Rise of the Terrans

Session 23

Session 23: Breaking and Entering Someone’s Obvious Secret Lair: A How-To Guide

As the PCs float closer to the cliffside, they can see the Synodan ship has a huge gash in it, as if something had pried it open; they had previously seen similar destruction while walking to the signal, Synodans and their ships ripped open by some large monster. Fallen Synodan bodies litter the area, and many appear to be greatly damaged. On Adriana’s scanner, the readings become increasingly erratic the closer they get to the cliffside, with signal points jumping around and flickering, though it’s clear that the source is above them. The ice hits the cliff and comes to a rest, and the PCs can instantly tell that something is off; despite the noise from the surf and the wind, as well as flickering from the Synodan ship—which still has flashing lights—the area feels off-putting. Before they can mention their unease, Pip flickers above Sarah’s shoulder and laughs, saying tht he feels a little dizzy. Concerned, the PCs push him for answers, but he only pauses and then elaborates that he hasn’t had that feeling before, and he is not aware of the cause.

The PCs decide to scale the cliffside to reach the cavern, located about 30 feet up from the ground; another 30 feet above that is the Synodan ship, crashed into the glacier. Adriana uses her magic to make what is essentially a low difficulty climbing wall up the cliff face to the cavern; as she climbs, she makes perfect rock shapes with ice, spaced ideally apart so that Joel and Sarah can easily follow her. When she gets about 10 feet up off the ground, she pauses, winded from climbing, so Joel uses his own magic to give her the ability to climb up the sheer face. Because she merely walks up the glacier, while Joel and Sarah climb—essentially racing each other to the cavern—she reaches the opening first, and immediately is surrounded by dead Synodan bodies. As with Synodans they had seen before, many are humanoid and some have distinct animal-like shapes, and they cover the ground. Before the cavern is an outcropping of rock, which is covered by the Synodan bodies, but inside the cavern is a pile of Synodans. Adriana walks around, investigating the area with Finn, and notices that while those outside were brutally attacked—some have large gashes in them, some are ripped to shreds, while others are frozen solid on the walls and floor—the pile appears to be merely de-activate and undamaged Synodans. Orange Synodan blood and sinew litter the area, as well. As she approaches the pile, Finn comments that the Synodans had fought, as there’s an acrid burning smell in the air, which Adriana can smell through their psychic link. When she reaches the pile, she nearly falls, and her connection to magic is suddenly muted, though it’s still present behind a disquieting muffle in her head. Steadying herself, she walks further over the pile of bodies, and once she reaches the crest she can see past the long cavern and through a large archway into a room, which contains a floating orb, slowing spinning on its axis. Shaking her head, she turns to go back and wait for Sarah and Joel. But as she passes back over edge of the pile, her magic rushes back to her; the sensation is similar to what she felt when they were first abducted from earth, as the magic in her system is suddenly accessible. Immediately, she bends over and vomits from the sensation. Her body begins to mist, disassociating into the air, before she regains control of herself and keeps her form. Finn flies out to see the other PCs, clearly worried but not calling for help, as Adriana seems to have regained normal, corporeal form; his sudden appearance distracts Sarah, who notices him first, and Joel tries to take advantage to beat her.

Joel and Sarah finally reach the cavern, with Sarah beating Joel by a hair despite her distraction. They immediately take in the brutalized Synodan bodies around them, and then they see Adriana, hunched over and vomiting with a single finger up, indicating that they should wait before speaking. When she rights herself, she tells them about the null magic sphere, as she’s come to recognize what it was from her studies on Loki’s ship. Scoffing, Sarah and Joel walk towards it, and they pass through with only the slightest of headaches. As Joel continues to walk over the bodies and towards the room, with Adriana shouting about a floating orb after him, Sarah notices a flicker of light beside her head. She turns to see a sphere, about the size of a softball, falling from shoulder height, and she catches it just as a Pip-colored light is absorbed into it. The ball is covered in glowing runes—the same color as Pip—and an orange sinew, suspiciously Synodan-like. The runes begin to fade in intensity and, panicking, Sarah runs back over the pile, tripping but managing to get the sphere out of the null magic zone before the runes fade completely. As soon as the sphere is out, the runes stop fading, but they remain dim. Sarah immediately shouts for Adriana, telling her that the Synodan sphere appears to have “eaten” Pip, like the Synodans on the tidally-locked planet ate elementals. Adriana inspects the runes, noting that they are runes for absorbing life forms, though they have been tampered with somewhat. Sarah stands and begins to walk out of the null magic zone, but as soon as she does, she begins to vomit. After a moment, the vomit turns from bile to sand, and her skin begins to dehydrate into a clay, crumbling away in pieces. Adriana immediately drops down and uses her magic to keep Sarah’s form, using water to stop the process and keep her from turning into sand.

Meanwhile, Joel, oblivious, continues to walk towards the room, which has a faint blue lighting to it. He immediately sees a bloody footprint of what appears to be a large, clawed creature. It is followed by a small bloody footprint, one that is human-like, leading towards a fountain in the middle of the room. At the edge of the fountain is another footprint, and dipping slightly into the reddened water is a bloody handprint. An orb floating above the fountain spins slowly on its axis, and it appears to be a perfect replica of earth, with all of the continents laid out. Before he can move closer and inspect it, Joel hears a faint chirping noise, and he looks up to see seven yellow canaries flying above him. They all immediately fly to the back of the room, where an opened door leads to a ladder going down a shaft. The last canary pauses before flying down, and chirps brightly at Joel, and then it follows the others. Shaken, Joel turns around and walks back to the others. He arrives to see Adriana using water magic to put Sarah back together, and he immediately runs out of the null magic zone without suffering any ill effects to reach them, demanding to know what was going on.

Coughing, Sarah explains the situation, and then re-iterates what she believes happened to Pip, holding up the clearly Synodan sphere and motioning to the dim runes. Joel explains what he saw, causing the other two to joke that he was hallucinating, though Adriana notes that she did notice the orb from afar. The PCs decided that they can’t take the Synodan sphere with them, as Pip might die in the process. They also decide that they can’t leave it in the room, as any negating of the null magic zone would result in the deactivated Synodans restarting and possibly destroying Pip themselves. They realize that they can’t destroy all of the hundreds of Synodans, so Adriana places the sphere with Pip in an ice container on the cliff-face, away from the Synodans so they won’t be able to notice it. Meanwhile, Sarah goes to a fallen Synodan and takes its sword, ripping off a chest-plate to use as her shield, while Joel inspects the dead bodies. The PCs return to the fountain room in the null magic zone, and walking into the zone causes only slight discomfort. Sarah notes that the real danger lies in leaving the null magic sphere, as even the slightest hesitation in regaining control over their innate magic will result in their death; she tells the others that the feeling must have been what Borris felt when he transcended. Adriana tests her magic, holding a chunk of ice floating over her hand as she walks into the null magic zone, and it floats for a bit before she loses control of the magic. The PCs realize that magic can be used in the zone, as it’s not completely null magic (like the terra solar system), but it merely suppresses their magic, as their innate magic feels muted rather than completely gone. Even so, Adriana points out that it will dangerous to use magic too much.

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They reach the room, only to see that the door leading to the shaft is closed, and the floating orb is blank and golden. Joel notices that the blood has been washed out from the fountain, as the water is no longer tinged with red and the blood handprint is too high to be reached by its motion. Sarah decides to cut a finger and bleed into the fountain, to see if the orb will change. As soon as her blood touches the water, the orb immediately turns into a perfect image of earth. Unlike the replica Joel saw earlier, this earth is brightly lit from city lights, as the current earth would be like during night. The PCs reason that perhaps the creature is from earth, but from a far earlier time, and that the blood is imprinted to show earth as it exists for each being. Based on the larger footprint disappearing into a smaller one, the PCs decide that the creature either turned into a humanoid being (and thus might be a human from the time when the Gaia enslaved humans) or the humanoid being used a summoned creature, and lost control of the summoning magic after some time in the null magic zone. Then notice that the door to the shaft had opened as soon as Sarah bled into the fountain. She squeezes more blood from her finger, smearing some on the side to ensure that it remains open, and then the PCs go past the door and to the ladder.

Right before the shaft, the PCs notice a button, and that the ladder leads down into water. They press the button after a moment, and the door closes behind them, as the water level goes down. They climb down the ladder, eventually reaching an empty room with a drain in the center and another ladder going up on the other side. After a second of looking around, and finding nothing, the PCs go up the other ladder. Partway up, they see a serpentine statue feature coming out of the wall, dripping with water. A cog and chain slowly tick in the room, as the chain lowers a weight, and Adriana immediately sticks her knife in it to stop the water from rising again. Further up the ladder, they reach a damp room with a bench and another door, framed by two dragon statues. The PCs go through the door and out onto a balcony, finding themselves in a cylindrical cavern. Across, about thirty feet, is another balcony, with more dragon statues and a glowing door. The balcony pair is mimicked above them, right below a rocky stalactite ceiling, and it’s mimicked below them, right above murky water. Adriana briefly returns down to ladder to retrieve her knife and hopefully raise the water level, but the murky pool doesn’t rise. The PCs can faintly hear a sloshing noise from the water, as if something is moving around in the depths.

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Sarah pulls rope from her pack, and Adriana ties a knot and gives the rope to Finn so he can fly across to the other statues and tie it securely on them. She ties the other end to a statue on their side, so they can cross securely. As Sarah easily crosses the rope over to the other side, Adriana struggles and barely stays on the rope for a second before falling off. Joel meanwhile returns to the previous room, sitting on the bench for a moment. A canary flies from the cavern, past an oblivious Adriana, to sit by Joel. It cocks its head to the side and chirps. Hesitant, Joel reaches out his hand to the bird, and the canary jumps on while chirping loudly. It leaves behind a single feather, before flying back into the cavern. Joel follows, stopping for a moment to help Adriana, but she waves him off and uses her magic to teleport to the other side. Joel follows them across, but they are stopped from passing; each time they try to walk through the glowing, opaque door, they are pushed back. Joel recognizes the magic as a one-way portal, and they are unfortunately on the wrong side.

The canaries suddenly burst through the portal, flying past the PCs and into the center of the cavern, before diving down to the water. They brush against the surface lightly, flying towards the door directly below the PCs, before immediately going back up, clearly scared of what’s in the water. After a few more chirps, they fly into the door above the PCs. Frustrated, Sarah goes back over the rope to the original balcony, to untie the knot, and tosses it back to Adriana and Joel so they can use it to climb down safety. She climbs down the rocks on her own, reaching the bottom door without a problem. Joel starts to climb down using the rope, but his arms tire halfway down and he falls into the water. Adriana quickly climbs down, reaching the water and leaning over the balcony to find Joel, but she can’t see him through the water. Under the surface, Joel sees a single pair of glowing eyes narrow when they spot him, and he freezes. A moment later, nine more pairs of eyes open, all glowing and all focused on him. He immediately swims to the surface, climbing out beside Adriana and shouting about a monster, as Sarah shouts for more information from her side of the cavern. Ten heads burst out of the water, screeching and sending spray everywhere, and the PCs realize with horror that they have awakened a hydra.

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Session 22

Session 22: Parleley, Parlelellyleloooo, Par Le Nee, Parlsey—Parley?

With Joel barely clinging onto the edge of the ice, Ali begins to charge again, double-handed axe raised. Sarah jumps forward weaponless and grabs him by the waist, effectively stopping him from reaching Joel. Ali tries to push her aside, but she manages to keep him grasped, though they both move a few inches towards Joel. As he shoves at Sarah, he roars furiously and screams about the dangers humans pose to the universe. They continue to struggle, while Behelam leans over and picks Val up, placing her on her feet. He seizes the opportunity to attack Joel by throwing two massive axes in his direction. Fortunately, they miss and lodge themselves firmly into the ground, but within seconds they begin to drag through the ice back towards him, as he outstretches his hands. Pip flies over to Joel and, with a bump to his face and a bright light, heals some of Joel’s major wounds.

Realizing that the PCs must act to stay alive, Adriana decides to take a more aggressive route, and she uses her magic to float in the air. As water from the lake swirls around her, she asserts her (and Joel’s) godly nature, as humans are known for their tremendous magical powers, and she threatens to kill them all if the minotaurs attempt to fight them. Beside her, Val recoils, obviously shaken and terrified as does Behelam, though he looks slightly less intimidated than Val. Ali, on the other hand, merely scoffs and, still in a rage, retorts that he will bathe in their blood. Joel remains on the edge of the ice, still prone on the ground, and decides to bide his time.

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Still struggling against Ali, Sarah attempts to throw him to the ground and push him away from Joel, but he remains firm. After another attempt to separate the minotaur from Joel, Ali raises his axe and slams his elbows into her back, clearly trying to move her without fatally wounding her, and the impact knocks her sideways. Sarah manages to catch herself before falling, but his attack leaves her winded and gasping on one knee. Ali shoves past her, charging at Joel once more, who uses his fire magic to try to melt the ice. It doesn’t melt completely, but it softens enough to knock Ali off-balance, and his axe slips from his grasp and sails into the water. With a roar, Ali hits the ground beside Joel and easily uses his horns to send him flying over the water. Pip immediately flies after Joel, catching him with a tractor beam and pulling him into his bubble. They fly back to Adriana, away from Ali, and Pip drops Joel at her feet with some words of inspiration and instrumental music meant to inspire them both. Adriana, still pretending to be a god, raises her hands in front of her and sends two blasts of energy at Ali. Both hit, though the first seems to do nothing, while the second sends him flying off the side of the ice. He catches himself with a snarl, clinging to the edge like Joel had. Val runs towards him, still scared of Adriana and her powers, and grasps his arm to pull him up.

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Sarah takes the chance to position herself between Ali and the others, picking up her fallen sword on the way, to maintain the guise of a commoner. Unfortunately, Behelam instantly attacks Adriana with his axes, before goring her and lifting her into the air, bleeding and gasping for air, before dropping her to the ice. Luckily, she turns briefly into water as Behelam attacks her, lessening the damage slightly. Pip bumps into her neck, healing some of her wounds, and whispers knowledge of minotaur culture to her: if battling minotaur groups, concerned that their leaders are raging and thus unable to think clearly, call for a parley, they enter a truce and restrain their leaders. Coughing, and barely audible, Adriana calls for a parley. Val perks up at the word, still holding onto Ali, and looks over to Behelam. He shrugs, agreeing to the truce, and charges past Sarah to Ali. As he and Val restrain Ali from charging at Adriana and Joel, still roaring and in a bloodlust, the PCs tackle Sarah to the ground; Joel sails past, slipping on the ice, but Pip conjures a chain which wraps around her neck as he and Adriana pin her to the ground in front of the minotaurs. While Val and Behelam try to calm Ali down, visibly struggling to hold him down, Pip lets Sarah know of their plan; she pretends to continue raging, as if they are calming her down, and finally Ali slumps over, clear-headed.

After a moment, Ali asks Sarah what their plans are; his plan will be one of two things: either he will kill the PCs to save his broodlings, and the universe, or he will let them though. Peri finally stops screaming, and comes to stand beside the minotaurs. The PCs claim to only want to go home—though Ali points out that only Adriana and Joel (to his knowledge) are humans, and thus they are the only problems. He scoffs at their indecision, saying that humans cannot handle their magic and eventually will kill innocents around them. He forces them to promise that they will kill each other if someone were to go nova; the PCs readily agree (to kill either Adriana or Joel), while Pip strangely confirms that he will do what is needed. The wording is strange, and un-Pip-like enough that the PCs all think that he is not being fully honest. When Joel says that they only want to kill Loki and go home to earth, Ali tenses and considers their words. Peri immediately turns on the minotaurs, confused that they would be willing to listen to the PCs, and Ali slowly stands. After a moment, he pushes Peri into the water, screaming, before calmly looking back the PCs and demanding to know if they will kill Loki, and then return home. The PCs promise that they will follow this mission. The minotaurs consider this, glancing at each other and nodding, before agreeing that this is their only chance to get back at Loki. When the PCs question this, Ali only wishes them luck on their mission, before the minotaurs all hold each other’s hands and fall backwards into the water. Sarah rushes to the edge of the ice in time to see Val pull out her electric weapon, killing them all, as Pip notes that all minotaur parleys end with the losing party committing suicide in a matter-a-fact voice.

The PCs all group together on the ice as it finally breaks free and floats slowly to the cliffside, towards the crashed Synodan ship. As they get closer, Adriana and Sarah notice that it was not damaged during a battle in space, or really before entering the atmosphere. Instead, it appeared to have crashed into the cliff in perfectly good condition. They look over their shoulders at the trajectory, and note that must have passed through the golden dome in the distance before flying into the side of the cliff.

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Session 21

Session 21: Inevitable and Unwarranted Murder? Check.

The group cautiously make their way through the spider’s lair. The ground appears to be covered in some thick snow, and it slightly slows them down, though only Adriana, Sarah, and Pip notice. After a few minutes of careful passage, Adriana and Sarah realize that they are walking through an illusion: the ground below them isn’t earth or snow, but rather thick spider web disguised to trap any wanderers. They immediately stop, quickly motioning for the others to listen. Sarah points to the ground, whispering “it’s a web!” repeatedly, though Ali only thinks she is referring to the general trap the spiders have certainly set for them. Exasperated, he tries to have the party move forward again, and Sarah thinks that he has realized their situation as well, so she follows suit. Adriana, being the more perceptible of the two, instead stays where she is and demands that Ali listen. While she continues to point out that they’re standing on web, Joel finally listens to them and grows increasingly concerned. Mequil reaches down and picks up some of the web, but even with his goggles he thinks he picks up dirt, and he points out how useless the commoners are with a roll of his eyes. Angry, Adriana reaches forward and tries to stop Ali from walking away again. She causes him to go slightly off balance, and with an ominous noise the spider web fluctuates below their feet. The group freezes, and Adriana can hear the sound of movement from all around them. Before she can warn the others, the ground below the minotaurs and the Vanir bursts open, and swarms of spiders pour out onto the web.

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Furious, Sarah and Adriana scream “I told you so!” at the group, before they are distracted by the spiders around them. Below the webs, now broken from the illusion, the PCs can see Ettercap crawling on the underside of the webs. Using his mask, Joel looks through the webs and sees dozens more web levels below them; the sides of the cavern are covered in holes and alcoves, some filled with more spiders, others with Ettercaps, and even more with egg sacs. Below him, an Ettercap reaches up and attempts to grab his leg to bring him down, but he manages to fight it off and stay standing. Meanwhile, Adriana is swarmed by small spiders, ranging from the size of her fist to as small as a thumbnail, but she bounces from foot to foot to keep them off. Immediately, a large snow spider—as large as a bull—lunges at her and wraps its forelegs around her torso while biting into her neck. Adriana instantly reacts, as she knew about the trap moments before it was sprung, and blasts the spider away from her, taking advantage of its grapple to hide her magic from the Vanir and minotaurs. Another Ettercap attempts to reach through the webbing to grab Sarah, but like Joel she manages to avoid it, and instead stabs it with her sword. Pip flies into the air during the panic and yells for everyone to close their eyes, as he has a brilliant plant. The PCs listen, though the others do not, and all of the nearby creatures are mesmirized as Pip begins to glow brightly while spinning and pulsing, creating a disco-ball effect as he sings, effectively charming all of the spiders and Ettercaps, as well as Osi and Mequil. On the edge of the cavern, Pip sees Oshenic uncloak, revealing that he was standing with his rifle out and pointed at one of the frost spiders. When the spiders all freeze, entranced by Pip, he lowers his gun and demands to know who used a charm spell. The PCs all point to Pip, while he happily replies. Oshenic yells at the group to run, specifying that the minotaurs need to carry Osi and Mequil to safety, and then he throws a grenade into the cavern. Upon exploding, it sets the web on fire, and the group runs while the spiders and Ettercap all shriek as they are burned to death.

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When they reach the crevice edge, Oshenic helps pull his own group to safety, but he doesn’t offer any help to the PCs. They all watch as the Ettercap attempt to save spiders and egg sacs, prompting Oshenic to throw more grenades at them. Pip floats over to Joel and points out that his position of being the supreme baby killer has been usurped. Meanwhile, Adriana hears a small voice crying for help. When the others can’t hear anything, she realizes that the voice is in her mind, and she traces it back to a small alcove in the cliffside below them. Knowing that Joel can use his powers to easily climb through the spider webs, she has him investigate, and he finds a small silver psuedo-dragon, trapped among its dead siblings with clipped wings. He rescues it by burning the web, careful to keep his magic secret from the others, then takes a moment to send fire throw the nursery tunnel system, reclaiming his title as the best baby killer in the group. When he returns to the surface, a new spring in his step, the dragon immediately jumps to Adriana, crawling around her delightedly before settling on her shoulder. He introduces himself as Finn to her, while Pip seethes nearby and flies over to Sarah, clearly jealous of the animal, which is smaller than him and clearly allowed to settle on Adriana (while he was not).

Crisis averted, the group sets off again to the source of the signal. They quickly reach the edge of a lake, which contains a large glacier. Immediately, they realize that a Synodan ship has crashed into the glacier; below the ship, a cave was carved into the ice. The Vanir and minotaur tense upon seeing the ship and begin making preparations to fight the Synodans, with the minotaurs readying their weapons and Oshenic going to the water’s edge with a scope to look at out them. While the PCs talk to Ali and Peri, inquiring as to what the ship is (fooling nobody, as it is clear that they are lying about not knowing what Synodans are) and angering the group by asking to not fight, Oshenic pulls what appear to be marbles from his pocket, throwing them into the air. They immediately begin flying to the cave. Sarah asks what they are, and Oshenic refuses to elaborate beyond that they are scanning devices, pointing out that commoners are too stupid to understand the complex technology. Adriana then asks Pip for some elaboration, and he reveals that similar drones had flown into their tent the previous night to scan for magical energy while the PCs were sleeping. Sarah furiously confronts Oshenic, and when he doesn’t respond she shoves him roughly, causing him to fall into the water. The others instantly react: the minotaurs draw their weapons on her, Ali shouting at Sarah, and the remaining Vanir back away in fear. Sarah tries to defend herself, saying that she didn’t know he would fall in, as Osi and Val dive into the water to rescue Oshenic. Joel helps Sarah tie rope around herself, and she takes a running leap into the water to save Oshenic, turning partially into stone to help herself sink. Adriana notices dark shapes in the water swimming towards the group, and she tries to warn the group as the shapes are revealed to be killer whales.

Under the surface, an orca attacks Osi, as his white fur makes him appear to be a seal, and it visciously bites into him and shakes him. Adriana uses her magic to attack one of the remaining killer whales, as the other two had split up. As she falls, Sarah turns a hand into a blade and slashes the orca attacking Osi; though Osi and Val don’t notice her magic through the bloodied water, Oshenic looks up while trying to strip himself of his heavy gear. On the ice, Joel tries to hold onto the rope tightly, having Ali help him as Sarah sinks quickly. Behelam walks to the edge of the water, using his axe to send an energy beam into the water, hitting the orca, though it doesn’t let go of Osi and continues to bite into him. Mequil realizes that the probes sent by Oshenic are returning and, to prevent them from plunging into the water, he tries to use some tech to bring them to him instead. Pip shouts encouragingly, though he is still held in Adriana’s hand, as a ruse to prevent the group from knowing about Adriana’s magic. The orcas slam into the side, breaking it and sending people flying: Ali falls, and Joel almost lets go of the rope, while Mequil slips and Behelam turns to attack one of the orcas. Meanwhile, Val tries to stop the orca from continuing to attack Osi, but she ends up shocking the three of them with her electric weapons. Oshenic, finally light enough to swim without most of his supplies, swims up to meet Sarah with a strange look on his face, which she interprets as pleading for help.

The orcas continue to brutally attack the party, eventually dragging Mequil away screaming, leaving a bloody smear on the ice. Osi is severely injured, but the orca is shaken off of him with further attacks. Sarah finally reaches Oshenic, wrapping an arm around his waist and signaling to Joel to pull them to safety by returning her stone form to flesh. As they rise, Oshenic grabs onto Osi, and the orca slams into Sarah, attempting to rip her off of the rope (thus taking the other two with her). Seizing the opportunity, Oshenic reaches above Sarah and cuts the rope, letting her fall with the orca still biting into her as he shrugs. Furious, Sarah spins in the water, sending the orca at Oshenic. It immediately rips into him, brutually ripping him in half and dragging him, as well as Osi, into the depths. On the surface, the others see an orca playing with Mequil’s dead body. Adriana uses her magic to summon an illusion, a delicious seal, which distracts the other orca and leaves them alone. Sarah swims back to the surface with Val, who is visibly and terribly injured, and shaken from their encounter. They collapse on the surface, panting and covered in blood—mostly Oshenic’s and Osi’s—while the others attempt to ask about their companions. The group attempts to collect themselves; Val sobs into the ground, while Ali tries to comfort her, and Behelam and Peri appear shell-shocked. The group notices a dark swarm flying towards them: Pip recognizes them as Synodans, and the group tries to conceal themselves, but it is quickly clear that they will need to use magic.

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Adriana tries to conjure an illusion, but it flickers away. When she tries to hand Pip to Joel, still feigning a lack of inherent magic, Ali stops them and tells them to stop pretending. Joel immediately conjures a dark cloud which shields them, and the Synodans eventually return their ship. As the magical darkness disappears, the PCs ask Ali about his meaning. He reveals that he knows that they are not commoners, as they can use magic. ‎While it’s clear that Peri is not happy with them being humans, he merely shrugs when Ali tells the PCs to go their own way, and he doesn’t want to be around humans using unstable magic and further endangering his group. Sarah instantly points out that she cannot use spells, and he tells her (still using the “Little Bull” nickname) that she can join them, especially when she feigns surprise at “learning” that Joel and Adriana are humans. Joel decides to point out that they did not want to have any of this happen, saying that Loki designed them to be this way. The others immediately tense, and Ali charges at Joel with a yell, hacking at him with an axe and sending him flying to the edge of the ice. Joel manages to hang onto the edge, but he knocks his head, and is clearly close to death from the attack.

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Session 20

Session 20: We’re All Criminals Here

The PCs finally reach the icy cliff after gathering extra supplies from the dead wolf and DAJ. It stands about 80 feet tall, and it is translucent rather than opaque. While deliberating what to do, Joel reaches out and touches the ice with his bare hand. Even though it’s bitterly cold, within seconds the ice begins to melt at his touch. Adriana tries and finds a similar effect, though she barely melts the ice compared to Joel, who apparently burns hotter than normal humans. The PCs decide that Joel will melt ice with his fire powers, and Adriana will use the liquid water to construct stairs up the side of the cliff. Meanwhile, Sarah—attached to them with a rope in case they fall—will follow behind with Pip. The PCs begin to ascend the cliff, and Pip suddenly notices a dragon flying overhead. He neglects to tell the PCs, however, as it is outside 100 yards and thus not “important.”

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After about 20 feet of climbing, Sarah and Pip notice that both Adriana and Joel are beginning to become exhausted from the effort. Joel suddenly sits down and refuses to move, forcing Adriana to shuffle past him and begin to make liquid water herself from the surrounding ice. Even so, they barely make any progress, as she too is exhausted. Sarah, frustrated, shouts at Joel to get him to move, while Pip says encouraging words, and they make a few more steps. As Sarah follows behind, she reaches the step which Joel had sat on, and the ice immediately breaks under the feet, causing her to fall back. Pip catches her instantly, and severs the rope connecting her to the others, but Adriana and Joel are still pulled back and they start to fall. Adriana catches herself by freezing her arms into the cliff above a ledge, while Joel swings below her like a pendulum on the rope. Pip drops Sarah safely onto a secure step and flies over to Adriana and Joel to help them, while Sarah furiously shouts at them both. When Adriana retorts and calls her a monster, Sarah sets off and begins to climb the cliff on her own, scaling the side and leaving them behind. Joel manages to unfreeze Adriana with a last bit of strength, freeing her and allowing them to continue making stairs together, with Pip trying to motivate them as they work. Just as they reach the top, Sarah double-times her efforts, crawling over the edge before they can reach it, and leaving her to collapse on the ground while crowing her victory.

Adriana and Joel walk onto the cliff next to her and immediately notice a campsite set up with people watching them curiously. Calling to Pip, Adriana forces him to stay quiet and pretend to be a necklace. The PCs cautiously walk to the camp, which consists of three large fur tents—one white and two of darker fur—and a fire. While most of the people stay sitting on giant tusks curved around the fire, one—a tall Vanir with blond hair—immediately walks over to the PCs, exclaiming loudly and in a high-pitched voice that they should come closer to the warmth, and share their food. Two Vanir and four minotaurs watch them, but say nothing. Joel doesn’t wait to walk over to another Vanir who looks up at him with a steely glare, as Adriana and Sarah try to assess the situation. The Vanir asks them if they were recently sentenced—judging by their clothes, which aren’t made for the cold weather, while this group clearly has been on the planet for some time—and Adriana mentions that they crashed recently. This gains the attention of the angrier Vanir, who looks at Joel more closely. He asks if the PCs have any spare battery packs, and they (truthfully) deny having any, though they have one in Adriana’s console. The PCs notice that each group member has remnants of tech on them, along with furs and other things from the planet. Inside their tents, the PCs can see more tech, though most of it looks incredibly old as compared to what they saw on Loki’s gambit. The minotaurs all lack their nose rings, though the piercings are there. When Adriana accidentally mentions “other humans” the whole group tenses, and many reach casually for their weapons. The PCs can see that the seated Vanir has something like a rifle under his furs. Adriana manages to bluff their way out, with Sarah confirming that they were simply confused following their alleged sentencing to the planet for being murderers. Remarking mockingly about the “commoners”, the seated Vanir—who claims that he was sentenced for killing important people—asks Sarah who owned her. Sarah immediately explodes, but before she can admit that no one owned her, Adriana steps in after hearing Pip whisper that all commoners have always been slaves, saying that she was a house slave (a jester) known for her outbursts and terrible behavior; the blond Vanir points out that she would make a terrible house slave, but he enjoys the PCs all the same. The minotaurs perk up at hearing Sarah called Little Bull, and they invite the PCs to sit with them opposite the Vanir, much to the amusement of the first Vanir, who thinks that these commoners are delightful and insists that he was falsely framed for thievery.

The PCs tell them that they were sentenced for murdering people, but they can tell that the group doesn’t really believe them. The lead minotaur—Ali—introduces the others in the camp: Peristi (or Peri, the “leader” of the Vanir), Oshenic (the angrier of the Vanir), Mequil (the Vanir fiddling with some technology), Behelam (a minotaur), Osi (the older of the minotaurs), and Val (the only female minotaur in the group). He asks to know more about the PCs. Sarah introduces herself by her name, which makes Ali confusedly ask about her name being Little Bull, which was clearly given to her by a minotaur and thus—in their culture—is something that shows a minotaur greatly respected her; when she tries to cover her slip-up by saying that the minotaur might be dead, Ali and Osi point out that she should respect him by using the given name. Adriana gives her name as EE (or double E), and she cuts Joel off before he can give a fake name and calls him Jorel, the the greatest of all the commers. Oshenic, who clearly doesn’t believe the PCs and wants to catch them in a lie (though Joel can tell that he doesn’t want to kill them, but rather wants to use them for some purpose of his own), asks for clarification. The minotaurs, eager for a story, push him for more information as well. Joel begins to tell them a story about the PCs as slaves on the planet Endor, a small forest planet: Adriana and Sarah were house slaves (in the kitchen and for comedic effect, respectively), while Joel worked in the forest. When Joel realized that the commoner slaves (descended from humans and retaining no magical powers) outnumbered their Vanir masters, he organized a revolt. However, his storytelling leaves the minotaurs waiting for more and Oshenic even more suspicious. Sarah jumps in, standing and gesturing their exploits wildly, telling the group about how the slaves brutally fought for their freedom. The minotaurs love the tale, as the Geb are only slightly valued more than commoners, and hearing about the PCs fighting against their cruel Vanir masters is something that strikes close to home for them. As Sarah details her own fight against the Vanir—bragging that she could easily take on three at a time, much the minotaurs’ delight—the Vanir in the group grow more and more horrified at her descriptions of brutal combat. Oshenic, however, looks more and more interested, and he continually asks pointed questions—like about the house crest and surname, as well as number of guards (the minotaurs, luckily, distract from Sarah’s bluffs, as her answers revolving around her kills make them laugh). It’s clear that he is very suspicious of the PCs and doesn’t believe any of their lies, but he keeps his thoughts to himself. After Sarah finishes the story with how Joel rescues her and other trapped slaves in the house, the minotaurs give them some of the meat, which turns out to be mammoth. The group reveals that they too are going to the crashed escape pod, and the PCs decide to travel with them for the time being.

While chatting, they learn that Mequil was sentenced for computer hacking with resulted in the deaths of thousands, while Peri insists that he was framed after working for a politician in the ruling counsel (and that, luckily, Loki arranged for him to end up on this planet, Skiraheim); he brags that Loki would kill to know what was in his head, as he knew many secrets of higher up politicians. Oshenic refuses to devulge any more information beyond his highly desired skill set and murderous past. Ali says that he questioned their place in the war, and indeed why the war against the Synodans was being fought to begin with, and the other minotaurs cite similar reasons for being there. The PCs learn that the planet was meant for rehibilitation, and that those sentenced could either choose to stay in the frozen wasteland until they died, or journey to the golden dome and lose their memories of their past to rejoin Asgardian society by taking a bifrost to Valhalla. The group, having refused to journey to the dome even after being there for hundreds of years, travels around the tundra looking for tech—like battery packs—and scavenging. After some time, they all retire to their tents. The minotaurs offer the PCs a place in their tents, while the Vanirs all go to the white tent, Oshenic commenting about “fleabag commoners.” Adriana offers to clean up, and though it’s clear that Ali disapproves, he leaves them alone. The PCs discuss their situation, deciding to go along with the group until they reach the escape pod, and then they’ll decide what to do from there. Pip tells them more about the prison planet, revealing that many planets like Skiraheim exist in the galaxy, but this one in particular was used by Loki. The PCs decide to stick together, first going to the tent with Osi and Val. Unfortunately, as soon as they open the flap, they see the two fucking and, disgusted, they immediately go to the other tent with Ali and Behelam. The two minotaurs give them furs to use, and the PCs can see that the tents having some internal heating source. The minotaurs fall asleep standing up, after teasing the PCs about being prudes regarding other members of the party having sex around them. While the PCs sleep, a small drone comes into the tent and flies around them, scanning for energy signatures; only Pip notices but, because it isn’t alive and too small (as per Sarah’s earlier instructions on what to warn the PCs about), he says nothing.

The next morning, the PCs wake up to a burst of cold air as Ali leaves the tent. Sarah immediately follows, while Adriana, Joel, and Behelam all grumble and sleep for a few more minutes. Outside, Osi and Val work on making a stew for breakfast, while Peri and Mequil stand around and chat with the group. Oshenic had left hours before to hunt for them. Ali mentions that they will need to go through the spider caves to reach the escape pod before any other looters. When Sarah tenses at the mention of spiders, Mequil comments on her unease; her response confuses the Vanir, when she explains that she has no weapons, since the PCs earlier mentioned that they fought off and killed direwolves. Ali gives her a minotaur dagger—which is more like a small sword for humans. When the others finally come outside, Joel and Behelam take down their tent, while Sarah offers to help Ali with the other tent. When Mequil gives Adriana an expectant glance, she offers to help him with his tent, but he brushes her off and says that he doesn’t help with that; the minotaurs do the work. Angrily, she takes down his tent, and he doesn’t offer any thanks, but instead pulls out what seems to be a coin purse that sucks in all of the tents. As the camp packs up, Oshenic returns with a small wolf over his shoulders, and he throws it onto the ground with a scowl before setting about skinning it and getting meat. The group and the PCs sit together to eat, with Osi telling them stories from old wars between the Aesir and the Vanir, and Oshenic cuts him off rudely, putting out the fire and telling the group to join him in leaving. After Ali snaps at him for his tone, Peri admits to Adriana that tensions are sometimes high, since they are having to travel with minotaurs; he tells her that it’ll be interesting traveling with commoners, of all people. The group continues to walk in the direction of the escapde pod—the smoke still comes up strong from the crash site—until they reach an area where ice and snow turn to rocks and cobwebs.

Oshenic realizes that none of the spiders are visible, and he comments that they’ll likely be walking into a trap. The minotaurs express that it might be safer to walk around, while Mequil complains about interference on his scanning device. Adriana shows him her own device, and he demands that she turns it off. Oshenic tells the minotaurs that they can follow him or they could be cowards, before reaching down to his belt and pressing something which turns him invisible. The minotaurs realize that they must move forward, and they take formation—Osi and Val in the front, the Vanir in the middle, and Ali and Behelam at the back. The PCs follow behind, but before they get far, Adriana mentions that she has a magical artifact which might help them. Pip—to the tune of Darude Sandstorm and pulsing his light—flies out, tells the PCs that he senses no spiders, and is in turn given a modified version of danger sensing instructions. The Vanir are clearly confused by his presence, but they don’t say much before the group sets off again, further into the spider lair.

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Session 19

Session 19: Fuck These Wolves in Particular

The snowstorm completely buries the PCs in their igloo, blocking out the light entirely. During the night, the wolves left their camp alone, and the watches were uneventful. After some debate, the PCs decide to go along with Adriana’s idea for escape: tunnel through the snow underground using DAJ as a makeshift plow, with Adriana following and icing the tunnel to make it secure against collapse. Sarah and Joel begin pushing the frozen Asgardian, though Joel continually slips on the ice, while Pip sings along to Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man out of You.” The song, while strange to hear from Pip, lightens the mood and gives the PCs some inspiration to push forward. After some time, Joel begins to help Adriana by pointing out any areas needing more ice, to stop the wolves above—now awake and walking around attempting to find the PCs—from hearing them or smelling them. The PCs are almost given away, as Sarah struggles the push the ice more than 90 feet with snow piling up and becoming increasingly dense on the other side, and as Adriana struggles to keep the entire tunnel from collapsing on them while remaining quiet. She manages to put up a pillar to Pip’s rendition of Darude – Sandstorm, stabilizing the tunnel and acting as a barrier in case any wolves find them.

After hours of moving, the tunnel is almost 100 feet long, but the PCs are stopped by a loud noise, as the ice cracks and sunlight pours into the tunnel. Almost immediately, a black nose presses against the ice above Sarah and Joel, and they hear the sound of paws scraping ice and snow to reach them. Further down the tunnel, a massive wolf smashes through the ice and begins to run towards the PCs, though it’s on the other side of the ice pillar. Pip comes up with a plan to possibly kill the wolves near them, and scare any of the other wolves on the surface away: he will use his magic to collapse the roof, sending the wolf above them crashing down. The PCs get into position, with Adriana using her water powers to push the wolf already in the tunnel away from them, and to raise icy spikes below where the surface wolf will fall. Pip uses his powers with Joel and Sarah safely moved away (Joel having melted the ice for a small space after watching Sarah use brute force to slam her way into a small alcove of ice), but Adriana is still too close for his spell, and she is slammed against DAJ’s ice block. On the other side of DAJ, another wolf jumps into the tunnel, getting stuck and yipping at DAJ attempts to bite it.

The surface wolf slams into the ice spikes, and Sarah immediately follows with two slashes from her arm, now turned to stone. Adriana attacks the wolf, while Pip viciously mocks it and its mother, and the wolf tries to limp away, bloodied and severely injuried. It dies moments later after Pip mocks it again. DAJ is pulled onto the surface by a wolf, and the PCs can hear all of the wolves snarling while DAJ groans back. The other wolf finally makes it to the PCs after struggling to fit its massive body through the tunnel. It bites Sarah but she, in a bloodlust, can hardly feel the attack and instead slashes at the wolf, goading it into paying attention only to her. The other PCs take advantage of its distraction, burning it and pelting it with water. As it attempts to flee, trailing blood behind it, it howls to the other wolves, and the PCs can hear the pack leave.

Hardly injuried, the PCs assess the situation while Pip sings merrily above them. Adriana goes to the surface to see DAJ ripped to pieces and groaning pitifully. She uses an ice pick to put him out of his misery, and takes some of his possessions: some gold coins and a small dagger. Meanwhile, Sarah—still amped up on rage—attempts to single-handedly pull the dead wolf to the surface. She only manages to straighten it, while Joel skins it. He gets enough for two pelts, which he and Adriana use, and they gather extra meat for when their rations run out.

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Session 18

Session 18: Winter Is Already Here, and It Sucks

The PCs tumble through space, as their escape pods flip and try to align themselves. As they leave the wormwhole, an unfamiliar planet comes into sight, and the escape pods attempt to correct their courses to the planet. Their descent into the atmosphere is rough and jarring; Adriana vomits immediately, all over herself and Pip, while Joel and Sarah are jerked around. While entering the atmosphere of the planet, they see the ground below them is covered in lava and desolate rocky plains; the volcanoes and craters give way to mountains and forest, and they notice a golden dome surrounded by vegetation. However, while their escape pod attempts to correct their course to land there, they are sent careening away, hitting off of mountains onto the other side of the range, into a tundra filled with ice plains and snow.

Sarah crash lands into the middle of an ice plane. The hatch opens and is immediately ripped off by the strong and icy cold winds. Even though the pod burns and keeps itself somewhat warm, the cold seeps in and it’s clear that the clothes the PCs wore on the ship won’t help them on this planet. The pod beeps a happy message—“You have landed safetly. The ambient weather is -20 °C. Thank you for choosing this escape pod!”—while Sarah crawls out of the wreckage. She turns her skin to stone, but the cold seeps in even worse, and she reluctantly goes back to flesh form. Over the howling wind, she can hear what sounds like a pack of animals, but she can’t see them near her. Sarah tries to use the communications console to contact the other PCs, but there’s no signal, and it’s not clear if it’s from her misuse of the instrument or if they’re not alive. As she attempts to salvage parts for warmth—fuel for a small torch, a blanket, and some rations—the sky overhead is brilliant with falling debris, like a meteor shower. Some of the wreckage seems to turn in middair, like escape pods would. She sees one crash down a few miles away, and she sets off for it alone.

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Meanwhile, Adriana and Pip crash into a different part of the tundra. The hatch of their pod flies off, and Adriana tentatively turns into water to get the vomit off of herself. Pip briefly washes himself off as well before Adriana returns to human form, realizing that she can’t keep turning herself into water in this cold. Adriana attempts to salvage parts of her escape pod, finding rations and a blanket luckily not coated in vomit. Pip keeps up a lively conversation the whole time, with unhelpful suggestions, and she tries to tune him out, annoyed after their prolonged space voyage together. Adriana manages to work one of the consoles in the ship, and she extracts it from the pod to make it portable. One of the extra batteries is missing, but the console is fully charged for a few days worth of use. The console shows blip a few miles away from her crash landing, with a weak signal. Adriana learns that Pip can only carry them in himself for about 10 minutes before they would run out of air, something the PCs never considered before. Pip manages to tractor beam a piece of metal in front of himself, and he uses it to keep them warm for most of the walk to the other escape pod, though she has to use the blanket for the last leg. Pip rests on her shoulder for the walk, much to her annoyance, as the wind is strong enough to push him around.

Joel, unlike the others, crashes into the side of a mountain. His escape pod slides down, and as the hatch attempts to open, it is covered by snow and he is effectively trapped inside. Seeing no other option, he ignites, burning the inside of the console severely but thawing the snow above him so he can crawl out into the icy wind. Weakened by his fire powers, he tries to salvage parts for himself, but the entire inside of the pod was burned, and nothing remains for use. Looking around, he notices that the sky is still bright with falling wreckage—parts of Asgardian ships, pieces of a Synodan ship, and chunks of metal hurling through the atmosphere. He tries to walk down the slope, but he collapses, exhausted. The air thrums with some magic energy, making his fire powers weaken him instead of warm him, and he feels drained of strength. As he falls, he sees a figure with a glowing ball on its shoulder, and he tries to make his way towards them. Adriana and Pip run to help him up, sharing their blanket and making sure he isn’t hurt. As they bring Joel back to the escape pod, Sarah finally reaches the pod and realizes the Joel was the cause of the steam she saw rising from the mountain earlier. She gives Joel to torch to warm himself up, and keeps the blanket for herself. The PCs wonder where they are; all three saw the golden dome and the lush forests, but both are weeks away by foot. Everything around them is ice, snow, and mountains, and they aren’t sure where Ashlee is, or if any of the humans made it back to earth.

Adriana notices that a storm is brewing on the horizon, and that they must take shelter soon before they’re trapped in a snowstorm. Joel and Sarah work together to make an igloo, using the torch and their own body heat to melt the snow and reform it into ice. They all stow themselves inside the igloo for the night, tired and horribly cold. As they work, they ask Pip to keep watch in the threshold for any problems: anything living over a kilogram in size, walking to the igloo, including Synodans or other robotic forms. The PCs finally finish the igloo after a few hours of work, and they decide to take watch during the night. Sarah takes first watch, regaling Pip with more stories about LOTR, finally finishing the story for him. Adriana takes the next watch, and she finally snaps and tells Pip that LOTR isn’t real after he tries to talk to her about the Battle of the Five Armies. They talk instead about Pip, and how he grew up with 5000 brothers and sisters and his “mother” on some distant planet; at some point, Loki found him and trained him. Adriana asks if Pip liked Loki, to which he responds that he can only saw good things about Loki, and she gets irritated and stops their conversation when he asks if she liked working for Loki and Borris. Joel, during his watch, talks about Star Wars, and Pip is fascinated by these historical documentaries of earth.

The next morning, Adriana looks at her console and sees a blip that appears to be a few hours away from them, due east. The PCs set off, with Sarah leading, followed by Adriana, with Joel at the rear with Pip and the torch to keep warm. They reach the bottom of the mountain slope, and Adriana notices three icy craters in the ground; Pip faintly sees paw prints in the ground, but he doesn’t saw anything to the PCs, as nothing living is currently approaching them within a set distance. The PCs walk for some time through knee-deep snow; after an hour, Adriana switches her blanket for Joel’s torch to keep warm, and Pip finally flies forward to Sarah to say (in his best indoor voice) that 18 living creatures over 1 kg in mass are following them about 860 yards back; she and the PCs immediately stop (Pip notes that the creatures also stop along with the PCs), and tells Joel and Adriana. They decide to keep walking, as they might reach the other escape pod soon, but they have Pip keep a closer eye on the creatures (which he describes as humans covered in fur on their hands and knees).

The PCs come across a wreckage with a Synodan in the center. Adriana and Joel instantly recognize that it had been killed on the planet, as evidence of elementals escaping the body are all around them, and it seems like it had been torn in half. The creatures, now clearly stalking the PCs, are much closer than they were before, while the blip is no closer than it was in the morning. Pip notes that the signal may be overamplified, perhaps through the use of another battery; the PCs wonder if they’ll find a human, or something else, as the alarm on Loki’s gambit was shipwide, and the escape pod may house a Geb, an Asgardian, or a Synodan instead. The PCs continue to walk, leaving the corpse behind them, and they finally reach a great frozen lake; on the other side, a shear cliff wall blocks their path, but they agree to climb up and over to reach the blip. As they step on the ice, it cracks loudly, but they know that it should be safe to cross. The PCs begin to cross, but the creatures—now direwolves, they realize—come up to flank them, preventing their crossing. Adriana and Pip attempt to discern if the wolves are trying to stop them from moving forward at someone else’s bidding, while Sarah and Joel realize that the wolves don’t want to fight them, but they also don’t want to let the PCs escape up a cliff before they can be eaten. The PCs back away as the front wolves begin to howl, and they instead start walking around the frozen lake.

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As they walk, they see a frozen Asgardian in full battle regalia in the ice, about ten feet down, with clothes old enough to indicate that he had been down there for some time. Adriana and Joel start to set up camp, another igloo, while Pip keeps watch for the wolves—now faded into the snow, much closer than they were before—and Sarah digs out the body to use as bait. As she unearths the Asgardian, throwing him up to the surface while cursing loudly, Adriana senses necrotic magic, realizing that the Asgardian is undead. She tries to warn Sarah, but she is too far away for Sarah to notice, and she kicks angrily at the Asgardian. The ice around his head cracks, and he immediately begins to groan, and Sarah runs back to the others, screaming about zombies. The PCs panic; they have a zombie in their camp, an igloo, and they are surrounded on all sides by the direwolves, which have already settled into packs of three around their camp, drawn in by the sound of the groaning zombie. The PCs decide to place the zombie in the doorway, as a door, and hope to lure a more curious direwolf closer to their igloo so they can kill it and hopefully scare the other direwolves away. They decide to keep watch behind the zombie—named DAJ (Dead Asgardian Jingwei)— door, so as to catch any direwolves unaware, and settle in for another night snowstorm.

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Session 17

Session 17: Revenge of the Terrans (aka, Ashlee: “Punish me, Borris!”)

The PCs stumble into the next hallway, with a sealed door between them and the breach. As Pip heals them, Liza begins to stir, and she jumps out with a scowl, pulling out her dagger. The PCs immediately grow defensive, as they thought Liza would still remain their friend. Instead, she backs away slowly towards O’Hare and Nilima’s unconscious bodies, knife up, and demands to know where Natalia and Advotya are. The PCs try to bluff their way through the question, but Liza notices Advotya’s brutalized body, and she grows even more defensive when the PCs admit that they left Natalia in the breached hallway. Ashlee attempts to heal her, to show that they don’t want to attack her, but Liza slashes at her with her dagger. Frustrated, Ashlee turns to walk away, even though none of them want to leave Liza and the others alone. As Adriana tries for diplomacy, Sarah tries to help wake the Scots up, but Liza shadow jumps at her and cracks a chunk of rock off of Sarah’s body. The PCs finally give up and leave Liza alone, even as the ship rocks from the increasingly destructive battle.

The PCs make their way to Loki, after coming to an agreement that they can’t (or won’t, for most of them) help Borris. They find Loki in an office, sitting casually at a desk covered in holographic control panels and surveying the battle outside the ship; Joel can see the names of the humans on one panel, all in red except for the PCs, which glow green. When the PCs walk in, he turns to ask if their mission was successful. Before the PCs answer, they notice two stasis pods at the back of the room, containing two humans they’ve never seen before. On edge, the PCs try to demand answers and explain why they couldn’t kill Borris; Loki rejects their answers, using magic to force Sarah to sit down, and he gets obviously irritated with the PCs. The doors open before the conversation can escalate, and Borris walks in alone. For the first time since the training sessions, the PCs see Borris’s weapon: an energy whip, coiled on his hip. On the other side, there’s a black box with blinking lights attached to his belt. Loki doesn’t seem surprised, and instead he smirks as he stands to roll up his sleeves. The PCs all try to back away from the two of them. Borris laments that the PCs refused to trust him and help save all of the humans, but he is interrupted by Loki flinging golden energy blasts at him. The door and the surrounding wall explode, but when the dust settles, Borris is shielded by a blue energy and is unharmed. He flings himself at Loki, and the two are caught in a battle of wills, with energy swirling around them. To diffuse the situation in Loki’s favor, Ashlee blasts magic at Borris, but the spell is caught in the whirlwind and lashes at Sarah and Joel, who barely dodge in time. Sarah, recognizing the arcane arc between Loki and Borris, tells the others that they need to distract one of them to break the energy. Forgetting about Pip’s nature, she thinks aloud that maybe Pip and carry one of them above the fight to drop down from above. Pip immediately scoops her up, but he can’t get through the whirlwind, and the two end up orbiting around the fight, screaming the whole time. Sarah manages to grab onto the half wall behind Loki’s desk, and Pip tractor beams onto her just in time, as Adriana sends a wall of water to crash down on the fight. The balance shifts, but the two remain locked in the fight. As Joel and Ashlee decide what to do next, as they don’t want to risk hurting the other PCs, Sarah slingshots Pip at the fight, and he flies at Loki, letting Borris gain ground. Sarah is hurled backwards into one of the stasis pods, breaking it open and releasing the human within, who falls the ground and convulses in pain. Loki, voice distorted through the energy field, yells at the PCs to get their shit together. Similarly hard to hear, Borris shouts at the PCs to not trust Loki, as he’s been lying to them this whole time. When Loki accuses Borris of the same, bringing up the mind control powers, Borris reveals that Loki installed fail-safes in their heads, to kill them if they try to oppose them.

As Loki laughs, saying that if he wanted them dead he would have done it a long time ago, Adriana raises her hands, summoning an iron hand which karate chops on onto the fight, breaking the energy field and sending the two flying, Loki at Joel and Borris at Sarah. Loki stumbles, but remains aloft, and he turns to Joel as he hovers lower to the ground. Borris slams into the wall, coughing up blood and shaking, but he frantically checks the black box to see if it’s unharmed before checking himself for injuries. Sarah stands, leaving Borris on the ground even though he reaches to her hand to pull himself up, and demands to know what the box is. Borris reveals that it was made by Marco, who infiltrated Loki’s inner circle and learned of the bomb in their brains. Conflicted, Sarah lets Borris stands, and he continues to explain that he wasn’t sure of their loyalty, but he still wants to save all of the humans from Loki; to do so, he needs to remove the fail safe from their heads, first from his to prove his trustworthiness. Pip heals Borris of some of his injuries. On the other side of the room, Loki tells Joel not to trust Borris; unlike the Russian, he has been honest with them and he truly cares for their well-being. Joel angrily demands to know why their names are now in red on the control panel, and Ashlee and Adriana try to ask more about the fail-safes, pointing out that Loki cares for them only as resources. Loki, flying across the room to Borris, assures them that he wants them to live, and he prepares to kill Borris. Sarah tries to pin Borris against the wall to demand more answers, especially now that Loki is seeming more and more like an enemy. As soon as she touches him, his influence grows stronger, and she becomes assured that helping Borris is the only way. As Loki flies over the half wall, Joel close behind, Sarah lunges at Loki and slashes him with her obsidian arm before grabbing him. She drags him to the control panel and slams him onto the desk, and tells him to remove the fail-safes from their brains. The other PCs immediately grow defensive, especially after Sarah punches Loki squarely in the face. Joel tries to pull her off of him, and Sarah, seeing Joel as a threat to the mission, places him in a chokehold. Adriana tries to diffuse the situation, but as she walks closer, Loki lashes out in an energy shockwave, sending Sarah and Adriana flying. Now heavily injured, even though Joel had used a fire hand to soften her landing, Adriana attempts to steady herself, and Borris approaches her calmly, uncoiling his energy whip. He tries to assure her that he’s only going to help, and the whip wraps around Adriana; she convulses in pain for a moment, before feeling some of her injuries fade away, leaving her feeling better than before, and on Borris’s side. Ashlee backs away from the fight, while Loki angrily calls Pip to his side to heal her.

The PCs fight each other as well as Borris and Loki, evenly split on either side. Sarah and Adriana use the control panel to learn more about the captured humans—Loki’s other pet projects—and Adriana calls up a new pod for Borris to remove the fail-safe, though she accidentally kills the human in the previous pod in the process. At Loki’s request, Joel destroys one of the consoles to try to stop Borris, then makes his way over to Loki and Borris, a fiery corona surrounding him. As it burns Borris, Sarah feels warmth on her limbs, while Adriana feels a terrible burning pain. Loki continues to attack Borris, who tries to convince Ashlee to help hm by flinging a ball of pink energy at her. Furious, Ashlee attacks Borris, and tries to get Sarah and Adriana to stop helping him. Sarah leaps over the desk, turning an arm into a sword, and charges at Loki, slashing at him and knocking him to the ground, though he stands up a moment later and blasts both her and Borris back, while angrily telling her to stop. As he moves towards Borris, Sarah again slashes at him and grabs him to pin against the half wall. Borris uses the opportunity to sprint to the stasis pod. Everyone watches, either unable or unwilling to do anything, as an incorporeal hand comes from Borris’s hand and reaches into his head. Shaking from the pain, he pulls out the fail-safe and collapses on all four, blood streaming from the side of his head. The stasis pod begins to dent as an energy field swirls around him. Furious, Loki flings Sarah off of him, hissing that he hopes she’s happy with what she’s done, and he falls backwards into a summoned teleport. The PCs watch in horror as Borris stands, now only roughly humanoid and glowing blue, with bright white light coming from his eyes and mouth. Voice completely distorted, he apologizes to them as he walks closer.

Borris explains that this was the only way to stop Loki, though it means the complete destruction of this solar system. Disturbed, the PCs ask why, and he admits that Loki was correct in saying that a dampening device was part of the fail-safe, to stop them from achieving this form: transcending. He asks Adriana to sound the general alarm, as people can run to the escape pods and leave the solar system before he explodes, as he will open a wormhole back to their solar system. She does so, filling the room with flashing lights and screeching alarm. He tells them that he is now one with the universe, and that he wishes there was another way to save the humans from the Asgardians, but that this was unavoidable. Admitting that transcending is an amazing feeling, he tells Adriana, Joel, and Sarah that they too will eventually transcend, though Ashlee has another path in her future. Before the PCs leave, he apologizes again and reaffirms his respect for them all, especially Ashlee, though she opposed him so strongly. As they walk through the door, he calls out, telling them that the Gaia weren’t killed by the Synodans: they killed themselves, trying to transcend, and these aliens were all afraid of humans for having the ability naturally; humans must learn to control these powers and show that they can’t be controlled by other races if they want a place in the galactic community.

borristranscended.png

The PCs run for the escape pods, noticing as they leave that Borris’s form was quickly growing less humanoid and more blurred around the edges. The all get into individual pods, seeing that some have already been deployed, and jettison out into the space. The battle between the Asgardians and Synodans rages on, and they can see the escape pods all flying towards the wormhole, as if they were being guided. Through the wormhole, they can see another solar system, though it’s not clear what system it is. As they cross through, a bright and blinding explosion behind them sends them all tumbling through space, away from their own solar system into some parts unknown.

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Session 15/16

Session 15/16: Minimizing Casualties Is for Losers

The PCs attempt to assess the situation as flame and soot fill the room. Everyone begins to cough loudly, including Pip (who is trying to fit in), but Sarah is not phased by the change in air. She tries to speak, but in doing so rock smooths over her face, removing her eyes and mouth in the process. The soot condenses into the shape of a person, and when the soot falls it reveals Joel, unharmed and flaming. Pip joyfully reunites with Joel, while Liza curses in Russian and the other PCs rush towards him. Sarah tries to speak, but the rocks making her body only resonate, filling the hall with a faint thrumming sound. Adriana realizes that she can psychically hear Sarah talking, but she doesn’t translate well and instead opts to piss her off. Gradually, Ashlee starts to understand Sarah as well, but the other PCs cannot. Joel realizes that he is missing his daggers, so Liza walks over to a fallen construct corpse and removes its arm, giving it to Joel to use as a weapon. The PCs continue on to the transporter room without any incidents. Adriana and Ashlee continue to discuss their plans, while Liza tries to make Sarah feel better about her situation, even though they can’t properly communicate. When they get inside, Sarah tries to communicate to Adriana that they should send Space Jingwei to Loki’s command center to protect him from harm. Adriana has him “investigate” one of the transporter pads, and she fakes a sneeze to send him off. Liza immediately panics, as they all realize that he was sent off without a target location, placing him into a buffer zone. Liza shoves Adriana away from the console, beckoning Joel over to help her save Space Jingwei, while Sarah and Ashlee berate Adriana, filling the room with shouting and thrumming. Joel and Liza do their best, but it’s quickly clear that it wasn’t enough, as Liza slams her fist into the console and slumps in her chair. Space Jingwei made it to Borris, but his legs were lodged in a bulkhead, and it wasn’t clear if he was still alive.

The PCs realize that they need to make it back to Borris. Liza opts to stay behind, insisting tht Adriana must return to take responsibility for Space Jingwei’s injury or death. The PCs decide to have Pip stay behind. He could then go to a second transporter room and use that to go to Borris, since the other room had a timing command. The PCs return to the command center, finding themselves in a bloody hallway with two leg stumps. They rush inside, where they see Space Jingwei on a table with Jeanette leaning over him to heal him. As they step forward, Borris takes note of their condition, but he allows Sarah and Ashlee to help: Sarah holds Space Jingwei down with Ashlee using her healing spell to stabilize him. Once Space Jingwei is taken to the makeshift infirmary, Borris orders the PCs and Liza to follow him into a side room for a debriefing. The conversation gets heated, as Borris tries to have the PCs tell him everything, and the PCs try to keep essential knowledge away from him. They are successful at keeping the conversation away from their involvement with Loki, but Borris clearly doesn’t fully trust them, and his influence over Joel and Sarah increases. He tells the PCs to leave and rest, while having Liza stay behind along with the other Russians for a private conversation. Pip returns and informs the PCs that the transporter rooms have been powerered down.

The next morning, the Joel and Sarah notice a Synodan helping Advotya. Panicked, they confront Borris, who assures them that the Synodans will help the humans, and as such he has a related mission for them all: two teams will be deployed to save a group of Synodans from Loki’s forces. The first team consists of Joel, Adriana, Liza, and the team leader Advotya; they are tasked with assisting the combat team go through the corridors, which have various obstacles, closed doors, and environmental issues. The combat team consists of Sarah, Ashlee, Nilima, O’Hare, Pip, and team leader Natalia. Borris instructs them to minimize casualties, and they set off. The teams work their way through a series of obstacles, successfully separating Natalia from the group so that the conflict would weaken her first. Adriana and Joel are forced to fight Geb with Liza, while Advotya attempts to control the situation and continue helping the combat team. The second team makes it to the Synodans, finding a neatly divided battle with about 20 Geb and 40 Synodans. Ashlee and Sarah immediately recognize Hemaka in the mix, as well as Natalia, who is almost entirely undamaged. Natalia continually steals the life forces from Geb around her, replenishing herself and reducing their forces. O’Hare charges into battle, closely followed by Sarah. Adriana uses the control panel to make the room even more chaotic, while Ashlee uses a Geb comm to have Hemaka attack Natalia. It’s clear that Hemaka intends to toy with Natalia, so Ashlee contacts Loki and vaguely implies that the battle needs to end, in case Borris is listening in. Simultaneously, Hemaka more seriously attacks Natalia, while O’Hare charges at Hemaka as Nilima uses magic to trap the Geb. Sarah realizes that Hemaka could lose the fight, with O’Hare and Nilima helping, so she charges at Natalia and slams her into the wall before punching her squarely. Behind her, O’Hare seems to be possessed, yelling “traitor” with Borris’s voice. Sarah, over the unsecure comm line, has Loki convince Hemaka that they’re working together, but O’Hare manages to take Natalia and leave the room, with the rest of the combat team close behind as the doors close. Natalia escapes, but Ashlee manages to free both Nilima and O’Hare from mind control. Adriana steals Advotya’s access card and frees him from mind control, but he doesn’t change, making it clear that he is very muched aligned with Borris. With Joel distracting Liza, she gets the other access card but doesn’t break her mind control. Joel locks both the Russians out, leaving himself and Adriana in the control room, while the others race towards engineering.

The PCs, along with O’Hare and Nilima, group in the engineering room. Before they can discuss anything, they realize that two Vanir are in the room, attempting to restart the engines for Loki. One of the Vanir immediately rushes to a panic button on the wall, but Sarah blocks his path, while the other tries to run for the door. The PCs prevent O’Hare from attacking them both, reminding the two Scots that Borris wanted to minimize casualties. Nilima ties the Vanirs’ hands, while O’Hare aggressively questions the PCs about their motives, particularly Sarah and Ashlee. The PCs admit that they were working with Loki, but that they don’t necessarily agree with Loki, and therefore want to be taken back to Borris. O’Hare grows continually more angry at their vague answers, and when Sarah slips up and mentions contacting Loki directly, he attacks her. The PCs refuse to fight, and again ask to be taken to Borris, so O’Hare has Ashlee tie up their hands with rope. When that fails miserably, Nilima takes care of the problem, and puts the PCs in a line with the Vanir at the back. O’Hare tries to kill Pip, but the PCs convince him to simply lock Pip in a containment field. They are forced to walk through the halls, with Nilima at the front and O’Hare at the back, as the Vanir are too large for the vents.

As they round a corner, Nilima is knocked unconscious with a burst of purple energy, and the PCs find themselves fighting the three Russians. Liza clearly feels betrayed and doesn’t want to hurt them, while Natalia and Advotya are out for blood. O’Hare joins with the Russians, despite seeing Nilima knocked out by Natalia. During the fight, Adriana and Ashlee manage to break Liza’s mind control, causing her to approach Natalia and try to stop her. Natalia viciously stuns her and leaves her to die as the hull is breached, opening the hall to space. Pip, having escaped through the engines, finds the PCs and informs them that both Thor and the Synodans have arrived, explaining the battle outside the ship. With the hull breached and little time to escape, Sarah rushes forward and holds open the doors for the PCs to pass through. Ashlee brutally kills Natalia, but Advotya makes it out before her, nearly breaking off Sarah’s arm in the process. Adriana and Joel both run out the door, with Adriana carrying O’Hare unconscious body, and Pip follows with Liza and Nilima. Ashlee kills Advotya, and the PCs make it through the door and let it close, protecting them from the breach.

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Session 14

Session 14: And They Burn, Burn, Burn

The PCs continue making their way to Borris. With Sarah, Pip, and Joel distracting Liza thanks to Darude – Sandstorm (and with Pip providing strobe lights), Adriana is able to speak privately with Space Jingwei and Ashlee about their next steps. Adriana decides to inform Space Jingwei about Borris’s mind control powers; however, he is immediately suspicious and doesn’t buy her story, even after Adriana demonstrates that it’s possible for humans to have additional elemental powers not given to them by the Aesir (using her water powers). Space Jingwei gets increasingly agitated, and Adriana and Ashlee quickly try to come up with a new plan: if Space Jingwei made it back to Borris, he likely wouldn’t accompany the PCs on the next mission, allowing Borris to discover that they’re helping Loki. Adriana calls Pip up to ask about the transporter room, as the PCs could use that to send Space Jingwei to Loki’s command center, where he would be safe from Borris. Pip takes her question literally, and he speeds off in the direction of the transporter room. The PCs chase after him, with Sarah and Ashlee leading the chase (unfortunately, for different reasons, thanks to Pip’s strobe lighting).

As they round a corner, Pip comes to a halt with an “uh oh,” and Sarah and Ashlee stop in front of a hole, about five feet in diameter, in the ground. It clearly bores through the ship to a deeper level, and the edges are melting from heat. Behind them and down the hall, Joel comes up last, and he accidentally closes a blast door while leaning against the wall for air. Ashlee feels the ship trembling below her, but before she can say anything a massive creature made from magma errupts out of the whole in front of the PCs. Behind them, two Synodan constructs bore through the walls, while another two enter the room with Joel. Ashlee and Adriana recognize the creatures, but the hurler attacks Sarah with a chunk of magma before they can react. Ashlee immediately retaliates with a spell, injuring the hurler but enraging it even further. Sarah emerges from the magma with minimal injuries, her stony skin turned to obsidian due to the heat. Space Jingwei immediately goes to open the door that Joel had locked, along with Liza, who helps him kill the two constructs (humiliating him in the process and giving him another warning about trying to harm her). Adriana uses water magic to quench the hurler, while Sarah uses the hurler corpse as a wall to stab a magma centipede. Adriana, Ashlee, and Sarah quickly dispose of the other two constructs, before Liza alerts everyone that the door they were trying to go through was beginning to melt from heat.

Adriana instructs everyone to retreat into the hallway, closer to the transporter room, but Joel remains trapped under a construct corpse and can’t move before the doors burst open. Magma pours into the room, melting the floors and walls, and covering Joel completely. The PCs can see more magma centipedes and constructs in the hall, crawling on the walls and ceiling, before they too rush into the room. Adriana has Space Jingwei close the blast doors, and the PCs mourn Joel’s death before a burst of flame rushes into the hall before the doors can close.

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Session 13

Session 13: Darude – Sandstorm

After talking to Loki, the PCs decide to return to the main room and talk to Borris, who is sitting in a command chair and looking through screens. He tells the PCs that he would like them to shut down the weapons system, to ensure the safety of the incoming Synodans. While the PCs are able to overall convince Borris that they were still under mind control, he reinforces his influence over Joel and Sarah (after they fail to properly convince him of their loyalty). To help with the weapons system, Borris tells Space Jingwei and Liza to accompany the PCs: Jingwei is skilled with the consoles, while Liza has his trust (something that Joel and Sarah, in particular, do not have). The PCs attempt to rebuff Liza, but to avoid suspicion they allow her to go. Borris appoints Adriana as the mission leader, and he firmly states that Liza will follow her orders. As they leave, Liza and Borris share a moment, much to the PCs surprise. The PCs walk cautiously to the weapons system. Adriana, through her communicator, informs Loki of their path and requests that the hallways be empty of opposition. Sarah attempts to engage Liza in conversation, learning that she did not know Borris prior to their abduction; however, during the initial weeks of separation, Borris telepathically contacted her and spoke with her. She is aggressive to the PCs, accusing them of not even trying to understand Borris and his plans, and she is especially suspicious to Joel. During the walk, Liza grows slightly less suspicious of the PCs, though she is still upset with Joel (going so far as to show her terrible scars from him stabbing her).

As the PCs approach the weapons room, Adriana requests that Loki cause a commotion in a nearby hallway by engineering, as Liza is suspicious of how empty the hallways are. The PCs soon hear a minotaur bellowing in pain, along with loud banging and a door closing. Adriana attempts to lead the group away, but only Ashlee knows of her talks with Loki. When Liza asserts that they can easily overcome two minotaurs—consisting of one healthy and one injured minotaur—Sarah agrees, pulling out her swords. Adriana finally relents, and allows Liza to look around the corner. Liza’s shadow darkens and stretches down the hallway and around the corner. After a moment, she returns to her body, silently motioning to the group that there are two minotaurs, and one is missing an arm. Sarah and Liza then go to take care of the problem, with Liza telling her to keep up as she turns into a shadow. As Sarah rounds the corner, swords drawn, Liza assumes a flanking position in shadow form. Sarah aggressively lunges at the healthy minotaur, pushing it onto Liza’s drawn blade, which appears to be dripping with poison. As Liza cuts the minotaur in half, she brings down her other blade and kills the injured one, before it can make a noise. They return to the other PCs, with Liza obviously more comfortable with the situation.

When the PCs are closer to the weapons room, Liza pushes past Joel—turning into a shadow before he can burn her—toward Adriana. Before Joel can attack her, Sarah pulls him back, preventing him from drawing daggers or flaming worse. Liza tells Adriana that the room has five guards: two outside and three inside. The PCs discuss options, and Liza points out that they can draw the minotaurs inside with an alarm. Space Jingwei uses an omni tool to pull up a wall console, and he sets off an alarm. At the same time, Joel gasses the room with nitrous oxide, and the PCs go in when they hear the bodies thud on the ground. Adriana quickly rebuffs Liza’s attemps to kill the downed guards and to hack the weapons system, pointing out that her fighting skills would be best suited outside, along with Sarah and Ashlee to guard the door. Liza is suspicious and snaps at her, but she follows orders. Space Jingwei immediately begins hacking the sytem, along with Joel, who starts playing Darude – Sandstorm. As they dance in a progressively more ridiculous manner, Adriana and Pip keep an eye on the guards. Adriana is forced to hit a bird Geb when it starts to wake; she knocks it out entirely. (Does Loki get informed of all of this? I can’t remember.)

The door opens and Liza is confused, while Ashlee shakes her head in shame, as the other PCs and Space Jingwei dance to Darude – Sandstorm down the hall, with Pip still acting like a strobe light. Sarah points out that the original hallway will likely have guards, so a detour would be necessary. Adriana forces the PCs to go toward the room containing the cloaking console. They take a detour, but they are soon interrupted by incoming minotaurs. Adriana turns into water on the ground, while Ashlee turns into air. Liza turns into a shadow on the wall, as Joel assumes a sexy pose on the ground while burning. Sarah in a panic turns into a rock, before Pip picks her up and hides by the ceiling. Liza, realizing that Joel would never fool the guards, shoots the lights in the hallway and blankets Joel with her shadow form. The guards pass by, unknowing of the humans, and they all reassume their forms, with Liza disgusted by what she did for the mission. Pip drops Sarah off, but not before she gets high from trying to smoke a pipe like a Hobbit. Liza grows increasingly suspicious of their detour and of Adriana, but Sarah is so annoying that she is distracting, allowing Space Jingwei and Joel to hack the cloaking console. Adriana intimidates Space Jingwei into giving access to the command center (with Ahmose and Hemaka), along with his omni tool. He is obviously upset, and even mentions that at least Borris was nice to him, but they accomplish their mission.

The PCs then continue to walk to Borris’s commander center, ready for their next mission. Adriana is fully aware that Joel is somewhat weak to Borris’s mind control, and Sarah is similarly weak (a problem worsened by her being nice to Liza).

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