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Chapter Six: All Hands on Deck


Kaerri's Man. =)
Hercules and the rest of the Wild Cards saw the robot, but in the same moment, the round robot also saw the giant soldier swing that huge laser cannon in its direction and when it did, that little ball comically hopped off of the ground in evident surprise, turned about-face, and took off rolling down the under-highway! In a split-second, the nimble little machine was out of their line-of-sight and rolling to God-knew-where.

In other words, unless you wanted it to get away, it was on now!

"Sleeping Bag" by ZZ Top

What do the Wild Cards do?
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Luna's Concubine
Mario's first instinct is to jump for his Cyclone and tear off after it, but from his last experience jumping ahead of everyone, he is now feeling a bit hesitant, and turns to Lt. Hall. "LT? Its not like we have a whole lot of surprise here, but should we pursue that bot?"


Princess Psychie
Toph begins to swear, then catches herself before the flood of profanities comes flying out. "Either way, we need to move. I recommend that we head for the Cyclones and get moving now, before anything else decides to come looking at us."


Dannigan's Lady
Do you know of another all-Traverser team of military-trained patriots who would rather die than see this world enslaved by The Enemy?"
Elinor grinned a little sheepishly. "Well, when you put it like that, sir..."

In other words, unless you wanted it to get away, it was on now!
Elinor jumped on her Cyclone and waved her arm in a "come-on" gesture. "Let's go, Wild Cards! Eyes, ears, and minds open, keep your guard up and let's catch that thing before it can sound an alarm." She waved again, this time a simple farewell to Stein and Murphy. "Y'all hold the fort, we'll be back when we can!"


Luna's Concubine
With the order given, Mario hustles to the Cyclone and starts it up, revving the engine as he waits for everyone to be ready to head out. He will not make the same mistake of racing off by himself again!
Hit Points: 43
SDC: 96
Action Points: 8
Bonus Action Points: 3

Number of Attacks: 6
Strike: +8
Parry: +13
Dodge: +13
Roll With Punch: +5
Pull Punch: 0
Initiative: +1
Horror Factor: +3 to Save
Perception: +2
+4 to Maintain Balance
Critical Strike From Behind
Critical Strike on a natural 18-20
+3 to Hand to Hand Damage

Cyclone Main Body: 150
CVR-3 Armor: 120
Plasma Mini Missiles: 2

Thundercracker Rifle
Range: 2,700 feet (823 m).
Mega-Damage: Short burst - 4D6 M.D., Long burst - 8D6 M.D., Full Auto - 1D4X10+20 M.D..
Special Attack - Strafe: Strafing an area causes 6D6 M.D. to up to four targets no more than 30 feet apart from one another. This takes one action to perform.
Rate of Fire: Equal to the number of the user's hand to hand attacks per round.
Payload: The HRLC-160 is wirelessly-linked to the Cyclone it is assigned to. As long as the Cyclone is within 15 feet (4.6 m), the operator need not concern themselves with ammunition unless the Cyclone is shut down or destroyed. Then the Thundercracker operates on an extra-large Protoculture Energy Clip that provides 830 Short bursts, 415 Long bursts, or 104 Full Auto bursts. Extra E-clips of this design weigh 4.5 pounds (2 kg) each. Note: This weapon operates on Protoculture Energy Clips and can be sensed, seen, and tracked by the Invid the second it is turned "on."
M.D.C. of the Weapon: 100 M.D.C.
Note: The integral combat camera adds a +1 to Strike.

Captain Hesperus

On Vacation
Hercules went from immovable colossus to rolling landslide of towering muscle in the blink of an eye, sprinting for his Cyclone. He took a flying jump to straddle the vehicle and thumbed the power switch with one hand while hanging his weapon over his shoulder by its strap with the other. The rear wheel kicked up a cloud of dirt and a fair amount of rubber as the tanker peeled out in pursuit of the robot.
"We should assume it has already raised the alarm. Radio comms, telemetry, microwave comms, whatever." Hercules sent the thought out. "What we need to do is locate where it's headed primarily and attack there to minimize the potential threat of them summoning reinforcements."


Kaerri's Man. =)
Christmas Techno Mix 2011 by Sparkylights. This is such a trip! 8D

If any of your characters lacked the skill to pilot a motorcycle or hovercycle, then you nearly go back in Time as you rev up the Cyclone motorcycle and take off on it! For those of you who do have either of said skills, the Cyclone proves to be the most-responsive, finest-accelerating, and smoothest military ride you could imagine! This bike just moves the way a bike is meant to!

As the Wild Cards rev up and hit the accelerator to go after the ball-shaped robot, you find yourselves go from 0 to 60 miles per hour (97 kph) in just over 2.5 seconds! For those of you without experience, your insides immediately protest as they feel like they are nearly left behind! The bike does not wail or screech like typical street-cycles but instead hums in different tones like something out of a sci-fi movie.

But if that were not enough, something else most unexpected visits the Wild Cards!

Careening down the under-highway, past the ball-shaped robot, comes a train of reindeer led by one with a red-lit nose brighter than any LED you had ever seen! As they swiftly and gracefully galloped through the air without touching the road, you saw the huge red sled and the huge red-clad fellow with the gigantic beard who held their reins! His belly shook as he laughed, passing you by going the other direction, one gloved hand glowed and shone as if it carried a star from the very heavens! This, he opened and tossed your way and in that moment, the Wild Cards basked in a joyful radiance that somehow empowered and strengthened you! One could say it was "diamond-like" in its beauty!

"Ho, ho, ho!" he roared heartily. "Merrrrrry Christmaaaaas!"

Then the very happy fellow and his reindeer vanished down the corridor leaving MechaKitten to mew in hyperactive wonder. Cera shouted, "Why did none of you tell me Professor Stein had a brother?!"

Each of you now has a special character ability I am calling the "Diamond of Fate"!

Here is how it works:
1. At any time when your character has to roll dice, you may declare you are instead rolling your "Diamond of Fate." This is a single d30 roll which replaces any die or dice you are rolling.
2. You may roll this die for any one roll, be it Saving Throw, Initiative, Strike, Parry, Dodge, damage, etc.
3. You must keep the results of this roll which are then added to whatever normal bonuses or penalties your character possesses. If striking, results of a Natural 20 still count as a Critical Hit while numbers above that are simply added to your Strike results. A roll of Natural 30 counts as an automatic success and if done as a Strike performs triple damage instead of double. A natural roll of 1 on the die does not count as a Fumble and instead counts only as a miss or failure.
4. Your character may only possess one Diamond of Fate at a time. Your character has one such diamond now!
5. A Diamond of Fate does not expire.
6. How are they regained? I'm not telling! 8D
7. Please add your Diamond of Fate to your Character Sheet below "Bonus Action Points" now.

And, yes, this includes D. Rex and Sil, too! =)

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Gang!
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Kaerri's Man. =)
"La Grange" by ZZ Top. Okies... time for some more motorcycle-ridin' music! Zzzzzzzooooooooooom!!

The entrance to the Chessel Corporation "under-highway" disappeared behind you. You were racing down a wide, clean two-laned thoroughfare comprised of concrete, Mega-damage supports, and bright LED lights that seemed to illuminate before you approached them so that your way was always lit. The speed limit sign down here stated 35 miles per hour (56 kph), but you were clocking at least 50 mph (80 kph) if you wanted to keep up with the little roller 'bot. The basketball-sized automaton raced along doing its best to leave you behind and given its size and maneuverability, it threatened to do just that!

Beneath each of you, the pristine Rifleman Cyclones revved and glided along the streets not with the mechanical heaviness of an internal-combustion-engine powered hog but with the smooth and precise whine and protoculture-provided growl of something far, far ahead in the future of motorcycles. The Broadsword-created Cyclones sounded like this...

"Tron (1982) - 'Light Cycle Battle'" Turn up the volume!

And if that's not enough, try this. =)
"Light Cycle Legacy HD"

Those sounds echoed off of the walls along with the high-pitched whine of the robot you were chasing. You had gone only 500 meters when you reached a point where each of you could do something besides lose yourself in the blissfulness of the Cyclone ride. Due to the speeds you were heading at, anything involving physical activity (like shooting) would come at a penalty.

As the dark highway ahead lit up at your approach, you noticed ahead some 300 meters - the road split to the left and right. Anything proceeding straight ahead was only going to eat concrete. Just 50 meters ahead of you, the ball stayed straight down the middle of the road at first, not providing you any indication of which way it was going to move. Then it began to weave from the left lane and back into the right of the two-lane highway.

What do the Wild Cards do? =)


Princess Psychie
As they race down the tunnel, Toph carefully pulls out one of her pistols and lines up a shot, taking aim before pulling the trigger on a burst at the robot, hoping to destroy it before it can get away from them.


Dannigan's Lady
Seeing Toph pull out one of her pistols and start to aim, Elinor quickly called out, "Hang on, Toph! Let's see where it's going, first -- it might lead us somewhere important. Stay close, friends, but not so close you can't react when it decides!" She prepared to change course herself as soon as the ball made up its mind on a direction. Then a third possibility occurred to her, and she added, "And if it just goes boom in the middle -- all of us go left!"
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Kaerri's Man. =)
Trouble truly enjoyed flying along the highway attached to Hercules's wide shoulder. There was something comforting about the fellow and that he had shoulders big enough for any kitty to perch on was somehow fitting (at least, Trouble thought so). So, with his tail flapping in the breeze as the Wild Cards zoomed down the concrete under-highway, Trouble smiled widely and kept his body low, enjoying the thrill of the ride and the adventure. Even if he did not fully comprehend the details of all that was going on, adventure was still adventure! Some things in life were best left unfigured out and just enjoyed!

But then the little metallic fellow perked his head up in a different direction than where the Wild Cards were riding. Trouble's demeanor changed. Magnetically-attached to Hercules's CVR-3 mega-suit as he was, he could not fall off (or rather was not likely to fall off), and so he turned about and stared up at the ceiling as you passed underneath it. Not directly up, but up in a far-away looking-into-the-distance kind of way. Whatever he was attuned to, it was not you or the highway or the mad little 'bot-ball you were racing after.

Suddenly, he straightened. "Prr'fess'rr!!"

"What is it, you little shrimp?"
replied Professor Stein over the polyphonic nexus he was sharing with you.

But Trouble ignored the teasing. "Eternities! Two eternities!"

Professor Stein's mental tone sounded surprised. "What?" There was silence followed by. "Down there with you?"

"No! They iz falling stars!"

"'Falling stars...' Two... You mean they are falling from the sky?
Stein repeated. Trouble mewed something that sounded like an affirmative. Professor Stein's tone immediately sharpened with focus. "Elinor! I don't care how you do it, but I need MechaKitten with me immediately! I promise to explain this later! Can you do it?"

Cera pulled up beside Hercules and matched his pace. The old man's fire was lit and the lion in him was out once again. "Dentella? I volunteer to deliver him and rendezvous with you - with your permission, of course."

By that time, the robo-ball the Wild Cards were chasing began to swerve back and forth in a devious game of catch-me-if-you-can. Since the Wild Cards had kept their distance, they had time to watch the ball. At the last moment, the thing swerved left and was gone down a left curve that displayed signs limiting the speed to 35 miles per hour (56 kph) through the downward turn. Of course, the ball had maintained its speed of 50 mph (80 kph) and was trying to outrun all of you as it sped through the turn.

This is where the A.T.A.C. crew shined. Mario and Hercules both had skills in piloting hovercycles along with the dreaded Combat Driving training. Even though the Cyclones were not hover vehicles, they would have no problems whatsoever in taking these turns. The T.A.S.C. crew and Cera were a different story for there were very few obstacles in the skies to run into most of the time.

As Mario and Hercules lined up for the turn, the other Wild Cards kind of naturally fell behind them a motorcycle length or two. The turn was coming up but Cera still had the time and opportunity to get Trouble mid-ride, brake, and about-face back to Professor Stein if Elinor wished it.

What did Elinor decide?


Dannigan's Lady
Elinor nodded sharply to Cera. "Go, and be careful!" Then she made sure she wasn't directly next to Toph in case one or the other of them took a tumble. They didn't need to both fall down, after all. Not that she honestly thought either of them would, but no point in taking extra chances. That got a smile from her, being as neither Toph nor Elinor seemed inclined to slow to the recommended speed for the turn...


Princess Psychie
Toph uses her newly found bond with the Cyclone to try and keep her velocity up as they make the turn after the robot. "What is the order? Do we try and destroy the robot, or keep on following it?"


Kaerri's Man. =)
(Part 1 of 2)

"What is the order? Do we try and destroy the robot, or keep on following it?"
Cera gave a laugh over the polyphonic nexus along with the feelings of curiosity mixed with admiration. "Is it in the Lisara-Meltrandi way to choose destruction over discipline? The order was given, Toph Kirin!" Cera increased her throttle, carefully but quickly, catching up to Hercules. She turned to face to the big Greek and held out her arm like a bridge. If Hercules did the same, then Trouble had little trouble crossing along this impromptu bridge to Cera's shoulder. If not, then the little fellow jumped with the hopes his magnetized paws would attach him to Cera's CVR-3 body armor. Either way, Hercules felt the stare of the alien woman on him - there was no friendliness in it but nor was there ire - Cera seemed to regard Hercules as someone to be watched carefully, so it was with Meltrandi in general.

The following is a joke! This maneuver was made easier by Hercules's very size. You see, given the wideness of Hercules's muscled chest (and that 37 P.S.!), he automatically goes about 1% slower than the rest of you.

Why, you might ask? It's simple!

Wind resistance! =)

Trouble attached to Cera's armor, his little tail flapping in the wind, his little face grinning. Cera nodded curtly (respectfully?) to Hercules and activated the Cyclone's brakes. Her red-brown eyes went wide as her complete lack of experience and training with Debran-made two-wheeled vehicles could not prepare her for the incredible responsiveness of the Cyclone's fantastic braking system. Her wheels wobbled for one breathtaking moment, but she kept the bike steady. She kept control as she slowed and spun about. Then you saw her taillights recede as she rocketed off in the other direction toward Professor Stein.

"Wild Cards, a realm like this must have its share of enemies both above and below," the incredibly-young Ura-Meltrandi declared to her squadmates. "I request you save some for me."

* * *​

(Part 2 of 2)

'Bomber" by Motörhead. Rest in peace, Lemmy, you legendary rockin' biker bad-ass! =)

One YouTuber put it wonderfully with this little poem:
"The roses are red
The violets are blue
When I listen to Motörhead
My neighbors listen too"


The dangerous winding turn came up with Mario flying in the lead, Hercules behind him, Toph at his rear, and Elinor in the tail-end Charlie position (it was just how folks wound up). Mario and Hercules, though their first times on the Cyclones, confidently got into position by leaning their bikes and bodies down to the left so that their legs were but inches from the concrete! Toph and Elinor knew that one wrong move could put either bike down and they might easily plow straight into their fellows, but the A.T.A.C. boys knew what they were doing and took the turn as smooth as bullets spinning out of smoking barrels.

Toph took no chances and focused herself with all of her considerable Lisara-Meltrandi/Japanese spirit. Her turn was beautiful, even graceful. It was Elinor who nearly ate the outer wall. As her bike began to veer toward disaster, without thinking, Elinor found her right leg kicking out in a Jeet Kune Do side kick, cracking against the wall and knocking her Cyclone back into proper position. No one else saw the mistake or its bad-ass solution, but Elinor knew that she had done it. It was either that or put the bike down at 50 mph in a bright shower of sparks and chaos.

If anything was annoying, it was the damned little robot ball. Not only did the sucker make the turn correctly, a small appendage had popped out of its right side and out of it came some kind of propulsive jet that kept it on course just long enough for it to take the turn safely. One by one, the Wild Cards flew like bats out of Hell as they exited the nasty turn and reentered open under-highway again along that two-lane lit road that vaguely resembled the inside of a square-shaped double-barreled shotgun - smooth, clean, and straightforward.

With one major exception.

It was Mario who first saw the orange "construction zone" warning signs except they were all in Spanish. Still, warnings were warnings and there were plenty of them. The only square-shaped sign in English proclaimed, "DOUBLE SPEEDING FINES." They were all dressed in gray dust that blew fitfully as you passed them. The robot ball zipped expertly underneath and around these signs but straight ahead, each of you saw barricades - some orange drum-shaped plastic containers, others concrete barriers denying entry into the left lane one moment, then merging you into that lane as the barricades prevented entry into the right lane.

The little ball chose that moment to increase its speed for it seemed to know the track. You found yourselves jamming along at 70 mph in a 45 mph zone. Mario was about 30 yards from it and each of the Wild Cards were spaced out about 10 meters apart in the single left lane.

If that were not enough, something got Toph and Elinor's attention as they blew past another seemingly-empty street - a pair of yellow lights that looked like they belonged to vehicles.

In moments, both T.A.S.C. pilots noticed the Wild Cards now had two bogies on their tails about 150 yards back, but whether they were bandits or not remained to be seen.

What do the Wild Cards do?

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