Light as a Feather

GM: Walker
Players: Lotus, Vermillion, Walker
Synopsis: A trio of runners are hired to retrieve a feather of a magical owl from the Flatirons. Trixery and magic ensue.
Date: Oct 28 2080

Back in her apartment, Vermillion gets about the laborious process of setting up her Satellite Dish. She gets most of it set up while drifting about in her hoverchair, fetching the dish from storage and opening up a window. Finally, she has to pull herself out of the chair and shuffle over on her knees to make the connections between it and her deck. That done, she shuffles back to the chair and hauls herself back into it, looking like she's run a mile by the time she's done. She jacks back into her chair, and settles back into the padding. She makes herself comfortable, and then closes her eyes, allowing her mind to travel into the virtual environment of her own deck.

Floating in midair, in a green and grey vacsuit in the virtual environment, she gathers together a number of utilities- things she thinks she'll need, summoning a pouch from thin air and plucking them out of the storage memory- old fashioned filing cabinets- and slotting them into receptacles on the chunky arms of her virtual vacsuit where they are integrated into the suit.

Finally, she launches the first of these utilities- her Satellite link, forming a connection to the dish's onboard electronics so that she can begin guiding it and locking onto a satellite signal to hijack.

It's the work of only a few seconds for Vermillion to lock onto the tracking signals for Angel Satcom, the clear day and her large dish making the job very straightforward. With that task accomplished comes the meat of the matter: accessing the constellation's RTG.

The iconography is a schmaltzy version of heaven: fluffy clouds, singing cherubs and a set of quite serious-looking pearly gates that bar her way, covered with elaborate scrollwork.

Vermillion prepares to ride the datastream up to the clouds, plucking her helmet from thin air, and locking it into position in the metallic ring about her neck. Wing-like plumes of reaction mass jet from the RCS block on her back, and she hurtles towards those pearly gates. As she approaches, snake-like fibers launch from her wrists, latching onto the scrollwork and overwriting the patterns to match her own masking signal. Finally, moments before colliding with them, she brings both hands forwards, and those seperate cables coil together, coming to a point which resolves into an old-fashioned skeleton key, which she inserts into the lock on the gates, and slips through into the RTG proper.

Once inside, she slows down, the helmet turning this way and that, before blinking lights on the collar of her EVA suit begin to project a scanning grid of lasers to get a lay of the land.

The lasers produce a comprehensive picture of the host that projects onto her helmet's HUD. Data pours in, along with notifications indicating a lone cherub that glances briefly in her direction before going on with its chant.

Once her Scan completed, Vermillion reaches up to press a button at her throat, feeding the comm address that Walker gave her into the suit's rudimentary comms array, attempting to form a connection back down to earth and to the pre-arranged communications line with the Shaman.

«Siobhan?» the shaman's voice comes through sounding somehow different than he does in person. «That better be you or I'm gonna have to burn this phone again.» Still the same wry humour though.

«I have eyes in the sky. Where am I headed» Vermillion's own voice responds but- likewise, the digitised signal sounds different from her physical voice. Brighter, but with that tinny transduced quality.

«Try not to laugh,» comes the reply bouncing around her helmet, «The Ornithological Society of North America, Denver local offices.»

«I'll do my best.» Comes the tittering, Transduced reply. «I'll do some digging and call you back when I'm inside. Later Cowboy.» she says, and then puts an end to the commcall.

The helmet-wearing icon scans aout once more, and taps a few buttons on her wrist console. A panel on her shoulder opens up, and a tiny little globe pops out, hovering in midair on brief puffs of RCS fuel from tiny nozzles covering its surface. After a brief mental command, it zooms off in search of an appropriate SAN.

It's the work of an instant, a few more powerful puffs of virtual monopropellant whip the globe around the cloudscape before it pings a notification in her HUD. A little ways off lie another set of pearly gates. The miniature globe hovers in front of them, the occasional corrective thrust applied to keep it aloft. On its surface, where Denver would be, tiny traceries of light pulse to indicate the extent of the NA/DEN RTG.

Vermillion drifts through the cloudscape after her little probe until she arrives at the pearly gates. Once she arrives, she reaches out a hand and tucks the probe back into its slot. A pause at the gates, and the laser grid projection sweeps back and forth across them for a few moments, looking for any nasty tricks or traps that may lay in wait, and then the suit approaches the gates once nothing becomes apparent, the reflection in her bronzed visor growing larger before she projects those tendrils into a key once more, slots it into the gate, and prepares to ride the datastream back down to earth.

With the link to the Denver RTG found, it doesn't take long for the astronaut to pick her way through the access codes and gain entry. The new iconography as she drops back through the clouds is that of a shining city on a hill, divided by walls into four parts.

Again, the little globe whizzes out and again it finds its target quickly, directing Vermillion towards an access node in one of the walls of the PCC 'ward' like climbing vines up to a wooden balcony on the wall above. Birdsong can be faintly heard from the open doors.

Vermillion drifts after the pod, puffs of monopropellant bursting from her back occasionally. As she arrives at the doors, she does a graceful flip, landing feet down on the surface and her magboots engage to keep her from bouncing off. She projects the wires again. With the public icon being wide open, the key analogy doesn't make as much sense, but it still slots into a space in the center of the open doors and turns, spoofing her access codes and attempting to conceal the illegal modifications to her deck from the node's access filters.

The gauze curtains that conceal the interior of the building swing wide under Vermillion's efforts, and a moment later she finds herself in a wide open, airy space. A wooden building that seems like an enormous cabin envelops the host, with an enormous deciduous tree, curled and gnarled, forming the central column in the space while birds flit through the air around her.

Once floating inside the rather too naturalistic looking virtual environs, Vermillion engages her suits scanners once more, the laser grid pattern projecting out, and sweeping over the contours of the room as she slowly rotates in place, reaching out to glean what she can about the layout of the host.

The readouts come through quickly enough on her HUD. The host is secure 'enough' to keep the donor's register secure and keep out any amateur script kiddies. Now and then a raptor swivels its head to stare at this odd helmeted bird, but quickly move on. There's a lot of funny lookin' birds after all.

Vermillion seems satisfied enough with the response she gets from her experimental pings, and she flicks a wrist. As she does so, a sheet of plain white plastic appears in one hand, and a sharpie in the other. She pops the lid off the sharpie, which floats off lazily as though ignorant of the laws of gravity, and writes the word 'Staff' on the plastic card. She then presses it onto her chest, where it adheres itself.

Meanwhile, at the Maglev station opposite the Serpent's Feather, Walker waits in his habitual long coat, but now with a large satchel slung over his shoulder and a broad scarf arranged around his neck. Just another salaryman on his way home after a long shift. The sun is low in the sky, the temperature already beginning to drop in the cloudless mountain air. The place is crowded of course, it's still the tail end of rush hour.

Punctual as always, the Tibetan youth arrives at the Maglev station about three minutes before the appointed time. Having rummaged through her wardrobe, she tried to dig out the most durable and outdoorsy clothing she could find. She shows up in a desert camouflage jacket that is most certainly some sort of surplus. It looks like it's made for a person twice her size, so it fits her like a big coat more than a jacket. With that, her skinny legs sort of peek out. Amazingly enough, it seems she managed to dig out a pair of jeans from somewhere to put on. She has tied up her hair and she's hauling a black cloth back with a Yin-Yang symbol on it. She looks around, trying to spot Walker, which fortunately isn't particularly difficult to do no matter how disguised he thinks he is. She plops down next to him, saying nothing really.

Walker glances sideways at Pema as she sits next to him and nods slightly. "Nice threads," he offers with a little smile, "Let's go, we're catching the commuter to Boulder. If anyone asks, we're going on a nature hike, so ka?"

"Thanks," the Tibetan teenager says, who actually sort of looks like a regular teenager for once when she doesn't dress as someone thrice her age. "Found it in the bottom of my wardrobe, hope it'll do." She clutches hold to her black bag of tricks, while the doors of the train close and their little trip begins. She looks out the window, looking at the sun as it slowly descends between the skyscrapers of the city, whose windows are starting to slowly light up. Soon enough, it'll be all a patchwork of windows, neon lights and fire-belching chimneys. Pema takes out her long string of prayer beads again, presumably counting prayer or something while the witnesses the sunrise. Around them, people come and go, but as they reach farther and farther away from central Denver, the train gets less and less crowded, until only a few tired-looking souls remain on board.

Vermillion releases the pen, allowing it to drift off for a short distance before both it and the lid fade back out of existence. She touches the comm button on her collar once more, and back in the flesh, Walker's phone rings again.

As the maglev speeds out of the city proper and towards Boulder, the two mages have a chance to take in the scenery. With the metroplex sprawled out to the Southeast and the Flatirons looming to the West with the setting sun behind them the view is rather spectacular. Walker sits in silence, smiling happily as he watches the mountains draw closer.

A small commotion in the next carriage draws their attention away from the view though: a couple of bored-looking metroplex guards doing random ID checks are working their way down the train by the looks of it.

Then Walker's phone buzzes and he rolls his eyes at Pema in a 'what can you do?' way. «Hey Siobhan, how's it going?»

«I'm in and sitting pretty, just waiting on go time. You can call back to this address if you need to. Should be good for a couple of days at least, unless they have security deckers who are more vigilant than most.» The transduced voice on the other end of the line says. She still hasn't asked what it is they are doing here, but then, that's probably best not to know.

«Awesome!» he sounds happy to have good news, but a little distracted too, «There might be a bit more setup you need to do, but I'm gonna have to call you back I think, Denver's finest are going to want to have a chat in a sec.» With that, he hangs up and quickly mutes the phone.

The Tibetan looks rather at peace enjoying the scenery as the dull cityscape disappears. All things considered, it might be the first time ever she gets to visit something akin to the countryside. The SIN-checking guards only get a glancing, indifferent look at first, then another, more serious one. She pulls out her SIN from her bag, still marked with the Wuxing corporation logo. She has a look of uncertainty, but remains seated nonetheless. As Walker hangs up, she says, "Hope those guys won't cause us trouble…"

Walker glances down the carriage at the pair, who are just about done with their checks in the next car. Pulling out his own stick he shrugs, giving hers a look of mild caution. "Will that?" he asks casually, carefully not looking at her or the credstick.

The weary-looking guards eventually come up to the tall elf and the slightly less tall Asian girl. One of them says, his voice completely devoid of enthusiasm "Good evening citizen, SIN please," and takes off a scanner attached to his ballistic service vest. He scans both their sticks, eyes widening a bit as both of them are apparently licensed mages, but since everything is in order he says, "Thank you for your cooperation," and continues on to bother the remaining people in the car.

Pema puts away her stick, biting her lip. "I was almost afraid it'd register as something bad. Like a missing person or something. I should probably get a new one, but it cost me a lot as it is." She shrugs, watching the two guards as they step off at the next station, leaving the car near-abandoned except for the two mages.

"Regular checkpoints aren't usually the issue," Walker offers before nudging her gently with an elbow, "Try to relax, everything went fine. Just breathe. I'm gonna call our guardian angel." With that he retrieves his phone and dials Vermillion back.

«Siobhan? OK, you need to find where they have the tracking data for the birds they've tagged in the Denver area.» He explains, casting a glance down the carriage to the guards to ensure they aren't paying any attention. «My friend has good intel a paraspecies called an Oracle Owl has recently had the last of its chicks leave the nest, and wants a good one of the juvenile flight feathers as the basis for a focus. If you can pipe the location data to my pocsec, we should be able to find the nest from that.»

«Roger that.» the somewhat bored sound of someone who has been sitting in lightspeed fast trixtime for far longer than is comfortable rings back over the line.

Pema looks tense as usual. She has a long time to go before she develops that hardened criminal cool that experienced shadowrunners have, but she has potential at least. She arches a brow as she overhears from the conversation what this little excursion really is about, but shrugs to herself. Not that strange, after all.

Catching the arched brow from Pema, Walker returns the expression. "Yes? The chicks have already flown and we aren't going to disturb the mating pair, that's the whole point." Shortly after their brief run-in with the law the mag-lev reaches Boulder and the end of the line. As the pair step off into the evening twilight, Walker turns to his companion. "So, bus or flying?"

"I didn't say anything about it," Pema defends herself, "But I also didn't know what this trip was about. It's perfectly fine. Who knows, I might have to do something like this for my own work one day…" Once they step off the train, she wanders about to check out the evening sky, turning back to regard Denver in the distance. It doesn't take long for her to realise how bloody cold it is for someone who grew up in subtropical climates. She shivers, and wraps the camouflage jacket tighter about her. "Let's take the bus… it's too cold."

Nodding to the shivering young woman with a quiet smile at the way she stuck up for herself, Walker leads the way to the local bus stop that still runs up to the start of the Royal Arch trail even in the winter. While they wait, Walker fishes around in his satchel and digs out a thick beanie and a pair of gloves which he hands to her without comment.

Pema is wearing a turtleneck underneath that jacket but she still looks like she's fighting a losing war against the cold. She shivers as they stand waiting for the bus. She accepts the beanie, which looks ridiculously big on her, as well as the gloves. Nonetheless, she says, "Thanks… I will have to get a new wardrobe or I will literally freeze to death this winter. This is horrible…"

Nodding his agreement with Pema, Walker points to the approaching bus, "Didn't have to wait long though. Say what you will about the PCC, the mass transit is better than it used to be." It's a little warmer on board, the little commuter/tourist shuttle surprisingly comfortable. Walker turns up the temperature once they've settled into their seats and begin the rumbling drive up to the Flatirons.

Once inside the bus, the perpetually frozen skinny girl looks a bit more comfortable. She takes the beanie off and runs her hand through her black hair trying to get most of it off her face. "So do we have a location on the owl yet? And, uh…" she says, looking down as if she's afraid the next thing will sound stupid. "Why are we using the services of a decker to find a wild bild? Owls are wise, they say, but they don't use the Matrix, do they?"

Chuckling a little at the mental image of an owl in a trode net, Walker explains. "The conservation folks tag the birds to track territory, mating behaviour, migration patterns and the like. I suspect a nature spirit could find them, but the Flatirons is a lot of ground to cover. Why do it the hard way?" He glances at his pocsec, which so far has no data feed, and shrugs, "Nothing yet, but I'm sure she'll come through. It's just a conservation agency after all…"

"Ah," the teenager says, "Yes, that makes sense. Kind of amazing, that even the flight of birds are on the net…" then she silences, thinking about something ominous, probably. She looks out the window, but by now there's nothing but darkness outside the window of the bus and she just ends up looking at her own reflection.

Back in the trix, Vermillion who has been doing lazy, slow motion acrobatics in the simulated environment comes to a stop, holding out her arms and legs to slow her rotation before the RCS jets finish the job. Her shoulder port pops open once more, deploying the little seeing eye probe. She gives it a tap, and sends it zooming around the birdhouse to search for their log data.

A slightly unpleasant beep sounds in Vermillion's helmet as the scanners complete their - totally authorised - sweep and report no results.

The reflective bronzed visor of her space suit flashes red for a moment to express her frustration, but then, that would have been too easy. So she alters the little probes search parameters, asking for it to seek out System Access Nodes instead, anything flagged with Tracking, Logs, Records, Tagging, as well as Oracle Owl or Paracritter. With the new instruction set keyed in, she floats back, folding hands behind her head as she waits to see if she gets a ping this time.

This time she hits paydirt. The scanners home in on a large bow of the tree with thick foliage that shields the space within from view. The title that seems to have grown into the bark is: 'Conservation Projects'.

At the ping, she kicks off from midair once more, and floats up to the branch in question. As is her habit, the glittering laser beams project from her visor to scan the access node for any tricks or traps. Everything seems to be going well, so far, which makes anyone accustomed to snooping around in systems nervous.

The foliage surrounding the area denoted by the branch isn't just thick, it grows in fantastically convoluted fractal patterns that confound the eye to even look at.

Vermillion once more collects her tiny probe, and deploys the snaking data cables from her wrists. They begin to peel back the foliage layer by layer, taking care not to damage it as she does so. Once she has thoroughly but carefully uncovered the SAN, those cables coil together into a key, which inserts itself into the branch and then twists, unlocking the node and pulling the stargirl into the conservation node with it.

Inside the new host it is quieter, the birdsong from outside muted by the thick leaves. The space inside is a tangle of branches, all dotted with nests containing eggs or chicks: the files or slave systems of the system respectively. Here and there, large mother birds guard their charges with watchful eyes.

This host is a little harder to pin down. The scanners get a reasonable read, but parts of the data come back incomplete, and they provide no information at all on what the mama birds think of this distinctly non-avian intruder.

The green laser lines glitter through the foliage, creating a dancing pattern of light and shadow as they bounce off the leaves. The space suit folds her arms in mild frustration as she discovers that the scan comes back incomplete, but she seems happy enough with it- rather than doing another pass, she whips out the sharpie and name badge combo once more.

The space suit writes 'Staff' on another blank name badge, affixing it to the other side of her chest from the first- who knows, she might have to backtrack. With that done, she deploys the probe again, "Hopefully this is the one…" she murmurs to herself, and sends it whipping off through the branches to look for the tracking data log file.

It takes a little while - perhaps it feels like an eternity in the matrix - but after a while the probe returns, blinking with a satisfied little green glow. Unfortunately, one of the mother birds, a bright-eyed falcon, swivels her head to follow the 'egg' and locks her gaze on the space-suited woman in front of her. She screeches, digital distortion crackling into the normal animal noise.

As the screech rings through her ears, Vermillion leaps into action. Her suit rapidly shifts from its rather dull green and grey color scheme to gold and- as her namesake implies- Vermillion. The RCS thruster block opens up like a pair of wings formed from golden blades, nine on each side, arcing up around her. Points of light form at the tip of each blade, before they each emit beams, which converge once in front of the blade, and then the pair of beams again converge in front of outstretched hands before a blast of energy washes over the pursuing IC.

A moment before the IC's digital form entirely shatters, the beam ceases and vermillion snaps her fingers. Her suit switches back to its dull color scheme. A spherical fairing forms in eight segments, which snap shut around the IC, suspending it there for the time being.

Now that the immediate threat is over, Vermillion leans back again and holds her hand out for the probe. Once it settles into a spot hovering just above the outstretched hand, it begins to project its findings onto her visor, a dancing light show to a casual observer. "Gotcha." she muses. She pulls a cable from one of the wrist mounted consoles on her suit, and then plugs it into the probe to begin downloading its findings. While she waits for that to continue, she makes another Commcall- not a voice line this time, but a data transfer so that she can send it over once it's downloaded.

Vermillion finally, taps in a text message on her wrist console, «« Ran into a little trouble, but should be fine for now. I'll idle in the system unless you need anything else or I run into more trouble. When you're good, let me know and I'll jack out. »» and with that, she puts away the tools of her trade, and settles back to drifting through the Host, keeping one eye peeled in case of any unexpected visitors, but otherwise resting on the laurels of her fraudulent account.

After quite a scenic drive through the suburbs of Boulder and then up a winding road towards the base of the Flatirons, the two mages find themselves standing at the head of the Royal Arch trail in the fading light. Walker glances at his pocsec with an expression of mild irritation, unsure how long it takes to trace an owl via the matrix. With a shrug at Pema he shoulders his bag, "I suggest if you have any summoning you want to do, get it done now so we're ready when we get the location."

Once they get off the bus and find themselves standing on the trail, Pema put on a pair of sunglasses. Presumably, those aren't just regular glasses but might help her see in the dark. She looks around at the environment. "The spirits here are abundant, no doubt, though if we are continuing our trek, I should not disturb them. They will not leave their immediate domain anyway." she sticks her hands in her jacket pockets. "How about you?"

Walker takes a moment to think about it before glancing to the nearby trees and crouching down to beckon a wolf-shaped pile of moss and leaves from the undergrowth, which comes to nuzzle at the elf's hand. Shortly after the spirit materialises and wraps the trio in its concealment per his instructions, the elf's pocsec pings and he smiles, a hint of relief on his face, as the data pours in, "She got it."

From further down the road they came in on, Pema hears a low rumble and the sound of tires approaching. Headlights flicker faintly through the trees but Walker, intent on the data coming in, seems none the wiser.

"Hush!" Pema raises a hand, looking back at the road. She points towards it, "There's a car incoming." She frowns, looking unsure what to do about it.

The girl pulls out a pair of binoculars from her bag, trying to get a glimpse of the car.

Pema hears Walker's voice in her head. ~Are you sure? Best not to be here then. We should go, now.~ A thought indicates the path through the trees.

~Definitely, I saw the headlights and everything. Let's go~ Pema replies using the telepathic bond that Walker sets up. ~Maybe someone else is here for the same thing?~ She inquires, as she begins to walk up the path among the trees.

~Best guess would be PCC security,~ comes the reply. He indicates that she should go in front, quickly pointing out a route leading away from the maintained path into the trees through the mental link. ~Try and go quietly though, they're a bit sensitive about visitors, especially at night.~

Vermillion drifts restlessly for a few seconds, which of course feels much longer in the dense information atmosphere of the matrix. She strums slender fingers against the leg of her suit. She rolls over in the air. And then her Helmet flashes green with a bright idea. She snaps her fingers, and a torque-cancelling driver appears in her hand. She taps on her comm console once more »» Better data incoming. «« she keys to Walker's Pocsec, and then she drifts towards where her probe found the tracking slaves.

Pema takes point, wandering down the path with her hands raised as if trying to balance herself on rocky ground in the dark. Even with low-light vision glasses, the visibility isn't perfect, but she heads on. ~Guess people who come here at night usually are poachers or something shady like that~ She puts her hands on the trees as she passes them, occasionally stopping because she can't help herself but admire a particularly impressive tree or a view. All silently, though.

As the trio slip into the trees, the lights on the road trundle by without seeming to slow. No shouts of alarm, no wild flashes torches behind them through the trees. Just the crunch of tires on tarmac, followed by silence save for the thousand sounds of the forest at night.

~There's some of that for sure, but I think part of it is a PR exercise,~ there's a hint of unintentional bitterness accompanying the thought, that the PCC has done so well ingratiating itself into his former homeland. The feeling disappears almost as suddenly as it came though, accompanied by an implied apology for oversharing.

When the live feed from Vermillion comes in, warm happiness washes through the link. »»Great work spacewoman«« he messages back.

~Fair enough, I don't want anything to do with them either way.~ Pema stops once to look back, as the agents in the car seem to be oblivious of their presence. Then, she turns around and heads on. ~Got any idea where our feathered friend might be relative to our location?~

He'd hand her the screen, but he doesn't want to mess up her night vision. It isn't far though, they'll cover the distance in a little under an hour. He knows the area well enough even away from the trails. They're headed for a tall stand of trees near the brow of the hill. All of this comes through wordlessly, since words would just take up more time anyway.

The hike proceeds fairly uneventfully, Pema proving to be a decent outdoorswoman when it comes to moving quietly through the forest at night. In the end it takes them a little over forty minutes to arrive in sight of the stand of trees in Walker's mind.

Vermillion, who is occupying herself by tapping out a tune in midair on an imagined keyboard perks up when something in her helmets HUD blinks. »» Got movement, looks like one of the birbs is coming towards you. Sending you updated tracking. «« she messages to walker, and then sends another pulse of data down the comlink to update the position and heading of the moving tracking device.

After some time, Pema seems to be less tense about this whole ordeal, taking her out of her urban element, and she seems to be really enjoying this bit of outdoorsy trek. She stops walking with her hands up, but goes on more leisurely with hands in her pocket, and with a bit of walking to get the blood going she's not that cold anymore either. Once they reach the trees in question, she stops, admiring the sight, or at least as much as she can make out from it with her artificial low- light vision. ~This is the place?~

As Walker glances again at the screen and relays the rough position to Pema through the link, the pair spot it almost in the same instant. Four eyes find the dark shape cutting through the air through the trees. ~Definitely. I think we might have spooked it though. They can use detection magic apparently, and can sense magic like some adepts.~

~We must be glowing in the night like torches, then~ Pema says, hugging her jacket closer to her as they've stopped walking and the cold begins to creep closer. ~Unless you try Masking yourself? I can't do it, but perhaps if I stand back and you go ahead?~

The dark shape continues to circle in the sky gradually looping towards the trio on the ground. A flicker of inspiration emanates from Walker, almost meeting her message halfway. ~I think that might work! I'll scoot around, if you keep an eye on it. If it keeps heading your way try and keep your distance, I think it gets easier to find you the closer it is to you. That good for you?~

~I'll slip away then, maybe I'll fly up a tree or something and keep my binoculars at it. You know, like bird-watchers tend to do…~ Pema steps back, taking out her binoculars out of the bag again, heading down the path, looking up at suitable trees or cliffs to ascend to.

As Walker slips through the night, the owl continues to circle forwards, proving Pema's hunch correct. Its looping path continues to loosely track her location, even as Walker slips underneath it. As it reaches where the pair split up though, it halts, just circling in place.

~Don't think we're going to get a better chance,~ Walker sends, ~Going to have to drop the link to make this easier.~ His voice seems to recede as he says it, already at the far limit of the link's range.

Stepping away from the immediate vicinity of the owl and its nest, Pema seeks out a suitable tree to perch on. She closes her eyes, and begins to levitate, putting her feet down on the trunk of the tree as if running up its height, rather than floating freely. Eventually, she plops down on a big branch on the top of the tree, and pulls out her binoculars to spectate Walker's brave attempt to pick a feather.

As the link dissipates completely, Walker kicks off the ground and spirals up the indicated tree, quickly locating the nest. It takes a few moments of feverish searching, but he finally finds it: a perfect feather, unruffled and unbroken and a pearlescent white in colour.

Not a moment to soon either, as the owl heads back towards the trees with a screech. Flitting between the trees though, the elf seems to make it away clean, and despite some rather affronted noises from the bird it seems like they've made a clean getaway. It takes the elf a while casting around in astral space before he locates Pema's perch and flits up to settle next to her.

"All done!" he whispers triumphantly, holding the feather up like a trophy for her inspection before sending Vermillion one final message. »»Great work. Job done. Cheque's in the post. ^_^ ««

Pema doesn't seem surprised as Walker flies up and lands next to her atop the tree. "Good work," she says, then turns out to admire the vista. "And thanks for taking me out here, it's lovely. Hopefully we can have an excuse to head out of Denver again soon." she smiles, looking quite relaxed and at peace, unlike her normal tense self.

At the All Clear message, Vermillion in the trix nods her helmetted head once. She unhooks the datacable and stows her probe, and then she taps her heels together twice. The RCS thruster block on her back unfolds again, an improbably large rocket engine occupying the central section. It clicks, and then bursts into a plasma plume which sends her rocketing back along the path she took at hyper-light speeds until she lands back in her physical body with a jolt. She blinks, as her eyes adjust to real light, and then reaches up to jack out.

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