A Gamma World® play-by-post adventure run by gammaworld_gm
Jonn led the way down a service road toward the factory gate. The mutant cougar hesitated, then decided that a superiority complex was the better part of valor, and followed. In the inner recesses of his trenchcoat, his right arm stealthfully thumbed his Stun Ray to "Humming" mode. He was careful to avoid the "Zap" and the "Not Humming" buttons. With his left arm, he reached into his trenchcoat to make sure his two Stun grenades were secure and in the "No Pain" mode. They were indeed, and it was a good thing, too. He'd almost sold them after a nasty incident with a third. Ever since, he'd kept careful vigilance over the metallic spheres, making sure they were extra secure in his coat and always on the "No Pain" mode.
Brimstone checked out the yard on the other side of the fence as they approached. The entire area just inside the fence and outside the factory building was paved with the same material as the service road and highway. On the sides and back of the building the paved area stretched 20 meters wide, but in front, a 50 meter thick area was paved. The area appeared to be in good condition and very clean. Parked in the southeast corner was the large black grav-car Geo had mentioned. Armored and sleek, this was a limo compared to the one in which they'd arrived. Its license plate read "LPI-PRES," and it looked like an ID card would be needed to gain access.
The factory structure itself was constructed from concrete reinforced duralloy. The dimensions of the building were 80 meters long by 100 meters wide by 15 meters high. The front doors were ID-coded, as were the gates they now faced. Jonn, Lamia and Geo were discussing whether they should try Jonn's ID card in the reader, or cut the fence. Brimstone sighed. They were probably already being targeted.
The mutant duck was content to let Jonn attempt an opening of the formidable gate. Howard remained ground-side for the moment, waiting before making a trip over the electric fence where he'd be all by his lonesome. Not that he'd need anyone's help; it'd just get lonely.
Moving closer to Jonn, he saw the human fishing behind a breastplate of his plastic armor for something. Soon he revealed two plastic cards with metallic striping. Handing one to Lamia, he said "OK, uh, here."
Howard nearly clucked at Jonn's techno-ignorance, but he liked seeing the guy squirm. Especially around the pretty Gren. There was definitely some chemistry between those two.
"Uh Jonn, with this you might be able to get us a nice room at the Starport," Lamia winked, "but Oad-Ck doesn't take American Express!" Howard just couldn't hold it in, and quacked profusely as Jonn blushed a bright grav-car red.
Jonn snatched his credit card back and handed Lamia the other card Stiles had sent him. "I'm always getting these confused, sorry!"
Lamia put Jonn's (red) ID card in the slot. The gate lights flashed, a lock clicked open, and the gate swung open inward without a sound. Without making any more noise than a slight humming, a huge heavily armed hovering warbot left the roof (its hiding spot), and blocked the way to the factory entrance. Heavy lasers, mini-rail guns, and small mini-missiles unfolded and opened out of its sides. Red targeting lasers clicked on, creating many small red dots on Howard's breast. He noticed the dots on the others as well. Seeing the robot, Lamia shuffled behind Jonn and Brimstone.
"You are in a high security zone! Any attempt to gain entry will result in immediate termination," barked the warbot in a high pitched voice.
"Obviousthly, your card passth hasth exthpired," Howard whispered to Jonn. He felt like a sitting duck, so he squinted and concentrated inwardly to bring up his force field while Jonn smirked grimly, wondering what to do.
Jonn whispered back to Howard, "Dodgers, can you 'port 'im into yonder car instead? Otherwise, we may have to 'reason' with it, safeties off, and odds are it's gonna poke all kinda holes in us!"
Howard gave Jonn an "I'm an Examiner, not a site-to-site warbot transporter!" look. Unperturbed, Jonn turned to Geo, saying through a forced smile, "Know this guy?"
"Not physically if that is what you are asking, although I am programmed to perform certain sex acts. As for the warbot, it has a nuclear power plant, standard infrared, ultraviolet sensors with a 3 kilometer range. It's set to patrol a specific area and cannot leave it. Vaguely turtle-shell shaped, it is 9 meters long, 5 meters wide, 3 meters high. Anti-grav pods can move the unit to speeds of 150 KPH. Weaponry includes 4 micro missile launchers, 6 auto-torc grenades with launchers with a 500 meter range. 1-100 standard grenades, 4 black ray cannons with 200 meter range, 8 batteries of Mark VII blaster rifles, six laser batteries, 25 matter bombs, and a rotating reflective modulating energy screen <beep-beep>." Geo paused, as if to catch a breath, which of course he never could.
"That is, if it's the fully loaded model---it's not to say this warbot has all the options. Being our leader, you should talk to it. Just tell me where you want your vaporized ashes scattered in advance.... Ha-ha-ha. I always wanted to say that <beep-beep>." Geo advised in his own special way.
Howard elbowed Jonn's shinbone, as his invisible force field flickered into existence. "Ask the bot why your card opened the gathe but it won'th leth you in." He was banking on Jonn's Pure Strain genotype having some leverage with the war machine.
Jonn, his options exhausted, and fresh out of his trademark escape plans, addressed the warbot in as convincing a voice as he could muster, "Hmmm, sorry, I don't understand, warbot. My card has never brought you 'round before. Perhaps I should order a diagnostic run on your programming. Are my distinguished guests here confusing your adversary detection routines?"
Howard sighed, and mumbled, "Great, might as well have asked him for the last digit of pi!"
Lamia giggled nervously behind Jonn's broad shoulders as the party awaited a response.
Howard flinched but held his ground as the warbot moved closer as if to attack. Without responding, it suddenly pulled up, gaining altitude until it eventually disappeared from view over the roof of the compound. Everyone sighs a bit of relief.
Jonn scratched his stubble in disbelief. Then he turned to Howard, "What kind of pie was that?"
Jonn pushed his card into the slot at the front doors to the factory, then removed it. Effortlessly, the doors slid open. Lamia noticed that Jonn had connected the slot on Geo's chest with the slot on the door. The human wore a "wonder what that's for?" expression.
As they entered the 20 by 80 foot reception area [cf. Oad-Ck-Factory Map --ed.], she saw displayed along the right and left walls various business awards, plaques, and informational pieces about the corporation. A wooden desk and chair sat along the right wall just inside the door. Looking over the desk, she knew immediately that it had been thoroughly searched. On the desk top sat a name plate with the name "Jacques Cu Stowe" engraved in it. In two different corners of the room near the ceiling were two security cameras. Both appeared to be on and actively moving. There were two doors on the far wall.
Brimstone sniffed the air, and fidgeted. He was peering keenly at a rear corner of the room, but Lamia didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Howard picked up something small on the floor and recognized it as a grenade pin.
"Make a nice nose ring for someone," said Geo looking toward Lamia, who in turn frowned.
Brimstone was the first to speak. "Yellow alert, crew. Somebody toward the rear of the room. Can't tell who it is, though."
The moment the cougar said those words, a grenade sailed through the air from the back of the room. As it wobbled to a stop some 8 feet from the front door, a butt-ugly creature in the back far corner popped into view and opened fire with its infrared rifle, barely missing Brimstone as the surprised party reacted.
In concert, Jonn and Lamia dove for cover behind the desk. His shield still up, Howard let a shot fly with his needler, but couldn't tell if it hit. Geo stood motionless, knowing full well that his duralloy skin and personal energy sheilding was impervious to the grenade, and activated his thermal scanner to check for other hidden attackers. Brimstone fluidly whipped out and armed (to "Pain" mode) a stun grenade, but the creature's energy grenade exploded first, and he took the brunt of the blast (47 pts). Staggering, Brimstone loosed his grip on his stun grenade, which clanked on the metal floor near him and exploded, knocking him senseless, and frying the two cameras. Everyone else was unaffected by the EM pulse.
Jonn and Lamia, minorly wounded (7 pts) by the energy blast, reacted quickly, with Jonn upending the desk and Lamia firing behind its cover with her black ray pistol. Her shot was wide. Howard's shield had been nullified by the first grenade blast, but he stood his ground, concentrating again. Geo simply started walking toward the creature, who soon fell motionless just as Howard teleported its rifle into his feathered hands.
"Cool!" Howard quacked. He instantly checked out the rifle and found it had six shots left.
"Things are not going quite as well as I had planned they would," Lamia said, taking Jonn's hand to stand up. She fiddled with her holster and finally replaced her pistol. "Maybe we should be a bit more careful, Jonn? I hope Brimstone is alright. We need him more than he knows." She hurried over to check out the fallen cougar, who had begun to stir.
"There are no more creatures in this room," Geo stated flatly as he reached the prone creature. He prodded it with his metal foot. The creature was vaguely Chameleoid, and very dead.
"That's good news, Geo," Jonn said, pulling out some rope as he and Howard joined Geo. Jonn bent over and started to tie up the creature. "And it looks like Brimstone's going to be OK," he added, looking past Geo toward the front door where Lamia was dressing Brimstone's burns.
Howard waddled over to the creature's face and whispered in its ear, "I'll justh be holding on to this gun of yoursth. No hard feelingths, but you did try to zthap me!" He noticed a green ID badge around its neck, and took it off. "I'll take thisth too!"
Geo watched Jonn intently. The human sure was exhibiting strange behavior. Geo finally spoke up, "I do not know why you would want to tie up a dead creature, but then again I never did understand carbon based humanoids' reasons for some of the strange stuff they do. I suspect its system could not base reduce the Needler's K-ht1 formula."
Jonn stopped tying a truly monstrous knot and poked the Chameleoid. Yup, dead as road pizza on desert tires. "Aw, frak!" He blushed, and heard Lamia giggle as she and Brimstone approached.
The Cougaroid pulled out his stun ray pistol and made sure it was still on "Humming" mode. Deftfully, he tossed it from one hand to another and spinned it on a finger before gripping it tightly and confidently. Finally, emitting a low cougar growl, he flexed his battered and bruised ribs and scowled. "Geo, be assured that my bill is in the mail."
As usual, Geo didn't miss a beat. "You will first have to survive to collect that bonus. Statistically at this rate you have a 7.6% of survival." He privately hoped that hiring the testy merc would be worth it.
Jonn stood and replaced his rope, then retrieved his trusty red ID card. He pushed it into the slot in the double doors at the end of the reception area, and pulled it out, causing the door to open automatically. The doors opened into a short alcove off a darkened corridor extending to the left and right.
"There should be a light switch here somewhere," Lamia offered. Indeed there was. Lamia located it at the alcove's far edge and flipped it on. The corridor instantly lit up from one end to the other. At that same moment, small weapons fire exploded from the right passage.
Geo quickly peeked around the corner to investigate the hallway. There were two alcoves on the opposite wall near the right end of the corridor, and a closer one on the opposite wall to the left, about 40 feet down. With a few trajectory calculations, Geo concluded that they were relatively safe from attack in their current alcove, but that entering the corridor would make them a perfect target.
He spoke up, "There are three creatures down there. My reading shows one of them to be Pure Strain human. They fired a slug thrower, a laser pistol and a Mark V blaster. If my calculations are correct a full head on charge should only kill two of you at most." The unflappable robot stole another peek down the corridor. "Stop firing down there! We already killed your friend!" he yelled. In answer, a single laser blast ricocheted off two walls into the alcove, narrowly missing Lamia's head.
"Did anyone ever tell you your interpersonal skills need upgrading, Geo?" Lamia said, slinking low against the wall of the alcove with her black ray pistol held tightly in both hands.
Howard Dodgers of the 23½ Century hadn't come all this way to be stopped by some punks taking pot shots at them. Quicker than one could say "Duck Sthoup!" he whipped his grenade launcher about and fired a stun grenade down the corridor.
The grenade sped down the corridor, but after it passed the first alcove fifty feet distant, it hit an invisible force net and bounced back 5 feet, short 90 feet to the three-strong firing squad, who scrambled into their alcove and started laughing. As all Examiners worth their salt know, force nets are small mobile devices which stop grenade-sized or larger masses from passing through at high speed. Howard winced with this realization as the grenade exploded harmlessly in the corridor.
One of their assailants at the far end of the corridor flipped the corridor lights on and off from another switch, and started yelling taunts and insults. Howard anthropomorphized a grim expression on Geo's immutable face. "Are we surrendering Jonn? They have us by our proverbial lug nuts!"
As Jonn scratched his stubble, Howard knew he was at work dreaming up another impossible escape plan. Turning to Geo, Howard had an idea of his own, "Hey, you gotta fire exthinguisther in there somewhere?" Howard pokes a feathered sixth finger at Geo's duralloy casing. "Ya know, kinda like R-Thwo-D-Thwo on Sthar Warsth?" He also asked if Geo wanted to use his IR rifle.
The robot paused for a moment while he translated Howard's speech (deleting inappropriate th's). He looked down where he was being poked by the mutant duck. "From which movie? There were 16 of them you know." Geo shook his metal head, "No, I didn't <beep, beep> get the fire extinguisher or the toilet scrubber option. Both would have been very handy about now. My shields are down 50% and remodulation will take at least 5 hours to bring them back to 100%. Yes I am proficient in weapons and can use them if it is absolutely necessary. The problem I have discovered is that persons carrying them tend to get shot."
Lamia's patience was thinning, so she spoke up, "I say we all make a run for it!" She looked at the human for his assent. She tried to slap her pistol smoothly into her holster but fumbled. Eventually she secured it at her hip using two hands.
"Hmm, Lamia, no, I think that would present a wide target for them, plus, we wouldn't be able to return fire efficiently or safely while running. I think each of us should make the run separately, with the others providing cover fire. Dodgers, how about you first, then Brimstone, then Lamia, then Geo. I'll sprint last," Jonn finished, taking a deep breath. Wow, this plan was the best he'd come up with yet! Sometimes he amazed himself. Lamia sulked a bit, and for some reason he felt deflated. Geo stared silently at Jonn, giving him the creeps.
"Righth!" Howard's one slurred word summed up his compliance. He held up the IR rifle, barrel first, and hopped up on top of Geo's shoulders. His back pressed to the near alcove wall and his feet gripping the metallic collarbone of the robot, he again bent around the corner and fired a shot from the IR gun down the hall. Not taking the time to see if he hit, Howard launched himself, using the wall and Geo's face as a spring board, and flew quickly down the hall.
Jonn quickly fired some rounds toward the thugs to cover his feathered friend's dash. "Brimstone, you're on deck!" he managed between bursts.
Howard managed to make it to the far alcove on the left without a single shot being fired from down the hall. Seconds later, Brimstone sped down the corridor, also without a shot fired. Jonn thought his auto rifle's muzzle flashes might have been masking his friends' flight.
But not for long. Shots rang out from the right end of the corridor as Lamia darted off down the corridor with Geo right behind her. Geo's energy shield flared violently as he took two shots meant for Lamia, and the thugs, cursing, suddenly ceased their fire. Jonn realized they would be fully aware that he had yet to run their gauntlet.
Once Geo had made his run, Howard partially ducked back into the corridor, IR rifle nose first, and gave Jonn some distraction in the form of a single well-aimed shot. Jonn shouldered his rifle as he heard Howard squawk, "Come on guysth, let'sth return Jonn the favor!"
Under cover of Lamia's and Howard's volley (2 shots each), Jonn made like a library and booked it down the corridor, keeping to his left until the last minute. Howard actually nailed one of the goons right between the eyes, but as Jonn rounded the corner into the alcove (which turned out to be a T-junction in the corridor), he got shot through the shoulder (11 pts damage) by one of the remaining thugs. The bullet's impact spun him and knocked him to the floor, but the ever-vigilant Geo had already reached out into the hall and now easily pulled him to safety.
With Howard still peering down the corridor to keep an eye on the thugs, Brimstone reported back that their corridor twisted around yet another corner (going about 40 feet total) before ending at an ID-required door with a live security camera moving above it.
Lamia tended to Jonn's wound. "Eh, just a flesh wound, but thanks, Lamia!" Jonn grimaced. Luckily she didn't have to do any bullet extraction: the slug had gone straight through the thickest part of his deltoid. In her close proximity, he wondered if she were green everywhere, and the thought lingered nicely for a few moments, but soon he was busy thinking of their next move. "What do you say we take out the camera and try my lucky ID card again, eh?" Jonn asked the group as he stood up and flexed his rotator cuff experimentally. It still worked.
Walking cautiously around the corner to the door, Lamia had Geo and Jonn give her a quick boost up when the camera was turned, and she put a thick black sock over the lens. "Hey, watch the hands guys!" she said smiling slightly. "I said lift me up, not feel me up!"
"D'oh! Busthed," Howard said.
Jonn's face got grav-car-red again and he held his hands up in a futile attempt at pleading innocence. "Geo??" Jonn accused, defensively. Jonn considered where his hands had just been, when Brimstone hacked up a ghost-hairball.
"We ain't got all day, hu-mann," the Cougaroid stated, perennially irritated.
"Oh, yeah, right you are, Mr. Brownstone," Jonn answered, as his eyes returned from that same glazed-over look they often got at the New Albuquerque Dairy Queen when his chocolate-dipped ice cream would give him a frost-headache. With weapons drawn, the team of postmodern-day delvers awaited as Jonn, whistling a few bars of Guns N'Roses, slid his red ID card into the door. "We been dancin' with Mr. Brownstone...."
The door instantly unlocked and slid open into the wall to reveal a 30 by 40 foot room in whose center lay a 12 square foot horseshoe shaped arrangement of fourteen security monitors, facing and providing very good cover for a large laser pistol-toting mutated rooster seated at their center. Across the room near a door on the back wall stood a security robotoid holding a .38 caliber slug thrower in one gripping claw.
This page updated: Mon Jan 09 14:22:20 2006
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