Dorian Walker wasn't modest. He knew he was one of the best pilots in the galaxy. But as he dangled over a bottomless crevasse in the middle of an ice storm and struggled to keep his grip, he also knew the crash was his fault. He'd been careless in his hurry to reach Arcterra. When the Caretaker had notified everyone of his discovery - that AI didn't play favorites - Walker swore he'd be the first offworlder to set foot there. As he fired off the automated distress signal, he hoped he wouldn't be the last.
It was only a few moments before an answering "ping" arrived, and for the thousandth time he thanked the strength of his mechanical arm for keeping him in place until help arrived. "I don't know how they managed it so quick," he said to himself, "But I ain't complainin'." As a shadow fell across his face, he looked up into the face of his rescuer.
"Hullo, old man," said Artemis Zin, extending her hand. "In a bit of bother?"
"Figured you'd find out about this place, Lady Zin," he growled. "And seeing's how I'm in a tight spot..."
"I believe the expression is 'beggars can't be choosers,'" Zin replied. "But you'll owe me one."
Walker asked, "One what?"
"Oh, I'll think of something," the aristocratic adventurer said. "Now take my haAAA!"
Walker didn't catch the rest of what Lady Zin said. Not over the roar of the huge, fierce-looking wyrm-thing that had just erupted from the ice behind her. But when the explosion of ice and rock pitched her forward, he did manage to catch Lady Zin herself.
"I can't hold on for long," Walker shouted. "Got a weapon? Something you can reach with your good hand?"
Zin nodded toward her belt, from which hung a heavy pistol. Careful not to release her grip on Walker's hand, she drew it from its holster as the wyrm drew back to strike at them like a snake. Its maw opened as it barreled down toward them, and Zin fired a single shot which struck the beast squarely in the back of its throat. It was not a killshot, but the pain was just enough to make the wyrm lurch to one side, plummeting into the crevasse head-first but missing the dangling explorers completely. After several seconds, there was a massive thump as the beast struck bottom.
"Wonder if it survived that," Walker said.
"I don't care to find out," said Lady Zin. "And by the way, simply not dropping me does not make us even. You still owe me one."
"Yeah, well I can still drop you," Walker muttered, but hauled them over the edge of the ice.
As soon as it had begun, the storm blew on to the east, revealing a titanic tower of stone and metal bearing unmistakable Osun architecture. Together, they trudged toward the open pavilion at the tower's base. There, the Caretaker waited. He smiled at them as he crossed his virtual arms.
"There you are," he sniffed. "Whatever took you so long?"