Hunter is standing in the ruins of what was before the rifts a small town. He doesn’t know its name. Few people remember the names of the little communities that lined Virginia’s many roads before the fall. Its not even possible to tell how many people lived here. The only things left are some tumbled down old walls, foundations and whats left of a few roads.
Sad to thank thats all thats left of generations of lives and memories.
He isnt here to reminisce though. At the moment he is workingna couple of knobs on his scanner, trying to localize a signal that had been coming from here. Its faint enough that getting a more precise location is problematic.
There’s a sound of wings and the soft scuff of booted feet as they hit the ground somewhere just in front of Hunter. “Hunter … I didn’t expect to see you see out here…”
Ardul has been gone for a day, maybe two. Not that anyone would have really noticed. The work she undertakes often takes her from ‘home’. Home in Sarens Rest now. What Hunter might notice is the condition she’s in – armour scuffed and scratched, and face (what can be seen through the helmet) rather dirty. Even her wings look slightly beaten.The wolfen looks up at the sound of wings, watching Ardul circle before she lands. He looks as surprised as she is. Which is for a good reason. He’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere right now, between the mountains and the border of the Republc.
“I could say the same. What are you doing here? You look like you’ve been in a fight.”
Or been crawling through the mud, which sometimes goes with some kinds of fight.
“You could…” Ardul answers, shaking her wings before furling them to sit on her back. “I’ve been in the bowels of the earth, or so it seems, finding our way out. Seems some miners in a settlement inadvertantly invaded some underearth colony. Long story short, I was questioning one of them when the floor to the mine we were in, gave out. Ended up deep in the earth with that strange man, Clancy Drover. You remember him? From down in Clearwater?” Looking down at her armour she sighs “It wasn’t easy and the story is probably best recounted over an ale.”
Looking at the device in his hand, she cants her head “Did you find another signal?”“We also met him in Vanished Point. And I try not to remember him. He’s… strange.” And for a robot piloting wolfen to be saying that, he must be very strange indeed.
“For some definitions of find, yes. There’s a signal in this area. I’m just trying to figure out where it’s coming from.” Signal gain knob back… then forward… then back a bit more… then forward a bit more.
“Something’s interfering in it. What on earth were you doing in a m- no nevermind. Later.”
“Oh yes, that’s right…” Ardul had tried to forget as well. “He’s … strange. That’s a good way to put it. But he’s not bad in a pinch. Undisciplined though.” And that might speak volumes for the winged woman.
Watching as Hunter adjusts the gain knob, Ardul frowns and looks around the ruins. “Interfering with it? Like a jammer? Could be shielded buildings in this mess, I suppose. Although I would have thought most of those materials would have been looted.” Still she hasn’t forgotten the other facility they investigated. “Shall we poke around? Might find a bunker like the last time.”“No, not a jammer. It’s hitting something that’s making the signal scatter and bounce around so I’m getting a lot of ghosts. Means there’s something with a lot of metal in it somewhere nearby…” The wolfen adjusts the controls on the scanner and then smacks the side of it. After a moment, it starts beeping.
“That’s better. Mmmm. This way.” He starts to walk, keeping one eye on that screen. “So where you just headed back to Vesper or were you in this forsaken patch of nowhere for some other reason?”
Ardul winces as Hunter smacks the meter and sighs “Percussive maintenance isn’t really the answer, you know. If you like, when we get back to civilisation, I can take a look at it, see if there’s anything loose that needs repairing.” Too much of that kind of treatment and the device could well break permanently.
Turning in the direction the meter indicates, the blonde falls in beside the Wolfen. “Headed back, to Sarens Rest preferably. I’ve a place there and I feel like I could sleep for a week. I //was// out in this forsaken patch of nowhere… or somewhere like it, following a rumour about those winged Cyborgs. My journey took me a little further than I expected.” There’s a wry humour there. “Anyway, the way out of those tunnels brought me out not too far from here. Or at least, not for me and my wings.”
Looking for something with a lot of metal in it shouldn’t be too difficult, right? But the area really is overgrown, vegetation everywhere … making it hard to discern some of the manmade structures.Three hundred plus years of wilderness reclamation will do a number on anything and it’s not like the only possible structures here are the ones that humans made in the golden age. Three hundred years is after all a long time.
“Works well enough for now. If you have a workshop you can look at it when we get back… if you can figure out what to do with it.” Hunter is well familiar with ancient Wolfen technology and while it functions on the same principles as everything else, the specifics are different. And fairly advanced.
“Are you hurt?” He’s slowed now, sweeping the scanner from side to side as if looking for something. “Your wings looked a bit beat up.”
“We did alright with that other device you found. But I’ve some workshop space that I can get access to.” the blonde picks her way through the ruins, sometimes pausing to move vines and brush out of the way. When Hunter slows, Ardul does too and she looks over to the scanner and then back to him.
“A bit. I had to catch the mining foreman as we fell and … I landed on my wings. Then the journey out took it’s toll. Couldn’t go the way we got in.” Finally looking at the wolfen, she smiles. “I’m sure it’s nothing more than bruises though.”
She pauses, squinting at Hunter for a moment and then sighing “Clancy did say there might be side effects to his translation concoction… I’m still hearing in you colour.” That’s just weird.
“Which way does your meter say?”
“The signal is ghosting again. Not sure.” The scanner is showing blips that fade in and out inconstantly. It’s hard to get a fix on anything. At length Hunter starts moving again, but more slowly.
“This general direction. Keep your eyes peeled for something metal. Anyway you’re doing what now?”
“Mmmmm.” Ardul murmurs watching the meter and its readings. “The D’kali use colour to communicate. In order to speak to them, Clancy created this … powder and when we used it, everything became that much more vivid and we could ‘see’ the Second-Scouts communicating.” She shakes her head, picking her way through the ruins, physically moving vines and overgrowth where she can. “When I look at you, your fur has a red and orange hue … at least sometimes. So I’m ‘seeing’ you speak. He said the effects should fade in a day or so. When it happened, I thought he’d used some hallucigen.”
She glances over to Hunter and gives slight shrug.
“You left in hurry when you heard the transmission from the last device we recovered. Looked like you knew something about it?” It //is// a question.“My fur is grey.” Hunter says unhelpfully. “And no I don’t, but it had just switched on. It hadn’t been there the previous day. Which makes it unusual. I’ve never been close enough to find something when it’s just switched on. One of the things I haven’t figured out yet is what keeps //switching// them on.”
Clearly something is but it’s not something they’re designed to do so far as he knows so how and why is something of a mystery.
A mystery that occasionally gets people killed.
The scanner starts beeping louder. And more teal. Which is surely annoying because it’s doing it a lot.
“I wonder how buried the- oooh.” He comes to an area that had been concealed by bushes. Just on the other side of it is a fifty foot wide, ten foot deep trench quite clearly dug by something hitting the earth at great speed. That something is about five hundred yards away, a partly overgrown blackish metal structure the size of a small house.
“Well, that answers that.”
“Not today it’s not…” Ardul retorts. For all that she’s obviously been through, she seems in good spirits. “Today your fur is red and orange. I could tell the mine foreman was lying by the way his skin changed colour when he spoke…”
The colour from the scanner as it continues beeping gets the tall blondes attention again. “I’m thankful it’s wearing off though, that’s rather irritating … at least it’s not happening all the time.”
As they make the bushes, the Winged Warrior pushes her way through, only to stop and shake her head “Not very deep, I’d say … is it a escape or supplies pod?” she asks, slowly making her way towards it. Carefully.“Hard to say. Could just be part of something. It’s been here for three hundred years, so…” Five hundred yards is not a short distance, but at least the track is relatively clear if filled with standing water in places. Frozen standing water since it’s the middle of winter.
“It’s probably been there for three hundred years… may be a good find though… if the internal systems are still working…”
“This track is in good condition, given that timeframe…” Ardul makes her way, wings extended to add to her balance. It wouldn’t do to slip on the ice, if she can’t go round it.
She could fly over it, and get there quicker, but that would leave Hunter behind. “Well it looks intact and that signals just been activated, hopefully we’re in time to find out why.”
It’s not a short distance and it takes some time to make the structure but when she does, the winged woman walks around the part that she can, looking for entrance or signs that someone or might have been there recently.
“It is, isn’t it.” When they finally reach the hunk of metal it turns out to be rather angular. Poined on one end. There’s what might have at one point a canopy though how one would have seen through it is unclear…
Hunter seems to know the design. He places a pry bar on it straight away and pops a panel off to go rooting around in it’s innards. “Ardul, see if the canopy will open…”
The wolfen gets a curious look from the winged warrior. He does seem familiar with the design. “Have you seen this type of thing before?” she asks as she takes the pry bar once Hunter finishes with it and makes her way round to where the canopy should be, inspecting the structure for latches and hinges, of sorts.
It takes a bit of prodding and prying, the cover is stuck. Good thing Ardul is strong and she uses the pry with good effect something starts to give. “I think I’ve got it…”“Yes.” That is //clearly// not the whole story there. Hunter is far too familiar with this design for it to only be something he’s seen before. “There should be a flight computer in the control area if you can get into it. Take this…”
He tosses her a boxy device with a cord attached. A hard line into a data port… if she can get into the cockpit that is.
“Just … yes…” Ardul shakes her head as she gets the cover off, laying against the structure. She’ll try to refit it before they leave. Taking the box she peers inside, folding her wings flat against her back before stepping inside.
The control area isn’t too far, but it becomes a bit tight – her wings don’t make it easy, but she’s used to negotiating tight spaces. It just takes her a moment. “I’m in … ” she calls back.
Locating the computer, she inspects it and plugs the cord into the data port, watching the colours as sounds start to emit from it. “Connecting, are you getting this?”“Just download it and bring it back.” Hunter calls back. “I want to look at the flight logs…”
The beeping from his scanner shuts off as he finds the beacon in the wing structure and shuts it off. And then pulls it out. For a three hundred year old piece of electronics from a crashed vehicle it’s in remarkably good shape… but then these things were designed to withstand impacts. Fortunately this place seems pretty empty. So there’s no chance of trouble here.
Unlike last time.
“Alright…” Ardul answers, eyes scanning the cockpit as she waits for the download, thankful when the scanner falls silent. She’s noted the condition the electronics and other parts of the ship is in and there’s something that’s nagging at her. She just can’t quite put her finger on it.
When the download completes, the blonde unplugs the device and takes it, following her steps back out of the ship. “It’s in amazing condition given the age it should be …” she says, eyes sweeping the track they just came down “Are you //sure// it’s been //here// three hundred years?” He did say that, last time, didn’t he?“Well it didnt get here recently but no not sure of that…” Hunter has closed up the hatch and is picking over the beacon when the winged woman returns. He holds out his hand for the interface device. How does he have so many things that work with this tech?
“Lets see… flight data. Crash data. Communication logs… oh. Now isnt this interesting… someone reprogrammed this thing. Judging by the date logs someone did that… about a hundred years ago…”
“Not recently, no… but it doesn’t feel like three hundred years. Look at the rest of this place and how overgrown it is…” she says, handing the device over. She’s assumed that he’s got the tech along the way, or it was in his family or something. One day, that assumption will come out. While he starts his review, she refits the canopy and seals it as best she can.
“One hundred years ago?” that gets her attention and she looks over, well not his shoulder – he’s too tall for that, at the logs. She might not be able to read them though “Is there any other information that might give some clues? Co-ordinates, who did it? Not that the who will be overly useful on it’s own.”“Mmmmm. No.” Hunter is scrolling through data on the screen. “It was done remotely, somehow. These are network connection IDs here. The thing is, there shouldnt be any network to connect to. Someone accessed this thing, though. Went through the data files and set some programmatic triggers. I’m not a code expert… but it looks like there are other network connections going up to… about six years ago. The only other activity is from last week. Something interfaced with the computer breifly and whatever happened must have triggered the distress beacon…”
The wolfen is frowning. None of that makes sense.
Ardul considers what Hunter’s told her. “A network connection might not be required, exactly. There could be some embedded way for a direct wireless type connection. I know our technologists would have something to allow remote maintenance.” Distance would be issue though.
Her frown matches Hunters though “That they could do it isn’t the only question though, is it? The question is who… ” Does that mean someone like Hunter with even more access to the tech is around, or is it something else “and what did they do to trigger the beacon…” As before there’s more questions than answers and Ardul doesn’t know enough about Hunters people.
Hunter pockets his devices.p
Hunter pockets his devices.p
Hunter pockets his devices and stands up. “Dont know and dont know. But I know who to ask… its just that Id hoped not to. Come on. Lets head back to the city… and hope the head of intelligence services for Vesper has forgiven me for trying to kill her…”