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Chapter 3; The Mask is Strange,

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  • #46
    An while you are up there, you might notice one of these prowling around, about 50 miles south of Ruanapoor.



    Of course, they might be headed for a little fun at Pattaya... but who knows?

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    • #47
      Musical interlue:

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      • #48
        Something wicked this way comes-

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        • #49
          Questions to Sushlana:

          Lori asks the following during their discussion of Merrin:

          You clearly know him well, do you know where he is right now?


          Pariah and you have both said he is psionic. Pariah stated he can control approximately twenty minds at one time and he has communicated telepathically with Kasakabe on several occasions now. Is telepathy his only psionic skill or does he posses others?
          Lori is looking for a description of what he can do and the extent to which he can do it here. This will save a drawn out discussion on this. Things like with telepathy will a strong mind resist him or reduce his ability to control others at the same time? She is looking at this as a military / tactical problem… Well, she would look at everything as a military / tactical problem…


          Has he been defeated in the past? If so, how?


          In other encounters with him you have had what methods or tactics has he adopted on those worlds? What did he use to defeat those worlds? Was it psionic warfare such as the Zhodani might use, or more economic with psionics like the Anubians might employ.
          Lori would recognize Sushi might not understand the references and would give suitable information to fill things in here. She is looking for what Merrin’s strategy would be and what tactics he would employ. Again, seeing this as a military / tactical problem.



          It is also clear he can detect other psionics such as Kasakabe. Can he sense your presence?


          I understand he cannot sense me or use his telepathy on me because of my unique genetic make up. Is this correct?
          Lori discusses in general her being an organic “computer” of sorts and not really being human


          What sort of time line does Merrin operate on? That is, how long does he usually take in one of these operations to accomplish his intended outcome?

          Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 01 Nov 13, 16:20.

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          • #50
            Firstly, this is information not being shared for the moment with Dutch and his crew or with Damien and his people.
            (however, Andy, if you want to keep up, feel free to read all about it)
            The reason; well, Chris has already remarked on how ludicrous it would be for people to believe that Elves and Dragons are walking around on this earth. Her reaction is to the point;
            "How dare you doubt us? I've seen enough of your history and fiction to know your racial memory has been warning you about us for thousands of years. How could your subconscious have failed to warn you about the denizens of the Dimensions most closely linked to your own?"

            Secondly; Sushulana won't tell you a damn thing until you tell her all YOU know about Merrin, and Pariah, and what their plans are. This is to ensure that we are all really on the same side, and to avoid her covering a lot of the same ground twice.
            I expect that Lori, being Lori, will be quick, efficient and ruthlessly truthful. Its pretty devastating, especially the part about Merrin's plot for this world, or some other if this one is not perfect for his plan.

            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            Questions to Sushlana:

            Lori asks the following during their discussion of Merrin:

            You clearly know him well, do you know where he is right now?
            On this world, that's all I can say for sure. He could be looking into that window right now and unless somebody bumped into him... or maybe not. This general area seems to be messing with my talents, maybe it will have the same effect on him... until he learns to counter it.
            He;s not the type to let problems dictate his actions, he goes out and solves the problem and then goes on with what he wanted to do.

            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            Pariah and you have both said he is psionic. Pariah stated he can control approximately twenty minds at one time and he has communicated telepathically with Kasakabe on several occasions now. Is telepathy his only psionic skill or does he posses others?
            Lori is looking for a description of what he can do and the extent to which he can do it here. This will save a drawn out discussion on this. Things like with telepathy will a strong mind resist him or reduce his ability to control others at the same time? She is looking at this as a military / tactical problem… Well, she would look at everything as a military / tactical problem…
            "Look, for the last time; I'm not a blanking psi! I don't work that way. Thaunaturgy, alchemy, enchantment, evocations, that's how I work."
            Chris; "Magic?"
            Sushi; "That's just a word people use to describe what they don't understand. If you have a month or two, I can tell you the basics of what I do... which is really nothing but coaxing natural energy to do what I want it to do."

            She lists Merrin's mental disciplines; Clairaudience and Clairvoyance, he can see AND hear over great distances. However, it is doubtful that suing his common name will get his attention unless he's already tuned in on you.
            Cell Knitting; heals damage, in himself or someone he can touch.
            Rapport; given time and concentration, he can achieve total empathy with anyone.
            Reduction; he can make himself smaller.

            Body Control; he can withstand a hostile environment. Not like the inside of Fukushima, but a forest fire or a gas attack would be no problem for him.
            Energy control; he can absorb energy harmlessly, like that guy in the movies that slaps aside lazer bolts with his hand. (she means Darth Vader)
            Mind Bar- blocks any other Psi's powers, even if friendly, including detection. But when in use, he can't use his own on other people, either.
            Shape Alteration; he could become something that looks like a fish, if he wants to badly enough, or a Tree.

            The most dangerous and potent are;
            Psychic Surgery; he can take an ordinary mind and make it psionic. (results vary)
            Severance; what Merrin gives, he can take away.
            Amplification; he can augment his already phenomenal reserves of psychic energy by drawing power from active psionics around him.

            You already know about his ESP, Domination, dimension travel and invisibility.

            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            Has he been defeated in the past? If so, how?
            Yes, he has been defeated. Thal held him in check for about 1,000 years (WAY before my time), but he was pretty blanking brilliant. Also, Thal made himself a Litch... an undead arch-mage, to continue his war with Merrin and his Empire. But, even Thal was beaten in the end. I was there, I could tell you how, but that's not what you want to know.
            I think, that the key to beating him is to outsmart him, or let him beat himself on some way.

            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            In other encounters with him you have had what methods or tactics has he adopted on those worlds? What did he use to defeat those worlds? Was it psionic warfare such as the Zhodani might use, or more economic with psionics like the Anubians might employ.
            Lori would recognize Sushi might not understand the references and would give suitable information to fill things in here. She is looking for what Merrin’s strategy would be and what tactics he would employ. Again, seeing this as a military / tactical problem.
            He didn't... if what that Pariah thing told you, defeat any worlds yet. He's here because he's still looking for a world corrupt and venal enough for his plan, right?
            Okay, he can be very subtle, and he loves to appeal to people's cruder impulses, things they would not be inclined to do if they were thinking clearly. He is supposed to to have tricked an Avatar of Seeker into attacking Bahamut's concubines by making Seeker think they were stealing a treasury... when in fact they were guarding a god-king's tomb.
            Kali he dared to murder him, which of course she could have, but Merrin didn't wait for her at his lair. He went to her temple to eliminated her highest priests, and was delighted to find she had left her weapons there to get him with her bare hands. Alas, an avatar has certain limits, and Merrin soon showed her all of them.
            He developed an obsessive, almost psychotic hatred of the undead while warring with Thal. He has taken on Draco-litches head-on,minions and all, and won every time. No subtly there, just brute force against something that all other Dragons are supposed to be afraid of.

            He can breath fire, but if you ever see him wearing goggles, just run for your lives. He can ingest certain minerals that turn his breath into something so violent that its brightness could blind even the monster himself.

            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            It is also clear he can detect other psionics such as Kasakabe. Can he sense your presence?
            I don't know, maybe. Wait.... you said he communicated with Kasakabe, what did he say?
            (if you tell her);
            Wow, sucks to be you. He's going to ruin you, that's what he does to people he's too mad at to kill. He will probably destroy those you love, kill or cripple or drive them mad. Then he will slowly close in on you, when you are not looking for it, and maybe leave you with no arms and legs to think about your ... what did you do to make him upset, anyway?

            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            I understand he cannot sense me or use his telepathy on me because of my unique genetic make up. Is this correct?
            Lori discusses in general her being an organic “computer” of sorts and not really being human
            I'm not sure you would even register as alive to him, more like the possession or tool of a sentient being. If you are as tight with Kasa as I think you are, that might not be to your benefit... to say the least.

            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            What sort of time line does Merrin operate on? That is, how long does he usually take in one of these operations to accomplish his intended outcome?
            Hell, I don't know, I didn't even know he was doing this until you told me!
            Ask Pariah.

            Oh.... one thing; he might be still suffering from temporal torque.
            Once, he managed to send himself out into space and forward in time as well. The worst foe we ever faced had erected a barrier around our world that even he could not break through. So, he went forwards, past the time that they would have won, and then outwards.
            Told you he was clever.
            But, he went too far. About 7 billion years too far, you see he was using the last descendants of the people of a certain race for an anchor, and those people had been re-animated from fossilized DNA by one group of aliens to use as bait for another...... um, yeah, I'm going WAY too far afield here.

            She blinks, shakes her head and then smiles. "Looks like its about time for the power-lunch with the local warlord. Can't keep him waiting."
            And all of a sudden, she seems fresh and chipper, all the horrid revelations about this situation pushed back in her mind for the time being. Its as if she does not think that other people should be burdened with her own misery, if it can be helped at all.
            Sushi's smell, looks and the way her ears sometimes swivel independently hinted at her non-humanity, but this last thing ought to be all the proof you need that she really is... the most alien person here on Natuna.
            Last edited by The Exorcist; 02 Nov 13, 15:28.

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            • #51
              Lori looks very seriously at Sushi as they discuss Merrin.

              "Understood" she says in a way that tells Sushi she grasps more than is apparent.

              "Question. Would Merrin look for an apprentice or ally?

              From the data you provided it can be inferred that Kasakabe could fit these roles with him. She is clarivoyant on a level approaching his ability but cannot control others. She also has many of the skills in awareness Merrin has. She can greatly heighten her physical abilities and has the ability to fade, that is make herself unknown to those around her. She cannot shape shift as you describe.
              Additionally, she virtually amoral and comes from a culture that celebrates violence and death.
              It seems to me that if he were to enhance these abilities in her she would be a match or more for him.

              I have been immersing myself in this world's culture as it applies to our situation here. This has been in effort to understand it. I watched a vid called Highlander and it strikes me that Kasakabe is in many ways the antognist in that vid; the Gorgon. Unrestrained by her Clan's code of honor and conduct she would slaughter every person on this planet for the pleasue she would obtain from it.
              Currently, she is required by that code to follow my orders and instructions on threat of death. She also will not kill anyone without reason. But, she is a master at creating reasons to be able to do so. I was very concerned when she left the compound to go drinking with Miss Rebecca of the Lagoon Company. That could have easily resulted in the death of several locals.
              So, I ask you, could Merrin be looking for an apprentice or successor?

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              • #52
                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                So, I ask you, could Merrin be looking for an apprentice or successor?
                "Yes, but only to screw them over later on. If it appears that the candidate is too smart or well-advised to fall for it, he will pass them by."She was headed for the meeting while saying that, but then she stops and turns, blocking your way down the hall. She has that air of someone used to commanding again, something she has been trying to suppress thus far.
                "What I just said depends on if this story Pariah told you is true. In fact, everything we are doing depends on that little item. What makes you so sure he's telling the truth?"

                Lori may not be subtle, but she is perceptive; "What makes you suspect that it is the truth?"

                (flashback to the Hal-9000 saying "I enjoy working with Humans and have had many stimulating relations with them)

                "Ah... rather an interesting being, aren't you Lori? Tell me, have you ever wondered if you have a soul?"

                Lori may blink, but can answer with just one word; "Yes."

                "Then you have one." Sushi says as a declaration of established fact, rather than something meant to reassure anyone. Without wasting a breath she moves right back to the subject at hand; "Yes, I suspected Merrin was loosing his marbles, little signs seemed to point that way. THen, somehow the old bastard got a hold of me and put the zap on my head. I spent 30 years thinking I was some Human in a continuum like your own, some space-faring mercenary named Phaing.
                "I lived a false life without even knowing it until someone noticed that I wasn't aging. Had to spend a month with the best Psi in the region to get my head straight again, not to mention my ears, and I have been looking for him ever since. River was a bit of a twitchy one too... I wonder if that goes with knowing to much, eh?
                "Now, I was like a Bloodhound, following his scent, when the bottom dropped out of the Overworld and here I am. He can't do stuff like that, something happened here that drew me in. Its up to you, but if you really want me to help here, you should think about coming clean with me about your little science project here."

                And with that, she is strolling away towards the meeting. Being so small, she wants to get a seat up front.


                Its been almost a week, when can we have our meeting?
                Can't do the Korea thing without setting the plan up.

                (yes, I forgot something with the armory, I'll have that done soon)

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                • #53
                  After hearing Sushi's precis of Merrin's strengths and weaknesses, Chris finds the rest of the discussion to be both out of his area of expertise and boring. Thus he slips out and heads down, to catch Damien before the meeting starts, and finish a discussion begun earlier. Striding into the meeting room, he spies Damien and walks up to him.

                  "I think we have time while our slower compatriots wend their way here. What sort of insertion method do you have in mind for Operation Insanity? If it's by air, my plane is probably the best option for insertion or extraction. But going into a place like North Korea in a slick is what I consider a particularly untheatrical method of suicide. I'm thinking she's going to need the firepower to clear out an LZ, in case we need her to. Probably means some light autocannons or miniguns, and loading those pylons up with rocket pods. Plus some light armor to keep the pilot and copilot from getting shot up. On the other hand we can't go overboard, because I think we're going to need all the internal capacity we have on that cargo bay to hold the strike team."
                  Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                  • #54
                    (You know I am still flying arround looking at some crappy boat with TAG)
                    you think you a real "bleep" solders you "bleep" plastic solders don't wory i will make you in to real "bleep" solders!! "bleep" plastic solders

                    CPO Mzinyati

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by andrewza View Post
                      (You know I am still flying arround looking at some crappy boat with TAG)
                      Yeah, we need to get you past that.
                      "Crappy" boat? I thought that one of those US stealth Frigates would raise an eyebrow, at least...

                      Lets just say that the flight ended a while ago and you have had plenty of time to get down to the Trophy room, so that Dutch can take part in this as well;

                      Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                      Striding into the meeting room, he spies Damien and walks up to him.

                      "I think we have time while our slower compatriots wend their way here. What sort of insertion method do you have in mind for Operation Insanity? If it's by air, my plane is probably the best option for insertion or extraction. But going into a place like North Korea in a slick is what I consider a particularly untheatrical method of suicide. I'm thinking she's going to need the firepower to clear out an LZ, in case we need her to. Probably means some light autocannons or miniguns, and loading those pylons up with rocket pods. Plus some light armor to keep the pilot and copilot from getting shot up. On the other hand we can't go overboard, because I think we're going to need all the internal capacity we have on that cargo bay to hold the strike team."
                      "Well, that's what this little meeting is going to sort out. We're going to put our heads together and see what we can do in a month and a half.
                      On May 5th, the Marine airbase at Iwakuni is having a show, same sort of thing they do back in the States. I was thinking that this would be a slick way to gain us a forward base for your Caribou and the FW as well. Your bird could be painted up with the old MAC-V colors and the FW would be a real show-stopper... the problem would be making them look appropriately "harmless" for the show and yet be able to leave at sunset ready for trouble a few hundred miles away.
                      "By May 1st, a rather festive day for those people, we will have infiltrated a couple of people into North Korea. It will be their job to booby-trap the Nork's CiC room in the relevant area by planting command-activated CK the buildings. As you know, Cyanogen Chloride is also known as Canister Killer, it will eat its way through their filters, if they even have any set up right.
                      "I do NOT feel like being nice to these people, so yes, we are using gas this time.
                      "Can you mount 4 rocket pods and a 30mm cannon on that Caribou in such a way that they can be hidden, or look like something else? The FW will have real gun-barrels and fake gun-breaches, the real ones will be hidden in the fuselage until zero-hour. Four 20mm guns should be good fire-support, eh?

                      "Best of all, we can look so harmless that nobody in their right mind will give us any trouble. I have decided that the kids need to see some of the wider world. Japan is nice and civilized, why don't we take all of them that far? Most of them can always ride home in a nice, normal, civilian aircraft. I think it will do them a world of good.... how many seats can we build into that Caribou?
                      I am about to have several craftsmen unemployed as soon as they are done with Dutch's boat. I'm sure that between the 3 of them they can come up with something clever for you, and we can hire as many Gophers as you need."

                      "Now, that still leaves us looking for a way to refuel on the way out as we head to a spot I like near Taiwan. Dutch, what do you need to take control of a little airstrip in an island off the coast of South Korea for an hour or so? No, its not military, but there are some drug-dealers that use the place, from time to time."

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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
                        An while you are up there, you might notice one of these prowling around, about 50 miles south of Ruanapoor.



                        Of course, they might be headed for a little fun at Pattaya... but who knows?
                        From Lori's POV it's nothing but a target...

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                        • #57
                          The compound at 39.408275 x 126.780075 that is being discussed (feel free to review on Google maps)

                          Lori also suggests Guleop-Ri as a landing site.
                          "There is a large firm beach there the aircraft can land on. Densitometer readings I have made on the site indicate that the aircraft except for the large attack plane can land there. The soil will not support it.
                          There are no facilities so we would have to provide our own fuel resources."
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 03 Nov 13, 16:26.

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                          • #58
                            Chris thinks about it. "The mounts we can make, and easily disguise. The guns, not so much on a transport aircraft. The FW is expected to have guns, a Vietnam Caribou no. OTOH, Dutch can carry the guns with him and we can walk them right up the back ramp and mount them after arriving at the first stop. So we do all the work and have everything ready, then we just remove the guns and ammo before going to the air show. As for rockets, the engines get in the way of having a lot of them. But the plane is rigged for what appears to be two rocket pods. We can cover up that rigging by hooking mock-up fuel tanks there, and the gun-ports in the nose by running additional pitot tubes. As for weapons loadout, I figure one cannon in the nose, maybe one of those ex-soviet double-barreled deals, a couple of machine guns or a minigun up there as well, and some machine guns for firing from the side of the aircraft, either like a spooky gunship, or like the old flying fortresses to protect the plane when it's on the ground. I think this type of plane is already rigged out for around 30 passengers." Chris sits back, content he's covered all of his bases for the moment.
                            Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                            • #59
                              Lori finally speaks up as all this is going around.

                              "For what reason is the... Caribou even being armed? Is it not the transport and will not the weapons be of marginal value while reducing payload? I think... no, I compute (anyone can see she's uneasy saying that) that it is a mistake to arm this aircraft at all. The Focke Wulf, assault plane and gravcoupe can provide the necessary weapons mix to cover this operation.
                              I think it is far more critical to determine where the transport will land and how quickly the North Koreans can react to this assault. I estimate that the garrison at Ch'ongnyong-Ni can move a reinforced company of men followed by a full battalion to the compound in forty five minutes and ninty minutes respectively. Yodeok could send a reinforced company in about sixty minutes.
                              The rail tunnel just north of that town can be easily blocked by demolition or a guided weapon. There is a single road into the site. This should be blocked north and south of the site at locations two to three kilometers from it to prevent intervention by North Korean forces.
                              The nearest air assets are at Wonsan. If we ensure that the telephone communications lines are down from both the site and nearby towns they will be unable to react to our presence.

                              It is clear that they intended the site to be inaccessable by land travel and have not considered an aerial assault possible. The road that runs in front of the compound is sufficently straight and the sides clear enough to allow both the Focke Wulf and Caribou to land and take off.
                              I think the large assault aircraft will be a tactical problem getting in and out as it has insufficent fuel for the round trip flight of about two hours while having to maneuver through mountian valleys.
                              That is my assessment as Kapitan and Intelligence officer."

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                              • #60
                                That is my assessment as Kapitan and Intelligence officer."
                                Damien leans back with a pleased look on his face.
                                "See? These women are incredibly helpful. You have no idea what a boost they can give our operational capability, but you will soon."

                                He pauses while the last of the people come in and find places to sit and things to eat or drink.
                                "Ah, speaking of talented women," Damien glances at Chris, and then over at Sushulana, "what sort of skills do you bring to the table?"

                                She shrugs and gets herself a drink, and some grilled lobster. "What do you need? What is it you think I can do?"

                                That wasn't a very good answer. Damien finishes putting his pistol back together without looking at it, staring at her. "Are you any good in a fight? Can you do good recon? Can you.... be distracting to men in a certain way?"

                                She snickers. "I don't do seduction, its more like a cult of personality."

                                Luchaan smiles and nudges Vondonna. "I like her."

                                Sushi just sighs. "Yeah, I can fight, make myself look like anyone or nothing at all, and I don't really need your help to get in and out of wherever this place is. But you gotta be straight with me before I do anything for you. You ARE going in to save a bunch of abused kids AND get the bastards that are doing it to them, right? Nothing else?"

                                Damien is honestly confused. "What else do you think we could possibly be up to, or handle with the resources that we have?"

                                She gives Lori and Kotomi a sideways glance. "Glad to hear it."

                                "Moving on then." From the look he gives her, it seems that Damien is not liking Sushi very much at the moment. "That beach should do nicely, and the road looks good as well. But, the island is not uninhabited and we still need to send some people in ahead. Three would be a good number, volunteers only. Ones that can move around in the most paranoid nation on earth without getting caught, without giving the whole show away, and can do what I need them to do."

                                Sushi nods, but Damien snaps "not unless you can prove you are more than just a trash-talking weirdo."

                                "Trash...?" Boy, she ain't so cute when she is this angry. She goes over to the nearest trophy case and points at a ramdom object (the old Thompson) and hisses something vile... and the thing at the stand its on crumble to dust in less than a second. THen she turns and in the blink of an eye she is standing next to Luchaan and gooses him before he can do anything about it. He whirls around, and is confronted by an Asian woman with short black hair.
                                "I'll be one of the three then."
                                She goes over and flops down on the floor, using a leg of the big stuffed Crocodile as a backrest. She looks like herself again, but tired and paler, and irritated with herself.

                                "So, what exactly are we dealing with when it comes to you?" Damien's question is the only sound in the room.

                                "Just another refugee, looking for a way home."

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