The Accretion Gospel

Episode 10: Powder Keg

Two weeks following the incident at the Scheinwelt Emulator, the team was becoming accustomed to life on Macada II, and as the attention surrounding their pursuit began to decline, a strange sort of comfort fell over the crew. During a particularly beautiful day, Tuona, Tesla, and a few of the others started to grow a little restless. Janet suggested they go out for coffee and lunch, which was an idea that was pretty popular given the taste of Rachael’s cooking. Chesed agreed to take everyone out on his treat. Mauta, Tesla, and Tuona eagerly accepted, and Janet was able to be convinced once drinks were offered. Arro decided to stay below with Rachael, and survey the activities of some Coalition vessels orbiting Macadan space.

Meanwhile, in the McLintlock district, members of the Macadan Senate were collaborating with representatives from both the Coalition and the Lacryman Consulate. As a standard investigation, Rachael sent Kolibri in to investigate. Kolibri assumed the guise of a political journalist.

The other group went to the Franklin district where Chesed treated them to lunch at one of the most popular restaurants in Delmont, The Eleanor in the Paulownia Mall. They discussed a bit of their adventures, their feelings on the current situation, and a bit about their respective cultures and tastes in food. At one point, Tesla made a little faux pas with Chesed, but it was quickly smoothed over with a round of cake and fine teas. When it was time to pay, Chesed found his card was denied. At first, the group suspected something questionable, but the waitress explained that the restaurant’s computers had gone down temporarily due to a network failure that had been causing problems throughout the district. Tesla took a look at the console, and found that there was a large amount of disturbance that was preventing the computer from accessing the city’s central network, which would cause some issues when trying to access a remote account like Chesed’s alternate account.

Tesla managed to get the system back online, and the group paid for their meal and decided to visit the Paulownia Air Gardens at the top of the mall. Meanwhile, back in McLintlock district, Kolibri infiltrated the Lacryman Embassy, where the delegates of the various diplomatic parties were meeting. Kolibri suspected that it was just another conference to try and negotiate off-planet mining rights on Macada, a perennial issue that was often brought to the table in times when the Last were seeming noticeably malcontent. The debate was becoming heated, with representatives of various systems voicing their positions on the issue. Delsidia was pointedly against mining rights on Macada being granted to other systems, but it was quickly noted that this was most likely just a position born of anti-Lacryman sentiment. Rovano’s representatives put forth a proposal that would allow for orexisite mining on Macada’s moons, but the Macadan Senate was quick to point out that such an action would be directly compromising Macadan political autonomy. The discussion continued, growing more and more heated, until it became an all-out argument. Finally, in a shocking turn of events, the representative from Lacryma stated that it would go against the greater will of the Last to allow such a resource to be squandered, and that if a peaceful agreement could not be reached, Lacryma would colonize Macada by force.

Just then, the starships orbiting Macada II were overrun by Lacryman operatives who had been lurking aboard the ship, and they took out the city’s teleportation, communication, and computer networks, leaving Delmont in a panicked darkness. Lacryman carriers entered the atmosphere, and Kolibri desperately began to try and escape the Embassy and get word back to Rachael before it was too late. Unfortunately, the Embassy had already been staffed with soldiers in a preemptive measure, and all access was completely restricted. Kolibri was trapped, but she was pretty confident she would be able to make use of her unique gifts to make her way out.

Meanwhile, back at the Paulownia Mall, Lacryman soldiers stormed the facility. In the gardens, the fugitives were taken by surprise when an airborne mech burst through the canopy and assaulted them. They scrambled for safety, and managed to rescue a few of the surviving guests in the garden by guiding them out. The elevators were down, but Tesla managed to override the security and get everyone to the ground floor. Unfortunately, the entrance was blocked and a few patrolling soldiers armed in URSUS tanks were able to intercept the group, which was slowed down by the civilians. Mauta and Tuona took the forces out with their alchemical talents, and the group was then regrouped. They had two choices- try to get to the first basement and use the (most likely nonoperational) teleporter to escape, or they could try and get down into the service basement and break into the long since abandoned sonic monorail beneath the structure. Unable to make telepathic contact with Rachael or Kolibri due to a dampening field that had been placed over the area, the team couldn’t rely on their previous rescuers to help them. Matters had to be taken into their own hands. They decided it would be more difficult, but probably more effective, to try and get into the monorail, so they could get outside undetected and make their way back to the base.

The path across the structure was dangerous, pocked with militant, trigger-happy Lacryman soldiers, fiery ruin, and all varieties of battlefield perils. At one point, Tuona stepped on a land-mine and was badly hurt, but once the team got into the basement, they were able to lock themselves up long enough to treat her wounds with a regen wand. Once she had her bearings, she was able to invoke her powers again, and she healed everyone up before they broke into the monorail.

In the monorail, they found a massive map of the city’s tunnels. The base was roughly 2 kilometers from the mall, which would be a pretty lengthy trek along what could be some pretty perilous terrain. Instead, Tesla decided she would try and see if there were any shuttles that were still functional within the system, and use that to escape. As she worked, Kolibri killed and maimed her way out of the embassy, stealing forms and shedding blood in a manner that would seem to contradict her otherwise cheerful demeanor. She finally escaped the building, when she encountered Roth darting through the fire-scarred skies, trying to take on a squad of soldiers. At first, he didn’t recognize the shapeshifter, but before he could shoot her down, she dispatched of his foes and revealed her true form to them. The two of them made their way back to base. Meanwhile, Rachael’s surveillance systems managed to regain access to the central network. Although the network was just barely operational, she was able to get a basic scan of the city. It was then she noticed activity within the monorail system, and sent a message to the only active console. It ended up being Tesla at the other end. Between Tesla’s communications and Kolibri’s telepathy, the three separate groups were able to make a plan to convene. Rachael sent a functional shuttle in Tesla’s direction by overriding the security and directing one from a secondary access point beneath the base towards the mall station.

Within twenty minutes, the group had gathered again, and Rachael explained that they would need to escape Macadan space. Unfortunately, it seems Tesla’s communication had been intercepted, alerting the location of the base to the Lacryman intelligence. As the group prepared for departure, something insidious slipped through an alchemical gateway and kidnapped Tesla. It was Jack Jennison, who was working with Lacryma for unknown reasons. He ordered Arro, Rachael, and Kolibri to stay on the planet, and corralled the others on to the Disa on threat of Tesla’s life. Once everyone was in position, he explained that he would be taking Tesla back to his superiors. The young cyberneticist struggled against him, but the augmented soldier was too strong for her. Out of a vindicative spite, he assaulted her mind with a brutal telepathic intrusion, and destroyed her consciousness entirely, leaving Tesla as a catatonic shell.

Just then, ASURA-04 burst forth from the containment area on the ship, and in a feat of amazing strength, he tossed Jack aside like a rag doll and gathered the crumpled Tesla in his arms. Jack arose, angered and seething. He activated an injector pack on the side of his throat, and caused his own body to become amped up on concentrated lure. The result was that Jack’s augmentations were made triply potent, his body metabolizing the lure in order to create extreme alchemical reactions capable of surpassing those of even the most refined alchemical weaponry. A terrible battle broke out in the hangar. Jack was far too powerful in his current state. Rachael’s cybernetic arm was ripped off, Kolibri was stabbed and left in a pool of her own blood to die, and Arro was knocked unconscious after just a few seconds in battle with his old friend. The only one capable of withstanding the assault was ASURA-04, who was able to hold his own but otherwise couldn’t put a dent in Jennison’s armors. Just then, Janet let loose with a blast of photonic rays from the ship’s cannons, just barely piercing Jack’s alchemical barrier. The enraged Jack lost interest in his other toys, and turned his sights on the Disa. Although he was nearly able to destroy the ship’s shields, even in his state he was not able to stand up to the assaults of a starship. ASURA-04 collected his fallen comrades, and took them aboard. Jack got in his way as he collected Tesla, but as he tried to grab at the girl, there was a mysterious reaction. The piece of lure she had obtained on Votum began to let off a white hot radiation that seemed to harm only Jennison. As he recoiled in the brilliance, Janet launched a final attack on him, and ASURA-04 got safely inside while Jennison was left in the flaming ruins of the base. The Disa tore out of Macadan space, only to be surrounded by the fire of the overthrown Coalition vessels.

Janet and Rachael struggled to evade the enemy fire, while Tuona desperately focused on saving the lives of Kolibri and Tesla in the infirmary. She was able to stabilize Kolibri only seconds before she slipped into death, but she was not able to repair the damage Jack had done to Tesla’s mind. The pursuit of the enemy vessels was becoming more than the Disa could handle, particularly after using so much power struggling with Jennison. Number 3 detected a high intensity quantum anomaly within a reasonable distance. She suggested that they try and gain cover from it, as the Lacrymans on the pursuing vessels couldn’t approach such a powerful dimensional disturbance without compromising their own safety significantly. Janet set a quick course, and using the last bit of the power reserves, they jumped to the coordinates.

However, as they approached, the anomaly proved to be more than just a mere disturbance. It was, in actuality, a dimensional wormhole that caught the Disa in it’s gravitational field and sucked it within. After a few minutes, the Disa stabilized and found itself in a place far stranger than they had ever expected to be- the wormhole was the gateway to a self contained star system, which had apparently been drawn into the vortex in its entirety several hundred years ago. They located an M-class planet capable of sustaining life. Initial surveys showed that the planet was civilized, but only to a level of technology matching that of Earth during the 1800s, AD. Having already committed far greater crimes, Janet reasoned it was probably not an option to respect the PTEA and suggested they make a stop on the planet to gather some resources and take a bit to dodge the heat of their pursuers.

They landed in a great desert on the third planet of the system. That night, Tuona stayed up, relentlessly trying to save Tesla. Roth eventually persuaded her to give up, and the two of them tearfully retired to their chambers while ASURA-04 and Tesla’s robotic sidekick Bonaparte looked over the lifeless form of the girl. Meanwhile, Arro struggled with some insecurities of his own- Jack was a direct subordinate to Ressa. He was wracked with doubt and questions- had Ressa been involved in the events of the day? Why had Jack been interested in obtaining Tesla? How would he explain to Tesla’s father that he had allowed such a terrible fate to befall his daughter? Furthermore, how had everything gotten so screwed up in such a short amount of time. While he pondered, Kolibri’s mind began to wander, and she created a telepathic connection with Arro. In a lucid dream, she and Arro exchanged insecurities. It seemed that Kolibri had not been entirely aware of what had happened, but she kept reaching out for Tesla and couldn’t find her, causing much panic. Kolibri and Arro communicated in this bizarre fashion for some time, their memories and emotions passing back and forth between them as fluidly as possible. However, when Kolibri took the visage of Ressa and advanced on the soldier, Arro became angry and severed the connection.

This severance caused Kolibri to spring back to consciousness. She was filled in on what had happened by the computer, and she immediately attempted to tend to Tesla. Tuona came back in, and told her that she was unable to aid her. Kolibri said they would need a psychic healer to repair the girl’s mind. They asked Chesed if he knew of any way, and he related a story of some old Horan traditions in which one could reach into the minds of others and restore them to a state of balance and functionality. He said he himself wasn’t strong enough, but perhaps an older Horan would have such an ability.

Meanwhile, Mauta and Janet had detected a strange occurrence outside the ship- a strange, metallic being was beating relentlessly on the hull. Chesed was called to the bridge to make telepathic contact. The being was alive, but entirely artificial in its construction. It accused the ship of bearing “sorcerers”, and ordered that they exit and surrender to investigation immediately, Chesed attempted to communicate further, but the being was apparently only intelligent enough to perform basic tasks. It began to retreat, but stated it would come with reinforcements in the morning, and that they would have until sunrise to comply with the law. It was apparent that the natives would require a delicate touch to win over. Rachael decided it would be best to send a diplomatic party out into the desert with the strange being the next day, with hopes of making contact with the native lifeforms and gaining some aid. Chesed was chosen to lead the party, because of his way with words and his telepathic talents. Janet was also selected to go as a bodyguard and because of her survival skills, and ASURA-04 was ordered to accompany as a bodyguard- a particularly efficient choice due to his ability to operate without regular sustenance.

The team rested up that night, but their own anxieties and concerns made sleep all but impossible- even for Tesla. As she lie comatose, the form of a spectral child watched over her…

Meanwhile, on the command vessel of the Coalition fleet, the Last surrounded the badly burned form of Jack Jennison, alive but permanently disfigured. He pleaded with them to preserve him and make him in their image, to grant him a perfect Lacryman body in return for his services. The Last met his demand with spite, saying he was not worthy of eternity because of his innumerable vices. However, contrary to these statements, they turned him into a Lacryman, stating his body was an unstable one. They told him he would have six months before his form dissipated. In that time, he would have to make sure that he would completely accomplish their goals. They told him to seek “the Lachesis”, or else he would fade away entirely, dying while still aware and living. Jack agreed, his heart overcome with pain, fear, and greed…

Extras

Character Vignette 1: Trains for Monsters (Arro Ceid)

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