later.
<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: Your money sense is tingling! Something compells you to quickly snatch your $100 bills away from the back wall, as something *explodes* through the wood and brick, showering you with rubble! You glimpse a huge, leathery fist groping at the spot where your money was moments earlier before just as quickly retreating through the foot-wide hole it just smashed open.
<Andrea> "...on second thought, maybe we don't need to find The Thing after all," Andrea comments dryly. "Amazons, transform and roll out!"
<Capn_Ascii> Daaah nah nah naaah, NAH
- Jenny grins and transforms.
<Andrea> Andrea sinks into a deeper sense of concentration as her mind begins to accelerate.
- Selphie tosses a few $100 notes into the safe nonchalantly.
<Andrea> Andrea starts to sparkle! Pretty sapphires and diamonds appear all over her clothing! Her shield appears on her left arm! Yay sparkle!
- Andrea swipes the $100s Selphie just threw into the safe.
<Selphie> "Hey! I wanna see if we can trap it in the safe!"
- Suyana tags along into the group transformation sequence
- Jenny pulls out her glittery chainsaw. "Let's at em, girls!"
<Andrea> "And how would throwing away your money help accomplish that?!" Andrea demands.
<Andrea> Andrea pulls out her pistol. "Let's do this."
<Selphie> "Call it a gambit. I can always take it out of the safe again if it doesn't work."
<Selphie> Selphie summons to mind SuperTed's secret magic word, whispers it silently, and immediately begins to channel the power of Michelangelo.
<Capn_Ascii> Everyone transforms. You are now transformed. There. Can we stop arguing about money and go now?
- Jenny heads out the door, looking for the hand and its attached monster.
- Selphie shines her LED arclight into the foot-wide hole and shrills, "Hello?"
<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: You can see an alley, and the back wall of another building. No sign of monsters. Maybe you just imagined it?
<Selphie> "OK guys, false alarm. It's gone already."
<Suyana> "...let's chase it, then."
<Andrea> "Oh no. It's here." Andrea follows and looks around carefully. "I'm going to try something. Be ready to attack on sight."
<Andrea> Andrea carefully pulls out one of the gold coins she swiped and tosses it about 10 feet in front of her.
<Andrea> *into the alley*
- Selphie is confused. Andrea just admonished Selphie for doing the same thing she's doing now.
<Capn_Ascii> The coin bounces against the far wall, and clinks to the floor. Nothing else happens.
<Selphie> "How would throwing away your money help accomplish that?"
- Andrea carefully goes to retrieve it. "I'm not throwing it away. I'm running a very calculated test."
<Selphie> "So was I."
<Selphie> "I could afford $200 no sweat. Just means I miss out on a few gourmet muesli bars."
<Andrea> Andrea gives Selphie a Look as she retrieves her coin. "Selphie, at some point we need to talk about the value of money."
<Suyana> "Yeah. I'm not sure I have even seen a hundred dollar bill before today."
- Selphie scratches her head. "We were both making calculated tests, and neither of them lured out the Leathery Fist Of Wall Smasheroo. I think it's gone."
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: You can't reach the coin from here - it's outside in the alley. You can't fit through a foot-wide hole - you'll have to go around the back of the building if you want your money back.
<Suyana> "Hey, are we, like, missing someone?"
<Andrea> Andrea frowns as she realizes how dumb she's being. "This is... why does my head hurt? I'm making mistakes... Jenny, can you hear me?"
<Capn_Ascii> Jenny pokes her head through the hole from the outside.
<Jenny> "Don't see it yet. Y'all coming or what?"
- Jenny picks up a coin on the ground, wondering how it got there, and puts it in her pocket.
<Andrea> "Yes. Let us know if it shows up en route." Andrea quickly makes her way around to the alley.
- Suyana quickly tags along
- Selphie shuts the safe and locks it.
- Selphie moves away from the back wall, then throws another $100 note at it, now that Andrea's headed out.
<Capn_Ascii> You loop around the outside of the building and into the alley between it and a few other nearby buildings. Jenny is here, as are a number of claw marks in the exterior walls and a couple of large, monsterous footprints in the dirt.
- Selphie then follows the team.
<Andrea> "The game is afoot, Watson!" Andrea begins to follow the footprints.
<Suyana> "I'm pretty sure I already made an 'afoot' pun a while back."
- Jenny also begins looking at the footprints.
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: You follow the footprints for all of five feet before they dead-end at a wall. Rats!
- Andrea sighs. "I have no idea. Anyone else have beeter luck?"
<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: You elbow Andrea out of the way and point out the claw marks leading up said wall to the roof.
<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: You do this as smugly as possible.
<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: A quick inspection reveals more footprints on the other side of the building at ground level. It looks like the Thing ran off towards the woods to the east.
- Jenny continues following the tracks into the woods.
- Andrea follows Jenny
- Selphie gets into the ute and fires it up.
<Capn_Ascii> Selphie: You grab the Princessmobile and pick up the others, following behind JEnny as she does her tracking thing.
- Selphie has pitiful Stamina, so doesn't feel like hiking through the woods. That's why she jacked the ute in the first place. Picking up the others, she figures: "the Lumber Mill is a mile South of the town, and Camp Zombie is West of the town, and the footprints are heading East. Where could the Big Leathery Glove be going? Is it worth calling Lana and the others, and asking them if what we saw could be The Thing Not Any More In The Woods?"
<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: The creature's tracks suddenly turn north. You get the feeling that it's trying to ditch you.
<Jenny> "You can't ditch me that easy," Jenny says loudly, and continues following the tracks north.
- Andrea opens her computer, checking the lair camera again.
<Selphie> "Jenny, I suggest this could be futile. The Big Leathery Glove is controlling this pursuit. It seems to be capable of moving at least as fast as we are. We don't know what it is or where it is leading us. If there is a confrontation, it will be at a site of its choosing, to its military strategic advantage and at our expense. I advise that we break off the pursuit. We need more intel on this, now that we have some pieces of the puzzle."
<Andrea> "Or at least, stop trying to follow on foot, perhaps. We might be able to catch it if we're able to actually travel at truck speed, but we can't do that while following Jenny."
<Capn_Ascii> Andrea: Still no activity. Given what you know about the creature now, you suspect it might be aware that its lair has been compromised.
<Jenny> "Well I can't hardly see the tracks from the truck, can I?"
<Selphie> "If it does attempt an assault, I'd prefer having the protection of the chassis, myself. I can understand Jenny is tough, but I'm not so much. Even transformed."
<Andrea> "Hmm. We need a way for you to move quickly and still follow the tracks..."
<Andrea> "How's your backwards driving, Selphie?"
<Selphie> "better than all my other non-driving skills combined?"
<Andrea> "Okay. Selphie, turn around and start going reverse, so you're still following Jenny. Jenny, I'm going to pop the back," Andrea reaches over and clicks the mechanism. "Hop on and we'll speed this up."
<Selphie> "The antagonist seemed lured to wealth. The worn book suggested its vice is greed, covetousness. Why don't we drive to the lumber mill, I summon the airship, we drive down the barn door tunnel into the vault, and shovel bullion into the pickup tray, then drive back to the mill and unload it. Messing with its hoard is bound to lure it out. Splitting its hoard means even if we have to cut loose, you can at least afford a week or two of gourmet muesli bars and a Segway."
- Selphie attempts Andrea's suggestion.
- Andrea resists the urge to grit her teeth at the implication. "We'll hold that as a backup plan. And we still need to have that talk."
<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: You hop on as Selphie lines up the truck for some fast-paced backwards driving through dense woods. This plan can't possibly fail.
<Capn_Ascii> Amazingly, Selphie is able to keep the truck on course without hitting any trees. Jenny calls out directions as she leads the caravan through the woods, gradually veering in a northeasternly direction.
<Selphie> "I sure hope Lana is not wandering around in the woods, hoping to not get run over by a truck again..."
<Suyana> "This feels really weird, but hey, at least nothing's exploding!"
<Selphie> "... then again, maybe THIS is why Lana got run over in the first place."
<Capn_Ascii> The truck backfires. Man, that was loud.
- Selphie winds down the windows to prevent toxic fumes building up in the cabin.
<Capn_Ascii> Eventually the treeline gives way to the open fields of a farmstead. There's a dirt driveway leading up to a smallish farmhouse, a larger barn out behind it, and a large grain silo near that. Empty fields and a lack of lights indicate that the place is unoccupied, which fits with what your zombie friends said earlier.
<Selphie> "I'm getting a sore neck from all these head checks. I'm glad this thing still has its mirrors."
- Jenny looks to see if the tracks lead toward the house, barn, silo, or elsewhere.
- Andrea gets on the lookout for the enemy.
<Capn_Ascii> Jenny: The tracks lead up to the grass near the farmhouse, at which point they disappear entirely. Your quarry must be here somewhere...
<Jenny> "Head towards the house for now," Jenny directs Selphie.
<Selphie> "OK." Selphie heads toward the house, keeping enough distance from it that nothing can reach them with a Charge action, and looks around for a nearby quarry amongst the farmland.
<Selphie> "Maybe they'll have a bite to eat? It feels like lunchtime is soon."
<Capn_Ascii> Selphie parks the truck a safe distance away, and you all pile out, ready to investigate this creepy location. ...well, it would be creepier if it wasn't the middle of the day. As is, it's just kind of peaceful. ...BUT FOR HOW LONG!?
<Capn_Ascii> ---END SESSION---