[Episode Two] Union


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ISS Downrider
Three Days After Landing...

The Downrider Expedition’s little trip to Bivona had been extended past the intentional margin for a few days. First, the buyer was late- then, the introduction of new crew members meant a new wave of planning and adjustments had to be made. With the money made off their first deliver, Dahlia invested a little bit… carefully out of earshot of the crew's engineers. An upgraded autopilot would allow the out-of-cycle courier ship to be started remotely, and even be called.

However, she had only two remotes, and the first one went to the pilot of the ship, Arbitrated. She didn’t tell anyone about them, what they looked like, or where they could find one. The rest of the money that wasn’t put into savings or wages was left to general renovations. Sadly, those would have to wait- Dahlia was ready to head off again.

Now all that was left was to figure out where.


The azure-haired captain of the ISS Downrider sat in the co-pilot seat of the courier ship, flipping through the variety of pages in an equally-blue binder. Periodically, she would peer up at the square dashboard chock full of controls and displays. Resting atop the dash was a silver book, adorned with glowing green stripes- and on top of that rested one of the white and black Pixy units who was currently meddling with a volumetric star-chart. Any attempts at grabbing or touching the book often resulted in it being promptly swiped away by one the Pixy units. Standing behind them all was the idle specter of Osco, looking down at the Pixy unit as it worked.

The owner of said units had been quiet as of late, but no less snarky with some of the crew. OSC-01 mostly kept to the cargo bay and commons areas, mostly in their projected form. Their physical form had been seen moving around engineering at times, but laid open-backed in one of the empty boxes in the cargo bay. Any attempts at grabbing or touching them often resulted in the person being promptly swiped away by one the Pixy units.

“So,” Dahlia started, eyeing the book and the short pilot, “I'll give her five minutes, then lets get off the ground before someone else tries to break in." The pixy unit continued poking the console in almost rythmic metal clicks.

A loud "IT'S DONE!" came from the engineering quarter, as a slamming sound was heard. Evidently whatever Marie was working on, was finally completed. Whatever it was. She was odd like that, preferring the sound of machines, her pen, her work, and her whiteboards over the contact of other crew. She could see and predict them, and when things went wrong she knew what to fix. Things simply made sense to her in her realm. It was a calm world inside that room, inside the sound of the printer and the electric buzz in the corner of her mind that the stack of power supplies and meters were ready for her to test with, the single-track sound and feeling providing something to keep the brain stimulated, from wandering from her task, gently soothing out the noise from the outside world. But now, she had to proclaim her victory, and as she opened the door, she was met with the harsh light of the Overseer's hologram and the deafening noise and deafening silence that met her somewhat deprived senses from the world outside of the one she understood. Blinking a few times, she took some time to readjust her vision before she set out towards the cockpit. They were probably waiting for her to free up so they could start up the ship again.

The sound of footsteps came down the hall as Marie turned the corner, tucking two grease-stained gloves into her pockets. "I've finished what I set out to do, so start up the reactor whenever you want."

"Good. I've been wanting to get on the move again for the past day." The thermally-gifted pilot, not munching on some granola bar of some kind for like the fifth time in her life, cracked a couple of her knuckles with high-pitched pops. Her tiny hands reached forward, delicately performing a short waltz across the starship's control console; the Downrider's maybe-slightly-radioactive heart thrummed powerfully as it was kicked out of idle mode, quickly bringing the lumbering vessel to a flyable condition.

As far as that remote she had... Arbs put it on a necklace she always wore, tucked under her shirt. Nobody would search there, either because it'd be a weird place or because they're afraid of potentially being called a lolicon. Arbs - who was actually old enough to drink, funnily enough - didn't really care, the distance was nice. Also, the idea of a bunch of guys following her around because of romance or something was just... Ugh, disgusting.

"Looks like something caught fire in engineering... Nope, nevermind. Juryrig's been up to something again." Probably, anyways.

Dahlia exhaled, resting back in her seat as the folded the binder closed. "Thank you and good, let's get up to orbit and we'll figure out our next heading." Her voice trailed for a moment as the Pixy unit on the dash continued meddling with the interactive map. Frequently, it would shift, showing two vastly different perspectives of their current location. Every other shift, a series of white dots would ping up- on the unfamiliar one. "What are you doing?" she asked, flatly.

OSC-01 replied from the... book resting under the unit, not stopping their assigned work. "I'm trying to align what I have with what's on the ship's computer... and find something." The volumetric charts blinked again, falling a little closer in line. Another cascade of white dots flooded out of the... old, new, alien map. About a dozen, placed sparsely across the map as it updated.

The Downrider shuddered a bit as it plowed through Bivona's atmosphere, her tiny pilot doing a pretty good job at, y'know, getting people to orbit in one piece. Meanwhile, Dahlia squinted. "What are the dots?"

OSC-01 spoke up, not turning their attention away from them map. "Responding Oakland Units."

Dahlia's eyes widened breifly, thinking about the possibility of that statement. After a moment, she gave a poor poker face. Though, it was concerning. "And theyre... all active? You can just ping each-other whenever?"

The captain pulled up the little corded microphone running from the dash, giving a quick and quiet order out to the cargo bay. "Ausse, get up here."

One green eye of the holographic Overseer flicked over towards the Captain, mimicking the head turn of the Pixy unit. "Just those with any charge left. And no. Only higher-tier units can do this."

The sassy Pixy turned their head back to the map after the remark, running through at least four more cycles. Finally, the dots across both map versions aligned, putting the ship at an at least somewhat accurate position between the two.

Marie simply observed the maps once overlayed, searching them for something. Patterns? Maybe? Was there an optimal routing between the locations? Missing data points?

"Even a dead facility will still give us something..." she practically whispered out, her finger waggling around, tracing between the stars.

Cargo Bay

The informant heaved a sigh of relief as he stacked yet another crate on the pile of his belongings - mostly filled with documents and records, of sorts. Having to move all of his paperwork and office furnishings was tiring work, even if he was able to carry the sheer weight of them as if they were nothing but pillows. Wiping off the sweat from his brow, he sat down on the floor of the cargo bay, back against the crate he'd just placed down, sparing himself a few quiet moments to stay in respite.

It was not to last, however, as the captain's voice could be heard through the speakers, requesting his presence in the cockpit for... a reason, which he'd most certainly find out once there. And just when he was able to take a break, too. Oh well. Picking himself up from the floor, Keith dusted off his camo trousers, making sure not a bit of dust remained on them. Not that it really mattered - he'd have to go right back to work putting together his new office afterwards.

"Aye aye, cap'n." His voice echoed off the cargo bay's walls, yet to reach no one else but the stacks of crates there existent as he made his way out the door and towards his destination.


Dahlia nodded in confirmation with Marie. "If they're where they're supposed to be, we could chain together a few runs. So long as they're not in a landfill or being used by someone else... that is." Marie, however, didn't seem to really hear.

She turned around to see that Keith had heard the order and smiled, beckoning him over to the navigation display. "Osco has found us some potential leads in the system."

The Pixy unit in question continued their work in silence, but stopped to bring up a menu, projected from the side of the metal book. It was a catalogued list of lengthy codes.... surprisingly, written in somewhat familiar characters. The list spurred to life, scrolling away and throwing out useless codes as it shortened down to a more manageable size of seven or so. The first on the list was highlighted in pale green. OSC-01-Zh214-SE.

The second entry was OSC-02-Zh15-SE.

The list disappeared as quickly as it appeared. And the Pixy unit slapped a button on the console once more. A blue ring spread out from the ship's indicator, searching the system for an acknowledgement in vain.

A few seconds later without response, it sent another.

And another.

And thrity-seven more, the gap between each dwindling each time. After that, the Overseer stopped, giving out a quiet huff.

"We should begin routing at the nearest aligned point." Marie observed. "Check conditions, and then perform a hazard-distance-time-potential profit list to first examine the least dangerous and closest first, and then gradually scale up to the most hazardous."

Pretending to understand the engineer's ramblings, Keith nodded slowly in acknowledgement, stroking his chin, before immediately turning his attention towards the map and, seconds later, Dahlia. "Sounds like good news. Anything particularly interesting so far?"

Rhea happened to have been wandering past as Marie was speaking, first slowing, then stopping entirely to listen in. "... Are, you actually speaking real sentences or, do you just make these things up as you go along?"

"Oh, they're just words used for data organization," Marie told the child. "We're gonna sort everything according to those categories."

Dahlia didn't understand the reasons for concern, but she did decide to slow it down for the rest of the crew. "She's saying we should check the position of each case, and the dangers posed by the environment- so that we can make the most of our time and money."
Simple, really. The blue-haired scholar looked back at Rhea and Keith, raising an eyebrow at the young girl. They had agreed she could tag along to the next relay, but it was still a bit of a sore subject for some. Oddly enough, including the silent ghost hovering above them all.

As the old ship breached the atmosphere, that usual feeling of "lighter than air" set in. The aged systems of the ship coupled with the inertia generated by their travel did their best at keeping the crew to the floorboards, but sometimes it just wasn't enough.

The Pixy unit gripped the dashboard, keeping a constant downward pressure against it. Working ceaselessly, it brought up another machine addreess, this time stopping to ponder. BTC-03-Zm21-SE. The little bobble-like machine pressed a pad down on the console, sending a ping through the vaguely-legal connection.

They were not, however, expecting an acknowledgement to be issued immediately. The holographic Overseer abruptly bolted forwards, bursting with light between the pilot and engineer. "WAIT," they interjected, before taking a moment to recollect their general posture. "Again."

The Pixy unit looked back at the console, sending another ping. The response came as a little yellow dot, blipping... from right beside them. Bivona.

"And the list isn't even necessary, it seems." Marie noted. "Because this will be almost too high on the list of places to visit first."

Rhea shivered and held onto her stomach with one hand, and gripped on the door frame with the other as that lighter than air feeling occured- it wasn't something she was used to, certainly. And of course, the captain's gaze made her uncomftorable as well.

Looking around for something else to focus on, her gaze lay on the console- and she noted a new yellow dot showing up on the same planet they were already on. "... don't tell me, we're going back already?" Although she didn't really understand the situation, she was pretty sure the overseer was... some kind of advanced machine, and given it was excited about something, it had to be good, right?

"It would be more reliable than just flying around looking for another opportunity," the pilot stated curtly. Sheesh, speaking of the pilot, was it getting warm in here or something? Like there were ten people crammed into the cockpit instead of five and a robot. "Be sure to bring warm stuff. We're going towards the pole, and I know you people can't stand the cold." The Downrider hung up in its orbit for now, but the little asymmetrical girl was already changing its trajectory, bringing them in line with a theoretical interception point.

"The pole... you mean we're headed north?" Keith said, seemingly taken aback by something other than his geographical knowledge. He leaned forwards slightly in order to analyze the console a bit closer, tapping the screen lightly with his index finger. "Captain. About those paramilitary nomadic oddballs in black and teal I told you about. The Arcandum Union. You remember them, yeah?"

Dahlia looked over at Keith with a raised brow. "Of course. Why?"

The informant returned to his normal standing position, crossing his arms while still keeping his eyes on the map. "Intel suggests they've been moving northward on ground lately, same direction we're headed. It's possible we may encounter them where we're going, so it'd be best to stay vigilant."

Dahlia bit her lip, chewing the thought over. Bivona was rough around all its edges, but the northeast was... relatively untouched. It was unholy levels of cold up there, not to mention the extreme topography separating the unforgiving land away from the mining colonies that brought life to the planet. Still though, this seemed like the closest opportunity.

"If they're headed by foot or wheels, they'll be in for a rough trip. Maybe we'll be able to get ahead of them." Her voice trailed off, before her neck twisted back to face the Overseer with an audible pop. "You said you had some 'personal endeavors'. Does this have anything to do with them?"

The projection turned their head to look at the captain, pulling away from the console. They sounded equally thrilled. "Yes, miss." Before she could elaborate, not that she desired to, Dahlia interjected again. "Heading north here is dangerous. You promise to hold up your end of the deal right? If not, I've got people looking for a whole robot to wipe."

Osco would smile, if they could. Instead, there was a dry, artificial chuckle. "You've taken me this far. I've been working on a... little story. Even the most inattentive of your merry gathering should be able to follow. Let me see what's going on down there, and everything shall be yours."

Dahlia sqinted, trying to percieve if that was an insult against her or not. Then again, she knew likely who she was referencing. "Fine. I'm holding you to that." The Captain looked over at the others, before picking up the microphone again. This time the message was projected to the entire ship, relaying the moderately-hazardously narcoleptic pilot's words. "We have our heading and will be landing within the hour. Bring your warmest gear."


The bulky courier ship descended once more through the atmosphere of the colonial planet. Through the limited window spaces, the crew could see the quiet town of Bivona pass underneath, the notably hungover residents of which were tucked into their snow-capped houses. Now, the street lights were mere specks as the Downrider soared over, continuing on over the northern ridge of mountains that kept the colony nestled in tight in a bowl.

As they continued on their flyover north, the crew (especially those in the cockpit), could see the profitable force driving the activity of the planet- miles upon miles of strip mining, carved away at the land in swathes for the rich minerals and black liquid that lie beneath. Mountains, leveled into nothing more than shallow plateaus. However, even their conquest had only drawn out so far. The farther out they went, the more nature had reclaimed. The mines stopped, paved roads and tunnels giving way to rugged gravel trails- and eventually faded out altogether. As the air grew colder, the loosely-vegetated mountains reclaimed the skyline. Outside, the air temperature grew colder as a thick layer of cloud cover formed over and around the mountain peaks.

However, the signal was still far, far ahead. Periodically, the flattened overview of the planet would pulse again, growing in pitch as the ship drew closer.

After almost a half hour of flight, the Downrider's pilot came across a bizarre sight, as if nature had twisted itself.
Beyond the mountains of the alpine tundra was a vast canyon of sheer rock and ice, carved deep into the planets surface. The cavern ran not only as far as the eye could see to either side, but what looked like miles ahead- splitting the land mass like a trench. Twisted spires of rock rose from the canyons sunken edges like splinters, some still bearing their points. The Pixy unit resting on the dash stared out across the cavern, stock still. Far ahead, the short pilot could see rough weather returning- a swirling blizzard. Even now, flakes of snow and ice slid across the cockpit window, and the temperature readings near the surface were... downright frigid. The ship pulled away from the canyon as the high ground returned ahead, resting on the like a continent separated from the rest of the world by an oceanic pit. Something about it carried an... eerie familiarity, the kind that easily told you "this isn't where you're supposed to be."

The new, cut off land was a bit higher in elevation than the land they had flown out of, blanketed in layers of snow of ice. The sky was cloudy and visibility was drawn uncomfortably close by the fog and swirling New shapes jutted from the drifts of snow just below the underbelly of the ship, easily blurring the line between "tree" and "icicle." The courier ship was met with consistent turbulence as it pushed its way into the rolling hills of permafrost, eventually forcing even the skilled pilot to make landing a few hundred meters away from the signals origin- as the crow flies.

The old ship shuddered and shook as it descended onto the hardened snow, landing gear sinking through layer after layer of the white drapery until eventually finding solid ground- or ice. Dahlia peered out of the cabin window as snow very quickly found its way on. The landing was a little forced, but the ship had found itself nicely in a clearing between two ridges of a mounted. It was dark outside, the light of the mid-morning sun now a hazy blot in the sky behind all the clouds and icy fog. "Keep the engines idling while we're gone, I don't want to be stuck out here."

The Captain turned to go get ready for this fresh dose of wintry hell, but was stopped by the patient Overseer- who had yet to say another word for the entire trip, "Miss Morgan?"

"Yes?" 'she replied.

The holographic Overseer looked around the cabin momentarily, before melting back into nothingness above the metal book. The Pixy unit grabbed the tome, hovering in front of Dahlia. The green, notched circle on the cover pulsed as the voice of OSC-01 rang out again. It carried just a hint of... appeal. "I can't walk, but I can still translate. Please, take me with you."

Dahlia sighed, clutching the now-talking book from the little robot and folding it under her arm. The captain departed from the cockpit, headed down the hall to change into... everything, and eventually meet with the crew in the commons area. "This better be worth it, or mark my words I'm giving you to Juryrig."



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ISS Downrider
Common Area

Mikodimus had spent most of the time reading a book he had picked up from back in town. It was a good read about a lost space adventuring crew. It really reminded him much of the crew he was now a part of. Granted in the book many of the crew died but he hoped this would not be the case for them. Granted they were going to the coldest place on this planet.

Mikodimus was no stranger to the cold. Having chased many bounties it was not uncommon for them to find the coldest, most remote location they could find to try and hide. He tossed his snow shoes over his shoulder and made his way towards the common area. His overcoat looked more bulky than usually. This version had a thick layer of insolating gel designed to protect from the cold. It also made for a great conductor for his vectoring ability. Heat was not allowed out and cold was not allowed in.

"Well team, who is ready to go play in the snow?" Miko said aloud as he walked into the area.


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ISS Downrid-

JURYRIG, the monster in the cloth of man, had changed his attire somewhat. He had forsaken his overalls to wearing black skinny jeans. For what purpose, does one may ask? Why the answer is simple: Juryrig's latest invention, the DJ Drive, is worn like a belt, and his overalls had no belt loops. That, and come on, why not flaunt his toned legs via concealing, yet shape-confirming, male attire? The gray, shiny black band contrasted with the shiny, silver 'buckle', with a single massive disc in the center that resembled something like a music-themed alchemical circle, and had gnobs and buttons sprinkled about. And when it is active, oh BOY will it get flashy! But that can wait.... For about as much time as it'll take until Juryrig gets a chance to fight.

Now all is not all fun and games; sure it's just games now, but while Dahlia made a solid, outstanding effort to make sure her meetings were exclusive, well... if Rhea could become included in them by sheer happenstance, then what were the odds that Juryrig wouldn't pick up that he had been deliberately uninvited? Just for that, the madman had already put a small prank in motion, something that would really bust all their buffers (except his, obviously, he'll have the last laugh).

Now back to reality for a moment: the mad inventor was sitting on his Alchemical Horse, his hand has a potion bottle containing a neon orange drink. Boy Scout... was fingering the eye sockets of a skull... And Munchie was chewing on a lump of scrap like its bubblegum. He chose to not wear any winter gear for this excursion.

"Oh I was born ready, Miko my man!" He raised the potion towards the former bounty hunter, the artificer's smile and abyssal eyes hiding any emotion other than glee, as a plan formed in his mind. "Got everything I need, and then some~ Like my instant s'mores kit!"

Juryrig whipped out a box from his haversack; it contained graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, and a fission reactor kit, and was adorned with Juryrig's (cartoonish and kid-friendly) self, enjoying irradiated s'mores in a happy little night-time forest. "I'm running them for about seven credits per set, but I'm making them free to the whole crew! But if you're really serious about this, I wanna warn ya... Potassium fuel cells are sold separately."


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ISS Downrider
Common Area

On a couch, sat... Rhea? Well, it was most probably Rhea, given the only other one of that height was the pilot who did infact, not need a full body suit complete with goggles in order to properly compete with the frigid, biting cold temperatures around these parts. It wasn't anything spectacularly fancy, mind you, no special electronic equipment keeping her warm- just a well made, suit sized for her, and by her own request- made to be as easy to move in as possible.

Of course this resulted in a somewhat form vitting winter design, a bit out of the ordinary, and certainly not as effective as a bulky suit when faced with arctic temperatures, but it would do its job well enough to keep her from becoming a popsicle, while still letting her move around as freely as she likes.

And she, somehow had gotten it into her head that she would most certainly be joining on this expedition, swinging her legs back and forth slightly as she sat on said couch. But then she once more began the act of scootching across the couch to distance herself form juryrig's hazardous looking smores kit. "... Are they glowing? I don't think food should do that."

But then she turned to the other one- the 'soldier' and nodded. "I, want to go too. Staying here on the ship with nothing to do sounds boring." And she wasn't sure which was more dangerous, staying on the ship when most of the people were gone, or going with the people- some of whom were certafiable.


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ISS Downrider

"Have we got something working then?" A voice said, sleepily wandering out into the bay. Reman had just awoken from a deep, but not restful slumber. The cold really wasn't his strong suit, and these freezing temperatures made him even colder every time he needed to use wind for his purposes. While he wasn't quite yet used to that however, he did end up getting used to the presence of the new hires on the ship, and those new creations that Marie, and even though it wasn't even tested... Juryrig had made. It was a nice peace, and somehow knowing that someone was starting to not see his condition as a curse was nice.

"I'm also assuming that you'll return my key afterwards, right?" he said to nobody, as he realized that Marie had left. He really was a moron sometimes, but it's not like somebody was taking advantage of that fact, right?


Caesar's Ship

Caesar checked each of his communication networks, made sure he could find one that the Downrider was on, and initiated a call with the main crew. On his dashboard, he put up his auto-pilot as he relaxed in his chair, laying in-between the armrests, waiting for the call to pick up.

As he went to relax, he went to look at a pile of scraps on the side of his terminal, from THAT job. He even had his old ID. He thought to himself how things have changed. That project... It was the worst failure he's ever had. Failure may be a part of science, but sometimes one has to ask how far it extends to. No matter what action he takes, it must be done. Project Round Table must not go any further out of control.


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ISS Downrider
Common Area

"Sweet, I am down for some s'mores." Mikodimus said with a smile. He looked out over the group to take a head count. It would seem the amount of smalls coming into the group was increasing. He walked over and placed a hand on top of Rhea's head. He was not too sure why he started to do this but figured just to run with it.

"Come, join the party. I bet I can toss you pretty far if we need to climb a cliff or cross over a chasm." He again smiled as he rubbed her head.


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"Okey dokie, s'mores for everyone!" Juryrig ripped the box and dumped the contents onto the ground, crackers and marshmallows and Hershey's Chocolate Bars™ falling to the ground, alongside a small device that looks like a tiny model of a campfire, some dime-sized discs, and extendable metal sticks! The discs expanded rapidly into plates, the sticks erected by themselves, and finally, a radiant white flame came to life, filling the room with warmth and... Radiation.

"First round of s'mores, coming right up!" He exclaimed as he stuck two marshmallows in a stick, waved them at the fire, and served Mikodermous a very gooey (and glowy) s'more on a plate. Then, the madman served Rhea, Reman, and finally himself!

(Juryrig made two for himself. One for him, and one for him.)

"Dig in, while the radiation lasts and while everyone's taking their sweet time coming here! It's got regenerative qualities, and a ... Actually, let's leave it at that." The mad alchemist feasted on his food, cozy with the nuclear fire.


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ISS Downrider

A few minutes after the landing notification- as if it was hard to miss- was sent out to the crew, Dahlia arrived in the commons area. She was again clad in her grey cloak, but this time she made sure to wear a few extra layers underneath her coat, including a set of pink thermal underwear that she had gone to great lengths to conceal the existence of from the entire crew. To top the look off, she had added a set of thick grey gloves, and a deep blue scarf that made ran multiple loops around her neck- and a big silver book strapped at the hip.

The Scholar raised an eyebrow at the odd social gathering going down in the commons, wondering why someone would build a fire when they aren't even outside yet. She could feel the radiation, and brought up a hand when offered one of the questionably nonlethal s'mores. "Nnnno thanks."

She dug deep into her interior cloak pocket to pull out a buzzing communicator. She opened the call while talking a head count of everyone around. "So, are you going to actually join us out here, or are you on coffee pot duty?" She said sarcastically, pulling down on the ship's side exit while peering through the door's porthole. She wasn't any more ecstatic about trudging through arctic tundra than the next person, but if it was worth it, oh well. The scholar cracked open the door, allowing the sharp wintry air to mix with the warm interior of the ship as she stepped out. The bottom of her cloak flapping in the chilling wind as she turned, beckoning the rest of the ready crew to follow.


The ship had landed in the midst of a clearing found between two mountains, blanketed in a pure and untouched cake of snow and ice. The sky above was grey and hazy, the steady stream of snowfall between the mid-morning sun and the numbed ground giving it an almost staticky presence. Looking around though, one started to notice that the terrain and climate didn't always meet eye to eye. The mountains, however tall, were old and rounded, not like the sharp slopes one would expect this high up. The ancient husks of deciduous trees laid scattered around the area, frozen through and through. It seems the icicle-like branches had long fell into dormant slumber for the winter, holding confidence for a spring season that had never come back.

The Scholar tread forward into the deep snow, scanning their surroundings. Behind them, the clearing fell off into a ravine that carved down the mountain. To the north was a small, but noticeable trail that followed a similar path up the mountain, skirting around a few slick drops. Avoiding climbing rock faces in these conditions was preferable. The book at their side beeped once, prompting her to check it's cover. The smooth metal surface projected a pale green circle just above the book, spinning idly. After a moment, the circle expanded and straightened out into a compass, pointing them towards the northeast path.


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ISS Downrider

"Pft, why wouldn't I be ready?" On cue, Munchie crushed the nuclear fire with a swift downward pound of its large tongue, extinguishing a flat that could go one for over a century. He and the turret swapped places, the latter now perched on the Alchemical Horse as Juryrig took a swig out of his potion, his skin quickly turning red and his veins illuminating with a orange pigment. He tossed the empty bottle aside, smirking with confidence as he and his creations waltzed out the doorway. "I'm always ready; I just do it faster."


The moment the snow graced his bare skin, it liquified and evaporated. Juryrig wasn't surprised, after all he did make that Internal Combustion potion specifically for fighting against the cold. Why the hell should Juryrig have to take off his sweet coat for something so... Poofy?! Outrageous!

Juryrig deeply inhaled the cold air, and exhaled with a plume of steam. "Aaaaahhh... Brisk, but fine indeed...! So where're we even going, anyway? You're the one with the plot device," he asked to the one and only Dahlia up ahead.


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ISS Downrider

As usual, the crew was being a bunch of misfits. And by the crew, Marie really meant Juryrig. There was no real point in trying to hold the man back; he'd just do something absurd anyways. There was no point in keeping him out of things, and by the look of things...Juryrig stole her notes.

Not that Marie was keeping them too secret anyways; anyone with some degree of intelligence would be able to at least figure out what was going on by looking at the whiteboard filled with calculations and the wastebin. Anyone willing to spend time reading would probably find that Marie had a decent reverse-engineering report going on with her notes...although she was sure they were vandalized by Juryrig at this point. Not like any of it mattered; Marie had finished both drivers she needed to finish at this point. All that was really left was the tuning so the transformation wouldn't feel too itchy.

But more importantly: dammit, it was cold out. She could keep herself warm via some cleverly woven clothing, at least...but her transformer pack wouldn't really fit well. So she ditched it.

Other than that mishap, Marie decided not to take Reman's key with her. Sure, something might show up to try and attack her or whatever, but between her and the group she had a comprehensive list of a mad alchemist, some ripoff of the Gunslinger from Stephen King's books, some fox-guy with a cool metal arm, a few sketchy people, and...

...whoever the new guy was. The one with the three keys. Steel...yellow, and red. She plugged her driver in, the machine cooly stating Process System Online. Sure, it wasn't necessary at all. But it was pretty cool.

Marie gently tapped the button on the end, causing the machine to project a holographic workstation interface. She started making some notes, just so she wouldn't forget.

"Guy with three keys is a lot more powerful than we are. Also has a red fusion reading. However, do remember two brownish keys but no yellow," the white-haired girl typed. She paused, letting herself think for a bit. Then continued.

"Note: Make a communications system built into the driver. Would be useful." she finished, tapping the end button twice and then selecting a confirmation to close the workstation, pulling the driver out with a Goodbye.

"Alright," she sighed. "I'm ready."


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ISS Downrider

Miko walked out into the cold and took a deep breath. "Ahh, I love the cold. It is so peaceful yet deadly." He said grinning from ear to ear. "Many a time I had to chance bounties into the snow. They always think this will help hide them" He chuckled for a moment.

He looked over to Jury who was leaving a melt trail behind him. This is great, we are going to have a ice channel following behind our friend. If anyone is following, they will not miss this unless is snows. He moved forward a few steps and reached down and picked up some snow. He worked it for a few seconds and formed it into a ball. He took said ball and tossed it right into Jury. "Snow fight!!" He said as the snowball made contact.


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Rhea hopped out of the ship at the first oppurtunity, grateful for anythign that would get her away from juryrig's radioactive marshmallows. Of course, things were still as bad outside, but in a different way. She quickly discovered that, while the winter suit for her was suprisingly good at keeping warmth in and cold out- the surface of the suit was not as warm as the inside, thus any snow that landed on her thought it was an excelent place to stay for the evening.

After resigning herself to being a snowgirl should they stay out here too long, she walked out farther, and looked at all those... mountians. Obstacles, she did not see when she looked at them, but very strange works of art. Who makes a ROUNDED mountian? And these trees! like icicles jutting out of the ground with spikes pointing in every direction. Rather than wait around, she walked up to the Scholar, and peekd at the compas's pointing to see where they were going to go and... "Oh... Are we going to be doing any climbing on our way there? That sounds fun."


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There was an audible sigh as the pilot got a radiation leak warning in the cockpit as Juryrig decided to make some... "s'mores". Anyways, it was fucking cold outside.

Which is precisely why the tiny pilot was quite literally steaming as she stepped outside, stretching her arms out... Happily?
"Holy shit, no wind! I hate the wind, thank the void it's not here right now. Let's get going." The ship closed behind her, locking itself to prevent too much snow from getting in... Or an overly-curious animal that doesn't have much of a problem with angry little Berts and a half-functioning Sassbot 3000.

Behemoth backpack in tow, this time on a sort of sled-thing, Arbles followed the trail of adventurers pretty damn well, re-melting whatever water was left behind from Juryrig's own thermal shenanigans.


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The snowball melted partially upon contact; now, just cuz Juryrig is now a bootleg Arbitrated, doesn't mean he can't feel how cold that snow is. Cuz MAN that made him squeak with surprise!

"YIYIYI- YOU!" He whipped about, his face contorted with anger for half a second, after which a light bulb of chaos lit in his head. "... I smell a running gag... And it has my name on it! Time for some Sudden Shenanigans! Munchie, Boy, get him!"

Both the constructs, using their alchemically endowed abilites, created various sizes of snowballs, and open fired along with Juryrig, all their trajectories coming in at Mikodermous! A watermelon-sized snowball diving from above, one from Juryrig coming dead ahead, followed by the paintball-sized snowballs fired out of Boy Scout's gun arm. "IT'S NO USE! Take this: Christmas Carol Cacophony!"


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Mikodimus watched as his plan had gone off the rails right out the door. This wasn't a snow ball fight, this was a snow ball war!! Like any war, there had to be sacrifices and Rhea was closest to Miko. Without thinking he dove behind her as the snow balls started to make contact as he left where he was just standing. The very large snowball however was only getting bigger as it headed towards the pair.

"Oh snap, that is a big snowball." He shouted out. "Brace for impact." As he placed his hands on her shoulders to brace.


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The Gun-Toting biker and the Pathetic mechanic step out of the ship into the cold below. Each react to the snow in their own different and strange ways.

The Mechanic shivered within his jumper. He used the aerokinesis he has access to to try and blow the snow away, but in the process, gave himself terrible windchill. Trying to avoid the snowball fight, he moved a little farther from the group, wanting to join in but too damned cold to. If only there was a way he could fix this.

Around the biker, however, the snow wasn't even touching him. It was if he wasn't cold at all, in a suit and shirt no less. The snow around him was completely giving way as if it wasn't even there, turning to liquid upon merely moving close, before toughing his skin and turning to steam. He was more than willing to engage in the fight, but he had no capability to keep the snow solid in his hands. Now if he had the Ice-themed key he did research on... Hoo boy.


ISS Downrider

With a boot sinking into the soft snow did the informant finally leave the confines of the ship. Though his clothes were more suitable for the heat than exploring a frigid wasteland, the ex-sergeant was adamant on changing his outfit no further than the addition of an insulated military coat he had gotten from... somewhere. Surely. He certainly didn't remember ever having one, and was confused to find it amid his belongings, but ultimately hand waved the issue away as irrelevant, ruling it as "probably a gift from the clothier woman". Alongside his new coat, the only other significant change from his previous look was the presence of a large sniper rifle slung around his back, which he carried around casually.

The cold felt like rabid wolves tearing at the exposed flesh of his face and fingers, but Keith stood unflinching as the snow settled on him, as if his time in the military had trained him to withstand and defy the very elements themselves. Ducking his chin closer into his desert scarf, he pulled up its hood to cover his sandy blond hair from the falling snow, and began to march towards the rest of the crew, leaving a trail of deep footsteps in his wake.


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So distracted Rhea was, that at first she did not understand what the words 'brace for impact' meant, and was more confused as to the hands on her shoulders lockign her in place. "You- wha-" But then she looked up and saw the watermelon sized snowball. Well, that, was just totally unacceptable. Particularly since the direction it was coming from looked like it was OBVIOUSLY from juryrig. Wrenches? nails? radioactive 'yellow snow'? Who knew what was in there. She most certainly didn't want to find out.

"Uaagh- NODON'TDRAGMEINTOTHIS" Acting fast, she quickly swung her arm out somehwat hapazardly, and a crystal-like structure shot out at an incredibely awkward angle from the ground several feet away from rhea off to one side of her. Coincidently, it even shot in just the right place to hit the snowball! Unfortunately, much of the snow continued on its trajectory, knocking rhea back somewhat, but ultimately just making her a snow person.


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Alas, due to Rhea being forced down via a pile of falling snow, Miko was still wide open to getting pelted by mini-balls coming in from the right. And yet, Juryrig simply didn't stop there. Oh no, he had a prototype yet to be introduced, his most advanced technique available!

"This ends here! Boy Scout, Munchie, Horsie!" The respective constructs perk up, paying full attention to Juryrig. He struck a heavenly pose, signalling a attack unlike any other.

"AlchemiCombo... Tactical Snow Meiser."

Immediately, Boy Scout piled 800 kilograms of snow on top of the Horse. Munchie was tossed upwards by Boy Scout, and the turret slurped all of the snow midair just before it landed on the alchemically enhanced table! Its legs hissed, groaned, gained tension, and released, launching the swollen Munch Munch Turret into the air, high above Miko and Rhea! It compacted all the snow, and fired its truck-sized projectile of white, cold goodness.

"I'm not saying I won this," Juryrig said as the big momma of all snowballs came crashing down on the two like a 200 MPH avalanche, "But I won this."

Munchie face-planted against the Downrider, making yet another dent in its weary frame, and gradually peeling off into the floofy snow with a pomf.

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Mikodimus looked out over the snow. He shrugged off the mini-balls coming from the right as his focus was now on the very large snow ball in front of him. Like two men facing off at high noon, guns at the ready. This fight was far from over, in fact it just begun. A smile crossed his face as his focus narrowed.

He was not sure why Juryrig of all people caused him to get serious but he liked this feeling. His vector powers started to surge through his body. Yet those looking on would notice nothing different. He stance got heavy and caused him to sink into the snow. His hand reached for his weapon that was by his side. For this mission he had brought his trusty long sword. Along the length of the blade was beautiful engraving. The handle was more simple. The hand guard had a slight curve to it. The pummel with a crest of some kind etched into it.

"Hold on little girl, things are about to get interesting." He said in a calm voice to the snowgirl. He had hoped he would get to see her powers and she did not disappoint. He felt slightly guilty using her like this and felt the need to protect her from the now massive snowball. Just what was this guy thinking to launch something this large. The burning desire to protect caused his powers to surge.

The thundering sound filled the air as the now super sized snowball headed his way. He did not move or attempt to escape. He held his ground firm. He was not going to back down from this challenge, not now, not ever. His eyes drew to a close. He did not need his sight for his vectors would be his guide. The challenge was high. Unlike say a bullet, moving a force this large was just not going to happen. He had another idea in mind. One that would take a high level of skill and focus to pull off. More so given that he had a small Rhea directly in front of him.

The now super truck sized snowball was right at his door step. His smile turned to a grin as he pictured the expression Jury was about to have. The snowball did a slight hop, now inches away from Rhea. His eyes burst forth as he yelled "Haaaaa." His sword unsheathed in the blink of an eye. His stance was firm giving him the brace he needed to make the single strike. The weapon engraving glowed to life as it sliced clean through the snow. The trick though was not the slice but the new direction. His vector powers used the blade as a solid object to push against it and the snow as the slice was made. He did not have the power to redirect a snowball of this size. He did however have the power to slice it in half and move it just enough that it would blow past them both.

The snowball now split in two dropped on its side and started to spin like a disk. He hoped the people directly behind him were quick enough to get out of the way. He looked down at the thin line in the snow next to Rhea. It was no more than a hair length away from her left arm. Had he misjudge the strike he would of had hell to pay. He grinned at his handy work as he sheathed his weapon and reached down to grab Rhea. He plucked her out of the snow and plopped her back down onto it. The motion shaking off the snow and revealing a Rhea instead of a snowgirl.
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