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Realistic or Modern Spelljammers - IC (Main)

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Adventure, Horror, Magical, Multiverse, Realistic, Supernatural
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Mitheral

"Growf!"

Zhelyne - synthetic humanoids used as crew

Ellen had received a message from an old friend, Sybil, who had requested her help with some new project. The message had described the situation as Urgent. What she and the rest of her adventurers found when they arrived was that Ellen’s friend was a designer of Spelljammer ship - well one spelljammer ship, at least. Sybil was a prodigy, a genius in technomagic and what she had created was unlike any spelljammer vessel of the past - or so she claimed. It was “the next step in spelljammer ship evolution.” That was an understatement. It was a living ship with an artificial crew she would refer to as Zhelynes. The Zhelynes were synthetic humanoids. They lacked much in the way of creative thought, not that Sybil didn’t encourage them to try. She set aside time for them to learn more about themselves. Some might have regarded them as a little creepy.

Sybil's reason for summoning Ellen was that she needed a group to help her with security. She had heard ugly rumors that word of her project had leaked. Illithids, Githyanki, and Beholders were all searching for her ship. As it turned out her fears were not ungrounded. They had barely begun trial runs when they detected the fleets converging on them.

To escape the enemy fleets they had tried to lose them in a Wildspace rift. It had been a dangerous maneuver. But to stay and fight was a no win scenario. And they couldn’t outrun their enemies forever. Their experimental ship proved far more resilient than the enemy fleets.

As soon as they exited the rift, pressure alarms went off. Negative pressure. Negative? The pressure alarms were for diving in the sea. But what the hell was negative pressure. Sybil immediately understood and issued a warning for noone to leave the ship. They had arrived some eight and a half days out from the local realm. The main realm seemed to be a beautiful blue realm. Its smaller moon appeared lifeless, devoid of mana. The choice of destination was obvious.

Behind them the rift began responding to the emergence of other ships, which could only mean that their enemies - or at least some of them - had followed them. They were now between a rock and a hard place as the saying went. Ellen ordered the ship to Spelljammer speed heading straight for the blue realm.

Ellen called the group to the mess hall, which functioned as a briefing room, to discuss their options. She looked around at their crew. Originally landlubbers, the group- largely herself and Moonshadow, Karoshi and Rasitah, and Enola - had taken to spelljamming. There she had purchased a beaten up old spelljammer vessel and hired a captain who turned out to be a complete idiot. The human had damned near gotten them all killed. But along the way they had encountered Chum afloat in space in the remains of a spelljammer vessel inside a Sarcophagus of Preservation. Chained to her sarcophagus was a chest filled with her personal gear. As near as anyone could figure she had been floating around for over a decade. Her stories instantly charmed the half orcs - and grew on Ellen even though she doubted the veracity as the stories seemed to evolve. But such bardic tales were a sign of creative intelligence and she saw value in that. Besides, Chum's stories boosted morale.

The final addition to the crew was Olrion, a novice at best whose talents simply were NOT suited for spelljamming. Fire didn’t work in space. It was dangerous as all hell. And the whole group damned nearly lynched the dhampir when she managed to torch a pirate spelljammer vessel they had just captured, which would have meant a serious upgrade. In fact, the explosion almost destroyed their own vessel.

Ellen consigned Olrion to swabbing decks - inside and out - for over a month before even the crew started to take pity. Or rather Rasitah did. Rasitah went outside the ship and joined the dhampir with swabbing. After another week Karoshi soon joined her. Chum only joined them because Rasitah kept giving her that look. By the end of the first shift of Chum’s help, Karoshi went to Ellen and told her she was tired of senseless deck swabbing. Ellen told her she didn’t have to. But Karoshi announced that Moonshadow had joined them and noone was getting much training while swabbing decks. And so Olrion’s punishment came to an end.

Their newest crew members were Sybil herself and Rae. Rae had already been working for Sybil as both security and fabrication. Besides Sybil, Rae was probably the most knowledgeable member of the crew in the functions and design of the ship. Ellen suspected she would soon prove herself to the crew.

***************

“We have a week before we hit the edge of the realm before us. Behind us are Illithids, Githyanki and Beholder fleets. The only good news is that our enemies hate one another and will kill each other to keep this ship out of their hands. But they will also kill us to keep the status quo. The bad news is that there is a realm ahead of us they may prove hostile - or prey for our enemies. Thoughts everyone?”
 

Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
First day in the sol sphere.

Three years of mapping, plotting, and tracking. Split between captain Quazac-food, captain Murderoid hunter, and captain Ellen. Months trying to figure out how long Chum had been sleeping and whether Kelpie was alive. All of it was gone in that rift. The Evermap couldn’t even find this crystal sphere’s edge, let alone the last sphere they visited. Far as Chum could tell, this was probably the biggest sphere... ever. And she was stuck here. Maybe forever. But hopefully just a month.

“Map says the sphere we’s in is crazy big. Too big to find an edge in a life. Only way out is the hole, and they’s that way. We know they got fast ships, so we can’t run long. Wet rock seems like a safer bet than hidin’ in the cloudy worlds or sluggin’ it out.”

Chum said to captain Ellen, frowning as she sat at the table. those gas balls could be hiding anything, and the other rocks were all gonna be cold, rough living. The wet one at least had water, so nobody would die thirsty. Plus, that green was probably plants or something, so they wouldn’t starve either. Not that they were low on supplies, but a ship-to-ship fight against that many ships, win or lose, would leave them mauled. That meant repair time, and potentially the loss of their stuff. Having food, lumber, and other materials from the planet would make things a lot easier.

“Anudder thing though. ‘Parently we might not be the first jammers around. Map said there was lotsa metal junk floating around, could be wrecks, could be ghost ships. You think it’d be worth the intercept, Captain?”

Chum asked, ever ready to wrangle wrecks. If nothing else, learning how the local jammers stacked up to theirs seemed like a good idea. Chum wasn’t sure if she ought to hope for the wrecks to have better magitech than theirs or not. If they did, then that loot could save their asses. If not, then the locals probably wouldn’t be that threatening. At the very least Chum hoped they weren’t metal-rich asteroids. Like last time. That was kind of embarrassing.
 

Mitheral

"Growf!"
(OOC: I have several characters to speak - and I get more time on weekends to post - sooo… Just throwing out several thoughts)

Ellen didn’t respond right away. Instead she looked around at the others. A wise leader listened first. She would even listen to Chum, Olrion and Enola. Even if she often disagreed, it was sometimes from the mouths of babes that wisdom came.

Karoshi shook her head. “Safest place to be may be on that planet. This ship is designed for space or water --”

“And land,” Sybil announced. “It can set down anywhere. It is far more versatile than a Hammership. In fact, it will be more dynamic and buoyant in air as it can extend a membrane that resembles a manta ray.”

Karoshi looked annoyed at the interruption. “My point is that Githyanki vessels can’t. My guess is that most of the miscellaneous vessels out there are ones seized by Githyanki so they can raid planets. The Beholder vessels can set down anywhere. Illithid vessels are primarily Space and Water landing capable. Strategically we will be safer on that planet.”

Rasitah argued, “and if those aren’t ghost ships? We don’t need to be adding enemies right about now.”

Rae spoke up finally. “And what will our enemies do to any occupants of those ships if they are not ghosts. It does bear investigating. But if we do, time will be critical as our enemies are hot on our trail.”

Enola spoke up. She tended to be the sort who didn’t speak unless she had a real idea. “We drop to tactical as soon as we hit the sky of that world. Right? All of the ghost ships seem to be very close to the sky, just into space. But only one seems large enough to house occupants. If that one IS occupied, I could use the Wayfarer to open a portal onto it. But you would need to keep the contact with the native short or the portal will close and the only way to retrieve you will be to dock.”
 

KirienIsamu

a determined artist
Olrion

Joining a group like this would have been a dream for Olrion a few years ago. Traveling space inside a giant ship protecting the spelljammer from Illithids, Githyankis, and Beholders what could have been better? Well her 'adventures' early on were less than glamorous. Who knew burning a ship could be.. explosive. Swabbing the decks proved to be the largest challenge so far, the ship was so large it could have taken all day to finish. It was surprising to see a handful of the crew join in to make the work a little easier. While Olrion appreciated the help, it didn't help that feeling of being useless. None of her most favored spells worked properly out here and so far she hadn't been able to make any substantial contributions to the group. These events were starting to give her second thoughts about this journey, at least until they reached the edge of the new realm. Her mind was clouded with thoughts about what adventures could be found on that blue and green sphere, you could almost see the sparkle in her eyes when she stared at the planet.
" What kinda life could be down there.." Olrion thought out loud without thinking. Realizing this a light red glow crept its way on to her face and panic-stricken tried to cover it up with a rushed explanation.
" I-I mean maybe if we took a look at some of these ships we could get a better idea of what could be down there. If there is life they might not be friendly... r-right?"
 

Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
First day in the sol sphere

It seemed everyone was in agreement: They were going to the planet. The subject of investigating the other Spelljammers was a little more divisive, but they had a week to think about it. Plus...

“You don’t gotta DOCK dock if I’m on the boardin’ party. I’m no good at the dealie-talkin’, an’ we don’ know who’r’what’s on the ship, but I got my hook, an’ I used to board for Blackfang. Can’t be that hard to swing offa their ship and back to ours. But, ah, might wanna schedule some drills with it for erryone else.”

Chum said, taking a swig from a bottle of the good stuff. Her good stuff, that she bought with her money. It was almost empty, and she only had one bottle after this. Stretching it over the trip ahead wouldn’t be easy... But by Chum’s figure she’d be out of that bottle and into the bathtub brew in five days. Not a promising prospect. Hopefully this planet had booze. Or better fruit to work with.

“Anything to do right now, or can I pester the pyro for a lil scryin’?”

Chum said, teasing as she rubbed elbows with Olrion. But teasing and nicknames aside, Chum did want to see her. Not Olrion, though Chum was getting used to her. No, Chum wanted to see Kelpie. But if there was work to be done, that always took the priority. Chum just hoped the hole wasn’t one of those time holes. That would make everything so much screwier...
 

Mitheral

"Growf!"
Ellen rarely smiled. Today was no exception. “I will need the efforts of our technical crew for now. Enola, prepare the Wayfarer for portal use. We have 3+ fleets of enemy vessels behind us. The mission must be brief. But it will allow us to encounter the dominant species on that planet - before we encounter a whole planet of them.

“If they are not hostile, we are going to, in effect, kidnap them. At least, I fear that is how they will see it. If they do not speak the Common Tongue or some other language we know, diplomacy won’t be possible in such a short time. But if we leave them, we would leave them to whatever fate the fleets behind us had in store for them. The Githyanki will likely use them for target practice. The Illithids would use them as hosts for their larvae. The Beholders are simply hostile. In fact, we may have to regard them as multiple fleets as they even fight among themselves. And then the Neogi are on a mission of conquest. And the others are unlikely to be any friendlier.

“I will select the boarding party by tomorrow. As soon as we have a good idea of the layout of the native vessel, we will work on tactics. Enola, Rae, Sybil my quarters. The rest of you, dismissed.”

********

Day 9

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/final_configuration_of_iss.jpg
https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0094576516300327-gr3.jpg

The next week was a little on the boring side - as spelljamming tends to be. As they approached the International Space Station of Earth Sybil was placed at the helm. Enola would be needed to operate the Wayfarer.

The native vessel was bigger than their vessel, but with very little in the way of interior. In fact, it didn’t even seem to BE a spelljammer, more like a flimsy port. It appeared as if this planet had yet to develop its own spelljamming. Worse, Sybil had reported that there was no mana in this crystal sphere, or that it might be concentrated in pockets. It was very possible that this world had no mages. Also, the very laws of physics seemed to be different. Gravity worked differently. Small objects lacked a gravity of their own - or a personal air bubble. That meant that the space outside was instant death.

Ellen had chosen to send Rose, Rae, and herself.

“Enola, first portal at this point (SM on the left). That will be my entry point. Portal 2 here (Node 2). That will be Rae’s entry. Portal 3 is at the crossroads here (Node 1). That’s you Rose. The plan is simple. Get in. If they do not appear to be anything like the enemies in our wake, grab them and toss them through the portals. Sybil, sorry Helm duty. Karoshi, Chum, Olrion - you will be on this side of the portal. Your task is to subdue the natives. I do NOT want them harmed! That means no fire this time, please. We need our ship. Karoshi … unharmed?”

The half orc smiled and rolled her eyes. “Sounds boring. Why --?”

“Send in Rose?” Ellen knew the large half orc too well. She gave a faint smile. “If the natives are able to put up a fight, who would have Chum and Olrion’s backs?”

“Right, right. Realized it as soon as I asked.” Karoshi still didn’t like it.

“What about me?” Moonshadow asked.

Again Ellen gave a thin smile. “You … you guard Enola and Sybil.” Then she looked up. “The portals will last just under a minute. We get in; we get out. If they give us too much trouble, we leave them. This is a rescue mission. If they prove to be anything like our enemies, hold the line for a little bit, then back out.”

************

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/iss063-s-002.jpg
ISS Crew: Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/bob_and_doug.jpg
SpaceX Commercial Crew: Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley

It was a pretty simple plan. The astronauts were mostly prepared. They had seen the approaching ship. But they were completely unprepared for portals. Of the five men, only two had any real strength. Even those proved clumsy in their vacc suits. They had been prepared for the possibility of explosive decompression.

*********

Houston

Down on Earth the men and women of Mission Control had been watching videos of the rapidly approaching alien vessel, trying to comprehend its design. They could see no visible means of propulsion. It responded to no communications. Absolutely nothing could prepare them for what did happen. The aliens used some form of stargate technology to invade the ISS and took the crew hostage in under a minute.

They appeared to be female. Two of them resembled greyish skinned Vulcans. The third looked like a cross between a Klingon and an Orion slave girl. They brandished primitive weapons though. The two Vulcan like ones showed no signs of emotion. The green skinned one was all smiled and actually pinched butts as she shoved them through the portal.

If the aliens realized they were on video, they gave no signs of it until one found the console where one of the astronauts had tried to warn mission control of the hostile intentions of the aliens.

Ellen looked at the console. Humans. This world was dominated by humans. It could have been worse. But she held up her map mimic in front of the screen and touched it. Images of the approaching races and their ships formed on the surface of the map mimic. Then she pointed out into space. It was the best warning she could manage.

***************

Back aboard the spelljammer….
 

Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
Time flies in the vastness of space.

Chum never got to scry on Kelpie during the weeklong voyage, but she got in plenty of flail practice. And when it was made clear that the plan was to take lots of prisoners, preferably unharmed, Chum put a sounding weight on the other end of the rope and swung that around instead. The different weight would be one thing, but the Gravwood really changed up how swinging a flail that size worked, since it projected its own gravity. Still, there was a point to the change: The sounding weight didn’t have points, edges, or anything resembling sharpness. If Chum used the grappling flail, and thunked someone on the head, there’d be a spike in their brain stuff. The sounding weight, by contrast, would just knock em down like a bottle of Dwarven whiskey. Strong stuff kept in sturdy bottles. By Valkur, Chum was in DIRE need of some real alcohol.


“Better not be Giffs...”

Chum said, glaring down the portal. Giffs were about the most threatening creatures Chum could imagine that weren’t already after them. Aside from dragons, but that little collection of tubes and rectangular sails couldn’t hold any of the big dangerous ones. Big hippo-people with super loud boom stick things? No thanks. Thankfully, the portal provided something different; Humans wearing weird looking suits with glass-faced helmets. Humans that appeared unarmed, minimally armored, and highly disoriented.

“Huh. Easy pickin’s.”

Said the goblin, having trouble believing their luck was this good. Chum, having no reason to hesitate, slung out their less-than-lethal flail and watched the rope wrap around one human’s outstretched arm once before the head slammed into the back of their helm. Then, like a prized marlin, she reeled the man in. Her flail’s silken rope was quickly replaced with a coil of the regular stuff Chum picked out, and after a second knock to the head, Chum was tying the poor human up like he was a wild hog.

“Caught one already! Easy pickin’s, ladies!”

she cried, hearing the human groan in pain... Well, two knocks on the head was close enough to unharmed. Chum lived through WAY worse, right?
 

KirienIsamu

a determined artist
Olrion

Disappointment could be one of the emotions you could read off of her face. Olrion had no doubt been hoping for something different. Being half-human herself she was already well familiar with their kind, fragile bodies, much shorter lifespans, etc. Their weird suits, on the other hand, were far more interesting.
Grabbing the closest human to fall out of the portal. Tieing their arms behind their back was pretty easy considering the humans were already dazed from being shoved through the portal after all, although these suits were a bit of a hassle to push around.

" Why do you think they need these things tho, it can't be easy to move around in these" Orion tried to pull off the helmet of the astronaut she tied up.
" What's the point in wearing a fishbowl on your head of all things?"
These helmets were being stubborn and took a lot of force to pull off.
 

Mitheral

"Growf!"
As it turned out the humans weren’t so unarmored. (Those suits are practically bulletproof.) However, three of the astronauts had been in zero G for over 2 months. The other two for a little over a week. Chum’s victim (Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner) couldn’t really handle the sudden change from zero G to 1 G. His grunts were more from the fact that he was wearing nearly 50 pounds of armor and despite preparing for an emergency evacuation for a week, was still not ready for normal gravity. Truth was, they could have beat on the humans with swords and not have been any more effective. Gravity or a simple net was all it took.

In the time it took Olrion and Chum to subdue theirs, Karoshi took care of her three and was watching in amusement.

Christopher Cassidy - Wikipedia
Astronaut Chris Cassidy - in command of mission 63

The humans meanwhile babbled back and forth in what sounded like more than one language. In about 30 seconds they finally stopped struggling and held up open hands.

Rasitah flopped through her portal, more thrown off balance by the changing gravities. Ellen and Rae stepped through with grace. Rae started to say something to Ellen but the Captain looked less than amused.

“I said unharmed.” But she didn’t dwell on it for now. There were higher priorities. She watched as the three portals winked out of existence. “Sybil, get us underway. Planetside, now. Water landing. Submerge. Find someplace good.” Then she looked at Chum and Olrion, less than amused, then accusingly at Karoshi who was holding three humans in a net. But she couldn’t really blame them. Humans were a plague back home.

In an effort to regain a little respect from Ellen, Karoshi pointed at one of the humans. “I think that one is their Captain.”

Ellen stared at the man. “I want everyone silent except for me and him. I am going to teach our Translator Rings their predominant language. If he gives orders, then they all understand it.” She collected Rings for the crew and stepped in front of the Commander. “And Rose, please stop flirting with the humans.”

Rae had been the one to subdue Chris Cassidy, their commander. Despite months of zero G, he was a deadly opponent - every bit Rae’s equal. Ellen couldn’t help but be a little proud of how well, Rae had handled the larger man. He was a veteran soldier. And it was luck that had placed him in front of Karoshi - that, and Chum and Olrion’s enthusiasm in subduing the first humans on board the spelljammer vessel. The human commander had taken a bit longer capture.

Ellen gestured for the other humans to be silent while she faced Cassidy. Then she began to speak. She used the Map Mimic to make pictures.

Cassidy considered going with the whole name, rank and serial number approach. But it was clear the alien wanted to communicate. The way the Orion slave girl looked at him, he felt like Kirk. The She Hulk looking one was plenty dangerous. Talking to the grey skinned woman who looked like she had stepped out of a Tolkien movie seemed like a safer bet. And he needed to know what the aliens wanted.

It didn’t take long for the rings to learn English. Chum soon discovered that his target spoke a different language, but was fluent in English. Cassidy began with the simple question about what the aliens wanted.

Ellen had to order her own people to remain silent. She knew what THEY wanted. “My purpose was a rescue mission. That was the reason for the urgency. Your realm is in danger. We couldn’t leave you to the Illithids. They would either use you as food for their larvae, or consume your brains. The other fleets won’t be any friendlier. We are on our way to your world. Shortly we will need you to show us where to land. I have already chosen a location, but diplomacy would be wiser. Perhaps we should engage in introductions?”

Very calm and collected, Chris Cassidy smiled. “I was wondering when you would get around to that.”

Graciously Ellen handled the introductions giving both formal names and nicknames - the respectful ones. Cassidy did likewise. But it was Ivan who had to ask, “Wait one minute. Did we just let a bunch of girls beat us up?” He was looking at Chum. “You do not want to know what Chum means in the language we speak.”

Cassidy gave the engineer a shake of his head. “Ivan! Diplomacy.” Then he turned to Ellen. “So … other ships are bad news?”

“By tomorrow it is unlikely your vessel will not be in fragments. If noone else attacks it the Githyanki will, just for target practice. Now about a place to land. Your people will no doubt be thinking ill thoughts toward us. But we sensed no magic in your vessel. It was not a spelljammer.”

“Magic?”

Ellen sighed. “The Illithids are powerful psionics. Do you understand? The Beholders have magical powers.” She used the Map Mimic to create images. But it was the map mimic itself that interested them.

“How does that work? Is it some sort of iPad?” Ivan spoke up again.

“Later Ivan,” Cassidy stopped the Russian again. He continued to speak to Ellen. “Where to land might be a problem. We are from different nations - geopolitical entities.”

“Kingdoms?”

Cassidy nodded. “Sort of. But social classes such as royalty and nobility do not make the decisions that run the country anymore. My country elects its leaders - as does Ivan’s.”

Ellen nodded. “Is there a place that is neutral ground - where all your kingdoms are represented?”

The astronauts all looked back and forth. Then they chorused, “UN!”

Cassidy studied the Russians. “I know it is close to American soil. The problem is where to land first.”

United Nations, Manhattan

Ellen held out the Map Mimic. “Touch this and think of the image you want to create.” Cassidy thought of the UN building. Ellen studied the location. “We could land in the water. But we are going to need you to explain to your people that our intentions are not hostile. But the rest will be. They are going to follow us. Before I commit my crew, I need to speak with them privately. Do not fear. We have no intentions of keeping you. We can drop you off at that UN place.”

Ivan spoke up again. “You can land in small area - and take off?” His mind had already linked Chum’s flail to the fact that the spelljammer ship could land on a dime and take off. That plus the gravity they were in all meant the aliens had control over gravity.”

Cassidy shook his head. “I wish you had given us more time. We have no way to contact our people. But there will be a way at that building.”

*********

Ellen had pulled the crew into the just outside the cargo bay. “We have another choice to make. This ship needs to be hidden until we have found a way to deal with our enemies. The only time we have bought is the delay that will come from them fighting among themselves to keep one another from getting to us. I propose that we leave the ship along with the humans and let Sybil find a safe place to hide the ship while we attempt to make peace with the humans. Let us hope they are kinder to us than we were to them.”
 

KirienIsamu

a determined artist
Olrion

" Maybe some of us should explore a little while the others work on a peace treaty. See what this world is like to maybe make peace easier to achieve."
As reasonable as Olrion tried to make her suggestion sound, she honestly just wanted to explore the new world. Humans being the main race was rather disappointing but that doesn't mean there wouldn't be anything worth seeing down there." It might help find the best place to hide the ship."
 

Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
On the finer meaning of the word ‘Subdue’.

Chum had initially been proud. Ellen said Subdue these guys, and they did. Kar got three without breaking a sweat, even! Chum beamed a little when Ellen initially returned, but froze when she saw the angry face. That was definitely the ‘Chum you messed up’ face, even. Of course she gave the same to Olrion and Kar, but they’d done right, too.


“I said unharmed.”

The headbonks? Was Ellen really sure these humans were that delicate? This guy’s helmet probably could’ve taken her real mace and not been pierced! And the sounding weight was way less pointy! Before Chum could say anything, Kar pointed out the captain amongst her three captives, and Ellen took the translator rings to get his language. She took a moment to fume before deflating and waiting to get her ring back. Once she did, she heard the human comment on her name.

“If Chum means bloody meatstuff for fish’n’sharks, the translator’s workin’ fine.”

the goblin said, never having minded the name. Goblin names were rarely flattering, and she could’ve been named far worse. Kelpie was rare. Beautiful in name and everything else too. Chum still didn’t get what she saw in her. Chum still hoped she’d get to see it again.

—Later, in private—

Captain Ellen’s plan made sense. Hiding the ship was definitely necessary. But that last comment got Chum riled up again.

“You said subdue, an’ that ain’t always nice and peacey! Thought they’d be fightin’, so I didn’t give ‘im a chance! You think he even noticed the bonkin’ thru that fishbowl?”

Chum said, taking the defensive hard. Thankfully, Olrion’s barely disguised curiosity gave Chum an out so she wouldn’t have to REALLY argue with Ellen.

“Yeah, that’s not a bad idea, Ollie. You can pass for a human, even. But you can’t go alone, so maybe I oughta rig up some kinda disguise and leave the give-always behind?”

said Chum, hoping that she could find enough spare stuff on board to cover her green-ness. Maybe Sybil had one of those creepy beaked masks still laying around?
 

Mitheral

"Growf!"
“Sybil!” Ellen yelled. “How long will we have once we land before the first enemy ships get close enough to see us?”

“Several hours. But it may take hours to find a good spot and fly there.”

Ellen sighed. “Okay, get us down. One problem at a time. Everyone, never mind the disguises. Once our enemies get here the natives will know all about an invasion - and by the time it matters they should realize we are not an enemy. I hope anyway.”

Sybil yelled back, “I’ll need Enola. I can buy us some time with her help. But tell out humans we will need a place big enough to hide our ship. A canyon would work - or a very large cave entrance.”

Ellen took the group back in. She quickly explained the situation.

“Can you manage a vertical takeoff and landing?” Cassidy asked.

“Easily.”

“I know just the place - a dome. Hurley … Astrodome. It’s closed. But if we call ahead we can get it operational and ready. Ellen, I am going to send Hurley with you. He knows what the dome looks like. And with that Map thing he can guide you there.”

“Then on behalf of my crew I request permission to visit your realm. And perhaps a chance to explain the reasons for our abduction of you.”

Cassidy smiled. Truth was, the Russians had been armed. He was a former SEAL. It was unlikely he and his people would have been captured if they had chosen to resist. “Welcome to Planet Earth. The place we will be landing first is international territory. But all around it is my nation. I am afraid I will have to do a little diplomacy on behalf of the Russian astronauts when we land.”

+++++++++++++

New York City was HUGE! Never had the crew seen a city so large, building that reached up into the clouds.

The humans seemed extremely impressed at the control the aliens had over gravity. Sybil set them down as gently as you please and bumped the shore. The Zhelynes got to work setting temporary moor lines. The arrival of the alien ship right next to the UN building started to create a commotion instantly. There had to be at least half a dozen reporters already. The astronauts had stripped out of their vacc suits to make walking easier, but they were having trouble in the gravity. But that didn’t stop Cassidy from waving over the Press. For once the Press would prove useful.

“Go live! NOW! All of you. You have 15 seconds and I start talking. Everyone else, quiet please. You … officer! Get them quiet. Give us a megaphone. Fast.” It took more like a minute, but that gave the Press a little more time. Dozens of people were holding up small rectangular things (cell phones) Once he had quiet he spoke.

“These people come to us in peace - but with a warning. Their arrival was not planned. They were fleeing a fleet - several fleets of enemy vessels. Those vessels are hostile. They claim they removed us from the ISS to save our lives. We will know if this is a fact as soon as those fleets arrive. I hope that this message is going out to all the leaders of the free world.”

With that he paused and the questions began. Names? Where were they from? The humans weren’t afraid. They were excited. Aliens. Some might have thought this some sort of prank. But with NASA astronauts doing the introductions, there was no ignoring things.

It took less than 5 minutes before a small contingent of marines pushed their way through the crowd, having set down in a Blackhawk a short distance away. One had a communications device for Cassidy.

Cassidy spoke up. “Yes, Mr President. We are fine. A couple minor bruises, but nothing to cry about. They were in a hurry. They showed us images of what we will be facing. What? Yes sir. I see, sir. I have civilians nearby. Shall I debrief in a more controlled environment? I … believe them sir. I recommend diplomacy. Either way, we will know in several hours. We need a place to hide their vessel. I would like to send these comms with Hurley. He can assist their pilot with guidance. Apparently the enemies can’t get ahold of their vessel.”

++++++++++

Hotels Near UN - Diplomats | Lotte New York Palace
For an idea of the accommodations the crew will be placed in.
Sybil, Enola and Hurley were gone in short order, taking the spelljammer to some place called the Astrodome over a thousand miles away. But as soon as it lifted off the great vessel vanished in thin air. Invisibility! That was a surprise Sybil hadn’t mentioned! Gods what a ship!

Ellen was right. Landing the way they did had rendered the use of disguises moot. The humans had nothing like the spelljammer. On the other hand, what they did have was interesting.

The next thing to happen was the arrival of limousines to take them to a diplomatic hotel. It took every bit of effort by the police and military to keep the crowds at a distance. The humans were deafening. But they didn’t seem unfriendly.
 

Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
Diplomacy and Celebrity

Chum wasn’t sure what would happen when they disembarked. Should she expect an army bristling with spears and shields? An entourage of royals? Wait, the humans said they didn’t have those. Nobles? ‘Elected’ officials? Chum had no idea, but they were supposed to come in peace, so she left the obvious weapons behind. No harpoon, no sword, no grappling flail. All Chum had was her armor (worn under her fancy land clothes, of course) and her everything knife. Even if the humans found and took that stuff, Chum always had hands and feet and teeth. That would be enough in a pinch. Chum was as ready as she was allowed to be.

Of course, none of Chum’s gear could have protected her from the media’s assault. Hundreds of blinding flashes targeted Chum’s eyes, adapted for dark caves but tolerant of some sunlight. Hundreds of shouted questions in the human language case for both her ears and her mind, as the ring translated every word. Only captain Ellen’s hand and the knowledge that Kar would punch anyone too aggressive kept Chum from pulling her knife. At one point some fuzzy object poked her face (probably by mistake) and Chum bit the thing in half before she even registered what happened. After she spat out the inedible whatever it was (a microphone) the humans got a fair bit quieter. Once they got in the fancy horseless carriage, Chum started to recover, blinking the dots out of her eyes.


“I dunno what the lights were, but I hate ‘em.”

Chum said, taking note of the army men from the little loud airship. Then her eyes went from blinking and squinting to wide-open fear.

“G-giffy bangs. The soldiers got giffy bangs.”

she said, starting to shake. The little goblin didn’t stop shaking until they entered their room in the... Palace? Mansion? What the heck was this place? Chum couldn’t resist looking out the massive windows at the ridiculously massive city...

“This humie-world craaaazy. City could fit a kingdom. Maybe two. Maybe three.”
 

KirienIsamu

a determined artist
Olrion

Olrion was quickly changing her mind about these humans, this was nothing like the humans back home. Enormous towers that stretched to the heavens, littered all around the group, some sort of gas-powered transportation had pulled up to take the group to their next destination. Everything had been amazing, all except for.. the lights. As if the burning rays of the sun weren't bad enough Olrion found herself surrounded by flashing lights from the rather pushy humans.
She wasn't doing a very good job at hiding her clear irritation, being only half-vampire meant that sunlight wouldn't necessarily hurt her but it still caused her great discomfort especially with the heat that came with it and her robes were not helping with that. Bright lights such as the sun and these newly introduced camera flashes were doing a number on her more sensitive eyes.

" Would you cut the insistent lights you obnoxious cumberworlds!" Olrion sneered at the crowd. She was starting to consider torching the group but seemed to simmer down after reaching the Hotel, mostly due to the absence of camera flashes. Stepping out of the Limo, she had to rub her eyes several times before being able to clearly see the rather large hotel.
" Whose castle is this?" whoever owned this 'castle' most be of great importance.

cumberworld: a useless person who takes up space
 

Mitheral

"Growf!"
Ellen countermanded Chum’s intentions to leave weapons behind. But she did have them placed in a bag of holding to slow down the temptation to draw them. She did NOT want her crew separated from the ship and unarmed.

/

One more thing might have saved Chum’s eyes, as well as the eyes of the other alien crew. Ivan quickly dropped his vacc suit and grabbed his helmet to place it over Chum’s head, flipping the gold visor down. Then he proudly announced. “Is honorary Russian astronaut, yes?” His fellow astronauts soon followed suit by protecting all the alien eyes, especially those whose eyes were clearly suffering.

Moonshadow seemed least affected by the lights, but the presence of so many humans had her terrified and wishing she had stayed with the ship. She hid behind Ellen at first. Then upon seeing Chum and Olrion’s discomfort she stepped between the two and the cameras. She pulled back her hood for the first time ever and glared challengingly.

When they got to the hotel, even Ellen was impressed. The only places she had seen such architecture had been among elves. But humans lacked an appreciation for nature that elves had. Rasitah had to test out every fancy chair like it was a personal throne. Speaking of thrones, the subject of a privy came up soon and they had an introduction to human toiletries. For once, the human astronauts were of little use. They had to ask how to use the things themselves. They explained how most toilets weren’t so complicated. A female from the hotel staff showed up and almost fled in terror at the sight of Karoshi.

Their suites proved to be nearly as big as some taverns. One suite had 3-4 bedrooms. For people like Chum and Olrion it was more like the royal treatment. Ellen asked about food, specifying that Moonshadow was a strict vegetarian. As noone had any idea what they wanted - until Karoshi spoke up and said STEAK! Rae explained that she was a monk and observed a more delicate diet.

Noone could read the menu - except Rasitah - who pulled out some granny glasses. She could read the menu, but didn’t understand half of it. Ellen asked for the glasses and actually smiled and looked back at Rasitah. The look she gave was something akin to pride. But she knew the diets of the crew by now and quickly selected menu items she knew they should like.

Then she ordered - against her better judgement - drinks. For some it was simple fruit juices. For herself it was wine. She asked the butler to choose something appropriate for the meal choices. Ivan ordered Stolichnaya - for his headache. Cassidy and the other American astronauts ordered imported beers.

It was when the drinks got to their suite that things got interesting and they started to learn a few weird facts about humans - or rather America. Moonshadow had gotten a sniff of a wine bottle, smiled and guzzled the whole bottle. She frowned and cautioned that it might be a little overripe. Then she reached for the next bottle. Ellen had to stop her. Karoshi set a horrible example. Free booze? Hell yeah.

Then came the moment when Chum went to grab her drinks. In the eyes of the humans she had been a child - an ornery child - but still a child. They had associated her size with age. Elen explained that Chum was very much an adult woman. Ivan asked for assurance. Then he asked how old? As in like a devushka - a young girl - or a babushka - a grandmother. He apologized for the questions, but for some reason he liked Chum. He still wanted to know how the flail worked. It hadn’t behaved like a normal flail. Once assured that Chum was fully an adult and even an experienced adventurer, Ivan set to his first real diplomatic task.

“I will show you how to drink vodka like a Russian,” he declared. The only thing that prevented a drinking challenge was Cassidy, who reminded them all that they would be under the scrutiny of the Press for a few days - but he looked forward to seeing that challenge once they were all past the current emergencies.

++++++++++++++++

Day 10

By early the next morning the humans had their answer regarding Ellen’s story. As predicted the Githyanki vessels destroyed the ISS. None of the invading ships had responded to hails. They didn’t have radios. Even if they had, they didn’t understand Terran languages.

Sybil had reported landing safely and being under cover of a huge dome. The Astrodome had been converted into a military base overnight. She was being shown photo after photo of the alien ships for her to identify and explain what to expect.

Ellen paraphrased Sybil’s briefing for her crew. “The other fleets were forced to make planetfall. Some never made it. Our ship was able to preserve its air and water with magic. Their ships weren’t as efficient and they died in space. Unlike our realm, ships do not naturally create gravity - unless built with grav wood. Some of the ship’s were destroyed from the atmosphere of this planet when they tried to land. The Githyanki even tried to land. None of them should survive a landing. But they will get low enough to abandon ship.”

She began to show her crew the plethora of ships that humans had detected arriving at Earth. “Sybil has some explaining to do. She told me she expected her project to be at risk - not the target of half the spelljammer ships ever built. But she did tell me that her ship couldn’t fall into the hands of anyone. I admit I find her ship amazing, but it shouldn’t have provoked this sort of reaction - not unless someone spread rumors about a hidden value.”

Deathspire

Among the many ships were a few Deathspires. They had been a rare ship a century ago created by a pirate organization known as the Nemesis. The Elven military had hunted them down and put an end to the organization - or so they thought. Apparently, since the fall of the Elven kingdoms the organization had re-emerged. Those would be mostly human pirates.

There were also some new strange designs even Sybil had never seen, very advanced designs, probably created by the Arcane. But at least there were no Ivory Towers and no legendary Spelljammer. An Ivory Tower could take on an entire fleet. The Spelljammer, could take on all the fleets and not even notice the battle.

/

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-f835ebe210ea4bff63d57543b5f40820.webp
Dr Pauline Fraiser - UN Liaison
https://images.impresa.pt/blitz/2016-12-29-gmichael.jpg/original/mw-860
Jake Corman - CIA
https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net...e_7_002.png/revision/latest?cb=20150828002356
Andrea Pierce - US Senator

After breakfast and an early briefing the humans finally sent in their first diplomats. Only they were barely that. In light of the destruction of the ISS their visitors were of a more intelligence role. For once even the astronauts got serious and all business. The humans began with introductions. Of course, with the introductions came explanations for what a senator was, and what the CIA was.

Ellen had begun the meeting by laying her swords peace-bonded in their sheaths on the table before her. She nodded for her crew to do likewise. Karoshi was the fun one as she covered half the table. Then Ellen cleared her throat. Karoshi glared and pulled a few more out.

The Russians pulled out guns and set them out on the table.

Moonshadow placed her wooden practice sword on the table.

Senator Pierce pulled a pen out and laid it on the table. Then she began. “Now then, let us discuss these other aliens. They have already begun attacking civilians. Why are they after you? More importantly, what strategic and tactical advice can you offer to stop them?”
 

Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
Living like a royal

The goblin was grateful for the helmet, but far beyond that, she was surprised to see Moonshadow stand up for her and Olrion. Wow. The kid had guts. Maybe Ellen was a better mom than Chum thought.


Arriving at the big palace place was a bit of a blur for Chum, since she was so focused on the soldiers and their rifles. It was only after they arrived in their room that Chum recognized the smaller firearms holstered by the ‘astronauts’. Hadn’t the entry hall had a few dark suited men with those same holsters? Were those men guards? Chum wasn’t known to be paranoid, but this set her off.

Thankfully, the luxuries of the ‘Hotel’ gave Chum ample distraction. The wonders of the bathroom’s privy and shower captivated Chum, even if the idea of washing up didn’t. The delicious food was another wonder, and the captain’s decision to get Chum a plate of buttery salmon was well-received, as the plate was clean in seconds. Then of course, there was the ‘Vodka’. A type of booze Chum hadn’t encountered was fascinating on its own, but aside from “moonshine”, Chum had never tasted anything so strong. Even the good fortified wines didn’t hold up, and contest or no, Chum was determined to have a whole bottle. She didn’t quite manage it before the cooler heads in the room stopped her, but she wanted it so badly!

Somewhere in all that Decadence, a few questions got asked and rather bluntly answered.
“The head’a’the flail is magic wood. Like the ship. Does its own gravity, no matter what other gravity’s around.”
came one less than scientific answer.
“I’m old enough to mate, but I’m not old-old.”
came another rather imprecise one.
“I’m na cryin’! Just... dust in the eyes!”
was a bit less than honest, but Chum wasn’t about to admit to crying. The order might’ve been jumbled around in Chum’s head, but the day was long and filled with excitement. And vodka. Chum could be forgiven for jumbling it up.

—The Tenth Day—

Chum had probably drank more vodka than Ellen would have wanted, but it wasn’t so much that Chum would be totally hung over. She was only slightly hung over, which was obviously a big improvement.

The briefing came quickly, and Chum was shocked. So many enemy ships being destroyed or depopulated was good, but knowing that the only reason they didn’t share that fate was Gravwood was... Well, sobering. Then came the news of Deathspires. Deathspires! The same model of ship Black Fang sailed! She couldn’t identify his flag among them but that didn’t mean he wasn’t there. Between that and the possibility of Githyanki on the ground, Chum was starting to freak out.

“Ollie, the second we got time, we scry. I gotta know, I HAVE to know.”

Chum was adamant on that. If there was a CHANCE that Kelpie was here, Chum was going on a rescue mission. The how was a big question but Chum would fly whatever ship was available. Hell, she would climb to orbit with her grappling hook if that’s what it took! And while it is worth noting that Chum definitely couldn’t do that, she was definitely crazy enough to try.

—The Meeting—

The next big event was the arrival of the human... Advisors? Chum understood that none of these people had the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, but she didn’t completely get their roles until the humans explained them. So one was a diplomat from the ‘UN’, which was basically a big ally council thing between all the countries to keep them out of war. Okay. Another was a representative for a small area of the ‘USA’, which was sort of a big conglomeration of fifty (FIFTY!) different sub-countries. States, not city-states. Okay. The last was also from the ‘USA’ and it took a lot of explaining for Chum to understand his role as Spymaster. He was spooky. She had an eye on him.

Then captain Ellen laid out her swords, and everyone else followed suit. Chum found that odd-Ellen brought all of the goblin’s left-behind weaponry, which said they should be armed. Now she set down her swords as though to say they were not armed. Well, okay! Chum didn’t cover as much table as Kar did, but she was definitely in the running for second place. First, Chum set out the grappling flail and unlooped the end of its rope from her belt. The head remained stationary in the air about a foot off the table. Next, the goblin put down her whaling harpoon, its barbed edges making a few marks on the table. Then Chum laid out her magic cutlass, one of two weapons from her old life. Finally, Chum hesitated. If she stopped there, she wouldn’t be suspicious and she could keep a hold of her everything knife. If she got caught with it, though... Chum eventually gave in with a sigh and jabbed the everything knife into the table’s surface, double-checking her reflection in its polished surface. Still Chum teeth. She could feel metaphorical daggers turning her way, but they were just glares. Chum handled those just fine. One of the women spoke first, asking some fairly straightforward easy questions. Chum started with her expertise.

“So, dese ships in the back, they’s at least partly other humans. Pirates for sure. Might be an Orc’n’Goblin crew in there. Our ship is valuable, yeah, but I dunno how these guys heard about it. But these guys, they’s, uh... Githyanki. Hard name, I calls em Yankees. They’re more the raiding type, but they’s tough. Mind powers, magic, and those silvery swords what hurt your body AND yer brain is just the start. They’s the most organized of the bunch, almost a real military. They got all kinds of special soldiers, super specific roles... They’re a tough fight for sure. And they got numbers on the ground. But the Beholders an’ the Mind flayers, they the real magic powerhouses... Yankees don’t like either, and they got history with the flayers, but I don’t member much about it. Still, y’all got airships an Giffy-bangs. You got a good shot if you don’t get close.”

Chum said, finishing her tactical analysis by pointing to the pistols on the table and leaning back in her chair. The others knew way more about their foes than Chum did, but a pirate’s life had her and her former comrades fighting to kill Githyanki ships sometimes. She at least had the basics down. She had no idea why the humans were looking at her weird, either.
 
Last edited:

KirienIsamu

a determined artist
Olrion

She was gonna have to learn how to read the languages here, ordering food was a bit of a mess, thankfully it was taken care of soon enough. Unlike her father, she couldn't just live off of blood alone (Although it could keep her going for a decent amount of time) so she settled for simple bread and fruits still not quite ready to experiment with something new. What could have possibly ended up being a mistake she ended up trying red wine because it kinda looks like blood (something shes at least familiar with) the rest of dinner was a little blurry after that. Late into the night, after sobering up a little, Olrion stared out at the night sky through her window, the thought of sneaking out did cross her mind once or twice but giving the meeting tomorrow it would be better to just stay inside this time. With nothing else to pass the time she broke out her journal and began to write.
Its been a while hasn't it. I'm sorry, Things have been busy. You might have heard about the group I was accepted into. I told you I would get to go on my own adventure one day, like all of those stories we used to read. Everything will be fine don't worry about me, I know how you are. Do you want to hear about what Iv seen since getting here? Well, this world looked pretty from afar, you would have loved it, a large blue sphere with patches of green. Looking out the window right now I can see how similar and different this place is to home. Everything almosts looks the same as home, the stars, and the moon, although the sky is a lot darker. We arrived at what I think is a capital maybe, it's filled with enormous buildings, were evening staying at some kinda castle right now. Can you believe it, my first day here and iv already been invited to a castle. I wish I could tell you more about the capital but we were kinda rushed, the people living there also kept flashing some sorta bright light at us, how rude. I was kinda surprised to see the kid try to block the lights, I was worried she didn't like me very much before, maybe things aren't as bad as I thought. I'm running out of things to write about now, my head is killing me right now. I don't know what was in that drink. I think there is going to be a big meeting tomorrow so I hope it goes away. Promise to write again soon, I miss you.
-Olrion-

She ended up passing out soon after shutting the book.

-Day 10, the Meeting-

Olrion didn't carry any traditional weapons (unless her fangs counted but those couldn't be put away) so she had nothing to put away. There wasn't much for her to add to the conversation so she put most of her focus into studying the required procedures to help Chum with scrying, She had not tried anything like that in the past but Chum looked pretty desperate at this point so what was the harm in trying at least.
Speaking of Chum she was currently explaining some of the enemies the group will need to deal with or 'Yankees' as she put it.
" You guys can attack from a distance right?" the guns placed on the table were clearly not meant to be melee weapons, the closest thing she could think of when looking at them were crossbows, both had a slightly similar shape and functioned via a trigger.
" Maybe with could force them out of the ship and take them out once they evacuate?" Remembering the events from before landing, the ships should be easy to set on fire right?, once the crew is forced to abandon their ship they should be easier to take out with their supplies burned.
 

Mitheral

"Growf!"
Their human hosts didn’t seem too keen to risk their best sources of intelligence on the invaders to front line action despite a stated willingness. Instead Ellen and her crew were assigned a full platoon of US Marines as guardians. Of course, the opposite might as easily be true. It was a fine line. But the prediction of the Githyanki attack as well as the rescue of the crew had gone a long way to making a good impression. In short, they were on the verge of being hailed as heroes.

The morning meal ended abruptly as their ‘royal guard’ came in with all sorts of fancy gadgets, the most important being ‘computers’ or ‘laptops’ which were used to set up a ‘video’ conference with no less than a dozen screens. Even those screens were split to show various scenes at once. Each few screens had an operator assigned to operate it for them. Their ability to communicate for military effectiveness was way beyond anything Ellen had ever seen.

Rasitah and Rae had never seen Ellen unnerved. But the humans had managed the feat. For everyone else the point of being unnerved had been passed long ago. Only a fraction of the invading fleets were making it to ground or sea intact. Re-entry - even with the protections of magic - had left sails damaged or destroyed rendering controlled landings next to impossible.

Ivan called Chum over to one scene where Cassidy was paying close attention. It was one of the first teams to arrive at an Illithid ship - the ones Ellen and Sybil had warned so much against. The humans of this world were still naive. They were sending a diplomatic mission in to make First Contact as the Illithids first exited their badly damaged ship. It had been forced to make a landing on a beach, something it wasn’t designed for. The instant the humans got close their voices sounded strangled and their telltales became erratic.

In the next instant two things happened. First, the heads of the closest Illithids exploded. Then they could overhear the conversation.

"This is Bravo Tango Golf. Spot Tango 1."

"This is Papa Bear. Confirm Bravo. Tiger 1. Weapons Hot. Light them up."

(Incoming AH-10 burps on the Illithid vessel from half a mile away with a salvo blowing holes through it. A pair of Apaches launch salvoes of rocketry to finish the job. Any surviving illithids will be on the run.)

The next battle went far better for the humans. They sent on some sort of golem vehicle that the Illithids tried to gesture at, but nothing happened at first. Then unseen forces started to throw the golem around. The rest of the battle went about like the first - with the golem being turned back over, undamaged.

The Beholder battle scenes were far worse for the humans, but not a single human died, not one. They had listened, for the most part, about the need to distance. The Beholders simply couldn’t get in range.

The human, Elven, Drow, and less volatile races didn’t just come out swinging. Instead they scattered and went to ground or got themselves surrounded by military forces. Sometimes they surrendered. Sometimes they put up a defensive fight. Perhaps the funniest scene was the attempt to use a catapult that still functioned - only to have the boulder shot out of the air and reduced to rubble.

Somewhere shortly after the first couple battles Ellen and her crew were introduced to popcorn. Apparently it was a human thing to do when watching movies.

Despite the promising scenes, a caution was given not to celebrate too early. Some of the vessels had landed in Russia with comparable results. But many other countries lacked the military strength of the superpowers.

The ships that interested Chum were the modern Deathspires. Three had made it to ground, none intact. They had not been primary targets, so the crews had gone to ground. One was in Canada; one in Russia; one in Australia.
 

Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
A shot at revenge and redemption.

Chum wasn’t totally assured that ‘awe’ was the right word for the levels of terror and impressed inside her, but it seemed close. The humans could communicate instantly over incredible distance, with none of that ‘word limit’ nonsense of a sending spell. The concept of a ‘sniper rifle’ assured her the humans weren’t secretly super-psionics, but a weapon capable of turning a head to gore from a distance a bow could only dream of was alarming. Not nearly as terrifying as the metallic dragon-things that the humans said were just machines, but still. And though the golem weapon wasn’t nearly as impressive as a real golem, a nonmagic golem was something crazy. Chum thought only gnomes could make those. But in the end, the equipment didn’t scare Chum nearly as much as the realization that the Humans just had... More army. And more. And more. Tens of thousands. Maybe even a hundred or two. With communication like that, how could anyone escape such a force? Chum nibbled at the ‘popcorn’, but the dread in her belly was filling enough. The humans didn’t have to be nice.


Once the battles were over, Chum wanted to leave. She didn’t want to see more reasons to be terrified of the humans. Instead, she saw a reason she needed their help: Three Deathspires. Two bore flags she didn’t know. One bore a red flag with a sharklike maw of blackened teeth upon it. The Black Maw.

“Black Fang.”

She said, almost a breathless whisper, but she knew everyone could hear her. Ellen saw the ship too, and Chum saw recognition in her eyes. Chum had to speak, fast.

“Those three, they’s all pirates for sure. Those two got better’n’even odds on slaves’r’prisoners in the holds, and that one definitely has some! You can’t just blow em to bits, they’s got innocents on board! I... They... This ship. Thirty-to-sixty goblins like me. Less’n’half serve by choice. Five-ta-seven Hobgoblins, me but taller n yellower, keeps the gobs in line. Three officers. Helmsmage an’ quartermaster full orcs, first mate’s half-orc half-human. Captain Blackfang, another orc, bigger’n’Kar. Cruel, evil bastard. The officers n hobgobs go down, the gobs oughta scatter... I swore I’d be the one ta kill the captain. But his head’s less ‘portant than saving her-... Her crew. Saving the crew. I gotta be there for tha one. And we gotta move fast.”

she said, frankly not caring if she gave up too much information or implicated herself or whatever. The humans liked information, and she was damn sure she wouldn’t get anywhere near that dread ship without their aid. Ellen could object in a minute. But one other question hit Chum’s mind.

“Can this scryin’ rig find someone specific? Like, I ask it to find someone, could I see ‘em?”
 

KirienIsamu

a determined artist
Olrion

Olrion had decided to leave the meeting early; everything appeared to be running smoothly and there wasn't any need for her service here. These humans were far more powerful than expected even with the lack of magic knowledge their technology could almost make up for it.
It was unnerving how easily they could dispatch their enemies.
But Olrion, in an attempt to remain confident, reasoned that she could easily burn them all if they ever became a threat. None of this was important at the moment. She needed to prepare the scrying for Chum.
Nose deep in her journal, Olrion rattled off everything she needed for the spell.
Within the room, she had been staying in, was a tall mirror with a bowl laying in front. Inside the bowl were twigs, dried leaves, and scraps of paper.
This would be the first time Olrion would attempt a none combat spell but her research gave the impression that it wouldn't be too difficult.
Briefly returning to the meeting, Olrion informed Chum that the spell was ready.
" I should be able to reach anyone on the same plane of existence as us. Although, do you have anything to help narrow the search down like a photo or something relating to the person; that would make the search easier. "
 

Mitheral

"Growf!"
The news regarding scrying on Chum’s behalf wasn’t good. They did have some ways to “scry”. But it requires the target being in line of sight, at relatively close range, and facial recognition data on hand. They had to explain that last part.

The military might of the human forces had concentrated on the more monstrous forces - Illithids, Beholders, Githyanki, and Aboleth - which by their descriptions were the most hostile. Kuo Toa, Yuan Ti, Dragonborn, and Lizard Men were next down the list. Finally all the human and humanoids were last.

Google Maps

By the time they got a recon of the Deathspire and Olrion conformed with scrying it was apparent the pirates had gone to ground, fled to try to hide in the wilderness or human communities. The Black Fang, as it turned out, was in Mother Russia. More specifically it has tried to use the Angara River just west of Lake Baikal and east of Irkutsk. Captain Blackfang was no fool. As soon as he saw the forces the Russians were mounting against him he abandoned the Black Maw. The Black Maw was a mess anyway.

Orion’s scrying spell made use of an Ioun stone from Enola and a mirror made with Star of Silver, an alchemical material made by Rae. Ellen had both materials on hand, which begged the question how she always seemed to know to be prepared like that. The scrying spell was a modification of one Enola used. She was a scout herself.

Orion’s spell was a wee bit different. It combined a Wizard Eye spell and blood magic. She would be able to see their body heat, as well as see in near total darkness, plus she would SEE scents as a glowing trail. With Chum’s help Olrion was able to locate the Bridge - where the Captain would have been during the battle, and track the pirate through the ship.

Chum knew right where the stinkin’ bastard sat on his bridge. The Captain had fled the bridge and traveled back to his quarters to pick up his personal loot - and one other scent. Oh Olrion couldn’t SEE his prey. But he could smell them. The second traveller was a goblin (Kelpie). That scent had been in a closet and shackled in chains. (Yep, Kelpie. He has a muzzle on her with a gag.)

From there he had met up with a small group of other pirates. His men were fleeing the metaphorical sinking ship like rats. Orion didn’t have time to check on the other goblins, but Ellen asked if Olrion could smell many other goblins in the path of the exodus. The answer to that was no. That meant most were probably still trapped in a half sunken ship on the shore of the river. As her wizard eye floated through the ship, every now and then she found a dead or dying pirate. They hadn’t all made it out.

She lost the trail as it headed into Irkutsk. The pirate was hoping to lose any tail in a big city. Orion was simply running low on mana finally. But she had picked up things like street names and odd shapes outside of buildings.

The real problem is that it would take half a day to get to Russia at best. More than likely it would take at least a couple days. But it was the closest Chum had ever been to finding Kelpie.

Ellen had heard enough. “Everyone, start getting ready for a mission. Chum. Stay with me for a minute. I want a talk with you in private. Dr Fraiser, we are going to need to travel to Russia. Make it happen. That diplomatic immunity you were talking about. We will need it there too. Sybil,” she spoke to the speaker phone, “did you catch that?”

“I did. Dr Fraiser, please inform the Russians this would be considered a diplomatic issue. And please ask their authorities to make a wide berth and not try to antagonize the pirates until our team gets there. We have good reason to believe they have a valuable hostage.”

“I’ll do what I can. But Russia is Russia,” the UN Liaison pointed out.

++++++++

Once the others had filtered out Ellen closed the door and asked Chum to take a seat. “We are going to Russia - with or without permission. I want you to know that. But I am going to ask one small favor of you. Please do not put Rasitah or Rae in any unnecessary danger. They are as important to me as Kelpie is to you. It is something I have never told anyone, not even them. They are my daughters. If you ever thought I favored them over you, I hope you will understand the difficulties of impartiality. But I know they care a great deal for you - especially Rasitah.”
 
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Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
Can't wait until the night.

Chum had been hesitant to do so, but the one thing of Kelpie's that Chum had was the amulet. The holy amulet, bearing the sigils of two gods. The one that matched Kelpie's own, perfectly. Chum handed it over, only saying one thing:

"If we get her back... I don't mind losin' this. Still don't want to, though."

Whether Chum would see it returned or not didn't matter; Sure, it was a gift from Kelpie, but if losing it brought them back together, Chum could always find a new one. Or make one. If she found the right-sized bone, she could maybe scrimshaw it... She shoved those thoughts aside when the scrying began in earnest. Chum vibrated with rage when she saw the brute she'd sworn vengeance against so long ago. She shook harder when she saw her love, bound and gagged like a slave. Seeing so many dead goblins still stuck in the hold sickened her. Chum wasn't sure if she was going to vomit, cry, or let loose a battlecry. Eventually, she settled on a simmering rage and a reaffirmation of her oath:

"Swear on Selune's starry sky an' Valkur's stormy sea, you'll die by my hand, an' yer soul's gonna drown in the depths... Black Fang, I swear I'll be yer damned end."

The sight of him and his officers fleeing towards the city got Chum even more riled. Human folk would die soon, and those cowardly monsters would find some deep dark hole to hide in. Chum would FIND them, and she'd KILL them, and-wait, they were half a day away? The diplomacy necessary to go there might take LONGER? Chum fumed and broiled, rage rolling over the little goblin in waves. However, she forced herself to cool a bit when they told the human to start the diplomacy, and specifically mentioned the 'hostage' part. Ellen was at least trying to look out for Kelpie, but it hit Chum that not only might someone shoot the captain long before she arrived, but someone might get Kelpie killed, too. It was only Ellen's assurance that they'd talk in private that kept Chum from demanding they go NOW. So, Chum took some deep breaths, took a swig of vodka from last night, and tried to steel herself for a talk where she had to convince Ellen to go along with some hare-brained plan...

--Only Chum Teeth and Captain Elen'shin'eyl remain--

Chum had expected Ellen to speak first, but what Ellen said was the real shock. She was all in for going there, Human approved or not? Rose and Rae were Ellen's DAUGHTERS? Was Moonshine NOT her daughter, at least by adoption? DAUGHTERS?... Half-sisters to each other? Wait, wait, that meant Captain Elen'shin'eyl, the uptight, fancy, higher-than-thou elf had kids! She'd been pregnant! She...


"Cap'n, you FUCK?" There was a fair pause after Chum said that. But she got back on track. "Sorry. Just... Real hard to picture you... Doin' tha do. Bein' so uptight an' all... Sorry. But... Well, Rose an' Rae do what they do. I won't ask 'em to walk into whatever Rat hole that Bastard holes up in. I'd even ask to go it alone. But if they decide they comin', I can't stop 'em. Dunno that Kar could, even. So... Well, I'll make sure I walk front, take point, however you say that'n. An' if the humans say no... Well, I can get there by my lonesome, if I get sneaky enough."

Chum said, reaching across the table to take Ellen's hands into hers. Trying to comfort her. Or, at least assure her that Chum would hold to her word. Chum could already imagine Rose's face upon hearing that Chum didn't want the half-orc along for the ride, and NOT telling them why. This family thing was a secret Ellen clearly didn't want to tell them. So Chum would keep that secret close. But secrets tended not to stay that way. So, letting go and standing up, Chum asked

"So, what do we tell everyone else?"
 

Mitheral

"Growf!"
Ellen allowed a smile. “Oh yes, I do the do - get busy. Bunnies have nothing on me. But know this. You are NOT going it alone. I consider my crew family. There is still a great deal about myself that I have never told anyone. But seeing as we have left our sphere behind us, I think there is one more thing you should know about me.

“You know how the Elves, Drow, and Human kingdoms have fallen into ruin over the past century or so? How their royal lines perished and Houses fell into feuds? You know of the stories of the Kingslayer?

“I am her - the Kingslayer. They killed my parents for falling in love - and doing the do. They called them traitors for their liaison. So I destroyed them. So take this to heart. Keep your patience. Kelpie’s life only buys Black Fang a swift death. Any harm he visits upon her he will endure tenfold if I get ahold of him. I fear the laws of these humans may not permit torture. I must admit though, they can certainly deal out - whoop ass.” She allowed a slight smile again. “Just so well in space.

“Now as I said, you will NOT be going after him alone. But I WILL try to convince the humans that it is OUR matter. If they come with us, they may dispatch him before you get the chance. One way or another, I will make it clear that Kelpie is NOT to be placed in greater risk. I would rather let him get away - for now - than lose Kelpie. I would rather he escaped with her then lose her. We can always track him down again.

“Now then, let’s get everyone together. We need to let Olrion get as much rest as possible while we travel so she can pick the trail back up when we get there. Perfect divination spell for a dhampir. I DO wish she didn’t like fire so much. But if we get Kelpie back, I think I can finally forgive her for all her past mistakes.”

*********

Ivan and Dr Fraiser came back with news rather swiftly. A flight was already being prepared. Ellen turned them down.

“We have our own transportation. Now that we know the other spelljammer ships can’t handle being planet side all that well, we should be safe from them. Send word to the Russians that we will need an escort when we reach their kingdom.”

“Nation,” Dr Fraiser corrected Ellen.

“We will need land transportation once we arrive though. And please extend our appreciation in advance.”

************

As it turned out Sybil’s ship was faster than any passenger jet the humans had. She set the vessel down in Lake Baikal as gently as she pleased close to where the pirate ship had set down. The land vehicles prepared for them looked … angry … made visible by flashing lights. Near the scene was a tent city among which were goblins apparently getting medical treatment. Ivan got a quick explanation and translated for Chum. Russian divers had gone in and found the slaves

The crew was escorted to the spot where Olrion had lost the trail. Now with several hours of rest Olrion had little difficulty picking the trail back up. It took her about an hour to track Black Fang down. He had 8 pirates with him, a mix of Uruk Hai, half orcs, humans and what looked like a half ogre dressed in an evil looking black plate mail that had been shot up pretty good - clearly to no effect. He was a new feature. Black Fang had picked up a new henchman. Judging by the body language of the rest of the pirates they were afraid of the guy.

Black Fang had holed up in a Russian mafia nightclub. There were dead mafia all over the place. They had not gone easy. The pirates now had guns. They also had the girls that worked for the Russians. Black Fang was keeping Kelpie close.

Ellen listened to the description of the scene. Then she spoke. “Black Fang knows we are coming. He knows Chum is still alive. Opinions - and I mean thoughts on how to proceed?”

Rasitah beat Karoshi to the punch line. “We go in, kill the pirates, rescue Kelpie!”

Even Karoshi shook her head. “That’s not a plan. Tell me you weren’t serious.”

Rasitah sighed. “I was, but I know. I could walk in there and pass my-”

“No!” Ellen stopped her right there. “You know better. Black Fang isn’t your average idiot that is going to fall for your charms. I know you are good at this, but he is wary and probably won’t trust anyone he doesn’t already know.”

Rae spoke up. Black Fang sent that half troll hybrid first. Troll - Ogre I think. Female. Let her get shot up, burned up, and still no effect. I think she’s both fire resistant and immune to unenchanted weapons. Armor wasn’t. That or she simply regenerated.”

Ellen nodded. “That one is mine. I don’t suppose you have a way to do something about the pirates?”

Rae nodded. “I do. Sleep potions. But I won’t be able to disperse it fast enough. I’ll need a few of you to toss in vials and make sure they break on impact. Neither will it take effect fast enough. The pirates might not care about killing the girls. But Black Fang will likely take Kelpie out before the gas can take effect. The stuff takes about a minute to vaporize and spread, and affect them. I doubt it will affect the Ogre-troll. The other problem is that it would affect us too.”

Ellen nodded. “Chum? Olrion? Oh … Olrion, this time, if you want to burn the pirates, feel free. But watch out for the girls.”
 

KirienIsamu

a determined artist
Olrion

If it was just the eight pirates and Black Fang this would be simple, go in and attack, Or burn the building down and block the exit. What could have been a simple battle has turned into a hostage situation. Emphasis looked to be placed on this Kelpie person she knew almost nothing about but was important to Chum.
" If you think that Kelpie is the only one at risk then what if someone sneaks in to rescue her and maybe some of the others too. Then we can move in for the kill."
Of course, this plan was easier said than done they would need a good lay of the land first, someone would have to get in without being seen and get out with the captive.
" Maybe we could lure some of them out of the building with a distraction?"
Olrion couldn't lie, she had no idea how this would work out if it even could.
" Or we could smoke them out of the building where we could pick him off from a distance. " She briefly felt a spark of excitement at the possibility to finally make good use of her best skills, until reality set in. " But I guess they could end up leaving the captives inside..."
She tried thinking about some of the stories she heard in the past. " You could break a hole in the ceiling and swing down from a rope to grab her and escape."
 

Graystone713

A rock?
Chum Teeth
Tactical Espionage Goblin

Chum almost had time to tell Captain Ellen that she actually didn’t know what she was on about, and barely knew anything about Ellen’s home sphere.
But Ellen launched into her own tale of trouble too quickly and it would’ve been really rude to interrupt. Once she was done, Chum found it too awkward to admit that she’d never heard of an elf referred to as the Kingslayer, or been aware that everyone but the dwarves, greenfolk, and halflings were on the way out in Ellen’s homelands. However, she did have one thing to pipe up about.

“If he hurts Kelpie, there won’t be anything left for ya to play wif. Don’t forget, his life is mine to take.”

—The Next Day—

Chum had spent a fair few hours doing research over the night, and discovered some very important things about the local architecture. Namely, most buildings had tunnels in the walls that pushed air around. Tunnels that, though small for a human, could fit a goblin like Chum in a pinch. She wasn’t sure how she could use this information just yet, but she knew the humans very much disliked it when they discovered her crawling about in there. So, when she resolved to nap for the flight over, she hoped her fellows understood why.

—A briefing in Russia—

Chum’s early plans, admittedly, had all relied on the idea that Black Fang wouldn’t remember her face too well. National television had destroyed that possibility, apparently. But if Black Fang knew, odds were that Kelpie knew, too. Magic was hard here, and it seemed like the gods weren’t listening. But there was a chance Kelpie had some little bit of magic left, and it was a sure bet that if Chum could get her unchained, Kelpie would take up arms. If it weren’t for the guns, Chum would take a chance.

“They got Kelpie and those workin’ ladies the crime folk used to have. We get serious ‘bout burnin’ the place up, someone we don’ wanna die dies first... But if we fake it a lil, we could distract ‘em, get all of ‘em lookin’ one way... So’s we can come up the other. Rose, gimme yer lock-stick. I know how I can get up behind ‘em.“

Said Chum, holding out her hand to receive the Chime of Opening she knew the Lady Rose to love. The Goblin saw an air fan machine attached to the building, and if the pipes behind it were big enough, she could get somewhere that Black Fang probably never suspected could be a way in... Maybe even get above him for the dramatic rope swing option that Olrion suggested, although that did seem a bit risky. But if Chum could be sure Black Fang’s gun was pointed elsewhere for just one moment, there was a chance. Also, conveniently, Chum was fairly certain that this was one plan that at least Rose couldn’t follow her for. Although her looks and curves were great for charming the weak-willed, Chum was fairly certain the half-orc’s curves couldn’t fit in those tubes. At least not easily... Rae was thin enough to be a maybe though, and Chum just hoped she didn’t follow Chum’s line of thinking.
 

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