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1000001 No. 1000001 ID: a068bf

The last thing I remember before the shuttle broke up was wondering how the hell we got into this situation. It should've been a simple matter of rendezvousing with our frigate and delivering the data we grabbed on Tetrapis's Project Hydra, but we were intercepted by a Tetrapisan destroyer. Now I'm stuck on this strange, uncontacted planet - Tukar - with who knows how many angry Tetrapisans and a local population that might or might not help me. Or worse, decide to use me for experiments.

I mentally command the nanites in my system to activate - maybe that brand new system I was given before the mission, QUEST, can help? It stands for "Quantum Universal Expert Synthtelligence - Tactical", and supposedly it should be able to guide me through this situation.

I briefly explain my situation to QUEST - I am the fourth and most junior member of Raven Squad. I'm the team's electronic warfare expert and drone controller. The other three members are Falken ("Falk"), the squad leader; Silur, our heavy weapons expert; and Arvin, the medic. I need to reunite with the rest of the team and alert Special Forces Command that we need rescue.

Before the crash I managed to keep hold of one of my drones, but the others are probably scattered over the countryside. Besides that, all I have to my name besides my powered armour is my basic stutter pistol and the air blade tech integrated into my armour - the former is a pulse laser and the latter is an energy projection from my armour's gloves that allows it to cut through most materials with ease. I've also got a signal-blanking poncho that should help me evade detection.

>Which drone did I manage to grab before the shuttle broke up?
>A) ELINT Drone - Extends range of ELINT/SIGINT sensors, letting me detect signals from further away. Capable of hacking and can also jam or imitate enemy transmissions. Limited direct utility in a fight, though.
>B) Combat Drone - Possesses a wide variety of weapons, including micro-missiles and heavy energy weapons. Very "noisy" in the electromagnetic spectrum whenever it activates, even if it's only scanning for targets.
>C) Utility Drone - Can store bulky objects and provide extra mobility, as well as act as a shield in combat. Visually obvious.

>What do I do?
>A) Make sure to zero out or disable any systems that survived the crash. Every bit of info I can deny the enemy is a win and might let us evade capture for longer.
>B) Get as far away from the crash site as possible. The Tetrapisans are probably going to try to scour the wreckage for any sign of survivors, and the locals might also stumble upon the impact site.
>C) Contact the rest of Raven Squad with a databurst transmission and ask for orders. However, the more I transmit and use my sensors, the more visible I'll be on the EM spectrum - and the easier it'll be to track me.
>D) Write-in

>Please give a name to the Drone Operator. You may refer to them as whatever gender you wish. Update schedule presently undetermined but at minimum once per week.
Expand all images
No. 1000003 ID: e7c7d3

A and A
No. 1000011 ID: dc230f

A and A, let’s call Him... EGG NOGGINS
No. 1000015 ID: 969209

Go full factorio
Zero out systems

Survive, evade, resist, escape
No. 1000019 ID: 36784c

A and A

>Please give a name to the Drone Operator. You may refer to them as whatever gender you wish.
Mary, female.
No. 1000023 ID: 1cb203

C, B. Hi ho, silver, and awaaay!
No. 1000046 ID: a9af05

No. 1000201 ID: a068bf
File 162102748630.png - (16.52KB , 800x600 , S2.png )

Decided to mash up name suggestions and indulge in a little creative interpretation of post #3. Hope that's alright.

That's right, you can call me Marisere, or Mari for short. ...How did you know my squad nicknamed me "Egg"? I hate that nickname!

Still, QUEST finally finishes syncing my armour with the ELINT drone! It's a standard tool of the trade, and opens up a lot of options for me. I can still perform more limited electronic warfare without it, but it's a lot more challenging. I also make sure I have my crash survival kit, which includes a self-building shelter and enough rations to last me a while. One of the advantages of Auroran gene-artifice is that I require precious little in the way of food or water to keep myself in peak physical condition.

>The default mode.
>Detect and identify sensors and comms that are actively transmitting from further away. No risk of detection, but no signal = nothing to pick up.
>Listen into comms (may require time to decrypt if encrypted).
>Defend against enemy electronic warfare and hacking attempts.

>Active sensors allow the detection of enemies and entities of interest at the same range as Passive Mode, even if they're not actively transmitting. Has a risk of detection, especially if used repeatedly and/or from one position.
>Jam enemy sensors and transmissions. Very useful, especially when it is necessary to prevent an enemy transmitting information or acquire a lock on me. However, jamming alerts others to my presence, even if they might not know my precise location. Certain rare, highly sophisticated Tetrapisan units may be able to use the jamming signal as a means to home in.
>Hack into drones, computer systems, etc., even in combat. Time needed may vary.
>Mimic any person on the comms net. Requires a certain minimum of time to gather enough data to successfully mimic.
No. 1000202 ID: a068bf
File 162102750678.png - (23.86KB , 800x600 , S3.png )

I decide that the destruction of any remaining data takes priority. Since I might not be coming back to the crash site, whatever happens happens. I scour the crash site for sensitive electronics and documents, either destroying them with a slash of my air blade or initiating the zero out sequence for those precious few systems that still have residual power.

It's then that I hear it: somewhere near the foot of the hill that the shuttle crashed on, a Tetrapisan drone dropship lands. Immediately my drone identifies the signatures of a couple of Panoptes scout drones moving through the forest, as well as a weaker, encrypted comms signal. If I'm careful, I should be able to take out the Panoptes without alerting the Tetrapisans - but unless I try to spot them directly, I have no idea what's sending the comms signal...

I watch as the drone dropship claws skyward, thrusters twinkling, as I contemplate my next move.

>What should I do?
>A) Hide and wait for the Tetrapisan scouts to pass by. I could hide in the crash site itself or the forest surrounding the clearing.
>B) Try to sneak past the scouts (and hopefully in the direction of the rest of my squad).
>C) Try to pick off the scouts stealthily.
>D) Write-in.

Next update will be Monday or Tuesday.
No. 1000218 ID: e7c7d3

B) Let's get out of here
No. 1000252 ID: b1b4f3

B/C. Attacks of opportunity.
No. 1000255 ID: 289d35

D) Hack them.
If you take them over, they'd be quite useful to detect search parties that are after you, which will make it easier to evade them.
No. 1000303 ID: c48caa

C leading into B.
The more you blind them, the easier it would be to evade them.
No. 1000305 ID: 36784c

Do this
No. 1000333 ID: cd5ee2


Even if they doesn't know immediatly, they will know if someone crashed their drone. This would be like C but safer in success.
No. 1000650 ID: a068bf
File 162128817512.png - (11.02KB , 800x600 , S4.png )

I am strongly tempted by the possibility of hacking the scout drones. If I can pull it off, then I could perhaps turn the tables and run rings around any other trackers they send after me.

But it wouldn't be without risk, either. A group is easier to spot than an individual if I'm careless. I choose to try and slip past the scout party whilst attacking targets of opportunity - these are probably going to be far from the last trackers that come after me, anyway.

I slip out of the shuttle's cockpit and stalk down the hillside, pausing occasionally to get my bearings and figure out where the Tetrapisans are. As luck would have it, one of the Panoptes has ranged ahead of the other two Tetrapisans and comes into view. Its large head slowly rotates to-and-fro, scanners scouring the trees for any sign of me.

They're unarmed, but I'll need to destroy it in one shot - if I miss, it'll broadcast its position on every damn frequency it has.
No. 1000651 ID: a068bf
File 162128818987.png - (10.84KB , 800x600 , S5.png )

Luckily, my gene-artifice means that's not a problem.
No. 1000652 ID: a068bf
File 162128819970.png - (15.88KB , 800x600 , S6.png )

I continue down the hill and finally get eyes on what was transmitting the comms signal - a Hoplite! My drone immediately marks it as both the newest and highest priority threat. Hoplite bodies might be drone-controlled or have a Tetrapisan consciousness inside them.

Sorry, I don't know how much your creators programmed you with so I should explain. The Tetrapisan military likes to use customisable synthetic bodies - like that Hoplite - for their troops. The more skilled you are, the more you can customise your synthetic body. And they like making us play guessing games, too. Some drones - including non-Hoplites - will have Tetrapisans controlling them whilst other bodies are controlled by drones. Stuff like comms traffic, as well as the degree of customisation and other small tells, are the only way to tell them apart.

The scintillator the Hoplite is wielding is a pulse laser, just like my stutter pistol, but larger. It'd be nice to have extra firepower, but this is going to be riskier than plinking at some defenceless Panoptes.

>What should I do?
>A) Move on. The risk isn't worth the reward, particularly with a Panoptes nearby.
>B) Stay still and try to decrypt the Hoplite's comms. If I know for sure if it's "just" a drone, then life becomes a lot easier.
>C) Attack the Hoplite. That scintillator could be handy, plus it might make other Tetrapisans hesitate for a split second if they do spot me.
>D) Write-in.

>If I attack the Hoplite, how should I approach it?
>A) Rely on my stutter pistol. The Hoplite will have me outgunned, but a lucky - or good - shot might let me take out the data module in the neck, disabling the Hoplite immediately.
>B) Rely on my air blade. We Aurorans are very swift on our feet, and I might have a better chance of destroying the data module. But there's a risk the Hoplite might shoot me before I can get close or overpower me.
>C) Hack the Panoptes, and make it attack the Hoplite. That might take the Hoplite by surprise, plus it means that if I want I can slip away in the confusion.
>D) Write-in.
No. 1000655 ID: 0fae41

CC. It's two on one and you'll feel safer with a bigger gun.
No. 1000657 ID: e7c7d3

I'm going to suggest B and C. Information and control are how you win battles
No. 1000705 ID: e7848c

B. Play to your strengths.
No. 1001001 ID: 19da02

Definitely B
No. 1001100 ID: cd5ee2

B. We can't just run of everything or we will end in a dead end (probably literal). We need to get all the info that can be useful to avoid direct confrontation and find our squad.
No. 1001139 ID: a068bf
File 162152717559.png - (15.20KB , 800x600 , S7.png )

It takes a minute, but the ELINT drone cracks the encryption. The familiar burble of telemetry clues me in immediately: the Hoplite is being controlled as a drone. With a thought QUEST helps translate it into a format I can understand:

OTRERA status request... ACCEPTED
Unit: HARPY 1
Combat Status: Amber
HARPY 1A unit heartbeat: 1
HARPY 1B unit heartbeat: 0 [Keepalive sent...timeout]
HARPY 1C unit heartbeat: 1
OTRERA mission collation request... ACCEPTED
Collating HARPY missions...

I trust you to figure this out... the crash site I woke up in must be to the west, if the drones are approaching from the east. Hopefully, if I keep going east then I'll be able to follow the rest of the debris field and maybe find my squad. Assuming they haven't split up.

What the hell is "BORON", though? I've never seen that before. Still, at least I now have a fragment of their comms protocols. I'm unlikely to be able to mimic them convincingly right now, but the more comms traffic I listen into the more realistic my mimickry will be.

I can hear the Panoptes reach the top of the hill and begin rummaging around the wreckage. It's probably not going to stay there long, and I have no idea if it'll stumble across the scout drone I destroyed as it returns. It's now or never.

>What should I do?
>A) Hack the Panoptes and attack the Hoplite. I feel confident that this would play to my strengths and would get me the scintillator.
>B) Sneak past the Hoplite. This is probably as easy as it's going to get, and with every passing minute the odds of finding the rest of my squad get worse.
>C) Hack the Hoplite. Their senses and sensor suite won't be as good as the Panoptes but they're better in a fight and it removes an immediate obstacle. However, the telemetry would need to be handled very carefully to avoid arousing suspicion.
>D) Write-in.
No. 1001140 ID: c48caa

A, But be ready to retreat if it looks like the hoplite will turn its attention to you too soon.
No. 1001152 ID: 96c896

No. 1001167 ID: 5a3782

Get the scout, we'll get brute force troops later.
No. 1001194 ID: 0fae41

>What the hell is "BORON", though?
Must be some newfangled form of carbon dioxide.
A. Catch a gun!
No. 1001373 ID: cd5ee2

A seems safer than C in the worst case scenario. It might make your persecutors to learn that you can hack them and prepare countermesues, but at this point you can't hold back. Also if at least one Panoptes survive, then you also have more scouts to search for your friends.
No. 1001721 ID: 390dae
File 162197858983.png - (16.44KB , 800x600 , S8.png )

Somehow I doubt that "BORON" has anything to do with the material. But it's nice to have a QUEST shard that doesn't take itself too seriously.

I weigh up my options. As QUEST pointed out, the Panoptes should make it easier to find the rest of Raven Squad, especially if they're smart and haven't lingered too close to the debris field. I make a mental note to consider adding something to the Panoptes to ensure that they don't shoot it up. Arvin in particular can get twitchy in situations like this.

The ELINT drone notifies me that it's successfully subverted the Panoptes. My armour links to the drone automatically. The Panoptes strides down the hill towards the Hoplite, and once it's close enough I designate the Hoplite as a target.

The Hoplite barely has enough time to raise and fire its scintillator before it's bowled over by the Panoptes. A flickering thread of orange light flashes through the forest.
Entangled by the scout drone's limbs, the Hoplite struggles to wield the scintillator and can't get another shot off. A minute later and it's dead, battered into submission. With the Panoptes keeping watch, I retrieve the scintillator and sling it over my shoulder using my suit's integral magnetic "holster".

>Scintillator obtained!
>A standard issue pulse laser rifle used by the Celestial Republic of Tetrapis. Roughly equivalent to the stutter rifle issued to Auroran Commonwealth soldiers. The forward grip doubles as a charging point when held by Hoplites and other suitable synth-bodies, obviating the need for magazines.
>Hits harder than the stutter pistol.
>Recharges over time if used whilst in armour.
>May be fired with the standard "semi-automatic" pulse rate or a more rapid "burst" pulse rate.
No. 1001722 ID: 390dae
File 162197860021.png - (16.35KB , 800x600 , S9.png )

We proceed down the hillside and through the forest for an hour or so, pausing frequently to take in our surroundings and make sure we aren't leaving tracks. Even with the scout drone nearby, I've never felt more vulnerable in my armour. I half expect a squad of Tetras to leap out of hiding and take me prisoner.

Soon we reach a clearing. Directly ahead is a road that curves away from the clearing; it looks like there's a trail that leads to a lakeside boathouse. To my left there's a road bridge over the river that feeds the lake. In the distance I can see a radio mast - it looks roughly to be a primitive, Information Age design. The Panoptes detects a wide swathe of signals being transmitted. The ELINT quickly clarifies that although most of them appear to be on civilian frequencies, there's at least one signal that has an 80% probability of being military in nature.

>What should I do?
>A) Find or create a suitable shelter and remain in place for an hour or two to confirm it's safe. Roads are danger areas since they may be crossed by traffic at any time, as well as the wide open sightlines for anyone observing the road. It'd suck to have gotten this far undetected and get caught due to haste. Plus, by observing I might get a better grasp of how busy the area is and the character of the locals. However, I am still relatively close to the crash site and that Entomon dropship is going to probably return sooner or later to try to pick up the drone unit I dealt with. Plus I was taught that it's important to get as far away as possible from the initial point at the first opportunity.
>B) Move across the road ASAP. This would limit my exposure time to any observers, but I would have to hope that there's no traffic coming down the road.
>C) Send the Panoptes across first to check the coast is clear. Safer and slower than B), but it does mean anyone watching the road is going to have two opportunities to spot me.
>D) As C), but I go across first and cover the Panoptes.
>E) Write-in.
No. 1001727 ID: cd5ee2

I am tempted to say A) because we could use that time to try to contact our allies by secret radio messages. It could be bad if all of us get too separated to comunicate.

But also I have the sensation we are too near the crash site. We are not even at half day of distance. If we were to cross, I would cross using option C). It shouldn't be that evident that that drone is hacked.
No. 1001768 ID: 96c896

C. If someone sees the Panoptes, they won't know where you are, even if they somehow know you're controlling it.
No. 1001770 ID: e7c7d3

B) Do the fast scoots
No. 1001799 ID: c48caa

Going to go with c on this one. Because anyone already on the lookout will go for the first sign of movement. So if you do see something closing in, you can use the drone to lure it away. Covers you if there's no one, saves you if there is. Double whammy.
No. 1002018 ID: adce2c
File 162224288129.png - (16.73KB , 800x600 , S10.png )

I decide to send my Panoptes ahead. Might as well make it do what it's built for, right?

It scuttles to the edge of the treeline, its angular head scanning from side to side, and then ambles across the road. It's always unnerving watching those damn things turn their heads a full 360 degrees without even slowing down. It reaches the far end and settles down behind a bush. A few moments later it sends me an all-clear signal.
I dart out from my hiding place and sprint across the road, glad to be able to finally give action to my nerves. About halfway across the road the Panoptes suddenly flashes me a warning - it's detected an incoming aircraft directly behind me, straight and level!

I look back and feel ice water sluicing through my veins. It's too far away to tell what kind of aircraft it is, but it's got a large pod under its belly. It must be going supersonic because it's swiftly gaining on me and I haven't even heard it yet. I don't know if it's spotted me or not - it's not emitting anything on the EM spectrum to act as a clue. About the only comfort I can glean is that it most definitely does not belong to the Tetras. It's far too primitive for that.

>What should I do?
>A) Sprint for cover. I may only have a short period of time to hide myself before it's on top of me. If this option is chosen, mention where I should go.
>B) Drop flat where I am. Although I'll be a sitting duck and right in the middle of the road, aircraft are more likely to notice movement.
>C) Run down the road. This will leave me exposed, but moving perpendicular to its flight path will make me harder to hit.
>D) Fire at it with my scintillator. This is very likely to attract its attention, and I don't even know yet if the locals are hostile. But it'll hopefully force the pilot to break off and give me breathing space.
>E) Write-in.
No. 1002019 ID: e7c7d3

A) Head to the boat house
No. 1002030 ID: 6d11da

A. Head to the boathouse. It's most likely been dispatched to investigate the shuttle crash and tetrapisan dropship sighting.
No. 1002034 ID: 36784c


Run to the boathouse, Egg! Hurry before you get scrambled by the enemy!
No. 1002064 ID: 0fae41

A. Sprint for the bush, it's closer to the road.
Pod could be a bomb, a cannon, a sensor package, or just fuel. No EM spectrum means probably not sensors. Either way I doubt it's going to burn anything but guns on you.
No. 1002078 ID: c48caa

Retreat back to the tree line. You want as much cover as you can get and that clearing is a kill zone when there's an areal threat. Your scout can stay on the opposite side until you're both clear.
No. 1002428 ID: adce2c
File 162264848536.png - (18.02KB , 800x600 , S11.png )

Stop calling me Egg, dammit! The last thing I need is a shard that calls me that dumb nickname!

Still, the consensus among QUEST's shards is nearly unanimous. The boathouse is where I need to go. I turn on my heels and lunge for the boathouse. It feels like I'm going fast enough to be barely touching the ground, as though I have the energy to vault clean over the boathouse and well into the treeline. My hands feel naked without a weapon's reassuring heft in them, but even to draw my stutter pistol would only slow me down. Everything in my vision seems sharp - too sharp - and hyper-lucid. In the terrible silence of the aircraft bearing down on me the flexing of my armour's synth-muscle seems loud enough to be heard for miles. The fluttering of my poncho is like the crack of flechette shots.

I skid into the entryway, using my momentum to twist and tumble inside. My natural agility ensures I land feet up. A split second later there's a small crack and then a tremendous boom that clubs my ears even through the active noise cancelling of my helmet. The overpressure of the aircraft passing overhead jars my body and even causes the boathouse itself to sway slightly. I listen carefully, coiled like a spring, but the jet's roar recedes into the distance. I am left with silence. I'm safe, but the pod under the aircraft might've contained cameras or something else. I think I need to keep moving.

I walk around the boathouse and inspect it. It seems someone left a boat with an outboard motor here. Besides that, there's the usual paraphernalia that'd be expected of a boathouse. There's an exit to the east with a notice in the local population's script; I can't read it.

>What should I do?
>A) Take the boat, it beats walking. I saw a river earlier that feeds out of the lake and into the forest. The Panoptes would be too heavy to board it with me, but it could follow along the riverbank. However, the boat would be more obvious than going on foot, and there's no guarantee that the river will go where I need it to.
>B) Leave the boat, continue along the edge of the lake to the treeline. Although stealthier, I'm unlikely to get as far away from the crash site when darkness falls.
>C) Look around the boathouse. Perhaps there's something here of use to me? If you choose this option, describe what you're looking for.
>D) Write-in.
No. 1002437 ID: e7c7d3

B) If there's a plane about, we need to keep to cover
No. 1002441 ID: c48caa

Use the boat as a red herring. Get its engine going to make it seem like you used it to cross the water. Get to walking in a different direction.
No. 1002443 ID: 96c896

A, then abandon the boat when the river goes somewhere you don't like.
No. 1002449 ID: 01031d

C) Search for useful info like in what day/year is this planet or, goods bless us, local currency or ID Cards.
No. 1002972 ID: 8e9c7c
File 162327473057.png - (0B , 800x600 )

The boat's more likely to be a hindrance than a help, but I can at least use it to throw trackers off my scent. Before I set off, I take one last look around the boat shed for anything that might help me better understand the environment I've been thrown into. Above a workbench opposite me is what appears to be a calendar with nature theming - it depicts a sunny lakeside scene with the word "WEKA". Some of the dates have reminders in neat handwriting.

Just below the calendar is a small, portable radio. After turning down what I assume is the volume dial, I flick what appears to be the power switch. A cheery synth jingle comes from the speakers, followed by a female voice.

>Rajang shoul, suul vi Sokor Tuvata Najas! Se ju juva mori, Mal Guvon. Vas wolas hol vi por-mirta se...

The voice continues in this vein, occasionally talking to an equally sunny male voice. The clarity is excellent; presumably the radio mast I've caught glimpses of is the transmitter. It's a long shot, but maybe if I expose QUEST to enough of the local language it'll be able to translate it.

I rummage around the desk drawers, growing increasingly irritable as they turn up nothing except random tools and consumables. Just before I give up, I find a boating license of some sort amongst the clutter. I take a look at it before stashing it on my person.
No. 1002973 ID: 8e9c7c
File 162327474226.png - (19.11KB , 800x600 , S13.png )

After fumbling for a few minutes I send the boat off across the lake and start moving. At first I follow the shore, but I soon slip into the treeline heading east. Besides the radio mast the EM spectrum is surprisingly quiet in this area, though I spot a pair of local transport helicopters speeding in the direction of the crash site. Clearly the Tetras aren't the only ones interested in us... they're probably going to comb the hill and the surrounding area for anything of interest. Plus that Entomon's gonna return at some point and it won't be pretty.

As the sun begins to go down, I hear the last thing I expected. My comms come to life!

Raven Squad, this is Raven 1. Authenticate PENKNIFE, over.

Falk's smooth, authoritative voice is the best thing I've heard since I woke up.

>But how should I respond?
>A) Authenticate PENKNIFE. This would be a simple check-in to let Falken and anyone else on this frequency know that I'm up and active, or at least that I can hear them. I'd be able to talk and coordinate our next moves.
>B) Authenticate SWITCHBLADE. This would tell the rest of the squad that I can't respond right away, but I'll do so as soon as possible. It's true I'm not far from the crash site, and I don't know how on the ball Tetra - or local - signal direction finding is, but I have no idea how long it'd be before we can next check in.
>C) Authenticate BANDSAW. Right now it's too risky. I'll contact the squad in a day or two at the earliest, except in an emergency.
>D) Write-in.
No. 1002974 ID: 96c896

That's something weird in the treeline I can't see...

Go SWITCHBLADE. Time to erase your tracks. Land, send the boat to the other shore where the drone is, deactivate/selfdestruct the drone, then get a bit closer to your allies and under tree cover before responding again.
No. 1002989 ID: e7c7d3

Penknife should be fine
No. 1003064 ID: 8e9c7c
File 162334473325.png - (11.86KB , 800x600 , Sublunary Tech Issues.png )

I forgot to attach the image for the first part of the update; it should be there now. Check it out for additional context. Additionally I failed to make it clear that Marisere is currently walking through the forest on the opposite side of the lake; the boat was left behind to sail across the lake unattended as a distraction. Really sorry about that!

If you like you can resubmit your suggestions or leave them as is. Auroran High Command appreciates your service!
No. 1003081 ID: 01031d

Raven1 should be or in a safe place already or in danger to ask for a PENKNIFE comm. I think is a good moment to comunicate because if they get too apart this can get hairy. Is worth the risk.

Also, there is a PASSWORD to test if they has being trapped and the enemy are making them speak? I don't think this is the case, but is good to know if that exist.
No. 1003222 ID: c48caa

Go for PENKNIFE. Better to link up with your squad the a aimlessly push out from the crash site.
No. 1003386 ID: 8e9c7c
File 162379071106.png - (21.90KB , 800x600 , S14.png )

I get under tree cover before I answer. Here I can see where debris from the shuttle fell into the forest. Most of it, frankly, is unrecognisable. And yet something feels... off. There's strange burn marks and huge gashes in the tree trunks here.

Good thinking. There is in fact a duress code we can mention to tip each other off. Better yet, we insert it in a deliberate part of the message to prove it's not being forced out of us.

"Raven 1, this is Raven 4. Verify PENKNIFE FLINT." I force the giddiness down. I'm the most junior team member and I don't want to look like an amateur.

Raven 4, Raven 1. PENKNIFE FLINT verified. That settles it, he's alright. I feel myself relax slightly.

Raven 1, Raven 2. Verify PENKNIFE FLINT. Silur sounds as unflappable as ever. In fact she sounds downright bored.

Raven 1, Raven 3 here. Verify PENKNIFE FLINT! Arvin's higher-pitched voice betrays a degree of irritation. I roll my eyes; Arvin seems to get worked up about everything.
No. 1003387 ID: 8e9c7c
File 162379072271.png - (16.97KB , 800x600 , S15.png )

Okay, team's green. From my position I can see some sort of giant comms dish atop a mountain... and a massive radio mast approximately south west. It should be useful as a landmark, explains Falken.

I can see that mast too - I think it's to the north west, adds Arvin. Pretty close, too. I'm in dense forest. Damn trees go on forever.

It's pretty far away and south west of my position, says Silur.
I've managed to avoid detection, but there's a town nearby me. On the way down planetside I saw some sort of major border crossing that stretches for miles - I landed just on the eastern side.

"The radio mast is to the north east here. I don't think it's too far away," I reply, building a mental map of everyone's rough positions. We must've gotten scattered when the shuttle broke up. "I'm also in a forest."

Understood. Raven 4, link up with Raven 3 at the radio mast. It sounds like you're relatively close to each other. Raven 2, sounds like we narrowly avoided landing on opposite sides of the border. I'll link up with you. Tomorrow I want everyone to check in on this frequency at 0500 hours. We can work out our next moves then, says Falken. Any questions?

>What should I say?
>A) "Negative. Raven 4 out." You can always ask later once you've reunited with Arvin.
>B) "Any intel on the Tetras out there?" Forewarned is forearmed!
>C) "The locals - do you know if they're friendly or not?" Maybe the rest of the team have had contact with the local population?
>D) "Do you think we can use that comms dish you spotted to contact the frigate which was sent to pick us up?" It seems like a promising idea...
>E) Write-in.
No. 1003388 ID: e7c7d3

Two and two on opposite sides of a border? That might make travel tricky. Thankfully, not our problem.

C) Good to know if we need to hide from them
No. 1003393 ID: 96c896

>burn marks and huge gashes
Like a firefight? Or... a wild animal that can use fire? In the latter case you may want to change direction, and go around the marked area.

No. 1003396 ID: e7848c

A. It can be safely assumed that we're going to want to avoid contact with the locals anyway.
No. 1003406 ID: 0fae41

A. Comms could be monitored.
No. 1003415 ID: 01031d

D) looks good. Probably our priorities are, in this order: Get out of this planet all of us, not reveal any important info to the enemy and learn who attacked us and why.

We can start to secure our escape from this planet while our boss think of our next move. Even more, we surely will have to adapt to our our rescuers schedule. The sooner we contact the sooner we will be able to plan ahead.
No. 1004175 ID: fd75ce
File 162465848396.png - (19.45KB , 800x600 , S16.png )

Since there's a tie, I decided to err in favour of saying something. Hope that's fine.

Maybe, maybe not. Depending on what Falken tells us tomorrow, we might need to link up with them.

>Probably our priorities are, in this order: Get out of this planet all of us, not reveal any important info to the enemy and learn who attacked us and why.
The good news is that we already know who attacked us - the Celestial Republic of Tetrapis, whom we're at war with. Other than that, though, your priorities are solid.

>We can start to secure our escape from this planet while our boss think of our next move. Even more, we surely will have to adapt to our our rescuers schedule. The sooner we contact the sooner we will be able to plan ahead.
Being proactive is a good idea, too. Hopefully our rescuers will understand the urgency of the situation, but given how my day's gone so far I'm not holding my breath...

"Just one - do you have any intel on the locals? Are they hostile?" I ask. After all, odds are good that I won't be able to avoid them forever...

I got unlucky and encountered some civvies, answers Falken. They seemed stunned or frightened. One ran away... I'd recommend you avoid contact unless you think you can somehow communicate with them. It shouldn't need saying, but just in case: if it comes down to it, try to incapacitate them. Don't use lethal force unless it's unavoidable.

I think our arrival's got them all fired up. I don't have your kit so I don't know what it looks like in the EM spectrum but the entire border area went on high alert as soon as they saw my ejection seat land. Multiple foot patrols, APCs, helicopters, the works. Took a while to slip away. Silur pauses. Oh yeah, and I think wherever I landed must have a paramilitary as well as a regular force. Sneaky.

A fast jet buzzed the forest a few hours ago. I also spotted some helicopters heading in the opposite direction a while later, too, says Arvin. I even heard the Tetras getting in a firefight with the local troops. So if shit kicks off, that's why. We need to get a move on!

"Could've told me that earlier," I mutter.

You can take it up with me when we reach the radio mast, grumbles Arvin. Knowing how cautious you lot are I'll need to patch you up when we get there. I'll wait 1 hour at the RP. Authenticate with three light flashes. Raven 3 out.

"...Roger. Thanks for the info. Raven 4 out." I close the communications link.
No. 1004176 ID: fd75ce
File 162465849003.png - (60.14KB , 800x600 , S17.png )

I take a closer look at the damage. I'm no ballistics expert, but it looks to be consistent with a grazing fire from a high calibre flechette weapon and a powerful pulse laser. But there could be pretty exotic wildlife here too - after all, we've never contacted this planet.

Speaking of wildlife, though... where is it? This forest's been pretty damn quiet. Too quiet. An extra headache is that these damaged trees are more or less between me and the most direct route to the radio mast.

As if to give me an extra prod, my ELINT drone picks up a comms signature behind me, and then another one to the left of the first. They're distant, but converging on my position.

>What should I do?
>A) Proceed directly to the radio mast, damaged trees be damned. Darkness is drawing in and I can't miss my rendezvous with Arvin. Only problem is that whatever caused this is probably still out there.
>B) Try to find a route around the damaged trees. A bit more cautious, but it could waste time - especially now there's new contacts to deal with.
>C) Find a hiding spot, wait. If I know who - or what's - following me, I can act with more certainty. But I might miss the rendezvous or at least travel in total darkness. If this is chosen, should I hijack or jam the comms signals?
>D) Write-in.
No. 1004189 ID: 96c896

B will make it harder for the new contacts to tell where your intended direction is going. Let's do that.
No. 1004200 ID: e7c7d3

A, stop wasting time. the sooner things are done, the less time for something to go wrong
No. 1004244 ID: c48caa

It can already be assumed they know where you're going. Not like there's any other landmarks. Might as well get there first where you won't be alone and can face them with an ally.
No. 1004268 ID: 01031d

I would love to chose C, but we can't fail to keep in contact or will need to use the radio again.

I say B, because if there is something in the direct route, it will make the travel more risky and slow.
No. 1004599 ID: cdabe3

No. 1005225 ID: 0fff88
File 162587112202.png - (23.69KB , 800x600 , S18.png )

I'm torn, but eventually I decide that I don't have the luxury of detouring. I take in every trace left behind by whatever passed through here. No more burn or gouge marks, but large swathes of grass appears to have been uniformly flattened. The trail appears to veer away from the path to the radio mast and to the right, towards the border... I don't like this one bit.

My suborned Panoptes finally gets eyes on one of the mysterious contacts that have been following us, using its wide field of view optics at a low zoom level. The contact's an infantry squad - they look fairly alert, but they don't seem to be aware of my presence. I'm momentarily struck by their reluctance to look up and stick close to the base of the trees. However, I remind myself that avoiding observation from autonomous systems aren't a fact of life for them like it is for us.

>What should I do?
>A) Ambush them. This is the fastest, most direct method of getting rid of these trackers. I'm also confident that their small arms can't penetrate my shielding. However, even if they don't pose a threat directly, they might still call in support that can harm me. It's also going to be pretty obvious that something happened unless I pull it off flawlessly. If I go down this route, should I attempt to deal with them non-lethally?
>B) Climb a tree and wait for them to pass by. We Aurorans are naturally excellent climbers. Slower, but safer. They're unlikely to notice my presence, though it may pose complications if they continue towards the radio mast.
>C) Try to throw them off my trail physically or electronically. A clean method that'll ensure they're too busy chasing ghosts to find me, but it'll require some thought. If chosen, how should I deceive them?
>D) Write-in.
No. 1005228 ID: 96c896

Not sure why you should care about them very much... well, there is the fact that your enemy should be able to track their movements, which means if you wind up engaging the natives in battle you will provide evidence of your presence here.
I wonder how the natives are tracking you? Your footprints in the grass? Are you disturbing it in that way?

C. Multi pronged approach.
First, let's throw them off your physical tracks. Move along the flattened grass for a bit then climb a tree without stepping on the non-flattened grass. Since your tracks end at the flattened grass they'll assume you followed it, and veer away from the meeting spot.
Second, get rid of the Panoptes. Heck, you could send it down the flattened grass trail to further reinforce the idea that you went that way. Instruct it to follow the trail and then self-destruct at some point, without you having to tell it to.
Third, make sure you're not sending any EM signals. This may require disconnecting from the Panoptes.
No. 1005244 ID: c48caa

Panoptes is your ticket. Use it to send these guys on a wild goose chase. Have it break off now and draw their attention while you go dark. It's served it's perpose by now.
No. 1005271 ID: 01031d

I second the idea of sending off and destroying the Panoptes.

I have the teory that they are in fact following their signal. Probably to see why they are taking a hike instead of doing whatever they are supposed to do.

I think so, because they seem way a weak force to track an enemy with better equipment (unless the enemy has a special taste for suicide missions).
No. 1005303 ID: e51896

No. 1005398 ID: 96c896

Oh wait, blowing up the Panoptes would probably make too much noise. If you can make it scuttle itself quietly do that, otherwise just... I dunno, disconnect it? Wipe it?
No. 1006343 ID: 0fff88
File 162722888282.png - (23.53KB , 800x600 , S19.png )

If it was a group of Tetras I'd agree with you, but these are locals. I think they might be investigating the debris field? Plus if they were Tetras, they'd be perfectly capable of getting through my shields or worse.

The Panoptes should serve as a useful distraction. I command it to follow the flattened grass path. Once it's far enough away it will trigger its self-destruct. It shouldn't be too obvious; previous experience tells me it'll zero out its systems and then detonate a microscopic charge to shred vital circuitry. Just to be safe I cut off my connection.

I follow the Panoptes for a short distance, being careful to be precise. Spotting a promising looking tree, I spring onto a sturdy branch and hide myself among the foliage, tucking my tail up behind me.
No. 1006344 ID: 0fff88
File 162722888668.png - (16.71KB , 800x600 , S20.png )

In the still evening air I can hear the soldiers as they approach. There's about eight of them. The one I assume is their radio operator (or RTO) occasionally pauses to listen to an incoming transmission and answer it. My ELINT drone breaks the encryption as if it isn't even there. Most of the transmissions are something like this:

>Bulsa Tas, suul vi Bulsa Gar. Wa varuba vu suul wolas, sojo.

I hold my breath...

...And they take the bait. One of them - the squad leader, I presume - points at the Panoptes' tracks. The RTO transmits the following:

>Bulsa Tas, Bulsa Gar. Ulsar brisa tuwi gusar, brisati hol, sojo.

The squad begin to follow the path, oblivious to my presence.

Several long minutes pass as I watch them recede into the distance and down into the valley. Just as I'm beginning to relax, the ELINT drone picks up a new signal well to the east - a Titanios's search sensor! Strangely, it only emits for several seconds before dropping offline. I don't know much about them since they're so new, but Titanios drones are heavy weapon platforms.

>What should I do?
>A) Remain still for a few minutes longer to see if that's all that happens.
>B) Drop down the far side of the tree and make a beeline for the radio mast.
>C) Write-in.
No. 1006346 ID: c48caa

If a heavy weapons platform is searching for something, it's probably going to be a target. You don't want to be where it pinged. Get moving. B
No. 1006352 ID: 96c896

B. Something coming into sensor range then immediately dropping out strongly implies it spotted you.
No. 1006354 ID: eabde6

Head for the radio mast. If it scans infrequently, make sure your position isn't up to date.
No. 1006385 ID: 8a444d

B) If we don't know much of it, the most secure option is to get out of it's path and from any open place. It could have some detection technology which could detect you behind a tree.
No. 1008337 ID: 0fff88
File 162940432604.png - (20.26KB , 800x600 , S21.png )

I hope it hasn't spotted me, but short of it locking on I can't be sure. I hop downward and make good my escape, disappearing deeper into the forest. The Titanios's search sensor pops up on my Sensor Warning Display a couple more times, then falls silent. Despite my shields and armour I feel terribly exposed as I begin the climb up the hill. Yet I never feel my shield shattering like glass or the agony of a hyper-velocity penetrator rending my leg into nothing.

It's an awkward trek up the uneven, rock-strewn hillside, but soon I reach the edge of the treeline near the top. I haven't intercepted any new signals in a while - hopefully that's a good sign. However, this close to the radio mast its transmissions are trivially simple to pick up - according to the ELINT drone there's two signals of interest: one higher frequency and one lower frequency.

The local troops are getting further and further away, both groups moving eastwards in the direction of the Titanios. I wonder if the Tetras will treat the locals as hostile? As I ponder this behind a boulder, I check the time; I figure I've either arrived before Arvin or around the same time as him.

>What should I do?
>A) Flash the prearranged authentication signal. If he's here it'll let him know I've arrived. If I'm reckless it might alert the radio transmitter staff or dangerous wildlife, though.
>B) Wait 15 minutes and see if Arvin flashes the signal. This would mean I'm not signalling completely blind, but he's naturally cagey. He might think it's safer for me to send the signal first.
>C) Risk transmitting on our comm-net. There'd be no ambiguity, but I'm worried it might provide a fix for the Titanios or other Tetras - or indeed, the locals.
>D) Move around the edge of the treeline until I reach the side he's likely to arrive on. Time-consuming, but I'd be less likely to get spotted visually.
>E) Write-in.

>Additionally, should I tap into the radio mast's signals? If so, should I listen in to the high frequency or the low frequency?
No. 1008340 ID: 96c896

A. Follow the plan. Downsides are minimal.

Tap into the radio frequency, try listening to one then the other to see if you can catch something and determine what each is used for.
No. 1008360 ID: 815672

Play it straight. A
No. 1008411 ID: 8a444d

A) There is no reason to skip the plan.

Also spy the tower's comms. The low frequency should have less range and is likely to be near, so it's probably the most immediate threat.
No. 1011040 ID: 4f7e46
File 163208489143.png - (23.90KB , 800x600 , S22.png )

Sorry for the long wait. I hope to get a discussion thread set up soon. Arvin's armour marking is subject to change.

I decide to tap into the lower frequency first as I flash the light signal. I pick up a familiar synth jingle - the same one I heard earlier. Apparently the speaker is the same as last time too, going by the sound of her voice.

>Rajang shovar, suul vi Sokor Tuvata Najas. Se ju juva mori, Mal Guvon. Vas wolas hol vi vur se. Wa shohola tul...

I switch to the second frequency. It's more heavily encrypted than the soldiers' radios, but this translates into only a somewhat longer delay. The power of the transmitter is clear - there wouldn't be a hint of distortion or interference for many miles. An authoritative male voice is speaking; I've heard enough of this sort of thing to be able to tell it's likely military.

>Ros binpan, suul vi Sakit. Bajaris ulsar varubala ve vas boldo wa Wejas. Tilkar sejang vos preshkal ros varubala. Shosa bikala ve gar polas. Sakit sujon.

The transmission ends and QUEST informs me that it's making progress in figuring out the locals' language; if I keep it up, then it'll be able to translate fragments. Nothing groundbreaking, but at least I won't be completely in the dark. Maybe QUEST's shards can help speed up the process somehow?
No. 1011041 ID: 4f7e46
File 163208490091.png - (26.22KB , 800x600 , S23.png )

There it is! I see Arvin's signal. I tamp down my relief with caution. Could it be a trap? I glance at my Sensor Warning Display and double check my HUD's IFF. The scope's clear and the auto-recognition software passes its self-test, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm safe. I work my way around the forest edge towards where I saw the light flashes come from, my pilfered scintillator ready.

A shape in the gloom resolves into the familiar form of Arvin. One down, 2 squad mates to go. As a Combat Medic, Arvin can make sure I don't meet a violent end, plus he should be very helpful in ensuring I remain in peak condition. Gene artifice can compensate for a lot, but our alterations are mostly about making us into peerless markspersons, not making us unkillable. I know Arvin can get grumpy about patching up the careless - especially since in a situation like this our medical supplies aren't unlimited.

Get down, you fool! I didn't dodge all those Tetra patrols just to see the only friendly face I've seen today get their head blown off! he hisses. When he speaks again, his tone softens. At least you look like you're in good health.

"Trust me, I don't intend to acquire any new holes." I slip behind a tree trunk, one eye on my Sensor Warning Display. "I know we don't have the time right now for a heart-to-heart, but we should at least compare notes before we get going."

>"I want to know..." Pick 2
>"...Did you see any of my other drones on the way here?"
>"...Did you see anything unusual? Landmarks, strange activity, unique Tetras, anything?"
>"...What do you think the Tetras are doing? I detected a Titanios on the way here - they mean business."
>"...How are you and your medical supplies holding up?"
>"...What is Project Hydra? I didn't get to check the data before we needed to exfil."

>It's getting late, too. What should we do?
>Find an area nearby to rest overnight. Risk of our camp being discovered by enemy patrols, leaving us in a very vulnerable position.
>Keep moving overnight. Enemy activity may increase as night has fallen. If I come into contact with the enemy, it is likely to be at much closer ranges.
No. 1011061 ID: 96c896

>"...Did you see any of my other drones on the way here?"
>"...Did you see anything unusual? Landmarks, strange activity, unique Tetras, anything?"

Uh, do you need to rest? How long can you go without sleeping before your performance is affected?

If you can reach another team member during the night, do so. You can rest wherever they are. Otherwise, hole up somewhere defensible.
No. 1011067 ID: 365ef6

I would say to ask
>"...Did you see anything unusual? Landmarks, strange activity, unique Tetras, anything?"
>"...What do you think the Tetras are doing? I detected a Titanios on the way here - they mean business."

These are the most urgent questions in my opinion. The drones are also important, but the big boy moving around is not expected and is important to know what it is doing.

About camping I would trust your radar and risk to get out of there. Is better to risk when you are not asleep. Have in mind that this can be also dangerous if you can't find a place to rest. Tiredness is a dangerous companion.
No. 1011139 ID: c92a02

>Did you see anything unusual?
>How are you and your medical supplies holding up?
Keep moving, see if the Titan's search pattern changes. If it's pinging intermittently, perhaps it's operating in stealth mode. Or it's just lazy, and operating on out of date info on stationary targets for artillery strikes .
No. 1011258 ID: 815672

Anything unusual and what the tetras are doing

Make camp. You've been running all day
No. 1011405 ID: e7c7d3

I'll back this
No. 1011408 ID: 8483cf

>Anything unusual?
>How're you holding up?

Keep moving. (If Arvin's not holding up well, then we can camp. If everything is fine, then keep moving.)
No. 1015447 ID: 05b869
File 163718938145.png - (23.40KB , 800x600 , S24.png )

My gene artifice didn't prioritise endurance for operational reasons, so I can go roughly 48 hours without ill effects. Technically, thanks to the artifice we don't sleep in the normal fashion. Instead, we enter a hibernation-like state where we can communicate and maintain some alertness, but that doesn't mean we can just spring into action from a cold start. Hopefully it won't come to that.

Will do. I'm glad that QUEST's shards are now starting to take this seriously. If I'm called 'Egg' one more time, I'll...

"Hey, Egg, you zoned out for a moment there," says Arvin, cutting into my train of thought. I can imagine his brown eyes studying my reaction. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," I say, extinguishing the embers of my annoyance. We're in this together - and anyway, it's generally not a good idea to piss off the guy who might be patching you up. "In fact, that's what I was going to ask you. I want to know - are you holding up alright? What about your medical supplies?"

"I've had better days, but this is far from the worst. Remember Scarax?"

I'm thankful he can't see the reflexive frown under my helmet.

"I have enough to keep you functional if anything... debilitating happens, if that's what you're asking. But unless we can beg, borrow, or steal more then you might want to avoid getting into that situation more than once or twice."

"Good to know," I say. "Times like this I wish we could just re-sleeve like the Tetras."

"Frankly, that makes them careless," replies Arvin. "And we both know they still have medics anyway."

I make a noise of agreement and motion for Arvin to follow me.

As we navigate down the north-eastern slope in Falken and Silur's general direction, I keep talking to break the silence. Above us, the stars twinkle like tiny gemstones set in a gigantic bowl. "Did you see anything unusual on the way to the radio mast? Landmarks, odd activity, unique Tetras, anything?"

"Yes. I think they've got a reconnaissance-strike team on our asses. I saw this tall Tetra woman step out of an Entomon dropship and start barking orders at other Tetras. She had a flash cannon slung over her shoulder, I think."

That grabs my attention. "A RST and a flash cannon? You're serious?"

"Of course I'm serious!" Arvin hisses. "I don't know who it is and what the fuck she thinks she's doing, but she must love her firepower."

"Just what we need," I mutter. "Well, let's keep moving..."
No. 1015448 ID: 05b869
File 163718939126.png - (20.86KB , 800x600 , S25.png )

At this point I'm getting sick of seeing trees. Damn planet feels like it's nothing but forest and hills. Half-seriously, I break the silence to add, "Did you at least spot something other than angry Tetras and trees?"

"Yes. A town in a valley, not too far from here. A road cut straight through it. We could scavenge resources from there, if we're very careful."

I'm about to ask him for more info when I spot movement among the trees. We duck behind the nearest trunk. My Sensor Warning Display chirps with an updated Titanios position but my focus is elsewhere.

Peering past our cover, I see a couple of locals. They look tense; one's clenching a primitive k-rifle. He whispers something to his friend and starts creeping towards our tree...

>What should I do?
>A) Wait for the locals to approach and swiftly knock them out. Avoids killing or maiming them, but it also means we have potential witnesses.
>B) Come out and try to indicate we come in peace. But how?
>C) Use the ELINT drone as a distraction. It'll buy us time to slip past, but they might shoot at it.
>D) Eliminate him and his friend then hide the bodies. It would be a trivial shot to make, but we all know the potential consequences.
>E) Write in.
No. 1015459 ID: 1ed92d

I recommend deploying the E-Lint. It would be ill-advised to first-contact natives by beating their heads with a rock or slitting their throats. It gets off on the wrong foot.
No. 1015460 ID: 91bd96

Use a slight detour to avoid them

Seriously, it seems as though they have little to follow you with besides their eyes, so just use the trees as cover to get past these... whoever they are.
No. 1015504 ID: c92a02

C. Avoid the engagement in the first place.
No. 1015531 ID: a7d6c9

Either A)"non-lethal Ambush" or E) "Retreat with a detour". We can't allow to kill potential civils and the Titan is near. The big guy might be coming to us right now. In both cases I would try the old and tested technique of throwing a pebble to one bush to distract them.

As they seem common civils, I prefer Retreat. We can allow to receibe some shots and I think we should be able to outrun them. Also civils tend to not be very fast to contact the authorities if they are not completly sure.

My main concern with trying to knock down them is that even non-lethal techniques can be lethal if something goes wrong and that they are two but only one is comming.
No. 1015706 ID: e7c7d3

Supporting this
No. 1015963 ID: e03439

The Tac-Net has come online! Find the discussion thread here: >>/questdis/136503

Check back for supplementary info, art, etc.; particularly important things will be linked in this thread as well. Next update will be next week at the latest!
No. 1016005 ID: 96c896

You've been tracking the Titanios for a while, does its route make any sense?
No. 1016016 ID: 815672

But make sure it has some sort of cover and escape route before making itself known.
No. 1016041 ID: 96c896

Just go around.
No. 1022406 ID: f3495e
File 164402486617.png - (28.97KB , 800x600 , S26.png )

The Tac-Net has been updated with a simple primer on the ELINT drone's Sensor Warning Display! Check it out here to get familiar with what the symbols mean: >>>/questdis/136945

Using the ELINT drone as a distraction occurs to me, but I decide it's better to try simply slipping around these guys. I think they might be hunters or simply curious civvies with a terrible sense of timing. They don't deserve to get hurt because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hopefully the Tetras will see things the same way.

I send Arvin an updated set of waypoints that should take us safely around them. I also signal with a hand that we're moving in 3... 2... 1... now!

We are blurs in the night as we lunge from tree to tree. I hear one of them say something like
>Maja va sulon?!

But by then we've disappeared into the darkness.
No. 1022407 ID: f3495e
File 164402487205.png - (30.98KB , 800x600 , S27.png )

By analysing the Titanios's emissions and movement over time, I think I understand what's going on now. I think it's been ordered to set up an ambush position based upon the debris field our shuttle left during the crash. It's not a bad guess, honestly; if they saw us as we descended, they can estimate where we all landed. It's just my luck that I rode the ship all the way down... well, there's nothing I can do about it now.

Circumventing it entirely is probably impractical, at least if we want to meet up with Falken and Silur in any reasonable timeframe. Judging from how far away I ID'd it, it's got powerful, long range sensors. I'd need to go out of my way to avoid it completely. Stealth or confronting it directly are options, but each with their own risks. I've never tried to suborn or jam one before, but the ELINT drone should give me enough muscle to do so. I hope.
The trees are thinner here, and Arvin spots it before I do. "Is that a car park?"

He's right. A small dirt car park, with a couple of primitive vehicles. A wide dirt trail leads out of the car park and presumably out onto the road.

"Do you think we should hotwire one? It might let us get through any Tetra or local cordons faster than they expected, or even escape them entirely." I creep closer and get my ELINT drone to peer at the two cars. One of them appears to be a small off-roader or sports car; the other looks more like a family car, but it's got some discarded jackets in the back.

"Are you nuts? There's no way we won't look suspicious as hell!"

"You're mostly right... but what if we took off our helmets? If we took the bigger car, we could throw on those jackets too," I explain. "It won't fool anyone up close, but it should be enough from a distance or if we drive by quickly."

>What should we do?
>A) Steal a vehicle. The off-roader will give us more options, but it might be easier to blow our cover. The other car's fully enclosed and gives us the chance to better disguise ourselves, but I doubt it'd handle rough terrain well. Specify the vehicle to be stolen.
>B) Just keep going on foot. It's too much of a risk, even if it lets us get through danger areas faster.
>C) Write-in.
No. 1022408 ID: c92a02

Steal the car with disguises and hope you don't have to go offroad.
No. 1022409 ID: 96c896

A: off-roader.
Not just because it's more rugged, but because you can more quickly exit the vehicle or easily fire from it.
No. 1022411 ID: 575fcc

Take the family car (to someone's utter dismay in the near-future), if you need to go offroad, you can ditch the vehicle and vanish back into the woods.
No. 1022412 ID: 96c896

Erm, I believe we can wear the disguises no matter which vehicle we use?
No. 1022566 ID: f3495e

You are correct in that Marisere and Arvin could pinch the jackets from the family car and drive the off-roader, but the disguise might be somewhat less effective. It's easier to get a good look at someone if there isn't a solid roof getting in the way, after all. Consider it a trade-off.
No. 1022675 ID: 815672

Either way, taking a vehicle will attract the attention of the local population. Which you do eventually want to establish at least neutral relations with the local population in your inevitable meeting with them. Tetras are a bigger threat though. Take the off-roader.
No. 1022681 ID: 12b116

off roader
No. 1024039 ID: f3495e
File 164531569238.png - (19.19KB , 800x600 , S28.png )

I'm strongly tempted to take the bigger car, but there's no guarantee that we won't need to go off-road at some point. Plus if things go spectacularly wrong, it's easier to shoot out of an open-topped vehicle. I also consider at least pilfering the jackets, but it'd take precious time - and that's assuming I didn't trip the car alarm.

Speaking of which... the ELINT drone has finished its hyperspectral analysis of the off-roader, and the data is... interesting. The drone bobs down to door level and emits a small zap. There's a soft clunk as the doors unlock.

I spare Arvin a quick glance as I jog over to the front of the vehicle. It doesn't take much to pop open the bonnet and get at the internals. Immediately the ELINT drone sends me follow-up data as I return to the driver's seat - bypass the ignition, short this relay here, break the "probable" steering lock with a swift, strong tug on the steering wheel...
No. 1024040 ID: f3495e
File 164531569621.png - (36.15KB , 800x600 , S29.png )

...And it shudders into life as the ELINT drone uses its weight to close the bonnet. It's a damn sight noisier and rougher than the ones back home. It feels impossible that no-one could hear this thing. I suddenly feel terribly vulnerable again as I allow myself a glance up at the imposing steel skeleton of the radio tower and think of how the day began.

With a deep breath, I remove my helmet, Arvin following suit. The pneumatic hiss of seals breaking is quiet compared to the engine's grumble. Unfiltered air rushes into my lungs, the wind playfully ruffling my fur, my gene-artificed eyes adapting to the darkness with remarkable speed.

The anticipation of attack recedes as quickly as it came. Tactical considerations are distant, like predators stalking the campfire. I shift gears and nose out the car park and onto the highway.
No. 1024041 ID: f3495e
File 164531570168.png - (82.83KB , 800x600 , S30.png )

The plain image for the chapter title card can be found here: >>/questdis/137028

>Let's ride.
>A) Make small-talk with Arvin. Suggest two topics. Hopefully I can get him to warm up to me.
>B) Start surfing the radio. Maybe there's something good on? What sort of music should I look for? It might also give you an opportunity to assimilate more of the local language.
>C) Write-in. What does QUEST have in mind?
No. 1024076 ID: 815672

Agree on a plan and direction of travel. Just take a moment to yourself and enjoy the open air.
No. 1024100 ID: e7c7d3

B) Try to find something with heavy guitar, high energy
No. 1024596 ID: c92a02

B. Danger zooone!
No. 1024869 ID: e51896

No. 1032149 ID: 85308c
File 165248826677.png - (11.57KB , 800x600 , S31.png )

Music sounds good about now - especially something to get the blood pumping. I fiddle with what I assume is the radio. It takes a little bit of searching, but soon I come across some rock music. Even Arvin seems to like it! As the singer begins, I'm treated to the surreal experience of QUEST beginning to decode more of the Tukari language in real time.

>Guta mula a til mak,
>A til kirr blue bosang,
>Se cut vas shusa like a roja blade
>'Bir Se feel vas wek I sakar feel!

>Congratulations! QUEST has successfully processed part of the local Tukari language! [2/3 parts remaining]

We continue to drive, threading our way towards the northwest - Silur's bearing relative to the radio mast we left behind. Not sure if it's down to Tetra intel or what, but that damn Titanios is more or less directly in the way. Arvin's been quiet, staring at the scenery passing by and tapping his fingers to the music. It's weird seeing him just relax for once.
No. 1032150 ID: 85308c
File 165248827124.png - (17.57KB , 800x600 , S32.png )

"Look sharp! It's not long before we need to check in with Falken," says Arvin, nudging me after a long time cruising. "And I don't like how close we're getting to the Titanios's last known position. Let's find somewhere to stop and figure out how we're going to deal with that stupid thing... like that shack." He points at a wooden hut at the edge of the highway.

We pull in and hide the car behind the hut. It's run-down looking, but it should give us some privacy. The wind sighs in my ears as I turn off the engine and hop out the car, Arvin and the ELINT drone also exiting the vehicle.

"...So. I'm not sure if it's QUEST or what, but you've been pretty assertive lately. Maybe you could make leadership material after all. Maybe. Do you think we should try to blast that damn drone to smithereens?" Arvin leans back against the wall, folding his arms.

I bite back the urge to point out that he hasn't exactly been covering himself in glory so far and spend several minutes pondering the question while he investigates the shack. Thankfully it seems like the Titanios isn't currently on the lookout for targets.
My thoughts are shattered by an alert from the ELINT drone. I call up a display to investigate...
No. 1032151 ID: 85308c
File 165248827663.png - (33.53KB , 800x600 , S33.png )

Oh. Oh shit.

>What should I do?
>A) Sneak closer and try to hack into her comms. Due to her seniority, she could have some very valuable intel indeed. There's a risk of detection, though.
>B) Get in the car and run. I don't care if this tips them off, the idea of getting cozy with a member of a Recon-Strike Team gives me the shivers.
>C) Challenge her directly. Pseudo-immortality can make Tetras arrogant, so she's unlikely to say no - and if we take her down, then that's one less person hunting us. That'd be a huge advantage. And there's two of us against one of her, crazy synthetic body or no.
>D) Write-in.
No. 1032156 ID: c92a02

A, ghost this rat. Don't go looking for a fight you can't win.
No. 1032242 ID: e7848c

You have the intel, share it. Let's get Arvin's opinion on this but do it quickly. Might be better off to scatter on foot. Maybe he'll be so bold as to suggest a pincer attack.
No. 1032705 ID: 8483cf

A: Hack the planet!
No. 1032708 ID: 96c896

A. Worst case scenario, it leads into C.
No. 1039834 ID: ceb538
File 165947972241.png - (19.58KB , 800x600 , S34.png )

It doesn't take long for me to make up my mind. This is too valuable an opportunity to pass up. But I should probably keep Arvin in the loop, too.

I beckon him over and whisper, "My drone found a member of the RST hunting us. I think I can hack into their comms and get some intel. Worst comes to worst, I'll issue a challenge and hope she takes the bait." I pass along the data with a gentle head bump to avoid wireless transmission.

Even through the armour I can tell Arvin can't decide whether to congratulate or throttle me. "You know what? Fuck it, let's do this. I'll try to flank her. Just don't take any stupid risks."

"I knew you'd see it my way."
No. 1039835 ID: ceb538
File 165947972765.png - (48.71KB , 800x600 , S35.png )

I'm in the now-familiar situation of hiding behind a tree trunk, but the stakes are different. I direct the ELINT drone to commence hacking. The progress indicator updates in fits and starts, each moment feeling like a small eternity. I'm dimly aware of Arvin creeping along the edge of the clearing, but my eyes are pulled towards the progress indicator with the inexorable gravity of a black hole.

Finally, I get the message I was hoping for. A burst of static fills my ears. It's uncanny hearing voices without actually seeing her mouth move.

"The Tukari? All dead. They thought it was a smart idea to point their peashooters at me." Her voice is deep, and she sounds almost bored. "I'm more interested in what you're doing, Thallas. Tracked down those Aurorans yet, or are you still treating this like a nature tour?"

"Patience, Otrera. Have you no sense of wonder?" The other voice - Thallas - is male, velvety smooth and unhurried. I can't make out what he looks like through the strange, unnatural darkness saturating the feed. "I'm handling one of our targets personally. And do remember my callsign next time. We know that Point Team has at least one drone operator. And we've seen no sign of the ELINT drone."

"Whatever. Are we going to activate BORON?" My heart skips a beat. Wasn't 'BORON' in one of the parameters in the Hoplite telemetry I intercepted? "It'll flush them out nice and easy."

"Not yet. Our Arsenal Drone should be sufficient. Besides, you have no shortage of martial prowess."

An Arsenal Drone? Figures. They're a staple of Recon-Strike Teams; the Tetras pin down their opponents, then they hammer them with a missile volley from the drone.

"Fine. But BORON would help cut out the busy work..." mutters the woman.

Suddenly, Thallas's feed fills with a dazzling flash of light The next thing I know, my suit's flashing a detection warning! Dammit!
No. 1039836 ID: ceb538
File 165947973084.png - (30.79KB , 800x600 , S36.png )

"...Oh? It looks like my prey's come to me instead," says the Tetra, practically purring as she turns her luminous orange gaze directly upon me. She looks a lot taller and stronger when I'm not seeing her through the ELINT drone's camera feed. A subtle whine fills the silence as her armoured collar adjusts itself to give her greater freedom of movement.
"I wouldn't wish to interrupt you. Report back when you've dealt with them." Thallas's voice falls silent.

There's nothing to lose... I step out from behind the tree, and say in my most authoritative voice, "Otrera, I challenge you to a fight! My terms -"

"It's 'Polemophilos'," rumbles the Tetra. "If I'm going to gut you, I at least want you to know who was responsible."

"...Right..." Where the hell are you, Arvin?! I could really use your help about now!

>"My terms are..."
>Help me decide upon three terms. Be aware that despite her pride certain terms are more likely to be accepted than others.
No. 1039843 ID: 5b763e

Feel like we need more info. Particularly what the hostile's flash cannon does as well as its effective range, though extra detail about your/her capabilities would be good.

Got a few preliminary ideas, though they can be adjusted or eliminated based off of data provided.
First, "no direct or indirect drone fire". Should she call up one or several of the "Harpy" drones mentioned earlier, or worse, the hoplite or arsenal, you're in deep, so this would mitigate that issue. She could still use them as spotters, though that would also go for yourself. Plus, it does not prohibit you hacking hers, just using them offensively after hacking.
Second, "no melee, and all ranged fire must be X distance," just replace X with whatever you feel would be good enough for her to accept but still put yourself at an advantage. Seems that would be best because you appear to be good at sniping, and she's probably got the advantage in melee because compared to you she's large.
Should you wish to rules lawyer your way to victory, go for "no damage to native buildings" then head to the cabin and snipe.

Either way, a few plans based off the above.
Have the ELINT send to Arvin and give coordinates of the hostile to snipe. Semi-worried he's dealing with the hostile that left, though.
Go to the cabin, read books. Sound bad? Well, if it completes your drone's knowledge of the native language, it could perhaps access local military comms and social engineer its way to getting yourself indirect fire. First rule only prohibits indirect drone fire, so native indirect fire would be allowed. Probably bends rules about first contact, but the hostiles have admitted to civvie deaths so avoiding war is sort of a forlorn hope here. Quiet aid to the locals would do the Tetras no favors.
Just straight up outsnipe the hostile. Her firearm is probably more about collateral damage or damaging armored forces than accuracy, so win using precision fire.
No. 1039888 ID: 815672

A modification of the snake plissken tactic. Fire one round straight into the air. Whoever can retrieve their fired round first wins.

This of course is simply to keep her looking up and away from you and your ally.
No. 1039895 ID: 30b9f6

>Polemophilos, introductions
"The prey of today is Marisere, if you care."

>1st condition
Take out your stutter pistol and drop it. Say you challenge her to a contest of pure prowess - your peashooter and her cannon would hardly make a fair match and you're itching to see what one of the infamous Recons are made of. Light up your blade to make your intentions clear.

Hopefully forcing her to close to melee range will let you draw things out and let Arvin get into position to do whatever. And hey, that blade can cut through most anything, right? Maybe, just maybe, it can do some damage on Polemophilos.

She might be real damn good so don't get cocky. You also might wanna use your hack-fu for what it's worth to try to slow her down... so you can start actually hacking her. With your blade.

>2nd condition
The fight goes not to death but to first blood - REAL blood.

Scratches and dings don't count. Means she can beat you up and around without the goal of taking you apart immediately, which again should play to her arrogance and let you draw things out if you can't win - by pretending to surrender if you get too badly mauled. Arvin can patch you up, but you need to be alive for him to do so.

'course, you'll have to decide whether you're the keeping deals type if you do win. Though man, you'd embarrass her badly if you beat and her and let her live. She might start making mistakes in your pursuit, following that. It'd certainly be a curveball play, but they come back anyway, so why not leave her to do so in a damaged body and not a fresh one?

>3rd condition
Speaking of which, if you put a sufficiently-sized dent in her your prize is: she scrubs her data on you and gives you an appropriate head start - you mean, you'd take it if she just quit her hunt, but that's not in the cards, yeah? If you lose, her prize is: you surrender yourself and your data to her.

(For a last-ditch hacking attempt through 'transferring intel', but hey.)

>How to beat?
Well, you probably won't without Arvin intervening with a killshot from blue, unless you get real lucky. You could also try to lock her in place, whether through arrogance or deft maneuvering, for a kamikaze attack by your drone into the back of her head and antennae. Just fuck all that shit up.

Yeah, it'd be a sacrifice, but hoo boy you might need that win more than the drone if it comes down to it.
No. 1047399 ID: 631640
File 166665367260.png - (32.49KB , 800x600 , S37.png )

I know it's been forever but real life and artist's block swallowed me up big time. I know the update image won't wow, but it should suffice. I'm really sorry for the delay!

>More info
Hm... good point, shard. Flash cannons are highly energetic anti-armour beam cannons. From great distances, they can crack open even the most heavily armoured vehicle like an overripe fruit. The Scintillator we pilfered from that Hoplite can't hold a candle in terms of raw firepower. But they're so rare for a reason. Besides the sheer weight, they take time to recharge and there's a delay between the targeting array getting a firing solution and the weapon actually firing. Plus I doubt Polemophilos is the sniping type.

Thermal claws are just a claw-based version of the thermal knives Hoplites and many other Tetras are armed with. They're likely in line with my air blades in terms of cutting power; our shields should be able to take a few hits. The claw form factor is probably a concession to her vanity, whether she admits it or not.

Looks like according to your predictive analysis, we hold the advantage in our sensors and Electronic Warfare capabilities, but our true trump cards lie in my sheer speed and agility. We can run rings around her. She holds the advantage in raw strength and durability though. I'm under no illusions about what may happen if she somehow manages to pin me down.
I don't know if the scientists taught you what the "Special" parameter reflects. Well, when Tetras hit the big leagues, they often customise their bodies with modules and hidden features that let them tap into new abilities or extra power reserves. I hate it every time, since I rarely have any idea what to expect.

>No drones
I think she should accept it. She seems like the type to prefer a hands-on approach... no reason I couldn't pass along data to Arvin, either. Speaking of whom - I get an encrypted ping from him. Apparently he hasn't ditched me after all. Looks like he's in position - I dare not look in case I somehow tip off Polemophilos.

>Spoils of victory
Sounds good. I bet she'd go for it.

>Melee vs. non-melee
Hm... now that you have more data, perhaps you can reevaluate your options? It's hard to simultaneously disavow and accept melee combat, after all.

Interesting suggestions, all of you. I won't act on any of them just yet until I get the green light from you, though.

Unfortunately, our weapons are non-kinetic. Perhaps we could substitute our weapons' powerpacks instead?

>Do you confirm or reevaluate any of your suggested terms or tactics in light of the new data?
>Please confirm your choices in the thread to allow for effective logging - ideally with at least a quick explanation of your reasoning (this is to help ensure I don't misinterpret your intent).
No. 1047401 ID: a7a180

I think it's pretty clear you want to avoid melee here.
No. 1047467 ID: e7c7d3

If we go with melee, we could definitely go with hit and run tactics. Just some real frustrating stuff like lunging in to knick a tendon and then ducking back out before they can retaliate, retreat behind trees and reposition before striking again. It'd be slow and mostly ineffectual until we get that one good crippling strike in.
So confirm on the "melee fight" terms of combat
No. 1047528 ID: e55a4b

So a slow brute force close quarters specialist vs a versatile evasive maneuver operative. Dodge close quarters, will not go well.

>delay between the targeting array getting a firing solution and the weapon actually firing
Heh. Would matter less for a larger scale. For a 1v1? Where we can use drones to inform if it's primed? Huge disadvantage. Especially if it has to fire at where it's targeted. Very dangerous if she can manually retarget while it spins up, though.
Still, DO NOT GET HIT BY THE THING. Designed for armor so it'd likely vaporize your fleshy self.
High ground will help, especially if you minimize your profile.

Still, with Arvin here, plus the new info, got a plan of sorts. We get distance, while the drone keeps a bead on the hostile. Get that bead to Arvin's feed. She stays in the open we use crossfire to fill her with holes. She stays to the trees, we flank her to use crossfire to fill her with holes. Goal is to overwhelm her with fire before she's aware she's ripped to shreds. Should we be spotted by a hostile drone, we hack it ASAP. Lose the bead if we have to.

Primary goal is to kill the hostile.
Subverting drones is useful past this fight though.

Details are vague due to that 7/10 special. Quite tough to deal with a surprise, so will have to maximize odds to our side so she has to use her special while we have maneuvers to expend.

So revised terms.

1) Drones are disallowed to fire or be targeted by either side.
2) Should she have a pistol, we have a preliminary duel. Pistols holstered. Duel starts with her hand on her pistol. First shot to hit a shield wins. Winner decides term three. Otherwise... uh... we get to select a weapon or special she's disallowed to use so that she gets to decide term three (We disallow her special).
3) 100 paces or 30 seconds, selected by term two.

Would like to say no close quarters, however she'll probably say no given how eager she is to gut her foe. Quite tempted to have the pistol duel be for the whole pot by having it be shieldless. Still, she has to see we have speed so why would she go so lopsided? Sheesh, has to be tough.
No. 1047926 ID: 9a9054

We should get a decoy for the cannon. Maybe the drone or a rock?
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