2019-09-24: What Waits In The Dark

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  • Log: What Waits In The Dark
  • Cast: Loren Voss, Catenna, Jacqueline Barber, Lydia Seren
  • Where: Thunder Plains
  • Date: September 24, 2019
  • Summary: Loren, chasing up a rumor about Lapisera, finds more than he bargained for... as do those who accompany him on this expedition.

DG: A party led by Loren Voss is now entering Lapisera Mines.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
==============================<* Lapisera Mines *>==============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Guts Man's Ass *>========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Once, there were numerous entrances to the Lapisera Mines. Then, Odessa
 teleported the Guts-Dozer inside of it and ARMS drove it out. The massive
 form of the Guts-Dozer has made a new entrance: a gaping chasm, with
 treadmarks torn into the ground and huge tears where the Guts-Dozer ripped
 through the rock with its bare hands.

 While an entrance exists, it is far from stable. It seems the immense
 derriere of the Guts-Dozer has created an unstable cavern. As you enter, you
 find that rubble and debris have collapsed in its wake... and worse,
 sometimes, chunks of rock fall from the entrance. It both has to be cleared
 out and dodged.

 And, of course, one might boggle at what possibly tore its way from this
 place? A huge fiend... or something worse?

 DA-NAAAAAA!!
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Madness=========================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    WEEKS AGO, BEFORE THE EVENTS IN MACALANIA

    There had been a bit of a circulating rumor that had reached him in Guadosalam. Some sort of disturbance at the Lapisera mines -- the word that Odessa (and ARMS) had been involved. And then, after that, the hints of something... else.

    The speaker had described some sort of odd, strange Machina they'd found inside while attempting to map the ruined mines. It hadn't sounded like the sort of technnology more often found in the ruins of these lands. Could it be that the mines might be stacked atop something more ancient?
    Perhaps, even a ruin that might take them back to Filgaia?

    He had to go and find out. This couldn't be left up to chance.

    This time he'd gone alone.

    Though it's possible he might not precisely have been alone by the time he arrived there.

    Standing on the lip of the entrance he gazes at the hole. He scratches at the back of his head, clearly perplexed.

    What tore out of here? A Fiend?
    Or... something else?

    He scrambles down the rocky slope a touch awkwardly, approaching the entrance below. Only when he nears it does Loren pause and rest a hand against the wall, feeling out in silence for the stability of the rock. ...
    ...it's not great.

    Grimacing, he strides towards one of the smaller fallen hunks of rock that's in the way and lifts it, chucking it aside. That was effective.

    "I wonder if this is going to fall in," he wonders absently, his expression distant as he stares now up at the rock overhang above. "..."

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Guts Man's Ass.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna is not anywhere near the macadamia nuts. Not yet. Time's funny like that.

"Oh, hello. It's you."

The voice comes from just behind Loren. Standing there, watching him with her head cocked to one side, Catenna looks on with a curious expression, watching the young Solarian move. She raises both eyebrows slightly.

With a toss of her hair with one hand, she moves forward to stand on one of the boulders beside Loren. Peering into the cave entrance, she moues her lips. "It must have been something large and impressive, do you not agree? Curious, I think." She reaches out, picking up a mid-sized rock and moving it out of the way.

It doesn't accomplish much. There are many more boulders to move, and Catenna's strength is more in her legs than in her arms and back. With a sigh, she looks up at the rock heap.

"...Bother."

DG: Catenna has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Guts Man's Ass.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It's back to the Lapisera Mines again for Jacqueline - this place held some interest for her. And once again, she's arriving with friends! That seemed to be a common theme, but it was always good to bring friends with you when Digging - that was always true.

"Oh, Thomas! I didn't expect to see you hear." Jacqueline remarks with some surprise. She's following after Catenna, and her attention drifts toward the cave entrance as Catenna comments on it.

"That's the one thing I haven't figure out yet. It must have been, to unseat these stones so thoroughly." She comments.

It's only not a pun because she has no idea that the Guts-Dozer is even a thing.

"I might need some help here, Catenna - if it looks like anything's about to fall on top of us, do you think you could stop it long enough for us to get away?" Jacqueline asks. Through Sorcery, presumably, and not her physical strength.

With that said Jacqueline draws out a Crest Graph, slotting it into her left gauntlet before invoking it with a gesture.

There's a sudden surge of earth-based power - and then, the land itself starts to shift. Loose rubble melds into the surrounding earth, offering support to the entrance rather than acting as a potential hazard.

It's a fairly large-scale transformation - will it last long enough for them to make use of it?

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Landscaper Crest toward her party's challenge, Guts Man's Ass.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Da na!

Lydia last found SPHERES when she visited the mines and she's curious if there's something else of use in these mines. She is confused to see Thomas present but he seems to be getting around a lot lately. She gives the guy a smile and a wave. Time breeds familiarity it seems.

"We checked it out before," Lydia explains to Loren. "And were able to get out pretty okay. But there's some dangerous fiends in here that I certainly can't beat. So uh. Hope you guys can fight."

Why Lydia keeps coming in here while being fairly unhelpful in combat is a mystery in of itself. Sure, not every problem CAN be solved with violence but it's a bit strange to be as unprepared for it as she seems to be.

But at the very least, she seems pretty cheerful at smashing away rubble with her bat (Tiebreaker) and otherwise chucking it away.

"You know, feeling pretty good today. Gonna keep that energy up. We should watch out for Tom though, he's an alright guy." She pauses before adding, "Oh man, Jay's crests are pretty OP."

She steps back a bit to let Jay do the heavy lifting.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Good Luck Bat toward her party's challenge, Guts Man's Ass.
==============================<* Lapisera Mines *>==============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Guts Man's Ass *>========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Once, there were numerous entrances to the Lapisera Mines. Then, Odessa
 teleported the Guts-Dozer inside of it and ARMS drove it out. The massive
 form of the Guts-Dozer has made a new entrance: a gaping chasm, with
 treadmarks torn into the ground and huge tears where the Guts-Dozer ripped
 through the rock with its bare hands.

 While an entrance exists, it is far from stable. It seems the immense
 derriere of the Guts-Dozer has created an unstable cavern. As you enter, you
 find that rubble and debris have collapsed in its wake... and worse,
 sometimes, chunks of rock fall from the entrance. It both has to be cleared
 out and dodged.

 And, of course, one might boggle at what possibly tore its way from this
 place? A huge fiend... or something worse?

 DA-NAAAAAA!!
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Madness=========================================
=========================<* Lapisera Mines - Round 1 *>=========================
==========================< Results - Guts Man's Ass >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Landscaper Crest                    3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Good Luck Bat                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Cripple|Madness
Effects: Strengthen(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    It's as if he's in some sort of reverie when Catenna's voice breaks through to him.

    "Uh?" he starts, turning away from staring up at the ceiling. This is the point when he faces the trio of ladies, all of which are familiar faces, if to varying degrees. He does not return that smile or wave. "What are you--"

    Jay, and then also Lydia, explain that one.
    There are some dangerous Fiends in here. Loren's left hand absently rests on the hilt of his sword, as if to explain or suggest they might be covered on that front. His gaze is again a touch absent.
    Or, perhaps, as if his focus were on some point none of them can see.

    "...Got it." He turns, gazing up at the cave roof again. "I heard there were some weird," he pauses, "Machina down here. I thought I'd take a look."

    It's technically not a lie.

    His gaze settles on the Crest, and he seems to again return to the here and now. "Hey -- wait a minute. If you use that in here, the whole thing could cave in--"
    He jerks his head Catenna's way. There is a pause where he considers this plan. "...Knock yourself out."

    There is a rumble of the earth as the Crest is invoked. As he had warned, the roof indeed does start to fall in--
    But Catenna's magic is there to catch it--

    --or well most of it. Loren had been standing under a lower section and is summarily buried in...
    Well, it's mostly small scale rocks and dust. But at least Lydia's there to dig him out.

    He's a little more like normal Loren by the time he's unearthed (and by the time they leg it before the spells end). Which is to say: a good deal grumpier.

DG: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Lapisera Mines *>===============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Out-Of-Place Ordinance *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 There has been a battle in the mines lately -- proof positive rests on the
 scars on the walls. ARM-fire, swords, claws something has happened here
 recently, and its uncertain how it may have played out for the involved
 parties.

 More pressingly, it is the debris from that fight that concerns you. In
 particular, the explosive device that has started to flash ominously on your
 approach. Get out of here or get /it/ out of here -- whatever you do, you
 had best do it /fast/.

 Those who have enough experience -- and time to make the connection -- may
 be able to place the object as something of Solarian make.
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate, Wound==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"I can try," Catenna offers Jacqueline with a quiet smile

They manage to get through soon enough, though not before Loren gets dumped on a little. Catenna looks over towards the young man with an apologetic smile before beginning to climb down into the opening.

The mine is dark; no one thought to leave a light on for future Drifters. Hooking her grappling hook to a place on the ceiling, Catenna boosts herself down into the mine. The click of her heels touching the rock echoes through the cavern, more terrifyingly than she'd really like to admit.

<Have a care.> From Catenna's shoulder, Saarda-Shanta has her eyes fixed forward, locked on a spot in the darkness.

"What is it?" Catenna keeps her voice down to try and avoid echoes. Squinting, she peers towards the darkness. A flicker of light catches her eye.

One that flashes regularly. And ominously.

Catenna's heart seizes. "BOMB," she shouts as she jumps for the rope and starts climbing right the hell back up.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Grappling Hook toward her party's challenge, Out-Of-Place Ordinance.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia grimaces as Loren gets buried and hurriedly works on digging him out. "Uh, sorry man. Though um, I gotta ask. Why do ya keep showing up to these ruins on your own? It's pretty dangerous. Try to bring a friend along, alright? Even if it's just one. Heck, I'd do it even though, um..." She kind of trails off there.

"Right!" She starts advancing forward and--ahh--

BOMB

"Really??? That's new! How did it take so long to explode?!" She activates the power of SKATING and dashes for the rope, reaching it shortly after Catenna and hurriedly climbing up. Luckily the rope can handle her weight!

Man, she thinks, she hopes there's machina down here. That'd be pretty cool.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Radical Skates toward her party's challenge, Out-Of-Place Ordinance.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    To that question from Lydia Loren doesn't respond. He just gives her a stare that is as withering as it is weary. There's a very good reason he doesn't ask a friend along.

    He stands, brushing off the dust on his clothing and heads on inwards in silence.

    Looping down through a gap in the rock they find themselves in a chamber that looks as if it's had its share of battle of late--

    His gaze leaps from the signs of a fight carved into the walls and down at the flashing explosive in the middle of the room.

    He realizes he knows exactly what it is and why it's only gone off now. "It's because it's--" he starts to shout, before a more reasonable line of thought suggests an alternate mode of approach. And so he grits his teeth and threads Ether through the thing looped around his wrist, sending it out in a fine wave around him and the others as he graps onto that rope and hauls himself up at speed.
    Hastened by the burst of water Ether that invisibly soaks the lot of them, perhaps.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Ether Tuner toward his party's challenge, Out-Of-Place Ordinance.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline returns Catenna's smile with one of her own - and, working together, they manage to make it through! Thomas gets buried though.

"Oh, I'm sorry! Here, this should help." She says, rummaging through her bags as she hurries over to him. She offers him a bottle of green liquid - a healing potion.

Whether he accepts it or not she continues on, now that an opening has been made. It's dark...too dark. But then, there's a light.

An ominously flashing light. Catenna puts a name to it. Thinking quickly, Jacqueline makes another gesture, invoking a different Crest. A pillar of earth rises to cover up the bomb.

Maybe it'll dampen then explosion, and give them a little more leeway. Or maybe it'll just add the excitement of rocky shrapnel to dodge.

Either way, she soon joins the others in trying to get as far away from the bomb as they can before it explodes.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Out-Of-Place Ordinance.
===============================<* Lapisera Mines *>===============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Out-Of-Place Ordinance *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 There has been a battle in the mines lately -- proof positive rests on the
 scars on the walls. ARM-fire, swords, claws something has happened here
 recently, and its uncertain how it may have played out for the involved
 parties.

 More pressingly, it is the debris from that fight that concerns you. In
 particular, the explosive device that has started to flash ominously on your
 approach. Get out of here or get /it/ out of here -- whatever you do, you
 had best do it /fast/.

 Those who have enough experience -- and time to make the connection -- may
 be able to place the object as something of Solarian make.
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate, Wound==========================================
==========================<* Lapisera Mines - Round 2 *>==========================
=======================< Results - Out-Of-Place Ordinance >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Ether Tuner                         1   Agility Effects: Quicken and Rally
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Grappling Hook                      2   Agility Effects: Quicken
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Radical Skates                      3   Agility Effects: Fanfare
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Cripple|Hesitate(2)|Madness|Wound(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Nobody in the world has worse luck than Loren P. Voss. (The P. stands for "Poor baby.")

The bomb goes off with a squeal and a roar. Debris erupts through the chamber. And first in the line of fire is the one who is last to reach the rope, because he took the time to cast a spell. Loren's thrown into the rope but fortunately manages to scramble up with only a few bumps and bruises.

Halfway there, Catenna grabs ahold of his arm and yanks him up to the cave edge. "Are you alright?"

Below, the flames and fury pass. Catenna waits until the noise fades before looking down again, holding up a small lantern. "...Jay," she says quietly. "It looks like the earth you put up took the worst of it. The ground still seems to be stable."

Hopping down again, Catenna feels out the ground with one foot, testing if she's right - and she is. She breathes a sigh of relief. "There must have been some sort of fight, then...."

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================<* Lapisera Mines *>=============================
================<* CHALLENGE - Water Level - Depth Charges *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The chamber that you enter is submerged, as seawater and rainwater from
 outside have seeped in and filled it. This, alone, could pose a problem --
 you need to swim to the opening on the other side -- but another challenge
 presents itself. Ancient machina bombs, which had been in containers, begin
 to float free...

 ...and explode, sending huge concussive shockwaves through the watery
 depths.

 This is an underwater challenge.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline breathes out a sigh of relief, looking toward Catenna with a nod as she comments that the earth pillar took the most of it.

"Good. We don't want to get caught in a cave-in." She replies with a nod. Together they move forward, only to find that doing so requires they go through a submerged passage.

"Don't worry, I have something for this, too." She says. Once more she goes digging through her bags, and out comes...a series of water-breathing potions! "Here, this should last us until we get through the other side."

She says. And then, she dives in!

Things goes peacefully for a problem... But then, she stops abruptly and gestures frantically for the others to do the same before pointing ahead.

Lydia had hoped to find machina, and indeed, there's machina ahead of them now. Unfortunately, this machina takes the form of a series of bombs. They were sealed in containers, but it looks like the shockwave from the explosion earlier nudged the locks loose... and now that there's someone swimming through, the explosives fall from their containers.

It's too late to turn back now, though - whether you retreat back the way you came or try to get forward, you'll only get partway through before the bombs start to explode, sending concussive shockwaves rippling through the water.

Jacqueline can't speak right now, but the expression currently on her face says enough.

'Why is everything exploding all of a sudden??'

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Water Level - Depth Charges.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Whew!" Lydia says, looking back to Loren. "Careful Thomas. There's some Gebler tech around here. I don't know if the bombs were theirs but there was other stuff. I wonder what you'd call that bomb. Well we're in a mine...and it goes off based on how close you are... so maybe... a proximity mine! Neh heh heh...! Luckily that was probably the last explosive surprise waiting for--"

She pauses as she sees machina, finally! She approaches, swimmingly, pauses, and then frowns as they start floating.

Lydia swims quickly though skates aren't going to be too useful here in an attempt to outswim the explosions.

It's only once they're out of the water she complains, "Why did they bring more bombs into a bomb mine?!"

A pretty good question all told.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Water Level - Depth Charges.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"No... we definitely do not."

Catenna boosts her way back into the cave. Pushing ahead, she keeps her lantern held up and high, at least until they get to the water. "Well," she murmurs before sighing and setting her pack down.

When she picked her Spiran style, Catenna favoured a fairly odd skirt. It connects to a series of rings and ties along her waist. She proceeds to undo them, stepping out of the skirt and leaving her in the two-piece swimsuit element beneath it. The skirt is folded to the side, into her inventory, before she dives into the water.

Jay's potion helps - until they reach the bombs ahead. Catenna lets out a startled burble, paddling backward as fast as she can.

Retreat, of course, isn't going to do much at this speed. With a bubble, Catenna uncoils her grappling hook and lets it sink to the bottom, dragging it into a big rock - and then she burbles a power word.

The rock's gravity suddenly reverses. The rope guides it like a pendulum, swinging up to try and slam into one of the bombs and knock it into the others - and as it does, Catenna swims backwards, trying like hell to get clear.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Grappling Hook toward her party's challenge, Water Level - Depth Charges.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    It may be in the scheme of things a good thing that Jay passes him over that potion before they head downwards and onwards -- and that he drinks it instead of pocketing it for later.

    Of course it also helps that he's merely scorched as he clambers up the rope and into the room they'd been in before. A little light fire licks at his shins. It doesn't take very much to douse it.

    And this is the point where he fixes Catenna with a stare that seem to be a hundred yards beyond her. "I've had worse."

    He remembers when his Gear exploded--

    He scrunches up his face, as if trying to dot the i's and cross the t's and managing to do neither. How did he survive, back then...?

    In any case when he stirs again from reverie, he blinks blearily as he tunes in to Lydia telling him about the bomb and its true nature as one of Gebler's...

    "I... figured," he says. Then adds a touch hastily: "That it was proximity." He rises, after, bent now on proceeding through this place at haste.

    Which. Might be a good idea considering what awaits them. Going back is out of the question. So is going down. Which means it's through the water and--

    "There are more explosives," he says, flatly. With a sigh, he once again manipulates Ether with the assistance of the tuner.
    It always makes him feel a little nauseous, like he's being spread thin.

    But it's better than being literally spread thin.
    By bombs.

    "Come on. Don't hang around," he says, sloshing into the drink, the haze of water Ether clinging to him.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Ether Tuner toward his party's challenge, Water Level - Depth Charges.
=============================<* Lapisera Mines *>=============================
================<* CHALLENGE - Water Level - Depth Charges *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The chamber that you enter is submerged, as seawater and rainwater from
 outside have seeped in and filled it. This, alone, could pose a problem --
 you need to swim to the opening on the other side -- but another challenge
 presents itself. Ancient machina bombs, which had been in containers, begin
 to float free...

 ...and explode, sending huge concussive shockwaves through the watery
 depths.

 This is an underwater challenge.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm================================================
========================<* Lapisera Mines - Round 3 *>========================
==================< Results - Water Level - Depth Charges >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          10 --(5)--> 15                 Fail
Ether Tuner                         1   Agility Effects: Quicken and Rally
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Grappling Hook                      2   Agility Effects: Quicken
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Overwhelm
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

They might not have to worry about running out of air, but all told that might have been preferable to dealing with the explosions. Even the concussive shockwaves can be dangerous - they're unpleasant, and the way they jostle you about can make it difficult to get out of the water. And if you're too close...

Well, the less said about that, the better.

The explosions affect the bombs that have yet to explode, as well, sending them through the water and making it harder to predict when or where they'll detonate.

Soon enough, some of those bombs find themselves dangerously close to Loren and Lydia...

But, Catenna has a plan. The rock rockets into the bomb, sending it flying back. It strikes a few others and, much like a pool ball, it sends them ricocheting away - thankfully, distant from the party, allowing them to make it the rest of the way without difficulty.

Jacqueline breathes a sigh of the relief once they're finally out of the water, looking Lydia's way.

"I have...no earthly clue..." She says, with another sigh. "I just hope we don't run into any more..."

DG: Loren Voss has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Lapisera Mines *>==============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Erratic Excavation *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Someone has been here before you. Perhaps it was another expedition group.
 Or perhaps it was the original miners.

 Whoever they were, they left this section of the mine in considerable
 disarray -- a detonation device (the marks on the wall and floor hint that
 in fact several may have been used) has left the chamber partially collapsed
 -- it seems like they were trying to blast a way out. Whatever the reason,
 youve got a job and a half ahead of you: youll have to clear out the rubble
 enough to work your way through and reach the largely obstructed entrance on
 the other side.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Slow========================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Is Loren aware of how close he came to serious trouble?

    The dead expression on his face suggests that yes, yes he does. He lingers a moment by the wall, leaning one hand against the cold stone, and exhales out a long breath.

    Wordlessly he wrings some of the water out of his clothing and, slicking his hair out his eyes, continues on.

    What else can he hope to do but continue on?

    Though even that thought retreats once he reaches this chamber.

    "The miners?" he wonders aloud, cocking his head to the right. "...Looks like they messed up. The wall's caved in."

    Which is why he approaches it to apparently investigate further. "Must have been a path here. It's a dead end otherwise."

    He pokes a finger at the collapsed stone.

    What if he... tries to jostle the rock here. A short burst of force, an addition of stress will do it. Maybe it'll help the whole thing collapse.

    ...It's times like these that he really understands his element a little too well.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Erratic Excavation.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Pulling herself out of the water, Catenna whips her hair back, droplets scattering against the wall behind her. She takes a moment to collect the Owlet. The sullen, damp bird takes up a perch on her shoulder. <Birb is not meant for swims, my child.>

Catenna smiles faintly and taps Saarda-Shanta on the head with a fingertip. "I will reward you for your travails later, dearest heart."

<No reward is sufficient,> huffs the damp ball of feathers.

Still more destruction awaits them - this time not bombs, but their after-effects. "I do not think it is mines, Thomas," the Zortroan says quietly as she steps forward to rest her hand on one of the rocks. "They would not leave explosives strewn about so randomly... and those we have seen seem better suited to battle. No... it would seem that someone was here before us, and sought something down here."

Catenna closes her eyes a moment before sighing and lowering her shoulders, moving to try and muscle one of the more manageable rocks out of the heap.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Erratic Excavation.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline takes a moment to wring out her hair before continuing on, at which point they seem to reach what looks like a dead end. Jacqueline frowns, as Loren points out that the wall's caved in - but that there must have been a path.

"I see... Nothing else for it, then, I suppose." She decides. Nothing for it to invoke that Crest again - she'll just have to hope she won't need it later, due to its power she'd run the risk of exhausting herself if she used it more than twice in one day.

"I think you're right." Jacqueline agrees with a nod toward Catenna as she considers what she's seen. "The question is...what were they after...?"

She had seen the grisly result, but the question of 'why' still remained.

Once that's said, Jacqueline gestures with her left hand.

Once more, the earth begins to reshape itself - this time, to open the passage while adding some extra supports, having learned from what happened last time.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Landscaper Crest toward her party's challenge, Erratic Excavation.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Agreed." to Jacqueline and lets out a long exhaled breath.

She frowns faintly upon observing... more fallen wall, really. She exhales slowly and gets to work with her bat.

"I guess an unstable mine shaft isn't the best place to have a pitched war." Lydia manages, smashing rocks into smaller rocks with her bat though, as usual, she backs off when Jacqueline REALLY gets to work.

"I don't really like the look of my hair while it's wet. Ugh. But it's fine." She says. "Because the more difficult the adventure, the more rewarding the treasure!"

She pauses. "Usually. I hope we don't run into a giant fiend again though, honestly, I'd take it over MORE BOMBS."

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Good Luck Bat toward her party's challenge, Erratic Excavation.
==============================<* Lapisera Mines *>==============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Erratic Excavation *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Someone has been here before you. Perhaps it was another expedition group.
 Or perhaps it was the original miners.

 Whoever they were, they left this section of the mine in considerable
 disarray -- a detonation device (the marks on the wall and floor hint that
 in fact several may have been used) has left the chamber partially collapsed
 -- it seems like they were trying to blast a way out. Whatever the reason,
 youve got a job and a half ahead of you: youll have to clear out the rubble
 enough to work your way through and reach the largely obstructed entrance on
 the other side.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Slow========================================
=========================<* Lapisera Mines - Round 4 *>=========================
========================< Results - Erratic Excavation >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          15 --(5)--> 20                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Landscaper Crest                    3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Good Luck Bat                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  60 --(20)--> 80                Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(2)|Slow(2)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Loren shakes his head. "No, the equipment in here," he says to Catenna. "It's mining equipment." Then he pauses as if to consider that statement in light of what they have seen so far. "Unless..."

    He scowls, at that thought. "...Come on. We're not going to learn anything by speculating about it," he says to the room at large.

    The rock wall is difficult to move. Even when Lydia and Catenna break and move some of the rocks, there's still half a mountainside remaining.

    But.

    Well, first, the good news: Loren's gambit works. He reorients the rocks after sending a shockwave not unlike a localized earthquake through them.
    The bad news is that it works too well. Instead of cracking or shattering the collapsed wall it brings it down upon them--

    Which is when what might just be the best news of the night kicks in: the part where Jacqueline's Crest reshapes the tide of rock and earth with supernatural ease and then holds firm, forming the tunnel by which they can now pass through.

    Loren just stands there for a moment, his hands loose at his side, staring up at the passage she's wrought.

    It's a full ten seconds before he finally moves, heading on ahead of the others towards what might lie beyond.

DG: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Lapisera Mines *>===============================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Angra Mainyu - Level 3 Flare *>==================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 In the depths of the Lapisera Mines, you come to a room that had once been a
 battle site. Strangely enough, the entrances to the room have a few bodies
 in strange armor and uniforms -- Gebler, for those familiar -- outside them.
 In addition, there is a huge hole where something (the Guts-Dozer) tore
 through, and made its way out.

 The chamber itself is a broad, flat room in a natural cavern. Pools of water
 gather here and there, in places where craters and grooves were cut into the
 ground. Stalactites are knocked over; rocks are strewn all about. Worse than
 that, though, is where a fresh cave-in in the back can be seen. Out of it
 floats a fiend larger than any you have seen thus far.

 Angra Mainyu resembles a Buer: a massive eyeball and a fanged mouth, with a
 sac of skin and huge wings behind it. This one, however, is the size of a
 behemoth, and it roars. It looses beams of light from its eye -- and, worse,
 members of the group are targeted at seeming random by immense blasts of
 flame.

 OOC: Please pull the next card immediately after resolving this one; it will
 be necessary to write a correct pose. Additionally, if you individually fail
 this challenge, and are able to cast Blue Magic or otherwise use enemy
 skills, you may apply for a Level 3 Flare Signature Attack on your next
 advancement application.
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Exhaust, Wound===================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

What lies beyond is a surprisingly huge and flat room.

One with bodies lying around.

Catenna nearly trips over one of them. With a gasp, she jerks backwards, looking down at the corpse lying there - dried and hollowed-out after having lain here a little while, it's not all that pleasant to look at. Her arm comes up over her nose and mouth as she resists the urge to gag.

Then something occurs to her. Blinking twice, she frowns. "...Lydia," she says, "do you recognize these uniforms? The Sky People wear them, do they not?"

Catenna is not all that up on Solaris.

Something roars. It rattles through the cavern. Jumping, Catenna reaches for her bow - and she stares at the creature that comes floating forth.

It's a fiend bigger than any other seen so far, a massive eyeball and fanged maw with vast wings, easily the size of a behemoth. With an immediate screech, Angra Mainyu unleashes a beam of light from its eye.

Catenna leaps. The blast tears a trench through the earth where she stood. "Look out!" she cries, before the monster unleashes a thunderous billow of flame. Roaring bolts of fire blaze past her, rapidly vapourizing several of the puddles still lingering her. Clenching her teeth, Catenna tries to throw herself clear of the flames, then whirls to unleash a spell, the power of gravity surging to try and launch the behemoth into the ceiling.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, Angra Mainyu - Level 3 Flare.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline lets out a sigh of relief. A part of her had been afraid the Crest Graph wouldn't work its sorcery in time.

"Whew...is everyone alright?" She asks, looking around. She does take note of the way Loren stands there, but whether or not she thinks anything of it is another matter entirely.

And then the four of them make their way through to a familiar chamber, that a certain Fiend seems to have made its home.

"...It's the Angra Mainyu again!" Jacqueline warns. She doesn't have to draw out the Codex this time - she's read the entry enough that she has it practically memorized. "Watch out for the beams of light it emits from its eye - and be especially careful of its flames!"

She leaps to the side to avoid one of said columns of flame, and then gestures with her right hand.

As Catenna tries to slam the Angra Mainyu into the ceiling, Jacqueline's invoked Crest Graph causes the rubble to start to shake...before flying toward the Fiend at high speeds, looking to pelt it with a volley of stone while it's unable to avoid their attacks.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool The Lifeweaver's Codex toward her party's challenge, Angra Mainyu - Level 3
Flare.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    The bodies have been here for a while.

    Even so, Loren remembers that one. He kneels beside the body, staring down at it. Auda. She was a classmate -- Second Class -- and her older sister had been killed when...

    He blinks, struck once again by the way in which his memory doesn't quite match up with logic. How had he killed her sister in that accident? Was she one of the instructors? ...
    He... can't remember that. Why can't he remember that?

    Something roars, and it rips through his reverie. He stares over at the source of the sound and only just has the presence of mind to fish for and rip her tags from around her neck.

    Just as the thing attacks, sending a gout of flame--

    It ricochets off the shield that has unfolded, batwing-like, from the bracer at his left wrist. He's had his doubts about the thing but in times like these--

    One doesn't have the luxury of choice.

    "Get down! It's going to do it again!" he shouts, digging in his bag and fishing out a potion to hurl for the one who is most injured. Gritting his teeth, he begins to draw his blade from its sheath.

    He just needs an opening. One, good opening--

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, Angra Mainyu - Level 3 Flare.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia crouches down by a Gebler corpse. She looks over to Catenna, and then back to the soldier. "......" She doesn't answer her immediately, just kind of staring. She's seen corpses last time, of course, but she wasn't asked to examine them.

"Yeah." She tells Catenna. "I guess so." She stands herself up. "I don't know why they are here. Well...no. I think I might have an idea or two as to why they're here... but I can't really say for sure."

She steps backwards a bit and adds, "Maybe they're here for--"

Something roars before she can finish speaking. Lydia looks up and breathes in sharply before throwing out a flash of light for the Buer, trying to blind it.

Because it's a giant eyeball okay.

"Gahhh I'm sorry bombs are okay bombs are okay!" Lydia complains.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Angra Mainyu - Level 3 Flare.
===============================<* Lapisera Mines *>===============================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Angra Mainyu - Level 3 Flare *>==================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 In the depths of the Lapisera Mines, you come to a room that had once been a
 battle site. Strangely enough, the entrances to the room have a few bodies
 in strange armor and uniforms -- Gebler, for those familiar -- outside them.
 In addition, there is a huge hole where something (the Guts-Dozer) tore
 through, and made its way out.

 The chamber itself is a broad, flat room in a natural cavern. Pools of water
 gather here and there, in places where craters and grooves were cut into the
 ground. Stalactites are knocked over; rocks are strewn all about. Worse than
 that, though, is where a fresh cave-in in the back can be seen. Out of it
 floats a fiend larger than any you have seen thus far.

 Angra Mainyu resembles a Buer: a massive eyeball and a fanged mouth, with a
 sac of skin and huge wings behind it. This one, however, is the size of a
 behemoth, and it roars. It looses beams of light from its eye -- and, worse,
 members of the group are targeted at seeming random by immense blasts of
 flame.

 OOC: Please pull the next card immediately after resolving this one; it will
 be necessary to write a correct pose. Additionally, if you individually fail
 this challenge, and are able to cast Blue Magic or otherwise use enemy
 skills, you may apply for a Level 3 Flare Signature Attack on your next
 advancement application.
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Exhaust, Wound===================================
==========================<* Lapisera Mines - Round 5 *>==========================
====================< Results - Angra Mainyu - Level 3 Flare >====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          20 --(30)--> 50                Fail
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(15)--> 20                 Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
The Lifeweaver's Codex              2   Combat  Effects: Embolden
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(30)--> 40                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  80 --(0)--> 80                 Fail
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Overzealous(1)|Slow(1)|Suffer(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has failed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Lapisera Mines *>===============================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Angra Mainyu - Mortal Gaze *>===================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 During the battle with Angra Mainyu, one thing becomes clear: this fiend is
 stronger than you can hope to defeat outright. However, you may be able to
 force the creature to retreat back into its lair.

 Unfortunately, Angra Mainyu intends to stop that.

 It hovers into the air, and its eye flashes. In the brief moment where it
 does, perhaps the wiser of you will realize you must do something to not
 look right into that eye -- for to do so will cause instantaneous
 unconsciousness.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Reckless========================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

There's no time for Catenna to try and talk to Lydia in more depth about the Sky People. The questions lurk in her mind. But finding the answers is a tall order when one is in battle with a Fiend that simply cannot be defeated, for all the immense power it's bringing to bear.

Flame roars through the room, scorching towards the group again and again. Though Catenna's spells can hurl Angra Mainyu about and debilitate it a little, actually damaging the monstrosity is a tall order even for Jay and her earthen volleys. Loren's shield, at least, buys him some respite - but the opening he awaits never truly comes.

As Lydia tries to blind the gigantic fiend, Angra Mainyu simply screams at her and answers with debilitating flame. Another burst of rocks hits it, driving it back. Catenna pants as she flips to a landing near Jay, having reattached her skirt sometime during the fight. She looses an arrow, her face smeared with ash. "Jay, are you alright," she manages. "I think we can push it back into its lair--"

Rumbling ominously, Angra Mainyu rises from the ground. That immense eye begins to open all the more widely. Catenna begins to turn --

<DO NOT LOOK INTO THE DEATH STAR, OR YOU WILL DIE,> shouts Saarda-Shanta.

Catenna just blinks at the Owlet. "...What?"

<DON'T LOOK!!>

With a yelp, Catenna throws herself to the ground and covers her head in her hands, trying not to gaze into the eye of instant unconsciousness.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Saarda-Shanta toward her party's challenge, Angra Mainyu - Mortal Gaze.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline looks briefly between Lydia and Loren as they look over the bodies...but she's unable to say anything, as the battle soon breaks out.

It's a fierce one, too, taking all of her effort.

Jacqueline looks toward Catenna as she lands. She looks a little exhausted - fighting this creature is a difficult prospect. She's about to say something when Catenna mentions pushing it back...

...But then, the Angra Mainyu rumbles ominously and rises. Jacqueline doesn't have to speak - Saarda-Shanta does it for them.

Without skipping a beat, Jacqueline raises a pillar of earth to hide behind, turning away from the creature as an added bit of protection.

But will she be fast enough to avoid its gaze completely?

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Angra Mainyu - Mortal Gaze.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    He never gets it. There's just more fire. Hunkering down behind the shield, sword in hand -- and forced to reckon with the fact that the shield does not cover him least as well as it should -- he's faced with the fact that he's outmatched against it.

    It's happening again. He should be able to best it by right of his birth, as his origin as a citizen of the First Class, and he--

    You killed them all, the thought wriggles into his mind, inescapable here among so many bodies. How did it look back then after the accident? He...

    ...can't remember.

    He lingers like that, shield still raised, for a good long moment more.

    In a way though his reverie here, again, stops him from looking at it immediately.

    It takes him a moment to realize that the owl is speaking to them, and serving up a warning most potent. "Don't look, huh..." he hisses, grimacing behind the shield's cover.

    Slowly, he sets down the sword. Just as slowly, he reaches into his bag. There is a distant sound of crinkling wrapper. Onehanded, he mashes the bar up with his right hand until it's reached a particularly taffy-like consistancy.
    Which is when he uses it to adhere a whole lot of Softs (which are the name for these strange gold needles) from his bag and adheres them to a container of Eyedrops.
    Which are known to be flammable.

    This, he hurls for it without looking.

    Let's see how it likes it when it detonates what will be essentially a nail bomb.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Soylent Nutribar toward his party's challenge, Angra Mainyu - Mortal Gaze.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia doesn't get to answer more questions because SHE IS ON FIRE. Lydia flops onto the floor heavily enough to dent it and rolls around in an attempt to put out the flames. Once she finally gets up, half her face is missing revealing bits of metallic skull behind it. "I'm okay! It's out! How does it look?"

She blinks, looking up as the eye starts flashing in their direction. Instantly, Lydia picks up SChrodinger (who again is just THERE all of a sudden) and blocks her vision with the cat.

Unless it isn't there and she's just hoping. You can never be too sure with Schrodinger but if the cat is there, it surely will protect Lydia.

And perhaps even give the fiend Paws before attacking again!

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Angra Mainyu - Mortal Gaze.
===============================<* Lapisera Mines *>===============================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Angra Mainyu - Mortal Gaze *>===================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 During the battle with Angra Mainyu, one thing becomes clear: this fiend is
 stronger than you can hope to defeat outright. However, you may be able to
 force the creature to retreat back into its lair.

 Unfortunately, Angra Mainyu intends to stop that.

 It hovers into the air, and its eye flashes. In the brief moment where it
 does, perhaps the wiser of you will realize you must do something to not
 look right into that eye -- for to do so will cause instantaneous
 unconsciousness.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Reckless========================================
==========================<* Lapisera Mines - Round 6 *>==========================
=====================< Results - Angra Mainyu - Mortal Gaze >=====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          50 --(0)--> 50                 Pass
Soylent Nutribar                    2   Wits    Effects: Resilient
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Saarda-Shanta                       1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         40 --(0)--> 40                 Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  80 --(35)--> 115               Pass
Conditions: Reckless(2)|Stupify(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)|Resilient(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has successfully explored Lapisera Mines!
===============================<* Lapisera Mines *>===============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Captains Tablet *>=========================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 2          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Angra Mainyu is forced to flee, though it has not yet truly been defeated. A
 greater, more concentrated effort will be necessary to bring the great fiend
 low -- and, perhaps, a weapon meant for the job.

 Many of the fallen Gebler soldiers lie scattered about the cavern; victims,
 it seems, to Angra Mainyu. Their weapons and equipment are in ruins,
 destroyed by the Fiend. One body, though, dressed in the uniform of a Gebler
 Captain, has in his possession a strange piece of Solaris technology: a
 tablet computer.

 You should send a +request about this.
=Dungeon Conditions: Secret===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Nobody is fool enough to look into the Death Star.

Curling her arms over her head, Catenna ducks down and puts nothing but rubble in her field of vision. In their own way, everyone finds ways to obscure the sight of Angra Mainyu's gaze - Jay behind her pillar, Lydia behind a Schrodinger. You can, after all, always count on Kitty.

What Angra Mainyu is not counting on is THOMAS THE MEDICAL STUDENT abusing the hell out of his common inventory items. The flaming glob of Softs lofts into the air and explodes, and Angra Mainyu --

Blinks. In surprise. The pressure mounting in the cavern abruptly breaks as the huge Fiend hangs there, stunned.

As fiercely as it arrived, the Fiend's exit is anything but the same. It withdraws silently, fixing a last, long stare at Loren, as if wondering what's up with him.

Lifting her head, Catenna blinks up at Loren, then clears her throat as she stands. "...Very well," she says quietly and a bit unsteadily, unshouldering her bow again. She starts forward.

And nearly trips over another body. Frowning, she kneels near the white-clad corpse, turning her over. "...She seems to have had some kind of authority," she murmurs, going over the poor woman. Her hand comes to rest on something smooth and metallic.

"Lydia, do you recognize this device?" she asks as she holds up a tablet computer.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Miracle of miracles--

    A makeshift bomb that is two parts inventory items and one part mashed up energy bars works. The Fiend makes a retreat, its form just visible as Loren dares to lower his shield, and for an instant, the two of them share a stare.

    At this point it may be just about mutual.

    Rising to his feet, the 'shield' folding back into the pale blue stone on the one end of the bracer, Loren shakes his head.

    "That thing... it must have killed them all. But what..."

    His expression is drawn, grim when he gazes across the room.

    He counts... it's not even a full squad. Where are the others?
    The one Catenna's lingering over looks like the Captain of this unit. His own hand lifts for a moment to his own neck, remembering when the Commander had promoted him.
    Loren grits his teeth and shakes his head. He... has to live up to that trust. Even if it's only for a little while.

    Something silvery glints in the light. "--What's that?"

    He's advanced on Catenna in a hurry.

    "Let me take a look at that."

    His heart is just about in his throat. He knows what that is. If he just lets them take it--

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Meow." Schrodinger answers Catenna.

Lydia lowers the cat who vanishes shortly after as she approaches Catenna, tilting her head curiously at the--what's a quasi religious word for an ipad? Well we'll call it a mobile device anyway. She picks up the device and spins it around in her hand. "Hm..." She sniffs at it..

"It doesn't seem to be a weapon. I think it's some kind of portable console? We've seen them in ruins before. Though it doesn't seme to be functional."

She looks over to Thomas and considers him a moment, then looks back down at it.

"They might be after me." Lydia finishes her earlier thought. "I saw--" She grimaces. "I saw the guy who made me this way here. He's working with... he's working here." She looks over to Jacqueline. "He saw me, too."

She seems hesitant to go into more detail on that though and looks back to Loren. "I have to know." She tells him. "And it looks fragile so... I'd rather take it to Cetiri and make sure nothing happens to it that could damage it--she knows all sorts of stuff about advanced tech."

She looks to Catenna, then back to Jay. "But um-- I guess if this is the 'treasure', it's up to you guys."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

They survive - just barely, but they survive. Jacqueline exhales a sigh of relief, and takes a quick look around the area.

Meanwhile, Catenna's found something interesting!

"I've seen Shalune use something like that before - but hers is Hyadean in origin. She uses it to take pictures, so...if it's anything like that, there might be some form of data on it." Jacqueline considers. Loren seems very desperate to see it. Jacqueline is about to speak, but then Lydia speaks up. Jacqueline looks to her with a concerned frown.

"...Do you think they followed you here?" She asks. "I had hoped we'd seen the last of them after we dealt with..."

She pauses.

"...That awful man." She decides. "...We'll have to be careful, then. If you see him again, let us know."

With that, she nods, then looks back to Loren.

"I'm sorry, we'll have to hold onto it for now. Maybe it would be okay after our friend takes a look at it?" She says, looking back to Lydia for confirmation.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

How can anyone dislike the Schro? Catenna blushes and smiles up at the magic cat.

She looks down at the device in her hand, drawing a finger along the edge of it. "A console? Interesting. I wonder what they could use it for."

The urgency with which Thomas the MEdical Student descends on her is startling enough that she jumps slightly. She exhales and looks up at him, then back to Lydia, then finally up to Jay again.

"Lydia is right," she says. "We'll take it to Cetiri. I trust her to figure out what it is."

A grimace tugs at her lips. Turning to Ludia, she draws a hand up to rest at the woman's shoulder, giving her a gentle squeeze. "Whatever happens with that man, the Kinship is here for you, Lydia. Let's stick together." She smiles, eyes fond.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    He knows it's already not going to go how he wants it to go. He can see the looks in their eyes -- they know what it is. What group it belonged to.

    His lips press thin. "Listen, I just want to see what's on it..." he says, trying not to sound desperate.

    What killed them in here? Was it the creature?
    How did they get here? How long were they here before...
    He might be a disgrace to his country, but they're still his people.

    And they're dead, and he wants to know why.

    He's not so good an actor that he can hide the look in his eyes, though the real reason behind it may remain veiled.

    He reaches a hand out for the tablet--

    And draws back with a jolt. His hand drops back at his side.

    What he wants to do is just take it. Wouldn't he, if he used all his strength, have enough power to...

    His right hand curls into a fist, then relaxes.

    Yeah, he could take it, and then he'd blow his cover. Possibly blow the rest of his comrades' cover, if he didn't finish these three here off -- and he can't even do that. Lydia is--

    Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.
    That's the long and short of it.

    He turns away, heading back over to retrieve his sword.

    'He' isn't going to like this. But Loren doesn't have a choice otherwise.

    "Fine," he says. "Sure. You can find me in Guadosalam." He tries to sound casual. Like it's no big deal. "Try asking with the local Yevonites. I'm working with them these days." His brother's blade slides easily into its sheath.

    There's nothing else he can do here but try to check the rest of their bodies.
    And claim their tags.