A Gamma World® play-by-post adventure run by gammaworld_gm
Hidden behind a collection of boulders to conserve power, and gaining solar power from the late afternoon sun, the Ecology Bot given the name Bayla by its owner receives a remote recall beacon. Humming to life, it raises itself off the ground with its hover casters and takes off. Re-triangulating the remote signal, Bayla increases its speed to near 96 kph as it speeds across the open desert attempting to home in on the signal carried by a person known to Bayla as Frieda Abel.
Somewhere high above the planet known to all as Earth (now Gamma Terra), a satellite the length of an ancient football field, half that in width and somewhat cylindrical in shape, holds a geosynchronous orbit over a prefixed location in the southwestern part of an area which is now known as Nuked Mex (formerly New Mexico). The INSAT-3B satellite actuators adjust its solar arrays and antennas in the soundless vacuum of space. An internal global magnetic deviation system adjusts to the new latitude/longitude. The entire operation is carried out from the INSAT master control room via a primary activation/focus code sent to the satellite from somewhere within the desert of Nuked Mex. Its relays route the signal back to the Albuquerque Starport as commanded.
Inside the living area of the satellite, a cup disturbed by the vibrations of the actuators floats off a table and bounces off a wall. A human corpse floats nearby, its remains all but mummified over the last 150 years.
One of the Albuquerque Starport's two spaceships, (the one numbered ABQ-Starport XJ1) within the Starport's domed hanger, and the only operational one, receives the new command codes from the INSAT-3B satellite. The voice-activated autopilot which was previously set to fly to Datil, land on the roof of the ancient UPS building and return twice per week, is erased. Few if any living beings can actually fly such a complicated ship.
The ABQ-Starport XJ1 spaceship seals its doors and remotely activates the dome above it, which slowly begins to open. Nathan Caine puts down the dampening field device and walks out of the office in time to see the sleek silver spaceship lift off. Sergeant Mabb rushes to Nathan's side, pointing his sniper rifle with silencer at the ship. "Should I shoot it down, boss?" he offers. "No you idiot. I doubt you could even scratch the paint on it. It can only mean one thing. Geo has called for it," says Nathan.
His cloak billows as the leader of the Mystic Mages turns and walks away. Lamia does not have the laptop, contrary to what he was told. Things were not working out quite as well as planned. He considers his options as he walks.
Sergeant Mabb lowers his weapon, feeling somewhat embarrassed as his leader walks away. If he could only kill something, that would definitely make him feel better, he thinks.
Standing up in the moving TTV, the robot makes his way up to the front of the TTV between the two seats. His camera takes a close up picture of Xeva to add to his Gamma File on her. "My tummy hurts and I've been having this burning electrical discharge. Howard, are you sure you repaired me as indicated by my operations manual?"
"Waugh!!!" he coughs, shocked. Howard's "Waugh" trails off into a series of purely duckish quackles.
"I swear, if you give Dodgers any more of those pretzels, I'm going to rearrange your programming!"
"I'm only programmed for constructive purposes, one of which is giving out pretzels. What do I look like? A rad-rat farmer?"
"Who cares what you're programmed for? If someone programmed you to jump off a Datil skyscraper, would you do it?"
"I'll have to check my program." He pauses. "Yep!"
The ex-Gamma Girl shakes her head in disgust and brushes the stray pretzel particles from her slick leather outfit.
"Turn off the highway here Howard," Geo gestures. "Head out into the desert... yes the desert," he reiterates ominously. "Make it so!"
"Jonn, a routine sweep for bugs reveals our new Mycinod friend/hero is carrying a homing bug in his vibro stick. Either he's carrying it unknowingly or he's a plant---not a plant in the plant sense, but a plant in the traitor sense."
Twenty minutes later in the late afternoon sun (around 5:00 pm), Geo motions for Howard to stop the TTV in the desert. A few minutes later a large spaceship lands in front of the TTV, and a few minutes after that Bayla (Frieda's Ecology Bot) arrives.
"The TTV should easily fit into the back of XJ1." Slowly the lower front of the sliver and black sleek spaceship opens up. A vehicle ramp and large cargo area can be seen. "Orders Jonn? Here would be a good place to leave the bug."
Hearing that his newfound weapon contains a homing device, he quickly hands it to Howard, "Here you go friend. Since you seem to be able to fix ancient artifacts, maybe you can remove the homing device from this. If not, then quickly throw it out so that those tracking it may be fooled into following it and not us. If that doesn't work, then lets strap it onto Leghorn and let him run away with it."
Howard snaps out of his transfixed gaze upon the sheer beauty that is the XJ1 to respond to Myc's offer. He takes the vibro stick back into his possession, and is glad Myc picked it up in the elevator at Hampshire's. This Duckoid has had enough of being blamed for nuclear disasters---he didn't need treason added to the list of his endeavors.
"Sthoundsth like a good plan, Myc!" Smiling as only a Duckoid with bills for lips can, he adds, "I meant the homing devicthe exthracthion plan, of coursthe, although the Leghorn plan hasth itsth meritsth---WAUGH!"
The captain reaches across the seats and delivers a purely fowl thwapping of Howard's head feathers.
Howard "WAUGHs" histerically at the admonition, but putting joking aside, the Examiner climbs into the back of the TTV and lays his tool set on the flat surface of the floor to work on the stick. He is wary of booby-traps and is more than willing to just leave the weapon in the sand if anything looks suspicious.
"Bring me a sarbis beer, robot. Care to join me, tall guy?" he gestures towards his table. "My name is Gravin Nardies."
"Ye seem a friendly sort, though I've seen enough of Jack-asses in the clothing of sheepe since I've walked in these foreign lands, having not of green, nor of field, nor of streame, nor of the BURNING LOVE that I walk after continuallie. Still, if you're buyin', I'm there. Rev. Jack Bunyun, Ye Holy Pilgrimme at your ready disposal."
Captain's Journal. Epsilon Betrayal, Stardate 3000.3.
"O-o-ooh that plan's got a nice feel to it Myc'dee an' Howie, I like your 2's style. You do have a real pair of Hermaphlamingos Myc'dee. Thank you for the inspiring 'Rooster Strapping' advice, but I've played that game before my little shittake-raised friend. In the game of chess you can never let your adversary see your pieces, that's why we keep Frieda, Xeva an' Liska hidden. They're our best pieces."
"I say, I say there, Myc'dee, did I ever tell you about the time I single-handedly saved the Octillian part of the factory from a horde of rampaging killbots, did I? A grim day for robot kind. No offense K-11."
"S-s-some time I'll tell you about when K-11 shot Jonn for fun."
"I say, I say there, some mutants like yourself often don't know how to react around me. I'm ruggedly ham'some and deadly, sexier than you, a most potent combination that scares most all creatures. I call it 'Lovenasium'."
"I heard one time you singlehandedly defeated a horde of rampaging somethings in the something-something in some-place."
"W-w-what is the matter with you Geo?"
"I just wanted to be part of the moment."
Dear captain's diary... I may not have found love or my love on this mission, but I did find a cute little companion who excretes bothersome spores. And that's just as good.
"Friend Leghorn, this power or special ability you claim to have, this 'Lovenasium'.... I believe that is something similiar to what I have, but I use it to encourage growth, not to attract the opposite sex." I try to restrain my laughter.
Sooner or later my beaked friend you will sleep, then let the sporing begin.... :-)
"Jonn, a routine sweep for bugs reveals our new Mycinod friend/hero is carrying a homing bug in his vibro stick. Either he's carrying it unknowingly or he's a plant---not a plant in the plant sense, but a plant in the traitor sense."
Jonn will have to wait for an explanation of Howard's enigmatic statement, as Geo interrupts the Duckoid's fowl train of thought with symptoms of a botched repair job, directions for a desert detour and finally, the news of the homing device in Mycinod's stick. Jonn is still amazed with Frieda's simple logic, spoken just moments before Geo's bombshell proves her dead on target. Questions swirl inside his pure strain brain. Myc surely isn't a traitor, right? Timon let them escape... but why? This bug can't be the work of Jake's mole, could it? If not, NARC is being compromised on more than one front in Datil! Was Hampshire ratting him and NARC out for a cut? "Datil's more than a hellhole: it's a frakkin' deathtrap," he whispers from his seat behind the TTV cockpit.
"The sweet nothings go in here, Dukas!" she turns around in her chair seductively, pointing to her ear.
Jonn manages a sheepish smile, "Uh, it's hard to believe you and Frieda made a living back there."
As Howard parks the TTV next to nowhere in the vast wasteland as per Geo's directions, Jonn stands and faces the Fungoid. "Myc, I believe you are innocent. As I've said before, I refuse to harbor counterproductive thoughts of treachery within my group. Your contributions have proved your loyalty." When Howard takes the bugged weapon from Myc and starts analyzing it on the TTV floor, Jonn continues, "Howard, if it's all the same with you and Myc, I say we ditch... the... stick."
But Jonn's words fall flat out of his mouth and slap the floor panels with so many staccato thuds as a sleek spaceship lands outside amidst billowing clouds of sand and an occasional tumbleweed. Geo does not look surprised as he says the TTV will fit easily into the starship's cargo hold. By the name the robot throws out, almost as an aside, the vessel hails from the Starport. "Madre de Dios!" Jonn mumbles, borrowing a line from his former Cougaroid companion.
"Orders Jonn? Here would be a good place to leave the bug."
Jonn opens his mouth as if to answer, then shuts it.
An envirobot soon hovers into view, and Frieda points him out. "Jonn, why don't we give the stick to Bayla. He can take the bug even farther into the desert, and then double back to catch up with us at the Starport."
Jonn snaps out of his braincloud with a sudden gasp of insight. "Super idea, Frieda. Let's have Bayla plant the stick and send a message to Timon at the same time. Captain, would you be so kind as to give Frieda and Bayla the coordinates of the former reactor room of your Oadesta Chicken Factory? Dodgers, you and Jake get Ironcat off the roof and then move the TTV into the XJ1. The rest of you pack it up. Santa Claus just brought us a new set of 'wheels'."
I direct my words towards Jonn. "Sweet cheeks, we Gamma Girlz did a-whole bunch of hard stuff to make a living back in Datil. You don't know the half of it. Just ask Frieda. She knows more than enough about city life." Crossing my legs, I scrutinize the loudmouth Long Island Red, waiting for his next Xeva-pointed zinger. I have to admit I do enjoy his fowl humor, maybe because I notice most of the others don't.
"Captain, would you be so kind as to give Frieda and Bayla the coordinates of the former reactor room of your Oadesta Chicken Factory?"
"Why, why... yes I would, J-j-johnny." My eyes widen with honor as I proudly rise to my feet to assist Jonn.
"The coordinates for Oadesta Chicken Factory are 578.653. Frieda can use her data pad to pass them along to Bayla."
I sadly sit back down, my one tiny opportunity for greatness and minor party contribution stolen from me by a short stack of circuits. I could never admit to anyone when I was growing up as a chicklet in the Oadesta Chicken Factory that all I ever wanted to be was a PSH like Jonn. Blinking my eyes repeatedly, I try to forget those distant painful memories of my chicklet-hood.
"I say, I say there Myc'dee, did you know Jonn is suffering from a common malady in today's world, that of anthropomorphizing technology. I know, I know, not all things can be easily explained as Jonn can. For example: when Frieda passes me, my comb color changes from a peachy color to a bright reddish color. I guess I could blame her pheromones and my ruggedly ham'some good looks. D-d-don't knock my 'Lovenasium' cause it's real I tell you, plum real."
"I-I-I have this idea when we get to the Starport for Xeva and I, but it requires you and a little flower Myc'dee, a-a-and a little white wine sauce, some strong teriyaki sauce, garnished with a few potatoes and sprinkled with crushed almonds. Sounds delicious and nutritious, huh, sroom?"
I am not responsible for any damage, personal injury, nausea, vomiting, head explosions, or marked increase in banjo playing in first-generation children caused by any advice given here.
Quickly the bartending robot delivers two sarbis beers and a bowl of irradiated pretzels, then returns to his position behind the bar.
Putting his hands together, Gravin glances over his shoulder at the sleeping Stramagix and then back to Jack, as he listens to Reverend Jack Bunyun's oddball use of words. "We are always looking to recruit new members. What is it exactly that you do, Rev. Jack? Other than imbibe copious amounts of liquor and ruminate over past experiences?"
"I can't believe it, I just had an awful robot dream standing here. Ones and zeroes were everywhere. Ewww. And I thought I saw a two. What did Howard do to me?"
Frieda takes the vibro stick from Howard and exits the TTV, followed by Jake and Howard. With a snap of his teeth, Ironcat severs the ropes tethering him to the roof of the TTV and leaps off, stirring up a whirlwind of dust and smashing a passing tumbleweed into the sand. Using her data pad, Frieda gives the coordinates of the former reactor room of the Oadesta Chicken Factory to Bayla and then puts the vibro stick into the envirobot's metal gripping appendage. With its new orders, the robot speeds away.
"Howard," Jake says politely, "go ahead and drive the TTV up in the ship." Taking Frieda's arm, Jake leads her out of the way.
Howard re-enters the TTV, starts it up and drives it up into the ship. Ironcat follows the TTV up the ramp into the ship, leaving Jake and Frieda standing alone. Bayla's dust trail is visible far off in the distance.
Looking around, she remains silent, eating an ancient Snickers™ bar.
The Doc watches everyone with interest.
Stretching she yawns, licking the golden spotted fur on her arm.
The sentient mushroom thinks thoughts only a mushroom would understand.
Eyeing the weapons locker, he suspects someone has been peeking. K-11 thinks peekers should be shot, and then warned afterward. He looks around for possible suspects.
Realizing his hand is still on Frieda's arm, he releases it and removes his glasses, toying with them in one hand. Jake looks into Frieda's eyes with his own jet black orbs. "Missy, you may be used to getting gifts from men, but that small necklace with a heart shaped locket I gave you once belonged to my mother and her grandmother before her."
Jake lets the words sink in for a moment. Seeing Frieda's understanding expression, he reaches out and grabs Frieda by the shoulders and shakes her, messing up her hair. Releasing the shocked Frieda, Jake puts his shades back on. "That was your wake up call, Missy... snap out of it, decide 'want' or 'don't want'!" Turning on his heels, Jake leaves Frieda standing alone in the desert and walks up the ramp into the ship.
Everyone inside the TTV (now inside the cargo area of the ship) exits the TTV after Howard shuts off the engine and sets the parking brake. Howard waddles out last (thinking "fowl" migratory Duckoid thoughts).
"This way Xeva," Geo says, motioning toward the stairs and then heading up them as Xeva walks past.
"A sexy mistake," he says, referring to Xeva's apparent choice of men.
"No Rooster, just a regular mistake. For a split second, my common sense was overwhelmed by my normal sense."
"A split second is all it takes. That's why, sooner or later, everyone comes crawling back to the Captain."
Pausing, she continues, "You're obviously confused and aroused, as should all men... er, Roosteroids... be."
Ironcat and TwoDucks remain in the cargo area (since they don't seem to be posting), while everyone else files up the stairs and onto the bridge, looking at all the fancy seats, the multitude of buttons, and the blinking lights.
Jake climbs the stairs but turns the other way. Finding the first room, he enters inside and closes the door. Walking over to a bed, he relaxes on it, his thoughts wandering to someone else.
"Now we wait on Bayla to return." Peering out the window, Geo spots Frieda standing out in the desert alone. "What the frak! Who forgot Frieda?" Geo notices his arm is loose. "Waugh?"
Somewhere on the ship, a soldier stands invisibly, blended against a wall by a portable techion field. His weapon is cocked and ready to fire.
Captain's Journal, Stardate, uh ... Oh crap, someone already did that, and I wanted to do that! Ah frell!
Jake's actions and words at first anger her, then frighten her. She watches the hatch close and then sits down, placing three items before her. One is Bayla's command pad. She stares at it a moment, looks off to the bit of dust marking his exit, then looks back at the pad and presses a couple of buttons. The second is her stun ray pistol. She examines the charge meter and places it in the sun, outside of her shadow. The third is the locket from Jake, which she respectfully holds in her hand rather than placing it on the ground. Looking back to her control pad, she reads the short message on the tiny display. "What's wrong, Frieda?" it reads. She lowers her head and tears flow down her cheeks. With a shaking arm, she reaches to the pad and starts talking to it.
There are no more plumes of dust coming from Bayla. Two hares and a tarantula scramble for cover as its shadow hovers over them and holds in place. A minute later, a basking lizard tires of waiting for the shadow to pass and crawls away to a sunnier spot.
What Frieda thinks or concludes can only be known if she gets together with the others again.
Having leaned against the wrong button, Twoducks causes the landing ramp to close. Quickly pushing the button again it opens. If the Duckoid could be embarrassed, he would be. "You'th's can come in nowth lady. Sorrthy!"
"Now we wait on Bayla to return. What the frak! Who forgot Frieda?"
"But Geo, Lamia and the Leghorns could be in danger! We can't delay any longer. Bayla can meet us back at the Starport." Jonn cranes his neck toward the window to view Frieda, who sits despondently in the sand. "Crikey! Geo, if I don't return in ten minutes, take off without me. I can't leave her in the desert alone, but somebody has to get back to the Starport and save our friends before Kicker's visions come true!"
"Jake, you're with me!" Jonn says into the crowded cockpit, but leaves before realizing his command falls on deaf ears.
Jonn grabs his pack and bounds down the stairs, into the cargo bay, past the two confused newbies and down the ramp. He slows to a walk as he approaches Frieda, drops his pack and sits down next to her.
"Jake gave you that," Jonn states, refraining from finding the beautiful PSH fem's eyes. His words impart understanding and acceptance of the flux between the three of them. He draws absentmindedly in the sand. "You know I can't leave you here, Frieda. I, I.... And especially not after what happened to---back there. If you can't join us, we---" he looks back toward the ship for Jake, who is nowhere to be seen, "I'm joining you. I've ordered Geo to leave without me, if necessary. Lamia and the Leghorns could be in imminent danger, but they don't need me to save them." The words don't come out quite as polished as he hoped, and he bites his tongue.
Hearing the voice of the New Duck, Frieda looks up to see the hatch opened again, but she remains where she is until she hears Jonn's footsteps.
Jonn sits down facing the same way as Frieda, who turns her head slightly and glances at him.
"Jake gave you that."
Jonn finds the lock of deep brown hair flowing in front of her ear more comfortable to look at than her eyes. Frieda nods her head and closes her hand on the locket. Jonn continues in Frieda's silence:
"You know I can't leave you here, Frieda. I, I.... And especially not after what happened to---back there. If you can't join us, we---" he looks back toward the ship for Jake, who is nowhere to be seen, "I'm joining you. I've ordered Geo to leave without me, if necessary. Lamia and the Leghorns could be in imminent danger, but they don't need me to save them."
Frieda coughs out a distressing sound. At first Jonn thinks she is crying, but then as it continues, he realizes she is laughing. She pulls her hair back behind her ears, looks up to the sky, and wipes the drying tears from her cheeks. Turning to look him in the eyes, she says, "You don't know how tempting that is. Bayla's cockpit could hold us both if we squeezed in close."
With a flash, Jonn's eyes meet hers and quickly dart away. Frieda turns her gaze back to the items in front of her. Still holding the locket, she picks up the remote. "Why does he have to be like this? 'Decide "want" or "don't want."' What is that supposed to mean? What does he want from me? How long has he been watching me? I thought he was decent, at first. Strange, but decent. Now he just scares me."
Beak in hand, I ponder Jonn and Frieda's sexual conundrum as I sit myself in the captain's chair. Well, it is called the captain's chair, anyway. My elbow accidentally pushes down on the ship's external speaker. "No... no... you're doing it all wrong Jonn, put a smacker right on Frieda's lil' ol' kisser, you sneaky scoundrel you! Ol' love-struck Jake'll never know! Any of this gettin' through to you, son?"
"Yes, the external speaker is on, Captain. Jonn and Frieda can hear you."
"Well, now o'that silly olde me." Shutting off the external speaker, I extricate myself from the captain's chair, my turn at command short-lived.
Ironcat hears the anouncement on the speakers. "That was funny." Some pre-recorded hysterical laughter comes from him. He walks over to the stairs to the command deck and looks up. "I will never fit in there." Ironcat seems to break apart as he changes. After a few seconds, he is a large Siberian tiger. "That's better." He slinks up the stairs and puts his head into the door. Anyone in the cockpit sees a tiger head pop in the door. "Are we ready to take off yet? 'Cause I could go out there and get anyone still in the desert. They aren't too heavy."
Leghorn's outburst gives Jonn pause to laugh, if a bit nervously. He doesn't try to hide it. With their PSH chemistry so outwardly apparent, he knows that Jake is sure to be feeling some pressure if, as Jonn suspects and Leghorn broadcasted, the man is deeply smitten with Frieda.
Jonn again finds himself without a Plan. The turmoil of his own emotions sloshing in his gut isn't helping, and neither is Frieda's intimation. Much to his dismay, he finds his mind wandering over the logistics of how to fit the two of them within the close confines of Bayla's cockpit.
With the back of his hand, he wipes out the dragon he was outlining in the sand. "I... I hold Jake in the highest regard, but I must admit, his methods are unorthodox," he states in agreement. Jonn bites his lip again, this time to spare a fem from unsolicited advice or analysis. The next agonizing minute of silence seems to span forever and a day.
"My offer to help you find a new life in Haven still stands, Frieda. It's what most of them are after too," Jonn gestures toward the sleek ship, inhaling suddenly. "It's what I want eventually, some day...." he says, looking past the ship with eyes ablaze and reflecting all the deep blue of the cloudless, arid sky.
"For you and Lamia." A statement of fact.
Jonn slowly swings his gaze colinear to hers. His heart pounds in his chest as if trying to drown out the cries of his soul. His eyes swim as he nods and puts his hand atop hers. He finally says with a cracked voice, "I didn't want to burden you with another choice, Frieda, but here," he pauses when the starship's fusion engine starts to whine to life, "you decide my future."
This page updated: Mon Jan 09 14:22:19 2006
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