The crew debates how to handle this new situation as the chief moves off to deal with chief things. Wyoming takes Ug to see the Glitterboy in the back of the truck. He is duly impressed. She takes the opportunity to ask Ug what the tribe intends to do with the dragon once it’s hatched. He says it will be a part of the tribe. They seem to be confident that they will have no trouble controlling it.
Argyle decides that he and Wyoming will meet with these other groups, while the rest of the crew stays out of sight.
Wyoming approaches a female of the tribe and asks if she can take a closer look at the ostrasaurs. The language gap is an obstacle, but not insurmountable, and she receives permission. She approaches some Simvan who are wrangling a group of the creatures. She asks the leader she if could ride one. He’s a little skeptical, but allows it. One of the ostrasaurs is brought over, and she mounts up, and after a surprisingly short time, she’s able to get it to trot around, and even manages to show up some of the younger riders-in-training. She then sends it into a full gallop.
Puck decides he wants to run recon to make sure the camp isn’t being watched. He approaches what he correctly guesses is a group of scouts, and asks to join them. While they’re out, he’s able to observe them, and realizes they’re all at least somewhat psionic, which explains the affinity with all the animals to a certain degree.
A group of Simvan nervously approach Argyle and Mason. They ask Argyle if Mason is his gear. Argyle explains that Mason is his friend. A philosophical discussion ensues regarding the nature of Mason’s continued existence in the face of the will of the divine.
There’s a meal later on, and Wyoming can see Ug doing what could be described as his day job. Members of the tribe come to him one at a time and he dispenses wisdom and blessings.
There’s some discussion of the fact that at least one of the factions that approached them were able to fly. From their descriptions, Wyoming realizes they’re talking about SAMAS, or something similar.
The next morning the crew scouts out the location, which Ug refers to as Big Rock, well before the meeting time. Argyle is riding his bike. Wyoming has borrowed an ostrasaur, and Mason & Puck are riding with Ug on Strong. Sanchez, Loyal, and Johnny stay with the truck at the camp, so as to not give away its existence. Big Rock is aptly named. It is also covered in carvings and paintings from various Simvan tribes. Puck scans for arcana, and finds nothing out of the ordinary going on. He and Mason find cover a short distance away from the site.
Argyle, Wyoming, and Ug are waiting at Big Rock when the opposing contingent arrives from the west. The first thing they see is an NGV7 Hunter, a 16 foot tall robot armor. It stomps in and comes to a halt about 350 yards away from the site. It’s followed by a tank-like vehicle, and a flying figure, which is not a SAMAS, but a heavier winged power armor. Their odd markings (it starts with Deadboy colors, but there’s stripes of camouflage patterns) prompt Wyoming to speculate that they’re mercenaries, possibly ex-Coalition. Several figures exit and approach the site. Their uniforms are styled in the same patterns as their vehicles.
The leader, the one wearing the power armor, walks up and introduces himself as Captain Anderson.
They debate the merits of allowing the Simvan tribe to keep the egg and raise the dragon vs. destroying the egg now rather than face the certainty of having to fight a fully grown dragon in the near future.
The crew proposes the possibility of trading the egg for something that will provide a similar measure of protection for the Simvan, such as the robot armor. Anderson discusses it with his psi-stalker second in command, and they seem open to the idea.
Argyle agrees to bring the matter to the chief to see if he’ll go for it.