[Episode One] Sanctum


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ISS Downrider
Loinia (Planet 102-303)

It had been a number of weeks since the ISS Downrider had launched off on its ""maiden"" voyage. In that span, the crew had to acclimate to new, possibly cramped living conditions aboard the small ship. There was much mingling between the crew members, over meals and about any time in between. It could be a little hard to get away from it all when the farthest you can go is the next room or so. There was a brief moment of relief when the ship stopped to meet a supplier in town, one who Dahlia had previous work with. But as quick as it came, they were off again. In the meantime, the more tech savvy members of the crew had time to make minor improvements with the resources they had.

Now, the ship had finally reached its first destination: the backwater planet housing the strange building photographed by one of their captain's drones. It was located in a sparsely-inhabited system far north on the galactic map than planet Ayenee, and orbited around a quite large and vibrant star. While the planet was on the map, it sat on the very fringe of unknown possibilities. It's unusual radiation and dense vegetation made the small planet, Loinia, rather undesirable as real estate among even far-flung colonists. The landing on said planet was a little rough, in part due to the ship's out of date systems, and the less-than-apt overcast weather surrounding the landing area. It didn't take too long to find a clearing close to the investigation site and in the end, the small pilot managed to pull through with minimal issue. The compact ship descended upon the open clearing, its large engines blowing the grass flat around it as it landed. There was a small crunch as the ship's engines subsided, most likely some strain to the aged landing gear, but it was successful nonetheless.

Dahlia was the first out of the bridge, followed soon by Arbitrated, who kept the ships engines running for a few minutes. Whether it was intentional or just irresponsibility was up for debate. The captain turned the corner, activating the intercom on the control panel in the wardroom. "Alright crew, we have landed! According to atmosphere scans we are good to go without a suit. The radiation in the area is a little higher than usual, but I'd say it may be because of this system's star.. If you've ever been in a tanning booth, you've probably been in worse... The cargo bay door will be opened in five!"

With that notice out of the way, Dahlia departed to the cargo bay, with a bundle of papers in her folded arms. She took a mental note to check out that crunching sound when she had a chance, provided one of the many proclaimed engineers aboard didn't get to it first.


Cargo Bay

When she arrived in the cargo bay, Dahlia started counting heads of anyone already present. She was dressed in a rugged khaki vest and matching cargo pants that sat over a blue T-shirt The captain gave the others a minute to get themselves into the bay before beginning "Alright everybody!" The captain made her way to the back end of the bay, looking around the room briefly as she spoke. "Let's get situated with the landing area for a moment before we brief. Miss Shan got us in a spot as close to the site as possible, but it'll be a downhill walk. Bring what you need for a camp!" It seemed even the scholar was about as excited to get out of the ship as everyone else was.

With that, she flipped up the hard plastic cover protecting the door release lever, giving it a satisfying yank downwards. The rear door opened with a gradual hiss, the textured metal ramp extending down to the grassy floor with a groan. Soft natural light filled the cargo bay, washing out the white light provided by the cheap tube lighting that ran across the ceiling.

Outside the cramped ship laid more than a breath of fresh air. The ship had settled in the middle of a small clearing surrounded by forest and populated by tall grass and richly colored ferns. At least, it was tall: the exhaust blow-back from the ship landing had cleared up the place quite nicely for the group. The wind was steady but modest, which disguised the sound of water trickling down a stream not far off. The rather large local star sat at a morning position a ways above the horizon, its bright light strong enough to break through the gray layer of overcast clouds that filled the rest of the sky.

In one direction, the forest continued upwards as it thinned out into a balding mountain ridge which stood tall among the rest of the area. In the other direction, the canopy thickened as the forest poured out into a valley. Then again, they couldn't see too far from here to tell where it ended. The trees here we're large, and had strangely dark red bark, almost the color of blood. Their leaves came in all sorts of green shades, which all blended together to form a textured canopy. A careful ear could hear the sound of birds chirping in the distance, which broke the monotony of the wind rustling through the forest.


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Marie decided to step out of the cargo bay, after applying a brief UV-deflecting magnetic field around her body. Even though Dahlia said it was safe, Marie was still quite pale. Harsher radiation could end up giving her horrible sunburn.

Over the weeks she and the engineers had managed to make minor optimizations here and there to the ship, salvaging up enough for their more extensive projects. Due to this, she had plenty of time to practice using her Sage ability, from seeing where inefficiencies were to making sure whatever Juryrig's alchemical behemoth that was now sitting in the engine room actually worked properly.

Thankfully, it did. After numerous revisions by her to make sure it didn't blow up.


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Oliver followed the engineer whistling at the sight outside of the ship as he stepped down onto the surface and drew his coat tighter around his body to block the breeze, but not before retrieving his ever present flask and taking a small sip, "Just enough to tolerate whatever may happen." he told himself replacing it within the pocket it came from. In the time since meeting at the inn and joining the crew he had rarely left the kitchen while on board but had scurried away during their brief stop for his own reasons and had returned before they left, in truth he'd been doing nothing more than escaping the crew for a while and meeting an old business partner to secure some funds he was owed.

"What a fine morning, all jokes aside being able to move off the ship is a welcome relief, now for some breakfast." The tall man reached into another pocket and retrieved his on-the-go container which was currently stocked with boiled eggs and several cooked sausages that he began to thoughtfully munch on as he moved out into the clearing and poked around some of the closer ferns. Oliver didn't have much knowledge in the way of advanced sciences as he stuck to using the edible version of biology for his main passtime and knew that physics is why things work as they do, so inspecting the plants all he was able to thing was, "Wow, those are some interesting colours."

Moving back to the ship to wait for the others and get some insight into their current objective from the captain, along with retrieving his swag for outdoor camping considering food wasn't an issue. "Guess there's no real point hiding it anymore, and what better use than a camping trip." he said to himself as he walked before reaching the cargo ramp, "Hey, Marie was it? You seem like one of the more sane engineers on board, I didn't get into the engine-room much as I absolutely should have , how does it look down there, nothing exploded yet?"


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Being on the ship was a absolute bore for Juryrig, the Master Alchemical Engineer! This and that with all these safety regulations, and insistence on having nothing blown up on board. Juryrig actually had to oblige to Dahlia and Marie during the whole thing, whether it is the beautiful dual-core alchemical fullback fusion reactor that he had installed, the potions he made in preparation for this excursion, and more.

So, to pass the time, he introduced to his crewmates his inventions, however only through a handful of pranks here and there. The one with the turret spewing lard was probably the best one Juryrig thought of.

Toting the heavy haversack on his back, the madman rode on his Alchemical Horse around the small clearing, happier than a clam. "FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST! Breathe in that fresh, fresh air, ladies and gentlemen!" Juryrig leaped off of his Horse, leaving the sack on top of it.

"Ah! I thought that trip would just never end; it was getting boring after a few days! I, for one, am absolutely happy that we get a change of scenery around here." The Munch-Munch Sentry peaked its head out of the Haversack, snapping its jaws happily to the tune of the madman's euphoria; it couldn't agree more with its creator.
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The armour clad mercenary clunked down and out of the ship, his pelican case was slung over his back and more bags were strapped to that. His sword clanged around at his waist and his rifle was held close to his chest.

Most of the time he had been on the ship, Finn had remained in his suit, whether he was knee deep in grease and mechanical components, or sleeping, this meant that nobody (that he knew of) had seen his full face at any one time, which was what he had intended.

It wasn't so much that he didn't want people to know his identity, because he was an open book for the most part, it was more that he didn't feel the need to reveal his face, as if it'd change their perception of him or something, he was probably a little paranoid but ehh, he liked the suit, it had every utility he needed and it was sooo dang comfy.


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Reman leaves the hold of the ship, taking in a deep breath of the planet's atmosphere as soon as the doors open. The incomplete cloaking device remained on the ship, functional but not to his overly elevated standards yet. He took a look around at his surroundings, looking at the large, semi-welcoming forest around the ship.

His key was still in his hand, as if he was bound by a curse. In his mind, he knew if he didn't have this strange object, he would be as good as dead within this vast solar system.

Relaxing a little bit after leaving the bay, Reman asks; "What's next then? I doubt that we would just sit here and observe the ruins, so what's on the agenda?"
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“The engineers are doing fine.” she told Oliver, as she carried a small load of stuff out, a big hiking bag on her shoulders. “Though, looking at Juryrig, I feel like I need one of those magical extradimensional sacks. Guess I’ll buy that using my next paycheck along with a scrap metal salvaging forge.”


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Grey, over the few weeks, had appeared drastically different every day. Young, old, brown hair, bleached blonde, you name it and it had happened at some point, but not neccesarily in the same combination. It seemed to happen with no discernable pattern, even appearing as female a few times. Currently, he appeared as if he was a suave character- one you might see in a show rather than in real life, with short chestnut hair, and a matching full beard with a very stylish handlebar mustache. He chose to cover his nose and mouth with a mask as a precaution for galavanting about the planet's surface. The radiation wasn't especially dangerous, but it was always easier to give yourself a good scrub to get rid of it on the outside. Other than that, it seemed to be his normal gear, being his backpack of mystery and a white jacket with blue jeans.

Throughout the journey Grey mostly assisted in programming related shennanigans, ensuring minor improvements didn't have fatal errors that would cuase feedback loops or feed the power to the wrong section of the ship through simple misplaced intigers. Other than that a majority of the spare time was spent investigating applications for the robot's ability to freely manipulate other objects using only magnetic fields.

"Hmm. How many days do we want to bet that we go without an accedent. I will go with a safe... half of one day." He said as he noted the much more entheusiastic member of the 'engineer ngeek squad' take off. In the backpack he carried, was again the all important secret item it protected, as well as a single stasis bomb, battery, and data pad. As well as a pair of connected radio transmitters to mark important locations. Food too. IT was better protected against radiation than he was at the moment.

"Maybe its time I make myself an environmental hazard suit..."
For Lilli, the journey from home to Loinia had been filled with arcane study, minor medical procedures, and a few adventures. The better parts of her days were spent with her head in an electronic tablet, studying magical theory and techniques. Quite contrary to popular beliefs, she did not utilize old and rusty tomes to study magic, most of the time. Those were back at the mage's college, locked away within an expansive and exclusive library that only students and teachers were permitted access to. Lilli had authorization to check one of the tomes out, but there were strict guidelines on their storage and the duration of time that they could be kept before renewal, and she was not going to be able to adhere to them on a cramped starship full of experimenting engineers.

Before stepping outside, Lilli casted a minor ward, just enough to protect herself from the heightened levels of radiation on the planet. Her backpack was full of supplies that she needed for a camp and to execute any major medical procedures, if need be. She had also packed a change of clothes, her electronic tablet, and some easy to preserve food, as well.

When it was finally time to step out, Lilli took in the environment that the Downrider had settled into. Tall grasses and ferns filled the clearing, almost as tall as Lilli herself was. A forest surrounded the clearing, and the sounds of water indicated that there was a stream nearby as well. She had a water purifier in her backpack, but she wondered if the heightened radiation levels on the planet contaminated the water supply to the extent where it was unsafe to drink. For now though, she had a canteen full of water from the Downrider.

After taking in her surroundings, Lilli walked down the metal ramp, and into the tall grasses below. As she walked, she brushed particularly tall stalks of grass away with her hands, but it did not take long for her to grow weary of the activity.

She dearly hoped that they were going into the forest, rather than the valley.


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Deimos knew one thing after that initial trip: He could never eat pumpkin pie again. At least whenever Oliver cooked, it would be dulled for awhile. The air puffing through the opened door was enough to send shivers down his spine. With his duffel bag slung over his shoulder, he almost sprinted out of the hatch, dragging the autumn dessert scent behind him in a puff only for it to disperse among the air crisp with the scents of flora.


For the first couple of weeks, Deimos was easily the most irritable member of the crew, closing himself off like a hermit crab in a fighting conch shell. Anyone who tried to approach was met with a sharp gaze before he withdrew from the pursuer - often into his quarters - the corner of it he could call his own.

Was it childish? Maybe a little, but when you're surrounded by a carnival of quirks, what barriers you already have in place become like the calluses on a halfling's foot: thicker, tougher, and more leathery.

He counted the days til they would reach the next planet and dreaded emerging from his bedsheets for a meal or for the bathroom or just to figure out if Dahlia had come up with any new plans of action.

Truth be told, since he knew Dahlia from the get-go, he was the only one he really interacted with in a cordial manner.

But could one really blame the fox-boy? When people are asking constantly about why your arm sounds like a tin can being knocked with a spoon or being approached by some quack offering "upgrades" once you inform the questioner that there's nothing inside of the armor. It felt like not a single quiet moment was to be had.

It sure was a lot different from the apartment.

When the third week reared its ugly head and showed off its jagged-toothed grin, it came alongside a dream about a former partner of his. Halyard Evermoore, a large man with a track record for sailing the seas (He liked to joke that his father gave him his name solely to destine him for a job as a sailor). He had a beard like a tangle of Swamp moss and a smile of cracked teeth that gave away age despite his young, rugged body. It wasn't so much a dream as it was a memory. Around the two, his partners were curled in sleeping bags while the fox and the sailor kept watch over the fire in a forest clearing. Deimos had two arms then. "What's with yer scowlin' fluffball? Lighten up."

"Easy for you to say." Deimos had growled. "You just downed that entire flask in a single swig, just like the last four. You're so drunk if you so much as breathe on the fire, you'll set off an explosion."

"And wouldn't tha' be fun, laddy?"

"Maybe, but I won't be tossing my canteen on the sleeping bag you set on fire."

"That's yer problem. Yer always lookin' somber and actin' like someone outta one o' those summer blockbusters."

The fire crackled. He remembered smelling the smoke rising from it and billowing into the stars above. (He would eventually wake up to screaming about a small fire in the kitchen). The large man pointed a finger at the fox boy. "I know what ye need."

"A faster means of getting to the temple?"

Deimos was awestruck as the man hobbled drunkenly over to the log the half-anthro sat in and wrapped his arms around him in a tight hug, his hand like a slab of meat slapping him on the back.

Deimos didn't know what to do then. He never did afterwards.

That morning was the one where the crew saw Deimos smile for the first time since he had spoken to Dahlia on the day before boarding. Just like how he was the morning after Halyard's comforting.


Deimos practically flopped onto the earth with a face of glee. There was something to solid ground that walking within a spaceship just didn't have. the latter was like stepping on a hollow tile, but the settled hole under the tile was around your entire being, and you knew it good and well despite the hole not making so much of an echoing sound within that hole as it would around you.

But the dirt, especially when compact, always had that heaviness to it when you dug your foot in, even on this planet. That feeling that you can be sure what you're stepping on will remain underneath you, and not actually be above you or beside you or will give out at any moment due to under-maintenance over the past decade (century, maybe?).


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Miko had been on long trips before but this one just seemed to drag on forever. He kept to himself for the most part, working on understanding his fit with the team. The team had a huge mix of powers and abilities so would lend to in his mind very successful missions. He might also have the added bonus to recruit one or more to help him with his own mission.

"Ahhh, finally. Feels good being able to step out into an open field once again." Miko said as he walked down the ramp and into the open field. He had put on a mask designed to deal with high levels of radiation which this world seemed to be covered in. "Nothing like a walk on a world that is hot." He commented as he pointed to a gauge on his vest indicating the rad level. A few more steps and he was on open field at the bottom of the ship.

He looked around to take in the view which was pretty amazing. He also took note of the members currents present and what gear they had on. Over the years he had learned to also be prepared and know who is where and what tools they might have on hand.


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Oliver nodded to Marie as he headed back into the ship giving another curt nod to Demios as he passed him on the ramp before heading back to the kitchen to retrieve his own equipment, mainly his sleeping arrangements and his bag of cooking equipment before checking around the small space ensuring everything was as it should be. Leaving the ship once more he sat down just away from the ramp and opened his cooking travel kit, looking through it the only items it seemed to contain were various bottles of lighter fluid, a small stove, and an assortment of bowls and cooking utensils.

"So how many of you feel like bringing a crap ton of cooking supplies for me?" He asked the few people gathered outside smiling as he repacked his cooking kit and slung each bag over a shoulder, "Cause I don't know about you guys but there's a few of us and that means a fair bit of food each meal time, and I for one don't feel like carrying the whole pantry around with me." As he strolled out into the open air away from the ship once more he took out his own breakfast tin and continued where he left off.


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Juryrig twists his body, looking over to Oliver with a mad grin. People lifting supplies, with Juryrig around?

Why do something so needlessly exhausting?

"Us, carry those around? I'm sure there would be quite a few volunteers, Oliver, but we gotta save our strength, too! Carrying that much bag is NOT good for anyone's back, mister!" Juryrig said this as he proceeded to lift his comically oversized haversack, and hoist it on his shoulders. "Remember, I have somethin' just for that! Hey Horsie, to Oliver!"

The Alchemical Horse galloped to Oliver, hissing light puffs of steam, and fidgeting slightly; although it is known that all of Juryrig's inventions have sentience, and are emotive to a certain extent, the questionable quality of the six-legged table could just be slightly shaky out of haphazard design rather than excitement.

"Go on Oliver, put your load on the Horse! She could carry a mantacore by herself, she can handle a few utensils! Unless, of course, you want to carry all that yourself; I know I ain't helpin' you carry all that."


Cognis had been very busy during the weeks of travel, getting to know his crewmates. Of course, with Cognis, 'getting to know' someone generally involved constantly pestering them virtually every waking moment for several days straight until he moved on to someone else.

In the present day, the crew outside the ship heard a series of rapid thuds emanating from the doorway of the ship for several seconds before the android came hurtling from the door, firing the jump jets recessed in its body to go soaring over the heads of those standing close to the off-ramp.


Cog landed in a smooth slide, tearing up the turf at his landing zone before firing a burst from the jets again to catapult him to his feet. The movement seemed... slightly out of place. It looked more like a tactical insertion than an overjoyed child. The droid's right arm snapped down in a smooth movement to retrieve the sidearm that stayed permanently attached to its right thigh before suddenly halting and reversing direction as Cog spun around with both arms in the air and head thrown back, yelling "ILOVEITILOVEITILOVEITILOVEIT I LOVE IT! THIS PLACE IS AMAZING!"


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Finn cocked his head to peer over to the mechanised (and knowing Juryrig it was probably already weaponized in atleast five ways) table. It nearly looked as unsteady on it's six legs as a newborn foal did on four, and Finn didn't doubt that it could carry a lot, but with the way it was jittering around it looked as if it may fall over onto its side and have a hard time getting up.

"I could carry your shit if you want, I've already got my own stuff so we could spare your... table? for when we need it" he suggested to the two, not wanting to insult Jury but also wanting to make it clear that he really didn't mind carrying more stuff.

"is that okay?"


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Churchil lumbered alongside the group, suited up with his weapons ready to go on his harness. The Code of the Order stated that weapons were not to be drawn unless one intended to use them, so they remained in their holsters.

"What a fine day!" he proclaimed merrily, his voice slightly mechanized over his armor's external speakers. Over the past few weeks he'd been his usual, jovial self. He'd striven to get to know his new crewmates, for if they were to fight, they must fight as comrades rather than strangers. "It reminds me of the man-eating forests of Cambria IV! Hopefully we encounter an acid-spitting serpent as we did all those years ago! That would be exciting!"


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“That sounds horrible.” Marie countered, a deadpan expression on her face. She could deflect the radiation just fine with her current output. Just simply fine as could be, consuming around 25 Watts. Over the weeks she did increase her measured power output a little, up to 125 Watts.

She, however, did not have enough power output to deal with a...giant acid spitter. Ideally she’d like to survive a few fights here and there, and a method of surviving a fight does not include blasting it to bits with a handheld railgun. She needed a lot to do something like that — low to high current transformers, a proper railgun barrel, and suitable projectiles. Maybe if she was stronger she could simply use her hand and quickly alternate magnetic poles to launch metal, but she was not there yet in her Sage powers.

She’d have to make up all that lack of frontal firepower with trickery and her knowledge, she guessed. Maybe there were iron particles in the soil.


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"Besides, as nice as it would be to sink our fists into some indigen* hide, let's not lose focus as to our goal." Deimos pulled himself from the ground and eyed up a tree with a cocked eyebrow. The crimson stain of its bark intrigued him a tinge, and he reached his metal palm towards its surface to graze along the rigid surface.

Though the ability to feel through the gauntlet was hardly equivalent to that of his own skin rolling along the tree, he could still note the strange smoothness of the surface. He heard that some planets had an abundance of certain metals in the soil that made everything sprouting out of it bizarre shades much unlike that of Planet Ayenee. His tail swished back and forth while he contemplated making an attempt to climb it to set up camp off the ground for both safety's sake and to get a good lookout view, but the leaves seemed much too dense for him to make use of the latter advantage of for him to even be given room for the former.

Of course, he could always cut apart the leaves, but that would take until morning with how dense it was.

His gaze lowers and twists around to the fanning out bunch of misfits that can now be called the crew of the Downrider. "Whatever that goal may be." Deimos had not a clue what the purpose of all these stops were. Perhaps it's a sort of treasure map that she's following? Or maybe it's a trail of bread crumbs? Of course, that would imply one would lead to another and so on.

*Indigen: a term used by some people to refer to alien life on other planets, usually fauna. Short for "Indigenous".


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Arblebarbles yawned quietly to herself at the base of the ship, leaning against the landing gear while the rest of the crew disembarked. She'd been to a few semi-irradiated planets and hell, even space stations before. It ain't as bad as people think as long as you have the ability to flush it outta your system - a trick her dad taught her, specifically for this stuff. Then again her dad was able to move the air directly... But she managed to learn it. And then the stuff on her outside just takes a good shower. It's when you spend more than a week there that you need to look for solutions of the.. pharmaceutical variety.

Yawning again, the undersized sage hopped up onto the ramp nimbly and disappeared into the ship. Soon, the Downrider was silent again, and she returned to the open air with a crunch of another wrapper of trail mix. "Good, we're not immediately under attack. Let's get going!"


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Reman was relieved at the lack of excitement, but still on edge, mainly due to the fact that he left a job unfinished. If he died now, he could not live with himself. Keeping that in mind, he still had a job to do here, and there was no way in hell he'd leave another job unfinished on his watch.

The radiation on the planet was kinda a problem at first, but Reman's body did what it has no right to, but happened anyway. Flashing back, Reman remembers he was exposed to many things during his time in his chamber. Radiation, Extreme Heat, Extreme Cold, Acid, Fire, and more he would rather not remember. All he truly remembers is the pain he felt, and the constant mention of "Fusion Level" uttered by his captors.

"Alrighty, where to, boss? I'm dying to do some work." Reman uttered, semi-excited at the prospect of a new field of occupation. "I'm assuming you'd want us to just scavenge some relics from this place for study?"
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