At the conclusion of the last game, the group dropped off the refugees in Chi-town, and returned to Tolkeen. Luqman was called away on other business, and the others returned to their normal activities. Kawai resumed shop and training duties. One day, she notices a customer spending far too much time at his table. He has his empty cup and a notebook, and is watching Kawai closely.
Kawai approaches him with a pitcher, "Water?" she states in her odd accent.
"Yes, Please."The man is older, with greying black hair and a short-cropped beard. He wears a long coat over pants and a shirt. All his clothes, and his boots, are in good condition. Not brand new, but it is obvious he cares for his equipment. He wears a medallion of a horned skull over a six pointed star on a slender golden chain. "Is this your shop?"
"I'm a part timer."
The man sips his water. "You are also a knight of sorts, yes?"
Kawai thinks back on all her knowledge of military insignia, and cannot recognize it as anything worn by a soldier. Kawai smiles as she sets the water pitcher down. She folds her hands in front of her and bows, "Just your humble waitress."
The man looks her in the eye before replying. "Hmm. Perhaps you can help me anyway. People seem to gather here. There was a recent incident involving CS citizens here in Tolkeen. I need to make contact with the group that dealt with that situation. Can you help me? I have a proposition which could benefit everyone."
"I am sure I can contact someone. There is a guy that frequents here. Maybe I can send him the message. Would that help? The guy works for the military. Can you tell me more about the situation?"
"Of course. My friends and I heard about some CS citizens who were lucky enough to be rescued and brought here. They were returned to their CS overlords, unfortunately. I think the people who saved those poor citizens could help with me another kind of rescue. But I do not wish to make it a military matter. It does not need so many people involved." The man takes another sip of water.
"I understand. I heard about that actually, now that you mention it. Some of those people I've met. Although... I think I can get some free time to look into this. Can you please tell me more?"
"That is all I can say now. If you can get word to the people involved, I would like to meet them at this address." He writes an address, date, and time on a card and gives it to you.
It is two days from now, at 3 PM. She recognizes the address as a nearby hotel. Kawai laughs as if she has just been hit on but is politely turning them down. She takes the note and pockets it, "Thank you very much." she said pleasantly before bowing, "Anything else I can get you?"
"Thank you, but no. You have been good company. I hope to see your friends soon."
"Yes. They will like that."
The man stands up, puts his notebook in a coat pocket, and leaves. After work she returns home to explain what happened to Kiirga.
The day arrives, and the hour is nigh.
The man looks over his notes while waiting for his guests to arrive.
Kawai is careful not to knock the door down as she raps her knuckles. Kiirga arrives there with Kawai, looking up at the building. So this is the place, huh? Well, she'd be more than happy to help out more people if she can. She waits alongside Kawai as she knocks on the door. The door is opened by a woman. "Please, come in. Have a seat." They notice it is a small conference room. As they enter, they see the man from before. He is seated at a table, but stands as you enter. There is also a pony waiting in a chair. Kawai pays the woman only a passing glance to check if she is armed. She is aware of magic as a possibility so she is quick to note her size and race before bowing to the man and taking a seat near him. The woman is is as tall as Maxton, dark skinned, and with jet black hair. Lupe wears a light brown vest over a white blouse, green breeches, and black calf-high boots.
Surreal Nightmares perks her ears, and whips her head around to look at the newcomers. She narrows her eyes, taking in the newcomers' clothes and race before huffing and turning her attention to a holed leg.
The man stands. "Ahh, it is good to see you again, Kawai. I'm glad you brought a friend. My name is Maxton Thurswell, and this is my assistant, Lupe Moore." He points to the pony. This is Surreal Nightmares. She will be joining you on the trip, if you decide to go.
Kawai gives Kiirga a glance that states that she is uncomfortable and she should say something.
Surreal_Nightmares nods. "That's the plan, anyways," she says curtly. She rubs an itch on her side, her wing lifting to allow a hoof to the site.
Kiirga walks along with Kawai as they enter, her crystalline hooves, normally clicking on the pavement outside, making a rather different sound on the floor of the building. She looks at her fellow quadruped as she enters the building, and gives her a small smile. Not enough of them around here. Surreal Nightmares would see a pale blue deer with short, brown horns atop her head, slightly curved backwards. What really catches her eye would be the magenta crystals rising from her hooves, swirling up her legs in an arcane design that becomes less dense the further up they go. She glances up at Kawai and nods as she sees her uncomfortable glance. "So. What exactly is this 'plan', then?"
Maxton speaks, "So. Let's get to why you are here. My friends in the east told me of the rift explosion, and mentioned some events that happened prior to that. Specifically, that the CS deployed a rift containment device."
"That is factual." Kawai states flatly.
"We have known for some time that they were developing such a thing, but did not know it was so advanced. How close was it to actually working, do you think?"
"Kiirga got the best look at the device. She can tell you better than I."
"I got a look at it. It looked like it could have worked, perhaps if we had had more time to deploy it."
"I think they were trying to recreate what we have in Tolkeen."
Surreal Nightmares scratches an ear as she takes in this information. She stays silent, just letting the three talk it out. Her wing twitches, aching from an exercise she performed a few days ago.
"It seems to me that the CS is developing something of great power. They will undoubtedly try to use it to shut all rifts, everywhere. We all know that while rifts can be destructive, they are also beneficial." Maxton looks at the quadrupeds in the room.
Kiirga frowns lightly. That certainly does sound like the CS... and she does not like the sound of that.
"I want you to steal the device, all their research, and destroy their facility. The research can be used for good, and not kept away from 'enemies' of the CS. The only want to help themselves. The research facility where all the development is conducted is west of here."
"That is a tall order."
"Are we going to upload the digital research?" Surry pipes up suddenly.
Lupe hands Surreal Nightmares up a small computer. "Upload anything you find into this."she takes it, holds it up to her face and inspects it before laying the device on the table.
Oct 01 17:19:23 <MikeM> Maxton continues, "It is a tall order. It is dangerous. That is why I need you all. We have been looking for the right group of people for some time now. This is our best chance before they complete the development of the containment device."
"My friends and I know much, but are not powerful like you."
"We are not that powerful. I'd say we are more lucky than anything."
Lupe laughs. "You have powerful luck, then."
Kawai grins but covers her mouth. After a moment she lowers her hand, "You said it is in the West."
Maxton answers, "Yes. There is an active rift about 650 kilometers west of here. The CS built a research facility out there so people would not be able to watch. It is called Novgorod. Besides the facility, there is a small town for family and logistical support."
Surreal Nightmares scratches a cheek. "Can we have more specific details? Map of the area, guards, y'know. Or is the intel spotty?"
Kawai furrows her brow thinking 'How did they manage to build out there without our notice?'
"We know a little about the guards, but do not have maps."
"What do you know about the guards? Can you draw us a map to the location?"
Lupe replies, "The town is accessed primarily by an airstrip. There is also a dirt road, but it is seldom used. The airstrip is protected by a radar and two missile pods, as well as some sky cycles. There are CS soldiers, as well as skelebots. We are not sure of the total ground force numbers, but believe them to be less than 20."
"So that pretty much rules out going in by airship..." Kiirga pondered outloud.
Surreal Nightmares ruffles a small part of her floof. "I'm assuming that foot is off as well. Underground?"
"No, I'm sorry. Most of the Deadboys and skelebots guard the lab and the device. The airstrip is only guarded by the missiles and sky cycles. Pretty sure."
'Less than 20 on the ground... if she could manage to get the dragon tank in there, and with Kawai's power armor... they should be able to make short work of that. Right? The trick is getting them there... ' Kawai strokes her chin thoughtfully.
"I could run over there to scout it out. I mean, I could but I want to be careful. We should give a guess to the Radar range and try to fly just outside of that. Still risky. Do we have any ground vehicles?" Kawai looks suddenly at Surreal Nightmares, "What can you do?"
Maxton answers, "We do not have reports of ground vehicles besides normal trucks."
Surreal_Nightmares shakes her head. "Can't do anything. Need equipment for underground insertion. Sorry."
"We are not going underground. I am talking about your abilities."
"Maxton, what do we have for ground vehicles? Are you providing any?"
"I had not planned on it. What would you require?"
Surreal Nightmares facehoofs. "Derp. Sorry. Well, I can change into other things, living or not. I can fly," she flicks out her wings. "I can do some magic, thanks to the floating rings around my hooves. I don't know much, but I can do basic stuff."
Lupe pulls a document out of a folder. "Our agents were able to smuggle this out. We hope to have more intel as the days pass." drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Tjl…
(I'll add photo later.)
Maxton observes, "Disguises. That's one of the main reasons I asked you to join the team."
Kawai looks at Surreal_Nightmares, "We can use that. I prefer going in quiet."
Surreal_Nightmares nods. "Cool. What do they look like and what do they wear?"
"There are some normal citizens, including a small motel and general store, and the soldiers all wear uniforms. The scientists dress like scientists. We do not have word of any dimensional beings."
"That makes this easier. If we drove there in a normal fashion we can get in easily."
Surreal Nightmares moves her jaw side to side. "Details on the uniform style? Badges? Anyone I can imitate to make it more convincing?"
Lupe says, "You should know the road is very seldom used, and while the town is not entirely fenced, there is a gate and fence about a half kilometer past the bridge.
'Trucks. Trucks... yes, that could work.' pulling herself out of her ponderous state, "Just how big are we talking with these trucks?"
Lupe continues, "Normal cargo trucks. Unarmored, unarmed. I don't think the CS wants to pay to fly in vegetables and soda."
'Cargo trucks. Excellent.' "That should do quite nicely."
" Surreal Nightmares, can you turn into my sister?"
Maxton smiles. "So, you'll do it?"
Surreal Nightmares blinks. "Description please."
"I am willing to do this, Maxton."
Kiirga nods in agreement. "If Kawai's in, I am too."
Kawai turning to Surreal_Nightmares, "Like me but a little different."
"Wonderful! When you have the device and the research, bring them here." Maxton hands Kiirga a card with coordinates written on it. Kiirga takes the card, looks at it, then puts it away with a slight nod.
Lupe asks, "How many trucks will you need?" Kawai looks at Kiirga because she will know.
Surreal Nightmares nods. Her magic rings glow blue with power. The pony is surrounded in a blue bubble, one that shrinks on the pony. A light shines into everyone's eyes, blinding them. With a bang, the light disappears and in place of a pony stands a human, fully clothed.
Maxton makes a sign and smiles. Lupe stares, wide-eyed.
"I suppose that depends on the size of the trucks in question. And what all we're going to bring-" She cuts off with a wince, shutting her eyes. "Geez!"
Kawai looks back at Surreal_Nightmares with a beaming smile. She reaches over to touch Surreal_Nightmares.
Surreal Nightmares shivers at the touch, unused to the feeling of the lack of fur.
"That looks good." her clothes feel soft, comfortable and a bit fuzzy. "Your texture could use some work."
Surreal Nightmares changes back into her original form. "If no one touches me, I think I can get away with it."
"That is true. Okay, the plan is to sneak in there, steal the information, grab the device, hijack one of their vehicles, and return in one piece. Is this correct?"
"Yep! Short and simple. Hopefully. Probably not..."
Maxton adds, "And destroy the facility."
Kawai scratches her cheek, "Geez."
Lupe chimes in, "You don't have to kill everyone, but we think it would be best if the lab never worked again."
Kiirga ear flicks, still rubbing her eye after the bright light. "That'll be a bit harder."
"Destruction is heavy handed. We can do it. We have the firepower," Kawai shrugs.
Lupe continues, "We will keep you updated as our information improves. Is there anything else you need from us?"
Oct 01 18:23:59 <Kawai> "Yes. Why don't you want to get the military involved?"
Oct 01 18:24:11 * Surreal_Nightmares groans. "I wish we had a big military force to take out the whole thing..."
"Who are you really?"
Maxton answers, "What would the CS do if they knew Tolkeen was militarily involved in this operation?"
"We are citizens of this world, adapting to change which cannot be undone."
Lupe chuckles as she clears away the files. "So, do you need trucks from us after all?"
"No." Kawai bluntly replies.
"If we're not going in quiet? ... I don't see a whole lot of need for a truck, aside from initial infiltration."
Maxton stands up, "Thank you. Thank you for taking this mission."
"Kiirga, we're going by ground. Your mech can do that, right?"
"Then we'll park a ways off in the woods then walk in. Don't know what we'll do about your body."
"Yeah, I was thinking about that too. ... It's going to be all humans there, I'd assume?"
Surreal Nightmares sniffles. "I hope..."
Lupe replies, "As far as we know."
"It is the CS. I'd say that is a safe assumption."
"Hmm... if we could pack the mech into one of the trucks, that would get us close enough to pass their outer defenses. They're not going to be shooting missiles into their own base. I can stay in the mech, out of sight, so I don't draw any unnecessary attention until we're ready to strike."
Kawai stands up. "Then we'll need one truck, then."
Surreal_Nightmares blinks. "Alright."
Lupe says, "No problem. Just let me know where and when. It will be ready to go."
Kiirga stands up with Kawai.
Kawai extends her hand to Maxton.
Maxton shakes Kawai's hand. "Thanks again. We will be in touch."
"You still haven't told us whom you work for."
"I work for the other citizens of the world. I am but a representative."
Surreal Nightmares rolls off of the chair she sits on. She stands up. "Mmm..." She looks to her new teammates. "Ready?"
Kawai extends her hand to Lupe.
Lupe shakes Kawai's hand, "I'll see you soon."
Kawai puts her hands to her sides, "Ready."
Lupe shows the group out of the conference room and to the front door of the hotel. She hands Kawai a card with a radio frequency on it."Contact us here. Good luck."
Kawai nods as she pockets the card in her back pocket.
Kiirga takes a look at the card as it is handed to Kawai, smiles, and nods. "We'll see you soon."
* * *
Kawai goes to the hanger were Kiirga's plane and her own Juggernaut is housed. "Kiirga, can you please do us a favor?"
"Look up any information you can about Other Citizens of Tolkeen group."
Kiirga nods. "Sure. I can do that."
"Thanks. I want to know who we are getting into bed with."
"Yeah... but whoever they are, they don't like the CS. That's at least one point for them."
"Don't you find it odd how they knew about our last assignment?"
Surreal_Nightmares yawns, letting out a cute squeak at the peak of her yawn. Her tongue flicks out to lick her nose.
"Mmm... that means they have access to some kind of intelligence."
"Or stole it." pats Kiirga's head, "I will see you in a bit. When do you want to depart?"
Surreal_Nightmares blinks. "So, what am I gonna do guys? I'm not sure how you handle missions."
Kiirga smiles softly up at Kawai after her patting. "Whenever you're ready."
"Stick with Kiirga, Surry."
Surreal Nightmares nods. She trots over to Kiirga, leaning on one of her legs.
Kiirga chuckles softly, looking back at Surreal Nightmares as she leans into her leg. Well, that's one way to 'stay close'.
Surreal Nightmares purrs softly. She looks up at Kiirga. "Ready?"
Kawai goes to check out her vehicle from the holding warehouse.
"Yeah. Looks like you're gonna be back in the mech with me. Probably a good place for us quadrupeds to be in a CS place."
Surreal Nightmares nods. "Alright, I'm cool with that. Just hope that it's comfortable!" She shoots Kiirga a smile.
"Oh yeah! It's definitely big enough for the two of us. Shall we go?"
Surreal Nightmares trots in place. "Ready!"
Kiirga nods, and trots off towards the airship.
The VTOL has two engines pointed downwards at the ends of a pair of wings, and is painted a simple grey color. It is large enough to easily fit a tank or two inside it.
Surreal_Nightmares flies up to it, inspecting the open space. "Comfy."
Kiirga chuckles softly. "Yeah, we're not taking this today, though. Not with those missile pods. No, we're taking what's inside." She raises a hoof up towards the machine, and the gems in her foreleg glow. The back panel of the VTOl opens up, sliding downwards to the ground at the call of its master. "We're taking that." She steps up into the VTOL, and the lights come on, revealing a dragon mech, currently powered down and laying on its belly,its long neck and tail curled around itself.
Surreal Nightmares whistles. "Damn! That's pretty good..."
Kiirga grins a bit to herself, but puts on a less excitable face as she turns back, standing next to it. "It is, isn't it?" She climbs up along the tail, the way it was curled making a perfect ramp up to the hatch on its back.
Surreal Nightmares lands near the hatch. "Spacious inside?"
"It's built for four."
Surreal Nightmares nods. "Ready to go then?" She motions for Kiirga to open the hatch.
"We have to get this thing on a truck, first. Which means calling them and getting the truck." She puts her hoof to the back of the mech, and a hissing of hydraulics can be heard within, then the hatch pops open. She hops down into the mech, and grabs up her pilot's suit from the central control chair, starting to put it on. Surreal Nightmares follows, taking a seat next to Kiirga. She lays her head down Kiirga's lap.
Kiirga dons her simple, brown pilot's suit, then looks down at Surreal Nightmares. "Oh. Uh, hello! I'm, uh, gonna have to ask you to move, though, I need to get this thing started up."
Surreal Nightmares snorts and moves back, curling up into a ball. She watches Kiirga do her thing, interested in the control panel before her.
"Thanks." Her hooves rest on the armrests next to the chair, built to be at the height and designed to fit a quadruped. In fact, this whole thing looks to have been built specifically for them in mind. Her hooves glow through the suit, and the controls hum to life, without her ever touching them. Readouts come up, and the main screen shows the view outside the mech. A rumbling begins, and the hatch behind them shuts and locks itself with more hissing hydraulics. "Alright, might wanna buckle up." She says as she puts the headset from the comms station over her ears.
Surreal Nightmares wraps the belt around her form. "Ready!"
Kiirga pulls down the mic on the headset next to her muzzle, and calls Maxton and Lupe with a location near the hangar to meet. Lupe acknowledges the request and agrees to meet. Kiirga flips the mic back up. "Alright, here we go." The mech uncurls from around itself, and stands up to all fours. After making sure everything was in working order, Kiirga pilots it out the back of the VTOL and into the hangar. The VTOL closes up and shuts back down as she leaves, and she heads off to the meetup point. She also radios Kawai at this point. "I've got us our truck."
Kawai radios back, "Good. Where will it be?"
"In the hangar lot, by hangar 3."
"Thanks. I'll meet you there."
"Did you find out anything about them?"
"Not yet. Just got to the mech." She checks on Compu and how she's doing with her search for information.
Kawai meets up with them later.
Compu replies, "There are citizens of all identities in Tolkeen. Can you be more specific?"
"Are there any organizations that share a similar name?"
Compu: "I have no information about groups named 'Other Citizens' in Tolkeen."
Kiirga hmms... "What organizations would stand to gain from information about the rift containment device?"
Kawai radios Kiirga, "You ready?"
"Yeah, I think I stumped Compu with that one. She's still thinking about it."
Surreal_Nightmares stays silent, not willing to interrupt the radio chatter with her own commentary.
"I'm at the spot."
Kiirga steps out into the hangar lot to meet up with Kawai, shutting her hangar behind her.
"I'll be there in just a second."
The truck and a car pull up. Lupe is driving the truck. It is an older three-axle model. 6 wheel drive, and you can tell by its quietness that it is electric. The bed should be just large enough for the Dragon and Warhawk. Maxton is in the back of the car, but you do not recognize the driver. Maxton gets out and walks to the truck. Lupe steps down and looks around. Kiirga watches the truck drive up, the mech's head following it as it head to the meeting place. Yep, that's theirs.
Oct 01 21:27:45 * Surreal_Nightmares grooms herself like a cat in her seat.
Kawai realizes that she has to drive so she sets her mech onto the truck bed. After a moment the steam dies down on her Warhawk as it goes to sleep. She leaps out of the robot in dramatic fashion landing near Maxton.
Maxton laughs. "Well done. I hope you find everything to your liking. The cab is big enough for you and your friends."
Lupe picks up, "We just had it serviced. It has a range of 1000 kilometers, and there's a tarp in the storage box if you want to cover your mechs."
"We thought the electric drive would be better for being quiet."
Kiirga takes the dragon mech up into the truck's bed, carefully setting it down in the space that Kawai had left for her, and parks it back in that same pose it had been in - head and tail curled up around itself.
Surreal Nightmares unbuckles herself and falls to the floor. She stands up, nosing Kiirga softly. "So we're actually doing this, huh?"
Kiirga turns and looks at the affectionate mare as she is nosed at. "We are."
Surreal Nightmares sighs and shakes her head. "My life is too crazy..."
Maxton says, "Is there anything else you need before you start?"
"The keys, please." she holds out her hand to Maxton.
Maxton puts the keys in Kawai's hand. "We'll call on the radio as we have updates."
Kawai without looking back as she goes to the driver side, "Thanks." and opens the door.
"You ready for this?" She gently lays a hoof on Surry's back.
Maxton says, "Safe travels," and goes back to the car.
Lupe watches for a long second and joins Maxton. The car drives away.
Surreal_Nightmares nods. "As ready as I'll ever be.""Good. Cuz we're about to head out."
The truck is loaded and the party departs. What is instore for our heroes? What is this mystery group? Find out in the next episode.
Designed & Coded by: Maiyunbby
Art by: kaiyuan