A Gamma World Hell Hole

A Gamma World® play-by-post adventure run by gammaworld_gm

Chapter 45: Elephant Butte

gammaworld_gm

OOC: G1 Cast List

GM: XJ1

Everyone eventually filters aboard the XJ1. Jake hauls the T3 frame on his shoulders and follows Frieda into the medical bay. Howard motions Jonn into the conference room and unknowingly closes the door on Xervian's astonished face. She hisses and then makes for the bridge, where Captain Leghorn has claimed the captain's chair (what else?), where Lamia has pulled out her laptop and plugged it into a science terminal, where Geo stands near a navigation terminal, where Mycinod, Twoducks and Kicker have filled seats in the rear, and where Rhyn stands looking overwhelmed and talking to herself.

Xervian

Xervian finds the diminutive robot. "Let's get this overblown chunk of duralloy in the air... Geo," she says, looking at his blue chestplate.

Geo

Geo routes control of the ship to his terminal after it becomes apparent that Captain Leghorn won't part with the command console. Without more than a whisper from the gravitic coils, the XJ1 lifts off the hangar floor gracefully and hovers as the massive Starport dome cracks open. With timed precision that would impress even Xeva (were she still alive), the XJ1 bursts forth from the Albuquerque Starport with mere inches of clearance. Geo arcs the craft up and around, points her toward Elephant Butte, and kicks in the gravitic afterburners (so to speak).

"ETA 10 minutes, 25.26432739 seconds. More or less," he turns and says, noting Lamia shaking her head at her useless laptop.

Lamia

"I still can't believe Xeva just walked away with all that data," she responds to his inquisitive stare.

Geo

Geo computes that now is the time to cash in on some foresight and further cement his favor with Lamia, Jonn, and ultimately NARC. "If by 'data' you mean the contents of your laptop's hard drive, do not worry. It's all in here," he taps his head and walks over to the incredulous Gren. "May I?" he asks, as he reaches for the laptop.

As he downloads several gigabytes of data from his own capacious memory banks, Geo continues, "It was a necessary precaution given the high security risk assessment I computed on the Gamma Girl shortly after she joined up with us. I made a deep copy of your disk before wiping it after Xeva finished using it. I analyzed her keystrokes during her navigation session aboard the TTV: she obtained nothing before I erased the drive."

Lamia

"Oh, Geo! I could kiss you!"

In fact, that's exactly what she does.

Xervian

"Oh, please," the Lizardwoman groans with a flick of her forked tongue. Xervian leaves the bridge for less sappy environs.

GM: Meanwhile, in the XJ1 Medical Bay

Jake and Frieda bend over the cranium of the lifeless T3 body as Victoria directs their fine tuning of the cybernetic interface between human brain and machine CPU. Finally, Jake stands back, admiring the view from underneath his trademark glasses.

Frieda

"Would you like to do the honors, Jake?"

Jake

"Aye, Missy. Kiss for good luck?" Pregnant pause. Coy smirk. "K, I'll take that." Jake reaches for the power switch, but the lab door suddenly opens, and in walks...

Xervian

"Ah, there you are, Omega. Look, man, sorry for using you guys to sniff out our mole in Datil. No hard feelings, eh? You get the disk?"

Jake

"Uh, uh, yeah." He tries not to look at her chest, really.

Xervian

"Well, that's bogus too. Just an old buggy copy of AOL v-five..." Blank stare. "...hundred. What? Think we'd risk the real McCoy? Anyway, here," she pulls a compact disk from somewhere beneath her waist shawl and hands it to him. "All you ever wanted to know about Area 61. The Gren's laptop can read it, if you can tear her away from it. Say, whatever happened to your robot sidekick? Dude had one killer smile," she slithers and winks. "Catchya later, Jack," she tweaks his stubbly cheek and shuts the door behind her.

Jake

Jake stands there motionless, his stoic features refusing to crack under pressure. "It's... Jake...." He rigidly places the disk in a vest pocket.

Frieda

Frieda places her hand on Jake's shoulder. "This can wait, Jake."

Jake

"No. I've already lost enough time." He throws the switch.

GM

The robot hull, once lifeless, quivers with the sudden influx of commands coursing forth from its newly installed cybernetic CPU---Jake's son Joshua's brain. Soon Victoria begins the upload of the required command subroutines from her own interleaved memory banks. Frieda copied them from T3 after obtaining its enthusiastic permission. She later secretly deleted its highly evolved (and highly annoying) personality module to allow room for Joshua's own personality to assert itself, free from any constraints imposed by robotic protocol. As an added bonus, the new cyborg would inherit T3's vast storehouse of humanoid medical knowledge and skills. This time, Joshua would be a master healer, not a deadly killer.

Frieda

"And thank God Jake got rid of that pleasurebot hull," she shudders at the thought, looking over at the man.

Joshua

Without warning, the cyborg sits up swiftly and barks, "Please state the nature of the medical emergency." It---he---looks over toward Jake and tilts his head back. "Ha-ha, always wanted to say that. Hiya pops!"

Jake

Jake's gaunt face, usually chiseled in ice, cracks a faint smile.

GM: Meanwhile, in the XJ1 Conference Room

Jonn and Howard, two long-time buddies, have been discussing plans and chewing the fat. We join them in medias res:

Jonn

Jonn continues as Howard examines Jonn's NARC field radio. "Just dial up 'Delta Upsilon Kappa Epsilon.' That's my NARC encrypted frequency. I'll get another unit in Haven so we can stay in touch. Be careful, dude. Timon may know you've got information on our whereabouts."

Howard

"Gotcha, Dukasth. Anyway, back to the juicthy stuffth... if she'sth really the one, doesth that mean you're finally sthetthling down?"

Jonn

Jonn draws his lips into a thin line and puffs them out in thought. He nods slowly. "Sure as the sunrise, my friend. Soon as this all blows over, I'm getting out." He continues nodding, as if trying to convince himself, then he seems to remember something else: "Dodgers, how the hell old are you anyway?" But before he gets an answer, the door behind them swishes open.

Xervian

"Alright, you had your turn, Duck," she says gruffly, shooing Howard out of his seat. After Howard leaves the room admidst much squabbling, she shuts the door and locks it. She swivels Howard's chair so that its back is closer to Jonn, then straddles the seat backwards facing Jonn, puts her elbows on the seatback and lowers her head into her upraised hands, slowly running them through her false hair before her chin comes to a rest on the chair.

"Jonnie...." she exhales. "We're... finished." She slowly pushes the wig off her smooth, scaly head and lets it fall to the floor.

Jonn

Jonn looks at the sleek Lizardwoman with pity. He almost reaches out to stroke her arm, but checks the reflex. "Frakkit, old habits die hard!" he curses to himself, searching for the doublespeak in her words, the manipulation, the agenda. But he finds none. She speaks of course of NARC; the two of them split nearly nine years ago.

"What did they do to you, Xerv?"

Xervian

"Not they. She. Xeva was the one who took me out! Bitch double-crossed us," she looks up into Jonn's baby blues, her own eyes brimming with tears. She knows by the elongation of his crow's feet that he is not surprised at the news.

"Timon must've suspected me. There were death threats, then rumors of a price on my capture. I had to get out, Jonnie. Once I heard you were busting out of Datil, I arranged an escort to meet up with you at the Starport. Day after I left, Ranse radioed that my shop was torched. He's also feeling the heat; I don't know how long he can hold out. I've never been so..." she looks up again to pierce Jonn with her biconvex pupils.

"If Timon had captured me..." her shudder swallows her words, just as the haunting memories of her capitulation under torture nearly a decago ago continue to stifle her self-esteem. That trademark cheerful haughtiness has been nothing but a protective veneer all these years---a layer which she finally sheds before Jonn, much as she did the wig. Who is she kidding anyway? "I'm such a fraud."

Jonn

Jonn stands, then kneels by her side. He hesitates a bit, bites his lip, then puts his arm around the lithe Reptiloid. Her tears dapple his shoulder. "Don't give up yet, Xerv. NARC needs your leadership. I still believe in you. Hell, why do you think I've put up with your pranks all these years?"

Xervian

Xervian chokes a laugh out between sniffles. "You've always been such a sucker," she pokes him in the side and lifts up her head. Against her will, she finds herself searching his eyes for the passion they were once convinced actually existed. "Jonnie, I don't know what I'd do... I don't know what I'd have done withou---"

GM

A timid rapping on the door gives Xervian pause to reconsider her words before she hopelessly lays her heart bare. She shakes her head, leans over and puts her wig back in place. She quickly nods and tips her chin toward the door. Jonn stands and answers it as she hurriedly blinks the excess moisture from underneath her nictitating membranes.

Lamia

Lamia looks hesitantly from Jonn, to Xervian, then back to Jonn, wondering what she's just interrupted. "Um, Geo says we've begun our descent to Elephant Butte."

GM

Geo soon lands the majestic XJ1 on the front lawn of a nice lodge by Elephant Butte's picturesque lake, whose placid surface is dotted with hundreds of waterfowl. Howard squabbles a bit at Geo's interpretation of his directions, saying something to the effect of "That's 'near' as in hydrogen bombs, not hand grenades!" only with extra consonants interspersed througout. Howard and Twoducks say their goodbyes, exit the craft with their loot and head toward the lodge's main entrance as the XJ1 rises effortlessly into the sky and speeds off toward Haven.

OOC: Group Status

Howard and Twoducks have now split from G1 to form their own group (G4) in Elephant Butte.


gammaworld_gm

OOC: G4 Cast List

GM: Elephant Butte Lodge

The foyer of the lodge is grand and spacious. Two elderly Duckoids offer to help you with your luggage as you approach the front desk, behind which stands a matronly Duckoid entering some data into the reservations computer. She looks up as you enter.

Elephant Butte Hotelier

"Ah," she smiles motherly, looking over you both, "sthall I book you in a sthpecial honeymoon sthuite? They're going fasth!" Then she does a double-take, peering closely at Howard. "Howard Dodgersth, isth that you, you old gander? Well, I'll be sthuffed!"

She looks again at Twoducks, shrugs and lifts her brow feathers. "You rasthcal, Howie! I never took you for---ah, never mindth. Your lady friendth awaitsth you in room U-235, your favorithe view."

What do you do?


gammaworld_gm

OOC: G3 Cast List

GM: Starport Level 5/Medical

Liara and Liska spend a good day together, mostly reminiscing on their shared childhood.

T3

T3 joins in the conversation when it can, but it respects their bonding, as it actually helps Liska's body heal itself. T3 even looks dejected when Liara announces her departure. After, all it's not every day the robot has had the pleasure of Pure Strain company, much less two amiable sisters well versed in the treasured literature of the Ancients.

"Goodbye, dear Liara. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Be careful out there. Don't you worry about your sister. I will see to it that she makes a full recovery!"

Once Liara leaves, T3 turns to Liska and attempts to brighten her bittersweet mood. "Now, where were we? More Tolkien? I just love to flex my Middle Earth dialectal algorithms...."

GM

You (Liska) and T3 continue to while away the time of your lengthy recovery, and you often wonder how your friends are faring in Haven. Perhaps one of these days, you'll have the strength to get down to the Tavern for some peace and quiet, and maybe a sarbis beer or two while the doc isn't watching, but for now, you're going to have to stomach quite a bit more of that indomitable T3.

T3

"...now let me stop here and point out Aragorn's proximity to Lady Arwen in the Rivendell scene. Coincidence, say you? Ha-ha, I think not! For hidden in the appendices of the third book, there's the tale of their forbidden betrothal and long-endured separation! Let me skip to that now. Don't worry, it doesn't spoil any surprises!"

OOC: Group Status

Liara has disbanded and so thus goes Mee'sss, with or without her.


twoducks_hardy

Twoducks

"Exthacthly what kind of view doesth thisth room have? Oh, and I wanth my own key. And my own bedth. No offense, Dodgersth, but I move around when I sthleep."


amazonworshipper

Jonathan

"Let's get out of here," Jonathan says, a strange mixture of sorrow and rage filling his mind as he seals Warrr'a in the cryo-tube. "I want to get out of here. I haven't even left yet, and I had to watch another one of their 'toys' kill someone. Maybe we can find someone who can help her. Where would a doctor be?"


katkin_kalvin

Katkin

"I have no idea where the doctor would be," says Kalvin, "and as for getting out of this hellhole, I am all for it." Katkin looks over his equipment and checks the condition of his fur <lick, lick> to see if everything is in order.


amazonworshipper

Jonathan

"Then show me how you came in here." Jonathan says, picking up his guitar and the med kit. "There has to be some kind of city or village nearby. If we don't find a doctor there, we might find someone who can direct us to one."


katkin_kalvin

Katkin

"The nearest village is several days' travel from here. We are in the middle of nowhere," says Katkin, as he looks over his war claws and crossbow, inspecting each weapon carefully for any damage. "I say we have a look around the area before leaving. There may be some device of the Ancients that will cure Warrr'a."


gammaben

Howard

GM

Two elderly Duckoids offer to help you with your luggage....

"Hey, uh, thanksth but no thanksth, I can get all thisth sthuff mysthelf." Howard doesn't want anyone rifling through his stuff. Not that this place is not respectable; it's just that he doesn't want to concern himself with trusting the bellhops to handle his equipment---and especially Jonn's radio---with care. Besides, Howard hardly has a big wardrobe. Mostly he has just, well, stuff.

Elephant Butte Hotelier

"Howard Dodgersth, isth that you, you old gander? Well, I'll be sthuffed!"

"Yeeeeeeeeeesth! It'sth me!" Howard does his best impression of one who has knees to bend in a graceful flourish, as only a Duckoid who can hardly bend his kness in a graceful flourish can.

Elephant Butte Hotelier

She looks again at Twoducks, shrugs and lifts her brow feathers. "You rasthcal, Howie! I never took you for---ah, never mindth. Your lady friendth awaitsth you in room U-235, your favorithe view."

"Ha, ha, no duck jokesth today, Missthy. I need all the machonessth I can musther! Thisth isth a buddy of mine, Twoducksth Hardy." He introduces his new acquaintance---hardly a buddy, as he's known him only a short time, but Twoducks is a fellow Duckoid. Furthermore, in this town it pays to be more friendly than usual.

Twoducks steps forward cautiously.

Twoducks

"Exthacthly what kind of view doesth thisth room have? Oh, and I wanth my own key. And my own bedth. No offense, Dodgersth, but I move around when I sthleep."

"Waugh, of coursthe! You ain't waddling into my room, Twoducksth! Move around all you want. Asth for the view, well, let's justh sthay I'm not a migratory Duckoid on account of the view. But, it isth nicthe, and it doesth have a nicthe glow to it. Yep. Make sthure you sthow him around the Lake," he says to the desk Duckoid with all the usual spittle and crackles befitting a Duckoid who only recently has climbed the evolutionary ladder toward a semblance of speech, albeit thanks to the mutagenic powers of the lingering radiation in the southwestern United States.

Howard approaches the desk to get his key. "Stho, sthe'sth sthill here, eh?" Howard asks mostly to himself in a state of semi-disbelief. He hears the hotelier, but he knows he is also late, and he doesn't need to look at the Year 2250 page-a-day calendar (recycled out of necessity as there aren't many calendars being mass-produced or distributed since the Apocalypse) to know this: his physiological and emotional turmoil is reminder enough.

Howard is glad Irma has apparently stuck around for him. Given their relationship, he hardly expects her not to still be here, but being around Jonn this long has allowed some male-perspective relationship insecurities to rub off on the poor Duckoid.

Morever, each year he wonders what she will do: let him leave on his own after their happy and necessary reunion, or try to pop the question. At least this year he can use his old buddy Jonn as an excuse to escape, should she start pushing for domestication. It's ironic, he thinks, that he was just bugging Jonn about Lamia and them settling down.

Twoducks

"Sthnap out of it, Howard! Don't keep the little lady waiting!"

Howard

"WAUGH!"

Howard accepts his key, signs the necessary disclaimers and waivers and heads for the stairs with his gear. Before departing company from Twoducks, he bids him farewell. "Sthee ya later! Remember, if the nesth is rockin', don't come a-knockin'! Waugh-waugh-waugh-waugh!"


amazonworshipper

Jonathan

"We tried that already, and it got your friend's neck broken," Jonathan says sadly, shaking his head. "This is a military complex. They built things to kill people with. If you really want to risk it again, I'll go with you, but I would not advise it."


cpt_leghorn

Captain Leghorn

I eyeball the Lamia/Geo kiss closely. "I say there, I say Gren, at least with mutants, you know what you're getting up front. This is of course a deep social metaphor for how dangerous and unpredictable robot/Gren relationships can be.... Ah, the neverending search for mediocracy... and normalcy."

"Eeew! Cooties!"

"Ahead thrusters full! C'mon Geo, drive this thing just like making love, like I told you before. Y'know, left, down, rotate sixty-two degrees, engage rotors... and then thrust! Ahhh, what a soaring feeling."

Geo

"We already thrusted, you pompous dimwit."

Captain Leghorn

"Really? Uh I say, I knew that, I was just testing you, that's all. Y'know, Geo, of all the friends I've had, you've never been one of them."

Geo

"Bah."

OOC

The way people respond to my posts, you'd think it's just a dicey tête-à-tête with the damnable NARChivist, but ya gotta love those French words!

cpt_leghorn

Is gammaben female? If so, name and phone number, please.

gammaben

Phone number: 867-5309.

As for you gammaben, I called that number and some grandmother answered. You should be ashamed of yourself. A better Roosteroid wouldn't tell you to kiss my ass-af, but I would. And stop dicing my posts up too, who do you think you are, the NARChivist's brother? My next post will be featuring gratuitous mutant duck nudity.


cpt_leghorn

OOC: Cast in this post

Captain Leghorn

"Oh, great, guys. Just great! Ruin the dramatic tension!"

Geo

"We had dramatic tension? I must have missed that. Well color me silly!"

Captain Leghorn

"It was right there. Just after the title, in the OOC part."

OOC: The Captain's Strange Interlude

Captain Leghorn

"Picture if you will, a dimension beyond time and space---a dimension in a time zone so removed, it's two days from when it is now. A place known only as... The NARC Zone." <Lightning flashes. Howard is heard to scream somewhere in the far distance. A sexual scream mayhaps, mayhaps not.>

"It seemed a fairly ordinary night, when Drake Mallard---" Leghorn opens the comic book to various pictures of Darkwing in both hero NARC and civilian guise (they both look the same, except for the scarf around his neck), "---and his fiancée, Beth Webfoot---" <more pictures>

Geo

"What's NARC doing in this story?"

Captain Leghorn

"We'll shut up about that, thank you." <Leghorn laughs in a very eerie way> "This has got to be the longest intro this type of parody can have!"

Geo

"Sounds like a song cue!"

Captain Leghorn

"It wasn't. Now where was I?" <A rip appears in the fabric of reality> "If you guys weren't all such volatile personas, I could maybe write just a few lines and leave it, but nooooo! So why don't you just shut up and let me get on with it?!"

Geo

"Yeah! Why don't we? Er... good question."

Captain Leghorn

<The hole closes> "In any case, it was to be a night out that both Drake and Beth were going to remember for a very... long... time. The sexual tension was in the air between them." <More lightning. This time Howard distinctly screams, "THUM! NOOOO!" Leghorn grins as the scene fades.>

Beth

<Beth and Drake are driving in a grav-car, presumably to Haven, in the driving rain. Get it, driving/driving? Eh, you're right, it wasn't that good. Suddenly a headlight comes toward them. Beth shields her face, her hand on Drake's bony knee.>

"Look out!"

Drake

"I see it!!" he says, looking at her hand.

<The hover motorcycle passes. Drake keeps his eyes on the road, barely, but Beth turns in her seat to watch it.>

Beth

"Gosh, that's the third hover motorcyclist that's passed us. And was that a pig riding that one?"

Drake

"It's possible. There are a few Pigoids living in this area---relation to Hampshire, I think. It's rather affluent around here... didn't you see the ruins we passed?"

Beth

"No, I meant a pig... like a little black piglet, Winny the Pooh type. Oh, never mind. I was probably just seeing things."

<Drake considers this possibility. Beth, meanwhile, thinks about what she saw... then looks back at Drake. Then Drake looks at her, and her and him. Then her eyes narrow as she thinks she figures something out. She says nothing, though. She turns back around in her seat and they drive in silence. Suddenly the silence is interrupted by a loud...>

BANG!

"What was that bang?!"

Drake

"Oh, gee, I don't know, Beth, a tire maybe? Yeesh..."

<Beth deflates---much like the tire---and looks rather sad. Now, I know grav-cars don't have tires, but Beth doesn't know, so play along. The NARChivist can fix the pot-hole, er, plot-hole later.>

Beth

"Sorry...."

Drake

"That's okay."

"I shouldn't have yelled," he thinks, among other things. "Well, I guess we might as well follow plot contrivances and enjoy our time out here alone."

<Drake looks skyward, then puts his arm around Beth and pulls her in close.>

"Honestly, Beth, you're too timid for your own good. How about a little quickie hanky-panky?"

Beth

"But... well... OK."

Drake

<Looks at the reader> "Oh give it a rest and stop watching us already, willya?!"

Captain Leghorn

Captain Leghorn closes the Ducktails comic and stuffs in the crack of the captain's seat, ending the ritual mating which would have followed on the next page had this not been a G-rated club.

"And the moral of that story is, never trust anyone without a beak or bill, any drive can foreshadow mating season, and women always believe it when the car quits."


gammaworld_gm

OOC: G4 Cast List

OOC

Hahah, cpt_leghorn, you crack me up. You threw the NARChivist quite a loop there with your surreal post. He's not quite sure how to format it.

Oh well, on with the show. The dearth of promised mutant duck nudity in the previous post will be remedied below. You are warned. :)

GM: Elephant Butte

After Howard departs, you (Twoducks) obtain a key to your own room from the hotelier, and head up the stairs to find it. You are eager to resume the hunt for your father's killer, and Elephant Butte seems as good a place as any for the search. Rounding a bend in the stairs, you sense a presence, and whip your bills around to see behind you. Wasn't that a shadow that just shrunk back? You continue upstairs to your room, feeling a bit unnerved. As you unlock and open the door to room U-238, you again pick up the shadow in your Cherokee tracker-enhanced peripheral vision. When you jerk your head around, you see nothing unusual.

Your room is modestly decorated, and opens onto a wonderful private balcony with an unobstructed view of the dark waters of Elephant Butte lake. You step outside on the balcony and take a deep breath of the crisp mountain air, and revel in its fresh scent, its clean taste. This is indeed a Duckoid's paradise.

You have several options open to you: rest a bit in your room or on the balcony; go back downstairs and see what kind of activities the hotel offers, and maybe ask the hotelier if she's available later; snoop around inside the hotel to assuage your suspicions of being stalked; restart your hunt lakeside, looking for bald eagle droppings, nests, feathers, or other signs of the dastardly assassin who killed your father.

Meanwhile, you (Howard) find your usual room, U-235, and unlock it as quietly as you can, hoping to surprise Irma. The lights are dim, but you can tell she lies asleep on the bed inside, no doubt charging up the ol' batteries for the activities to follow. There she is, thirty pounds of absolute female Duckoidness, a masterpiece in feather, bill and webbed feet. There's that soft "fwabble-fwabble" she makes in her sleep. Oh, and there's that little leg twitch that endears her so much to you. She's also naked, but that doesn't surprise you. Duckoids is as Duckoids does.

You somehow just manage to haul your truckload of guns, ammo, tools, poly-neptic cables, talking toys, joke books, chewing gum, commemmorative posters, and other highly useful gadgets into the room---all without a sound. That is, until your toy duck falls out of your overstuffed pack and onto the floor, and begins rapping loudly: "I'm rappin' cool duck and this is my sound... quack, quack! If ya' wanta get with me, you hafta get down... quack, quack!"

Irma

Irma gasps suddenly and sits up in bed, pulling the covers to her neck. "Oh! It'sth you, Howard! It'sth really you!" she says, choking on her words. "I ho---thoughth you wouldn'th sthow. A thoy! How thoughthful of you, Howard! You know how I love presentsth, Howard!" she nods her head vigorously. "Sthpeaking of which, Howard, there'sth a presthenth for you on the balcony," she says, shaking her head horizontally, and just as vigorously.

GM

You (Howard) cock your head slightly at Irma's awkward speech, at her head wavings, and at her insistence on calling you "Howard" instead of her usual "Howie," or "Howsers" or "Big Daddy" (your favorite). She points towards the curtains that obscure the balcony and stabs in that direction with her finger.

What do you do?


twoducks_hardy

OOC

What a great picture of Irma!!

Twoducks

I check into my room and check out the amenties. Then it's off to see how Howard is doing.


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