The team is woken the 2nd by another pack of circling cats. UB! launches a grenade in their direction, hoping to scare them off. The team decides to leave this site, and travels a bit further on. They then cover themselves in Tobias’ scent masking cream, and even convince K to strip out of his armor for the first time in months to do the same. Feeling stealthier, they fly on, and manage to get some sleep upon landing.
The next day, they see what appears (incongruously) to be a forest in the distance. KS confirms that that is where they are headed, following the diamong trail. He does a bit more astral scouting while K flies them there and discovers that there are 3 powerful astral signatures within the forest, all bearing some traces of the diamonds unique signatures. They decide to make for the closest of the three.
K touches down outside the forest, and they decide to walk in. K, Rooster, and KS are all feeling the effects of the low mana background count that they have been traveling through, and the rest of the team is feeling a little off as well. When they step into the woods (which begin abruptly- an immediate transition from Mars desert to full cedar forest) many of them are overcome by a sudden influx of magical energy. As opposed to feeling parched due to the lack of mana, they now feel they are nearly drowning in it- an equally disturbing sensation. TY refuses to enter the woods, and says he will stand watch at the edge. The team continues on.
Not being used to wilderness travel, they are attacked for reasons unknown by two large bears, who brutally maul R and KS into unconsciousness before being shredded by T and UB!‘s machine gun and flechette fire. After reviving their fallen comrades, they continue to follow KS’ trail. They eventually come to a small clearing, in the center of which is an old looking Middle Eastern style building. KS senses no life inside, and T notes that it looks oddly porous, but before they can investigate further, UB! takes the initiative and strides boldly forward towards the front door. He is only halfway across the clearing when he is rushed and enveloped by a huge swarm of bees issuing from the house’s pores. He turns to try and escape, but is ko’d by the poison after a few steps. The team watches in horror as his condition monitor shows he is entering anaphylactic shock.
T shoots some holes in the side of the house with his gauss rifle, and K launches a massive fireball inside, hoping to clear out any more unpleasant surprises. KS chucks a flashbang towards UB! to clear out some bees, with great success, while T scatters the rest with the backwash from his jetboots/hand stabilizers. K rushes down to assist UB! (who is near death), while KS enters the building. A fire rages inside, having scorched or destroyed most of the interior. However, a prominent chest sits mostly undamaged at the far side of the room. KS opens it, and catches a brief glimpse of a spread of diamons inside, which quickly begin multiplying. Sensing a trap, he quickly shuts the lid, and calls in K, who dispells it. They gather the diamonds, of which there are 13. KS senses that 3 of them are the ones he seeks, but that they are only part of the whole.
They decide to flee the forest, fearing for their lives, rather than chance another of the astrally powerful sites. Upon reaching the edge, UB! and R seem suddenly very reluctant to leave, and T actually turns and begins sprinting back into the forest. K manages to overtake him and haul him out, using his flying harness. He pulls R and UB! along as well, and the team heads back out after collecting TY. They do not tell him that there are 13 diamonds, fearing his superstitions. They fly as long as they can in the remainder of the day, and make camp.
Next: can they make good their escape?