Initiate Alpha Sequence

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

Chapter 7: Reunion

blaen_495

Chelydra

"Amanda, do you mind if I take a look around and see if I can find a key or something to open that door?" Floating somewhere just out of reach in his mind is a document entitled "Search and Seizure Protocols for Civilian Living Quarters." It is important to Chelydra to follow the book, although he isn't at all sure that situations such as this are covered anywhere in it. Still, it seems rude to just tear up Amanda's place looking for a key, after they have no evidence against her for anything.


supreme_arbiter

COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
18:20 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM
18:21 SCAN LOCATION HALL 569181-K4
18:22 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED
18:23 CONTINUING 2 SURVEILLANCE-LINKS
.........-TRANSFER INFORMATION TO CC

GM: Enviro Room

Chelydra

"Amanda, do you mind if I take a look around and see if I can find a key or something to open that door?"

Chelydra's polite tone eases Amanda's tension. "Uhm, I don't mind, Chelydra. It is my lodging, but I don't consider it my home, not really," she admits, albeit reluctantly.

Nike

"Hey Chelydra," Nike says, "since your specialty seems to be security-oriented, why don't you check out the underside of that desk, see if there is any trigger to opening that door, like a hidden button, maybe?"

Nike has a particular talent for reading people and Amanda is no more difficult than anyone else. She dislikes secrets but decides against any outright accusation.

"Why are you under the impression there would be a trigger for the door, not that it matters, just curious," Chelydra lies. Maybe it is something Amanda whispered to Nike, Chelydra thinks. His resolve renewed, Chelydra walks from the door to the desk, squats down, finds a button and pushes it. The door buzzes and pops open.

With his shotgun raised, Chelydra cautiously approaches the door. Using the barrel of his weapon he opens it wide. Beyond the threshold of the door is a long darkened corridor. By the light of the room behind him, Chelydra sees little. "There is glass on the floor. Someone has intentionally disabled overhead lights in the corridor," he states. The statement is a personal thought, not a proven fact.

Percy gets up out of the chair, walks over behind Chelydra and gazes into the darkness with interested fascination. "Maybe the lights overloaded and burst from a micro-radiant unregulated relay power surge," he offers. Seeing Chelydra's furrowed facial reaction to his words, Percy continues "Or maybe not." Percy smiles.

Chelydra does not. Satisfied that he has seen enough, Chelydra pushes the door closed with his foot and it locks automatically. Chelydra accepts the de facto position he is in. It all comes down to choices. Should they go outside and into the unknown that they can see, or should they take this ominous corridor in which none of them can see. Chelydra leaves the actual decision to Nike.

Nike

"And Percy, do you think you can get us a hard copy of that map on the vidscreen, or is this something we have the tools to sketch? Any clues to where a human settlement might be?"

"I can try, Nike," Percy answers. Percy pushes the chair back over to the desk and sits down. Opening one of the drawers, he finds paper and a pen. Using his draftsman skills, from a class he faintly remembers, Percy begins sketching the vidscreen. "If I had to fathom a guess, this village listed as 'Eden' might be a good place to start."

Amanda touches Nike's hand and forces a smile. She has remained relatively quiet for the most part. Deciding to change that, she speaks. "Maybe all of you should get a few hours' rest. You have been through a lot." Several hours pass as everyone accepts Amanda's offer. Only Percy sits in the chair, sketching a detailed map.


supreme_arbiter

GM: Elevator

Tinker

There's only one way I know of to break their lock on you. We're going to have to get to the hull as soon as possible. We're going to have to find a repair bay, or an airlock, or even a docking port, and get you off the Warden for a little while."

Both Claus and Zhaxier listen to the robot, but the idea of leaving Warden seems far removed at the moment.

Zhaxier

"Tinker, remind me later to ask you to explain what you just said, only in common English---you know, the kind mere propulsion engineer clones can understand. Crikey! Sounded like it came straight outta my applied quantum mechanics text!" his words trail off into a low mumble as he ponders spacewalks and being robot food.

"With that kind of tact, I'm glad you're an engineer and not a psychiatrist," adds Claus with a toothy grin.

Claus

"I see nothing hostile, but that could change," he says to Tinker and Zhaxier. "How do we want to go out there?"

No one seems to answer Claus.

Tinker turns and removes the control panel for the elevator. "I see one problem. The power has been cut off to the elevator. I can disable the remote control, but without power it's not going anywhere anyway.

Tinker

"When I'm done, I'm going to have to do a shutdown for a few hours to recharge my batteries and to do a self-diagnostic. You two can go out and play while I'm doing that. While you're out there, look for some canvas or betacloth so I can make some holsters, rifle slings, and maybe a backpack."

"I don't play!" Claus says matter-of-factly, but he likes the idea of investigating the forest.

Zhaxier

"Lemme first find out where we are, dudes."

Zhaxier finds his pad in the medi-kit bag, unblends, and looks up at the elevator level display, but unfortunately with no power, there isn't a number displayed. Nevertheless, he locates the weapons locker room, follows the corridor to the elevator and then triangulates to the Enviro Room. Indeed, they are in the same naturalized area, but a good distance directly north of where the others entered. With a few more taps, Zhaxier brings up a display of the nearby area. "Sweet!" he says out loud, causing Claus to look at him oddly.

Tinker does a personal inventory of his items and then goes into sleep mode. Claus and Zhaxier leave the elevator and walk out into the lush forest, investigating the area for the next few hours. Everything seems calm and quiet. Zhaxier of course is blended during this time. Surprisingly, all the birds are silent. Claus shows his teeth and looks around, not seeing Zhaxier, but believing him to be nearby. "I have a feeling we are not alone!"

What do you do?

OOC

To quote an ancient poet liberally, "A man who studies revenge on robots keeps his own wounds green." To understand what that means, read and learn, newbies.


Ogre1994

Tinker

Tinker closes the elevator doors manually, jamming the manual release with a piece of scrap metal. He lays his weapons out around himself in a semicircle for easy grabbing, and then does a full shutdown so that his cold fusion power plant can recharge his batteries. Mentally, Tinker goes into VR rejuvenation mode, where he can explore a vitual world with a virtual organic body (he's dreaming). He is content for the moment.


gammaben

Percy

Percy puts his pen to the paper he found as the others rest. From the texture and yellowing of the paper, he tries to figure out how aged the paper might be. He is still very interested in learning just how far removed in time they are from the launch of the Warden. The ink pen isn't dried up. But then again, it is one of those "space age" ones, so that doesn't tell him anything. When he finishes his sketch, he holds it up for everyone to see, but no one seems to be paying attention. He folds his map and puts it in his cloth bag, along with the other sheets of paper from the drawer.

Just out of curiosity, he looks to see what else is in the drawers of the desk. Nothing spectacular, but all the same, Percy adds to his collection of stuff the rest of the desk's contents. He doesn't think that Amanda has any use for them, but all the same, he asks if he can hold on to them. "You never know when you'll need stuff like this!" he explains.

Opening his fanny pouch, he puts into it the contents of the top drawer: a toothpick, letter opener, and nail file. He puts the pen he found next to the pen in his uniform shirt pocket. "Dang," he thinks to himself. "I sure could go for a pocket protector right now." Before he finishes the thought, the very thought itself amuses him and he laughes aloud. Methodically, he opens the bottom drawer and claims the contents for his own junk collection as well: a staple remover, a stapler, and a box of 1000 staples. In the back of the drawer, he finds a couple of fluourescent-colored pads of paper with adhesive along the top edge, and he drops that into his cloth bag as well.

OOC

The SA, may he have mercy on my time-deprived self, approved of the items Percy scavenged from the desk.

Percy

Percy takes a few minutes' rest himself, after his sketching and scavenging is finished, and ponders the situation on the ship. His thoughts naturally turn to the Enviro Room. He thinks about Eden and what it may hold in the way of inhabitants, dangers, and answers to what happened to the original Percy Jenkins---and more importantly, he admits silently---to the Warden itself.


gene_queen_supreme

Nike

Nike awakes with a start. She must have desperately needed a bit of sleep, because her uneasy feelings about Amanda's truthfulness and ever-present danger were pushed from her mind, albeit for a short time. "There's that good ol' marine training," she thinks, recalling having to sleep in combat situations before. The fact is that although she feels that she can't trust Amanda to tell the truth, neither does she feel that Amanda has malignant intentions toward them. Rather, she feels that Amanda has a secret that compromises her integrity, or somehow threatens her existence here, alone in this room. Still, she can't be 100% sure.

And, there is the big decision to be made. There is no way to know if someone, or something, is tracking their movements, and to know how long they are safe. As much as she hates to admit it, they may have exposed Amanda to danger when they accepted her invitation. Obviously someone has the capability of watching what goes on around here, due to the presence of the laser cameras, which she suspects are security surveillance of some kind.

So what to do? Back out into the world of the attack 'bots, or on towards this place called "Eden" and possibly an encounter with the wolfies? It seems that both options harbor mortal danger, and only one offers much hope of alliance or information. At least in the Enviro Room they have a map, and cover, and wolfies are much easier to damage than attack 'bots. She aims to talk with the others about it when Chelydra awakens.

She rubs her eyes and looks around the room. Percy seems intently sketching something or another ("hopefully the map," she thinks), Chelydra is sleeping, and Amanda seems lost in thought. Time to talk, perhaps?

"Amanda," Nike begins, "penny for your thoughts?"


zhaxier

OOC

The GM has determined that the naturalized area is much larger than could possibly be depicted on the map, given the constraint of Zhaxier's distance traveled. This distance can only be minute in comparison to the immense dimensions of Warden's biospheres. The actual distance between the two parties is on the order of half a mile, while the biosphere itself spans tens of miles on a side.

Zhaxier

Claus

"I have a feeling we are not alone!"

"No duh! My fellow pod-mates are in here, and we're gonna find them while Tinker dreams of electric sheep. C'mon grizzly dude! I'll show you the Grid!"

Claus

Claus raises a feline brow.

Zhaxier

Zhaxier sighs. "Look here, Claus," he shows the cat-man the map on his data pad, "We're here at the black dot, center left. I last saw the others down here, bottom left." With another quick series of buttons, Zhaxier overlays a coarse mesh on the map. "The mile grid shows us to be about a half-mile away! Let's go see if they left any indication of where they went!"

Claus seems to mull over Zhaxier's plan. "C'mon, they couldn't have gone too far, especially since they have a scatterbrained techie, 'RAM' with them. Lotta good he must be in here; dude would trip over his own shoelaces if he didn't double-knot 'em. Hehehe. But the other two are military types, Chelydra---a mutant turtle---and the fem, Butch. They could really help us out in a pinch. We could be there and back in under an hour!"

Claus

"OK. Beats hanging around here."

Zhaxier

Zhaxier smiles, sticks his gun and data pad in his medi-kit bag and blends out of view. "Follow the bag!" he chimes.

Claus

"Don't have to. You stink."

Zhaxier

"Heh. Heheh. You slay me, Cat!" Zhaxier admits nervously.

They follow the wall for twenty minutes through dense forest until finally they reach another door in the wall---the same entrance Zhaxier and his pod-mates previously used. Actually, he doesn't know how much time has elapsed since he abandoned them in that terrifying moment of panic. "Seems like so long ago," he muses as he examines the doorway. Half of him fears cracking like that again, but the other half reminds him of the newfound confidence and companions that he would lack had he chosen otherwise.

"Still locked," his voice calls out near the door.

Claus

"I have them. Three humanoid scents. This time, I lead."

A short time later, and from the cover of the forest, Claus points out a small, squat metal building, glinting a short distance away in the filtered light of the artificial sun.

Zhaxier

"The control room! Wow, they must have dug up a map. I'm impressed. Are you sure they're in there?"

Claus

"Sure as Tinker's weapons fetish," he states dryly.

Zhaxier

"Right-o. You da Cat! Here, hold this."

Claus

The bag opens itself and spits out some sunglasses, which open and hang on an invisible nose. Zhaxier's bag thrusts itself into Claus' paws. As the engineer's scent fades in the direction of the control cube, Claus sighs. He crouches, drops the medi-kit bag to the forest floor and readies his shotgun just in case.

Zhaxier

Zhaxier approaches the small building and raps loudly on the duralloy door. "Hey Chelydra, trick-or-treat, dude!"


supreme_arbiter

COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
18:23 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM
18:25 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA P3
18:29 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED
18:35 CONTINUING 2 SURVEILLANCE-LINKS
.........-TRANSFER INFORMATION TO CC
.........-HOVER DRIOD IN OBSERVATION MODE

GM: Enviro Room

Nike

"Amanda," Nike begins, "penny for your thoughts?"

Call it an amplified emotional reaction to an already tense situation if you will, but as Nike speaks, Amanda leans forward and kisses her fully on the lips. Amanda immediately pulls away and looks down ashamed. "I'm really sorry Nike. Please forgive me. I should not have done that," she whispers. Disappointment fills Amanda's face and a single tear streaks down her cheek before she can wipe it away. Amanda desperately wants some type of emotional connection with Nike.

"I've seen it before, Nike. Others have come before you---muties, individualists like yourselves. Can't you see what I am, why I live and everyone else doesn't? I'm bait.... That's why they let me survive. We get our orders and we do as we are told, even the Wolfoids. Can't you see it? Every action, everything you do is monitored. Every action is a pre-planned linear event. Please don't hate me, Nike... and please don't leave!"

A few errant tears stain Amanda's cheeks as she reaches out and grips Nike's hand gently. "If you don't believe me, then look." Amanda points up toward the ceiling in the far corner of the room. Nike twists her position to look up at the fist-sized camera which at the same time turns toward Nike and pauses, and then tilts down to observe Percy.

"It's controlled by the Watcher. Maybe in a former time the Watcher was a zoologist before its programming was corrupted. I saw it face to face once, when I replaced the person who refused to continue the machination I now am forced to perpetuate. Many, many have died because of that android. Am I so bad a person to want to live?" Amanda's eyes search for some kind of mercy and understanding from Nike.

Percy

From the texture and yellowing of the paper, he tries to figure out how aged the paper might be.

It is admittedly very aged or it would not be yellowed. As for an exact date of its age, Percy has no way of knowing.

Percy

When he finishes his sketch, he holds it up for everyone to see, but no one seems to be paying attention.

Indeed, Nike and Amanda seem engrossed in their conversation, mostly in hushed whispers. Chelydra is sleeping with the shotgun across his lap, his mouth open. The computer is of no further help to Percy since it only displays a map and weather statistics. Apparently all control functionality has been removed, making the computer no more than a dumb terminal.

Percy

He doesn't think that Amanda has any use for them, but all the same, he asks if he can hold on to them. "You never know when you'll need stuff like this!" he explains.

No one seems to listen to him.

Percy

Opening his fanny pouch, he puts into it the contents of the top drawer....

The letter opener has the enscription, "Warden - Launched in 2290." Exactly what he will do with his collection of items he hasn't decided. What pack-rat ever does?
Percy

Percy takes a few minutes' rest himself, after his sketching and scavenging is finished, and ponders the situation on the ship.

Doing so, Percy drifts off to sleep effortlessly.


supreme_arbiter

GM: In the Forest

Claus

"I have a feeling we are not alone!"

Zhaxier

"No duh! My fellow pod-mates are in here, and we're gonna find them while Tinker dreams of electric sheep. C'mon grizzly dude! I'll show you the Grid!"

Claus

Claus raises a feline brow.

"Sheep?" That isn't what Claus meant. Zhaxier does understand him, however. Claus eyes the map Zhaxier shows him, then looks around apprehensively, knowing they are being watched, but unable to see anyone. He looks around one last time before deciding.

Claus

"OK. Beats hanging around here."

Zhaxier

"Follow the bag!"

Claus

"Don't have to. You stink."

The comical comment almost seems out of character for Claus.

Zhaxier

They follow the Enviro Room wall for twenty minutes through dense forest until finally they reach another door in the wall---the same entrance Zhaxier and his pod-mates previously used. Actually, he doesn't know how much time has elapsed since he abandoned them in that terrifying moment of panic.

And he did indeed abandon them.

Zhaxier

"Seems like so long ago," Zhaxier muses as he examines the doorway.

Claus doesn't understand what he is muttering about.

Zhaxier

"Still locked," his voice calls out near the door.

"You know, if you shout loud enough every predator in here will think you're an engineer."

Claus

"I have them. Three humanoid scents. This time, I lead."

A short time later, and from the cover of the forest (after having left the forest, found some blood, and circled all the way back), Claus points out a small, squat cube shaped duralloy building, glinting a short distance away in the filtered light of the artificial sun, which seems to be slowly fading. The pair cautiously heads towards it. It almost seems too easy. Why has it been so easy to locate them?

Zhaxier

"The control room! ...Hey Chelydra, trick-or-treat, dude!"

The sudden noise of Zhaxier's pounding startles everyone inside, causing the sleeping Percy to fall over backwards in his chair. Chelydra jumps to his feet shotgun in hand, also startled, but just for a moment. "I recognize that voice! Want me to shoot him, Nike?" he offers jokingly.

GM: Elevator

Tinker

Mentally, Tinker goes into VR rejuvenation mode, where he can explore a vitual world with a virtual organic body.

Tinker relaxes on a blanket in a park as an organic female prepares some food for the two of them. The organic female seems very impressed with Tinker. Tinker has assumed Zhaxier's appearance because he likes his skin tone. "Do you want mustard on your hot-dog, Tinker?" she asks. Her skin tone matches Tinker's.

When Tinker's batteries are fully charged, his system reboots and comes back online in full operational mode, automatically kicking him out of VR. Everything is exactly as he left it. No one but another robot can manually open the heavy duralloy elevator doors.

What do you do?


gene_queen_supreme

Nike, earlier

Amanda

...as Nike speaks, Amanda leans forward and kisses her fully on the lips.

Nike immediately wonders if she will regret it, but the thought arrives too late. Out of sheer instinct, her hand strikes Amanda's face, hard, almost as soon as their lips break contact.

Amanda

"I'm really sorry Nike. Please forgive me. I should not have done that."

"No, you shouldn't have," she replies softly, trying to calm the raging storm of frustrated and angry emotions within. Here she is, trying her best to reign in her own feelings and put forth a modicum of leadership and self-denial (at least until they can secure themselves in a permanent safe haven) and this girl has to go and kiss her? Hell, she doesn't even want the guy of her dreams to kiss her right now, much less some weepy girl.

As Amanda continues talking nervously, Nike's eyes do convey some degree of mercy, probably because she feels sorry for Amanda. Clearly she isn't mentally or physically built for such conflict and challenge. But despite her weaknesses, she has finally come clean and told them the truth. Perhaps she will be more of an asset than Nike thought.

Maybe.

"Amanda," she begins, trying to maintain her calm, not disturb the fragile ego of the girl next to her, and be firm with her limits. "Amanda," she starts again firmly, "I do not want you to kiss me again. Is that understood?"

Amanda nods, blinking back the tears that threaten to pour, not necessarily from the physical rejection, but from what she perceives to be an emotional one. She rubs her face near Nike's ruddy imprint.

"We can be friends, regardless of what you're being used for here, and we can help one another, alright?" Again Amanda nods, but this time she seems to sit a little straighter and perk up a bit. "But you're going to have to start being straight with us, completely honest, about everything the first time. We can't help you, or certainly welcome you into our group, if we can't trust you. Understood?"

No response.

Nike begins again, a bit more gently. "Let's start helping one another now. Tell me all you know about who it is that gives these orders, how you receive them, and what, if any, punitive measures they take when you don't do as you're told. I'll use this information in my decision as to what to do about this whole situation."


Ogre1994

Tinker

Tinker has found something to do while waiting for Lister and The Cat, eh, Zhaxier and Claus to return (he hopes): rob a nearby vending machine [...in VR mode, since the elevator power has been cut off and the only egress is into the Enviro Room. --ed.].

"Stand and deliver, you nasty old gaffer!" cries Tinker as he starts to drill out the locks.

"Get stuffed, rustbucket!" replies Vending Machine #12254748127. "Beat it before I call the bronze!"

"Hey, I tried to be nice---that was a valid account number I gave you," says Tinker.

"Yeah, but it was someone else's...GAAAAAH!"

"And another one bites the dust," Tinker tells himself. As he takes control of the vending machine's mindless carcass, he thinks, "Okay, the guys are going to need some food. Let's synthesize fifty kilos of assorted food packets, and let's throw in a few two-liters of mineral water, and maybe a robosnack for myself." (Robosnacks are compressed bars of lubricants, minerals and plastic, and the nanobots needed to guide them to the right places, in eight flavors.) Tinker makes a final adjustment, and voilà!


gammaben

Percy

Percy sleeps through Nike and Amanda's discussion and only grumbles and shifts a bit in his chair when Nike issues her slap across Amanda's face. He dreams his first dream as a clone. His subconscious awarenewss is nearly as jumbled as his conscious memories, and images of various locations of Warden, mingled with recreated memories of experiences as a technical trainer interacting with the crew, race incomprehensibly through his brain like a Doppler shift on drugs. When he finally awakes, it is from a banging sound on the locked door that leads to the Enviro Room. Chelydra murmurs something about shooting someone, and Percy realizes he'd better wake up fully. He rubs his eyes and gets to his feet.

"What's going on?" Percy asks groggily in Chelydra's direction. Nervously, he reaches for the wrench Nike gave him (he put it down on the floor next to the desk). When he lifts it, he notices that it is still stained with blood. He grimaces and waits for an explanation of what is going on just outside the room. He hopes it isn't more of the Wolfoids, or any other trouble for that matter.


blaen_495

Chelydra

"Come on in! We've got some loooovely candy for you," says Chelydra, taking up a position just inside the door with his foot out, ready to trip Zhaxier the moment he comes through the door. The turtle man is somewhat chagrined that someone sneaked up on him. "Note to self: no more sleeping," he grumbles.


Zhaxier

Zhaxier turns back to the forest, grins and holds up an excited thumb to where he thinks Claus is. Of course he doesn't realize that Claus can neither see his goofy grin, nor his thumbs up---only Zhaxier's Cool-Mo-G sunglasses are visible.

Zhaxier tries the door handle, but it is locked. He hears a click from inside the door, and then tries the door again, putting all of his weight on it to make a grand entrance. The substantial door swings open effortlessly, and Zhaxier barrels forward off balance, catches a wayward foot en route, swallows his well-rehearsed "Wasssup!", flies head over heels into the room, and finally his noggin lands face up with a soft smack into a nice warm lap.

"Hi honey! I'm home!" he looks up at Nike.

[Group merge:

--ed.]

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