A Metamorphosis Alpha® play-by-post adventure run by supreme_arbiter
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
18:50 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM
18:51 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA P3
18:52 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED
18:53 WATCHER SURVEILLANCE LINKUP
.........-TRANSFER INFORMATION TO CC
.........-HOVER DRIOD IN TERRA P3
Devon scratches his chin, "Really, a senior propulsion engineer? I'm impressed. I haven't seen one of those in years. Are you sure? Because all I saw was another Blendoid and a stupid looking mutated house cat. So you're an original Moonwerk, huh? Maybe you could tell me what this is, then?" Devon reaches into his pocket and withdraws a small hand-sized control unit of some type. "This thing has a lot of buttons and nifty lights on it but I don't know what it does." The ruse is working perfectly, thinks Devon, who carefully presses one of the buttons on the ion generating dampening device.
Tinker's systems go offline instantly when Devon pushes the button. Devon smiles deviously as the inert Moonwerk stands motionless like a statue. "Stupid toaster," he says. Tinker's systems go into auto shut down to protect themselves from suffering a critical non-recoverable power drain. The group swarms in and removes all of Tinker's weapons and power cells, even prying the weapon from his metal appendages (but not taking any of his tools or duck tape). Once they are finished, they place ropes around Tinker and he is unceremoniously dragged out of the elevator. The elevator doors close (and the elevator moves to a different level as directed by someone elsewhere).
With Tinker lying face down in the dirt like a discarded garbage can, the group of would-be savages remove their ropes and quickly disperse into the forest, hoping to catch their next target before it returns to the Moonwerk, as it said would happen. At least that is their plan.
Tinker's systems reboot and his full power comes back online minutes later. A diagnostic system check reveals that Tinker has lost 4.5% of his stored power, but otherwise all systems are within working operational perimeters.
Still standing at the door holding it open as he waits for Percy and Zhaxier to return, Chelydra addresses Amanda, occasionally turning his head back toward the ominous forest filling his vision. "Amanda, you said this so-called 'Watcher' is through that door somewhere. Just how far is it and what kind of guards does he have?" Chelydra's questions are direct and to the point, and the turtle-man considers taking the fight to the Watcher, one of his many thoughts at the moment.
Amanda thinks about Chelydra's question, biting her lip. "I guess it's about a five minute walk I think, uhm, maybe. The Watcher's guards are these large hairy pale skinned creatures which look human." Amanda shivers at her own words. "They have large light-sensitive eyes and stand around in groups of three or four. You're not seriously considering fighting them, are you?"
Chelydra doesn't answer.
As Percy walks back toward the control room to rejoin the others, he looks up to his left to see a floating metal disk hovering in the tree tops. Percy freezes like a deer caught in a spotlight and also wonders if he has been caught on camera peeing. He has seen the metal camera disks before. They are mostly used for security purposes throughout Warden and for inspecting exterior hull damage. All are manually controlled by someone somewhere.
Chelydra looks up to where Percy is looking and also notices the disk.
Nike sighs at Zhaxier's departure. He is so very frustrating to deal with. Nike wonders if he listened to anything she just said. She stands and paces in a circle. She could just make the decision for the group. "But a consensus would help unify us," she thinks, feeling the need.
"I'm with you Nike. Wherever you go, I'll follow," Amanda says, wanting to touch Nike's hand but she remembers the slap earlier. "I've heard about the human settlements, Nike. I could tell you what I know about them," she offers, slowly standing and moving beside Nike.
Zhaxier glides past Chelydra, walking out into the brush where he left the mutant tabby. He picks up his medical bag and looks around for his friend, but Claus is no where to be seen. Zhaxier also realizes it will be dark soon and he needs to make a decision very quickly. Should he return alone to Tinker? Nike's last words echo in his hyperurgent brain. Noticing both Percy and Chelydra watching something, Zhaxier turns to see the silent metal disk floating in the tree tops maybe fifty feet away, closer to him than anyone else. Zhaxier knows what it is.
Back inside the control room, the door leading into the dark corridor is suddenly thrown open and five large hairy creatures burst into the room. Amanda screams, "No, I don't wanna go! Don't let them take me again!" She throws her arms around Nike, holding on as tightly as she can. Chelydra spins around to face them, clicking his shotgun off safety.
What do you do?
Nothing like a good fight to bring people together, is there?
Do I still have the blaster and the slug thrower stored in my chest cavity?
"You know of course, that this means war," he broods silently.
Nike pushes Amanda toward the exit door, brandishes her stun gun and points it at the nearest hairy oaf. She isn't necessarily willing to give up their little haven, but at the same time, she doesn't know what capabilities these creatures have, and she wants to be able to exit quickly if need be. Besides, if they have to exit, then once outside, she and Chelydra can take cover behind the trees and hopefully pick them off one by one.
An idea strikes her. "What was it Amanda said?" she thinks, "light sensitive eyes...." While moving toward the door, pushing Amanda ahead of her, and targeting an oaf, she takes a second to scan for anything that may create a flash of light.
Percy Jenkins remains at a dead stop in his tracks, but his eyes dart from the floating metal disks, to the floating medical bag, to Chelydra (who spins around to face the inside of the control room), to the commotion just beyond him. Nike has Amanda clutching to her in desperation, and is in turn taking aim at something large and hairy---no, make that more than one somethings large and hairy---that have appeared on the far side of the room.
"Waaiiitaminute!" he says aloud, but not very convincingly, as he gazes upon the form of yet another species of mutated sentience. "We can't fall back---my stuff is still in there...." The words trail off to silence as he realizes that losing his bag of junk is the least of his worries. Another worry is that he still doesn't know what triggered his own transformation into the Wolfoid. Was it proximity? Randomness? In any case, he tries to figure out what they are, what they were, perhaps, and what he is going to do about it. As he concentrates on the scene, his headache knocks on the door of his brain and reminds him that it hasn't completely gone away.
Zhaxier hears a frightening scream and notices Butch shoving the blonde toward the door as Chelydra spins in the doorway to face something inside and RAM freezes in his tracks. Zhaxier hesitates, still pissed that Claus has apparently abandoned him, and still wary that the hoverbot might be watching his every move. He crouches behind the cover of the brush and draws his pistol slowly, all the while watching the "watcher."
He notes with curious detachment how his hands shake. For a disembodied moment, he is beside himself, watching the absurd scene unfold. He has trained with a gun---or inherited the memory at least---but training never covered this scenario. His pulse racing and hammering through his temples, and sweat dripping down his bald pate into his eyes, he realizes he has a better chance of stabilizing an antimatter pulse-modulated <insert gratuitous technobabble here> feedback loop with a torc wrench than he has of disabling the hoverbot, so instead he draws an unsteady bead on the doorway of the metal hut and puts his shades slowly in his bag. Now if Butch would just get outta the way....
The irony of his situation does not escape him. "Don't worry guys," he vows to himself, "I ain't leavin' you this time." His thoughts briefly turn to Tinker in the elevator. "I'll be back for you, too, grizzly dude."
Noise. Sounds. Hunger.
She hears them almost before she smells them. Strange scents, like the ones she smelled before. They speak to each other....
A frown crosses her face as she creeps up closer. Hungry. Sounds alive. Makes sounds like alive. Smells alive.
As she gets closer, the sounds become clearer. Something is shouting. She recognizes the noises as words, and slumps in disappointment. "Yes, Papa. I still know. If it talk, not food. But I so hungry." Sighing, she continues towards the noise, now more out of curiosity than anything else.
As the pair of shades disappear into the bag, a large and powerful figure steps out of the woods behind Zhaxier, creeping up slowly towards the shrub as she sniffs the air. She stops just inches from him, watching the activity at the door intently. Although she doesn't seem to see him, she starts sniffing the air again, turning her nose in his general direction.
[There's a new player:
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
18:54 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM
18:55 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA P3 - RECOVER M5
18:56 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED - CODE 3 ALPHA
19:00 WATCHER SURVEILLANCE LINKUP
.........-TRANSFER INFORMATION TO CC
.........-HOVER DRIOD IN TERRA P3 NEAR CONTROL ROOM
Anything within Tinker's chest cavity, such as the blaster and the slug thrower, is still there. The time interval between the Dark Dwellers' entrance and exit is mere seconds at the most, so some character actions did not happen.
As the five large hairy creatures burst into the room, the lights overhead click off. Each of large creatures carries a slug-throwing type of machine gun, pointed at Nike and Chelydra. Nike backpedals, trying to pry the frightened Amanda off her and draw her stun gun at the same time. During the next few seconds, she doesn't get the time she needs to exit. Nike knows weapons (even ancient ones) all too well, and she realizes she is outgunned. If she fires her stun gun, they will fire back with bullets---lots of bullets. It is a split-second decision to accept what was happening, or die.
One of the hairy creatures grabs Amanda by the hair and pulls her towards it as she screams. Chelydra can't fire his shotgun within the room for fear of hitting Nike or Amanda. Chelydra grits his teeth in frustration as he realizes just how well the snatch and grab operation is executed. His aim moves from one creature to another, but he holds his fire. These creatures are smart and work cohesively as a team. Their physical appearance, as Amanda pointed out, explains why the overhead lights were shattered in the corridor beyond the room.
The creatures back out of the room fairly quickly, holding Amanda in front them. "No, Nike please don't let them take me.... G10, Nike...G10!" she screams as the door closes and they are gone.
Percy's shout goes unanswered, his response to the quickly unfolding episode originating from pure shock. He freezes in place just outside the control room's door, his focus split between the floating disk and the new intruders. With Amanda's screams, the lights go out within the control room and the creatures disappear in seconds. It all happens very quickly.
Zhaxier's moment of detachment is just as quick as Percy's. Zhaxier can't fire at the creatures, at least not without a chance of hitting Nike or Chelydra. Even in his blended state of invisibility, he can offer little help to those inside the control room from his position. It will be dark soon and Zhaxier still needs to find Tinker and bring him back. But now he has promised not to abandon his friends again. The quandary tugs at him, but he sticks with his decision.
Still pointing his weapon toward the door, Zhaxier turns his head to see a mutated lioness sniffing him. "Aaah!" Zhaxier yells. He jumps forward, falling to the ground, and looking back at her. He knows from the look of her that if she wanted him dead, he would already be dead. Maybe she isn't hungry, maybe she already ate Claus... maybe, maybe, Zhaxier thinks.
"Hider," Sharneste sniffs with recognition after Zhaxier's startled leap. His scent tells her his sex, but the only thing visible is a pistol (presumably in his blended hand) and a small nylon bag lying nearby.
Sharneste has always lived in the biosphere, never venturing outside, although she's heard many rumors that such an area exists. A Wolfoid howl in the distance catches Sharneste's attention. She knows Wolfoids never enter the forest, but they are still very dangerous, and if she fears anything, she fears them.
Tinker grumbles as he stands up. Caked dirt and leaves fall off as he rights himself. It is clear that it will be dark soon, within 20 minutes, and he sees no sign of Zhaxier or Claus. Tinker has two choices: remain here or head in the direction Claus and Zhaxier went, possibly attempting to track them. In any case he needs to decide soon. Tinker's day just isn't getting better.
What do you do?
"You too noisy, Hider." The lioness says, grinning at the Blendoid as she stares at him. It has been a long time since she sneaked up on one, and it is usually great fun to see their reaction.
"What you steal now? More shinies? Food?" She turns towards the building again, sniffing the air. "Do other noisy ones have food?"
"Why... why was I programmed to feel pain?" Tinker grabs a fallen tree branch, lights it with his duralloy torch, and heads off in the direction of his friends.
"Do other noisy ones have food?"
Zhaxier holds his pistol out with shaky arms and stammers softly, "N-nn-no. And I'm n-nn-not tasty either, so d-d-don't even th-think about it!"
He notes the creature's startled jerk at the Wolfoid howl, and his fear dissipates at the honest glimpse of her vulnerability. He lowers his weapon and whispers, "Look, miss, I'm starving. I-I was hoping they'd have food too. You didn't happen to see a m-mutant housecat prowling around here, eh? Maybe he left for some take-out."
Judging from her response, he figures the odds are stacked against her being the (botched) clone of a former crewmate, and his heart sinks a bit. She used the term "hider" to refer to him. Are there others like him?
He unblends and lowers his weapon. "I'm Zhaxier. That's my medical bag, though I'm not a doctor. And I'm no thief. I'm an engineer. I fix shinies. The other noisy ones are my friends," he looks behind him toward the hut. Percy and Chelydra just went back inside the hut; all is quiet again. "They aren't tasty either, but something bad just happened in there, and they might need help." He reaches toward his bag slowly, and trades his gun for his shades, which he flicks open and pops on his face as he blends out of view. "Wanna help?" the Cool-Mo-G glasses say, as they rise along with the hovering nylon bag.
Zhaxier waits for the creature's response, then turns for the hut and smacks right into a shrub. "Frak!" the shrub exclaims as it parts and shakes unnaturally. "Heheh, sure getting dark in here, ain't it?" the disembodied voice says.
Zhaxier puts his glasses back in his bag too, then trots toward the hut.
The lioness stares at Zhaxier, looking slightly hurt. "Papa say if it talk, it not food," she says, her voice depp and throaty. "I say this to hiders. And what is take out? Is it food? Does mewteed house-cat thing come back with food? Can I have some?"
"I help," she says as she bounds for the house. "Maybe they get food later. Hunting bad today." She stops halfway to the door, looks back over her shoulder at the floating black thing, and asks, "What is meedicul bag?"
The former security officer hisses in frustration as Amanda is dragged off by the Dark Dwellers. "OK people, we have a hostage situation here. Let's inventory our weapons and gear and make a plan to get her back. The perps are better armed than we are, but if Zhaxier and his buddies make it back here, we have the advantage of numbers. They seem to like the dark, so anything we can do to make a light will work to our advantage."
With that, Chelydra begins to look around for anything that can be used as a weapon, armour or light source. The idea of not going after Amanda has not even entered his brain. His actions make it clear that he considers himself a man with a mission and is much happier for it.
"Agreed." She glances around to see where each member of her group is and checks their status. "It isn't only Amanda that is at risk here. We have been watched, followed, watched, and now surprised and a member of our group taken. We have to find whoever is responsible and get some answers, and in the process, get Amanda back as well."
She moves to the doorway, and looks out. "Everyone get in here, we need to form a plan!" she calls quietly, but loudly enough. As she moves past Chelydra and back into the room, she whispers, shielding her mouth from the possible view of any cameras, "We have to make two plans---plan A for the Watcher's benefit, in the open where he can think we're doing one thing, and plan B where we perform the real action and retain the element of surprise!"
"What is meedicul bag?"
"It's got stuff to fix wounds with, but I mostly use it to carry all my loot! See?" Zhaxier briefly opens the bag so she can look in, then leads Sharneste to the hut just as Nike looks out. He glides right past Nike even before she finishes calling quietly, but loudly enough. "Hiya, Butch!"
"Hey Chelydra, check this out, dude," Zhaxier says, withdrawing the laser pistol from his bag and handing it stock first to the turtle-man for his approval. "If we go back for Tinker, he's got two of these puppies in rifle format, and I know where we can get more. So what happened in here? Where's the blonde chick?" Zhaxier's voice queries in Percy's direction.
"That's Claus?!?" he stammers upon seeing Sharneste.
"Well, no, Claus got bored and left. This is... hey, what'd you say your name was again?" Zhaxier's voice wafts over toward the lioness.
"Why are we whispering?" he whispers after Nike's last words.
Before he can fully digest what has happened, Amanda and the hairy beasts disappear into the bowels of the ship, and he hears Zhaxier nervously talking to somebody behind him. Percy's headache subsides almost as soon as it makes itself known, almost as if it changed its mind or maybe forgot something and had to go back to that roughly ninety percent of his brain he didn't use. Well, all bets are off now with his strange metamorphosing behavior. Maybe he has tapped into some strange unexplored portion of his brain latent in all humans? As he thinks about this, he wheels around on his standard issue tech boots to take a peek at what is going on behind him.
A pair of sunglasses bobbing around in mid air nearby an upright busty cat-woman combine to provide him with sufficient reason to flee to stability and sanity. He turns right back around and approaches Nike and Chelydra just as Zhaxier reaches the duo of military types.
"That's Claus?!?" he stammers upon seeing the lioness.
"Well, no, Claus got bored and left. This is... hey, what'd you say your name was again?"
"Nike, Chelydra, what's the plan?" Percy whispers inconspicuously. Clearly, Nike is trying to keep a low key, so Percy follows suit.
"Why are we whispering?"
Percy grins in spite of himself, and looks for his bag of stuff. He isn't exactly going to derive comfort from gripping the giant wrench, but it will be good to have something to hold on to in the event of another surprise ambush.
The lioness walks in, sniffing the turtle curiously as she enters.
"...hey, what'd you say your name was again?"
"Name?" The lioness says, as if not understanding for a moment. Then she perks up and says "Sharneste. Papa called me Sharneste. Hider said you need help. You give food if I help? What's a Claus?"
As Percy looks in his bag for something, Nike glances at Zhaxier and then decides not to respond to his question. Had he listened to what she said to Chelydra, common sense would answer the question for him. She has a feeling that had he thought about it before he spoke, he would have known the answer, but his personality seems to tend toward action first, thinking later.
In full voice, Nike begins, "Ok people, listen up! We're going to attack the wolfmen encampment to get more weapons, and then bust through this door and split into two groups. Chelydra, you'll lead one group to the right, while I take the second group to the left. Percy! You're with me. The others go with Chelydra. The first to find Amanda, fall back to the control room, and alert the others by this whistle." Nike whistles loudly. "Alright, let's move!"
She quickly moves over to Chelydra and Zhaxier, and whispers (again covering her mouth to avoid lip-reading by any cameras). "Forget the wolfmen, we can't leave this control room unless we find Amanda's key. I don't know if she put it back in her pocket or in her pack. If we find it, let's retrieve Zhaxier's buddy, get his weapons before total darkness, return here and bust through then. Afterwards, we'll all stay together once inside the corridors, going left." She pauses and looks around, then asks Percy for the map so they can recall where the wolfmen are, to maintian the charade for the Watcher.
She continues in hushed tones, mouth covered. "If we can't find the key, we can't just abandon Amanda. I say we go ahead into the corridors, and do recon, staying out of their way until we have enough info to make a strike. Who knows? Maybe we'll find a weapons locker?" She laughs out loud at the thought of anything going in their favor, and moves to look at the map that Percy holds out to maintain the charade for a few more minutes, and to give Chelydra and Zhaxier a chance for input.
Zhaxier's voice emanates in Chelydra's direction. "Is it just me, or is she acting really weird?" he thumbs uselessly in Nike's direction.
He continues to sift through the snippets of conversation he's heard, and efficiently plugs the gaps like he would pressure cracks in a plasma conduit. Amanda, Nike, Percy, the Watcher: names finally fit with faces; concepts match perceived antagonists.
"Any 'Watcher' worth his gyroscopes would have listening devices in place too," he mutters aloud, turning toward Nike. "Surprise and subterfuge are eliminated from our options. And congratulations: it's too dark now. There goes another. Now what?" He sighs audibly.
"Well, Mr. Sarcastic, she called him the 'Watcher' not the 'Listener,'" Nike wants to say, but doesn't think it will help the situation any, so she keeps that thought to herself. "He is such an arrogant and annoying little shit," she thinks. "If he were a new marine recruit, I'd have eaten him for lunch and sent him home to Mommy crying." But what actually comes out of her mouth is a bit more diplomatic.
"The truth is, Zhaxier, that all we can confirm is that he or it or whatever can see us. We do not know if it can hear us, or if it can hear only what is said in full voice, etc. Therefore, it is in our best interests to take precautionary measures that might better our cause."
When the lights shut off inside and outside, there go her options. "Chelydra, ready to go for plan B?" She says, and with her last words, her eyes begin to sparkle with excitement as the adrenaline starts to stir.
This page updated: Mon Jan 09 14:22:09 2006
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