"Independence is for the very few; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it even with the best right but without inner constraint proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring to the point of recklessness. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life brings with it in any case, not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes lonely, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing one like that comes to grief, this happens so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it nor sympathize. And he cannot go back any longer. Nor can he go back to the pity of men."
- Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Night passes. Or at least they guess it does. No one in the party wakes up dead or dismembered, and no one in the party has vanished. Not everyone could fit inside the tent, but those outside sleep close by, and everyone actually gets a decent rest.
They are awakened the next morning by a horn, or trumpet or something. It's very loud, and anyone on the ground feels it tremble. The sound of hooves, and then riders come through the trees (not literally). They appear to be carrying lances or spears. Fortunately, no one in the party is in the way of the small freight train that goes tearing through the woods just ahead of the riders. It's a five or six hundred pound boar. The riders are not interfered with as they go by in pursuit of dinner.
The party has food and water, packs up, and intend to continue along the path.
Robert: "Which way are we going?" Cena: "We follow the path." There is no path. Cena: "Aaron, which way do we go?" Robert: "Why should he care, he's got what he wanted." Aaron doesn't know which way to go. Robert: "I know, we'll check the book." After a few fruitless minutes... Hunter: "The book is not helpful, put away the book." Robert: "Fine!" He puts away the book. Hunter: "Are there maps in the book? Grid references? Anything?" Nope. Hunter: "Well, those riders came from somewhere. I suggest we either look for smoke, or head the direction they came from." There is smoke visible, so they can head that direction. Barlow: "If you really want ordinal directions, I can give you the ordinal direction to the center of the universe. If that would be helpful?" Hunter: "Not really. But thank you." Barlow: "You're welcome."
Hunter: "We either go towards the smoke, or we wander around until we run out of food and water and start eating each other, and looking at you, Ghaer, that is not an attractive option. I like my meat more lean." Aaron, Ted, and Ann decide to go towards the mountain, not towards the smoke. They want to move towards God and out of purgatory. Hunter: "Which god?" Aaron: "The One God." This goes back and forth for a few minutes, but it doesn't really matter, since Hunter wasn't really expecting a useful answer. Hunter: "Well kids, do you want to get closer to God, or go get Ming-Na and get the hell out of Dodge?" Robert: "Ask her, it's her mission." He indicates Cena. The Barlow is willing to wander with the main party, since they're "going some where interesting." That's an understatement. Robert: "So, what do you want to do, boss? We can go up the mountain in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, or try to find Ming-Na. What'll it be?" Cena: "We go looking for Ming-Na. Some one must have seen her." Hunter: "At what point do we call this mission a loss, if we can't find her? I don't want to spend the rest of my life here, and I want some sort of indication from you as to when we call it quits." Cena: "If we can't find signs of her, or someone who's seen her on this level, in what? 72 hours or so on this level, before moving on?" Hunter: "That's fine, but I was more interested in how long we were going to wait before pulling the plug on the op entirely." Cena: "I don't know. I'm open to suggestions." Hunter: "We've got how many weeks of travel time here, assuming we're there? How long are we going to be away from Regina? Even with a good rate of pay, if we start splitting it up time wise, it won't be long before we're getting less than guild minimum. I say a week or two, tops, and we get the hell out of here." Cena: "I think a week or two is being generous." Robert: "By my calculations, we've been gone from Regina for about five weeks." Cena: "It seems longer." Hunter: "I don't want to be gone too long, we might be missing a good war." Cena: "If we don't find any sign within a week, we're out of here." Hunter: "Okay, so, mountains or smoke?" Cena: "Smoke."
Cena's old drill instructor will be coming with her party. Warvia: "This is much better than where I was before." Hunter takes point, and Ghaer takes trail. Cena and Warvia will take care of the middle of the group. Pepita, since Hunter doesn't care, will go with Aaron. Hunter: "We don't have a patrol, we have a parade. All we need is a bunch of kids, and an elephant." The others go off toward the mountains. Hunter: "Well, maybe they'll get lucky." Ghaer: "You did." Hunter: "That wasn't luck, that was commerce. I don't believe in waiting around for luck."
A ways down forest, they find the kindly wood cutter. Cena to talk, Hunter to provide cover, from prone position. If Cena raises her right hand above her head, Hunter will take the man out. Cena walks towards the man, who has a small knife in his belt, an axe for chopping, and a small cart. Woodsman: "Hello." Cena: "Hello." The woodsman stops what he's doing, leaning on the axe. Cena: "I was wondering if you could help me. My friends and I are new here. Are there any villages nearby?" Woodsman: "There are several estates nearby, and a village that way." He points in the general direction of the smoke.
There are birds and squirrels, and rabbits in the woods, which makes Ghaer feel better. Hunter: <referring to the Barlow>: "He must be a relative of yours. He looks just like you, and he acts like you." This trip through purgatory sponsored by the Discovery Channel.
Woodsman: "There is an inn in the village." Cena: "Do work this area often?" Woodsman: "Yes, I've worked it my adult life." Cena: "We're looking for a relative who came before us. Her is name is Ming-Na." She's about to show him a picture, but the moment she mentions Ming-Na's name, he falls to the ground in front of her, hiding his face. Cena: That's never a good sign. "Sir? Are you all right?" Woodsman: "Yes." Cena: "You can get up now." Woodsman: "I didn't do it. I wasn't here when it happened." Cena: "When what happened?" Woodsman: "When the Jammers came." Cena: "The 'Jammers'?" Woodsman: "Yes. I wasn't here when they came. I saw the smoke but by the time I got here it was too late. Please don't kill me, I have five children to feed." He starts to cry. Cena: "I'm not going to kill you, I'm not going to hurt you. Just tell me what happened, and what this has to do with Ming-Na?" Woodsman: "The Jammers blew up the Garden. We were able to put out the fire, but it was damaged." Cena is able to find out that the Garden belongs to Ming-Na, and because Cena came from her "family", she must have been sent to kill him for not taking care of her estates. What the ???? Cena: "Who or what are Jammers? I'm not from a round here." W: "Some of them are machine-men, and they have flying monkeys, and they blow things up. In fact the only time I ever saw them they were yelling "Blow it up!", "Blow it up!"" The Jammers are apparently the ground glass in the local vaseline. They are really nasty and annoying, but no one knows where they hide out, since they move around, otherwise the four monarchs would have wiped them all out. Cena: "When did you last see Ming-Na?" Woodsman: "Yesterday. She was at the tea house in the ruined garden. I saw her from a distance, then I hid. I had gone there to make sure the fire had not rekindled, but she had lit a campfire." Cena: "Thank you very much for your information." Woodsman: "You're welcome, mistress." Cena: "Before I go, could you describe the flying monkeys?" Woodsman: "They're about four feet tall, and look like chimpanzees, and some of them have metal parts. The Jammers have all sorts of monkey things and wild men. They're not natural." Cena: "Thank you. I'm sure you are doing a fine job tending the forest."
Robert has been looking up. The sky looks pretty normal, but he can't see above about 1,000 feet (guesstimating), even with the spyglass. The clouds are moving, and look okay. Cena returns to the party. Cena: "We have a Ming-Na siting." Robert: "That's good news. So where is she?" Hunter: "Okay, what's the scoop?" Robert: "So what did you do to that guy to make him fall down? It didn't look like you hit him." Hunter: "Who cares? I smell blood. Or at least a payoff." Cena: "The woodsman saw her yesterday, in the garden, near by." Hunter: "Just the one of her? No bodyguards?" Ghaer: " He's a woodsman, not a merc." Hunter: "That's why I want to know." Cena relays what she has been told by the woodsman about Ming-Na and the Jammers. Hunter: "This must be where Satan's Slammers go if they've been good. But I don't get why they'd blow up some garden. Is tea like explosive or what?" Cena: "Well, I know there's a variety called gunpowder..." Hunter: "There you go. Well, that's good. We know there are local monarchs, and some sort of diplomatic contact and planning. Right, let's set up an ORP [Objective Rallying Point], stow our packs, and go on." They find some deadfalls, a few landmarks, and a burned out area. Hunter: "Or did you want to go just stomping into this victory garden thing?" Cena: "No." Hunter: "Well, she's probably not going to be too far away unless she has a ground car or some one to carry her around. They saw her yesterday, and she's an old, out of shape, 'should be dead long ago' woman, so she's probably within a couple of clicks." Ghaer: "There's a village nearby." Hunter: "Right, and that's probably the best bet for information." No one would say no to a night in a real bed, either. Hunter <to the Barlow>: "Oh, I suppose you're going to reach inside your pocket, and pull out a king-sized brass bed..." Robert: "Don't you read the fairie stories? The kids' books?" Hunter: "I'm an adult. I don't ....." Cena and Ghaer go forward, leaving Robert and Hunter to bitch at each other. Hunter: "If I hear gunfire, we're coming in, guns a-blazing." He sits down to sharpen his knife. Robert lays down and looks up, watching for a sun, or a moon, or stars. Or maybe one of those big, puffy clouds that look like animals.
The signs indicate that the fire was not hot enough to make the leap into the tree tops; it basically just burned off any underbrush and grasses. Ghaer: "I think we may be inside the moon." Lovely. They find what used to be a very nice little garden. There are still signs of turf, and flowers, and the like, and pits from either hundred pound bombs, or placed charges. Definitely not grenades though, something much bigger. The tea house is near the edge of the clearing. It had white frosted windows, which are mostly broken now, scorching damage to the side facing the garden, but not much structural damage. It appears the target was the garden, not the tea house, unless their aim was off. And there's an elderly Chinese woman on the porch, a large bald man, and two tigers. The tigers do not appear to be chained. Ghaer: "That's certainly her style."
Cena: "Maybe just one of us should approach." Ghaer: "Well, she's seen me before." Cena <Thinking to herself> "Why is it that I haven't heard this before now? Oh? Was this under good circumstances? Ghaer: "Umm, yes." Cena: "Will she be happy to see you?" Ghaer: "You never can tell." Cena: "Oh great." It's too late now, since Ming-Na and friends would have to be blind to not see them.
They approach, carefully, the woman and her retinue. The one awake tiger doesn't bother to pounce. But he could, just look at that tail swish. Ming-Na: "Would you like a cup of tea?" Cena: "Yes, thank you." The large bald man goes inside, and there's some thumping as he tries to get the sliding door to work [blast damaged], which takes a few tries. Ming-Na: "So, Ghaer, will you be joining us?" Ghaer: "Yes, I am honored." Ming-Na goes inside and sits at the table. Another servant comes out and drops off the tea, which Ming-Na pours. Ming-Na: "So, you've come a long way." Cena: "Yes we have. I must say you're looking very well for some one who should be dead." Ming-Na: "Well, yes, but people tend to underestimate your abilities when you become old . That can be a great weakness." Cena: "It never pays to underestimate the opposition. Your family was worried about you." Ming-Na laughs, for several minutes. Cena: "I'm glad I bring such joy to your life." Ming-Na: "I assume that since Ghaer is here, that Corina sent you." Cena: "Yes, Corina sent us." Ming-Na: "Well, she has some promise. Although she doesn't understand the way the universe works. She isn't ready to take over yet. Mostly the family worries that I won't die soon enough for them." Cena: "Well, I'd say that was a legitimate concern, looking at you. Your physician was sure you wouldn't survive this long." Ming-Na: "My physician is a Solsec spy." Cena: "So you haven't actually been taking the anagathics he's been giving you?" Ming-Na: "I've been taking the water. It's distilled water, he just thinks it's anagathics." Ghaer: "Is he one of Blaelok's creatures? Ming-Na: "I know he's SolSec, I don't know if he's Section 9. As a matter of fact, I would assume he's not." Ghaer: "Since he's been found out so easily?" Ming-Na: "More that he does not behave like Section 9. He doesn't seem to have their goals."
Ming-Na: "So, you want to know how a woman who is 400 years old can stay so young without anagathics and why I have come here, if not to make myself young again." Cena: "Those would all be good, since I've gone through hell to get here." Ming-Na: "When I started out with the family, the world wasn't hard to understand, or so I thought. There were the people with the power, and if you wanted the power, you had to bump off those people. Then you took over their operation, and tried to stop everybody else from bumping you off. In other words, all that mattered was what you did, whether you were smart enough, and whether you had the operation required to get things done on the street.
"I found out that nothing like that matters at all. The only thing that matters is how many of these feng shui sites you control. If your feng shui sites are the right kind of sites in the right kind of places, the chi of the universe will flow to you, and things will go your way. The guys you want to bump off will easily fall beneath your bullets. Their assassins will always fail to smoke you. The cops you want to bribe will be honored and delighted to kiss your glorious behind. No one will ever beat the odds at your gambling houses. All of your Little Brothers will be loyal to you. Money will stick to you like it was glued there. All because of the feng shui sites. They're the only thing that you've got to protect; they'll drop everything else into place for you.
"But if you lose a site, look out. That means your chi flow is screwed up. And screwed up chi means things will start to go wrong for you and good for whoever grabbed your site. Which means that it will be harder for you to defend your remaining sites. So it's like a snowball l effect: the more sites you lose the more vulnerable you become. Which means on slip up in the feng shui protection department and you can go from pulling the strings of the universe to sitting at the bottom of the universe's garbage heap."
Cena, who figures if all this is happening when she's not drinking, then it's bloody well time to start, pours whiskey into her tea, offering it to Ming-Na (who accepts some in her tea) and Ghaer (who declines). Ming-Na: "This is the small reason I'm here <motioning to the garden>. It's a small site... it caused a ripple in my chi. If a larger site is destroyed, my family could fall, the megacorp could fall, the Imperium could fall. This triad of planets is a major feng shui site...... Some one damaged Ruie, it damaged the flow. That's why the Sixth Frontier War happened.... That's why the Capital ship is there....If the Zhodani find out,.....and that would be bad for business."
Ming-Na <to Ghaer>: "You're a transformed creature. Are you a member of the Lodge?" [The LODGE???] Ghaer: "I'm still looking for my place." Cena: "Okay, this a major feng shui site, so what's with the Nine Circles of Hell crap?" Ming-Na: "That's just part of the netherworld here. Time doesn't pass the same way inside here, as outside. A major feng shui site like this draws people. I'm guessing that whoever set up the gates at this site, didn't want a large influx of people into the netherworld, so they created the Inferno." Ming-Na <returning her attention to Ghaer>: "He's a secret warrior, he's been through the gates before. You remember it, don't you?" Ghaer: "Yes, I do." Ming-Na: "You remember what things were before? When the world changed, but no one but you noticed?" Ghaer: "Time is a river, to be changed." Ming-Na: "I thought so." Ghaer: "This site we're at. Who do the Jammers fall to? Who wants them? Who controls them?" Ming-Na: "The leader of the Jammers is a SolSec creature, a cyborg ape named the Battlechimp Potempkin. And he has a sidekick, named Furious George. <Cena pours more whiskey into her tea> The Jammers are not a danger. They are anarchists, an annoyance. What is a danger is if some one in power learns what these planets are. This part of the Netherworld could serve as a gateway. There are portals to a different place or time." She's seen a place where there was a large pile of giant insectoid creatures [Corathi], and at the top of the pile was a the body of a female warrior encased in what appeared to be lucite. "Someone must protect these gateway to prevent evil things from coming into this space and time." She wants some one younger to bind themselves to the site. In return for becoming attuned to it, and becoming the sites protector, that person would also be attuned to the flow of chi from the site. This chi flow brings knowledge, wisdom, riches, power, etc. Ming-Na is looking for volunteers to become attuned to the major site of Ruie/Grant/0808. Cena decides the rest of the party needs to hear this from the source, because there is no way she's going to try to pass on this story, so she goes off to get them. Ghaer continues to converse with Ming-Na at the tea house. He learns that Ming-Na has known about these sites for hundreds of years.
Cena returns to Hunter and Robert's location. Hunter: "It's about damn time." Robert: "So? Hunter: "What's left of the tea house? Any sign of where to look for Ming-Na?" Cena: "She's there." Hunter: "You found her body?" Cena: "Yes. It's having tea with Ghaer right now." Hunter: "Yahoo! [As if it's ever just that easy in our games!] Hey Bob - grab your squeeze, we're moving out!" They go to the tea house.
Ghaer: "You need to have a tie to the Netherworld? To understand this place, to control it?" Ming-Na: "You don't really need to understand it. Physical possession of the site gives you some benefits, being attuned to it brings more....."
As the others arrive they overhear from Ming-Na: "... Astridi is one of them." Oh bloody hell; it figures. Cena: "Madame Ling? My name is Cena Fitzpatrick. This is Captain Hunter, Robert Shelzie, Ariana Smith, and Rob (the Barlow). Ted the Titan went on with the others, in search of God. I have such a headache." She sits down. Ghaer: "Is this an enclosed ship?" Ming-Na: "Not as such. It is the netherworld." Ghaer: "How do we get back?" Ming-Na: "We can make a gate." Hunter: <clearly in a taunting tone of voice> "I betcha you can't. I just came in on the end of this, but yeah, you can just snap your fingers and a doorway will just appear, back to our ship. Right." Ming-Na: "Yes and no." Hunter: "Aha! You can't do it, can you? Thought so." Ming-Na: "I can open a gate, to where you want to go, to a planet, but not a ship. Or perhaps I will just feed you to the cats." Cena: "Uh, no, I sort of signed for him." Ghaer: "She's right. And his new wife would be very unhappy if we came back without him." Robert: "Where exactly are we?" Ming-Na: "In the netherworld." Robert: "No no no." Ming-Na: "Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to. I'm old, and I don't have an infinite amount of time." This is followed by much taunting, threats to send Hunter somewhere he deserves to go, rather than where he wants to go; the usual.
Ming-Na: "Before I leave, I need to take care of the Jammers first, lest they damage more of my sites." Hunter: "Do you know where they are? If so, point us in the right direction, we'll kick their ass, then we can all go home, right?" Ming-Na: "The offer I made to your compatriots before your arrival applies to any of you." Hunter: "Hey, you know what would be even more useful? Could you open a gate to my gun safe?" Ming-Na: "No. I can't open a gate to some place as small as a gun safe. But if you need weapons to attack the Jammers I can supply some. Now back to the real offer: this place is a feng shui site. Whoever is attuned to this site will feel it if something goes wrong with it. If they keep it safe, things will go well.... families become prosperous, business flourishes,.... the more feng shui sites you control, the more powerful you are." Robert: "What do these places do?" Ming-Na: "They channel the chi of the universe." Ghaer: "They're acupressure points of the universe." Hunter: "Ghaer, I can't believe you're going along with this. I think the old lady's been out in the sun too long. I say we grab her and get out of here." Ming-Na: "I won't leave until I've finished with the Jammers here in the netherworld." Hunter: "The Jammers? I'm not getting paid to take care of the Jammers. If someone pays me to take care of the Jammers, then we'll talk." Ming-Na: "How much will it take, for you to take care of the jammers? I've offered you the power of the universe!" Hunter: "What the fuck do I need some mystical power for? I don't even believe in that shit. This has nothing to do with my life." Ming-Na: "This triangle of space is a feng shui site. If it should fall into the wrong hands, such as those of the Zhodani, or perhaps the Solomani - who have recently been expending much effort in this section of space searching for such a site, things would go poorly for the Imperium." Robert: "I don't understand." Ming-Na <losing patience>: "There are things that you can't see in the universe. But just because you can't see them with your eyes doesn't mean they don't exist."
The party requests a private discussion prior to making a decision. Ming-Na agrees and the party retires to the destroyed garden outside. They decide that the fastest way of getting this over with is to go along with Ming-Na's desire to slam the jammers. They decide that the safest form of payment from Ming-Na is currency, or at least something solely monetary. Favors and such have a way of leading to a long term relationship. Hunter is certain that he doesn't want those kind of ties to any megacorp CEO. They return and announce that they are willing to take on the Jammers, BUT.
Hunter: "I am not going after your 'Jammers' for some unseen power crap." Ming-Na: "Well, would you take a personal cheque?" <pause> Hunter: "Drawn on a Ling Standard account?" Ming-Na: "Yes." Hunter: "You're on." Ming-Na: "Just tell me how much you want."
Hunter: "Exactly what kind of numbers are we looking at going up against here?" Ming-Na: "In the past the Jammers have fielded raiding parties as large as 40 to 50, armed with technology up to TL 13." Hunter: "We're going to need some serious equipment if you want me to take care of these people. We're going to need to go shopping." Ming-Na <waving her arms>: "Well, there aren't a lot of shops here. We can get you proper equipment at the castle though." Hunter: "I don't mind signing up for a regular op, but I am not signing up for a SuSAG job." Ming-Na explains that the Jammers are neither SuSAG or SolSec, they were just built by someone like them. And as far as the numerical odds go, Ming-Na does have some retainers, and they'll help. Ming-Na: "The problem up to now has been locating the Jammers, not that we don't have the ability to destroy them. However, they got a little sloppy during this last raid, and so we think we know where they are currently based in the netherworld."
Robert <on his own train of thought>: "If you've known where this planet is for some time, why did The Imperial Navy shoot you down?" Ming-Na: "They didn't know who I was. It's not only impolite to throw your weight around, it's frequently a bad tactical decision as well. It is an interdicted world. Also, I believe my ship fired first." Hunter: "But you're Ming-Na Ling - the head of a very powerful megacorp." Ming-Na: "I wasn't the one pushing the buttons. The Navy was, you'll have to ask them. Anyway, as far as the Jammers, we can get you weapons." Hunter: "I'm more worried about ammo." Ming-Na: "We can get you ammo." Hunter: "I thought this was a low tech world?" Ming-Na: "This is the Netherworld! You know, I could just lift a finger and one of those tigers would have a very fine dinner this evening. It does get expensive feeding them horsemeat you know." Hunter: "You know you're just reinforcing all the negative things they say in the tri-dees about how mean and nasty those megacorp types are. If we're done seeing who has the biggest cojones, I'll grant that you've got a pair you need to roll around in a wheelbarrow. I don't know whose they are, but ... Shall we get some equipment lined up? And then we'll discuss my fees, and my associates' fees." Ming-Na: "Now; we'll discuss your fee now. I'm not letting you into my castle unless you're an employee, an ally, or a retainer." Hunter won't go for the "retainer" thing, he thinks that sounds too much like 'servant'. "Hired killer" he can accept.
Robert is still trying to figure out exactly what's up with the feng shui sites, and how they relate to the Imperium and the Zhodani. Ming-Na tries to explain again that there are many sites, some small, some large, and the triangle of these planets is a really big one. Robert is concerned that the sites aren't being used for the betterment of the Imperium. Robert repeatedly brings up "what happens if you die? What happens to the power?" Ming-Na: "Nothing happens if I die. The capital ship is here to restore the balance to the three planets that was disrupted when Ruie was damaged." He's a pilot. Anything he can't fly, he has to figure out in a way that makes sense to him.
Ming-Na has been here, in the Netherworld, for three days. However, time is not linear between the two sections of space. The three days here, have been almost 6 weeks in "real" time. That's how she got to be four hundred years old. Cena: "Question. What exactly constitutes the 'Netherworld'? The whole planet?" Ming-Na: "No. Just the section after you passed through the gates. Apparently for your group, that would be when you entered the Inferno, and again when you left the Inferno and entered this space." Cena: " Uh oh. That means that how much time at him has elapsed since we entered the netherworld?" Ming-Na: "Well, the worst case scenario is you come back and a hundred years have passed and everyone you know is dead." Cena: "How about the best case scenario?" Ming-Na: "The best case scenario is you arrive a day and a half after you've left. It's not linear, you can't predict the time passage from how long you're down here." Hunter: <referring to the 3 day time passage> "I like the last one. Can you arrange it so that's what happens? If you can't, lie to me."
Ming-Na thinks that her scouts have found where the jammers are now, and if enough power is brought to bear, the ones who escape will take off and not be a problem for a while. Ming-Na: "Just like rats." Hunter: "you need an exterminator then." Robert: "What brings them out?" Ming-Na: "We don't really know. What really gets them going are the feng shui sites themselves. They are out to destroy them all. Mostly by blowing them up." Cena: "How can they tell where they are?" Ming-Na: "They use geomancers, people who can tell, who understand the shapes, positions and chi flow." Ghaer: "Can this site be rebuilt?" Ming-Na: "Yes. This one will take time. All the features that made it a feng shui site have been defaced." Ghaer: "How long would it take?" Ming-Na: "About 25 years." Okay, that's not an option for bait, what with that dog years conversion issue and all. Much discussion, and Hunter wants to go somewhere to talk in private. Ming-Na: "Ghaer, you're a transformed animal." Ghaer: "I'm a transformed sophont." Ming-Na: "Yes. If you stay in the Netherworld, the transformation process will reverse itself. But if you are linked to the chi, and something happens to change the flow, the current transformation process will accelerate. You will become more like the Barlow."
At the request of the party, Ming-Na's people are trying to get her air raft from the 0808 planet surface. They will have to position a gate, so that her air raft can be retrieved from the surface. The decision is made to ask for money. [The problem is not that they don''t have any imagination, it is that they have too much imagination when it comes to forms of payment. And it always pays to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible when dealing with a megacorp.] Hunter: "Flying monkeys pretty much bring the cost up. Transport, and 100K per. Of course if we're killed, and the mission is a complete failure, then you don't have to pay anything." Robert: "But you do have to notify our next of kin. Eventually." Hunter: "Right. And you did say that you could get us back to wherever we wanted, planet wise, right?" Ming-Na: "Correct. Within reason." Hunter: "So, we'll just pretend you really can do that, or that you can buy a lot of high passages." Ming-Na goes along with the deal.
The one concern is the ship is orbit, since the party has stuff on board, and Bob and Ariana signed for it. Hunter isn't too worried until Cena reminds him that his Pikchron watch is on board. Hunter asks, and Ming-Na agrees to replace it for him. The final decision about how to go about getting the ship will be made later, if any of the party survives. Ariana is the best candidate (at least the most enthusiastic) for being linked to the feng shui site, since it might help her get rid of the bad guys that have thrown her and her family out of power. That's what Ariana and Robert ask for as payment for the Jammer mission.
The air raft arrives. Several large guns (.30 caliber machine guns) will be set up in the prow, and some grenades in Mason jars are assembled. Weapons and armor is obtained, as is advanced medical equipment - finally! Hunter: "Uh, Ghaer? No offense, but that Regen you brought? Let's leave that here, okay?"
In our next exciting adventure, it's time to meet the Jammers.