Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Hunter is following a signal. He does this sometimes. When he has spare time. And can slip away from the other things he’s been doing. It’s actually the reason he’s been here at all. Buuuuut keeping a roof over one’s head and the bot running can take some doing and after his trip through Dinosaur swamp last year, it’d taken a lot of doing indeed.
Besides, the signals are faint. And he’s had to do some work to localize this one.
As the bot moves, a woman on great grey wings approaches, slowly and cautiously. “Greetings, Hunter.” She calls out as she draws near.
Ardul Trasinger has been in this dimension several weeks and has learned that it is a harsh, cruel world. Much harsher and crueler than even her own.
Silver armour catches the sun, gleaming it brightly. One might wonder how much time she spends polishing it … given the battering it’s taken in her time here.Hunter hadn’t actually invited Ardul along. Which makes sense. He does this privately and he’s really shared it with no one. He’s been across most of the continent in eight years tracking down one signal after another and trying to find out what, exactly, made them activate…
He still has no idea.
The bot slows and Hunter keys his mic. “Hello Ardul. Interesting place to be out taking a stroll…”
“It’s a lovely afternoon for a flight …” The only times that people see the winged warrior use her wings is when she’s fighting. She’s … not fighting now. “… and this seemed like a likely place or perhaps it’s just where my journey today has bought me.”
Pulling up as the bot slows, hovering the air before the head of the bot, the blonde looks at him. “It’s an interesting place to be patrolling… ” he’d told her, not long after they met, that all he really did was ate, slept and worked. Given he’s not doing the former things, she’s made a logical assumption.“This… isn’t a contracted patrol. Hang on. I’m cracking the hatch. You can come in if you like.” Doing so is easier than talking via loudspeaker which is… a bit awkward truth be told. And it means that once she’s inside he can start moving again. And he would like to get moving. Just in case his mysterious shadow has shown up again.
He can hope it hasn’t…
Ardul would have flown alongside and let him keep moving, but not conversing via loudspeaker has definite benefits. Once inside, she settles in, furling her wings tightly behind her. “Not a contracted patrol? Taking some R and R or something bothering you?”
The ‘beeping’ of the beacon draws her attention “Is that the box you had in the tavern the other night?” He said it was a tracker of some sort, so that makes sense.“It is, yes. It’s picking up a signal about two kilometers ahead.” It occurs to Hunter briefly that he doesn’t actually know if that unit of measurement means anything to Ardul.
“I’m not quite sure what we’ll find there. Could be people, could be nothing, could be trouble. Good thing you brought your armor, I s’pose.” Beat.
“So what were you doing out here?” The wolfen gets the bot moving again. There’s room in here, actually, for a second person. And a third, probably. There’s even a seat.
Elpida comes into Old Richmond from Glowtown.
Elpida heads out to Glowtown.
Ardul listens and takes a moment, converting the distance in her head. The unit didn’t mean anything when she got here, it does now… even if she has to think on it. “I see.” she says slowly, shifting in her seat to get comfortable as the bot starts moving. “Roomy in here. Not sure what I expected.” she says as an aside, grey eyes regarding the Wolfen. “And I bought my weapons as well. Guess we’ll see what’s there when we get there.” Yes, she’s just agreed to go along and take a look with the Wolfen.
“Test flight.” she answers without hesistation “I had to make some adjustments to my armour after the last engagement I had. Needed to make sure it’s working as it should.” beat “Finding the right tools and even materials is difficult. I’ve been gutting those cyborgs, but they’re not going to last long at this rate.”“What does that armor of yours do, exactly?” The Wolfen’s eyes are on his HUD as the bot forges on. There’s no road here. What little track there may have been once has all but vanished and the terrain is getting hilly. The HUD washes green when Hunter flips on the low light vision and checks his RADAR and LIDAR. No contacts. That’s probably good.
But it’s hard to say. Two kilometers is enough that they’ll be there in a minute or two.
Ardul is quiet for a moment as Hunter presents that question, she’s still watching him and the HUD. She’s at least familiar with that technology, that much is clear. “My armour. It does a number of things, or at least did, back on my home world. Projecting energy fields to repel attacks or a small blast when they engage, hand to hand. You saw something of that the other day down in Clearwater. There’s a rudimentary computer in the head piece. That’s how I managed to translate for the crystalline entity.” Handy that.
“At home, it is also a mark of rank.” There’s a gentle pride in her voice as she says this. “Only a select few with standing in the Royal House can wear it. It is a reminder of my duty.” There’s a story in how she managed to keep it. “It’s not far now…” she leans forward to peer at the HUD.Hunter wonders how ‘select’ the select few really are if it’s being worn by someone two hundred thirty second down the line or whatever it is she had said her position was. Enough to be close to the princess, clearly. Not enough to actually //be// anyone that he could tell, though.
Up ahead is what looks like a hill… but bits of metal can be seen jutting out of it. Building? Bunker? Hard to say. It’s quiet though. Hunter stops and locks the Bot’s controls.
“Here we are.” He unstraps from his harness and grabs his pistol. “Let’s take a look.”
Enough to be advisor and protector to the Princess and then Princep-Elect. Whatever it is, it’s clear that Ardul takes her responsibility (whatever that is) very seriously.
“Mmmmm….” she unstraps herself as well, unhooking the cylinder at her hip “… it seems like there’s no one or nothing here. How sensitive is your equipment?” She means the Bots scanners.
Once the hatch is opened, she scrambles out and uses her wings to get to the ground. “Lead on, then, Hunter.” She doesn’t ignite her energy blade, not yet. No need to advertise if there’s no need for it.Hunter does, however, draw his pistol. Or rather, keeps it drawn. He takes the rungs to the cround two at a time and heads toward the little hill. A shadow off to the right catches his eye. One flash of an electric torch reveals it to be have a kind of frame like quality.
“Door…” Dirt and plants are pushed and dug away by hand to reveal a panel. There’s still power to it. Hunter frowns and produces a small device that seems to interact with it. The door slides open and without a word the wolfen steps in.
The interior is dimly lit and clearly artificial. Corridors, many of them deformed, run away to the left and the right. Hunter checks his tracker and ponders. “Hmmm…”
“Interesting …” Ardul murmurs as she helps to clear the panel and the device operates the door. “What are these signal you’re tracking?” He hadn’t told her the first time she asked about the box, but it seems slightly pertinent now. Entering, slightly behind Hunter, Ardul takes up a position, watching his back as he leads them on.
“Readings look clear…” she murmurs again, peering at the tracker frowning “Although the readings look a little higher in this direction…” she gestures to the left “I say we head that way.” But it’s his expedition, so she falls silent.“Distress beacons.” Hunter answers simply. Which does leave a lot of questions. This place looks like it has been abandoned for decades if not centuries. It’s old and decaying and the plant life is starting to take over even in here. Power’s still running, but barely. If these are distress beacons… who is in distress.
Hunter turns left and starts to walk. In about fifty yards there’s a blockage and he ducks into a side room, navigating ruined, overgrown corridors as he tracks the signal. The rooms themselves are difficult to parse. There’s a lump there that may have been a bed at one point. A plate is left on the ground in another. Off to the side, in the dim lighting in a larger room there’s what might be a conference table. People lived here at one point. Big people, from the looks of it. Say… about Hunter’s size.
There’s a creaaaaaaak of metal up ahead somewhere, as if something is settling.
“How old are these beacons?” Ardul asks as they walk through the corridors and rooms. Bending even now and then to get a better look at whatever is strewn around. “This place hasn’t seen use in … potentially a century. Whoever initiated the beacon is … likely gone.” As they pass through the room with the conference table she lets out a soft “Hmmmm.” but doesn’t jump to any conclusions. Not yet.
The groaning of the metal has her looking with a frown. “Either this place is giving way to the elements or there’s something up there. In either case, we should be wary …” She doesn’t recommend turning back, even though it seems to the sensible thing to do. She wants to know what the beacon is.“Ancient. The technology is hundreds of years old and not in common use today.” Hunter murmurs as he pushes past some roots by shoving them aside. They’re thick roots, which may underscore how strong Hunter actually is. “But near as I can tell… the beacons activated within the last eight or nine years. At least… that’s how long I’ve been following them, trying to figure out who or what turned them on…”
He pauses to sniff. “Don’t smell anything but dirt and mold. I think we’re okay. The door was locked. I needed a scrambler to get in.”
Ardul looks at Hunter, thoughtfully. “Where did you get the device to track them?” He must have had it for a while, if he knows the beacons activated that recently. His strength, the way he moves, is noted by the warrior. She too shifts debris with seeming ease. “This place certainly appears empty and has been for a long while. Longer than the eight or nine years you posit. I wonder how the beacon here activated if there is noone to make it.” It could be remote access or it might not be a ‘someone’ at all but a ‘something’. An AI or something more aetherial.
As he sniffs, she listens carefully … she has, what those of the Golden Age would call, a sixth sense about danger. “I agree, but still caution is warranted. Let’s keep moving then.” she says as she steps forward, moving ever onwards into the structure “Do you hear anything? I do not, but I think your hearing may be better than mine.”“Now that…” Hunter says without looking back. “… would be telling.” Clearly there are some things he’s not prepared to share just yet. He does here something, more creaking to be precise. But it’s nothing that worries him. They pass through two more rooms before they come to a much larger one. Whatever was done in here, there seem to have been a lot of spaces for it. toward the back is a single device about the size of an ashcan pulsing with blue light.
Hunter walks up to it, opens the top and pulls a chip out. The light fades. And the beeping from his tracker stops.
“Well. That’s another one off. That went quiter than many of these do.” He starts rummaging, reaching in to pull out more components.
That response elicits a snort from the Wolfens blonde companion. “Yes, it would.” She agrees readily but doesn’t press, keeping look out as they walk.
As Hunter deactivates the device, she looks at it curiously, then around the room and then back to the device “What do you mean, it went quieter than many?” That doesn’t fill her with confidence.
With the device off, she steps up to take a look, making sure to leave the wolfen room to work. If she recognises the working, the technology, she doesn’t say – she might, Iysegarth certainly had their share of visitors. “How many of these have you found so far?”She probably doesn’t. The Wolfen are spread far and wide but there are many places they have yet to visit. Then again… perhaps her people have seen their ilk before… or seen evidence of it.
“Dozens.” Hunter shakes his head and pockets what looks like a small ‘black box’. “And I’m no closer to understanding why they’ve chosen now to reactivate.” Either something widespread has set them off… or someone has deliberately turned them on.
“Either way, we’re done here. We should leave. These are not always safe places.”
“That’s a lot…” Ardul knows this and watches as the ‘black box’ disappears. “Is that the memory unit or processor and are you able to read them?” His lack of understanding gets an empathetic nod. “Perhaps, over an ale, you will tell me more…” He might not, but she’s a good head on her shoulders and understands technology.
At his last words, she takes the lead this time, still holding the cylinder from her belt. “Yes, we should.” There’s a dozen or more questions she has about this place and Hunters knowledge of it … she’ll ask them later though, once they’re clear.
It shouldn’t take them long to get back to the door, they’ve already cleared the way as they came in.