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Aberrant: Children of Quantum Fire - [Interlude] Yellow Mountains [FIN]

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Date: May 11th ...

It was Star's big day. The media release for GNR - Galactic Navigation Registry inc. had gone out this morning. Things had been a bit delayed, dotting i's and crossing t's and things had to go a slightly different way than she originally planned ... but it had been a good morning. Most of her selves were already out, but she saved one for some special time.

She'd also heard back from Shaman, though Kamiko and Dan hadn't replied yet. This time it was Star's turn to organize a field trip. The last one had got her thinking, about all the places Father had taken her. Especially in China, and always where there was running water ... and usually signs of ancient culture. So she'd made a map of the places she could recall, and did some old fashioned I-Ching ... she would let random chance decide on a lucky location ... with her power of probability directing her towards 'good fortune' for the trip.

She had come up with a site in the Yellow mountains, an ancient temple - little more than scattered stones and a few columns amid the undergrowth of a tiny little valley. It was a nice spot, and too difficult for most people to get to ... sheer cliffs and otherwise rigged terrain of the ancient mountains making the whole area - let alone the high valley - piratically inaccessible. Natural springs were common, and this spot had them - even a hotspring pool with worn steps in it. Father's would often joke that this was his 'hot tub', though in fact generations of monks had worn the steps into the rock centuries ago.

If they were going to show, they would be here. Shaman was on the way, she was sure. Kami wouldn't miss onsen time if her life depended on it...

The pick up point was neutral, and everyone should be able to get there easily. Safe territory in the Congo, since China was not safe except in remote areas. From here, they would gate to the valley ... Star's little stealth shuttle - an improved version with an area effect that smoothed quantum patterns like adding a veneer - seemed to wait with anticipation. She had the door open, of course, so people could see her - but satellites would have the wrong angle. Sometimes, she thought they might be like pets - but really it was just reacting to her micro-signs, effectively the control interface mirroring her mood in tiny ways.

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Jacque 'Horizon' Matelle look at his charge. The kid was hopelessly direct, yet friendly at the same time. He didn't go out of his way to make friends, that didn't seem to be the boy's style. The kid was just friendly. He was also a Prince of the Royal House of Congo, thus a big target, and getting they younger nova to understand that was like breaking rocks with a thimble. His current idea was one to beat the band though.

"You want to go to China?"

"Yeah, I'm meeting some friends," Shaman said calmly, smiling.

"You do realize its a soveriegn country that doesn't like your Father, right?"

"We won't be popping into Bejing or something. The place we're meeting is isolated."

Stupid Kid. "It could be a trap."

"Nah. I can trust Star."

"You've known this nova for how long? Seriously?"

Shaman tilted his head and regarded Horizon for an instant.

"Horizon, you do realize if they wanted to do me harm, it would have happened by now. My mind's been rendered into partially chewed tendons by some of the poeple I've met. Sometimes being afraid is its own prison."

Horizon shrugged. He'd done what was required of him. He'd warned the boy.

Horizon and Shaman stepped into the lush underbrush. There were only the normal sounds of natural life going on around them. The senior nova looked to Shaman then over to the 'door' into nowhere - their contact point.

"Okay. I'll be back in thirty. Otherwise, your phone should reach me with a twenty second delay, so take that into account when screaming for help."

Shaman chuckled. "I know. I know, and I never, ever parry a blow with my phone. I gotchya."

"Kid, you've got to check that attitude."

The kids nodded. Sometimes arguing with an adult was counter-productive.

"I'll be careful," Shaman said as stood up and walked beyond the covering tree line and through the door.

Horizon shook his head as looked to the ground. Jacque was from the Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa. He'd grown up in the post-Equitoreal Wars and knew what hardship and heartache was. He wasn't a combat nova per sae, but he was capable. This Shaman kid was something else. It was like the kid was raised in a cave or something.

"Well, a paycheck is a paycheck," he muttered as he stepped back through the warp from the interior of the Congo to the capital.

Shaman nodded jauntily to Starseed, "Once we get there, I'd like to take a look around the area. Check out the wildlife and any and all signs of human traffic."

As an almost afterthought he adds, "The Chinese government doesn't know where we're going, I hope. I'd hate to make my bodyguard angry. It'd piss him off greatly and its no Rainbow Room for a month for me."

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Ling sang an old Chinese folk song as he stripped in the temple, it was one of his favorite places growing up, no one ever came here, and the natural spring made "hot tub" was always an enjoyment. He slipped in and began bathing, "a beautiful day, a wonderful life, nothing can go wrong today."

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Kamiko connected a few buckles on her load-bearing vest worth ammo pouches full of paper. She doesn't trust going to China, and agreeing Dan should accompany her is for once a validation of her overcareful nature. she opens a Tesseract to the meeting point and hops through with Dan.

"You're aware once we jump to China, we're going to stick out like a sore thumb on the quantum scale."

"Yep. That's why Starseed's taking us. She can take care of the transport requirements."

"You sure about that."

"Let them try and catch us."

Dan seems almost disturbed by her bravado and... seeming arrogance. "That might get you killed."

"Also a possibility. But Star and I both have several escape plans. Involving either a quick warp to Midway island or a more controlled jump in her craft to the far-lunar side Lagrange Point. Confrontation isn't our job... that's my familiar's jobs."

Dan would say something, but after seeing Starseed, he decides it's best to see the space-capable nova's skill.

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"Shaman, good idea. Recon as soon as we get there. Maybe you and, if you wouldn't mind Dan? Never be too careful"

With everyone assembling and in the small shuttle, Star greets everyone as they come in ... then closes the rear hatch.

"So, thanks for all coming out, and following the contact protocols. They may seem a little elaborate, but its standard trade-craft and it works. Thank goodness for the Congo too, and places like this that have very little sat coverage due to King Ein's dominion. ... So you've probably been wondering 'why a trip to China?' ... well, its where my Father took me, one of the places. Thinking back, when I was on the river, I think he took me to places for reasons but I don't know. He never got the chance to teach me all that he wanted to, my powers took more after my Mother so her training methods were a priority. So, not only is this a nice place - and somewhere my Family and Friends went frequently - its somehow important." She says, and then 'waves' open a small compartment in the shuttle bulkhead.

Inside are four dimly luminous snake like creatures, each coiled up and seemingly dormant. Star picked one up, and it wriggled to something like life - as it sought to gently coil around her arm. "These are for protection, haven't decided exactly what to call them yet but they project a few energy fields. First, they can project a sturdy defensive field much like my own aura, it's not tank armor but it helps out. Second, they project a field that 'smooths' quantum level patterns."

"I've woven the shuttle with something like this, for itself, and over time I've adapted my own pattern for this too ... so these four give all of you the same protection until I let them dissipate, or this body of mine dissipates."

She puts the snake on as if it were a boa, demonstrating how to control it as she explained .. it seemed to 'want' to be worn, though a trained observer might also guess it was adjusting to subtle cues of body language and the from of Star's anatomy.

"So, what I mean by that requires a bit of explanation ... Imagine that some Nova is reaching out with ESP or some sort of scanning power to find you. They are looking at, and sorting through quantum patterns ... the basis of all things in the universe ... and those patterns have what could be described as a 'texture'. Now, the powers that search for things at a distance have to 'feel' and 'grip' these textures. The second field that these little fellows emit 'smooths' the patterns so that you are difficult, if not impossible to find with powers at range - or even powers through time. It makes the wearers patterns, plus a fair amount of attuned matter, 'slippery' on the quantum level."

She continues the demo, showing other ways it can be worn - coiling this way and that. Showing how to activate the optional defensive field in the process, via voice or gestural command.

"The place we are going ... Its so remote, and China is vast ... so its pretty safe. However, I have been testing these out and I think they are ready. I just want to see you all use them, have you tell me if they aren't coiling right, wearing well, or if the interface is difficult. I can weave most any pattern, but design is a process. Don't worry, even if they somehow become uncomfortable they will let you adjust, and they will work so long as you are touching it. Try them on .. here you go, one for you, there ..."

"They actually should feel quite nice to wear ..."

Servitor Serpents
These snakes are about five feet long, three inches round ... on the small end of what a 'base' sized quantum construct is. They are this big because Star isn't making them any smaller than takes no effort - i.e. no successes are being spent on sizemorph shrink, etc.

They are, however, intended to be worn ... and aren't going to be all that heavy, being more energy than anything else. They are also stretchy, can flatten out a bit, so very wearable.

These ones give you Blank 5 (they have it, with the affects others extra), and Force Field 1 (again, the wearer benefits from the affect other extra) at Quantum 2, Stamina 5 - reasonable for her range of avg. successes.

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Kamiko has her defense snake coil around her like a belt, until it wraps almost like a Kimono's Obi.

"Nice... and effective. A smart choice if I do say so."

She smiles. "See? Star has good ideas for our protection... and this is just the tip of the iceberg I wager."

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Shaman takes up one of the snakes and examines it curiously. It seemed odd, but so was life. Finally he gave the creature a nod and started coiling part of it around his left arm. He stretched part of it across his chest then coiled the rest around his right arm.

'Okay. Freaky weird.'

'Yeah, but dampening our signature has to be good.'

'Having something between me and death won't suck.'

"Neat Star. It feels a bit funky ... is funky the right word? Anyway, thanks. I still hope we don't have to test drive these new creatures of yours."

He looks around at the assembly,

"Let's get going. This whole back part of one of the more dangerous parts of the world (for us) has me intrigued."

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Dan nodded, he wasn't entirely sure, and he knew alot better. "China is not safe, not at all Starseed,and were this solely my decision, none of you would go. I can't stop any of you from wandering into this minefield without hurting you." He shrugged. "That said, I can do more with you than letting you go in alone. He looked to Star. "Do you have a smaller one for Sonja? Five foot of serpent is liable to cover most of her."

His own was coiled about his right waist snuggly, like a belt. Sonya of course was still trying on the larger serpent, she had it wrapped around her entire torso, and thrown over her shoulders, hanging down her back like a second pony tail. "It's ok Daddy It doesn't bother me."

Dan looked at his daughter and nodded. He speared Kamiko with an icy glance. "Be ready with your gate at the slightest sign of trouble. If something goes wrong, I'm trusting you to Take Sonja back to the house I showed you in Kinshasa."

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Kamiko nods instinctually. "Already in mind, Dan. I already have several escape vectors in mind and yours is priority one."

She checks her "ammunition" as it were. "Once Sonja is there I will send several "friends" be a extraction force for the rest of us. Of course their services would be limited to being bullet sponges, but that's how they do their best work."

She checks a couple of pipe like rods strapped to her back and a oddly designed combat knife in a sheath strapped on the back of her vest. "And I am coming armed."

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Star's demeanor changed somewhat, still respectful even cordial but tinged with clear displeasure. This was her ship, and no one cut under her command. These were guests though, so she'd be polite. "Honestly, Mr. Hawkins ... I had not expected that you would bring Sonja, as from our previous contact and available information I understood your role as a protector for Kamiko. Having to attend to child care in the field and protect another are mutually exclusive tactical scenarios and you know it ..."

"... especially because Kamiko is making commitments such as taking a staff position at the Den. She is of an age where she should be expected to fight for herself - she is not a young child and far surpasses the capabilities of an adult - even those of an average adult Nova. She can not be expected to conform to activities suitable only for a young child. Does her family know that you have made the commitment to her without having also made adequate arrangements for your Daughter? It is not only I that expects her to function in the role of an adult, but most everyone else she associates with will have this same expectation as well."

"I say this to you out of respect, as you have made errors in your thinking on the matter. Similarly, you have made a second error in assuming I 'wander into mine fields'. Of course, we do not know each other well, but you certainly should be assuming that my mental faculties may well exceed yours even if my experience likely does not. I wonder, does your information about where we are going stand superior to mine? ... I doubt it. Third you disrespect me, on my ship for that matter. I do not wander in life, I set my course with great care ... I have welcomed you into my company and you insult me. Do not forget your manners again, Sir."

... now the unpleasantness was out of the way, but that had to be addressed before anyone went anywhere ...

"Now, that's said ... and its not said in anything but the spirit of mutual respect ... Sonjia, I am glad you came. I have made many efforts to make this trip safe, and my Father took me to where we are going many times in my childhood without incident. Also, you've done nothing wrong and I still like both you and your Dad. To be real friends people first have to be honest with each other, so that's why I took the time to say serious things."

Speaking to both Dan and Sonjia "Are you sure it fits OK?, I can make a smaller one that works just as well if you need it?"


"If anyone doesn't think this is safe, you don't have to come. I won't hold it against you and we're still 'safe' in the Congo."

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Kamiko grumbles...

"Hard to see that there is any respect, Starseed." Kamiko says with a condemning tone. "Don't take that sort of tone with Dan again. He is my teacher, mentor, and a second father to me. Is that credential enough for you? He doesn't know you, but you don't know him either. I on the other hand know him well enough to know his advice is sage. You've come across as sanctimonious, Star... something I've not seen in you. If he struck a chord, I apologise, but your response was... an insult in of itself. You are also not aware of the full arrangements made. To judge based on such scant information will only make you look ignorant. And you know me... I don't insult. I state facts as I see them. Take from what I say what you will.

I and my family have assisted you greatly, Star. We don't go into matters "half-cocked". I thought you have seen that with your experiences of us.

As for Sonja, I will personally look to assist in her safety while she is with us on this trip. As far as I know it is hard for Dan to find an adequate sitter while we go, and to be honest you don't know Sonja's full capability either."

She looks disapprovingly. "If this placed a undue burden on your plans... I can take Sonja back to Kinshasha and watch her while the rest of you do whatever you have planned. Honestly right now I am suddenly very upset."

"And by the way, Star... I didn't take a post, I asked the congo branch of the den to contact me if they needed assistance. I am with the Tokyo branch, dyed in the wool."

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Star said with complete calm ...

"Yes, my tone is sanctimonious, both formal and disapproving. It was intended as such. Someone who essentially calls me a fool does 'strike a chord', and if you have any specific objections about the content of what I said please let me know. If you are about to question my right to mandate manners in my house, then we have an issue ... and you may also wish to ask your family about why insulting someone in their own house is wrong. Further, although it was done out of ignorance, it was an insult to my Father."

... my dead Father, who isn't around to defend himself ...

"I am your friend, but if you expect me to bow down and be insulted ... what kind of friendship is that? Were I to do the same as your mentor did while in your family house ... I doubt I would be welcome at all."

"As to me being 'aware of arrangements' ... again, feel free to demonstrate that the logic of anything I have said is incorrect."

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Kamiko goes silent.

"Dan... I have a feeling where this is going next. But before you say anything, Star has a point. We are her guests, even if I personally know her and have had dealings with her as a good friend. I've acted poorly. I'm sorry."

She takes her snake off. "Dan... do what you will... I'm leaving."

She opens a tesseract and walks through. Before hand saying "I'll keep the gate open if you're intending to leave or wish to have Sonja stay behind. I'll be heading back home. A safer place than anything."

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Star watched Kamiko leave ... saying nothing as Dan had the chance to say his piece. After all, he hadn't got a word in edgewise with her and Kami having words ...

Before he moved to stay or go Star said to Dan ... "Whether you go or not ... and you are still welcome, there are some important files I needed to give you and Kamiko. I am trusting you as an honorable man ... these are files I have acquired about Proteus, about Motherhunters. These are important for the future of all Novas and you must keep them safe. This is strategic information, which I suspect you already have Shaman .. its from Coraline and she asked me to gather the right people."

She offered Dan two data sticks.

"There is also an important meeting coming up, with other second Gens. If you can handle Mars. One of you needs to see me again tomorrow for arrangements. It's worth going."

Star was completely serious, despite the insult and hypocritical attitude she would honor the trust Kamiko put in this man. She understood, Kami was in a difficult place. Torn between supporting her mentor and defending a friend. It was understandable that support for her long time teacher, almost a part of her family, would win out over a relatively new friendship.

Dan, Shaman, Ling
So, things got a bit out of control here ... but good RP. As you can see, my last post leaves room for people to get a bit of a retroactive work in. I don't mind if you reply way back too, but the tiff between Star and Kami is too good to retro.

Ling, Don't worry ... in the end, someone will come to see you :)

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'Ah crap.'

'Can't we just share information and opinions without taking it personally?'

'For some it is personal.'

"Kamiko ..." but Kamiko was gone.

He looks to Dan.

"I know you need to guard Kamiko. I think Kinshasa is safe, but if you want to go with Kamiko I'm understand. Star and I will be okay. Honest."

'How can we be honest about our safety if I don't know what I'm walking into?'

'I trust Star to not expend us?'

'Point. Good point.'

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Dan looked to them all and held up his hand.s "Everyone please calm yourselves." He looked to Star. "I apoligize for my unintended insult. As to why my daughter accompanies me, The allies I have that I can leave her with are small in number. I spoke as someone with nearly thirty years experience on the battlefields of the world."

"Kam.." before he could actually address his charge, she left.

"Well, that was about what I expected." He looked to Shaman, and to Star, then down to Sonja who looked upset because she could see that this was going badly.

he reached out and pat her head. "I will deal with Kamiko. Ignorance is no excuse."

"Daddy can I still go?" Sonja looked up at him.

"ONly if Starseed and Shaman say yes, and only if you promise to listen to them like you listen to me."

"I promise." She looked expectantly at the two other second gen novas, and Dan nodded. Star was trusting him with the gathered data and in what he hoped came across as an in-kind measure, he was extending that same trust to the two of them.

"If you tell me where in China you're headed, maybe once I and kamiko chat we can still join you? As for the meeting, I've been rescuing second generation novas longer than most. I would love to attend a gathering of them. I'd like to formally RSVP for that myself."

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Kamiko paced back and forth on her side of the portal. "Dammit, dammit DAMMIT." She says pulling her hair. "Stupid, stupid Kami... how many times has this happened, huh? You make a friend then bang over in one stroke..."

She looks at the portal, Star handing something off, just barely visible through the quantum pixelation of the event horizon. "What the..."

She paces some more, tensing up... then she looks at the portal one more time and starts to sob. She then runs through the portal tripping on the portal's paper mouth and falling over. She didn't hurt herself but she's still crying. "I'm Sorry... so sorry Star... Dan... Everyone!"

She looks inconsolable... or perhaps a socially awkward 15 year old whose not had much social contact with the outside world by design, then chose to keep said lifestyle.

"I am so sorry..."

Her distress and distraction closes the portal behind her.

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"No apologies necessary, we're all friends here ... and I think if its OK we can all go? The natural hot tub is incredible, and maybe its the sort of stressful day that could do with a soak. I also shaped fate a little, and the altered probabilities were shifted towards finding a 'lucky' place with 'good fortune' upon our visit. I used I-Ching, so its a bit loosey goosey but the power works. We might have a pleasant surprise waiting, If I shaped the flows well."


"I had an idea, as to how we would do the initial scout of the site. I can open up a gate in front of the shuttle, bring her out well below the ridge - hugging cliffs and then pop up. Nape of the earth. I'll enlarge the view ports" and with a few waves and soft words near the panels the shuttle seems to 'open its eyes' as lids roll back from floor to ceiling window " and then we all can do visual inspection all round. I can make a couple of slow and low circles and we'll be cloaked all the while."

She looks to Dan, Kami and Shaman "Of course, at your option I could open the gate and let you two through before hand. I remember a few spots, ledges with covering brush... where you could arrive unseen by anyone at the site. Recon by foot would involve climbing or flying though ... when I say the terrain is difficult, I do not exaggerate. To non novas, even with Helicopters, many of these mountains are essentially out of reach ... and its like that in several huge provinces across China, so its not like this is a conspicuous place by virtue of its inaccessibility."

"Sonjia, you'll be OK in the shuttle until we do our checks ... I'll be with you in here either way."

"So, What does everybody think, fly in, or some sort of combination recon? Just to secure the site, not that I've ever run into any people there."

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Kamiko starts to recollect herself, then starts screwing together the pipes on her back, then attaching the large, unusual knife to one end. "Well... I am up to help... for recon. Least I can do."

Kamiko honestly wants to atone for her misbehavior. She wagers being a team player would be a good start. "If you know standard combat hand signals that would work fine. Dan taught me the most important ones."

She straps her collapsible Naginata to her back and makes sure Star's snake is properly on. "I'm perfectly fine for climbing... wait... Star, if I attune with your snake, would I be able to add it's ability to essentially spoof my quantum signature to anything I construct? I could parachute in. Or even better, fly around the site and somehow signal back when I return to the shuttle. I would prefer going solo that way if anyone is caught it's only I that pays the price. Shaman is Ein's son, Dan is a father and taught me a few things, and Star, your mission you're starting with your space fleet I believe in. I am up for this. Although to be honest if I see trouble I'm running after I tell you guys to get the hell out. I'm willing to take point but I am not a martyr. That's the job for my army of familiars."

"Outside of that... you know, I think I like your plan better, Star, The... second one. If you're absolutely sure Sonja is safe here."

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"Good question, The snake can attune quite a bit, something on the order of 100 kilos ... and your own attunement will work aswell. Though its difficult to tell in relation to other Novas, its fair to say you essentially have the powers of the snake for yourself."

Star waits to see what the others say ... nodding affirmative when anyone says something to contribute but not talking over anyone.

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Dan nodded to Kamiko. "Glad you came back. We can talk later. We all make mistakes, Fate willing that will be the last any of us make today."

"I'll go down and handle recon, I can go alone, or Another can accompany me. A second set of eyes would be welcome just in case. Sonja can remain topside until the all clear." Sonja looked up at Star and smiled. "I Get to go on the ship!" It was the excitement only a child could manage.

Dan looked to them all, glad things had worked out. "Later Star, I have something you may be interested in. First though, let's go on this adventure together, I'm good for recon."

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"Well Dan, I'm your backup then." Kamiko says. "Like old times, training with Long and Doryoku..."

She smiles, readying her Naginata. "Star... I'm ready."

She looks to Dan with a curious expression and whispers. "Umm... what did Starseed give you? Looked like a packet but I couldn't tell through the distortions caused by my tesseract."

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"Look forward to it. I can go over what Coraline and I talked about in out last meeting too ... "

Turning to Sonjia "I've got a job for you Sonjia, you can sit in the co-pilots seat up here next to me. I'd like you to wear my data band, and sweep your hand around nice and slow like this while we are flying. So we can build a 3D software model of this place from the pictures later. You are the official sensor operator on this trip, OK?"


Star waited for everyone to get situated, and described the ledge "You'll have maybe four feet of solid footing. Don't trust the edges of this stone .. there will be bush all round too ... great cover, but the edge will be nearly invisible. Movement, especially flight, should be very slow through the foliage since everything is very grown together. Move too fast, you sway and rattle large portions of the overgrowth ... I'd say canopy, but on the slopes these are more bushes than trees ... ten twelve feet high though. You will be far enough, and in sort of a cliff cut, so sound from entrance won't carry much. This was a great hide and seek spot in the day."

She opens the first gate - the one to the recon drop zone - on finishing the count of "And a gate in ...4 ... 3... 2....Open".

Detail for the recon people
So the little valley is just that, no more than two acres, and much of that is not level. The cliffs and steep slopes around it are several mountains coming together, so both up and down there are cliffs. The foliage is thick, but there is a central clearing when you get away from the slopes.

The monastery, little more than ancient stones that might not even be recognized as ruins is set at the back of the tiny valley, and seems to instinctively nestle into the scenery.

There are a few cold / warm springs but the only pool is a natural hot tub in the rear center ... more or less in front of the temple foundations.

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Before everyone is situated and before the jump, Kamiko nods to Dan as she takes note of the handholds on the bulkhead. She smiles and nods to Sonja.

"Don't worry... got my head on straight now."

She pulls out a sheet of paper and shows it to Sonja, and lets her see the sheet slowly fold into a lotus blossom. She places it into Sonja's hair. "Trust me. I'm a Papermaster."

Inside the blossom, Kamiko placed a little transponder from something Sakurako liked to use to keep an eye on her when she was younger. Usually hidden on her clothes somehow. It's encrypted and only activates on demand. Since it's a proprietary frequency and signal, it would seem no more than interference unless someone knew what they were looking for or had the proper reciever, like what Dan's about to receive.

"Oh... this is for you... was going to give this to you but what happened earlier delayed me." She hands a small data-pad like device to Dan. She whispers after leaning over. "It's a device my Mom used a lot to keep track of me when I was younger. I thought if we're going to have Sonja tagging along, we should make sure we had every resource for her safety in our disposal. Sakurako sends her regards, by the way. And guess where the transponder is."

She takes hold of a handhold near the doors, preparing for the jump.

"I live for this." She says as a paper backpack forms on her back.

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Sonja nodded dutifully and took the band and the indicated seat. Dan pat her head affectionately and nodded to the others. He stepped through the gate, and once again he was in the jungles of China. "Never thought I'd return." This was nowhere close to where he'd once been, but the smells, those always seemed to be the same.

Quickly he began to move with a grace and fleetness only cats can manage, His eyes darting about, looking for any hidden foe or trap, all the while making little sound. Seeing the monastery, he remembered another time, deep in the himalayas, and smiled, wondering silently if his former sifu was getting on well. he bowed once before entering, and began to scan within.

sonja took a keen interest in her duty, but also she was watching her Father. Her mother had told her stories of him, he was brave and fearless.

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Shaman dropped to the ground quickly as well. He moved his head around searching for something before moving out.

Activating Bloodhound and smelling for any sign of human occupation. Activating Nature Mastery - summon birds - to get a bird's eye view o the valley as well. -4q/96q left.

Before long, a bird alighted on a branch near him ... than another and another. As each came, he looked at it and the bird flew off. After a bit, he looked to Starseed.

"I've got eyes on the valley now. If you see birds getting restless, something up."

With that, he moved on.

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As the three went though the gate, Star shut it down. She then opened another to a pot well below a look-out point she remembered ... that should place her about three hundred feet from the others. It would also hide the flare of the gate - even though it wasn't all that bright it was the giveaway.

With the gate placed properly, the cloaked shuttle slipped through silently ... slowly it rose above the ridge line of the site and began making wide circles. A transition without fanfare, quick, quiet and clean.

Almost immediately, the Nova known as Ling was evident, seemingly oblivious to the ship or the recon party.

Not exactly being a fully equipped tactical unit, the group didn't have comms ... but Star had anticipated this. Catching a glimpse of Dan and Kami - but not exactly having an angle to see Shaman she quicly created a hologram in a spot where they would see and the Nova in the the hot spring pool would not.

The silent hologram, close to the ground, sprang into life. It was a tactical display showing the scene as star saw it. The Nova in the hot spring was highlighted ... the team was aware.

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"Hmm... company... Nodespark even..."

Kamiko forms a tesseract, seeing the monastery 500 meters away, and makes the aperture on the otherside high, 500 meters high above where she stood. She jumps through, grabbing the ring of the aperture and in a motion it changes shape into a paper airplane, it's paper itself turned black on a thought, and Kamiko starts circling. She does a friendly wiggle of her wings, to show she is friendly once she was visible.

"Okay, watch for sentries, guards, any posts, and watch for anyhting that seems out fo place for a monastery... I think once I get an all clear from Star, I'll parachute in. I haven't flown in days... starting to get bored. Never thought I'd fly like this in china though." She thinks, loving the fact her supressed quantum aura now allows her for the first time to see China's unique landscape herself.

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The bird came racing back pretty quickly. The message was somewhat confused, but Shaman was able to piece it together. There was a large-ish, angular, black object circling up ahead around the top of the place the spings were supposed to be.

'What to do? What to do?'

'Well, we can't ...'


'Large, Angular, Black object ... like a huge paper airplane?'

'Is that good, or bad?'

'Assume good because no one was shooting at her.'

'Then let's get up there.'

Shaman lifted up into the air, summoning the winds around him. It wasn't the fastest locomation here today, but it would suffice for him.


3q spent/ 93q left

Move 30 meters/action, 200 kph non-combat (or about 3 rounds)

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Ling stood, for the surveillance that was upon him, he was most decidedly nude, not a bad thing for anyone interested in his gender. He tilted his head to the side, a black angular, what is that, was flying far off for normal eyes to see. Ling's keen draconic senses alerted him to this, "is that a person?" He smirked and fibers began to weave about him, a nice Shao'lin look, yellow and white, large ceremonial beads hanging about his neck, he takes a seat in meditation, his wings directing sounds to his perceptive ears.

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Dan finished his examination of the ruins, and nodded. seeing Ling seated there he nodded once, feeling the usual ping of another active node. "We have company, another nova." he spoke into the radio before moving up to address the nova there. In Mandarin Chinese he spoke. "Good morning." The man's draconic wings were a striking contrast to the rest of him, especially his attire, but Dan remained polite and didn't stare. He'd seen similar in many many jobs before.

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Ling does not move, eyes closed, only his mouth moves as he speaks, "good morning friend, it has been long since anyone else has come to these halls for enlightenment, perhaps you would break that silence?" He breathes deeply, "where do you hail from, and whom do I have the pleasure of exchanging words with, I am merely a humble monk; you can call me Wong."

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Star circled above, observing the whole scene, with Sonjia as her little assistant recording everything ... both of them fixed on the Nova who had been in the hot spring and now talked with Dan. Star had not expected to find anyone else here, and was waiting to see how the first contact panned out.

There didn't seem to be anyone else in the vicinity, though the brush on the edges of the tiny valley could be concealing enemies ... the clearing containing the pool and the few scattered stones of the long ruined monastery seemingly held only what was apparent. Of course, she had only one way of looking for Novas that might be concealed. She came in just low enough to slowly sweep the area ...

Node Scanning
Channeling Role, Increased Node Sensitivity:

[Varro] 1:39 am: rolling channeling for Yellow Mountains

[Varro] 1:39 am: last 2 megas

Varro *rolls* 24d10: 6+2+8+2+6+7+4+4+4+6+5+2+3+6+5+9+10+2+9+2+2+7+10+8: 129

... hmm, seemed to only be the party plus one quantum signature. He was an interesting one though, more powerful than an average Nova ..

If things looked peaceful, she'd land and the day would be a pleasant one. If not ... well Dan would have a sense for this. A long time elite, Star would trust his assessment of the situation just as he was trusting her to keep Sonjia out of any fighting.

If things did go south, Star could summon deadly forces into existence from her vantage on high ... really did look as if it was going well. Give it a little more time ...

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Dan nodded. "I have many homes. I am Dan Hawkins, a man of the world. It is good to meet you Wong. I apologize for disturbing your morning meditations. my friends and i came here to relax, I came down ahead to see if we'd be alone."

He nodded. "From what you've said, you wouldn't mind abit more company, would you?"

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Shaman came flying up, propelled by a silent breeze. He scans around trying to see what Kamiko was circling. Seeing Dan confronting the target, he opts to land about five meters away. He quickly gives Ling his trademark smile and waves.

"I'm Shaman ... I guess that's Prince Shaman now. We are just looking over the region. If this is your home, I apologize for the intrusion."

'Intrusion means back up, right?'

'Pretty much. No need to fight another nova.'

'Respect another's home and you respect yours.'

'Well, that's helpful.'

'I know.'

"Any-who, this is a very beautiful spot. Really beautiful."

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"A second Nova, I presume there are at least two to three more coming to this sacred temple?" He stood, he was tall for an Chinese man, his movements graceful, he looked youthful yet powerful. "I do not mind the company, should they be ones who seek the enlightenment of peace." He breathed and then sang an old charm of welcome, "leave titles at the archway, there are only brothers and sisters within these walls."

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Star was going to give it a few minutes. The shuttle and everyone inside was well shielded and cloaked, plus she had to think about little Sonjia. If she wasn't careful Mr. Hawkins would never trust her again. Plus she knew he was trusting her now, so that was really something.

"You're doing a good job Sonjia. I'm going to have to get you a uniform soon! Hey, if you like I have some sweets over in my bag ... the one that looks sort of silvery over there. It might be a few minutes, we have to stay in the air until your Dad really gives the all clear. OK?"

It would be really nice if Star had a radio of some sort. Have to build one secure enough to use, and small enough for little shuttles like this. Really have to get around to that soon ... the ones she had in the big ships worked great, really powerful, really versatile, emp resitant and secure as radio could be ... but using mostly tubes and a a barely digital diode array made them the size of refrigerators. Too big for this little ship. She was still, after all, using a weird mixture of heavy-duty hand-made retro tech ... oh well.


Sonjia really was a little treasure. Mr. Hawkins was a lucky guy to have such a nice daughter. She should really have a good childhood ... It looked like it was going well down there ... wow, that water would be really nice. The smell of the hot-spring, and maybe to lay in the stone of the ruins - looking up at the clouds like she did when she was a kid. Wondering how many centuries ago it was since the place had a roof, how long ago it was since chants had been heard there ... just feeling the ancient splendor of the ruined place and imagining.

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