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Mutants & Masterminds: Lake City Universe - M&M 3E - LCU: Alliance OS1 (IC)


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"Wow, that was awesome!" Chance exclaims as the shuttle takes its orbit over the planet. Without even waiting for the small hologram to say anything, his hands had grabbed the controls and maneuvered the ship to give an even better view of the planet.

"That is pretty awesome," he said as he looked out, "This is my first alien planet. I guess I can check that off the list." He considered saying something in response to the question about how to proceed, but realized that he couldn't actually remember what exactly it was they were here for.

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"My preference would be make a stealthy approach, land somewhere out of sight, and approach by foot or by some other... 'low visibility method'. You mentioned, however that it is essentially a desert? Is there dangerous wildlife to ... 'contend with'?"

Mini-Deet frowned and rubbed her tiny chin. "Well, the instalation's about thirty-five kilometers away from the shore in the middle of a silica desert, so that limits our sneakiness quite a bit. On the other hand, it's on the night side of the planet right now, so lack of visibility works in our favor. In terms of wildlife, I don't think there's any out there; Prime is mostly an aquatic planet, with little growing on land outside of plant life and the things that feed on it."

"Try to find a forest," Sigil suggests. "I have power there. Or any collection of large plants that forms an ecosystem should work...though I may need time to understand them beforehand."

"Let's have a look-see, shall we? First, let me try something." The tiny hologram hunched forward slightly, eyes closed and fist clenched, and then a set of gossamer wings shot out of her back! With a shimmer of 'pixel dust', she wobbled up into the air. "Hah-hah, it worked!" Grinning with her fists on her hips in classic Pan style, she did a few quick flight manuevers. "Not too bad for a first time flier, huh? Hey Gakusha, you've been pretty quiet over there; what do you think of my new look?" The avatar flew over to the last memeber of the team, then suddenly she squeeled in horror!

"Oh no, he had a bad reaction to the jump, and went into shock!"

And indeed, the mysterious cyborg's face was pale and slick with sweat as a thin line of drool slipped out of the corner of his mouth, his eyes rolled up and back. Everyone's harnesses but Chance's popped open, and the floor between the two rows of seats split open, revealing an off-white womb-like chamber, its soft flourescent interior lighting flickering into life.

"Quick, get him inside the medi-pod! I can take care of him once he's inside!"

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Quick as a wink, Sigil aimed her wand at Gakusha and lifted its tip. The cyborg followed its movement, rising into the air. She guided him carefully to the pod and moved him around into a prone position, still floating in space. Then she let him gently down ito the medi-pod.

"How dangerous is this?" Sigil asked, concerned but calm. "How fast will he recover?"

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Mini-Deet hovered over the medi-pod, her holographic features clouded with worry as she twisted her tiny fingers into knots as Sigil carefully laid Gakusha inside. The instant his body touched the surface of the cushioned recess, several white tentacles slipped out of hidden compartments and snaked around his right bicep, suckered onto his chest, legs and arms, and pushed past his lips and down his throat; even at its most beneficial, Orthitech often looks like something out of a horror movie.

"How dangerous is this?" Sigil asked, concerned but calm. "How fast will he recover?"

The pixie-like avatar shrugged. "We caught it early, so he should be okay; I can monitor his vitals, keep him warm and hydrated...." Her eyes went out of focus. "His BP and heart rate are already starting to stabilize, but he won't be completely out of the woods for an hour or two; I think it's best that he stays here while you three continue with the mission."

Still looking nervously over at the pod (which slid back down into the floor under a clear myoplex dome), Mini-Deet returned to answering the team's questions.

"As far as local flora goes, there is a thin green belt along the eastern edge of the continent near the coastline, although 'purple belt' would be the more accurate term..."

A series of starting images blossomed in the air of the trees of Orthi Prime, seemingly half palm tree and half ginko, that grew to the height of redwoods, but with bright violet foliage.

"Also the top level of the power station does contain a Terran biodome, both to provide fresh fruits and vegitables and a little piece of home; all of those plants should be more familiar to you, Sigil."

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With a disgusted shudder, Lusungu looked away from the pod that had just wrapped itself around one of her companions, then gave a curt nod to Sigil. That woman seemed to be better at handling the unexpected than Lusungu would have expected.

Bringing herself back to the task at hand, Lusungu focused on the display Ditra-55 had provided.

"If I were down there, I would hope to have good sensor systems, in which case coming in at night would not matter. If my superiors were serious about the mission, I would expect to have surface-to-air weapons. Surprise buys us the most advantage, and the best form of surprise is for them to not even realize we are around. If approaching by land is not feasible, the next best thing to do would be to get in as quickly as possible, but I will expect them to know we are there if that is the case." She glanced to her remaining conscious comrades, waiting for their appraisals.

"Ditra, is the Terran biodome shelter transparent? If so, I should be able to get into it."

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Sigil squinted a little as she sized up the alien plants.

"They are big enough," she said. "We can try to use them. I am not sure the alien plants and the plants from Earth will be...connected...in the right way, but it can be tried. The worst that can happen is that we become trapped and lost in this world's alien Green forever, whispered at by incomprehensible voices until we all go mad, but cannot die."

She paused a beat then added, "But it's far more likely it just won't work. Then we will simply have to travel for ourselves."

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Chance was still staring at the cocoon that Gakusha had been placed in and so missed most of the conversation. He'd of course seen Orthitech before, but he hadn't seen anyone react like that before. It freaked him out a bit, but he did he best to hide it.

Catching the last bit of Sigil's words, he turned and smiled to the pretty fairy/woman/whatever she was, "Hey I'm up for whatever. You guys just tell me where to land and I'll get you there."

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"I could probably teleport us in hops," Lusungu offered, "but without some cover, any guards will see us coming." She frowned sadly, then brightened up and added "we will not live forever as cucus!"

She chuckled--a deep bellowing laugh from such a small woman, then frowned once again, as she had been doing habitually. Then she sighed deeply, and started speaking quickly: "Part of what is bothering me is that we do not have a chain of command. I know that I can keep myself alive in most situations, because I have done so before, both by myself, and as part of a team. Even before my disappearance, I had managed to survive in some of the most horrid situations men inflict on other men. While this might be different, it will be no less horrid. But we are not yet a team, and I do not want to work at cross purposes with any of you when all of our lives might hang in the balance. I have commanded on occasion, as anyone with some rank has managed to do on occasion, but I am not an officer."

She paused, and pulled a multitool out of her boot, along with a small whet stone, unfolding the small knife from the tool, then simultaneously pointed with the knife and nodded to the mini-pod. "Gakusha is out of the picture, at least for now." She checked the sharpness of the blade gently with her thumb, grimacing slightly, then nodded to the group's pilot-designate. "Chance, you seem to happy piloting, but not particularly interested in taking command--no offense intended."

Ritually, almost reverently, she folded the small knife, and returned the equipment, before looking up at Ditra-55. "You, Ditra Fifty-Five, have been helpful, but more as a facilitator. I suspect that is partly how you have been 'made', but I believe it is not your intent or task to command us. Again, no offense intended."

She then turned in her seat to look at Sigil. "That leaves you, Sigil." Lusungu gathered her thoughts for a moment, then continued. "Are you a commander, or a politician? Would you lead us, or would you spend us like ... 'cheap prawns'. Truly, at the moment I have no idea, but I know this: I cannot be a commander and a scout; I am not inclined to be in command, although I am told that I can carry it off if it must be done; and--again, with respect to everyone else--I believe you are the best suited amongst us here and now to take command."

"But only you can answer that, Sigil."

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"I led the resistance against the Winter Queen long before I sat on the throne myself," Sigil admits. "We were not many at first. Lives were precious. Even when we grew, that did not change."

She looks at Chance. "No ruler, or commander, serves but at the will of the commanded. Chance, will you follow me?"

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Chance raises an eyebrow and shrugs, "Well, I'm not sure I like the idea of being commanded...I mean, do we really need someone in charge? There's only four of..." he glances over his shoulder at the casket-like box Gakusha was in, "three of us. But hey, if you want to make the decisions, I'm not going to stop you."

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Lusungu's face turned to a deadpan as she looked to Chance.

"She's not going to tell you how to do your job, Chance. She is just going to tell you what needs to be done for us to survive." She softened her look with a wry smirk, which looked outright strange on her face. "We must now learn what each of us is capable of. I will start."

Lusungu closed her eyes, and took a deep breath, then--in contrast to her normal way of speaking--began spewing out a torrent of words again in more musical tones: "I connect the place I am at to another separate place; I couldn't explain how, I just do. It's easier with spaces that are close to me, and I am more accurate with it. Before that, I was a soldier. The kind who actually kills people quietly, or does what has to be done without anyone knowing I was there. When I kill, it is either up close, or with a good view of what my bullet has done. It is messy, and it is dirty, and it is what is often required to save more lives."

Her eyes snapped back open again, now with a feral glint to them. They were locked on Chance. "We are going into another one of those situations, comrade. I would prefer that we all survive. Even if you do not pick up a gun, that makes you a brother-in-arms, just as she is our sister-in-arms. Each of us does the job we are most suited to. Hers is to see the big picture, and direct us. Yours is to get us in and out. Mine is to take care of anything that threatens our safety or our mission."

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A smirk plays across Chance's face as Lusunga speaks, "Umm, okay...there's no need to be so serious. As for what you did as soldier, I'm happy not knowing the details. As for me, I don't have any cool superpowers or anything. I'm just a regular guy with a bit of an adrenaline addiction."

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Sigil nods, taking the two in. Lusungu was all business, all efficiency. She had the potential to be ruthless, Sigil felt, if the situation warranted it. Chance was the jester, the smiling man's mask. He would be better at subtlety, accustomed to hiding himself under a jovial pretense of normalcy...perhaps even from himself.

"Set us down in the forest Ditra," she said. "Will this ship be safe if we are gone for a long time? Can you wait, or will you need to return to space until we are done with this assignment?"

"Lusungu, can you take others with you when you connect these spaces?"

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Lusungu nodded slowly. to Sigil, adding "I'm not sure about the... 'Medi-pod'?, but I could take the rest of us easily enough." She smiled wanly to Chance, trying to show she wasn't upset, then started her last minute checks of her weapon, trusting the others to take care of getting themselves there and coming up with a plan.

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Ditra (or rather, the digital copy of her general demeanor laid over the shuttle's onboard AI) had a little trouble following the subtle shifting vagaries of human (or on Sigil's case, near-human) interactions; at one point, she was close to enacting the security protocols before it became clear Lusungu was just really intense. When at last the sentient lifeforms reached an accord, the Mini-Deet avatar smiled sweetly.

"Okay, you have a few questions and I have answers."

A series of floating snapshots shimmered into view, all depicting the power station the team was sent to investigate. Most of them were clearly digital mock-ups from the early stages of the project, but a few of them actually depicted the structure under construction, and two were overhead shots after completion; the solar panel petals spread out over several square kilometers, though the station complex in the center was itself much smaller. The tiny hologram flitted between the images like a hummingbird that lived on light.

"The dome is clear, as you can see here, though the glass is self-polarizing, so it sometimes darkens under extreme lighting conditions, which shouldn't be a problem at night. In terms of staff, there are only fifteen people present; the rest of the facility is full automated."

Deet hovered in front of Sigil's face. "The shuttle can take of itself; I can activate the camo mode, and there are defensive pulse lasers in concealed turrets on three points of the hull." She gestured towards the medi-pod. "Gakusha will be safe here; there are enough nutrients in the pod to keep him alive for seven days, and when he comes 'round there are emergency stores for another fifteen. He'll be fine."

Then she pointed at her head, which sprouted tiny silver antennae. "I can patch into your comms, get you any data you need and generally watch your backs." She smiled and made a shooing motion. "Now go, be heroes." Then she smacked the side of her head, which produced a loud metallic 'bonk'. "Dummy, you still need a landing site!" A wireframe globe returned, and a location on the eastern shore glowed bright red. "I'll input the coordinates into the navcomp, Chance, then you can fly manual all the way."

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Tired of all the talking she had done, and preparing for a heavy, helicopter style landing, Lusungu secured her weapon, ran a diagnostics check on her comm with Ditra-55, or the ghostly copy of her (Lusungu didn't know, and didn't worry herself about it). While doing the vocal test, she asked the sprite "Do you have the song 'Riders on the Storm' in your playlist?" She glanced to her other two still conscious compatriots apologeticly. "It helps me relax."

Her tests finished, she did a few seated stretches in the luxurious (by her standards) cabin space, then tightened up her straps. She hoped Chance was subtle, for a pilot. Most of them would try to streak in at maximum speed, and advertise their presence to everyone within a thousand kilometers.

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"Do you have the song 'Riders on the Storm' in your playlist?" She glanced to her other two still conscious compatriots apologeticly. "It helps me relax."

The tiny holo-sprite giggled. "Oh you warriors with your pre-combat rituals; let's see if I've got that on my playlist of over fifteen million songs." She closed her eyes and smiled. "Oh yeah, here we go." From out of several hidden speakers (the Orthi apparently took their in-flight sound systems very seriously), the vintage track bloomed into life, somehow eerily appropriate in the depths of space. Mini-Deet shimmered for a second and became a little hippy pixie, complete with beads, fringe leather jacket and long green-blonde hair that hung past her waist. "Wow, this is the best part of the trip, the part I really like. Do it, Chance-man; make us one with the atmosphere!"

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Wow, this is the best part of the trip, the part I really like. Do it, Chance-man; make us one with the atmosphere!"

Chance raised his eyebrows and gave the tiny avatar a smirk. " 'Make us one with atmosphere'? That sounds more like burning up on re-entry, but I get the general idea. Hold on." The ace pilot lovingly worked the controls of the shuttle as he executed a textbook barrel roll, taking them effortlessly below the cloud layer over the coastal forest. Orthicraft were wonderfully responsive if you knew how to handle them, which few humans really did; Chance prided himself on his mastery of gravmag technology as he easily brought them ever closer to the violet forest canopy with nary a shudder.

Deet zipped to the windscreen and pointed out a small clearing. "That looks good; bring us down there." With a nod, the space jockey did as he was told, and the craft gently landed on the surface with a gentle thump. Outside, the shuttle was surrounded by a riot of color; the trunks of the trees were covered with flowering vines, the blossoms more intensely colored than any flora back on Earth. Vermillions, deep cyans and aquamarines were everywhere, and what appeared to be metallic-carapiced arthropods scampered, hovered and crawled all over the place.

A panel slid open in the control console, and three compact facemasks popped out with straps to keep them firmly in place over the wearer's eyes, nose and mouth; Mini-Deet fluttered over them. "The air outside is technically breathable to Terran species, but the high pollen and spore counts in the forest make it unsafe for long periods of time; your eyes would gum up and you'd get a nasty hacking cough."

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Sigil accepted her face mask but did not put it on immediately. She was enraptured by the image of the outside though.

"It is a beautiful forest," she said wistfully. "There are no more like this on Earth. It reminds me very much of the deep wilds in Faerie."

She undid her harness and got to her feet in a quick, graceful motion. In just a couple of steps Sigil reached the inner airlock door and stood poised with her hand over the opening mechanism.

"It will be more than adequate for our needs. Now, are we all ready? Clear on our goals?"

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Although the view was beautiful, Lusungu

Muttered under her breath
(something about aliens)
the whole way in. After landing, Lusungu unharnessed herself, grabbed her gear and the face mask, and followed Sigil to the hatch. although her face was immobile, and her focus was intense, she also seemed to crackle with nervous energy.

"Clear."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chance smiled through his mask as he gave a thumbs up. "Clear as crystal, your highness! Let's get out there and meet the locals." He eagerly made his way over to the hatch, visibly jazzed to step on the surface of his first alien planet.

Once everyone was in the airlock, Mini-Deet's voice came through on their comms. "Testing, testing, one two three! Can you all hear me? I'm closing the inside doors..." There was a low vibration as the portal behind them cycled closed, and then a quick pop as the chamber sealed. "And now I'm opening the outer doors..."

Chance eagerly took a step forward as the light of an alien sun streamed onto his face. "Here we go..." Within seconds, a long ropey chitinous creature shot through the narrow gap and wrapped its whole body around his face! His muffled screams inside his mask where horrific to hear.

Deet's voice over the comms was tinged with panic, or the AI approximation of same. "Ohmigod, omigod!" Dozens of other gigantic arthropods came lurching through the doors in the few milliseconds before she was able to close them, crushing several more in the process; they flew around like glittering razors in the tiny airlock, slashing through clothing and drawing blood.

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Despite her first instinct to scream and puff away into petals and try to get back into the ship, Sigil holds fast. The pain of the predatory swarm is intense, and her flesh is far weaker than her spirit...the alien bugs did not seem to be repulsed by the fey wards protecting her.

Even so, she stood her ground and tried to concentrate through the buzzing, biting distraction...to focus her will, and bring this swarm to heel.

(OOC - Fort save:

SalmonMax *rolls* 1d20: 3+5: 8

[salmonMax] 1:37 pm: For Heritage's game.

[salmonMax] 1:38 pm: Also...doh.

Action:

Trying to use her 'Call the Swarm' ability to take control of the bugs. Treat this as Extra Effort to spawn an Alternate Power and inflict a domination type Affliction on them.)

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"Shut the door!" Lusungu yelled, as she tried to pry off the chitinous ropey face hugger to keep it from doing whatever nastiness it intended to Chance out the airlock. "Shut the--good! Keep it shut for a bit!"

Action:

Grappling with the face hugger ropey chitinous thing that's making love to Chance's face.

Roll: 4 +5 Modifier = +9

Ugh.

Edited by Lusungu Mercy Chanda
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As Sigil pressed her will against the swarm, the cloudy of angry biting chitin became more sluggish and docile, like bees that had been hit with generous puffs of smoke; they gradually settled on the walls and doors of the airlock, coating everything in a thick layer of pacified life. The winged segmented creature around Chance's face went slack, and Lusungu was easily able to pull it off of him.

As the countless arthropods buzzed and chittered fitfully on the walls, Chance's breathing slowed down, until it was clear he'd passed out from the sudden shock and exertion. Mini-Deet's voiced tentatively whispered in their comms.

"Okay. how do we want to work this?"

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Sigil stood still, concentrating on maintaining the 'song' that held the strange insects docile. On Earth, or in Faerie, these bugs would be dancing to her tune now...but these alien creatures were different. The song needed to be a little different to affect them. She wasn't sure how long this imperfect one would hold.

"Open the door," she said. "The inside one. Lusungu, get Chance to the physician the moment it's open. I will follow you. Close the door the moment I am inside as well. I can't move too fast, or they'll wake up. They may wake up anyway, in a moment, so do this quickly."

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Quickly and quietly, Lusungu hefted Chance over her shoulder, in a fireman's carry, and waited for the door to open. The dozens of lacerations she had experienced from the swarm were annoying, but no more so than many other encounters she had experienced with insects in the course of missions--training and 'real' alike.

Action:

In the off chance that it is needed, Lusungu's trying to do this all as quietly as possible.

Roll: 4 +20 Modifier = +24

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"Open the door," she said. "The inside one. Lusungu, get Chance to the physician the moment it's open. I will follow you. Close the door the moment I am inside as well. I can't move too fast, or they'll wake up. They may wake up anyway, in a moment, so do this quickly."

"Got it," Deet whispered into the comms; she gently popped the seal on the inner door, and then ever-so-slowly slid it open...and then quickly pressed it home into the storage housing, instantly crushing a few dozen bugs in the process.

"Yes! Alright, bring him in slowly; actually, I'm thinking you guys might need some back-up here. Do you mind if I make a quick call?"

The pacified bugs slid off of Chance as Lusungu crept into the shuttle cabin; a second medi-pod, a bit smaller than the first, rose out of the deck, splitting open to reveal another padded niche. "This is the spare pod," Deet continued. "It doesn't have all the features of the primary, but it will do for now."

The AI's pixie-like avatar stood nervously on the control panel, twisting her small hands; she dared not send it aloft, in case its bright flitting form annoyed the space bugs into renewed activity.

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"No," the encumbered soldier whispered harshly, "I do not mind if you 'make a call'!"

Without a grunt, Lusungu then deposited their pilot in the back-up medi-pod, then headed back to the airlock, looking for something broad and heavy to use to squash the bugs that were not considerate enough to just be stepped on.

"Bugs. Why did it have to be bugs?" she whispered to herself.

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Deet quickly slid the inner door closed, revealing the many bugs she'd smashed on its inside when she first opened it. The tiny glowing avatar visibly sighed with relief as she fluttered around the cabin, a completely unnecessary gesture that was nonetheless appropriate for the situation.

"Okay, I'm going to put out a call to any Alliance ship in Orthi space to see if they have anyone free who can help us out here; I'm not sure how long it will take to get reinforcements, but sadly I think we could really use them right now. Damn bugs..."

Suddenly she frowned.

"Seeing as my actual cybernetic counterpart is in fact part bug, I guess I shouldn't say that kind of thing."

Then she merely shrugged.

"But she's not here and I'm just a digital copy, so who really cares, right? Let me make that call; be right back."

Not wanting to waste the additional computing resources, the avatar shimmered out of existence.

Meanwhile, Lusungu was able to find a decent-sized fire extinguisher that made an excellent bug squasher.

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The ASV Cetacea, in high orbit over Orthi Prime:

Several thousand miles over the surface, a lone Orthi cruiser floated in space while her multi-species crew did some minor external repairs; the damage to the thermal shielding was minor enough that Captain Ulrikiee didn't feel the need for a visit to space dock. It also helped that they had a highly-respected human Exceptional on board who could survive in hard vacuum!

Floating cheerfully in his micro-g salt bath, the Orthi captain was enjoying a little downtime when the avatar of his first mate, Zandar Sixty-Three, shimmered into view overhead; the humanoid head was about half a meter across, large enough to see the pores in his synthetic (digital?) skin.

<"Sorry to bother you, sir, but we have an unusual distress call from down on the surface."> Of course, the Nameless spoke flawless Tertian; so odd to hear his native tongue coming out of the cyborg's mouth! The great Alpha sighed as he heaved his bulk out of the tub, his tentacles wearily grabbing several sponges to dry himself off. Outside the water and off his adaptation disk, he had to type his reply into the shipcom wall unit.

<"Not to worry, Zandar. I never expect my peace and quiet to last. What's the gist of the message?">

The avatar chewed its holographic lip. <"In essence, they're requesting any Exceptionals on or above the planet to help out a beleaguered gravmag shuttle in the Great Eastern Forest on the Second Continent.">

The captain paused as he slowly heaved himself onto his adaptation disk; his three monoptic eyes squinted slightly. Now that he was safely on his disk, he finally could reply audibly. <"The message specified Exceptionals? No other races need apply?">

Zandar shrugged, an impressive feat considering he currently lacked shoulders. <"That's what it said; it's an Alliance shuttle on some sort of hush-hush diplomatic mission.">

Captain Ulrikiee closed all his eyes and bobbed from side to side in quiet resignation; everything was about politics these days.

<"Alright, see if Aurelius is finished outside; if he is, maybe he'll be able to help our poor stranded diplomats.">

- - - -

Outside the Cetacea, several Orthi technicians, safe in their bulbous EVA suits, watched in wonder as the golden-skinned XP worked his magic on the thermal shields. At last, one of them spoke up over the ship's tech radio.

"It is most of all ingenious how you humans of the rare configuration are able to handle most things! We Orthi in all our parts have much masterness of the sciences, but the manner in which Exceptionals such as yourselves can cause such changes...I am full of lost!" As usual, the aliens struggled with their English.

A two-toned chime came over the radio, and the voice of First Mate Zandar Sixty-Three called out. "Aurelius, are you still working on the repairs? You might be needed down on the surface."

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Aurelius turned away from what he was doing and spoke into the radio. The golden-skinned man was wearing something that looked rather like a spacesuit, but not because he needed it: the outfit was composed of fabrics that could withstand the rigors of open space, and the sealed helmet and oxygen supply were necessary for him to be able to hear any radio transmissions or to respond in kind. Aurelius himself was indifferent to the vacuum, radiation, and temperature extremes of space, and was in some ways more suited to floating in the void between planets than he was on them.

"I believe we're mostly finished here, sir", he said, "do you need me to come in for any kind of briefing, or do you need me to begin the descent to the planet's surface immediately?"

OOC: I know the post isn't much, but I'd rather save the real descriptions/introductions/other-stuff-people-put-in-a-PC's-first-ever-post for later when he's actually meeting the other PC's for the first time. For now, I'm just happy to finally and officially be in the game!

;)
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"I believe we're mostly finished here, sir", he said, "do you need me to come in for any kind of briefing, or do you need me to begin the descent to the planet's surface immediately?"

The first mate chuckled. "Well, if you could at least drop the suit off, that would be great, since it's a 'rental'; once you've done that, we'll get you the coordinates and you can be on your way."

In short order, Aurelius was entering the planet's atmosphere, no more than a shooting star to the eye of any lifeforms on the surface.

- - - -

Back at the landing site, Mini-Deet reappeared, fluttering about excitedly. "We're in luck, ladies! There's an XP up in orbit right now, and he should be here soon!"

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Sigil nodded at the news and finished zapping the last of the bugs with little arcs from her wand.

"How is Chance?" she asked, then called out, "Lusungu! Everything all right?"

With a little beckon at the hologram, she lowered her voice. "Is it feasible to move this ship?" Sigil asked. "I won't be able to control these swarms. There's too many, and they're too aggressive. We need a landing site somewhere safer." After a moment she added, "Who is coming?"

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"Yes!" Lusungu panted, as she got back to the lock. She was carrying a fire extinguisher like she was planning to bash someone's skull in with it. She looked around, frowning in disappointment, then let the fire extinguisher hang from her left hand.

"Chance has been placed in the back up medical pod. He is apparently stable."

One of the bugs on the floor seemed to twitch. Lusungu stepped on it, then picked up her rifle while Sigil got an update on the current situation.

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It took only a few seconds for Aurelius to travel from the ASV Cetacea, where it floated in space several thousand kilometers over Orthi Prime, to within a few kilometers of the planet's surface. At that distance, though, he had stopped directly overhead the Magic Crab so that he could assess the situation and so that he could radio in his imminent arrival. As the light of an alien world's sun glinted brilliantly off of his golden hide, his three diamond eyes gazed down on the indigo-hued forest below him.

Now that he was inside an atmosphere and his voice would work once more, Aurelius started hailing the Magic Crab over the radio. "Hello", he replied, once he'd received a response to his hails, "this Alliance XP Aurelius, responding to your vessel's request for aid. What is your situation?"

Aurelius' Perception Roll:

Roll: 15 +9 Modifier = +24. Despite his being a little more than 2km overhead, there shouldn't be any penalty on this roll (at least not for distance or obstructions) due to his Senses, but it's your call in the end, Heritage. Also bear in mind that he can see heat patterns.
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The ship began to rise clear of the forest canopy as Mini-Deet called up another holographic globe of the planet.

"I'm going to take us to the the edge of the greenbelt; it looks like there's a thin band of scrubland between the forest and the desert proper, which by the Great Mother had better be safer."

"Hello", he replied, once he'd received a response to his hails, "this Alliance XP Aurelius, responding to your vessel's request for aid. What is your situation?"

Aurelius heard a clear female voice come over his comlink.

"Hello! This is the Magic Crab's onboard AI. We are relocating to a better location; I'll pop a flare for visual."

Apparently the computer didn't know the XP's full range of powers, for he was easily able to make out the gravmag shuttle's heat signiture even through the forest canopy. Then the tiny vessel rose out of the trees accompanied by a bright flash as the hot sodium flare ignited, making his task even simpler.

"We have two injured crewmen, but the other two are fine, just a bit stressed; our vessel is more or less intact and I am fully operational. We are running a bit behind on our objective due to unforseen natural hazzards, and could really use your help."

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The AI brought the craft down gently in the scrub; the intense sunlight beat down on the metal skin, quickly raising its temperature to over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Noting this on the indicators, Mini-Ditra shook her head.

"Well, I'm starting to see why all the Orthi live in the oceans; air temp is 108 in the shade."

The view outside the window was far less lush than their previous landing spot, but other than the heat ripples, it didn't look too bad. Long blades of violet dune grass and clumps of low twisted foliage close to the ground stretched as far as the eye could see.

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