Robotech: Getting the Goods

The Ritual & Tammie's Vision
What was in that guac?

Standing nearly a head over everyone, Matron walks to the circle with a flaming torch in hand. Her brown robes are crisp, almost militaristic in their cut and hang, and the flames reflect off of her hair in a way that it almost seems molten. Following only a few steps behind her, Julie is carrying a small box. As they reach the circle some part to make room for them.

Holding the torch aloft, “Once again we come to this circle to honor that which is to be honored, remember that which is to be remembered, seek that which is to be sought, and to enjoy all that is good. If any desire not to do these things or wish to disrupt those who do, step aside now, as to break this circle is the same as breaking the soul.”

A few of the younger ones looked around (trying but failing to be surreptitious about it), but no one moved. “Very well.” With grace, Matron tossed the torch into the wood pile and it lit up instantly. A wave of heat rolls over everyone for a moment as the initial fuel burns off, but it quickly cools.

“For those who have come before, we bring our greetings. For those who have yet to come (Matron pauses and gives Meshan a quick glance), we send our hopes. For those who are here, we give our welcome. As a body is made of many parts working in unison, so shall we all.” Matron pulls a knife from under her cloak. “In common defense, we wield the weapons of war.” She passes the knife to the person on her left, who passes it on.

“In common support, we wield the tools of industry.” A hammer comes from under the cloak and is passed in the same way.

“In aeons past, our ancestors roamed the stars at the bidding of others. Now we are at the bidding of none, free to do what we wish, where we wish, when we wish. Free from those who used us solely as tools, we have learned to be our own selves, to learn what we wish to learn, act as we wish to act. At first we wandered aimlessly, unsure of our newfound freedom. Some regressed to the ways of old. Many sought to repay old debts among the stars. Others remained to discover a new way of life. With little more than strength of the limbs, power of the mind, and fire of the heart, they searched many realms. And the search was not in vain.”

“The universe always rewards those who seek, and though the answers may not be those that we wish to hear, they are there for any who wish to find them. One must simply know how to speak with the universe. Just as some use tools of light, silicon, and metal to interpret the words of others, the universe has given us a tool to interpret its messages.” With that, Julie stepped forward, turning to stand before Matron. She holds the wooden box out and opens the top. Matron reaches in and pulls something out, but her hand has it completely enclosed. "Take its tool, learn what the universe has to share with you. In silence, Julie steps from person to person, moving clockwise. Each person reaches into the box and retrieves something that is inside, but just like Matron, they keep in completely in their hand.

Julie moves on, and just like the rest of the circle, everyone reaches in and takes a petal, keeping it in a closed fist. When she reaches her old spot, Julie closes the box and steps back into place. “Be it from a visit of those who have come before, lessons shared from those with us, or hints of those to come, let the universe speak.” Matron says. The rest of the circle repeats the last phrase (“Let the universe speak”), and in unison, everyone (except for Julie and the party) put the Flower of Life petal in their mouths and chew.

(Tammie): pop the petal in, shove it as high up in the cheek as possible, and mimic chewing

Despite the attempt to avoid ingesting the petal, simply having it in her mouth is enough to trigger the petal’s effects. The fire seems to grow brighter, and the flames begin to blur together into an amorphous shape. The eyes of the others start to glow in the pupils, and details that were hidden in the darkness appear as if it were daylight again. Up in the sky, stars drift from their place, rearranging themselves into new patterns that are unrecognizable to anyone who had never left Earth. Whispers start to reach Tammie’s ears, some bring on shivers, others are like the caress of a lover.

After a minute, the flames twist themselves into a shape, irregular at first, but eventually settles on the form of a man. With laughter, a ghostly girl comes running out of the flames, heading straight to Tammie. Reaching her, the girl wraps Tammie in a hug, but she feels nothing. Looking up at her, the girl has Tammie’s eyes, and with a smile runs back to the flames. Burning brighter again, the fire suddenly reaches out and engulfs Tammie, but just like the girl she feels nothing, not even the heat.

When the flames retreat, instead of standing in the ritual circle, Tammie is now standing in an endless field. Plants of innumerable types stretch out towards every horizon. In time, ghostly forms fade into existence, hunched towards the ground with harvesting tools gathering specific ones. One woman with a wide-brimmed hat and well-worn clothes looks at Tammie, and gives her a smile, and again this woman has Tammie’s eyes.

Looking up, the sky starts to blur, eventually twisting itself into the whorls of a fold jump. Back in reality, Knox stands up in surprise as Tammie starts to sway.

With the sky full of fold effect, the ground under Tammie starts to receded and the effect completely envelops her. Floating through space, she is alone and at the mercy of wherever the visions take her. In an instant though, the effect stops, the stars snapping back into position, though once again not in the familiar constellations. Floating in complete isolation among the stars, there is nothing. Then, from nowhere, “All is not as foreseen…” and a huge blinding light explodes in front of Tammie.

Taking minutes to fade, as her vision returns Tammie can see a glowing disk swirl around a minuscule void in the stars. A close inspection reveals two small dots drifting on the outskirts of the disk. Another small flash on the other side produces a new dot, which quickly gets trapped in the same disc.

Then from above, something large starts to pass her. Long and dark, the object fills the woman with dread. The front end glows red, and a beams lances out from it, blinding her again.

It was a good thing that Meshan was holding Tammie’s hand, as the healer’s legs give out just then and she nearly drops.

All throughout, Athena hears the occasional moan, but for the most part she just catches the barest hints of muttered conversation nearly drowned out by the crackling of the fire.

Over the next quarter of an hour, the people in the circle do nothing but make subtle motions or noises in reaction to whatever they were seeing. Matron waits patiently, and when the last of the hallucinations end she speaks again. “Thanks be to the Flower for allowing us to hear the Universe. Thanks be to the Universe for providing us with the Flower. Thanks be to the Mother for sharing the Flower with the Creator, and to him for sharing it with us. Remember what the universe had to say this night, for its secrets are meant to be revealed.”

Matron again produces the hammer. “The messages heard, the time for mutual support through industry begins again.” This time she passes it to her right. When it’s several people down she produces the knife. “The messages heard, the common defense through war renews.” The knife follows the hammer to the right. When they return to Matron she nods to Julie who steps backwards out of the light. “The messages heard, the causes resumed, let us return to our daily lives.” Matron steps back out of the light, and the others do as well, though in no particular order.

The Interpretation Thereof:

The man is the eventual father of Tammie’s child, and the ghostly girl is their daughter. The field of plants was the entire horticultural database for Earth, and the field hands were picking the useful plants. The older woman that had Tammie’s eyes was Tammie’s daughter now all grown up and following in her mother’s footsteps. The portion in space was Tammie witnessing the test detonation of a Neutron-S missile by the Deukalion and overseen by the SDF-3. She also witnessed the arrival of the Icarus, as well as the initial blow of the Haydonite Betrayal.

Of course, Tammie has no way of identifying the players in the space scene, but if someone who knows the ships reads her descriptions they’d be able to identify the UEEF ships.

Crash and Burn
Are you afraid of the dark?

The time for a survey party to check in has come and gone, and Commander Niketas is concerned. Summoning the party for their first mission she tasks everyone to head east and find out what happened to them. Separating into two group, (ground and air), Knox leads everyone to the survey team’s target.

Only about an hour or two away, Meshan in her Beta and Jack with his VF-1 are the first ones to see their destination: scattered down the entire length of a canyon is a field of debris with the smashed remains of a Garfish-class cruiser half-burried in the mountainside. Investigating the canyon itself, Tammie uncovers the plowed remains of a ranch and Jack spots the survey team’s jeep, but there’s no sign of the team itself and no answer on the radio. Pulling up to the jeep, Knox decides to head into the wreck and everyone follows.

Splitting up to cover more ground, Meshan leads Athena down one corridor while Knox (more familiar with the layout than anyone else) leads Jack and Tammie to the computer core. Stumbling across sickbay, Meshan and Athena find the sickening results of an extreme-speed impact like what the Garfish encountered: splattered across the rear bulkhead is the gore that was once the ship’s crew mixed in with the shattered remains of any item that wasn’t bolted down. One item stands out though: a mechanical thing that while smashed beyond recognition, it does have some familiar lines. Meshan calls it in.

At the same time, Knox and her partners have made their way to the computer core and with some work have managed to power it up and patch in. The impact has done some serious damage to the computer though, so the data is pretty patchy. Luckily, she manages to get the final log up on her datapad just as Meshan calls in. Listening and reading the log at the same time, Knox reacts in horror. Piecing together Meshan’s findings, the log, and the noises they’ve been hearing every since they boarded, she orders everyone out, right now! Before anyone can move though, a shadow falls over the trio in the computer core and the hiss of gas descends from above. Knox and Tammie get their helmets on and sealed in time but Jack is too slow and gets a lungful, immediately bringing him to his knees. The shadow moves again, its owner dropping from above. Rising out of its crouch is the surviving Scrim Inorganic.

Grabbing Jack and hauling him behind them, Knox and Tammie race for their lives while Meshan and Athena head for the exit from their direction. Hearing the Inorganic gaining from behind, Knox sends Tammie ahead with Jack while she uses some well-placed shots to slow the machine down. Once outside Jack is thrown in the jeep and Tammie high-tails it out of there with Athena running escort while Meshan and Knox jump into their mechs (Beta and Super Cyclone respectively). Facing down the Scrim as it comes barreling out of the Garfish, the two Resistance fighters take chunks out it but it just won’t stop coming.

Coming over the ridgeline though, is Athanas. Having been called back early on thanks to a sudden emergency with Elpedia he’s finally joining his friends, and sees the Invid machine coming at them. Opening up with his Bioroid Interceptor’s vast weapon array, he turns the Scrim into scrap in an instant.

The crisis over, Jack is whisked off to base for medical treatment and Niketas herself brings a new salvage team to get anything of use off of the crashed Garfish. A few hours into it, Taliya radios from the warhead magazine with a level of excitement no one has seen from her outside of combat. Following Niketas in, the find the micronized Zentradi warrior practically bouncing with glee. Following everyone to a formerly locked-off section of the magazine, Knox isn’t the only one to react is surprise at what Taliya’s team had found.

Sitting on a specially reinforced rack are three reflex warheads.

New skills, new jobs, new friends

Two months have past since the rescue from the Hive, and while a busy a period as usual, two months of training is much more restful than running around the wastelands with the Invid hot on your heels. The group’s training and integration with the Resistance started the morning after they decided to join, and was run under the veteran care of Taliya. Diminutive as she may be when micronized, she is one heck of a drill sergeant.

Once the initial shock of the ordeal at the Hive wore off, the civilian population settled into a typical refugee routine. Many just sat around the sleeping area while others tried to keep busy. Forticia wasted no time getting back to singing, but without the Barbiton her effects were noticeably weakened. For some reason though, when not busy with music she kept trying to shadow Jack….

About a week after the rescue, the final participants of the attack returned from the field: the 3 crewmembers of the modified Monster that provided the initial crippling distraction. The missile arms had been replaced with platforms loaded with the AA guns from Defenders and a pair of launchers from a Phalanx. An ungainly combination, but deadly against Invid swarms. Sadly, a direct attack on a Hive brought the aliens upon it much harder than usual, and the crew had to abandon it after running out of ammunition.

Around the same time, Elpedia’s withdrawl symptoms hit, and hit hard. She had been in the middle of a gardening lesson when the crippling aches and chills dropped her to the ground. Having never dealt with such a severe case of Flower addiction, the medics could only lessen the symptoms, but their care was tireless. It would take nearly two weeks for the effects to wear off, but after a recovery period Elpedia was back at work in the gardens, growing the food everyone needed to live (or at least make the old ration packs halfway palatable).

Approximately 3 weeks after the attack, scouts and radar sweeps determined that the Invid presence was back down to normal, or at least low enough that it was worth the risk of checking out the site of the Naxos/Canyon City. Using an ancient Cats Eye to travel anonymously, it takes about an hour to get there, and what’s left is beyond disappointing. Both ships had been holed and slagged and the towns around them cratered and ruined. Wreckage lies everywhere, and there’ve been clear signs of looting. Amazingly, Meshan’s Overlord is still there, toppled over and covered in sand and dirt, but in once piece. Jack even manages to find his VF-1R, the Blood Mary, crippled and buried under a collapsed wall, but mostly intact. Sadly, the others have no luck at all finding their old machines, either victims of the attack or looters, there’s no way to be sure.

Understandably upset at having lost their home, the civilians debate trying to resurrect the old towns, but the wasteland is no place to build a new city, not without the resources of two crashed ships. Instead, they decide to disperse throughout the area, moving into whatever towns are scattered throughout the area. Commander Niketas is concerned that they would give away the base by doing so, but since she can’t feed everyone she has little choice but to let them go. Some still stay though, joining the Resistance and training alongside the group.

In the end, things have turned out rather well. Freshly stocked with new machines and supplies and taught all sorts of new skills, the group is better prepared than ever to deal with the Invid, and maybe even start the long-awaited process of kicking them off of Earth for good. There’s even been talk of a salvage mission coming up, a ship had crashed about two weeks ago, and everyone’s waiting to hear from the survey team, bets running rampant about what the ship was carrying.

Scum and Villainy Pt. 1
Better watch your step...

Rising at dawn as usual, the brave Robotech defenders pack up their camp after a simple breakfast and resume their journey to the north. Passing through Bishop one last time those who are up this early exchange pleasantries with the resistance fighters and soon the town is behind them. The road settles between a pair of mountain ridges once again, blocking Knox and Athena’s view of the horizon, though everyone else has wonderful scenery to look down on from the sky. Winding around the landscape for a number of miles, the road eventually hooks west, following the ridge valley. A few miles later though, things got interesting.

Flying ahead as usual, the fliers picked up a small group of aircraft swinging around to intercept. Settling in behind them, the unknowns challenge the pilots, demanding to know who they are and what business they have in the area, giving only a few seconds to respond (radar locks already setting off alarms.) Another radar check shows another group of aircraft coming up from below and ahead. Warning the pair on the ground, Knox and Athena were prepared for the roadblock that was set up around a bend near the end of one of the mountain ridges. Almost too late, Sampson returns the hails, explaining that they’re a resistance group and they’re looking for a stop for the coming night. The challenging planes’ tune does a complete 180, going from hostile to friendly in less than a second. Directing everyone to an airfield, they turn and resume their patrols.

Clearing the roadblock, Athena and Knox continue on, heading towards the same airfield to meet up with the others. Concerned (as usual) of the appearance of an Invid mech, Meshan peels off and hides it near the lake just north of the night’s stop: Hawthorne. Athena heads there to pick her up while Knox meets everyone at the hanger. Everyone was settling in there when the manager appeared. A pudgy man, he and Sampson haggled (badly) over the rent fee. The manager wanted an extortionist fee, but Sampson quickly showed that he had no bargaining skills whatsoever. They settled on the hefty fee of 3 days’ stay at 25 Protoculture canisters a day (a sizable portion of their supply.)

That unpleasantness over with, it was time to dig up some food. Hawthorne had a pretty decent town so Sampson and Knox stayed behind on guard duty while the others explored. Finding and settling into a busy tavern/inn, Meshan, Athena, and Athanas settled down at a table while Jack decided to play detective, hoping that maybe someone might know something about his missing girlfriend, Rena. His interviews came up as a bust (those who claimed to have seen her were clearly making it all up, and one even tried to claim that she was a “conquest”.)

Sadly, dinner was not to be as a poker game in another part of the main room turned rowdy, and before anyone could react punches were thrown, starting off a brawl that grew in size quite rapidly. Jack was up above it and was safe, but the others tried to scramble out of the way (especially Meshan since any green blood would quickly end in her brutal murder). Athena was rather unlucky however, someone yanked her hair, pulling her into the melee. Mostly unfazed, the Tirolian woman started holding her own, discouraging her random attackers with attacks of her own. She got quite a surprise though: one brawler turned in her direction, and he had Athanas’s face, though his was framed by blonde hair instead of black.

Outside of the brawl, Meshan and Athanas were looking for ways to stop the fight or slip out when one combatant was thrown out of it. Crashing into a table next to them, the young woman gets up with only some minor bruising and rushes back into the fight, but the sight of her was as much of a shock as what Athena had. This woman looked just like Athena, just with green hair instead of red.

Just what other surprises would Hawthorne have?

Aftereffects Part 2
Do not operate heavy machinery while under the effects...

Morning came as it always does, and when everyone gathered together for breakfast they noticed that Athena and Meshan weren’t the only ones to have had some change. Athanas’s skin had mutated, taking on the appearance of newborn skin, though all of his old scars were gone. Sampson and Jack didn’t look any different, but Sampson quickly realized that he could hear much softer sounds and at much greater ranges, while the teenaged pilot could somehow sense how people were feeling. It was a bit disconcerting, especially for Knox, though the effect of strange things happening around her was starting to wear off.

Later in the morning, Dave (Bishop’s militia leader), Emily, and the town’s mayor arrived to discuss the plague and the Pit. Emily still wanted to do her Protoculture infusion, but the party had several ideas of their own: destroy the Pit by requisitioning heavy weapons from Hawthorne in the north, collapse the Pit’s cavern, or patrol the Pit’s area so that no one else comes into contact with it. The mayor saw the merits in each plan and decided to put it to a general vote. A lunchtime town meeting had everything explained to the populous, and a vote later in the day would select the method of ridding themselves of the plague and the Genesis Pit.

Waiting anxiously for the results, the party prepared their camp for departure in the morning. The only difference the vote really does for them is determining if they’ll be back in a few days. Just before dinnertime, the news came to the camp: the anti-viral medicine will be infused with Protoculture.

Who knows what the side effects will be…

Aftereffects Part 1
Surgeon General's Warning...

The shock of Meshan’s new look was only just wearing off when something new happened. Since leaving the Pit, Athena had had some major itches on her head and tailbone, itches that just wouldn’t go away. While everyone was still chatting about everything that had happened the sensation worsened, but quickly changed to a moment of pain. Skin splitting open like a perforation, Athena suddenly sprouted cat ears and a tail (though her skin remained furless). Completely shocked by the sudden mutation, everyone was speechless for a while until Athena ceased panicking and cleaned off the blood.

Despite the craziness, the sleeping bags were soon calling, which ended up being a blessing for Sampson, Jack, and Athanas since they were feeling pretty miserable with a splitting earache, headache, and his own serious itching problem (respectively). While everyone slept, the Regess reached out to Meshan again, this time trying to use her transformation in the Genesis Pit as an example of all the bad things that would happen to her as long as she remained with the humans. Undeterred, Meshan again told off her mother and made it clear that she would never change her ways.

During the night, the aftereffects from the battle continued to take their toll on those involved, and the morning would soon reveal a great many surprises…

Down the Drain Pt. 3
Just what was the Regis flushing?

Time seems to stop as Meshan and Sampson fall towards the Pit. Sampson manages to regain his footing after the death shove, but Meshan isn’t so lucky. Having been shoved hard she stumbles towards the pit then ends up tripping over the raised rim, plunging straight into the goo and is quickly enveloped. The chamber grows quiet as the last of the mutant cats have escaped and the short fight has ended.

A small quake starts to rattle the area again, but this time it seems to have a bigger impact. Parts of the Hive dome crumble away and dirt falls from above. Spectacularly, the Pit begins to boil. Roiling in seconds, the surface disturbance gathers in a single location and something erupts out of the pit and ascends into the air. Shielding themselves from the splatter, the others look up and see a remarkable sight: floating in the air above them and the Pit is Meshan, now sporting a pair of wings (and completely naked). Floating back down to the ground, everyone marvels at her transformation and even she can’t seem to believe it.

The quaking continues further deteriorating the Hive so everyone high-tails it out of there and back into the main cavern where the quake does little more than drop dust from the ceiling. Nimbly making their way through the darkness back to the ropes, Meshan shows off her new wings by flying up to the surface while everyone else climbs. Back on top they radio back to Bishop and arrange a meeting with Knox back at camp.

Washing off at the lake while waiting, Knox soon arrives and shares a discovery Emily had made while the group was gone: the anti-virals aren’t 100% effective due to the presence of Protoculture in samples of the flu virus. That fact plus the existence of the Pit confirms the big fear: the flu had been mutated. Just about then Meshan comes into view (having been cleaning off in the lake at the time and hiding) and Knox’s reaction wasn’t the best, almost pulling her sidearm in shock, but the others manage to keep her calm.

The night grows pretty still as the Robotech Defenders discuss everything that had happened over the past few hours, but the night still has a few more surprises in store…

Down the Drain Pt. 2
What's waiting in the sewer?

Large creatures holding the party to the ground was bad, but thankfully they were pretty dumb. Athanas’s hands were free and with some effort he managed to draw his pistol and get the monster off of him, although his shots missed. Athena and Jack also managed to get out from under their attackers with well placed punches. Claws tore at the armor and jaws snapped in the air trying to get new grips on legs and arms. Now that they’re free of the beasts, the three of them start shooting, peppering the large cats with energy bolts.

Surprisingly, the cats can shoot back: the third eye in their foreheads is some sort of energy cannon. Thankfully the armor is tough enough to withstand the bolts, something Athena found out the hard way. When her attacker lunges at her in an effort to pin her again she uses her rifle as a guard, ramming the barrel down its throat and pulling the trigger. The resulting explosion of guts showers everything for meters and leaves the head wrapped around the rifle. Jack gets a nasty bite on the arm, one that crushes the armor plates but thankfully the teeth don’t pierce through to the undersuit, preserving his environmental protection. Athena helps Jack out by tossing a grenade which critically injures the cat, blowing off a leg and filling it with shrapnel. Meanwhile, Athanas keeps pouring on the energy bolts and seriously wounds the cat, though it manages to slink off into the darkness. Putting the grenaded cat out of its misery just takes another moment and the three turn to see how Meshan and Sampson did in the struggle.

They had been dragged away into the darkness.

Fearing the worst, the trio set out to find them, following the drag marks as fast as they can. They lose them in some bare bedrock for a few minutes, but find them again easily enough with the help of the radio direction finder in Athanas’s armor. The tracks end up following the lakefront then turn into it, going down a peninsula that extends out into the lake. Shockingly, the radiation sensors in the armor picks up a measurable amount of radiation coming from the water. Curious as to what could be causing it they continue on, and the peninsula ends at a wall: the outer barrier of a Hive.

Exploring inside, the Hive is clearly unused. There are no Invid at all wandering around, walls are broken and deteriorating, and none of the energy barrier doors are active. Working their way through the first floor the trio hears sounds coming from the center and find something interesting. A large chamber exists in the center of the Hive, lit by a greenish glow. Peeking through the entryway the Robotech Defenders see that this must be the main den for the mutant pumas, entire families lounging around, eating, fighting, nursing, etc. The glow comes from a large pit set in the middle of the chamber, full of some viscous liquid. A crack in the walls lets in some lake water which has formed a small creek that runs into and out of the pit, glowing slightly as it exits the Hive. Standing near the pit is an unusual creature: clearly humanoid, it’s also very catlike. And gripped in her clawed hands is Meshan and Sampson. Stripped of their helmets and held captive, the thing growls at them.

Realizing that something really bad is about to happen, Athanas, Jack, and Athena jump into action. The group lobs several grenades into the opposite side of the chamber as a distraction while Jack rushes the humanoid. It works incredibly well. A full half-dozen cats are blown into chunks in an instant and the rest flee from the shock. Jack fires from the hip and catches the Alpha cat square in the head and chest three times, killing it. Unfortunately, in its death throes Sampson and Meshan are pushed towards the Pit…

Down the Drain Pt. 1
Is there a drain trap?

Having put two and two together, it was clear now that something was under the missing lake. Rumors abounded throughout the UEEF about strange things the Exploration Corps would find on abandoned or seized Invid worlds, rumors that both Knox and Sampson had heard. Due to the pressing need for medics, Knox and Nina stayed behind while everyone else heads west in the Beta. Running on the backup fusion generator to avoid any Invid they land without incident and climb into the fissure.

Down below the old lakebed there is little light. With the Sun already getting low in the sky the daylight from above is weak and indirect, doing little more than casting everything in shadow. Flashlights illuminate the ground around the party, but little else can be seen. Picking a direction they head off in search for anything. The first thing they find is the lake, now settled inside the cavern. Following the new lakefront little comes to anyones attention, it looks more and more like the cave has nothing in it.

Suddenly, out of nowhere a dust trail appears next to the party, a line of airborne dirt kicked up into the air and slowly settling back to the ground. Reacting in shock, no one says anything before another trail appears on their other side. Rifles are made ready and flashlights swing around but there’s no sign of what is causing them. Then, for a split second Sampson catches something in his light: a trio of eyes. Just after announcing the sighting something glances into Athanas, nearly bowling him over. Athena starts shooting in random directions, and when something splashes in the lake Sampson tosses some grenades into the water.

At this point Athena starts calling for a retreat back up the ropes, an idea that is quickly seized by everyone else. They start their way back, but then Jack sees a paw print appear in the soft ground next to him and decides to take a closer look. Bending down to see, he gets about halfway there when something tackles him from behind. Pinned to the ground, something snarls and drools on the back of his neck. At the same time, everyone else gets rushed and pinned to the ground as well, each with glistening fangs inching closer to their jugulars….

Code Blue

In one last ditch effort to break the tension, Nina makes a pitch to the roadblock guards, pointing out that it’s not just a bunch of wanderers trying to sneak in, that they’ve got a full-on medic plus several people trained in at least first aid, all equipped with suits that would protect them from whatever it was that was plaguing the town. Amazingly, the man stops with his hand in the air then slowly lowers it. Thinking it over for another minute he finally nods once and agrees to at least bring them to their clinic, after they’ve donned the suits.

Sealing themselves in their environmental armor, the girls follow the hover-Cyclone into Bishop and Knox fills in the others over the radio, requesting that Jack and circle the place just in case things go badly. Back at camp Sampson, Meshan, and Athanas listen in on the radio and get ready to race to town if needed. As the trio drives through the outskirts of Bishop they can see it’s seen better days. Most of the buildings are falling apart, though the deeper into it they go the better looking they get. People can be glanced through windows and a few are out on the street, but they hustle inside as quickly as they can or just hurry down the street. Soon enough the small convoy stops in front of a larger building, one that looks like it was a full hospital in the past.

Led inside, the guard leader takes the trio past hallways and rooms filled with people who are coughing up storms, shivering with fevers, and curled up with major pains. In a large room full of patients the guard calls out to a young woman moping down someone’s brow. Emily, the town’s only doctor comes over and berates Dave (the militia leader) for bringing more people into town. Knox quickly explains that their suits fully protect them and that they’re here to help. Emily relents and sets them to work trying to keep people’s temperatures down. Nina immediately calls for ice baths and expresses wonder that this plague hasn’t killed more people (one patient registered a temperature of 50°C). Since there’s no ice to be had, but mountains nearby someone gets the idea of sending the others on a supply run.

Jumping on the radio Knox explains what’s going on to the others and Sampson suggests making a run down to Edwards to meet up with Captain Blair, hoping that he could release some of the medical supplies they brought with them. Knox agrees and Sampson takes off to harvest ice from the mountains then off to the south. In the meantime Athanas and Meshan stay put as guards for the camp while Jack circles the skies above Bishop. As everyone splits up Knox goes through Emily’s records looking for clues.

After one trip to deliver ice to the town, Sampson makes it to Edwards without issue and manages to get a sizable case of anti-viral medicine (Emily had confirmed earlier that it was some superflu), and grabbed some extra supplies so that he can rebuild the air conditioners and water supplies for the hospital. In town, Knox discovers a pattern and Nina and Athena have some luck easing the people’s suffering.

As everyone gathers back together Knox explains what she’s figured out: thanks to Emily’s meticulous (at least in the beginning) note taking it’s clear that the virus came in from the west, carried by the wind. Right around then a small quake rattles the area but it’s minor and Emily tells everyone that small tremors like that have been pretty regular for the past few months (just before the plague hit) and are nothing to worry about. That seems to set off another light in Knox’s mind and she sends Jack on an urgent mission: get a surveillance camera and run recon out to the west. Flying in a search grid for about 50 miles out to the west, Jack films the ground and keeps an eye out for anything unusual. He doesn’t spot anything, but as soon as he lands back at camp Knox is waiting for him and downloads the footage.

As she studies the film the supplies arrive and are delivered to the hospital by Dave and some other militia members. Knox soon exclaims something and points to a spot on the map. She had been using the film to see if any of the natural features had changed and sure enough, something had: a lake is missing, apparently drained down a fissure that’s in the middle of the lakebed.


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