5861/Eclipse Phase: Mind the WMDs (Part 2)

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Eclipse Phase: Mind the WMDs (Part 2)
Date of Scene: 24 May 2018
Location: TITAN Quarantine Zone - Mars - Transhuman Territory
Synopsis: After the smuggler who tried to sell a gray goo nanoswarm to the highest bidder was taken into Paladin custody and revealed her source, the elusive client from last time has a new mission for the Elites: To brave the TITAN Quarantine Zone on Mars, confirm the smuggler's intel, and determine how to put a stop to this operation.
Thanks to: GMed by Staren
Cast of Characters: Starbound Flotilla, 632, Kotone Yamakawa, 673, 596, Yuna Kagurazaka, 518


Staren (42) has posed:
    After facing elites and nearly getting eaten by a nanoswarm, Gray Xu is easily intimidated into spilling her guts: She's a member of the Night Cartel, a criminal organization formed by the survivors of Earth's various mafias after the Fall. The Night Cartel has made a name for itself in racketeering, extortion, kidnapping, and slavery, and has recently branched out successfully to drugs and DRM-cracking. Gray Xu herself is a smuggler, helping zone stalkers get their finds out from under the nose of Martian hypercorps and into the hands of prospective buyers.

    The TITANS didn't just ruin Earth: There are a number of space stations and parts of Luna and Mars that are full of hazards -- dormant nanoswarms, strains of the exsurgent virus, undiscriminating warbots, that sort of thing. The Titan Quarantine Zone on Mars contains not just TITAN artifacts, but also everything the people there left behind. Someone might pay a lot of money for a 'Zone Stalker' to illegally brave the quarantine and retrieve the stack of a family member, or a computer with important data on it, or some more material keepsake. Less charitably, this means taking the deceaseds' stuff and TITAN artifacts that people want to study, and selling it.

    Gray Xu recently got a tip that TITAN activity (active warbots and such) had let up around Ebb 6, a Martian dome destroyed during the fall. Noone knows the inscrutible logic of the TITANs, but Gray Xu saw an opportunity and sent scavengers to see what they could find. Finding a bunker full of TITAN artifacts was an unexpected windfall -- Gray Xu and the Night Cartel stood to make a lot of money selling them.

    In light of this information, the enigmatic patron from last time has a new mission for the party: Since approaching Ebb 6 (or any part of the TQZ) directly from space would draw too much attention, ground transport has been arranged from the Martian metropolis Elysium. They are to go to Ebb 6 and assess the site -- how much stuff is there, how much seems to have been removed, the extent of the Night Cartel scavenging operation, and what amount of force will be required to safely destroy the artifacts there. Orbital bombardment draws too much attention to be used unless it's absolutely necessary.

    Anyone who comes early can go play tourist in Elysium for awhile (it's built into a canyon larger than any on Earth, with the top covered -- cheaper than a whole dome. A glamorous front hides a seedy underbelly, yadda yadda -- the strangest thing is that EVERYONE is pretty, Hollywood pretty), but at mission start time, provided coordinates lead the party to a garage-sized storage unit outside the canyon.

    The storage unit contains:

an electric truck big enough for all of them to fit comfortably with special tires and ample cargo space
full sets of heated body armor and rebreathers so they can survive in the partially-terraformed Martian atmosphere
enough flavored nutri-paste to make four 'meals' for everyone
another set of ectos and glasses without the fake IDs this time
an arachnoid (a meter-long robotic spider with 2 manipulator arms and 8 legs that can walk, jump, or deploy wheels and roll) modified for rolling over Martian sand
a sampling of pistols, SMGs, and shredders
a plasma rifle

    ...and last but not least, a Desktop Cornucopia Machine, jailbroken and fully-stocked with everything but the radioactives. This device can nanofabricate anything it has the designs for in a matter of hours, and its digital storage is packed full of designs for everything from computers to clothing to surveillance gear to weapons and even synthetic morphs! This DCM is about the size of a fridge, so anything larger will have to be made in parts and assembled. There is room for it on the truck.

    The gathered elites may have faster vehicles, but if they take the truck, it will take about 12 hours to reach Ebb 6 at 60 mph. Plenty of time to plan their approach and fab some toys (or one large and very complex toy.)

Starbound Flotilla has posed:
    George is here again, and though he's not taking the armor -- he's armored up again in his dark red powered hardsuit -- he IS definitely stocking up on those guns, particularly a shredder and a nice pistol. I mean, he has his own, and he spends the whole ride over tinkering and modding them to overclock them with insane Flotilla technologies, but he likes blending in in a lot of ways!

    "Well, we got out of my comfort zone real fast." He says, while he fusses with a gun. "Not really that easy to work with the chaos distraction angle on something like this. I'm gonna have to leave more of this to you kids. Not a whole lot of art on sale over here, if you get what I mean. I'm planning on following whatever breach you guys can get, and improvising from there."

    George isn't driving because of "cataracts". He can't be /that/ old!

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     No time for tourism here. Septette blinks into existence outside the storage unit with a quiet pop right on schedule, and immediately laser-focuses on the Desktop Cornucopia. It takes her a moment to figure out the controls, but once she does, she prints off some kind of highly-ergonomic durable keyboard, sits down, and starts typing at absurdly rapid speeds like an overcaffeinated hollywood hacker.

     A few minutes later, she's kludged together a new blueprint for... a butchered EMP grenade? It's just an existing design with the built-in capacitor ripped out and an external spooling conductive wire attached like a yo-yo's string instead. She shows off a few tricks to George with one- walking the dog, cat's cradle combo'd into accidental thread-severing with knife-fingers- then pockets all three, leaving the design behind in the fabricator.

     "I think that's about all I'm gonna want to carry. Who's our transport? No offense to Mars, but I'd rather not spend half a day getting down there if we can at all help it."

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
So Kotone is late to the party on this operation but dear god she is here this time. She gets how serious this can be, she ahs been to earth, into the depths of what was once the capital of America. She has a damn good idea of the horror that could be let loose if they don't' track all of this stuff down and make sure it's handled. There may also be things to burn after all given the hazard that anything touched by the Titans poses.

She was here early got to play tourist and have a bit of fun, even if she got some flak for people who caught on to her being a Steel Morph. She had fun with it tried some food. Took in a few sights, got some fun pictures. She does notice how pretty everyone is she actually doesn't stand out or maybe she does while she's there. She picks up a few odds and ends as gifts for family members such as Miho and Sasksi, but after that?

She will be at the garage on time. She's quick to kit up, she'll make use of the offered local gear. She grabs the Plasma rifle too, that will be likely needed if they need to scourge something.

"I have my ship in orbit, and I'm certain several others of us do as well Septette."

She's also got something else on her neck a heavy duty dummy plug, in hopes of some added protection. She also muses it will be a hell of a test for the security systems Zwei upgraded her cyberbrain with some time ago too.

"Didn't think I'd be going into another Titan infested zone after the last one."

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Rory's a little unhappy about this entire endeavor. She has yet to figure out exactly WHO is commissioning these missions (although, that they share some common interests is plain to see), and the fact that it involves TITAN technology and the black market is VERY troubling.

    MOST problematic is, without knowing exactly what they'll find, she's been fretting about what to bring!

    So, she's kind of had to bring EVERYTHING she can stuff in her knock-off Matter Manipulator, which is less than she's comfortable with.

    A few EMP grenades. Her usual weapons. All sorts of scanning tools. And the usual odds and ends.

    All while sleeved into her battle Morph, the feline Flexbot covered in hard mount points for weapons stored in the Matter Manipulator. Instead of spending a lot of time in Elysium roaming around, Rory mostly enjoyed herself by checking out all the local Mesh activities, so she's not had to bring anything more... personable.

    Of course, anyone who had requests of her own manufacturing abilities for armor, weapons, scanners, medical gear, etc, it's been fulfilled - within what she can get discretely to the surface, anyways!

    And now, she's eying the truck...

    And Septette, who seems to have APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE!

    "Spaceships are not discrete. Especially ones from off-world. We are here, presented with this truck, because it /is./" Is her answer to both Kotone AND Septette.

Zwei (596) has posed:
    Zwei did this song and dance once before. Sort of. They were responsible for intervening in a song and dance of the TITAN variety in this world after someone close to them started fiddling with it. That means little explanation is really needed beyond who Gray Xu is and what the heck everyone was doing here last time. The rest all sort of falls into place.

    They're also happy to take the truck for the minute, being efficient on the energy budget, less tight than the other day by far, but still worth eyeballing. This of course amounts to Weiss riding back in her practically painted on body armour (for lack of any way to take it off or apart, rather than lack of substantiality), with Asche waiting in the wings for warp deployment at the target zone. Anyone who feels like eating 'her share' of nutri-paste can have it, as well has 'her share' of air. She spends at least half an hour poking at the ectos, the ID tags, the arachnoid, the guns, and finally the Cornucopia Machine itself, examining their specifications and recording their details. It's a lot of that had been talked about incessantly before, but which Zwei only just gets its actual hands on now -at least one pair.

    <<"You know that's actually not bad. Reeeeaally inefficient nano-payload delivery probably explains why this thing takes forever, but I'm genuinely kind of impressed at the level of materials efficiency and margin of error from vertex data, considering the level of hardware whoever built this had to work with.">> She finally concludes, patting the Cornucopia Machine. <<"Too bad about the lack of radioactives.">> she then says, pulling an honest to god stick of cut-down uranium fuel rod out of a hard case and snapping it in half with her teeth before eating it like a granola bar.

    <<"Let's do a lot of simple, small stuff. Fibre optics, chaff packages, mini-transceivers, and probably whatever passes for an electromagnetic pulse package here. Imagine my eyes rolling: Eee-Em-Pee Grenades.">> She also takes /twooooo/ submachine guns and fabricates more ammo than is really reasonable to be carrying. <<"Oh right, uh, unless Rory wants to jam the 'bot, I guess I'll remote it if someone really thinks it's going to be useful?">> She waves brightly at Septette though.<<"Hey! Good to see you~ You know what we're doing if we see any of that Exsurgent junk, right?">> That probably sounds like a rhetorical, rather than 'don't answer out loud' question to anyone sane in the universe.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette grins and waves back at Weiss as she shoulders the entire fabricator as if it were a cool kid's skateboard. "Good to have you on board, too! It's nice to be on the same wavelength as someone." The Cornucopia machine is dumped in the back of the truck, along with a small chunk of amethyst-like crystals that's lit from within by a dim writhing light.

     "I feel like we're already sacrificing some subtlety by my being here, Rors, but I won't rob you of your road trip if you're that intent on it. Almost want to see what it'd look like swarming with war machines, but..." She trails off with a silent nod in George's general direction. But squishies.

Zwei (596) has posed:
    <<"For a certain definition of wavelength, miss black box~">> Weiss actually takes the opportunity to stick out her tongue (still just kinda blue-grey since she hasn't pigmented herself at all today) after finishing the rest of her uranium snack.

    <<"Oh right. I started telling you before, but I've made some modifications to the TRANSIENCE fold concept. Good timing too. Through anchoring a set of spatial coordinates within Interdiction Field coverage and looping them through brane-five, I can do the full 'wormhole' concept and capture the energy investment from harvesting the spatial 'snapback' to recycle it, instead of just dumping a bunch of juice into blipping myself around. If you want, I can set up a couple of relay points to your pole stone, so we can leave the truck behind and out of danger!">>

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa sees that Zwei ahs arrived and grins a bit at both Weiss and Asche. "It's good to see you up and about again." Kotone has finished setting up her kit for whatever means they have to go. "If we need a driver and we do land I can drive." She notes to Rory.

Staren (42) has posed:
    The party sets off on a long road trip and queues stuff up in the nanofabricator! It takes hours, but EMP grenades and especially the various countermeasures Zwei devises can be fabbed in a fraction of the time the trip is going to take. It turns out that the martian atmosphere isn't much of a problem for the party, with most of them either being robots or having their own hardsuits. It's cold and thin and heavy on the CO2, but Kotone's and George's environmental systems can handle it.

    Mars turns out to be pretty boring. Red desert as far as the eye can see. The strangest thing about this road trip is perhaps the lack of flora and fauna. There are no birds in the sky, no trees, not even grass. Or for those who are used to driving on highways, perhaps the oddest thing is actually the lack of a road.

    It's enough that it almost seems like a normal sight when the truck approaches a large patch of shrubs. Oddly metallic shrubs surrounded by glittery clouds. Clouds which expand and approach the truck... Fortunately, the EMP grenades are ready by then, and work like a charm, rapidly turning the glittery clouds into just glitter that falls to the martian soil. The patch of... 'flora' isn't too wide, so the Truck can detour around the rest of it without appreciably adding to the travel time.

    The party is doubtlessly more concerned when distant specks appear. Someone with the mobility to go check finds them to be a mix of normal-looking surveillance drones that were probably hacked by the TITANs, and... stranger-looking drones with jutting plates and spurs of unclear purpose ...Which don't seem to notice anyone scouting them out. Maybe they're malfunctioning?

    An hour or so past the bushes(?), the truck drives over a hill and the few party members who HAVE adrenaline are about to get quite a rush:

    Up ahead, a few tens of meters away, is a large machine, partially submerged in the martian dust. It shifts slightly, red dust beginning to slide off it before it stands up. Easily sixty feet tall standing, most of it is long, spindly legs (at scale -- still thicker than a human body) with a main body the size of a medium tank -- an irregular, rounded organic shape with spurs and booms of uncertain purpose extending out of it. Weapon mounts aren't immediately obvious, but it's probably armed and about to fire as it turns towards the truck. Speaking of arms, two long, flexible mechanical tentacles extend from its size, ready to grab anyone who gets too close.

    As if that weren't bad enough, two vaguely dragonfly-looking bots take off from its body as it stands up, with legs ending in nasty claws or buzzsaws just the right size to grab someone's head and cut it off. They turn towards the truck and fly towards it -- if noone comes out for them to attack, they'll start trying to cut their way inside!
    

Yuna Kagurazaka has posed:
Rather than boarding the truck with the others, Yuna saw fit to 'drive' separately. Marina *is* riding in the truck, the better to keep an ear on conversations by proxy and because there isn't really much need for her directly. Erina and Elner are flying above the truck, keeping watch for anything anomalous and/or hostile along the way. And as for Yuna herself ...

Well, 'driving' is kind of a misnomer, but Powered Form can keep up with 60 miles per hour pretty easily, so Yuna is just skimming along - sometimes alongside, sometimes behind, occasionally out in front - and ... well, trying to enjoy the scenery. It seems pretty desolate, though. As long as she keeps clear of the nanoswarms (which Elner is very actively scanning for, and warning Yuna away from), her Light Suit can easily keep her breathing comfortably in the conditions presented on Mars.

Still, as that giant machine starts rising out of the sand ahead, Yuna veers around the truck in a wide arc before coming to a halt, priming her weapons. El-Line would be able to tackle the other machine without too much trouble, but summoning the Matrix Figure will take its toll on her energy reserves ... and if her allies are up to fighting a giant robot without giant robots of their own? She'd be more likely to get in their way - although tanking has its value too ...

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Now 'TITAN' was a new proper nouncronym that needed explaining (and it helpfully was) but there was something more grabbing about this whole thing for a quiet occupant of the large truck while the fabber went through its fabby thing.

"Night Cartel." Yuuki murmurs, before glancing through her (postmodern) smartphone with renewed gusto. "That's not a normal name around here, is it? 'Night Cartel'? Do people just name their groups that? It seems really specific..."

She makes big inquisitive puppydog eyes at people (extra big, because she's a trash shojou) who probably know better, before repeating it a few times.

"Night Cartel... So, these scavengers got ahold of TITAN tech, which is super dangerous and inscrutable. And it comes in various forms, so..."

She points at the large walker robot, and the two rippers. "...like that?" She asks, with the air of a detached student.

Then, well, the other shoe drops. "Oh those aren't examples, they're coming right at us!" She finally realizes, shoving her phone in a pocket and starting to fix up her rebreather and figure out what she's going to do. Her scramble is almost languid, like she's putting the finishing touches on a tea set for guests, not recovering her personal weapon to fight for her life. "Daytime, fighting robots..." She yawns (not out of sarcasm) and claps her face. "No, no, this is what we're supposed to do! War face. Mean face! Seriousssss..." She councils herself as buzzsawbots threaten to tear neat holes in their car.

Surely she has the straightest of priorities.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    "That is almost certainly the first time I have detected you COMPLIMENTING another world's technological achievements." Rory notes about Zwei's observations during the trip!

    Another answer is aimed at Yuuki. "There are several criminal syndicates active in Transhuman Space. The Night Cartel is probably the simplest. Day and night cycles aren't so relevant anymore since we left Earth, so I am sure they use it for the symbolism."

    During the trip, she explains, "Given Earth's fate, efforts to terraform Mars have been sped up dramatically. But there is only so much that you can do with a planet with a cooled core and not enough gravity to hold onto much of an atmosphere. Plus, Mars's iron-rich crust binds to any free oxygen in the air. The project's efficiency is abysmal. Why people insist on living in places like this instead of more comfortable Simulspaces... I do not understand."

    She gets into HIGH ALERT during the few encounters, directing countermeasures and observing the externals. She has, during the trip, clamped a few Saucers onto the truck's outside to give her a better view of what's happening outside, and so...

    "---DIVERGE!"

    Since nobody else has made use of it, Rory decides to JAM the Arachnoid at this point, bringing it under the protection of her Personal Area Network and immediately loading up all of her combat protocols onto it. Her Flexbot idles near the Desktop Cornucopia Machine while the Arachnoid bolts out the door, grabbing whatever weapons are available! Which turns out to be SHREDDERS.

    The Jammed Arachnoid swings up ATOP of the truck, sealing the doors behind it, and immediately opens fire on the Dragonfly bots, targeting their turbofan blades with spread fire!

Starbound Flotilla has posed:
    George does his best to avoid ditching the truck, suppressing the compulsion to take a flying leap out of and away from the biggest probable target for the thing. He's hoping that Kotone might keep their vehicle from being bombed into scrap so early into things. He flicks safeties and pops a panel, opening an erratic kind of fire, for what little that's worth, and immediately groans with frustration. "Cool, I kit out to fight normal dudes and instead we get metalocalypse nightmares. Thanks, mystery patron, maybe next time I want to toast bread you can give me a lighter." He mutters.

    He's got no opposition to Mad Maxing this particular issue, though. As the awful drones start work on ways to cut their way inside, he pops his head -- and his shredder -- out of a nearby panel and unloads blasts, popping back inside and locking before the easy way in becomes one for the fireflies. He's hoping to play an absurd sort of whack-a-mole with these awful things to keep them from doing anything effective, and to make sure they get pumped full of spacefuture ammunition.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     "Oh, nice! Four-dimensional momentum harvesting. I'm impressed you managed to get the actual wormhole-opening so cheap." Septette lightly elbows Weiss in the side before climbing into the trailer and patting the seat next to her. "Here's another upside to your refinements: when I compliment your design, now you don't get to deflect onto your creators."

     Septette disappears and rematerializes at multiple points during the trip, absent more often than not. Every time she pops back in, there are a few more tiny flecks of blood on her hands and smiling face. At one point, true to her word, she does offer George a ragged piece of what looks like raw monster fish to go with his flavored rations. It's probably safe. Probably.

     The encounter with the nanoswarms goes relatively without incident thanks in small part to the ridiculous-looking EMP yo-yos, though Septette pauses to carefully sweep up some of the now-inert glittering dust into an empty glass vial and stuffs it back into her satchel. Research materials get! Surely Rory can't complain about scavenging from something that's dead. Surely.

     By prescient foresight- or maybe just handy multiversal radio- she pops into the truck just in time for the second TITAN-machine encounter, and leaps out the back to land in a spray of red sand as the bipedal war-machine disgorges its drone payload. Her armblades deploy immediately and start to glow red-hot in anticipation of carving through armor. "Don't let the drones close! Melee-armed, neck targeting."

     Septette herself chooses a different target: she sprints into close range with the bipedal robot as her right hand crackles and glows with an ominous electrical charge. "Hey buddy! Nobody ever told you two legs are a shit design?" Once in range, she unleashes a lightning-strike at the ground that transforms the sand under it into a spire of glass. The glass bubbles up and then cools supernaturally quickly, trapping its leg and ankle in the brittle stuff. That ought to immobilize it for just a split second-

     Long enough for her to leap into the air and bring her searing armblade around in a wide arc, trying to embed it in the knee-joint! "Only I can make that look good!"

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa is glad she has friends and allies along, who have a hell of a lot of firepower, given the machines that have just come back online? She's very happy they have the crew they do here.

She keeps her hands on the wheel and she will keep things moving, so its' time for a pretty crazy chase.

"Hang on!"

she calls out as she now is going full-on Mad Max driving mode here. She knows Geroge is going to pull something.

With Septette now moving out and going to do her damnest to blender the Titan bot? She has total faith in Septette to be able to handle things with that machine. She would note to Rory later, people like what they know, and not everyone takes to sim space well. That would have to wait though as Rory os jamming into the Archanoid now and she keeps driving along moving the truck in such a way she's not moving in a straight line and is not as easy of a target due to it

Staren (42) has posed:
    The drones seem to ONLY have those buzzsaws, and no ranged weapons to speak of. The burst of flechettes from the arachnoid sends one crashing to the ground. It'll probably try to drag itself over to the tires or something, but it's no longer an immediate threat. The other one goes for George, making repeatedly popping out to shoot the warbot a tricky proposition. It digs its saws into the hinges, cutting the hatch open.

    Curiously, despite what they've seen the TITANs can do, the warbot seems to be mostly limited to human-level technology. The scans Zwei senses include radar, T-rays, and lidar... and it seems to take note of Septette's signature and focus on her. Some of the spurs open up on the end and swivel around via unseen mechanisms, in other places small hatches open on the warbot. Septette's approach is faced with some kind of small beam cannon, a plasma bolt and -- much harder to dodge -- mini-missiles that detonate in massive superheated fireballs. Either it thinks it can melt the yggdroid, or 'melting' is its fallback strategy for something it doesn't know how to deal with. It's not crazy enough to melt itself, though, so once she's on the knee it tries to dislodge her with those tentacles. ...They seem to be more for manipulation and grabbing things than weapons, though -- they're just not strong enough to dislodge her as she starts cutting her way through the knee, something inside sparking.

Zwei (596) has posed:
    <<"What? Have you never looked at an old car and gone 'Dang that's a really nice car'?">> Weiss says to Rory, dusting off her hands. <<"The weirdest part of this whole trip is how bleak ancient Mars is. All this dust is depressing. People want to live in the real world because the real world is worth living in. It's where they came from. It's home. It's where there are things to learn and do instead of just deciding how everything works. It's also less prone to getting deleted by anything short of vacuum decay.">> she finishes.

    <<"Haha! I knew you'd appreciate it~">> she says to Septette, rocking slightly with the elbow nudge, certainly intentionally, and scooting over. <<"It's true, it's true! It turns out that not a lot of problems in the Multiverse get solved via trillions of drones and remote operated space armadas, so there was a lot of optimizing to do! Stripping out extraneous galactic-scale junk gives you a lot to work with day to day!">> Then, robot ambush happens.

<<Don't need to be a genius to figure out TITANs probably didn't design that.>>
||Exsurgent involvement likely, then.||
<<Up to multi-task a little?>>
||Let us, I suppose.||

    Just as Septette really gets stuck in with the robot, and very specifically, after she has properly encased and damaged its legs, the Martian air up above bends and tinges violet, and the massive shape of Asche appears in freefall, less than half the giant walker's height, but easily several times its mass. A short flare of boosters fire on descent, and the battle Armiger slams into the robot's top-heavy central mass at high speed as part of an aerial surprise takedown while it can't move. Ideally, it'd snap the thing off at the knees, with its feet glued to the sand by glass, and some blade damage from Septette.

    Getting it to ground in any way results in Asche pinning it flat, joints rotating subtly to adopt a slightly bestial quadruped stance. Gigantic super-material claws plunge into its weapon mounts in knife-handed attacks, twisting and ripping machinery free and hurling it figurative miles away into the sand, focused on violently mutilating the machine while it is unable to stand.

    Weiss sits pretty in the truck, swaying only aesthetically with Kotone's tight turns and swerves. Her focus is instead directed to one of the flying buzzsaw drones, beaming her scans right through the rover's chassis and apply Zero Interface Access to its core computer. She wants to get records of its date of manufacture, combat and repair history, company of registration, and then delete all its old data and reformat it to factory standard, for Reasons(tm). <<"Don't worry! These guys are always super serious! Serious enough for an extra person!">> she says consolingly to Yuuki in the meantime.

Staren (42) has posed:
    Upon Ashe's materializing, MORE WEAPONS swivel up to fire at him -- a rail-machinegun and a relatively dinky laser, but that's nowhere near enough kinetic energy to actually STOP him. There's a crash of metal as he slams into the body, and creaking as it starts to bend over... followed by a loud SNAP as the knee Septette's cutting breaks the rest of the way, and a crash of glass as the other leg is torn free, the warbot and Asche crashing down to the martian soil. It turns its weapons, sans the missile launcher but including a cutting torch, all on Asche but can't really stop him from ripping them out as long as he's willing to tank some hits.

    The drone Weiss hacks... was made by the TITANs, so they didn't bother storing the kind of data humans might care about, but Weiss can work out that it dates from shortly after the Fall. As everything in it is deleted, it stops trying to kill George and just sits there, unmoving atop the truck.

    The warbot, perhaps recognizing it's beaten, detonates its reserve of minimissiles, blasts tearing itself open and assaulting Asche with an explosive shockwave of plasma and electromagnetic pulse before it finally lies still and quiet in the sand.

Starbound Flotilla has posed:
    George manages to refrain from pulling to another hatch when the thing starts digging into the one he's right behind. He takes the moment to line up a shot perfectly, making sure to keep that trigger finger gently snug on the trigger. He counts softly on his breath. "Ten... Nine... eight... Seven... Six..." But no, he's miscounted. "FIVEFOURTHREETWOONE!" And... Then the hatch stops getting ripped open, and so he winds up fumbling his gun like a clown.

    "Gah! Oh, dammit, that was you wasn't it?" He shoots a glance to Weiss, as he scrambles to get the gun back up. "Alright, well, good enough for me. That saw was a little too close for whack-a-mole anyway." Then he hears the explosion. "Oh. Oh! Kotone! Pedal on metal, please!" He'd rather not get trucktossed by the shockwave there, oh god.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Yuuki is now quite interested in this conversation, as people hop out of the back of the party van, start swerving around, and cause her to grip on to the closest piece of wall (crunching it a little) to follow Weiss. "Y-yeah... I know." She agrees quietly. "Usually I'm in a management role. How /do/ you 'optimize' away an entire fleet of spaceships and trillions of... anything? Ok, most things. Even the logistics of 'a trillion' would be incredible..."

Explosions and George shouting snap her back into attention. "I heard a 'boom'! Did we get it? It sounded like we got it. I just can't tell for certain."

She taps her nose. "I can usually tell by the smell, but..." Yuuki stops to smile dorkily. "... robots?"

Yuna Kagurazaka has posed:
The giant warbot did a really good job of grabbing Yuna's attention; it's only a combination of the sound of gunfire and Elner reminding her privately that there are, in fact, *two* threats, not just one.

Although by the time Yuna comes to her decision, "two" has been reduced very efficiently to "zero". The blonde's response to this turn of events is a mild look, a slight shrug to herself (largely concealed in her armor), and then she throttles back up to rejoin the truck. "Well, that was interesting," she remarks to her allies. "Are we likely to see many more of those - either of those - if we hang around long enough?"

Erina just casually maneuvers from flying above the truck (where Elner remains, more or less) to cruising alongside Yuna. If they *do* run into anything else, that'll cut down on how long she needs to shift into Flight Form.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    "Robots." Affirms Rory's voice, coming from the otherwise motionless robot feline that's laying down next to her.

    Outside, the Arachnoid switches into a less animate state, its motions being controlled by an AI coded by Rory. It clings to the truck side and enters a sentry mode!

    "TITANs..." Rory's tone is distant and unsure now, strangely enough.

    "So many questions. So much horror."

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     The beams and plasma bolts seem to pass right through Septette without any 'kick' of impact- in reality, boring holes through her shawl and skirting narrowly through the gaps in her skeletal anatomy as she twists precisely around them. The micromissiles aimed at her are each met with an intervening spike of glassed sand to intercept them and detonate them prematurely. The subsequent ammo explosion, however, allows her no such tactics.

     'Melt it' is, in truth, an excellent fallback strategy. Mundane materials vary sharply in their strengths, toughness, and hardness, but relatively little in melting point. At a high enough temperature, everything vaporizes just fine. Almost everything.

     In the fractions of a second before the fireball reaches her, Septette's bones are rimed in frost as her temperature plummets. A precisely-arranged fractal blossom of water ice surrounds her like a white cocoon. As the flames brush up against it, it sublimates into an expanding layer of protective vapor that pushes the brunt of the heat away!

     When the miniature fogbank clears, Septette 'thaws' herself out with a series of uncomfortable metallic pings and rolls her shoulders to ensure that everything's still in place. "Blegh. Sore loser. Zwei, how're you holding up?"

Zwei (596) has posed:
    Asche tanks the hits alright. He's good at doing that. Septette gets to peep some further redesigns as well, when the laser, railgun, and eventual missile blasts slam directly into him without deviating, but 'bleed out' on hit, spreading ripples of light coursing through the faint, tesselating 'sub-dermal' layer of his armour. Rather than blowing great big chunks out of him, the lasers leave cherry red splotches of overheated carbon, the railgun slugs fragment and slash shallow gouges across the angled plating, and though the final missile barrage lifts him off his feet and throws him several meters backwards, he comes away with a tapestry of scorches smoking off a thin layer of liquid carbon dioxide and vapourized perlite. Tiny boosters across his frame properly reorient himself and slow his fall to a neat landing, where he then slaps his chest as if dusting off a tuxedo (albeit a very burned one). ||"Situation handled."|| he rumbles, joints already rotated back to a 'humanoid' posture.

    <<"Oh. You get rid of it.">> Weiss says conversationally to Yuuki. <<"I heavily reduced my mass communications and remote tactical operation capacity. Like, maybe it sounds impressive, but it ended up on the cutting room floor for a reason, y'know? Then I used the new space to fit more useful things in! Adventure modules!">> She then pops the hatch and climbs up on top of the truck, looking at the buzzsaw bot. Partly to test, but also partly just to show off, she twitches her fingers to little synchronized movements of the robot's limbs, miming the existence of imaginary puppet strings. She'll make it do a little dance too, if that dissuades someone from trying to blow up her captured toy.

    She then turns around to Rory. <<"Naaah. These babies were built by TITANS, but way too long ago to have been a proprietary design.">> Asche continues. ||"They are most likely of pre-Fall human design, or close derivative, and simply manufactured within TITAN captured facilities to turn on mankind. I detect no significant cognitohazardous or reality-breach risk."|| Of course, what constitutes 'significant' might be misleading, but it's intended to be a reassurance. He then offers a weird, clawed thumbs up at Septette. ||"Superficial damage. You expended the majority of its ordnance. Revised Interdiction Field is operating at solid capacity."||

    <<"Soooo, can we get this truck rolling again?">> Weiss interjects, slapping the side as if she expects it to giddy up like a horse. In fact, if Kotone doesn't step on the gas, she will outright jack the steering and accelerate the vehicle herself. <<"Also nobody touch my buzzbot! I have plans for it.">>

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Well the fight is going on pretty hard and fast it's not long before the Titan bots are fragged or down for the count hse's pleased with that and all she notes to Rory for a moment "Yes let's worry about the now and we can worry about Skynet's more terrifying cousins later!"

She replies to Weiss as they bring up let's get moving again. "Don't need to tell me twice."

She floors it as fast her cybernetic body to go and she won't take her foot off the gas.

"Be careful then again your one of the few people who'd have a chance to learn something from it without becoming a cancer tree."

She keeps her eyes on the path ahead it's time to get going pretty hard.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Yuuki nods. "Oh no-no. I understand that. Like instead of having a big camera in the phone, you use a smaller one but have more space for memory and battery. That makes sense. I meant..."

She moves a hand up, fingers splayed on the side of her head thoughtfully. "I meant the fleets and the drones and stuff. Are they still out there? Or did you recycle them? That's a lot of recycling?"

Staren (42) has posed:
    The rest of the trip is pretty uneventful. They know to drive around the 'bushes' now, so it's pretty straight shooting. There's the occasional crater or more destroyed warbots, but no more excitement. Hopefully someone brought videogames or an audiobook or cool music or something.

    Ebb 6 is a pretty small dome. if Rory looked it up, it was some outpost in the middle of nowhere where people could live in relative isolation, and during the fall it was overrun by TITAN warmachines, according to the last transmissions before it went dark.

    A solid wall over a storey tall supports a dome of geodesic panels... or at least it did. Parts of the wall big enough to drive a truck through have collapsed on the northwest, west, east, and south sides, and most of the dome panels and part of the support frame have collapsed.

    There are proper entry gates with airlocks on the north and southwest sides, but they're not working. Approximately two dozen small structures, rectangular or dome-shaped, are inside, with most showing signs of violent damage. The ground is littered with the bodies of those who fell in the fall. It doesn't look like the force that attacked here had headhunters. There IS some obvious new construction -- an access ramp for vehicles goes down below, and there's also a smaller hatch with a ladder. Both are positioned without regard for the buildings here, which seem to have been abruptly cut around the entrances. Careful observation or scouting sees evidence of seven people in Ruster morphs here -- red-skinned human variants genetically engineered to survive in the Martian atmosphere. Four of them are working with nonhumanoid robots to move containers -- some of which look like the cylinder that held the nanoswarm -- to a truck that's stashed in a ruined garage, while three of them are armored like soldiers and patrolling around. One of the soldiers is taking a smoke break, or trying to, muttering about crappy cigarettes if someone's hearing is good enough. All seven are carrying assault rifles.

    So... Here they are. How will the party approach this?

Yuna Kagurazaka has posed:
The sight of those containers is enough to put *Elner* on edge, the little robo-faerie signaling Yuna. Rather than haring off to investigate, Yuna simply keeps pace with the truck, stopping where the vehicle stops.

Similarly, it's Elner who blips away - not just flying, but teleporting here and there, trying to map the complex as quickly yet thoroughly as possible, and transmitting data back to Rory and Kotone for compilation and potential further analysis. If there are others in the group who can receive the relatively raw map data, Elner's sharing it with them as well.

"So if we need to take them down," Yuna muses quietly, "we have to do it without damaging any of those containers or we risk having another cloud of nanomachines running around." She purses her lips, then nods to Erina; a pair of transformations ensue as Yuna shifts into Flight Form, combining with Erina and letting Jiina reassemble into her normal android form. Once the group's ready to move, Yuna can easily go airborne and attack from the sky.

Zwei (596) has posed:
    Weiss gets back into the rover as it gets moving again. <<"Oh! That's the real joke: didn't get any! I was /supposed/ to, but- well, it's a long story. Suffice to say it was double useless and I'm happy enough to operate on my own now! Well, as much as 'on my own' can be said with two of me~">> She spends most of the trip tinkering with robot guts on the top of an erratically driven truck on a low-gravity planet covered in craters while making conversation with the cutest member of the brigade. Asche basically winds up 'jogging' in pursuit, being fairly efficient in Mars gravity, and more generally present to deal with further attacks.

    First thing into the dome, Weiss draws a little from the dragonfly's battery to amplify her sensor range, scouting the dome for two things: active power supplies, and cortical stacks still present in any of the dead bodies. Upon spotting the rusters, she includes their cargo in her scanning itinerary, but doesn't go and talk to them. Asche, meanwhile, heads straight down that vehicle ramp. A hatch won't fit him anyways.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     As the truck pulls up to the ruined geodesic dome, Septette hops out of the still-moving vehicle, smooths out her damaged shawl with her hands, and materializes a handful of small spherical drones. They disperse to scout out the area, keeping a respectful distance from the Rusters and 'peeking' around corners- they don't have any stealth capabilities, but Septette's own alarming energy signature should drown them out on scans, and they might be mistaken for Headhunters at a good distance.

     Specifically, after noting and sharing the positions of the Mafia Rusters, they quietly try to locate where the containers are coming from. There must be some kind of cache or stockpile deeper in; otherwise they wouldn't be bringing them out in such an orderly fashion.

     "I'm going to make sure they don't have reinforcements or armed WMDs further inside. Still the best-equipped to deal with those," she says, patting her two remaining ridiculous EMP yo-yos. Then she trudges off away from the garage, deeper into the ruined dome.

     Hopefully nobody follows.

Staren (42) has posed:
    The dead bodies still have their stacks! The gear the scavengers are using -- their own headcomputers and helper bots, and the computerized parts of their guns -- use batteries, except for their truck, which has a nuclear power supply just like the party's. Their cargo includes canisters that have some kind of small but non-degrading TITAN-tech power supplies and contain more nanoswarms, as well as drums of clearly human make filled with strange chemicals the TITANs synthesized for uncertain purpose. Actually, they have empty drums they're taking down and filling and bringing back up, so there must be some larger container down in the cache.

Starbound Flotilla has posed:
    George hops out of the truck, then clambers over towards the massive gaps in the dome, launching a grappling hook up to reel himself over. He peers over... And then exclaims. "Oh hey! New friends over here." Hopping over, he slips into cover, then approaches the group with the cylinders. Then he does something /incredibly/ silly and /incredibly/ stupid. He wanders right towards the group, pulls out what looks troublingly like a grenade, and clamps his his thumb onto its activation switch, making it emit a series of urgent beeps that introduce him abruptly.

    "Hey there, guys! I'm sure you've heard about what's going on in those cans, and how weak their containment is. So before you get itchy trigger fingers, just remember that the TITANs probably put the front end of Roko's Basilisk into the nano-swarm that'd come out of those things." Then he pounds the clenched hand holding the deadswitch-grenade into its opposite, evoking a huge spark of light as his shock gloves go off. "So hey! I'm here for some interested parties who'd love to have you not putting nanohazards into circulation. Or maybe just taking them, I'm kinda improvising."

    He squares up. "So, who here's that special blend of greedy /and/ hoping hard enough to not get ate by Roko's Basilisk that they're gonna gimmie a wrassle?" Unless the answer is surrendering, George doesn't even remotely care about their response to his absurd jokery, he's going to rush the four scavengers outside. He figures they'll realize they can't shoot him or crush him with those machines without setting the grenade off, and that his insane tactic means they have to wrestle it out of his hands in melee while carefully holding the deadswitch themselves.

    A process hopefully dampened when George goes to just bean one on the head with the surprisingly substantial weight of an average grenade, still blaring its warning loudly.

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Sighting the removal team in progress, Rory decides to NOT approach, letting Zwei figure this out. As always, team operations that have grown this big, she predicts will devolve into chaos. So she unleashes a Gnat-style surveillance drone - the size of a fingernail - to go check out the distant truck and plant itself as a locator for later, if the gang manages to make a break for it somehow.

    SHe doubts that will happen, though.

    "It appears they're using this as a base of operations AND a source of loot.... but I cannot be sure. Do NOT damage ANY of the containers."

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Chatter crosses the comms about their situations, bodies and other things. She keeps quiet as she's on the lookout for more trouble as she's keeping the truck moving till they reach the Dome which is their target. She takes a deep breath as she brings the machine to a halt some way out from the dome and it's a good thing too. There are people in Rustler Morphs and whelp that means people have beat them to the punch or they caught people right in the act of looting things here.

She gets the data from Yuna and is pretty thankful for more material to work with.

"Now how to deal with this."

She has map data now which is useful she will be wise enough to get Septette is going in alone and let her do her thing.

"I only have so many shots with the plasma rifle if we have things to burn rapidly, so yes let us not cause a breach."

Sho knows what's in those containers, and there goes George and Kotone cloaks making use of her stealth to get in closer it might be better for her to get in close to start taking people down, while they are directed by the more noisy people in the party.

Yuna Kagurazaka has posed:
George's gambit - while it's very likely to at least sort of neutralize those four - still draws a grimace from Yuna. She *wants* to give him some cover, just in case taking on four armed workers in hand-to-hand with only a grenade as a blunt weapon doesn't go as well as George clearly hopes it will.

But then, that's why she went Flight Form. Yuna quickly and quietly takes to the air, initially angling *away* from the compound before swinging over it - specifically, lining up her shot from almost directly above George, high enough up that she (hopefully) didn't draw attention getting into position.

Basically, if George turns out to need backup or cover fire, Yuna is going to open up on the bad guys from the *one* direction she can think of that minimizes the risk of damage to the nano-containers: almost straight above, with careful shots from the Matrix Divider. Of course, if the fight gets too close to the containers, she'd rather hold her fire - or swing down and engage in some judicious melee - than risk a stray shot ruining all of the group's hard work ...

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Sliding out of the truck as others recon the area, Yuuki starts stretching out, so by the time that George is walking out with gusto and confidence, she's no-hurry'ing behind his wake. While he does his schpiel - 'a joke too far' - she does a two-hand wave to the goonies and their robo-morphs. "George, I didn't know you also had one of those stack things! You... do have a stack, right? Oh, wait, secretly immortal?"

Her eyes blink, slow and pointed. "... Extra-resistant to grenades?"

She sighs deeply. "It'll kill you if it goes off, won't it?"

A grimace. "It's like you're Zero but replacing all the 'too edgy' with 'too cool', gheez." She adds, before moving to get into the wrasslepile to try and keep the grenade in friendly hands. Because friendly fire -- wasn't!

Starbound Flotilla has posed:
    George, over the beeping, asides to Yuuki, "It'll totally kill me if it goes off!" He flicks one of the lights on the side of his flat red faceplate like a wink at her before he digs into the meat of the matter, which may yet turn out to be fistfighting Rusters.

Staren (42) has posed:
    The party decides not to opt for subtlety. Asche and Septette heading down the entry ramp get shouts of 'hey!' from a couple of the scavengers, who stop working to shoot at them, trying to hold their rifles steady on full-auto... although after a few seconds, once they see how ineffective that is, they show fear, look at eachother, and lower their weapons, backing away down the ramp. This operation's defense was secrecy rather than heavy weapons, and they're not prepared for people in heavy combat morphs. "Who are you?!" They don't want to further piss off an unknown attacker that might spare them, but they're ready to fight to the death if their attackers turn out to be soul traders or something.

    All the others immediately react when Asche and Septette are noticed. George catches the guy on break and a dude carrying a nanoswarm canister. "Woah! Shit..." The solder readies his rifle but doesn't fire upon seeing the grenade. They don't react to the term 'Roko's Basilisk'. Only seed AI researchers even remember that idea now, certainly not these mafia goons. The guy carrying the canister hesitates, then bolts for the truck, making George chase him down and knock him out. The guy who was on break tries to grab the grenade away from him. This... does not really work, especially with Yuuki helping.

    The two other soldiers abort their patrol to start moving towards George, but are hesitant to fire when they see he's close to one of the canisters (They're less worried about their buddy wrestling him -- he has a stack, after all.) "...What do you want?! Who are you people?!" one barks out, realizing they're at a stalemate.

    The last scavenger was at the truck when things went down. He starts pulling it out of the garage to try and make a getaway.

    None of them are aware of those flying or stealthed yet -- Yuna has a clear shot at the soldiers pointing guns at George.

    Meanwhile, Asche and Septette can see, behind the scared scavengers... a large, rectangular room that still has several vats of mysterious chemicals in it, a lot more of those nanoswarm canisters, a number of dormant warbots, various completely unidentifiable items... and, according to Asche's sensors, one small antimatter bomb. 'Small' as in it will 'only' atomize the dome and maybe a little of the area outside it if it goes off.

Zwei (596) has posed:
    While Weiss is busy doing work that will probably take a while, given the number of bodies and minimal number of drones (just one, working hard to bring her each severed head in sequence), Asche is strutting down the ramp right into the mess. Standing alongside Septette, they constitute the two most visually intimidating and exceptionally tanky members of the party, and can make a really good show of waltzing through gunfire with a bunch of dramatic sparks flying off them.

    With George . . . being George, and a whole swarm of Elites piled on the rusters either directly doing things or 'on standby to help', Asche in fact walks past the entire smuggling op, bee-lining straight for the room in back, where the ridiculous pile of exotic ordnance is being kept.

<<Well now, can't just leave that in their hands, can we?>>
||The scavengers, or that of the others?||
<<Both?>>
||Both.||

    He has to crouch down to a sort of 'tripedal' posture to squeeze through, but gets himself in anyways, closely examining the items littered around. The warbots are obvious. Since Weiss has already identified the canisters, he can presume what is in those too. The signature of honest to god antimatter is unmistakable. It's mostly the vats where he doesn't know if it's worth taking them.

    Regardless, he has a partner in crime with him. A close burst of fast communication with Septette ends with him taking a position in the center of the room, light starting to bend, space dragging in, and the surroundings bleeding a redshifted tinge as the room's wall to wall coordinates start looping through a higher dimension, like rolling a sheet of paper into a tube to touch one side to the opposite. The idea is to turn the whole compartment into a wormhole field, and dump it back next to the pole stone coordinates Septette had left at the truck, which she herself can easily warp to and from. Quite literally, they are stealing the inside of the room.

Yuna Kagurazaka has posed:
It's the soldier who *didn't* call out who eats a concussive bolt of hard light from the Matrix Divider, lancing down out of the skies and knocking him for a good hard loop. It *should* be a knockout shot - but Yuna's firepower is gauged on the premise that her targets are about as durable as regular humans.

Yuna shifts her aim and adjusts how much power she's putting into the next shot, based on how close to 'disabled' the first soldier has been left. "Just some friendly strangers passing through," she calls out, "who don't like nanomachine weapons getting spread around!" Then she pulls the trigger to knock out that second soldier, once he's had a moment to hear her answer to his question.

And if the first soldier is still on his feet? Yuna takes a third shot to rectify that state of affairs, before turning her attention back to George's (and Yuuki's) immediate collection of problems.

She holds her fire at this point, though, just ready to intervene again if the pair are in over their heads.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     For a brief moment as she regards the cowering Mafia goons, Septette hitches. It's just the slightest visible pause, like something's caught in her inner workings. It takes an alarmingly large amount of subjective time for her to decide, given they likely have stacks, that it's worth it in her ethical calculus to spare them instead of simplifying things.

     "We're cleaning out your inventory. Drop the guns, up against the wall." She motions for them to move away from the ongoing Mexican Standoff, then drops a thick wall of magical ice across the entrance that the rest of the party used to enter the area- which should, hopefully, forestall everyone else from getting back to the truck, if only for a few moments.

     A small arcane drone warps in to keep an eye on the subdued mooks (and will administer punitive zaps if they try to pick up their weapons again). Meanwhile, Septette herself winds an Ariadne's Thread around her fingers and begins to glow with a flickering actinic light. In a few moments, she'll warp back to the Pole Stone at the truck- along with, hopefully, the full contents of the cache.

Staren (42) has posed:
    The two scavengers in the cache obey Septette's command... and then only look MORE scared when they start /space-warping the room/. "TITANs!" "Please don't take our heads!" They do reach for their weapons in fear, only to end up tasered.

    Well, that's ONE way to take care of the TITAN cache...

    "Agh!" meanwhile, aboveground, the soldier Yuna shot IS knocked for a loop, but not out. He's armored and slightly tougher than a human... although he seems to be struggling to get his bearings. The second one is KOed, as is the first one if Yuna wants to be thorough.

Starbound Flotilla has posed:
    "Ha hahahaHACHA!" George calls out, leaping forward and using the grenade like brass knuckles to try to smash the one bolting for the truck with a massive electrical discharge; he then tries to twist and sort of stylish swing off them to slam them into the ground while launching George himself feet-first towards the oncoming one on break, double-teaming both with Yuuki! He suffers not an inconsiderable bout of bruising and muscle strain from the wrassle efforts, but he comes out, hopefully, on top.

    He lands heavily on his feet, then sort of skids and almost seems unbalanced before he lands in a position supporting himself on the cannister. "Man, I just explained it and the last guys gave me a wrassle! I gotta take the nanohazard stuff outta circulation. And, you know, whatever other doubleyou-em-dees you got cooking down there, somehow. Pretty much not here for much else!" He looks over to the truck escaping. "Just a sec, topside and my vampire friend will keep you friends handled."

    There comes Yuna's chatter and fire, and George tries to slip away in the chaos towards that escaping enemy truck. George steps forward... Towards the front path of the truck, as if asking to get run over. He turns away from it, breathes deeply... Then he puts both his hands forward. Then he LEAPS high up into the air, tucks his feet forward, and tries to essentially zen-lean-slide his way through the front viewport, crash bodily through the window, and land directly in the driver's seat, ideally thoroughly smushing the driver therein directly into his seat such that he doesn't so much die as feel the closest any martian has ever felt to the experience of Jupiter. His forward-held hands should even wind up ending up exactly on the wheel of the truck if he judged it right.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Yuuki isn't PRECISELY having the time of her life, but she is much much better than common street goons in a raw physical contest. Even if she was a relatively short, noodly eurojapanese girl!

When you can casually huck around people like toys it's not hard to get an advantage in CQC. She robusts one of the goons meanacing George's back, and then realizes that George had a fantastic idea, but he wasn't holding the right thing in an iron grip!

A super cool, iron grip shock tazer.

Maneuvering one of the guards she can get her hands on, Yuuki aims a swift crack at their head to disable (or smash their skull in, if she misjudges how enhanced people are here), and then maneuvering her hand to grip around the base of his skull. "I'm done with this fight, sorry. You have little things in your heads, right? I'll just smash it if you don't stop. Please don't make me test that."

She smiles at George. "Oh, that's a good goal. Why-"

George stunt zen windodives like some sort of aciton movey with slow-mo camera shot in IMAX 3D, and Yuuki cannot help but just stare, watching him turn in the air.

"So. Cool."

Rory White (673) has posed:
    Rory has not been idle all this time! She has instead launched a covert campaign of INFORMATION WARFARE, targeting the PANs of these workers in an attempt to get control of their gear and especialyl shut down their means of escape - the truck!

    Sowing a little chaos on any tacnet they might be using by jamming it is also a good action of opportunity, as is killing any long range comms she can detect, but she's going to focus on cutting off any escape first.

    It's a pretty quiet crusade given it's happening entirely over the Mesh, but perhaps the results might become obvious soon?!

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa is now making use of the chaos to get in and she has no idea whom these people really are. What Kotone does know is, they are trafficking in dangerous shit. Given stacks exist here if the worst happens, something can be done about it, right? She's got freezer foam ready as she moves to pounce on several of the soldiers, with it, she'll remain cloaked as she set it off aiming to keep this fast, no taunting, no jokes no nothing. She knows how serious this is, and how fast she needs to take people down.

They need to get inside asap to clean out what is there.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     Septette's already beginning to dematerialize, shimmering around the edges and glowing purple-green, when the two Rusters freak out and go for their weapons again. The drone summarily melts both of their guns after tasing them, but her tone changes to something... soft and soothing, oddly enough. "I'm sorry you're scared. You'll be okay, I promise. We're not going to take your heads." She kneels to get closer to one on the floor- and, perhaps, seem less intimidating. "Just stay right there, okay? Nobody here wants to hurt you."

     And then she's gone with a quiet pop, and hits the ground running next to the truck! Superhuman strength helps her to load anything and everything interesting into their vehicle; primarily the unidentifiable oddities, but also the canisters of dormant nanoswarms and (ever-so-carefully) the antimatter bomb. "How's our exit strategy looking, Weiss? Can go and shore up things if we need more time; I think they're just about done in there!"

Staren (42) has posed:
    Kotone freezer foams the guy trying to recover from Yuna's first shot, giving her a clear shot to knock him the rest of the way out. If they /weren't/ KOed, the guards would give George confused looks. The one that joined the wrastle is knocked to the ground -- Yuuki cracks him good in the head and he goes down and stays down.

    George, meanwhile, runs into the path of the oncoming escaping truck. He can see the look in the driver's eyes as he considers trying to swerve around, then decides to ram the interloper... playing right into George's hands! Or, he would be if Rory didn't stop the truck.

    The driver stares at George, and jams his foot futilely at the accelerator. He's just reaching for his gun when the tacnet goes down.

    The other six are knocked out. He doesn't even have time to check that, though -- he can see three of his allies KOed in front of him, and the tacnet going down is the last straw. He holds his hands up in a surrender gesture.

    Septette starts loading up the truck. It's not big enough to take everything, even if they use the mob's truck too. The vats of questionably-valuable chemicals and the warbots are just too inconveniently big -- the nanoswarms, some of the strange objects, and the antimatter bomb aren't a problem.

Yuna Kagurazaka has posed:
Now that the fighting is over, the vats of chemicals are of some interest to Elner - or rather, of some concern. They might be weapons-grade or they might just be ingredients or precursors, but either way, the robo-faerie takes a few moments to go around and scan the vats and barrels more closely, attempting to identify what this gang was handling.

Yuna spends that time flitting around, making sure that the thugs are all accounted for (but that they're alive, or as close to it as human minds in robot bodies can be).

Staren (42) has posed:
    The chemicals are complex, organic molecules. Precursors to something, but what? Part of some exsurgent lifeform? Or perhaps of some horrible poison for killing humans en-masse? They don't seem to be affecting anyone in their current state, at least

    Seven thugs accounted for! These aren't robot bodies, actually, they're a variant of human genetically engineered to survive in the half-terraformed Martian atmosphere. The robots with them are simple AI-controlled servitors that were helping carry stuff.

Zwei (596) has posed:
    Weiss seems to have about wrapped up with stack collecting in the time it'd taken everyone to fully lock down the situation regarding the smugglers, and for Zwei and Septette to irresponsibly lift all of the black market goods themselves. Asche winds up dumping most of the contents out of a blue-shifted warp in space, and then leaves it to Septette to grab items one by one and hop through her pole stone like a tireless, peppy little u-haul robot.

    <<"Looks totally fine! I've been harvesting all the stacks on the side. No sense leaving them just lying around, right? Lift as much as you can, and we'll leave anything too inconvenient or not valuable enough to be worth bothering with the rest of the gang to bring back to our contractor and 'safely off the market'. Just make sure the antimatter and at least a few samples of nanos and chemicals are offloaded before we all come back to the truck. Asche is loading up too.">>

    Indeed, Asche is. When you're that big, the size of items you can pocket in hammerspace increases somewhat. While in the cache, he makes sure to grab at least one warbot (in several pieces if necessary) and smaller tanks from the larger chemical vats. ||"My own folding field is more than enough to exfiltrate at moment's notice. Simply make certain that you have everything you desire."||

    In essence, the two of them just spend as much time raiding the TITAN cache for as much stuff as they can, before everyone finishes up with the baddies, before warping back to the rover to carry the rest of the stuff out and fulfill the contract. Probably for study. Maybe. Some of it might wind up sold. Some of it might be used later. Who knows!

Staren (42) has posed:
    While trying to pack up the entire cache, Zwei is probably the first to notice radio signals from someone that isn't them or their captives.

    The source is a drone, that approached from the same way they came. It's like a tiny helicopter rigged with a sniper railgun.

    There's radio traffic between it and four stealthed, human-size somethings that are taking positions up behind some rocks outside the dome. (Scouting might notice another buggy nearby-ish, back the way the party came from).

    They don't open fire.

    As the drone flies over the dome, the radio signals suddenly raise in power, burning out their transmitters. It's encrypted, but it looks a lot like the signals between the warbot and the headhunters.

Septette Arcubielle (632) has posed:
     "Stack-harvesting is much appreciated, Weiss. Better than leaving them here to rot, for sure. And Asche- I figure we'll all be ready to exfiltrate pretty soon, if the radio's any indication." There's no room to fit the whole vats into the truck, sure, but there's nothing stopping Septette from cracking open each of the containers and decanting some of the vile chemicals into glass bottles shaped impromptu from the Martian sand. Running Pole Stone hijack tally: several nanoswarm canisters, an antimatter bomb, the strange TITAN objects, small samples of the chemicals.

     The deactivated warbots are left behind, scattered around the truck rather haphazardly. There doesn't seem to be much else her drones can do while waiting for the others to get back to the truck, so one of them simply traces a funny symbol in the sand around one of the heavy walker bots, easily twenty or thirty feet across. From above, it almost looks like a magic circle...

     A few seconds later, Septette pops back in from the Pole Stone relay, leans out of the truck, and makes a funny gesture with her hand. There's a noise like thunder as electricity courses through the magic circle, abruptly shaping an explosion of glass that launches the entire TITAN warbot high into the sky- on a direct high-speed collision course with the small helicopter.

     She silently holds out her hand to Weiss for a high-five. "And go fuck yourself too, little buddy."

Staren (42) has posed:
    That was unexpected. The helicopterbot is smashed out of the sky. The four humans? move slightly, but it's hard to tell what they're doing with chameleon cloaks breaking up their outlines. Then one's head explodes. Or rather... their helmet does. It WAS a human in a survival suit, but now it's turning into something else. Something with a very big brainy growth and strange, fungal fringes, the human's mass rapidly transforming into something new.

Zwei (596) has posed:
    With the inbound radio signatures, Zwei estimates that the jig is pretty much up. The expedition has been located, and a third party is interested in what they're doing, with most likely hostile intent. Between Zwei and Septette, they've lifted as much as they can, and the rover is basically stuffed with what they can bring back. That leaves them only with asset denial for the enemy, and expedient exfiltration.

    Everything still left behind, Asche is exceedingly thorough with. Not content to simply smash things and leave behind the pieces (or potentially reactive chemicals or volatile nano-dust), he dips into battery reserves to get more satisfactory results. His right wrist opens up to expose the modular emitter of one of his integrated multi-weapons/omni-tools, and he begins torching the remaining stacks of tech with a sort of 'welding torch' arc of disintegrating energy, shredding the molecular bonds of even any dormant nano-swarms remaining, and leaving behind only toxic gases and fine powders of basic, periodic table elements, fit for a Cornucopia Machine more than a lab.

    Weiss is the first to get back to the truck proper, cortical stacks safely stored, just in time for the show, and to give Septette a smooth, walk-by high five, captured drone in tow. She clambers into the back, but pops out of the top hatch, scanning the horizon to see if she can triangulate the recon team from their radio chatter, though she keeps one of her submachine guns down low for the moment. When she sees one of their heads just outright explode unprompted however, she keys her radio insistently, reporting to everyone who might still be faffing about in the dome. <<"Hey guys, hope you're done in there, because we should be going now!">>

Starbound Flotilla has posed:
    George is probably second-ish to get back to the truck, once that head explosion happened. "Wow! Okay, sheesh, I'll go then!" He calls out, turning away before the horrific fungal mass can construct a visually brain-rending spiral. He's not really the loot-focused one of the Flotilla, but he also doesn't really mind what Zwei is doing -- and historically they've always needed a little help on the side, so this will probably be a good opportunity for a lab-building contract later. He hops into the truck, holding the door for Yuuki, who has so far been a pretty cool vampire as far as vampires go, and focuses on getting away by way of equipping more of the guns and readying to help blast past the incoming perimeter.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Yuuki threatened guys with other, knocked out guys, until it turned out that everyone was unconscious and all the important stuff was in the basement. That other people had already went to explore/secure/destroy! And she was just up here, holding onto the neck of some goon, like a dumb flatfoot.

Dropping the insensate thug, she gasps in quiet horror, hands to her (rebreather shielded) mouth.

"Oh no. I'm the muscle!" She laments, before dashing for the rover to hightail it out.

"George, I feel so ashamed. I'm a bad director, if I'm just a big stupid thug the entire time... Ugh, the shame..." She grumbles, shaking some strange white pez into her hand and popping them into her mouth and chewing sourly. "I was so used to pretty monsters that needed to be hugged and or punched. I got complacent."

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa si moving to hault hings up, she's very concerned about things here. There are war bots coming in more of them are coming nad now something else is going to get back to the truck with what people they have managd to load up. She'll be getting back to the drivers seat they need to get he hell out of here and she's not liking where things are going. There's not much she can do but she makes sure her plasma grenades are ready floor it out of here.

"We got to go, oh we so got to go now!"

Staren (42) has posed:
    Whatever the heck 'a person turning into a mushroom brain monster' is about, the party doesn't decide to stick around and find out. Two trucks speed away over the Martian sand! There's a tense moment when they see some approaching warbots, but now that you see them moving? It turns out they are not built for speed, so the truck can easily outrun them after a few moments of tensely dodging (or having the elites onboard counter) the weaponsfire.

    With the cache looted or destroyed, whatever forces arrive here won't be able to make use of it. Mission accomplished?