After building some magic mirrors to let far-flung scouts and the main fleet and the Time Bomb communicate with each other, the party split up their fleet to hit a couple vulnerable spots that the Empire seemed to have left open (a weapons depot and the mines on Gaia), contact any resistance fighters on Paladine and Amalthia, search for stray Rii ships that might be willing to still oppose Enka, and try to defend Morpheus -- they didn't want to take on any of the really difficult or valuable opportunities (like liberating Rii, destroying the storm-crystal generator, etc.) until they'd reestablished contact with the Brushfire, since Itsaboy and Anagnoresis were likely to have valuable strategic assets in their possession which would act as significant force multipliers.
And if they didn't, well, they were just screwed, since their current forces weren't going to cut it.
So they headed off to the sun! They only had a vague idea of its location, but it was impossible to miss -- a really, really big, circular storm. REALLY big.
Cane: "Let's do an orbit and see if we can spot the Brushfire. Is that likely to work? How big is the storm anyway?"
GM: "Um..." *does some computations* "...about the size of Jupiter."
They did not spot the Brushfire. They did send some signals on a frequency the Brushfire was likely to be monitoring -- the Amalthian military wavelength that Xerxes had a tap on. There was no response. [And actually, in hindsigh, Xerxes was monitoring the receiver station on Amalthia itself, so probably wouldn't have heard them.] However, they did pick up a distress signal on the same frequency -- doubtless from the stranded Amalthian flagship they'd heard was trapped in the storm.
It was about 100 miles deep in the storm, but Kyngeah was up to the task of piloting the ship to reach it. They'd been warned that the ship was large, but the actual thing was... very, very large. MILES long, with a spinal mount cannon that looked like it could have fired entire villages as ammo. Cane dubbed it the 'Meteor Cannon', speculating as to what it might be used for.
The ship didn't look completely disabled, although it was damaged, but there was no sign of life -- not even clockwork life! Nico started scrying, and found that everyone on the ship was dead, violently murdered, apparently by each other. There were some clockwork, but they were dead too, and didn't seem to have been the major cause of the chaos. There was also, surprisingly, a Teek contingent in a TL10 enclave deep inside the ship -- Teek were obsessed with data, surely they'd have good records on what had happened!
So they docked the Time Bomb in one of the two giant hangars, each of which looked like it could have held a fleet (but each of which currently only had one ship in it -- they picked the one with the weird flying acorn), and made their way to the Teek's room.
Where they were defeated by a screensaver password. Doh! And all the equipment was wired to the walls, so it wasn't even really mobile... or maybe it was, damned if they knew. Kyngeah tried to speak with dead to get their passwords, but she didn't actually know the spell speak with dead, and had to just wander around on the astral plane to try to find wandering spirits. She didn't find the teek, but she did find two classes of proto-ghost -- one, the ghosts of soldiers, who'd died by being physically ripped apart, in more pain than a living being should have been capable of suffering, and two, the ghosts of civilians, who'd died suddenly with no warning, and whose last thoughts were 'why me? I'm innocent!' Cane speculated that perhaps they'd been sacrificed to fire the Meteor Gun, but no one knew for sure.
Anyway, they heard a commotion nearby, and went to investigate -- they found a human fighting with some strange, black-clawed beast. All they saw were the beast's claws, before the guy blew up a teleport-gateway and trapped the creature on the other side. Strangely, the man seemed *disappointed* that the gateway was gone?
Anyway, he asked them if they were crazy, and they all said 'yes', except for Cane who said 'not with the crazy that killed the entire crew'. Probably an important clarification since he was pointing a gun at them.
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