[a / b / c / d / e / f / g / gif / h / hr / k / m / o / p / r / s / t / u / v / vg / w / wg] [i / ic] [r9k] [cm / hm / y] [3 / adv / an / cgl / ck / co / diy / fa / fit / hc / int / jp / lit / mlp / mu / n / po / pol / sci / soc / sp / tg / toy / trv / tv / vp / x] [rs] [status / ? / @] [Settings] [Home]
Settings   Home
/qst/ - Quests

File: 1491694978933.jpg (133 KB, 1600x900)
133 KB
133 KB JPG
Nexus is a strange and mysterious planet on the fringe of formerly-unknown space, once thought to be only a legend but discovered to be very real a few years ago. A known haven of the missing and ancient Eldan race, it is now a hotspot for adventurers, archaeologists, treasure hunters, and soldiers of fortune. It has also become the final flashpoint of a conflict centuries in the making. To the imperialistic Dominion, Nexus is their divine birthright, the legacy left to them by the Eldan. To the scrappy Exiles, Nexus is their last stop, the final chance for a new home. Neither faction will give up the planet willingly, despite its dangers and mysteries, and they will stop at nothing to see the planet made theirs.

You are Clyde Starwalker, an Exile human Stalker with high-performance nanites in your body and claws in your hands, and you intend to discover the secrets of Nexus and win the planet on behalf of you and your fellow Exiles.

In the last installment, our hero made a rather forceful impression upon Nexus, crashlanding in the frigid Northern Wilds of the continent of Alizar after his transport shuttle was shot down by a Dominion encampment somewhere in the region. After rescuing Nalia Dewdrop, an aurin scientist with the psychic powers of an Esper, and linking up with a local Exile explorer, a plan is hatched to find a way out of the Northern Wilds, not least of which included shutting down an Eldan weather control tower powering the local snowstorm. Talk about a cold reception.

Previous thread:
File: 1491844426501.jpg (230 KB, 1600x900)
230 KB
230 KB JPG
The screeching long since fell silent in the small mountainous alcove. Several small, sinewy blue bodies litter the snow, splatters of blue blood marring the pristine snow. The cool breeze flows through the natural corridor of the ridgeline, far more mild and refreshing than the whipping winds of the snowstorm was about an hour ago. Jackie Cooper, local human representative of the Explorer's Union and professional pathfinder, is quietly muttering to herself as she works the inside of the tan metallic box at her feet with the miniature sattelite dish sticking out of the top. Nalia Dewdrop, the rabbit-eared aurin scientist with mind swords for weapons, is standing over Jackie's shoulder as a backseat engineer, pointed at little bits and bobs inside the mechanism.

And you, standing aside and leaning against one of the natural rock walls of the alcove, are quietly bitching and moaning about how annoying skeech are.

After the three of you fixed up the first comms transmitter along the far western ridgeline of the Northern Wilds, you cut across the northern rim of the region, passing through Settler's Reach - the holdout for the local Exile survivors - a second time on your way to the northeastern corner of the region, where the second transmitter was waiting for you. Unfortunately, this alcove was within spitting distance of Coldburrow Cavern, the home of the local Coldburrow skeech tribe. The vermin's cave was just south of your position, albeit mostly cut off by the mountain range; it was currently under assault by Grux Craghammer, the lewd and crude granok warrior on a one-rock crusade to rescue some kidnapped Exile survivors from becoming the skeech's dinner. You could even hear the muffled booming and grinding of rock a small way's away. It sounds like Grux isn't slowing down any.

The proximity of Coldburrow Cavern explains why this terminal was being menaced by a skeech hunting party, eight members strong. They had naught but spears and slings to bring to bear against you, none of them even beginning to pose a threat to you in the long term.

That doesn't mean they weren't annoying as SHIT to deal with.

Jackie and Nalia are still busying themselves with the sattelite, but once they're done, you should be able to move on to the third and final transmitter. Your eyes stray up at the wintry night sky. You want to calm down, but something about those skeech still irritate you. Is it the voice? It's probably the voice.

>Check in on Jackie and Nalia's progress on the repairs.
>Hail Grux on your datachron and check his progress.
>Start laying down the deterrence pylons so no one else messes with the transmitter.
>Run some self-diagnostics and make sure everything is still in good order.
>Build a snowman.
>>Hail Grux on your datachron and check his progress.
>>Start laying down the deterrence pylons so no one else messes with the transmitter.
File: 1490391940345.png (226 KB, 325x492)
226 KB
226 KB PNG
Grumbling to yourself, you pull yourself upright off the wall and shuffle through the packed snow towards the two girls, reaching into Jackie's satchel to pull out a few of the deterrence pylons she took with her. With these set up, the locals should leave the transmitter alone once you're finished here; some excess voltage tends to do that. As you start planting the small black telescoping rods in a wide circle around the brim of the alcove, you activate your datachron and call up Grux. He's relatively quick to respond, and his bald rocky mug appears in a small window just over your eye, grinning from ear to ear.

"Ahhh, if it ain't my favorite Stalker!" Grux bellows over the signal. You hear the heavy whoosh of his greatsword cutting through the air in front of him, the pained screech of a skeech sent into the distance. "I didn't know you cared. How's your date with the girls?"

>It's not a date.
>It's coming along.
>I'm pulling more tail than you ever could.
>Business first. You rescued the survivors yet?
>How many skeech have you cleaved?
>It's coming along.
>Business first. You rescued the survivors yet?
Also I gotta crash Caretaker
>Wouldn't you like to know.
>Business first. You rescued the survivors yet?
File: 1491698148035.jpg (226 KB, 1303x1600)
226 KB
226 KB JPG
"Heh. Wouldn't you like to know?" you quip as you plop one of the pylons on the crunchy snow. "We ain't dead yet, so that's good enough for me. In all seriousness, though, have you found the survivors yet?"

"Most of 'em," Grux confirms with a shrug. "The skeech were storing 'em in little bags for later. Say hi for da camera, boys 'n' girls!" The view of Grux's head shifts aside to reveal a small mob of humans in partly torn up plain clothes, sticking close behind the granok while he walks them through the cave. Grux probably didn't want to send them back by themselves to Settler's Reach in such a rough state. One of the survivors, a black man with a shaved head, widens his eyes and roughly pats on Grux's shoulder. "Eh? What'cha want?"

"Oi!" the human shouts. "Twelve o'clock, you blockhead!"

"Huh?" Grux's vision turns back around (with you following along) to spot a pair of skeech hunters charging at him with a screech, spears pointed at him. "Oh. One sec." There is a flash of red, and the skeech on the left is sent skidding across the rock floor of the cave, splitting in half across the torso. The other skeech is momentarily stunned at the sight before the fusion-powered zweihander comes down from above upon his head, turning him into a messy splatter on the ground. "There we go. See? No problem." Grux's mug comes back into focus in your view. "Should be a couple more survivors down here, then we'll be headin' back to Settler's Reach. I expect some thanks when I get back!"

"Yeah, yeah," you blithly wave him off. "Just keep 'em safe."

"No sweat! Keep those girls safe, Clyde -- I wanna make sure those boulders of theirs come back in one piece. Stay cool out there. Ha!"

"Shut up." The AR window shrinks out of existance right as you plunk another pylon on the packed snow.

"Was that Grux?" you hear Jackie holler at you from the transmitter. "How's the rock-for-brains doing?"

>The skeech ain't nothin' to him.
>He's secured most of the captured survivors.
>At least he's not wrong when he said he's FCON.
>He said you have a nice rack.
>The skeech ain't nothin' to him.
>He's secured most of the captured survivors.
>The skeech ain't nothin' to him.
>He's secured most of the captured survivors.
"The skeech ain't nothin' to him," you relay to the two girls, shuffling along to the next spot to drop a pylon. "He's going through them easy. He's also secured most of the captured survivors so far. No mention of any deaths - the skeech were keepin' 'em in storage."

Jackie audibly sighs. "Now that's a load off my shoulders. Between him an' you two, I'm startin' to think I'm super lucky. We wouldn't be on our way outta the wilds without you guys."

"Well, don't go thankin' us just yet," you remind her. "We still have to actually get outta here."

"It doesn't change that we've made more progress in the past couple hours than we have in the past couple days. Hell, stars willing, we might even be outta here by this time tomorrow."

"Kind of an optimistic measure, ya think?"

"You sell yourself short, handsome." With one last metallic whine before the clap of metal on metal, there's a low thrum of power as the transmitter powers up. Nalia claps happily as Jackie wipes her brow. "Phew. Damn skeech did a number on this one, but transmitter number two is back online." Right on cue, too, as you plop the last deterrence pylon on the ground and kick it to start it up. "One more to go. The last one should be due directly south of Settler's Reach, so we're heading southwest from here." A small AR compass that flits into view from your datachron points you in the right direction, and after activating the rest of the pylons, you're already on your way.

>Move in silence.
>Chat with Nalia.
>Chat with Jackie.
Anything in particular you want to ask about, if you decide to talk a bit?
>>Chat with Nalia.
>>Chat with Jackie.
Once we get out what are your plans?

This is good
"So," your voice suddenly cut through the cool winds of the open air, "when we get outta the Northern Wilds--"

"Who's optimistic now?" Jackie cuts in with a grin.

"Shush, you," you remark with your own smile. "Once we get outta this dump, where are you two going?"

"Well," Jackie ponders with a finger to her chin, "part of that depends on how we get outta here."

"Not in body bags, for one," you offer.

"That's not what I meant, hotshot. I mean, if we can get a shuttle outta here, the most likely place we'll end up going is Algoroc, just south of the wilds here."


"Yep, Algoroc. It's ancient Cassian for 'red rock.' It's more temperate than this place, for one. More importantly, it's frontier. The mountains are stuffed to the brim with natural loftite. Even now, it's still a hotbed for miners, prospectors, merchants --"

"And pirates," Nalia interjects.

"Aaaaaand pirates," Jackie shrugs. "Still, it'll beat the shit outta this place, AND it's directly connected to Thayd."

"Thayd, that's our, what, capital, right?"

"More or less, yeah. We're gonna get these guys outta here and help get them back home. These guys need a rest more than any of us."

"Y'still haven't answered my question," you remind them. "What are YOU TWO doing?"

"Me?" Jackie hums a bit as she looks up at the sky, the small tassels of her travel turban dangling slightly. "First, I'm going to check in with Dorian and let them know about the survivors. Then, who knows? I'll probably still be moving around and checking out the sights. I can hardly sit still; I gotta keep movin' around. You'll probably find me again if I'm out on expedition somewhere. That's what explorers do."

"I'll be sure to keep an eye out for you," you assure her. You lean over and look at the aurin. "What about you?"

Nalia taps a finger to the side of her head in thought. "I'm going back to Thayd first chance I get and checking in with the XAS before I get a break. Getting shot down once in my life is one time too many."

"I'd drink to that if I had some whiskey," you agree.

You finally arrive at the site of the third transmitter, which is indeed directly south of Settler's Reach, nestled against smaller ridgelines to the south and the west. For once, this transmitter doesn't appear surrounded by anyone or anything. It's just sitting by itself out in the open.

"This oughta be a snap," Jackie remarks as she pulls out one of her tools, Nalia following close behind. The two take a knee next to the transmitter and start getting to work.

>Stay next to them to keep company.
>Range out a little bit to see if you can spot anything coming.
>Sit in a nearby tree.
>>Range out a little bit to see if you can spot anything coming.
File: crimsonisle_concept01.jpg (151 KB, 1280x989)
151 KB
151 KB JPG
You decide that a more proactive approach is required for defending this particular repair job. This is the only pylon that didn't already have something menacing it when you got here, which means something is bound to be on its way to menace you soon.

"I'm gonna scout ahead and see if anything's coming this way," you let the girls know. "I'll ping you if I find something."

"Be careful, Mr. Starwalker," Nalia acknowledges. "We wouldn't want you getting lost in the wilds, too."

You nod before silently tromping off east of the transmitter, your steps a little lighter than usual as you make a lower profile of yourself. You don't activate the stealth functionality of your nanites just yet, to avoid any unnecessary tax on your system, but your internal HUD is fully active, visible only to you on the inside of your retina. You can see your own biometrics as your system also actively scans for anything out there. It does pick up on a couple things, like a sentient plant-fungus-thing of some sort that prowls about on what looks like tendrils or roots, but it's not a danger to you, so you just ignore it.

Eventually, however, there IS something you spot that you can't bring yourself to ignore.

You hear heavy tromping in the snow off in the distance, and your internal HUD picks up on three figures in the distance, two bearing the same silhouette and each one flanking a smaller humanoid carrying what looks to be a claymore. You drop down to your belly as you activate your stealth module and disappear on the spot. The approaching squad soon reveals itself further in the haze of the winter winds: two battle-bots, each several feet tall and wielding a nasty chaingun where their right hand should be, both of them flanking a human-sized soldier in Dominion armor carrying a teal-colored claymore, more curved in design than Grux's more flat zweihander.

This must be one of those Dominion sabotage squads Jackie was worried about, and they're heading straight in the transmitter's direction. You might be able to take them out yourself before the girls ever find out about their approach, or you could call in Nalia for some backup, even though that might leave Jackie by herself for a little bit, and you're not sure if there's a second squad approaching from somewhere else.

>Any ideas?

> Distract them with a fake SOS
An SOS centered on yourself?
Warn them that we have hostiles incoming and to prepare, then prepare to attack. Do we have knowledge which is the most dangerous unit and which has the ability to alert the dominion to our presence?
File: 1490161082550.png (181 KB, 218x547)
181 KB
181 KB PNG
From what experience you have, battle-bots are blunt force instruments, used as sentries or simple assault squads. They take orders from their handlers, but they have vaguely enough autonomous thought to use general tactics and aim for targets of opportunity. If you can get the drop on them, you can shred them up, but you still have to respect that chaingun of theirs (at least until you get more ablative technology in you).

The human warrior, decked out in Dominion armor, doesn't appear much different from those you met in the VR sim while you were in cryo-sleep. Warriors, as you might expect, are terrors in melee, but as a Stalker, so are you. You don't doubt that if anyone has comms back to wherever their Dominion outpost is, it's the human.
then we should try to take out the human first before he alerts the base, then we can react to the bots

>Call in the squad to Jackie and Nalia so they know whats coming if we mess up
>Take out the Human first
>Then move on to the bots
Roll me a d100, please.
Rolled 43 (1d100)

Rolled 93 (1d100)

only the one roll or multiples?
One for whoever's here.

With the grace of a snail, you shift your sprawled, invisible body across the snow and behind a tree trunk, out of the vision of the sabotage squad. Opting not to risk voice comms, you open an AR window of your datachron and shoot off a concise text message to Nalia and Jackie warning of the incoming squad and to keep a lookout. That done, you pull yourself to your feet, still nestled behind the tree, and plot your attack. That claymore-brandishing warrior is immediately identified as the highest-value target; the battle-bots may have plenty of firepower, but without the soldier commanding them, their effectiveness is limited. Plus, you don't want to risk the squad phoning home and letting them know that the Exiles are on the move. You can't say for certain if the Dominion camp, wherever it is, is aware of Settler's Reach, but you don't want to risk them fanning out and finding the girls or the outpost, even by accident.

Marking your target, you move with uncanny grace and precision, circling around to come up behind the trio. The size of the battle-bots is intimidating, as is their brown color scheme standing out against the pure white snow, but you know not to be distracted. Their sensors aren't picking you up; otherwise, they would've lashed out at you by now. You're in the clear, and you take the opportunity.

Unsheathing your nanite claws from your knuckles, you lunge forward at the human's back, blades pointed directly for the heart. Your blades make impact, but instead of piercing through, the ablative blue light of a personal shield flashes brightly across her silhouette before fizzling.


A personal shield.

Motherfucker, you KNEW you were forgetting something.

Regardless, with such a strong impact and with the shield fading out, you know for a fact her shields are down now. Plus, the impact of your blades against her still knocked her off-balance, so she's not in a position to react immediately. You waste no time and plunge your other set of blades directly through the warrior's neck and jugular from behind, her yelp of pain dying in her destroyed throat. With your free claws, you aim one more time at the soldier's heart, and this time, your blade find purchase, sinking cleanly through the warrior's armor and piercing straight through. You remove your blades from her body and kick her forward as she dies on the spot.

Good news: you have immediately removed the human warrior from the equation, cutting off any chance for reinforcements and leaving the battle-bots unattended.

Bad news: you now have two very angry battle-bots surrounding you both on your left and right, and both of them have already brought up their chaingun arms overhead to club you in the noggin with.

>Think fast!
Rolled 21 (1d100)


Time it so that they are already committed to the swing downwards before rolling out of their way, hopefully they hit each other
They're aiming directly at you, and you are a fair bit shorter than them. They're not THAT stupid usually.
Move out of the way and line them up for an attack
I don't know how fast they can turn, but can we run around one of them/behind it so that the other can't attack us? Then we can hit the first one.
In a move that surprises absolutely no one, you opt to not be there when those clubbing arms come down on your head. With an artful sidestep into a tuck-and-roll, you slide around one of the battle-bots as their arms come down with a heavy WHOOSH upon your last position. As the battle-bots turn to address your new position, your brain starts turning.

Rule number zero of fighting while outnumbered is "don't fight while outnumbered."
Barring that, rule number one of fighting while outnumbered is "don't let yourself be surrounded."

Seeing as there's only two of these bots to deal with, you take the initiative and circle around the bot nearest you until you hide the second bot behind the silhouette of the first. Using his own ally as a bodyblock for yourself, you can now take the time to focus on the bot in front of you, its glowering red eyes looking down upon you. The other bot immediately tries to maneuver around his friend so he can get a clean angle at you, but you continue circling around the bot in the middle to cut off any approach from the outside.

That still leaves the matter of dealing with the bot immediately in melee with you, and the machine is quick to get on the offensive. It swings at you with wide hooks, clubbing overheads and inelegant kicks to try and beat you around. Your inherent agility lets you duck and weave around each blow, all while smoothly doing the do-see-do around the machine in the middle to continue cutting off his friend's approach. For each blow the bot throws at you, you artfully dodge the attack and immediately counter-attack with your own slash, your nanite claws crashing against the metal chassis with a clang and a screech, metal rending metal. Clean scars are left across its chest and limbs.

Eventually, the battle-bot you're outboxing clearly grows tired of your shit and aims to deal with this problem the best way it knows how. Its right arm rears up, pointed towards the sky, and you can hear the whirr of its barrels beginning to spin up. Its other arm comes over to the chaingun arm, visibly and audibly cocking it like you would the slide of a old-school rifle before bringing it down and pointing it directly at your center mass.

Your internal HUD screams WARNING at you, a couple warning arrows pointing directly at the spinning belt-fed chaingun arm. Like it wasn't already obvious what's about to happen.

Rolled 87 (1d100)


Slide under the bot hitting the leg servos on the way past
File: 1375697622777.gif (2.91 MB, 387x297)
2.91 MB
2.91 MB GIF
You have a brief flashback to that Eldan construct back in the VR sim. It was raring up that giant chest laser to splat you with, so you circled around behind it and kicked it in the back of the head to stun in. This situation isn't too terribly different, if you're willing to replace "chest laser" with "spinning chaingun" and ignore the fact that there's two of them. Whatever the case, there's a chaingun pointed directly at you, and you don't want to be in front of it.

You run a line around the battle-bot that cuts incredibly close to the machine's chassis, so much so that you pretty much pass directly underneath the chaingun arm itself. For the shortest flash of a moment, you look directly down one of the barrels of the chaingun point-blank. That surge of adrenaline you get from staring down the barrel of a gun washes through you, making you bristle and tingle in your limbs. Your head just makes clearance under the chaingun as it begins firing, the staccato BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM-BUM of the gun thundering behind you, launching metal bullets at a comparatively-slow-but-still-terrifying rate of fire. As you baseball-slide low under the chaingun, you make a passing swipe at the automaton's leg, slicing the back of the knee clean. Its base destabilized, the bot staggers, causing its chaingun salvo to aim far wide from your last position into the sky.

Now you find yourself between the two bots again - the one place you promised yourself not to be - and the bot firing its machine gun attempts to wheel around in a pivot on its good leg to bring its gun to bear. Unfortunately, it doesn't account for its metallic comrade not moving to avoid the salvo, as it stands to cut you off with a clubbing forearm upon your head. The still-firing chaingun comes up at a precarious angle from underneath, one that causes you cut back around the bot you just sideswiped to avoid the salvo and the melee swing. The unbalanced bot rakes a line of high-calibur fire across the torso of its friend, each impact causing the victim to stagger slightly, losing small chunks of metal chassis to the snow with each POK of bullet hitting it.

Crouched low behind the unbalanced bot and cutting off line-of-sight with the other bot that just got shot, you take the advantage and jump up at the machines, tucked into a tight ball before springing out with a dropkick to the first battle-bot's backside. Both feet solidly impact the backside of the machine you just ran a circle around, knocking it forward and causing it to barrel directly into its ally like it came out of a romantic comedy, the two of them clonking heads as one catches the other. Bot number two, however, doesn't appreciate the romantic gesture as it's forced to catch its friend, only to hurl him aside onto his feet and away from you. This finally affords him the line-of-sight he was searching for this entire skirmish, and he angrily points his chaingun at you, the barrels spinning up and ready to fire shortly.

Do we have hard cover nearby that we can use like we did the bot? Or just get out of their sight, turn invisible, then stalk back towards them (without walking through the rain of bullets they'll release blindly.
The fight with the Eldan construct had no cover. There's a couple trees nearby, but the battle-bots are pretty zeroed in on where you are. That said, you're doing more damage than you think, and you're faster than you're giving yourself credit for.
You know that getting caught out in the open isn't doing you any favors, especially since you don't have a personal shield to cover up any mistakes you might make. So far, you've managed to avoid injury by relying on your speed and ambush tactics to keep the enemy off-balance and unable to line up a shot on you. To that respect, you've still got a couple tricks up your sleeve.

As the second battle-bot's chaingun spins up in your direction, you stress-test your nanites. Falling into a crouch, you activate your stealth module, your skin and clothes fading almost completely invisible, right as you leap high in the air with your augmented strength over the bot's head. The battle-bot's head whips left and right in confusion, having lost its target literally in the blink of an eye. You sail in a high arc over the bot's head, angled such that you land directly behind it, hitting the packed snow in a crouch. Before the bot realizes what's happened, your nanite claws have pierced it from behind, one hand's worth lancing through the center of the machine's torso. Your stealth immediately fades, reappearing behind the bot as if fading in from the mists.

Stunned by the sudden ambush, your other arm grabs the bot's chaingun arm from behind, just as it begins firing. The recoil from the chaingun, while dampened by the battle-bot's own chassis, thunders through your body with each bullet fired, but your strength allows you to forcibly reorient the chaingun and point it at the other battle-bot, the one still favoring its knee from when you clipped it. It doesn't have time to register what happens before it's riddled with heavy weapons fire, the body staggering and jolting this way and that with each impact like it's straight out of an action movie. Each high-caliber bullet blows a hole in the chassis, ripping up the torso, blowing off an arm, before ultimately blowing the bot's head clean in half with one of the shots. The machine's servos seize up, and in a sort of robotic rigor-mortis, it falls onto its back stiff as a board, ceasing to function.

You briefly wonder if a battle-bot feels regret for blowing up a bot-in-arms like this.

In any case, now that the first bot is dealt with, you maintain the advantage you have and use your free arm -- the one that controlled the chaingun arm -- to engage its claws and slice at the elbow joint of the arm, severing it cleanly with enough force. The chaingun arm sparks at the point of severence, the gun holding on and dangling only by the ammo belt feeding into it. Enraged, the bot reaches behind it and grabs you by the collar, flinging you over its head back in front of it -- but not without your claws doing one last bit of damage and ripping out a bit of its internals from behind. You land gracefully in a crouch and turn back to regard the crippled battle-bot, who definitely looks worse for wear than it did a minute or two ago. You're rather proud of your handy work.

>How do you want to finish this?
Rolled 26 (1d100)


Last little hurdle just gotta make sure we don't get hit during this

Now that the bot doesn't have a ranged option, bait him in, circle around the back and target the area where we had torn out some of the internals
File: 1405059026780.webm (1.79 MB, 1024x576)
1.79 MB
1.79 MB WEBM
This is definitely the hardest workout you've gotten ever since you woke up on the Aces High, and you're grateful that VR training is paying off. If you were going into this fight cold, you might've been a pile of chunky salsa on the snow by now. You're not about to lose this momentum, and even the battle-bot seems to be aware that this fight is going to end soon, but it's not going down without landing at least one good hit on you.

The bot strains its servos as it charges forward on auto-pilot, aiming to barrel into you like a football player. You oblige it and close the gap yourself, claws already unsheathed. You dart close around the automaton, cutting a line around the now-disabled chaingun arm so you can get a clean angle at its back, but the battle-bot, in what can only be described as a flash of brilliance for such a machine, spins around counter-clockwise on a pivot, good arm outstretched to its side. The spinning backfist catches you off-guard, and in your attempt to twist and avoid it, you take a cheek's worth of metal gauntlet, spinning you around like an ice skater.

The backfist carries the bot all the way around, exposing its back to you. In your mild haze, you hurl yourself at the machine, claws raking vicious lines across its back. You find easier purchase than you did last time, since you already ripped it up some, and you begin digging into the internals of the machine, disemboweling it from behind and leaving gears and servos on the snow. At some point, you don't notice the machine has already lost power until it flops forward under your weight, carrying you down on top of it. You keep digging into its back before your lucid thought returns to you. This fight was over a while ago, but you were so loopy, you weren't even aware of it.

The adrenaline subsides slightly, and your breath consciously returns to you as you kneel over the dead bot, its back thoroughly torn open. Its friend lies a few yards away, several holes blown in it from its friend's chaingun. And the human who was supposed to keep those two on track has long since died, a small stream of blood flowing across the snow from underneath her body.

Messy work, but necessary work. No one said being a human weapon was sunshine and rainbows, especially since you can taste blood in your mouth from that robot's backfist. Stupid bucket o' bolts.

>Get back to the girls as soon as you can.
>Search the bodies for any clues to the Dominion's base.
>Nick the personal shield off the Dommie's corpse. You'll need it more than they will.
>Leave the bodies alone. You've done enough to them already.
>Search the bodies for any clues to the Dominion's base.
>Nick the personal shield off the Dommie's corpse. You'll need it more than they will.

Do be respectful to the human though, close their eyes and what not

We might be a vicious killer but that doesn't mean we dehumanize our opponents
Your nanites are already working to heal the damage to your mouth and any stress your muscles incurred, so you opt to take a short breather. If there were any other squads approaching the transmitter, Nalia should've dealt with them by now, and she's already shown off just how powerful she is. You may have stopped an attack on the transmitter from this angle, which is a reward in itself, but now you planned to make a reward of your own.

Pulling yourself off the battle-bot's shredded body, your knees and shins partly wet from the snow, you trudge over to the face-down corpse of the Dominion soldier, curved claymore still gripped in her right hand. Unsheathing a set of claws just to be safe, your other hand pries the claymore free from the corpse's stiffened grip with a bit of effort. Kicking it away further across the snow, you turn the body over onto its back. You can see the puncture holes where your claws came out through the heart and the throat.

First order of business: this body has a shield, and you don't. This body clearly doesn't need a shield anymore, but you do. Patting the body down, you locate the soldier's personal shield generator fastened to her hip, and with a few taps on an AR window and a forceful rip from her belt, you free the generator from its former owner, the module no bigger than an old, fat cellphone from waaaaay, way back in the day. You fasten the generator onto the back of your hip, and with a few taps on an AR window from your own datachron, the generator starts up with a low thrum before going quiet, a light-blue aura washing over your silhouette before disappearing. The shield is now yours, and you can see its schematics and protections on your internal HUD - yet another wonder of your nanites.

>You now have a personal energy shield!
>The LM-1 Keeper's Aegis, to be specific, according to your datachron. It's a very basic low-end shield, but it gets the job done.
>Shields can mitigate -- not fully prevent -- any damage you receive for as long as they can last; they won't stop until they run out of energy from guarding against so much damage. If your shield goes down completely, you will be unprotected for a few seconds until the shield reboots itself. Once the shield reboots, or it doesn't protect against any damage for a short time, it automatically regenerates at a certain rate back to full power.
>You can most definitely acquire a stronger shield in the future, whether it has more shields, a faster regen rate, or a shorter cooldown before regen kicks in.
>As a Stalker, you are still encouraged to be dodgy and slippery in close quarters, deflecting and avoiding blows instead of tanking them outright, even when you're the focus of multiple enemies. The less work your shield needs to do, the better off you'll be.
>Don't worry. You'll get more Stalker tricks that let you pull this off better in due time.
File: Northern_Wilds_1.jpg (184 KB, 1878x1015)
184 KB
184 KB JPG
With your new shield active and fully warmed up, you continue rifling the body of the Dominion soldier. You've got a sneaking suspicion you can save some work by finding out where she came from. Eventually, you pull off the soldier's helmet with a small hiss. Long orange locks spill out onto the snow, framing the features of a young Cassian woman. Her skin is as pale as the snow surrounding her, her features youthful, red lips partially agape, emerald eyes glossed over and staring at the heavens in perpetual shock. They say those who die with regrets die with their eyes open, but even for a Dommie, it's rough to see her in a state like this. Shaking your head, you tip her mouth closed with a finger under her chin brush your hand over her face, closing her eyes.

It bothers you that even dead and with your own effort to give her a more meaningful rest, she still radiates of a bit of a smug aura from her features, as though refusing to let death ruin her attitude. Some things just never die.

Still, you look over the soldier's helmet you pulled off. "S. Evergold" is emblazoned across the back of the helmet's inside, you note. You eventually locate Miss Evergold's datachron inside the helmet, and you interface with it using your own. After finding out her full name is Serena Evergold, and tapping through a few AR windows and searching through its banks (including a diary), you ultimately hit the jackpot: the coordinates for Camp Icefury, the so-called Dominion outpost here in the Northern Wilds. Surprise, surprise, it's directly southeast of Settler's Reach. You make sure to copy all available information about Camp Icefury to your own datachron, including general composition and armaments, before setting the helmet down next to the woman's head.

You look again at Serena Evergold's face, your mouth wringing to one side. This is your first Dommie you've killed on Nexus. It hits you that this war is very real now. You acknowledge that she probably would've given you no quarter, from a Dominion soldier to an Exile. You remind yourself that she and her comrades have been shooting down Exile shuttles that pass through, intending to leave anyone who survives to die in the cold, all to advance the Dominion's ambitions to make Nexus theirs. You've got a whole settlement's worth of survivors looking to you to get them out of the wilds, most of them regular civilians, not fighters like you. You acknowledge that, even if she was just following orders, it was you or her on this one. No matter how many pretty-looking Dommies are thrown at you, you're an Exile, and they won't stop until they see you and everyone you know dead. You don't have plans on dying any time soon.

Still, it's sobering to have to deal with things like this. It's a weight that must be carried, and you must take care not to buckle under it, lest it destroy you.

Also, fuck the Chua.

>Head back to the girls and the transmitter.
>See if you can't scout out Camp Icefury.
>Head back to the girls and the transmitter.

First things first

And thanks for that characterization of the dead soldier, sticks that right balance between not despairing over the killing but still recognizing it, it's never an easy thing to go through psychologically but this seems the healthiest route
File: rootbrute02.png (2.06 MB, 1920x1080)
2.06 MB
2.06 MB PNG
You've faffed about long enough around here. While you don't doubt they can protect themselves, you need to get back to Nalia and Jackie to make sure everything is in good order. They're probably just as worried about you as you are about them. Leaving the bodies behind to the open air, you tromp back to the site of the third transmitter, sure to keep your eyes open for any other sabotage squads or local beasties aiming to make your life just that more miserable. Apart from the occasional rootbrute (as you remember them being called by one of the survivors), nothing accosts you, and you arrive back at the transmitter site.

Jackie is just standing up from the transmitter, wiping her brow, as Nalia is laying down the last of the deterrence pylons. Off to the side closer to one of the ridgelines, you spot the remains of another Dominion sabotage squad slumped in a heap, similar in composition to the one you ran across. The two battle-bots have vicious cuts in their chassis, and the rifle-toting human is slumped against a boulder, blood splattering the rock behind it.

"You got a squad, too?" you ask by way of greeting.

"Clyde!" Jackie calls out with a wave. "And here I was worried you got ganked out there."

"It's gonna take more than that to get the better of me."

"Then I'd say the Exiles are in good hands," Nalia nods. "We're just finishing up here."

"So we got comms, then?"

Jackie looks down to an AR window in front of her, tapping here and there with artful fingers. A smile brims slowly across the explorer's face. "I've finally got a line to Algoroc. Ladies and gents, the Northern Wilds are officially online."

"Kick ass. Let's get to signalling people, then."

"Not just yet, boss," Jackie cuts you off with a hand. "We gotta get coordinated, first. We're gonna get back to Settler's Reach and start figuring out where that Dominion camp is and what we need to do about it."

"I thiiiink I can help you with that one," you remark with a sly grin. You pull up your own datachron and send over the files on Camp Icefury to Jackie and Nalia's 'chrons. Jackie pulls her goggles off her face, her mouth agape. Nalia arches an eyebrow.

"Well, fuck me from behind and call me daddy's little girl," Jackie breathlessly remarks.

>That can be arranged.
>Let's get back to Settler's Reach first, firecracker.
>We could hit the Dommies right now, if you want.
>Let's get back to Settler's Reach first, firecracker.
File: 1491771799569.jpg (56 KB, 620x575)
56 KB
"Well, before you mess up your pants," you tactfully remind Jackie, "let's get back to Settler's Reach, like you said. If we're gonna test comms, let's do it while we're in the safety of other Exiles. Plus, Grux is probably waiting for us."

"Right, right," Jackie cools her head. "Sorry. It's just, you kinda blew me away with that intelligence you...found? Grabbed?"

"We'll say grabbed."

"Grabbed. Still, you've just given us the final piece to this puzzle and saved us a whole heap o' legwork." The three of you start walking to the north, back to the Exile encampment. "I'm gonna get on the horn back to Settler's Reach, get them to put the word out to avoid the Northern Wilds before we get our Dominion problem sorted. I'm also gonna get our guys to start putting together as much ordnance as possible. From the layout you found, they got a bunch of turbolaser batteries pointed to the sky, and we'll need a way to blow those guns, well, sky high."

The explorer excitedly calls up her datachron's AR and gets to work hitting her contacts. This gives you a bit of time with Nalia while you hike back to base.

>Any trouble with your sabotage squad back there?
>Is your life normally this exciting as an XAS scientist?
>Be honest: didja miss me?
>>Is your life normally this exciting as an XAS scientist
File: 1491698251641.jpg (833 KB, 1876x3300)
833 KB
833 KB JPG
As you walk across the frozen woodland, your hands rest atop your head to assist your breathing, and you glance over to Nalia. In typical aurin fashion, she walks with a bit of spring to her step, like she could go and run up a tree at a moment's notice. You're not sure if that's a byproduct of old aurin habits or if she's just naturally that peppy.

"So," you pipe up, causing Nalia to jump a little bit. "How long you been with XAS?"

"Oh," Nalia chuckles, idly rubbing at the back of one of her rabbit ears. "I joined practically at the outset of the flight from Arboria. I was absorbing a lot of information during those first exchanges with the Exiles, and I was reading a lot. When the Exiles came back and rescued us from the Planet Reapers," -- she shakes her head at the mention -- "I was quick to join ranks with the XAS. I was awake for the entire several-year trip to Nexus when Dorian found it, getting ready for planetfall. Let me tell you: nothing quite rustles the leaves up in the canopy like exploring an unknown planet of legend." She pats the side of her head for emphasis.

"Has life as an egghead always been this exciting?" you ask, glancing aside at her.

"You have noooo idea," she confirms with an incredulous sideways look back at you. "Even if I'm not out in the field, every day is an adventure. You have no clue what you're going to find out next. Frankly, that's half the fun." She smiles warmly.

"Even if it tries to kill you?"

"ESPECIALLY if it tries to kill me. No one ever discovered more about their universe without taking chances and getting a little messy once in a while." She's quick to catch herself and waves her hands at you in mild panic. "N-not that I don't put the scientific method and ethics before anything else, honest!"

"It didn't even cross my mind," you assure her. She sighs with relief.

The three of you arrive back at Settler's Reach, a couple of the perimeter guards waving you in. The camp is much more bustling with activity than when you left. Those who are healthy enough are already moving boxes around and rustling through the couple storage containers dotted about the area. A couple soldiers are kneeling over a pile, pulling out bits of metal and ordnance to set aside. A couple of scientists and medics off underneath one of the "natural" Eldan overhangs are excitedly talking into their comms, blabbing about "survivors" and "dire circumstances" and "soon to find a way out" and whatnot. Off to the side are a small mob of new human faces, a little more ragged for the wear and some with a bit of slop drooled on them, all seated and fretted over by a few medics. Standing at the head of that pack is a very proud Grux Craghammer, arms crossed over his barrel chest, cigar clenched between his lips and teeth, looking up towards no one in particular.

>All right, all right. Ya did good.
>That's FCON for ya, then?
>You get any bigger a head, you'll have a moon orbiting it.
>Skeech give you any trouble?
>All right, all right. Ya did good.
>That's FCON for ya, then?
>>You get any bigger a head, you'll have a moon orbiting it.
File: settler's reach.jpg (524 KB, 1920x1200)
524 KB
524 KB JPG
As Jackie breaks off to check on the newly-arrived survivors and Nalia steps away to look over the scientists and their comms, you stride up to Grux, who still doesn't regard you directly and continues staring up at the sky triumphantly. You take a breath, an eyebrow arched at the granok mugging for the invisible camera.

"Arright, arright," you call out with a shrug. "You done good. You brought back all the captured survivors and beat the tar out of a bunch of skeech."

"And knocked their queen's block off," Grux is quick to point out, still looking up to the heavens. The cigar rolls from one side of his mouth to the other. "That tribe ain't never gonna mess with me again."

"Well, don't get too fulla yourself. You get any bigger a head, you'll have a moon orbiting it." Grux scoffs. "Still, I guess that's the power of FCON for ya, eh?"

"Yer fuckin' right, that's FCON," Grux bellows, to the sudden shock of a couple humans seated behind him. "Ain't no one crosses one'a Kamm's Crusaders and gets away wit it." He finally looks down at you, leering with that smug grin on his face. "And you were worried I couldn't do it."

"You didn't know what a skeech was, either," you argue. "Those buggers coulda been on you like white on rice."

"I mean, A for effort," Grux shrugs, "but dey shoulda known better den to cross a mountain like me."

"Well, don't get too far ahead of yourself, boulder butt," Jackie cuts in, Nalia approaching soon behind her. "We're close, but we're not done yet." The explorer waves the three of you to follow her underneath the shadow of one of the nearby Eldan statues for a powwow. As she does, she calls up a large AR screen, showing a map of the Northern Wilds, for all four of you to see.

"Here's where we're at," Jackie explains. "We've got all three transmitters back online, which means we've finally got a line to the outside world. We've got friendly faces talking to us, and they're sayin' what I figured they'd say: as much as they'd love to help us, the Northern Wilds are remote, and they can't risk any ships coming in to pull us out of the freezer while the Dominion has their AA guns up. We're trying to get them to at least hot-drop a few FCON boys to help us out, but on such short notice and without much in the way to flag a landing, I doubt they'll be able to get our boys out here this quickly. They're saying that if we can help it, we have to find our own way outta here, but not before busting the Dommie camp in the region. By 'we,' that's gonna mean 'the four of us.' I'm not about to put any of these guys through the wringer trying to rip up the base, so it's gonna be on us to make this happen."

"I thought you said we don't even know fer sure where those Dommies even are," Grux offers.
File: Northern_Wilds.jpg (211 KB, 750x660)
211 KB
211 KB JPG
"We do now!" Jackie looks back and shoots a sly grin at you. "Thanks to some slick detective work by Clyde here, we now know where they're at and what they're packin'." She draws a red circle with her finger around an evergreen region of the wilds in the southeast corner. "This--" She taps on the region with her finger. "--is what they're calling Camp Icefury. This is where our neighborhood Dommies and their AA turbolasers are hiding. As I suspected, they did a pretty good job of it: not only did the blizzard keep us from ranging out to find them, but for the most part, there's only one real way in and out of the valley they're in by foot, unless you don't mind some extra hiking through the mountains, and that's this tiny little mountain pass riiiight here." She draws on the gap in the ridgeline for extra emphasis.

"Now, from what we can tell from our new data, they got about four or five ack-acks dotted around the edges of the camp, with a small command post in the center. Here's the good news: the camp is basically a skeleton crew, manned by only just enough soldiers and battlebots to keep the guns working and maintaining a presence. Given your three's performance, those guys don't stand a chance against us."

"Do they have a commander on site?" Grux insightfully asks.

"Lieutenant Christoph van Offen, if their records are to be believed, but how much do you wanna guess he's here by choice? If the Dominion sent him off to this ass end of the planet, he's got to be a pushover."

Grux snorts. "I'll throw him to the yetis, let him see how it feels to have them for roommates."

"Here's the better news," Jackie continues. "As we suspected, the Dominion's got a couple shuttles sitting in the back of the base. Once we bust some heads and destroy those guns, we can get all our survivors here on those shuttles and finally blow this joint."

"Are the survivors going to come with us when we make for the camp?" Nalia asks.

"No way, too much risk to them," Jackie declines, shaking her head. "Here's how this is gonna go down: the four of us are going to head down there and wipe out the camp ourselves."

"What, none of our security boys are gonna join us?" Grux cuts in.

"They gotta stay and protect our survivors. I don't want any last-minute complications coming outta them. Once the camp is out of commission and we have a shot to the shuttles, we'll call the all-clear and get everyone here escorted onto the ships. Even if we get them on the shuttles, we can't blow this popsicle stand until every single one of those guns is down."

"And I'm assuming that's what the ordnance is for," you offer.

"The ordnance is our failsafe, if we can't find a way to sabotage the guns on-site. Cutting the power to them isn't going to be enough; we want those turbolasers GONE COMPLETELY."

"When is this going down?" you ask.
"Once our explosives are ready, we need to hit them immediately. With the storm down and at least two of their sabotage squads missing, the Dommies are more than likely going to be either expecting us or getting ready to move out and explore the region. If they find Settler's Reach, that's game over, so we need to take them out now while we still have the momentum."

"So how exactly are we gonna hit this camp?" you ask further.

At that, Jackie shrugs her shoulders. "I can figure out the broad strokes of what we need to do, but I'm an explorer, not a general. Besides, you guys know what you can do better than I can. I'm open to suggestions."

>All-out assault. Everyone hits the camp loud and hard.
>Send yourself in to silently sabotage the guns and/or kill the lieutenant while everyone else goes loud as a distraction.
>Send yourself in to silently sabotage the guns and/or kill the lieutenant while everyone else hangs back and waits for your signal.
>Send yourself in to silently sabotage the guns and/or kill the lieutenant while everyone else goes loud as a distraction.

It'll be where we're most useful
>>Send yourself in to silently sabotage the guns and/or kill the lieutenant while everyone else goes loud as a distraction.
File: camp icefury.jpg (525 KB, 1920x1200)
525 KB
525 KB JPG
"Here's a thought," you offer, and the other three turn to regard you. "I'll go in first, by myself. I got the stealth, so I can get eyes on what we have to deal with. Give me a two minute head start, then the rest of you come in loud and cause a ruckus. I'll deal with targets of opportunity, including the lieutenant if possible, and hopefully, between you guys and a few explosions, the camp will be in chaos long enough for us to clean house before they get organized."

"Goin' loud's the only way I know to go," Grux comments, "so that works for me."

"Will you be all right by yourself, Clyde?" Nalia asks with noted concern in her voice.

"You don't worry about me, Nalia," you reply. "You provide backup for Grux and Jackie, help keep them on their feet and tearing through the bad guys. Trust me, if I need help, I'll let you know."

"Just get me to those guns and keep the mooks off me, and I can do the rest," Jackie assuages. She doesn't seem to mind that you've practically taken control of leading this operation. "I got a pistol and a knife, but I'm leaving the heavy lifting to man-mountain here."

"Between Jackie and myself, we should be able to sabotage those guns handily," you continue. "And I can pick off whoever Grux and Nalia haven't already cleaved in half."

"According to the reports," Jackie informs, "the camp's got somewhere around fifteen or so guys, including a couple battle-bot sentries. A few swordsmen, a few scouts, and a couple engineers and marksmen."

"Pffft. Easy." Grux waves it off. "I got this in the bag."

"WE got this in the bag," you remind him. "Even if this is a know-nothing outpost, we need everyone taking this seriously. Either we pull this off, or no one's getting outta here, so we gotta do this right the first time." Everyone nods in agreement. "Let's get moving. We got a Dominion camp to bust up." Your chest swelling, you turn on your heel and begin marching off towards Camp Icefury.

You slow down as you realize everyone else isn't following you. "Aren't we going?"

"The bombs ain't ready," Jackie blithely remarks.

Everyone is silent for a moment.

"...I knew that," you reply confidently.

Twenty minutes later, the four of you have crossed the wilds and are standing at the valley entranceway directly into Camp Icefury. You can already see some of the turbolasers mounted and pointed at the sky, a couple of patrols wandering this way and that along the beaten pathways in a rough circle around the camp. In the center, you can spot the command tent seated next to one of the guns. You're loaded down with several jury-rigged explosives, as is Jackie. Grux has already pulled out his claymore and jammed it in the earth next to him, taking a knee as his eyes rove. Nalia stands next to him, on guard and fingers wiggling a little, perhaps out of excitement.

>Scout around a little bit before you really go deep into the camp.
>Get started and start rigging the guns.
>Get started and head straight for the command tent.
>>Scout around a little bit before you really go deep into the camp.
"I don't like going into something like this blind," you mutter to the other three. "I'm gonna get some elevation first, see if I can't tell what we're walking into. I'll let you know when my two minutes starts."

"Fine, but be quick about it," Nalia agrees. "We don't have long before the Dominion mobilizes."

You nod at Nalia before crouching down into a squat. With a tap on your knees, you launch into a springloaded, strength-enhanced leap up the cliff face next to you, finding a handhold and clambering up on top of the small ridgeline before you lose your grip. You circle along the ridge around the perimeter of the camp, a video feed coming from your datachron to your friends on the ground.

From this upper angle, you get a better appreciation for composition and patrol patterns of the soldiers on the ground, as well as any other targets of interest. You can clearly tell where each of the guns are, and that each gun is personally guarded by a single guard, be it a battle-bot or a swordsman. The gaps in between are filled with pairs of scouts or the occasional engineer doing his rounds. You can spot a few bulwarks that mark the rough outlines of where defensive emplacements should be. You note where a couple supply and ammo dumps lay, which are certain to go up nicely if you touch them off with one of your explosives. There's no central power node that controls the guns, so you'll have to hit each gun individually. You even get a good look at the command tent in the middle and spot dear Lieutenant van Offen himself, a portly human with a swirl in his brown hair and a truly impressive stick up his ass. He's almost constantly scowling, looking here and there before retreating back into his tent.

"You weren't kidding," you whisper for your datachron to hear. "This really is a barebones operation."

"Still, don't bite off more than you can chew," Jackie reminds you in your ear. "We're taking them all down, that's for sure, but make sure you don't get overwhelmed. I wouldn't want you losing your head."

"Neither do I. I'll deal with the guns on this eastern side before paying the lieutenant a visit in his tent."

"Then we'll make a commotion on the west side," Grux confirms.

"Two minutes starts now. For the Exiles." Your feed cuts out.

>Avoid the guards on patrol and around the guns. You'll deal with them later when the real chaos starts.
>Start picking off guards as you move through the camp. The more you can clear out now, the better, and you should be able to take them down quickly before people catch on.
>Get started laying bombs on the guns.
>Make a beeline straight for the command tent in the center and deal with the lieutenant.
>>Start picking off guards as you move through the camp. The more you can clear out now, the better, and you should be able to take them down quickly before people catch on.
>Get started laying bombs on the guns.

Picking off the guards would be the riskiest way to get caught, with the distraction and lack of personnel they should come running to the west side anyways and we can hit them from behind
File: camp swordsman.jpg (335 KB, 1920x1200)
335 KB
335 KB JPG
Dear old dad always taught you never to do anything half-assed. No matter what you do in life, make sure you do it with pride so you always do the best job you can. Right now, your job is to empty this camp of all Dominion entities and destroy those AA guns, so you can get your wounded survivors to the shuttles in the back unimpeded. The sooner you get this knocked out, the better.

Your nanites kick in, your silhouette fading into almost nothingness. Your stealth isn't true invisibility, but it's more than enough to get you around most of the camp unimpeded. Sliding down the cliffside back to the ground floor, you end up directly next to one of the towering turbolasers pointed up at the sky. You are in a blind spot to the rest of the camp, with a lone swordsman standing on the other side of the gun, staring out across the expanse of the camp.

With light steps that leave not a sound on the metal surface of the base of the gun, you creep up behind the swordsman, prepared to strike. One of the neat quirks of your internal HUD is that since you now have a personal shield you've interfaced with, you can now always tell whether a target is shielded or not, along with roughly how strong their shields are. Unfortunately for this swordsman, he doesn't have a shield, and he doesn't know you're coming. One set of claws jammed straight through the side of the neck later, and you've already tossed the body back against the cliffside in your hiding spot before you vanish again. Unimpeded and with the rest of the camp yet to notice your subterfuge, you begin rigging a couple of your dangling bombs to the base and main barrel of the AA gun you stand underneath, set to blow at your signal.

Onward you sneak through the camp, decapitating an unshielded battle-bot at the neck with your claws and snapping an engineer's neck and hiding his body in the tall grass as you push on to the next gun. You move slowly as you proceed through the camp, careful to weave around patrols you can't take out immediately and hitting targets of opportunity. You eventually reach the second gun, guarded by yet another swordsman, and his heart and liver meet your blades for his trouble.

As you rig up the second gun to blow, you note that you have about twenty seconds before Grux, Nalia and Jackie make their grand entrance into the camp.

>Take out a couple more patrols to soften the burden on the others.
>Make a beeline for the lieutenant in the commander's tent and deal with him before he has a chance to rally the camp.
>Touch off the bombs you've already set.
>>Take out a couple more patrols to soften the burden on the others.
>>Make a beeline for the lieutenant in the commander's tent and deal with him before he has a chance to rally the camp.
File: camp scouts.jpg (366 KB, 1920x1200)
366 KB
366 KB JPG
You only have a short time before things get hectic, so in your mind, the time for true subtlety has passed. Your stealth module is still engaged, but you move with a more hurried pace in the direction of the commander's tent in the center of the camp. The only thing standing directly in your way is a pair of Dominion scouts, equipped with twin punch-daggers strapped to their wrists.

The thought crosses your mind that even though you can generate your own nanite claws from your body, you can always equip another set of claws later on. You were briefed on this in particular when they explained it all to you those years ago: there are all different kinds of blades you can equip that can be balanced for your needs. Most quartermasters can accomodate you, but you have to be rather specific about what you ask for.

In any case, you dart in front of them, and the flash of moment momentarily alerts them to a presence, though they are uncertain what. They don't have a chance to ponder the matter further before you spin like a buzzsaw in front of them, slicing both their throats with your claws and leaving them to drop on the spot with a gurgle.

Wasting no movements, you continue charging forward towards the command tent and the AA gun directly next to it, slipping into stealth one more time. It appears Lieutenant van Offen heard the struggle from a distance and shuffles indignantly out into the open air, still sneering.

"What was that noise?" he asks aloud in a clipped, highborn voice, clearly incensed that he has to investigate something for himself. "What's going on out there?"

"GET SOOOOOOME!" Grux bellows loudly as a way of answer, as the granok begins his charge into the camp, with Nalia and Jackie in hot pursuit. He swings right to head towards the western side of the camp. One swordsman in his path was caught off-guard by the shouting and charging granok, and he's not quite prepared for what appears in front of him. Unfortunate, as Grux baseball-swings his zweihander, crashing into the swordsman's armor and sending him flying into one of the waist-high Dominion barriers with a sickening crack before toppling end over end.

You can even see van Offen's eyes bug out at the sight of a granok, aurin and human beginning to make a mess of his camp, the few soldier in the area only beginning to respond and head in his direction in packs of two or three. "Oh, you've got to be--"

You cut off his thought for him as you sail straight at him with a flying jump side kick, hitting him square in the jaw with a satisfying impact. The lieutenant's shields flash as he topples like a ball back inside his tent, rolling on the dirt before he ends taking a knee. He unsheathes his cutlass and drawn his blaster sidearm as you appear before him, dropping out of stealth and standing inside his tent over him.

"Y-- Exile dog!" he shouts. "What is the meaning of this?!"

>Say nothing.
>Banter a bit. (Line?)
>Touch off the bombs as a statement.
>Touch off the bombs as a statement.
>>Touch off the bombs as a statement.
You keep quiet and stare intensely at the lieutenant, letting the air grow slightly awkward almost by choice. Slowly, your left hand comes up, holding tightly onto a charge detonator, your thumb hovering precariously over a thin red button on the side.

"What are you doing?" the lieutenant asks again. "Explain yourself before I run you through."


The two AA guns behind you ring with explosions, a bright flash of light coming from both batteries as the detonation shudders through the guns, splitting them down the middle and leaving the barrels pointing down at the ground as a result. The shockwave shudders through the ground, thrumming through your body, the booms causing your ear to ring slightly.

You don't betray your appearance, but those explosions were bigger than you expected, and you're trying not to shit yourself.

You strap the detonator back to your hip before pouncing on the plus-sized commander, claws outstretched. His saber comes up to block your overhead slices, but before he can pull up his pistol to blast you in the gut, your foot snaps up with lightning speed and nails him square in the groin. His shields flash again, but the damage is already done. With a high-pitched whine like a jet engine starting up, the lieutenant doubles over in pain, and you are already upon him, claws stabbing through him over and over. He shields blew out long before your claws stopped running him through.

So much for the Dominion's local bigwig. Then again, you wouldn't want to be willingly stationed in the Northern Wilds, either.

You look out the other side of the command tent, leaving the lieutenant's body behind, and can see Grux getting mobbed by a few soldiers yet dealing with them rather handily. His broad swings of his claymore are keeping the enemy at bay and slicing through their armor, and Nalia provide backup with bombardment via psychic spectral weapons hurling through the air and slamming into the Dominion ranks. Any time Grux takes a glancing blow, Nalia is quick to get behind him and channel her psychic power to reinvigorate him and tend to the pain. Meanwhile, Jackie has slinked away and is starting to prime her explosives on one of the far guns.

>Plant your explosives on the gun just outside the command camp.
>Jump into the melee and give Grux some backup.
>Slink around and pick off any stragglers.
>Slink around and pick off any stragglers.
File: camp blasterbot.jpg (94 KB, 537x717)
94 KB
Grux is holding the main brunt of whoever is left alive in the camp by himself, and given his performance with the more numerous skeech, you have no doubt he can hold his own. This frees you up to sweep the rest of the camp for any lingering forces who either haven't cleared out or already engaged with Grux.

Turns out there aren't that many. The couple of soldiers who were still on the eastern edge of the camp were blown clear when you set off the explosives on those two guns. You can even see one scrapped battle-bot chassis implanted into a cliffside, charred and baked by the bombs. The most you see is a pair of engineers crowding around a couple smaller man-sized turrets, keeping an eye out for anyone approaching their position. Slicing the turret's barrel off puts an end to that worry, and you're quick to finish off the two mildly-defending engineers. Off on a raised hill, you spot a marksman with a rifle trying to get a bead on Grux's 8-ball head from about 50 meters. You cut that plan real short with an ambush from the side, disarming the marksman before gutting him.

Your eyes scan the area, and you can't find any more soldier on this half of the camp. Getting up on the hill, you spot that pretty much everyone else is dealing with Grux, and there aren't that many left. Jackie already moved on to rig up the other gun on the west side, so you take the opportunity to set up your last explosives in the center of the camp. By the time you're done, the din has quieted down, and you look around to spot all the Dominion soldiers cut down, Grux looking no worse for wear. His sword is planted square in the dirt, looking like a proud statue, while Nalia frets around him, making sure he's not chipped or missing a piece somewhere. You stride down the hill to approach the three. They tense for a moment before recognizing you.

"Piece o' cake," Grux proclaims with a thumbs-up at you. "Those Dommies didn't know what hit 'em."

"We heard the first explosions just as we came in," Nalia comments, looking across the camp to the ruined guns to the east. "Are you all right?"

"Never better," you reply, clapping your hands of dust. Jackie saunters up behind Grux and Nalia.

"Ready?" Jackie asks, holding up another detonator. You bring out your own.

"I love this part," Grux mentions to no one in particular. Nalia pulls her rabbit ears down to cover them as you and Jackie set off your set charges. The three other AA guns ring out with large explosions before falling apart with the sound of screeching metal and sparking wires.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say those are some dead AA guns," Jackie confirms.

"So we're done?" Grux asks. "We can get outta this dump?"

"Just about," Jackie confirms. "All we have left to do is check to make sure the shuttles in the back of the camp are in good order, and we can get our guys outta here."

"Let's get going, then," you agree, and the three of you head up the hillside at the southern end.
File: ultrabot_02.jpg (1.33 MB, 1920x1080)
1.33 MB
1.33 MB JPG
What greets you is not at all welcome.

There is one last obstacle standing between you and the penned-in Dominion shuttles that can get you out of here. Unfortunately, it's a rather large obstacle: a thirty-foot tall mass of spit-polished, angry warbot, standing directly in front of the pens at the ready.

"Oh, poison ivy," Nalia mutters.

"This ain't in that report we got," Grux idly wonders. "Not dat I'm complainin'."

"How DID we miss that?" you think out loud in a mild and surprisingly calm tone. "It's kinda hard to miss something like that, now that I think about it."


The Dominion ultrabot, one of the pinnacles of the Dominion war machine, finally takes notice of the four of you and begins tromping forward, a couple yard of grass stomped flat in a single footprint.

>Any ideas, chief?

Maybe we can create a diversion to distract it, then sneak around and flank it!
if we have any more exploseives the we go invisible and plant them on the bot
Naila makes more summons and spread them out do distract it
Grux charges it while its distracted
Jackie (I don't know what she can do) does what she does best
"Jack," you suddenly say with a voice of authority, holding out your hand towards her. "Gimme your spare charges."

"Huh?" Jackie is caught mildly off-guard, still stunned at the presence of the Ultrabot still here. Grux wasted no time and already charged in on the machine, Nalia filtering in just behind him to provide backup. "Oh, uh, yeah, I still got a couple."

"Come on," you spur Jackie on, who shifts her pack a couple times to get at her spare ordnance charges. Nalia summons a pair of Eldan construct illusions who circle around the Ultrabot as if to get an angle on it. The Ultrabot, originally trained on the incoming granok, is forced to turn and address the two other entities trying to get around it. Grux's claymore is already unsheathed, and with a shout, he crouches slightly and springs forward in a massive leap, crashing against the Ultrabot's leg with an overhead slash. The bot is momentarily knocked off-balance, forced onto a knee.

Getting the last of Jackie's charges, you activate your stealth one more time and creep around the edge of the elevated hill, while Grux continues wailing on the ultrabot from the knee down. The ultrabot is forced to hunch over in order to swipe and stomp at him, all while Nalia cuts at its chassis with psychic weapons. Eventually, the ultrabot hunches down onto a knee in order to properly smash Grux's head in with a fist. The granok wisely rolls out of the way of the falling hammer blow, but it leaves the machine's back exposed and at a level you can more easily reach.

You immediately take advantage and pounce upon the ultrabot's back. Your claws somehow find purchase into its back, and with forceful swipes, you tear open its backside to reveal some of the internals within. The bot rears back and twists back and forth to shake you off, but you hold fast with your claws until it stops, giving you enough time to grab the satchel charges you're carrying and stuff them in amongst the internals of the machine. Just in time, too, as a large metal hand reaches behind you to attempt to pry you off. You disengage and fall off the machine's back before it snatches you. You dart away back to the edge of the hill, the ultrabot turning to regard you with an indignant stare, at least before it's distracted again by a spectral mace cracking it in the face and turning back to Grux and Nalia, who are already upon it again.

"Now?!" Jackie shouts at you, holding up her detonator.

>Not yet: use the charges to interrupt an attack for maximum damage.
>Not yet: save it towards the end to finish it off.
Also don't forget to grab the lieutenant's shield before leaving.
The lieutenant's shield isn't much better than the one you already have, which frankly isn't much.
But it's better than the ones our friends don't have.
Grux, Nalia and Jackie have their own shields.
>>Not yet: use the charges to interrupt an attack for maximum damage.
"Not yet!" you shout at Jackie. "I'll tell you when!" The ultrabot, in the meantime, is clearly not happy about having some human pounce on his back and root around in his insides, and he makes his pleasure known with a thundering double hammer fist to the ground, causing a tremor and leaving everyone unsteady. It goes on to sweep its arm in a wide arc, kicking up dirt and grass as you, Grux and Nalia are all swatted aside and bowled over across the clearing onto their backs. Your shields flash, but the blow still knocks the wind out of you as you tumble end over end and land on your back.

The ultrabot whines triumphantly as it stands up to its full height, thrusting its chest forward. The four green lights on its chest and the light that makes up its "eye" all begin thrumming with power, glowing brighter with each second. Your internal HUD shouts WARNING at you, pointing at the growing well of energy in the center of the bot, and your memory casts back to the Eldan construct you fought in the VR sim. You slowly get up to your feet, Grux and Nalia following suit, everyone watching the bot power up and prepare to unleash its attack. It's not long before the whine is almost deafening.


Two large explosions fan out the backside of the ultrabot, causing it to seize up completely as the stored power is not merely squelched, but forced to dissipate, causing feedback throughout the entire bot and destroying it from the inside. You can see the localized explosions rip up and down all its limbs and through its body, more explosions fanning out of its backside. Eventually, even the ultrabot's head explodes in dramatic fashion, blown clear off and sent halfway across the camp before landing with a thump.

The body staggers back and forth for a moment before finally falling forward onto its chest with a loud, dull crash. Its back is exposed, where the hole you carved out is blown wide open, exposing the internals to the cool open air. There is nothing but the hiss of the burning internals and the light breezes blowing through the grass and nearby trees as the only sound around. You hear your breathing finally catch up to you.

"Did we get 'im?" Grux asks.
>Yeah. Yeah, we got 'em.
>Thank the stars for high explosives.
>Everybody okay? You didn't shit yourself?
>I'll bet the boys at Settler's Reach felt that from here.
>>Everybody okay? You didn't shit yourself?
>>I'll bet the boys at Settler's Reach felt that from here.
>>I'll bet the boys at Settler's Reach felt that from here.
>>Nah Grux it decided to commit suicide
>Nah Grux it decided to commit suicide
>Everybody okay? You didn't shit yourself?
"Is everyone all right?" you call out around you. "Nobody shit their pants or nothin'?"

"I'm fine," Nalia replies, "though I will say that's a rather specific thing to worry about, Clyde."

"I'm okay, I'm okay," Jackie confirms with an exasperated sigh.

"'Ey, it's a legitimate concern," Grux shoots at Nalia, dusting himself off and picking his sword off the ground. "That was...a little faster than I was expectin', ta be honest."

"You can blame that on that cue-ball you call a head," you call out to Grux. "Damn thing was so tired of lookin' at it, it killed itself."

"Cute." Grux rolls his eyes as he kicks at the Ultrabot's fallen chassis. Nalia looks out over the barren Dominion camp, the AA guns destroyed and bodies scattered across the clearing.

"Whew," you exhale. "How much you wanna bet Settler's Reach felt that from here?"

"That's the easiest bet in the world, so I'll pass," Grux comments.
"Is it over?" Nalia asks. "Are we done?"

"...Yeah," you confirm. "Yeah, we're done here. I'll go check on the shuttles to make sure they're ready to go. Jackie, go ahead and ring up our guys at Settler's Reach. Should we do something about the bodies?"

Grux waves you off. "Leave 'em for the skeech ta deal with."

You shuffle past the ultrabot's body and activate the console on the laser grid fence that's penned in the two Dominion shuttles you've been eyeing. Deactivating the fence lets you approach the two large transports, which the Dommies never bothered to lock up. You head into the cockpit of one and, after a bit of work, get the engine started. You can feel the thrum of the engine warming up and the whine of the boosters getting ready to go to work.

By the time you've started up the other shuttle and done a walkaround on both of them to make sure they're good to go, you hear the indistinct sound of cheering and hollering. Leaving the pen, you look back out into the camp and see a cavalcade of people filtering through the valley pass and proceeding through the camp. Most of them are armed with a rifle or pistol, and many of them are still bandaged up or holding onto others for support. But they're cheering, the first smiles you've seen on them ever since you arrived in the wilds. Some of them are dancing, some are kicking the destroyed guns, some are spitting on and loudly cursing the fallen Dominion soldiers, all while Jackie rounds them up and helps guide them onto the shuttles. You can hear some of the voices as they filter past you.

"The nightmare is over."
"I'll be happy never to see snow again in my life."
"After a beating like these guys got, I'm sure they won't mind if we take their ships."
"Don't aggravate your wounds!"
"Fuck 'em! Fuck every last one of 'em! Fuck their mothers, too!"
"Bro, chill out."
"I don't think 'chill' is the word we wanna use here."

"All right, come on people!" Jackie hollers, serving as a crossing guard. "Let's get these rustbuckets airborne!" A couple of soldiers take hold of the controls for each shuttle as everyone settles in. You, Grux, Nalia and Jackie are the last to filter onto the ships. As you push past the survivors, you get cheers and pats on the back from everyone you shuffle past on your way to the back, where the four of you finally sit down and relax for the first time in a long time. You can feel the engines warm up and the shuttles slowly lift off the ground as they orient to the south.
File: shuttles.jpg (211 KB, 1894x1009)
211 KB
211 KB JPG
Grux is already chomping on a new cigar.
Jackie is looking over an AR globe from her holocron to check where you're going.
Nalia begins dozing, her head leaning on your shoulder.
You lean back and drift off to sleep yourself, satisfied in a job well done.

You have conquered the Northern Wilds.

The rest of Nexus better watch the fuck out for you.
And that's the end of this chapter of WildStar Quest. Apologies for the technical delays towards the end there, but at least it's not just me.


Next time, our adventures open up considerably as we get acquainted with more of Nexus.

Thanks for running QM, looking forward to the next one, was glad to see a couple more people playing

Delete Post: [File Only] Style:
[Disable Mobile View / Use Desktop Site]

[Enable Mobile View / Use Mobile Site]

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective parties. Images uploaded are the responsibility of the Poster. Comments are owned by the Poster.