Twenty years ago- years before you were even born, your homeworld repelled an alien invasion which arrived with no warning, no declaration, no communication. The invaders killed tens of thousands of your people before they all suddenly died- killed by their own ships.Y'avel, Y'avel. How the hell are you going to break into a heavily guarded military base? Your answer so far seems to lie in gathering gear and knowledge to prepare yourself for what's coming. Specifically, you seem to have acquired the services of a ‘shade’- a dead soul who has named herself Wander.---You can read the previous threads here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=COADECheck your stats and inventory here: https://pastebin.com/sN87q33w
The thread never does continue down the board at the rate I'm thinking, does it? Ah, well.>Let's focus on the fundamentals.Has one vote, but I'll leave the vote open in case anyone was cut off by the thread dropping.
>>3947369>>Let's focus on the fundamentals.I will also vote for this
>>3947369Sure back this bitch.
>>3947369Yeah the last thread hopped off the board quicker than expected. Splurge of new threads for the weekend, probably.>I'm a bit wary of necromancy, but you aren't a corpse at least.Friendly poltergeist! Embrace the weird side of life.
>>3947369>Let's focus on the fundamentals.Sup, Bentus, hope you're having a good day. I will continue lurking this thread as usual.tfw no half valkan gf pyromaniac gf
>>3947369>Let's focus on the fundamentals.
>Let's focus on the fundamentals.
"Fundamentals first, please." "Alright." Wander lapsed into... what seemed like thought for a moment. "You have school tomorrow, right? In that case, let's start with something very basic. You're already starting to get a grasp on respiration, right?"You nod. "I think so. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing it wrong.""Because you can feel it happening automatically sometimes, right?""And it hurts sometimes...""That's because respiration is more or less an instinct, natural and automatic. It's just not an instinct you're used to. You feel pain because you're effectively suffocating yourself.""But then I draw so much in...""Like any instinct, it's clumsy. You're crawling and taking your first breaths, but you need to learn how to walk now. Taking in too much is a common problem with people with stronger connections. It should flow through you as needed like your breath. It is your breath.""...right." Your brow furrows."...perhaps it is easier to demonstrate than to explain. Get comfy, we're going to do the basic respiration exercise."You toss the pillow in your arms to the side, situating yourself on the bed as has become your habit. Closing your eyes, you slowly let yourself slip into the familiar rhythm, as Wander's voice sounds in your ear."Inhale. Exhale. Good. Now... as before, respire. Shallower. Why are you breathing so heavily? Shallower. Shallower."You struggle to keep up with her instructions. Before, the exercise was always in tricking yourself into doing it, but now you were focusing on actively controlling your breathing."Don't think. Just do as I say. Shallower." Wander pauses. "Do you feel your lungs burning?"The best you can do with your lungs so empty is simply grunt."Good, remember that feeling. You may breathe."Sweet, heavenly air fills your lungs, and you feel yourself gasping slightly."Now repeat. Only respirate when you feel the urge. Shallower." Wander commanded.So it went. Shallower, then shallower still. Only taking a breath when you felt the need to. Only when it was necessary, like regular breathing. Occasionally, a breath would slip through, an unconscious need to breathe in for comfort passing by."Very good. Remember, your goal is for this to become automatic. Simply let your body do what feels right." The voice next to your ear grew more distant, stepping away from you. "That's all for now."You yawn and stretch on the bed before sitting up and rubbing your eyes. "Question. Why do I always hear you behind my right ear?""Because that's where I'm standing." Wander's voice moved to your right. "I'm kind of anchored to you, and I don't really have a form yet, but I'm still here.""So why hang out there?"You could almost imagine the shrug Wander was making. "I feel like it. Why is it relevant?""Just curious..."
>>3948055"Curious is a good way to describe you." Wander's voice moved around more. "You like to stick your nose in lots of things. Maybe more practical instruction would be up your alley.""Practical?" You tilt your head. "What, like learn by doing?""Yep. You seem like the type to benefit from it. I can tell that you're putting in the effort, but you're not getting much out of these exercises.""Last time I experimented with my powers, I made a bottle explode.""It's not your fault the teacher kept a bottle of the hard stuff in her desk. At any rate, perhaps if you engaged with the Abyss in a way you actually enjoyed, it would go better, no? Walking around all day repeating a bunch of monastic exercises must be boring.""What would you suggest?" You shrug. "I'm not really an expert...""You're certainly gifted with destruction, it seems. But, here's one you probably remember: shapeshifting."You feel yourself perk up slightly, in spite of yourself. "Oh?""It's not all it's cracked up to be, but it's a fairly simple application of the powers of change that you can easily practice with. And I can tell you've got some interest in the topic, from what you said earlier.""It could also really help me get into Y'avel..." You mumble."It would." A pause. "But, not tonight. You had a long day today, and you don't need me piling on.""Just string me along like that, only to shoot me down..." You mumble."Patience, Tiiris. Kana wasn't destroyed in a day."It is the weekday once again.>Keep bashing your head against the problem that is the floor plans.>>[Sub-Option] Focus on the human element- former employees of Y'avel who may have old floor plans, however outdated.>>[Sub-Option] Do you know anyone who could conceivably help you with this?>>[Sub-Option] Try an electronic method. The risk is there, but you're confident in ST's ability to stay undetected.>>[Sub-Option] Perhaps there's a magical method that would be superior...>Take Wander up on her offer of tutoring you in a specific ability.>>[Sub-Option] Shapeshifting. It's the smart idea for obvious reasons.>>[Sub-Option] Despite your desires otherwise, you have a feeling decay or renewal would be more useful in Y'avel.>ST mentioned a thing called a lensing field before, right? Focus on your search for artifacts - the truly dangerous ones. Wander should be a help here.>Spend time with your friends. They help keep you grounded and sane- and you feel a need to vent some of what's happening to them...>>[Sub-Option] Elan.>>[Sub-Option] Kara.>>[Sub-Option] Taylor.>>[Sub-Option] Dad.>>[Sub-Option] Someone you haven't hung out with in a while or don't know very well. (Write-In)
>"It's not your fault the teacher kept a bottle of the hard stuff in her desk. At any rate, perhaps if you engaged with the Abyss in a way you actually enjoyed, it would go better, no? Walking around all day repeating a bunch of monastic exercises must be boring."Uh. I think this is a big flashing "POSSESSION WARNING" sign. Because we definitely didn't tell her that.>"You're certainly gifted with destruction, it seems. But, here's one you probably remember: shapeshifting."Or that?! Turning into a seagull and flying to Hull II would be ridiculous yet nearly foolproof, though. Stupid fatass birds constantly set off alarms and sit on things they really shouldn't.>"Patience, Tiiris. Kana wasn't destroyed in a day."BIG warning signs, flashing all over.>>3948056>Spend time with your friends. They help keep you grounded and sane- and you feel a need to vent some of what's happening to them...>[Sub-Option] Elan.He's level headed, good for bouncing ideas off of regarding plasma guns and wandering shades and weird space magic. And I'd like to know how things are going for him with the talisman on.
>>3948056>Take Wander up on her offer of tutoring you in a specific ability.>>[Sub-Option] Shapeshifting. It's the smart idea for obvious reasons.
>>3948056>Spend time with your friends. They help keep you grounded and sane- and you feel a need to vent some of what's happening to them...>>>[Sub-Option] Elan.Discover his powers!
>"Patience, Tiiris. Kana wasn't destroyed in a day."Kek. I don't think we're that much on the Valkans' side for that to be cool to say. >>3948056>Take Wander up on her offer of tutoring you in a specific ability.>>[Sub-Option] Shapeshifting. It's the smart idea for obvious reasons.
>>3948056>ST mentioned a thing called a lensing field before, right? Focus on your search for artifacts - the truly dangerous ones. Wander should be a help here.
Rolled 1 (1d2)Okay, tie between Elan and Shapeshifting. Rolling off, 1 for Elan, 2 for Shapeshifting.
St. Yanna's Youth Hospital, Miir, 3rd Floor6th of 5th, 1173. 6:00PM."Knock, knock." You rap your knuckles on the door, poking your head into the room.Elan glanced over at you, then raises one of his casts in a wave. "Sup.""How you holding up?" You carefully put your bag aside and sit down at the side of the bed.He shrugs and grins, carefully putting the television on mute. "Two weeks in, so I get to lose some of the slings and the neck brace. Just waiting on the big bones, now." He peered at you closer. "You look more weathered than usual. Kara mentioned you two went to see a Valkan. Took my advice, huh?""Yeah." You grin a little. "I think it was pretty worthwhile.""You learn about any magic?" His eyebrows shot up. "Are you a necromancer now?""Ah- no, not yet.""Ah, that's a pity." He grinned. "The spooky black robes would suit you, I think.""You're lucky both of your arms are broken or I'd punch one." You wave your fist casually."My casts are my armor.""Speaking of, actually- do you think the rosary- ah, the necklace, rather- do you think it helped?" You scoot the chair slightly closer to the foot of the bed."Ah- y-yeah, I think." Elan nodded and smiled. "I think it's really helping, thanks Tiiris.""Uh, right." You blink, then cough. "I visited Hull II this weekend, too.""What, at Y'avel?" He raised his eyebrows. "Why?">Just curious.>>[Sub-Option] I met a ghost, too.>I'm planning on breaking in.>[Write-In]
>>3949497>I met a ghost, too.
>>3949497>>Just curious.>>>[Sub-Option] I met a ghost, too.
>>3949497>I'm planning on breaking in.>[Sub-Option] I met a ghost, too.Maximum wut
>Just curious.>>[Sub-Option] YA EVER MEET A GHOST?Writing.
"I just wanted to see it." You shrug. "See the bones of my ancestors, take a few photos, tourist things. Took the tour around- the tram, you remember?""Yeah." Elan nods. "We went way back in elementary school as a trip. Huge ass thing, isn't it?""They didn't let us get that close to it." You pinch your fingers slightly. "I remember us getting to walk right up next to the damn thing when we were kids, but you only get to look at it from like a kilometer away. It's bullshit.""...that is bullshit." Elan mused."But it wasn't all a bust, actually." You hold up a finger. "I met a ghost while I was there.""Oh that's wait pardon?" Elan blinked. "Did you just say a ghost?""Yep. Her name's Wander. I think. She doesn't really remember much about herself, but she was a Valkan of some kind.""I... wait." Elan holds up a hand. "You're gonna need to run that by me again. Ghosts are real?""Kinda." You hazard. "I'm not sure how it works.""Technically, I'm a shade. But when it comes to translating Valkan to Tagaran, you can really phrase it however you feel like it.""Are you possessed? Do you feel weird?""...no?" You think about it a moment. "Honestly, I expected her to do more. So far all she's done is offer advice.""Hey!"Elan started to lean forward again, before stopping himself and falling back onto the pillows. In the brief moment he's up, you notice a chain sticking out from under his pillow. "That's... honestly I have no idea what to say to that. How'd you do it?""I don't know, she kind of... appeared?""So she can think? She's not a servant like that one skeleton?""Honestly, I haven't talked to her that much about the necromancy thing.""Why not?"You sigh and rub your arm. "Kind of feels evil, you know? I mean, grave robbing and disturbing the dead are kind of... wrong, don't you think?""The Dead don't care about funeral rites. They care far more about honor.""Yeah, but that just means you shouldn't do it." Elan points out. "You should probably learn about it, anyway.""Eh, maybe." You rub your arm. "I was kind of debating asking her to teach me some magic...""Other than necromancy? Like what?""Uh... shapeshifting?" You blush."Oh, er..." Elan grimaces for a second, then shakes his head and puts on a confused expression. "I mean... why? You're plenty pretty."You blink, then glance away. "Different kind of shapeshifting, I think. I haven't really asked her about the specifics.""So more like animals..." Elan frowns, thinking. "Is that kind of thing really useful, though?""What do you mean?" You look back at him."Well... think about it. Other than maybe flying, being able to turn into, like... a sand trap isn't really that useful when guns exist. What's the real utility?"
>>3950692"Animals are inconspicuous, I guess." You shrug. "Would you pay attention to every bird in some square? Plus, I'm sure there are some crazy alien animals out there. Something's gotta be useful against a gun.""That sounds like something that only exists in sci-fi." Elan drawls."Who knows? There could be other stuff out there.""Yeah, but will we ever be able to see it?" Elan points out. "Hyperspace is slow. Nobody'll get beyond the next star or two in our lifetime.""Maybe Valkan ships go faster?""Depends on how soon they figure out what makes their engines work." Elan sighs. "Part of me wishes I could help with... well, whatever it is you're up to. Has Kara been helping you out, at least?"You wince. "Uh, no. Not after our little trip we took. She seems kind of freaked out by the whole situation.""Can you blame her?""Not even a little." You shake your head. "Granted, I haven't made much of an effort to include her.""Well, why not?">"Because what I'm doing is potentially going to get me in a lot of trouble and I want to implicate you two as little as possible.">"I'm just finding I like going at this alone.">"I really can't say.">"I really can't say while we're in public.">[Write-In]
>>3950694>"Because what I'm doing is potentially going to get me in a lot of trouble and I want to implicate you two as little as possible."
>>3950694>>"I really can't say while we're in public."
>"Because what I'm doing is potentially going to get me in a lot of trouble and I want to implicate you two as little as possible."Writing.
"I..." You hesitate. "Honestly, what I'm getting up to is going to get me in a lot of trouble if I get caught. I don't want to implicate either of you if that happens.""...like, with the law?" Elan gives you an odd look. "Why?"You smile, shrug your shoulders slightly and wave your hand vaguely."Really?" Elan said, concerned."...yeah?" You glance away. "Like I said, can't say anymore. I'll tell you if it goes well.""...right." Elan sounds unconvinced.You give a small smile then turn away."Just be careful, okay? There are a lot of people around you that could help out. Just gotta ask them.""I don't know if any of them really have skills that would help."Elan shrugged. "I've got an allowance I can throw around if I need. Taylor's always been super into that military stuff- so has her Dad, I think. Kara..." He hesitated. "Okay, yeah, maybe Kara isn't the best choice...""Techy?" You offer."Maybe?" Elan shrugged. "Look, they're not all perfect.""Yeah..." You trail off, then remember the hour and glance at your watch. "Shit, okay, I've gotta get home."Elan raised a cast. "See ya."---That was a bit awkward. You get a feeling you kind of killed the conversation with the talk about Y'avel, but... really, what else was there to talk about? Weird that he seems to have stuffed the rosary under his pillow, though, wonder wh-"He seems nice." Wander noted with amusement. "Close friend of yours?""I suppose?" You ask, eyebrows raised. Then they fall. "Oh, don't get any ideas.""Please, the two of you weren't nearly touchy enough to be lovers." You heard her cough. "Either way, nice to see that you have close friends.""Yeah, yeah..." You mutter as you slip into ST."I'm just saying! Appreciate them more."It is now the weekend.>Keep bashing your head against the problem that is the floor plans.>>[Sub-Option] Focus on the human element- former employees of Y'avel who may have old floor plans, however outdated.>>[Sub-Option] Do you know anyone who could conceivably help you with this?>>[Sub-Option] Try an electronic method. The risk is there, but you're confident in ST's ability to stay undetected.>>[Sub-Option] Perhaps there's a magical method that would be superior...>Take Wander up on her offer of tutoring you in a specific ability.>>[Sub-Option] Shapeshifting. It's the smart idea for obvious reasons.>>[Sub-Option] Despite your desires otherwise, you have a feeling decay or renewal would be more useful in Y'avel.>ST mentioned a thing called a lensing field before, right? Focus on your search for artifacts - the truly dangerous ones. Wander should be a help here.>Spend time with your friends. They help keep you grounded and sane- and you feel a need to vent some of what's happening to them...>>[Sub-Option] Kara.>>[Sub-Option] Taylor.>>[Sub-Option] Dad.>>[Sub-Option] Someone you haven't hung out with in a while or don't know very well. (Write-In)
>>3947359>GirlAnother gay quest.
>>3951881>>Keep bashing your head against the problem that is the floor plans.>>>[Sub-Option] Focus on the human element- former employees of Y'avel who may have old floor plans, however outdated.>>3951887No u gay
>>3951881>Keep bashing your head against the problem that is the floor plans.>[Sub-Option] Do you know anyone who could conceivably help you with this?>TaylorIf Elan says she's super into military stuff, it's worth asking. Even if she is kind of... prickly?
>>3951881>Take Wander up on her offer of tutoring you in a specific ability.>>[Sub-Option] Shapeshifting. It's the smart idea for obvious reasons.>>3951887Don't talk shit about my waifu Tiiris you gay man.
>>3951881>ST mentioned a thing called a lensing field before, right? Focus on your search for artifacts - the truly dangerous ones. Wander should be a help here.
Rolled 2 (1d2)I'm... honestly not sure what to make of this tie. Mostly I'm not sure if the same main option with two different sub options should be counted as the majority for the purposes of tiebreaking. But that is a 50/50 in favor of more Y'avel, so let's have at it- 1 for human element, 2 for Taylor.
>>3952824Sounds fair to me, but my preferred choice won so hell if I know.A scattered vote usually means everyone is cool with going any direction, so long as something interesting happens. I would've been fine with it if you'd rolled 1d4.
>>3953281I've been starting to debate implementing a 2nd preference option more and more as of late. With vote numbers this small, it would help break ties more fairly. Plus, it would let people suggest write-ins without worrying about wasting their votes.
Soban Household, Miir, 3rd Floor10th of 5th, 1173. 2:00PM.The door opens, and the man behind it blinks in surprise. "Oh, hello, Tiiris.""Mr. Soban." You duck your head nervously. "Uh, hi, is Taylor in?""Yeah, sure- oh please, come in." Mr. Soban opened the door wider. "Does Taylor know you're coming?""No, uh, sorry." You swallow a bit nervously. "It was kind of an impulsive visit... I'm sorry if that's a problem.""You're always welcome in here." Mr. Soban smiles reassuringly at you, before turning towards the back and calling. "Taylor! One of your friends is here!" He turned back to you. "Do you want anything to drink, eat?""I'm good, thank you." You smile tightly as rapid footsteps echo up the hallway."Who is i-" Taylor stops dead as she steps into the hallway, her face lighting up. "Oh, hey! Tiiris!""Hi, Taywoah-" You lurch forward as she grabs your hand and tugs you forward. "Uh, see you Mr. Soba-""You girls have fun." You hear Mr. Soban's bemused voice float after you as Taylor pulls you up the stairs.Taylor practically threw open a door at the top of the landing and dragged you inside before shutting it. She turned to you, a wide grin stretching her face. "I figured it out!""I- figured what out?" You blink in surprise, taking a step back from her."Where it's all been going!" Taylor blinked and took a self-conscious step back, pushing her glasses back up her nose from where they'd slipped down. "Twenty years of cracking at the Hulls, and it looks like we've made no progress, right? But you can clearly see in news articles that they've been peeling away bits of every Hull over time, and they've reverse-engineered some stuff. So where are they getting it?""Slow down, Taylor." You hold up your hands. "Where's what going?"Taylor grinned and waved hands up and down. "Valkan. Artifacts. There's a whole black market for the damn things!"You blink, then rub your eyes. "Come again?""I got curious after the other day, so I went digging and found out some interesting stuff." She grinned and pulled a few papers from the books under her desk. "Going back through old newspaper articles and stuff, in the really early days they mention a 'facility' where recovered Valkan stuff goes. Then they stop- guess it was classified or covered up or something, but I dug around and got a name. The 'Exosolar Archaeological Archive'- it operated before the war as a place for sampling of exoplanet rock or something, but now it looks like it holds Valkan stuff.""...and this means a black market... how?""Well, I went looking on the dark web-"You feel the color drain out of your face. "Taylor, you know that shit-""I was careful!" She held up her hands. "Covered my tracks as best I can. Turns out, you can totally get on these auction sites that sell stuff they think are Valkan artifacts. I'm sure ninety percent of it is bullshit, but there are videos of some of it working!"
>>3953488"And... you did this... why?" You tilt your head."Mostly I was digging for stuff that might help you." Taylor shrugs her shoulders and sighs. "Bunch of dead ends. All we really know about the Valkans is their tech, it seems.""Well..." You begin. "It just so happens I might need some help...""With what?" Taylor perks up, absently straightening out her bed so you can sit down. Her room was a fairly orderly affair, picked up and neatly organized. Not spotless, but clearly the result of habitual tidiness- that, or a house cleaner.You sit down. "I... need the floor plans to one of the shipbreaking yards."Taylor stares at you a moment, before slowly sinking into her desk chair. It's almost possible to see the little wheels turning in her head. "...ah. Go big or go home, I guess." She pauses. "Er... off the top of my head, pay someone to do it for you... bribe an official and hope you don't get caught or... call in a favor? Two of those need fat stacks of cash, sadly...""Don't have much of that." You shrug and sigh. "What about that third one?"Taylor winced. "I probably shouldn't have said it. It's stupid and wouldn't work.""Try me." You lean forward. "I'm way past 'stupid' right now."Taylor scratched her jaw and shrugged. "We could ask my dad? He doesn't think I know, but he's totally got old army buddies who he asks for favors? You'd have to tell him about... everything, though, and I don't want to get him in trouble..."You have to admit you don't know Taylor's dad that well. He's always been a high achiever, you can tell. He has the manner of someone who brings work home for fun, did the Take Your Daughter to Work day stuff... not stuff you'd normally associate with military men.>"Probably not an option, no...">"I'd trust him.">"Scratch all that, what did you just say about the black market?"
>>3953490>"I'd trust him."
>>3953490>>"I'd trust him."
>>3953490>"Scratch all that, what did you just say about the black market?"
>>3953490>"Scratch all that, what did you just say about the black market?"Trying to do anything with the black market sounds like a terrible idea that'll get our delicious Valkan organs harvested, but asking what Taylor's been investigating about it can't hurt at least.
>>3953490>"Scratch all that, what did you just say about the black market?"Honestly I would rather not get him involved. Furthermore, cant we get our shade to give us that kind of info anyway?
Rolled 1 (1d2)>tfw you thought you hit post two hours ago1 for trusting him, 2 for fuck that.>>3953995Wander can barely remember anything about herself, much less the layout of a military base.
>>3954190That is not a problem. We get close, do the school tour and have her scout out the area in the meanwhile
>>3954595Ah, I see. Misinterpreted what you meant by 'give', whoops.
"I'd trust him." You say bluntly.Taylor stares at you a few seconds, then rubs her forehead hard and shakes her head. "Okay, no, no, no- this is not a good idea, Tiiris.""Then why'd you suggest it?" You lean back and raise an eyebrow."Because I didn't have any other ideas?" She said. "Look, dad used to be in the military. He fought the Valkans- he never really talked much about it, but I know he got injured really badly once. He's still got buddies all over. One of his closest friends is a really important dude in the Guard- he is like the worst possible candidate to ask." She paused. "He wouldn't believe it anyway.""I can prove it." You say simply. "Multiple ways.""Even if you could-" Taylor hissed through her teeth, keeping her voice down. "-he's exactly the kind of person who might just throw you straight to the government for dissecting.""He can have feelings that strong if she even thought it was possible..." Wander murmurs.You fold your arms. "Uhuh. And why'd you bring it up, then?""I... okay, maybe there's a chance." Taylor admitted. "But it's slim! What if it goes badly?""This always had a potential to go badly." You sigh. "Honestly, what I'm doing now is flying blind. I need... something. There isn't an avenue available to me without risks." ST's offer to hack for the plans could make your infiltration much more difficult. Wander's offer of help risked uncontrollable magic powers, from your experience with telekinesis so far. What was the risk of it getting out to one person?Taylor sighed. "He never told me about it, but I pieced it together over the years. He never saw eye to eye with the military, got booted out after he was injured, but he's still... involved. Consulting for the military. Intelligence community stuff. But just because he got booted doesn't mean he's a pro-Valkan rebel.""I'm not pro-Valkan." You say, somewhat offended. "Not even remotely. I'm not looking to finish what my ancestors started or whatever crap.""What we 'started' was pointless and stupid either way..." Wander muttered."Then what's your approach." Taylor held out her hands. "How are you going to make this go smoothly?">Why don't we just sit down and explain?>I could contact him, arrange a meeting a little out of the way?>How about I just demonstrate my Valkan-ness and ask for help?>You mentioned he has friends, is it possible to trick one of them into giving me what I need? Pose as him, maybe?>Maybe you're right, this is doomed to fail...>[Write-In]
>>3954680>You mentioned he has friends, is it possible to trick one of them into giving me what I need? Pose as him, maybe?This is still pretty dangerous though so I'm half inclined to choose>Maybe you're right, this is doomed to fail...
>>3954680>Maybe you're right, this is doomed to fail...
>>3954680>How about I just demonstrate my Valkan-ness and ask for help?It's a risk, but it seems like a good one.His daughter uncovered the black market for this sort of thing pretty easily. He has to be at least vaguely aware that it exists and that the military has done an atrocious job keeping Valkan hardware out of the hands of unscrupulous people.A contact in the 'Valkan community', or whatever you want to call the mess of criminal stuff going on, is the sort of thing an intel guy actually wants. A willing collaborator is incredibly valuable. Dissection takes away all that potential. Even alerting higher-ups could tip off the malefactors in the process, especially if the smugglers are in the military itself. "Close friend's Dad" is one the best options we could ever get for a man-on-the-inside.If things go really badly, it could derail a lot of our plans... but if things go really well, literally walking through the front door of Y'Avel as the Assistant to a Consultant is the easiest entry method imaginable.
>>3954680>How about I just demonstrate my Valkan-ness and ask for help?
>>3954680>You mentioned he has friends, is it possible to trick one of them into giving me what I need? Pose as him, maybe?
>>3954862That may have come across a bit pushy/manipulative, so I want to clarify that I'd still vote to back off if the idea makes Taylor genuinely miserable. It's her dad. She should have the final say on whether to include him or not, without being goaded into it. It's not worth losing a friend over.But she might be underestimating him. Something Tiiris would know, because she was doing the same thing with Dad less than a month ago. It turns out he CAN adjust to having a magic space alien daughter, if it means a robot does the laundry, cleans the floors and cooks breakfast every morning. (And the new car is a flying tank that will do anything to protect her).
>How about I just demonstrate my Valkan-ness and ask for help?Writing.
"How about I just approach him and show him proof?"Taylor blinks. "That's... blunt. What makes you think he won't freak out?""It's the honest move to make." You shrug. "I don't like the idea of trying to deceive him when I'm asking for his help. That... and it worked a lot better on my Dad.""You told your- okay, you have a point, but these are two different people. What's your plan exactly?""I'm..." You think. "...okay, I don't know him that well, but he seems like he'd appreciate a direct question, right?"Taylor nodded. "His tolerance for bullshit is... low.""A man after my own heart.""Right." You nod. "So I'll lead with needing to get into Y'avel- or maybe with the Valkan stuff...?""Don'tcha think walking up to someone and going 'Hi, I'm a Valkan' will result in either disbelief or panic?" Taylor deadpans. "It won't make any sense if I up and say it with no context..." You rub your head. "Mayb-" A knocking on the door nearly makes you jump out of your skin."Girls?" Mr. Soban's voice carries through the door. "I'm about to make some lunch for myself, do you two want any?""U-uh..." You look at Taylor.Taylor shrugs at you.Flapping your lips for a second, you quickly start nodding. Like a bandaid, like a bandaid...Taylor looks at you like you're crazy.You mouth 'yes' to her."S... sure dad!" Taylor shoots you a very odd look, getting up from her chair. "Be down in a minute!""Alright." You hear footsteps pace away from the door."I probably should have warned you he was coming...""Right now?!" Taylor hisses at you, disbelief on her face. "There's a time and place!""Not for 'oh by the way I'm a space alien'!" You whisper back. "Name a better time and place.""A day where he's in a good mood, not on one of his days off, when the war isn't a pertinent subject in people's minds!""Like that'll ever happen.""So... never." You stand up. "Come on, this was your idea."---"So how's your father doing these days, Tiiris?" Mr. Soban asked casually as he spread jam over a slice of bread."Eh, school, work, the daily grind." You shrug, looking down at the half-eaten sandwich in your hands. "Nothing out of the ordinary.""It's been too long since Sigmund and I shared a drink." He put the two pieces of bread together and cut the sandwich. "We keep talking about making time and never do...""Life's been busy lately, I understand." You nod."I wish I had only school to worry about." He smiled lightly. "More innocent days.""Right. Yeah." School, work, terrorist attacks, hunting for Valkan artifacts, talking to ghosts, planning to break into a dangerous alien spaceship. Light days, truly- bah, he didn't know that, though."You can't possibly not miss your previous life a little.""Do you have any plans for Flag Week?" He took another bite of his sandwich, jerking it at Taylor. "Taylor got a spot on Tuesday to visit... what was it, the City Symposium, right?"
>>3956384"Nah, the Miir Orchestra, the Symposium one got filled up by the upper classmen.""Ah, that's a shame." Mr. Soban smiled sympathetically. "You'll get your chance, though." He glanced at you expectantly."Ah... well, I was actually thinking about seeing..." This is so much more awkward than you could have ever anticipated it being. "Er, I mean... Hull II?""They offer a field trip to Hull II?" Mr. Soban asked in surprise. "How interesting, seems a bit mundane for Flag Week.""Well... no, it's not. It's actually a chaperon thing for-" You shake your head. "Uh, that's not what I meant, uh, I actually-" You glance at Taylor, who's currently raising her eyebrows into the stratosphere. "I meant more I want to get to the actual ship... like, inside Hull II."Mr. Soban raises his eyebrow. "I had no idea they led tours in there.""They... don't." You wince. "Um... I was wondering if... you, uh..." You stammer. "I-Is there any way you can help me?""I can give you the number of the Planetary Guard Public Relations Agency. If you're willing to wait, they might be interested in some kind of student visit, but you'll have to-""I can't go to the military."Mr. Soban stops, leaning back slightly. His eyes narrow slightly in thought. "...why not? The worst that will happen is they say 'no'.""I can't because, um..." You look down at the table instinctively. He was an unintentionally imposing man, with the same piercing gaze that Taylor has, but much more weary and practiced. It's hard to look into his eyes. "...well, I need to get inside the ship, because I'm Valkan, is the thing..."Mr. Soban gives you a long, hard look. "That isn't a funny thing to joke about, Tiiris. A lot of people died fighting the Valkans.""I'm not joking!" You start to protest, before deflating slightly under his gaze. "Here, I can show you...">Just move something with your telekinesis.>"Easy?">"Can I pull into your garage real quick?">"This is something called a scarab, try activating it. You'll notice it doesn't work...">[Write-In]
>>3956385>Just move something with your telekinesis.Although the scarab option looks very interesting to me as well.
>>3956385>Just move something with your telekinesis
>>3956385>"Can I pull into your garage real quick?"
>>3956385>Just move something with your telekinesis.I love how Taylor has apparently inherited her dad's circumspect nature, while Tiiris is just all kinds of earnestness wrapped in cringe. Feels just like high school again! The schadenfreude is real.Don't explode anything important, now.
>Just move something with your telekinesis.Writing.
You sigh, looking around the room, then you close your eyes and reach out with your senses. The kitchen is mostly dull to your senses, except for a few bottles of something in the fridge. Remembering what happened last time you tried your powers on a bottle, you shift your attention to something obvious. The plate in front of you.Gently, you reach out with your mind and try to lift the plate in front of you- gently. It rattles on the table, clattering and shaking as you carefully try to lift it up. Planting both of your hands flat on the counter, you fumble with your senses, trying to lift it up carefully."Don't think. Just lift it. Trying to focus is screwing you up." Wander says encouragingly.Taking a breath, you adjust your technique, lapsing back into the familiar meditation technique and letting yourself operate on autopilot. After a few seconds, the plate stabilizes and rises above your head, then backwards and around your body, with your hands flat on the table."Very good, now- bring it back to you..."You open your eyes and look up sheepishly at Taylor and Mr. Soban, both of whom are watching you intently. Taylor with an expression of awe and shock, Mr. Soban with... well, you can't really see it as anything other than concern. Holding your hands up, you puff slightly in surprise as the plate slams into your grasp with rather more energy than you expected."Careful, now. Rather more powerful than human limbs, aren't they?"Clearing your throat, you look up hesitantly. "Uh... tada?"Mr. Soban studies you for a long moment, then rubs his temple and pulls his hand down his face. "Okay, then." He mutters, clearly processing. "I believe you." He fixes you with a sharp look. "Who else have you told about this?""Uhm... Taylor, my Dad." Elan and Kara, but you leave them out. You said you didn't want to implicate them if possible. Jess, too, but you don't want to sell her out in case this goes wrong."Are you sure?""Y-yes." You nod."Alright, then..." Mr. Soban sighs. "...Tiiris, you're going to have to promise me that from now on you'll be very, very careful, okay?""I... of course." You nod vigorously. "I always try to be careful.""You have to understand, people have been spirited from their homes over even suspected Valkan ancestry. Too many of them fly under our radar- not to mention they're extremely rare to begin with. Most of the ones we know of have been indoctrinated into death cults."You swallow. "...so... the stuff about them being the 'chosen'...""Has some basis in fact. Some." Mr. Soban rubs his beard thoughtfully. "I'm glad you came to me, though. To think what would happen if- ah." He spared a glance at you and Taylor before shaking his head. "I need to ask you a question first, though. Why do you need to get into a Hull-""Hull II, specifically." You clarify."The dreadnought? Why a warship, specifically?"
>>3958468>I'm looking for a piece of Valkan medical equipment.>>[Sub-Option] It's to help two friends of mine.>It's not a warship, it's called a 'lifeship'.>Does it matter?>>[Sub-Option] My reasons need to stay secret, I'm sorry.>I need to recover a... family heirloom.>[Write-In]
>>3958469>It's not a warship, it's called a 'lifeship'.
>>3958469>>I'm looking for a piece of Valkan medical equipment.>>>[Sub-Option] It's to help two friends of mine.
By the way, I want to change my vote to this:>>3958751
>>3958469>It's not a warship, it's called a 'lifeship'.>I'm looking for a piece of Valkan medical equipment.One kind of leads into the other.That's the original plan as I understood it, anyway. Find a thing to fix our eyes and headaches. A goal that's become simultaneously more and less pressing, with training reducing the severity of the episodes but accelerating their frequency.Helping the others as well would be great, but we should avoid telling him about them for now.
>>3958817This plus >>3958751
>>3958469>>It's not a warship, it's called a 'lifeship'.Let me tell you about our Valkan ways, mr. not-quite-ex intelligence spook.
>>3959163Let me play for you the song of my people...
>It's not a warship, it's called a 'lifeship'.>I'm looking for a piece of Valkan medical equipment.Writing.
"It's not a dreadnought." You correct him gently. "It's a vessel called a 'lifeship'. It's some kind of medical vessel. I'm looking for a piece of medical equipment that's onboard.""For what? Yourself?" Mr. Soban looked confused. "Are you sick?"You smile and shrug. "Kind of. I just need it." You glance sidelong at Taylor, who's looking at you with barely disguised excitement of some kind. Her leg rapidly taps on the stool she's sitting on."That's not very forthcoming." Mr. Soban frowned and put his hands on the counter. "How can I help you if you don't tell me anything?""Other than the fact that you just told me to be careful?" You tilt your head slightly. "I have my secrets to keep.""Well that pretty succinctly kills our chances of getting official support." Mr. Soban sighed. "...not that we were going to get it in the first place, but it was a nice thought.""Can you help at all?" You query."I... maybe. Having to physically access Hull II was never something I needed to do. Files, records- maybe, but to actually get inside..." He rubbed his neck."...what do you do for the military, actually?" You ask, tilting your head."Huh? Oh, I advise the Weapon Projects Division on financials and political palatability of certain weapon's systems.""Oh." You pause. "...that sounds really boring.""Very." He sighs. "I need to make a call...""You'll help?" You perk up."No, I said I'll make a call." Mr. Soban said emphatically. "If there's a possibility, we'll see..." He pushes off of the counter, mumbling something to himself as he steps out of the room. An uneasy silence settles in between you and Taylor, sharing a few nervous glances."...I expected more screaming." Taylor finally admits."So far, people have defaulted to shock when I've told them." You say dryly. "Not sure I want to find out what a surprised reaction is.""Probably not..." Taylor sighs."...I can't help but shake the feeling that he's calling the military police to come and arrest me right now." You sigh."He wouldn't do that." Taylor assures you."He's not." Wander's voice speaks up, echoing back to you- seemingly from a great distance, but clear as day. "He's talking with someone on the phone. Pretty openly, too, so I'd bet he's got every encryption protocol known to Tagara on that line. That, or he's an idiot."You very nearly open your mouth and respond to Wander, before realizing Taylor is sitting right there."She won't hear you." Wander says. "Just speak with your other mouth."Shaking your head ever so slightly, you wait at the table, eating the rest of your sandwich is silence."Ah, he's hung up... and he's coming back downstairs."Both you and Taylor look up as footsteps sound from outside the door, and Mr. Soban steps in a few seconds later. "Dinner here, tomorrow. Can you handle that?""Uh... yeah." You nod. "Any... particular reason for tomorrow?"
>>3960492"He's free and you don't have school?" He raises an eyebrow. "Unless you have a conflict, of course?""No, it just seems... fast." You swallow. "Okay, tomorrow then.""Good." He nods solemnly, then coughs. "In that case- Taylor, I think we need to have a talk about something?"Taylor deflates slightly in her seat. "Did I screw up?""Not a bad talk, just... a discussion." He smiles at you thinly. "Do you need a ride home, Tiiris?""Uh... no, I'll just walk." You gulp, getting the implied message. Glancing at Taylor quickly, she shrugs and sighs, so you quickly back out of the kitchen and hurry out the front door. Practically running to the sidewalk, you clamber into ST breathlessly. It takes you a moment to realize that your hands are shaking, and you feel faint. That wasn't an easy conversation to have. You mumble for a second before managing to speak up to ST. "I-I need either Easy or OH to watch the house, in case anything happens.""What is your concern?" ST asks."I don't know." You admit. "Mostly nerves. Should I not?""I will endeavor to place minor surveillance." ST moves onto the street, accelerating quickly back.Easy's voice pipes up. "I want you to know that you were in no danger the entire time. He was well within the effective range of my weaponry.""...thank you for that pleasant thought, Easy." You lean back in the seat and sigh."You handled that with considerable bravado, despite having no idea what you were doing." Wander adds. "Well done."You digest that for a moment, before speaking. "I have no idea who we're meeting with. What if it's a trap? Should we prepare?""A trap is fairly unlikely. With how little the Tagaran government knows about Valkans, they are at least aware that interference in one individual can have catastrophic consequences." ST spoke. "Death cults being one such result.""I don't anticipate him being the type to betray you, either.""I would recommend bringing a weapon." Easy replied. "...but unfortunately you have no pistol or skill with one. You will have to suffice with simply me." It lapsed into silence for a second. "Perhaps you will require prop-""Dinner at a friend's house, Easy. I don't need a dress."---Soban Household, Miir, 3rd Floor11th of 5th, 1173. 6:45PM.You step around the large, expensive looking car in the driveway. Some kind of sedan grown too big for it's chassis, almost a sports car but not quite expensive enough to be one that you'd recognize. Glancing at the badge on the front, you feel a flash of amusement as you realize it's an economy brand - Global Motors.Walking up the front stairs, you ring the doorbell a few times and wait.A few seconds later, Taylor opens the door. She smiles sheepishly. "Come on in."You step into the house, glancing at Taylor. "Are you okay?""...no." She admits. "I'm pretty scared, but in a good way!""A good way?" You quirk an eyebrow.
>>3960494"The government's more incompetent than I thought." Taylor smiles, then looks to her left as her father walks in."Tiiris." He beckons you to follow him down a side hall. "This is an old friend of mine, so be respectful. Just be honest with him.""I... okay." You nod."Good." He opens the door to his dining room and steps back."...aren't you coming in?" You ask, confused."Plausible deniability. The less I know, the better." He jerks his head. "Go on."You gulp, and take a step forward, rehearsing what you're going to say in your head. Getting your story straight, your facts and...>Try to make your best first impression. Be polite, try and stay composed.>Allow yourself to feel a bit vulnerable. You're not trying to intimidate him, after all.>Plan? What plan? You're no good at this kind of formal stuff.>[Write-In]
>>3960495>>Allow yourself to feel a bit vulnerable. You're not trying to intimidate him, after all.spooks can see through our facade, no use trying to hide our feelings
>>3960495>Allow yourself to feel a bit vulnerable. You're not trying to intimidate him, after all.Yes Tiiris, you must endeavor not to intimidate the adult G-man with your terrifying Valkan demeanor.>"...no." She admits. "I'm pretty scared, but in a good way!"It feels like Taylor and her dad may have had a long and serious talk, only to decide that they'd need to work together as handlers to keep Tiiris from immediately yeeting herself into the nearest death cult entirely by accident.We're not that bad. Honest! We just get flustered easily around friends!
>>3960495>Allow yourself to feel a bit vulnerable. You're not trying to intimidate him, after all.
>>3960495>Try to make your best first impression. Be polite, try and stay composed.
>Allow yourself to feel a bit vulnerable. You're not trying to intimidate him, after all.Writing.
1850 HOURS11TH OF 5TH, 1173SOBAN HOUSEHOLD, MIIR, 3RD FLOORGlancing down, you quietly adjust the papers laying open in the file in front of you. It had been a while since you had to deal with anything that wasn't e-paper, but the system would have noted a data transfer or print. Instead, you were stuck with old backup photos and neat, handwritten notes. You clasp your hands together in front of you, noting the slight tremor.All nerves today, it would seem.Mike said that the Valkan wasn't what she seemed, but that word kept echoing around in your head. Valkan. All that came to mind when you heard those words was burning ships, medical bays and the awful stench of medical sterilization. You master the memories out of old habit. Keeping an open mind was one of the very first lessons you tried to instill into the officers under your command, it wouldn't do for yourself to slip up, now. The brief flash of distraction is what irked you most, in all honesty.The door to the dining room creaked open, and your gaze quickly went up to the doorway. Mike's voice murmurs something, and you hear a young, nervous voice answer back. Putting on your poker face, you lace your hands again and sit up straight. A moment later, a head pokes around the doorway, starting slightly at your appearance, but followed quickly by the body.You feel yourself instantly deflate, feeling like a fool. This was just a scared kid. Not some dangerous Valkan. It was ridiculous of you to even be on guard, especially after Mike warned you.She was young, about the same age as Mike's kid- maybe slightly younger, she might be a late bloomer. Rail thin, wearing a ratty pair of jeans and a t-shirt that was clearly second hand. What immediately stuck out to you was the thick covering of freckles on her face. You're not entirely sure why that's ringing so many bells, until a moment later the memory is retrieved and you recall a report on a death cultist leader with similar features. Perhaps a pattern?The poor girl was clearly nervous, playing with her hands and looking anywhere in the room but at you. Although, she didn't seem to be quite all there. Her eyes alternated between darting around the room and suddenly going very still behind her glasses, while her head twitched around slightly and she looked confused. Part of you wonders about the sudden fascination with the air directly next to your head. There is a draft, you suppose...Swallowing, the girl takes a step forward and sticks out her hand. "T-tiiris Elson, sir."---You feel like an idiot with your hand out like this. He was on the other side of the dining table from you, that was like asking someone for a high five across the room.Rising to his feet, the man takes your hand and shakes it with a hard grip. Wincing quietly to yourself, you pull your hand back as he introduces himself. "I'm Joran Charan."
>>3962359"A pleasure to meet you, uh..." Your eyes automatically flick down to his lapel, looking for officer badges. They're covered up by his coat, however, so you fumble. "...Mr. Charan?""Please, just call me Joran." He gestures to the chair next to you at the table, before taking a seat himself, his head narrowly missing Easy hovering above his shoulder and making you tense. "So, you're a Valkan?""Half." You nervously pull back your chair and sit down. "On my mother's side.""Where is your mother now?" Joran asks, straightening out the papers he has in front of him. He was an older man, starting to bald slightly. Grey streaks were starting to color the close cropped brown hair above his ears. Something about him was just barely 'off', although you couldn't put your finger on what."Uh, she passed away when I was young, sir." You schooch the chair forward so you're closer to the table."Oh." His face fell. "I'm sorry to hear that." He shuffled his papers and coughed awkwardly, glancing down at them. "We should probably get into it." He folded his arms on the table and leaned in. "Mike filled me in, but just to be sure- you haven't gone to anyone else about this, have you?""Only Taylor and- er, Mike know about this." You shake your head. "I haven't told my father about this...""...I don't mean to encourage any reckless behavior, but that's probably for the best." Joran sighed. "How much do you understand about the situation?""With Valkans?" You have to think for a moment. "...the government seems like it's involved in some unethical shit. There are black markets and private collectors out there with actual Valkan gear and the Valkans that are left aren't... exactly interested in working with you.""That's a good overview." Joran concedes. "The reality is much more complicated than that, though. Politics factor in." He leaned forward. "How many Valkans do you think we have had contact with over the years?""Uh..." You scratch your neck. "A few? Less than ten?""Roughly twenty three. All killed in either raids against cultists, during capture, or while in custody.""Custody?" You tilt your head. "What, did they get sick and die?""No, they were usually killed by guards." Joran says bluntly.You feel a chill run down your spine. "...oh.""If you want to do this, you must go into it with both eyes open. Valkans are utterly despised by the vast majority of the population. There are many who will have little compunction about killing you." He eyes you intently. "Knowing that, are you sure you want to do this?"You swallow, steeling yourself. Then you look him in the eye and nod firmly. "Yes. I need to."Joran cracks a little smile. "Alright then. Second..." He sighs and leans forward. "...what can you offer in return?""...what?"
>>3962362"What can you offer me - and Michael - in return?" He tilts his head at you. "I represent the Planetary Guard, Tiiris. I took an oath to uphold Tagara's interest and protect it's people. Mike has faith that you're telling the truth, but I can't just let the one person who could feasibly fire the weapons on that thing aboard for nothing in return. What are you able to offer me to do this?" He gestures with his hand. "Knowledge? Technology?"A part of you had anticipated this, but in all honesty you aren't sure what to say to him. This wasn't some schoolyard bully who you could surrender to then kick him in the balls, this guy was... if you make any deals here, they'll be forever. No squirming out of them unless you somehow do the impossible and skip planet. But anything you offer him could have catastrophic consequences as well.What can you offer him...?>I have Valkan robots who know a lot about Valkan technology and history. I could have them relay it all to you.>>[Sub-Option] In fact, one of them is yours if you let me aboard. They're utterly loyal. (Easy, OH, ST, Scuttles)>I'll open up the entire ship so the shipbreaking yards can get in. It'll only be good if they can get into it faster, right?>Do you want the truth of how Valkan technology works? It's called the 'Abyss'...>How about perfect translation for the Valkan language?>My personal services, as a fixer for Valkan problems. Can't get much better than that, right?>Would you be able to settle for a very big favor in the future?>I can't offer you anything, I'm sorry...>[Write-In]
>>3962364>I have Valkan robots who know a lot about Valkan technology and history. I could have them relay it all to you.
>>3962364>My personal services, as a fixer for Valkan problems. Can't get much better than that, right?
>>3962364>I have Valkan robots who know a lot about Valkan technology and history. I could have them relay it all to you.I was thinking about this or Abyss, but I'm not sure if we want to reveal Abyss right now in any detail, especially since we don't know much about it ourselves.
>>3962364>>I have Valkan robots who know a lot about Valkan technology and history. I could have them relay it all to you.
>>3962364>My personal services, as a fixer for Valkan problems. Can't get much better than that, right?Robots doing history lessons sounds good too, but I like the idea of being a Valkan Things Troubleshooter. Most Valkan tech only responds to Valkans, after all.
>>3962364>I'll open up the entire ship so the shipbreaking yards can get in. It'll only be good if they can get into it faster, right?
>I have Valkan robots who know a lot about Valkan technology and history. I could have them relay it all to you.Writing.
"A few Valkan robots obey me." You look down, fiddling with your fingers. "They know a lot about Valkan history, culture, technology... they could relay everything you wanted to hear."Joran suddenly leaned forward. "Everything?""I don't know the full extent of their knowledge, but..." You think on what Easy and ST had told you. Hopefully nothing would compromise their safety. "They've taught me a lot so far.""And what manner of drone are these?" Joran sounded slightly suspicious, although he kept his voice level.A slight smile tugs at your lips. "Easy?""Yes, miss?"You have to admit, you feel a bit of amusement at how Joran goes very still in his seat, before carefully looking to his right, where Easy had dropped his cloaking. The solitary camera lens below his chassis pivoted to look at him. "Could you relay?""My serial designation is EZ0021, I am a civilian-grade adjutant, revision O-60. Miss Elson is also accompanied by a Type-18 autonomous scarab unit, designation OH4875. I am fully capable of relaying Valkan social customs, cuisine and history, whereas my currently absent construction-inclined compatriot is most acquainted with Valkan machinery."Your eyebrows instinctively raise up, both at the sudden eloquence and at his pointed omission of ST's presence. Surely you couldn't hide his presence from anyone. It was a car.Joran's face twitches slightly. He considers Easy's words for a long few moments, before asking. "Is it possible to transcribe this information to a storage device, then obfuscate the data within?""Of course." Easy replied smoothly. "It may require several Tagaran hard drives, though.""Wait... why?" You tilt your head. "Can't Easy just tell you?""We need to fabricate an origin for the data." Joran glances at you. "If I just show up and plug the information into our database, people will begin asking questions. We need a convincing location and reason for it to be found. An unencrypted hard drive simply laying around would be nothing short of a miracle.""...oh, I see." You fidget slightly. "So, um... would that be acceptable?"Joran thinks for a long moment. "...yes, I think it would." He looks down at the papers in front of him. "...that means I actually need to get you in now, though.""Do you not have a plan to?" You ask incredulously."The situation is... complicated." Joran began spreading out the stack of papers in front of him. "Getting you within the walls of Site II- that's easy. In fact, there are a multitude of special programs I could conceivably use as an excuse to get you inside, some relatively unsupervised. The bigger obstacle is getting you to the ship itself." He slides a printed photo over to you. "The entire perimeter of that ship is watched at all times by both guards and cameras."
>>3964251You pull the photo towards yourself. It was a snippet of security footage, with a timestamp dated within the last year. A concrete pavilion edged with a metallic grate ran parallel to a massive wall of metal. Standing in sight of the camera, a soldier was frozen in the middle of taking a step, head turned towards the ship. "...the whole thing?" You look up."Eyes-on surveillance was reduced after budget cuts back in '68, but cameras are cheap. They still have something directly recording every hatch." Joran shrugged. "The least surveillance is... well, at the breach site itself. But it's crawling with crews twenty four-seven, slipping through is completely ridiculous."You'll take that under advisement. "...so what would you recommend?""You wouldn't happen to have any way to fly, would you?" Joran chuckled and sighed. "Cameras aren't perfect, it may be possible to alter feeds so you can slip past, but that's..." He hesitates. "Well, improbable. Hotwiring that mess would be ridiculous. My personal thought is to use a moving truck to block the cameras for a moment- have you move over on the side.""...those are pretty big doors." You puzzle. "Won't they make a sound when they open?""How should I know? They've never opened." Joran rubbed his neck. "Give me some more time, I'll see if I can't figure something out...""...I might have some ideas." You push the photo back at him. "...when do we do this?""It would be least suspicious during... uh, what's it called..." He pulled back one of the papers. "Flag Week? Many, many interns and special tours are given around that time. Getting you on the manifest would be quick and easy. Afterwards... I can't say. In other circumstances, I'd say that timing is trivial, but anything outside of peak season will draw attention. Even if it's from a starved public relations officer, it's bad.""...right." You look up at him, swallow and stick out your hand again. "Thank you, Mr. Charan." Yep, still feels stupid.He shakes your hand with a confused expression again. "Are you really sure you're up to this?""No?" You smile nervously. "I've gotta do it, though."
>>3964254You have one week remaining before you visit Y'avel. It is now the school week.>Take Wander up on her offer of tutoring you in a specific ability.>>[Sub-Option] Shapeshifting. How's that for getting past the cameras?>>[Sub-Option] Despite your desires otherwise, you have a feeling decay or renewal would be more useful in Y'avel.>>[Sub-Option] With only one week to go, maybe attempting to learn some radical new ability isn't a wise idea. Maybe practice what you have?>ST mentioned a thing called a lensing field before, right? That should help you evade the Y'avel cameras.>Spend time with your friends. They help keep you grounded and sane- and you feel a need to vent some of what's happening to them...>>[Sub-Option] Kara.>>[Sub-Option] Dad.>>[Sub-Option] Someone you haven't hung out with in a while or don't know very well. (Write-In)>[Write-In]
>>3964256>ST mentioned a thing called a lensing field before, right? That should help you evade the Y'avel cameras.
>ST mentioned a thing called a lensing field before, right? That should help you evade the Y'avel cameras.Writing.
Commercial District, Miir, 2nd Floor.13th of 5th, 1173. 7:40PM.Rain splattered on the windshield as ST navigated the evening traffic, while your eyes were fixed outside the window on an arbitrary point in Miir's ceiling. You continue turning over the problem that you've been grappling with for the last two days. Cameras. Joran hadn't gotten in contact with you at all, which probably meant he was either being cautious or had nothing figured out either. Without evidence, you'd go with the latter.That meant the problem of how to actually get in the ship still fell to you. If all else failed, you suppose you could try and disguise yourself as a construction worker and just walk into the current breach, but that seemed like an awful idea. You fidget with your hands in your seat. "...hey, ST?""Yes?""You mentioned something called a lensing field before, right?""Correct.""Remind me exactly what it does.""A lensing field bends electromagnetic waves in a small radius, masking visual presence, radar cross-section and thermal signature. It is also used to protect organic life from gamma radiation, x-rays and ultraviolet radiation in workplace conditions.""Right, and that's different from what you and Easy do... it's just camouflage, isn't it?""Highly dynamic camouflage compared to Tagaran technology, but effectively the same principle. Lensing fields carry the advantage of not requiring a separate cloak to be installed on tools.""Any idea where we can find one- er, whatever makes one, that is?""I do not have a specific lead at this time."You turn back from the rain splattering against your window. "Are you going to get one?""...unlikely." ST admitted. "Barring enthusiasts sharing images between themselves. I could possibly look through black market listings.""I'm sensing a 'but'.""Black market dealers rarely disclose their location, and drawing them out to acquire the unit would be extremely risky.""Do they even have one?" You raise your eyebrow."Possibly. Images are too indistinct to make a positive match. We may simply end up acquiring fakes or junk.""Any other way?""Directly acquiring one from a cache.""Robbery, in other words.""Yes. However, there are some collections with notable concentrations of Valkan hardware. The probability of encountering a lensing field generator by chance is much higher.""I'll keep that in mind if I ever feel like risking my life..." You drawl."Risking your life may be unavoidable." ST comments. "Collectors are rarely willing to part with any piece of their collection, even if they cannot use it.""We could send Easy or OH?" You suggest."Neither are dedicated combat drones or scarabs. Neither carry non-lethal weaponry. They are of limited use when it comes to civilians.""Point." You murmur. "...breaking and entering, huh? What are the places?"
>>3965805"The smallest cache is the private collection of millionaire Perrus Ranon. It is located on his estate on Miir's third floor. No images, but traffic from his location indicates that he believes that every object contained within is potentially operable or valuable.""'Believes' and 'potentially' being the operative word." You mutter. "Who else?""The largest collection is contained within a self-storage facility on the second floor.""Self-storage?" You ask in disbelief. "They just shoved a bunch of Valkan shit in what's basically a garage?""Correct.""...who would do this?""Jeremy Manaan, an office worker on the second floor. Low income, poor job skills. Confirmed Tagaran ancestry. We are uncertain as to how he acquired his collection.""...couldn't it be mostly junk?""Probably. Some of it may not be, we know he has some legitimate items from his internet activity.""Like what?" You perk up."Flashlights and a small toy meant for children. They indicate his collection may contain others."You sigh and lean back, fumbling with a water bottle. "Okay, what about the last one? Medium-sized?""Technically. It is larger than Perrus Ranon's collection by a few units. Owner is one Jared Clinsky. He-"You twitch. "I'm sorry, Clinsky?""Yes.""No relation to, uh, Melissa Clinsky, right?""Husband of twelve years. He is a game designer and software programmer at Elation Games. The collection is within their home. Fairly mundane security, both work away from home and they have no children."You shake your head. "Yeah, but uh- nope. Not going anywhere near that one.""Understood. I will continue target research."You nod, although you can feel yourself grimacing. Three days left in the week- and you'd have to strike during the week, everyone will be home on the weekends. Except for the guy who keeps his stuff in self-storage, you suppose. But with just three days left in the week, you'd have to basically run into each attempt with no preparation at all. What about- no, no, this whole thing is a stupid idea. Maybe you should just try something else...>Perrus Ranon's estate will have the best stuff, most likely. If he thinks it works still, all the better.>Jeremy Manaan just shoved his collection into a self-storage place, it's ripe for being picked through.>Jared Clinsky- well. Unsecured. Similar size to Ranon's but without the potential security...>Try and arrange a black market deal instead.>[Write-In]
>>3965807>Jeremy Manaan just shoved his collection into a self-storage place, it's ripe for being picked through.Start with the low-hanging fruit.
>>3965807>Jared Clinsky- well. Unsecured. Similar size to Ranon's but without the potential security...
>>3965807>Jeremy Manaan just shoved his collection into a self-storage place, it's ripe for being picked through.Some nondescript schmuck with a huge Valkan junk collection in a generic storage? Yeah, he can't possibly be a secret cultist hitman.But sure, let's start there. Wear the overalls, sifting through junk can be a dirty job.Clinsky didn't sound familiar, but checking previous threads revealed...>"Is everyone logged in? Good." Mrs. Clinsky, the computer science teacher, immediately began the lesson and the bell rang.>It's far easier to just keep your head down and nod when your mistakes are inevitably pointed out in front of the whole class. As much as a snob she is about it, Mrs. Clinsky at least only points out legitimate errors. You just make an easy target, is all.His wife is the snotty computer science teacher. God, whyyyy. These choices, man.
>>3965807>Jeremy Manaan just shoved his collection into a self-storage place, it's ripe for being picked through.This is a trap and we know itBut fuck it
>Jeremy Manaan just shoved his collection into a self-storage place, it's ripe for being picked through.Writing.
YOU HAUL IT WE STORE IT!!, Miir, 2nd Floor.14th of 5th, 1173. 1:00PM."...two-one. Pound."You hit the last button the keypad, dropping back down into the driver's seat as the automatic gate opened and accordingly bumping your elbow on the new steering wheel. You rubbed it and grimaced as ST rolled forward. "Remind me why we needed a steering wheel?""Self-driving vehicles are not allowed within the premises.""It's not like I'll be able to fake it if anyone is watching..." You mutter.You were on the other side of the city, far and away from your normal plate, rather close to the junkyard where you found ST. The smell of the sea was palpable here, mixing with the midday humidity. You were cutting class to be here, but that had paid off with how the lot was totally deserted. ST pulled through the rows of buildings and identical garage doors, while you kept a cursory hand on the wheel to keep up appearances for whoever was watching.You come to a stop three from the end of the row, and you lean out to look at the number above the doorway. "Huh, just like you said. Lot 305." Getting out, you walk over to the right side of the rolling lock, sliding your eye to the right as OH4875's signature floats up next to you. "You sure this will look convincing?""On camera, yes." OH4875 made a clicking noise. "Likely not in person."You reach into your pocket and pull out your normal house key, you mime inserting it into the cylindrical lock push in lock closing the door, stopping short of actually doing so. Twisting it in the air at the same time as OH4875 shoots a thin beam of light into the lock, it turns and then pops out, falling into the palm of your other hand. "That looked fake as shit." You murmur."Place the lock within the warskin, I will manufacture a key." OH4875 said. "It will look legitimate upon closing."Tossing the removed lock from your coat into the car, you turn towards the door again as OH4875 enters the car again, Easy's signature joining you in lieu. Sliding the latch to the side, you throw up the rolling shutter and come face to face with a storage unit full of dusty junk. "...great." You sigh, looking around. The sheer amount of junk contained within here was impressive to say the least. All in all, the unit was easily the size of a two-car garage, with the center dominated by two enormous shelves that split the unit into three lanes. Both walls were piled nearly floor to ceiling with various pieces of junk on shelves. Easy's signature floats past you, gliding between the shelves and carefully perusing each.You step in after him, glancing at the shelves as you pass them. Most of them were cluttered with various odd mechanical devices that you couldn't quite place. None of them looked like they'd be particularly out of place at a hardware store, except for being extremely sooty or dirty. "Is any of it not uh... junk?" You whisper to Easy. "Actually, many of these parts appear to be legitimate."
>>3967623Your head swivels towards Easy so fast you nearly pull a muscle. "Wait, really?" You turn and pick up a small spring from a nearby shelf. "This is Valkan?""Very possibly." Easy replied. "Neither I nor OH4875 are capable of precise material analysis, but it matches the trigger regulator spring used in many Valkan rifles. Tagarans are not known to manufacture that exact part.""Right..." You sound doubtful."Perhaps it is coincidence." Easy suggested. "Either way, it is promising."OH4875 joined you as you moved towards the back depositing the lock back in your hand- now with a standard key inside."That's creepy." You murmur. "Is it real metal?""It is construction resin plated in brass. Breaking it open will reveal it as a fake.""Still..." You put the key in your pocket, before turning back to the shelves. "You're more knowledgeable about tech than Easy, right? See any tech?"OH4875 glides past you, turning to look at the contents of each shelf in turn. "All broken, all broken." It turned back. "A staggering amount of it is genuine Valkan parts, but it's all dead.""'Dead'?" You ask."There are enough parts to rebuild ST0504 several times over." It picked up a particularly odd assembly. "This fire sequence regulator, for example. However, the parts are 'dead'. The Abyss energy within has been drained, rendering them unable to be transformed or even completely non-functional.""Any of it worth something?""Sure, if you happen to know a fully qualified Valkan engineer." OH4875 tossed it aside. "Otherwise, no." It glided past you, starting to scan the various junk on the shelves."Anything I can do to help?" You ask."Try respirating." Wander's voice comes to you. "If anything in here is still alive...""That's pretty flimsy logic." You remark. "I thought you knew what you were doing?""Excuse me for trying."You roll your eyes, but slowly begin to pick up your respiration, breathing out the black smoke as you scan the shelves. Easy, OH and ST's signatures begin glowing brighter around you, and hopefully so will the signature of anything else in here. Out of the corner of your eye, you see something."There. Did you catch that?"Turning, you walk over to the shelf, gently pushing aside two pieces of scrap to see the glowing signature. It wasn't quite the same as any of your drones. Instead of an 'orb' with several lights inside it, the simple knife laying on the shelf simply emanated a black aura around it that made it start to fade into the shadows around the shelf. Carefully picking it up, you bring it into the light.
>>3967624The glow of the Abyss faded from it as you held it up and lowered your breathing. In the light, it looked like a fairly simple knife, with a curved point for the single edge and a fuller than ran almost the entire length of the blade. The handle was an odd, rubber material that you can't quite place- until you realize it's the same grippy polymer that was on the plasma converter. It fits quite nicely in your hand, though. The length of the blade was etched with repeated lines and markings- fancy Valkan writing, you're fairly sure.You turn. "Easy?""Yes, miss?""I found this knife, but I don't think is a machine..."Easy glided over one of the shelves to you, examining the knife as you held it out for him. "It is a summoner's bayonet, I believe. They consider such weapons traditional.""A summoner?" You ask, looking back at the blade. "I thought you were necromancers of some kind.""I've never heard of summoning." Wander offered. "Perhaps it's a primitive confusion with raising the Dead?""Knowledge of summoning was forbidden to all. I apologize.""Why was it forbidden?" You ask, surprised."The creators believed it to be a dangerous and blasphemous art." Easy said. "To even speak of it was to court with banishment.""...the Valkans were necromancers." You say flatly."It's all a matter of perspective, really." Wander snarks.You look down at the knife before turning it over in your hand. "Does it do anything?""It definitely has some Abyss properties." Wander mused. "There were probably pretty potent to still have a presence after this long.""I'm afraid I do not know." Easy said.You look down at it, then set it back down for the moment. "You two find anything?""This collection certainly proves the concept that one unit's junk is a disposal unit's treasure." OH4875 said through the shelves. "A small collection of functioning- but mostly useless devices.""Like?" You ask as you duck around the shelves.OH4875 glided back towards you, picking up a small gun-shaped device. "Hairdryer. Old model. EZ0021 has one of these built-in." It dropped it and glided back down, picking up a fairly large canister. "Personal Terraforming Unit.""Personal what?""Terraforming Unit. Used as a hub for personal terrariums. Can regulate roughly four thousand cubic meters of soil, water or air to ensure optimal growing conditions. Obviously too small to work on a planet." OH4875 set it down more carefully and moved to the middle aisle, picking up a small, thin rectangular device from a felt-lined shelf. "Possibly the most valuable thing in here - and I think the owner knows it - but it's unfortunately broken, ma'am."You kneel down, peering. "What is it?"
>>3967627"This is the operating component of a construction beam." OH4875 looks up at you. "It is the part of a fabricator that assembles matter from component tanks. Unfortunately it's uptakes are broken and we have no component tanks. It would be useful, otherwise.""I don't suppose you know of a broken fabricator that needs fixing anywhere, do you?" You ask with a hopeful grin."No, ma'am. Should I pass it onto ST?""...I'll think about it. Maybe we should focus on the task at hand for now." You cough and stand up, looking over the things you've found so far. This was an easy place to get into, but you'd blatantly rolled up through the front door- after all, it's not like you were exactly an expert at breaking and entering. If you took too much, and the owner noticed, they'd see your face on the security camera footage. So you had to be subtle about this... what should you take with you?>Definitely the summoner's bayonet. It was dusty and behind other things, he'll never notice it's gone.>Did somebody say a Valkan hairdryer?!>Personal Terraforming Unit. Whether you'll use it or not, there are probably people who would kill to have that thing.>It's obviously prized by the owner, but a construction beam sounds really valuable...>Honestly, you might as well grab up every piece of scrap from this thing as you can. No telling when it might come in handy.>[Write-In]
>>3967635>It's obviously prized by the owner, but a construction beam sounds really valuable...>Personal Terraforming Unit. Whether you'll use it or not, there are probably people who would kill to have that thing.
>>3967635>Honestly, you might as well grab up every piece of scrap from this thing as you can. No telling when it might come in handy.
Ha, somebody started writing and couldn't stop.>>3967635>Definitely the summoner's bayonet. It was dusty and behind other things, he'll never notice it's gone.Take the one legit dangerous thing, leave the rest.Just a lot of inert scrap metal and weird random gadgets. Doesn't seem like there's a lot of payoff to taking big stuff and alerting this guy that someone rifled through his pile.
>>3967635>Definitely the summoner's bayonet. It was dusty and behind other things, he'll never notice it's gone.>Personal Terraforming Unit. Whether you'll use it or not, there are probably people who would kill to have that thingAnd maybe>It's obviously prized by the owner, but a construction beam sounds really valuableBecause we might need it to fix something if we can get it working (say, the medical bay on the ship)
>>3967635>Definitely the summoner's bayonet. It was dusty and behind other things, he'll never notice it's gone.
Seems like there are a few possible results here.Take the bayonet: he doesn't notice. Even if he did, it's just a knife.Take the scrap and/or PTU: he notices the big things missing, checks the video logs, wonders why the thief ignored the valuables and stole junk.Take the construction doodad: he notices it missing from his felt lined pedestal, scours the video logs, declares vendetta on the thief who took his prized artifact.Take the hairdryer: he notices it missing eventually, flips his shit. It may have been inactive but it's shaped like a gun. The thief must have known about it somehow. Paranoia intensifies. His black market contacts get alerted to a possible maniac running around with a working heat-ray.The last one sounds like some lulz, but there's no lensing field here so I just prefer just ghosting away. Besides, what if he too has great hair in need of exquisite drying?
>Definitely the summoner's bayonet. It was dusty and behind other things, he'll never notice it's gone.Writing.>>3967727Sometimes you can't see a clear choice to stop on, so you just keep writing and writing and writing and oh look it's four hours past my bed time.
You sigh. The probability of any of this being useful is so low you're better off just leaving it all just the way you found it. Glancing over at OH4875, you shrug. "Sounds like we struck out, then. Let's get out of here.""Very good, ma'am." OH4875 carefully set the broken construction beam down, before vanishing from view.You move to step out of the unit, but stop. Glancing to your right, you contemplate the bayonet. It was such a small thing, and unlike everything else in here it wasn't innocent- it was a knife after all....well, a knife isn't that dangerous, you suppose. But it was a Valkan knife that was potentially enchanted or some shit. Surely that warranted taking it away before he could accidentally hurt someone with it, right? Plucking it from the shelf, you carefully slip it into your pocket and step outside of the unit.Reaching into ST's open door, you pick up the lock cylinder and roll the door down, close the latch and push the lock in. Taking out OH's fake key, you push it in and twist. It turns easily and slides out, and you jiggle the latch a few times for good measure. Pulling the key out, you pocket it and slide back into the driver's seat and shut the door."...okay, can we leave before I get a weird new stalker?" You mutter, carefully pulling the knife out of your pocket and holding it to the side. "OH? Can you make a scabbard for this so I don't slice my thigh open?"An invisible force plucks it out of your hands. "Of course, ma'am.""Thanks." You put a hand on the wheel as ST rolls around to the automated gate, which opens as you approach. Part of you can't help holding your breath until you're clear of it and a block away, expecting some form of last minute bullshit. You breathe out. "One down.""Two to go." Easy said."That or the black market..." You mutter.>Dealing with illegal trading is always a very smart move.>Well, guess it's time to rob your computer teacher. What a shame.>You don't know anything about him but the rich guy just immediately strikes you as a pretentious asshole. Go steal his stuff.>Actually on second thought, maybe you should do some more thorough reconnaissance before trying the others. Although that would eat up an entire day of your remaining time, you might not be able to check every one of them...>>[Sub-Option] Scout Ranon's mansion.>>[Sub-Option] Scout out Mrs. Clinsky's... condo? >[Write-In]
>>3969160>Well, guess it's time to rob your computer teacher. What a shame.Time for Medium difficulty
>>3969160>Well, guess it's time to rob your computer teacher. What a shame.Hehehehahahahahohohoho.We feel very bad about this. Yes we do.
>>3969160>Well, guess it's time to rob your computer teacher. What a shame.
>>3969160>>Well, guess it's time to rob your computer teacher. What a shame.
>>3969160>Actually on second thought, maybe you should do some more thorough reconnaissance before trying the others. Although that would eat up an entire day of your remaining time, you might not be able to check every one of them...
>Well, guess it's time to rob your computer teacher. What a shame.Writing.
Hi-view Gardens, Miir, 3rd Floor.15th of 5th, 1173. 2:00PM.Mrs. Clinsky... honestly, you were surprised at how nice the place she lived was. You knew that tech teachers were paid well, but this felt a little ridiculous. "Are you sure this is where she lives?" You ask, peering out at the fancy house in front of you. It was a fairly large house, with a lush green yard mostly obscured by a living fence."Yes." ST answered."And since ST is too polite to mention it-" Easy spoke up. "We checked and it is your computer science teacher.""Greeeat." You sigh. "Okay, any security cameras?" You peer. "A house this nice ought to have them.""Under the eaves, most likely." OH4875 noted. "I'll get them.""Thanks." You mutter, carefully getting out of the car, glancing around yourself warily. The streets were totally abandoned- most people were out at work. Although that wouldn't last forever. Undoubtedly it would start to get busier in two hours or so as kids got off of school and started to come home. You should be quick. "Feels like I'm suspicious as hell." You mutter, smoothing your uniform skirt as you open the front gate."This is a quiet neighborhood." Easy commented. "Low crime rate, the people here are fairly trusting.""Right..." You mutter. "So, through the back right?""If you wish. The front door is electronically locked. I can bypass it.""Oh, right..." You think, then glance at ST parked on the curb. "Hey, can you open their garage?""One moment." Easy went silent. "Yes.""We could back into their garage and load up in secret..." You think to yourself. What's the best way to do this...?>Just go through the front door. Act like you own the place.>Back door. You don't want to leave an electronic trail, even if it's just a doorknob.>Garage. Plenty of privacy in case you find something big...>[Write-In]
>>3971306>Back door. You don't want to leave an electronic trail, even if it's just a doorknob.
>>3971306>Back door. You don't want to leave an electronic trail, even if it's just a doorknob.Was going to vote garage because it would be the least conspicuous entry and make loading up simple... and suddenly had a vision of someone pulling into the drive and trapping us because they forgot their lunch.
>Back door. You don't want to leave an electronic trail, even if it's just a doorknob.Writing.
Turns out the back door was unlocked."Trusting place..." You mutter to yourself, pushing it open and stepping into... what looked like a laundry room."Even for a culture with as little technological progression as Tagara, securing your door electronically is much the same." Easy comments. "The lack of a single crime for the past eight months within a twelve block radius likely contributes."I know, but still." You sigh, stepping through the laundry room. "Hey, so, any idea where he keeps it?""All photo evidence showed a room with Esari Fir hardwood flooring.""Uh, what?""...all photo evidence showed a room with grey hardwood flooring.""Right." You glance to your right, seeing several rooms through the doorway, then to your left, where you see stairs. "Check upstairs for me?" You gesture, before walking through the empty doorway."Yes, miss." Easy pivoted and floated up the stairs.You're supposed to be searching, but you can't help but feel impressed at Mrs. Clinsky's house. Either she hired a housekeeper or she worked hard to keep it tidy and spotless. Directly attached to her laundry room was a living room with plush carpet that your feet practically sank into. It makes you feel almost guilty for wearing your shoes in here... which then again, is exactly the kind of emotion you'd expect Clinsky's house to inspire.Glancing to your left, you're slightly taken aback to see that - instead of a TV - there was an entire CHS system set up in the wall. The unit was mounted in place of a normal television, a big, bulky box sitting at the edge of a white screen for projection. Next to it were embedded shelves crowded with CHS tapes in well-worn sleeves. Was this her husbands?Then again, he was supposedly a game developer. It would make some sense that he's a pretty geeky guy. You can't help but think about it as you wander into the next room, glancing down at the- oh, grey floors. The walls in here were painted a crisp white, with a set of glass doors in the wall that opened out onto the lawn. A ceramic topped table took up the middle, with a few wooden cabinets to the side, their insides taken up with screwdrivers, drills and other tools. Laid out on it were funny mats with grids printed on them, along with paint stains and a few portable plastic drawers. Some kind of work table? Makes sense, with all the hardware and screws.Looking around some more, you frown at the cabinets, opening them and poking through. Lots of stuff, but none of it obviously Valkan. It was mostly power drills and sandpaper and small hobby knives. A few odd canisters filled with some kind of green stuff, but you doubt that was Valkan. "Hey, Easy?" You call, turning towards the stairs. "I found the room but none of i-"
>>3973412A small crunch floats to your ears, and you stop dead. Very slowly turning to your left, you set your eyes on the man casually eating lunch in the kitchen. He was a scrawny guy, with longer brown hair and a black beanie pulled on top of it. Throwing the last of his chips back, he picked up a sandwich from the plate in front of him and took a few bites, munching and staring out into space for a second.Glancing sideways, he raises an eyebrow, waves his hand and speaks. "Hey, how's it going?">Blabber for a few seconds and then run out.>Awkwardly introduce yourself.>"Pretty stressed, actually.">"Motherfucker. Easy, we've got a witness.">[Write-In]
>>3973414>Awkwardly introduce yourself.
>>3973414>Awkwardly introduce yourself.Why didn't ST scan the house to see if it was occupied?
>>3973543ST generally figures out who's in a building by accessing unsecured wireless security camera footage or by asking Easy or OH to take a look. Since it's a home and not a business with cameras inside, ST was fairly blind. It hasn't come up in story yet because I couldn't find a way to fit it in without info-dumping for an entire post but ST carries a specific loadout that actually fairly severely limits his ability to be stealthy... by Valkan standards, that is. By Tagaran standards the ability to sneak armored cars around a city is nuts.tl;dr ST was outfitted for blowing things up and doesn't see through walls that well without a Valkan pilot plugged into the sensors arraySometimes I wonder if I should maintain some kind of in-universe codex but I don't want to make new readers slog through it to understand what's going on.
>>3973414>"Pretty stressed, actually."Very recently, in fact.
Well, shit. Yeah, had a feeling it was a bit too easy.>>3973414>Awkwardly introduce yourself.
>>3973414>Blabber for a few seconds and then run out.
>Awkwardly introduce yourself.Writing.
>>3974260We are the bestest and nicest burglar ever. So polite!
"U-uh..." You force an awkward, cheesy smile. "Hiiiii? Er... I was just, um... my name is...""Probably shouldn't tell me that." The man frowned at his sandwich, reaching in and fishing in the middle for a moment before extracting a small, thin bone that was stuck in the meat. "I wanna be able to tell the cops I have no idea who you are later.""...thanks?" You sputter. "Um, er...""Jared." He looked back at you, and jerked his head towards the doorway you came through. "Most valuable stuff is probably the CHS tapes in there, but I won't blame you if you wanna look.""That's not what I'm looking for though..." You shake your head. "Wait, shouldn't you... I'm...""Robbing me, yeah." Jared took a bite of the sandwich. "I'm insured, though, so... go nuts." He spared a glance towards you and raised an eyebrow as he chewed, with an decidedly neutral expression. "Unless you and your... friends?" He frowned slightly, leaning out to look down a hallway you can't see. "...just wandered in here?""...are you high?" You ask, puzzled."Not since college." He rubbed his head. "Why?""This is just a weird conversation." You blink. "I seriously have no idea what I'm supposed to do.""Like, right now- or in general?""Right n-" You stop yourself. "...in general."Jared gave you a sympathetic grin. "I've been where you are." He got a thoughtful look on his face, glanced over his shoulder and jerked his thumb back a the counter before turning back to you. "Want a sandwich?">"...I'd love one.">"U-um, I'd rather you just tell me where... um...">>[Sub-Option] "Your valuables are!">>[Sub-Option] "Your Valkan stuff is!">"I think I'll just be going...">[Write-In]
>>3975269>"I think I'll just be going..."
>>3975269>"...I'd love one."
>>3975269>"...I'd love one."Nevermind, let's just have a sandwich... whatever.
>>3975269>"...I'd love one."Can't... resist... reflexive... politeness...
>>3975269>>"...I'd love one."It's drugged isn't it
>"...I'd love one."Writing.
"...I'd love one." You sigh.Jared stands up and opens up his fridge, pulling out a few jars and a bag of bread, before pulling down a plate from his cabinets. He gestures towards it. "Go nuts.""Thanks..." Your shoulders slump, and you cautiously step into the kitchen, around him and to the plate. "Um... I'm sorry, but you're really being way too friendly. It's creepy.""Uh... sorry." Jared rubs the back of his head and makes a face. "If it helps, I really have no idea what I'm doing either.""Then... why the sandwich?""Because I'm kinda hoping that if I'm nice, you won't rob me?" He shrugs with a sheepish smile. "Working so far, right?""I... I guess." You poke through the bags, sliding a few slices of poultry onto your plate."So... is it need, or dumb teenage stuff?" He leaned against the opposite counter, picking up his plate."Uh... er, 'need', I guess." In an abstract manner of speaking."Rough times?" He queries. "Sudden bill?""Just a thing that came up." You mutter."I think I understand." Jared put the last of his sandwich into his mouth. He was kind of a scrawny guy, all skin and bones under a hoodie and ratty jeans. Certainly not the kind of guy you'd imagine Clinsky marrying, and certainly not someone who registered to you as much of a threat."How are you so relaxed about this?" You ask, feeling the paranoia creep in. Was he secretly a Valkan? Was this sandwich poisoned? Maybe someone figured out what you were going to do, broke in ahead of time and pretended to be living here so they- okay brain that's enough out of you."Nothing I can do will really change the situation. And beating a poor kid up over my antique movie collection is not something I want to go down in history for.""No- I mean how are you so calm about this?" You gesture with the knife."If you met my wife, you'd understand." Jared answered, his face developing a faraway look for but a moment, which he breaks out of after a moment. "She's a handful.""Right..." You trail off. Okay, so he's not going to attack you, and he seems like kind of a wimp in all honesty. He's already said he's not going to get in your way, so overpowering him might not even be strictly necessary. Possibly... possibly you could just ask him to point out his Valkan stuff. He hasn't even mentioned it so far, maybe that was a sign it wasn't particularly valuable to him? Or maybe he was just trying to avoid bringing it up, the stuff was illegal, after all...>Clock him in the head and search the house while he's down.>Ask him politely where the dangerous relics are.>>[Sub-Option] Tell him the truth.>>[Sub-Option] Tell him you want to sell it on the black market.>Stall him while Easy searches for the artifacts somewhere else.>[Write-In]
>>3976795>Stall him while Easy searches for the artifacts somewhere else.
>>3976795>Ask him politely where the dangerous relics are.He'll probably put two and two together anyway. Who even 'needs' valkan relics?>>[Sub-Option] Tell him the truth.We need a Valkan lensing field to sneak into Y'avel to get to the medical bay to complete our biology? That truth?
>>3976876If that vote succeeds, the next vote will be to what version of the truth you'll tell him.Of course, you could also dictate what you'd like to say now.
>>3976795>Ask him politely where the dangerous relics are.>[Sub-Option] Tell him the truth.Not the whole truth, obviously. But being robbed of an alien artifact by a teenage space wizard is the sort of thing you really can't report to your insurance provider. They don't cover that.
>>3976795>Stall him while Easy searches for the artifacts somewhere else.Screw telling more people, spilling the beans in front of ol' Cap'n was enough. At this rate we'll be carrying a magical "I'm a Valkan" sign at all times and it will get us killed or worse.
>Stall him while Easy searches for the artifacts somewhere else.Writing.
The Valkans did nothing wrong.Also page 10
>>3978420Maybe the thread will archive when I'm awake for once.
Easy hadn't busted in to save you, which meant he was either watching... or was searching the house as you speak. Hopefully he wasn't simpleminded enough that he'd abandon what he was doing just to watch you have a conversation. If he'd even heard, actually. A quick glance around showed you that his signature was currently in the second story of the house. "U-um, sorry, your wife?" You stumble over your words."Yeah." He echoes. "She's a very forceful woman. Always thinking about the flaws in something or other. Hell, our very first date she spent most of the time pointing out all of my little flaws.""Heh. Whipped.""She sounds... pleasant." You say, feeling some sarcasm slip into your words. Then you remember yourself, and take a bite of your sandwich to cover it up.Jared snorts. "Guess you know someone like her, uh-" He glanced at you, then down at your uniform. "Actually, do you know her? She's a teacher at Miir City-State...""U-uh, no! I actually go to..." You think hard. "...the World Scholar School, o-over on Plate Three." You force out. Hopefully he'll mistake your stuttering for nerves instead of desperate lying."Oh." He echoed. "I didn't think that was the uniform they used...""What happened to not asking me much about myself?" You tap your foot, willing Easy to hurry up. Perhaps you could check your phone without arousing too much suspicion..."Right, right, I'm sorry." He waved you off, thinking to himself. "Do you have any idea of what you want to do as a career?""I'm sorry?" You tilt your head."You know, future plans." He shrugged his shoulders. "What's your game plan?""This is a weird conversation." You drawl."Just trying to make the most of it. I feel like I need to send you out of my office with a cookie and a glass of milk.""Office?" You raise an eyebrow, trying to picture this guy as any sort of person who needs an office."I'm a lead at my office. Had to settle a lot of things, comfort a lot of workers... which I wasn't prepared for when I took the job, I'll admit." He rubbed his shoulder. "Sorry, I'm rambling.""No, no, please- go on." You encourage him."Here, I'll go check on Easy." Wander says, her voice fading as she- uh, wanders off.You think a silent thank you, hoping she can perceive it on your face or something."Hmm. I almost heard a little something there." She calls faintly. "Keep trying, maybe one day you'll actually be able to see me.""Lead Designer, right- that's supposed to be the guy who makes all the big decisions. But it turns out what most of your job is..." Jared starts to stay, but you tune him out.
>>3978822It wouldn't do to just start meditating in an effort to get away from this conversation, would it? No, that wouldn't make any sense. This whole errand had been an exercise in stupidity. You'd come to rely on the drones to the point that you'd assume they could make no errors. Clearly, you were mistaken. That wasn't something you were going to forget any time soon."I think he keeps it in his sock drawer!" Wander's voice faintly echoes down to you. "Wait, no... Easy's found a few things. Let me- Easy? Oi, Easy!" Her voice cuts out for a few moments, while you desperately try to pay attention to Jared prattling on. Then footsteps come up to your ear, and she speaks. "I forgot nobody else can hear me. He's found more than one thi-" Your phone buzzes in your pocket. "There he is.""Oh, I'm sorry, I really need to take this..." You feign a smile and pull out your phone.>EZ: He has in his possession an intact lensing field generator.Score.>EZ: However, he also possesses an inactive combat-class weapon drone. It is too large for me to carry.>T: How the fuck did he get one of those?>EZ: It has a price tag for a local pawn shop on it.>EZ: He is using it as a decorative statue.Bizarre enough to fit him.>T: Anything else?>EZ: A Valkan circlet of considerable age."I think it has Abyss properties.">T: Can you get OH to help?>EZ: Yes, but we will need more time to recover everything.You look back up at Jared, who's busying himself with a jug of water. It's not like he's tried to hurt you yet, but that seems to be the result of stupidity more than kindness. Complacent rich guy, you guess. That or he's simply very even-tempered. That or he's a very good liar and the police are descending on you are you speak- no, ST would have definitely noticed that kind of call go out....it's just a few more minutes, right? How bad could it hurt?>This place gives you the creeps. Have Easy and OH snag the two simple things and get out.>Another drone, though... it's tempting enough to risk, have Easy and OH snag it as well. Really, what could a few more minutes risk?>On second thought, do you really need a cloaking device? Just grab the drone.>[Write-In]
>>3978824>This place gives you the creeps. Have Easy and OH snag the two simple things and get out.Police are probably on there way.
>>3978824>This place gives you the creeps. Have Easy and OH snag the two simple things and get out.
>>3978824>This place gives you the creeps. Have Easy and OH snag the two simple things and get out.Yeah, skedaddle.Kind of hilarious that he bought a combat drone at a pawn shop and is using it as an art piece. But I guess all the drones we've seen are generally pretty in a geometric way.
>>3978822>Another drone, though... it's tempting enough to risk, have Easy and OH snag it as well. Really, what could a few more minutes risk?Excited for the next thread where Tiiris tries to escape this dude's murder rape dungeon.
>This place gives you the creeps. Have Easy and OH snag the two simple things and get out.Writing.>>3979278Oh, please. He doesn't have a murder rape dungeon.It's his wife's.
>T: Just the first two.>T: I want to get the hell out of here.>EZ: Twenty seconds.You look up over your phone, glancing at Jared, then the room around him. Was this a trap? Or was all of this just explained by a bit of an idiot who thought the best way to stay out of trouble was to appease his robber... who was a teenage girl- yeah, something didn't add up here. Either he was too stupid or he- ah, wait.The security system.OH would have disabled it, but he didn't know that. So, he probably thought that your intrusion had been detected or seen, and that the police were on their way... which would explain part of why he's so calm. That, and you doubt he's particularly threatened by you. Right. Time to make a run for it, then."Uh." You look up and smile, pushing your chair back and getting to your feet. "If that's everything, I'll justbegoingthanksbye-" You spill out, quickly stepping back through the doorway and then turning and running down through the living room, then the laundry room and into his yard. A muffled voice calls after you, but you ignore it, practically plowing through the gate to the yard and throwing yourself into ST's open door. "Drive, drive, drive!"ST immediately pulls forward, narrowly turning around the corner and accelerating further into the neighborhood.You put your face in your hands. "Dammit, that was a dumb idea...""I am sorry, I was not adequately prepared.""Damn right you weren't!" You slam your hand on the dashboard. "How come you didn't tell me he was home?!""He was not near any windows, and his work session was not logged in."You purse your lips for a second, then sigh and fall back in your chair. "I was pretty dumb myself. I just walked in with my uniform on and everything...""I want to say shapeshifting would have helped you with a disguise, but likely not in this case...""Can it, Wander." You mutter, before looking out the window. "OH and Easy got the stuff, right?""They successfully exited through a window.""Good..." You sigh. Not a total bust, then. "He saw my face, though...""A blonde schoolgirl of indeterminate age, with a fairly common style of uniform a long ways away from where she would probably be located is a far cry from conclusive evidence." ST noted."Still..." You whine, then shake your head and sigh. The window rolls down, and two signatures slide into the cabin with you, one floating into the backseat. "So, you'd get it?" A note of hope creeps into your voice.Easy appears, his casing opening up to disgorge a oddly shaped piece of metal, roughly the size of a tin can. It was oddly smooth, and shaped like a triangular prism. "It is currently inoperable, but we are confident it can be restored to working order with maintenance.""This is it?" You tilt your head at it.
>>3980463"It is currently configured to interface with armor. We will set it into standby mode." Easy looks down at it. "Thankfully cloaking devices such as these do not have power sources that need replacement.""...what do they run off, then?" You tilt your head."Abyssal energies. I do not understand the mechanism, but it draws it's energy from the wearer.""If only I was stronger in it, then..." You murmur, poking at the device with a finger. Easy looked at you for a moment, then looked to the back seat as OH floated forward. "Would this possibly help?" It held out a small ring of metal for you. A ring of metal about the size of your head, with chevron patterns carved into the side."This is the circlet you found?" You tilt your head, taking it from OH. As you grasp onto it, you shiver slightly at how cold it is. This thing was strong in the Abyss indeed, to the point that it made your teeth ache."Damn...""Valkans traditionally forged such objects to enhance their power. It is similar to a rosary, in that regard." Easy spoke up, looking at it. "However, civilians were discouraged from ownership of such artifacts. Their power is great...""I, for one, like it." Wander spoke up. You glance sharply in the direction of her voice. "...but the Abyss can't hurt me, so maybe don't listen to me..."You shake your head, then give it back to OH. "That thing makes me feel funny. Hold onto it for now, okay?""Of course, ma'am."A 'Valkan circlet' and 'damaged lensing field generator' have been added to your inventory.You lean back. "How long to fix it?""I am fairly certain it will only take a number of hours. If any parts are needed, I am certain I can pull them from ST0504's reserve without too much trouble." OH said."...just be careful." You lean back and sigh. "Let's just go home...""Would you still like to attempt to access Perrus Ranon's personal collection?" ST asked.You screw your eyes shut. "Ah, shit that's right-">"You know what, screw it. Forget about him.">"It must be easy with the ability to straight up turn invisible, right? Let's do it."
>>3980465>"You know what, screw it. Forget about him."
>>3980465>"You know what, screw it. Forget about him."Clinsky's collection was larger than Ranon's, but he still only had a few things. Doesn't seem like that much of a payoff, to alert everyone to a phantom thief running around stealing Valkan goodies. We got the lensing field, we good.On a different note, Jared's report to the police is going to be quite fake, if he reports it at all. The truth is just silly nonsense. "I was home when my security system went down, totally not me that turned it off by the way, and some gangly teen walked in my unlocked back door and started talking to me, so I gave her a sandwich and some life advice. Then she ran off without having touched anything. Except the sandwich. Her invisible colleagues must have been the ones to steal my things, then leave through the open second floor window. You're going to put every available officer on catching these dangerous brigands, yes?"