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Aberrant: Trans-Dimensional Explorations - Trans-Dimensional Explorations

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Paul says,

"Speaking of knowledge of future events... if either of our 'see it coming before it all goes bad' says they're going waste us before we hit the trigger... then we scrub the mission."

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Begin Episode 9: All Aboard!

Thurs, 4 Dec 2020, approx 0800

Gate Room -

Michal, Rieller, Richard, Patricia, and someone else are waiting for the group in the gate room. Rieller's weapon, a coffin-sized cylinder of dark steel, with a computer touch-screen display. As the party arrives, Rieller begins a quick instruction on how to use the weapon, basically a "lock target, fire, run" set. Patricia is kitted out with the usual gear, ready to depart with the group back to her home.

Once the group is assembled, Michal glances at them. "You might notice that Ash is currently not here. While you guys were on Religious world, someone matching his face was caught on video robbing a major jewelry store in Manhattan. Since Ash was absolutely not in a position to do this, he's currently assisting the FBI to clear his name." He grins suddenly. "And I think he's hating every minute of it."

He waves to the other man, who steps forward. "This is Cameron Skiles. He originally arrived here yesterday, hoping to apply for the space ship program, exploring the solar system, but with Ash unavailable, I figured you might need someone else as backup. He's had only a really quick rundown on the Gate program, so he gets a trial by fire, as it were. Cameron, this is your team."

Rieller steps forward, addressing Jonathan and Esteban. "The weapon is ready. If you are going to wait to bring it through until you have made contact and gathered more information, it will remain here in the room. If you are planning to bring it through immediately, I am standing by to help you transport it through the first time."

Patricia rubs her arms nervously and addresses the group without turning from staring at the gate. "Let's go."

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Begin Episode 9: All Aboard!

Thurs, 4 Dec 2020, approx 0800

Gate Room -

Michal, Rieller, Richard, Patricia, and someone else are waiting for the group in the gate room. Rieller's weapon, a coffin-sized cylinder of dark steel, with a computer touch-screen display. As the party arrives, Rieller begins a quick instruction on how to use the weapon, basically a "lock target, fire, run" set. Patricia is kitted out with the usual gear, ready to depart with the group back to her home.

Once the group is assembled, Michal glances at them. "You might notice that Ash is currently not here. While you guys were on Religious world, someone matching his face was caught on video robbing a major jewelry store in Manhattan. Since Ash was absolutely not in a position to do this, he's currently assisting the FBI to clear his name." He grins suddenly. "And I think he's hating every minute of it."

He waves to the other man, who steps forward. "This is Cameron Skiles. He originally arrived here yesterday, hoping to apply for the space ship program, exploring the solar system, but with Ash unavailable, I figured you might need someone else as backup. He's had only a really quick rundown on the Gate program, so he gets a trial by fire, as it were. Cameron, this is your team."

Rieller steps forward, addressing Jonathan and Esteban. "The weapon is ready. If you are going to wait to bring it through until you have made contact and gathered more information, it will remain here in the room. If you are planning to bring it through immediately, I am standing by to help you transport it through the first time."

Patricia rubs her arms nervously and addresses the group without turning from staring at the gate. "Let's go."

Cameron steps forward and puts up a hand as a quick wave. He is dressed in a dark jacket, pants and boots that would probably be best described as military-chic; his clothes could very well be the latest from a hot Italian designer but they are also no-nonsense in terms of eschewing any unnecessary fabric or substance.

"Its an honor to be here. I have...an approximate idea of what we're going up against, but its a bit of a I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it situation."

At this, Cameron grins wolfishly.

"That being said, I'm very excited to see whats on the other side of that portal. I'm just going to be following all your leads once we get in there; so if anyone feels like barking an order at me, have at it. Until I get my feet underneath me, you're all my bosses."

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Paul says,

"Welcome Cameron. You picked a hell of a mission to join us. Any chance you can pick up and carry around the gun?"

"As for bringing it through, I say we do that. Speed kills. And speaking of killing, we very likely will run into hoards of people that we don't have the resources to help." Paul nods to Brandt.

Paul is loaded for bear this time with survival gear. He's holding an automatic rifle and has a pair of hand guns holstered and a pair of vision enhancement binoculars. His doctor's bag has a double portion of mox, medical supplies, and ammo. His eufiber is configured to urban wreckage camouflage and he's already checked to see if he can attune everything and still turn invisible.

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Not preparing for an outsider, Simon barely had time to alter his outfit to hide his identity when they arrived.

Standing before the new team member, The mask studies him intently trying to get a clue as to his identity. He is eerily motionless and even as he speaks, he does not flinch, his arms folded powerfully across his chest.

"The Mask greets you warmly." is all that comes out, echoing with his robotic unearthly voice.

Turning his head to regard Paul blue while keeping the rest of his body stationary he adds.

"Doctor Blue. You are expecting much opposition?"

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Turning his head to regard Paul blue while keeping the rest of his body stationary he adds.

"Doctor Blue. You are expecting much opposition?"

Paul answers grimly,

"If we are lucky then civilization has collapsed, and billions of people are dead. Probably more from starvation than from the aliens. We're novas which means we're either rich or at fault."

"If we are not lucky then we could have real live aliens walking around or something worse."

"So yeah, I'm expecting opposition."

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Paul says,

"Welcome Cameron. You picked a hell of a mission to join us. Any chance you can pick up and carry around the gun?"

Standing over by Rieller and the new weapon, Brandt gives a brief nod to Cameron. "Nice to meet you."

"As for bringing it through, I say we do that. Speed kills. And speaking of killing, we very likely will run into hoards of people that we don't have the resources to help." Paul nods to Brandt.

Having just hefted the three-ton laser onto his shoulder, the speedster raises an eyebrow at Paul. "I"m not sure of that innuendo, Paul, but I certainly had no plans to kill innocent, panicked citizens simply because they accost us."

"If we are lucky then civilization has collapsed, and billions of people are dead. Probably more from starvation than from the aliens. We're novas which means we're either rich or at fault."

"If we are not lucky then we could have real live aliens walking around or something worse."

"So yeah, I'm expecting opposition."

Contrary to Paul's attire, Brandt is dressed and equipped the same way he has been for previous missions, excepting the extra containers of mox and some other goodies in his pack.

A second eyebrow rises to join the first before he shakes his head ruefully. "I suppose I understand your concern, Dr. Blue, but we will likely be too busy dodging return fire from the alien vessels above to worry about enemy ground forces or threats from civilians. Either way, I don't think we'll be in any one spot long enough for it to be a problem. By the by, if it hasn't been done already, can we confirm whether there are any radiation or hazardous material concerns before we go through?"

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A second eyebrow rises to join the first before he shakes his head ruefully. "I suppose I understand your concern, Dr. Blue, but we will likely be too busy dodging return fire from the alien vessels above to worry about enemy ground forces or threats from civilians. Either way, I don't think we'll be in any one spot long enough for it to be a problem. By the by, if it hasn't been done already, can we confirm whether there are any radiation or hazardous material concerns before we go through?"
Richard nods. "I reset the gate last night and sent through a probe. You'll be emerging somewhere rural-ish south of Fresno, underneath a tipped-over water tower. No radiation or hazardous materials in the immediate vicinity."

Michal looks at Paul. "I hope the locals won't give you too many problems - but as Brandt says, you do have the option of a quick getaway. With Patricia, you'll have three warpers in the group. Ready to fire it up?" he asks, turning towards Jonathan.

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Cameron nods at everyones introductions, giving The Mask a slightly longer look than everyone else. He watches Brandt easily lift the giant laser and runs one hand through his hair.

"Yeah, thats all you. I'm afraid my giant space laser lifting abilities leave something to be desired."

He stoops to pick up a duffel bag on the floor, putting over one shoulder so the strap is across his chest. Beyond his usual supplies, he's packing a partially dismantled semi automatic rifle with a big scope and the range to match. As he shoulders the bag his jacket shifts, revealing a very large revolver on his hip. He pulls a black ski mask out of the pocket of his eufiber jacket and puts it on his head, just wearing it as a cap for now.

Cameron stands back, and ready, waiting for the signal and following the lead of the more experienced members of the team.

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Never before witnessing Brandt perform a feat of strength, the Mask was a bit impressed. Though it passed quickly as he contemplated what Paul Blue had said. Simon had no desire to take a life, and realized that if he were to unleash blasts of energy they could be fatal. He decided on a less than lethal approach.

"The mask respects to your intelligence Dr. Blue and defers to your experience in most cases. Though, if encountered, shouldn't an alien being be preserved. Surely Michal has interest in studying them, the Mask for one would certainly love to perform years on research on them. With this technology available there must be non-lethal weaponry which may be used. If not, The Mask will create something..."

"That being said, modern firearms may do little other than irritate them."

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Having just hefted the three-ton laser onto his shoulder, the speedster raises an eyebrow at Paul. "I"m not sure of that innuendo, Paul, but I certainly had no plans to kill innocent, panicked citizens simply because they accost us."
Paul nods approvingly at Brandt picking up the gun. This had worried him.

At everyone's responses he replies,

"So maybe it will be trade bait. Or maybe I fire it in the air to warn people away. But this is a war zone we're going into. Plan for the worst."

"As for taking back a live alien, first I think we have to bring back a dead one. We really don't want them phoning home and telling them that novas are around, come kill them. The aliens have encountered us before and they don't like us and we know those scouts can come in... and we know we're not ready."

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Rieller nods approvingly at Brandt hefting the gun, and turns back to the group. "If anyone feels the need for more ammunition, or simple firearms, I will be in the armory down the hall." Richard nods to the group, and heads up to the control room to begin the dialing sequence.

Swedish Supremacy world

approx 0820 -

The gate forms, and the party emerges in the shadow of a tipped over water tower. The air is dry, and the landscape deserted of humanity. Patricia looks around the area, and nods once. "I don't suppose any of you have any sort of far-seeing ability? I don't think that most of the major national capitals will have survived. What's the nearest minor city to here to survive ... Vegas? Monterey?" She seems to be mostly talking to herself.

Within a few minutes, a blue and red trail is seen in the sky, headed in the general direction of the party. Paul and Esteban identify it as a nova; Cameron identifies it as not just one nova, but two, one for each color, down to the detail of their haircuts and choice of jewelry and footwear. (8 successes on 7 dice, enough I'll give him an OMFG XP for it). Both novas (according to Cameron) are Mexican, which makes sense since you're still in the borders of this world's Mexico.

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El Nahual is waiting patiently in the staging area when everyone else arrives having spent the last day in peaceful meditation. His Eufiber is much as before: a sleek catsuit of eufiber enveloping a streamlined pack. Integrated into his ensemble are various pouches and a battle harness with sidearms gripped protectively at his hips and armpits.

Esteban nods approvingly at Cameron when he is introduced, glancing appreciatively at his holstered sidearm.

"Bienvenidos senor." he begins. "Me llamo Esteban Del Castillo. If you prefer a post-human moniker you may call me Nahual."

Glancing for a moment at the newcomers quantum signature he continues. "Ash Phoenix is a good friend of mine, and we could surely use him on this mission, but it would appear Michal has found a fine replacement. You both seem to have an affectionate eye towards your weaponry." he remarks on the obvious care and polish doted upon Cameron's artifact.

When Brandt picks up the massive canon, Esteban raises an eyebrow.

"Senor Brandt!! I am very impressed...it would seem you have been sneaking off into the gymnasium without me! Good to know as it takes energy for me to maintain a stronger form."

When he has everyone's attention he continues.

"All right everyone, listen up! It is my duty on this team to make sure we all come back alive. That means we don't take any unnessecary chances. If we encounter alien ground troups, we fall back and test their strength one on one. If it comes to hand to hand, I want you to let me deal with it. Yes, I know that most of you are quite capable of defending yourselves, but I am the one most likely to survive a direct hit from whatever they've got. And if such a blow should take me out, then by all means run for cover.

"Next..I understand it is a priority to capture one of these creatures, although security concerns mean taking one alive is probably out of the question. If a target of opportunity presents itself, I will attempt to engage and defeat one. Michael, I would advise creating some kind of technological isolation system in case even a dead Meklar can transmit information to it's fellows in our dimension...."

*****

Through the Gate

*****

As usual the first through the gate, Esteban stealthily surveys the landscape taking a defensive posture. He eyes the skies with a wary caution. At the first sight of the colored novas he shouts "Incoming!" When informed of their nationality he nods. "Who here besides myself and Mr. Jefferson is fluent in Spanish?"

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Paul answers,

"That would be me. I'll fly up there and see what's what."

Unless someone objects, Paul transforms (attuning everything as he does so) and flies up to see them. If they look like they're hostile he'll inform the group, if they immediately notice he's there he'll greet them in a friendly manor. If they don't notice him he'll just follow along.

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Unless someone objects, Paul transforms (attuning everything as he does so) and flies up to see them. If they look like they're hostile he'll inform the group, if they immediately notice he's there he'll greet them in a friendly manor. If they don't notice him he'll just follow along.
The two novas seem to spot the group; their flight slows to a near hover about two hundred meters away from the group. Paul can overhear them talking to each other in Spanish.

"Think that's them?"

"Do I look like the future-seer in this pair?"

"No, you look like my idiot brother, just like always. Do we fly down and say hello?"

"Of course not, we'll just stay up here and wait for one of them to shoot at us."

*pause* "Ah, you're joking again. Ready?"

"If I drop you on your head now, will it make up for all the times mama didn't drop you on your head as a child?"

Still bickering, they fly down to land about two dozen meters away from the party. The one dressed in blue steps forward, calling out to everyone in Spanish. "Hola, senors and senoritas! I think by your look that most of you are Americanos, but I'll try not to hold it against you if you can speak civilized Espanol." He grins broadly.

"What my idiot brother here is trying to say," the one dressed in red yanks the blue one by the shoulder so that he can speak, "is that one of our Mexican novas sent us to find reinforcements to fight against the aliens."

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Jonathan shows up in the break room, wearing a brown robe with a pentacle around his neck and carrying his staff again. Despite the obvious risk of the mission, he looks far happier and more at ease than he did for most of the previous mission.

He shakes Cameron's hand in greeting. "Hi, I'm Jonathan, I'm the team leader. I don't usually bark orders at people, but since you asked, I'll try to boss you around a bit this mission." He smiles warmly at Cameron.

The two novas seem to spot the group; their flight slows to a near hover about two hundred meters away from the group. Paul can overhear them talking to each other in Spanish.

"Think that's them?"

"Do I look like the future-seer in this pair?"

"No, you look like my idiot brother, just like always. Do we fly down and say hello?"

"Of course not, we'll just stay up here and wait for one of them to shoot at us."

*pause* "Ah, you're joking again. Ready?"

"If I drop you on your head now, will it make up for all the times mama didn't drop you on your head as a child?"

Still bickering, they fly down to land about two dozen meters away from the party. The one dressed in blue steps forward, calling out to everyone in Spanish. "Hola, senors and senoritas! I think by your look that most of you are Americanos, but I'll try not to hold it against you if you can speak civilized Espanol." He grins broadly.

"What my idiot brother here is trying to say," the one dressed in red yanks the blue one by the shoulder so that he can speak, "is that one of our Mexican novas sent us to find reinforcements to fight against the aliens."

"Well, I suppose that would be us." He gestures at Brandt. "We're not making him carry around a giant space laser for nothing, after all. How are things going? How many ships are left? How many survivors are there?"

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Paul forwards everything he heard, first to Jonathan and Brandt and then to the rest of the group. He adds,

*Sounds like they've got a pre-cog who is expecting us. Also sounds like that's a good thing.*

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Cameron described the novas to the rest of the group as they came closer. When they land he lets the others do the talking. He's waaaay too fascinated with the fact that he's in another freaking dimension. He turns away from the group, looking as far as he can in every direction to see if he can spot anything else around here.

Are you freaking kidding me? This is real. This is awesome. This is so awesome. I should have gotten a job as a dimension-hopper sooner. A lot sooner.

Cameron is half paying attention to the conversation as he looks around, doing double duty of scouting out the area the best he can and just trying to take it all in (even if it doesn't look that different). Also, he's trying to suppress a big stupid grin. Really really hard.

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"Well, I suppose that would be us." He gestures at Brandt. "We're not making him carry around a giant space laser for nothing, after all. How are things going? How many ships are left? How many survivors are there?"
They both look at Brandt, and the giant gun, then at each other, and back at Jonathan. "I don't know how many people have survived world-wide. In Mexico, we're guessing there's still a million or two. But the ships ... that's why we need reinforcements."

"After two of the ships blew up in orbit, one of the American novas managed to damage a third ship. It crashed out in the Mojave Desert. We were thinking that we had finally gotten a break - then two more showed up. We haven't been able to get inside the crashed ship - it's why we were looking for reinforcements. One of the ships is holding position right above the crashed one, and it's firing on us whenever someone tries to get inside."

"You hombres have some transportation or something? Or are we gonna have to find you a truck?"

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" Do you have any information on what the interior of the ships look like? Anyone who has been inside one?" The Mask pauses, realizing that he is rambling.

"With any kind of direction, I can get us inside...its dangerous with out knowing where I'm going."

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"We have transportation if you can show us where to go. We'll need help planning our attacks, and we want to make sure we do this with as little risk to the lives of survivors as possible."

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They both look at Brandt, and the giant gun, then at each other, and back at Jonathan. "I don't know how many people have survived world-wide. In Mexico, we're guessing there's still a million or two. But the ships ... that's why we need reinforcements."

"After two of the ships blew up in orbit, one of the American novas managed to damage a third ship. It crashed out in the Mojave Desert. We were thinking that we had finally gotten a break - then two more showed up. We haven't been able to get inside the crashed ship - it's why we were looking for reinforcements. One of the ships is holding position right above the crashed one, and it's firing on us whenever someone tries to get inside."

Brandt glances at Johnathan. "I think we just found our first target. The downed ship and its protector offer exactly what we were looking for. Perhaps we should split up? One of our warpers and I could jump to the crash site, fire on the orbiting ship, and then warp away. If it gives chase, only two of us are at risk; and that frees up the rest of you to examine the crashed ship. If it doesn't chase us, we'll just keep firing and try to take it out."

He forces what he hopes to be a natural smile. "Regardless, I think we should risk as few of us as possible while testing the weapon. In the worst case scenario, I'm sure I'll be able to get both of us out of the way of any return fire. I can always drop the gun if I have to."

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Jonathan listens to Brandt with a serious look on his face. He looks from Mask to Zhenglai to Patricia. "It's hard to ask any of you to risk your lives when I'm not risking my own, but if there are any volunteers, that would be the safest route for the rest of us." He doesn't look entirely satisfied with the idea, however.

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Paul says,

"Blow away the protector and it shouldn't be long before the other ship realizes what we're up to and destroys the grounded ship. Snatch and run me thinks."

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Esteban smiles warmly to the latino Novas.

"Hola amigos! I am El Nahual and I am certain we would gladly aid your efforts. You were expecting us no?"

When the discussion turns to splitting up Esteban offers,

"I should think you are quite correct, Doctor Nature. On the other hand, if the orbiting ship hasn't yet destroyed the crashed one, there must still be something of high value to them inside. I volunteer to lead the boarding party. If the Mask can warp us in, Zhenglai can pair up with Brandt. No doubt his second-sight will prove useful in avoiding return fire..."

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"The mask is willing to do either task. OR both should that be the case."

He looks to the ancient one.

"Perhaps Ancient ones visions will guide the team through this, his talents may best be served in this manner. It is unlikely though, Dr. Blue, that they will uncover the teams intentions by firing upon them, other than destroying them all together."

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Paul says,

"First, I suspect boarding party will be the more dangerous. Second... I'm not sure if we gain anything by splitting up. We're not going to board until we zap the ship."

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Esteban smiles warmly to the latino Novas.

"Hola amigos! I am El Nahual and I am certain we would gladly aid your efforts. You were expecting us no?"

They look at each other. "Si, senor. One of our number is a seer, from Columbia. I am Frio, and my brother is Caliente."

The nova in red leans over towards Esteban, talking in a stage whisper. "Kind of silly, no? But people remember it."

Jonathan listens to Brandt with a serious look on his face. He looks from Mask to Zhenglai to Patricia. "It's hard to ask any of you to risk your lives when I'm not risking my own, but if there are any volunteers, that would be the safest route for the rest of us." He doesn't look entirely satisfied with the idea, however.
Patricia smiles grimly. "Just try and keep me away. But first thing first - anyone going inside that ship has to be able to survive breathing in a methane-ammonia atmosphere. The place stinks to high heaven, too, so anyone with an enhanced nose is going to hate life for a bit."
Brandt glances at Johnathan. "I think we just found our first target. The downed ship and its protector offer exactly what we were looking for. Perhaps we should split up? One of our warpers and I could jump to the crash site, fire on the orbiting ship, and then warp away. If it gives chase, only two of us are at risk; and that frees up the rest of you to examine the crashed ship. If it doesn't chase us, we'll just keep firing and try to take it out."
Zhenglai (being temporarily NPC'd at the moment) shakes his head, repeatedly, for about a minute, then looks up and focuses at Brandt. "No, no. Not that one with the first shot. One of the other ships is ... has turned off their shields. We are, were, on an island, and fired from there, and destroyed it in one shot. That will also serve as a distraction for the other ships, so they do not swiftly come to rescue their guardian in the sky."

Caliente stares intently at Zhenglai, then shrugs. "I think one of them is supposed to be somewhere over the Caribbean right now."

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Patricia smiles grimly. "Just try and keep me away. But first thing first - anyone going inside that ship has to be able to survive breathing in a methane-ammonia atmosphere. The place stinks to high heaven, too, so anyone with an enhanced nose is going to hate life for a bit."
Paul says,

"I could do it. I think most of us could, Geek's selection criteria favored novas with that."

Zhenglai (being temporarily NPC'd at the moment) shakes his head, repeatedly, for about a minute, then looks up and focuses at Brandt. "No, no. Not that one with the first shot. One of the other ships is ... has turned off their shields. We are, were, on an island, and fired from there, and destroyed it in one shot. That will also serve as a distraction for the other ships, so they do not swiftly come to rescue their guardian in the sky."
Paul says,

"Zhenglai, wait a moment. 'Ships' as in more than one roaming around? Do you see more than the two in the desert and the one in the Caribbean?"

Caliente stares intently at Zhenglai, then shrugs. "I think one of them is supposed to be somewhere over the Caribbean right now."
Paul says,

"If it's pants are down then now would be a good time to shoot him."

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"Dr. Blue is astute in this matter Patricia. Most of this team are capable of surviving in any environment. If there is a location and target which possesses limited defense. The time to strike is quickly approaching it would seem."

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Brandt takes a moment to assess this new information before replying. "Well, seeing that I'm not one of our group able to breathe such a toxic atmosphere, I think my original idea still holds merit, though perhaps a change may be needed. How about this instead? We open a warp gate to the Caribbean, I go through and fire the weapon, then pass it back to Esteban through the warp before I run off to draw any return fire. From the sound of Zhenglai's vision, there's a good chance of more ships coming out to the islands in response. I can make it back here in a matter of minutes if needed, and maintain communication through Paul as I go."

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Brandt takes a moment to assess this new information before replying. "Well, seeing that I'm not one of our group able to breathe such a toxic atmosphere, I think my original idea still holds merit, though perhaps a change may be needed. How about this instead? We open a warp gate to the Caribbean, I go through and fire the weapon, then pass it back to Esteban through the warp before I run off to draw any return fire. From the sound of Zhenglai's vision, there's a good chance of more ships coming out to the islands in response. I can make it back here in a matter of minutes if needed, and maintain communication through Paul as I go."

"That's not a bad plan. It's probably best if you, Esteban, and Patricia find somewhere away from both us and any survivors to warp there from, just in case they can trace the warp somehow, but otherwise it sounds like about the best idea we've got."

"As far as entering that other ship, how many of us actually could be part of the boarding party? I know Brandt and I can't, I suppose Paul could attune one of us, but it would be a bit dangerous if we somehow got separated." He turns to the new novas. "You know any surviving novas who'd be willing and able to join the party?"

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Patricia frowns at Paul very briefly, then says, "Oh, yeah, Geek." She shakes her head a little. "That's good then, once we know where to meet up with other novas, we can plan an assault group." She turns to Mask. "So do we try and board the crashed one - or the one orbiting it? Or are we going to try both at once?"

Zhenglai shrugs his shoulders a little. "I know we are on an island, and when we fire we destroy one ship. That was all I could tell clearly. I am not sure if the Meklar still follow the same pattern as the Psilons gave me. If they did, then their ships are spread out across the planet, destroying civilization as they come across it. But they will move to assemble quickly against a known threat."

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Patricia frowns at Paul very briefly, then says, "Oh, yeah, Geek." She shakes her head a little. "That's good then, once we know where to meet up with other novas, we can plan an assault group." She turns to Mask. "So do we try and board the crashed one - or the one orbiting it? Or are we going to try both at once?"
Paul answers,

"You've been on board these things before, what would you say their crew total is and how tightly packed are they?"

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His brain working over time with possibilities, the Mask pauses to calculate.

"If these ships are a poisonous environment, it stands to reason that they require very specific conditions to stabilize a comfortable space. Perhaps they are allergic to oxygen, which stands to reason they would suffer similar irritation from other oxygen rich substances such as water. Having not attempted something like this, perhaps you, Patricia could offer some insight. Are your gates capable of transporting air, or large volumes of water...somewhere else?"

He lets his idea trail off as he continues thinking about possibilities...

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Frio and Caliente put their heads together and mutter for a minute about Jonathan's question. "My brother can handle toxic atmospheres better than I can. There's a British nova who's been itching to get into the ship - he's been talking about phasing through the ground to break in somehow. Plus the Defender should be just about healed up from his re-entry crash."

,,

Patricia looks at Paul and snorts. "I spent less than thirty seconds, total, on board two ships. From the size, depending on how automated everything is, could be anywhere from a hundred to two or three thousand. I only saw the one alien, that the old man scared off so I could get through my warp." She then turns towards Mask. "I've never tried to deliberately transfer water or atmosphere through a warp, but I've never heard of someone managing an equalizing gate. The quantum nature seems to interfere with directly linking environments." She shrugs at him. "Depending on how much of their stuff we're willing to risk, we might be better off warping in something like, say, a pair of twenty gallon gas tanks, with a phosphorous grenade in the middle. Methane burns, I think."

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Paul gets a calculating look on his face and says,

"I've got an idea. With no shields we should be able to one punch a ship, right? So Team A nails that one with it's pants down."

"Then Team B warps into the one on the desert floor. We know we're going to try to break the one above it but there's at least a chance that we can keep the one on the ground. Chances are good we'll have to run, but what the hey."

"Meanwhile Team A goes to the desert, makes a warp to the ship that's hovering... and fires the the gun through it. It's shields are up, but that only covers the outside, right?"

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"Depending on how much of their stuff we're willing to risk, we might be better off warping in something like, say, a pair of twenty gallon gas tanks, with a phosphorous grenade in the middle. Methane burns, I think."

The mask smiles under his obsidian glass face plate.

"Patricia, you're idea is quite stimulating. This can be arranged withing moments." The Mask's hands instinctively rub together.

"Dr. Blue, Johnathan, if this be a preferred course of action, The mask will provide more fire than these creatures have ever seen..."

Pausing for a second to calculate the relative collateral damage.

"Of course, if the plan includes opening a gat inside a ship...why not just walk the large weapon through the gate into a ship. Their defenses would not likely be effective on this inside. WIth the speed of Brandt, he should be able to avoid too much collateral damage."

The Mask's newest idea shows a little bit of deepest nature. He enjoys creating these plans.

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Cameron has gotten over this fascination with the surrounding area and is now invested in the conversation again. He waits for a lull in the conversation and steps forward...

"Ah, sorry, I don't want to interrupt. Just realized you guys don't know much about me or what I do...I'm not any stronger or tougher than you would expect and I'm not one of the ones that can survive in the toxic environments. I can teleport- not too far, but very quickly. I've also got heightened senses and I have a bit of a danger sense...I'm not really sure how useful I'll be in these endeavors, but I'm willing to throw myself into just about anything and help anyway I can. Just wanted to let you guys know, I'll let the big boys get back to making their plans now."

He grins and steps back again, listening intently and absentmindedly fiddling with the holster at his waist.

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Paul glances at Cameron and sends to Zhenglai,

*Zhenglai, please forward this telepathically to Caeron.*

*Cameron, there's something we should have brought up before going through the gate but we were busy. Everyone on the team has accepted a mental link between Paul and themselves. Think of it as a quantum telephone.*

*Although the power is akin to telepathy it's not invasive and either party can end the transmission. It can't be intercepted, it doesn't cost juice to use or re-establish, and it works over a range of half the world. Paul regularly rotates the link between everyone to poll everyone on what they think. I'd ask you verbally but there's no point in having a secret way to talk if you're going to talk about it in front of strange novas who have no need to know about it. If you're willing, just walk over to Paul and tap him on the shoulder.*

Paul's back is turned to Cameron and towards most everyone else. If he accepts Paul will create the link.

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