Initiate Alpha Sequence

A Metamorphosis Alpha® play-by-post adventure run by supreme_arbiter

Chapter 1: Cloned!

supreme_arbiter

053 RE-ESTABLISH SHIPLINK
.........-STATUS INTERFACE
055 SCAN PROGRAM COMPLETE.
057 INITIATE PROGRAM:
.........-CODE NAME "CLONE BANK ALPHA"
061 RUN SEQUENCE ALPHA
063 ACTUATE

GM

McLimore: "An Alternate Beginning Sequence for Metamorphosis Alpha"

In a special hidden section of the lost starship Warden, an engineering robot discovers a minor cable break. Drawing a small torch from its built-in tool kit, the necessary repair is soon made. This circuitry interruption---undiscovered and untended for many, many years---is now closed, and a special computer signal sent long ago finally reaches its destination. Relays funnel the signal to a special computer unit, which is activated. A special genetic laboratory hums to life.

Immediately, micro-miniature manipulators withdraw samples of human tissue from a freezer storage compartment. Unnoticed by the electronic controlling device is a cracked and damaged radioactive power capsule nearby which contaminates some of the withdrawn tissue cultures. The quick-frozen cells are moved to tanks of a special growth medium and are electrically stimulated. The cells begin to multiply, rapidly....

Weeks later, the tanks hold full-grown adult human bodies. Some appear normal, while others have strange deformities and mutations induced by the unexpected dose of radiation. All are limp, unmoving, devoid of intelligence and identity.

Once again, micromanipulators move in, this time to attach wires and sensor strips to the foreheads of the newly-grown clones. In a matter of days, computer tapes full of general human knowledge and specific ship-related skills are played directly into the clones' brain synapses. But again, old computer malfunctions and worn-out circuitry combine to leave large gaps in the intended programming of the new potential crew members. There will be unfortunate---perhaps eventually tragic---lapses in their "memories" of the ship and its functions.

Thankfully, the all important final tape does play into the heads of the clones, explaining their mission. That mission is of the utmost importance to the hundreds of thousands of people in the ship:

"Program Clone Bank Alpha is activated only in the case of extreme danger or damage, causing breakdown of the chain of command of the ship. Upon activation, tissue samples are processed into clones of the ship's personnel, who are then programmed with the technical and general data necessary for operation of the ship. The clone bank computer terminals are to provide equipment and authorization to the clones, allowing them to reestablish chain of command and prevent disaster."

You are one of these clones, charged with the task of rescuing the starship from disaster. But computer malfunctions have left you without the special equipment and weapons you need to master the situation. What equipment you do not carry you must manufacture yourself from materials available in the clone bank complex. Some of your team are not even totally human, possessing strange mutant abilities and defects. Worst of all, there are large holes in your memories. The ship's equipment seems strange to you, and you are not sure how to operate all of it. You remember almost nothing of the structure of the ship itself---not even where this clone bank is located or how to find the important areas of the ship. The aged and broken-down computers in the clone bank complex yield no information of value.

Still, you and your party have a job to do. You must leave the clone bank, and wander the ship, gathering information, and putting what skills you have to work. But it may already be too late. The disaster that caused the loss of command in the ship was long ago, and what remains is strange, savage and often deadly. You are entering an unknown land....

OOC

Cloned characters can also be cloned again.

The excerpt is from Guy W. McLimore, Jr.'s article in issue 6 of Dragon Magazine.

[Both this game and its prequel assume a modern version of this introduction: clone information (the mnemo-genetic imprint) is stored digitally, but this digital storage is equally susceptible to the ionizing damage caused by Warden's radiation incident. --ed.]


supreme_arbiter

12:00 RE-ESTABLISH SURVEILLANCE-LINK
.........-STATUS TWO INDIVIDUALS
12:10 SCAN CLONE BANK POD ROOM
12:16 INITIATE PROGRAM:
.........-TERMINATE AND RE-CLONE
12:23 SUBJECTS IN MOTION
12:25 ACTUATE

GM

Having only just met one another moments ago, you (Chelydra and Zhaxier) stand together in the clone bank pod room. When you climbed out of your pods, you found a lower drawer containing all of the items you now have (clothes, weapons)---all things to which you, for some reason, feel a personal attachment which you can't really explain. The room itself is not much over fifty feet wide but is over five hundred feet long in either direction from where the two of you are standing. Not counting the exact number, you guess this room could hold over two thousand clone bank pods.

Confusing memories and images fill both of your heads as the two of you stand together as if waiting for someone to arrive and tell you what to do next. If there were such a person/creature or robot to do so, they fail to arrive. Both of you have an empty feeling, a feeling that there are many more things about yourself yet to be discovered. Yes, you remember your names, and the things you can do, but there are many other things you can't remember. Like putting names with images and the faces that you see in your mind, like where you are from, who you really are, and why do you look the way you do.

A beeping noise startles you, causing you to spin around to see both of your pod lids, apparently on a timing mechanism, suddenly closing by themselves. At the same time, to your right at the far end of the room (almost 500 feet away), a door opens and a large metallic robot-like creature with four arms (each holding something) and moving on rubber tracks, starts heading your direction. It approaches at a normal walking pace.

Looking to your left (almost 500 feet away), you see another door. What do you do? Wait for the robot, or flee before it arrives? The robot continues approaching almost methodically.


zhaxier

Zhaxier

Zhaxier, dazed, looks at the clothes from the lower drawer of his pod, feeling the urge to put them on. He laughs inwardly. The genetic engineers thought of everything. "Even gave me the human aversion to public nakedness," he thinks. It is clear that he is a clone. This is the cloning lab after all, and he just climbed out of a tube.

Something's not quite right, though. In an emergency, such as this had to be, all the crew's clones should have been activated. That meant the "original" him was probably dead. As well as one female crewmate in particular.... Blast it! Who is she? And who was this turtle man next to him, and why did he come out like that?

His skin feels like it will crawl off him at any moment, and he is filled with fear. If this guy is mutated, odds are that his own body is screwed up too. The sight of the robot startles him, and suddenly he can't find his arms. "What the...." Several seconds pass before he confirms by touch that his arms are still there. They're not quite invisible either, but constantly shifting to share the visual characteristics of the background. In fact, his entire body is doing it. "Whoa!"

When he calms down, his arms snap instantly into view. "This ain't right, but it rocks major duds!" The thought occurs to him that staying naked might have its advantages, especially with so many things gone awry, so he puts on only his black boxers.

Chelydra, the turtle man, has a shotgun in his drawer, but in his own drawer, he sees only a uniform and this odd plastic card that seems vaguely familiar. He pockets the card and awaits the robot's arrival warily.


blaen_495

Chelydra

Chelydra hauls his unfamiliarly bulky body out of his pod, blinking as he does so at the sight of scales and claws. What happened? The clone sequence program must have run, so he's a clone. But whose? His mind is fuzzy, but it comes up with the name Chelydra Serpentina, but that doesn't quite seem right.

Looking in the pod drawer, he finds a uniform with a security patch (soon discarded as hopelessly the wrong size), some web gear, and an old friend. The shotgun just feels right in his hands. It is a comfort to him now as he ponders what sort of disaster could have befallen the ship to require bringing him back as this butt-ugly, armour-plated behemoth.

When the door opens, a combination of programmed training and primordial reflexes snap into action and he automatically assumes a position of cover behind the pod.

Warily, he tracks the advance of the metallic intruder.


gene_queen_supreme

Nike Thomason

Not being one to enjoy waking up in the morning, no matter what the circumstance, it irritates me even more that I cannot exactly recall what I'm doing here. That being said, seeing everyone naked is interesting, to say the least, and I'm fairly certain that whatever I drank to cause me to feel so rotten will wear off soon. In any case, I have the nagging feeling that something is wrong.


supreme_arbiter

12:26 SCAN CLONE BANK POD ROOM
12:28 ACTUATE
12:30 RE-ESTABLISH SURVEILLANCE-LINK
.........-STATUS THREE INDIVIDUALS
12:32 SUBJECTS IDLE
12:34 INITIATE PROGRAM:
.........-FOOD RECOVERY
12:34 INITIATE PROGRAM:
.........-TERMINATE AND RE-CLONE

GM

Six pods down (about 20 feet) from where Zhaxier stands waiting submissively and where Chelydra hides lurking behind a pod (in the opposite direction of the approaching robot), a pure strain human female climbs naked out of the clone bank pod. Like you did before her, she looks in the pod drawer, finds her clothes and equipment and quickly dresses, not quite sure if she had too much to drink the night before and ended up in the wrong place.

The large metallic robot-like creature with four arms (each holding something) and moving on rubber tracks, continues heading in your direction at a normal walking pace. At 250 feet away, you can clearly see the robot carries a small pistol in one appendage, a needle injector in another (an item used to give shots). One arm is fitted with a meat-cutting saw (with a wicked-looking rotating blade). The fourth appendage is a flexible hand. It holds a large cloth bag.

The room itself is not much over fifty feet wide but is over five hundred feet long in either direction from where all of you are standing. Not counting the exact number, you guess this room could hold over two thousand clone bank pods. Light emanates from the ceiling, illuminating the entire room from end to the end. The walls are made of slick silver metal. A small desk with a computer built into it can be seen at either end of the long room to the right side of the door.

A camera (one of 50) across the room up next to the ceiling makes a humming noise as it slowly turns to follow your moves, almost as if to view what is happening.

Everyone has one action before the robot makes its way to you. You can stand and wait or turn and flee, or do something else. Please state what you are doing in your next action.


gene_queen_supreme

Nike

"I've been cloned?" Nike thinks, recognizing the cloning bay. The memory gaps would make a little more sense if she has indeed been cloned. "Either that, or I did a little more than liquor last night," she chuckles to herself, and slowly makes her way to the other two (non-metallic) inhabitants of the level. The robot worries her a little bit. She will feel better after talking with the others, she reassures herself. Maybe they know what the robot is all about.


zhaxier

OOC

Yes, there are pockets in his boxers. Such a useful innovation had its heyday in the 23½ century, way before the Warden left the Oort cloud! ;)

Zhaxier

While he may have no memory of his past acquaintances, Zhaxier does recognize the weapons (or potential weapons) in the robot's appendages. An implanted survival instinct, no doubt. "Whoa!" The newly hatched clone emerges from her tube, looking just as naked and clueless as he and Chelydra.

With insufficient data on the robot, Zhaxier opts to play it safe: he allows his new chameleon power to kick in, and steps behind his tube (which comes to above his waistline).


blaen_495

Chelydra

Heartily believing that "the best defense is a good offense," and valiantly supressing a reptilian urge to "just blast it," Chelydra racks his shotgun to be sure a round is chambered (always an impressive sound indoors) and says in a harsh voice, "That's about far enough, tin-can. We'd like a little privacy to finish dressing." His finger takes up the slack in the trigger, ready to let fly at the first sign of trouble from the advancing robot.


supreme_arbiter

12:36 SCAN CLONE BANK POD ROOM
12:37 ACTUATE
12:38 CONTINUING SURVEILLANCE-LINK
.........-STATUS THREE INDIVIDUALS
12:39 ROBOT CONTACT PROBABLE
12:40 INITIATE PROGRAM:
.........-FOOD RECOVERY
12:40 INITIATE PROGRAM:
.........-TERMINATE AND RE-CLONE

GM

The large metallic robot-like creature with four arms (each holding something) and moving on rubber tracks, continues moving in your direction at a normal walking pace. At 200 feet away you can clearly see that the robot carries a small stun ray pistol in one appendage, a needle injector in another (an item used to tranquilize animals). One arm is fitted with a meat-cutting saw (with a wicked-looking rotating blade). The fourth appendage is a flexible hand. It holds a large cloth bag (with a draw top). At 150 feet, you see the saw blade begin to rotate (making a grinding whirling sound). The robot is about five feet tall and is made entirely of metal (with no real definable head, think square).

When Chelydra says (from his hiding spot), "That's about far enough, tin-can. We'd like a little privacy to finish dressing."

The robot responds in a semi-intelligible Hal-like voice as it continues approaching, now from 100 feet away. "Drop your weapon, mutant, and be prepared to be re-introduced into the 0100 0010 system 0100, 0110 01000100. Immediate failure to comply will result in 1011 0001!"

At 50 feet the robot fires its small stun ray pistol at Chelydra. Even with 50% cover, the ray hits Chelydra almost perfectly in the upper chest, uhm, I mean turtle shell. Surprisingly the stun ray has no effect upon Chelydra, at least not right at this moment anyway.

Everyone has one action. What do you do? Next turn, the robot will be in hand-to-hand combat range.

OOC

Strange mutated boxers, I more aptly suspect, Mr. Zhaxier. I will research this subject aboard Warden and get back with a short boxer... brief, Mr. Zhaxier.


blaen_495

Chelydra

Being shot by a meat-saw wielding robot is not a good sign. Chelydra does the only sensible thing under the circumstances and returns fire. He really doesn't think he wants to be reintroduced to the "0100 0010 system," whatever that is.


gammaben

Percy "RAM" Jenkins

Percy wakes up as his cryo-tube opens with a hiss and a inward rush of warm air. A grinding, whirling sound seeps into his airspace from somewhere else in the cavernous room he's in. Cavernous, at least, from the echo effect of the sounds. "Hey, that's funny," he says aloud, but mostly to himself. "I don't remember going to sleep. Hey, I'm naked!" He suddenly gets very frustrated. "Hey, this looks like a cryo-tube! Waaaaaaitaminute...." Percy racks his memory for an explanation, and recalls a trip he had made to the cloning lab to donate some tissue samples. "In case of an emergency, they said. My hairy ass! This has to be some joke!" As he stares at the ceiling, he tries to calm himself down, but only gets more agitated. "What if this isn't a joke? What if somethin' did happen? Just then, Percy hears a voice he recognizes all too well.

Robot

"Drop your weapon, mutant, and be prepared to be re-introduced into the 0100 0010 system 0100, 0110 01000100. Immediate failure to comply will result in 1011 0001!"

Out of fearful curiosity, Percy lifts his head a bit and peeks over the side of the tube. He sees rows upon rows of cryo-tubes exactly like the one he's in, a robot moving away from him, and three humanoid shapes on the other end of the bay from his position. Quickly, he lies back down. "This ain't no joke. Ok, Percy. Or should I call myself Percy Junior? Whattaya call a clone anyway? The second? The sequel? Hey, there's no guarantee I'm the only clone of me. Maybe they made a hundred of me! Maybe the original me is still alive an' just wanted somebody to play cards with? He hears the whirring, grinding noise again and rules out that last possibility." Percy puts his hands up to his head. He had a terrible headache, all of a sudden. "Focus!" he says to himself.

To the tune of an air-pressured release, the cryo-tube's lid begins to close. Without another second's thought, Percy flips himself out of the tube and ducks beside it, such that he's got a good view of the scene from behind the cover of the cryo-tube. He notices a drawer opening, looks inside. "Clothes, well that's something!"

He returns his gaze to the robot, studying it intensely, trying to remember what its function was. For some reason he can't quite remember all the robot's subroutines, why it could have been dispatched to the cloning bay, or why it would have strayed from its programming. "They're shooting each other?!" he gasps with a rush of adrenaline.

One thing is clear amid the tangle of possibilities and the weirdness of his current whereabouts. He has a chance to start all over. A chance to save the ship from whatever emergency has activated his clone.


zhaxier

Zhaxier

Zhaxier does a double take and recognizes the box on the table by the far door to be a "computer terminal," an object in front of which the original "him" spent a lot of time. It was slowly coming back to him.... Without taking the time to drop his (mutated?) boxers---for complete camouflage, mind you! I mean, come on, this is a fight-or-flight situation, and he hasn't even introduced himself to the pure strain!---he scrambles for the terminal in the direction opposite the decidedly errant robot's approach. It's a good thing, too (keeping his shorts, on, that is). He'll probably need that card in his pocket to gain access to the terminal and the robot.


gene_queen_supreme

Nike

Avoiding her initial urge to tell the robot to kiss her warm flesh, she wonders if the robot is coming for her, or just for her mutated companions. Regardless, they seem sentient and familiar, so she can't just sit by and do nothing. Or can she? She mentally slaps herself for her smart-ass mentality and moves to flank the robot, crouching behind a cryotube and looking about for something to use as a weapon, if the need arises. In the meantime, she wonders what turtleboy will do.


supreme_arbiter

OOC

Subject: About the clothes... (2 of 3)
Read: 9 times
From: Rob Bartel
Date: Friday, November 03, 2000 03:12 PM

For the record, the Metamorphosis Alpha UK article (that's the Knowledge Base)
is out of date. The more flexible underwear system outlined in a Nexus
(Metamorphosis Alpha) interview is what we're now going with. Right now you can
strip your character down to his or her skivvies (0, 1 or 2 pocket variety) but
that's as far as it goes.

I don't know the full details but, if we were to include nudity in Metamorphosis
Alpha, I believe it would mean forgoing the Teen ESRB rating, something we take
fairly seriously here at BioWare. We still have to do a lot of research before
we can promise perfect Metamorphosis Alpha bio-engineered underwear. We think we
might have a solution (keep them pulled up), but only time will tell.

If you want a better AC for the underwear, you can apply more clothes in effect
to increase the protection offered. The exact color of the underwear makes no
difference.

Naked as the day I was born,
Rob Bartel

supreme_arbiter

12:40 SCAN CLONE BANK POD ROOM
12:40 ACTUATE
12:41 CONTINUING SURVEILLANCE-LINK
.........-STATUS FOUR INDIVIDUALS 12:42 HOSTILE CONTACT IN ACTION 12:43 INITIATE PROGRAM: .........-FOOD RECOVERY 12:43 INITIATE PROGRAM: .........-TERMINATE AND RE-CLONE

GM

The metallic voice chills your spine as it repeats itself, "Drop your weapon, mutant, and be prepared to be re-introduced into the 0100 0010 system 0100, 0110 01000100. Immediate failure to comply will result in 1011 0001!" Radiation, faulty programming or just sheer running time has somehow corrupted the robot's speech acquisition memory.

No one ever prepares for combat, nor does anyone ever truly seek it, but with it comes memories---memories of triumph, rendezvous, and the feeling of great loss. To each living creature in the room it is like a small secret, a shifting of a medpack to a wound, a key stroke on a computer, an inexplicable affirmation of something you once did, or some reaction to a situation such as this, almost déjà-vu, if you will.

The Food Processing Robot moves forward, no bitterness or anger in its actions, just preprogrammed deliberateness. Yes, it's a Food Processing Robot, at least most of you think that, but why, you can't explain. The robot's actions have the same effect on everyone: your hearts pound, adrenaline flows and thoughts of self-control and self-defense are at the forefront of your actions. It's another reminder of who you were or what you once were. The entire situation with the Food Processing Robot has tilted everyone (figuratively) slightly off vertical. Only actions will dictate the outcome.

The shotgun explodes with an ear-shattering bang as Chelydra's finger squeezes the trigger. The close range shot (25 feet) puts a shower of sparks across the front of the robot, destroying one of its arms (the one holding the stun ray pistol) and causing the pistol to drop to the floor beside the robot. Cocking the shotgun, Chelydra ejects the spent shell and fires a second time, almost without thought. The second shot rips a panel off the front of the robot, causing the metal creature to stop moving and freeze in place, as a puff of smoke bellows from the exposed area. Chelydra ejects the second spent round noisily and pumps in a new round. The robot snaps, crackles and pops with electricity, but doesn't move.

Percy, the fourth clone to awake, is seen leaving a cryo-tube at the other end of the bay. No matter how much he would like to have remained hidden, the opening of his cryo-tube lid is seen by all. He watches and waits, concealing himself between two cryo-tubes.

Zhaxier scrambles down the long room to the computer terminal, almost slipping on the slick floor. Once there he touches the keyboard and the dark screen brightens. It reads, "ID Card Required."

Nike moves from cryo-tube to cryo-tube, using them for cover until she flanks the inactive robot. At the end of one of the cryo-tubes, she finds a two and a half foot long stainless alloy open-end wrench. Picking it up, Nike guesses it weighs about 3 pounds. A perfect weapon.

Everyone has one action. What do you do?


zhaxier

Zhaxier

Zhaxier makes the mental connection and snatches the plastic card from his boxers (2 pocket variety) as he looks for a card-sized receptacle. He finds no such slot, but there is a vaguely familiar groove along the top of the keyboard (yeah, that's what it's called!). Before he realizes it, his arm has swiped the card along the full length of the slot. The vidscreen changes and displays a list of options. "Rockdud! So that's how it works!" For some reason, the words "never leave home without it" bubble up from the recesses of his reconstituted brain---obviously some bit of cherished wisdom the dear clone masters threw in for kicks.


gene_queen_supreme

Nike

Realizing that hitting a sparking robot with a metal wrench isn't the brightest idea in the universe, she looks about for some other way to help, at least until the butcher stops shooting electricity. "Besides, it looks as if turtleboy has this well in hand for the moment," she rationalizes to herself. Hurriedly, she looks about for a less conductive weapon.


gammaben

Percy

"Boo-yah!" Percy shouts with arms up-raised in excitement, as the mad robot is halted with a shower of shot and sparks. He grabs his uniform shirt from the drawer and notices a circular patch on the left chest pocket. The patch has a picture of an ellipsoidal ship, the word "WARDEN" above, and a white box below with "Sys/Tech Crew" embroidered in red. Quickly, and keeping an eye on the other end of the clone bank, he dresses himself (socks, briefs, uniform pants and shirt, shoes, handkerchief in pants pocket, ink pen in shirt pocket).

Peeking into the back of the drawer for any other items, he sees a black leather pouch with a closed zipper pocket and a fastenable strap. Quickly strapping the non-empty (he assumes, from the weight of it) pouch around his waist, pocket facing forward, he rushes toward what he assumes are three other clones and a sparking food processing robot.

On the way, he yells, "Don't shoot, I'm a clone, too!"


blaen_495

Chelydra

Nodding with some satisfaction at the effect his shotgun blasts seem to have on the robot, Chelydra decides to break from cover. Looking to Percy, he rasps, "Glad you could join the party." He then bends to retrieve the stun pistol.

OOC

Assuming that the robot doesn't attack immediately, I will then toss the pistol to Percy, and look about for something non-conductive with which to finish off the robot.


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