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#RuinsOfRakhana – August 25, 2016
Once they are back on the road, the journey continues uneventfully for some time. The longer they travel, the thicker the density of ruined buildings becomes, and soon there is no horizon in sight. It is clear they are now in the ruins of a city. Not unexpected, perhaps, considering large portions of Rakhana were once covered in wide-stretching megacities, infrastructure planned to perfection by necessity due to the barren nature
of the planet and the massive population. Little remains of the city blocks that once stood here, only a few crumbling walls and rusted girders still standing. The desert is rapidly reclaiming the area - to the right of the road huge sand dunes tower above the concrete, steadily swallowing what remains of the ruins. The few buildings that still stand bear the scars of war - to the left a bombed-out skyscraper towers, looking like it might
collapse at any moment. The road itself is littered with the rusting husks of cars, and it's not long before they find themselves off the road again, travelling over the gravelly remains of a concrete city block instead. Dust is kicking up as the heavy wheels of the truck crush smaller chunks under its weight, and it's far from a smooth ride.
Nathan has watched the environment as it passes by, a more somber mood now descended upon him. At one point during the journey, he muttered aloud about what a waste this all was as he gazed at the gutted remains of a skyscraper.
Jason has remained mostly silent during the ride. Simply watching the scenary unfold as he considers just how close his own planet may be from such a fate. Once they're in the thick of the city ruins, however, his gaze begins to turn upwards as he becomes more interested in scanning for possible ambushes than enjoying the sights. "How far are we from the site?" he asks aloud.
Renala has traded places with Ehanis as they started moving, giving the other asari something to do and Renala a good excuse to not lift her eyes up from her omni-tool much, something she definitely has taken advantage of.
Ehanis is sitting next to the opening of the truck, constantly watching the surroundings. "Are there any drell colonies?" she asks, out of the blue, not directed at anyone. "I mean, yeah, most still live on the hanar's homeward, but there's still a decent bunch scattered about the galaxy. Some must have found an unclaimed world on their own and set up some prefabs, right?"
Jessica has continued to take photos with her camera, but has otherwise been quiet. As they enter the city she quietly mutters: "How does an entire city of this size fall...?" Her voice full of awe as she scans the structures all around them.
Namira has studied what she can of the landscape from the back of the truck, a fascinated look on her face, but she's remained silent, seeming almost sorrowful. She grimaces as concrete dust flies up and she gets some of it in her eyes, causing her to blink repeatedly.
Steve has relaxed through most of their journey, though as the ruins of the city begins to close around them, it's clear that he's paying more attention to their surroundings.
Korio looks to Ehanis with a small bow of his head as she speaks up. "My people take the Compact quite seriously." he says, giving little insight into his own feelings on the subject, "There is little doubt that we owe our very survival to the hanar. The proof-..." he gestures about to the ruins on each side of them, "...is all around us. But you are correct, there are a number of drell who leave Kahje. Most, however, do not. I
suppose it would be ignorant to say that such a colony does not exist, but outside of what remains here on Rakhana, I have not heard of one."
Aron calls out from atop the truck: "We still have a fair distance to travel! We must cross the desert!"
Nathan pushes himself upright and quickly stretches himself out, balancing himself careful as the truck shudders and shakes. He glances at each of the mercenaries in turn idly before retaking his seat.
Jason furrows his brow, his focus resting on Nathan as Aron speaks up. "...The desert...? What have we been crossing all this time, then...?" he mutters to Nathan with a quick, sweeping gesture towards the massive sand dunes overtaking the structures.
Nathan taps the side of his helmet and shrugs, glancing off to a ruined building. "Sub-desert," he offers. "Just to get us all warmed up for the larger one." He keeps eyeing up the buildings, still half-expecting the crack of a sniper's retort and the flare of a shield. "...the one time I honestly wished we had some drones to just-" waves a hand toward the sky.
Jason gives a few short nods, eyes still upwards. "Would definitely be handy... Just stay focused and report anything that catches your eye." he instructs.
Ehanis takes her gaze off the surroundings long enough to listen to the drell. "I see," she says. "Still, I don't think your kind would fuck up like this again. Matriarchs don't know all their stuff because they did everything right in the past, after all."
Korio allows a small smile to show through. "Let us hope you are correct." he says simply, his gaze beginning to wander once again.
Jessica nearly loses her cap as a particularly uncomfortable bump shakes throughout the truck in perfect timing with a gust of wind, but she manages to catch it before it flies out of the side of the truck. "Is not the most comfortable of rides..." she complains as she puts her cap back into place.
Renala doesn't look up from her omni-tool. "I brought one, but it's not for recon," she says. "I won't mind looking into that when we get home, though, for future missions."
After they pass over the concrete they find themselves in shadow, offering a welcome respite from the glaring sun. The reason why soon becomes apparent as a massive sand-dune comes into view to their right. The truck continues along the foot of it.
Nathan nods and resumes his scanning, though not before he mutters, "Wish Artullin was here with his drones...".
Jason leans forward slightly, placing some of his weight back onto his upright Revenant. "Though, to be honest, with a place like this I'm not even sure a drone would do the trick. Too many nooks and crannies. Best we can do is keep our heads low and hope for the best." he says as his gaze is pulled towards the massive sand dune. He gives a nod in its direction. "What do you think is under it?" he asks with a smirk, hoping to
Steve glances over his shoulder towards the dune, giving a brief whistle. "Galaxy's biggest titty joint." he says confidently before going back to his city-gazing.
Nathan blusters and looks to Steve. "Oi, that was my answer," he whines. He then looks back to it and shrugs, tapping the side of the truck in thought. "Hurrrrmmmm... prrrrooobbbabbblllyyyy... sports complex." He nods once and looks back to Jason. Then he looks to Korio, a curious question on his lips. "Do drell have any unique sports, actually?"
Korio brings his attention over to the dune and tilts his head curiously. "As one would expect, we do." he says. "Though the likely answer is another building." he adds, taking the boring route. "A large building."
Jason continues to study the dune. "With our luck?" he finally says, "My vote is on two-hundred angry drell ready to ambush us." he decides with a nod.
Jessica frowns upon hearing Jason's answer, crossing her arms over her chest as she looks it over, momentarily growing lost in thought. "Mmm. Is obviously a museum." she says, "Many pieces of art on the walls. Statues and carvings depicting your Gods. A collection of the culture of your people." she says, leaning forward to cast a glance on Korio. "I read about some of Earth's museums. All of that history and-..." she trails off,
suddenly gaining an embarrassed look as she settles back into her seat. "Mmm. Museum." she repeats simply with a nod.
Ehanis watches the sand dune, a small smile creeping up at the shade. "Why aren't all the buildings covered in sand like that, then?" she asks. "Maybe it's the dwelling of some huge Rakhana beast." She raises her brows, muttering, "Nevermind, it's not that... I hope."
Nathan looks somewhat surprised at Jessica, although his reaction is hidden by his helm. It looks more a blank stare, in that case. He leans back in his seat and folds his arms across his chest, nodding. "Museum seems like a good-" He then looks to Ehanis, chuckling. "A Thresher Maw. It's a big ol' cage for one!"
Korio's rare smile makes another appearance as Jessica speaks. "I like your answer." he decides with a nod. His gaze slowly moves over to Ehanis. "Yours... not so much." he admits with a short chuckle.
Ehanis smirks, turing her gaze back to watching around them. "Neither do I," she says. "So I'm not gonna take that personally. Even if we get eaten by a 'Rakhana Maw'."
There is a sudden noise of sliding sand, and a moment later a loud crash, sounding as if it is coming from the front of the truck. A moment later Aron cries out: "Trouble!". It's not long before they can see sand falling from the dune, and the cause is soon apparent - several humanoid figures wrapped from head to toe in ragged sand-colored cloth are sliding down the sand, and with a quick twist of their feet all five of them come
to a stop behind the truck, raising weapons - old weapons. Battered and beaten carbines of old drell design. The one in the front shouts something, but his words do not trigger any translators. "Fiat ken ah buoyren! Ba ara soris ah fian!"
Renala disables her omni-tool and snaps her attention towards the back at the drell's shout. Upon seeing the drell, she unholsters her Locust, but do not draw it as her position brings with it a risk of friendly fire should others get up.
Ehanis mutters, "Fuck," as she hears the shout and unholsters the Phalanx pistol, but she does not aim it at them without an order to do so.
Jason watches as the figures begin to slide through the sand. "Shit..." he sighs as he rises to his feet and hefts his Revenant up into his arms. "The fuck did they just say?" he calls out as they begin to spout their jibberish.
Jessica seems more confused than threatened, though she does unholster her borrowed Avenger as the others begin to draw their weapons.
The drell guard raises his rifle at the shouting man, keeping pressed against the wall to not take up more line of sight than necessary for the others. It's not a very convenient situation for combat.
Nathan whips out his M-55 and immediately rounds it on the raiders. Regardless of whether or not they can understand him, he flicks the barrel at the floor before them before raising back at them. "Down, weapons down!" He barks, even though they are the one who ambushed them. Still, modern vs old. He hinges that they have the advantage, in a way.
Korio gives a shake of his head, holding his hands up to the others, urging them to hold their fire. "I.... do not speak their language." he admits, "It is an old drell dialect. But allow me to attempt to communicate with them. Perhaps we can avoid bloodshed."
Steve hops to his feet, drawing his SMG, and immediately moves towards the back of the truck, preparing to depart and use the truck for cover. "Don't look like they could do much with that weaponry." he says, "We could prolly put 'em all down before they could do a lick of damage."
Aron shouts out from the top of the truck: "Put down your weapons, or we will shoot!", no doubt hoping he might be understood despite the language barrier.
Namira 's eyes go wide as the commotion starts, catching a glimpse of the unfamiliar drell before keeping herself hidden behind the mercenaries best she can. This wasn't her first expedition in unfriendly territory, and she knew to trust the security.
Jason shoulders his Revenant but doesn't point it at their would-be attackers yet. He gives a sigh as Korio speaks up, but gives a quick nod. "If it looks like Ara is in trouble, we put these jokers down quick, alright?" he announces, propping a boot up on the side of the truck as he stands atop his previous seat to get a sightline on the drell behind the truck.
The lead drell shouts out again: "Ba ara soris ah fian! Riararah ah ba fat! A thuoyll it!", shaking his rifle slightly as if to make a point and then point the barrel at the ground for a moment before aiming back at them. The ones behind him remain ready, but two of them glance between each other.
Korio approaches the side of the truck, hands upwards towards their ambushers as he climbs out and hops to the ground. "We do not understand you." he announces, attempting to appear non-threatening with his palms towards them despite the army of armed mercenaries behind him. "We are not looking for a battle. We only seek to pass through. Please, it would be in your best interest to lower your weapons and continue on your way. As
I'm sure you are aware, you are outnumbered and outgunned. To attack us would surely be a fruitless endeavor."
Nathan keeps his weapon shouldered and aimed at the lead drell. He takes his hand from the grip of his barrel and points at the drell, then at the ground. "Down! Weapons down! This will end badly for you!" He grips his weapon again, not taking his eyes from them.
Ehanis keeps her weapon lowered, but she stares at the nearest drell. A shimmer of energy is starting to form around her. "Understood," she says. "Tell them how much warp fields hurt if they try anything."
The leader seems confused for a moment as Korio speaks, and turns his head for a moment to confer with the person next to him, whispered words exchanged in the alien tongue. When he turns back he insisits: "Fen ah buoyren! Ba fan fa fian! Fio farehahyan!"
Renala stands up and moves to stand in against the wall opposite the opening, next to the D'Ralis. She forms a small barrier dome that only surround her and the archeologist, not wanting to use it too much as her implementation of this technique is quite inefficient.
Aron , who is standing on the top of the cab, aims his weapon to cover Korio, observing in silence for the moment so as to not cause any aggression.
Korio gives a shake of his head. "We don't understand." he repeats, casting a glance at the truck full of mercenaries. "We do not speak your tongue. We wish only to continue on our way. Please, lower your weapons." he says, gesturing towards their guns and pointing to the ground before lifting his hands back up, palms outwards.
Jason glances between the drell ambushers and Korio. "Doesn't sound like this is working, Korio..." he mutters.
Nathan 's HUD highlights each of the drell, bar Korio, in a red outline. "Warning shot?" He hedges, shooting the briefest of glances at Jason.
The leader keeps his rifle trained on Korio as he speaks: "Ba fan fa [vehicle]! Fon boris! Ba bin fat!". One of the others in the small group lets out an impatient cry and shifts his aim to Korio. There is a loud crack as the gunpowder-based weapon fires of a burst of shots at the drell. The other four seem surprised by this, with only one more opening fire as well while the leader and the one next to him dive for cover behind
Korio quickly shifts to the side, pressing himself against the side of the truck to obscure himself from the other attackers. His hand shoots down to his sidearm, pulling it free from its magnetic holster.
Steve instantly raises his SMG and opens fire on the one that fired on Korio as he hops out of the back of the truck.
Nathan immediately snaps his weapon to the Drell that fired. "Didn't mean you, arsehole!" He says before firing the M-55, the thudding retort of the weapon echoing as he aims for the shoulder, merely aiming to incapacitate... Although a kill wouldn't be exactly unwarranted.
Jason nods to Nathan, though the sound of gunfire cracking off causes him to wince and swivel back towards the attackers. He raises his Revenant and lets loose a line of fully-automatic gunfire across the sand in front of the ambushers, hoping to halt their attack with shock and awe.
Ehanis frowns. "Throw at first attacker," she calls before gathering the pent up energy into a biotic throw directed at the first of the two drell that opened fire.
The drell that opened fire at Korio takes several shots to the shoulder, and the bullets punch straight through the unarmored man before he is hurled across the sand, right into a concrete block. Dust and sand is kicked up as Jason's shots hit the ground, and the second drell that stood his ground practically throws his rifle away as his comrade falls. One is still running away while the other two are hidden behind rubble. "Ba
riararah! Ba riararah! Ba bin fuoyna! Thare!" shouts the one that dropped his weapon, lifting his hands into the air, terror-stricken eyes visible through the only gap in the cloth.
Nathan drops out of the truck and immediately pushes towards the surrendering drell. As he closes, he would make to forcibly turn the man around, kick out his legs whilst twisting his arm behind his back, before finally kneeling on him to keep him pinned. He would raise his rifle single handed, keeping it pinned into his shoulder and aiming it at the two behind the
Ehanis keeps her weapon trained at the nearest rubble-cover while she gathers energy for another biotic attack. "I've got more where that came from, so fuck off if you want to live!" She knows they don't understand her, but she doesn't care.
Renala remains where she is, holding up her little barrier that has so far taken no fire from the enemy.
Steve fires his SMG into the sky. "Stop your runnin' and get the hell out from behind that cover!" he shouts, "Hands where we can see 'em!"
Jason moves to the back of the truck and hops out, keeping his weapon trained towards the rubble. "Toss your weapons out! Now!" he orders
Jessica moves to the rear of the truck, unsure of what she should be doing. She simply takes a knee and shoulders her Avenger as she waits to see how things play out.
Korio steps out from the side of the truck, sidearm in hand. His shields are still pretty much at full capacity given the relatively low power of the ancient firearms. "This does not need to end in more blood!" he calls out to the other retreating attackers.
The drell guard stays in the truck, keeping his weapon trained on the rubble. The attacker that dropped his weapon is quite clearly startled by Nathan's approach, and immediately breaks into a sprint away from the truck. Aron is keeping a lookout on the roof of the truck, leaving Redrock to decide how to handle the situation. "The others are retreating!" he calls out, weapon aimed somewhere beyond the rubble.
Nathan growls in frustration but doesn't pursue. He's unarmed and they're sure as shit not going to linger around long enough for him to come back. He rounds his weapon on the ones hiding in cover, reaching around back for one of his grenades, his hand hovering above one. "I can flush them out with a flash," he says over comms.
Renala keeps her barrier up despite their retreat, worried that they might still might try anything.
Ehanis glances at Nathan. "I'd personally stay put if one of those went off next to me," she says. She doesn't do anything yet, keeping her biotics ready for any potential surprises.
Jason gives a shake of his head to Nathan before quickly snapping towards Steve and raising a hand. "Hold your fire! They're retreating. Let them go. We're not here to wipe out the locals and they're no real threat to us anyway." he instructs, "Load up and let's get the hell out of here. Whoever they are, they'll think twice before attacking us again..."
The fleeing drell stumbles as a shot hits his leg, but keeps moving in what must be a very painful half-limp half-running.
Nathan keeps his weapon trained on the locals, but backs up towards the truck. "You heard the man," he grunts, waiting for the others to load up before he hops back on.
Korio holsters his pistol and pulls the longrifle from his back, unfolding it and bringing it up to his face as he peers through the scope at the retreating drell. He opts to stay out of the chatter, a faint sigh his only addition to the discussion as he watches the drell limp away.
Steve bites down hard and sucks a deep breath through his nose as he lowers his SMG and climbs back into the truck. "Whatever you say, boss..." he says, though it's clear he doesn't agree with the order.
Ehanis holsters her weapon, but keeps her biotics prepared. "Let's hope their buddies don't have quick transports," she mutters.
Aron lowers his rifle once the drell are out of view. "Foolish savages..." he mutters before looking down at Korio. "Get in, and we will depart."
Jason remains in place, watching the enemy retreat. "If they do, we'll deal with it. But we're not just going to open fire on a bunch of barely-armed locals trying to retreat. They might as well have spears and slingshots..." he says with a brief glance towards Ehanis. "These are people. Not wild animals. We don't even speak their language. For all we know, they're just trying to defend their territory. Actions speak louder than
words and we've told them we have bigger guns-..." he hefts his Revenant, "...and we let them go. Which means we're not looking for a fight. Hopefully that's enough for them to stay away."
Renala keeps her barrier up, intending to wait for the truck to start moving before she considers it safe to let go of it.
Nathan hops onto the back of the truck, sitting on the edge and keeping his gun trained on the locals, though he holds onto the edge just so he doesn't go tipping out when the truck starts again.
Korio lowers his weapon after a few moments and takes a few steps forward. He takes a knee and picks up the drell's old weapon, looking it over briefly before returning to the truck and climbing back onboard.
The weapon is an old design, very unlike modern mass effect-based weapons. It still smells of gunpowder, and has a detachable magazine rather than an ammo block. After Aron communicates that everyone is onboard the truck starts moving again, navigating around what is quite clearly the cause of them stopping - an old car, rolled from the top of the dune to block their path.
Korio sets his own rifle down for a moment and studies the ancient drell weapon, turning it over in his hands. "This design is quite old." he says aloud, "If this is the worst they are armed with, I do not foresee much resistance should they attempt again..."
Namira seems to relax once the truck starts moving again. She's kept her head down and waited for the situation to be over, like many times before. This wasn't her field and she knew it. The glimpse of the downed drell bleeding out in the sand causes her gaze to stop for a moment regardless, a thoughtful expression on her face. Her gaze moves to Korio as he speaks, looking down at the weapon in his hands.
Renala 's barrier disintegrates as the vehicle starts moving, as keeping it together becomes more of an effort than it's worth. She reclaims her seat and brings her omni-tool back up.
Nathan hurms. "I'm more concerned about traps," he says. "Quicksand, false floors... even just a rudimentary explosive can set one of these toppling," he grunts, waving at the ruined and crumbling buildings. "And we're on their home-turf... just saying we should be careful, is all."
Jessica retakes her seat, glancing about at the others, unsure of how she should feel about all of this.
Jason sits back down, resting his hands atop the barrel of his Revenant once again. He gives Nathan a nod. "I'm not saying we underestimate them. I'm just saying we're not here to slaughter them. If we can avoid it, we do so. If they want to keep coming at us-..." he shrugs his shoulders, "...then they leave us no choice. But I don't think wasting our time chasing them through the ruins is the right idea."
Steve's attention is still in the direction their attackers ran. "Wouldn't have to worry 'bout them attackin' again if there was no 'them' left alive." he says with a shrug, "Just sayin'...."
Ehanis keeps her eyes peeled on the road behind them as the truck starts moving. The biotic shimmer around her persists. "If they had any of that, they wouldn't have sprung their ambush this soon," she says.
Korio gives a glance towards Namira. "It troubles me that thought was not put in to bringing someone along who speaks the local language..." he says, "...Surely that would be worth the investment."
Aron has reseated himself on top of the cab of the truck. "We could not find one. Those of our people that found salvation with the hanar did not come from this part of Rakhana. Much was lost in the great wars of old... and it seems none of us brought this tongue with us. I had hoped our translators would do a sufficent job, but it seems we will have to rely on a more... universal language." he says, tapping the scoped
Korio sighs, giving a shake of his head as he returns his attention back in the direction of the drell. "That is unfortunate." he says plainly, lifting his rifle back up to scan the horizon through his scope.
Ehanis nods. "I know some pretty mean words in that language," she says while still keeping an eye on the top of the sand dune and other hiding spots in their surroundings.
Nathan remains silent as he merely observes the surrounds, still holding his rifle tightly in his grasp.
The truck continues to create distance from the ambush site, soon starting to head up an incline of sand, and it is not long before they crest one of the sand dunes, leaving the city out of sight, and revealing a vast desert stretching ahead, the sun illuminating what looks like an endless sea of sand, broken up only by the occasional remains of a building that pokes through at the low point between two dunes.
Jason's attention continues to scan about as they continue on their journey. "Sand, sand, sand and more sand..." he sighs, "...Better than more buildings, though, I suppose."
Jessica's gaze travels to the old drell weapon near Korio before returning to the horizon. "It looks like the sand just ate everything out here." she says through her breather. "How do those people who attacked us even survive out here, mmm?" she asks, "Is no food. Nothing. Just... sand."
Nathan has taken a moment to make sure that the sand hasn't done anything to affect his rebreather. Satisfied, he has resumed scanning the surroundings with his HUD, whistling a low tune. "Eh, people can be resourceful when pushed to the brink," he says. "Though, I can't help but agree... what the hell do they eat?"
Ehanis takes her gaze off the road now that there's few hiding spots for an ambush around them. "We're probably not the first transport they've attacked," she suggests.
Korio contemplates it for a moment. "Perhaps they are skilled hunters. There is still some wildlife left on Rakhana." he muses before looking to Ehanis. "Perhaps. But they would not be able to survive merely on the supplies taken from others. Even if they were successful in their attack on us, how long do you truly think the food we carry would last them?"
Steve gives a shrug. "Got somethin' right here they can chew on..." he says with a snicker, tapping a gauntleted hand against the SMG holstered at his side.
Steve raises an eyebrow as he gives Nathan a sidelong glance. "That so?" he asks, "And what makes ya think that? Huh, big shot?"
Ehanis frowns. "If they got what they wanted and let us go? Not long," she says. "If not, well..." Her frown deepens. "A lot longer."
Nathan chuckles and makes to rap his knuckles against Steve's armour. "You missed someone running in a straight line, genius. Alright, you clipped him, but still."
Steve blinks a couple of times. "May wanna get your eyes checked, partner." he says as he settles back into his seat, "Don't seem to be doin' you much good if ya think I missed. I don't miss."
After their quick repelling of the attempted ambush the journey through the desert continues quite uneventfully. The truck deals well enough with the terrain, but once or twice sliding sand causes issues with their progress. The desert seems never-ending for the longest time, and for several hours they travel with no change in scenery. At one point the bones of some massive old serpent can be seen atop a distant sand-dune, a
menacing skull trailed by a dozen meters of ribs. The heat has reached even greater heights, the sun reflecting off the scorching sand. It is well that the truck is carrying plenty of water. Food for those that are hungry consisted of nutrient paste. A type specially suited for arid environments, to keep strength up in the harsh conditions. Any armor not running environment systems on full blast is likely awfully warm by now, and
Ehanis stares at the skeleton. "Fuck, looks like 'Rakhana Maw' is definitely a thing," she says. "I couldn't wish I was more wrong."
Korio rises from his seat as the serpent bones come into view, trying to get a better look. He extends a finger towards it. "One of Rakhana's locals." he points out, looking amused at Ehanis' reaction.
Jason rolls his shoulders, feeling a sudden chill despite the harsh hot weather as the serpent comes into view. "That thing is long dead, right?" he asks with a glance to Namira. "Right?" he repeats, his gaze moving to one of the drell guards and then to Korio, "I mean.... that's something from, like, hundreds of years ago...? Those things aren't still out here, are they...?"
Nathan stares at the skeleton, making a small noise of disbelief. "...Never will I joke bout giant killer creatures again...". He shakes his head softly and looks back to the group. His HUD flashes up with a low-power warning and he grunts. "Damn it," he mutters aloud and tones down the systems. He can immediately feel the wash of head on him, but at least he can
Jessica lifts her arm as her omni-tool interface comes to life once again, taking a number of photos of the creature. "Is a big snake..." she says softly, staring at it in disbelief through her omni-tool's screen, "...Is a very big snake.... Fuuuuuck."
The guard lets out a quiet chuckle, distorted by his helmet speaker as he looking out at the skeleton. "Nope." he says in response to Jason, the wordiest he's been in quite a while.
Renala looks up from her omni-tool, which displays diagrams and information about pre-exodus drell electronics. She is also most interested in the potential existence of large fauna. "I doubt there's enough food around for a species like that to thrive anyway," she says.
Jason blinks a couple of times. "....What does 'nope' mean?" he asks the guard. "Nope it it's not long dead...? Nope they're not still out here...? You can't just 'nope' me about a gigantic fucking snake. I need a little context here!" he says.
Namira nods in agreement with Renala. "It's... hardly my area of expertise, but it seems unlikely..." she says as she looks out at the skeleton in fascination.
Jessica turns up her suit's environment systems, having had the settings fairly low up until now. She resumes gawking at the giant snake as soon as she's finished.
Jason frowns at the guard, staring at him long and hard. "If we get attacked by a giant fucking snake, you're the first one we sacrifice to the giant-fucking-snake Gods." he says, stabbing a finger towards the guard.
Aron , who has taken a seat in the pack of the truck due to the extreme heat of the metal on the cab, looks to Jason. "I have not heard of any pilgrims encountering a live sand serpent. It is believed they were hunted to extinction during the food crises." he says before grabbing a tube of nutrient paste, pressing it into his mouth with a grimace.
Korio gives a light chuckle as he sits back down. "It is unlikely that something of that size would be able to survive, as Miss T'Iavay has said." he agrees, "However... If that is one that was unable to survive-..." he gestures towards the bones, "...imagine how a surviving sand serpent may look. It would have to be massive." he adds. His even tone makes it difficult to tell if he's being genuine or just trying to further get
Jason glances over at Korio, his frown deepening. "Not cool, man. Not cool." As Aron speaks up, he looks over to him. breathing a sigh of relief. "I'll take it." he says. His suit has been running environment systems pretty much since they set out. As much as he'd rather not, he tones them down to save a little bit of power. "How much daylight do we have left?" he asks, "This heat is starting to become an issue..."
Ehanis glances at Korio. "I think I'll take his word over yours," she says, gesturing to Aron. She does snap a picture off the skeleton with her omni-tool while she still has the chance to.
If someone were to look up they would spot the first sign of living wildlife on Rakhana - a pair of flying creatures circling high above, the details of their features too difficult to make out.
Nathan leans back with a sigh of boredom, glancing up at the sky. He observes the flying creatures for a moment before shrugging and tapping his visor. He goes for a quick zoom to try and pick out a few more details, if to just quench his boredom.
Aron smirks slightly as he glances at Ehanis, and then looks to Jason. "We expect to arrive at our destination before sundown. A few hours of travel remain."
Nathan might catch brief climpses of webbed wings flapping to keep an ugly mess of wrinkled skin and twisted teeth in flight.
Renala chuckles and glances up at the two birds with mild curiosity. She adjusts the suit's environmental systems a little higher, but it's still at slightly uncomfortable levels to conserve energy.
Jason settles back into his seat and nods to Aron. "We'll deal I guess..." he sighs as he begins to remove his helmet and gestures for someone to pass him some delicious nutrient paste.
Nathan immediately zooms out and shudders. Though, he can't help but wonder... do those taste of chicken?
Ehanis has been looking up at the birds since she first caught a glimpse of them. "What kind of birds are those?" she asks upon returning her gaze back to the others in the truck.
Aron looks up, unable to see much of the distant creatures. "I am not certain. Some kind of carrion feeders, perhaps..."
Jessica leans over and grabs a tube of nutrient paste, underhanding it over to Jason. "Hopefully they are not expecting a meal out of us..." she says with a quick glance upward.
Jason catches the tube, but his gaze moves skyward. With a frown, he reaches for his Revenant as he considers firing to scare the creatures off. A sudden flashback of a thrown rock and a horde of monkeys comes flooding back to him and he slowly pulls his hand away from his machine gun. "...Thanks." he offers Jessica as he tears his tube of paste open.
It is not long before the creatures descend, and the reason quickly becomes apparent. To their side as they drive is a body in the sand, a foul stench coming from what the sunscorched flesh exposed between tattered strands of fabric. The two reptilian fliers land on the body, tugging at sinewy drell flesh. They share their meal with a few small insects that buzz around the rotting corpse.
Korio follows their trajectory, resting his gaze on the corpse. "In a climate such as this, a corpse would not last long. It must be fairly recent..." he says.
Jason glances towards the corpse and makes a disgusted face. "Great... Makes this slimy goop seem so much more appetizing..." he groans, though he still begins to spooge the nasty nutrient goo into his mouth.
Nathan grunts and turns away from the scene, setting himself back into his seat and folding his arms across his chest. He decides to take a bit of quick shut-eye whilst they make their way to the objective.
Ehanis reaches for her pistol as the birds descend, but she does not draw it. She grimaces behind her helmet at seeing the corpse. "No way someone walked all the way out here on their own," she says. "My guess is: they were dumped from a vehicle that passed through."
There are no tracks in the sand. Then again, it is hard to tell how long tracks would last out here.
Steve gives a shake of his head. "Don't look like anything has been through here recently." he says, "...But with the wind and the sand and-... Anybody's guess, ya know?"
Renala sighs and disables her omni-tool. "A dead body here means there might be hostiles waiting at the dig site," she says. "Or near enough to interrupt us while we work."
Jason forces down his paste, looking none too happy at the taste, and gives a shrug to Renala. "Or it could just mean that someone has worse luck than us, got lost out here and didn't make it." he says, "Either way, we just stay alert and we'll be fine."
Once they pass the dead drell the trip soon returns to monotony. Two more hours of driving through the desert. The endless, cresting waves of sand that stretch in every direction would make an impressive view, but the heat likely kills any notion of enjoying the scenery. It is clear that the glaring sun would have been the death of less prepared travellers, but their supplies keep for the time being. The endless sands give way to
something else ahead - in the horizon a city can be seen, or the remains of one at any rate. Several towers still stand tall, but the closer they get, the clearer it becomes that they are empty husks, windows blown out and floors collapsed.
Jason pours the remaining contents of a bottle of water into his mouth before capping the bottle and tossing it to the floor of the truck. "This our stop...?" he calls out with a nod towards the city in the distance. The past couple of hours he has mostly remained silent, taking in the sights and sounds of the eerie landscape and working to keep himself hydrated given the break he gave his suit's power supplies.
Nathan has only just woken up and is now peering at the dead city ahead. "Damn..." he mutters as he drinks in the sight. "Better be careful of another ambush...".
Korio stands from his seat as soon as the city comes into view and retrieves his rifle from his back once again. He moves up towards the cabin of the truck gracefully and steadies himself against it as he scans the skyline through his scope.
Ehanis looks hopefully at the city ahead, but Jason has already asked her question. "It better be," she mutters, sounding somewhat weary. She has been conservative with her suit's environmental systems after a notification it gave her five hours ago, which means it's been an uncomfortable journey since.
Jessica has mostly been watching their surroundings for the past couple of hours, taking the occasional poorly-framed picture. Despite their glum surroundings, she seems quite interested in it nearly the entire duration of their trip, which shows through even though she tries to hide it. Every time they come over a large sand dune, she rises slightly in her seat in an attempt to see over it. As the city comes into view, she's
Renala had resumed reading on her omni-tool shortly after things became uneventful again, and is only now looking up from it to look at the structures ahead of them.
Aron climbs up his seat to get a look at the ruins ahead, and nods to Jason. "Yes... we are getting close to our destination. We should soon-..." He's cut off by sudden, loud cracks of gunfire from somewhere in the distance, echoing loudly in a way that mass effect-based weapons do not. The sounds stop after only a few seconds, punctuated by a distant explosion.
Steve has remained awake, though one wouldn't know it by his silence. The gunfire rouses him back to life, however, and he's quickly looking around for the origin of the outburst. "The hell was that?"
Nathan immediately stands up to garner a better view, gripping onto the truck. "Probably two separate settlements going at each other," he wagers, trying to zoom in and locate the gunfire.
There is no clue as to where the gunfire may have came from, aside from somewhere ahead. Nathan and Korio would find nothing but ruined buildings through their zoomed in views.
Ehanis draws her Locust and keeps it ready while looking around for the source of the sound. "Anyone see anything?" A biotic shimmer is forming around her, as well.
Jessica inputs a few quick commands into her omni-tool to save her most recent photo before scrambling for her Avenger. "Shit." she mutters as she hurries to swap out her cap and rebreather for her helmet. "Was definitely an explosion..."
Korio adjusts his angle and continues to scout. "Nothing. Whoever it was, they do not appear to be in view from here." he announces.
Nathan shakes his head. "Negative," he replies, drawing his M-55. "If there's a skirmish going on and this is one the side's territory, we need to keep an eye out for IEDs...".
Renala disables her omni-tool and also readies her Locust. "I shouldn't have said anything," she says while joining the others in trying to spot the source of the sound.
Aron climbs back onto the cab, unholstering his rifle and joining the other two in looking up ahead, but like them he sees nothing. "It sounded distant... but we are heading in that direction."
The guard at the back of the truck tenses up a bit, but remains seated, checking over his rifle to make sure he is ready.
Steve remains in his seat, merely looking out. "Well, shit. Ain't gonna be easy spottin' 'em if they're up in those buildings..." he says.
Jason fastens his helmet into place and joins Korio up near the truck's cabin holding his Revenant down at his side with one hand as he steadies himself against the cabin with his other. "It certainly didn't seem directed at us, so we might be walking into the middle of a conflict." he says, agreeing with Nathan's assessment. "Slow and steady up there."
Nathan steadies himself and waits as they head towards the sounds of conflict. He continues to scan with his HUD, looking for the tell-tale signs of flashes.
Renala looks over the buildings with windows facing towards the truck. "Let's hope they're not fighting over the thing we're after."
Aron grunts. "Unlikely. These people have no grasp of the wisdom of the Enkindlers." he says, still looking through his scope. He soon lowers his rifle. "We have little choice but to press on." he says. The truck, of course, never stopped, and is still moving towards the city ruins.
Ehanis is looking around for anything to expend the gathered biotic energy on, even though she's probably going to be the last one to see it. "Maybe they want to trade it with off-worlders for supplies?" she says. "Even if they don't understand it, a piece of tech that old is bound to grab the attention of anyone poking through these ruins."
Korio nevertheless continues to scan the buildings, only pausing briefly as his gaze is temporarily pulled to Aron. "It matters little why they are fighting. Whoever they are, they are unlikely to react well to us inserting ourself into the middle of their warzone."
Nathan nods in agreement. "Let's just hope they aren't packing anything heavy... we may have the edge in tech, but an explosive will still take out this truck," he says.
Jason lifts his other arm up atop the cabin, resting his Revenant across it as he starts up his omni-tool and gives a quick once-over of his hardsuit's systems, ensuring his shield is active and everything is good to go. "Remember what I said. We're not here to disturb the locals. We only fire if they show open hostility." he says, although the gunfire and explosion does little to cause him to expect anything less than open
Jessica nods to Nathan, agreeing with him for the first time ever, possibly. "Mmmhmm. Is not hard to whip up an explosive. Is no telling what they may have."
Over the next half-hour they close the distance to the city, and soon find themselves amid crumbling city blocks once more, as the red light of the setting sun streams in through any gaps in the rubble. Sightlines are short, and hiding spots abound, either in rubble or in the buildings that still stand. There are no further sounds of combat.
Nathan cycles his HUD to accommodate for the dimming light. He keeps his gaze ahead and before the truck, watching for any sign of rudimentary explosive devices or for anything that seemingly stands out. He keeps his rifle shouldered, now bringing his environmental systems down to 2%.
Korio is still near the front of the truck, rifle perched against the cabin. "Perhaps we caught the tail end of a battle." he suggests, though continues to peer through his scope. "No signs of any combatants. No gunshots. The fighting may have died down just before our arrival."
Ehanis frowns. "Or they saw our truck and have been lying in wait," she says. "This place is perfect for an ambush."
Jason nods to himself. "Maybe." he says, not sounding particularly convinced, "Or maybe this is just a lull in the storm. Eyes open."
Jessica stares upward at the large buildings flanking them, Avenger laying across her lap. "Is verrrry good ambush spot." she agrees with Ehanis.
Steve taps his fingers impatiently against the side of the truck as he waits for the action to start. "How deep into this city is our objective?" he asks, casting a glance towards Namira.
Namira looks to Steve. "It shouldn't be much longer." she says before returning her gaze to the ruins, the constant talk of ambushes making her paranoid.
Renala enables her omni-tool and starts scanning for nearby radio signals. They might have heard ancient weaponry from where they were half an hour ago, but that doesn't have to mean everyone at that fight were equipped with such.
There are no signals. They travel on for some time through the ruined city, leaving behind the few buildings that still stand tall for an area that is nothing but rubble and enroaching sands. In fact it seems like they are heading out of the city. Ahead are rocky cliffs.
Jason furrows his brow as they pass through the city uncontested. "I thought this artifact of yours was in the city...?" he questions.
Korio has moved to the rear of the truck, taking a knee and perching his rifle against the tail end of the truck as he continues to watch the tall buildings. "Perhaps, at one time, this was a part of the city." he adds in.
Ehanis lets out a small smile. "I'm not going to complain," she says. "Less buildings around makes our job a lot easier." She continues to watch around her.
Jessica has eased up considerably now that they've escaped the canyon of buildings, though the cliffs ahead may offer the same difficulties. "Where did the city go...?" she asks, sounding more interested in the history of the planet than in the potential impeding attack, "It could not all have just, pewwww-..." she lifts one hand, palm outwards and then tips it over, like a building falling over, "...blown away in the wind,
Steve cocks his head to the side as he looks out into the open expanse around them. "Just more opportunities for them to see us comin'..." he sighs, "You ready to shield our friend here, Ren?" he asks with a nod towards Namira. "Wouldn't want her catchin' a stray."
They find themselves heading down into something of an artificial slope as they get closer to the cliff, the rubble beneath them decreasing in elevation, seemingly confirming Jessica's theory. Soon they find themselves on a paved road again, cracked and half-covered in dust and debris, but much steadier regardless than the concrete rubble they drove on previously. They are getting closer to the cliffs, which are outlined by the
setting sun, casting a strange shadow over the whole area. It is an odd sight after a whole day of burning sunlight.
Renala has set her omni-tool to scan twice a minute while the truck is moving, and alert her if a new signal is picked up. "Count on it," she says with a nod.
Jessica grins as she sees the paved road come into view. "You see? The city was under us." she says proudly, "Knew it."
Jason sighs as he glances over at Jessica. "You can write a paper on it later. For now?" he gestures towards the cliffs, "Eyes forward."
Nathan continues to scan, his weapon shouldered and ready. "I just can't wait to stretch my legs," he mutters quietly.
As they pass by the rusting remnants of a chainlink fence, little standing but a few of the posts, something is coming into view in the shadowy cliff-face ahead - a vehicle-sized opening, a large concrete tunnel entrance with a massive, sturdy blast door, which stands halfway open. Several decaying vehicles stand outside in what might have been a parking lot centuries ago, now only a flat, dust-covered area. There is, however,
something else. Another vehicle. Not rusted or destroyed. Not ridiculously outdated. An M-080 with a sloppy red paintjob and a sprayed-on white skull.