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539676 No. 539676 ID: d38f67

>"Heyyyyyy Biles."
"Hey Moi. Did you get to them? You were gone for a long time, and your legs are shaking."
>"Yeah I ran. Sooo, the bad news, is that I didn't get to them. They were gone."
"The good news?"
>"I, uh... didn't find their bodies? Just a lot of salikai guys."
"What were they doing?"
>"A lot of them were being dead. Some are still searching up way north, and a lot are headed down south."
"Strange. If Polo got farther, I would expect the salikai to search more desperately. It's possible you just missed them, right?"
>"Uh, yes."
"The salikai don't think they're much of a threat anymore for whatever reason, or feel they can't afford to search wherever they've gone. Or something else. We have... 7 of us, now. 5 hunters missing. The salikai must have noticed it."
>"Yeah, uh, oh, hey, I got a present for you. Saw a few arkots with tasers. Swiped one up."
"Nice. That'll be damn useful for disabling a bugged hunter. Just gotta stick in a mechanism to make it not so damn arkot sized."
>"You know what you could use more? Some sleep."
"It's all looks, I'm fine on the inside."

Got a taser now, with enough conventional weapons to put up a quick fight, and three jammers including Moi's. Could use another of those. More hunters would be nice. So would some food. This area's been hunted too thoroughly.
Expand all images
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No. 539677 ID: eaa372

Send Moi out to check on those corpses she found. If the Salikai are fielding resources to clean those up you may have a chance to search for more food without interruptions. If the Salikai don't bother with cleanup you could have Moi collect more munitions off the corpses.
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No. 539679 ID: 07e3a8

Huh. Moi tracked us all the way to the battle? That's quite a way, and well outside what we had mapped. Not bad.

>what do?
Uh, overview first. Let's make an informed decision. How long will the food you already have last? Of the hunters you've rescued, how many are up and at 'em, and what kind of state are the others in? (And how long will it take them to finish recovering). Do we have enough equipment / weapons to go around?

(From that we can make the call as to whether we should be hitting salikai troops for materials and/or hunter recruits, or whether we need to gather food).

Have you talked with the hunters about how the control works? (Or do you understand it from your own experience?). Ie, what's it like on the inside? Does the hive know it's being controlled, but the bugs just force them to comply? Is it a subtler brainwashing, like a kind of misleading or deception about who their friends and enemies are? Did we ever find out if any of the aliens are hunter employed forces ignorant to what's going on, or are they all salikai troops? (Things I've been kicking myself for not asking when Polo was here).

How you feeling yourself, ever get any sleep? Honest evaluation for your own merit here, nevermind what you're telling the others.
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No. 539680 ID: 735f4f

What do you have for supplies? The taser is great for debugging but every hunter we free is another mouth to feed.

I like the idea of looting corpses but even if the Salikai have left the area that much blood is sure to draw predators from all over. So if you do make sure to watch for cave wildlife.

The Salikai have lots of equipment with there Cai and its mobile factories. But you need people to keep all that running and raw materials to process. Guessing they do not have many techs left they can trust and there stock of refined materials is dwindling.

Every hunter Polo kills or you save is a huge loss to there fighting forces. Also regardless of how much they have infiltrated command the fact that Polo has not reported back yet will be noticed soon if not already. So watch for any unusual troop movement.
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No. 539682 ID: 07e3a8

>looting battle corpses
She'd have to get all the way back over there, and the limitations of her stealth field wouldn't allow her to take much. Plus, she already said the area was crawling with enemies. Not the best plan.
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No. 539691 ID: 96c896

Any other hiding spots scoped out in case you need to relocate? Relocating might be a good idea regardless since the area's running out of food.
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No. 539692 ID: bc8d67

Alright, so the status of Polo's group is uncertain. They could have gotten away, or they could have been killed or captured and Moi missed them being taken away, or some combination of the above. For the time being you'll assume they're still out there and hold off on making any plans.

Have Moi take a seat to let her legs rest and debrief her. Ask if there was anything else unusual or noteworthy on her trip out. How long was she out? And how did she pick up the trail of Polo's group?

With the source of food dwindling you shouldn't consider adding more hunters to your ranks. That means the best option right now is to scout for another hideout location then move on once an acceptable one is found.

Did any of the hunters you debugged say what happened to the non-neumono support that came in with them? They obviously couldn't be bugged to get their memories scrubbed, so how did the salikai handle them? Were they all or mostly with the salikai from the start? Were they all killed?

Any of your group been carrying the mapper when they've been out, or is it considered too risky for them to because it could fall into enemy hands if they're killed or captured?

Why isn't Greenie behind you camo'd up with glowslug slime? Not enough slugs on hand?

And be honest with yourself about how long you can go without sleep. Best to get what sleep you can when you can to be ready for the time when you absolutely have to go without for a long time. That is, unless you've learned to control your body to such a degree that a third of it can sleep for eight hours while the rest keeps going.
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No. 539748 ID: d38f67
File 137859744619.png - (29.02KB , 700x700 , 580.png )
539748

>Food
5 hours left to feed everyone.

>Weapons
Taser, machine guns for the hunters, pistol for Moi and I.

>Armor
We have one set that fits one of us, Moi's bioarmor that she never takes off, and the rest of us are down to our skivvies.

Moi's been out for several hours.
"Take a rest, Moi. How'd you pick up the trail of Polo's?
>"Well, I saw salikai forces heading downward to where we thought Polo was or so, so I followed them."

>Hunter Bug control
They are mostly aware of what is happening. But they will deny and avoid any talk, thoughts or actions to remove the bugs, as usual. An addition was also made that down deep, they're to assist the salikai. The bugs can't hardwire them permanently, though, so removing the bugs seems to have changed that. Nonetheless, it's been another reason why I haven't gotten any sleep. I can't trust any of them. In the end, the bugs were subtle enough to avoid detection that their empathy was wrong, while garrisoned up above. They often kept to themselves, anyway. Too much. Can't say I like the hunter hive on a personal level. They're the sort that like their knives and guns a little too much. But, people who are on my side is about as good as I can ask for. Plus, given the proximity of shit to the fan, I don't want to get too attached to any of these guys.
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No. 539749 ID: d38f67
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539749

>Aliens under the salikai
Hummer is next hunter recruit we got after our doorguard, Nomi. Managed to salvage his armor, unlike the others, who were out of their armor, giving us an easier time to subdue them. He says that all aliens that are in the hunter hive are still only in the hive as allies, but not, in spirit, part of the hive itself. It was easy to keep 'em out of the loop until it was too late, and they got jumped by the neumono hunters. They've all bee been captured or killed. Survivors are in the salikai labs now, undergoing shit knows what. Over the years, though, the salikai got a few aliens already. A few Pomi, several mikliks, even a couple belenosians. Those are forces directly under the salikai.
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No. 539750 ID: d38f67
File 137859749233.png - (61.23KB , 700x700 , 582.png )
539750

Most of us are fresh enough to move, save for Moi, and our most recent hunter. Yes, I am confident in my own awareness. I have gone for weeks without sleep before.

>Every hunter Polo kills or you save is a huge loss to there fighting forces. Also regardless of how much they have infiltrated command the fact that Polo has not reported back yet will be noticed soon if not already.
Winsli, with the bluntest face I've ever seen, came after Hummer. Doesn't ever change that expression of his, not even when he talks. He's a higher up, not too far from the Queen herself, not like that matters too much right now. The hunter's were one of the salikai's evasion cards, to be pulled when they were on the verge of discovery. On the record, the hunters are assisting Katzati and her crew in mapping these caves with haste.

The Salikai have themselves a CAI. With it, they're able to falsify reports with perfectly mimicked voices, tones, inflections, make witty banter, whatever it takes to make things sound natural and that things are proceeding smoothly with no sign of salikai presence.

He doesn't know how many cards the Salikai have that are like the Hunter's complete compromisation. I doubt many. It only takes so long for an elite maneuvering and survival hive to map a cave, even as huge as our caves get. Eventually Polo's or Katzati's hive will want to speak with them, and make a casual visit. Eventually command will want to come down personally to investigate or relieve the hunters. It's known that the salikai have a CAI and that their reports can be falsified. Eventually someone with a brain is going to be suspect of incoming data. We don't know, but the salikai have only so many cards, and they're going to have to burn through them fast to buy any time to do whatever they're doing. But when command comes down, we'll know. Our bureaucracy is one of the most lax and often incompetent things run by a galactic force, but when there's action, it's not light.
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No. 539755 ID: d38f67
File 137859832766.png - (49.72KB , 700x700 , 583.png )
539755

>Why isn't Greenie behind you camo'd up with glowslug slime?
Not many slugs, and she doesn't leave anyway. At least not until now, and so she's going to cover her face and feet, at the least.

"Pack your bags, we're moving. Caves like these get better meals down below."
>"How much more'f us you planning on getting before we can just push our way out?" Rokko asks. She's our second to last person, just recently recovered from the bug removal. Probably still has some sensitive spots on her, but she can move well.
"More. The salikai know if any of us make it out, it's done, and have fortified the exits to match."
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No. 539756 ID: d38f67
File 137859833804.png - (16.96KB , 700x700 , 584.png )
539756

I move over to what is most likely our most valuable person at the moment, by sheer merit of information. Her name is Orilo, which in the hunter's old language, means Queen's daughter. Probably also going to be my least favorite person, if she's that reminiscient of her hive. No one but the queen would have more information on the salikai that the hunters would know. Hummer says she's been in the salikai base itself, and got lucky to come across her. Found her bleeding out, armorless with more of her bruised than not. Hummer hauled her back, took the bugs out, and she hasn't woken up yet. Don't know what beat her. Wasn't wildlife, least not indigenous wildlife, I can say that much.

I was hoping to wait just a little longer to get her to wake up before we move out, having to carry her unforgiveably bright green fur. The slugs are going to need to exert themselves more before we get to water.
>>
No. 539757 ID: 735f4f

Sounds like Polo blew her ass up. Hopefully she can provide some good Intel once she wakes up but for now she is going to be a pain to hide and move.

Whatever the Salikai are working on is probably something desperate. The more we push them crazier there plans seem to get. Their main objectives are revenge and escaping or staying hidden at this point. If they figure they have no chance of escape then they might be unstable enough to do something ridiculous on the revenge scale.

Who knows if they have WMD's or not but with what we have seen they could at least take out the caves and kill everyone around here.

So food and supplies are first on our list. Maybe we can use the confusion Polo has caused to our advantage.
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No. 539758 ID: 07e3a8

>Weapon count
You forgot Moi's plasma blade, unless she's lost that or used up the battery. Useful thing to come out of nowhere in a fight, assuming Polo's instruction is enough to get her to do so, right.

...you should also have a generator or batteries or whatever you were using for previous ECT bug removal treatments.

>I have gone for weeks without sleep before.
Huh. New biological factiod: neumono just don't shut down and die with sufficient sleep deprivation, like some other species.

I assume however the strain of forcing yourself to stay awake and the willpower required only gets worse the longer you stay up. And that staying up that long takes some training up to. And that even with training, there are going to be eventual impacts on performance.

>The salikai know if any of us make it out, it's done, and have fortified the exits to match.
Also, the hunter's air force is out there, sitting around with nothing to do while the others search the caves. Even if you break you, you'd be mowed down before you get out of the valley, and outside the range of the communication jamming / interference.

If Polo doesn't pull off her plan of blowing the salikai communications (no more radio for them, or relaying orders to bugs) that might be something you'd have to consider yourself. You don't have innate silence or her training, but you do at least have yourself and someone in a stealth suit.

>Orilo, heavy bruising, armorless
...that would have been consistent with the hunter Viln beat up at Polo's last hiding spot. Except we were desperate for food and took the hunter's ears. So something else was responsible.

>moving out
Your equipment pretty much sets the marching order. You and the hunters with a jammer, Moi on point, cloaked. That way if she comes across an enemy patrol or a camera around a blind corner, she can double back and warn the rest of you before you stumble across it.

Which sort of means we should stall until she's ready, at least.
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No. 539776 ID: 57a559

>>539756
I think Orilo may be a trap.

There could be a tracking microchip in her, hell ANY of these neumono. Something deep, something that's not a bug or moving at all, just broadcasting a signal.
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No. 539777 ID: 07e3a8

>>539776
Potentially, but unlikely.

For one thing, a potential tracker would have to be transparent to x-ray, since that's what Biles was using to locate the bugs. It would also have to shielded to endure the electric shock he used in the extraction process. And it would have to be small enough that Biles wouldn't accidentally come across iy while preforming surgery all across the patient's body to remove all the bugs.

There's also the time constraint. I got the impression she's been her at least a few hours. (The cuts from her debugging have healed over). If she was tracked, you'd think we would have been attacked by now.
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No. 539801 ID: 761017

>>539776
A microchip tracker would need to somehow communicate through meters of solid rock. The only EMR that can pass through rock is in the extremely low frequency spectrum!

To emit that kind of EMR you need to have 1000-2000 kilometers of contiguous wire to broadcast at 1/4 wavelength!
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No. 539808 ID: 78ad00

What weaknesses do the salikai have, that's the thing.

The biggest I can come up with is how little they can trust their underlings - and they know it, hence the bugs. Trouble is, the more nervous they get, the more trigger-happy they'll get, probably with those clone darts. If you were able to capture and release a Rokoa, or kill her and just make it look like she get free, the salikai would be less willing to kill the science hivers, and thereby, the science hivers more willing to help you. Maybe even get some more like Moi. I don't know if you trust them any more than the hunters, but at least the two groups would be watching each other. Same would go for the Rokoa, if you did catch instead of kill. The salikai also seem to like keeping a bunch of monsters around, so maybe conspiring to let them out of their cages when they're not supposed to will help sow some disorder. Even bugged minions seem capable of fighting each other, to some degree, so maybe you could also mix something up with the hunter hive, rokoas and pet tribals.

Next weakness is their pet predator. I think they only have one that's trained: if it's taken out, the effectiveness and loyalty of their bugged minions drops considerably. That's probably not a job for your guys, however. Moi maybe could do it, but I don't think she's got the stomach to solo a mission like that. Polo would be better, but she's not here. It'd be nice if you could put the two of them together. Wishful thinking, though.

The fact that the salikai's aliens are individuals may be an opportunity. If you captured one, you might be able to interrogate them, though the salikai probably keep information strictly rationed. That's another weakness; if their communications go down, their left hand won't know what the right is doing. Not too likely, though.

The CAI itself is another point of interest. Where does it keep itself? It's probably well-guarded, but old-fashioned cutting wires might lower its effectiveness. AI still need bandwidth. Or you could disrupt whatever method the salikai use to keep it under control, maybe.
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No. 539823 ID: 07e3a8

Oh hey. I just realized what team nekkid's biggest vulnerability is.

We have zero gas masks in this group. If the salikai even figure out your approximate location, you're going to be in big trouble when they flood the caves around you with hallucinogens.

We can only hope their last two gas attacks against Polo's group used up most of their reserves.
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No. 540047 ID: 018d20

It seems strange that Polo's salikai set all this up themselves. Salikai have to have relatives and such, right? And get their offspring from somewhere. Has anyone in your crew come across any indications that this lot are getting help?
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No. 540068 ID: 520645

Moi's gonna have to be on-point to scout for this relocation, so you'll have to wait a bit for her legs to recover. She may also need to eat, drink, and "take care of business" before she leaves which for her is involved, painful and takes awhile for the suit to repair itself.

Group's low on glowslug slime, so the best way to handle Orilo is to cover as much of her in that blue blanket as possible, tie it down so it doesn't shift, and slime-coat her wherever it doesn't cover. I assume there's not enough water on hand to spare to rehydrate the glowslugs, right?

Dunno what to think about how Orilo got into the state she was in when Hummer found her. Did Hummer note the shape of the injuries she was bleeding from when he found her? Like, were they slashes and cuts, punctures and gouges, tears, bullet wounds, or something else?

>Gas
That'll be a problem if it's encountered before Orilo wakes up. Everyone but her could hold their breath for a half-hour at least, but if she gets a lungful or two she'll wake up trippin' balls, possibly at a very bad time. Everyone will have to be ready to quickly plug her nostrils and mouth in that case.

>WMDs?
That brings up a thought: When the ultrahive swooped in after Polo did her work on the warhive's mothership, did they make absolutely sure to account for all of the warhive's nukes? They visually inspected that all the warheads had their payloads and checked not just against the ship's manifest (which could have been falsified by the CAI,) but by what the warhive remembered? 'Cause if they didn't I'm thinkin' that the salikai may just have taken advantage of the situation back then to swipe some nukes. Definitely not enough to wipe out the neumono on this planet, but one for a base self-destruct, and maybe more to hide in the middle of the largest ultrahives as a final "fuck you" move if they lose.
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No. 540074 ID: 57a559

>>539801
What if the salikai thought around something like that, maybe there's all sorts of wire running along the ground disguised as something? Painted as rock or a minor groove? And each section of wire has a personal tiny radio receiver to catch that low frequency whatever you talked about ping that the microtracker would send out?

And for the fact that it would show up on x-ray, has anyone perhaps thought of advancing technology where one can replicate the uses of a mechanical device through a living organism? Imagine if someone engineered a micro-transceiver amoeba! No one would suspect that because it sounds impossible, but if a bird can replicate gunshots and the fact that the human body is an organic machine with electrical signals and all, than a radio-bug amoeba might not be that far fetched, it just needs the microchip circuits inside its membrane to create a ping(the circuits will also be an organic component) and a medium to broadcast, perhaps some form of natural amoebic antenna.
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No. 540104 ID: 07e3a8

>higher up, not like that matters too much right now.
Well, actually, it may matter in the sense that his hivemates will defer to his judgement. He matters from a getting them to do what you want, or not, perspective. It'll probably be the same thing, only worse, when the princess there wakes up.

>nukes
To our knowledge, none of the salikai forces made it back off the warship. And considering the circumstances of the multiple and repeated threats of spraying nukes in every direction, checking that all warheads were accounted for seems like something even the semi-incompetent ultrahives would get right.

Especially as it would have been Polo's ultrahive, the Neumono Tree, doing that mop up. They haven't been shown to be as incompetent as the Neumono Coalition.

...not that the salikai couldn't have a last ditch nuclear option or WMD from another source. From shady offworld weapons dealers. Or commandeered from the hunters. Or they just built one.

>Polo's salikai
If you feel the need to be exact and differentiate the salikai we're fighting from the salikai species as a whole, their family name is Su'ata.
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No. 540194 ID: d38f67
File 137887056957.png - (42.77KB , 700x700 , 585.png )
540194

>Sounds like Polo blew her ass up.
Doubtful, unless Polo turned to take a liking of blunt weaponry. Guns didn't do this.

>Has anyone in your crew come across any indications that the Salikai are getting help?
Outside bug infestations, more tech than what I can believe a single hive could come up with, the munitions that they've got... yeah. Plenty. The implications are nasty that either there are more salikai out there that have the means to help these ones, or that someone up there would help the salikai down here.

>I assume however the strain of forcing yourself to stay awake and the willpower required only gets worse the longer you stay up.And that staying up that long takes some training up to. And that even with training, there are going to be eventual impacts on performance.
Correct. I was up for weeks once, but I certainly wasn't functional by any standards. I don't plan on doing that again.

>The hunter's air force is out there
That's actually not the biggest concern of mine. Course they'd use extrasensory equipment to catch me, but if we were able to break out, Moi could bypass all that. Chances of her messing up when she's got the wide open wilderness and no more than a couple hundred hunters out their to watch it are pretty comforting.

"Hey, Orilo." I pinch her cheeks. "Orilo." I slap them some.
>"Gf... "
"Rise and shine." Slaps usually don't work, but those occasional successes justify the ruffled fur.
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No. 540195 ID: d38f67
File 137887057953.png - (17.73KB , 700x700 , 586.png )
540195

>"Shit?!" She leaps up and tries to grab her gun, hits bare hip instead and falls back down. Not surprising, had to dig into her calf some. "Who the fuck're you?"
"Nomi, come down here a second."
>"... a friend, then? Wait...?"
"Yeah, your bugs are gone. And we've got to get moving. Use the blanket to cover yourself, you're out of your element."
>"Tell me what's going on."
"Salikai are hunting us. Good enough to get you moving?"
>"Fine, if you answer my questions."
"First, what's the last thing you remember? You were in bad shape when we found you."
>"... I got in a fight."
"Go on."
>"Arkots, alright? And before you say anything, you haven't had fucking bugs in you."

I'd like information as soon as possible, but I also want to move as soon as possible, and can't have nice chats while moving out there. Already know where I plan on going, we scouted possible escape routes, but I've got to prioritize how much time I'm going to spend. Moi could use some rest, but the sooner we leave, the slower we can afford to move. A quick breather can get her walking.
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No. 540196 ID: 96c896

>>540195
You have had bugs in you, though. Everyone here but Moi has. So you understand she couldn't defend herself.

Ask her if she knows anything about who the Salikai are getting help from, and what other tricks they haven't pulled on you yet. If we could sabotage their supply lines it would go a long way towards winning this war. Additionally, forewarned is forearmed.
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No. 540201 ID: 07e3a8

>time
Give Moi a few minutes to catch her breath while we exchange information with Orilo, and she figures out something to wear. Leaving soon and going slow sounds like a good approach.

>You haven't had fucking bugs in you
I have, actually. Everyone here has. That's neither here nor there, though.

>questions
Play the old game, where you take turns asking and answering. Get the most important information out first.

Like what the heck happened to get those arkots to turn on her, or when they started packing a punch big enough to matter.

She's also been inside the salikai base. She may have seen and know more about what the salikai actually have planned or waiting in reserve than anyone else in a position to say.

...I expect she'll ask about her mother. You can be honest about that if she does, you know from Polo. Last you heard she was alive, although beaten up after a fight with one of those Rokoa clones. Polo put the clone down soon after, if that makes you feel any better.

>Polo
...actually, I kind of wonder how the hunters feel about her. On the one hand, they're free now, and they have to have what the salikai did to them. And she's fighting the salikai, and doing well. (Well, as well as anyone could, in the circumstances).

But then again, she's also been kicking the hunters' asses at their own game. They hunt. It's what they do. You said yourself what kind of personality and mindset they have- I'm not sure they'd take being bested consistently. I mean, maybe there's respect there, but I could also see anger and resentment. Potentially a thorny issue.

>Moi bypassing the airforce
Oh. Good point. Moi changes the equation. You don't actually need to punch out and keep going- you just need to break open an exit she can get through. They'll never catch her out in the open. So long as she has a radio and enough food and water to clear the CAI's jamming and indirection, they can't stop her from getting the word out.

Problem is, of course, right now the exits are guarded closely enough she can't sneak through safely, even invisible. And your group isn't packing nearly enough heat to break through a guarded exit- a couple of machine guns and pistols aren't enough.

>might be someone up there would help the salikai down here
...there's always someone who stands to profit from a war. It's good business, especially if you're selling from a nice, safe, off world distance.
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No. 540205 ID: 57a559

>>540195
Stop leering it's rude
Make it clear no one leads our little ragtag group. So, she's going to have to drop the Queen Daughter act and fight like a pure guerilla soldier... if she's unfamiliar with that. We're not going to make assumptions about you as long as you assume either, like about the bugs.

>>540194
Wouldn't Moi show up on thermal scans?
>>
No. 540221 ID: 0f507c

Make your questions carefully. The first thing you should look for in her, before anything else, is whether there are any holes in her memory. Remember Polo's information: predators can leave limited subliminal commands even without bugs, and/or alter memories (you have told everyone about that, as well, right?). If you had time, I'd get her to tell you everything she did the last few days, in sequence, to see if there are any seams in her recollection. If there's no time for that and you can't do it while you're moving, then alright, but keep it in mind. Don't absolutely depend on her information, and follow any information she does give by asking where and when and how she learned it. Cross-reference with other hunters if possible.
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No. 540223 ID: 735f4f

Tell her about your bugs while she gets dressed and say she can ask her questions on the go.

Dang getting beaten up by arkots must have sucked. Wonder what caused that to happen. Lots of tiny guys with sticks wailing on you for hours.

She might be really embarrassed about the arkot's thing so promise not to tell anyone about it. Everyone has had some horrible things happen to them lately.
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No. 540229 ID: 1cf691

>dat leer.

You thinking about tapping that avocado Biles?

Anyway ask about possible places we can raid supplies from so we can get our imminent needs taken care of.
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No. 540231 ID: 07e3a8

>drop the Queen Daughter act
...to be fair, she hasn't actually put it on yet. Demanding answers in an unknown situation is what most anyone would do.

>Wouldn't Moi show up on thermal scans?
I don't think so. That's a weakness of the stealth suits the hunters are wearing. Moi ran off with the next gen prototype- it was transparent under every mode Polo has to check with.

>leering
C'mon, that's not what he's doing! He would have gotten all the eyeful he'd wanted during the bug removal if that's what he wanted.

...besides, who needs grumpy knife happy hunters when you've got Moi running around in that skin-tight fetish suit. :V
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No. 540300 ID: 520645

Tell her your name and that you actually do know what it's like to be infested with mind-bugs. You experienced it right up to the point you removed them. Not enough time to share the whole story, but you will say it involved luck, hypothermia, and willing your hearts to stop.

Ask why and from where her bugs got the order to hold her still while the arkots beat her. Was it punishment for her actions, just for the arkots' fun, or something else?

Ask what state her queen is in and how well she's holding up. You know she got her shit kicked in by that Rokoa clone so she'd be recovering from that, but she's got extra bugs so her mind may be breaking by now. You'd consider capturing and debugging her, but it's really unlikely she's anywhere where you possibly could grab her.

Does she know how many Rokoas are active, what their capabilities or roles are, and where they're stationed or what objectives they're pursuing?

She's been inside the salikai's base, so get her a piece of paper and a pen so she can draw a map of the parts she was in and ask what she saw and how much activity was going on in there.

Ask if she has any idea what overarching plan the salikai are working towards now, or if they even have one. They know that after the hunter hive was called in that they didn't have much time left before the world comes down on their heads, so if they have a plan they can enact before then they must be pushing hard to get it done ASAP.

>Moi's getaway
Don't be so confident in Moi making it if she gets into the wilderness. She's no hunter or survivalist and she won't be able to take food or water, so that's against her. And she won't be able to carry a powerful radio so even after getting outside the radio jamming field she's gonna have to trek all the way to a settlement to get the word out. And since the voklit reservation is in the middle of nowhere that's gonna be a long way on foot.
>>
No. 540460 ID: e259ec

>>540229
>>540231

Come on, guys, I'm sure Biles isn't an indiscriminate tail chaser. Not to say he won't sample the feast that sits in front of him, certainly, but he's a man who likes a challenge! To venture where lesser hearts dread, to endure the longer climb for the greater satisfaction. And what could be more the achievement in intimacy than the lady who can hide her feelings whenever she likes? To discover the treasure at the heart of a true mystery? Oh, the seaside salt fruit may be smaller, the skin firm, but how sweeter could be the sounds when the silence is broken, am I right Biles? Nudge-wink? Eh? Biles? By the way I hope you've remembered to keep everyone constantly watching each other and not leaving anyone to even a single moment alone, Biles, especially when you're rubbing sticky goo over each other's athletic half-naked bodies.
>>
No. 540663 ID: 4ef19e
File 137926760097.png - (124.54KB , 700x700 , 587.png )
540663

"Hey. I won't make assumptions about you, if you don't about me. I've had bugs. And if I guess right, you didn't have to fight against the arkots as much as you had to fight the bugs, right?"
>"Yeah. Fucking stupid ass salikai, they train the arkots from birth to hate neumono, and act indignant when the little fuckers try and kick us around knowing that our bugs won't let us attack other salikai forces. That shit happens now and then, like they think it makes them stronger than us."
"Do you know what the salikai are planning?"
>"Know what I think? I have a feeling they know they're screwed 7 ways to next week, so they're just getting what they can, and are gonna do as much harm as they can. Just plain, stupid, genocidal revenge."
"But you don't know that?"
>"They don't even let their science pets know much."
"Do you know how many Rokoa's are active?" I add what I know through Polo.
>"Yeah, 14. No, Polo got one, 13. Most are in the base, either being put to science or recovering from being processed for an injection. Probably only a few that actually have their brain lined up right. Crazy fuckers, the lot of them."
"So I've heard. Know any places where we can get supplies?"
>"Yeah, but not when you're dressed like that. You look like you came out of the wrong end of a sewer. They protect their shit pretty well."
"Don't suppose you know where your queen is, or how she's doing?"
>"All I know is that she's been taken back to the salikai base for what better be rest and recuperation. That Rokoa better be happy that Polo got to her before I did. The things I'd do..."
"Please, spare me."
>"I'm going to ask a few more questions, as well as following your train of thought. I know what predators can do, so I hope you understand."
>>
No. 540664 ID: 4ef19e
File 137926770908.png - (150.91KB , 700x700 , 588.png )
540664

>Leering
We're going to have problems if idle glances makes anyone bashful, because when I start running her through questions, I'm going to want to feel her empathy.

Upon doing so, we rub each other the wrong way almost immediately. Just innocent personality mismatches, but the sooner I get my hands off her, the better. I run her through the chain of her events that she's aware of, while I have her draw a map of the salikai base. Most of the information she gave me, she gives plausible explanations for.

There is a gap, however, of about 12 hours that she thinks she spent with a few other hivemates of hers, that she can't recall well at all. She's concerned about that, as am I, but there isn't a whole lot I can do about that. Ends up making her cagey about some of her other info, since it could be wrong or misleading.
>>
No. 540665 ID: 4ef19e
File 137926772862.png - (25.20KB , 700x700 , 589.png )
540665

We move out. Our trip is smooth as butter. Moi keeps an eye ahead while I direct us to our next spot. Deeper in, but nice branches and escape routes, with a thin tunnel leading to our hole. Wouldn't be able to do this if we had any big guys or girls with us. Takes us 2 hours.

>By the way I hope you've remembered to keep everyone constantly watching each other and not leaving anyone to even a single moment alone
Not a whole lot of room for privacy anyway, but a buddy system will be good.

"So what do you guys think of Polo? She's been getting around from what I gather."
>"Most of us hear of her while some salikai scream at us to go get her, thinking we're incompetent. Course we are when we're bugged. We get forgetful, careless and do shitty jobs, cause deep down we don't want to do it." Rokko just keeps looking into space while she talks. "Not like the salikai will toss us out even if we purposefully do a shitty job. We're still better than the arkots."

>And what could be more the achievement in intimacy than the lady who can hide her feelings whenever she likes?
Challenge can make the reward more rewarding, but then there's unearthing a mountain for a dime underneath. Might be a special dime when your hands pick it up, but it's still a dime. Now, Polo's got determination and focus that I can admire, and she's a life's fortune to someone out there I'm sure, but me? I like my company an open book. Now, I've gotta think of more pressing matters than my dick.

3 hours left to feed everyone before our stomachs start rumbling. Food's around us again, but things around here are good at hiding.
Glowslugs are about a 15 minute walk. Moi's reported that most open rivers are crawling with arkots.
Once we get some good food here, we'll want more hunters. And more information, but Orilo can still be drilled for more while we settle in.
>>
No. 540667 ID: 07e3a8

>13 Rokoas
Holy fuck. Here's hoping most of them continue to eschew heavy body armor, or we're kind of fucked.

(Here's hoping that count also includes the one nailed to to ground being being extracted for darts).

>>540664
...sorry, but that's a downright creepy looking hug. Yeah, it's kind of apparent you two don't rub each other right.

>memory gap
Yeah, well let's not forget you had one of those two, back when you and Rokann were first hit. Hopefully nothing, but even if Four Stripes did hide anything in anyone, it's not like we can do anything about it now.

>what do
Food first, I think. Then we can see about getting glowslugs and looking for more hunters to free (convenient if hunters happen to be guarding the river, I suppose. Two for one shopping).

Jammer restrictions mean either the whole group is going hunting, or Moi has to go with the hunting group, with her jammer range turned up to cover you.
>>
No. 540687 ID: ad1bc3

>buddy system

If you have the right numbers and think it won't make things too cumbersome, I'd go for a triple buddy system. That way, if any one person is a sleeper agent or whatever, the other two will be able to subdue them. You have six people right now, and better, two who aren't from the same hive as the other four. So if you and Moi each go with two hunters, and something happens to the jammer, neither group can easily be totally controlled if they run into a predator relay.
>>
No. 540690 ID: 735f4f

Be careful with her. Just because she was beaten half to death by arkots does not mean they did it just out of spite. They could have filled her full of subliminal commands and then had her beaten up in a area they have noticed people disappearing in.

Probably is what it looked like but you never know when they might get a clever idea for trapping you.

Buddy up groups for hunting and make sure everyone is watching for anything out of place. Also if the river entrances are crawling with arkots maybe we can pick a few off unnoticed as they move back and forth. No idea if they taste good but food is food.
>>
No. 540708 ID: 134f29

What's that thing just right of center on the last panel? Looks kind of odd for a rock formation.
>>
No. 540752 ID: 1cf691

Have you thought about getting help from the natives? It would be risky since they might just sell you out to the Salikai. But if we could convince some Voklits to help us we wouldn't need to worry about food, and they might be able to spy on the Salikai forces for us.

Also i had this insane idea of redirecting the river to drown the Salikai base, but it would definitely require help from the Voklits and the theft of some mining equipment and explosives.
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No. 540770 ID: ad1bc3

>>540752

If anyone's going to try get help from the voklit, it would be Polo's group. They have a voklit already, and the guy who's trained to talk to them, and Polo's been learning a bit of their language. Biles' group has absolutely zero qualifications. In fact, the hunters are probably representative of exactly what the voklit don't like, being a hive of technomilitary types. The invisible science nerd doesn't add much, either.
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No. 541143 ID: d38f67
File 137961372541.png - (43.40KB , 700x700 , 590.png )
541143

>Have you thought about getting help from the natives?
I have, and concluded that my room for trust is already spread thin. Trying that venue might earn me more enemies just as soon as anything.

>Triple buddy system
Three can be a bit much, but it has merit.

Moi, Nomi and Hummer will be in one group. I, Winsli and Rokko will go in another direction.

"Remember. I'd rather see you come back empty handed and undiscovered than come back with a voklit corpse and the salikai on your tails. Don't be seen. Something wrong, Moi?"
>"Oh, no, my bio armor is just itchy is all. It's fine."
>>
No. 541145 ID: d38f67
File 137961378822.png - (62.02KB , 700x700 , 591.png )
541145

Can't do much about that, so we say our parting words, which are none, and move out far enough from our base to hunt. Saw one arkot on the way, so we turned around to another path. And that was it.

Doesn't take too long to single out a skitter, and find one of those cave insects. They're one of the higher cases of extreme disparity between having nutritious meat that is absolutely disgusting. We're not on a cruiseline, though, so I start tailing it. It's going somewhere, and I think I know why. I smell one of its favorite preys not too far ahead.
>>
No. 541150 ID: 07e3a8

> help from the natives?
I'd agree with your assessment. It's a big risk, and you don't have the tools to properly attempt it. Polo's group has the translator, and the two voklit she managed to befriend. Maybe they can pull it off.

>bio armor, itchy
Hmm. Check in with her later, see if that's persisted or gotten any worse. She's been okay so far, but I wonder if there are long term effects being bound to too strong a bioarmor. Maybe it's nothing, but it's not going to be good if the suit starts killing her, or if it stops being able to provide stealth.

>2 hunting groups
Wait, doesn't that leave Orlio back at camp without a jammer?

>hunting bug
Wouldn't the easiest approach be to hit it after it attacks it's prey? Whichever animal survives will be tired and weak, and you'll bag twice the meat for half the effort.

Unless it's attacking a salikai patrol. But if they're close enough to smell, gunning down the bug before it reached them would just alert the enemy with gunfire.
>>
No. 541173 ID: 1cf691

Why not just kill the bug now and then if its prey is edible track it yourself?
This way there is no risk of losing the insects along the way and coming back empty handed.
>>
No. 541175 ID: d38f67
File 137962638459.png - (13.77KB , 700x700 , 592.png )
541175

>Lack of jammer at base?
Moi has a small one she keeps on her. We have 2 besides that, one of which is at base with Orilo.

It isn't a smart bug. When I follow it for a moment, the smell of its prey shouldn't be so strong. The chances of it being lured are high, and shooting the bug now may alert a nearby salikai hunting patrol. Or native voklit.

I keep following. There's the bait, and the insect gradually gets closer.
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No. 541176 ID: d38f67
File 137962641226.png - (15.91KB , 700x700 , 593.png )
541176

Voklit smashes it through its plates like nothin'.

Rokko communicates that she's going to hand the jammer to Winsli, go in to see if he's salikai or native, and if the latter, going to shoot it. I did choose the phrase 'voklit corpse' for a reason.
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No. 541179 ID: 07e3a8

...uh, I don't like that plan. We've seen 'native' voklit cooperating with salikai forces before. If we happen to see this one carrying a spear instead of a gun, that doesn't mean his absence won't be noticed.

And native voklit don't tend to hunt alone. They hunt in groups. If that's a native, there's at least one other nearby, and they'll come running at the sound of an attack.

(That and if he's really not a member of the enemy forces, the voklit don't need more reason to hate us. Not that the Hunters will care about that as much).
>>
No. 541184 ID: fe4bfc

A Volkit having a spear does not mean its not part of the Salikai forces. Also there could be several of them hunting together. So unless you have a silenced weapon and can drag the corpse off very quickly without leaving a blood trail be prepared for more of them.

The food is worth the risk but make sure you are able to deal with more Volkit and possibly more of those bugs if need be.
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No. 541190 ID: d38f67
File 137962976095.png - (51.36KB , 700x700 , 594.png )
541190

I motion back that voklits don't always hunt alone, and it may still be salikai, even if it's unarmed.

Rokko retorts that we just follow to find out then. She thinks it's alone, and has a suppressor in her weapon.

Winsli, to little surprise of mine, is backing her up on that.
>>
No. 541194 ID: 07e3a8

(...oh boy, cave sneaking part II, with a full party of Marras).

I still don't think it's the right move tactically, or that we're hard up enough for food that we should be murdering one of the few voklit who didn't side against us for food.

...if you see any signs there's more voklit, we could follow just to prove you right. Otherwise, unless you feel getting them to stand down costs you too much face, I wouldn't.
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No. 541222 ID: d38f67
File 137963501640.png - (16.35KB , 700x700 , 595.png )
541222

I repeat, no. They damn well look ready to ignore me and do it anyway, but they relent.

>"You better hope we find something soon, then. Don't think you rescuing us from the bugs means that we're going to be complacent to you instead of the salikai."
"I haven't implied anything of the sort."
>"Good. We'd better get something. We don't like running on empty."
"That voklit's moving to us, actually. Not a damn weapon or armor. Or clothes. We'd better move if we're gonna dance around every voklit." Winsly ducks back behind cover. "It's your ear on the table if we go back empty handed."
Rokko turns to sign language. "And the rest of you, if a rumbling stomach blows our cover. Now shut up." She directs the last part of that to Winsli.

These damn guys are getting even harder to work with.
>>
No. 541228 ID: 96c896

What's a native voklit with *no camo* doing in the caves? This isn't right. Cave voklits are always purple. It's very unlikely to be a salikai trap, though.

I'd prefer to just kill the voklit, but I doubt I'd get any support on that front and you'd look bad for doing a 180. How about an alternative to killing it? Force the voklit to give you the food.
>>
No. 541229 ID: 07e3a8

>your ears, find food
Biles cuts off his own ears recreationally. And if there's one thing he knows, it's finding food in the wilderness. This biomme ain't even that bad.

...and I know you guys are antsy to get some food, and start taking independent action action, but caution is the only way we survive.

>Force the voklit to give you the food.
That's the same as killing it, only with stalling and shouting beforehand.

>no cammo, no clothes
Actually, yes, that is odd. And kind of suspicious. The only other voklit we've seen in the caves without any was the group that attacked Polo on the railroads.
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No. 541233 ID: 1ae46e

If it is a spear voklit, then either a) it's not associated with the salikai and we don't want to hurt them, b) it is with them but is only a drop in the bucket of their forces and taking it out is less beneficial than pays the risk of raising an alarm. And if it's a gun voklit, tackling it would be slightly more valuable but also a good bit riskier. The hunters, I think, are looking for some way to get some vengeance and may err on the side of doing so when presented with choices. Perhaps you can express your concern about this to them at some point, using less potentially offensive language. Some sort of metaphor about snipers only going for the highest value targets.

Tag on with this, perhaps, a little explanation of you being more the expert in this situation. They are hunters, but in hunting... well, let's say that as a hunter you strive to be a predator while also avoiding being prey, while as a survivor you strive to avoid being prey while also being a predator. The difference in emphasis, and its relationship to your current situation, means you should be the leader if a leader there has to be. But this would also be a tricky subject to broach and it would be nice if you could get a sense of their empathy when you tried to explain it.

All this when you have a moment, of course. For now, the prime concern is that this voklit is not behaving how a hunting voklit should. If it's coming towards you, can you hide somewhere where you can observe it as it comes past?
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No. 541236 ID: 735f4f

Volkit might still be on the menu but we need to make sure this meal does not get us all killed.

Also a single Volkit without camo is a curious sight. Better to get a bit of info first before we go in blind. Not sure if following it home is possible but might lead us to more resources.

No idea if we can or want to try to make friends but if we kill first and ask questions later it takes that choice off the table.
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No. 541261 ID: d38f67
File 137964057683.png - (28.45KB , 900x700 , 596.png )
541261

I communicate, fast as I can in the circumstances, we're just as likely hunted as we are hunters. They're not used to this sort of thing. They don't respond, but I can sense some hostility, empathy or no.

We'll hide, I say to them, and see what's up with a no-camo nudist voklit running around punching bugs.

Some rocks allow it. Looks as naked as winsli said, and it sounds like he's walking straight ahead, and will pass us.
>>
No. 541263 ID: 735f4f

Looks like he is possibly injured on one side. Might be in the same position we are. Wounded and surrounded by enemies and looking for food.

If he is alone and hunting down here do we even have the option of trying to work with him? Do any of us know any volkit? Having a native or ex salikai trooper on our side might be worth more than just eating him.

Try following him for a bit. Will get a better idea of what he is up to and he might lead us to his lair if he has one.
>>
No. 541265 ID: 96c896

>>541261
It looks like a mutant of some sort. That face isn't normal, is it? Almost like a Voklit/Miklik... It also seems wounded. Also, its hair is much longer than most Voklits keep theirs. If it's a mutant, the nakedness and long hair is because he was not allowed clothing or proper grooming in the Salikai's care.

Perhaps we can follow it and observe it to gain more information about where it came from and what it's doing. If it IS an escaped mutant, then it couuuld have information. Does anyone here know their language?
>>
No. 541266 ID: 07e3a8

Bug smasher seems to have a pretty big mane. And his non bug smashing arm looks like it might be bloodied? And no cammo and traveling alone both seem odd for voklit.

I don't think we're in a position to try talking to it, or working with it. We don't have anyone who knows how to talk to a voklit, and the hunters are probably more opposed to cooperation than ignoring it. And, honestly, approaching bug smasher is riskier than killing him for food.

I dunno. I don't see good reason to kill him. The decision is to let him go, or waste time investigating further.
>>
No. 541268 ID: 1ae46e

Can you hear whether he's dragging the bug behind him? A voklit who was with the salikai or part of some trap would be less likely to try and take it with him. It's still possible, but they'd tell him to drop it, being salikai. Hmm. And you should be able to hear, at this distance, whether there's anyone else with him? This is looking less and less like a trap. Even the salikai wouldn't botch it like this.

This guy intrigues me. First, he's not only camoless, he's not carrying anything at all; no spear, even. This guy clearly has not had any time to prepare to be down here, which indicates to me he is not someone who planned to be here, and that he came here in a hurry. And he wasn't ordered by anyone to be down here, because they'd have given him something that would, at the very least, be better for hitting a bug than a fist is. Second, he doesn't have the defeated look that the tech-using voklit get. And third, most interesting of all, is that he's bleeding. Or he could just have red blood on him, but blood is unlikely to spatter up the inside and under the arm like that, and it looks more like it's trickling down from a wound near the armpit. Given that voklit have such huge arms and upper bodies, then that injury was most likely taken at close range from someone much shorter than him; a reasonably long list, but the only people around here who would hurt a voklit like that are your enemies. And since so many people around here have guns, his opponent must not have hit him from the back or been able to see him coming, since then he'd be much worse off and probably not alive.

So: a guy who had all his possessions taken from him at some point, left wherever he was in a hurry, hasn't had time to find slugs or fashion any weapons or tools, and who had at least one close-range fight with someone who wasn't another voklit on his way here. Perhaps this guy is an escaped prisoner? And it'd have to be from the salikai, if anyone. They have to be doing more to ensure their loyalty than vague threats. Keeping the right individuals hostage could compel obedience. Or this guy could just be a guy who was stubborn about being pushed around.

Follow him. Do not eat him yet.
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No. 541275 ID: f9cf6a

Tail him to wherever he's heading and see what he's up to and if he's with anybody else. Placate Rokko and Winsli by telling them that it'll most likely be a hidden hole like your group has, so if he could be taken out with little risk of his corpse being found by other than the local wildlife. That'll hopefully keep them from revolting until after you've checked this voklit out.

He appears to be bleeding, either from under his left armpit or from his left arm. Put that together with his total lack of gear, camo, or even clothes and he's most likely either an escaped prisoner or an exile from the rest of voklit society. And either of those in this context very likely indicates he's not with the salikai.

Perhaps if that's true he could be convinced to be an ally. But even if that's not possible you know he won't report to the salikai if he does see your group.

>>541263
>>541265
Just to reiterate, 'cause we apparently didn't pick up on it: There's NOBODY in Biles' group that can speak voklit. Communication would still be possible, but slow and crude, using gestures and drawings.
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No. 541294 ID: d38f67
File 137964784988.png - (60.26KB , 700x700 , 597.png )
541294

Rokko and Winsli get my message that we're following the voklit, because this guy isn't normal.

The guy does walk pretty funny. Then he starts talking.

>"Neumono please to come assist will not harm."

Nevermind the broken grammar, guy sounds raspy.
>>
No. 541295 ID: 96c896

>>541291
Definitely an escapee. Ask it what assistance it's asking for, and what it can give in exchange.
>>
No. 541296 ID: 735f4f

Well he knows you are there and we are pretty sure he is alone so I would say motion for the other two to watch your back and then step out and talk to him.

Ask what type of assistance he wants and if he is being chased by anyone. Maybe find out where he learned your language to start. After we get a feeling for him we can go from there.
>>
No. 541299 ID: 07e3a8

You forgot to take the voklit nose into account. He smelled you, even if he didn't see you.

...give your buddies a "I told you this guy was weird" look.

You might as well try talking to him. The hunters can hang back a moment, and shoot him if there's trouble. And don't get too close. He could just be trying to lure you out like he did the bug.

Speaking English is pretty unusual for a voklit, as is asking neumono for assistance. What's his game?

It's possible the odd movements and scratchy voice indicate an injury. Or... something else is wrong here. Remain cautious, keep your distance.

My paranoia worries if this is a fufa in voklit shape. The odd movements, not quite right shape, and talking like a robot fit Niam's description, and might explain the un-volkit like behavior. Unfortunately, Biles doesn't know those things exist.
>>
No. 541302 ID: 96c896

>>541299
Er, does he?

Biles, do you know what a fufa is?
>>
No. 541303 ID: 07e3a8

>>541302
Niam described them to Polo for the first time after Polo made contact with Biles. If Biles knows about fufas, he'd have to have learned independently, from a different source.

I suppose it's possible Moi or one of the hunters they rescued could have provided the information.
>>
No. 541308 ID: f9cf6a

How did he...? Dangit, he smelled you. None of you have washed your scent off in a long while and he walked right through where you were standing. Well, that's something to remember for later when tailing voklits.

He's made you so may as well try talking to the guy, but keep back where you are in case he might try something or if this is a trap.

Motion to Rokko and Winsli to quietly reposition away from you into cover to the side of the voklit, get a line on his head and to hold fire until you say so. Then go to the edge of the rock, aim at him and start talking.

Open by telling him to hold still and only move when and where you say to or he'll be shot in the head, followed by saying he's going to have to answer some of your questions before you'll assist him. Then ask him how he knew you were here to confirm if it was scent or not, where he learned to speak your language, how come he's down here without absolutely anything, including clothes, and why isn't he attacking you. Once he's answered your questions, then ask him what kind of assistance he's asking for.

>Raspy, funny walk, possibly crippled left arm
Sounds like he has bullets or shrapnel lodged in him he can't remove to properly regenerate. It might be something else, but that's what it most likely sounds like at the moment.

>>541299
Highly doubtful. From what we know fufas are not in any way intelligent enough to do what this voklit is doing. And as far as we know they can't shape-shift either. But maybe Biles knows more from the hunters.
>>
No. 541376 ID: 6e8c11

Step out by yourself - this guy might have had bad experiences with hunter neumono, and you look least like them - and ask him to turn around before you approach him, if he doesn't do so when he hears you. Don't get near him yet, but ask what he needs so he knows you're not just leaving him hanging.
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No. 541413 ID: d38f67
File 137978920369.png - (28.74KB , 900x700 , 598.png )
541413

Smelled me. Or the hunters? We took measures to take care of that. Voklit smell is keen, but I don't know if it's that keen.

Odd movements, bad voice, and yet some odd clarity in his words despite the voice and broken grammar. I shoot a glance to my hunter acquaintances, saying I told 'em he was weird.

"What is your name?"
>"... do not know name name is assumed unimportant."
"It is important."
>"Name remember please neumono hold names remembered names... Nivin. Zalv. Vern. Quova. Salkalo. Neumono satisfied yes. "
"I'll call you Nivin."
>"Nivin understood name."
"How do you know english?"
>"Neumono voklit belenos organisms knowledge attained please neumono closer see."
".... keep your tail back from me."
>"Tail harmless comply order."

>Do you know what a fufa is?
If an organism is on this planet, there's a good chance I know what it is, at least, if it's worth knowing about. Fufas? Well worth knowing about, despite the rarity. Nothing normally dangerous if you recognize and avoid them, but they're of interest to a good deal of organizations. Figuring out a fufa is an endgame, holy grail type ordeal to theoretical biologists, because what fufa's could do under the right circumstances.

I also know Salikai. Their brains develop oddly, sometimes segments develop too much and reduce capabilities of other segments of their brains. They're regularly intelligent, but lopsidedly so. Despite that, there's a few constants, and one of them is an absolute infatuation, and love of, theoretical thoughts. Fufas were practically made for 'em.

So, the prospect that that's a fufa there, doing an impressive job of looking like a voklit far bigger than they've been known to get... the chances of that are as low as can be, but until that chance is zero, I'm a little uncomfortable. It appears to have normal voklit musculature, as well as a skeleton. It is breathing as well, implying some sort of lung or diaphragm. Still, its mane appears rather thick and solid for hair, and he stands more still than I'd like. Not to mention its unnatural speech.

Whatever the damn thing is, it's creepy, voklit or not.
>>
No. 541414 ID: 07e3a8

>robot speech
>lots of names
>knowledge attained from lots of different organisms
...It's totally a fufa. It just as good as gave you a lost of names of people it has absorbed, and told you it learned English by eating other organisms!

>Vern
...holy fuck they fed it Vern's corpse. That means this things knows (part?) of what he knew. The salikai can get intel from our dead. Fuck, I don't have the words to express how bad that is or how disgusted that makes me feel.

>what do
I'm not sure what the hell we can do. You're not carrying any weapons that can stop a fufa. Getting closer is a bad idea. But if that thing can move as fast as a real voklit there's no way in hell you're getting away.

...our only hope might be manipulating it. If part of it remembers being Vern, does it remember Polo? Or you? You did hitch a ride with them, before.
>>
No. 541416 ID: 7bbaae

>>541413
Then ask directly what the hell it is. If it IS a fufa... that means we basically can't kill it- you need fire for that. It should know this. Except, it's bleeding? Do fufas bleed? Would its mimicry be so powerful that it can act like it has blood? That it has a skeleton and muscles? It also means that it may want to eat you, to gain more knowledge directly from your brain(s). After all, it said "knowledge attained", not that it was taught. It also seemed to be called by a lot of names, some of which seemed to be non-voklit names. You can attain knowledge by theft... The mimicked injury and biological processes could be to lure you closer. Or... maybe it's not mimicking anything. Can fufas act like parasites and puppet a body? The "hair" could be the fufa. That would explain the odd gait- the body's being puppeted. Did you try an X-ray on him? Or thermal?

Perhaps you can tell it to show you how it eats. I would advise keeping a safe distance for now.
>>
No. 541430 ID: 7bbaae

>>541414
>The salikai can get intel from our dead.
Oh my god, what if WE COULD? I won't suggest we be greedy and take risks to get the fufa on our side, but if it were feasible, it would be a great boon.
>>
No. 541431 ID: 735f4f

It's some sort of salikai experiment. Either they have been doing something odd to a volkit like some sort of cybernetic thing or they fed a Fufu enough so it gained sentience.

We need to carefully ask it more questions while staying well out of its reach. Even if its just a very confused volkit.

It does seem like it could be a Fufu that woke up after being fed enough sentient minds and is taking the form of whatever it ate last.

If the salikai did manage to complete there experiment how did it end up here? Could be a valuable ally if we could befriend it. Or a horrible danger if not.
>>
No. 541434 ID: 07e3a8

>or they fed a Fufu enough so it gained sentience
We don't know it's sentient. Niam explained them as being programmable- like a crude AI. All it's done so far is answer basic queries and try to get us to come closer- you don't need to be sentient to do that.

If it is self aware, that might mean we can reason with it. If it's not, we might be able to trip it up with it's programming, or it's absorbed knowledge?
>>
No. 541445 ID: d38f67
File 137981509382.png - (23.40KB , 700x700 , 599.png )
541445

I have to say, I've never tamed a fufa before. But then again, I've never tried. And I may just have to believe that's a fufa, there. Right now it is definitely untamed, so I'll be keeping my distance. Too bad I don't have thermal or x-ray to see if there's funny stuff going on deep.

"Are you a fufa?"
>"........ no neumono no danger evident no fear required to display proper mental function."

Theoretically, again, fufa could mimic blood. But I do not see that blood moving down, so it may not be from the fufa. They could also, I suppose, be puppeting the voklit. Unlikely, but possible while I'm at it. Fuck's sake, it's smart enough to try and deceive us, even if it's not good at it. Fufa's aren't sentient, but if it's able to mimic voklit and neumono brains, it's able to mimic sentience.

Rokko and Winsli are starting to catch up with the whole 'a fufa is there'. Looks like they know what one is, too.

>"Neumono stand voklit come do not move voklit deliver favorable calm hugs will be great hive love for healthy happy neumono psyche."

Much as I'd like to tame a fufa, I'm thinking now might not be the time for that challenge.
>>
No. 541449 ID: 07e3a8

>hugs
Well. Hugs have finally become a bad thing. Interesting that it's constantly trying to get you by insisting everything is fine, and trying to get you to approach. It's the same way it hunted the bug, really.

Get the fuck out of there. Don't lead it towards camp, and let's pray that thing can't run like a real voklit.

Small arms aren't going to work against a fufa, unless it is puppeting a voklit. And even then, I don't know if killing the puppet will do anything. It might, I suppose?

>can't tame it
...no, but maybe we can trip it up? One of the names it gave was Vern. That was one of Polo's enslaved guys, right? If it ate him, maybe we can trip it up temporarily with that. Vern had to obey Polo's orders- maybe if you give this thing an order in her name, it'll reflexively comply for a moment, before overriding. Might buy you a moment.
>>
No. 541452 ID: 7bbaae

>>541445
I think it might be time to start running. Lead it away from basecamp, try to find a way to lose it in the tunnels.
>>
No. 541455 ID: 735f4f

Oh man now we have possible death hugs to worry about.

It did not just absorb the bug it was hunting. So at least for the moment it is acting like a volkit to some extent.

Its hugs might be safe but I would not bet your life on that assumption. You might be able to make it remember Polo if it did in fact absorb Vern. Might be able to convince it to help you like he helped Polo.

Running might be a good idea but with its advanced senses might be hard to escape from without leading it back to the rest of the group.

Do not start shooting at it. If it is a Fufu then it would be a waste of ammo and might set off whatever defensive instincts it has.

So try to keep it talking while spreading out so it cant grab you all in a big bear hug.
>>
No. 541458 ID: 91e70a

It might not be a fufa. I mean, a fufa would absorb the blood that got on it, right? Its response to the question might just be it not knowing what a fufa is and deciding it doesn't need to worry about not knowing something. And salikai being salikai, it could be some sort of voklit mind control or rapid cloning or brain transplant experiment, or some combination of them all! Could you feed a fufa brains to have it turn into a brain, then stick it in someone? All we know is that it's weird, capable of dealing damage and unpredictable. But not necessarily hostile? Anyway, it's coming for you and that is not so good, because at the very least it is very large and strong and lacking in mental integrity.

It did ask for assistance. Ask it to stop and explain what it wanted help with. While moving away.

in b4 all intelligent neumonoworld lifeforms are actually descended from fufas
>>
No. 541459 ID: 07e3a8

>It didn't absorb the bug
Possibly because it was trying to act like a voklit?

Or possibly because the bug isn't smart. Remember what the sniper clone said in ITQ- about why the science hive was afraid of the fufas, and the salikai not having enough smart things to feed to it. A dumb bug won't help it much, but it might be able to improve itself slightly with three neumono.

>it did ask for help
I really think that was a ploy. It offered the bug food. It offered Biles a request for help, assurances that everything is fine and not dangerous, and hive-happy hugs. It seems to hunt or have been trained to hunt with lures and deception, and it understands (sort of) what should be work against neumono. ...distorted through the lens of a very alien perspective that doesn't seem to understand what its doing wrong.
>>
No. 541467 ID: 7868b4

Hey, we found someone with a better rape face than Biles. The fufa's established dominance, societal convention requires we submit and feed ourselves to it.
>>
No. 541474 ID: 601ed3

If it's feasible to lead it back toward the salikai base and have it start causing problems that would be the best option, other than running from it. If we can't we need to find somewhere that it can't fit through and gtfo to there.
>>
No. 541480 ID: f9cf6a

Time to run as fast as your legs can carry y'all. You can try shouting stuff over your shoulder to the fufa while on the move to confuse it or make it hesitate, but priority one is staying out of its hug range.

It's bigger than even the biggest voklit, so take advantage of that and take tunnels and routes it can't fit through right now. Even if it can reform itself to fit through it'll take time to get into a form that'll have the same overall huge volume that'll fit. Plus it has a messed up gait in voklit form so that'll slow it down as well, even with its long legs.

Do not head back towards the hideout and do not split up. You'll have to lose the fufa before even considering returning to the hideout, and if one of you falls to it you'll want to be together so the survivors will know it for sure. They'll have to get back to the base and get everyone else out and away before the fufa absorbs the fallen's memories and learns the location of it.

Yell back that none of you want to be absorbed by it. Ask if it remembers how much the other names it took didn't want to be part of it to try and make it hesitate. It said Vern's name so try to invoke the memory of being under Polo's command by telling it that Polo definitely wouldn't want him to attack her allies, making sure to lead with Vern's name to bring those memories to the front.

>>541474
Not an option, no matter how good it sounds. The salikai base is way too far away, there's too many enemy forces and cameras around it and even if we could lead the fufa there presumably the salikai have some manner of control method over it or at least incendiary weapons that could destroy it.
>>
No. 541811 ID: d38f67
File 137999241396.png - (44.13KB , 700x700 , 600.png )
541811

A normal Fufa would absorb the blood, but it may be doing a good job of mimicking something that doesn't. We back away while it approaches.

"Vern is in there, right? How about some goodwill for Polo?"
>"Vern irrelevant to outer function."
"What do you need assistance with, anyway?"
>"Neumono proximity needed for hivemate goodtime fun voklit assistance required nourishment physical wellbeing all good everyone forever."

I motion back behind me. This would be a good time to run for it, away from base.
>>
No. 541812 ID: d38f67
File 137999242734.png - (25.16KB , 700x700 , 601.png )
541812

>"Neumono no run no run no run do not run run run I starve requirement food nourishment nutrition food require need have must."
"Stand there and I'll walk to you!"
>"NEUMONO RUNNING"

It runs fast as hell. Clumsy, but its lunges are powerful enough to make up for its lack of finesse in this case. We're able to turn corners faster than it can, so we wind through the tougher paths.

>"There!" Winsli says. "I see a hole, follow me!"
"Good eye."
>>
No. 541813 ID: d38f67
File 137999244801.png - (23.53KB , 700x700 , 602.png )
541813

>"NEUMONO LOVE REQUIRE LONELY GO AWAY MISS PHYSICAL INTERACTION NEED GOOD FUR CONTACT FOR GOOD PSYCHE HEALTH PHYSICAL HEALTH FUFA PROTIEN FUR CONTACT FOR LOVE FRIEND IMPOSSIBLE LOVE NOT WORK NEUMONO INSUFFICIENT HOLE SIZE"

We're in. It was about a five foot gap through here, just enough for Rokko to move comfortably through at a fast crawl. The fufa keeps shouting nonsense for only a moment. Then it starts belching. It's changing shape, no doubt trying to get in here. I'll assume that this is not a deadend, because we're fucked if it is, and that's not constructive to our getting the hell outta here.

>"We need to wash up." Winsli says. "It's gonna track us with smell until then."
>"Shut up. Did it see us go in here?" Rokko asks. "We might be cool."

This place hardly widens up, but widening at all helps the chances that this isn't just some dead end. If it is a dead end, we're as good as fucked anyway.
>>
No. 541814 ID: 735f4f

Yeah after that little display it seems more like its using what it learned to hunt and is not actually sentient yet. Sort of like a big horrible parrot monster.

Might be cool is far from being cool. If he wants to get devoured by a horrible ooze he can stay behind to do so. The rest of us are going to keep moving until we find a place to wash off before continuing the hunt or heading back to base.
>>
No. 541815 ID: 1b3d54

I wonder if it was just scent. Could it be able to sense vibrations in the rock? It did have that big tail dragging on the ground when it was a voklit. And it was able to tell you were running when it couldn't see you.
>>
No. 541818 ID: 7bbaae

>>541813
Jeez, for a second there it said that it was impossible for a fufa to receive the empathic contact it wanted. It wants to feel love but cannot. But it probably also wants to eat you so that it can try to mimic a neumono well enough to feel love. Sooo let's keep going.
>>
No. 541819 ID: 07e3a8

So... overall, are we better off not having just shot it initially like the hunters wanted? I mean, we'd have been down a bullet, and it would have still charged us. I guess they might not have realized what it was and tried to bring it down for too long instead of running?

>babbling
I can't tell if it's actually lonely and hungry at the same time and mixing the emotions or if it's still just spouting things it thinks are supposed to be appealing to neumono. ...then it gets right to rape talk. Great.

>we might be cool?
If it's not following us, great. Either way though, I don't think doubling back or staying here are great ideas. I mean, if you hear it shape-shift that's likely so it can fit in here after you.

For now, we keep moving. We'll worry about losing the scent trail when we find out this isn't a dead end of death. After all, we can't do anything about that without water, anyways.
>>
No. 541832 ID: f9cf6a

"'Might' ain't gonna cut it." Motion for everyone to get moving up the tunnel as quick as they can.

Once you've got some distance from the fufa tell Winsli you agree with him, but you also suspect that the fufa is going by something other than smell. It knew you were behind that rock, and it knew they were fleeing when it shouldn't have been able to see or hear them. It has some kind of short range indirect sense. Might be sonar, seismic, or just really, really good hearing. Heck, it may be some crazy salikai thing for all you know. But it probably isn't going to be as easy as a swim in the river to lose this thing.

Do you know if fufas continually shed spores into the air, and if they do do you know how aggressive they are in growing if inhaled by a neumono? 'Cause right now the next to last thing you three need is having to fight off a fufa infection while on the run.
>>
No. 542417 ID: d38f67
File 138039138014.png - (15.51KB , 700x700 , 603.png )
542417

>Do you know if fufas continually shed spores into the air, and if they do do you know how aggressive they are in growing if inhaled by a neumono?
They could, but I doubt it. Fufa's can shapeshift, but they can't control a seperate entity, so they'll have to sacrifice their cells to make some sort of airborne particles. And as far as I know, that's not something they're keen on.

>Could it be able to sense vibrations in the rock?
More possible than I'd like.

"Might's not going to cut it. We're moving."

We start shimmying downwards, more.

>"Fuck, yeah. Hurry up." Rokko says.
"It's coming through, isn't it."
>"Yeah, it's poking something through. Move your ass, it's looking at me!"
>>
No. 542418 ID: d38f67
File 138039139190.png - (21.55KB , 700x700 , 604.png )
542418

BAM

"TOUCH SPINY TONGUE"

In light of that, I'd say we're better off having not tried to shoot the thing.
>>
No. 542419 ID: f45380

...holy crap. Did that tongue spear right through the rock, or is Rokko just facing the wrong way?

Don't touch it, obviously.

Hopefully the tongue-spear isn't fully prehensile, or Rokko's already fucked. I'm assuming it'll would also take a while to morph more of its mass along the tongue and up here.

We really don't have any way to fight it (plasma blade would be nice, now. Or a very big bomb). All you can really do is keep moving, and trying and help your allies in keeping up. Until we get far enough ahead, or we go someplace it can't follow, or you find an opportunity to cave your route in behind you.

I'd like to lament that if someone does get caught, neumono toughness makes mercy killing them before they're eaten alive tough. Heck, we can't even destroy the brain to keep to from learning from you with your biology.
>>
No. 542435 ID: 7bbaae

>>542418
Uh, do fufas eat by contact? Would it be super-dangerous to touch spiny tongue? I am really curious to see if the fufa really does desire physical contact, not more smart food.
>>
No. 542438 ID: 2860b1

>>542419
It could be perspective, but the bit in the rock is thinner than the bit outside of the rock, so unless it can expand really, really quickly it looks like Redshirt is facing the wrong way.

>>542435
Unknown, assume yes. They're fungi, after all. They might need more physical contact than that to digest a victim in any reasonable time frame, but it's still not a good idea.
>>
No. 542447 ID: 7a843b

Did... Did it just punch a tendril through the rock?! Holy fuck!

Haul ass outta there! (As if that needs to be said.) Shout back to Rokko to put a couple bullets in that "tongue" while she scrambles away. Maybe that'll slow it down enough it won't be able to reform to nab her.
>>
No. 542450 ID: d38f67
File 138040274396.png - (25.33KB , 700x700 , 605.png )
542450

>Did that tongue spear right through the rock?
Yes. Holding parts of itself under extreme pressure and launching that part out is one of the easier things for fufa to learn.

>Do fufas eat by contact?
Yeah, but that's slow. What's dangerous is if they're able to grab on contact.

I don't need to tell Rokko not to touch it. It could be safe to do so, but it would be stupid.

>"Run, fucking run!" Rokko yells at us. "Bugs!"

Well shit.
>>
No. 542451 ID: d38f67
File 138040274871.png - (16.57KB , 700x700 , 606.png )
542451

Nothing to do but run, but it's more falling down a small, cramped series of tunnels. The bugs aren't able to catch up to us, at least, but the belching is still echoing towards us. We reach a small creek sloshing down the tunnel.

Our options are downwards, trying to climb upwards past the creek, or move laterally across into a tunnel that looks thin. It'll be a close fit for Rokko.
>>
No. 542452 ID: 58c621

Do you have any idea how good bugs and/or fufas are with water? In any case, though, tight quarters favours them more than you, so I say go past the creek.
>>
No. 542453 ID: f45380

The bugs are running blind, thankfully. With the jammer up, they can't follow your empathy.

Although I'm worried about where they came from. Was the fufa carrying them? Did other salikai troops come across the fufa trying to get at you and deploy them? Or did you just have the bad luck to come across a bug patrol or cache?

>where go
The creek is attractive in that you might be able to use the running water to lose the scent that the fufa may be tracking. Also, putting water between you and the bugs may make their pursuit harder. We don't know how waterproofed they are, are they may not be able to handle much of a current without being swept away.

If it's a tight fit for Rokko, then you put her in the middle, so one of you is pushing and the other pulling.
>>
No. 542457 ID: 7bbaae

And to think I wanted to go with Biles because he WOULDN'T be jinxed.

Go upstream.
>>
No. 542460 ID: 7a843b

Climb upwards. It's pretty certain that the bugs aren't able to climb such a steep incline. Just be quick about climbing up. If the fufa catches up it'll have a clear line to fire a barbed tendril into anyone still climbing and reel them in.

>>542453
Presumably the bugs are well waterproofed since they're designed to move around inside a neumono, a place that can be quite moist and bloody. And the creek isn't really wide or deep. At least some of them would make it across by jumping, or possibly by skittering across the bottom quickly.
>>
No. 542499 ID: f45380

Oh wait. I just realized where the bugs came from. From the neumono it's eaten.

I guess they were undigestible and it just held onto them, until it found a reason to release them against you.
>>
No. 542501 ID: d38f67
File 138042050001.png - (59.80KB , 700x700 , 607.png )
542501

"Upstream. Be careful, the rocks get slippery."

I say be careful, but there's hardly any time for it. We grab the rougher surfaces as we can and rush upstream. We start hearing small splashes downstream. The fufa is still following us.

Then it roars. All of us reflexively snap our hands to our ears. It's not just some threatening roar, it's well past the number of decibals needed for physical harm. Winsly topples over and falls in the creek, but we're not on a sharp incline, and he won't be falling downward.

The Fufa doesn't stop roaring, either. We've got to keep going, but taking our hands off our ears now during that noise is going to be detrimental. Winsli doesn't look like he's able to get up, either, even though he's trying. One of his eardrums may have bursted, which doesn't do wonders for one's balance.
>>
No. 542502 ID: 7bbaae

Sacrifice one eardrum for the use of one arm so you can pull him up and keep going. Stick a bullet in your ear, maybe. Or stick your/everyone's head in the water to get water in your ear canals, that'll muffle the noise too.

At least ear injuries are small and thus will heal fast.
>>
No. 542508 ID: f45380

...I don't suppose your can shut your hearing off? Or the heart that keeps your ears going?

We could go with some kind of sacrificial play, where we deliberately deafen two members of the party, while the third covers their ears. Then the deaf lead / assist the hearing through the attack, and then the hearing person acts as the group's ears once we're clear while the deaf heal.

The main problem with this plan is if there's a way to deafen yourself without throwing you off balance like Winsli's ruptured eardrum. I really don't know enough about how neumono hearing works. Secondary problem is communication would be limited to hand signs and contact-empathy.
>>
No. 542511 ID: 7a843b

Keep one ear covered with one hand and get Rokko's attention with your other hand. Hand sign to her to keep one ear covered and use her other hand to haul Winsli up and keep him steady. Then use your free hand to help keep Winsli upright and walking as well.

Don't look back. Focus completely on getting away from the fufa and not slipping up. Looking back will only risk tripping up.

Get to the edge of the stream and try to put rocks between your group and the fufa so it'll have a harder time aiming a tendril spear at you.

About how long does it take for a neumono's ear drums and inner ear to heal up?
>>
No. 542515 ID: d38f67
File 138042432525.png - (25.38KB , 700x700 , 608.png )
542515

>About how long does it take for a neumono's ear drums and inner ear to heal up?
A couple of hours.

I've had practice with things like this though, so I take hand off. I do dunk myself underwater, but it doesn't help forlong. My ear blows out, and it fucking smarts, but I stay vertical. Rokko, helps me pick up Winsli. He's overwhelmed in pain, but follows our movements. Rokko at least can take pain in stride, so although her balance takes a hit, she's able to move. Least it looks like each of us have one working eardrum.

The fufa finally stops yelling, but we're going to need a minute before we can hear anything. We have sign language, at least. And goddamn if we're not out of the woods yet. The creek goes straight up. It's going to be a pain in the ass to climb, but it is climbable, and our alternative is the split in the creek, where water falls off the other way. It is way steeper. Damn well closer to a vertical drop than a straight walk.
>>
No. 542517 ID: f45380

I think the giant monster with complete control of its own body can handle a vertical drop better than you can. The fufa could probably jump right down to little to no ill effect.

Granted, I'm worried it can climb better than you with your current balance injures, but maybe the big heavy thing with coordination issues will have some trouble getting up.

Important thing is not letting anyone lose their balance and fall back down. Anyone who falls is crippled fufa food.
>>
No. 542518 ID: 7bbaae

Well shit. If you climb, the fufa will catch up and be able to spear someone before you reach the top. If you go down, you risk losing the jammer from the carrier losing their balance and dropping the thing. Considering you all have ear damage, balance is something very difficult to keep ahold of.

If there's any way to make it down that slope without risking the jammer, do it. Otherwise... someone will die on the climb. Or you could just let the jammer break, I guess.
>>
No. 542519 ID: f45380

Oh hey, is there any way you can go up, but make it look like you went down? It would be great if the fufa jumped down and took the wrong path, and then had to climb back up both when and if it realizes it went the wrong way.

C'mon survivalist. Leave a false sign for the monster.
>>
No. 542527 ID: eaa372

>>542519

Is your blown out eardrum bleeding? You could try dribbling some blood around the drop to try and encourage it to jump down and "follow". Then you might be able to climb up. Your balance is screwy but at you should have an easier time climbing than the fufa's awkward corpse puppet which is significantly heavier than you.
>>
No. 542536 ID: 5bf190

If you pressed your working side to the rock, would you be able to get any sense of sound earlier? I'm worried about wandering into things. How does the place smell?
>>
No. 542587 ID: 7a843b

First off, take this moment while the fufa isn't roaring to get that jammer off Winsli and put it on yourself. Have Rokko assist to transfer it as fast as possible. You really don't want to risk it being broken or lost if Winsli takes a fall due to his severely damaged sense of balance.

Make sure to keep looking behind for the fufa. Until your hearing recovers sight'll be the only way you'll know its coming.

I'd prefer climbing upstream, but with Winsli's sense of balance compromised his climbing speed will be slowed drastically. Likely slow enough the fufa will catch up before he's over to the top. The only way I can think of he could get up is if Rokko is strong enough to carry him on her back and still be faster than Winsli climbing separately. She'd also have to hand off everything else she's carrying to you to lighten her load as much as possible.

But if Rokko carrying Winsli up isn't going to be fast enough you'll have to go down the other branch of the creek. It ought to be possible to get down without breaking the jammer. Send Rokko sliding down the near-vertical incline first. Once she gets to the bottom she'll hold her hands up, you'll drop the jammer and she'll catch it. Then you and Winsli slide down.
>>
No. 542593 ID: d38f67
File 138050700873.png - (190.66KB , 700x700 , 609.png )
542593

>How does the place smell?
Nothing of note.

I don't like the idea of going down, but if we go down and slip further down, we still have a chance of catching ourselves, and if nothing else, go faster. Plus, if the fufa gets to this spot and we slip while going up, we're done. Winsli is still clutching his ear, and is only just starting to be able to stand still without our help. I doubt he'll get past the second rock. Rokko is doing somewhat better balance wise, but not well enough to be able to carry Winsli.

For now, I try and create a false trail. Normally I have more stuff to work with. Sure, I get dropped naked, but I kill a few weak things, get some materials, make some tools, and work my way up to the higher stuff. I'm not dropped naked in front of a fufa.

Still, I have myself, and that may be good enough. It's a longshot, but I slice into my arm, draw a decent amount of blood, and whip it upwards where it won't wash away too quickly.
>>
No. 542594 ID: d38f67
File 138050701852.png - (365.12KB , 700x700 , 610.png )
542594

I'm hurt too, but I can handle the balance hit better than these two, so I take the jammer. Rokko moves down into the cavern first, but it's clear that the bottom isn't just a quick drop, so we all start heading down.

I hear the fufa blabbering loudly above. I think it took the bait, but I'm not counting on it lasting for long.
>>
No. 542595 ID: d38f67
File 138050702451.png - (31.11KB , 700x700 , 611.png )
542595

We don't get that far until Winsli slips. I wish I could say I was surprised. No doubt that I can grab him, but plenty of doubt that I won't slip down with him.
>>
No. 542597 ID: eaa372

Grab Winsli, you can't take the risk that he'll hit the bottom of the drop quietly.
>>
No. 542598 ID: 7bbaae

>>542595
Don't risk the jammer!
>>
No. 542599 ID: 735f4f

I hate to say it but that jammer is worth more than his life right now.

He might survive the fall but if you loose that jammer falling yourself you all could be dead in minutes.

So only grab for him if you are absolutely sure you can hold on.
>>
No. 542600 ID: 6628ca

...damnit. If you both fall, that's two people with broken bones and serious injures, and possibly one broken jammer. We can't afford that. One injured person the other two can help along, at least.

Try to help him, but not at the expense of letting yourself fall.
>>
No. 542605 ID: 58c621

>>542595

You've got a better grip with your hands, right? This isn't a totally 90 degree cliff-face, so if you swing your leg out and use it to press him back to the rock, you might stop his fall, or at least give him a second chance to catch himself again. And it doesn't risk you falling as much.
>>
No. 542636 ID: 1cf691

>>542605
This sounds like a safe way to attempt to help him.
So kick Winsli in the crotch and hope he gets a new handhold.
>>
No. 542669 ID: 7a843b

Only make a grab for Winsli or try to press him against the rock with your foot if the fall is far enough that he'd likely die or sustain life threatening injuries from it.

Otherwise the risk of you losing your grip, falling with him, and busting the jammer or both of you breaking your legs is too great. Even if Winsli breaks his legs he can still be carried by you and Rokko.
>>
No. 542677 ID: d38f67
File 138059885799.png - (279.28KB , 700x700 , 612.png )
542677

The fall might not be far, but it's far enough that he'll have trouble getting another foothold. He'll likely just fall again, and just tumble down. And it only takes one bad landing to bounce forward, leading to a long, long fall.

My hands have, by far, a better grip than my feet, so I reach out with my foot. I can safely do so enough to slow his ascent, at the least, without letting my hands off. It won't be much short of kicking his ribs in, but with a little luck, it'll give him a chance to grab onto something.
>>
No. 542678 ID: d38f67
File 138059886693.png - (308.23KB , 700x700 , 613.png )
542678

Something that isn't my foot!

That fuckup! Damnit, he's panicking, he's not catching onto my empathy that I can't hang on like this!
>>
No. 542680 ID: d38f67
File 138059896822.png - (201.93KB , 700x700 , 614.png )
542680

No good, I gotta yank my foot back, otherwise we're both falling, and the jammer can't take much of a fall.

He slips on the rock, tries to grab it, fails. Falls another step, and I hear a splash mixed with a thud. I can't quite see. He might have stopped, either that, or it's a long...

CRACK

>"G-GAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"
>"RELEARNING NEUMONO LOCATION FOR FLESH ACQUISITION"

God damnit!
>>
No. 542683 ID: 2f2cd6

Shit.

We don't have many options, here. We can't go up, because the fufa is above us.

How quickly can we reach the bottom? Ideally, we could get to Winsli and keep moving, but I don't know how quickly the fufa can get down. Can it safely jump right down?

...if we can't get away, or get to Wilnsli, there's the brutal option of hiding and sacrificing him to get away. Really don't want to do that though. It's one thing to lose people in a fight, it's another to knowing leave someone to be eaten alive. And I'd rather that monster not know where the others are hiding, or risk information getting back to the salikai.
>>
No. 542684 ID: 7bbaae

If a fufa can just jump down the whole damn cliff, you have no time to climb down. Hide behind a rock.
>>
No. 542686 ID: 2f2cd6

It kind of depends on how much damage it would take from a fall, and how quickly it can regenerate / reform itself. I mean, if it pancaked and had to slowly rebuild, we'd have time to get down and by.
>>
No. 542687 ID: 735f4f

You gave it your best shot and at least managed to avoid damaging the jammer.

So start moving down as quick as you can without panicking and losing your footing. The Fufu might just throw itself down the waterfall but lets not count on that. Keep a eye out for side passages as you go.

No choice but to keep moving until we find a place where we can lose the Fufu. Once you get to the bottom or wherever Winsli ended up you can figure out if its possible to drag him along or not.
>>
No. 542694 ID: 57a559

Hack off a bit of your ear if you can and hock it above you if possible. The fufa will want to eat the easy food before it goes for anything living, unless it loves the hunt and a fresh kill. It doesn't even have to be your ear, or even an ear. Somebody, anybody leaves a piece of them behind and it'll be sated for a time.
>>
No. 542775 ID: 7a843b

Fuck. I'm assuming that loud crack was the sound of Winsli breaking his everything on impact.

Whether Winsli somehow survived that fall or not is moot. There's no time to climb down to him, scrape him up if he's alive, and get away before the fufa catches up. Your only chance is to hide and hope the fufa passes you by.

Hand sign to Rokko to hide. Look for a hiding spot that's away from the path you'd guess the fufa would take if it does climb down. If there isn't a hiding spot on this level then keep climbing down until you find one.
>>
No. 542782 ID: 2f2cd6

>>542687
Yeah, that's really the best response.

>I'm assuming that loud crack was the sound of Winsli breaking his everything
If that were the case, he'd probably be too splatted to scream. That's the sound of him breaking his something. Possibly several somethings.

>hide
And again, the feasibility of getting to him quickly, and before the fufa, all depend on how far down it actually is, and how the fufa approaches the problem (jumping versus climbing, and how fast).

...I'm also kind of skeptical how many hiding places there are going to be on an open rock face eroded by water. And there isn't enough water for the 'hidden cave behind the waterfall' trick to work. Not that I see one.

The worst part of it getting to Wilnsli (aside from horrible death for him) would be the fufa learning the location of our hideout. Which only has one entrance. Which potentially means the death of everyone else in our group if it gets there before us. We want to avoid that, if at all possible. Which means getting to him first, if we can. Or getting back to the others ASAP if we can't.
>>
No. 542783 ID: 7a843b

>>542782
Oh, you're right about Winsli being alive and conscious but seriously injured. I misread the ""G-GAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" as coming from the fufa. This changes things. You're also probably right about there not being any hiding spots around too.

I'm changing my choice to >>542687 from >>542775. I figure if the fufa is climbing down we'll just have to try to get down ahead of it, and if it does throw itself over the edge it won't be able to catch itself as it passes by us. We'll be able to climb back up and either head back the way we came or go up the way the creek comes from.
>>
No. 543073 ID: d38f67
File 138094844431.png - (282.86KB , 700x700 , 615.png )
543073

This cave is only flooded from the rain storms happening up topside, so it's not eroded. Nonetheless, there's no hiding spot that I'm confident will fool the fufa, so I take my chances. I slice off a small chunk of my ear and lob it up top in the hopes that the fufa will slow down enough to nab it. A longshot, but if it gets me a few seconds lead, it'll be worth it.

Winsli is still crying at the bottom. He fell damn far where the land finally flattens out and the water is about 2 feet deep. Rokko and I reach him. The fufa, however, is hot on our tail and catching up fast.
>"NEUMONO REMAIN CALM AND STILL FOR BRAIN DISENGAGING SEQUENCE PROMISE OF OUTCOME IS FUN AND PLEASANT NOT PAINFUL BEYOND NEUMONO IMAGINATION LIMITS"
>"Shut the fuck up and be tough, Winsli!" Rokko grabs him while shout-whispering. It helps quiet him somewhat, but I don't know if we can outrun the fufa if we carry him. Hell, I don't know if we can outrun the fufa if we don't carry him. His legs and hip are shattered, and everywhere else roughed up.
>>
No. 543074 ID: 7bbaae

2 feet deep water is gonna slow you down a lot, and the Fufa is using a spider form that would not have as much trouble.

Personally I think your best bet is to slice Winsli's throat so he falls unconscious and thus doesn't feel the pain of whatever the Fufa's gonna do, and leave him behind. You could only barely outrun the fufa when you were all uninjured. There's zero chance of getting away while wading through water AND carrying Winsli.
>>
No. 543075 ID: 2f2cd6

>I don't know if we can outrun the fufa if we carry him
I don't see we have much choice. We either carry him out of here, or grant him the mercy of a quick death and hope the fufa slows down enough to eat him while we run.

Not that I put much faith in plan teamkill. The fufa is big enough to be plenty capable of carrying him without slowing down.

We need options here. A passage it can't follow us down, or a way to block its pursuit, or trap it.

This area was recently flooded? That's good. That means this terrain is in flux- conditions have recently changed. Things aren't stable here. Best possible outcome would be if you can see or find anything that looks like you could trigger a rockslide. You could gtfo out while it digs out.

If necessary, you also have a tempting pieces of bait, there.
>>
No. 543076 ID: 820866

Can you lighten the load and cut off bits of him? They might serve as bait.

Also, can we afford to let the fufa learn everything Winsli knows? I'm pretty sure he knows where we're moving our hidey hole to and other such things.

if you do cut bits off, try for the parts that don't hold much brain matter.
>>
No. 543082 ID: 735f4f

The big question is if we could get him back to camp would we be able to nurse him back to health with the supplies we have available.

Neumono regeneration is great but a shattered pelvis probably requires long term immobilization to heal right.

Mercy killing him and leaving him for the Fufu is a option but that might not buy you any time because it might just go for the living prey knowing the dead one cant escape it.

Plus if it eats one of you who knows what type of info it could get from the body.

What was this cavern before the rains flooded it? Are there any sinkholes or odd formations? Now that you are at the bottom can you see how many exits you have?

If the streams of water converge somewhere you might be able to float him away faster than trying to carry him.
>>
No. 543084 ID: 279f18

>>543076
Ough... I think he'd die from bleeding out trying to do this do him. Neumono can endure a lot but this might be a bit much.


Mercy killing would be more rational but we don't know if we're prolonging the inevitable for the rest.
>>
No. 543095 ID: 8a3b8a

The idea of feeding Winsli to the fufa kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

So this might be the time to find out how conductive a wet fufa is if we still have one of those super tasers. Well, provided that there is anywhere to stand that is not currently submerged, so we that aren't also riding the lightning our selves.

Do you think you could jam a taser to stay on, so that you and Rokko could make a run for it with Wisli and not have to stick around to find out how well a fufa reacts to being electrocuted?
>>
No. 543097 ID: 2f2cd6

>>543084
That, and we don't really have the tools to carve him up like a turkey. It's not a good solution.

>>543095
>taser
...if we have that with us that's a great idea. The problem is getting our people out of the water and conductive path.
>>
No. 543098 ID: 57a559

>>543073
Brain... disengaging? Does tha t mean you have to feed it your brain?

No wonder it's getting smarter. It's a brain sucker! An ear isn't going to satisfy it man! It's got zombie fever.

Make Winsli unconscious in any way possible. Leave a little bit of him for the fufa. Since your brain is in most of your body, any part should satisfy the fufa, which explains why it loves brains and neumono so much, there's brain per mass cubed along your entire body. It might get smarter from even eating your ear though, so... like watch out.

Decisions decisions.
>>
No. 543101 ID: eaa372

Leaving Winsli to the fufa is a terrible idea since he knows the camp location which the fufa could learn after consuming his brain tissue. Try to get everyone out of the water and break out the taser. It will be risky as hell but you might be able to lure the fufa into the water and electrocute the water while sitting on a rock sticking out of the water.
>>
No. 543102 ID: f759c0

>>543101
This is why leaving any of him is not an option. Regroup fast, and hope the super-taser can give you a chance to get away.
>>
No. 543115 ID: a879c5

Get your pistol or a machine gun and start unloading into the fufa, if only to went your frustration.

If the taser doesn't give us the miracle we need then i'm afraid you have to leave Winsli for bait and drag Rokko with you to safety.
>>
No. 543125 ID: 2f2cd6

>>543115
Small arms aren't going to hurt it. We can't afford wasting what little ammo we have on fruitless gestures.
>>
No. 543129 ID: 735f4f

I see two other options you could try.

You could taunt it and try to get it to follow you and lead it away from Winsli and Rokko long enough for them to make a escape. No idea if you could get it to follow you but might be worth a shot.

Or you could try talking to it. This one preferably done while running away or in conjunction with the other plan. It might not be fully sentient but its got some sort of intelligence going on there. Maybe we could convince it to leave us alone if it thought we could get it more food. Promise to lead it to plenty of tasty Volkits and Arkots if it stops trying to eat you.

Both ideas are out there but we do not have a lot of options. If it does manage to get close enough you can try the taser but not sure how effective it will be. Some normal fungus are killed by direct current but this is far from normal.
>>
No. 543146 ID: d38f67
File 138099597427.png - (53.38KB , 700x700 , 616.png )
543146

I do have the taser! And as much as hunters love their knives way too much, I'm still hurting for one right now. I motion for Rokko to help me drag Winsli across the water, gesture to my taser, and say we've got to get out of the pond. Rokko does most of the lifting of Winsli. She's not gentle with him, but he's going to be out of commission for a long time anyway. I'm more relieved that she isn't slowed down as much as I thought she would be, although she's still wobbling from her ear drum burst.

How conductive a fufa is, is entirely up to the way it constructed itself. The chances of it disabling the fufa for long is not good, but we may be able to injure it enough to slow it down and get some speed.

Rokko and I scramble around a corner. She tosses Winsli up behind a dip in the dry bank, and the fufa splashes into the pond with us. Once I scramble myself up to dry land, I fire the taser's ends into the water. The fufa shuts up, and starts splashing like it's having a seizure.

I can use my bandana to tie off the taser trigger to keep it electrocuting the river while all of us run for it, but that plan does leave behind the taser.

>What was this cavern before the rains flooded it?
There was most likely a big river that ran through here a long time ago that dried up, and only sees water now when heavy rains crop up. The formations behind me are popular with glowslugs and their companions, and does lead me to believe that we can get back to base without having to climb up the way we just came down.
>>
No. 543149 ID: 2f2cd6

Sacrificing the taser to get away from the fufa is worth it. I don't see how anything short of emptying the batter is going to slow it down, anyways.

Maybe if we're really lucky we'll start an electrical fire in or on part of it.
>>
No. 543151 ID: 735f4f

Sacrificing the taser seems like a good idea. The arkots are carrying them around so should be able to get more later.

Once you do that we need to figure out a way to mask our trail. Want to splash around in water whenever possible to spread the sent around and try to find a stream or river to wade down.
>>
No. 543176 ID: 7bbaae

>>543146
Losing a taser in exchange for not killing an ally is a good trade.

Find a way out. If the fufa chases you again, throw some glowslugs on it to try to get the guardians to attack it.
>>
No. 543216 ID: a48f95

how much more time is leaving the taser here going to buy us? If it it's only going to work for a bit it may be better to keep it in the long run.
>>
No. 543459 ID: d38f67
File 138128798449.png - (22.83KB , 700x700 , 617.png )
543459

>How much more time is leaving the taser here going to buy us?
Not much. A second could still be the difference between getting back to our cozy base and being eaten alive.

"Rokko, hold the taser for a second!"

I slice off an upper ring of my bandana to tie up the taser's trigger, set it down, and we bolt. We get up a good ways, bout on level where we were before we went down the slip n' slide. I have a good idea of where we are.

>"We shouldn't go back to base till we know the fufa's not on our trail."
"Any good ideas on how to find out if it is?"
>"No. You?"
>>
No. 543463 ID: 7bbaae

>>543459
Bait a loud trap.
>>
No. 543465 ID: 2f2cd6

Thank goodness Winsli is small compared to Rokko.

>tore part of the bandana
Quick thinking. By not using all of it, we still have a tool that might be useful later.

>"Any good ideas on how to find out if it is?"
We need a noise trap. Terrain it can't cross without making a racket. Or some animal it can't get past without making it making a stink. Use your knowledge of the biome to your advantage, here. What could you use as an alarm to put along your trail, here? That you can pass without triggering yourself?
>>
No. 543466 ID: 735f4f

Best bet is to double back a few times to confuse your sent trail as best you can and make sure to hit a water source and spent a decent amount of time washing up as much as you can before heading up or downstream a bit.

Or if your route back to your base went near or through a area controlled by the enemy it might confuse the trail enough to go after them and not you. Of course that has its own problems.

There is always the option to go find something smelly to roll in so you smell like it instead. It's sort of disgusting but it has been used by animals forever.

And if you cant do any of that you just have to find a place to hole up for awhile and watch for it following you.
>>
No. 543467 ID: 7bbaae

>>543465
...that fucking bird. We need one of those loudass annoying three-headed cave birds to follow us. The Fufa will eat it, and it will be LOUD.
>>
No. 543469 ID: 7bbaae

>>543467
Actually no that's a bad idea, because if the fufa isn't following us, the bird will stick around and be a giant pain in the ass.
>>
No. 543470 ID: 2f2cd6

>>543467
>>543469
We don't want one following right after us, no.


But if Biles knows how to trick a bird into following the Fufa, or a way to sneak past one so the Fufa would cross it's trail following us, that would work.
>>
No. 543481 ID: 7a843b

The fufa is pretty loud when it's resizing itself, so could you take a winding path that goes through varying small and large tunnels? Preferably one that has loads of tiny cross tunnels that you could hear the fufa shifting shape through, but that're so small it couldn't fit through them.

Or is there a cavern with a high vantage point you could detour to? One where you could wind around between the stalagmites below, then head up and hide to watch if the fufa comes along. Preferably one where the high point is close enough to the hideout that you could get there, pickup another jammer, then return to watch over the cavern, along with someone to watch your back.
>>
No. 543506 ID: 910dce

We could always just wait.
>>
No. 543578 ID: d38f67
File 138137050307.png - (17.96KB , 700x700 , 618.png )
543578

>Loud bird
Only one thing lives in the caves that fits that description. I know how to manipulate 'em into acting as a faroff alarm, too, so that would be excellent if the fufa is following us. They're always there when you absolutely don't want them.

Unfortunately, vice versa applies. When you want to see one, they never seem to be around.

Instead, I start guiding us through a range of small tunnels, doubling around in near-circles a couple times, until we get into a wider cavern. Although it is possible the fufa kept a small enough form to get through our tunnels, we wait for some time at the cavern just in case it comes out. There's no sign of him, and we're sure to stay as absolutely still as we can.
>>
No. 543579 ID: d38f67
File 138137051117.png - (16.46KB , 700x700 , 619.png )
543579

What I assume is the fufa comes out from the tunnel we came from and pokes its head through. We're a good distance away. It looks like it's taken pages from a bunch of creatures.
>>
No. 543580 ID: 7bbaae

>>543579
Well, it's still following you. So we have to find a way to lose it. Find a river, I guess.
>>
No. 543581 ID: 735f4f

In these caves with no wind blowing your sent can linger for days or more. Need to find a place to remove or hide your smell. That or lure it into a trap of some sort. But not sure what you could do to hurt it much without fire.
>>
No. 543585 ID: 2f2cd6

That's a lot of ancillary eyes. It's hunting for you, for sure. It hasn't seen you yet, I hope?

We need a way to lose it. We lack a way to hurt it- that means we need it to go down the wrong passage, or go somewhere it can't follow, or make it so it can't track you.

>>543580
Not sure a fast moving river would work like it has before. That would separate us from the other half of our group. And the fufa can probably shift to a form that's comfortable in the water. We'd be even less a match for an underwater predator than a land based one.
>>
No. 543595 ID: b386b4

I'm still worried this thing can sense you by vibrations in the rock, but I'm not sure how to bypass that. Walk without rhythm?
>>
No. 543598 ID: 7a843b

Okay, it's looking like the only way to lose this damn thing is to ride the river away, since it's tracking you by a sense of smell that's exceptionally strong. And as >>543581 said, even a tiny scent will linger for days in the still air down here. There's no way you can wash your scent off well enough to lose the fufa.

Problem is, if you ride the river past the two or three branches needed to shake the fufa you're going to be far downstream, lost and separated from the rest of the group. And the chances you'll be able to find your way back to them at that point is slim to none. So you're gonna have to head to the hideout. You get there quick, get everyone out, and get to the river before the fufa gets back in sight of you. That's the only way you're gonna stick together here.
>>
No. 543600 ID: 2f2cd6

>it's looking like the only way to lose this damn thing is to ride the river away
It rebuilt itself into a quadruped in short time. I'm betting it'll shift into a water-predator if it follows our scent to a river. And if it can swim with the current, it'll go faster than us. And then we're fucked.

A river ride would only work if we got enough of a lead that it wouldn't be able to tell where or when we exited.

...and the biggest problem to me seems to be that would leave us alone, cut off from the group, with an injured person, and no food reserves instead of none.

Could we fake it out, maybe? Lead it to river, and let it think we left that way? Then the river would take it far away as we doubled back.
>>
No. 543619 ID: 2f4b71

>>543579
>It looks like it's taken pages from a bunch of creatures.
What weaknesses do those creatures have that you could use against it?
>>
No. 543631 ID: 23697b

Maybe you should send Rokko back to the base and bait the fufa into following you.
I mean you are a damn survival expert! There is no way you would lose to a walking mushroom.

You could lead the fufa to groups of enemies since i have a feeling the Salikai don't have a whole lot of control over the.
You could make a trap of some kind, fire tends to kill everything.
What are the fufas natural enemies and predators? Some other fungi species?
>>
No. 543633 ID: fe4bfc

Leading it into a group of enemies might be the best way to get it off our trail.
>>
No. 543917 ID: d38f67
File 138159264295.png - (51.51KB , 700x700 , 620.png )
543917

>What are the fufas natural enemies and predators? Some other fungi species?
There's a couple creatures that can eat small time fufa that just act like a normal fungi. The fufa that get some intellect and cohesion, though, are right at the top of the food chain.

>What weaknesses does it have?
What I do know is that somewhere inside that fufa, there's the fufa equivalent of a neumono queen. Fufa don't just decide to act together like a group of ol' chums, they have some direction. There's a fufa cell in there that directs the rest. Problem is, is that some theorists think that the fufa cells are a bit psychic themselves too. What that could mean is that, while there was probably some cell that began influencing the rest, by now what made that fufa cell special may have spread to the rest. And now the 'queen' is just a perpetuated spirit through the whole fufa, and doesn't have any single manifestation.

Or somewhere in there, there's a single cell that I have to fry that will cause the whole Fufa to collapse in on itself mentally.

>You could make a trap of some kind, fire tends to kill everything.
These damn rocks make for bad fire starters. I'd have better luck if I just had two wooden sticks around here. We've got gunpowder in our weapons, but I'm a minimal survivalist. I don't know if there's a quick way to make a spark. And that's most of what I need, a spark.

It's another longshot, but I motion to Rokko to walk sporadically, just in case the fufa is sensing vibrations in the rock and watching our rhythm. We start moving again, and the fufa follows us at a quickened pace. It's enouguh to jog, but if we try to move faster, so does it. I think it's trying to wear us out.

It might be working on Rokko. I doubt I could carry Winsli like she could, but she's showing wear.

I hear some talking ahead. Voklits. If they're with salikai, perhaps the fufa may be turned against them. The fufa at on our tail won't give us time to sneak carefully around corners, so we keep our guns out as we make the turn. They're non-salikai natives.
>>
No. 543921 ID: 57a559

>>543917
they already know you're there.
get away, the fufa will be following you and than hopefully follow them because they have more meat
>>
No. 543928 ID: 0f6f63

Even if you took out your gunpower and lit it with a spark, that wouldn't do much. You've got nothing in here to burn, and that small an explosion wouldn't do much to the fufa. We'd need concentrated explosive blasts, or to drop it in an all out inferno.

>voklit
...best solution would be if we could hitch a ride out of here. Voklits can run scary fast- faster than any uncoordinated fungus monster can. You don't get killed by a fufa, they don't get killed by a fufa, everyone wins (no life saving obligation either- your warning helped them, their legs helped you). Unfortunately there's the language barrier- dunno if they know any English or you picked up any voklit. There's also the prideful 'we don't like neumono' barrier.

Still, if you can somehow covey danger, we need to GTFO, and they're amenable, that's great.

Uh, failing that, there's always moving on and letting them fight the fufa when it comes around the corner, or shooting them and leaving them as food. Either might slow it down enough for you to lose it, although those are pretty cruel options.
>>
No. 543946 ID: 7bbaae

>>543917
Lower your guns and try to negotiate their help so you can get away from the fufa.
>>
No. 544028 ID: 7a843b

>>543946
Negotiate?! NOW?! With a fuckin' FUFA hot on our heels?! Hell no! That's suicide!

There's absolutely no time to try and be nice about this and work anything out with the voklits. You're gonna have to throw these two under the proverbial bus to save your skin.

Skirt around the voklits as close as you can and head back up the way they came from. That way your scent trail leads right into their much bigger one.

Once you and Rokko are past them yell back "fufa.". Fufas aren't native to this area, so the word "fufa" will likely be the name they'll have adopted for fufas, if they know about fufas at all. That way the voklit might know what they're dealing with and flee instead of trying to fight the fufa. And if they flee it'll be the best outcome, since the fufa will chase after them, and away from your trail.
>>
No. 544034 ID: d38f67
File 138162304081.png - (64.90KB , 700x700 , 621.png )
544034

"Do you speak english?!"

One of them yells something back to me that I'm going to treat as a big fat 'no'. There's no time for negotiations as is, let alone with such a language barrier. Rokko and I run past them. I get lucky, and one lets me leap over his tail. The other one, who yelled earlier, doesn't let Rokko by, as let on by a sharp jab to her face.

I yell Fufa, and he yells back to me things I still don't understand.
>>
No. 544035 ID: d38f67
File 138162304899.png - (44.79KB , 700x700 , 622.png )
544035

With a bang, Rokko lets a single bullet lodge itself into the Voklit's head.

Another bang comes from down the tunnel, and then the Fufa roars again. Rokko stumbles and falls. I managed to shove a finger in my ear, but I think Rokko's second drum just went down.

I cover my own ear, but I sense vibrations in the rock. And cracks in the rock. The damn fufa's about to cause a cave-in!
>>
No. 544039 ID: 0f6f63

Oh come on, can anything go right, seriously.

We've got two people down and the cave is about to come down. That wouldn't even stop the fufa- it'll eventually shapeshift around any collapse.

See what you can do about grabbing the other two (if Rokko can still hold onto Winsli, and you can drag her in the way you want to go, we can keep going forward even if she can't balance) and getting to cover, or clear of the cave in.

In the absolute worst case you can't get to the others, all you can do is try and get yourself to cover and out of the cave in. Of course that means losing two people who will probably be buried alive until the fufa finds and eats them.
>>
No. 544040 ID: 57a559

They're not completely dead, right? leave'em for the fufa!
>>
No. 544043 ID: 0f6f63

>>544040
I hope you mean the voklit, and not the hunters.
>>
No. 544050 ID: d38f67
File 138162669894.png - (239.89KB , 700x700 , 623.png )
544050

Goddamn that thing can shout!

"Rokko! Rokko, can you hear me?!" I doubt she could hear me even if her eardrum was still intact, but she's not looking good.

I try to help her up, but she keeps wobbling around, and I can't keep her up well when she's got Winsli on her back! We're making progress, but we're stumbling around more than we're walking forward.
>>
No. 544051 ID: c23ab0

Fire would solve a lot of your problems right now. Lots and lots of fire.
>>
No. 544052 ID: 0f6f63

Oh man that thing feeding is terrifying.

Okay, our problem moving forward is Rokko has no sense of balance or equilibrium.

Let's make her as stable as we can. No distractions- use empathy to ask her to shut her eyes. Have her lean on you- so her equilibrium is dependent on you- that when you move forward her natural impulse is to move into the space you're vacating. Use empathy and physical positioning to give her a false 'center' to follow. It might take a moment or two of not running to set up, but after that, you should move forward much faster.

Then get as far as you can before the roof comes down.
>>
No. 544055 ID: 7a843b

Get Rokko down on all fours. She'll be able to steady herself and move better with four limbs than you trying to prop her up on two. Or perhaps you helping to steady her by one arm and she moving on the other three would work the best.

Unfortunately Rokko may have to leave Winsli behind in order for her to make it out. And if it looks like she isn't going to abandon him then you're going to have to shove him off yourself.

But whatever you do you'll have to make sure at least you get out of here. You'll need to warn the rest of the group about the fufa, and if Winsli is left behind that the fufa may know where the hideout is.
>>
No. 544057 ID: 0f6f63

>>544055
Well... if we're trying to balance her against us, Winsli's weight on her back angling her in the right directing might actually assist, is we position ourselves right.
>>
No. 544058 ID: 5869f6

>>544050
Sweet jebus that's terrifying!
Get the fuck out of there!
>>
No. 544099 ID: 735f4f

Both of you get on all fours and cart Winsli on your back if need be. If we get caught in a cave in then its over.

However you have to do it keep going forward as fast as you can and don't leave anyone behind. We cant afford to let it gain any knowledge of us even if it is fragmented horribly.
>>
No. 544102 ID: 7bbaae

>>544050
RUN LIKE THE DOGS YOU ARE.
>>
No. 544917 ID: d38f67
File 138241518338.png - (296.08KB , 677x680 , 624.png )
544917

Somehow we shuffle around and Rokko braces well enough, somehow she gets a sense of direction back, and somehow we don't have any rocks breaking our spines. The jammer hiccups once, but most somehow of all, it stays intact.

The fufa yells unintelligable things before it's buried. We'll have time to get... a headstart, anyway.
>>
No. 544918 ID: d38f67
File 138241520560.png - (22.43KB , 900x700 , 625.png )
544918

Rokko gets a hold of herself, relieving me of the thought that Winsli was representative of their hive's toughness. Tough or not though, she's still deaf. We can't wait though, so we head out.

With my good ear, I find water. With a Krasau, too. They're aggressive, but not too tough. It's something that Rokko and I can take with a decent rock, if we can risk a high chance of scratches and small chance of injury. It's growling. Still facing the water, but these guys have good vision.

Food's food, but we can also cover ourself in its blood if I feel like smelling like one of those more than a neumono right now.

Then again... I swivel my head around. It's faint, but I hear arkot chatter ahead past the brook. They aren't getting closer, and I don't hear anything else.
>>
No. 544920 ID: 75a612

>relieving me of the thought that Winsli was representative of their hive's toughness
...well, in his defense, he did kind of shatter his lower torso. Kind of hard to be useful when you're a ball of immobile pain.

Geeze, those are going to be fun bones to set.

>what do
Wait a moment, see if the arkots get any closer, or if there's anything closer the fenec is growling at. It's possible there's a salikai troop under the water it can see, or that there's a cloaked hunter by the brook it's vision is good enough to pick up.

Once (if) you establish the arkots are the only threat, we have the problem of trying to figure out how to kill the fenec without making any noise to alert them, as well carrying it away, and/or messing with your scent.

...if we have to kill them, it would be convenient if we made it look like the animal did it.
>>
No. 544921 ID: 735f4f

Yeah make sure its not growling at something or someone else first.
>>
No. 545232 ID: d38f67
File 138267562718.png - (13.10KB , 700x700 , 626.png )
545232

I pause with Rokko, put the jammer safe to the side, and we wait. The Krasau keeps growling, but I hear one of the arkots getting closer. We duck behind the rocks. A few gunshots are fired, and I hear the krasau scream and slump down between them. The arkot leaves again.

Pretty sure they're not hanging out at a choke point, not like I can confirm that here, but if it's not a choke point, there's gotta be another reason why they're hanging around a single spot.
>>
No. 545236 ID: 7bbaae

Then let's see why. Scout it out. Just make sure you don't get out of the jammer's range and you'll be fine leaving it hidden for now.
>>
No. 545240 ID: 735f4f

A bit of careful spying should let us know what they are up to. Get them in sight if possible and survey there surroundings.

Can you climb those rocks to get a higher viewpoint of where they are hanging out? Make sure you do not get out of the jammers range. But also make sure the jammer does not get to close to them. If they have a bugged hunter with them it would notice the sudden jamming field.
>>
No. 545246 ID: d2b9fe

Camo sneaking might give us an idea what they're up to. And it the coast is clear, they killed the krasau for you. That means, if the arkots aren't coming back to notice the missing body, you can collect it quietly.
>>
No. 545318 ID: d38f67
File 138274702829.png - (48.80KB , 700x700 , 627.png )
545318

They're leaving the body, so nothing's stopping us from picking it up. Cept my inclination to go take a peek over where they're at, so that'll have to wait. Rokko hangs back a little ways, and I climb up a few rocks to get a vantage point.

It's a little encampment. It looks like there are some supplies here, too.
>>
No. 545320 ID: 7bbaae

Too bad we can't get any. If you kill the guards, the salikai will know you're in the area, which will result in increased enemy presence.

I say we circumvent the camp to try to get back to base. The Fufa is gonna be chasing us- wait a minute, there's two arkot sized beds and a neumono sized bed. There's at least one hunter nearby! Be aware.
>>
No. 545321 ID: 57a559

Weird, would salikai arkots have really rest out here? I figured they'd be shaking up back at base.

Potential unaffiliates? Doesn't matter, they were most certainly bred by the salikai and raised to hate neumono all the same. Even if they've come to hate the salikai too, they'll still have an instinct to fight and kill you. And even if we didn't, communication would be extremely hard and pointless.

Lets leave them alone. They look like there just protecting their territory instead of searching for anyone or anything. If the fufa is full and doesn't want to eat anymore, it's also probably stopped tracking you. That or it knows the location of the base from eating your ear and is going where they'd be more neumono to eat where they'd likely would be surprised.

If we could lure it here, we could see if it also kills salikai troops or if the arkots have been trained on how to properly deal with the fufa. Assuming these have been at least been bred and trained to work in these caves with the fufa running about before they potentially went turncoat.
>>
No. 545322 ID: d2b9fe

Huh. So the choice is to take the low hanging fruit of the dead critter, or if we take the risk of killing the arkots for their supplies too.

First consideration: how confident are you that you could get in there and murder them all before they can sound the alarm?

Second problem: how far are you from base, and how quickly can you guys move weighed down by one casualty and the supplies you're looking at? A dead patrol / search party / whatever will eventually be noticed, but we don't want to be around when that happens.
>>
No. 545325 ID: 735f4f

I think its worth the risk to take there little base if we can. The moral boost alone would be huge if we can get our group some real supplies.

Let Rokko know what you saw and then spend awhile watching there base. We want to know how many are here and if they have anyone out on patrol. Also if there are any non Arkots or other surprises. Keep a eye out for any cameras or other communication devices.

Make sure Rokko is watching your back and have the jammer and Winsli hidden with her so nothing can sneak up on you while you are on lookout.
>>
No. 545360 ID: d38f67
File 138276139892.png - (17.69KB , 700x700 , 628.png )
545360

>Weird, would salikai arkots have really rest out here?
If you've gotta work 16 hour shifts, I wouldn't want an 8 hour commute.

>That or it knows the location of the base from eating your ear
No chance, my ears are lost first. If there's any brain matter in my ears, it's stupid brain matter, and good riddance.

>How confident are you that you could get in there and murder them all before they can sound the alarm?
Doesn't look like there's much of an alarm to sound, outside of yelling, but that's what gunshots are for.

We've also got a long walk back to base, but that's just as good as it is bad. If they increase their presence here, then fine, we're not around here. As for carrying supplies, if Rokko can hold a bit, and I take a bit, we won't be slowed too much. We don't have to take everything.

I don't like the size of that other cot, probably for either a big neumono or a very small voklit. I tell Rokko to hide, watch my back, and that I may try to get something. We can't wait for hours with that Fufa some ways back that may still have our scent, but after some time, the chances are good that there's no one else around.

I give the attack order to Rokko. She's got good aim, and the arkots weren't hanging around any cover. I'm sliding down the hill in full downhill sprint while she takes them out.
>>
No. 545361 ID: d38f67
File 138276140553.png - (18.81KB , 700x700 , 629.png )
545361

I run to the boxes. Don't think I'm gonna try to bring those cots, but we could use simple stuff. That pot doesn't look too heavy, and I can pad it with a blanket to keep other stuff clanging around. That wood isn't even burned, it looks like it was put down there in advance. The light could also be nice to nab.

The boxes themselves aren't packed with weapons. One is mostly food. Neumono food. It's most likely from the salikai, they looked like processed rations rather than any store bought brand name delicacies. The other box has some toolboxes, a large pistol, and at the bottom, a book labeled 'SENSITIVE: DO NOT READ'. It's locked up with a cheap looking combination lock. Makes me wonder how sensitive it really is.
>>
No. 545362 ID: eaa372

Prioritize the rations and cooking pot. Does the locked journal look like it has neumono hand writing on it?
>>
No. 545363 ID: 735f4f

Ok the paranoid part of me is yelling that this is a trap for Polo.

They know she is down here somewhere and they leave a lightly defended camp with a box of Neumono food and a book labeled do not touch which is probably full of secrets and not lies and or nanobots we swear.

Although it might not be a trap at all because they only have a few competent people left on there side and the rest of there forces are either enslaved or arkots which are not to bright.

So be very careful with the food and test it on something or someone before you eat any. And check the journal for traps or tracking devices. Might not have a long range but you could put one inside the binding.

If you want to disguise your trail make sure to dump the arkots you shot in the river so its not obvious they were killed by bullets. Take what you can carry and drag the Krasau over here if possible and use its claws to tear up the food box. Knock over a bedroll or two and it will look like they got eaten by native wildlife and the supplies eaten by scavengers.

Then remember this location so in case you have the chance later you can come back for the rest.
>>
No. 545365 ID: d2b9fe

>no alarm to raise
I was thinking they'd have a radio or something.

>looting
Using the pot to carry things is a good idea. Food first, then miscellaneous supplies like the light, and then maybe the wood if we have space left.

Don't trust the nuemono food yet (someone should test a small amount to make sure it isn't drugged or poisoned). Don't trust the pistol without pulling out the ammo clip and checking that it's loaded and not trapped.

What race is the book scaled to? Does it look like there's any mechanism to destroy the contents if you force it, or is the crude lock just to keep arkots out? Is it solid enough to have a hidden compartment? (Like it holds bugs). Probably keep the book for later.
>>
No. 545366 ID: d2b9fe

Oh, and don't forget to head back to the Krasau and use it to hide our scent before we move on.
>>
No. 545368 ID: 7bbaae

>>545361
Take the gun FIRST, so you're armed while looting the rest- I fully expect to face the owner of that third bed. If you don't have tools, take a toolbox. The wood seems too bulky and would be used up too fast to be worth grabbing. The light can't really be used in your hiding spot without it betraying the spot's location from outside view. I like the idea of taking the pot.

Take the book too and some food. Hey, aren't the rations going to give you more bang for their weight than the dead critter? Maybe you should take mostly food.
>>
No. 545378 ID: d38f67
File 138277374642.png - (21.38KB , 700x700 , 630.png )
545378

In hindsight, I suppose they could've had a radio to send an alarm out. Doesn't look like there's a radio here at all, though. For that matter, this could've been a trap for Polo for all I knew, but Polo's not even close to here, if Moi's right.

I can't rule out there being a trap in this book, with the pages hollowed out inside to put in trackers or bugs or whatever, but this is a roundabout way of doing it. Looks like a neumono wrote the note on the front, at least, but I can't tell anything other than that.

The gun goes in my shorts first. Too damn big for me to use effectively, so I'll still be using the one jammed down in the other side of my shorts. I take a small piece of wood, too.

I find a canteen and a knife. I slice off a chunk of the krasau just in case these rations turn out to be no good, fill the canteen, and wash up with krasau blood. Rokko does the same with herself and Winsli. That done, we get the hell out of here. Would've been nice to make it look like the arkots had a run in with some nasty cave denizen, but that fufa could turn a corner and start screaming about brain acquisition any second. Not a chance I want to squander.

Not like the trip back is any better for our nerves. The closer we get, the more nervous I get. But we make it. Full box of tools and knick knacks, full box of food, and that book. Orilo's here. Doesn't look like Moi's group is back.

She's just staring at me like I left the fridge open overnight and know it. Goddamn is she unpleasant.
>>
No. 545379 ID: 7bbaae

>>545378
Tell her you ran into the Salikai's pet Fufa. If she doesn't know what it's capable of, share with her your experience of how horrifying that thing is.
>>
No. 545392 ID: dbbfc7

When you come home after working all day and the missus ain't happy you gotta bail and go get a beer find Moi's group.

Though first you should search the boxes for something to fashion a new bandana out of.
>>
No. 545395 ID: 4a6cd4

She's probably holding you responsible for the condition of her hivemates. Or for leaving her alone, though she'll likely never admit that one.

Have Rokko swap info with her, if she can hear yet, touching each other for empathy, so she knows what's up and you can make sure nothing happened while you were out. While they're doing that, you give Winsli what help you can now that you're not on the run, then get started checking the box stuff for danger and/or usefulness. As soon as they're done, get Rokko to help you while Orilo checks to be sure nothing followed you, since she has the good ears.

Going looking for Moi's group is more danger than it's worth. Anything they ran into that could catch them, could catch you, especially with you in bad condition. If there's any chance of helping them, Moi will show up: if she couldn't escape, none of them could, even with your help.
>>
No. 545399 ID: 735f4f

Don't let her get to you. You put your own life at considerable risk to save her family.

Remember that she is still recovering from being mind controlled into letting herself be beaten to death by arkots. And she has to worry about being a sleeper agent due to four stripes programming.

On top of that you show up having single handedly fought off your own bugs and saved a bunch of her people. Something she could not do even though she is the "queens daughter".

So make sure she gets a chance to feel useful so she can hopefully stop feeling so pathetic.

Course I could be wrong and she could just be a surly bitch.
>>
No. 545401 ID: 57a559

>>545378
One of your girlfriends or boyfriends have given you that look before I take it? Back at home? Where Biles is a tie-wearing, calm everyman?

Don't see much of a point in talking to her, she's just constantly pissed off and she has a good excuse. Find her something to vent on so her morale doesn't become a problem. Maybe talkign to her would be a good idea after all to improve morale.
>>
No. 545402 ID: d2b9fe

...the others aren't back yet? That's not encouraging. Your group almost got eaten by a fufa, and had to spend all that time running away. What could they have encountered that's worse?

But anyways- down to basics, here. Tell her what happened (or let Rokko. She'll probably back you up- she knows she'd probably have died horribly if you'd let her go ahead and attack the fufa), start going through supplies you took in, and someone should start treating Winsli. If there's anything medical in those toolkits, it would be useful now. Possibly pass your new pistol off to Orilo- she's unarmed and maybe better sized for it, (keep the knife though, you need one of those).

...then maybe we can double check that the book isn't a trap or something before we start worrying about the others and if we have to go after them.
>>
No. 545403 ID: 4a6cd4

Say "it's not ours". Or is it maybe because you haven't painted your eyes? Maybe her hive has some thing where, if you're going to cover yourself with blood, you have to paint some over your eyes? That would be weird, but that's what your teammates have done.

The food probably isn't poisoned, since you guys have to eat so much; every neumono they have would have to carry around a box of antidote or something, and the hunters would know about it. Still, be a little careful. Also, always remember that the salikai might have made more inviso-suits. The neumono that the arkots were with might have had one.
>>
No. 545444 ID: d38f67
File 138282412928.png - (22.23KB , 700x700 , 631.png )
545444

"We got stuff, including a meet with the salikai's pet fufa."
>"Fufa? So what?"
"It bites. Winsli's beat up, if you couldn't tell. We've got fabric, and maybe some medical supplies here, if you want to go at it."

Really hoping here that there's nothing wrong with these ration packs, but they've got a lot of hunters they've got to feed. Poisoning their own food supply just for the chance that we'll run across it and yank it seems pretty dumb.

Rokko helps Orilo take care of Winsli. As worried as I am about Moi and the others, I have no idea where they are right now. We've got a few medical supplies, hygiene products, and enough food to feed a single neumono for somewhere around 5 days. Depends how good these rations are. Could be less or more. I start divving them up into piles for everyone. There's two knives of a good size, and 3 tool knives with can openers, tooth picks and so forth.

Then there's the book. The more I look at it the more I think I'm just staring real hard at a normal, mundane book, with what could be good info inside. I doubt this lock could withstand a well aimed bullet. It's small too, but the dial has little grooves made for a claw to go into to turn it. Probably a neumono claw, what with the handwriting.
>>
No. 545446 ID: d2b9fe

>"Fufa? So what?"
...I don't know if that's a stupid level or blasé, arrogance, or ignorance. Really not liking her attitude though.

>Poisoning their own food supply just for the chance that we'll run across it and yank it seems pretty dumb
Yes, but let's not forget how much of what they've done so far seems pretty dumb.

>Book
So it's just a diary lock? No mechanism to destroy the contents if you force it?

I don't see why you'd need to waste a bullet, then. Couldn't you use a knife to cut around the lock? Or use pliers from one of the toolkits to cut the lock?
>>
No. 545447 ID: 735f4f

Go ahead and try to open it up. But let someone know you are doing it and make sure you are in a safe area.

Don't waste a bullet if you can just pry the lock off.
>>
No. 545448 ID: 2f4b71

Wouldn't it be easier to cut the leather strap the lock secures?
>>
No. 545451 ID: dbbfc7

The book might have belonged to a hunter neumono so maybe Orilo will know something about it? Maybe lot of hunters keep diaries?
>>
No. 545453 ID: 7bbaae

>>545448
Yep. People like to put fancy unpickable locks on doors you can just kick open, or bust through the wall next to them. Same mistake here.
>>
No. 545455 ID: 735f4f

While you are busy with this have Rokko tell miss surly what a fufu is and what happened. She needs to know just how dangerous it is down here.
>>
No. 545474 ID: f759c0

Can you just open the lock with your clawtip then?
>>
No. 545480 ID: d38f67
File 138283555164.png - (15.67KB , 700x700 , 632.png )
545480

I wasn't planning on using a bullet as the first attempt, but even getting that far is overthinking it. The leather is tough, but I'll be able to get through it with a minute's patience. It's no fanciful, unpickable lock around a door I could kick open, but maybe this really is just meant to keep the arkots out.

"Hey, you guys ever keep diaries?" I ask over the rocks.
>"What? No. Is that a diary?" Rokko responds.
"Nope, just wondering. Rokko, can you tell Orilo about the fufa?"
She doesn't respond directly to me, but I hear her talking to Orilo about our trip in better detail.
>>
No. 545481 ID: d38f67
File 138283557263.png - (220.75KB , 700x700 , 633.png )
545481

"And nevermind, it's a diary." I say to them anyway.

At first I'm disappointed that it's not some confidential data, yet not just does it make me curious to its personal mysteries, but it may have some personalized info on the salikai after all.

It all depends. I've got to wonder to myself if I'm really going to pry into this girl's personal affairs.
>>
No. 545483 ID: 7bbaae

It's a Rokoa Clone's diary. The enemy. You don't get polite about the enemy's secrets.
>>
No. 545486 ID: d2b9fe

The name, crossed out in the upper left. Rokoa. And there's another name scribbled after it. And look at how messy this is- the deranged look. The signs of a troubled mind.

This was written by one of the clones.

Probably very unpleasant matter in here, but it could give useful information or insight if you have to fight one of these things. Or maybe information that could help in treatment if someone is hit by a dart.

...wait. Shit. More importantly, that means the empty cot was Rokoa's. She's the one who's going to find the dead arkots and looted camp. And she's going to be pissed that you took that book.

You made damn sure your trail can't be followed, right? Because a Rokoa clone is nearly as dangerous as the fufa, only a hell of a lot more determined.
>>
No. 545489 ID: 735f4f

As creepy as it might be there might be some info we can gain from reading it. Any info about what they are doing in there and what they hope to achieve with all of this cloning could be helpful.

While the clones we have seen are unstable a good portion of that is from being packed full of bugs and other mind control tech. If we ever managed to disable the systems controlling them they would for the most part immediately turn on the Salikai.
>>
No. 545490 ID: d2b9fe

>>545489
Seems overly hopeful, to me. Yes, the bugs make things worse, but at least part of the instability comes from poor melding of completely different personas / minds. In the cases where Rokoa doesn't completely (or mostly) destroy the mind of her victim, you get a melding and an unstable, confused, possibly schizophrenic clone.

And it doesn't help that even the original Rokoa flirted with outright psychosis.

>If we ever managed to disable the systems controlling them they would for the most part immediately turn on the Salikai.
We've only encountered two clones- the sniper, and the one who cropped herself. And the cropper was running around without bugs, willingly fighting for the salikai. The sniper was fighting her control, but doesn't exactly come across as the sanest person.

We can't say how many of the other clones are sane, how many are working with the salikai willingly, how many would fight against them but are forced to fight with them, and how many are simply too insane not to bug.
>>
No. 545493 ID: 4a6cd4

Just give it a skim for tactical info. Like "dear diary, today the salikai are in a better mood because X" or "today I had to go Y with Z", things like that. It's possible the bugs wouldn't have tried to restrain sensitive info with a diary that wasn't intended to be read by others. There's probably not too much to go through, since the clones aren't that old, and you can skip over the personal stuff. Assuming, of course, this is a Rokoa clone's diary, which seems likely, unless there's someone else running around being crazy in that specific "no that's not my name!!" way. What's the other name trying to come through? Something ending in "okok"? Or "okolu"? That sound familiar to any of your allies, here? I don't know if any hunters would have been subjected to Rokoafication, they probably arrived too recently. Though, who knows, maybe some are in the works.

It may be pretty disturbing, but you have a decent sanity rating, right Biles? Guy who spends ages alone in threatening environments, you've got to have a bit of resilience against going crazy yourself, eh? Especially when your planet's naturally full of freaky creatures to begin with.
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No. 545503 ID: 735f4f

I am not saying the clones are our friends by any means. Just that even the ones that are "working" with the Salikai are being abused and mind controlled.

So its more like letting a pack of dangerous animals loose in the enemy base if we knocked off four stripes. Some would try to escape, and some would try for revenge or just hide.
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No. 545507 ID: eaa372

Good thing NCO Arkot wasn't there huh?
Read the journal, you may get lucky and learn some clone weaknesses. Keep in mind Moi might know the former identity of the clone and give you some insight into her thought processes.
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No. 545553 ID: d38f67
File 434.swf - (580.94KB , 600x800 )
545553

The answer is yes, yes I am.

>It may be pretty disturbing, but you have a decent sanity rating, right Biles?
Yeah.

This diary isn't exactly a book of fine draftsmanship, but I can hardly criticize her for it.

Use the left and right arrow keys to flip through pages.
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No. 545555 ID: 7bbaae

>>545552
Alright, sounds like her and Polo clashed but Polo got away. If you ever find an arkot that seems different from the others, you might want to avoid killing it, so as not to provoke the clone.

Can you find your way back to the camp you found the diary at? This is a big, big target for debugging. If she's not wearing her armor anymore you could operate on her while she resists the bugs.
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No. 545563 ID: dbbfc7

Goddamn the sniper clone is fighting so hard and she resisted the bugs!
Debugging her would be a major boon since she knows the salikai base and might shed some more light on the psi bomb that she mentioned.
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No. 545566 ID: 735f4f

That's a interesting read. If she is wandering around down here with a arkot leader she could be a huge source of info. Not sure how to debug her though. But if her diary is down here with a big crate of food maybe she was in that camp. If we found her without her armor on then we might have a chance. Her bugs are programed to make her go after polo so maybe someone else would not set them off.

I noticed two pages ripped out of the book. Did she write hard enough to leave a imprint of what she wrote on the next page? The stuff they forced her to censor might have forbidden info we could use.
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No. 545573 ID: 57a559

Psibomb probably fucks with Neumono empathy, might destroy it completely. Vanski thinks he's going to die here, and he's going to get vengence, but he also thinks he's going to make the universe a better place.

So the psibomb will kill a lot of neumono, but more importantly kill their empath ability, which is why he needs Polo's brain. He'll monitor the parts of the brain that cover empathy when she shuts it down and try to put a way to force that into other neumono brains in some sort of device like jammers and the empathy relays. Basically, a giant 4 stripes order where every neumono's body is forced into using Polo's technique, forever, and pass it down through their children.

This is all just theory but seems to be the most likely explanation considering the name and his really confusing and slightly contradictory goals that sound true.

He's making the genophage for the neumono. Only its about empathy instead of lowering the reproduction rate.
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No. 545574 ID: 735f4f

Or it could just be a bomb that blasts so much energy on the electromagnetic band that neumono empathy relies on that it burns out or kills everyone within a few miles.

He probably started on the disabling empathy idea when he learned about Polo. But now they are getting desperate and it could take months or years of experiments on Polo to figure it out. They could get discovered any time now and are getting closer to the go out in a blaze of glory option.

Whatever the plan is if they set off a bomb underground the signal will not penetrate far. They probably wanted to make several and sneak them into ultrahives or satellites.
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No. 545575 ID: d2b9fe

Diary of a clone. At least you have confirmation Polo's still alive. Or she was.

If you guys see a funny looking arkot in a blanket, we probably don't want to kill it. It would suck if that clone went from fighting her bugs constantly to wanting to kill you.

>he needs Polo and time to make a psi bomb
...well that can't be good. Has to be something that fucks with empathy. Note to self: don't let her be taken alive.

Although if his endgame is some kind of bomb that permanently damages empathy for revenge on the neumono race, they could have set this up a hell of a lot better. Considering the position they started in, it wouldn't have been hard for a competent commander to have Polo in custody already.

I note it doesn't make any mention of Polo being darted. Do the salikai not know, or did they just not tell the sniper clone?
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No. 545583 ID: 559c67

Psi-bomb? Better tell that to your friends, along with the rest of the useful info. We might end up with someone going "oh we should kill Polo so that doesn't happen", but there are more neumono with the silent ability than just Polo, so that won't work. Though, if the bugs are being used to enforce the "capture Polo" command, maybe getting Polo to wear a bandolier of explosives and a big sign saying "I'll blow myself up if you touch me" might be helpful? Briefly, at least. Enough to avoid one fight, maybe, before they straighten out the confusion.

With this emphasis on Polo, I wonder if they've tried to clone her? Not like the clones we've seen around here, they didn't have enough of her for that, but maybe the old-fashioned way? Could be a little baby Polo around somewhere.

>>545573
Trouble, is, anything that fucks with empathy could mean the end of the species. In jammers, you're ok so long as you're in body contact, but Polo's ability shuts you down completely, so even that wouldn't work. And the problem there is, neumono mothers give empathic instructions to their children while they're pregnant. I don't know the details (it's from an ITQ answer by Rokoa, and the only example she gave of what it teaches them is "how not to be greedy"), but interfering with the developmental process like that would be bad. Very bad.

You don't happen to know much about neumono obstetrics, do you Biles? Or maybe one of your hunter friends just so happens to be a midwife on the side?
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No. 545586 ID: d2b9fe

>>545583
A neumono populace sans empathy might not be that bad. As we've learned from Lukrasta in ITQ, jammer cities are a thing (mostly off the homeworld I think, though). Growing up without empathy, or as only a sometimes things, doesn't completely mess them up. It just sort of gives them a different outlook. In Father Zozu's opinion, it even seems to be an improvement- resulting in populations that are generally less xenophopic and aggressive. Maybe Vasti is trying to force the same thing? 'Cure' the species?.

Although I guess if jammer city neumono still form hives, the babies would need to be exposed to the hive's empathy long enough to imprint it. So a complete and permanent blackout might be a bad thing.

...oh, and if you were having trouble finding that ITQ, that's cause it was Korli, not Rokoa. >>/questdis/65036 But yeah, not much on details in any event.
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No. 545636 ID: 9ccb59

>>545586
In Father Zozu's opinion rape is ok if it doesn't cripple the victim.
>>
No. 545657 ID: 7bbaae

>>545636
To be more precise, he thought those of lower rank should be accepting of higher ranking members' sexual "needs", because they are more valuable. "Take one for the team", basically.
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No. 545658 ID: d2b9fe

>>545636
>>545657
Less then kind mob-boss he is, though, I find him pointing out signs of positive social development in a hated racial enemy significant.

And what we know about one Salikai isn't a terrible place to start when trying to puzzle out what annother one might be thinking.
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No. 545680 ID: 2f4b71

Assuming all the Psi-Bomb does is disable empathy like a big permanent jammer seems innocuous compared to what could be done by by an insane Salikai blasting overpowered signals over a special-wide empathic link.
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No. 545728 ID: 9ccb59

>>545658
Becoming docile and xenophilic is the kind of development you want to see in a enemy.
Anyway, Excuse me but I am queasy about destroying peoples senses so that they'll develop 'positive' personality traits.
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No. 545730 ID: 735f4f

Yeah "solving" a problem that the Neumono are well on there way to fixing themselves by murdering and torturing people is always the way to go.

The Salikai are a bunch of monsters who like to pretend they have some sort of noble goal.

If they had stayed in the spire and made some neat technology that helped people then revealed themselves a few years later they could have impressed the galactic community and done a bunch to redeem there races image.

Instead they start building bioweapons and mind control devices and start experimenting and torturing there own scientists. Then the second things go downhill they swear revenge and start building a doomsday weapon.
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No. 546496 ID: d38f67
File 138350600992.png - (16.52KB , 800x800 , 635.png )
546496

>Did she write hard enough to leave a imprint of what she wrote on the next page?
It's worth a shot. I take my share of the rations, and make a mark on the page. It's hard, but it does smear slightly, if poorly. So I tear off one of the empty papers and place it above a written paper that was below a ripped page. If the written page was pressed down hard, then with just a little luck, it'll keep its indentations, and smearing my rations will make an outline of the ripped words.

I get a little lucky.
>I helped load things from the voklit arena pit to our upper entrance. Not many of us know about it, but it doesn't seem well protected.

And the second ripped page goes just as well.
>I found out today that injecting an neumono that's not hurt that bad with a regeneration salve will just try to repair its whole body and enter hibernation for a bit. I don't know why.
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No. 546499 ID: 7bbaae

>>546496
NICE. Info about an unguarded exit, and news that the regeneration injections can be used to knock out neumono. Too bad we don't have any of those.

Should we go back out and scout the surrounding area?
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No. 546502 ID: d2b9fe

Nice. That entrance might prove valuable for Polo's plan, if you're every in communication with her group again.

The other information is interesting, but not immediately helpful, as you don't have any regeneration accelerator at the moment.

(Polo's group will have discovered that anyways when they test it on Marra. She's not seriously wounded, more chewed up. No harm done if the test put her to sleep, since the group is holed up and resting anyways.

Good thing we decided to wait to test later at the campsite and not by the river where we did the rest of the first aid, or we would have had to carry her).

Alright, finish organizing your supplies, think on what details from that to share with your allies when they're done discussing what happened, and think about what our next move should be.
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No. 546524 ID: 735f4f

Might be a good idea to send out someone to spy on that camp in case the clone comes back or if the opportunity to get more supplies comes up.

If we ever find some of those regen things they might be a great way to debug someone without having to beat them half to death first.

After our encounter with that fufu we had better be more careful deploying Moi because she might be invisible but I bet there is a ton of stuff in here that can track her by sent or vibration.

How are you holding up energy wise after that little chase? If you need a bit of rest go for it and if not we should start planning our next outing. Also make sure everyone knows about the fufu and what it can do and how you got away.
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No. 546898 ID: d38f67
File 138377882610.png - (24.81KB , 800x800 , 636.png )
546898

I move back out to Orilo and Rokko wrapping up bandaging Winsli. He's waking up. I don't hide anything significant from them about the diary, and I make sure Orilo isn't scoffing at the fufa. We discuss our options.

We have two jammers and three people at base who aren't Winsli. We can leave him here, but he won't be able to defend himself well if he's found out. We don't all want to leave the base, though, since Moi, Hummer and Nomi are still out there. That will take up one jammer.

Which leaves only one jammer for a party to go out either looking for the other three, looking for supplies, looking for neumono we can try to debug, or looking for Polo to give her this info. Not like those are all mutually exclusive things.

Either way, I think I'd like to take a longer breather just so Rokko and I can get our ears back in good order. It's quiet as death out there.
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No. 546902 ID: 7bbaae

>>546898
...Um, ask Orilo if it's unnaturally quiet to her, or if it's just your ears.
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No. 546904 ID: fc937d

>wait for Rokko and your ears to recover
That's not a bad idea. Although, if the the group does split up, it would be wise to try and spread out the number of working ears, so neither group is vulnerable to being snuck up on.

Although, is there anything useful you can do with healing downtime?

>search for possibly stuff
Any idea where you currently are on the map? (We know where Bile's old hideout was, but they've moved. And Polo's group... was somewhere NE off what we had mapped before, where Moi found that battle, but I'm not sure where they ended up after that last river ride. That river was supposed to head away from the salikai base, right?).
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No. 546949 ID: 7bbaae

>>546898
Oh, you might want to talk to Winsli. At least let him know you're glad he made it through.
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No. 547118 ID: d38f67
File 138394878086.png - (12.95KB , 800x800 , 637.png )
547118

>Any idea where you currently are on the map?
I've got a rough idea. A bit northwest and downward from our old hideaway.

"Hey, Winsli. Hanging in there?"
>"Yeah."

The flattest yeah I've ever heard. Guess he can hear now, though. The others look at me like I'm not even supposed to be talking to him. For saving these guys' asses, I sure don't feel welcome.

"Is it just me, or is it quiet, Orilo?"
>"It's quiet, so keep your voice down." she says, I'm sure louder than me. "You look like shit. Get some sleep."
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No. 547120 ID: 61efbe

It's possible that their hive has some sort of pride/shame thing about needing to be carried back home in a wheelbarrow - or, perhaps, having a non-hivemember have a hand in such? Perhaps they're bothered by how much they've needed your help. Or maybe you've inadvertently offended them somehow, but because of said help they're holding it back. Do you know much by now about this hive, culturally speaking?

In any case, you can wait on sleep until the others come back, they might come back with an injury or info that needs immediate action. Or until you're reasonably certain they're not coming back. The quiet does worry me, though. What are the normal sounds around here, wildlife sounds? Animals go quiet for predators. Nothing heard or seen... but perhaps they'd pick up a scent of something? Can you smell anything odd? How good are neumono noses, anyway?

Ooooh, you didn't leave a blood trail here, did you?
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No. 547121 ID: fc937d

>A bit northwest and downward from our old hideaway.
Oh, so somewhere in (or under) the squiggly stuff between exit 2 and the salikai base. Which puts Polo's group somewhere off to the northeast, I think.

>didn't leave a trail?
I'd like to hope Biles is savvy enough to avoid that. (Especially with the fufa and possibly an unhappy journal-robbed sniper clone hunting for us in the area). That's why we used that thing's blood to cover up our scent.

>For saving these guys' asses, I sure don't feel welcome.
Geeze, you'd think Winlsi and Rokko would think a little better of you after being right about the voklit. I wonder if it's still the outsider thing, or a prideful about needing help thing, or if Winlsi is in the doghouse after screwing up and you're scoring negative points talking to him.

Oh well. Sulky allies are better than nothing. And even if you usually survive alone, there's not normally an army out to kill you. Or worse.

>too quiet
Pay attention to what nature stuff you can. Anything about the wildlife or enviroment tell you there's a threat approaching?
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No. 547122 ID: 7bbaae

Get some sleep? Well. Not much else you can do.
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No. 547123 ID: fc937d

>>547122
Well, that assumes he trusts these guys, which he kind of doesn't. And he's already made it clear to us he can go days without sleep before ill effect set in.

I suppose he could rest (but not sleep), but only if we really can't find anything else to do.

...how long have the others been gone, now?
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No. 547133 ID: 7bbaae

Oh, they're probably looking at you funny because it kindof looked like you almost killed him at the waterfall. Though, maybe it's because he's a failure and they're expecting him to be shamed because of his failure? So it's either a cultural thing or they just don't know you very well.
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No. 547135 ID: 8eb1e2

Get some sleep. Just because you can manage without it for longer than most is no reason to be stupid about it.
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No. 547136 ID: d38f67
File 138396276730.png - (16.52KB , 800x800 , 638.png )
547136

>Do you know much by now about this hive, culturally speaking?
I'm still holding my bets that they're just xeno intolerant.

>Ooooh, you didn't leave a blood trail here, did you?
Nope. That would be embarrasing.

>What are the normal sounds around here, wildlife sounds?
Wildlife sounds, and probably arkots from all over. Sound carries far in here, eventually it just gets muffled and tossed around that it becomes white noise that isn't easily noticed or useful until it's gone.

>How good are neumono noses, anyway?
Pretty good by most standards. Plenty of stuff with better, like voklit and belenos.

>How long have the others been gone?
Couple hours.

I can still keep going without sleep if need be, but if I don't get some now, I may not get a good chance again later. Gotta take what I can get. I still think Rokko's doing worse than she's letting on, so Winsly and Orilo take watch and we get some sleep.
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No. 547144 ID: d38f67
File 138396335854.png - (27.40KB , 800x800 , 639.png )
547144

I wake up to the sound of some mild shaking and a far off rumble.
"Orilo?" I estimate I was out for about an hour.
>"It just started. I don't know what that is."

We listen for a minute. It doesn't get any closer or different, but we start hearing footsteps.

>"Hey - oh fuck, what happened do you?!"
>"Fuck, girl, keep your fucking voice down!" Orilo says, this time marginally quieter.
"Just some wildlife blood. We were worried about you. Or at least I was." Orilo glares at me.
>"Where are the others?" Orilo asks.
"They're right behind me, I'm just the forward scout after all. We diiid acquire a box of goodies. A couple grenades, guns, annnnd a spare bioarmor. Uh... no food, though, sorry."
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No. 547145 ID: f06271

Anything we should know about the bioarmor? Any fun tricks like anti-eletric or stealth like Moi has, or just yer usual bioarmor package?
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No. 547146 ID: fc937d

Good work. Glad you made it back safe. We managed to score some food if you guys are hungry.

Talking quietly, see if they encountered or learned anything worth note, and share what you learned on your trip.

>bioarmor
What percent? And the vanilla variety, I assume? (Type and percent determines who gets it).

>guns and grenades
Excellent. We were kind of bare bones on armaments.

Our next priorities then are probably to think about getting more food, and/or gnabbing more hunters.
>>
No. 547147 ID: fc937d

...oh, and does this group have a x-ray scanner or anything? (Debugging people would have been a lot harder without scanning equipment). Probably a good idea to make sure returning groups didn't get bugged.

If you don't have an x-ray device at base, wait till they're inside, have (mostly) put down their weapons, and casually test them with something that would set them off if they were bugged.
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No. 547149 ID: d38f67
File 138396527025.png - (25.73KB , 800x800 , 640.png )
547149

"Anything special about the bioarmor?"
>"I don't think so. I don't have the tools to find out, but judging by the weight, it's around a 60% standard. It looks functional and everything, goggles and all.
"Cool, and good job. We did find some food, your rations are set out for you." Nomi and Hummer come back.

>Does this group have a x-ray scanner or anything?
Moi's got xray in hers, Hummer's got his salvaged armor, and this new one will give a third pair of augmented vision.

In otherwords, the only people that need bug testing are the people who have the x-rays. Didn't quite think of that one during group organization. I'm thinking that if they're bugged, though, we're already fucked.

That rumble is getting a bit louder. Still quiet, and I'm not hearing anything else still.

"I don't suppose you guys know what that is?"
>"No. Uh, cept, uh, we had to avoid a bunch of hunters and things for the first half of our trip, but then they just sort of stopped. We haven't seen any hunters at all for the last hour or so. That noise just started a minute ago."
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No. 547152 ID: 584efb

Can you determine the direction? Somewhat worried that you'll have some sort of tunneling device burst through one of the walls.
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No. 547153 ID: 9bf30e

Uh oh. No arkot noise, no hunters? That sounds like the salikai have pulled all their forces back, which means either they're about to leave, or they're about to do something big. And... rumbling? Do those sound consistent with some effort to open new passages somewhere in the tunnels, like someone's using a big machine to mine something?

... could they flood the whole cave system?
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No. 547155 ID: fc937d

>the only people that need bug testing are the people who have the x-rays
...well, luckily, the visor comes off the bioarmor, so it's not hard to check.

What's your own pbat score? Could you wear that, and how much / how long of an inconvenience would it be to don? (Although that would kind of mess with your camo. It might be smarter to let Orlio or one of the other hunters take it, so they can tank in a fight).

>rumble
Do you have a cup or anything to put against the wall or ground to listen better?

My first few fears are they realized you're in the area, and unleashed a swarm of spider-bots, or that they diverted a river to flood you out. (If we think the bots are coming, we respond by sealing or blocking the entrance. If water, well, we'd have to move, unless your hideout is higher ground then the tunnel it connects to, and you think you can count on air pressure to protect you from rising water).
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No. 547156 ID: eaa372

Ask if any of them saw an arkot wearing a scarf around its neck. Make sure to tell Moi and the others about the fufa.
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No. 547160 ID: d38f67
File 138396969698.png - (22.05KB , 800x800 , 641.png )
547160

"See any interesting units of the salikai out there?"
>"Nope."
I tell them about the salikai. Moi looks like she knows what I'm talking about.
>"Oh, I didn't think they were going to make any breakthroughs. It was hush hush like everything they do."

>What's your own pbat score?
83%. I should expect that any of us could put it on without a big fuss. Till we find some glowslugs for more camo, though, I'd feel better naked than with whatever percent bioarmor. I'll give it to Orilo.

Possibilities... they can't feasibly flood us out in the layout we hav, and they certainly can't flood the cave system. Could be a mining operation, the rumbles could be a drill going straight through rock. If the salikai are forming an army of bots, then I have no idea why they're being so noisy about it.

>"Once I get this one, I'm going to get a party to look for that rumble." Orilo starts putting the bioarmor on. "You can come or stay."
>>
No. 547161 ID: 7bbaae

>>547160
Let's go. It could have something to do with Polo, in which case we can give her all that juicy info.
>>
No. 547163 ID: fc937d

You'll come.

The people who were just out should have a chance to rest.

>83%
Hmm. Better than I expected.
>>
No. 547164 ID: b2646a

I forsee trouble with her soon. Be very cateful when going out with her. She has a chip on her shoulder and something to prove after the arkot fiasco.

If the worst happens you and Moi are the most vital to the mission. So if ego and stupidity get her in a jam again don't risk it all to save her.
>>
No. 547167 ID: 9bf30e

Hm. Any judgement by the sound of how big a mining operation we might be talking? Like... making a door through a wall, or making a railway-sized tunnel, or whoops their entire facility is actually inside a giant drill and it's leaving?

Or perhaps it's the opposite of mining. Cutting out rock for use in sealing the cave entrances entirely? Can you get any better sense by pressing an ear to the walls?
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No. 547198 ID: d38f67
File 138401903231.png - (28.05KB , 800x800 , 642.png )
547198

I put my ear to the wall, but that just helps feel the rumbles. It could be a large operation far off, or a smaller operation near by.

"Alright, I'll come."
>"I will too, we aren't really tired or anything." Moi says.

It ends up as me, Orilo, Moi and Rokko. Winsli, Hummer and Nomi stick at base. Moi acts as our forward scout. She's no experienced hunter or tracker, but I'd be tough pressed to beat literal invisibility. Moi and Rokko holds a jammer, and I get a machine gun. I don't think they trust me with a grenade, since I'm not officially combat specialized.

We end up wandering for about an hour, gradually getting closer to the source of the rumbles. We've got to be careful, but like Moi said, we don't see any salikai forces.

The rumble stops inexplicably for about one second before a loud crash is heard, like something big was just dropped. It was close by, just half a minute away or so.
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No. 547201 ID: fc937d

>crash half a minute a head of you
And how far ahead was Moi? Would that crash be in front of her, right on top of her, or between your group and her?

Unless you think invisible girl is in trouble, the obvious thing to do is hang back, and wait for her to double back and tell you what that was. If you think she can't, or she doesn't come back, then we have to consider poking our own necks out.
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No. 547208 ID: d38f67
File 138402164090.png - (17.42KB , 800x800 , 643.png )
547208

Moi isn't that far ahead, but I get her to poke her head out to take a look. I hear some more crashes, although quieter this time. She comes back pretty fast with the sign language.

>Big drill just fell down. Scout robots around. Rope is shaking, more things coming down. Bots don't look salikai."
>>
No. 547210 ID: f06271

Hrrrm...Stay hidden and watch them until we see them interact with Salikai forces, I think.
This is either a new player in the game, or another prong of Salikai forces trying a new trick. Either way, let's not interact with them until we know more.
>>
No. 547213 ID: fc937d

Ask the hunters- I don't suppose your hive came with drilling equipment or robots?

Cause if it's not the salikai or the hunters, that means it's a third player. Not that that's necessarily a good thing. Could be (non-bugged) ultrahive reinforcements, finally. Could be offworld mercenaries working for the salikai showing up. Could be an illegal mining operation working out in the sticks near the voklit reservation thinking no one with any tech or influence would notice them.

Spying on whoever this is seems a good first response. We can't risk approaching them openly yet, and a whole big group of robots isn't something we want to attack for supplies either. We want to try and figure out who they are (friend, foe, or 3rd party in between) and if we can use this at all.
>>
No. 547220 ID: d38f67
File 138402796865.png - (16.84KB , 800x800 , 644.png )
547220

Keep an eye on them. I motion to Moi, then ask if the hunters had drilling or mining equipment. They say they had a few bots, but did not have any mining equipment.

I expect it's still raining up above, as I hear splashing. Behind that, though, I start hearing some ziplines coming down the rope, and small taps of people landing.

>Buncha lots of neumono. Also, bugs.

As Moi is finishing her hand signs, someone over the corner starts talking.

>"King to base, we're down, no initial contact. We're setting up a perimeter. Start sending down the exploratory drones. What? 10? What the fuck? Hundreds of them. I want hundreds! There should be at least a single cave in from all the buzzing that should be going on down here, that's how many I want. Give each unit an undeployed drone and send them down, we're going to operation wildfire this shit. Dustcloud, - " Dustcloud is the name of a hive in the Tree, Polo's ultrahive.

He then slips into a language I don't understand. The only thing I can glean is that he's barking out orders to various hives, and the other neumono start setting down equipment. It's an obvious bet they're going to start taking a look around as well.
>>
No. 547223 ID: 7bbaae

>>547220
Another goddamned bugged hive.

Ask Moi if she can sneak up and steal the radio that guy's using. If we can use it and radio back to base, we can inform them about the bugs, and MAYBE someone up there isn't bugged, which will let the cleansing begin. Hang on, how does Moi see the bugs? Did the incoming hive get compromised, and more bugs are skittering around? I mean... oh. Biles, did you scan all of Moi's returning group for bugs?

Does anyone else understand that language? Can they speak it?
>>
No. 547228 ID: fc937d

Fuck. A bugged hive from the Tree? Niam's intel was that the leadership of the Coalition was compromised, and maybe some of the Tree, and that compromising the whole hunter hive was a big play. Compromising and mobilizing a hive from the Tree is more than we expected they could do.

The important consideration- is everybody bugged? Or is it just the guy or guys in command? If there are any clean neumono, that's something we might have to work with.

>Hang on, how does Moi see the bugs?
Her visor has x-ray. See >>547149

>does anyone speak that language
It's probably the hive's own pre-contact language, so it's unlikely anyone else is going to know it. Makes sense hives would hold on to their own language even in the modern era for secure communication- like Navajo code talkers.

>what do
They're about to flood this entire area with drone. That's bad news- you'll be discovered. As will your camp. Meaning we probably need to amscray, and seal ourselves off so the initial wave of 'bots misses the cave.

Be real helpful if we could capture one of these new neumono for debugging. A prisoner or new rescuee could tell us what the hell is going on.
>>
No. 547230 ID: b2646a

Either someone upstairs found out what was happening and this is the response. Or the Salikai got desperate and pulled in every troop they have.

Are they all bugged? Or just the commanders?

If they all are things do not look good. But if its just a few commanders we might have a chance.
>>
No. 547233 ID: 7bbaae

...wait, no, stealing the radio won't help. I forgot the Salikai CAI is filtering transmissions.

This is just another group of neumono to avoid and capture when possible. The drill did give us a new possible exit route, though!
>>
No. 547283 ID: 735f4f

They are probably throwing everything they have at us to try and find Polo at this point. Someone upstairs is going to notice soon that this is going on and the jig will be up.

We do not know how much of the ultra hive was taken over but I am guessing its just a few isolated hives that spend a lot of time out in the field.

Right now is the best and possibly only chance for this sort of thing to work. The ultra hive has a bunch of modern hives that would probably notice and be able to stop the bugs quickly. But they also have the hunter hive and others that are older warrior hives. Probably on the surface most of the time and most of them could be taken over before anyone could get the word out.

The trick now is to survive that long and either sabotage the Salikai doomsday weapon or get far enough away to not get lobotomized when it goes off.

So find out if they are all bugged or just a few and book it. Honestly at this point I am glad that damn fufu is lurking around here.

We need to find a place to hide that we can destroy the entrance to.

Probably can't debug that clone who's diary you found with our current supplies but her camp was near a river you might be able to use to escape.
>>
No. 547316 ID: d38f67
File 138406549767.png - (51.80KB , 800x800 , 645.png )
547316

>Biles, did you scan all of Moi's returning group for bugs?
Ended up doing just that on the way over just to be safe. We're all bugless, new strangers excluded.

Are they all bugged, or just some? I signal, and we start running back. I already hear some helicopter drones getting deployed, as well as what I believe is a constant stream of units rapelling down the wire. It's getting busy and fast.
>Most of them. They're not all fully armored, the ones with basic gear have bugs, the ones with full armor don't. Question mark.

The buzzes get louder, that commander wasn't kidding, they must be swarming the cave with everything they've got.

I hear more rumbles start coming up. Apparently one thin line down isn't enough for them.

We've got to get back to base fast, but even when we think we've gotten distance from this new batch and book it, it still sounds like they're right behind us. I occasionally hear voices trailing us, not to mention the bots.

We turn the corner. Flashlights are illuminating an intersection up ahead. Assuming it's a generic flashlight, then it's far enough that the light has spread out, but there's no way we can cross it without getting spotted. We can make a detour, but it's not going to be a short one. These guys don't seem to be some precision strikers like the hunters are supposed to be, they look like rank and file soldiers that are brute forcing the search.

Somewhere, way off in the distance, I hear the fufa's roar and a lot of gunfire.
>>
No. 547317 ID: fc937d

>ones in full armor not bugged?
Maybe there are controls in the armor. Or the armor isn't fully x-ray transparent.

>flashlight you can't get past
I think this is an opportunity to make use of Moi's cloak for an ambush. She gets close and hits them unexpectedly from behind, and then you guys attack and from the front. Shut them down hard and fast before anyone else knows what's happening int he chaos of deployment and fighting the fufa, and grap a prisoner or two to debug and mine for information.
>>
No. 547318 ID: 7bbaae

>>547316
Wait. There are unbugged armored... That means they weren't bugged before they got here, they only got bugged after arriving! The salikai is trying to deal with this new force, but it's not completely compromised! We can get the armored troops on our side! We just have to isolate them to tell them and give them x-ray goggles to show them the truth. If we can get even ONE of them on our side without the bugged ones finding out, they might be able to slip away and radio home base past the CAI's jamming radius. Or tell the others with armor, and organize a coup.

Getting spotted by the drones is bad, yes, because the bugged ones will probably broadcast that you've been found. However we can still get a positive overall result out of it if we can gain the assistance of all the armored troops!

We have to take this chance, because it's being forced upon us. If we encounter any unarmored, bugged troops, try to headshot them or otherwise disable them. If any armored troops show up, try to yell at them that there are bugs and their personnel are compromised. They can see it for themselves if their armor has any visors worth a damn!
>>
No. 547336 ID: dbbfc7

Have Moi scout the intersection, if there are more than 5 neuomono there have her knock over the lights and then rush across.
If there are 5 or less then i think you could try attacking and taking some prisoners.
>>
No. 547338 ID: 735f4f

If this is a rescue team and only partially bugged then we might have a chance at getting reinforcements. Just have to make sure not to get shot up in the attempt to make contact.

I think having Moi scout out the light is the best plan. Once we know how many there are and how well armed they are we can decide how to get through here.
>>
No. 547344 ID: d38f67
File 138410523376.png - (34.15KB , 800x800 , 646.png )
547344

>Scout them. If there's 5 or less, and any without bugs, then shoot their flashlight out and we'll ambush them. Be sure to get out of our crossfire.

The hunters and I get in position. We hear a gunshot, and the light goes out. The rocks here are decent at holding light, and we can still see, but they're used to a high light scenario. We've only got a second before they bring out another flashlight.
>>
No. 547346 ID: d38f67
File 138410528196.png - (48.77KB , 900x700 , 647.png )
547346

>"Taffy Six under fire!" That was a Pomi, who I just glimpse diving behind the rock. I may want to try to take him alive for questioning, but it's too easy to kill them by accident. Can't just shoot them in the face.

The rest of the neumono are slower to duck. Rokko manages a headshot, and Orilo nails one in the stomach at least twice. I don't get shit.

There's a loose, floating rock that is making its way to the Pomi, so Moi may be on top of that one. I can tell she's nervouse alone from just how she's holding that rock. She's at least holding it behind herself, as far as I can tell.
>>
No. 547348 ID: fc937d

Well, here's hoping these guys aren't all friendlies since we're shooting them up. (Hah! First time in this mess we've hoped someone is controlled by the salikai).

See what you can do about helping to shut the neumono down. Try and make it so they're distracted from Moi, giving her a chance to knock out the Pomi. Be ready to try and direct fire to help her if she gets caught (although there's only so much you can do. You're not a sharpshooter like Polo- you can't reliably pick off someone right on top of her).
>>
No. 547351 ID: dbbfc7

Their left flank is crumbling so start advancing there under cover fire.
Hopefully you getting close will draw the pomis attention and give Moi some reassurance.
>>
No. 547352 ID: 735f4f

Advance on the left and keep the Pomi's attention on you so Moi does not get noticed.
>>
No. 547402 ID: d38f67
File 138411709422.png - (25.18KB , 800x800 , 648.png )
547402

There's a lot of crags, so it's easy to wrap around and force them to keep an eye on me, and not on that floating rock. It works, because I don't like how many bullets are whizzing by me. Rokko and Orilo manage to keep them pinned well enough.

tink
>>
No. 547403 ID: 7bbaae

>>547402
Gas grenade? Just hit it out of the air, to shove it downhill.
>>
No. 547404 ID: fc937d

...this is starting to get too drawn out for an ambush. This needs to end, fast, before they can get reinforcements.

>tink
Hmm. Smoke bomb to mess with visibility, or tear gas? I guess the placement (trying to land it right on you) would suggest tear gas more than a smoker.

You may not be the best shot in the world, but I'm sure you've had to get good with a share of clubs with all that survival-ing (probably the easiest weapon to fall back on, before you have the time to make anything with an edge). Grab your machine gun and batter up?
>>
No. 547414 ID: 2f4b71

Crap, better hope the Salikai didn't smuggle up some hallucinogen along with the bugs.
>>
No. 547469 ID: d38f67
File 138413399237.png - (25.66KB , 800x800 , 649.png )
547469

As a matter of fact, I've played sports. And this is probably a better strike than I usually manage. I probably could have grabbed it and thrown it back but this way I can keep farther away it. 'It' definitely being tear gas. I'm still gonna sting, but I'll manage.

>"Biles, get your ass back here! We got company!"

Gunshots are coming from the direction we were trying to head to, and I see Orilo leap up to fight them. I hear a disheartening scream from Rokko.

The current enemy group sees the tear gas getting bounced back at them, and they're falling back, although their backs aren't to me. I can't see if Moi got the Pomi, but I don't see him in the retreat either.
>>
No. 547470 ID: fc937d

...damn, this ambush has gone bad. We need to regroup and get our people out of here before more reinforcements show up and pin us down.

First priority is getting our people and getting out, second priority is grabbing any prisoners or equipment we can, if we can. (That assumes any of them are down out of the reach of the others, or got left momentarily behind when they fell back from the gas).
>>
No. 547471 ID: 735f4f

Our whole plan right now is to find someone not bugged and get there story out of them so maybe we can get word back to the surface.

But before that we need to stay alive long enough to do anything. So grab the Pomi if you can and run for whatever direction seems safest. If we are lucky and keep moving we might have a chance.

If we do get seen by a drone regardless of who controls it the CAI will probably be able to see us through it as well. So try to avoid them but if it happens speed is more important than stealth right now.
>>
No. 547475 ID: 7bbaae

I wonder how things would have went if we had approached them without immediately shooting.

Well, assuming they get any footage of the attack, they'll recognize Biles, and start to wonder why the fuck we attacked them. The obvious conclusion is this salikai has bugs, and then hopefully that would lead to them suspecting that their own force may have been compromised.

Let's retreat for now. Cover Moi's return with the prisoner.
>>
No. 547511 ID: d38f67
File 138414155205.png - (31.18KB , 800x800 , 650.png )
547511

I don't want to fuck around here, so I start moving back to the other two. I'd like to see some sign of Moi, but the layout doesn't let me get a good view without making me an easy target for lead filling.

She managed to spot a nice crack, though, and was also able to drag the Pomi with her safely back to us. Rokko took a nasty shot in the face, twice.

We hear footsteps running from behind the first group.
>>
No. 547512 ID: d38f67
File 138414155789.png - (29.68KB , 800x800 , 651.png )
547512

So we run in the direction of base. It looks like Orilo managed to take out a squad of three. She's hit, too, I think, but she's standing as well as Rokko. She took their goddamn eyes.
>>
No. 547513 ID: 7bbaae

>>547512
Well if possible see if you can drag one or both of these guys home with you. Those eyes will regener- wait nevermind. Eyes take days to regenerate, meanwhile you have useless lumps of flesh eating your food.

Well, it's a tradeoff I guess. I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not. Worst case scenario we can dump them in the vicinity of the new hive with instructions on how to debug people, to hope they reach someone who isn't bugged. Oh, having a neumono captive could also give us a good idea of if they got bugged upon arrival or if it was before they got here.

So take one.
>>
No. 547514 ID: fc937d

Moi should pass the Pomi off to someone else. That invisible advantage don't do much if she's carrying someone.

If any of the downed neumono are small / light consider taking one of them too (we can't afford to be slowed down now, though). Grab the downed guys' weapons, too. Then we get the hell out of here. Leave the backup to tend to their wounded allies.
>>
No. 547517 ID: 57a559

>>547512
They... they aren't dead are they?

She knows when to back off?
>>
No. 547521 ID: d38f67
File 138414414977.png - (32.58KB , 800x800 , 652.png )
547521

I grab another machine gun, frag, and yank his strap off him for the fabric.

"Rokko, grab the Pomi." I pause for Orilo. I don't want to start making it sound like I'm barking orders at her, but I will if she doesn't take any neumono. She does, so that saves me the potential drama.
"They're living and just disabled, yeah?"
>"Yeah." Orilo says, much to my relief.

We make nothing short of a desperate sprint back to base. The hive behind us always seems like its on our heels, but eventually they've got to thin out too much to pursue us. At least for the time, we have way too little time to rest.

Rokko tosses the Pomi down, falls down herself, and Orilo tries to look tough when she drops her neumono, but she's breathing hard. I'm hardly fresh. Moi... well, there's a lot of neumono that would like her legs for a multitude of reasons.

I hear distant shouting, shooting and other assorted noises, but nothing too close as far as I can tell. The fufa roars again. It sounds hoarse.

The Pomi starts coming back to the concious world.
>>
No. 547522 ID: 735f4f

Be polite but firm and ask him what his team is here for.
>>
No. 547524 ID: 7bbaae

Keep his mouth shut forcefully and tell him to relax, you're not going to hurt him. Or her? Then explain what is going on.
>>
No. 547527 ID: fc937d

>Moi... well, there's a lot of neumono that would like her legs for a multitude of reasons.
Why Biles, you naughty exophile.

>what do
Get Nomi, Hummer, and Winsli (if he can) helping out. We got wounded to attend to, a tunnel entrance to block off, and an unconscious neumono prisoner to secure until he can be debugged (is he or she bugged? If not, they still need to be restrained until after we've talked to them). Moi is either helping them with that, or in the tunnel (before we close it), watching invisibly to warn us if anyone gets too close.

Handle the Pomi yourself. Hunters aren't exactly people people, and are probably too rough. Make sure he's unarmed, and he's not hiding a weapon he could pull on you, and then see about questioning him. You want his name, rank, mission, and employer / commander. Start the soldier off with stuff that's general- that he doesn't feel like he's betraying anything giving away. You need to know who the hell these guys are, and what they're doing here. (And if it helps, everyone in his squad is still alive, for now. You hit them for information).

Then we need to figure out if he knows about the bugged neumono, if he works for the hive that was compromised, or if he works for the salikai and helped bug them. (If he doesn't know, a visor can be used to prove his comrade is full of bugs).
>>
No. 547535 ID: d38f67
File 138415033160.png - (17.29KB , 800x800 , 653.png )
547535

>Why Biles, you naughty exophile.
Those legs transcend eons of anti-extra-hive evolution, but now's not the time.

"Moi... you hit the front of his face?"
>"Yeah, Pomi are a lot more sensitive on their foreheads than the back of their heads. It's weird."
"Ah. Nomi, Hummer, try to block our entrance, we need some time." Orilo and Rokko are tending to each other's wounds while keeping an eye on our prisoners.

I clamp his mouth shut and pat him down to confirm he's got no more weapons, along with tying his hands behind his back.

"We're going to release the strap, slowly, and if you make noise, a rock to the face is going to be your gentle treatment of the day." He nods. I don't think he's dumb about his life. "Tell me about name, rank, mission and commander."
>"... Jack. Corporal Rank. My commander is Ultraking Az, and our fucking mission is to rescue Polo and the rest of her company, including you, Biles, and as it turns out, the hunters."
I was afraid of this possibility. Course, I'd rather deal with this gaffe than have another salikai hive down here.
"Your neumono have bugs."
>"Yes. They do. They're bugs to counteract the salikai bugs, as well as to knock them unconscious if a predator tries to turn them against the rest of us. We're using their tech against them. The only teensy weensy downside to the secrecy of this is that it sure as fuck makes them look like a salikai's neumono to the many, many people who don't know. It was a recent thing, too, so not even Polo may know. I'm expecting our contact with her is going to go about as well as with yours. Do you know her whereabouts?"
>"Don't trust him." Orilo interrupts. "The salikai already pulled some alien mercenaries from the hunter hive, and they've got neumono that have been subjugated without use of bugs."
>>
No. 547538 ID: fc937d

Okay, on the surface, the story is plausible. If their bugs are a countermeasure, that would explain why the heaviest armored neumono don't have any. They don't have enough to go around, and are compensating as best they can.

Well, if you're telling the truth, we didn't kill you or any of your buddies. No permanent harm done. But the thing you need to understand is, you really haven't given me any way to know you're telling the truth. And we have every reason to be paranoid about another salikai trick. So if you're really on our side, play nice and be patient until we're damn well ready to trust. And if you're lying, well.

...why do you make a point of mentioning and asking after Polo so much? She's not in charge of the inspection team. Hell, I'm not sure if she's even officially listed on the register, or as alive. The salikai are the ones obsessed with her, not the ultrahive HQ.

How can we possibly be using the salikai bug tech against them? It was deployed so recently, and the rescued science hivers the ultrahives have access to are months out of the loop, and without access to all the warship test data. Hardly seems like there's been time to discover the bugs, reverse engineer them, and manufacture and deploy countermeasures.

Our best test of his honesty is going to be our neumono prisoner. When he wakes, you can test if his bugs respond the way the salikai ones do (triggering if you threaten to remove them). And/or you can cut a few out of him and see if Moi can tell if they're any different from the others we've seen. (That's not proof they're friendly though- the salikai could have used a different model on a different hive). If you have any intact salikai bugs you surgically removed, you could also test it the prisoner's bugs try to defend against it if you stick it in him.

>and they've got neumono that have been subjugated without use of bugs
Yeah, predator programmed neumono are a thing we need to watch for.

>don't trust him
Agreed. We can't afford to trust them until we have proof. Anything less is walking into a trap. Leave open the possibility he might be telling the truth, though.
>>
No. 547539 ID: 735f4f

Sorry but we cant exactly trust you can we? While I would like to believe your story until we have more proof we will have to take care of ourselves.

Honestly we have to be careful about trusting Orilo as well in case any of this questioning sets off any hidden four stripes programming in her.

We need to find out as much info from him as possible and ask him open ended questions to try and find holes in his story.

Quiz him about the timeline of his mission and where and when these anti bug bugs came from. We know the ultrahive had samples from the spire and have been working on reverse engineering stuff. So his story is in the realm of possibility.

Ask how did they know to come down here now. Have him give you the full story and then we can see how it meshes with what we know.

Whatever you do only ask direct questions and do not offer any info to him. Ask about stuff like the fufu but do not mention it or anything else you have seen down here by name. Make your questions vague so he has to fill in the blanks.

Make sure to let him know the only thing keeping him alive right now is the possibility that he is telling the truth. For the moment be nice and be our prisoner. If you are telling the truth and play along we can all laugh about this after its all over. And if not we are running low on food.
>>
No. 547540 ID: 584efb

You know, the bugs here are different than the bugs the hive had knowledge of, aren't they? Check the type and you should know if these came from here or not.
>>
No. 547541 ID: 7bbaae

>>547535
Hmph. Ask if he's got any proof. If not, then we wake up the captive neumono and ask him to tell his bugs to leave his body. If that is not possible, we remove them ourselves, but do not destroy the bugs themselves- keep them in a container of some sort. Then after the neumono has no bugs, we ask him to confirm that they're a rescue team with bug-countermeasures. Or maybe we can do that while he has bugs, using physical contact to tell if the bugs are controlling his empathy? To be honest, his story seems to fit the situation. The salikai wouldn't send a compromised force down here by drilling through the cave, they would just bolster the hunter forces.

Tell this guy you don't know where Polo is. Also, ask how they figured out we NEEDED a rescue team. Isn't the hunter hive sending false reports?
>>
No. 547542 ID: fc937d

>Tell this guy you don't know where Polo is.
Nope.
>only ask direct questions and do not offer any info to him

We need to continue getting information from him, until we either find find something that confirms or denies his story. Until we're sure he can be trusted though, he's a potential enemy agent we can't trust with intelligence (even that we don't know Polo's current location).
>>
No. 547557 ID: dbbfc7

>commander is Ultraking Az.
>"King to base, we're down"

Wow the Ultraking is leading the attack. Ask Moi if she saw if he was bugged.

And Corporal Jack here might be telling what he thinks is the truth.
If the salikai were afraid that the bugs could be discovered they might have hidden the tree in the forest by making enough high raking neumono claim that these are totally counter bugs developed in secrecy recently and everyone should get them. And what the higher ranking neumono say goes.
>>
No. 547566 ID: beeca1

Eh, King and Ultraking aren't the same thing. The ultrahive's made of smaller hives, and it could be one of their kings.
>>
No. 547600 ID: 57a559

>>547535
Then the higher ups already know how fucking stupid this kind of rescue was then? If the higher ups had thought about this right, keeping this secret a secret would have been worth the deaths of our squad.

Well, unless they know about the psibomb, which if they already know about the bugs and the predator bullshit then it wouldn't be that farfetched to know about, but that would mean killing Polo themselves and destroying the body and all genetic makeup would be the easier and more efficient option because the salikai sure wouldn't kill her. They'd nuke the site from orbit and be done with it. The squads not worth saving, as skilled and unique as we are. Of course they never could be sure.

I'm going to be honest Biles, if these are from Polo's ultrahive and they've learned a lot in the meantime and developed countermeasures, plan a or b is going to include destroying Polo completely to prevent the psibomb. Honestly Biles, maybe that should be OUR plan b at least.
>>
No. 547604 ID: 2f4b71

If they wanted to block predator control, distributing jammers would work. This smells.

Did you have any sort of challenge-response set up before the mission?
>>
No. 547608 ID: fc937d

>Did you have any sort of challenge-response set up before the mission?
Yes, but that's meaningless with the salikai's ability to infiltrate and compromise our command structure and allies. The hunters passed a call and response test with Polo, remember.
>>
No. 547654 ID: d38f67
File 138422503838.png - (18.04KB , 800x800 , 654.png )
547654

"Well if he's telling the truth, we didn't kill any of his buddies. We can test if these bugs are any good, though. What I want to know is how they managed to develop bug countermeasures so quickly?"
>"The brightest scientists in the universe have been commissioned to oversee how a neumono's empathy can be hijacked. And protected. Or so goes what I've been told."
"You also mentioned Polo a lot. There's a whole squad of us who were sent down here, you know, and she wasn't the leader of the excavation."
>"Yeah, but only Polo's the one in our ultrahive, and to some weird political sense, Korli. Our mission is to save Polo first. Locate, surround and contain or destroy the salikai second depending on future orders, and rescue non-aggressors third."
"Do we count as aggressors, even if we have good reason to suspect you're against us?"
>"It's not my position to say. That said, Az would laugh it off as long as you continue not killing anyone. If you do, though, then I'd recommend going to the salikai for comfort."
"When did this mission start, anyway?"
>"I got the red alert this morning. It was made to sound like an emergency."
"Why's that?"
>"That's just how the Ultraking runs things. We joke he's got the red alerts on speed dial."
"We're sure the hunter hive is sending false reports through the salikai's CAI. Knowing that the reason we're keeping you alive because there's a chance you're telling the truth, make sure you're telling me everything you know about how you knew to come down now."
>"We confronted the hive and found that out ourselves. If we knew that, then I bet we would've come a lot sooner. So we didn't know when to come down."
"I heard someone call himself King. Was that Az?"
>"Yeah."
"Moi, was he bugged?"
>"Nope. He was in an officers uniform and everything, he looked completely unprotected."
>"I've got a question." Orilo comes up to him. "So you're saving Miss Polo and shit, whatever, but why is it your ultrahive? We own this land, and I know for a fact we'd send our own armies down here before they let you assholes down here."
>"That's politics, I'm rank and file. You'd have to ask Az. Maybe that neumono will know, I don't know what he is. Squads were arranged on the fly since we didn't know what we were jumping into."
>>
No. 547658 ID: eaa372

Ask if he knows any radio frequencies we might try to get in contact with these guys. Otherwise the jury's out until we see them engaging salikai forces. If we get in contact at the very least we could warn them about the fufa.
>>
No. 547659 ID: 7bbaae

>>547654
If the leader wasn't bugged... I sincerely doubt that the salikai managed to compromise the ultraking without bugs.

Cut out one of the bugs and examine it. If it checks out as looking different, put it back in then let's go out and meet the drones. If not, get physical contact with the neumono prisoner and directly ask him if the bugs are benign. If they are, he will read as not lying. If they aren't, he will read as having his empathy manipulated by the bugs. If that checks out, go out and meet the drones.

It sounds like Orilo is pissed at Az for shoving his nose in what she thinks is her business. Could be some conflict brewing there... Come to think of it, we probably have to watch out for the hunters having any subconscious Predator-orders triggered. Especially Orilo. They might have to disarm themselves before we meet Az.
>>
No. 547660 ID: 7bbaae

>>547658
The radio will be jammed by the CAI, though, surely?
>>
No. 547661 ID: 5612af

Isn't the fact that Polo is alive supposed to be classified information?
>>
No. 547662 ID: fc937d

>this is our land
Actually, it's the voklit's land isn't it? Well, except the unfair maps put the borders right outside the caves. Not really the time to bring up unfair imperialism, though.

>Why is it the Tree's army instead of the Coalition's?
Could be the Tree is acting on it's own. If they really are clean, and they discovered the hunters were compromised, they might be worried if they could trust the rest of the ultrahive.

>if you kill any of us, I recommend going to the salikai for comfort
(Assuming the story is true) that's a shortsighted and very restrictive attitude. People are fighting their own allies under mind control. There have already been friendly on friendly deaths, and even non-mind controlled friendly fire incidents are going to be almost inevitable. We should try to avoid and limit it, but we can't be merciless when it happens.

>King's not bugged
That doesn't really make sense either way. You'd expect the Salikai to have their pawn commander bugged, and if he's free, you'd expect the Tree to use its anti-control mechanisms on the command staff.

>what do
I think we've mostly exhausted what uncorroborated information we can get from Jack. We need to examine one of these 'different' bugs. See what the neumono says when he wakes, and if he responds to the same triggers other bugged neumono have (ie, goes crazy if we threaten to remove his bugs).
>>
No. 547667 ID: 735f4f

His story seems like it could be true but until we can check the bugs in the other one we cant be sure.

I do not like the idea that the leader would not have protection against bugs. Ask him why the commander would go into the enemy lair without protection.

As for not sending the hunter hives armies down it might be so they do not have to fight there own mind controlled troops. And they can just knock out any green Neumono they see without issue. Also they would be running the entire hunter hive through decontamination once they realized what happened.

You should touch Orilo while talking to him for a bit. Make sure her empathy is not acting up. If she complains tell her its to help make sure that four stripes did not plant any commands in her. If you do not want to do it have some of her hive do it.

Get his radio if possible but do not make contact until you check the bugs and empathy of the other prisoner. Also if you do make contact the Cai will probably be able to intercept it so be careful what you say. Do not mention anything about the bomb or the Salikai revenge plans over the radio. It might make them speed up there plans.

As much as you might like this to be true its still your life and worse on the line if its a trick. Heck he could be telling the truth as he knows it and half the troops could still be rigged with bugs the Cai could take over somehow. So tread carefully.
>>
No. 547682 ID: d38f67
File 138422995306.png - (21.39KB , 800x800 , 655.png )
547682

>Land ownership
It's technically given to our ultrahive, but the laws are blatantly unfair. Although there is pressure to give the voklit something, if we wanted to, we could relocate them, if I'm not mistaken. It's not clear, but while it's said to be voklit land, it's basically ours if we choose it to be. I expect it's only going to be for the voklit as long as the aliens keep caring about all the sapient species. The salikai are already squandering that one away.

>If we get in contact at the very least we could warn them about the fufa.
I don't think the fufa was singing, so it's probably too late for that.

>It doesn't make sense that Az isn't bugged either way
I'm starting to think he's one of those neumono gone mad with power types.

I was hoping for the other neumono to wake up soon, but that could be awhile. The bugs already must be different, because most of the ones will force the neumono to stay awake. Or at least, resistant enough from passing out to still kick after a couple shots to the stomach.
"Moi, please cut a bug out of that neumono and see if it's any different. To the pomi, more questions. Wasn't Polo supposed to be considered as dead?"
>"Cat's out of the bag, I guess."
"What?"
>"It... not anymore. It's been revealed to us, so word's going to spread."
"So King's not bugged. Why's that?"
>"Good guy or not, he's fucking off his rocker."
"And wouldn't the CAI still be sending false reports?"
>"So I heard, but it's not doing them much good, is it?"

"Got one." says Moi. "Yeah, it already looks different. It doesn't even look like it's got crawly bits, and I forgot to mention, but all the bugs on people look symmetrical and well placed, and when I think about it, in front of vitals, so they were definitely surgically placed. And immobile as far as I can tell!"

I'm starting to think that they're telling the truth.

"Is there any way we can contact them through radio?"
>"I don't know. The CAI is forcing us to completely lock out foreign and missing radio links. So you can't use mine, even if that one didn't knock it right off me. Head's killing me, you know."
>>
No. 547683 ID: 735f4f

I think that's enough evidence to make his story very likely. But just on the offhand chance these are a new gen of controlling bugs that they tricked people into using and they have not been activated yet we should still be careful.

So we should still not say anything about Polo for now or until we are face to face with this King guy and have rubbed all over him and some of his troops.

Also keep Moi in the back in stealth if we go meet anyone so in case something goes horribly wrong you have at least one ace up your sleeve.

Tell him you are willing to extend a bit of trust and meet up with the commander for debriefing. Ask how to go about it without getting shot up and or blown up by a drone.

If this is all on the level we need to get our info about everything we have learned to the commander fast. He needs to know about Polo and the Clones and this Psi bomb thing.
>>
No. 547684 ID: 7bbaae

>>547682
Yeah. Uh. This all checks out. Let's go meet our rescuers, with hands up and guns down to let them know we're not gonna shoot at anyone anymore. Moi being invisible along with us is a good idea, but just in case they can sense her somehow, have her up right next to everyone else instead of trailing behind (because then she'd maybe look like she was an enemy following us)

Also put the bug back in.
>>
No. 547686 ID: fc937d

Heh, Moi-butt.

All right. Either he's telling the truth, or this hive was compromised by a whole different design of bugs. His honesty is more plausible, but the salikai having a ridiculous improbable ace up their sleeve has happened more than once already.

>Head's killing me, you know.
...that Pomi medkit Polo looted would actually be relevent, now. Unfortunately this group is short on medical supplies. Unless he's carrying his own, we don't really have any Pomi meds. Sorry.

>how can we test if this is true?
I can think of one surefire way. We make a suicide play. One person, with a concealed grenade, goes to meet with these supposed friendly forces. If they're legit, they're legit. If not, they blow themselves up to prevent them from being bugged or predator controlled to give away everything they know and the others location. Moi follows and watches invisibly, to report to the others if things go south. (...and since it's his idea, I guess Biles gets the short stick, unless anyone else volunteers).

Or we set up a loyalty test for the Pomi. Act as if we're going to trust him, and give him an arranged chance to betray us. See if he takes the bait or not. Less explodey, but less certain and harder to setup.

You could also try holding the new bug. What's it feel like? Or we could try sticking it in someone's wound and see if it tries to take control.

If we have any leftover broken bugs we pulled out of anybody, we could try sticking it in the hole Moi just cut in that guy. Do his protection bugs try to do anything about it?

Also, for now, try not to let the prisoner know about Moi's stealth capacity, if he hasn't figured it out already.
>>
No. 547689 ID: 57a559

Can the CAI hack those drones? It can probably hack those drones.

So... Az is Polo's ultrahive's super eccentric military personality? Is there at least one crazy badass neumono in every powerful hive Biles? I mean, we have Rokoa... Rokoa... ummm, maybe Polo counts as crazy thanks to her sense of humor and plans that range towards the crazy stupid end of the spectrum while still being somewhat sane. There's you too, I guess. I dunno Biles what eccentricities do you have? Aside from your leg fetish.

I guess we just... keep low?
NO matter how convincing they are, we can't let our guard down until the fight is almost won. The salikai are getting desperate, this type of insane crazy backup plan might be up their ally in this situation. They'll probably kill hundreds of their own troops just to convince Polo to come out.
The Pomi just said Polo and Korli are the high priority targets. I don't like how that sounds, even if the ultrahive suddenly went all super loving on them to think this insane operation is worth their lives. I don't know how Korli could contribute, but who knows, the salikai lured both of them here anyway if they really managed to badbug higher ups. The salikai wanted her here too, for sure.
>>
No. 547697 ID: fc937d

>Can the CAI hack those drones? It can probably hack those drones.
Oh, yeah. Definitely ask how they plan to be using swarms of drones without them getting hacked and suborned.

(Maybe they're reprogrammed search and reconnaissance bots, with no way to accept ingoing communication? They just wander around like idiots, relaying information back to base. Like having an ideal gas spy for you- they just expand).
>>
No. 547727 ID: d2995c

Try to get a better estimate on how long your neumono prisoner will be asleep. I still feel uncertain about this, and want to make use of the power of hugs, by which I mean using physical contact to get a look at his empathy. (I don't suppose he would have any noticeable empathy while unconscious?) If that will take too long, maybe we can look for a small group of them to empathy-check with.
>>
No. 548355 ID: d38f67
File 138456725814.png - (18.80KB , 800x800 , 656.png )
548355

>Is there at least one crazy badass neumono in every powerful hive, Biles?
I've seen plenty of thoroughly average hives.

"How are the bugs going to protect you from the CAI?"
>"I don't know, I'm not a scientist. They know about the CAI, so I sure as hell assume they took some precautions."
"Alright, I'm willing to at least contact your guy. Anyway we can do it without being in person?"
>"Are you serious?!." asks Orilo.
"Uh, yeah, I am. You don't have to come, you know, if you still don't trust them."
>"Damn right!"
>"Good call and all, Biles, but the only contact is in person. Again, orders are to take prisoners that don't fight back, so they may be rough in their handling in case you're pulling something, but they won't harm you." the Pomi tells me.

I do wish there was a way to confirm they're legit without betting my life on it, but I can't think of a good way at all. Just can't say I like it.

"Alrigh- what the fuck, Orilo?" she just goes up to me and starts pulling my gun out of my shorts.
>"Well what the hell are you gonna use this stuff for, if you're going to go off to be rescued? The rest of us are going to need all we've got. You gonna stop me from taking everything here? Moi, who are you going with?"
>"Uhhhhhhh-"
>"If it's not with us, then take off your suit. We need it more than you."
"She can't. It was put on her through intensive means. She'd likely die if she just too-"
>"Do I care, Biles? You got the bugs out of us, but fuck it if I'm letting you and lead us right back to them along with our best equipment. I can hear more people coming."

Betting my life on the Pomi's truth is sounding better than spending any more of my life with Orilo, I can say that much.
>>
No. 548358 ID: fc937d

Pull Orlio aside and talk quickly and quietly.

You need her in that suit, following me, invisible. Without the Pomi knowing. This is a suicide play. She can see what happens to me. If he's telling the truth, or if I get myself killed walking into a trap. Her report is going to be the only way you can know for sure if you can trust these guys or not.

We need to know for sure if we're fighting a guerrilla war against two armies, or if we actually have backup, more than you need me alive, or her suit. I don't like it, but I can't think of another way to test this for sure, and I can't ask one of you to risk my stupid plan.

(The important thing here is to make sure Orlio understands your plan, and that the intel you're risking your life for benefits her. And that she understands you're not blindly trusting the Pomi's word).
>>
No. 548359 ID: 7bbaae

>>548355
Fine. Go alone, and inform them of how ultra-paranoid the hunter hive has become.

Get some physical contact with Moi, try to tell her via empathy to get away from the hunter hive with her invisibility but to stay nearby so she can scan you when you get back, because FUCK Orilo wanting to kill her by taking off that bio armor. You getting back and Moi scanning you to vouch for you not having bugs is your only chance to convince the hunter hive.

Right now I'm regretting giving her that bio-armor because she's basically using it to take over this operation. She's also QUITE LIKELY been brainwashed, but telling her that outright is dangerous.
>>
No. 548360 ID: 57a559

>>548355
If anyone but Moi wears the suit they will die it's like 200%, you fucking IDIOT. You haven't even been here a day and you're taking charge like you actually know what the fuck you're doing.

Did you discover how to get bugs out of your system? No, you and your Mom got your entire Hive enslaved. You are the spawn of a WORTHLESS leader AND ARE WEAK. What have I done? I got your "subjects" out of that hell, which led to you getting dragged out too, you ungrateful bitch. I haven't even made a single decision on this and you choose now to completely fuck what little cooperation we have between each other? If your Mom is like this, no wonder you got yourselves bugged. You just got here, we can't even tell if you're a sleeper agent yet.
>>
No. 548361 ID: 57a559

>>548360
Okay Biles maybe tone that down if you choose to use any of those points, if you feel like using them.
Don't fall to your emotions. Which might be running high considering the stress. In fact, I think that posts exemplifies what NOT to say, so you know,

my bad.
>>
No. 548363 ID: fc937d

>she's using the bioarmor to take over
Even without it she's easily the physically strongest person here, and she has the personal authority of being the daughter of the hunter Queen. The other hunters would have differed to her leadership regardless.

>She's also QUITE LIKELY been brainwashed
>idiot
Her position is pretty logical, actually. She knows we have no proof the Pomi's claims are true, and trusting him if they're not would be a catastrophic outcome. She thinks Biles is taking a stupid risk, potentially throwing away what little manpower and resources we have.

And she's right. What she doesn't understand (and we need to explain to her) is that we get that, and that is deliberate hedging. We're not risking the group- Biles is making a sacrificial play to test for traps. And she needs to know if this is a trap or not. Which means she needs Biles to walk into it, and Moi to tell her if Biles goes boom or not.

If you're worried the hall is trapped, and you lack a rogue to search, your only play is to send someone walking down the hall.

She's also used to getting her way, and frustrated with being constantly outgunned and outmaneuvered, her recent failures, and having to clash with Biles over command. Confronting her on this issues is going to be counterproductive and make her more unreasonable and violent. Saying, or thinking, any of this >>548360 is a mistake.

>If anyone but Moi wears the suit they will die it's like 200%, you fucking IDIOT
It's an 80% bioarmor. Moi removing it would be fatal, but anyone with a pbat score of 80 or higher could equip it just fine.

...you know, after the suit regenerates whatever damage it takes being stripped off her screaming failing, seizing, disintegrating body, and you get done trying to scrape the tattered remains of her flesh off the inside. It's a stupid waste of time and manpower, even if it's doable.
>>
No. 548364 ID: 7bbaae

>>548363
We have a LOT of evidence that he's telling the truth, actually!
>>
No. 548365 ID: fc937d

>>548364
All of which is circumstantial. It's possible, even likely, that he's telling the truth, but it is by no means impossible this is another salikai play.

What we need is hard proof. Which is why we need to test what happens when Biles walks into the trap while the others lie low and wait.
>>
No. 548366 ID: 57a559

>>548363
Oh, somehow I remembered it like being over 100% for some reason
Forgive me.

He can think it though, he's in a jammer.
I'll commit that most of that was actually just inspired by having a gun pointed at our back and the fact that she took command almost immediately, which was a large insult at our own leadership ability and I wanted to lash back.
>>
No. 548368 ID: eaa372

>>548358

Go with this but try to stress to Orilo that the only reason that Moi survived getting the suit on in the first place was because of the salikai bugs and now she doesn't have the benefit of the bugs keeping her alive if you pull the suit off.
>>
No. 548369 ID: 735f4f

Make sure you are well out of hearing range of the Pomi and whisper to her.

Tell her that Moi is going to be staying with her and spying on what happens to you. If you find out they are legitimate you will pass the word to her in secret and she can get it back to Orilo. If its a trap Moi will report back to her on what happened.

Tell her you know they have been working on exactly the technology they are talking about and have been so since the first Salikai attack. This might be a trick but has the ring of truth about it.

Would love to spend more time to check on there story but we are running out of time. Trick or not this much surface activity spells the end to the Salikai's ability to stay hidden. And that means they could set off there revenge scheme any day now. Also with hundreds of drones about to flood these tunnels our ability to stay hidden will be near nonexistent. At least anywhere we can easily find food and water.

I would be fine living off the land in the deep caves for a few weeks but if you get blown up by the Salikai psi bomb in two days whats the point?

If you need to go ahead and appeal to her pride and duty. Does she want this outsider hive to be man handling her people? If its a trick all they are out is you. If its not she can get back into the field and make sure her hive gets proper revenge.
>>
No. 548410 ID: 967403

How long do you think it will take for the bugged guy to wake up? Talking to him when he wakes is the final piece of evidence we need.

It's worth it to keep running and hiding until we can talk to him.
>>
No. 548418 ID: d38f67
File 138462505820.png - (14.90KB , 800x800 , 657.png )
548418

"Follow me for a second, I have to talk to you."
>"What?" Orilo says.

Moi starts going invisible. Rokko blocks one of the exits.

"This is going to be a play by me to test if they're legit. I go, and if they're good, they'll let me through. If not, they'll kill me or something. Moi will be there to see what happens, and then report back to you about it. You'll know how it went, and either way, won't come out any more behind because of it. You can take the material wealth. Do you both know a place way down there that Moi can meet you all at?"
>"Do you know about the church, Orilo?" Moi asks.
>"Yeah, what about it?"
>"North of there is a waterfall that dumps right by an already existing river, I'll meet you about 2 miles downstream."
"..... a church?"
>"Yeah, some old hive ruins, it's nothing actually special other than having some old stained glass."

Orilo thinks for a long, long moment on it, running through comebacks or flaws in my plan, but I'm thinking she at least as enough sense in her to not blurt out something contrived and stupid. When the footsteps of that infantry start coming and the engines get louder, she lets out an exasperated, aggressive sigh.
>"Fine. Do it." Goddamn, she sounded like it took a lot of effort to just say that much. I'll take it.
>>
No. 548419 ID: d38f67
File 138462508827.png - (23.15KB , 800x800 , 658.png )
548419

Orilo and the hunters don't waste another moment to get up and start running down the tunnels, leaving us with the prisoners.

We leave the neumono, and I take a moment to speak to Moi.

"Do report back either way, but try to make a note and drop it off. I don't want you getting in arm's reach of Orilo."
>"Like you have to tell me! She's fucking nuts! I don't even want to report to her!"
"I honestly had half a mind to say that if she doesn't hear from you, then I was right, but she might think you just didn't make it back. I'm not their friends, though, and I'm not going to make you do anything."

I go back and take the Pomi and we start marching up. I barely get out the door before some soldiers turn the corner. I hear Moi scoot back.

>"Drop your weapons!" They start jogging up. I raise my hands to show them I don't, in fact, have any weapons.
>"He's fine, he's fine!" the Pomi backs me up. "One of ours is down this hole!"
>>
No. 548420 ID: d38f67
File 138462509929.png - (32.13KB , 800x800 , 659.png )
548420

The few soldiers start talking into their radios, and it takes seconds for another set of people to come by. Our hideout is scoured, I'm patted down for weapons and rubbed down for empathy inconsistencies. My hands get bound up, a motorcycle drops some equipment and tacks a radio link down in the open, and I'm lead upwards by a few while the rest keep running down while following their drones. I expect Moi is following me.

I come back to the place where Moi first spied on them, and they've been quick to make this their home. Soldiers are still streaming down the ropeline.

>"Cut the flow, I'm sending Biles up." someone says, while some fluffy guy starts flashing lights around me and inspecting my general health. Without much of an explanation, they start making some knots on a loose bit of rope.

Everyone moves like they've done this operation a dozen times before.

>"We're going to send you up in a second and treat you right." the doctor says. "We'll have questions, of course, but is there anything urgent you should tell us or declare right now?"
>>
No. 548421 ID: 735f4f

I would warn you of the Fufu but I think you already ran into it.

As for treatment I don't really need any right now but is probably for the best. Understand I cant trust you much at the moment but if you are friends I will tell you things later. And if not you will torture it out of me eventually.

Until I hear more of your story and am absolutely sure who you work for I cant tell you much of anything right now.

Oh except for the fact there might be a doomsday weapon being built down here. And try to avoid killing any of the large angry clones if you can.

How does the doctors empathy feel?
>>
No. 548422 ID: 735f4f

Oh and if you see a little augmented Arkot anywhere make sure to not kill him. He might be with a big lady in armor. Will just make things worse.
>>
No. 548424 ID: fc937d

What kind of empathy you getting off the doc?

>anything urgent you should tell us or declare right now?
I'd warn you about the fufa, but from the sound of it you already ran into it.

Warn them about the clone-darts. Those are worse than the bugs, and if any of theirs get hit, the safest treatment is amputation.

...and that's all we can really tell them until we know for sure they're legit or not. (If they are allies, the dart warning helps. If they're salikai controlled, we're not telling them anything they don't already know). We can't talk about stuff like your improved bug removal technique, or what we know about Polo and the others and their plans, yet. (Because while that information could help allies, the salikai could also use it against us).

And I'm fine, Doc.

And I kinda need to talk to someone in charge as soon as possible. I know you've got questions, but I've got some of my own that will need answering before I can talk. No offense, but we were already fooled with the hunters, once.
>>
No. 548427 ID: 7bbaae

>>548420
Tell them if they find a huge neumono with extremely heavy armor and using a sniper rifle then they might want to try to capture her alive and debug her- she wants to betray the salikai. Giving out advanced bug removal techniques seems fine to me, it's not like the salikai can improve their bugs using that information before this is all over.

Also that the "regeneration booster" injections they have can put neumono into hibernation if the target isn't hurt much...

I expect the pomi to report on Orilo but I guess you can at least mention her and that she's really paranoid so they can expect a fight out of her. She might even be brainwashed to some extent.
>>
No. 548429 ID: 735f4f

Do not tell them about the clone wanting to betray the Salikai. If it gets back to them through this being a trap or the Cai listening in on the communications it could be a death sentence for her.

Only say she could be a useful source of info if you mention her.
>>
No. 548452 ID: c81323

Ask the neumono if they are bugged!
>>
No. 548453 ID: fc937d

>>548452
...specifically, try saying something that would trigger a preprogrammed response, if they were full of salikai bugs. The way you tested Polo, before.
>>
No. 548552 ID: d38f67
File 138466100954.png - (87.48KB , 800x800 , 660.png )
548552

"You already ran into the fufa, I take it, so not that. The salikai have darts that take over the brain from the inside out, but I believe amputation works well on the injected point if you're quick enough. Also, some big neumono out there is in heavy armor that wields a sniper rifle. She's have good information. I can't trust you guys too much, since the hunter hive was compromised, so I'm going to want to ask questions as well."

The doc's empathy seems normal, and he gives a mental roll of the eyes to my request at questions. I get hooked up to the rope, and I get pulled up at a rather alarming pace considering the jagged rocks left behind from their drill operation.

There's been a tarp put up to keep the rain out of the hole, as sure enough it's raining, and foggy. I can still hear the engines of hovercraft overhead, though, along with the glow they give off through the fog. Honestly, it's just nice to be outside.

I don't get to breathe it in for long, as there's half a dozen units waiting to unhook me and drag me off to a tent.
>>
No. 548553 ID: d38f67
File 138466104683.png - (20.06KB , 800x800 , 661.png )
548553

There's been a bubble left open, as I can sense empathy in here. The guards leave me, alone, with what is blatantly the ultraking. I don't know if it's that it's the fact that it's felt like ages since I last felt honest full powered empathy, or if it's that he does have that much mental presence. King for a reason, I guess.

>"Hey. King here. Why yes, I am big, aren't I." He's got an ego on him, but I'd better not dwell on that. "Pinipsia, grab a medic, this guy looks like a gopcore pissed on a rug. No offense to you, kid, you look about as good as I'd expect under the circumstances. And I heard you have questions. Too bad I'm the selfish sort. Mine come first, and it's a vague one. What do you know? Tell me everything, and I'll answer what I will afterwards. Especially about these poison darts."

I'm getting the impression that there's some prejudice against coalition neumono, here. He thinks that they're headstrong and thick skulled. I don't like the prejudice, but I can imagine how he came to that idea.
>>
No. 548558 ID: 7bbaae

>>548553
The darts inject compressed brain matter belonging to clones of Rokoa. She takes over the victim and eventually they become at least partly her, usually almost entirely her. They are then brainwashed or bugged and used as either lab rats or heavy troopers. There are at least two of them active right now- one of which still has some of the victim's personality and does NOT want to be under the salikai's thumb any more. She is the heavily armored sniper clone we mentioned already.

We don't really know where Polo is. We've been debugging hunters, and recently found a high-ranking hunter that has chosen to stay behind rather than risk being captured again, because she thinks this is a trap. Which by this point it obviously isn't.
>>
No. 548564 ID: fc937d

Hmm. The rope-haul means we've lost Moi. She couldn't have followed us up that.

Well, no harm in telling him about the darts. We know less than the salikai do, and we're not putting any of our people at risk if we end up passing redundant intel back to the salikai.

They're not poison. They're made up of compressed and concentrated brain matter. They're used to turn the victim into a half-crazed clone of the original.

That's all you tell him for now. Don't tell him anything about Polo, or her plans, or your debugging techniques, or Orlio and the others.

Nothing personal, but I won't know this isn't another trap like the hunters until you answer some of my questions. I'd like to help you, but I'm not ready to throw my buddies under the bus.

...and please don't judge me by the hunters rep. We're not all like that.
>>
No. 548573 ID: 735f4f

The Salikai have a hard on for revenge against Polo and Rokoa. They have a bunch of Rokoa clones they grew down there and torture daily and some of are just condensed brain matter in darts. Avoid getting hit or you have to fight her mentally. Most of the clones are only controlled with heavy bugging and constant four stripes exposure.

They want Polo to learn her secrets to make some sort of psi bomb or something. If they cant find her they might just set it off anyways and take out everyone in the area.

Also there Cai is probably only working for them due to the same sort of torture and mind control stuff.

They have bugs everywhere but we learned how to get them out of people. And they only have the one predator as far as we know. If you can capture the sniper clone because she knows all the entrances and would be very grateful.

Mention you found and debugged the hunter hive queens daughter and she is currently hiding somewhere thinking this is all a trap. She is a horrible bitch but what can you do. Do not mention Moi if at all possible for the moment.
>>
No. 548589 ID: d38f67
File 138466504878.png - (18.34KB , 800x800 , 662.png )
548589

Peni... whatever that medic's name was comes in and starts cleaning me up while we talk. The slime's long since dried out and is acting like a damn glue on my fur.

"They're not poison, they're brain darts. It's condensed brain matter from Rokoa, mixed in with whatever helps keep the brain alive longer. If you get struck, Rokoa tries to take over your mind. There's at least two active right now, but there are most likely more back at the salikai base."
>"Not as worrisome as that fufa... but, the Rokoa?"
"Yeah. There are some brain dart clones of Rokoa. That big neumono I mentioned earlier is one. I don't think any of them are really sided with the salikai, but they do have bugs and predators, after all. Is there something special about Rokoa?"
>"Polo made her out to be one of the strongest soldiers alive."
"Somehow I don't get the impression that was her intention."
>"Well, there's evidence to back it up." He turns to his radio again. "Cammy, bring me my armor! I'm going in after we get a decent foothold here. Alright, Biles, what else? Polo's location, for instance?"
"I don't know where Polo is. I don't think you're all compromised, but I want to know answers to some of my questions before I potentially throw my allies under the bus."

For a second, his thoughts turn aggressive, but he holds himself.

>"Well, normally I'd just go straight to the threats of torture and death and all that, but it'll be faster if your questions are answerable. What do you want to know?"
>>
No. 548592 ID: 7bbaae

>>548589
Yeah, first, why is the ultrahive here instead of the armies of those who own this land? Second, why is he not protected from the bugs? Third, he has redundant jammers, right? A single bullet could expose his army to predator-broadcast attack, otherwise. Uh, he knows about the predator-broadcaster "jammers", right?

Oh. Tell him about the psi-bomb thing. The salikai wants Polo so he can make... whatever that is.
>>
No. 548602 ID: 57a559

>>548589
Well, for one, are we actually considered allies? You did just threaten to torture me for any of my allies locations, as if they were enemies. You do realize that if we were salikai forces, we would be bugged and threats, torture, and all else would be completely useless, right? Considering we all work for the ultrahive, by proxy anyway, that might've cause a political clusterfuck back home assuming we win against the salikai here and get to go home.

Are you from Sealock, Polo's hive? If not, where do you hail from? Who gave the order to retrieve Polo and Korli? Why above else are they priority, what about the other members of the team? I can guess why Korli is wanted, but beyond the need for rescuing a fellow hive member and good asset, if they really are from Sealock? As unique as Polo is, the nature of this op puts many of your people in danger from your own allies, because no one can tell who the allies and enemies even are without x-ray capability. And you've all painted a huge target on yourselves by having your counterdefense to bugs being different bugs that only look different when you dig them out.

If Polo shoots or even kills one of your men because she thinks they're salikai, what exactly are you going to do?
>>
No. 548606 ID: fc937d

...well, not throwing me to the bugs the instant I stop talking is a sign you might be telling the truth.

Ask him when they figured out what was going on down here, and how. Ask him how the tree is handling the situation with the Coalition (and what the hell is currently happening to the coalition- since you understand it's leadership is currently compromised). And for more information on how they got all these countermeasures in place so fast. (ie, basically all the stuff the Pomi couldn't answer).

...and why the heck isn't he wearing his own countermeasures if he's got them?

We'll looking to make sure his story checks out.

>Things to tell him if his answers check out
Give him Polo's last know location- where Moi found the aftermath of that fight.

Polo's planning on hitting the Salikai communication network- blowing it up at the base so the network that lets their radio and bug relays work underground will cut out. When this works, all the salikai and hunter forces will be unable to communicate with each other, and the inspection team is going to try and make a break for it. His people should work on rigging up a way to sense when the Salikai communication net goes down, so they can exploit that tactical opportunity, and try and snag the inspection team.

So far as you know, the rest of the inspection team is still alive.

Explain your improved bug removal technique (electrocution and such).

Warn about the psi-bomb, and that if it comes to it, Polo shouldn't be allowed to be captured alive. (Or anyone else who can go silent, if King's got any of Polo's peers in his force).

The warning that you have a group of allies, freed hunters, but they're waiting to see if these guys prove trustworthy. (Sorry about shooting up one of your patrols like that, by the way. Interrogation was the only safe we had of getting intel).

>>548602
Polo and Korli are the priority because they're members of this ultrahive. Sealock and the few rescued science hivers were taken in by the Tree. Everyone else in the inspection team is part of the Coalition- a different ultrahive. It's a good old 'save your own people first' philosophy.

And I doubt he's from Sealock (wrong color, too tall, and Polo's said they have a Queen, not a King. And the newbie hive wouldn't we running the ultrahive's military). And that's not really relevant to Biles.
>>
No. 548608 ID: 735f4f

I understand your impatience but we have been under threat of far worse than pain and death here for days. What the Salikai are doing is horrible and we have had many leaks already so being overly paranoid is the only thing that kept us alive.

How did you find out about what was happening down here? And once you did what sort of political clusterfuck is going on up there now? Why is retrieving Polo and Korli the number one objective?

Once he answers your questions to your satisfaction offer to lead him to wherever he wants down there if he loans you a suit of armor. You might not know where Polo is but you know what she was planning and have first hand knowledge of a good portion of the area.

Also once you are sure his command structure is not entirely compromised we can let him know about the hunter hivers we left downstairs. Also we need to find a way to contact Moi. She might have a invisible suit but she is still in great danger.
>>
No. 548614 ID: fc937d

Also on the list of things to warn them about if we're satisfied with his answers is the invisible hunters, and that they can be picked up with augmented vision.

...and you've got a buddy waiting for you with an experimental suit that can't be picked up. And if and when she comes to them, please don't try and take it off of her, because that will kill her.

>Why is retrieving Polo and Korli the number one objective?
>>Polo and Korli are the priority because they're members of this ultrahive.
Really. Asked and answered, way back with the Pomi.
>>
No. 548623 ID: d38f67
File 138466994578.png - (14.77KB , 800x800 , 663.png )
548623

"You just threatened me with torture, as though that would do anything if I were with the salikai."
>"Ah, but that's the jist of it, it'd be a good way to see if you were with the salikai or not. But I don't think you are. Torture's on the table because someone who's not with the salikai is being tight lipped about things we should know."
"It would cause a political clusterfuck between ultrahives if you did something like that."
He doesn't say anything, but nearly bursts out laughing at how naive he believes that to be.
>"Just start asking a question so I can get back to mine!"
"Are you from the Sealock hive?"
>"Oh no, no, no. They're new, they've got a long way to go before they get anyone with an ultra-prefix to their title. I'm just of their ultrahive. It was one of theirs, though, that brought Polo's predicament to my attention. Tell me what you do know of Polo."
"She's targeted by the salikai to make a psi-bomb, but I don't know what that is." That gets somthing out of him. He knows something about that, but has no intention to tell me what. "Who gave the order to come fetch Polo and Korli?"
>"I did."
"Not the coalition?"
>"They're all in a panic over compromised hives, so everyone's getting scanned. Got a few hits, though. Nothing for entire hives, just some officials, nothing we can't handle. Tell me something, now."
I tell him how I took the salikai's bugs out. "Why don't you have any bug protection?"
>"Don't need it."
"You're aware they have reverse jammers ca-"
>"Yes, and for the rest of us that can't resist predators, the bugs'll knock them out if they catch a whiff of 'em. Course, we were worried about that salikai hacked satellite, but we found it, and I blew it right out of orbit."
"So you-"
>"Your turn to share."
I say what I know about the salikai's CAI, not that it's much. "What will you do if Polo starts shooting your guys thinking they're salikai units?"
>"Send more. She'll get a pardon, even if it's directly from me while I drag her out kicking and screaming."
I mention Orilo and the other hunters I freed. "So you all were confirmed to not be compromised and were sent down here?"
>"Nope."
"Excuse me?"
>>
No. 548624 ID: d38f67
File 138466995216.png - (22.77KB , 800x800 , 664.png )
548624

>"Is this the face that gives a fuck about rules and regulations, Biles? The personality that will sit behind a desk while the salikai are given time to make a second escape, Biles? Manic? You think I'm a power happy general? You'd be damn right, but I also get shit done. That, and I haven't seen much action in years."
"What is a psi-bomb, Az?"
>"Classified. But don't fry your brain off about it, I'm sooner expecting the salikai to have laced their bunker walls with nuclear bombs, and laced their fingers with the detonators. And that's a more tried and true weapon than any psibomb hypotheticals. We'll be worrying about that one, so I'm just containing the salikai so they're ripe for the picking once the rest of the ultras get their shit together."
>>
No. 548625 ID: 7bbaae

>>548624
Containing? Hell no, we're going back down there and finding Polo so we can kill that fucker before he does anything.
>>
No. 548626 ID: 735f4f

I like this guy. He is exactly what we need right now. Without this sort of action the people upstairs would not have saved you for weeks.

Tell him whatever else he wants. Further paranoia will only put our allies lives in more danger.

Make sure once he is done with you that you get a spot on the team looking for Polo. With you and Moi there she will be much easier to convince.
>>
No. 548636 ID: fc937d

>information we still want
When they figured out what was going on down here, and how.

How the heck they got countermeasures in place so fast.

How the heck he plans on keeping the CAI out of his stuff (including the drones).

How measures he has in place to protect his own people. I hope there are routine x-ray scanning and patrols have gas-masks?

What else is he doing besides containment? Because from what we know,that's not good enough. When the salikai realize they're stuck, they're going to go into throwing up their last ditch plans, and they'll start killing the hunters or driving them insane when they're not needed. We have the manpower now, we should be capturing and converting hunters while we can, not waiting on politics. The salikai are on the edge now- we need to push them, not give them room.

>information we still have to trade
Polo's last know location- where Moi found the aftermath of that fight.

Polo's plan to hit the salikai communication grid, so the inspection team can break out when they go dark. That's a tactically useful situation for this army, when it happens.

That he shouldn't be so hasty to belittle them lacing things with bombs. You read that journal- you know they aren't planning to make it out of this alive, and he has crazy dreams of changing the world forever.

The existence of cloaked hunters, and how to detect them.

Moi's suit, and that she can't be taken out of it.
>>
No. 548640 ID: 507169

If all you are doing is containment Polo might kill them all before we get there.

The Rokoa clones down there are dangerous but she is far scarier sometimes. No one ever sees her coming.
>>
No. 548649 ID: eaa372

>>548636

Do tell him about what you found in the clone's diary.
>>
No. 548654 ID: d38f67
File 138467437419.png - (139.90KB , 800x800 , 665.png )
548654

I tell him where Polo's last known location is.
>"Now that's what I want to hear." he starts shouting orders into his mic again. "Follow me, we'll continue outside." He appears content with my empathy, although I won't be able to read him anymore once we get back under a jammer.
Next thing I share is Polo's plan to break into the salikai place. "When did you figure out what was going on here, and how?"
>"Rakae rozu Sealock came to me saying that Polo wouldn't say the things that she said in her reports. Wasn't too likely, I thought, but hey, we keep practicing our drills and crap in simulations, I figure that if this was a bust, the worst case is that we'd get in some good practice. Course, the hunters - excuse me a moment." he takes a few to give more orders in code. "Hunters ran away right from us, and gave us reports we'd better get right the fuck out. So I got our drills and got right the fuck in, demanding they send some of their units for bug detection. Course, they didn't. So I figured we were onto something. Also pretty sure that fufa of this caliber don't just hang around wherever, either."
"The salikai may have more than just bombs in the walls. They don't plan on making it out alive, and the head salikai is also ambitious. How do you plan on keeping the CAI out of your everything?"
>"We have our own CAI. We don't know if they're good enough to take out the enemy CAI, but they're good enough to defend our stuff."
"I hope your guys have constant x-ray detection and gas masks."
>"Yep."
"When the salikai get stuck, they're going to start throwing their last ditch plans. They may kill the hunters or drive them insane. We've got to rescue them while we..." I'm getting the vibe to shut up.
>"Don't insult me, that's what we're doing. We're not running into them anyway, they went in deep."

>"Your bio armor, King." a soldier comes to him as we walk under a tarp, while I tell him about the sniper Rokoa's diary.
>"Thanks. Biles, you want to come with me to find Polo?"
"She may've killed all the salikai by the time you find her."
>"Haha, that'd be good."
"But seriously, I don't think containment is good enough. Are you doing anything else?"
>"Yeah, I'm gonna play it by ear, but if Polo's up and good, I'm not past having her infiltrate. Containment is first, but I expect other ultras are gonna do something by the time I have this region secure. If not, well, then I'll do something myself. Again. Pinipsia, where's the shower? This guy still doesn't look hot."
>"At the ship, King. We haven't cleared landing zones for structures yet."
>"Bah. Biles, after you finish telling me everything else, you want to come down with me to find Polo, or go up to the mothership to go huddle your bad vacation memories away under some heated blankets?"
>>
No. 548656 ID: 735f4f

Staying here of course. I did not come this far to not see it through to the end.

This might be a good time to mention Moi. We have thrown all our chips in but her so far. Need to keep her safe first of all and could use her stealth in the end game.

Make sure to mention the Salikai have a imperfect version of the stealth suits as well.
>>
No. 548659 ID: 7bbaae

>>548654
Yeah right, after all we've done, go and sleep? Hell no. We're staying in the action.

Ask for some proper camo armor. And a new bandanna.
>>
No. 548660 ID: fc937d

Right, I'm pretty confident these guys are legit. Can't believe something actually went right.

>stay or mothership
I'll stay, thanks. Having me with you guys and not full of anti-bugs might mean you make contact with Polo's group with a little less shooting than mine. Sorry about that, by the way. Didn't have a better option.

...and I look worse than I am, trust me. I passed the survivalist exam, I know how to gauge my own physical condition. I'll be good to go for a while yet.

>last question
Any voklit left in the valley, by the way? The salikai managed to get some of them working for them and even using guns, but...

>finish telling me everything else
We haven't mentioned the optical-camo hunters, yet. And how to watch for them.

Or to warn them about Moi, and that she may come forward at some point. And that if any of his forces capture a science hiver in a disappearing bio-armor to please not try and pull it off her, as that would be fatal.

>Rakae rozu Sealock came to me saying that Polo wouldn't say the things that she said in her reports
Way to go, Rakae. She picked up on CAI-Polo being out of character, or not using secret code-words she was supposed to.
>>
No. 548683 ID: 8b9215

"Give me a gun and some armor. Let's rock."
>>
No. 548684 ID: 7bbaae

Oh, do tell him that at least one Voklit is on Polo's side. There may be other Voklits around that aren't happy with what the Salikai are doing, too.
>>
No. 548725 ID: d38f67
File 138472027239.png - (388.41KB , 800x800 , 666.png )
548725

"I'm going to see it through. I'm better than I look."
>"Good. Stand here." He slices the tarp above me and letts the water get funnelled down on me. "Get washed up, we leave in five minutes."

I tell him about the cloakers, but also about Moi and her experimental suit, and to not kill her or take it off. And about Viln. Then every other scrap of information I know while he confirms the chain of command while he's down in the field.

"What about the voklit here?"
>"What about 'em?"
"What are you doing about them?"
>"Searching their houses for any secret tunnels down in the caves or contraband or whatever. Can't say they're too happy about that, but that's too bad. We're not wrecking their shit or shooting anyone who fights, so all they got to be mad about is the principle of the matter."
>>
No. 548726 ID: d38f67
File 138472027833.png - (26.01KB , 800x800 , 667.png )
548726

I'm given a 30% bioarmor, a spare set of gear, and a new bandana. And damn I feel better after a shower, like I can breathe again. We slide down the rope with a squad. I don't know if it's an Az thing or their ultrahive, but I do know that my own ultrahive wouldn't just hand out a uniform to a tree neumono so readily. Another drill is set up to go down to Polo's approximate known location, but Az says running there will be faster.

That's preferable, anyway, as I keep the bio armor's headpiece off so that Moi can see my face in case she's here. When some rock hits me on the side, I figure it's her. I move to the side, and Az follows.

>"Hey! Biles, it's fine?"
"Yeah, they're fine." Moi comes out of stealth.
>"Damn." Az says. "You're the only one with this stealth suit, right?"
>"Oh, uh, that I'm aware of, but they made one, they probably can make another, uh, your highness? Should I report to Orilo?"
"Yeah. Can Moi meet back with us, Az after she tells Orilo?"
>"Well duh. We'll send a team with this girl to protect her. She can come back to us, assuming she can catch up."
"She'll be able to."
>>
No. 548727 ID: d38f67
File 138472030890.png - (14.40KB , 800x800 , 668.png )
548727

It takes awhile, but Moi does catch up. She doesn't get a break either, but we're in a whole different world of comfort compared to a few hours ago. She tells us that it was troublesome, but Orilo did come around with some coaxing from Rokko, and they're bring brought up to the surface to tell what they know.

These guys are well equipped, between a hell of a lot of drones, ropes with intermittently covered electronics knotted to them they they toss in the river to allow chat and underwater surveillance, augmented vision all around and all sorts of other stuff. Our chances of finding Polo are good, I just hope it's my group, with me and Moi, to find her so she doesn't go shooting up her own ultrahive.
>>
No. 548731 ID: fc937d

Whoo! Good end. Things went right, for once. Now we can only hope things didn't go to hell for Polo in the meanwhile.

Time for more horrible scarring dream battles.
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