The party spent some time resting in the otherwise empty barracks. The dragon talked to Gamble for a while about the history of the conflict -- the first wave, they tried to make it so that no one cared about the plant, which should make it go away. The second wave, they tried to fixate on something they'd noticed during the first wave -- at the same time as the waves happened, something tended to unravel and the Templars stopped it. So they sent a bunch of shapeshifting combat golems to see if they could stop the Templars from stopping it. Obviously, they failed. This time -- well, he didn't want to talk about it.
Gamble: "Because it involved genocide?"
Dragon: "No one said genocide."
Gamble: "How can you work for these people?"
Dragon: "It's my duty. I'm a piece of military hardware."
A technician was sent to 'fix' Gamble so that he, too, would do his duty. Gamble refused to let him work on him. He ordered the Dragon to grab him, and the Dragon mostly succeeded but not easily or constantly... and the technician kept getting distracted by Serene from actually doing anything. Eventually, the Dragon gave up and grabbed the technician to undistract him, and they negotiated a diagnostic, with no changes made at this time.
The technician identified several broken systems, but the main thing was that Gamble's brain was so *badly* broken that they really needed to replace it. They didn't have any spares, though, so he'd crack open his skull and see if he could spot a loose wire or something. Gamble refused to put up with that, and sent him away. The dragon was ordered to leave a bit later.
Meanwhile, Carnelian returned from her exploration of the air vents. They were in part of a miner-cat complex, so the vents just led to the surface, and to a couple other rooms, not all of which were under the control of the offworlders. "It's a shame I can't turn you two into weasels, since we obviously need to escape."
"I can!" volunteered the weasel, suddenly appearing out of nowhere.
Unfortunately, that spell took a long time to cast, and the room was under surveillance. Before he'd finished casting, the guards outside the doors came in and pointed guns at Gamble's head, where the weasel was sitting. Well, one of them did. The other one was just confused.
Regardless, when one took a shot at the weasel and missed, Carnelian and Serene decided to fight back. Serene turned invisible and started beating on the confused guard, quickly taking him down. Meanwhile, Carnelian kept interposing herself between Gamble and the other guard so that he couldn't shoot... until the translator arrived to try to explain that they didn't want to hurt the prisoners, they just wanted to destroy the evil 'daemon' that was going to betray them if they made use of its power. No, he wasn't anything like that articulate.
Just as the spell went off, reinforcements arrived. Serene possessed one of them, and after Carnelian turned herself into a weasel and hid (while waiting for a flashbang grenade to wear off), pretended that she'd seen her running out of the room to distract them. Then she tasered the interpreter, the only other one who hadn't run off, and stripped the soldier of most of his gear, flying off with it to rejoin the others on the surface.
A little looking around told them where they were -- on the slum level, near one of the giant sinkholes. They decided to head out of the city as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, on the way they ran into a patrol of Templars.
Normally, this wouldn't have been anything to worry about, but Gamble wasn't able to resist his urge to attack them this time, and charged into battle! The templars activate fiery armor -- oh no, their magic items were still working! Carnelian shaped the fire off the armor into a little torch on each of their heads, while Serene flung fear and panic spells, although she didn't get any to run right away, and then pulled out the laser rifle she'd stolen from the guard. Before leaving, she'd written down instructions on how to use it, and studied them after returning to her own form -- so unlike Gamble earlier, she was able to figure out how to fire.
Unfortunately, Gamble was no match for the Templars in melee -- not when they still had all their magic and all his was disenchanted. Two flanked him and forced him to pick which one to face, and got some nasty hits in, although Carnelian flashed them after that and blinded one (along with one of two hanging back to use bows, thanks to Fear spells).
Eventually, Gamble had no choice but to run, with his arm mangled... and then no choice but to collapse and bleed, with a leg mangled and his hit points depleted twice over (although he was lucky enough not to immediately expire from his wounds). Serene had managed to panic one of the templars, at least, and then to shoot another in the back with the laser. But the blinded templars regained their sight, and came after her... so she turned insubstantial and walked through a couple walls. The templars tried to follow, but couldn't find her, in part because she'd also turned invisible. And shot the same one in the back, again.
One templar was in position to see that, though -- the laser coming out of nowhere. He cast 'see invisible'... and then started running away, as Serene got a Panic off on him. That left one templar, with negative hit points, still fighting, and another at full health searching alleyways. The wounded one ran to find his friend, and together they made a tactical retreat.
Carnelian, who'd held down the wounded one while Serene did the shooting in the back and panicking, was also at negative hit points, so they decided to find a good place to hide and heal up. Coincidentally (sort of), they were kind of near the Squirrel gang's secret hideout, which was (a) secret, and (b) a hideout. They weren't *entirely* surprised to find that Sadie had located the rest of her gang, and that they were still hiding out there.
Carnelian: "Those templars are nasty."
Sadie: "What? Why were you fighting the templars? They've been helping us!"
Serene: "They're not going to find us here, are they?"
Sadie: "Oh, no, they don't come *here*, but..."
Carnelian: "Good. I'm going to pass out then."
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