Buck nods. "I ain't orderin' no dessert from this thing, so I'd say I'm done."
As the two begin to head back, Buck puts the bag of chips under his arm and cracks open the beer, taking a good mouthful. It's a tall can, and while not the best he's ever had, it certainly beats drinking out of beakers in the research lab back on the Nemesis. Doesn't beat the Arachrine ale, though. "Rebirth," he muses. "That's the squids from the planet below, right? The ones tryin' to pretend they're just honest folk, scrapin' by?"
The fysar makes a hissing sound. "Kap'shik
squids think we can 'make peace' with United Galactic and the rest of the human merva
. Claim they want to 'go back to their roots' or some shit. They talk pretty, but you ask me, they want power. They think getting UG on their side'll get 'em that power."
Buck chuckles. "Sounds 'bout right. The ones that try an' place the most nice an' innocent have the most shit they're tryin' to hide."
"Every time," the fysar agrees.
"There was this one feller I knew - ran a charity, gave medical supplies to hospitals for free," Buck says, taking another sip. "Everyone called him a hero an' good citizen of the community. I remember that smug bastard, givin' rousin' speeches 'bout the power o' good an' charity an' all." He chuckles again. "What most folks didn't know is that it was all just a ploy. Used those supplies to smuggle in smack - hell, I think it might have been Black Flake, too. Used some kind o' weird mix o' chemicals, n' dissolved the stuff in it. Nobody at customs suspected anythin', n' once the stuff reached the planet, they'd do some fancy science crap to evaporate it, n' voila - the stuff's there, n' one one's the wiser. It was actually pretty smart - until some idiot mixed the crates up, n' the product ended up bein' given to actual hospitals. As you think, that ended that gig."
"Can't trust nobody that calls themselves an altruist," the bug mutters.
Buck agrees. "I swear, after meetin' all the people I did, I trust an honest thief much more than some fancy speakin' do-gooder any day o' the week."
"Same. But we're back," Buck's new "friend" says, pointing a spindly arm towards the doorway. "After you."
Beta follows the bhezian, "Ses", and gives him their names - or, rather, gives him their aliases. Although they are directly unaware, it's an exceedingly good thing that they thought up those aliases: Ses actually knew the names "Saoirse", "Caleb", and especially the notorious "Frank the Janitor", alleged to have massacred entire stations doing what he apparently calls "taking out the trash". Granted, Ses is some ways down the grapevine, but still, word travels fast.
Fully unaware of their true identities, Ses leads the group back behind one of the fallen statues, where the inmates discover a tunnel, bored at an angle directly past the pretty tiled plates of the roundabout sidewalk. Apparently there are holes like this all over the courtyard; it would be an excellent spot to ambush someone. Beta is fairly pleased to not have been on the receiving end of such an ambush - not that such an ambush is likely. You'd have to be pretty stupid to let yourself get caught in an ambush like that, after all.
Beneath the courtyard, a maze of tunnels stretches through the rock - down, down, down. The walls are marked at intervals with gang symbols and red spray-painted arrows, all pointing back the way they came. Ses doesn't seem to be paying much attention to these; he seems to know the tunnels by heart, and leads the inmates through, one corridor at a time, until eventually the tunnel breaks into the side of a building - or a basement, perhaps, given how deep they are. And it's certainly pretty deep in the asteroid, although the inmates are uncertain by this point exactly how far they've come, thanks to the winding paths.
Following along behind Ses, the group walks through one more hallway and turns the corner, and finally Ses seems to have reached his destination. It's a fairly small room, perhaps only 8 meters across or so, and contains a couple tables and a number of crates.
The inmates notices that one of the crates, atop a table, is open; it appears to be filled with dusty soot-colored flakes of something that looks vaguely like flat gravel, but glossy and black. A fysar is standing beside the crate, giggling as he struggles to tip the heavy box onto its side, perhaps hoping to spill the contents onto the table. But Ses rebukes him sharply. "Hey, stop that! Ikova!
What are you trying to do? You'll get the dust everywhere in here! Ishana bira kronor hikri!
We would all be kthite
The fysar stops, but giggles again, mumbling something about how that might not be such a bad thing.
Ses laughs, not seeming to disagree, but indicates that the boss might not see things the same way they do. Then he turns to the "FMU mercenaries", looking them over. "All right, I'll need any weapons you have before I send you in. You can put them on that other table over in the back corner, and -" Then he stops short; a slight mechanical whirring sound emanates from within the crate Cole carries. Ses's interest seems to be piqued even further by this; he tilts his head to the side and examines it intently. "So that's not
drugs... what's in the crate, then?"
Vynkor raises herself onto one elbow. "Hey, that worked pretty well. Need any help?"
Struggling with her quarry as he whips its tentacles about, Marina shakes her head as a malicious grin traces a path across her face. "No, I got this."
Marina wraps her legs around Irado's body, forcing herself past his flailing arms to keep a tight hold on his throat. He reaches for the pistol at his waist and tries to fire; Marina lets go with one of her hands and keeps his arm held away from her; the plasma shots leave a few scorch marks on the walls and ceiling before Marina manages to shake the weapon from the squid's grip - by twisting Irado's arm so that he shoots himself in the side. He tries to shout in pain, but it comes out as a hoarse, strangled whisper.
Vynkor eyes the weapon as it clatters to the floor, skittering to the corner. "Dibs on the plasma."
It takes a couple minutes, but gradually, Irado succumbs to Marina's superior strength; his body falls limp in her arms.
"He's dead," Marina confirms, dropping the gangster to the ground and checking the welts on her sides and back.
Vynkor and Sukava, together, loot the body, and come up with a nice little list of things he's carrying around:
- A plasma pistol, good for setting things on fire, maybe
- A cheap medpacket containing a splint, bandages, and... tape
- A bundle of four capped syringes containing an unknown fluid
- A ring of keycards; there are five cards on the ring
- A ballistic assault rifle, seemingly less advanced than one of REKT's
- A hiltorel combat vest (light armor) - tight, with four arm-holes and a notch at the back of the neck for neck-tentacles
- A single alien grenade of unknown type
- A combat knife, slightly dulled with the tip broken off of it
- A single silvery packet of the horrible foul-smelling orange anti-pain goo
- A standard commbox - walkie talkies of the future, without encoding
- A utility belt, hiltorel-sized
- A pouch containing 73 creds
- A very small clear plastic baggie that contains strips of something that smell vaguely like dried fish
Before they even get started, Vynkor retrieves for herself:
- The keyring (now with 9% more key!)
- The plasma pistol (a favorite with kids everywhere!)
- The medpack with the t a p e
- The mystery syringes (exciting!)
- The delicious medi-goo (external use only!)
While Sukava retrives:
- The combat knife, which, as it turns out, does not cut shackles
It takes Vynkor a bit to find the correct keycard, but she eventually manages to unlock the shackles on both herself and Marina. It's pretty simple: you simply hold the correct card (and only the correct card) against the shackle for a few seconds, you hear a few rapid beeps, and then the shackles unlock. Vynkor and Sukava are now unshackled.
Next, Vynkor applies the splint, bandages, and tape to her arm (her teeth help with this endeavor). She is completely successful, but ends up using all of the tape trying to get it to hold. It does hold, though, and decently enough for the time being. (And she thought Tartarus tech was cheap!)
ALPHA, AGAIN, EXCEPT THIS TIME JUST BROM, WHO ACCORDING TO HIMSELF IS AT LEAST 90% OF ALPHA ANYWAY, BUT LOOK WHO'S COUNTING
While, unbeknownst to him, the rest of the platoon is off drinking booze, seeing the sights, and looting corpses (really, honestly, just having a grand old time), Brom uses the computer to search for information on Opalius, within the Aphenar system.
Opalius is, supposedly, a "garden planet", but only by the most technical definitions. The surface gravity is an insane 1.82Gs - a bit uncomfortable even for humans - and the average surface temperature is a scorching 133 F (55 C), with a peak recorded temperature of a mindblowing 214 F (101 C). That's... a bit wild. Yeah, the azquad are notably acclimated to both high gravity and hot temperatures, so it kind of makes sense for them, but honestly, that's kind of pushing it. A planet hot enough to boil rain? That's pretty insane. Certainly explains why most of the lakes are near the poles.
The known flora are various bug species, and a race of semi-intelligent aliens that azquads have called skizza
, which seem to be what are attacking their colony, which is located nestled in a high-altitude mountain range. The skizzas themselves seem to be formidable foes that adapted to the planet's harsh environment - and a harsh tribal (and cannibalistic) existence. Food is clearly scarce, and they seem to largely feed on... well, each other, as well as "plants" that happen to grow near lava vents, that are, again, plants "only by the most technical definition". Opalius seems to have a knack for coming up with things that require you to append that phrase to things. Ballistic weaponry and melee combat seems to be the best bet for fighting skizzas, although plasma seems to work as well. Lasers seem to be mostly ineffective.
As to the colony itself, there is relatively little info. Brom can find the population count (roughly 3000), and the date of its founding (3139, 13 years ago), but that's about it. They must be making money somehow, but that info isn't available.