>Third Time's the Charm EditionAn ancient forest of giant trees somewhere in the Golden State, where you tagged along for a mission to an abandoned Gem structure. From what you've been told the place is some sort of recording center, but just because it's abandoned doesn't mean it's inactive. Having found out the hard way, the team came under fire by defensive measures in place within the structure, which reacted to your entry. Furthermore, the discovery of an old greenhouse resulted in an attack by a monstrous plant creature.With the group scattered and who knows what danger still lies ahead, you're starting to wonder if you picked the wrong alien space rocks to associate with. More so, now that they're gone.
>>1699269Went on hiatus for a couple weeks but back again, to continue where things left off, directly from the previous two threads;>http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/1514772/>http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/1596007/
You are Owen, a 20-year-old newcomer to the town of Diamond Shoals, and new acquaintance of the resident Gems there. In your spare time you've been helping them out with the odd job here and there, though this is another proper mission you've accompanied them on. And so after making your way through the structure within the first giant tree and onto the second, you've taken shelter from a dangerous monster. Some sort of hostile plant mass having sprung to life in the greenhouse after the team made an effort to restore it to some working order. No thanks was given however, as the monster attacked any and all around it and forcefully disbanded the group, some being smashed out the greenhouse windows and to a likely fatal fall.Now it's just you and Sarah, another of the group, having taken cover together in the water irrigation room joined to the greenhouse. By hiding, keeping quiet and merely watching (no easy task after watching your teammates cast out), you noticed that eventually the plant creature gained some composure overtime. As if getting used to its surroundings, it uprooted itself and after a short exploration of the room, made for the exit onwards. Perhaps driven by whatever force animated it in the first place. Even out of immediate danger for the moment, naturally you and Sarah aren't any less worried. For yourselves, for your friends, if they're even alive that is.>Move into the next room, the greenhouse, and see what the aftermath is. The monster may have moved on though, but you still want to be discrete about it.>Check your belongings, see what you have left. With just the two of you remaining, success or survival may come down to what you can use and rely on.>Assure Sarah that it's going to be alright. You have no idea if it will of course, but she's just a kid and it must be hard for her after seeing her friends dispatched in such a brutal fashion. >[Write-in.]
>>1699291>>Assure Sarah that it's going to be alright. You have no idea if it will of course, but she's just a kid and it must be hard for her after seeing her friends dispatched in such a brutal fashion.And then go and retrieve the gems.
>>1699304You're just as scared as she is at what's going on, but then the others of the team are just your... well, sort-of friends. For Sarah though they're her family, the gems at least from what you understand, so the fear can't compare with the worry."They's not... d-dead is they?""No!" you immediately blurt out, trying to convince yourself as much as her, "...no. I mean how strong can a bunch of vines be? I'm sure it'll be alright, don't worry!""But... they fell." You try to sound optimistic and rest a supportive hand on her shoulder as you sit together, but your shaky voice and clear worry must be obvious to her as she doesn't seem to feel much better. Not wanting to leave it at that then, you figure the coast is as clear as it's going to get, and push against the wooden wall of the tree interior to reach your feet.The next room is a mess, as you enter into it then and pace around looking for what you can. At least the killer plants are gone now though, or dead, like some of those of separate planter boxes which the monster didn't collect to take with it. It doesn't bring a whole lot of comfort though, as Sarah follows after you and together you search desperately for any signs of the rest of the team or their fate. She has no concerns about rushing right to the edge of the room, where the great windows of the greenhouse opened, in order to look out after Emma and Lee whom were knocked out. "I don't see 'em, we's so far up!""Ah, well I think I found... err, nevermind."Sol... or what's left of her at least. While the other two were sent flying out the window, Sol was hit directly by the plant monster and smashed into the wall. Sarah was worried about Emma and Lee falling, but when you saw Sol explode from the attack you were sure she was dead, while at least with the other two you could try and hold some hope for. It seems you weren't wrong either, as all that remains are her clothes scattered about the floor, and a little orange stone among them. Nice-looking though, all shiny and smooth, like it was cut in that shape.>Gather up her remains in backpack, it's the least you can do for now. No need to upset Sarah so much either, not now.>It's a shame, seeing it made your heart sink, but Sarah has a right to know. This was the closet thing to family for her, after all.>The last thing you want to do is go near the edge... but to help look for the other two, you can try to keep your fear in check.>[Write-in.]
>>1699573>>Gather up her remains in backpack, it's the least you can do for now. No need to upset Sarah so much either, not now.Then try to muster up courage to look over the edge.
>>1699940Although Sarah asks after what you sounded to have found, but you play it off as a mistake. Quickly then while she's still watching over the edge, you gather up the shiny rock and Sol's clothes (trying not to get embarrassed about her underwear), and stuff them all in the backpack. Of course you don't look forward to breaking the sad news to Sarah, but that will have to come later when you're both out of this situation for sure. There's never a good time to reveal the death of a friend, but it can't come now when danger is still abound."See anything yet? It can't be that fa- whoah, it is th-that far down!""Nah, nothin'. Maybe they's land in a low branch?"Approaching the edge, you can't process how she's able to so easily just ignore the significant height and look down below. You try to get closer as well but suffer a bout of vertigo from the view, and end up just dropping to your hands and knees and merely wait by while she continues to look. Trying to grip the floor for dear life then as your heart races, you nearly jump in panic, startled as you are by the muffled sound of speaking from the backpack. Sarah notices it as well, initially just as confused as you are, but pulling away from the edge and rummaging around in the bag you find the source of the voice."Owen? Owen, you there?! What's going on with the... what are we going to call it, the monster?"The walkie-talkie, of course! Lee must have hers, wherever she is. Trying to let your heart settle from the initial panic, you gulp before answering, as Sarah leans close in case there's a need to speak."O-Oh yeah, we're still up here! The uh...""Vine giant!" Sarah adds in, a little happier at hearing someone else survived."Right, I think it's gone. Are you alright though? We saw you and Emma knocked out the window..."Perhaps a lower branch she landed on indeed, you can't imagine how else you'd still be talking now if it weren't the case. Or maybe you get one last phone call when you go to heaven, or walkie-talkie call in this case."Me? I'm fine, wouldn't you know it, the gem fragment Emma gave me actually worked! Sort of, it wasn't a soft landing but I'm alive. I fell all the way down though, I'm on the forest floor here. Oh right, Emma? I don't know where she is now but when we fell I saw her use her powers, and reach out to grab one of the trees."That's some welcome news, as you and Sarah breathe an audible sigh of relief. Being separated isn't great by any measure, but it sounds like Emma may have managed to survive the fall as well.
>Does she have any way of contacting Emma perhaps? You know the gem didn't take a walkie-talkie, but maybe Lee or even Sarah have some other way?>Ask Lee how long it'll take till she can get back up here. Obviously the biggest priority right now is to gather the team back together, and you of course need to tell her about Sol's untimely end.>Could she maybe get help? Naturally you'd not want to involve other people in gem business if you can help it, but this is a national park. Maybe she could find some rangers or even just some park visitors? Right now you could use all the help you can get.>[Write-in.]
>>1700102>>Does she have any way of contacting Emma perhaps? You know the gem didn't take a walkie-talkie, but maybe Lee or even Sarah have some other way?
>>1700816>>1701351It'd be for the best if everyone met up at the same place again, but there's not much point in trying if the other two aren't even together. Of course the walkie-talkie is a huge help and you're glad you thought of bringing it, but it'd be much nicer if everyone could similarly communicate."Alright, that's good at least. Do you have any way of communicating with Emma though? Once we know where everyone is at least, well that's a step in the right direction...""You gotta' say 'over' when you's done talkin'." Sarah adds in, though you feel a little singled out here since Lee wasn't following such protocol either."I do yeah, it's called shouting. I don't know where she is though, or else I'd shout out to her. She can't be that far though, just higher up probably. I bet she's trying to climb back up to you guys, it's not like I need any help down here. Over!"A little disappointed, you would have thought Lee to have some manner of communication available to her between the gems. She has been helping them out for longer than you after all, so you find it hard to believe she's never wound up in a situation where a walkie-talkie wouldn't have helped to have around. Then again, these are some pretty difficult circumstances here."Err, right. How about you Sarah? You've got a gem right, can you maybe... I don't know, use some sort of magic powers to talk or think at Emma?"It seems like a fair question but her frustrated reaction reminds you otherwise."You know I ain't got powers! I don't think gems can do's that anyway!"Well at least you tried, it would have made all the difference as well. You really hope this sort of help with the gems, missions and all doesn't become a regular thing but if it ever does you'll have to remember to really, properly prepare. Or at least the others, you and Sarah have always managed so far. "Well you could just wait for her up there. Without her help though... I think I'm stuck down here. I'll see what I can do, but don't wait up for me! Over!"Not the best note to end on, but it's a start. Handing the walkie-talkie off to Sarah then in case she wants to speak with Lee, you consider the options. A chance of Emma eventually showing up again, and as far as you can tell the monster having moved on, seems like the best would be to get comfortable up here while you wait. "I guess that settles it then. We'll just wait to see if Emma can climb back up here, if she can't then maybe we'll try and go back.""Wait... what about Bentley?"Ah right, the last member of the team, the coconut. Last you recall, Bentley had been grabbed and carried off by the plant monster. You feel a little bad you weren't able to rescue him before, and already risked your skin to try and save him. At the end of the day it is just a coconut, but you've already lost one member of the team...
>Coconut or not, you can't abandon a teammate! Gather everything up and continue on through the structure after the monster.>Bentley is a plant too, like the monster. He'll be fine on his own... probably, while you wait for Emma.>[Owen] It couldn't hurt to at least scout ahead, at least see where the monster skulked off to. Sarah can wait here in the meantime for Emma, to explain the situation if she manages to climb up. >[Write-in.]
>>1702544>>Bentley is a plant too, like the monster. He'll be fine on his own... probably, while you wait for Emma.Besides, maby the plant creature had a crush on bently.
A little earlier start today.>>1703467You probably could pursue the monster in order to rescue the coconut, but your common sense tells you that's a bad idea. You do have some experience with gem monsters to be fair, but this seems different. And considering it was able to get rid of the rest of the team so simply (albeit by surprise), you'd rather not risk tangling with it if you can avoid such a thing. "Bentley is a coconut, the vine giant is all made up of plants too... I don't think we have to worry that much about him. At least not while we're on our own up here."It seemed the most logical option in your head at first, but actually hearing it aloud sounds rather callous. Although upset by it, Sarah accepts your choice but grumbles more than a little as the two of you find a place to sit and wait in the greenhouse. Fortunately you remember the cooler shoved at the bottom of the bag and rummaging through for it, something to eat does improve the mood a little. While munching away, you continue to hear the errant ramblings of Lee over the walkie-talkie Sarah's holding on to. Something about being paranoid if she's being stalked by a bear, but you and Sarah end up talking to pass the time anyway. Obviously, no shortage of things to discuss."...just because it it smashed the others out the window doesn't mean it can't act a little... softer? I saw it hanging onto Bentley and carrying him around pretty carefully. Hey, maybe the vine giant had a thing for him! Next time we see them, they could be married!""Owen, they's plants. Don't be si-" you feel pretty stupid for your imaginings, but fortunately they aren't dwell on for long. Sarah notices something and quickly jumps up, moving to the edge while you approach but keep your distance of course. "See's that, it's Emma!"Sure enough at her pointing it out, you can see Emma slowly scaling her way up another tree across the way using her powers. A pair of large amber claws ahead of her own hands, you think you can make out, digging into the bark as she ascends. Despite the both of you calling out and shouting to her though, she continues unabated and eventually reaches a lower branch of the tree she's on and works on opening a doorway into the portion of the gem structure there."Can't hears us? She pretty far's away..."She's not wrong, but why did Emma end up scaling a different tree to begin with? Probably just a mistake, you know from experience how she's... well, a little wonked in the head for lack of a better term. If only you had a flare gun or something. Actually that sounds like a terrible idea.
>If Emma scaled another tree over there, she's not coming back. You're probably going to have to head on after her, together.>You don't want to separate any further, but what if you run into danger before you reach Emma? It's too risky to drag Sarah along, for now.>Maybe Sarah doesn't have any powers, or doesn't know how to use any, but her gem still allows her to interact with equipment around here. Maybe see if she can use anything you come across, to help your progress.>[Write-in.]
>>1706222>[Write-in.]The survival compass should have a mirror on it, maby you can reflect light at her and grab her attention?
>>1706373That's a pretty clever idea, if you can't call out to her then use the light to catch her attention. You take a knee to dig through the backpack for the compass and spend a little time trying to catch and reflect the light Emma's way for her to notice you. Sarah quickly realizes what you're doing, but offers to take it closer to the edge for more light, which is fine by you.Her efforts produce better results it seems, as after a few attempts of flashing directly at Emma and then finally the door and tree around where she's looking, she does come to pause and search around for the source. Taking that as the chance, you and Sarah resume to jumping and shouting till eventually the gem notices you. She peers closer before waving and jumping back in kind, but then just enters into the structure by the lower branch she reached. The both of you are left a little confused, settling back to normal."Was that supposed to be a signal? She knows it's us right, she just went inside to find a way back over here?""Think so... but she gets weird sometimes. Maybe even forget 'bout us before she gets over here."If only it were Sol in this case to communicate with, at least you could know things for sure with her. Sarah seems skeptical of course, and she knows Emma better than any perhaps. But in your own experience when it matters, the big gem might be unpredictable but always reliable.>[Write-in.]
>>1706518Lets continue on and maybe we can meet up with Emma, but we'll need to be careful.
>>1706541You decide to trust Sarah's judgement on this one, and not wait around for Emma to get lost on her own train of thought while looking for the both of you. After all, you remember the last mission where you got separated from her.So gathering everything up again, you lead the way with caution, while Sarah follows and ends up jumping to reach and pull at the backpack for a flashlight. It's helpful since the forward exit from the greenhouse is a short but darker passage and a still darker room, lit only by some more dusty old windows and an open doorway to the outside. Your attention at first is on the various old equipment and inactive systems around the room, possibly for monitoring the greenhouse if you had to guess, since the other room besides it was irrigation for this part of the complex. The sound of rustling though and sudden movement, and in a panic you drop down, and grab for Sarah's flashlight to cover it up."What? What's goin' on?""There's some... thing else in here."You'd have thought to have to take extra care, but you're quickly reminded of Sarah's competency when it comes down to it, as she immediately takes after your lead and keeps quiet and keeps low. Crawling ahead even, she gets a sight of whatever it was, something of the vine giant's you think. Like a smaller part, or something created by it and left behind... or sent back. An offensive-looking little plant "person" wandering about the room. You wouldn't imagine it to be nearly as dangerous as the real deal, but then neither of you could qualify as "fighters" of the team.>Try to sneak past. Wait if you have to, till the thing wanders to the other side of the room.>Make a distraction and rush past! The open doorway is right there, if you can cross over to the other tree you should be fine.>Engage the little monster, it's smaller than Sarah even. Be careful though of course, you don't have proper weapons.>[Write-in.]
>>1706744>>Try to sneak past. Wait if you have to, till the thing wanders to the other side of the room.Caution is advised.
>>1706822Both on the same page about sneaking by and hopefully avoiding being noticed, let alone any conflict, together you coordinate and sneak along through the room. Keeping an eye out for the little monster is pretty difficult, but the system parts set about the room are high enough (if not frequent enough) to afford you both full cover. A difficult task for you the most, carrying the backpack but eventually, slowly and carefully you sneak through the room and finally slip out the door. The last step is for Sarah to seal the door behind, something which takes a little effort on her part to figure out, but after you pick her up she's able to properly bring her hand to the right area on the doorway exterior. She clearly has no idea what to do but quickly trying out a bunch of different hand placements, the door rumbles to life and closes shut, just in time to seal off the little plant monster. "That was great, well done!""Thanks, good job sneakin'."That's that problem taken care of, but now the biggest problem of all lies ahead. For you at least, crossing the great branch of this vast tree to the next. It wouldn't be the first you've crossed but after the mishap with the last crossing, you've naturally got some misgivings. Sarah doesn't seem aware and looking over the side to the drop below, and on ahead to the tree where Emma is at, she begins to pace along the branch at her own pace.The good news at least, if there is any, is that this time you can see clearly all the way across. No hidden drop or low-hanging clusters of leaves.>This is sad. If a ten year old can do it, then you have to. Just follow close and keep an eye on Sarah, don't look down.>There's no shame in asking for help. Or maybe a little shame, but after all you've been through together you don't expect Sarah to judge.>You know, now that you think about it, you don't both need to cross! That's right, Sarah can just head on over and find Emma, then just bring her back! >[Write-in.]
>>1707167>>There's no shame in asking for help. Or maybe a little shame, but after all you've been through together you don't expect Sarah to judge.
>>1707197A request for help is better than the alternative, of suffering another fall. Instinctively you're reluctant to ask for help, but simply going over it in your mind and you're able to dismiss any insecurities about it. "H-Hey Sarah wait up a b-bit..." you call out, when you get about as far as you can go on your own before taking a calming breath, "...can I get some help?""Huh? Oh sure!"Her initial expression of confusion when she looks back, soon gives way to benevolence when she understands the problem. With a simple gesture she takes your hand and puts it on her shoulder before turning back to lead the rest of the way across. Such a simple exchange, only a moment, but it stands out to you. You think back as you follow after her about before you came to Diamond Shoals, that other life back then. You had friends, people you were close with, but you'd have never been able to ask them for help like this. Always too busy being something for them, being something for everyone, and no room for anything else. No room for Owen afraid of heights or Owen working a job for a living, only Owen the track star and Owen the scholarship recipient. Living for others, but not really living.Ah, maybe you're just reading too much into it though. You got so distracted, lost in thought that before you realized it, you were already across to the other side. Letting go of Sarah's shoulder, you thank her for the help and wonder where the time went. Normally you'd be hard pressed to to clean the gutters on a roof, but here you just crossed a several hundred foot drop without noticing."Look like Emma gone down there." she leans over the side, one hand against the trunk of this next mighty tree and pointing down to the lower branch where the big gem climbed up to, "We finds some stairs inside maybe?""Huh? Oh, yeah. Well then, let's go."Picking her back up again in order to open the door to the structure built into the tree once more, several attempts at the obvious panel on the frame and the interior is revealed.>Sneaking worked before, continue with the stealthy approach within.>You're looking for Emma, so it'd be best if she knew or heard you were here somewhere. Calling out as you go, if you need to.>Scout ahead, if the vine giant continued on in this direction then you can assume there will be more nasties left (or sent) in its wake.>[Write-in.]
Just a heads up, this will probably be my last response of the night. Will resume tomorrow though from here >>1707506>Thanks all for playing!
>>1707506>>Sneaking worked before, continue with the stealthy approach within.
Hey all, sorry for missing today. Unexpectedly had a bunch of work lumped on my schedule for today. I think it's too late to start now, but I'll try to do another earlier start like yesterday to make up for it.
>>1707954>>1708222When it's just the two of you, avoiding conflict seems like the best idea mostly if not always. Heck, even if Lee were here with you, still you'd probably want to keep it stealthy. So having entered the structure of this next tree, together you sneak along a corridor and shortly come upon another room. You only get a quick look because the place is already crawling with more vine giant minions, bigger than the last one you left behind, and it seems the bigger they get the less able they are to maintain a discernibly "humanoid" form. More like legged, shambling masses of writhing green. From what little you did glimpse of the place though it's quite different from the rest of the complex, and though you're not at all versed in gem architecture or how they built anything, to your eyes at least the room resembles something more like what would be lived in rather than worked in.Either way, you both quickly dive for cover before you're detected. The... furniture? if you had to guess, scattered about affords decent cover. Whispering although unsure if it matters since you wouldn't imagine the plant monsters to have ears, you try to figure out a plan of action with Sarah."We's goin' up? Think we's suppose to, Emma said before.""You wouldn't rather find Emma first? I don't think we'd be able to uh, tangle with those monsters."A bit of a disagreement then, on how to proceed. It seems Sarah would rather just get to the bottom of all this, possibly put an end to it if you're able, and of course rescue Bentley in the process. As always though you're not too keen on any gem activity, be it dangerous or "safe", without a proper gem present.No offense to Sarah, of course.>You admire her courage but it's not worth the risk, realistically. Besides, there's nothing wrong with sticking together as a team.>Up it is then, it may be dangerous but you've encountered worse for sure. More than anything you'd just like to get through this, finally.>If Sarah finds someplace to hide for just a little bit, you could go on ahead and check both ways for yourself and return knowing for sure.>[Write-in.]
>>1714156>>Up it is then, it may be dangerous but you've encountered worse for sure. More than anything you'd just like to get through this, finally.Might as well go up.
>>1714397It seems so close to the finish line now, that you're on the fence. Definitely less concerned about potential dangers than you'd be otherwise, going on the belief that if you can manage to stop the vine giant at whatever it's doing, then that'll do away with all these other risks. "Alright, we'll go up. Let's be quick about it though, I'll make a distraction and you run for the door... ah yeah, there it is over there. Be ready to shut it behind us again."Hoping for you to be careful, Sarah gets ready to make a break for it and waits for your effort. With a deep breath then, and remembering the backpack you take it off and give it to her, before readying yourself for what's to come.Let's see if any of these compare to the stalker monster, or the urchin monster...---"That was so cool! Not even Sol can move so fast!"Walking up the circling staircase together towards who knows what, Sarah doesn't refrain from showing how impressed she is over your distraction. Maybe it was pretty good, as you drew the attention of the lesser plant monsters around and then managed to run all around the room evading them well enough to be able to reach Sarah by the door a minute or so later, all without a scratch or being caught. "I guess so... but playing against you guys- err, ladies in dodgeball was much worse. I've got to say though it's something else to be able to run this place as good as Emma might, having a gem doesn't seem too bad..." you recall her getting better at using old gem stuff, and wonder what else she might be able to do. You can't help trailing off though when you reach the top of the stairs, coming up into the new area and seeing it first from being the taller one. "Eeesh... hopefully it comes in handy again now, what with all... that."By the look of things you'd guess this to be the uppermost level, and of the largest tree of the lot, at least of the ones you saw built into by this old gem complex. Unlike the other trees though, the upper branches of this one all extend outwards from a central point with a consistent foliage at the exterior. It gives the impression of being in a great green fishbowl almost. That is if the glass was all connected and held out consistently by a network of branches from the center. "Hey, shh!" she quickly stops you from moving further ahead, "Hear it? Up there.Sure enough after listening, and looking up to where she's pointing, you can hear movement. It's difficult to parse through all the ambient sounds, like of the wind up this high and all the branches and leaves stirring, but listening close you can definitely hear something distinct from them; the rustling and slight rumble of the vine giant shambling about on an upper area above where the stairs put you both out.
>Cautious as always, try to get a better look of the place, get a better impression of the situation. Obviously this room is different from the rest, something about it is special, so there must be a reason for the vine giant coming here.>The element of surprise is your greatest strength right now, if not always! You don't imagine the plant monster to have much complicated thought, but if it could expect things, it surely wouldn't expect you right now!>Not that you're having second thoughts or anything, but maybe a little status report from Lee would be nice right about now. An ETA on any help, perhaps.>[Write-in.]
>>1714763>>Not that you're having second thoughts or anything, but maybe a little status report from Lee would be nice right about now. An ETA on any help, perhaps.And make sure the volume is turned down on the radio, don't want a sudden transmission to alert it to our presence.
>>1714835As sure as can be, you're ready for a showdown with the vine giant and to get to the bottom of this whole mess. Ah but first though, it couldn't hurt to hear a friendly voice about when the cavalry is coming! Keeping aware of course of the monster above, it's a simple enough effort to creep back towards the stairs and head down a little ways, sitting together to not have to worry about the noise."Hey Lee, are you still there?""YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! OVER!"Good thing you took care of moving aside, as the walkie-talkie shrieks to life with Lee's enthusiastic shouting on the other end. It's so unexpected that you actually drop the thing, but luckily Sarah catches it. By the sound of things, she's at least not dealing with a bear anymore. "O-Ok, good to hear... so how's it going, did you manage to get any help?""Yeah actually, got a ride from some tourists who dropped me off at a ranger station! I don't think we'll be getting a helicopter out here or anything, but I'm trying to get help to climb back up. Probably be up there by before night time, maybe later! Over!"Well that's not what you were hoping to hear. Not that it's not good news, you're surprised that Lee might be able to get back up here on her own more or less, but you can't really wait that long. You don't really want to either, especially when the best chance would have been to get Emma's help with that, maybe she could lower down or pull Lee up easily. Looking at one another then as you sit in the dimly lit stairwell together, you and Sarah try to think of what to say, and what to do next. It seems in this instance, you're on your own again.>[Write-in.]
Probably be my last response of the night but will continue tomorrow with the big finale, however the players choose to play it out with any written-in responses.>Thanks all for playing!
>>1715132Lets continue on.But we'll take it nice and slow, don't want to get injured if help will take a while to get here.
>>1719379You're not, and never have been keen on dealing with problems of this magnitude. If no one else can though, somebody's got to, and you suppose you have to be that somebody. Particularly if you're the closest to the thread, and able to deal with it the quickest. In theory at least."Looks like it's just us again, and this monster is the most dangerous I've seen... well, not like I've seen that many.""Don't worry, I ain't scared!"With Sarah here you're not totally alone, but in a way you kind of wish you were. She's pretty capable in her own way, but as far as you know she can get hurt just as easily as you or anyone else can, half-gem or not. You've also been through enough to know when she's putting on a show, to try and appear confident and capable. Just by looking though, you're sure she's probably just as frightened as you are of what lies above."That's what I'm worried about, without anyone else around I'm responsible for you. I'm not just going to tell you to sit this one out if you want to help, we're a team after all. Let's just... try to be careful though, ok?"She's indignant at first, but comes to understand your concerns. There's a trust between you as well, as the two members of the team who effectively need to be babysat, so she accepts your judgement with an unsteady nod. ---Having packed up the bag again and making your way back up the stairs together, the both of you do your best to keep quiet and alert. With a little effort by hoisting her up enough for her to climb higher and get a look, once back down she whispers to you her rough impression of the situation; the vine giant is entangled around some sort of pedestal on the upper platform, upon which it's holding Bentley to. Of course you have no idea why, but it seems to be no coincidence that all the branches of the top of the tree here, all extend (or connect, depending on how you look at it) from the top of the trunk here. Naturally you'll want to get Bentley back, but whatever the motivations of the plant monster are, they seem to rely on the coconut for whatever reason.>Try to draw the attention of the monster yourself, see if you can get it away from the upper area. >As best you can, maybe have Sarah do it since she's so good at climbing, but explore the place more. The exterior, the outer branches, they clearly shouldn't grow this way naturally.>Despite all the conflict that has taken place, maybe it's not too late for diplomacy? Maybe you could try approaching the monster in a non-threatening way, and make peace.>[Write-in.]
>>1725367>>Try to draw the attention of the monster yourself, see if you can get it away from the upper area.
>>1725419Based on her observation, it seems the best idea would be to try and get the vine giant away from the upper platform, while Sarah can follow up after and try to get Bentley. At any rate, remove the monster from the position it's taken.So planning things out together, you struggle to climb up after a few failed attempts and finally pull yourself up enough to see. There it dwells, the writhing mass of vines, branches and leaves. A nice addition to any garden if it weren't so deadly, you imagine. To get it's attention though, is the real question. No visible sensory organs or anything like that, and either it hasn't noticed you yet or is too immersed with Bentley and the array of limbs branching out from the center here. Without a better idea then, you figure to make contact, tugging on some of the vines and going as far as to stamp on them after fully climbing up. Only quick reflexes save you, as suddenly and like the attack before which defeated most of the group, the plant monster suddenly whips around with a grown extension of vines in self-defense."Holy-! That was close!"Just barely do you manage to dodge the green mass, and prepare to try again if you need to, but find yourself waiting longer than it should take. A quick glance and you come to notice the monster has gone back to being passive, and looking down to the lower platform you can see Sarah similarly confused by waiting. It seems the distraction will need to be more substantial, so with some quick thinking, you get your own lighter out and struggle to subtly wrap some torn paper around a vine. Igniting it, well that's more the reaction you were looking for. Not hoping for though."Get ready Sarah- oof!"No roar, no beastly scream like you're used to with actual gem monsters, just a rustling and shaking as the vine giant springs to life entire in retribution rather than defense. You manage to dodge a couple massive swipes, until it just smashes directly for you. A severe blow it is, as you're knocked clear of the platform and sent flying, only to fall some ways down and (luckily) hit one of the big branches up here. Perhaps strangely, the fire you lit caused the monster to act so viciously but it was when you hit the branch and caused it to rock a little, is the thing now clearly coming after you. A massive struggle to uproot itself from the platform and actually destroying some of it in the process, as the vine giant lumbers over the edge and surges towards you in a writhing mass of green. You're a ways down though so have a little time, enough to act quickly beforehand. You can't help but be a little distracted though, as you're made aware of a sudden shaking and movement in your backpack. You'd think just a shuffling around of the contents from landing on it after the fall, but the activity persists and you're sure something is going wild inside. It seems a rampaging plant monster just isn't enough.
>Whatever is inside will have to wait till you're in a safer spot, for now you don't want to get crushed by the vine giant in its descent! Get up and start moving, along the branches if you have to.>The plant monster is one thing, but your backpack is quite literally on your back. If there's something dangerous inside, you want it out before anything else.>It seems the branches are a subject of ire for the monster, so get off the one you're on. Hopefully only a few seconds is all Sarah needs though, it's not like you can lure the thing down here fully and try to contend with it one on one.>[Write-in.]
>>1726806>>The plant monster is one thing, but your backpack is quite literally on your back. If there's something dangerous inside, you want it out before anything else.
>>1727142Hope it isn't that box we pocketed.
>>1727400>>1727142You've no idea what it could be in the bag, but on the off chance that it's a live grenade, you decide to give it attention. Of course you don't want to get crushed by the vine giant when it comes lumbering down onto you, but you're not going to try and escape and continuing luring it away till taking care of this first. So with some quick thinking you decide to just continue along the branch you're currently on, and immediately check the bag the moment you're some short, safe distance from the monster. Hoo boy... that's a long way down...Again you suffer a little vertigo from the heights and you'd have frozen up otherwise, but it's not the fast approaching monster which gets you to move. It's looking back and seeing Sarah keeping up with her side of the plan, climbing up to get to the center and rescue Bentley. Feeling resolve for both your sake, you muster some courage and scramble to your feet. Keeping low you clamor along the large branch towards the far end, even out where the leaves are and do a good job of it, right up until the whole limb suddenly jolts and starts to violently shake up and down. The monster landing on it, and following after you.Taking that as the chance then with still some distance between you, and clinging to the branch for dear life, you try to right yourself and reach into the bag to find the source of the commotion. It's not hard to find, with the rapid motion and steadily increasing glow, as you settle your grip on and manage to withdraw...The sunstone?No longer restrained within the bag, you're nearly blinded by a sudden uptake in the glow of the gem stone and a strong pull. Letting go to shield your eyes, only barely can you see by squinting through your fingers, as the gemstone hovers in the air for just a moment before a brilliant flash. It's a quick process but to your eyes it looks like a mass of light spills forth from the gemstone and soon takes on the vague shape of a figure. Little by little the intense light fades and the form becomes clearer till you get the distinct impression of a body, a person. By the time their feet come to rest on the branch in front of you, the glow has faded and you can lower your hands though you notice a sharp pain in the form of sudden sunburns on your exposed skin. >...
>>1728829"Is that... Sol, is that you?"Unsure if your eyes are playing tricks especially after that blinding display, you feel like it's actually her, Soleil. The being shares some obvious similarities like color and stature, but it almost looks more like a mannequin styled to resemble her, vaguely. None of her clothes just some basic patterned bodysuit, and it doesn't even seem like her clothes would fit. Unlike Emma or Chalcedony, normally Sol looks just like any normal woman apart from being a little more.... orange-y, but this isn't even discernible as female. No clear features to indicate that at least, not even her face or hair looks the same, overall very limited and basic features. To be honest it's quite creepy, like taking a swan dive into the uncanny valley. Only a familiar voice settles your worries, though something about that voice is... missing, you're not sure what."Owen? Are you alright?"Blinking in disbelief, it takes you a moment to respond. She so quickly adjusted to the surroundings and situation, immediately looking around and sizing things up upon settling to stand on the branch, that it caught you off guard."Huh? Oh, y-yeah I'm fine.""Very well. Do you need help reaching safety?"The monster nears and continues to shake the branch violently under its mass, but even without eyes somehow, it is still eminently aware of Sol's emergence and has slowed to a stop at least for the moment as it assesses her presence.>No, you're fine, let Sol do her own thing. It might be hard but you can try and jump and climb across the branches, and attempt to circle back around to where Sarah is.>Some help would be good. You could manage on your own, but Sol likely can get you back much quicker and safer.>Reach safety? The monster needs to be dealt with, and you can do it together. Just like old times!>[Write-in.]
>>1728831>>No, you're fine, let Sol do her own thing. It might be hard but you can try and jump and climb across the branches, and attempt to circle back around to where Sarah is.Looking down is a mistake.Not looking down is a bigger mistake.Gotta know where to put our feet.
>>1728831>>No, you're fine, let Sol do her own thing. It might be hard but you can try and jump and climb across the branches, and attempt to circle back around to where Sarah is.
>>1728860You're so confused about all this, probably most of all in believing she was dead. Why she looks different, how she reappeared from that gem... it must be her gemstone you now realize, but still a hundred more questions at least. Her question to you though, is a simple enough one to answer. You've made it this far out on the branches already, and at this height."Ah no, I'm good. Are you going to...""I'll take care of this. Reach the center if you can, and remain there."Nodding in acceptance but not understanding, you quickly repack the bag and struggle to your feet against the rocking branch. Looking back to Sol and the monster one last time, you take a breath and jump for the next branch. A frightful landing as you fall just a little short from a hesitant jump, hitting the side with your chest and just barely hanging on. Scrambling up in fear and hurry though, you right yourself and try again. Making better for the next one, and the next one, all the way you start to get the hang of it. You can hear a clash somewhere behind you between Sol and the vine giant you assume, but eventually you manage to return to the center, the top of the great tree trunk. Laughing in disbelief once reaching the center, at your feat of crossing the branches without too much issue. It was easily the most stressful thing you've done in recent memory but you still managed it well enough when it really mattered. Looking back now though, you can see why Sol wanted you to get to safety as she combats the vine giant. Alternating between her gem weapons, some sort of lens-like sharp throwing discuses, and her own abilities she's managing to not only occupy the plant monster but keep it at bay. Dodging this attack and that from the green fiend and severing much with a thrown discus here and there and only to have it eventually return to her, she repels the vine giant when it gets too close with a sudden blast of... sunlight. That would explain your sunburns at least, and too much of a good thing for the plant monster it would appear; a lot of rapid initial growth following each blast of light, but anything close to Sol getting incinerated. "Owen, up here!"As worrisome as the fight is you can't help but watch, though your focus is drawn upwards instead when Sarah calls down. Right, the task at hand. Scrambling up yourself, and getting help from the girl to try and pull you the rest of the way when you near the top, you manage to make it to the upper area with her and are faced with the pressing matter."There's Bentley, but I thinks he stuck."Indeed you can see the coconut ahead at the center of the platform, on the raised little pedestal. He's still connected and surrounded by plant growth from the vine giant though, and following it all with your eyes you can see that the monster didn't entirely disconnect itself. Rather instead, looks like it stretched itself thin to get on over to where Sol is on that branch.
>You had some success earlier with fire, maybe try that again?>Just take a direct approach, go right for Bentley and try to pull him free. Some recompense for not being able to save him the first time.>Approach if it's safe, but get a closer look at what's going on. The pedestal and all, why Bentley and what is he being used for?>[Write-in.]
>>1729266>>Approach if it's safe, but get a closer look at what's going on. The pedestal and all, why Bentley and what is he being used for?We might have to sacrifice bently.
>>1729314With Sol doing her job to occupy the monster, you figure it'd be for the best not to draw its attention back to you. So telling Sarah to be careful in case of any danger, the both of you approach closer to the center, trying your best not to step on any plants. "It's definitely a gem... something. I don't think a coconut is supposed to fit in there though.""Then why'sit got Bentley there? What'sit doin'?"The pedestal at the center upon closer inspection appears be some sort of gem control console or something akin. Made out of wood though like the rest of the platform up here, just an extension of the tree rather than the actual crystalline systems of the chambers elsewhere in the complex. You've got to wonder why though, and how any gem could hope to use something like this when they seem mostly limited to things like non-living materials. It may explain why the vine giant is still connected in part, with Bentley as well though."I think, maybe it's- woah!"While expressing your opinion on the matter, a bright beam of light blasts by, not close enough to risk hitting you but close enough to be startling. Why Sol choose to burn through not just part of the vine giant though but also the tree canopy, soon becomes clear when you look up to see a burning blast hole right out the top of the tree, through some branches and leaves. The light of the setting sun pours through clearly now, which appears to be a benefit to Sol. What you notice though holds your attention more, by seeing the vastly more hostile reaction by the vine giant after her attack to the tree, including even the lesser portion of it it still attached to the platform up here. It's something very subtle about the tree, easily overshadowed by the frenzy of the plant monster, but it's becoming clearer and clearer."It's a big brain!"Sarah must have noticed it as well, calling it out when she did. Indeed you get the same impression, standing at the center now and looking as all the upper limbs of the tree up here all branch out from this point in very strange and unnatural ways and all ending at a certain length. The spherical shape you were already aware of, but from here you can now make out the network of all the branches reaching out. Even moreso as the closer you watch, the more you notice certain branches moving occasionally even without the wind, and very quickly lighting up in the process. That may explain the vine giant's obsession, and perhaps because it was initially dead plants and then reanimated at first while Bentley is still alive (as a plant), it needs him to interact with the "neural" interface of the tree. That's your guess at least.>[Write-in.]
>>1729557We might be able to "seize" control of the plant thing by replacing Bentley with either us(Owen) or one of the gems.Since the only other gem nearby is Sarah, we should take this task upon ourselves.
>tfw my stylus just brokeMay have to finish out the thread without any more fancy arts.>>1729572Whatever the relationship between the vine giant and Bentley is, it seems obvious that the connection is all reliant on the pedestal. Perhaps some method of control could be implemented instead of the coconut, but for that you'll have to see for yourself. The sensible guess is that a gem is required, since that always seems to be the case, but you're not going to have Sarah get involved like that in any way. "I think... if we just pull Bentley free, that should take care of things.""Wait, use a coat or somethin' so he don't break when we pull."A fair request, and after taking your jacket off you wrap it around the coconut as best you can without messing with any of the other plants. Then on the signal of three together you pull with all your might. The attempt is clearly noticed, as the vine giant shudders and would likely rush back if it wasn't tied down by Sol, so instead it tries to get rid of you and Sarah but attacking with the portions of it sill stretched up here. You both suffer some swipes and attacks, but in one final effort you yell and tug at the jacket together to rip Bentley free of both the pedestal and writhing green grasp of the monster. The sudden release sends both of you flying back to the floor, but the coconut lands also lands between you, safe and nestled in your jacket. Remembering your idea though you jump to your feet, and wasting not a moment you rush for the pedestal and slam your bare hand down right where Bentley was."Worth a try... do what I say, stop attacking!"There's a sudden violent shuddering all along the vine giant, from here out to the branch by Sol. You're hopeful of the attempt and figure to have saved the day, till you're smacked right in the chest and sent flying across the floor by a mustered vine mass by the monster. It feels like getting hit by a truck and you struggle to move, winded from the blow. However while you choke for breath and Sarah tries to help you up, you notice a definite difficulty for the monster, as it seems to be losing control and withering without Bentley. Perhaps in an attempt to salvage what remains of it, the vine giant begins to withdraw and consolidate what mass it has left. The result of which is that it comes to break down into several smaller plant masses, similar to the little green men you saw earlier. Certainly a welcome sight, but you're still not in the clear yet as Sol deals with the majority out on her end, but a few climb forth from the decaying remnants of the vine giant which were up here wrapped around Bentley and the pedestal. With Sarah's help you can make it to your feet at least, but the nasty little writhing green men approach. Having avoided them all before, you're not sure what they're capable of but would love nothing more than to not find out.>[Write-in.]
>>1729851It was worth a try.>Keep the plant beings distracted till Sol has finished off her attacker.
>>1729863Once again, it seems having a gem would have benefited in this situation. Either that, or maybe the pedestal, or vine giant only respond to plants? It's too late to worry about it now though, faced with the approaching threats. Well, better these smaller plant critters than the vine giant itself. Of course you'd rather not engage them at all, but it's not like you have much anywhere else to go without climbing out on the branches. And perhaps it's misplaced, but after seeing Sol destroyed once already, you're concerned about her being overwhelmed by what's left of the vine giant."Can you get away Sarah? You're a good climber, I don't want you to get hurt here.""I ain't leavin'! Whatever we's do, we's do together!"Well that's an answer. Still not wanting her to be put in danger unduly, you have her get behind as you size up the now rather close little plant men and figure out a plan of attack. You try and recall whatever you have on you and in the backpack, and what you've done already that worked. Fire seems obvious but the last thing you'd want is this whole place to go up in flames, so you hold off on that for now. There's still your trusty multitool with knife option, so drawing that out and looking for an opening, you finally commit to just diving in. Bolting forward then and tackling one of the little monsters you just start stabbing and cutting however you can, while it struggles to fight back. And a good job of it too, as it's very hard to contend with as it writhes and tries to both constrict you and slash at you with thorns and barbs and such. That's one occupied though and another is partially subdued when on their approach for you, Sarah runs up from behind and pulls the backpack she emptied over one of the plant men. A furious struggle for sure, but still one left unhindered. It's able to easily pick its target too, since after bagging the one, Sarah rushes over to try and help you right after by pulling, kicking and biting whatever she can. >...
>>1729971With the approach of the second, and eventually the third freeing itself from the bag, even though the two of you have subdued this one it was done so with great difficulty and effort. They weaken with time as they wither, but not enough in what little time you have. Two more, you know you can't handle, and think to just throw yourself at them again to give Sarah chance to actually escape rather than get got. Before you have the chance to sacrifice yourself though, a smashing is heard from below which shakes the platform and nearly knocks you down. The source is soon apparent when Emma emerges from below, likely having made her way up the stairs and rather than climbing up, just jumping and smashing through the floor in a shower of broken and splintered wood."Aaaah, there you both are! I haven't been looking aaanywhere for you at all! That's not sarcasm either. I did think about it though, that counts right?"You're not really sure how to respond to that, other than pointing out the remaining two enemies. Rather than crushing them herself though, Emma remembers something at your indication of threats, and lifts up an object she'd been carrying. Some sort of green stone pendant hung with red string and tassels, you have to assume she got it from her trip through the lower levels of the complex within this tree. Whatever the case though, the effect is delayed but soon clear; the little writhing plant men come to recoil from the pendant and though it actually seems to prevent the withering effect on them, their attack appears halted.>Ask Emma to leave the thing with you here, so she can go and help Sol out.>Honestly by the look of things, Sol needs help the least of anyone. Besides, Emma already clearly knows how to use the pendant which might require an explanation.>You may be down, injured, but you're not out. Ask Emma to form you some amber weapons, something to properly fight with.>[Write-in.]
>>1729975>>You may be down, injured, but you're not out. Ask Emma to form you some amber weapons, something to properly fight with.And then ask her to check on Sol.
>>1729975>>You may be down, injured, but you're not out. Ask Emma to form you some amber weapons, something to properly fight with.
>>1729978>>1730094You're pretty battered, scraped and bloody from the tussle with the plant monsters so far, but you've done your best to keep that harm focused to yourself and strive for the team's goal in the process. It's not done just yet though, and with another ally present now that changes things."Emma, can you give us something to fight with? Sol needs you more than we do.""I strooongly disagree, but if that's what you want!"With her free hand she fashions a weapon and shield for you from the honey-like substance, though gives fair warning that it usually takes a little bit for the stuff to settle to solid. Thankfully she opts to not create anything for Sarah, which clearly upsets the girl, but chances are Emma was of the same mind you were about limiting the girl's exposure to combat.With that then, she gives one colossal stomp to the remains of the first little plant monster you'd tangled with to finish it off (and smashing part of the floor in the process) before taking her leave to support Sol against the majority of the remaining enemies. Now it's just you and the last two then, but noticing Sarah still miffed about not getting anything, you offer her the shield at least."Can you cover me then?""Mhmm!"Well it's not really a coordinated effort as you've never fought together or anything like that before, but you and Sarah manage well enough. By the height difference she's able keep close with the shield while you can swing both-handed over it. You suffer a few more scrapes and smacks when she gets knocked over more than once, but she's always quick to jump back up and keep blocking incoming attacks while you just wail on the little green men as best you can. Eventually your coordination starts to get better, and after enough combined effort (and the withering really taking its toll on them) you manage to beat back the remaining enemies. One Sarah ends up smashing the shield down on one and then just sitting on it, while the other you beat back and then with a might swing send it flying over the edge and down through the branches below. Both battered and exhausted, you plonk down as you both try to catch your breath, and for now welcome the small victory. You of course keep the weapon handy though just in case anything else comes looking for a fight, or if the writhing mass beneath the shield Sarah is sitting on, has some last unexpected vigor to attack again before it withers completely. For the time being though, you feel confident that the struggle is won, as the both of you watch Sol make short work of the remaining portions of the plant monster in an impressive display of blasts of burning light. Emma too, just watches from a distance, having run to help but noticing it wasn't needed about halfway out along the branch.>[Write-in.]
>>1731228Once the plant monster is completely finished, call the gems over to the pedestal.And inform them that it placed Bentley there.
>>1731530It's not much longer after, that Sol is able to slice apart with her throwing lens or blast apart with her abilities, the remainder of the broken down vine giant. You don't have to call them over though, with Sol obviously concerned for your wellbeing and Emma following after. Without the threat of the monsters, Emma frets terribly over your injuries, thinking them to be dire indeed due to her limited understanding of biology. Sol is more practical, and for the time being checks you over, for anything Sarah wasn't able to patch up with the first aid kit while the two of you waited for the combat to resolve. The more pressing matter to you though, is the focus of the vine giant."I'm not sure what that's for..." you shrug Sol's prodding for a moment to gesture to the pedestal, "...but the plant-thing was here for it. Even used the coconut with it, like it couldn't on its own."Your change in focus draws Emma's attention, something not too difficult you realize more and more, as she approaches and looks it over. Even tries to interact with it, but fails to do so. Maybe even having a gem, isn't enough?"Weeell I was able to confirm what this place was, while examining the lower structure of this tree-" she says while pacing around the pedestal, and checking it out from different angles and heights, "-indeeeed it is a monitoring station, this whole array of branches some sort of information network. Unfortunately it seems, this was also a place of haaabitation and whichever gem was living here before, intentionally made it so that some special method is required to utilize this network. As you can seeee, it's not enough just to possess a gem."It's a little disappointing to have come all this way, and wind up empty-handed in a sense. Or at least in the way Emma had hoped, but it's not all bad you figure. You were all able to learn about and explore this place which you don't think the gems even knew existed before, Emma was able to get at least a little information about the complex from the security system when you first got here, and you were able to get rid of some dangerous threats to anyone else coming up here like the defensive measures and the vine giant. Perhaps most of all though, you also learned that there was some other gem or gems living here before, not of the group you know.Before you can ponder on it much though, you hear your walkie-talkie from the backpack, buzzing with activity and Lee's voice."Hey, anyone there?! So there's good news and bad news. The good news is, the park rangers are coming to look for you guys, so help is on the way! The bad news is, apparently climbing all over the big trees and stuff without permission is 'dangerous' and 'illegal', their words not mine. So yeah, I think they're coming to arrest you guys, maybe want to clear out quick? Also I could really use a rescue as well, since they arrested me too, over!"
>>1731885>Credits Rollhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuDCTzqJc40Thanks to everyone for playing, didn't expect this one adventure to extend to three threads, but hope you enjoyed it!
>>1731904I enjoyed it.