2020-12-04: Bigger Than Us

From Dream Chasers
Jump to: navigation, search
  • Log: Bigger Than Us
  • Cast: Loren Voss, Taphas Parth, Lily Keil, Lydia Seren
  • Where: Shipboard Laboratory
  • Date: December 04, 2020
  • Summary: Solaris investigates the contents of a particular ship. In doing so, they find they're hardly the first there, and indeed, someone else is already aboard. A truce, given the particulars of the ship, is called.

DG: A party led by Loren Voss is now entering The Shipboard Laboratory.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>=========================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Leaking Pipes *>=========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The ship ahead has seen better days. Drifting off the coast, it bears the
 markings of rocks and Fiend attacks, as well as a strange quantity of
 overgrown plantlife coming apparently from inside. What it was once was a
 great ship in the style of Althena's Guard. What it is now... is a ruin.

 The good news is that there's a clear entryway into the ship from the
 position your party has reached, through just a little bit of water. The bad
 news is that the jagged opening is past a number of broken pipes leaking a
 dangerous pale-green substance into the air that forms a lingering cloud.
 Whether going through the dangerous chemical or force redirecting the pipes,
 getting through is going to require some work. There's a glint under the
 pipes though...
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Secret==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    There had been a report about an anomaly -- in this case, a ship that had come ashore off Spira. Reports had named it as an Althenian vessel, but there were some... oddities aboard it, it seemed.

    There are a lot of unknown unknowns about Sin. And the thought that it could come back into the lake region again was a concern. Is it possible that the ship could have somehow picked up some of its spawn or something... else? Or, worse, was it possible that the Guard were engaged with something they shouldn't have touched?

    In the end the metaphorical lots were cast. A certain medical officer had been the lucky one to get the assignment. But of course, he's not here alone.

    "Watch the perimeter," he tells the two soldiers he's brought with him. "If someone or something else intrudes from the outside, you have permission to use force." Bad enough he has to take this assignment out in the middle of nowhere. The last thing he needs is someone else getting in the middle of this. Or for that matter, Fiends and the like.

    Oh, and it's raining.

    It only helps the part where they find the only easily accessible gap into the ship a little bit. The green gas doesn't seem to be all that put off by the rain at all.

    "Do I even want to know what this stuff is," he laments aloud, only to sigh. "Okay. Looks like we don't have much of a choice here." He exhales and stretches out a hand (more for the added focus than for any sense of necessity), pulling at some of the sediment below. It coalesces around a growing nucleus, forming into an earthen bludgeon which he directs at some of the pipes, as if to batter them and their gas out of the way.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Leaking Pipes.
<Pose Tracker> Taphas Parth has posed.

"You don't want to," answers Taphas Parth with a dip of her eyelids.

Anomalies do not sit well with the doctor. She invited herself along with Loren almost at the last minute. The more official nature of her attendance is reflected in the fact that she brought out both her labcoat and her rebreather for this one. The latter covers her mouth and nose, a couple of large filters jutting from it.

Taphas doesn't immediately follow after Loren. Pulling up the cuffs of her black gloves, she withdraws a test tube from inside her coat and kneels near the pipe. Gathering a silvery strip of something, she holds it up into the cloud, then folds the strip and tucks it into the test tube. The silvery substance has become stained green around the edges.

The doctor looks up towards Loren through her large, round glasses. "Don't inhale it. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth if you can," she advises before moving forward.

Taphas has the advantage of a filtration system that will, at least, keep the gas out of her lungs. She moves around one of the pipes and rests both gloved hands on it, beginning to exert a steady force aimed to bend its outlet away from the little party.

DG: Taphas Parth has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Leaking Pipes.
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

It would be a problem if there were intruders arriving after the perimeter was secured. A big problem. Conveniently, Lily Keil arrived before the perimeter was secure. The jagged opening within sports a surprise, and she hears the others coming and talking as they handle the matter of getting close. What did she do?

Well, she toughed it out and healed herself after, naturally. Just held her breath and dealt with it.

But now, she listens for what sounds like people out there...

She delivers what might be assistance getting in, and what might be warning shot; complete with her small metal card that carries a few of the formulas on it, she conjures a great field of ice over the pipes and the gunk they're spewing.

"Is that you, Voss? I recognize that Ether signature."

DG: Lily Keil has used her Tool Demolition Formula toward her party's challenge, Leaking Pipes.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Oh shiiiit Captain Loren," She doesn't seem to think of using Captain Voss. "Lily's recognized you. Are we gonna hit stuff?" She beatboxes for approximately five seconds before throwing her hands back down to her side.

Rachiel, who has come along, finds beatboxing to be a fascinating cultural artifact and immediately joins in the beatboxing. This horrifies Lydia and she immediately stops, causing Rachiel to beatbox for a few more seconds before realizing she's beatboxing on her own and she kind of awkwardly shoves her hands back behind her back.

"Oh hey...!" Lydia pipes up. "Something shiny!"

She draws out her bat and takes a big swing for the pipes to try and knock it loose.

"OH that's... Nova right? She's got such a cool code name too..." Rachiel says. "She should probably thank us for giving her such a cool codename."

"Man what's my cool codename?" Lydia asks.

"It's Tektite." Rachiel explains.

"...The fuck is Tektite?"

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Tiebreaker V 2.0 toward her party's challenge, Leaking Pipes.
=========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>=========================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Leaking Pipes *>=========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The ship ahead has seen better days. Drifting off the coast, it bears the
 markings of rocks and Fiend attacks, as well as a strange quantity of
 overgrown plantlife coming apparently from inside. What it was once was a
 great ship in the style of Althena's Guard. What it is now... is a ruin.

 The good news is that there's a clear entryway into the ship from the
 position your party has reached, through just a little bit of water. The bad
 news is that the jagged opening is past a number of broken pipes leaking a
 dangerous pale-green substance into the air that forms a lingering cloud.
 Whether going through the dangerous chemical or force redirecting the pipes,
 getting through is going to require some work. There's a glint under the
 pipes though...
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Secret==========================================
====================<* The Shipboard Laboratory - Round 1 *>====================
==========================< Results - Leaking Pipes >===========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(21)--> 21                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Taphas Parth                        0 --(21)--> 21                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Tiebreaker V 2.0                    4   Brute   Effects: Efficient and Rally
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lily Keil                           0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Demolition Formula                  3   Brute   Effects: Rally
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Secret(2)
Effects:
===============================< 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.

    /I figured that,/ he thinks to himself. What he actually says is a more deferential, "Understood, ma'am." He focuses then on his Ether, trying to batter the pipes out of the way after Taphas collects her sample/runs her test. The pipes are hard to bed, as the doctor will work out quickly. It takes Loren a little longer: it ends up being harder than even he anticipated -- the three-dimensional aspect of moving something through space with your mind is an underappreciated difficulty. Still, he's managing--

    Until someone speaks up from within and the conjured rocky construct beelines off in a separate direction to instead dent the hull a bit. "Keil," Loren says, dropping his focus (and the rock with it; there is a splash). "What are you doing in there? You--"

    Lydia asks if they're going to fight her now and he just shoots her a Look. "Voss. It's Captain Voss," he corrects, before ice...

    ...coats and plugs the entire gas system. Lydia battering it out of the way is just the coup de grace the system needs to be bludgeoned into passivity. It's not a threat to anyone anymore.

    "-Not from out here-," he says to the rest of them, switching into their (well maybe not Lydia but who knows with OS) native tongue. "-She's got the advantage in there. We'll play it by ear.-"

    Which may be somewhat undercut in the next moment, when Lydia asks what tektite is.

    "...It's a natural glass. It's formed from ancient meteor strikes," Loren answers, as if put upon. "Didn't you say you were into astronomy?"

    gatekeeping isn't cool, loren

DG: Taphas Parth has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>=========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Monsters with ARMs *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 A wide-open chamber stretches before the group, clearly somewhere important
 with all the (ruined) shelves and (broken) tables. In fact, looking around
 at what's here, there are tables and stands, places perfect to hold long
 objects that--

 Ah, perfect to hold ARMs, actually. Because that's what's here right now. A
 flying Eye fiend holds a rifle in its clawed feet; some sort of abominable
 snowman holds a pair of gunsmoke pistols. There is a whole group of fiends
 here, and they hold smoking ARMs from guns to grenades.

 They're not in great shape, the ARMs, but they're more than lethal enough.
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Taphas Parth has posed.

"A type of glass nodule generated during meteorite impacts with Filgaia," Taphas asides with a glance towards Lydia, at about the same time Loren gives the answer.

But they've got company. Taphas throws a glance towards Lily, scowling slightly behind her glasses, then breathing out a low sigh. It comes out as a filtered rasp through her rebreather. "Let's refrain from hitting things. There's no point to it now."

The doctor pushes back a fold of her labcoat and moves along, seemingly preferring not to answer any questions of her own. She's unnervingly silent about it, but she proceeds ahead of even Loren. In the back of her mind, however, she's putting together a few ideas.

A chamber beyond waits for them - a chamber full of ruined furniture. The doctor makes a face behind her breathing mask. "You all might want to duck," she says.

A half-second later, a chunk of the wall is torn away as an ARM round blows through it.

There are Fiends within, brandishing gunsmoke ARMs of various configurations - a flying eye fiend with a rifle, a yeti thing with pistols, a Sahuagin with a grenade launcher of all things. As more unfocused but lethal gunfire slams into the doorframe, Taphas withdraws back into the corridor and reaches inside her coat, coming out with a rectangular parcel of some sort.

A parcel that quickly unfolds into a long-barreled, sophisticated-looking rifle. A buttstock flips into place and a barrel and rails extrude themselves. As more gunfire pounds into the wall behind her, Taphas calmly affixes a cylindrical attachment to the underside of the barrel and feeds another cylinder into it, then pivots out and fires towards the ceiling. The chin launcher disgorges its contents, the canister bouncing off the ceiling and deflecting into the room before bursting.

What comes out is not fire. It's a heavy-seeming greenish cloud that puffs through the room - and fiends begin to twitch and slow down as it touches them.

"Don't come into contact with that," she says with a glance at Loren, Rachiel and Lydia. Then she catches herself. "Actually Lydia might be alright, but the rest of us have glioma cells. Trichlorotoxin doesn't discriminate."

DG: Taphas Parth has used her Tool Special Ordnance toward her party's challenge, Monsters with ARMs.
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily does not thank Solaris for giving her a cool code name. Honestly.

How terrible.

Lily indeed counts on the advantage in the ship, if it should come to it. When the others come in, she looks them over--considers Lydia in particular, and then Loren. "We could do this the hard way and have me blow a bigger hole in this ship than already exists," she comments, "But I'm not eager to fight Lydia."

She considers Taphas just moving past, and that's fine with her. The warning to duck is something Lily does not argue with. It could be a trap, but it's probably just a need to duck.

Lily looks over the various fiends with... ARMs. "Huh," she comments. "Well, guess that says something for how smart they are."

Lily also doesn't come into contact with the gas from the gun. Instead, she starts throwing fire at the explosive things.

DG: Lily Keil has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Monsters with ARMs.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia blushes silver fiercely as Loren uses ATRONOMY against her. "It's not like I got a real education... If you want me to make a rocket I can do that... That Jugend place must be real something if it gets to teach you so much stuff. You're pretty lucky to have the world's knowledge at your fingertips, Captain Voss."

Rachiel stiffens and goes quiet at this avenue of discussion. She jolts back when the group comes under fire. She is pretty talented in her element but she's as vulnerable to getting shot as most people are. She casts a worried look Loren's way.

But Lydia exhales faintly as she looks at the armed fiends. She gets dinged up by gunfire but she mostly just kind of takes it. She looks back to Rachiel.

"Get in close and strike quickly, don't worry about finishing them off, just prevent them from getting a clear shot." Rachiel suggests.

Lydia nods once and asides to Lily, "I don't know you could probably kick my butt."

"Your continued regeneration would likely eventually tire her out--" Rachiel continues.

"Yeah well I'm not eager ot fight Lily either. Again. Already bit her once."

Lydia then darts forward, slicing at the limbs of fiends with her Solarian blade.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best toward her party's challenge, Monsters with ARMs.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Loren slouches his shoulders. "It wasn't at Jugend..." he mutters, as if agitated. But neither does he clarify on this point -- without prompting, at least. "Did any of your rockets even work?" That jab at her is probably uncalled for, but fortunately, other issues soon arise.

    Duck, says Dr. Parth, and Loren, the ruined furniture clicking into place for him too, does so.

    The rounds tear through the area soon after.

    "What in the-- they have ARMs! Who gave them ARMs?! Why--" Loren cuts himself off with a grim-faced expression. "Forget it. We need to get through here, and we're not doing that until they're dead," he says, reaching for his kit behind cover. "Seren, you get in-- right, what Medry said. Doctor, stay back-- er," he utters, as she releases that into the room ahead. "Yeah, we'll... stay back here."

    He's pulled out a handful of vials in the meantime.

    "This isn't the time to fight you too, Keil!" Which is what she said, didn't she?

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, Monsters with ARMs.
=========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>=========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Monsters with ARMs *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 A wide-open chamber stretches before the group, clearly somewhere important
 with all the (ruined) shelves and (broken) tables. In fact, looking around
 at what's here, there are tables and stands, places perfect to hold long
 objects that--

 Ah, perfect to hold ARMs, actually. Because that's what's here right now. A
 flying Eye fiend holds a rifle in its clawed feet; some sort of abominable
 snowman holds a pair of gunsmoke pistols. There is a whole group of fiends
 here, and they hold smoking ARMs from guns to grenades.

 They're not in great shape, the ARMs, but they're more than lethal enough.
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright===================================================
====================<* The Shipboard Laboratory - Round 2 *>====================
========================< Results - Monsters with ARMs >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          21 --(5)--> 26                 Pass
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Taphas Parth                        21 --(5)--> 26                 Pass
Special Ordnance                    2   Combat  Effects: Embolden
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best     3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lily Keil                           5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  20 --(30)--> 50                Pass
Conditions: Fright(2)|Secret(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 30 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> Taphas Parth has posed.

Lily got a Taphas project code. Taphas isn't sharing it. Those are for internal use only.

"Let's refrain from fighting one another." The woman's voice is clipped and quietly authoritative even through the breathing mask. "So long as we're here, we gain more from cooperation than opposition. If there are issues, we can sort them out at a later date."

The fiends may have ARMS, but as Taphas's payload blooms through the room, the enemies' incoming fire rapidly sputters out and dies. When Lydia does charge in, she'll find the flying fiend dropping to the ground and twitching, the yeti stiffening and falling into a piece of furniture, the Sahagin jerking erratically as if losing control of its nervous system - not one of the fiends seems to be doing well, and all of them are in various stages of stiffening unnaturally into paralytic states.

Lydia tears through them with no effort. They can't so much as defend themselves.

Lily's flames illuminate the room. They tear through the cloud from Taphas's canister round. Fire catches what haze remains, billowing up in greenish clouds with a sickening chemical smell - but the fire does its job. The remaining fiends crumple, unable to do much more than twitch as Lydia sets them ablaze. Their dead husks hit the ground, smoldering.

By the time Loren's handing out vials, Taphas is giving him a quick check over. "Try the tablet form isocitrate dextramine," she recommends.

DG: Lily Keil has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>=========================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Light Mines *>==========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Before the assembled Drifters or otherwise stretches out a long room with
 numerous tables and bits and pieces of what could be ARMs scattered about
 them. The lights are low; the ceiling is low. But there are lights;
 beautiful lights, bright green, that shine along the ground haphazardly, as
 if fallen from the shelves and worktables in the room.

 Approaching within a foot any of these lights causes a small explosion that
 isn't enough to break down the walls but is more than enough to throw the
 average Drifter on their burned ass.

 You'll need to be light on your feet to claim the ARMs and avoid the
 explosions.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Treasure========================================
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

"Maybe," Lily answers Lydia about the aside. "But that was a pretty nasty bite back then." It really was! It was actually one of the worst injuries she's taken! For some reason.

But Loren seems to agree about 'not the time', so she just nods along. Especially since Taphas is on board with it, too. "Sounds good," she says, as if she didn't just suggest it. ...Except wryly, because that's funny.

On the one hand, fighting Solaris operatives is an inherent good. on the other hand, she still doesn't know what the hell is up with Loren since that time she saw him... Well.

Stepping through the clouds of Pyreflies that remain in the wake of the Fiends, Lily looks around. "Also," she says, "I think they just picked them up. There's some others lying around."

But she leads forward--and ahead is a long, long room ahead, with low lights and a low ceiling. And there are lights..

Lily steps forward carefully, investigating one of these lights--and gets close enough that it explodes on her. "Hup--" She jumps back. "Mines," she comments. "...I'll get this."

Lily pulls out a pendant from around her neck, strange and gimbaled; it has ancient Zeb0oim text in its dull metal, if someone looks closely enough. And when she channels magic through it--

There's a blue shell of light around her, and then with every step there are two more Lilies than before. The ones that touch mines disappear. But the others are totally untouched.

This is painful to look at too much, frankly. It doesn't feel like anything vaguely natural.

DG: Lily Keil has used her Tool Impure Pendant toward her party's challenge, Light Mines.
=========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>=========================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Light Mines *>==========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Before the assembled Drifters or otherwise stretches out a long room with
 numerous tables and bits and pieces of what could be ARMs scattered about
 them. The lights are low; the ceiling is low. But there are lights;
 beautiful lights, bright green, that shine along the ground haphazardly, as
 if fallen from the shelves and worktables in the room.

 Approaching within a foot any of these lights causes a small explosion that
 isn't enough to break down the walls but is more than enough to throw the
 average Drifter on their burned ass.

 You'll need to be light on your feet to claim the ARMs and avoid the
 explosions.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Treasure========================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia's mouth hangs open wordlessly at Loren's jab. She frowns. She doesn't answer immediately, but she doesn't forget. First, though, a combat sequence.

After the combat sequence, Lydia swings the blade once. It doesn't do anything but it's a practiced gesture of shaking the blood off her blade that she has just kind of internalized right now.

And suddenly a skates challenge. It's pretty strange. Back when Lydia's tool was Radical Skates, she kept getting Wings Challenges but now that she has swapped her tool to Icarus Wings she keeps getting Skates challenges. Luckily there is the power of imagination here as she, without so much as a communique, activates her skates and starts bouncing around the lab to collect the ARMs. She doesn't seem to think twice about it.

"Are you just being a jerk to me 'cause Lan had the good sense to run and you didn't?" Lydia asks.

"Lydia!!" Rachiel says. "Now's now the time!"

"...Yeah okay."

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Icarus Wings toward her party's challenge, Light Mines.
<Pose Tracker> Taphas Parth has posed.

On a third hand, Taphas's capabilities are less widely known than Lydia and Loren's. She at least hasn't busted out any magic, and Sophia only knows what other technical tricks she has up her sleeve.

Slinging the strap of her rifle over one shoulder, the slim woman moves along with the rest of the group. "Interesting that they'd find them on a Lunarian ship. Probably one of those that came with the crusader fleet," she surmises. "As far as we know, main-branch Lunarians didn't have access to ARMS technology prior to an unanticipated tech exchange."

Taphas translates that mentally to 'They got Kaguya'd.'

Onward they press, the long room awaiting them. Lights sway in the room ahead of them, beautiful to the eye.

Taphas hangs back and waits for the [Lamb] to go first. The inevitable happens.

"Good to know," she says with a shrug, before standing back to observe for a moment as Lily begins to multiply herself. Taphas adjusts her glasses, her eyes darting towards one of the phantom Lilies, then another. In the back of her mind, a mental note is made:

    <Add to file: Unusual multiplicative abilities and channeling. Reminiscent in some ways of CORVUS. Worth assessing COVEN for archivance potential.>

Outwardly, her expression is hard to read past the breathing mask, but she's pretty clearly waiting for Lily to do most of the exploding before she herself makes her way into the room. Squinting, she eyeballs the distance between each phantom Lily and the mines, then snaps a hand down to grab a handful of debris.

Her progress is at a surprisingly casual gait - but when she does get close to a mine, she stops outside the burst radius and flips a handful of debris at it to set it off from a safe distance. Fuck risk. Taphas values her life, thanks.

DG: Taphas Parth has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Light Mines.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Shaking his head as he rises, in the aftermath of the elimination of the Fiends, he protests still. "How did they know how to use them? That's not just... They're monsters," he empathizes, gesturing broadly.

    "...I don't have any," he says to Taphas, then hesitates. "I think." Does he know what's in his kit precisely, anymore? Or at least, can he say that he knows what's in there?
    He has every reason to doubt everything, these days.

    Maybe he can start keeping an inventory in his medical computer. That'll help, until he forgets the inventory exists.

    "Weapons exchange. You mean how they ended up with..."

    Ahead of them stretches a long corridor. Loren squints, pushing his glasses up his nose. "What's those lights--"

    Lily solves that one for all of them. "Are you kidding me," he says, flatly. "--Keil, what were you doing barging on ahead like that? What if it'd blown up all..."

    There's something dully familiar about the pendant she pulls out but he can't place it anymore. And indeed, once she uses it...

    "Gh," he utters, holding a hand to his head. Pain blooms bright for a moment; he looks away.

    Which is when Lydia speaks up. "What-- what are you talking about!? 'Run'?" But Lydia is quickly gone. Looking at Lily hurts. And he...

    He instead reaches into a pocket, pulling out a single feather well-wrapped in a cord. He gazes at it for a moment, his expression strange. Then gripping the token tightly in that fist, he closes his eyes and runs dead-on down the hallway.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Pinion Charm toward his party's challenge, Light Mines.
=========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>=========================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Light Mines *>==========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Before the assembled Drifters or otherwise stretches out a long room with
 numerous tables and bits and pieces of what could be ARMs scattered about
 them. The lights are low; the ceiling is low. But there are lights;
 beautiful lights, bright green, that shine along the ground haphazardly, as
 if fallen from the shelves and worktables in the room.

 Approaching within a foot any of these lights causes a small explosion that
 isn't enough to break down the walls but is more than enough to throw the
 average Drifter on their burned ass.

 You'll need to be light on your feet to claim the ARMs and avoid the
 explosions.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Treasure========================================
====================<* The Shipboard Laboratory - Round 3 *>====================
===========================< Results - Light Mines >============================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          26 --(8)--> 34                 Fail
Pinion Charm                        2   Agility Effects: Stalwart
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Taphas Parth                        26 --(0)--> 26                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(0)--> 10                 Pass
Icarus Wings                        2   Agility Effects: Quicken
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lily Keil                           10 --(0)--> 10                 Pass
Impure Pendant                      3   Agility Effects: Rally
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  50 --(25)--> 75                Pass
Conditions: Fright(1)|Stupify(2)|Treasure(1)
Effects: Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 25 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: Lydia Seren has drawn a new Challenge.
========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - They Like You! *>=======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Horrible, horrible plants dominate this substructure, grown over generators
 and shelves and tables with strange thorned vines in all corners of the
 room. The inner sanctum is on the other side, though... and as the group
 starts to walk over--

 The ground moves. No--the plants. They start snaking towards the group and
 trying to drag them down with increasing force, attracted to movement more
 and more until they threaten to drown everyone in green.
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Overzealous======================================
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily doesn't say a damned thing about Lan when Lydia brings her up. Nnnnnot a thing.

Lydia collects a whole bunch of ARMs, many of them will even work for later! She also collects Sass. This is normal.

"Calculated risk," Lily answers. "The amount of destruction already in the room versus the lights." That still put her in danger, of course. But, "Should I have made Lydia go ahead instead?" This is said somewhat icily.

But Taphas gets a lot of interesting data, while Lydia gets to use her cool skates because she definitely has those. And the debris? It works.

Loren unfortunately ends up with a bit of a headache from either the irritation, looking too much at Lily, or just the explosions. He'll be fine in a few minutes.

But between Lily setting them off, Taphas handling those that go through, and Lydia goijng through to get ARMs while Loren rushes after...

The group makes it to the other side! "Not bad," she says.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Yeah I mean, it's pretty obvious whose place this is." Lydia says, but she isn't going to share that information unless she's ordered to because s he's incorrigible and feeling extra rebellious because CAPTAIN LOREN hurt her feelings.

He has a good question though. How did the fiends learn to use ARMS? Maybe these fiends are actually composed of Filgaian dead people? Lydia decides she's ok with this remaining a mystery.

"Did you forget about Lan already too?" Lydia is probably intent on saying more but Rachiel hisses in interruption.

"Lydia. Shut up."

Rachiel getting real with her is enough to make Lydia clamp her mouth shut. She wordlessly heads into the next area as Rachiel rubs at her forehead with both hands.

Lydia ends up heading into te inner sanctum, just in tie for the plants to--start sneaking towards the group. At least they aren't killer vegetables, but they seem wholly intend on grabbing onto everybody and SQUEEEEEEEZING the fun out of them!

"Gahh--this one's new...!" Lydia shouts as she draws out her warhammer again, the sides of its head shifting into big thick blades as she slices and dices her way through the vines as Rachiel lends a hand by FREEZING plants in blocks of ice.

<Pose Tracker> Taphas Parth has posed.

Taphas glances sidelong at Lily again. She pushes one gloved hand through her hair, then looks over to Lydia with a low clearing of her throat.

She'll have to quiz the woman later. There's peril in doing that in front of Lily, though.

The room ahead is one dominated by terrible plants - one of which lashes a vine around Taphas's ankle and continuing on up her leg. Another vine snakes up to snag around her arm.

Taphas doesn't struggle. She just closes her eyes. "Just once I'd like to go to one of these places and not run into some living plant or trapped chest or whatever. But I guess that's not my fate." Shaking her free arm out, she slips her fingers beneath the hem of the black turtleneck she wears under her labcoat.

Something under there emits a very faint electronic chirp. Taphas closes her eyes and slips her hand free to rest it on the vine binding her arm. It begins to wrap itself around that forearm, too.

She waits a few seconds before suddenly jerking her shoulder with enough force that she could probably tear the entire plant out of wherever it's rooted.

She reaches for the plant ensnaring her leg and grabs on. The clinical calm of her demeanor is at complete odds with the strength on display as she attempts to simply tear the plant not only off her limb, but out of the ground entirely. More of them come snaking towards her.

Whenever she can get hands on them, the wet, sickeningly visceral sound of plant fibers breaking will follow. Her expression doesn't change.

DG: Taphas Parth has used her Tool Adrenal Agonist toward her party's challenge, They Like You!.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    It's not the best of advances -- generally speaking it's a good idea to keep your eyes open when you charge down a hallway full of explosives with just a lucky charm to protect you.

    In a sense it works, in the fact that he's not terribly scorched and singed by the time he emerges on the other end, well after the others. The headache meanwhile is here for keeps, it seems.

    He still has the feather in hand when Lydia asks him if he's forgotten about Lan. His grip on it tightens.

    "Shut up. Lamb." There is venom in his tone. And that look in his eyes... if it weren't for Lydia's role as an asset, maybe he would have even...?

    He doesn't so much as glance at the feather as he tucks it away.

    But if there's anything else coming, it might well be silenced when a sudden vine loops itself about him and hauls him hard against a nearby wall. "Gah--" he utters, struggling against it. Sharp-edged stone manifests in a spray about him, but even this might not be quite enough to sever this much plantflesh quickly enough.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, They Like You!.
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

"Just because they're monsters doesn't mean they're stupid," Lily says. "Using an ARM's not that hard."

Lily of course doesn't know whose place this is as Lydia suggests because she doesn't deal with her much for some reason. ...she doesn't respond to Rachiel and Lydia's intraction at first.

But she sets her jaw and looks angry between Lydia and Loren for a moment. If she weren't outnumbered...

But there in the inner sanctum... Lily frowns as the vines start coming at them. She relies on Lydia cutting through for a few moments as she reviews her formulae; the most ideal for these, considering their motion, their size...

Lily puts up a hand and golden nuclear fire erupts from her palm. In this time she watches Taphas tearing loose with physical strength.

She throws out more nuclear fire. "That as much stone as you can put out?" she asks of Loren.

DG: Lily Keil has used her Tool Demolition Formula toward her party's challenge, They Like You!.
DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Tiebreaker V 2.0 toward her party's challenge, They Like You!.
========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - They Like You! *>=======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Horrible, horrible plants dominate this substructure, grown over generators
 and shelves and tables with strange thorned vines in all corners of the
 room. The inner sanctum is on the other side, though... and as the group
 starts to walk over--

 The ground moves. No--the plants. They start snaking towards the group and
 trying to drag them down with increasing force, attracted to movement more
 and more until they threaten to drown everyone in green.
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Overzealous======================================
===================<* The Shipboard Laboratory - Round 4 *>===================
=========================< Results - They Like You! >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          34 --(101)--> 135              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Taphas Parth                        26 --(101)--> 127              Fail
Adrenal Agonist                     1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(101)--> 111              Pass
Tiebreaker V 2.0                    4   Brute   Effects: Efficient and Rally
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lily Keil                           10 --(101)--> 111              Pass
Demolition Formula                  3   Brute   Effects: Rally
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  75 --(15)--> 90                Fail
Conditions: Overzealous(2)|Stupify(1)|Weaken(2)
Effects: Cleanse
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: Loren Voss is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Taphas Parth is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Lydia Seren is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Lily Keil is too exhausted to continue!
DG: The party has failed this challenge! All party members are now Exhausted. This attempt is over.
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has been fully Exhausted by The Shipboard Laboratory!
DG: The party will now draw a conclusion.
========================<* The Shipboard Laboratory *>========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - A Lucky Charm *>========================
|Type: Landmark    |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The trials and mazelike interior of the ship are too much, but this hatch
 should lead back out and up to the surface and safety. On the steep stairs
 leading out, though, is an interesting object: a gunsmoke revolver of sleek
 and smooth design. It will require some repair, but is a nice weapon... and
 it has an inscription in small, neat text on the grip.

 'As long as you hang onto this, you'll make it home.'

 There is nothing else notable nearby.

 OOC: You have acquired an ARM! It's an ordinary gunsmoke weapon other than
 how nice it looks. In fact, those familiar might think it resembles Veruni
 design...
=Dungeon Conditions: Secret===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is distracted upon being called A LAMB which gets a vine to clobber HER out of the way and despite Lily's nuclear fire--well, people tried explosives and fire against these vines before and it seems they are maybe not quite as vulnerable to them as would be ideal. Maybe they're too thick? Not on its own. Taphas is able to get the plant OFF of her but--it's just plain too strong to rip free. Teamwork. It sucks when you don't really use it all too well.

But before the group is shoved free, Rachiel notices something and plucks it up off the ground and the group is pushed, gradually, off the boat by those vines.

"Shut up, huh?" Lydia asks of Rachiel.

"He's our commanding officer, Lydia." Rachiel says. "And you went too far. You...don't know what Jugend was actually like. So just--stop. We'll talk later."

But Rachiel does take a longer look at that gunsmoke ARM.

There's an inscription. As long as you hang onto this, you'll make it home.

"Guess the person who had this gun isn't gonna make it back." Rachiel murmurs.

"Or maybe," Lydia grumbles. "They just don't wanna go back home."

There is silence between them. Lydia glances instead towards Loren for a few moments. "I don't get it. I try to get along, and you shittalk me. It's not fair when you know I can't really fight back."

She steadies herself for a moment and adds, "Do you like it? That little bit of power you've got?"

And with that she fans out her wings and blasts off, rubbing at her eyes with her wrist. She can't be gone for long, but she can be gone now.

"Well," Rachiel grumbles. "Glad we looked like a super great team in front of the Wolf."

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    "Of course not, it's--" Loren utters, still struggling with the vines that tie him down.

    The fact that the air around him soon erupts into shards of jagged earth may play another part in the fact that they need to retreat. It's one thing to cut a vine. Another to cut it and then have it sprout two more in its place.

    But eventually they're out in the relative open air, Rachiel with a particular prize in hand. "What did you find?" he asks, before Lydia breaks a certain silence between the two of them.

    "I don't care about 'fair'. You're just an asset," he tells her, scowling. "If you want some illusion of 'fair' you should go cry to Medry about it." He glances over at Lily, as if to dare her to make something of it.

    But it may be Lydia who has the last laugh.

    "..."
    The expression on his face is a foul, unhappy one.

    "Forget it," he says to Medry, before gesturing for her to follow. "We at least learned a few things about this place."

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Teamwork. Even raw power can't do what it can, sometimes. But as they're pushed off the boat... Rachiel picks it up. Lily looks ovr, and sees it.

"...Sometimes people don't," she says simply, and with Rachiel at least she has a moment of humanity despite opposing sides, one of those good things for putting down the 'Lily tries to explode an entire nation' bars.

She doesn't answer Loren's response to her taunt. Instead...

Lily looks back at Loren when he glances, when he dares about it. And almost--she does make something of it. Almost.

"Voss," she says. "You're an asshole. And you've gotten worse, not better."

She walks over to Rachiel. "You seem like someone trying to do her best," she says. "...May I see that?"

She takes the ARM. She asks mostly because it's nice, but she does it regardless. "I hope you keep acting that way."

There is a pulse of Ether, and abrubtly, Lily's form changes; her eyes turn black, with prismatic pupils; her markings light up in colors. Spectral wings extend from her shoulderblades. And she looks back to Loren again. Not to Taphas--Maybe she isn't done making up her mind on Taphas.

Instead she turns her head to Loren. "It's hard to believe that you come from the same place that produced Elly."

She jumps--and doesn't stop rising. She appears content to just fly off towards the mountains on shore.

<Pose Tracker> Taphas Parth has posed.

The secret about being Taphas Parth is that she got a -5 on her Teamwork score when she went through Gebler. This is largely because she hates everyone.

Taphas gives the plant one more try before shrugging and backing out of the room, evidently choosing not to push all that much farther. "Let it lie," she recommends as she hooks her thumbs into the tops of her waist pockets.

The bickering between Lydia and Loren is impossible to miss. The doctor's eyes dart between the pair. A low breath rushes through the filters of her breathing mask. When Lydia does take off, Taphas looks after her for a few seconds before shrugging slowly towards Rachiel.

"Do the opinions of other people mean that much to you?" she asks before moving forward to take a look at the ARM in question.

    As long as you hang onto this, you'll make it home.

Taphas's eyelids dip slightly behind her glasses. "Precious."

She doesn't get much of an opportunity to look at it, but neither does she stop Lily from taking it. The change to the woman's form is met with a tilt of her head and another mental annotation. If she's bothered by Lily taking the ARM, she doesn't show it.

Only when Lily goes flying off does Taphas give Rachiel another look. "Can I ask you something?" she says as she pulls down her facemask. "Why do you let that one maintain that level of independent cognition? COSMONAUT, I mean -- excuse me. Seren. If she's going to sass and bicker that much, I don't understand what stops you from eliminating that behavioural pattern and keeping her in a more operationally useful program state. Is it a capabilities issue, or are you just doing her a favour?"

She looks off in the direction Lydia flew. One hand resting at her hip, she squints a little.

"If it's the latter, reconsider. An operational asset that sasses off and throws tantrums isn't one that lasts very long."

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    "And? I don't see how what you think of me is any of my concern," he says to Lily, lifting his chin as he regards her and pushing his glasses up his nose. His gaze tracks her for a moment as she speaks with Medry about the thing she's found -- some ARM -- and perhaps that would have been that between them.

    But, just before she takes flight -- when did she get the ability to do that, no, when did he learn that before, if he learned that before -- she has one last thing to say to him.

    Loren takes a shallow breath.

    The fact that he then slams a fist hard enough into the side of the ship here to make a small indentation (thanks to the discharge of Ether that comes with it) may speak speak volumes on its own. Shaking his head, Loren takes a deep breath and squares his shoulders.

    "Come on. We're heading back."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Rachiel just hands it over withoout thinking twice about it. It's a gunsmoke ARM. She doesn't find it too relevant to their mission either. "Oh sure," She tells Lily.

Rachiel glances to Loren and smiles, "Cry to me about it, huh?" But it's a weirdly warm smile.

But Lily says something strange to her. Rachiel quirks her head as if in confusion. "Hey--Don't talk about the Captain that way--" But she hopes she'll keep acting that way. "...As a Gazel, it is my responsibility to give it my best. I'm sure Elly feels she's doing her best too but... You people really like treating Solaris like we're the big bad guys but what has Kislev and Krosse gotten up to on their own? Is it easier being right all the time than it is working on what we've already got going for us?"

She doesn't stop her from leaving though. Maybe because Taffy's got more to say. Rachiel quirks her head at her as well.

Taphas pulls down her facemask. She asks why she 'allows' her to maintain independent cognition.

Rachiel pushes up her glasses. They gleam in the light.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z07WdBYBEe0&ab_channel=FalcomMusicChannel

"Her eyes are our eyes aren't they?"

Rachiel gives Taphas a sugary sweet smile. "So long as she feels like Lydia, she will be allowed in their midst and she can allow us to observe all manner of Lambs groups all at once. And besides, we are Shepherds. Today, Lydia Seren is problematic--but soft reinforcement has proven to be far more effective in the longterm. And Project Baphomet is a long term project."

She swings her hands behind her back, following Loren out, glasses still gleaming.

"Before, Lydia Seren had no interest in working with us. But Lydia is now complaining about not being treated as one of us. Her goal has shifted from wanting to escape to wanting to be seen as a member of the team. Isn't that interesting, Taffy?"

Despite Rachiel managing to trip over rocks repeatedly, she was an ace in her classes at Jugend. Moments like this may suggest why.

"And I know you know that the work before us is bigger than us."

She follows Loren without another word.

<Pose Tracker> Taphas Parth has posed.

Taphas actually jumps slightly when Loren pounds the ship.

Her eyes shift back to Rachiel; she slips her thumbs back into the tops of her pockets and lowers her eyelids ever so slightly, her normal air of cold neutrality taking on a more overtly cynical cast. Her lips curl ever so slightly.

Then they settle. "If you want to observe [Lambs], buy a telescope," she says levelly. "All I'm observing right now is drama and a few low-grade zingers you're using to deflect my attention. Show me some results that meaningfully advance our progress and maybe, just maybe, there'll be something to your pet project that will qualify as interesting. I'll be watching."

With a crackle of her coat, she turns away and reaches into her coat. She comes out with a slender stick of some kind, clear with a small light at the tip. It lights up as she sets it to her lips, almost like a cigarette.

"And it's Dr. Parth, by the way," she adds as an afterthought.

There is no particular threat attached.