The Descent

"Just a couple more things." Doc is rounding out his plan. "How long will it take to load my Jeep onto the Pu?"

"Well, sir," replies the Autopilot. "Th' thing is we need ta' clear some space out in the hold, plus we can't jus' move the Jeep through th' ship, y'know? Too big. Gonna hafta dock with the main cargo bay after we launch. Should be a breeze once we're down there, though. Been meanin' to clean up the Pu cargo bay, anyway."

"Good. Grab as many tools from the repair bay as you can, including the plasma torch and load them on the shuttle, then get ready to launch."

"Yessir!" The Autopilot happily obliges and goes of to complete his tasks.

"Host, do we have any body armor on board? Bullet proof vests or anything?" Doc asks.

"No, sir. There are several EVA suits on board which can withstand micro-meteor impacts but they are not combat rated and they are far from concealable." replies the Host, dutifully.

"Fine. Go get Lighting and load him up on the shuttle." The Host obeys. "Chef, can we borrow some vibro-knives? Three if you can spare 'em."

"Sure! Glad to help!" The Chef goes off the the kitchen and returns fairly quickly with a set of the devices. There's a butcher's knife, a cleaver, and a serrated bread knife each with a small thumb button to activate the ultrasonic feature in the shape of a two-headed stick figure with eight limbs representing the Spyderhenckel's brand. They are lightweight, ceramic, and very nice. "Gonna need these back, though, sir, unless you don't like your bread sliced."

"Noted." Doc goes over to the replicator and quickly orders a couple kevlar vests. They will be ready in twenty minutes and costs $1132.68 from his personal account. While that's printing, Doc has a chat with Thunderhorse.

"We're going down to Earth in a few minutes," explains Doc.

"Yes," nods Thunderhorse.

"We have to rescue the beardless dwarf."

" kill him ourselves?"

"NO! No. We need him to tell us why he brought us here."

"And how we can go home?"

"Yes, exactly. Although, I'm sure he has plans for us."

" kill us?"

"No. Not to kill us. He needs our help. He brought us here to save... his tribe. Ourselves, in fact. He can see the future, just like Odin. He can take us there to fight evils that would destroy us, or take us to the past to stop the evils before they start."

Thunderhorse has a blank, quizzical look on his face.

"He can travel through time."

Thunderhorse furrows his brows. "Travel through time. Make what has passed what will pass. And change it?" Something begins to dawn on Thunderhorse. "So he can take me to that day when King Nathan took my Jazelle? And I can stop him?!" He's on his feet, pumped and ready.

Doc is wary of passing on false hope, but doesn't want to kill his enthusiasm. "Yes. I'm sure he can. But first we have to rescue him."

"RHAAUUGH!" Thunderhorse screams a warcry. "VENGANCE WILL BE MINE AT LAST!" He throws a barstool across the galley, smashing its aluminum frame upon the wall.

"Yes, yes. But first we have to go get him. Now the people we are rescuing him from are... from a different tribe. They're my ancestors and they speak my language. Let me do the talking."

"I understand. You talk and I will kill."

"No, no. Don't kill just anyone. I'll tell you when it's time to kill. But you have to be very careful. The people of this tribe have powerful weapons. They have these." Doc picks up the flintlock rifle. "It makes thunder that can kill you. It is like a sling. It shoots these." Doc shows him the lead balls. "It is a thunder sling."

Thunderhorse listens carefully in awe. "Truely, they are powerful." He likes weapons. "But no mere stone can stop me. I am Goeth."

"You are strong, but don't let its little size fool you. Just like those tiny poisoned arrows the metal bugs hit you with, these little balls can take you down quickly. This might help you, though."

They wait while the Kevlar vest finishes. Doc gives it to Thunderhorse. "Put this on under your armor. It will protect you from the bullets. And put these on. It's a disguise. You'll look like a commoner of the tribe."

Thunderhorse understands and takes the work clothes. He begins stripping down in the galley. The smell of unwashed barbarian taint hits the room like a nuclear bomb. No time to explain the concept of showers or modesty now, though. Doc takes his new suit and goes to his room to change, half choking.

Minutes later they are both dressed and ready. Thunderhorse looks almost twice his normal size as his studded leather armor bulges beneath the work shirt and overalls. He's still got his goat-skull helmet on, beneath the felt sun hat.

They take the remaining equipment and Doc's duffel bag down to the docking bay and enter the Pu. The engines are humming. The Autopilot is in the cockpit, strapped in and ready.

"What have you done to my horse?!" screams Thunderhorse to the Host, who has Lightning lying on the ground between the seats and secured with multiple safety lines. The horse does not like this situation and is struggling against the restraints.

"It's okay, its for the best. It's going to be a bumpy ride and we don't want him to break a leg," explains Doc.

Thunderhorse sits himself on the ground next to his horse and comforts him. Doc straps himself in behind the Autopilot. "Thunderhorse, you have to sit in a chair and strap yourself in. This will be a bumpy ride."

"Piss off," he says.

"Y'all ready to go?" the Autopilot asks.

"Not if he's not in a seat."

"He'll be alright 'till after we dock with the cargo bay."

"Alright, then. Let's go."

There is a sound of mechanical devices decoupling the two vessels. The Pu pulls gently away from the Younger Brother Pear. A bluish force-field passes over the windshield as they leave the hanger. Gravity leaves them.

Thunderhorse is notably upset by this. "Thor's Balls! What the fuck is going on?!" he yells as he begins to float away from the floor. Lightning whinnies in alarm.

"We're enterin' freefall. Don't worry, it's normal. We'll be docked with the cargo bay in a minute."

The ovoid Younger Brother Pear diminishes in the window for a brief moment. The Earth takes up the entire sky above them. Doc realizes they're upside down and is made a bit dizzy by it. Or is it the lack of gravity? The Autopilot hits a control, and there is burst of acceleration as the shuttle begins moving back towards the main part of the ship. The Younger Brother Pear begins eclipsing the Earth. Blue and red plasma bursts forward from the shuttle as the Autopilot begins slowing down and starts docking. A quick tap on the controls, and a large, circular door opens on the underside of the YBP. The shuttle start moving upwards (or downwards?) slowly towards the circular opening. There is a sound like a fender bender as the shuttle docks with the main ship, and the sound of metal clasps securing their position. Gravity returns, and they're all upside down. Thunderhorse hits the ceiling.

"FUCK! That hurt."

"Careful, gettin' down, y'all," says the Autopilot as he unhooks his safety belts, hangs on to some handles on his chair, and drops expertly ass over head onto the ceiling feet first.

Doc also unhooks his seatbelt and manages to get down safely with a bit more difficulty. Thunderhorse picks himself up and tries to comfort his braying horse who is now tied to the floor above him.

The three go back into the cargo bay. All the cargo is secured to the floor, hanging over a large, gaping hole leading into the main cargo bay. The Autopilot hits a few buttons in sequence and cargo begins releasing its self from its restraints and dropping onto the cargo bay floor with surprising gentleness.

"Leave the alcohol on board," Doc commands. The Autopilot obeys.

Once all the rest of the cargo is transferred, the Autopilot crouches down to a handle and another control panel at his feet. "Grab on, fellers." The other two do so. With a quick punch of keys, the gravity suddenly reverses. Their feet fall towards what is now once again the floor. They drop from the handle.

The dizzying transformation of gravity and the dizzying realities of orbit begin to take its toll on the operatives. Thunderhorse takes it surprisingly well considering he's never even heard of "gravity" before, let alone experienced free-fall. Doc knows all too well what's going on, and that doesn't help the butterflies in his stomach. He pukes violently.

"Don't worry, happens all the time," the Autopilot explains. He goes back to the control panel on the wall and enters some more commands. The tied to the floor of the main cargo bay above them starts slowly falling into the shuttle's cargo bay, rotating to remain upright as it does so. Once secured, the Autopilot closes the bay doors.

"Alrighty, fellers, time to git on down there." The Autopilot leads them back to the cockpit. Everyone straps in this time.

With a click and a whoosh, the shuttle decouples from the ship again and gravity disappears. The Pu rockets past the Younger Brother Pear and towards the Earth, entering a lower orbit.

"We'll hafta go round once 'r twice to get inta landing position. Should be about fifteen minutes 'till atmospheric entry."

Doc takes the time to recover is facilities and study maps and historical information. (History) (Timeline). He finds this map of ancient Toledo:

Governor Robert Lucas of Ohio, backed by President Jackson, is disputing the claims on the Toledo strip and its valuable access to waterways made by hot-headed Michigan territorial governor Stevens Mason (who is backed by former President J. Q. Adams). Lucas has just created Lucas County, and Mason has assigned Brigadier-General Joseph Brown the task of keeping Ohioans out of the strip. On Sunday (tomorrow), a group of surveyors will be out to mark the Harris Line, and will come under fire from sixty of Brown's men; the Battle of Phillips corners.

Doc doesn't know who might be involved with Dr. Ritenrong's kidnapping, but he suspects that it may have something to do with the Pains and Penalties Act Mason has enacted, prohibiting any Ohioan government officials from performing their duties within the Toledo strip. Dr. Ritenrong was dressed as a coroner, and may have been arrested under this act. He's probably in the courthouse or somewhere nearby. Why he went down there in the first place is anybody's guess.

"Hold on ta' yer butts, fellers." The Autopilot warns them as the shuttle begins to turn upright. There is a feint glow of red as the Earth begins to swallow them up. There is a sudden jolt and a burst of flame as the atmosphere engulfs them. "Yeehaw!" yells the Autopilot. The cockpit gets hotter. Lightning whinnies. Thunderhorse begins screaming Nordic curses. Doc clings tightly to the handles on his seat. Sweat pours down his brow. Condensation forms all over the inside of the ship and begins raining on them as the careen towards the ever growing ground.

Slowly, the ship begins leveling off. Soon, they are simply flying eastward at supersonic speeds over the forests and mountains of the American west. They continue to descend and decelerate as they approach the great lakes. Within a few moments, they come to a near stop just above the treelines. Toledo is just visible, probably ten miles away, as they descend vertically below the trees and land easily onto swampy ground.

"Alrighty, partners. We're landed. These trees should keep us hidden for a while anyway. I don't think no one goes this deep into the swamp much. Least that's not what the Doc says. Not you, Doc, the other Doc. I'll be waitin' here for ya'. If I run inta troubles I'll jes let ya know on the com." He flicks some controls and the ship's hatch opens.

"Welcome ta' Earth!"

Items Acquired:
2 kevlar vests
3 vibro-knives

Doc Fort save: 1 (+1) vs DC15 critical failure. XP +2
Thunderhorse Fort save: 20 (+3) vs DC15 critical success! XP+15

No bullshit, it happened that way.

Doc History check: 19 (+4) vs. DC 20 Success! XP +20


Doc said...

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, let the story roll...


Doc said...

Load up our gear on the horse and head to town. Look out for large groups of armed men, and if we meet a local, try and get directions to the courthouse, or jail. I tried to find it on the map but it isn't much help. I couldn't even find first street.


Doc said...

Oh yeah, convince Thunderhorse not to wear the skull helmet as it might attract attention.