PREVIOUSLY, ON OUTLAW STAR DISTANT STAR…
The FASF - the Fourth Archaeopteran Shill’s Front – is licking their wounds, literally and figuratively. Benny appraises the crew of the situation, explaining that the initial assault forces have met with some stiff resistance through the tunnels. Benny mentions that he would have preferred to have abandoned the tunnels entirely, but will hold off on securing them until things go thoroughly FUBAR.
Benny hands off the access tunnel map to Kokotl, who uploads it for the rest of the crew. The secret lab, it is revealed, is found at the back of an abandoned Mr. Chippy's Restaurant. Benny, as a messenger and speakeasy operator, declines to join the crew on their mission. A small contingent of Shiltolvian rebels has been <s>coerced</s> convinced to lead the crew to their destination.
Private George would like a sample of the Bloat, in order to synthesize a cure for it. But otherwise, if the Bloat must be destroyed…somehow.
The crews have been equipped with special hazmat suits to keep them as safe as possible. One's suit has been filled with water, allowing her to operate at peak physical efficiency, but inhibits her natural Notice [-2].
"Private George said Public George shouldn't know about things and also mentioned something about…um…pass it directly to…private George, and not Ibast. I don't know how, I don't know who, so…welp!" -Benny
Benny exits the scene. Kokotl, rolling a 7 Intimidate, has inspired the Shiltolvian escorts – Patch (regenerating an eye), Stumpy (regenerating his tail), Righty and Lefty (both intact) – while embarrassing the rebels remaining…with one exception, a meshugge with a yellow crest. He's probably fine and definitely not bitter about it.
As the squad makes their way towards the two main paths leading to the laboratory, Kokotl and Patch notice that there's less vermin in the sewer than there ordinarily would be. Brynhold Swiitner can hear scrabbling off in the distance: for no vermin, there's a surprising amount of visceral sounds coming from the right and that the left path has fewer lights.
Stumpy, growing frustrated, teeters off to the left and Lefty and Righty go off to the right while Swiitner tries to explain the situation. Faj and Koko form the Tower of Power – Kokotl jumps on Faj's back – to lead. Patch, who has a deep and bassy voice for a Shiltolvian, follows behind while Faj reminisces about his glorious time as a meat shield for the Ctarl-Ctarl Empire. The DIC notices that some of the lights have been melted in an unusual way, but believes they must have been mistaken…
-I say sir, there seems to be an unusual circumstance regarding the lighting fixtures; I'd fancy an opportunity to examine…
-Do be quiet, whelp! I care not for what you fancy! Attend to our task at hand!
~Patch and Kokotl, a conversation in Shiltovian
Patch tries to tell Kokotl that there's something wrong with the lights, but Kokotl ignores it and tells them not to touch anything. Shortly, Stumpy's body is discovered. Kokotl and Patch have a brief discussion about the oncoming Bloat, but something else is wrong…
Is…nobody noticing our melting suits? – Swiitner
Patch approaches the body with a glow-stick, finding an aerosolized cloud in front of it that seems to have deteriorated Stumpy's suit and killed him. Throwing the glow-stick into the cloud, more bodies infected with Bloat can be seen. Some of the shiltolvian corpses, aside from being infected with Bloat, also seem different. They're more reptilian, scaly, and bigger than normal shiltolvians; their skin is marked with patches of absent pigmentation, not unlike vitiligo. Unlike Stumpy's body, which has violently exploded with the Bloat and been smeared all over the walls of the tunnel, these bodies are simply enormously large and misshapen, pulsating with pustules that seem to contain active aerosolized Bloat contagon.
DIC disengages from Monster, which immediately begins to paw at its suit trying to get it off, before being stopped by Sharna. DIC interfaces with the ventilation system in order to clear the tunnels of the Bloat gas. As the Bloat gas passes over plastic items on its way out, such as the glow-stick, it deteriorates them.
Moving on ahead, the crew gets their first sight of the White Shallots. They are decidedly not normal shiltolvians. They are bigger – five feet, compared to the four feet of the [tall for his race] Khalef Kokotl. Their features are less avian and more reptilian: their bodies, instead of covered with the rich and gaudy plumage of normal shiltolvians, are covered with scales and a downy discolored fuzz. They display none of the neuroses or anxious tics that define normal shiltolvians, composing themselves with a reptilian patience and calm.
The Shallots…they see themselves as true shiltolvians. Their scientists went through and took all the…[what's the word?]…trash out of their genetics. -Patch
Huitzltzadik, they're hideous. – Kokotl
One of the Shallots sniffs the air, possibly noticing them. The One and Sharna, leading the pack, attempt a hasty and stealthy withdrawal into the shadows while activating their weapons. Unfortunately, Sharna's energy claws make a distinctive whirring sound, and light up in the dark.
Those favoring a stealthy approach might consider disabling the factory settings on your NRGYKLAWZ™. But why would you do that? They sound AWESOME!!! – Section I.3, "Activating Your Energy Claws", NRGYKLAWZ™ Operations Manual
This obviously attracts the attention of all of the Shallots, who prepare themselves for a fight. Enter combat.
Faj. It is time. -Kokotl
Oh yeah, I'm feeling it. -Faj Smash-Smash
The fight begins with Faj pushing Sharna back and out of harm's way. Faj then spins around the corner and hurls Kokotl, spear-ready, right into the chest of the lead Shallot.
Qa'pla, old bean! – Kokotl, translated from Shiltolvian, followed by cackling
Altuunius makes a hasty retreat down the hallway past the combat and into the ventilation system, successfully avoiding the sight of the Shallots and combat altogether. The One plunges her swords into the second Shallot. The third Shallot rushes Faj, who is able to keep it at arm's length with no effort considering the massive size advantage, and Sharna is going for the flank when Swiitner takes a shot with his Caster gun, configured into sniping mode, and blasts the third Shallot into the wall.
Unfortunately, these Shallots are tough little brutes. the first Shallot grabs Kokotl's face, stopping its bloodthirsty cackling, surprisingly not dead despite its massive injuries which are already beginning to heal. One and the second Shallot become locked in fearsome grappling, despite its grevous wounds. Slumped in the corner with a monstrous hole in its stomach, the third Shallot begins to heal immediately, fixating its gaze on Swiitner with murderous intent.
It turns out that the Shallots heal much faster than conventional shiltolvians. It doesn't matter, though: Sharna plunges her energy claws into the shot third Shallot, through its big dumb face, decapitating it entirely. The hole in its stomach stops healing.
At last. – Brynhold Swiitner, space deviant
As Altuunius advances through the ventilation system, she notices three more Shallots preparing for combat and an albino shiltolvian - one Johnny White - who is arguing in the Shiltolvian language with another shiltolvian - Iztlactli, or "Izzy" – while holding onto a chain attached to…something big, that remains just outside her field of vision.
Swiitner and One brutally dispatch the second Shallot, while Faj trips and nearly falls on top of Patch in an effort to assist Kokotl. Sharna advances on the remaining Shallot, the one grappling with Kokotl, and punches past Kokotl's head to explode the Shallot's face with her energy claws, denting the floor.
Thank you, Captain Sharna. -Kokotl
WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE? – Sharna Marsh-Marsh
Kokotl takes a bite out of the charred flesh of a Shallot, revealing a nasty metallic foul taste.
The One kicks open the door to the next room, to come face-to-face with four Shallot reserve forces, Izzy, and Johnny White, who is holding the leash of a shiltolvian abomination: an albino behemoth seven-feet-tall with two sets of arms; it has one set of tiny Shiltolvian arms that seem adapted for finesse and dexterity, and a set of gigantic gorilla-esque muscular arms that fold behind its back in a manner similar to bird wings and allow it increased mobility and general carnage. The mutant covered in downy white feathers with an enormous crocodilian maw chained shut by a muzzle, but that muzzle looks like it's about to come off any minute now.
Altuunius and the DIC, watching from the shadows, decide to take action while this chaos unfolds.
Please hold on to this fucking cat, meow. – DIC
The DIC disengages from Monster as The One immediately dispatches one of the four reserve troops, slicing its arm off and slicing it clean in half, while winging another one. It glares at her, preparing its energy claws as its wound heals…and Kokotl appears behind it, impaling it through the back of its head, and electrifying its corpse. Its remaining comrade, enraged by this attack and the sight of the khalef, leaps at Kokotl, plunging its fangs into Kokotl's shoulder, tearing apart…
MY SWEATER! -Kokotl
Brynhold Swiitner takes aim with his Caster, loading one of his antique magical shots. He fires a solid beam of energy at Johnny White, exploding in a blast of staggering light – disorienting the One – and a powerful shockwave, which knocks away both the monstrosity and Izzy.
Chaos! – Brynhold Swiitner
Johnny White has been damaged quite badly, but it slowly emerges from the wreckage of some computer banks, regenerating and pulling bits of glass and metal out of its alabaster body…
Sharna attempts to attack the Shallot attacking Kokotl, barely missing. Izzy, recovering from the initial shock, makes a beeline for the fridge. Johnny White, getting his bearings, draws a Caster carbine from his back and takes aim…
FOOLISH PEEEEEOPLE! – Johnny White, first and last words
…and with a single shot the Caster carbine, having been damaged in the blast [critical fail], accidentally sucks Johnny White's entire top half – and the gun itself - into a black hole.
The Shallot monstrosity, completely disoriented from the blast, runs straight for One…and runs straight past her and tears straight through the wall to her right [critical fail, again].
Meanwhile, the DIC goes straight for a computer bank and attempts to interface with it. As Izzy tries to grab something out of the fridge, DIC turns on the incinerator and obliterates Izzy's arm and half his face. This naturally causes Izzy to fall over and away from the fridge in pain. Altuunius steps over Izzy's mangled self and snatches the Bloat sample.
In this pitched and bloody battle, the crew managed to defeat Johnny White and his Shallot forces…and the only casualty was Kokotl's sweater.
After looting Johnny White's body and discovering three Caster shells, Swiitner looks into the tunnels, where the Shallot abomination seems to have wandered off…
See you, space cowboy…