January 11, 2019 at 3:02 pm #13868
“Levers would work if we can find strong enough and long enough poles quickly, otherwise Al’s plan to use the crane makes sense.” Preston starts scanning around for something like old metal sign posts, and any smaller objects that could be used as fulcrums.
* Oleg: I’m such a fool to be part of freeing her.January 11, 2019 at 3:06 pm #13869
A quick look around shows that there is indeed such a crane around, although it does look like it would make an excellent lightning rod in this weather. An alternative would be doing what Sam is already doing and dig out her lower legs.January 11, 2019 at 3:11 pm #13870
Al went back to scooping mud with his hands.
Although much smaller, the cube was essentially the weight of a car. From what he’d seen earlier, he reckoned Ichante could take the thing off the ground. But he also knew that wielding the power of Baalzebub tended to wear out the sorceror, and they’d need her fresh for the upcoming showdown.
“We’s almost there. If’n y’all get under this side an’ jist tip her up a few inches when I say so, we can save a few minutes.”January 11, 2019 at 4:16 pm #13876
Becky says ”It is a car right? Rioters topple cars in less compressed form. Let’s give it a try. Ichante pulls her out while we tip the box. Al, Preston find some lever, Al you lead this effort.” With that Becky herself looked also for things that can help them with their effort. She allowed Al to prepare Sam for the move, and when the team is ready they’ll try to tip the cube and have someone pull Sam out of there.January 11, 2019 at 5:59 pm #13881
After clearing a bit more mud, Al figured they were several minutes of digging away. So, with time critical and too much already squandered, they went for the shortcut – the others lifted while he tried to ease Noir free.
No joy, and Becky broke the length of heavy rebar she’d been using as a lever, one jagged end nearly taking Preston’s eye out.
Al looked closer. It wasn’t a damned car, it was a piece of farming equipment. Shit.
They found a better lever for Becky, but even with a few trial pulls it was clear they wouldn’t make it with muscle power alone. Al looked longingly at the crane. Of course the cab was insulated against electrical accidents, but the thing looked almost as scrapped as the junk piled up in the yard, and even as he was tempted to go for it a vicious fork of lightning slashed down into its arm.
So Ichante threw both her sorcery and her back into it and the thing started to tip…still not enough, and the shifting of weight was agonizing for Noir, who bit her lip, too proud to make a sound. Al took his hands out from her armpits and dragged a tractor-trailer battery tumbling off a nearby mound of metal. It landed close enough to Noir’s head to make her jump, but Al just told her to grab onto it and pull herself free, then squatted under the stubborn block of twisted metal. Nearly losing his footing in the mud, his last hundred kilos or so of upward pressure at last shifted the thing…just long enough for Noir to pull herself out, before the four lifters darted clear as the thing crashed back down.January 11, 2019 at 6:30 pm #13884
With a great splash and splatter, the cube dropped back soiling everyone around even more than they had been before.
The armored clothing around Noir’s legs had held, as had the boots. Noir pulled herself further along the battery block until she could put herself upon it. There was the horrible sound of bone splinters crunching against each other and her pale face was even whiter than before.
But while the team regained their breath, her expression changed. Putting her hands upon her legs, she began to murmur and a soft glow surrounded her legs while again the scraping of bones could be heard faintly above the rain.
Gingerly, she got on her feet.
“I thank you all very much. And now, I think we should hurry to help Maria… and the rest of the world.”January 11, 2019 at 6:59 pm #13885
“Amen ta that, macho muchacha.”
His mud-soaked form was already halfway to his truck. It appeared that Becky’s plan to stow her safely in the Armadillo and send her somewhere for medical attention had been rendered academic. So he figured people could ride where they wanted – he had neither the time nor the patience for another debate.
“Who’s ridin’ with me best look lively,” he called, reaching into the packet of his soaked leather jacket to thumb his commlink to unlock the Gaz.January 11, 2019 at 10:50 pm #13887
It was hard labor, and how on earth did her legs remain attached after that? then Sam’s healing powers -they were impressive! Becky did not know that the healing spell could heal bones like that. She replies ”Good work team, and Phoenix… She looked at Sam ”Indeed let’s get going, you can either come with me or in the car you like so much.” Between’s Sam’s fondness for fireballs, and her ability to rise from her ashes, it felt appropriate, and Becky hoped that the shadow name would stick.
January 12, 2019 at 10:46 am #13893
- This reply was modified 6 days ago by Gilga.
* Coleman: any ambushers would have struck by now, time to move to speed over caution
* Gamma: It will take about thirty seconds to run to the gate, plus any time falling in the mud
Preston starts dashing for the entrance to the junk yard. As he goes he messages the team <<Someone pick me up by the gate, yah? My car is waiting for me there and there are a few more things I want to pull out of it.[/color>>
He slips in the mud once, but by the time he makes it to his car the rain has washed off the worst of it again. Leaning into his car puts part of him out of the storm briefly
* Monkey: Maybe I could take my car? It is dry and warm and comfortable.
* Coleman: I have hacking to do, the autopilot drives too slow.
* Gamma: I am also not a very skilled driver, and conditions seem treacherous.
* Eliza: I should leave the driving to the experts, and tell them how I appreciate their skills.
Shrugging aside temptation he lifts the backseat and pulls his shotgun and the rest of his ammo out of the compartment concealed in there. Sliding his way to the trunk he pulls out a plastic tote box, then after a moment of hesitation stack another one with it.
* Gamma: I’ve carried this monofilament chainsaw around for a long time without needing it. I would be very aggravated if this was the time it was needed and I didn’t have it with me.
As soon as one of the trucks pulls up he tosses the tote boxes in the back then quickly climbs into the passenger compartment, commenting “Thanks for the lift, I’d much rather trust your speed and driving than my own. Going into VR land now, message me if you need me to pay attention.”
He buckles up, squeezes some of the water out of his hair, and then finally does go into hot sim.
* Monkey: Ah, it is always dry in here. SO much better.January 12, 2019 at 10:51 am #13894
“I’ll take my car. Try to keep up.”
Noir moved away, still a bit wobbly but surer with every step. Another lightning strike close by reminded the team that the drive might not be the easiest about their shifted priorities.
At this moment, Becky’s commlink chirped with a message from Johnny: “I assume you have the artifact with you – if you do, I have a message from my debt holder: Take it back asap. There is a massive manastorm that he thinks has been caused by removing the artifact from it’s position.
He also wants to know the original location where the artifact came from. In exchange you receive the rest of your payment.”January 12, 2019 at 11:47 am #13897
Becky replies ”Alright, we’ll make our way there.”January 12, 2019 at 2:21 pm #13898
By the time Al got his truck turned around he was right behind the running Preston. Out of habit, he killed his headlights so as not to silhouette the man as he made for his car at the gate. He hadn’t waited for anyone else, partly because he simply hadn’t felt like any more waiting and talking, and partly because Becky’s words to Noir had suggested she didn’t want to cipher of a woman in the same vehicle with the artifact.
The Gaz rolled to an almost-stop at the gate, just slow enough to allow the hacker in, during which time Noir’s sports job blew past him, the clearance between the truck and the gatepost measurable in coats of paint.
“Day-um, woman’s got her issues, but she don’t waste time.”
He acknowledged Preston’s thanks and comment about going VR with a “Go get ’em, virtual kemo sabe,” and he was off, close on Noir’s taillights.January 12, 2019 at 2:39 pm #13900
Becky follows with her car, but drives carefully and pays attention to the difficult road conditions rather than show off. She sats in the team channel (including Sam). >> Guys, the weather conditions are difficult and we are heading toward a massive mana storm, and perhaps an earthquake. We keep it simple Sam in the front, Gaz in the middle, then me in the back. Drive carefully, keep the next car visible at all time, and keep the distance for emergency braking, without stunts. Visibility is limited, and our magically enhanced reflexes may not work once we enter the mana storm, so no matter how confident you are, be careful and mindful to the road. The slowest way to get there is to make an accident.
She then says to Al, and the team (excluding Sam) >> Slightly good news, the Jhonson asked that we return the artifact to its place, apparently, the mana storm is big enough for them to notice. He’ll pay us for the location of the artifact rather than the artifact itself. So moral decisions aside, and payday secured if we can return the artifact to its place.January 12, 2019 at 3:52 pm #13905
Al could scarcely have been more delighted at Becky’s message. Surely the voodoo gods, not to mention the Man Upstairs, favored the righteous. Hell, even She might be happy for once. So while he was none too thrilled at the prospect of the nightmares the next hour promised, he felt more sure than ever that heaven was on their side. And they’d now be able to get the job done united in purpose.
<<Roger that, Precious. Roger that.>>
He heartily agreed with her words of caution about driving in the storm (not that he’d have any problem, but those trying to keep up might). He got ready to decelerate, eyes on Noir’s tail lights. He’d slow down if he could, but it all depended on her. He sure as hell wasn’t letting her out of his sight again.January 13, 2019 at 9:45 pm #13910
* Monkey: So nice to be hacking things without worrying about IC or spiders.
Preston reveled in the almost overwhelming sensation of hot sim, but all the same methodically hacked the two links, looking to see if Sam had made use of her link since leaving the group, looking for interesting contacts in the Vamp’s link, and also checking it interesting correspondence.January 14, 2019 at 1:14 am #13911
Sam hadn’t used her link at all since parting from the Team.
The vampire’s last call had been to the ganger.
There weren’t many contacts or other useful info on it – probably because it was used as a burner.
But Preston learned the location of the car, the vampires had been using.
By sheer coincidence it was parked at the same bar they had met Johny at yesterday.January 14, 2019 at 7:55 am #13923
[Morning, Thursday February 3rd, 2078; Road to Maria’s Farm, Near San Angelo, CAS]
Jazz’s van rumbled along the road back to the farm at a steady clip, the trailer containing the two Wolf drones diminishing the handling only slightly. Jazz knew the others were catching up, just as well as she didn’t fancy arriving at the farm to face whatever was there at all and would have been having second, and third, thoughts about the wisdom of this enterprise without their impending arrival. The weather was becoming increasingly shitty as whatever they had inadvertently unleashed on the world began to be felt. The wind was lashing dirt and bits of desert foliage on to her windshield and she was glad that she had the sensor suite to see through the crud. Electromagnetic interference was increasing and although her scrubbers were able to keep on top of it she didn’t want her friends to range too far ahead of her in case they lost contact.
Momentarily giving the driving over to the autopilot she set about coaxing a small machine sprite out from behind the van’s matrix node. It was unlikely that there would be a technological element in whatever they were about to face but their knack of enhancing their own gear might be a small tipping point. The mechanical bird appeared in the matrix beside her, cocking its head to one side with an odd bobbing motion before settling down to await whatever task she had for it…Spoiler:
#46January 14, 2019 at 2:33 pm #13934
The three vehicles got closer and closer to the farm. The wind had begun to howl and had reached near hurricane strength. Rain was pelting the cars – almost from a horizontal angle. Lightning flashed, illuminating the pitch black sky for only a second before letting the surrounding slip back into darkness again.
In those brief flashes, a superstitious mind could have imagined giant forms of misshapen figures backlit on the clouds, but of course that had to be a trick of the light.
Under these conditions, the farm appeared before them suddenly and without warning. This time, no drone wanted to see their credentials, but there was also no-one ready to open the gate and Maria did not answer her comm. By now the static in the air affected both the matrix and the magical realm profoundly – at least outside Al’s truck where the effects where only dimly felt – at least on the astral side.Spoiler:January 14, 2019 at 5:40 pm #13938
Ichante does not want to help free Noir. All of her instincts tell her to do the opposite, to finish the job that the scrap cube started. She’s reminded of a fable about a woodman taken pity on a frozen viper, putting it inside his jacket to warm it. The creature repays his kindness with a bite near his heart that kills him swiftly. Ichante is almost certain that this situation is the same.
So why is she helping? Is it because she trusts Al’s judgment? No, she definitely does not trust Al’s judgment. Al is a lecher and a fool, although strangely charismatic despite his perversions.
Becky is asking the right questions. Becky’s not really getting convincing answers to her right questions. Nothing about Noir’s responses is assuring Ichante or convincing her that this is the right course of action. To Ichante, Noir and her channeled spirits might as well be Hestovatohkeo’o, a malevolent double-faced humanoid monster who murders and mutilates.
But inside Ichante, there is a tiny voice. She associates it with Ptesáŋwiŋ, the White Buffalo Calf Woman, a maiden who taught Ichante’s ancestors how to connect with Wakȟáŋ Tȟáŋka. The voice is no more than a pinprick in the storm, but Ichante feels compelled to follow it. Ichante is puffed with pride, but the voice pierces all that, popping her like a balloon.
Ichante wants to order her spirit to strike down Noir, to peel the woman like a grape, but instead Ichante finds herself asking for the spirit’s help in freeing Noir, to lift the cube and pull her away. No sooner has the woman been freed than she heals her legs and walks off with little ado. Rain streaming down her face and slicking her black hair, Ichante exchanges a dark look with Becky, one that says, That shouldn’t be possible. The woman who just claimed she couldn’t summon to free herself shouldn’t be able to do that. Ichante is no longer convinced that the voice was Ptesáŋwiŋ. What if it was Noir, addling Ichante’s brains? It’s too late now; the moment to leave the viper to freeze has passed. Ichante will just have to hope that she did the right thing; failing that, she’ll have to hope that she can live with the consequences.
She joins Al in his Gaz, wanting to play defense in case some magical entity comes for it. It’s not impossible that Noir has bewitched Al’s mind, either magically or hormonally, and Ichante wants to be on guard against that too.
The hurricane shakes the car and Ichante wonders if the Gaz will be lifted off the road like a mobile home in Kansas. (The Anglos – bless their hearts – had inherited most of Tornado Alley in the Treaty of Denver, but the occasional tornado in what used to be eastern Colorado still made the Sioux news every now and then.) Ichante warily eyes the ferocious mana storm. She can feel the growing background count, even though she’s practically sitting on top of the orb.
”Geez, I thought this thing was supposed to vacuum up bad mana,” she says, for the moment oblivious to the fact that the mana outside is much, much worse.January 14, 2019 at 6:02 pm #13939
Al knew what she meant. Once again, the distancing of the voodoo gods was slight but palpable all the same. Funnily enough, though, She was coming through stronger than ever.
“Roger that, amiga. Maybe once we git inside we can do that twistey thing with the key, dial it up a little. Warn’t so hard the first time.”
He turned to Preston. He wasn’t quite sure if the hacker could hear him, so he spoke out loud but into his transceiver pickup as well. “Yo Presto baby, ya gon’ do the open sesame thing, or ya gon’ make ol’ Al git out’n the truck?” he asked, tentatively reaching for his tools.
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