Having staked their claims with Constable Won, the group heads over to the starport to talk with Portmaster Tev and his brother Rillihar, owner of an actual salvage freighter. Getting down to brass tacks, the group revealed that the ship and ground transport they want salvaged belonged to the batarian bounty hunter who had passed through a few days prior. Since it had registered and paid it’s fees, it was logged in the starport database, and Tev went to look it up to get a better sense of what kind of offer to make.
What ensues instead is a brotherly exchange between the two salarians, with Tev not amused by Rillihar’s Matru’s Mock day prank, only to quickly realize that the starport database has been hacked. There is no record of the Tragic Mistake’s landing or leaving in the database. None at all. While credits were transferred, and amounts are correct, chunks of them have no record of who transferred them or for what purpose.
Tev contacts Chen Won frantically to inform him of the hack, and once Tev slows down enough to make sense, Chen starts digging.
Tev returns his attention at hand, having locked down several consoles and files at the starport command desk, and switches to his datapad to continue negotiations. Given the damage to the craft (thanks to pics that the group snapped) both vehicles are definitely going to have to be processed, as opposed to flown, which drops their value significantly – but Tev and Rillihar confer, and extend a 5000 credit line until a full survey can be made.
The group accepts, and moves to part two: Repairing the Albatross. Rillihar goes to prep his ship, while Tev accompanies them to review the damage. Tev is mildly concerned and impressed – most of the damage is clearly focused around crippling the ship’s thrust and maneuverability and making the repairs difficult, rather than actually out to destroy or ground the ship. While the cost looks like it’ll run past the salvage value of their claim, Tev is willing to knock a chunk off if Ari is willing to hang around at the starport and help him out with some other repair jobs, and he says he’ll alert them if new issues are found that will raise the cost before he commits the work. The group agrees.
A quick look is taken at the Blazemaster, and while functional based on the group’s repairs after the fight, it could use some TLC – for a couple hundred credits, Tev offers to give it a tune up, alignment, and such, all to be ready by morning. Credits are transferred, and the party packs it in for the day in the Albatross.
With the skirmisher class combat armor and battle rifle from Kurl in their possession, the group spends some time to rearrange gear and re-equip for another foray to Ripple Hill. The armored orange janitorial infiltration jumpsuit is put back in storage, and Illyria spends time readjusting the sizing straps and HUD on the new combat armor to her needs. The battle rifle is also handed to Illyria, a significant upgrade to her ranged capabilities. The Light Accelerator Cannon, still damaged, is left behind on the Albatross to be put into queue for things what need repairing. Until then, one of the two pintle mounted battle rifles scavenged from Kurl’s ground transport is attached to Nero’s gunnery harness, and the other is left to be put on the Blazemaster in the morning. The few other materials and goodies are put into storage, and the group makes sure to prep their climbing gear to bring with them on their next trip.
In the morning, they mount the heavy battle rifle on the Blazemaster, and proceed to drive back out to the ruins while the Albatross is repaired. A happily uneventful 10 hour drive later, the group decides to sleep before their next foray so as to be awake and ready for anything they may encounter.
On a new Etamisian day, they venture into the ruins, Milo using the flamethrower to send smoke and spurts of flame to scare away any drop beetle swarms as they descend the circular stairs. Their first stop, the ledge where they were attacked by “the tongue” previously. One thing that had been notices was a pile in a rocky nook covered in an oddly different phosphorescent fungus. The group spools out the climbing rope and drives pitons into the stairs anchoring a main line from them to Nero. The rest of the group is then anchored to Nero by shorter ropes. If a tongue wants somebody, it’s going to have to deal with everybody.
Illyria, in the new heavy armor, leads the way, hugging the inner wall of the ledge while watching the hanging lichens for movement. The group gets to the nook without issue, though Illyria thinks she hears something at one point. The rest start examining the pile – which after some digging – appears to be some sort of midden pile – a dark red brown jelly covers everything, on that goop grows the violet and green fungi. Mixed in with the goop are clearly cracked bones of various creatures – including what looks like parts of humanoid limb bones. Deciding to dig in, Roger and Nero find two caked on mass effect guns – a pistol and a SMG. They are reminiscent of the weapon wielded by two of the previous Albatross’ crew from the video logs of the dead quarian.
With the noise of the digging and the low conversation, something has clearly been attracted, or at least, clearly to Illyria, who hears the twok-twok-twok while she guards the group, and using the enhanced optics of suit and linked gun pinpoints a hazy silhouette on the other side of the hanging lichen curtains. Informing the group, they decide to bag the guns and a sample of the goo and fungus, and retreat from the ledge.
Unfortunately, that does bring them closer to the beast as everyone makes out the twok-twok-twok steps of another of the ceiling walking creatures at the end of the ledge near the midden pile. A tongue lances out, striking Illyria dead-on – with contact made, the armor asks if she wants to discharge it’s defense array – and with a vigorous yes, the armor discharges it’s taser battery fully into the attached tongue. There is a gurgly huffing ululation, and the tongue releases a milky liquid and falls away, dragged back up into the concealing curtains.
The creature withdraws up the curvature of the ceiling out of sight. Gunfire is aimed at the other hidden creature, but does little, defended as it is by the concealing lichens, the curve of the wall, and it’s heavy carapace. Milo’s attempt to set it on fire, while not technically successful, does burn away most of the lichen, revealing a creature roughly the size of Nero – but with 8 walking legs, 2 pincer-tipped arms, a triangular armored head with seven eyes, a round lamprey like mouth protected under it, and hump on it’s back with an indentation filled with a fleshy pink lump.
With a fwump, the lump is expelled like a rocket, uncoiling a tough cable-like tongue, and strikes Roger. With a huff, the cable reels in with great speed, and Roger is lifted bodily off his feet, until he is suspended just within reach of the monster’s pincers, the rope to Nero taut. Roger envelops his enemy in a warp field, and then suffers several crushing pincer attacks for his trouble. But Illyria lines up her shot with the combined benefits of the armor HUD and the rifle optics…and drills 4 of the creature’s eyes before two bullet penetrate the carapace proper while the warp field rips and rends making the damage that much more grievous.
And that’s when Roger, still attached to the tongue, finds himself falling, as the beast’s feat release their hold as it dies. With a grunt, Nero braces and grabs the climbing cable, which disappears over the edge roger and the beast. There is a bone shattering cracking sound, and the a “I’m ok” from below. Nero, with everyone braced and the stair rope cinched, pulls.
With agonizing slowness, Roger appears, followed by a half ton armored monstrosity. The other ceiling walking beast seems to have retreated completely with it’s numbed tongue, and the group is able to detangle Roger, and then drag the beast over to the stairs. The party splits up briefly – with part going to get the winch from the elevator hole chamber, and set it up on the stairs. While they have to take it down and reset it several times to prevent the cable just tightening around the stair’s central column, an hour later, they have dragged the wall lobster back up to the main floor. The corpse is dragged outside, and put into the Blazemaster. Milo takes a look at Roger’s wounds and patches him up, and then the group sets off for Cardinia.
Professor Basiri wanted more specimens…the group thinks this qualifies.
About halfway there, they get within signal range of the colony, and make a call to inform her that they will be arriving with a large dead specimen. When the size is expressed, she is somewhat taken aback, but clearly start thinking about what she’ll need. She acknowledges that she’ll meet them at the starport.
A couple hours after that, the digestive sacs and fecal channels on the specimen give way. Filling the back of the Blazemaster with an inch of red brown goo. Everybody puts their breather masks on – even the folk in the airlock sealed driving compartment. The rest of the ride is uneventful…but modestly disgusting.
At Cardinia, Calene meets them with a couple human and turian helpers and a wheeled freezer containment unit. Everybody gapes at the thing in the back of the Blazemaster, with one of the turians remarking, “Well, that’s nightmare fuel for you, ain’t it?”
The group hands over the various goo and fungi samples, and the laborers lift and lever the carapaced monster into the freezer unit. Calene is a little dumbfounded, but pays the group a solid sum. She admits that if they find more, she wants what they find, and she does want to pay them, but her account is pretty much tapped until the next mail run, when she should receive her next grant allotment. That, unfortunately is nearly 2 weeks away. As the movers head out, she bids them goodbye, and races after the freezer unit, mumbling out loud.
The group pings the starport request line, and one of the maintenance guys comes over. “What would it take to clean out that?” they ask. The maintenance guy looks in the back of the Blazemaster, then at them…eyebrows raised…“75 credits…I don’t want to know…ready by morning.”
The group walks away 75 credits poorer, but happy they don’t need to clean it.
They seek out one Tyak Kinning, a turian, and the only real weaponsmith on Cardinia. They produce the crusted pistol and SMG, garnering a disgusted/incredulous expression from the turian. However, a short discussion later, and he sets a price, and takes the two weapons, initially dropping them into a bucket filled with solvent/disinfectant. He lets them know they should be ready in a week, barring damage he can’t see.
The group heads down to The Poor Student, one of the two bars in Cardinia Colony, and spends a few credits on drinks and relaxes. Overheard is talk that the community’s bankstore was hacked – but not in terms of anything lost, rather than a few thousand credits have had any of their routing and origin data stripped, and any transactions that involved those credits have had their details wiped from several of the vendor databases on the colony.
The group leans back…and considers.
End of Run