311 Dark Water Craf

    After contacting Scarlett and reporting the actions of the Oberton family, Nix asked Gideon to escort the prisoners to Ionova, where they would be brought to Nescari to answer for their misdeeds.  Nebs located an ideal cove that would make the perfect port entrance to the new City Center; with Nix's approval, he initiated his plans.

    Alpha Team sat quietly on the shore, studying the small craft they dragged out of a nearby cave. It hadn't taken long to find.

    Dark Water Craft: Artifact

    Description: Self-Navigating Watercraft

    capable of transporting 11 individuals.

    Range: 400 Km.  Mana Bank: Full

    /Inferno: Nix: Anyone ever see something like this before?

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Not me.  This runs off of its own mana bank?  How does it recharge?  How long does it last?

    /Inferno: Nix: All good questions.

    Nix moved Eron's tail out of his face and ran his hand over the rail of the boat. It didn't feel like wood or metal. Did Colonial allow composite materials?

    The craft was thirty feet in length and three rows of three seats, with two additional seats in the very front.  There was a navigation panel on what could only have been called a dashboard.  The sides and top were open; it looked exactly like some rich guys super speed boat... if those things came with bus seating. There were no visible controls.

    Semmi shook her head doubtfully. Typically the blond officer was somewhat adventurous, but the doubt was evident on her face.  "It only took four of us to drag it out here, that means it will be tossed around like a leaf in a storm."

    For once, Pon agreed with his girlfriend, a feat that barely ever happened.  "It's completely open and low walled.  She'll fill up with water and sink."

    "Good thing you have Captain Ronnie here to test it."  Ronnie stepped over the side and walked to the front seat.  She pursed her lips while studying the layout.  "Give a girl a hand, will ya?"

    Nix gripped one side of the craft. "She's right, let's put her in the water."

    They carefully moved the craft until it sat comfortably in knee-deep water.  Nix peered under the boat and shook his head in amazement.  "There's no keel, so it rides shallow."

    "Who's coming?"  Ronnie frowned when there were no takers. "I see... Alpha Team is only this much."

    Pon snorted.  "No one's going to fall for that ** Ronnie."

    Wind climbed into the boat and took one of the back seats.  A moment later, Semmi and Fajii did also.

    Nix laughed at the expression on Pon's face when he joined them.  "Stay on the shore Grandma."

    Ronnie grinned at him and patted the seat next to her.  "I'm gonna drive, Nix."

    "Sure, no problem."

    When Jun Li joined the sea-farers, Pon cussed loudly and climbed over the side into the empty seat next to Wind.

    /Inferno: Pon: We're gonna f*cking die, and I'm going to laugh at you bastards.

    /Inferno: Nix: Let's go, Ronnie.

    "Wait for me!"  Bali was sprinting down the sand dunes; she seemed much faster than possible given her relatively small size.  "I'm gonna do it too!"

    Ronnie clapped her hands from the front.  "That's my girl."

    After vaulting into the boat, Bali took a seat directly behind Nix and Ronnie.  "We gonna dig up that mass grave Nix?  Or maybe place some sort of marker on it?"

    Nix gave her a deadpan look.  "What mass grave?"

    Eron swished his tail from Nix's shoulder.  "Couldn't find it," he admitted.

    "Huh?  Bluffing?"  Bali's pretty face split in a wide smile. "Good job, Commander."

    /Inferno: Nix: Go ahead, Ronnie.

    Ronnie nodded and placed her hand on the Nav-panel. A large map of the area appeared on the forward windshield. After messing with it for a few seconds, she figured how to zoom.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Looks like there are already set Nav-points every 10 kilometers.

    /Inferno: Semmi: That's the Great Desert.  How many Nav points between us and that?

    Ronnie counted them with her finger. "Fifteen, so a hundred and fifty kilometers?

    /Inferno: Nix: Do it, Ronnie.  Keep it short, though.

    Ronnie nodded and placed her finger on the red dot that marked their position.  She moved it to the first waypoint, and a line was drawn; when she dragged it back, it completed a roundtrip.

    [Self-Navigating Interface.  Out and back route. Total distance is 20 kilometers.]

    [Select the speed and engage the engine.]

    Ronnie pointed to the three selections.  "One, two, or three, Nix?"

    "Three, of course."

    Ronnie pushed the 3rd selection and then tapped the engage icon.

    An opaque shield formed over the top of the boat and connected at the rail; you could see through it but just barely.  Slowly the boat started to pick up speed with a low but steady hum.

    /Inferno: Nix: Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle and remain seated at all times.

    They hadn't gone more than fifty meters before the water started creeping up the sides of the shield.  Pon immediately reacted by banging on them with his fist.  "Abandon ship!  This boat is sinking!"

    The water continued climbing until the boat was completely submerged.  It descended to about twenty feet before leveling off.

    Pon's old face showed his surprise.  "We're under the water."

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Looks like we are maintaining a depth of about twenty feet.

    Everyone stood and crowded forward around the two front seats.  The forward windshield offered a view of where they were going.

    /Inferno: Semmi: My timer is on, we'll know how fast we're going when we turn around.  Lots of things to figure out.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Right. Does going faster burn the mana quicker?

    /Inferno: Nix: Or how does it refill?

    They arrived at the turnaround Nav point in just under thirty minutes.  There were no controls inside, so the team spent the time talking.  Less than an hour later, the team pulled the boat on back on the shore.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: It cruises at a constant depth of twenty feet.  So it remains unseen and doesn't have to worry about choppy seas.

    /Inferno: Semmi: Doesn't seem like we should just leave it in a cave.

    /Inferno: Nix: We have a stable at HQ.  We'll keep them there.

    /Inferno: Pon: HQ?

    /Inferno: Semmi: We're keeping the Oberton place?

    /Inferno: Nix: Yes. The new designation is HQ.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Yay! No Tent city. I should get the first pick of the rooms since I volunteered to drive!

    /Inferno: Nix: Agreed.

    [Whisper: Fajii to Nix] Are you going to stay in the Turtle house?

    [Whisper: Nix to Fajii] Yep.

    [Whisper: Fajii to Nix] May I stay there with you?

    [Whisper: Nix to Fajii] Yep.

    /Inferno: Nix: Before you move in, conduct a top to bottom search of the entire place.  Who knows what they left behind.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Maybe directions for my boats.!


    Ionova Settlement: This is an Ionova Announcement. The new Ionova City Center is about to start construction; this will last about six hours. If you'd like to place your shop in the new City Center, please report to Nebula at the Steward's office immediately.

    "Got this, Nebs?"

    Nebula ran her fingers through her short dark hair.  "Got it, Nix."

    Nix studied the layout for a moment.  "Residences?"

    Nebs shook her head.  "Not right away, but eventually, they will want to move inside the walls.

    "Okay, Nebs.  Cya tomorrow."

    Nix rode Nightmare out of town and turned west toward his home.  Fajii stayed behind to help search HQ for valuables before Inferno officially took over. It was 1500 when Nix entered his house and secured the door.

    Nix took a deep breath and pictured Leva's Office in Chyanama.

    [Nether Walker]

    He appeared a moment later next to the couch he had sat on when he was scouting the Nether in rat form.

    "Nix!"  A stunned voice caused him to turn around.

    "Report, Leva."

    "Yes, Sir."
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