Zen marveled at the beautiful, lush plateau onto which the ship had just been teleported. 4 of the 5 vessels involved in the instantaneous travel hung silently in the air around the ship and in the distance he could see a settlement around a large crystal tower. Smoke was rising from home fires withing the settlements as dawn spread across the ships, moving to the down to the lowlands.
Oa-la elected to hide in her cabin with 5 as Joshua lowered the ramp to meet the trio of Serrans awaiting him outside. He recognized one as the Serran who had left Tangar Station with his sister several weeks ago. Beyond them, he saw the damaged (injured?) living ship they had fought the alien beast upon a short while ago. He also noticed the Lazy Hound near by, which was the ship his sister and the Serran had left on.
The Serrans escorted Joshua to the tower, which was much larger than he initially expected, reaching over 200 feet in diameter and open in the center. Larger crystal windows allow natural light to illuminate the interior. The lower level seemed to be a meeting area and audience chamber for the ancient Serran leader. The upper levels contained a market and art gallery or library.
The Serran leader questioned Joshua about his arrival. Others mentioned that it was Evelyn, Joshua’s sister, who had returned had returned Timara home and who was now missing while trying to help with the shrikes. It was also his crew which had found the wounded ship and likely saved it. The leader apologized for her abruptness, relating that the Serrans had cause to be weary.
She related the story of a stranger who had arrived a few months ago, seeming friendly and asking many questions. However, he disappeared one night, and was suspected of kidnapping 2 Serrans. They had been unable to locate him, but suspected he was hiding somewhere within the gas giant. Then, a fleet which Joshua recognized as a Rigelian slaver fleet came through and disappeared into the gas giant’s atmosphere. It was after that the shrikes started attacking. Joshua accepted an invitation to attend the funeral of the pilot found killed in the living ship. He also bartered some spice from the ship for simple crystal “torch”. He gave it to Charlie.
While Joshua was attending the funeral, Zen and Oa-la took the Restored Honor out and scouted the gas giant for signs of where the shrikes might be coming from. They detected abundant life within the atmosphere of the gaseous planet and deduced that this might be what was throwing the Serrans off.
As they returned and Joshua was leaving the funeral, a small vessel was detected moving out of the gas giant’s atmosphere at high speed, heading towards the moon. The Restored Honor attempted to intercept, but the unidentified vessel was too fast. Joshua told Esmeralda to take the Slepneir to the location the vessel was heading, then asked Ravik if he could teleport him to the landing zone. The words has scarcely left his lips and he was standing in a small village without even a chance to fetch his gear from the Slepneir.
The sun was setting on this part of the planet and a thunderstorm was rolling in from the east. He could make out the vessel entering the atmosphere at a high speed, taking on the appearance of a shooting star. A second star followed with Zen at the helm as he angled the Restored Honor for the best shot possible. He had one chance and scored a good hit on it, sending the small, missile like vessel spinning to crash a mile away from the village Joshua was in.
Several Serran warrior approached the crash sight and Joshua could hear their cries and seem them tossed into the air as something escaped the wreckage. Rain started to fall as the Slepneir arrived and Charlie ushered terrified villagers on board. Joshua kept an eye toward the crash site and watched as the tall grass parted in that direction moving toward him, indicating that something was heading his way. Quickly.
As the people fled to the safety of the ship, Joshua watched the shrike pad into the edge of the village. The shrike dropped its cloak as the rain was ruining its effect. Joshua squared off against the beast, putting himself between it and the people escaping. It snarled and charged him, snapping its jaws and striking him with a poisonous pair of tails.
Zen brought the Restored Honor in hot, not slowing, but instead angling so that Oa-la could jump out and join the fight. She and Joshua matched laser sword to claw. As the last villagers ran up the Slepneir’s ramp, Joshua drove his pair of swords into the shrikes head. With Oa-la’s help, he limped up the ramp of the ship.
An explosion from the crash site caught their attention. A milky eyed Serran floated above the warriors and, with a wave of his hand, sent them scattering away from him. He glanced in Joshua’s direction before vanishing in a flash of light.
The Slepneir returned to the main Serran settlement and offloaded their passengers. After healing and much needed rest, Joshua spoke with Ravik. Relaying his intention to head to the source of the shrikes, Ravik offered the aid of 6 Serran warriors to help with their mission. Joshua accepted and they soon departed.
Entering the atmosphere of Trianguli Reticulum Procul VII, Zen and Oa-la took the Restored Honor and led the way to the source of what they believed to be the origin of the shrikes. After a few hours of searching the area, they located a floating station, hidden in the clouds, near a massive atmospheric storm. On approach, they detected the Rigellian slaver fleet on the docking level and opened fire on the stationary ships. Zen noted that the appearance of the station was similar to the Collector’s ship they encountered during the Enigma Machine Incident.
Landing among the smoke and fire of burning ships, a pair of Rigellian insect overlords appeared with matching milky white eyes. The crew quickly dispatched them and located a terminal which Oa-La quickly hacked. Using the surveillance system, she identified 4 distinct levels, including a mist-shrouded city, storage, docking, and engineering.
The next move was to decide where to heard first…