The rockscythes were approaching at a very fast rate, and the group determined that they were likely to pass in front of the group’s intended path of travel. This meant that there shouldn’t be a scent trail for them to encounter, and with no discernible breeze, they just needed to stay out of sight. In an open, scrub-filled field.
Lavi suggested creating a dynamic illusion, imitating a view of the field with strong heat shimmer, which the team could crouch down behind. This was adopted as the plan, with some grumbling from Reithered, as it was likely that grenades would not be necessary as part of the solution to this encounter.
SID considered the still air, and estimated that one of his self-defense systems might be useful in preventing deaths to all concerned. SID suggested to the group that he provide a potential back-up, or fail-safe, to the plan. He explained that he would interpose himself between the group and the rockscythes, hiding in plain sight. If the rockscythes changed path and came at the group, SID would do something that would hopefully drop the rocksythes in their tracks. However, SID said if the rockscythes didn’t fall over, but attacked SID, they were not to approach the fight, and stay at least 5 meters away. The group took this without much comment, and they prepared for the rockscythes. SID handed Aberforth the Med Kit, saying it would be better in their hands, if things went sideways. SID prepared his Paz Dispenser containing Tranq patches, hoping that the first part of his back-up plan worked and it wouldn’t be needed. However, there was also the possibility that if the first part of the plan didn’t work, the Tranq patches probably wouldn’t work either, for similar reasons. Then, there would always be the other option, but that would mean things had gone very, very wrong, and SID would be in the middle of a gang-pummeling, trying to bitch-slap big, nasty, irritated rockscythes. And the team were told not to come help. SID was really relying on the assumption that metal and composites would not be enticing to rockscythes, especially if they were irritated.
Lavi wielded up the illusion, putting up a wall that would appear like a segment of field, and obscure the group, as SID chameleoned into desert and neutralized any difference in ambient temperature of his outer surface. Lavi was phenomenally successful in her attempt, producing an illusion indistinguishable from the surrounding area. Then, as the rockscythes passed by, Lavi moved the illusion slowly around, keeping the illusion between the group and the rockscythes. SID remained motionless, tracking the creatures, attempting to anticipate any change in direction towards the group. Suddenly, one of the rockscythes stumbled, falling head over heels in the dust. The rest of the pack continued without turning their heads to even look behind, as the clumsy one picked itself up, gave itself a shake and ran to catch up with the rest. The team went completely unnoticed.
Then, with the threat disappearing in the distance, SID rejoined the group, Lavi allowed her illusion to disapate, and SID repossessed the Med Kit. Off the team went, heading off on their intended path.
After a few hours, late afternoon-ish, the adventurers came to the a rundown shanty town called Port Maddog (in the middle of a desert? Optimists?). The place was really distressed, and any of the inhabitants the team came across were withdrawn and all but avoided the adventurers. They seemed to take no interest in the group, as if avoiding contact, keeping their heads down and moving about their business.
Having found what looked like a general store, they entered into a very sparsely stocked establishment. Most of the goods, what little was there, were of very poor quality. How this place remained in operation was a mystery. Lavi asked the proprietor about transportation, after purchasing a dubious bar of “food-like substance”, to which he replied there wasn’t anything like a car, or scheduled transportation, in the town. The only place where any type of transportation might be found was Jeb’s Ranch north of the town, where there were horses.
Horses? In this environment? It would take ridiculous levels of infrastructure to care for and protect horses in this day and age. Very strange. And probably dangerous to approach, let alone attempt to bargain with.
The group headed out of town, ostensibly heading for Jeb’s Ranch…
Shortly after getting out of sight of Port Maddog, the group paused for a discussion. It was decided that it didn’t seem likely that they would find suitable transportation at Jeb’s Ranch, and dealing with yet another potentially hostile agency was not in the best interests of the group, nor the mission. Lavi suggested that she could form some sort of air creation that could carry the group, and they could travel for a period of time that would not leave any tracks. She described her intention, and the group collaborated on the idea. Perhaps as much as an hour might be possible? With additional assistance of the other wielders, they could even make this a very viable means of transportation. Lavi wielded up a form imagined as an air manta ray. She was, again, phenomenally successful, forming an awesome aberration of beauty and grace. All of the team climbed on, and Lavi threw her overcoat on the manta ray and unfurled her wings. She took flight, and mentally pulled the manta ray along with her at about 30 kph.
Aberforth appraised the situation, and thought he could embellish Lavi’s wielding. His attempt gained some measure of control and additional solidity of the form. This gave more structural integrity to the manta ray, and allowed Lavi and Aberforth to double the speed it could travel. With the success of the wielding, they estimated the form would travel for about two hours at around 70-ish kilometers an hour. Lavi added some personal restrains to the form and landed on it, to spare her the exertion of flying and retaining control of the wielding.
The manta ray was taken to about 100 foot altitude, and away to the east the group went, heading toward Salt Lake City. Along the way, SID used his vision equipment and surveillance capability to search for any threats and tracking. He saw lots of things, up to 40 kilometers away, small communities and other objects, but nothing immediately threatening to, nor likely to intercept, the manta ray and the group. Throughout this travel, SID went through several logic error crises, attempting to deal with the impossible situation. Only by segmenting off the improbable events he was experiencing, that he had no reference to explain, nor experience to deal with, was he able to continue to function. He used the surveillance tasks to distract himself, and focused on contributing to successful completion of the mission. This illogical, and to him physically impossible, means of travel was much better than the unlikely, and dangerous, option of dealing with Jeb.
The period of travel had also allowed SID to consider future group tactics, and the near-encounter with the rockscythes had highlighted a potential catastrophe. SID reevaluated his self-protection policy, and now realized that it was a danger to the team. If he wanted the team to help him, he should advise them of his worst-case contingency. As the group was reaching the end of the projected travel time, SID asks the group to listen to him for a moment. SID revealed that he had jury-rigged a self-defense device into his structure. The system would allow him to release knockout gas at will. Also, and more importantly, if SID was disabled, or rendered inoperable, the knockout gas would be released automatically. Anyone near SID, not wearing respirators or immune to knockout gas, would be rendered unconscious for at least 5 minutes. This was something that SID had implemented in the event he was disabled by an electro-magnetic pulse, to allow him to recover before whomever attacked him and to deal with the attackers before they could do whatever to him. SID had implemented this when he had no-one but himself on which to depend. Now that he was in a team, SID wanted the team to understand that should SID be rendered inoperative in the future, any of the group near SID would be in danger of succumbing to knockout gas. This was not well received by some of the group, and especially Eve, who was verbally restrained by the group from shoving SID off the manta ray. Eve was barely able to contain her displeasure.
Asked how this worked, SID explained that he had suborned a cooling cannister of his IR countermeasures system, and had filled it with knockout gas. Then he rigged it with a power-on switch, that would open when he lost power, or if he consciously turned off the switch. This was what he was going to use on the rockscythes, and why he told the group to stay away from him, if the rockscythes started beating on him. If the rockscythes attacked SID, the knockout gas would not have been effective, but it would most likely have worked on the team as they rushed in to help. This would have resulted in a very unfortunate situation. Aberforth asked how many uses this system had, to which SID replied that it might work, deliberately, about two times, but would empty out completely if SID was subjected to something like an electro-magnetic pulse. Because this system was jury-rigged, it was not rechargeable without a chemical lab and a compressor.
So, SID had attempted to disclose information to the team to ensure he did not endangering them in the future, and to provide them with knowledge of tactical capability of which the team could take advantage in future situations. It was confusing to him that there seemed to be more animosity directed toward him from some of the group, rather than a positive reaction to the knowledge. Biological creatures were not logical.
About two hours after leaving Port Maddog and 140 kms to the east, before the aberration disappeared, the manta ray is set down in a secluded spot. As the team dismounts, Aberforth steps off in a Bad Ass Swagger. There had been some awesome wielding performed today, and a sign of greater things to come…