6111/RIFTS: The Garnet Town Gambit (Part 1)

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RIFTS: The Garnet Town Gambit (Part 1)
Date of Scene: 19 October 2018
Location: Garnet Town, RIFTS Earth
Synopsis: Answering a call for help, our heroes find a small town suffering from demonic raiders and caught between two factions offering help with strings attached.
Cast of Characters: Staren, 6736, 6666, 411, 6404, Maya
Tinyplot: RIFTS side stories

Staren has posed:
RIFTS EARTH - October 19, 120 Post Apocalypse (2406 AD)

    Heading east from The Relic (Hamilton, Ontario, which looks refreshingly like a modern Earth city except that here and there it's as if chunks of the city just disappeared and new construction has taken its place) the setting quickly goes from 'future magitech Earth' to 'post-apocalyptic'. There are a few small fishing and trading villages. Niagara falls, once a great tourist destination, is just a big waterfall notable to scholars for having once been a tourist destination, during the Golden Age. The world is too dangerous for tourists now. The ruins of Buffalo are a hiding place for bandits and lake pirates -- pass through quickly.

    After that, other than the road the party is following, the signs of civilization are all but gone. Occasionally there are some overgrown, half-collapsed walls, or a large clearing where the forest has had three hundred years to reclaim farmland. The road itself is dirt with the occasional patch of crumbling asphalt. There's only even a dirt road because of the occasional traveler headed to the Dinosaur Swamp far to the south. This is the eastern edge of the Domain of Man.

    As the party approaches the town's location, they hear running water up ahead, and a wooden bridge comes into sight -- and there's a cry of "HEEEEELP!"

    A dirt path runs along the opposite bank, and a young human is running for his life from a group of 5 large (about 8' tall,) red-skinned humanoids carrying energy rifles. One points at the boy and growls "No witnesses!" Curiously, they seem to be chasing and trying to grab him rather than shooting him, but the boy doesn't seem particularly relieved by this!

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    "How long are we going to wander? Oryou's hungry," a floating woman complains, floating just off to the side and slightly behind a man in a white Japanese navy unicorm, donning a white-brimmed hat in lieu of an officer's cap.
    "Ahah... as long as my legs will hold out," Ryouma laughs. "If I don't, I'm afraid I'm going to have to go pay the Mage's Association a visit. If I'm far enough and something comes up, I can justify not doing it," he says.
    "That's unlike Ryouma," Oryou notes. "Being dishonest to the World itself," she also adds.
    "Ah... I prefer to think of it as being tactical."
    "Well, whatever Rouma wants to call it, Oryou thinks it's dumb," she says, bluntly.
    "Yeah... it's pretty stupid, isn't it?" Ryouma laughs awkwardly.

    His luck is working out, though.
    From cityscape to swamps, and now cries of help and a distant town. He runs in the direction of the cries for help, and Oryou floats behind him, looking as distant and disconnected as usual.

    Oh, large people. With guns! Future guns.

    "Ah, everyone, please stop and explain yourselves!" He won't stop the boy from running behind him for cover, but Ryouma draws no weapons, relying on words first. He doesn't even have any weapons visible right now!

Kupot (6666) has posed:
The Man at the Watch points out. "GO!"


It is a universal cry. A need. A demand. And everyone knows. Everyone knows, there is a single response to it. A universal response across all worlds.

As if summoned by that cry itself, the Slepnir thunders into view. It roars loud enough to shake teeth in the back of your head. It consumes the land with little fear of marauders, dragons, magical energy fluxes. The length of a full car and nearly as long, tipped with a snarling horse head, it stops at the one side of the river.

The rider, a three foot tall moogle in jacket and straw hat, somersaults from the driver's seat to land in front of the boy and the men.

"Stop, kupo." Kupot holds out one arm, palm up. "Leave this kupo alone."

Staren has posed:
    'Please stop and explain yourselves!'

    Demons do not stop and explain themselves, at least not unless absolutely forced to. The one furthest in the back of the pack does stop to take aim with his rifle as Ryouma crosses the bridge. The rifle makes a dramatic PEW PEW noise as as it fires beams of intense light (even if Ryouma dodges, the effect of the weapon is clear -- missed shots explode chunks of splinters out of the trees on the northern bank.)

    A moogle on a motorcycle rides across the bridge and stops in front of the group. He gets a close look at the boy -- not human, pointy ears and eyes like sapphires -- who runs past him. The brodkil in front is surprised at the abrupt appearence of a would-be savior for his target, but doesn't seem to assume small and fluffy means harmless -- flashing a toothy grin, he reaches behind his back and draws forth a sword, which emits the telltale high-frequency whine of a vibroblade. He motions for the others to keep chasing the boy, and steps forward to swing at the moogle!

Twilight Sparkle (411) has posed:
     Although she was here to answer a different call for help (one in the form of a flyer asking for assistance) Twilight Sparkle hears the more immediate call as she is making her way toward the town in question. Her ears perk before her horn glows and in a flash of purple and white she disappears, only to reappear a moment later between the boy and his pursuers. "What is going on?" she asks even as she puts up a translucent purple barrier on the bridge to try and stop the strange red people from continuing after the boy. "I am Twilight Sparkle of the Paladins. Whatever the problem is, I am sure we can solve it amicably without harm on either side!"

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    Guns are pointed. It's a good thing Ryouma's other half is much more inclined to turn hostile than he is, or he'd really not make it far. Oryou is between Ryouma and the brodkil before the first shots go off, and when they do, they... well, they certainly explode on her, or scorch, or... make her float backwards a bit? Neither clothes nor skin seem to be that much worse off for the wear.

    "Ah... why do they never stop when asked?" Ryouma bemoans.
    "Why does Ryouma never learn?" Oryou answers back.
    His answer is a stiffled laugh, a conceding gesture.

    Well, with that, the pair puts themselves between the running boy and the brodkil. Ryouma's weapons materialize out of wisps of blue mana, a sheathed katana hanging from his waist and a holstered revolver just next to it. A gloved hand takes the revolver, and he lines a shot for one of the back brodkils, a shot of glimmering blue light accompanying the bullet, aimed for thing's own rifle.

    Oryou, for her part, establishes dominance over her end of the bridge. That is to say she winds a punch back, and then swings forward towards one of the approaching brodkils.

    Inconveniently, a barrier goes up.
    Oryou just punches harder. She risks shattering the barrier outright for the sake of reaching her opponent, but her resistance to magic might let her through without disrupting it.

Kupot (6666) has posed:
Kupot takes a look at the boy. Elf? Not something he hasn't seen before. The brodkill stops and, either doesn't understand, or prefers blood.

"Don't." Kupot says once.

The blade comes out and forward.

At the same time, the motorcycle shifts slightly, as if its kickstand were noooot quite center, and the radio clicks on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwBKjK7Xik0

The response doesn't come when the blade is drawn, or even the step forward. Those large insectile eye cybernetics just stare at the brodkill until it actually starts the swing. Then the return motion starts. A white blur, then the blade comes up to catch the vibroblade, turn it, while the other hand windmills with it. A wakazashi to cleanly slice through the hand holding the blade at the wrist in unison with the parry.

Staren has posed:
    Three are still trying to chase the boy when Twilight puts up a barrier and teleports in behind it. One starts trying to cut through the barrier with his own vibro-sword. "Stupid psi-pony. We's PAID to do harm! And we LIKE it!"

    The one shooting at Ryouma shots, "Shut up!" to his compatriot, just before the rifle's blown out of his hands. "Agh!" And then he... vanishes?

    Of the other two chasing the boy, one gets punched by Oryou and is shoved into a tree by the force. There's a CRACK and he collapses, lifeless.

    The last stalks along the barrier, trying to find the end of it so he can go around it.

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    Ah, that fluffy white thing is adorable, Ryouma thinks. And a killing machine, but, mostly, adorable.

    As Oryou replaces part of a tree with a body, Ryouma winces. "Ah... Oryou, please, we don't know what's going on yet," he tries to argue, just as his wife turns to the brodkil trying to find his way around the barrier and to the boy.

    "Ah. You heard Ryouma. Oryou can't kill you," she warns. That's probably not very reassuring, because her hair suddenly slithers like snakes and lances out like sharp, corrosive shadows to remove both of the brodkil's arms, and scorch the wounds closed with the same stroke.

    Ryouma adjusts the hat on his head somberly as he reconsiders how to word these requests in the future.

Twilight Sparkle (411) has posed:
     Twilight winces as her barrier is attacked, and a slight crack forms in it. It isn't a large barrier, so finding the end isn't too hard. Twilight Sparkle kind of stares as one of the creatures says they are paid to do harm. "W-..what?"

     She looks pretty angry after that. And as soon as the one feeling along the barrier finds the edge of it...he also finds a strong beam of purple magic aimed at his belly. It is more of a punch than a laser, intended to blast him back. "That is despicable! Who pays for people to harm others? And who takes those payments and enjoys their work?!"

Staren has posed:
    The one at the barrier just laughs at the apparent absurdity of these questions. He's a demon. A minor one, but still supernatural evil enfleshed. He has no context for why anyone would want to NOT hurt people. As the barrier cracks, he starts trying to wedge his sword into it and put his strength and weight into cutting the barrier open.

    The one that was sneaking around gets blasted, and stumbles back. Wait, can psi-ponies do that? He's not actually sure. What he is sure is that that didn't actually hurt him, and his laser rifle hurts most things. He draws it -- and Oryou slices his arms off with burning hair-tendrils, but is kind enough to cauterize the wounds so he'll live. He screams and drops to his knees, then vanishes.

    Mystic senses or just noticing when branches are disturbed and twigs are stepped on, seems to indicate that the invisible ones are fleeing.

    The boy hides behind the motorcycle, watching and cheering as the brodkil are defeated.

Gideon Kaspar (6404) has posed:
    "Commander." "Yes?" "I've been looking at this request posting." "And?" "It barely pays anything. What could you possibly be planning?" "Not something so different from that time on Remnant. You know how these war-torn and barbarian-savaged places are! That, and Clover desperately needs some life experience. "E-excuse me? I can handle myself you know." "Correction. The commander means you need experience with the way the Commander does things."

    Gideon Kaspar of G&K private military and security consultancy services wouldn't be caught dead beating feet on a dusty nowhere road on the way to a swamp. More accurately, he wouldn't be caught dead making T-Dolls (at least his) do something so tedious, exhausting, and ignoble. There are people for this kind of thing, and one is flying a company helicopter over the action by what amounts to probable coincidence when it unfolds.

    "You'd be surprised!" Gideon calls down, perched irresponsibly close to the open bay doors of the descending helicopter as if begging for an FPS game opening to happen. "If people didn't pay other people to hurt other /other/ people, then how would anyone get along? 'People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf'. Ever heard that one? I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn't; it's a little out of date, considering how passé rough men are these days."

    Apparently, Gideon has no issues taking a short cable ladder out of a hovering helicopter and stepping into the middle of a potential gunfight while wearing a stylish red military jacket over an expensive three piece suit, and at least one of the two armed women around him reacts to this as if it's normal. Krysanthe simply falls the whole way without reservation, landing heavily without bending her knees, and snapping her submachine gun to its ready position. Clover remains crouched on the edge of the helicopter bay, rifle up, but only watching.

    ". . . well? What are you waiting for?" "Huh?" "Light them up!" "But they're retreating, aren't they?" "So they'll run in a straight line. Now's the time to make sure they don't rally and come back for more." "Affirmative. There is only a very slight delay before rapid three round bursts of gunfire go cracking from the hovering air vehicle, stringing one after the other without pause. Invisible or not, the first sign of a snapped twig is immediately zoned in on and made the recipient of a dozen high velocity, high tech bullets from a high vantage.

    "What's your bet?" "Half." "I say she hits three quarters of them."

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    Everything went better than expected.

    Now air support is here, gunfire raining on both the retreating demons and the remaining one. Can't ask for a cleaner operation.

    Ryouma walks onto the bridge, headed for the motorcycle, Kupot, and the boy, putting his best friendly smile on.

    "Sorry, do you mind explaining what we just barged into? And why they just... disappeared?" They don't seem to be around anymore, but Ryouma's not exactly equipped with supersenses to know better with.

    Oryou for her part wanders over back to Ryouma's side, looking down at the cowering boy. "Can Oryou eat this one, then?"
    "Oryou no," Ryouma answers.
    She looks down, dejected.

Staren has posed:
    One of the brodkil just challenged a wandering cyber-samurai to a swordfight. Kupot is ready -- a blade snaps through the air, and the brodkil is disarmed, or dis-handed, at any rate. The boy by the motorcycle is pleasantly surprised by the song that's started -- "Ohohoh-WOAH!" he seems pretty impressed by Kupot's handiwork! There is shock on the brodkil's face, and it too decides to go invisible and bug out.

    The one trying to break through the forcefield is shot. A few bullets won't take it down, at least not unless fired at the head, maybe. As it turns and starts to raise its gun, though, it realizes that it's now all alone, and also goes invisible and heads for the river.

    Those two can only hope a rushing river is enough to confuse the T-Dolls' sensors. Clover's shots get the legs of the others, slowing them and making them easier to shoot. They reappear when dead.

    All is quiet for a moment, except for the sound of 'Kung-Fu Fighting' playing from the motorcyle, and the kid's cheering, and the rushing of the river.

Staren has posed:
    Now that everyone's got a close look at him, it's clear the boy isn't human after all. He has pointed ears like an elf, and his blue eyes have no visible iris or sclera, as if round blue sapphires fill his eye sockets. He's wearing a colorful blue-green sleeveless jacket over plain dark coveralls. "That was amazing! You were all" he mimes shooting, and punching, and slashing. "and they were all 'augh' and 'argh' and..."

    His accent sounds vaguely british, of all things. "I'm grateful, of course, for the rescue! I'm so lucky you showed up when you did!" He points to the south. "I live in Garnet Town, it's not far from here. We've been under attack by these things for days! They say they're with the Black Market. People keep goin' missing since they showed up..." he hangs his head.

    Then the boy perks up and makes a 'follow me' gesture. "You guys should come back to town with me! Me mum's the mayor, she'll want to meet you!"

Staren has posed:
    Garnet Town is several minutes' walk away, but with the party's vehicles, it may not even be that long. Von will enthusiastically answer questions along the way.

    The town is built along the banks of the river, using the swift and deep river flow to their advantage with a water-wheel mill. The settlement is picturesque, composed of buildings made from local woods in a somewhat faerie-tale style, very "old world" in their construction. Of all things, it kind of reminds Twilight of Ponyville's architecture, but sized for humans. However, there are signs of technology as well--a nuclear generator near the center of town and electrical wires strung up between some of the buildings. All in all, the town doesn't look like one that's been struggling or having difficulty just getting by.

    However, the newest addition to the town isnt quite so pretty. A low wall around four feet high surrounds the settlement, made primarily of sandbags and mud. There are scorch marks here and there where some of the sandbags have been burned away, and there's damage to some of the building walls facing the outside of town. A pair of men--farmers, based on their attire--stand watch near a makeshift gate.

    One of them is carrying an unloaded rifle. The other has his finger in the trigger guard and looks like he's going to accidentally shoot someone or something at any second.

    Those with magic senses can detect a leyline running east-west some distance to the south.

    A woman hurriedly approaches your group as you approach the center of town. She looks to be in her late thirties, with wavy brown hair and purple, amethyst-colored eyes. Her pointed ears, her eyes, and her facial features all indicate a close relation with Von. The woman is limping, assisted by a crutch she holds under one arm. Her leg looks to be wounded and has been awkwardly bandaged.

    "Von! Youre safe!" She shares the same accent too. Her voice is filled with a mingling of concern and relief. Von runs towards the woman, "Mom!" Soon, the two embrace. The woman lifts her head with tears glistening in her eyes to regard the party. "My name is Lithari, strangers. You have my gratitude for bringing my son home safely. I am the Mayor of Garnet Town, and you are welcome to our hospitality."

    Von begins eagerly recounting the fight where the heroes saved his life already embellishing it with the impression that everything was even awesomer than it was.

    Once his tale is over, she smiles, asks him to go home, and then continues talking to the party. "The Brodkil say theyre with the Black Market. They've attacked our town a few times, but mostly theyve been taking people prisoner. Anyone they can find outside the walls." Lithari motions to her hastily-bandaged leg. "I tried to follow them the last time they raided us, but I got hit during the fighting."

Kupot (6666) has posed:
In a twin move, Kupot swipes the swords to the right, flicking blood away from himself. He then sheathes them both. A moment to surveil the area, turning his head slowly about, before he settles on the boy. "I hope you are kupo." A smile creeps onto his face at the recreation. "Only because it was necessary." He turns nods towards the others. One of which is a...shudder...horse.

As 'Boy' leads them off, he pulls out the keychain from the motorcycle. It has three keys and a little chocobo dongle.

He nods to the woman, "So you need someone to kupo them."

Staren has posed:
    So you need someone to kupo them.

    "...I'm sorry?" Lithari tilts her head and gives Kupot a confused look.

Kupot (6666) has posed:
Kupot elucidates. "To." pause. "Stop." Pause. "Kupo." Pause.

nine ten

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    Ryouma follows, gladly; which means Oryou follows, perhaps less gladly or enthusiasticly though. Seeing something so rudimentary in what seemed to be a more advanced world surprises Ryouma somewhat, but not in a bad way. It's kind of nice to see that the old ways are never really lost or forgotten even when newer, better ones come along.

    But there's technology present too, so it also shows a certain adaptive spirit. Newer rifles, too; certainly not fitting the settlement, but evidently needed.

    He listens to the mayor's story, and nods slowly. "I believe he means to say you need someone to stop this Black Market. It'd be rather selfish of us to decline, I'd think. Ah, perhaps... perhaps you might help us understand why they need people, though?"

    Ryouma's guessing slaves.
    Oryou's guessing food.

Twilight Sparkle (411) has posed:
     Twilight wasn't sure if the creatures were being banished by losing their rifles or not, but the footprints and broken twigs make it clear that it is just an invisibility of some kind. She makes a mental note of it and is about to blast the one attacking her shield when she hears Gideon. "Wait! You can't shoot people who are running away!"

     Twilight's horn glows and this time her shield is between Gideon's people and the fleeing brodkil. "You again?" she huffs at them. "I'm sorry, but I won't allow any unnecessary killing while I'm around."

     Twilight then follows after the others and smiles warmly to the happy mother. "We were happy to help." she says as they are thanked. "I am Twilight Sparkle of the Paladins, and I will help any way I can."

     Twilight giggles and smiles as the young boy recounts the battle. As Mayor Lithari explains a bit Twilight considers. She blinks at Kupot's suggestion, then nods. "We should try to find out who is paying these brodkil and stop them. Otherwise these attacks are unlikely to stop." she says.

Staren has posed:
    "Oh." Lithani nods to the moogle. "Yes, please!" she starts to plead, then looks to Ryouma and stares for a second or two at the woman floating beside him, but eh, so someone can fly, she doesn't need to freak out about that. She shakes her head. "They mostly sneak weapons, armor, and supplies past the Coalition. People..." she sighs. "I fear perhaps they've taken up slavery. Selling our people to the Splugorth..." she looks like she's envisioning something very unpleasant. "If you can bring our people back, I'd be grateful. I don't know how I could repay you."

Maya has posed:
To those going to the mayor would find someone else is there clad in heavy black and white body armour which has quite a few spikes on its shoulders and forearms but it's no raider sort it looks new heavy and the sort that could take a light vehicle weapon fire from the looks of it. (OOC The armour 8640561_orig.jpg )

"Madame Mayor, these demons I have extensive experience with they won't stop coming, Garnet needs fully armed and trained soldiers to protect it. They won't stop coming with the nearby nexus you could get demon hordes, aliens, things from the wider Megaverse."

The man has a French Canadian accent.

"Speaking of the Megaverse at large."

He tilts his head a bit looking Kupot over for a moment.

"Colonel Dan O'niel, of the Free Quebec."

He looks the group over and Twilight just gets a you have to be kidding me look for half a second.

"They are deamon they will keep this up pay or no pay. They want one thing to kill all mortals. These sorts of thing hav ebeen infesting this owrld for centuries and are arguably worse than magic."

Kupot (6666) has posed:
Kupot's eyes flash briefly as information about this ancient multiverse rolls through. He turns his head towards the man, and that smile leaves his face. That looks like Coalition armor. The Splugorth doesn't actually register on his thing, but his internal computers can make it phonetic.

86% chance of anything with a name structure like that being awful and possibly beyond the powers of time and space.

"What is required to kupo this nexus?"

Gideon Kaspar (6404) has posed:
    "Hmmm." "Is something the-" "You need to switch ammunition." "They're a lot tougher than they look aren't they?" "Ah. Will the . . . armour-piercing composite/rigid work?" "Let's try it. Krys, ditch the hollow points and sub in the carbide P++. We should be running an anti-android load, so only keep two magazines and one explosive for anti-personnel purposes." "Understood." "Okay." Some shuffling of equipment goes on, wherein Clover and Krysanthe toss things back and forth up and down from the helicopter, exchanging magazines and fastening things to carry points, but eventually the former drops down as well, and the craft moves to a proper landing space to conserve fuel.

    Gideon, meanwhile, gives one of those excessively friendly back pats to Von. "Excellent! That happens to be right on our way you know! Not only were we lucky enough to run into you just in time, but we're even going in the same direction!" He laughs. "And talking to the mayor is right up there on my priority list. I knew I picked a good time to set out." "Is that why we departed thirty two minutes late?" "Isn't that obvious?"

    Gideon makes some time for introductions, albeit Ryouma is the only one he can actually offer to shake hands with. When they actually arrive at the village however, Gideon's first response to Lithari is a showy western-style bow, smoothly flicking out a business card from the standing gesture, and transferring it in the same motion as an enthusiastic ambush handshake. "A pleasure to meet you! Now I'm even more glad we ran into your son when we did; if it weren't for him, I'd be here asking a beautiful young lady where to find the mayor!" And then his eyes flicker over her shoulder, his smile briefly becoming strangely cold without changing in the slightest. "Instead, I'll have to ask you to take that man's gun away until the words 'trigger discipline' are tattooed into his forehead. Preferably backwards, so he can read them in the mirror."

    Krysanthe smoothly pushes into view, picking up at precisely the right time. "You needn't worry. We happen to have business here, and so will be staying a short while. If you wouldn't mind, we'd like to know what the Black Market is, so that we are informed as to what we're up against. Any further intelligence you can provide would be appreciated." Gideon just snaps his fingers when the local Vader shows up, pointing in his direction. "Precisely! He's exactly right! Of course we've saved your son once, but who can guaranteed someone will wander along just in the nick of time a second time? Or a third? Heroes are all well and good for saving the day, but if you're looking to save future generations, you need something more substantial than a passing, altruistic stranger's short-lived fancy. I'm here on behalf of Griffin&Kryuger PMC to discuss just that, actually. I'd hate to see a lovely little community like this get hung out to dry once the knights in shining armour have moved on, you know."

    His eyes slide to O'niel, then slide to Twilight Sparkle, then slide back. "You'll be glad you have me." he says, after a long pause. Clover tries to be slightly more helpful in regards to Kupot. "I think it's a kind of contextual cue? The word means what the rest of the sentence suggests. Like "you know". I think."

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    "I couldn't possibly refuse to help," Ryouma simply answers, because what else is there to say? But then there's someone else, in heavy armor and with quite a commanding tone. He seems to know what he's talking about to. Two, if we count Gideon.

    Which we should, because Gideon also carries that military mind with him. Ryouma shakes his head and introduces himself briefly, because it's only polite. "Ryouma Sakamoto, and this is my partner," he says, and Oryou beams a V-sign with one hand to confirm.

    Then the Free Quebec commander. Ryouma nods, agreeing with Gideon's assessment. "Unless there's a good reason to refuse the offer, if these people are offering to protect your settlement and it isn't a net loss for you, it'd be wise to accept. None of us can be here twenty-four seven, and you can't live within these walls forever."

    Well, maybe they CAN, he doesn't know what kind of setup they have to produce food and water. They do have a river though, so one of those shouldn't be an issue.

    Ammunition does run out, though.

Staren has posed:
    The mayor is slightly taken aback by the dramatic bow -- she's a mayor, not royalty -- but she does seem to appreciate the flattery. She smiles back as they shake hands, and then reads the business card just as Dan approaches.
    Lithari gets a 'oh boy, here we go again' expression on her face when Dan speaks up. And looks a bit disappointed that Gideon seems to be making his own pitch that she join his group/ After his explanation she sighs and turns to the party"So you see, things here in Garnet Town are a bit more complicated than they appear." She frowns thoughtfully. "He's not wrong about the nexus point, though. We need some way to defend ourselves if a Rift were to open and let out something horrible." She seems surprised at Kupot's suggestion. "/Neutralize/ the nexus? I... I guess they managed it in Lazlo, but we don't have those kinds of resources! I suppose powerful mages might be able to close rifts shortly after they open, but to remove the threat completely..." she shakes her head. "I have no idea how."

    She looks between Gideon and Twilight. "While I am very grateful for what you've done to save my son, I have to tell you this settlement is my responsibility, one I take very seriously. I wont be swayed into allying Garnet Town with the 'Paladins' or 'Griffon&Kryuger' or any other."

    "You haven't heard of the Black Market? I guess you are new to Earth, then... they're an organization of mercenaries and merchants active across most of the continent. The name may sound ominous, but everyone but the Coalition does business with them. Kidnapping people en masse, though, that's new."

    To Ryouma's question, she answers: "I said we're not allying with anyone." Although something flickers across her face, like maybe she's starting to have to consider it. "What he didn't tell you is that Free Quebec would kick all the d-bees -- nonhumans -- out of town. Even if the rest of the town would be safe, how can we just leave our home?"

    A quick glance at the townspeople going about their business or who've stopped to watch the exchange indicates a proportion of about half human, half a mix of other things like elves and dwarves.

Staren has posed:
    As the subject of the nexus point comes up, a robed figure emerges from a side street. "Indeed, it is a troubling thought!" The figure pulls down its hood, revealing a saturnine male face, his brow adorned with two prominent horns. You've seen others of this species in the coastal towns on the way here. Despite their appearance, noone seems to act like they're demons or anything. The robed figure smiles. "I am Symon, a representative of the Federation of Magic." Symon's robes are adorned with several arcane sigils, and a pouch on his belt bears a glowing rune shaped out of bronze.

    "Lithari, the nexus point is a danger to this entire region... as are these horrid Black Market enforcers." Symon waves a hand at the makeshift barrier serving as the town's defensive wall. "My Lord Dunscon offers you protection. Elementals to guard you, golems to till your fields. You'd have all the freedom you wished under the Federation's benevolence."

    Lithari nods, an expression of strained patience on her face. "I understand, Symon, you mentioned the same thing yesterday."

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:

    Ryouma eyes the commander disapprovingly.
    "A heavy toll. You would need abandon all non-humans to ensure the safety of humans. An issue indeed," Ryouma says, until ANOTHER figure appears.

    He's starting to get a good picture now.

    "Ah, and what would the Federation of Magic expect in return, praytell?" he decides to ask right now, while Symon is speaking.

    Oryou appears to have wandered off towards the river at some point, bored of the political games. She is looking for frogs. Come on, river, don't let her down. (You don't have to GM frog-fishing.)

Staren has posed:
    Symon falters a bit at Ryouma's question, like maybe there's something at least a little uncomfortable about the truth. "Well... it is a /mutual/ arrangement. We're the /Federation/ of Magic, after all." He sighs. "The worst-case scenario is that if the Coalition States start another war with us, we will of course expect a properous town to send food and able-bodied men and women to the war effort..." he makes a sweeping gesture, then brings his hands to his chest. "But it would be to protect all of us! It's no different than when we'd ask people from other cities to come here and protect you if you're under attack! Working together, we all prosper!"

Gideon Kaspar (6404) has posed:
    "Sakamoto . . ." Gideon turns that one over for a few seconds, looking the guy up and down. "Japanese, right? I recognize some of the getup. Navy? Forgive me, it's been a while! Hahaha!" He nods with evident satisfaction when Oryou introduces herself, touching his chin with an appraising look. "And a man of fine taste as well." The last shake involved is especially firm. "Good work." he says.

    He takes over pretty quickly from there though. "Don't be absurd! I wouldn't dream of demanding some kind of 'alliance' from your lovely town! In the first place, that isn't what G&K's business is anyways!" He makes motions at the card for the 'security consultancy' part. "One of our many services is providing the training, equipment, facilities, and strategic guidance necessary for an organization, such as your village here, to achieve independence, self-sufficiency, safety and peace of mind for all of its citizens. Leading experts in the industry! It's especially necessary for small communities like these, which aren't covered under the umbrella of a national military service, and which can't afford to permanently contract a private army, or worse, mercenaries."

     Though he already looks perfectly in his element discussing business with a pretty lady, Gideon's tack becomes smoothly self-assured when Symon appears. He /instantly/ sees exactly how this is going to work. It's an absolutely classic situation. "My goal here, if you'll allow me, is to see to resolving the present situation, and then leave your wonderful town in its own, capable, adequately armed and trained, hands. Compensation is entirely negotiable of course --I wouldn't dream of asking anything up front, considering your current circumstances. Something so obvious as saving a woman's son is just common decency. Consider dealing with this 'Black Market' problem my demo pitch."

Kupot (6666) has posed:
Kupot turns his gaze towards Gideon. It's hard to glare when your eyes are completely blocked. However, Kupot doesn't have the power to blockade this place. Does the Watch?

"We can cover the nexus, kupo. And... convince kupo not to bother this place anymore."

"I will kupo this for free."

Staren has posed:
    Symon glances over Gideon and Ryouma and Dan. "I would enjoy discussing this at length another time, Mayor." He turns to leave, if others don't stop him.

    Lithari takes a deep breath and turns to Gideon. "Now you can see what we're up against. Quebec, the Federation, the Black Market... and our town's caught in the middle." She seems to consider Gideon's offer more promising though. "Training us to defend ourselves... and then leaving us alone?" She sounds hopeful.

    The Mayor looks at the group steadily. "You've proven yourselves as capable warriors when you rescued my son. So I have a request for you. I want you to locate where the Black Market is keeping my people and set them free. If you can bring them all back to town safely, I'll..."

    Lithari's voice breaks, then she visibly steels herself and continues. "We'll all be very grateful. I cant offer you any money, and I can't promise to put the towns future in your hands. Im asking you to do this for me, as a personal favor." She smiles, relieved, at Kupot's agreement.

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    "Ah, it wasn't much work. I found her on a mountain one day, it was an accident." A fortunate one, really. Ryouma laughs. "Navy, yes. A fair long time ago, but I'm getting acclimated to the era slowly."

    He wishes he could return those observations, but Gideon's getup isn't quite like anything he's seen. He could be air force, special ops, maybe regular army given his company.

    It helps that Gideon's offer is a dozen times better than either the Federation's or Free Quebec's.

    "Miss mayor, if I might? Commander Kaspar's offer here seems entirely to your advantage. I understand wanting to conserve your autonomy and way of life, and it sounds to me like neither Free Quebec nor the Federation will let you keep them. Answering now isn't necessary, I'm sure, but you should consider it strongly. Offers like these don't present themselves often."

    Well, that's Gideon's job to finish selling his pitch, but Ryouma's impressed so far. As for the remaining matter... "Of course. We'll give the Black Market a few arguments to stop targetting your town, and then bring back any captives we can find. I don't need a fee, either."

    Oryou would point out, if she was still about, that this is why they can't afford frog legs every day.

    But she's probably managed to find some nice, big, weird megaversal frog right now, so she's not going to complain.

    "There is one thing I'm curious about. What if we find other captives who have nowhere to go back to? Would you mind taking them in?"

Maya has posed:
Dan now seems to be taking a moment to size the guys up.

"If we knew we would have destroyed all of them long ago. It's a wild dream but turning off the nexus points would turn Earth back into a paradise."

He looks to the Mayor for a moment and then to Gideon for a moment as he looks at them.

"U-Round works well on demons and other supernatural keeps them from regenerating if you have them."

He looks to Gideon for a moment

"An off-world PMC? So a sales pitch still not a bad one."

Gideon and his people seem human so that's a plus in their favour from his worldview. Not that he knows the terrible truth about Gideon's girls yet.

He looks to the Mayor

"I am not a cruel man I would personally have my unit escort anyone who had to leave to the nearest warp gate or to a safe point to get to Lazlo. I don't make the rules on that I'm a monster hunter mostly."

Dan eyes the new guy and he just narrows his eyes at them.

"Tch, the Federation traffic in Shifters the sort who let demons like the one who just hit here in the world and worse things."

Oh ya there's a feud here very old one between the remaining tech powers and the Fed Magic.

"It was the Fed MAgic that went to burn Chi-Town to the /ground/ and destroyed its great library of old world information in the process."

Gideon Kaspar (6404) has posed:
    Considering he's just snubbed multiple aggressive/sleazy-looking competitors and immediately gotten lady mayor to pass them over and apparently strongly consider his offer, Gideon is in a pretty good mood. It is the kind of mood wherein he then starts showing off to prove how much the better man he is than the beta losers he is screwing out of their cut. His parting smile to Symon is a purely professional and courteous 'don't let the door hit your ass on the way out'.

    "G&K claims no sovereignty rights, that's for certain. Ideally, I'd like to arrange something where a representative checks in on a set period to see that you're doing fine, ensure the continued quality of our services, and renegotiate for anything you might need. You see the idea, right? By investing here, your town is kept safe, and remains an independent intermediate territory between other nations, which means your town grows, becomes bigger and better off, and contracts further services from us, and so on and so forth. It's clearly in our best interests to see Garnet stay independent, and grow and flourish as a community, and I'm of the opinion that a clear economic interest is always more reliable than a promise."

    At some nebulous point, Gideon has laughed and said "Then you have fantastically good fortune my friend!" to Ryouma, then at a later point "And a good head on your shoulders! I like your style." He pulls his hands out of his pockets and shrugs in the 'hey look, all the experienced vets in the room agree' way.

    Ryouma's question is a good one. O'Niel apparently has his own offer. "That'd certainly make life easier. If at all possible, situating further civilians to help Garnet back on its feet after losing some good people would be a benefit, but there's no sense leaving anyone behind, is there? If you're offering to take care of it, then who am I to decline?"

    "If I might ask, what exactly are U-rounds? Those sound like they're very necessary here, so I'd like to be as prepared as possible." "That, of course!" Gideon gets halfway through the motions of reaching for a chequebook and then stops. "Whoever manufactures them --do they take cash, credit, or cheque?" "More importantly, is it alright if I shoot any more daemons we see?" "Unless someone says no and gives a good reason in the next sixty seconds, I don't see why not."

Staren has posed:
    Will they take in additional kidnapees? Lithani hadn't thought of that. "I'm sure we can find a place for a few people, but if this turns out to be some sort of huge operation..." She's not sure what, if then. Could the demons have kidnapped a whole other village? More? it's a troubling thought.

    She nods at Gideon's explanation of the principles of business. "We may not be a big city, but with our people back we could easily have enough surplus food to trade."

    "Weapons, around here? I'd have said the Black Market, but... maybe Northern Gun? They're a ways away, but traders sometimes come by..." Of course, such things would be easily available back in the more populated area they came from
    Can we just shoot any demons we see? "Please do." Lithani replies. She's certainly had enough of the Brodkil.

Maya has posed:
Dan look to Gideon for a moment. "Oh sorry about that local slang for Depleted Uranium rounds."

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    "Seems reasonable. It'd be harsh to ask you to shoulder more refugees than you can handle. One hopes their operations aren't too massive," Ryouma answers.

    As for plans...

    "Ah, do you have a map of the area I can borrow?"

    He lacks the means to detect fancy installations, but give him a map, information, and a pen, and he'll be your man for making plans.

    "Ah, if needed, I suppose Oryou could fly up until she sees anything out of the ordinary, but I'm afraid if they're hiding in the trees or have any sort of cover, that won't be much use."

Staren has posed:
    "A map? There's not much out here, I'm afraid." The mayor draws the sideways U shape of the river in the dirt with her crutch, "here's the river," then adds in the dirt road -- coming south, crossing the river, following it to the town's location, then going south and crossing the river after its bend "the road... We're here." She makes an X at garnet town's location. "There's some ruins out that way," she indicates off to the west and northwest, "and that's about it."

    Of course, anyone with high tech and a connection to a modern earth can grab geographical data of what this area looked like 400 years ago.

Gideon Kaspar (6404) has posed:
    "I've never been to America until now, but a map should be easy to-" "Commander? Sorry about interrupting, but my radiation scanners are picking up a beta particle trail consistent with a nuclear vehicle crossing through our eastern sensor quadrant, north-south bound." "Like a nuclear sub?" "Probably just a nuclear truck . . . i-if that kind of thing is possible." Gideon looks to O'Niel with plainly evident 'Is it?' written on his face.

    "I'll call the pilot. We're never lucky when it comes to timing, so we shouldn't let this slip." "We were lucky just an hour ago!" Quickly enough, Krys has the company chopper inbound again, a bit more of a distance from the gates. Neither she nor Gideon question the capabilities of one of 16Lab's secret 'ANTI-RAIN' models. Gideon offers to let whoever hop right on in, before it takes off to follow the signature.

Maya has posed:
Dan looks to Gideoin for a moment "Pretty common way to power things cars, ATVs, trucks, Power Armors, homestead Micro nuclear reactors and batteris are pretty common power sources." He looks to them for a moment tiling his heads. "Scanners, wait you a borg, miss?"

Ryouma Sakamoto (6736) has posed:
    Wait are they leaving RIGHT NOW?

    Ryouma scrambles to follow, giving the mayor a polite nod on his way out. He whistles for Oryou to regroup with him, and when she emerges from wherever she had been, there's half of a frog sticking out of her mouth and another in her arms trying to wriggle free.

    Both get onboard the chopper, and Oryou even makes an effort not to ruin it with her hair, though no promises on not getting frog juices everywhere.

    She offers to share her snack with Ryouma, but he politely declines.

Staren has posed:
    The party is off! Dan's glitterboy power armor can run along under the chopper, once he's retrieved it.

    Heading east, the river bends to run north-south, and following it south for a bit, the party comes to a place on the river where there's more of those 'rewilded farmland' clearings on each side. The clearing to the east side is bordered by a cliff of a couple dozen feet or so, where an earthquake hit the area 300 years ago. A couple dozen tents are clustered on the east end of the clearing, and there's a campfire with a handful of brodkil gathered around it. They are cybernetically enhanced, most with at least one extra arm. Enhanced optical sensors can pick up that in the side of the cliff there's a cave, with a wooden grating on it. And people on the other side. Hmm.

    The power signature is in the river. It... it couldn't actually be a nuclear river sub, right?

    When the brodkil realize an actual honest to god /helicopter/ is here, they know trouble is coming and start mobilizing, picking up their guns and such.

    And when a freaking /glitterboy/ comes through the trees, the source of the power reading finally reveals itself: A dark shape surfaces in the water, and then starts to walk onto the shore. A giant robot, 30' tall and painted black, with obvious missile racks on its shoulders and a belly energy turret. The robot looks like it is a mercenary vehicle, with several battle scars and old, weathered insignia. A stylized capital "S" has been marked on the right leg.

    Everyone knows not to use lasers on a glitterboy, so it wastes no time putting those missiles to use. Dan is going to have his hands full.

    Forager battlebot: 8d49f978ce7c287567c48b9ed6249eb1.jpg