Swampy Things

So, I mentioned yesterday (I mean, earlier this morning) that I'd update on what everyone found out.

Raquiese, as I mentioned, found a disturbing uptick in player-related deaths. It wasn't a huge jump, but statistically, it wasn't nothing. VR players, especially VR players who play the big titles, are dying faster (and younger) than regular people.

Robyn found Tessa's information - full name, phone number, address, the whole nine yards - and is considering a road trip to check on her, but, y'know, it's halfway across the country, so a plane ticket is like $700, and none of us can swing that kind of cash.

Charles and Kal looked up the BBEG offices, history, etc. There are a few offices around the world - for instance, Albuquerque - but the main office is about an hour and a half away, in Boston, in a pretty swanky location. Kal read up on the founder, a guy named Jeffory Magnusson. He's a brilliant guy, started a couple businesses from scratch and quickly sold them off, then picked up the whole VR thing. He's supposedly brilliant with hiring people who know their stuff, and promoting a comfortable work environment to let people innovate. Basically, he does a really good job at hiring talent, and not letting people just hire friends. It's a fairly flat command structure in the company - that is, he's the big boss, there are a few managers, but there aren't managers over managers over managers. Programmers work closely in VR, from home, these days. Anyway, he's super smart, but also super reclusive, and since the whole Covid thing, he's been basically unreachable except through VR.

But anyway. It's Tuesday, somehow we are all awake, and of course, it's time for VR adventures again, right?

Dapper Dan and Cutthroat Kenny joined up with Cazeon in Powder and Sword, waiting for the others. The hung out a bit, watched a dude get himself banned, and joined in a tavern brawl. As one does. They actually did really well, until a big guy showed up and used Kenny as a battering ram - but, nonetheless, they prevailed, and took him down. It turns out, some of the pirates there were their contacts, reporting to one Captain Lucius, of the Sammael, who was in turn friends with none other than Captain Lucy DeVal, of the Lucky Devil. They've got a thing about demon names for their fleet. Anyway, Lucius introduced himself, and offered them a gig finding some big treasure; Cap. Lucy was dealing with some other part of the quest elsewhere, hopefully making their jobs seasier by buying some goodwill or something. The three agreed, and headed off with him.

A couple days sailing brought them to the shores of what would one day become Florida. They met up with a Man o' War, the Azazel (more demon names!), captained by Captain Mercedes. His job was to keep the Sammael safe, so the crew had a place to return to. Coming on the mission was a dozen soldiers, the Russian guy they met in the bar (Yuriy Zima, an explorer), his buddies Viktor Kurchut and Stanislav Shvets, a no-nonsense rifle-woman, Sasha Obernell, a skinny, nervous guy, Feliks Zabijak, and a fat man in a wig, Judge Robin Hiede, who financed the trip.

They started the hike into the jungles, and almost right away, one of the soldiers was hurt, and another fell and ended up getting sick. They left those two guys at their second base camp, and continued on. They ran into some natives, where Dapper Dan tried, and failed, to speak with them, climb a tree, and light something on fire. The Judge yelled at the natives, while the explorer managed to actually communicate with them.

Soon after, the Judge got lost, along with the two soldiers guarding him. Two more soldiers were sent after them. They found a native camp, and were able to trade some trinkets for a place to stay, though they were attacked by a group of mountain lions. One of the soldiers was killed, but the animals were wiped out. Zima skinned the big cats.

They set up a second base camp the next day, and headed onwards, but not before Dapper Dan undertook some emergency surgery, saving one of the soldier's life, though with the loss of his leg. They came across a clearing... and six strange men showed up out of nowhere. They had empty looks in their eyes, and judging by their clothing, armor, and weapons, they were conquistadors!

While all that was going on, Raquise and Robyn decided to visit the virtual offices, as well, and found a similar yellow door - but they were on a different tour, and opened the door in a different location. Somehow, that pulled them into someone's private server, where they fought a horde of robots!

Once the robots were defeated, they met a strange, blue mouse-girl, with some awesome tech powers. Together, they were able to defeat a huge robot, and afterwards use its parts to track down the evil genius that was building the robots. They also found the mouse-girl's companions - one that was squished flat, and one that was in slightly better shape. They looted his communicator, and promised to keep in touch. Leaving from a new yellow door, they found themselves in a jungle - the same jungle the others were in, just as the six men stepped out.

Undead voices whispered across the air, "You are not welcome here! You must turn back!"

Which was basically like yelling, "Charge!", so that's what they did.

Now, Robyn realized her spells didn't work here, and neither did her flight, so she quickly backed off. Duromine, however, was all too happy to join in the brawl. The undead(?) conquistadores fought hard, taking down all four of the soldiers that were with them, as well as Viktor, the second Russian guy. Yuriy was badly injured, but was mostly healed by Dapper Dan - who also helped patch up Capt. Lucius. The conquistadors fell to dust and rust, as if they had been dead for ages. The captain, unwilling to continue with injured men, took everyone back to the second base camp.

Robyn, tired from the last night of activities, signed off; Raquiese was plagued with his bad internet connection, again, and dropped out as well. Charles wasn't feeling too good, and had to call it quits, which left only Dave and Kal to continue.

The two soldier sent to find Judge Hiede had come back, empty handed, but unharmed. They spent several day in camp, until the whole group had time to heal some wounds... and then another three days, slogging through water and swamp. It wasn't comfortable, but they managed to get through without picking up any fatigue. Finally, they met some natives, who seemed fairly spooked by them. They absolutely refused to help, saying that what they were searching for was cursed. They hadn't seen the judge, nor the temple they were searching for, but mentioned a "Great Crocodile Ghost" that they should watch out for. They say that everyone who comes back from that place come back changed, and try to kill everyone, so have to be killed themselves - and offer a warning that if anyone from their group shows up, the natives will kill them. Buy, y'know, nicely. To put them out of their misery. Dapper Dan attempts to assure them by saying that he can kill ghosts with his gun, but the natives shrug. Of course he can kill ghosts, his guns run on demons, and demons can kill ghosts. Duh. The trouble is that it's demons in the temple, not ghosts.

Heading onwards, they encountered a bunch of snakes, that they managed to kill - but, unfortunately, the two remaining (healthy) soldiers were killed by the snakes. No one else was injured, but Zima's wound got infected on the long slog - and was cleaned up and healed by Dapper Dan. What a handy guy!

They killed a huge, white gator - the "ghost gator" spoken of, surely - and found the temple. Captain Lucius shared the last bit of knowledge he had - there was an explorer who found the temple, but he and his team had stopped and rested through the night before exploring it, and the temple had moved. When they found it again, everyone was killed, except the last member of the crew who ran away, rather than face the interior of the temple. He was the only one to return, and was driven mad by the experience.

The Spooooky Temple!

Working together, their soggy band climbed up to the top of the temple, then down the inside. The way was lit by torches; following a winding path, they pushed their way to a large cave, where the carved stone of the temple gave way to natural stone cave. They found a collection of skeletons in various sorts of armor - most died by sword, but a few seemed to have died by cannon? They picked up a musket and some coins from the wreckage, then followed the cave further in.

Inside, they heard voices: two natives in thick tattoos, another one dressed in a snake mask, and yet another dressed in wolf garb. A massive gold throne sat at the far end, upon which a cloaked figure rested.

Quickly, the group planned an ambush; Feliks, Stanislav, Kenny, and Dan crept to the front, behind a low rise, while Lucius, Sasha, and Zima remained behind, ready to fire. The trap was sprung... but not on the natives! Sasha, Zima, Feliks, and Stanislav turned on Lucius, Kenny, and Dan! Lucius was able to take down Zima, as he was already wounded, but was dangerously injured in the process. Sasha, a long-range markswoman, ran, hoping to put some distance between them and get a better shot. Dapper Dan was about to drop Stanislav, but Kenny was hit by both the wolf-native and Feliks, and critically injured. They survived another round, but only that - Kenny was dropped by the wolf-native, and Dapper Dan was quickly being surrounded by the others. Opting to run, and leaving their dead friends behind, Dan and Lucius took off, hiding in one of the side corridors.

Kenny was sure he was going to have to roll up a new character this time, until he opened his eyes - still in a substantial amount of pain, and this time bound and gagged - but alive! Two figures were standing over him, Feliks and Sasha, but they had their backs to him. They were facing a third figure, who was pacing back and forth. Finally, he stopped, and bellowed, "Why did no one tell me it was only able to raise the dead once per day!? I wouldn't have used the charge on this idiot if I had known!"