5055/Germination: Knowplace Like Home

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Germination: Knowplace Like Home
Date of Scene: 30 July 2018
Location: Knowhere
Synopsis: The continued adventures of three Titans and one Novan on Knowhere. Sent to find some 'slow glass', they run into about as many kinds of trouble as it's possible, including an agent of the Collector, some self-duplicating bounty hunters, some illegal miners with immensely dangerous equipment, and a very strange cosmonaut. Somehow it all works out rather well in the end.
Cast of Characters: Stardust, Brick, Robin (Wayne), Nuala Duvall
Tinyplot: Germination

Stardust has posed:
A few hours earlier...

    "If you'd care to have some more detailed information on the care of those spores," Tobeah says slyly, "...there's a little task you could do for me." She holds up a small block of what appears to be clear crystal or glass, at least until she moves it around, when it appears to blur. "Know what this is? Slow Glass." She holds it up to her 'eye', then moves it away. For a few seconds, her eye remains visible in it.

    "Very useful. Quite valuable. One source is right here in Knowhere. It's mined illicitly from time to time. I acquired this from a group of X'han yesterday. I suspect they have a secret mine. I am sure Nuala will agree, they should be stopped. It's disruptive to the fabric of the place to remove it. However if something has already been mined, well, I wouldn't object to some of it ending up in my hands..."

The present

The X'han are bipeds, averaging around five feet tall, with a rubbery purple hide and a crest of bone on their heads, but otherwise fairly humanoid. They also appear to have a prodigious capacity for alcohol. The group of humans have been sitting at a table in the Starlin bar for two hours now, watching them down drink after drink. There's no saying how much the aliens had drunk before they arrived, either. Surely it can't be much longer before they've had enough, and can then hopefully be followed to wherever they are based.

    So the heroes sit, nursing their drinks and keeping an eye on their marks. Hopefully non-alcoholic, though here on Knowhere, nobody has asked the Titans for ID. Maybe the drinking age is lower than in America. Colette has been paying, and it's probably best not to ask her where she got the units from. It's hardly boring waiting around here though. The inhabitants of the bar seem even more diverse than the marketplace, a riot of smells, colors and languages.

    Mostly the rest of the clientele ignores the humans, so long as they're not drawing attention to themselves, though humans are rare enough to gain a few glances. One exception is a very tall and slender humanoid with some kind of cybernetic apparatus fitted to his jaw, who sits alone, not drinking, and seems to be being avoided by the rest of the patrons. He has been glancing in the direction of the group from time to time, and occasionally mouthing silently to himself, or into some communicator. It's enough to make anyone suspicious, so when he gets to his feet and walks by the their table, everyone is ready for whatever might happen.

<<Some of you are new to Knowhere,>> he says in Interlac. <<If you would do some sightseeing, I recommend my master's museum. There are none better in the galaxy, I assure you.>> He does not wait for a reply, but drops a flyer on the table as he passes, advertizing the Collector's museum. Apparently entry is free with the flyer.

     The next interruption comes just moments later, and this time, surprisingly, in English. "Humans! Even worse, Americans. I knew I smell trouble when I walk in here." The speaker appears to be a fellow human, powerfully built and well over six feet tall, with a jutting jaw and rather ugly features. He's wearing a decidedly non-Terran space suit, with the faceplate retracted, and his accent sounds Slavic. He steps towards the Titan's table, looking the three up and down.

    The man's arrival is greeted by a soft *ping* of warning from Maire Boite, informing Brick that the newcomer is an immensely powerful psychic, and there are indications that he is masking his appearance. However a chemical trace seems to back up his human identity. Whoever it is, he was born on Earth, or at least grew up there. Probably close to a major mountain range in the northern Eurasian continent.

    "Trouble follow you types around," he continues with a grin that's not entirely unfriendly. "And my job is to..." He stops suddenly, sniffing the air, blinks a couple of times, then stares curiously at Colette. He tilts his head sharply to one side, then says "Strider? I haven't seen you since..."

Stardust has posed:
    Colette looks him up and down with the hint of a smirk. "Do I look like a reject from Middle Earth? Believe me, this sword is /not/ broken. And my buddies may be short, but they're no hobbits. The name is Colette. And I'm French, thank you very much. What's your malfunction?"

    The man looks puzzled at Colette, then jerks his head dismissively. "If you say." He turns to look critically at the other three. "Well, whoever you are, try to restrain selfs from causing trouble." He nods his head to Nuala. "You Nova, should know better than hang with Humans. Pity you human yourself. You keep them out of trouble, hear?" Then to the Titans: "You be GOOD humans. Yes?"

Brick has posed:
Brick looks up at the manlike creature and squints. "The humans will behave themselves as well as anyone does here," he says. Psychic illusions are a major pain because they distort all the checksums. Maire Boit is less likely to be fooled, but why the personage is from the Caucasus... weird. Probably some sort of cosmonaut to be all the way out here. There were a few accidents in the very early days of space travel.

"He's talking to the voices in your head," Brick mutters at Colette. Because he's uncomfortable and trying to focus on how to make the fungus thrive and doesn't want to deal with this side trip, but he has to. Slow glass. Yeah, that stuff would get SO HOT ... Maybe that's a way to find it? He subvocalizes to Maire Boit to scan for that.

Robin (Wayne) has posed:
     Damian had been enjoying a drink that was pretty stout. The young teen however did not take kindly to what this man was saying. "Listen cyka, the only problem here is that you are causing one. So get to stepping, or I'll use this sword to cut you so deep, your babushka will feel it." He says, stepping up to the fellow, looking up and with a scowl on his face that would send most Gothamites running to their moms.

  A hand holds to the hilt of his sword, attached to his back. Ready it seems to prove himself in any capacity needed.

Nuala Duvall has posed:
    Nuala stepped out for a moment, she had to follow on another piece of information. She steps back in, her Halal uniform on, and starts toward the table. She spots Damian stepping up to the stranger, and she works her way between the tables over to the humans. "I think that the owner of this establishment would prefer us not to be engaging in reckless violence in the premise," she comments.
    She turns toward the man. "Nuala Duvall," she introduces herself. She glances down at the flyers. "The Collector?" she asks. "Wonderful contact," she says to the rest of the team, not sure who had procured such a connection. Also, she's trying to find a more peaceful tone of conversation, having no idea what has caused the tensions to rise.

Stardust has posed:
Colette nods her head to Brick. "Ah, one of the aliens... that makes sense, maybe one is called... is he a telepath? That would make sense." Meanwhile, Maire Boit scans for heat sources. Slow Glass can get very hot indeed if it's left exposed to light for too long, which is one reason why it's quite valuable. It can act as a battery for heat and light, emitting what it's exposed to slowly. However Knowhere is full of heat sources, varying from small pests running around the corridors to fusion reactors. No luck there."

    "Ha! I like small human!" The ugly man replies to Nuala. "He act angry, but he smell friendly! Don't worry." He turns to Damian again, grinning. "Woof woof, yes? Funny! You very smart guy for American. Not smart to threaten, though. Especially when you cannot take sword from sheath, yes?" Which is true. If Damian tries, his sword appears to be solidly stuck in place, for now. He laughs again, another "Ha! Brave human. You not in Gotham now though. Be careful, not all here so friendly like me! Ahhh, look. No, don't turn! Your purple friends moving. You chase them now, yes? Maybe have drone?"

    A glance out of the corner of the eye will show the man is right. The X'han have finished their drink, and are on the move! They push their way towards the door, which means having to pass the table the four humans are at. Good way to ensure they don't go unnoticed.

Brick has posed:
The "slow glass" signatures are not just normal heat sources, but there are dozens of them and they're all over the place. Brick stands up, and says, "Maire, SEP me please."

The *PING* that follows is accompanied by a peculiar warping effect, and Brick seems to disappear. Except he doesn't. He's just no longer significant or important. Being a human (or apparent human) on Knowhere is very much a thing that would cause people to worry, thanks to the weird galactic rep humans have gotten, in part due to Peter Quill (who is also something else) but being of NeoGenesian stock, which is also disturbing, would cause other people to worry. And the Someone Else's Problem Field makes Brick really hard to notice, as he follows the X'han.

Robin (Wayne) has posed:
     Damian looks to the man, then tries to pull his sword. "F**k!" He exclaims before looking back to the man. "Woof woof?" He asks, looking a bit confused. But the man was right, spotting the X'han out of the corner of his eye. He raises his hood, grabbing a small launcher from his belt. Once the X'han pass, he discreetly launches a small tracker to attach to the aliens.

Nuala Duvall has posed:
    Nuala glances to Brick following the X'han, giving a slightly worried look. "I did not bring everyone here to go making a name for themselves," she says quietly toward Colette. "What are they doing?" She glances back at the short man and reads quickly through the brochure. "This says free admission. If we could speak with the Collector, he may very well have some information to help us." She glances to the stranger, hoping he can divulge some more on the subject.

Stardust has posed:
Brick slips easily through the crowds at the door, people seeming to just get out of his way without even thinking what they're doing, and is soon following the X'han down the station corridor. Colette hops to her feet, holds out a palm to the others in a 'wait' gesutre as she watches him get a little head. "No idea, Nuala. Testosterone. Ignore them. Grab the flyer, we'll take a look once we've got the glass stuff." She flips her hadn round to a 'come' gesture. "Let's go, we don't want to lose them.".

"Da, da! You follow!" the ugly man says. "Not want to lose. No worry, I keep your table." He sits down in Colette's vacated seat, giving Damian a wink as he does so. "You speak very bad dog. Better stick to English. Try not get into too much trouble, little human, I like you!"

    With the aid of Damian's tracker and Brick's clever stealth tricks, it's easy to follow the X'han. Not that they are making any effort to avoid being followed. They're a little rowdy as they head deeper into the labyrinth of corridors and tunnels leading into the less populated areas of the station. After about quarter of an hour walking, they stop by a crack in an old tunnel wall, look both ways to see there's nobody around (totally ignoring that Brick is in sight), and slip through the crack.

    The crack is wide enough to squeeze through, but a glance through is enough to show that it leads into an old maintenance room. The X'han grab facemasks from a rack of a dozen or so - obviously rather newer than the rest of the gear in the room - and head through an airlock door. Brick's sensors will immediately note there is vacuum the other side. The face masks are a model Nuala will recognize, widely used around the galaxy. They provide short term vacuum protection with about five minutes of oxygen, rechargable at recharge racks such as the one the masks are on. They use a conformal seal, and will be perfectly good for the humans to use, too.

Brick has posed:
Brick taps a spot on his shoulder, and his odd blue "xtreme sport" suit changes its configuration to be slightly more armored and nuch nore vac-proof. The face shield appears and completely covers his face, and he spends a bit of zero-energy to boost his personal invulnerability and mobility. He follows the last of the X'han into the airlock and cycles through with them.

This will be amusing. He sends a 'still alive' and a 'entering vac' glyph to Colette.

Nuala Duvall has posed:
    Nuala rubs her head briefly, running her finger across the silver band. "Very well," she says. After all, she has to make sure these kids don't get into too much trouble. She takes up to running after them, reaching the facemasks. She grabs one off the rack, "Just put it on your face and tap here," she illustrates to those who may not know the process, the mask reaching around her head. "Pretty simple. "Try not to get stuck out here for long. They are not made for long periods of time." She pushes her way through the crack. and into the vacuum.

Robin (Wayne) has posed:
     "Did I just meet a dog-man?" He asks exiting the tavern. He follows from a distance, keeping an eye on the tracer from his HUD.

  Damian follows the tracker, performing the same ritual that Nuala had shown. He enters the vacuum area, the cold not bothering him much really. Wether it was his training or his stubborn demeanor was up for debate.

Stardust has posed:
Brick follows the X'han down a passageway that looks like it's barely been used in a long time, taking a few twists and turns. The passage ends suddenly, opening up into a large cavern, after about 2 minutes of walking. The X'han stop to refill their mask at a rack by the passage end, then take off using grav boosters and into the cavern beyond.

    The cavern is vast, walls curving away into darkness, and no floor or ceiling visible from the passageway. The far side of it is filled with a field of faint luminance, some kind of force field, perhaps. A dozen or so glow bulbs are drifting in the cavern, lighting up the region around the passage entrance and a few hundred feet either side with a faint light. Roughly in the middle of the cavern, a space ship about half the size of Nuala's hangs there, perhaps a hundred and fifty feet from the passage end. It has a large cargo bay door wide open, with some kind of sonic cannon pointing out, chiselling away at a cluster of minerals growing from one wall. Two X'han are operating the sonic cannon, while the four that led the heroes here drift towards the ship.

    Colette gives a nod of her head to Nuala, and puts a mask on without hesistation. "Neat," she says. "Can I keep it?" Once the other three are masked up and through the airlock, they can follow Brick's lead. It's not a pleasant journey, but bearable. By the time they reach the end of the passageway and join Brick, violet lights are blinking in the mask hud, showing the masks at half capacity. It's just a matter of moments to top the mask oxygen supplies up again.

    By the time everyone is ready, the four X'han have boarded their ship and moved inside. The two manning the sonic cannon seem to be getting on with their work. And at that moment, Maire Boite *PING*s a warning - the airlock just opened again.

Brick has posed:
"... and slow glass would be a biological adaptation used by a hypercomplex alien as part of an advanced optical processing system," Brick says to Maire Boit, as he enthusiastically scans the eye socket and the faint traces of what remains of the analogous material to "vitreous humour" -- and scans the retina and the area around the places where nerves would be routed. Unlike human eyeballs, the wiring makes SENSE here, what little remains of it.


"Don't worry, SIs," he says. "I see it."

Brick moves towards where the sonic cannon is in use. Well. This is a vacuum, and he's really curious how something that operates by sound is working without a transmissive medium. Alien tech! Neat!

Nuala Duvall has posed:
    "No, they are for public use," Nuala answers Colette dryly. She's such a party pooper. She makes her way to the airlock, and taps her suit, bringing up a scan of the ship to attempt to determine what they might be doing inside.
     "That's no sonic gun" she says aloud. She makes a few more taps on her suit's forearm. "I really could use Timmy right now," she comments to herself. Of course, Timmy is offline so that she won't have to answer questions about terrans on her ship. "I'm not sure exactly, but this is soem kind of quantum disruptor. They are going to try to displace the glass from newtonian reality. Very dangerous. Get back from it!"

Robin (Wayne) has posed:
     Damian keeps moving, joining with Brick along with the others. He's been very silent as far, though it was for a reason. He's feeling some strange vibrations in the area. The assassin makes towards the source, trying to keep his observations focused and keen in the vacuum.

Stardust has posed:
As Brick approaches, his scans reveal the cannon is emitting a probability flux. It's an interesting and very unreliable tech. When things are tuned well, it induces an interference pattern of non-reality along atomic bonds, making it very efficient at cutting hard minerals. When things are tuned badly, they either cause very random releases of generally pretty dangerous radioactive particles, or more often just explode. It's one of those pieces of fairly advanced tech that most species have the sense to avoid like the plague by the time they develop it. However, in space, it takes all sorts.

  While Brick and Nuala investigate the cannon, Damian's finely honed senses detect vibrations in the ground, coming from the way they came. He round the first corner, and sees two figures running towards him. The lead figure raises a large cannon and fires! His aim is poor though, and he brings down a large chunk of the roof at the corner. Damian is easily able to tumble out of the way , conveniently providing some cover to duck behind. A moment after he fires, the following alien makes a grab for the first, but the first splits into two, and then the duplicate splits into a third, and the third splits into a fourth. The first and second stop and apparently argue, while the three duplicates keep coming.

Sensing the rumbling of the collapsing wall, Colette looks back, then gestures wildly to the other two before sprinting back down the corridor to join Damian behind a block of ceiling. The three duplicate aliens keep firing.

    <<O Bozhe. I told you would be trouble, yes? Humans always find trouble.>> The voice can be heard by all four, in their heads. The ugly man from the bar seems to step out of the shadows, and joins Colette and Damian behind the pile of rubble. <<Get under cover! Who are these... oh, bounty hunters. Stupid ones too.>>

Brick has posed:
Brick has scans of the inside of that ship by now, at least, passive ones. He taps a rapid code on the bracer on his left arm and disappears, this time not boom-tubing but using a "phase space" based portation move that shifts him into the gun room on the spaceship. There, Maire Boit *PINGS* and re-orders the energy fields in the gun so that it will dissolve its own emitter.

"This gun is dangerous to your own ship, you idiots," he says. Because it is. If they fire it again it'll disintegrate itself completely and leave a big hole.

"Hey, Comrade Cosmonaut, what do you want me to do with his ship of fools? Is there a jail or something?"

Nuala Duvall has posed:
    A Xandarian curse utters from Nuala, "Sometimes I hate my job," he grunts. Time for some lethal force. Her plasma blasters open on each wrist. She doesn't have the diversity or armor that her shell suit offers, but the 4800 degree *FwooP* pierces through the chasm. The radiant heat from them along is probably enough to light up some of the slow glass. It's crazy hot, and most likely uncomfortable for the allies in the vicinity, like a split instant of baking in an oven as the plasma shots plunge toward the attackers that are duplicating. Her team is under lethal threat, and so a lethal answer is her response, well within normal operating procedures and all.

Robin (Wayne) has posed:
     Damian looks at the tall man, grabbing two birdarangs, and throwing them at two incoming aliens. "What do bounty hunters want with us?" He asks the dog-man. Readying the PEPS gun on his gauntlet for some gunplay.

Stardust has posed:
On the X'han ship...

    Brick messes with the finely balanced functioning of a quantum interference cannon while it's firing. BOOM.

    No, he lucks out. Fizzle. Crack. Fizz. Followed by *PING!* *PING!* indicating a large dose of hard radiation heading Brick's way.

    The two X'han manning the cannon pull out hand guns and start firing at Brick, though the weapons are not powerful and don't get through his defenses, at least with the first few shots.

    Panicked by the explosions heading their way and the screams of <<We've been boarded!>> from the crew in the loading bay, the pilot of the ship decides it's a good idea to get the hell out of Knowhere. The ship banks and starts moving towards the energy field at the far end of the cavern, trying to make an escape. With Brick on board.

Back at the passageway

    Nuala discharges her plasma blasters down the passageway at the approaching bounty hunters. Both bolts hit their targets, the lead two duplicates. Both are engulfed in a momentarily brilliant flash of coruscating lightning as the heat is discharged into the rock of the passageway by the energy transduction shields the aliens wear, but the shielding is almost overwhelmed. The first alien drops. The second is still standing, but his cannon is beginning to shower sparks. He hurls it forwards, and drops to a crouch as it explodes in front of him.

    <<Good question, small human>>, the cosmonaut replies. <<They seem a bit confused about this themselves. I would like to question them further. Str... Colette, please be stopping the ship. It is trying to depart. Also your foolish friend is in danger.>>

    The duplicate who threw his exploding cannon gets to his feet, pulling out a hand blaster and firing randomly towards the heroes, pulling off two shots before a batarang smacks him clean between the eyes and sends him back to the floor again. Colette is already on her feet, pounding down the corridor, and one of the wild shots glances of her shoulder, but she ignores it, leaps into the void, and flies after the ship.

    The third duplicate stops, looking very uncertain having seen his two fellow duplicates felled, and a second batarang smacks into his hand, causing him to fire his cannon at the ground at his feet, knocking himself over. There's a moment's silence, then a voice calls out over the local public comm from where the first two of the duplicating aliens stopped to argue <<Sorry! There has been a misunderstanding! Please hold fire!>>

    Damian will notice deep purple lights flashing in his mask. He's down to less than a minute of air.

Back on the ship

Colette burst through the still open cargo bay door, barreling into one of the X'han shooting at Brick, leaving him to disarm of the other. They are not very good fighters at all. The ship continues to maneuver out of the cavern, passing through the force barrier and into hard vacuum. Colette suddenly shivers, and the two X'han start to thrash around.

Brick has posed:
Technically, it was Maire Boit (the energy-manipulating sentient computer with a tap to the Source) who was messing with the questionably maintained balance of the quantum interference cannon, which is why it fell apart in such a fortuitious way; she also kept the radiation from burning through and past Brick and into the rest of the ship where it likely would have killed others. This miraculous feat required sufficient power from her that Brick lurches, because she's tapped into his zero-energy directly to keep from shutting down. Oops. Fortunately he has enough to keep going for another few minutes before he has to devour mass quantities and go into a metidative near-coma to regain his stores.

The two firing at Brick, well. He's drawn a pair of machetes and would have been applying cold justice to both guns except Stardust has already dealt with one. So he only freezes one of them. Then he's barrelling down the corridor towards where the scans suggest the ship's power systems are located, because ... ah. With a murmured, "Hope this is right," he slashes hard into what SHOULD be the power control system, and hopes that they have sensible non-Hollywood safety systems (and thus won't explode.) Of course if they DO have good design, then he'll have to cut through the backup control box, which would be over on the other side of the inner bulkhead, but that's something he can probably get to quickly. Maybe.

Nuala Duvall has posed:
    Nuala keeps her breathing calm. With limited oxygen, she can't afford to overuse the preciously small amount of air in the mask. When asked to hold fire, she does. "On the ground," she commands, walking in the direction of the last alien, and glances back to Damian. "How is your oxygen?" she asks, unable to tell for herself that his lights are flashing. She knows that hers will be soon enough. As for the ship, well, with Timmy offline, she can't do much about it without getting back to the Sea Song herself. She lacks in superpowers for such a pursuit.

Robin (Wayne) has posed:
     When the bounty hunters seem to be calling a truce, Damian disengages his PEPS launcher, the muzzle collapsing into his gauntlet.

  The Russian and the Nova member are given a nod before he looks to his HUD. "60 seconds."

Stardust has posed:
Damian and Nuala, backed up by the Cosmonaut, are able to collar the four... three.. two aliens. They keen unduplicating. They are also quite willing to parley at this point, particularly when they find out the cosmonaut is present. Damian has to run back to the passage end to recharge his oxygen mask, but it's not far.

    Brick and Colette force their way through the airlock in the cargo bay into the body of the ship, Colette dumping the vacuum-starved pair of X'han from the cargo bay into the main part of the ship beyond before they die. It's about that point that Colette discovers her own mask had already run out of oxygen without her noticing, which she finds immensely distracting. She stands guard, punching the occasional X'han while Brick quickly disables the power control circuits. The engines die and the ship drifts for a few moments before suddenly changing direction and returning to the cavern and the rest of the crew. The Cosmonaut appears to be a rather powerful telekentic as well as a telepath.

    An hour later, in the Knowhere security office

    Quite a crowd has gathered. The four humans are joined by six surviving X'han, who are cuffed and looking very forlorn. Also present are the duplicating aliens, who have now reverted back to a pair, which helps the place being too crowded. The one who'd duplicated himself is looking distinctly the worse for wear, having lost three duplicates. The other is looking very annoyed. Further to the party are the seven-foot-tall man who'd handed them the flier, Torbeah, Jiu'chi, and the Cosmonaut.

    "So. Tell me if I understanding correctly. YOU," the Cosmonaut points to Torbeah, "Tell them to find these miners, stop them. Want some slow glass for self. Okay." Torbeah nods.

    "YOU." He points to the pair of duplicaters. "You were hire to bring these to Collector. And got confused. Only one understood was meant to be brought peaceful. Other one stupid." The annoyed one nods firmly, the stupid one frowns and looks away.

     "YOU!" he points to the Z'han. "Are under arrest. YOU!" he points to the humans, "Try to save planet with fungi, need slow glass to give to Torbeah to help save, then she explain how to impart energy to fungi to make grow."

T"YOU!" he points to the very tall alien, who appears to be an agent of the Collector. "What you doing? You hire bounty hunters to bring to Collector? We talk about this before. Not good."

    The tall alien shakes his head. <<It's not like that. This one," he indicates Brick, <<Has something my master would pay very well for. We wished only to encourage them to come and negotiate. No more. It is something that could only be given willingly anyway.>> The cosmonaut stares at the Collector's agent for a few moment, then nods his head. He turns to the four humans, and stares long and hard at them. "Trouble. I say so immediately."

     A pile of the recovered slow glass rises off the table, and splits into two batches. One half flies to Torbeah, the other half flies to Nuala. "Take. You need energy for fungi? Fill with energy. They emit energy back to fungi. Very good, yes?" He turns to Torbeah, who exchanges a few words with Jiu'chi. Torbeah nods thoughtfully. "She says that would be most effective."

    Next, four bracelets rise up out of a desk draw and fly over to the humans. "YOU. Off my station. I send you straight to Earth. Get there quick, save planet. Good. YOU," he points to Nuala, "Can return with bracelet. ONE TIME! To fetch ship. Once Earth saved. Now..."