Edwards UEDFB is certainly showing its age: the various buildings and hangars show differing levels of decay. Some look mostly intact, just missing windows, others have collapsed roofs and walls, and a few have collapsed outright. Dirt covers everything, and it even looks like there are a number of animals wandering around. It’s clear that no one has been here in years. A cloud of dust flies into the air as the shuttle lands, exposing the extremely faded landing strip buried under the sand.
Mecha scattered around outside (all unusable):
4 Tomahawk destroids
9 Defender destroids
6 Phalanx destroids
3 F-203 Dragon II
1 AH-68 Comanchero
Mecha inside hangars (degraded, some repairable):
8 Tomahawk destroids
2 Defender destroids
1 Phalanx destroid
2 Spartan destroids
1 Monster destroid (own hangar)
1 VF-X-1 (#3)
6 VF-1 Valkyries
7 F-203 Dragon IIs
1 MiM-31 Karyovin
3 AH-68 Comancheros
ES-11 Cat’s Eye
3 VC-33 Mom’s Kitchen
1 QF-3000 Ghost
Splitting up into pairs, the party spreads out among the hangars and the closest office buildings. The old offices don’t hold much, just some ancient medical supplies, but the contents of the hangars ends up impressing everyone. Mecha that had been the stuff of legend on 2 planets were sitting around under tarps, on display, or abandoned in the middle of being serviced. Jack in particular ended up nearly worshiping the various Valkyries sitting in one hangar, and both he and Knox were drooling over the discovery of one of the original prototype Veritechs in the same hangar.
After taking a complete inventory of the base’s mecha supply, Knox gets Kidd to help her get a message to the UEEF. A few minutes of fiddling with the shuttle’s radio brings her into contact with Moon Base ALuCE, the first contact with UEEF command since leaving Tirol. Thanks to the radio delay due to the distance it took a while for her to complete the report, but it did end with a promise of adding Edwards to the list of landing sites for a technical crew.
Twilight fell onto the base, the Sun dipping behind the western mountain. Everyone started to converge on the shuttle again for food and nightly shelter, though Jaz and Kidd kept working at stripping useful parts off of the unrepairable mecha. This turned out to be a bad idea. While waiting for Kidd to return from the shuttle a light appears behind her, and before anyone could react (Meshan’s Invid sense triggering at the exact same moment) two swords pierce the mirconized-Zentradi’s stomach. In several horrifying moments the swords carve their way through her torso, cutting her in half from crotch to shoulder. As the two halves fall everyone can see a tall, thin man with deep purple eyes staring at them and a massive, victorious grin on his face. Yelling for Meshan by name, he makes light of the murder but teleports out before Kidd can get a shot off.
Reappearing on top of the shuttle, Karn, the Invid Commader that tried to get Meshan to join him earlier, tries one last time to get Meshan to leave with him, promising her a life of royalty, claiming that that is the destiny of the Invid. She tells him off, and he teleports again to the top of the old control tower when several others start shooting at him as well. Oddly amused by Meshan’s defiance, Karn reveales his trump card: a massive horde is descending on the base, completely surrounding it. Both Meshan and Knox shout for everyone to run, and everyone jumps on the shuttle before Knox can get to the cargo hold.
Jack assumes the controls, the only one left who knows how to fly a ship like theirs. Meshan and Athanas quickly activate their mecha to provide cover for the shuttle as it runs. Smirking, Karn teleports again, this time directly on top of one of the engines. Planting himself against one of the tailfins, he starts to hack away at the engine, hoping to disable it and send it to the ground. Meshan manages to chase him off though, forcing him to teleport again, her annihilation disks scoring the hull instead. Now flying through the air without a mecha, Karn angles himself to catch up with the shuttle and has his soldiers close the noose.
Desperate to get away, Jack tries a quick and sudden change in direction in an effort to shake off a pursuing Shocktrooper group, but ends up throwing it into a small tailspin instead. Quickly regaining control the shuttle roars on, still accelerating from its take off and sluggish from the loss of airspeed, but it’s not enough. Meshan keeps trying to get Karn, Athanas tries to discourage Invid from shooting the shuttle from the rear, and those in the gunner seats try to keep the Invid away, but there are too many. Unable to avoid them all, the shuttle goes past a group of Enforcers, giving them a perfect shot. Despite a last minute dodge attempt, focused particle beams slice through the craft like a knife through butter, melting the hull along most of its length, knocking out both engines, and slicing off the tails. Powerless and missing most of the controls, the shuttle immediately rolls and pitches down, the force shearing off a wing in the process. Fighting to keep the nose up, Jack can do nothing while Meshan and Athanas watch in horror. The burning wreck smashes into the ground, sliding, rolling, and bouncing for hundreds of yards. Thankfully the sturdy reinforced crew compartment saves most of the party, only Kidd is killed on impact, his head smashing clean through his console screen. Still, everyone is battered and shaken to the core.
Enraged at the apparent death of her friends, Meshan goes into some sort of manic rage, focusing everything ounce of her anger into her beams. This time Karn is unable to avoid her, and is too late in his attempt to teleport away again. Caught mid-port, the sudden influx of destructive energy disrupted his teleportation and he exploded in a blinding flash of light. Suddenly confused from the loss of leadership, the Invid stopped while Meshan and Athanas prepared for a hopeless onslaught.
Unexpectedly, the Invid instead turned and left. Before anyone could ask why, someone else started to speak with Meshan telepathically: the Regis herself. She tries to use a more calming plea for Meshan to come back, but Meshan angrilly tells her off, throwing the destruction of Optera into her Mother’s face. Saddened by the outburst, the Regis calls off the Invid and leaves Meshan to her own devices.
The area north of Edwards grows quiet as the party frees themselves from the wreckage of their shuttle. Crashing near a mountain pass, the road ahead it quite treacherous: mountains to the left, desert in every other direction. The question now is where to go, and to what end.