Your princess is in another castle


We watched Haley disappear back toward the basecamp with Daniel, then busied ourselves planning what the hell we were going to do next. Seemed like the obvious objective was the tower, but we didn’t really have a plan for what we were going to do when we got there. Other than rescue Margaret, anyway. It was only about an hour’s hike to the tower from where the hovercraft-shaped lump of uselessness sat, but we figured that would be enough time to think of something. Besides, no plan ever survives contact with reality. We loaded ourselves up with the fresh gear that Mike brought, and set out to rescue the princess.

We made it to the tower undetected and settled in to observe before making a move. There were a bunch of clockwork bots milling around one of the corner struts, along with a floaty camera sphere that appeared to be providing some kind of direction. The three other corners of the tower were unattended, as was the elevator shaft in the middle of the tower’s base. We figured we could probably make it through the small buildings below the tower unobserved, and ride the elevator up the shaft. Solveig had a thoughtful expression as we snuck past the buildings (which appeared to be souvenir stalls for some reason?) and announced before we got far that she thought she might be able to do something about the bots.

Apparently this something was similar to the way she drove the hovercraft. Her eyes went distant for a moment, then she gasped. “I can see what they see,” she exclaimed triumphantly. “But there’s too many. I can manage maybe five or six at a time.” I have a funny feeling it’s closer to three or four, but I’m not going to quibble, it’s still more than any of us can do. Solveig settled on watching the camera bots, and we made it almost to the elevator before anything went wrong…

Surprisingly, things went wrong for someone else for a change. One of clockwork bots ventured too far up the strut of the tower, and suddenly the mechanical half-angel Daniel had mentioned appeared out of nowhere and destroyed it. Not just stealth-type appearing, either. This was the kind of thing that would have a “BAMF!” sound effect in a comic book. The remains of the bot and the load it was carrying crashed back to the ground, landing with an almighty boom and kicking up an enormous cloud of dust. We took this as our chance to dash to the elevator and move, even though the impact had also wiped out the camera bot and left the others brainless. We still had the angel to deal with.

As we ascended Solveig tried her Jedi Mind tricks on the angel, despite the entire team protesting. We didn’t want to tip her off that we were coming, or reveal ourselves, or whatever - she seemed a lot smarter than the bots, and definitely didn’t like them, but this didn’t make her friendly. Solveig broke off the connection, reporting confusion (not sure who was confused) and the words “She. She. She.” on continuous loop. This felt awfully familiar for some reason.

The elevator came out at a large enclosed viewing area. This seemed like a likely place to keep a prisoner, so we stopped to check it out. Hayden was all for just walking in the front door, but Hilde one-upped him by suggesting we charge instead. Mike put that idea to rest though, suggesting that it’s safest to come down from above if at all possible. Solveig and I agreed, and so we climbed up onto the roof.

The roof was full of holes, and we could clearly see Margaret chained to a wall, with the angel hovering in front of her. We took a moment to figure out how we were going to do this, because most of us didn’t really want to fight something that could apparently bamf out of the way at a moment’s notice. Eventually we settled on a distraction followed by a grab and run rescue. I managed to convince Solveig to let me use the claymore we liberated from Daniel’s building, Hilde and I were going to set it off on the far side of the platform then dash to the elevator. The others were going to unchain Margaret and then do the same.

It actually almost worked the way we had hoped!

Hayden had had the presence of mind to close the door behind them after their mad dash. This was enough to confuse the angel for a moment, but not long enough. She bamfed over to the elevator and started looking for us, and we weren’t doing a real good job of hiding… but then Mike decided to throw even that little bit of hiding away. He leapt in an attempt to chain the angel to the wall, missed by an enormous margin, and basically showed the angel exactly where we all were.

The angel stuck her head into the elevator and saw everyone. She wasn’t immediately hostile which was a relief, but seemed determined to get Margaret back. She kept pointing and saying “she.” Hilde tried to communicate with her using monosyllables, and then it hit me. The radio that we rebuilt repeated the number four until it blew up. Solveig heard the word “she” repeated when she connected with the angel. We’re in a replica of Tokyo Tower made out of smaller Tokyo Towers. “Shi” is Japanese for four. Maybe the angel isn’t saying “she” after all of this!

I called down from the top of the elevator for someone to try communicating in Japanese with it, and Solveig stepped in. She scratched something in kanji into the dust in front of the angel, and the angel responded in kind. Their brief dusty conversation ended with the angel writing “broken”, and Solveig answering “accompany” and “repair”. Next thing we knew, the angel had wrapped itself around Solveig in an enormous hug.

We headed back to the hovercraft with our new friend in tow. We arrived just as a repair team from SELF did - Haley had made it back to base safely and pointed them in our direction. I suggested to the team that they should wait a few moments while I went on ahead and warned the newcomers about the angel. We got the thumbs up, so I motioned for the others to head over. Solveig and Lin spoke briefly about getting the hovercraft up and running well enough to get it home, then we all gathered around the angel to take a closer look at her… injuries.

Hilde looked on awkwardly. Hayden very helpfully suggested we could “use some wire”. Solveig and Mike were actually useful though, and soon we had repaired the angel’s circuitry and patched up the crack in her skull as best we could. Turns out we did a pretty good job. The change in the angel was immediately obvious - the first thing she did was introduce herself in flawless Japanese. Shi (that’s her name) quickly picked up enough English to converse with everyone, apparently just by listening as Solveig and I did running translations.

Lin made the decision to bring Shi back to SELF, and keep her under observation in quarantine for a while. We relayed this information to her, and she seemed quite happy with this idea. On the way back to base (in our jeep-drawn hoverchariot!) Shi told us about herself and answered a heap of our questions. I was a little distracted though; now that I had time to just think I kept returning to the fact that now I’ve found someone new to get mistaken for. The only thing from Shi’s info-dump that really stuck was the portal coordinates for “the bazaar” - apparently the source of the clockwork bots. I would be surprised if this wasn’t the next place this motley crew ends up.