A plan is quickly hatched to draw a few androids out of the launch bay and into an ambush. This plan might have involved the neurotic ‘Sentient Organic Cybernetic Combat AI’ residing somewhere in the base, until Airy discovers ‘Edmund’ has now assumed the persona of a hardboiled gumshoe in a circa 2350 film noir crime drama. Airy tries her best to again insinuate herself into this new delusion as a friendly agent (or perhaps a romantic interest, haha!), but is unsuccessful this time and ‘Borg Noir, Private Eye’ remains aloof and suspicious. It seems that any plan to use Edmund as a communications conduit, or directly against the androids, must be put on hold for now.
Everyone retreats quietly back to the Post Exchange sector through the only open blast door to the VTOL Ops sector. On the chance the androids possess laser weapons, Cassey suggests Airy spray herself and Doc down with the canister of ‘black’ laser-neutralizing foam looted from Facility 7. This amazing spray-on foam instantly dries and shrinks into a thin and flexible second-skin covering the entire body and equipment as well. Small amounts of the suit are then peel away to allow respiration, vision, and access to equipment. Airy and Josephine set up their ambush a few meters from the transit-way exit, with energy-dagger and laser carbine at the ready. Josephines two-handed sword is laid conveniently nearby. Doc hides 40 meters distant behind a transit terminal bulkhead with assault rifle locked and loaded.
Cassey drops the bulk of her equipment, taking only the combat shotgun, personal force field, Stage IV access card and Control Baton, and sprints back to the Power Control Sector (a ten-minute trip for the fleet-footed mutated cassowary). Using the Stage IV card and Baton Cassey accesses the locked-down power control terminal and briefly cycles the VTOL Ops sector power off and on, trying to simulate an technical issue, then begins the sprint back. The team communicators lack the range to function across multiple sectors. The Post Exchange ambush team is quickly rewarded with the appearance of two androids emerging with apparent unconcern from the transit-way: the warrior bearing a readied energy rifle and one worker carrying several tool kits with sidearm still holstered.
Doc squeezes off a burst, but the rounds strike concrete. The rifle jams on the next burst. Josephine fires twice with her carbine. The first beam is absorbed by the warriors heavy combat armor, but the 2nd penetrates. Then Airy jumps in. Her energy dagger combined with mastery of melee combat proves highly effective vs. combat armor and the warrior android is wounded multiple times. Doc resumes fire, missing with his first burst, then gets yet another ammunition jam! Josephone has no better luck and the 100+ year old laser carbine finally expires in a gout of blue-white smoke and sizzling flame. The warrior android has just enough time to lay a couple of smoking laser burn across Airy’s tactical armor and duralloy shield before being felled by the whirling blue force-blade. Most of the laser energy is absorbed by the black neutralizing pigment. The armored android falls in pieces to the ground with spine and left leg completely severed…bright blood flows over the floor.
Meanwhile the hapless technician has managed to drop the toolkits and claw forth a laser pistol, but is only able to get off one wild shot before his companion is reduced to a jumble of bloody tissue and gleaming alloy shards. The android turns to flee back toward the VTOL Ops sector. Doc takes careful aim from 45 meters and hits with a 3-round burst dealing a debilitating wound to the technician’s leg. Airy and Josephine are able to easily overtake and cut down the crippled android. Unfortunately Josephine shatters her beloved greatsword against the concrete floor just as the fight ends. Both androids self-destruct as expected. Their armor is destroyed but the laser pistol is still in good condition. The warrior androids laser rifle has also survived, though now in poor condition.
Airy, Josephine and Doc proceed quickly back to the VTOL Ops sector control center overlooking the launch bay. The 15-meter VTOL is obviously powered up. A shimmery heat-haze rises from parts of the craft and lights shine from various ports. The staged cargo is still lined up behind the open loading ramp. The Thinker android is not in sight, but a worker android with laser pistol drawn is about halfway across the launch bay floor and running flat out for the VTOL loading ramp. The left and right Stage IV access doors to the launch bay gallery open automatically, apparently previously subverted by the androids. Airy and Doc rush through the left door while Josephine takes the right door. Airy previously dropped all her gear except pistol, energy-dagger and armor so is able to race quickly around the gallery and drop 4 meters down onto the 6-meter high pile of rubble pushed up against the wall there. Airy stumbles and sustains a minor wound from the drop, but reaches the launch bay floor quickly and is now only 20 meters from the humming android aircraft. Doc and Josephine fire at the running android from the control center doors. Josephine scores the concrete floor with laser pistol fire but Doc wings the androids right arm. Despite this the dodging and ducking android manages to hang on to the laser pistol. Doc reaches the first access lift and slaps the down button.
The android worker reaches the VTOL and the loading ramp closes quickly. The craft is already rising straight up on a column of quiet anti-gravity assisted propulsion. Doc fires a dozen rounds from the descending lift, but all ricochet off the crafts armored hull. The android laser pistol was evidently damaged and fails when Josephine fires at the android craft (rolled a 1). Airy rushes up just as the craft rises into the launch tube. Five heavy pistol slugs ineffectually dent the hull before the mysterious VTOL disappears into the small disc of starry night sky high above.
The androids left behind a number of tool kits of all types, including a rare and prized explosives/bomb disposal toolkit, and piles of electronic, mechanical and other repair parts. But the biggest find consists of eight brand new Atomic Cells (currently discharged). These are later transported back to the Power Sector and recharged using the atomic cell remanufacturing facility previously found there.
As Cassey runs through the Barracks Sector, she crashes right into 2 worker androids running toward the Post Exchange Sector. The androids are completely unarmed and dragging along two heavy containers filled with looted electronic components. Cassey makes short work of the hapless androids. Some minutes later she links back up with Airy, Doc and Josephine at the transit-way ambush location.
The team quickly returns to the Command and Control Sector and closes the last blast door to VTOL Ops…these heavy 5 meter wide by 3 meter high MBC-controlled doors would require at least a demo charge to blast open, or several minutes work with energy blades or beams to cut through. Airy spends the rest of the day figuring out how to utilize the fort’s communications and remote surveillance systems. No external communications are possible as the mountain above is sheared off by atomic blasts along with any surface elements that might have existed. A continuous watch is set on the surveillance cameras in the VTOL Sector Launch Bay and the five blast doors accessing the sector, in case the androids return in force. Power is now restored to all 11 sectors of the base.
About 10 days of food remain, which unless the team finds more food will define how long they can continue exploring the base. Enough water to sustain the team is available in ancient toilets and drain sumps throughout the base. There is no radiation in the base except in the VTOL Sector (intensity 1) and in the Launch Bay itself (intensity 6). No additional androids make an appearance. Five were killed, including one warrior and four workers, while at least two escaped in the VTOL (one Worker and presumably the Thinker).
In the first day, Doc figures out the VR Training Pods in the Training Sector. The pods provide accelerated training in many ancient artifacts including various power armor and vehicle variants, numerous weapons, and general skills. Every 8 hours in the pods teaches mastery of one class of vehicle, armor or weapon, or one general skill (+5, bypassing any skill limits). Doc uses the Pods to first get +5 to his medical skill, bringing him to 90. Josephine uses the Pods to learn a new skill: ‘POWER ARMOR’. This skill provides numerous benefits including more efficient use of power armor (greatly reduced power consumption compared to unskilled operators). Cassey spends the day scavenging the Post Exchange Sector, assisted by Josephine, unfortunately with no success…this area was apparently picked clean by the androids.
On day two Airy learns how to pilot UWS AGRAV/VTOL aircraft. While surveying the various 26th-century Shadow-years models available in the simulator, Airy realizes none of these match the craft flown by the androids, though many share a similar basic layout. Doc learns the new POWER ARMOR skill. Josephine learns how to use the UWS Inertia Armor. Cassey learns how to drive Military Ground Cars (alcohol powered) and later do some scavenging in the Motorpool Sector, this time turning up a cache of various ground vehicle and hovercraft repair parts. Josephine learns how to use UWS Inertia Armor, the same model found in the Stage IV vault back in the Armor sector. At this time the team possess eight fully charged Atomic Cells and a NEW suit of Inertia Armor. Each cell can power this armor for 40 hours (not counting POWER ARMOR skill bonus). The poor-condition Power-Armor Fusion Rifle and two decrepit tactical dirty-fission bombs also remain in the Armory.
Day three: Cassey learns a new skill, ‘PILOTING’. This skill allows checks to successfully perform difficult maneuvers or make crash-saves when driving or piloting any vehicle. Airy learns how to operate the UWS Inertia armor. Josephine increases a skill, I forget which… Doc will decide what he wants to focus on for day 3. Airy checks in with Edmund and discovers he has changed personalities yet again, this time a lovable alien masquerading as the pet of an unsuspecting 25th century domestic family. It seems the neurotic Defense Borg adopts a new personality from its vast trove of ancient holovids as often as twice daily.
What other marvels will the team discover? The Medical Sector remains to be explored in more detail. Only the Post Exchange and Motorpool sectors have been thoroughly scavenged by Cassey and Josephine. The VR pods offer an unheard-of opportunity to learn ancient technologies and new skills. How long will the androids leave this intact military facility in the hands of a small party of mutant and pure-strain adventurers? So far the VTOL Launch Bay remains quiet…