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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:39 pm 
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Felix picks up the radio.

"A disturbance this close to the location of our goal is... it doesn't sit well with me," Felix says. "Let's check out that farmhouse before we get any closer. I want to know what's lurking about before it tries to eat us."

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 Post Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 10:01 pm 
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Are you going to drive loudly up to the place with engines roaring and make sure that anyone in that farmhouse knows you're coming, or are you going to take the time to park a short distance away, walk a little and maybe not spook the chickens?

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 Post Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 10:54 pm 
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Short stealthy walk sounds like a fine idea. Felix and Theresa will mosey on up real quiet like and hopefully someone else can keep a truck idling to do that loud roaring drive close in case of danger.

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 Post Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 12:44 am 
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Arkady will man the getaway car. Not the technical, so someone else can provide covering fire in an emergency.

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 5:25 am 
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You park some distance away; Felix and Theresa head cautiously and quietly on toward the farm.

There's a few chickens, a couple of cows placidly being cows, and a dog who barks a lot when he sees you. No people.

No-one has collected eggs from the chickens or fed the chickens - or the dog, for that matter - in a few days. There's an abandoned meal on the table in the kitchen. The door is not locked, and the meal has just about started to go off - it won't be edible for much longer. The stable door is open; there's no sign of where the horse might have gone.

The dog seems to be the most hostile thing around, and it does little more than bark at the Strangers.

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 3:14 pm 
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"Curiouser and curiouser..." Felix mutters. He sends out over the radio that there are no apparent hostiles beyond a hungry dog, but the home and the animals seem to have been left unattended for several days. If anyone thinks they can help investigate, they should come up.

Meanwhile, he looks over the food on the plate and tries to figure out if anything in it would be bad for the dog's health while Theresa tries to fetch it some fresh water if it needs it.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 06, 2021 5:14 am 
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The door had been loosely latched - not locked, but impossible for the dog to open (due to lack of thumbs). It's possible that the wind blew the door shut and the latch simply fell.

The dog is highly mistrustful of the Strangers - especially Strangers who enter the territory of the Masters! - but, when some suitable food is left alone, the dog will (very, very cautiously) investigate it, sniff it thoroughly, and then hungrily consume it - though he'll still growl most menacingly at anyone who gets close.

Note, the dog doesn't actually seem angry. But it's in the dog's job description to Bark At Strangers, so that is what the dog is going to do - you won't catch this fellow shirking on his dogly duties!

Fresh water is very easily found (there's a small stream nearby). Some of the cows have been drinking from it, and there's also a calf or two in the herd.

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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 06, 2021 9:34 pm 
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"Hey, Piper, is it possible to tap into the dog's memories? See if I can see what it saw when this place was left unattended?"

Felix makes a placating gesture and some soft noises to try and get the dog to be comfortable with his presence.

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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2021 10:15 am 
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Arkady looks around the immediate neighborhood for signs of significant numbers of people or odd traces (trampled crops, wagon tracks, such like). Then something occurs to him and he turns to Roger. "Roger, when did Blackwell ask the computer for the location of those missing guns?"

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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2021 7:09 pm 
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Roger checks the time stamp on the rifle query.

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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 4:39 am 
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"No," says Piper, stepping out not-exactly-unexpectedly from behind Felix. "The dog... isn't one of mine. I can't see inside its head. Tstststs. Here, boy." She wriggles her fingers at the dog, much the same as Felix is doing; the dog peers suspiciously at both of them for a long minute, barks several more times just to be on the safe side, and finally condescends to let Piper scratch it behind the ears.

...maybe because she's shorter?

Arkady finds a lot of marks of passing traffic on the road - almost entirely foot traffic but there does seem to be the (rare, hidden beneath the foot traffic) horseshoe print as well. It seems to all be heading in the same direction as you are going; there's no telling how old it is. There are no visible wagon tracks at all, and the only damaged crops can almost certainly be blamed on being (only just) reachable by the cows by straining their heads through the wooden fence.

Roger checks the time stamp on the rifle query - and that's odd. It happened two days ago.

You've been on the trail at least three days. And, according the timestamps, you left the Ship yesterday.

Blackwell was woken up the day before the day before yesterday; looked up the rifles early day before yesterday morning; left with Zalasbra mid-morning day before yesterday. You rescued Zalasbra and arrived back at base day-before-yesterday afternoon, left yesterday morning. And - somehow - you spent three days travelling to get here. Having left the Ship yesterday.

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 Post Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:06 pm 
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That's strange...

Roger begins pouring over logs and radio's back to the ship to ask someone to manually check the ship's computer time to try and find the discrepancy. He will also ask how long the party has been gone.

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 Post Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 7:31 pm 
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"Hmm... is that because the dog owes it's loyalty to someone else, or because it doesn't have the ability to make such a choice? Personal curiosity aside, we do still need to find out what happened to the people who lived here. This doesn't seem like Seeker handiwork."

Felix lets the dog sniff his hand for a bit more, then goes about trying to assemble a picture of what happened in the house and surrounding area. Investigation isn't his forte, but with Theresa's help maybe they can turn up some clues.

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 Post Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 8:21 pm 
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Arkady just shakes his head. It's been two weeks since they found out about Blackwell being awoken two days ago. He idly wonders if he's now aging half a dozen times faster than his wife, and directs Felix's attention to the road. "This road only has prints going one way; towards the lake. It looks like that's where we will find everyone, one way or the other."

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 1:23 am 
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Roger asks a few questions of the people back at the Ship, and quickly comes to the conclusion that they haven't noticed anything odd about the logs - because the logs agree with their memories. David thinks that your speed suggests that the roads are in surprisingly good condition (and that if you had been back on Earth, you would have picked up several speeding tickets by now); your memories suggest that the roads are in the sort of condition that horses don't mind but trucks do, and that you haven't been able to really go along at full speed and certainly haven't been close to 'speeding ticket' levels of speed.

--------------

"I'm not sure about ability," muses Piper. "I've never had a dog agree to be one of mine before. I could read your mind - but not the dog's. Bark bark gruff brk?" She continues scratching the dog around the ears; the dog seems to have decided he's done enough barking for the moment, and it's time to enjoy some ear scratchings.

Felix: Investigation: +0 Theresa: +4 Roll: +0 Total: +4

Felix and Theresa thoroughly search the surrounding area, but fail to turn up anything in the way of further clues. At least, for the moment; maybe Arkady has the right of it, and the only answers to be found are further along the road.

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