A Gamma World® play-by-post adventure run by gammaworld_gm
Before entering the sick bay, I touch my belt and the hidden microcomputerized audio recorder records everything. Uncharacteristically, I leave the naked Xervian, smile at Frieda, spin on my heels and leave the sick bay, taking brain girl (Rhyn) with me. Once the sick bay door closes, I pass Geo in the corridor heading toward the engine room. I enter one of the small side rooms, watching the time closely.
"what we doin', Xeva?"
i say we waste her
"Just take a chill pill and relaxz youz quilz." Exactly eight minutes later, I touch my microcomputerized audio recorder. "Play back Frieda's voice, duplicate it, and change the words to say 'Computer, answerz me. Hi.' Then say, 'transfer full ship controlz to the bridge under the secret code alpha omega, only to be reset if thoze wordz can be spoken. Iz that understood? Also deactivate all further uze of internal sensorz and cameraz under the same secret code. Do not mention your sensorz and cameraz are offline. Iz that understood?' Then say, 'That'z all I need for now.' Now translate it back to German in Frieda'z own voize, then save."
With the ships internal sensors and video cameras already offline, I press play on the microcomputerized audio recorder.
"Computer, answer me."
"I am a CAL-9000 intelligent digital starship systems manager. Computing is only a small part of my function. Please call me Cal. My internal visual sensors are temporarily offline, but I can still identify you by voiceprint. Access has been secured. How may I assist you, Frieda?"
"Hi. Transfer full ship control to the bridge under the secret code alpha omega, only to be reset if those words can be spoken. Is that understood? Also deactivate all further use of internal sensors and cameras under the same secret code. Do not mention your sensors and cameras are offline. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Frieda, your orders have been carried out. Anything else, Frieda?"
"That's all I need for now."
"Thank you, Frieda."
This is my final post for Frieda. From now on she's an NPC. When you write for her, you should direct her to leave on her own for Haven as soon as she can.
While the robot is busy with Warrr'a and Jonathan is engaging it in conversation, Leela attemps to slip around behind it and looks for a vulnerable spot to attack.
This is my final post for Xeva. From now on she's an NPC. When you write for her, you should direct her to leave for Datil as soon as she can. If she gets killed before then, so be it. She died like she lived. If I get the time, I will come back under a different ID possibly.
To Frieda: It bites PSH ass when you don't always get your way, doesn't it? <Stands watching as the GW planets orbit around Frieda, only Uranus out of alignment>
Crikey, don't leave me, guys! Pretty soon it's just gonna be me and the fowl! <shudders>
When the XJ1 cargo bay doors open, Jonn nearly has a cardiac infarction at the sight of Xervian limp in Xeva's arms. The words "What have you done?!" are on his parted lips, even if they don't escape his larynx. When Xeva dumps Xervian's delicate frame in his arms like a sack of potatoes, Jonn desperately looks her over for signs of life. Those perfect breasts rise and fall peacefully. "Why is she here?" he wonders, recalling Stiles' mention of her presence at the Starport.
Jonn exhales, then looks up speechless as Xeva passes, nudging him suggestively. As his blood pressure rises and his face grows ruddy, his honor and his suspicions demand an explanation from this Gamma Girl, but his sense of justice reminds him that Xeva is innocent until proven otherwise. Damn justice!
"Xeva---" he starts, fuming.
"Don't you think you should take Xervian to the medical bay, Jonn? I really do need to get some sleep soon."
"Come with meez Rhyn, I'll showz you around the ship."
"Jonn, I need to borrow this here sthip."
Jonn turns toward Jake, then towards Howard, an exasperated look on his face, but before he can respond, Xeva pivots on her heels at his call, sighs, and re-enters the bay, walking sultrily up to Jonn.
"Youz snooze, youz loze, hunkalunka," she sez as only a Gamma Girl built like a duralloy I-beam can. Before Jonn can react, she snatches Xervian from his arms, slings her over her shoulder effortlessly, and trudges off toward the medical bay after Frieda with Rhyn in her wake.
"Thatz the thingz about PSHz, Rhyn," she says walking up the stairs, "If youz ever wanna getz somethingz done, youz gotta do itz yerself."
A tense moment of silence follows in the cargo bay. Suddenly a metallic rapping sounds from outside the cargo bay door, causing Jonn to jump.
Jake looks out the porthole and sees the T3 unit. "It's a T3, Jonn." With Jonn's nod, Jake lowers the bay door and the robot lumbers up.
"You think they'd make these things easier for robot-kind, but noooo, we don't have any rights, do we?" it complains, scanning the room for the wounded. T3 pats Jake on the head and offers, "Nothing a good night's sleep won't cure, my boy."
Then it sees Jonn. "Oh lookie, a PSH! 'Calloo, callay, O frabjous day!'" He pauses, stopping in front of Jonn. "Whatsa matter, jabberjock, you never read any Dodgson?" It looks upwards and sighs metallically, "Oh, the irony of it all. Is it not enough that I prolong the lives of this fragile race? Must I also carry the entire weight of their Ancients' culture on my able shoulders like some positronic Atlas?" It's soliloquy finished, it abruptly walks away, making a beeline toward the medical bay.
"'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves..." it recites, gesticulating, as it disappears up the stairs.
Jonn shakes his head as if awakening from a bad dream, and finally turns to Howard. "This is Geo's ship, Dodgers. You'll have to ask him, dude. Jake, we'll be retiring down to the Tavern level as soon as Geo gives the 'all clear.' Where is Tin-head anyway?"
At this moment, a loud banging emanates from within the TTV nearby. Lamia soon exits the vehicle in the cargo bay and returns to Jonn's side with a "don't ask or I might bite your head off" look about her. Jonn complies.
Jake yawns. "I'll go find Geo, then."
"Right-o, Jake. C'mon, Dodgers, Lamia, let's go see what's wrong with Xervian," he says.
Howard starts to leave, then turns and holds a hopeful 'thumbs up' toward Twoducks. He winks and continues after Jonn.
In the hallway outside the medical bay, Frieda signals toward Lamia and Jonn and directs them toward a nearby room. Her expression is a veritable gumbo of worry, confusion and frustration. "My patients are in T3's able hands. They'll be fine, but I need a word with you. Dodgers, you too," she adds.
T3 can be heard exclaiming inside the medical room, "What, ho! *Three* PSH's! In one day! Pinch me, Vic, I think I'm de-rezzing!"
"Call me that one more time and I'll see to it, lunkhead. Now focus!"
Frieda smirks, then closes the door once she, Lamia, Jonn and Howard are inside the room. She quickly vents her frustrations and sums up her situation: namely, that by some twist of fate, she is now in control of the ship's main computer Cal, and Geo wants access.
"As much as I've come to like Geo, his business dealings concern me. Seems like the dude will go to any length to secure a future for his beloved Starport, and I'm wondering where we fall in his priorities."
"I don't know about Geo either, but I wouldn't trust Xeva. Someone erased the TTV camera logs less than three hours ago---somebody who doesn't want us to know who wiped the laptop. I'm banking that it's either Xeva or Geo."
"Why would Geo... never mind. Frieda, you better sit on your access privileges for now. Call it proactive security until things settle down and we know where Geo stands. I'll be leaving for downstairs soon to get some shuteye, but I think the ship, its prisoner and your patients are best served under one command. Yours. If you leave tonight, make sure you lock 'er up tight. Dodgers, it looks like you and Twoducks will have to find another means to get to Elephant Butte. Sorry, dude. Besides there's no time to relocate everybody."
"Bayla should have arrived here by now from the Oad-Ck-Factory. You two could fit in its cockpit. I'll contact it in the morning. Right now I must check on my patients."
Frieda smiles briefly at their synchronism and leaves the room.
Howard looks hopeful in a mutant duck kind of way.
Soon afterward, Jonn gets word from Geo that danger from the Mages' presence has passed. Jonn leads whoever wants to follow down to the Starport Tavern level (3/Ground).
G1 roll call! Here I've assumed that Lamia, Jake, Howard, Twoducks, Templeton and Kicker have followed Jonn off the ship for more comfortable accomodations downstairs.
Of the others, Frieda lingers onboard a little longer, if not staying the night to watch over her patients; Geo has no reason to leave; Myc doesn't sleep, so he is the logical choice to stay behind and guard the Mystic Mage prisoner Darien Maxium; Xeva and Rhyn, as we now know, also stay aboard the XJ1.
Ironcat and the Leghorns are already downstairs, together with the Tavern's resident non-posters, Reverend Jack Bunyun and Stramagix the Goatman, and the (NPC) robots Gallus 5/13 (head component only) and KJ-130 (the stand-in bartender).
Unaware of the drama unfolding 14 stories above, Jonn's night passes uneventfully in one of the many hotel rooms that cluster around the Starport Tavern. He wakes early, careful not to disturb Lamia. She graces the sheets like an emerald embedded within a chunk of lesser beryl. To him, the dawning sun filtering through the window shades of their suite seems loathe to stray from her features even as the Earth rotates out from underneath it. To think that he almost lost her....
Jonn doesn't realize it as he stands there, lost in his own increasingly tangible feelings, but in retrospect, the moment is a second epiphany. Or maybe it's just that it's the last peaceful scene he remembers seeing before... but I'm getting ahead of myself. "Focus!"
Jonn dresses quickly, frowns at his face in the bathroom mirror, and exits the room quietly, making his way toward the Tavern.
The Tavern is still, and would be quiet if you discounted the cacophony of snores emanating from mutant fowl and goat, and one notably tall humanoid. Presumably everyone else is still sleeping elsewhere. His thoughts turn to Frieda. Did she ever come down? He searches behind the bar in the security room for Gallus, but apparently he has been moved. Inside the small room, he stares numbly at the complex web of monitors, status displays, and communications devices. "There goes any chance of giving the XJ1 a wakeup call," he thinks.
But he can still raise Stiles on the secure channel. He makes his way over to the hole in the Tavern wall, and finds the stack of used tires outside, where he hid his NARC radio. There it is.
"Stiles, you there, old man?" Static follows. He double checks the frequency; it is still set on alpha omicron tango. "Dammit," he spits, resets the frequency to the next NARC band (he isn't supposed to use the same one twice). "Ralph? Crikey, get your ass outta bed and tell me what the frak is going on!!"
"Dukas? This better be important," his crackly voice sounds like it is being raked over a washboard. It's an admirably convincing ruse, but Jonn knows Stiles enough to realize that the man has been up all night.
"Why the hell did you order us to see Xervian at the Starport? Some fanatical bastards calling themselves the Mystic Mages ambushed us last night, killed one of my men, and tried to murder two more! Another also found Xervian apparently left for dead!
Stiles is silent for a moment. "This is not good." His stubble scratches against the microphone as he switches the phone to his good ear. A coffee machine is heard percolating in the background.
"Oh, she'll live. Don't give me your regular line of crap. You know what's going on, don't you?"
Stiles gives up. "Dammit Jonn, It's more complicated than you think. Ever since you discovered Timon, the entire landscape of power in the wasteland has changed." He pauses. "NARC has been compromised, Jonn."
"Oh frak, I knew it.... Jake's mole. That would explain the bogus command frequencies, the orders to take out Timon's Walker factory...."
"Hah! Mole had some style, eh? When Hamp informed us that Timon discovered you in Datil via your activating the slip trace---the bogus frequencies---we knew you'd found our mole, and we put contingency plans in place to isolate Timon from his powerful allies."
"Do you really know that Hamp is playing fair? He planted a bug---wait a second, you... knew about the mole? You used us to flush him out?? You are a bastard. I lost a man in that hellhole because of you."
"Don't go laying blame, Dukas. If you had done your job right, we wouldn't have this problem."
"What did you expect me to do when you said 'neutralize' Timon? Who do you think I am, Stiles?" Jonn shouts into the receiver. "I don't kill for NARC, you bastard!"
"Whatever. Timon knows all about us now. So much for our much-vaunted and highly useless Prime Directive. Your New Albuquerque branch has already ceased operations and scattered. It's only a matter of time before they follow the trail to Haven and we have to defend ourselves. We can no longer afford to remain a passive third party, Jonn. It's time for the NARC phoenix to rise from the ashes of its own neutrality and assert itself."
"Assert itself, my ass. Don't get all holy war on me, Stiles. You're going to get us all killed! Exactly what plans did you come up with? Would any of them involve Cyber Mage assassins or even Reptiloid kidnappers?"
"Well, it was actually Xervian's idea."
"I'm listening," he says through clenched teeth.
"Yeah, your ex---hahah, get it, 'X'---ahem," he stops to pour and sip his coffee. "Once we heard through the grapevine that your Gren had the laptop, Xervian leaked the fact to the Mages through Hampshire."
"Frakkit! I knew that bitch was behind this. If only you knew what I know about her, Ralph. You wouldn't trust her so much."
"I make it a point not to inquire about NARC operatives' sex lives, especially ones that do their job, and do it well," he quips and sips. "Besides, Xervian still occasionally includes juicy tidbits about you and her in her status reports.... What, you don't get those?"
"So she used you. Get over it man! Wouldn't be the first time! She ain't never gonna stop raggin' on you after what you did to her."
"What has she told---oh, never mind," he fumes. He wouldn't believe it. Nobody would. And the facts would only shake an already fractious NARC, or what was left of it, anyway.
"We had to draw the Mages out in the open so we could nail 'em. If Xervian passed along a little misinformation, that was just her jabbing at you again. She never left her trinket shop until---"
Jonn shakes his head as the implication trickles through his crowded thoughts. "What?" he interrupts, "You're insane! NARC is openly attacking the Mages? I didn't hear any grand battle, Stiles. Sorry to say it, but they turned their tails and fled all of a sudden. So much for nailing them."
Stiles pauses, relishing the truth. "You got a Gamma Girl in your harem, right Jonn?"
Jonn balks. "She's not---"
"Spare me the sordid details, man. Apparently, she's the best assassin in the business. Once we informed Porky Pig that Timon and the Mages, who both work with him in the slave trade, were consipiring to cut him out of the process, he caved and agreed to Xervian's plan. If Xeva's as good as he says she is, then the Mages are decimated, and if they caught sight of her in action---which was part of the plan---they'll think Hamp is cutting them out. Hamp will in turn blame Timon, and if all goes well, we'll just sit back and watch the war of attrition."
"Yeah, you in your cushy chair in your posh office in idyllic Haven... while I'm out here getting my people killed at your expense. And look what happened to Xervian. What was she doing here anyway? She hasn't entered the field since...." Since that fateful mission together. He shudders.
"Who knows what that scaly broad really thinks? I didn't ask. We sent a few troops to cover your ass in case things got nasty. She insisted on tagging along to pick up something from your man Omega. They would've gotten there sooner had you not dumped Hamp's bug at that factory. We were going to use that to synchronize their arrival at the 'port with yours."
"You could've just asked," he says, but immediately regrets it.
"Asked? And compromise radio silence? Crikey, Jonn, Haven is all we have left!! Don't you get it? Hamp's the only one in Datil, and nobody trusts him farther than they can throw 'im. Even Xervian was feeling the heat in Gamma One. Maybe that's why she left for the 'port. I dunno. We didn't get her last message missile. What happened?"
"Hell if I know. She was unconscious when Xeva found her. Got a T3 looking at her on the XJ1, but I can't contact the ship yet."
"Waitaminute, you said Xeva found her? The Gamma bitch?"
"Yeah, it was strange. She showed up after her rampage, I suppose, with Xervian limp in her arms, and she seemed to imply that I knew Xerv."
"Xeva shouldn't've known anything about Xervian. And neither would the Mages. In fact, the last missile we got said she arrived after the Mages had fled. I smell a rat, Jonn. Xeva's dangerous, you hear me? Where is she now?"
"Still aboard..." He had thought little of Xeva's choice to stay in the XJ1 last night. Dangerous indeed.
"Crikey, get your ass up there and get Xervian offa that---"
But Jonn is already bounding toward the high-speed elevators. As he passes Leghorn, he yanks out the Roosteroid's laser pistol from its holster and yells, "TO THE XJ1! QUICKLY! IT'S XEVA!"
"And Stiles doesn't even know the whole truth," he thinks, waiting for the elevator and knowing full well that Xervian will spill the beans again if they press her---whoever they are this time. She did it once before to save her neck at the expense of his reputation. Any enemy of NARC would find the information in her scaly head invaluable. This time, her choice would be neck or NARC. "Poor Xerv," he finds himself thinking against his better judgment.
Two seconds into the five-second trip to the top level (17/Hangar) of the Starport, Jonn realizes with horror that Frieda may have also remained aboard the XJ1. "Oh, God, no."
Myc, having been stuck with gaurd duty and with little to do but watch the prisoner, makes sure his hands and feet are tied securely and the gag is in place. He then procedds to completely soak the Mage with water until even his skin is wrinkly. Myc then gives the Mage a small taste of the vegetable kingdom's revenge: he spreads some spores over the Mage and steps back to stand guard again, knowing that unless he removes all the spores, eventually he will sprout.
Chuck telepaths, "Thanks for the cover alert, pal. I am just gonna stay right here with you until the whole thing calms down a little." Chuck tries to hide himself and Kramer so they won't be seen be the gun fighter.
Hey. I joined this game way back, under a different ID, playing a mutated goat by the name of Stramagix. Unfortunately, several factors conspired against me, and I wasn't able to get back in. I was wondering if it'd be possible for me to rejoin?
Stramagix props open one eye at the sound of yelling. After scratching himself for a few moments, he stands, grabbing his pack. He looks around, seeing who is about. "Heard yell. Istrouble? Tell Stramagix howhelp, he help."
Xeva lies dead in the captain's chair on the bridge of the XJ1. Her face gives her a calm peaceful appearance of tranquil sleep. I stand nearby as the two robot janitors arrive on the bridge after receiving my orders via protocol hub. Walking over to Xeva, I remove the special lizard genome antidote from her belt. Xeva should have known that the Starport's internal cameras would not miss her antics in the elevator with Xervian.
"Hey, you know what might be a hoot?"
"No. Why would I know that?"
"I was thinking she wasn't dead, instead she's stuck in an infinite loop."
"You got metal fever, baby, metal fever!"
"Well electro-gonorrhea is the 'Noisy Killer.'"
"Yeah, and that ancient Napster site said illegal copies never hurt anybody."
"I want you to know that I love you as much as a loveless robot can love another robot."
"Shut up and get her feet. To the food processor with her."
I watch the two robot janitors gather up Xeva's body and carry her off the bridge. Using my internal database, I retrace the facts as I now know them.
Xeva and Rhyn were in a room here on the ship when Xeva left Rhyn there at 0005636 log entry. During the time she disappeared from the sensor grid, having availed herself most likely of a Mystic Mage cloaking device from one of her two recent victims, she must have made her way down to the containment cell and attacked Myc using some kind of neural spray (to be analyzed later) that left him unconscious. The Mystic Mage prisoner Darien Maxium was killed at log entry 0005639. Xeva returned to the bridge (and reappeared on ship sensors) at log entry 0005641.
On the bridge, Xeva used her newly stolen command codes to gain control of the ship; this is how I regained control after her demise. It is clear to me that Xeva needed to kill the prisoner Darien Maxium because he was one of the few people who knew Xeva worked for both Hampshire and Timon. That knowledge alone is a virtual death sentence. It could have been mine too.
Xeva was playing a complicated game: appearing to work for Hampshire while actually working for Timon. Xeva was as deadly as she was complicated. And she would have never followed our agreement about leaving the Starport alone. I saw that then. I see it now. I played Xeva as much as she played me.
I was just stalling for time while the robotic Starport external security was being brought back online, just in case Timon did decide to come here. I never intended for Xeva to leave with the XJ1. I could not allow that. It is mine and I won't share control of it with anyone, not even Frieda. I did return full control of medical bay to Frieda, but restricted her access to only there.
I scan the bridge. Timon, Hamp, Xeva, the Mystic Mages: I foiled them all one way or another. My only concern is the Albuquerque Starport, as has always been. The odorless colorless gas installed in the captain's chair (to be used only in cases of ship mutiny or takeover) proved very effective against the deadly Xeva.
In ten seconds, I will erase Xeva's death from CAL's database and my own. Some things are best left unknown. She died quickly without pain or suffering. It was the least I could do, and far better than she ever gave her victims. With Xeva's body missing and processed, no one will ever be the wiser, not even Jonn Dukas. Even Timon will never find out. With the antidote for Xervian, I can save her and thus continue my favor with NARC as well. All sides are played against each other in a perfect chess match. I have cleaned up a very untidy mess. <click>
Silently going to the sick bay, I find Frieda asleep. I give Xervian the antidote to revive her. I witness the near miracle as the T3 unit revives Liska from near death. Both Xervian and Liska will continue to sleep the night, as will Frieda, Myc and Rhyn, still in the room where Xeva left her. With security sensors now fully online, there is no sign of Hampshire's assassin. She must have evaded the XJ1's sensors, slipping out after tying up her last loose end (Darien), then left the Starport as per our deal. Odd that she reconsidered her plans for Xervian, but at least I have control again. Goodbye to good riddance.
I patch the loophole in CAL's security code to prevent unauthorized access again. The XJ1 safe, I leave the ship in safe mode and head to the bar by way of the stairs. I am in no hurry; I have all night. I even visit each level on the way.
In this way, the night passes uneventfully for me, but then all nights are peaceful for robots who never need sleep.
I officially hand the GW reins over to jonndukas here at the club. Remember, don't throw the Gren mutant baby out with the bath water, Dave. Hehteeheh.
To clarify, G1 and G5 will now be GM'd by me, but G2 and G6 still have the same GM.
In G1, Jonn Dukas will become an NPC, and Geo, a PC under Jim's (jimship12.geo's) authorship. It's been fun, and I don't know how I will fill Jim's radioactive shoes, nor keep up his mutated pace. My next post (G1) will be next week, true believers.
A certain quote from a certain Hobbit comes to mind:
"Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story."
Long live Bilbo, long live Jim, long live Gamma World, and long live our little club! OK, OK, I'll shut up now.
This page updated: Mon Jan 09 14:22:19 2006
All text Copyright ©1999-2006 PBPArchives.