The walk back to the ley ship had been short considering the ship is sitting on top of the old medical facility. Well, more accurately it’s sitting inside what’s left of the frame of the building the medical facility had been under. General Sawyer blinks when she sees it, partly wondering how the skeleton of the building can be all that’s left and partly wondering how a sailing ship got in here.
But that’s nothing like her reaction when the quartet gets onto the deck and Ghost emerges from below.
Oh. You found someone.
Lindsey’s hand goes for a sidearm that fortunately she doesn’t have but clearly she’s used to being armed.
“What the hell is that thing?!”
Ghost stares for a moment. Charmed.
“That’s Ghost. Be polite now,” Varos suggests, smiling as he sets a hand on Lindsey’s shoulder in a gesture of reassurance. “Ghost, this is Lieutenant General Lindsey Sawyer. You’ll have to forgive her for being a bit…jumpy. She’s just woken up from a several-century nap.”
He steps away from her, hands folding behind him as he gives the others some room. “So, how’re things looking here?” he asks the dragon-cat. Cat-dragon.
Slaine had been quiet on the way back, trailing behind the Lieutenant General to cover their flanks, so to speak. It also gave her chance to look at the facility some more and wonder at the marvels that had preceded them.
“Steady …” she murmurs as she sees Lindsey goes for her weapon. “That’s a friend of ours and I’ll take it amiss if ye hurt him…”
Passing the poor woman, Slaine moves beside Ghost in a show of solidarity. “He’s been fixing the ship so we can fly again.” Yes, she just the sailing ship … flies. “Ye said ye had somethin’ for us to look at, Ghost?”
“He’s my trusty steed.” Aiden deadpans. Ghost leans on Slaine a bit, not too much and gives Varos a nod of thanks. Aiden he just stares at.
You don’t have steeds. You’re a pirate captain not a knight.
“I’m branching out.”
Ghost sighs and levitates what looks like a small set of fractured metal bits.
The Ley engine overloaded. The crystals are intact but some of the smaller parts snapped. We’re going to need to find or fashion replacements before we can get out of here. That’s… if we’re leaving.
“Oh, we’re leaving alright. Aiden mutters. He looks out over the city. There isn’t a whole lot of Atlanta left above ground. Mostly it’s the central district that they’re in now and that’s primarily skeletons of towers and other large buildings. There might be things they can use in it, but it’s been picked through many times over.
Then again, there’s an artifact trade out here so there must be unspoilt places.
It can’t be any old metal. Got to be something fairly strong. Good steel or… a titanium alloy or something. The stuff out here has been in the elements for three hundred years so it’s no good.
Aiden taps his fingers on his chin. “Slaine I don’t suppose you can sense metal with your magic? And Varos… how far does your sight borrowing talents extend?”
Leaning against the side of the ship, Varos peers over at what Ghost brings up for them to look at, a frown tugging at his lips. “Wonderful.” He does nod at Aiden’s resolve, not that he thinks any of them would care to overstay their welcome here.
“Nothing we can use back down there? The doors or the equipment?” he suggests. “Not that I’m an expert in metals, of course, but…”
There’s a long pause upon Aiden’s inquiry, the visored one leveling a look towards the psychic before finally a slow smile appears. He shrugs. “Thirty foot radius or so? Varies depending on if I’ve got a specific focus to go through.”
Slaine rests her head against Ghost’s shoulder for a moment before smirking at the exchange between he and Aiden. “Branchin’ out into what, migh’ I ask? A Ranch Boy?” Some things from the past have been … bastardised. Lindsey might know ‘Cowboy’ or ‘Rancher’. “An’ ye still have to model ye’re puffy shirt and hat …” she reminds the psychic.
Looking at the part that Ghost levitates up, the Mystic frowns and frowns even more deeply as Aiden speaks. “I’ve no’ really tried, Vargr but it migh’. If anythin’ I migh’ be able to bring metal to the surface an’ ye can look at it.” That could be problematic depending on what she finds but it’s likely she’ll be able to do it.
“Wha’ are ye thinkin’ now?”
“Vaquero.” Aiden says in an odd accent. ” But yes. Ranch Boy or something like that.” Surely not knight tilting at windmills. That doesn’t sound like Aiden at all.
“I’m thinking we have to go out there and find some metal and it’d be handy to know where it is…” Aiden murmurs. “And it’d also be handy to know where other people are by borrowing their eyes. The only ones we’ve met so far haven’t been friendly.”
“If I might…” Lindsey says after having been quiet through most of that exchange. “There used to be a high tech manufacturing yard in the city. It was… over that way I think.” She points out into the ‘boneyard’ of Atlanta’s ruin. “Can’t say exactly where but it might have metals like you’re looking for… if… it hasn’t been looted.”
She’s still rather in shock but she’s trying to be helpful. Ghost, no matter how hard she tries, does seem to be somewhat off putting to her though.
“Good idea. Want me to run some reconnaissance?” Varos asks. At least within these ruins he can push his senses out further than he’d care to in a bustling city.
Lindsey gets a nod- he can tell that she’s trying, and that’s a plus. Really, he can’t blame her for being uneasy about current company, especially given how different things must have been back then. “There’s really only one way to find out, but at least that’s somewhere to start,” he says, head turning in the direction that the woman had pointed.
“Hmm. How do you usually go about shifting the earth, Slaine? If you tried getting a feel for it, would there be a way to tell apart dirt from metals like that? Could be worth a trial run at least.”
Slaine gives Aiden a funny look “Vac Queero?” she repeats “Don’ be swearin’ at me, I was jus’ teasin’…” And she still is, it seems. Her mood seeming to have lightened at least a little bit. And she wouldn’t know what a windmill was really or about a fictional Knight named Quixote.
“Alrigh’ then. I can it a try …” she looks as Lindsey points into the city “An’ I guess we can start in tha’ direction.”
The Mystic nods to Varos as she starts to move, knowing Aiden will likely grab her by her collar telekinetically if he wants her to stop. “It’s no’ something I’ve really ever though’ abou’ Varos but there are different feels. It’s how I know when to make things rumble or when to … decay.” The gem in crown winks … happily. Like it’s looking forward to doing this.
“Off we go then,” Aiden murmurs. And off they go, leaving Ghost and Lindsey behind because… someone has to guard the ship. And Lindsey.
It takes a couple hours of walking and that couple hours brings them toward the edge of the city-ruins. They’ve had to pick their way across brackish rivers and marshes. Now the psychic is crouching down near a ruined bit of all catching his breath and taking some water while his companions try to pick out their next route.
Maybe while they’re away Ghost and Lindsey will get to know each other a little better. Despite the earlier obvious tension, leaving the woman behind still seems the best choice.
Traveling around such swampy terrain is a bit new for Varos, but he’s mindful of where to walk as he pays close attention to Aiden and Slaine’s observations as well as the feel of the ground beneath his feet, the sounds of wet soil when it gives way to the water’s edge and what feels firm and what feels like it might swallow up his boots.
Once they come up to suitable cover, Varos casts out his senses past their position, making out the rough outlines of ruined walls but searching out for… Ah, there it is. Or they, rather. His lips quirk, and he checks for the next nearest bit of cover he can use before skulking over to extend his range.
There’s a bit more activity than he’d expected, but not overwhelming, and he watches for a bit, observing where people go and what kind of people are about. Considering the area, he’s not too surprised to note the amount of reptilians, nor the equipment in general. Now, where was that area that Lindsey had pointed out? He just has to figure out the best routes with the least amount of people.
Slaine had slid at least once in the brackish rivers and marshes and ended up on her backside at least once as well. By the time they get to the ruins she’s grumbling. It’s hot and it’s sticky, she’s out of breath and she stinks.
In response, the gem in the Crown winks almost angrily as blue energy licks over the back of her hands. With another grumble, the mystic intones a spell and arcane symbols form from the light. They float to the ground, some dissipating quickly and others staying, marking their path and in one case a particular spot. “There … ” she points. “Lots of metal there. I should be able to uncover it and lift it …”
Aiden nods. “Varos. Get us close there without being seen if you can. It looks like there’s some cover there. Mostly intact… warehouse? Something big. We should be able to hide in there while Slaine brings up the metal.”
There’s another bit of metal. A very small bit of metal but Slaine is very well attuned at this point. It’s nearby. And it’s moving. It’s hard to tell exactly where but it’s somewhere up ahead. Coincidentally that’s where Varos can sense people moving.
“That way, hm?” Varos nods, and between checking and juggling the images he monitors of the minds around, he guides them carefully to the next best point of cover on their way towards the ‘something big’ that Aiden had spotted.
“So far so g– Oop, spoke too soon,” he hisses, ducking back around a corner. “Hm. Seems like it’s a bit busy over in that direction. Typical. Let’s see if there’s any good gaps…”
Slaine pushes a piece of lank hair back from her face – it’s escaped the ponytail she’s wearing. “It might take a bit to bring it up …” she nods at Aiden’s words and starts to follow the two men, already working with the earth to find the best places to open it.
Her head snaps up though about the same time as Varos starts to speak. “There’s something coming this way. A small piece of metal … maybe about the size of a pistol, maybe smaller …” the gem flares in response to her concern and the Mystic shakes her head, answering an unheard question it seems. “No, need to do that yet …” she almost growls.
Aiden leans against the corner of the wall. It’s a blind right angle. He hasn’t called his sword just yet though. Slaine and Varos both can sense respectively the metal and the sightline getting closer. Much, much closer. Close enough that… they’re probably right around the corner.
And then a spear with a steel head pokes slowly past the corner… Aiden grabs the shaft just behind it and yanks both spear and occupant around the corner coming face to face with…
… a slender yellow lizardman. Lizard woman? Lizard person. Gender indeterminate.
“Hsssssssss!” The creature desperately tries to yank it’s spear back but Aiden’s got too good a grip on it. And then it sees that it’s outnumbered and freezes in what certainly looks like panic.
“Your passenger handled there, Miss McClellan?” Varos asks, head tilting towards the mystic. He turns back towards the main roadway, taking a step back as Aiden moves up. All yours, then!
Once the lizard is pulled into view, he smiles slyly, bringing a finger up to his lips in a helpfully suggestive gesture to be quiet. But if that doesn’t work, he’s ready to slap a modified shield around its face to make sure it won’t raise any alarms.
Slaine frowns at Varos as he asks that question and doesn’t answer. She’s too busy focusing on what’s coming around the corner and seeing if she can feel anything else.
A spear. Well that makes sense. Now she knows what that feels like. As Aiden and Varos get the creature under control, she positions herself to watch for more visitors. She’s unclear whether this creature is truly dangerous to them or if Aiden’s just being cautious.
“Well ye caught yeself a Saurian, Vargr. I don’ think it’s big enough to keep, ye’re gonna have to throw it back ye know…”
The Saurian’s eyes go wide and it heeds Varos’ warning to stay quiet.
“It is a little scrawny, yeah.” Aiden mutters, not letting go of the spear.
“I am not!” It hisses. Possibly female. High voice, whatever the case.
Aiden snorts and the creature finally lets go of the spear, giving up on getting it back.
“You should not despoil the graves of the restless dead. Turn back before your greed leads to disaster.”
She, if it is a she, is clearly reciting something. And has made a few assumptions.
Eyes or no, that’s definitely a pointed look that Varos returns to Slaine’s frown, but he supposes now isn’t the time to press the matter. So long as that crown’s behaving.
“Oh, we’re not graverobbers,” he assures fingers splayed as he brings his hands up in reassurance. “Actually, we’re just seeking some materials so we can be out of everyone’s…scales.” He pauses for a moment, checking to see if anyone’s wandering within his range that might be trouble.
Is it the Crown that Varos should be worried about? Or is it something else that’s happened? When he ‘looks’ at Slaine, the sense of ‘other’ is still there very very faintly.
“Peace…” Slaine murmurs to the Saurian as it squeals. “We apologise for trespassin’ on ye’re holy ground. We don’ intend to despoil the graves of ye’re dead, as my friend says. I just need to take some metal from the ground to make some repairs. From just over there, in fact. If ye give us a moment, we’ll be out of ye’re … ” Varos gets a smirk “… scales.”
“Shall I continue, Vargr?”
“Yeah. Get the metal. I don’t want to hang around here for too long.” Aiden isn’t giving the spear back. At least not until they’re on their way out. The Saurian sort of stares at them mouth agape. Not… grave robbers? That’s not in the script.
Aiden’s nervousness is well founded. There are at least two other small groups of people in close-ish proximity. Definitely close enough to hear if something gets loud. These do not look like… tourists. Not given how heavily armed they are.
“Better hurry,” Varos suggests, standing with his back to the wall, trusting Aiden to keep an eye out on their immediate shared space while he focuses on just beyond them.
“It’s clear now, but there’s a fair number that we’d be better off not drawing the attention of. If you can work quietly, all the better.”
And quick, but that probably goes without saying. He’ll wait for Slaine to make her move before turning towards the wall’s edge. If they end up on the defensive, he’ll be ready.
Slaine just nods and starts to mutter, the gem in the Crown winking brightly as she casts her spell. The earth rumbles and heaves and eventually opens as she ‘shovels’ earth from it, forming mounds to the side of the hole. “There … ” she finally says and concentrates again, forcing the earth beneath the metal she’s found up …
It’s not easy and it’s not particularly quiet. It might also take some time to achieve. But eventually, the two others can see what she’s found and help her take it.
The metal comes up in… chunks. It’s not raw metal. It’s been worked. It’s girders and gears and pipe and a number of other things. Machinery of all kinds. A lot of the metal that Slaine’s pulling up is also corroded but… there is some of it that looks fairly pristine. Using her powers, back at the ship, they should be able to fashion the parts they need.
And they haven’t been ambushed yet, though they really do need to leave now.
Which makes it perhaps distressing when the Saurian falls to her knees and… the old world word would be ‘kow-tows’ but… either way, it’s clearly a posture of reverence directed at Varos and Slaine.
Okay, not exactly quiet, but Varos didn’t really expect digging up the earth to be so silent. He leaves Slaine to do her work, watching her progress in between as he keeps his figurative eyes on the groups of Saurians.
“Oh, wow . That…should do, yes?” he asks, head turning towards Aiden and Slaine….and then he sees their new Saurian friend drop down. “Uh…” Okay, this is awkward. But at least she’s not going to stop them this way. “Yeeeah. Time to go.”
They still need to sift through the dirt to find the chunks of metal, but find it they do and Slaine stuffs the bits in her backpack. “Come on then, let’s go ….” the small redhead says to the others as she turns to face them, eyes going wide at the Saurian.
“No’ now… ” she sighs and gestures to the other two. If the lizard woman is going to do this, she’ll use it to their advantage. “We’re goin’ now. Delay anyone that migh’ try to follow us bu’ don’ get yerself hurt tryin’, ok?” Hopefully Aiden and Varos are already moving, she might have to jog to catch up but they should get away … well, not clean. That was a dirt she just played with.
Aiden is indeed already moving. The Saurian bows once more. “Yes, Eyvea of the Green Earth. Bring yourself and your husband-who-sees-all to safety.”
She means Varos.
Aiden snorts. This’ll be entertaining. Later. For now they need to leave, and leave they shall. It’s going to be a trick to get home in one piece still…
Their ship's ley engine in need of repair, Aiden, Slaine and Varos head further into the city ruins to see if they can salvage any metal without running into any more trouble.
August 05, 2411
Ruins of Atlanta, GA