A Metamorphosis Alpha® play-by-post adventure run by ghost_of_warden
Biff inspects the structure of the column.
... DeVrees, smiling and casual, sitting on the edge of a worn plastic table... several people, wearing similar outfits... armbands... infotainment holos... "perhaps souls exist... perhaps they are multimorphic"... smiling face, hardened... really big joints... explosions....
"I get the feeling," he says, still talking to himself, "that you were a complicated individual, DeVrees."
Willem looks Nicolaglee in her eyes, then casually looks to her exposed synthoflesh. Pulling the diagnostic rig from his pack, he begins attaching leads and performing scans.
He emoticasts calmness to Deidre as he sends, *Deidre, Nicolaglee is ahn entertaan-ment model android. Her inhibishuns, or der lack derof, vill only exist to heighten zexual tension or to control dose who are demselves inhibited.*
Willem deftly peels back a layer of her flesh and attaches a lead. *I vant yu to be keepin a frendly eye on her. I don't tink she meens us any harm, but it never hurts to be suren.*
Observing both Deidre's not-so-hidden interest in the procedure and Lemmi's adept handling, Nicolaglee says, "You've got a delicate touch, Lemmi." She thinks that maybe her first appraisal was correct: these aren't garden-variety mutant creeps, at least not like the bone-first freaks across town in the "petting zoo."
After her checkup, Nicolaglee casually redresses then does a slow belly dance gyration. "That feels great!" she says, smiling brightly. "I've been trying to get that right for days. Those long fingers of yours really helped; I couldn't get that far in." She wraps herself around Lemmi and looks to Deidre. "You've got a keeper here!" She kisses his cheek and releases him.
"So, could you two use some company?" she says, moving next to Deidre and giving her an equally gregarious embrace. "'Cause I'm a girl all by herself these days... and you wouldn't believe what some of these yokels expect on the first date around here!"
Nicolaglee leads Deidre into the entry chamber, turns on her Karaoke/comm and begins a broadcast. Music slowly rises as she begins singing and leading Deidre in a waltz.
Dancin' with a marionette....
Are ya happy now?
Where do you go when you're lonely?
Where do you go when you're blue?
Where do you go when you're lonely?
I'll follow you.
As Bud approaches the craft, his "Spidey-Sense" goes off: two other mutants are nearby. Carefully peering around the edge of the cockpit window, he watches the chick with her back to him play doctor with one of the chimps. He smiles as they embrace, and then the woman in black hugs and starts dancing with the other. Then suddenly, his comm scanner locks onto a signal: a beautiful voice with accompaniment:
"Where do you go when you're lonely?
Where do you go when you're blue?"
He slowly moves to the open entry hatch. "Hi, how y'all doin' there?" he says, positioning himself a few feet back from the doorway. At his sides rest his hands, one with the plastiform requisition and the other close to his 'chuks. "Is this CC215-B? 'Cause I'm here ta fix 'em ball bearings," he says, gesturing slightly with the form.
"Christine, has it occurred to you that this might be Hell?"
While Christine ponders her last question, Hershey takes a second to stop and look into her eyes. "Theological issues asside, I forgot our first protocol for jungle-survival." She pulls whatever means with which she previously camouflaged her face, and begins to paint Christine. "I'm surprised that this slipped both our minds." She smiles.
Some jungle commandos we are. Guess we've both got a lot on our minds....
Hershey finishes their warpaint. "Much better." She takes another look on her SHU and resumes the trek.
A speck of light appears in the lower left corner of some computer screen. No spaceship can be seen, but only words: a solitary line of data gliding through the womb of a universe of zeros and ones. Accompanying this display is the emotionless voice of a computer concluding its current report to Murphy about the movements of the groups of people he is supervising and his attempts to unify them.
[Establishing shot: Warden's Command Bridge]
The room is spacious and circular, once holding a half dozen specialized command personnel with distinct and very specific tasks of supervising Warden's flight path. In the immediate foreground is a console of dials and switches flanked by four chairs. None of the chairs is occupied, although a minimum of four command personnel should be there. Each seat is empty, ghostlike. Warden's flight path goes unsupervised. A Mozart sonata emanates from a speaker, playing to an audience of none.
I remember how a cigar used to lie in my mouth, how the puffs I once drew thoughtlessly curled up over my lip while I viewed a monitor peering out into the astral night.
Here's a final thought, unscientific, purely personal. From up here, from my perspective, everything looks different... time bends and space is boundless. It squashes a man's ego and makes him feel insignificant. He begins to feel like no more than a mote in the eye of eternity. And I am nagged by a question: if anything, what will greet us at the end of our journey? Are we to believe that throughout these thousands of stars, these billions of miles and hundreds of years that this speck of solar dust in Rho-1 Cancri will just invite us in with open arms?
I have to doubt it.
I wonder if mankind, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox that has flung itself into the unknown, still remembers its children aboard Warden. Earthmen, our missing link: I salute you wherever you are. Your blessings still reside with your descendants, and with me, their guide. That after all is my true destiny in my final days as the Ghost of Warden.
Enough Mozart for now. <click>
[A series of shots show Murphy in his true form, merged with Warden, more machine than man. They are designed to convey a sense of loneliness, of seperation, and of immense passage of time.]
I will say that I do enjoy the in-depth character interaction happening lately within the posts, and I do welcome them. In my opinion it adds to the game and lets the characters develop somewhat between my posts, which do seem to be getting longer, but are just as enjoyable as ever.
Note that Hershey cannot mentally blast a piece of furniture. That mutation only affects sentient targets. [This ruling is debated in the Mental Blast Interlude. --ed.]
[Ceiling shot: late afternoon]
[All that can be seen above the canopy of trees is an entire frame filled with a flame-orange sky of bright lights almost like the sky from the burning of Atlanta in Gone with the Wind. Pan down lower and lower until we see the terrain below: the jungle. There is nothing but vegetation with a few sparse openings which alternately obscure and reveal the characters below. The view zooms, enlarging on the group, and the jungle landscape is seen in tantalizingly indistinct fashion through the trees.]
"I would guess about four hours till darkness." Hershey is fairly certain of this as she glances toward the treetops.
The jungle itself is fully primeval, making walking uneasy and haphazard at best. Running is out of the question unless tripping and falling are intended. The height of the trees and the thickness of the boles exceed anything which anyone could have imagined, shooting upwards in magnificent columns until at an enormous distance dimly discernable above everyone's head, they throw out their branches into gothic arches which coalesce to form one great matted roof of verdure, and through which only an occasional golden ray of light finds its way downwards to trace a thin dazzling line of light amidst the majestic obscurity.
Christine, in what short period of time she had to study the plant in the tube Hershey gave her, came to the surprising conclusion that it is not a normal plant, but a living mutant seedling. The tube is clearly the last step before its "release." Exactly who is running these genetic experiments she doesn't know, but she hopes to find out.
As they walk noiselessly amid the thick, soft carpet of vegetation, a hush falls upon them. Christine is anything but ignorant of the names of these giant growths; being a woman of science, she recognizes the cedars, the great silk cotton trees and the redwood trees, with all that profusion of various plants which makes a place a virtual Eden. Vivid orchids and wonderful colored lichens smolder upon the swarthy tree trunks and where a wandering shaft of light falls full upon the golden allamanda, the scarlet star-clusters of the tacsonia, or the rich deep blue of ipomaea, the effect is as a dream of fairyland.
In these great swaths of jungle, life, which abhors darkness, struggles ever upwards to the light. Every plant, even the smaller ones, curls and writhes to the canopy, twining itself round its stronger and taller brethren in the effort. The climbing plants are monstrous and luxuriant, some not known to climb have apparently learned the art as an escape from that somber shadow, so that the common nettle, the jasmine, and even the jacitara palm tree can be seen circling the stems of the cedars and striving to reach their crowns.
Enjoying the solemn vistas of stupendous trunks, Hershey and Christine continue. They are the only sign of normal life in this great transplanted Amazonian forest.
"I can't believe it! I'm picking up four humanoids," she says suddenly, her voice changing with the revelation. "Um... they're that way, and a plant mutie is really close to one of them. We should go warn them quickly."
Hershey points out the direction they should follow, almost in shock at the evidence that they are not alone. With dejection which calms the surprise, Hershey adds, "And about dozen or more plant muties are scattered all about." She watches the intermittent blips displayed haltingly by her hand unit; she knows full well that it was not designed to read mutant plant life-signs. For a split second, their spirits sag.
"What about the one?"
"Could be preparing for an attack, but it's not moving. We should hurry, they might not know about it." She moves cautiously forward but at a faster pace.
"What if we come under attack while we're over there?"
"We're sitting ducks no matter where we are. That's not going to change here or over there. This way, Christine. It's not far."
"Hershey, how do you know where we're going in a place like this?"
"I studied this area, just haven't been too far."
"You know how to have a good time, don't you?" Christine smiles.
"We're havin' a good time now."
"You go, girl!"
What do you do?
You will arrive for combat one minute after you hear a scream. You will each have one combat action. Your next post can start from this scene and need not involve running to get there.
"You see something funny in the trees that I don't?" she asks, reacting to Zhaxier's laugh. As he moves off to examine the column, with Biff disappearing into the thick jungle in the opposite direction, she paces a bit, then mutters, "We should stay together." She rushes back and grabs Zhaxier by the arm, preventing him from wandering off too far. "That may not be wise," she says sternly, thinking it would be easy to get lost in the tangle of jungle. Lynn silently bemoans yet another wrench in the gears.
"What? Frak, they're only trees. Biff would've picked up any predators, right?" At the lack of any response from the man, Zhaxier turns around. "Biff??"
Lynn lets the quiet pause stand for a few seconds before speaking. "I never rely solely on ELAs where my life is concerned, Zhaxier. Those things are inherently misleading if not used properly. I have seen it before back in the village." She sighs at the thought of losing Biff. "The most elaborate devices, I will readily admit, are a poor substitute for using your own intelligence---advice you should learn quickly. It might cover our butts from whatever may be out there."
He tries hard not to glance at Lynn's butt. "We'll see, but first let's go check on Biff."
[Cut to a grainy black and white close-up of Lynn's butt. Pull back and turn toward Zhaxier, then zoom. His jaw is firmly set. A pair of haunted eyes dart nervously underneath his dark glasses.]
Herman stands his ground just outside the elevator doors. His own thoughts are as jumbled as the jungle before him. The only sound he hears is not from birds, as one might think, but from a bickering married couple.
With no immediate answer from Biff, the trio rushes around the column in the direction Biff took.
Minutes later, Biff is still talking to himself. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!" Following the contour of the central column, he holds his ELA in his hand checking it frequently. The wall itself is covered with a carpet of clinging vines. Then, as if his device were suddenly turned on, two new humanoid blips appear, apparently a hundred yards off to his left. Suddenly, dozens more blips start appearing on the ELA. Some are far away; others, really close. Biff freezes in place, realizing his sudden error in judgment.
A brightly colored plant that Biff just passed steals unnaturally across a patch of sunlight and extends into Biff's view. It has a monstrous breadth, twice the height of a shoulder of a man! It springs to life, tendril-like feet holding it aloft as Biff gasps in astonishment. Its body is a mishmash of rainbow colors. At first it appears almost dainty, walking with purpose in the open space before him. It has no visible eyes and its head is an open flower, possibly a jungle orchid, and there it moves in its brightly colored glow with all its luxuriance, all its native beauty.
For a brief second the plant mutant seems almost pleased to see Biff---as would mutual friends---but in reality it is a ruse like a cat plays on a mouse before eating it. With lightning speed, the orchid maw snatches Biff up in one gulp. Its sandpaper-like fronds wrap around Biff's struggling arms, his mid-section and his legs.
Biff screams an unsettling scream of fear and pain as he faces the possibility of his own death. Zhaxier, Lynn, Herman, Hershey and Christine all hear the scream and its direction. The leaf-like thallus, rough as sandpaper, viciously tears at Biff's skin, giving him no chance to use his paralysis rod. His ELA falls to the ground and is stepped on by a thick tendril. His other equipment is tossed in all directions, scattered as he struggles for his last moment of life, as blood spots his arms, mid-section and legs, as the mutant orchid attempts to suck Biff dry like a thirsty toddler given a sippy cup. Biff screams again and again.
Biff takes 14 hits of damage.
When Zhaxier, Lynn and Herman hear the first scream, they are very close and will arrive on the scene at the same time as Christine and Hershey. Each of you has one combat action. Your next post can start with combat and need not involve running to get there.
What do you do?
[Big group merger:
The camera on the warehouse roof across the landing pad at the City's edge zooms in on the cargo carrier's open hatch. A woman stands in the doorway blocking the view to the interior. A pan downward reveals the warehouse door inching open. Colored lights flicker from inside the warehouse flicker through the widening crack left by the door. Sounds of new movement emanate from within.
[Dissolve to interior cargo carrier cabin. It is afternoon. New guy approaches.]
Deidre stays close to Willem. She feels safe for once and very pleased that he is pleased with her new form. She doesn't know why, but Willem makes her blush so easily.
"You've got a keeper here!"
"We haven't been together for very long," she mumbles.
Nicolaglee gives Deidre an anomalous smile, then turns to Willem. "You know, I said I'm not really sure, but I can hazard a guess as to what's in those lockers: air tanks... and hand-made clothes." Nicolaglee doesn't know how she came to know this, and why it suddenly came to her. Maybe it is a faint residual memory from a previous time she does not otherwise remember.
Willem at any rate seems surprised.
"I believe I heard someone say, 'We're not going to make it.'"
Deidre looks at Willem. He quickly responds on his stretch-paper.
We did make it.
We are here now.
"I'm sorry, I am mistaken." Nicolaglee says in a very conciliatory fashion after reading Willem's words on the paper. "The thought just came to me from somewhere, like I have been here before with others."
Willem thinks for a moment about the number on Nicolaglee's midriff and the bar code below it, and then writes on the stretch-paper:
Below your hexadecimal identification number 1084
is a bar code given you by your creator.
Find the right computer and that bar code may
give you the answers you are looking for.
Nicolaglee looks down at her bar code for a moment and then smiles again.
Deidre listens to Willem's telepathic advice on Nicolagee and nods in agreement, but it doesn't matter to her that Nicolaglee is an entertainment model android as she has already taking a liking to her. The android's slow belly dance gyration makes her giggle. Deidre nods at Nicolaglee's offer to stay with them, and then for a few moments she gets lost in Nicolaglee's entertainment.
Willem, Deidre and Nicolaglee all quickly move to the open side door when the newcomer appears and asks how everyone is doing.
Deidre whispers comically to Willem, "Do we have ball bearings?" Regaining her composure (as only a chimp can) she points a finger. "That's Lemmi, she's Nicolaglee and I'm Deidre."
"Nice to meet you. Well, this is a plastiform...." Bud's voice trails off as a warehouse door about hundred feet behind him finishes opening with a loud metal clanking sound.
Humanoid soldiers dressed in unadorned gray conventional uniforms carrying weapons attached to their arms come running out of the warehouse and begin spreading out like ants around the landing pad. More than thirty can be seen, and for the moment they seem to be closing every avenue of escape.
"Whoa! Talking chimp! Whoa! We have company!" He struggles to get his composure.
Nicolaglee takes the initiative, just as perplexed at the arrival of all the soldiers and their behavior. "What we got going on here?"
Willem vocalizes like a chimpanzee, waving his arms.
What do you do?
Apprehensive about the troops, Bud steps inside the carrier. He pulls a bobby pin from his jumpsuit and performs a highly technical maneuver: he places the pin in the door control casing and runs an electrical blast through it.
"Hey!" he says, smelling the smoke from the locking mechanism. "Name's Clyde! Who's flyin' this turkey?"
Willem watches the doorlock sizzle, wondering what Clyde is up to. He looks into the man's eyes, emoticasting curiosity. *Vell, I know how, but der system seems lockt.*
I thought a talking chimp was cool, but that one---did it just.... Hell, a telepathic chimp would trump a talking one any day. "Looks like 'm bearin's ul hafta wait." He moves past the trio and begins manipulating the controls, running through security checks and attempting a bypass/defeat.
From his own screams a strange dualism emerges: the pain must be his own, while a voice from within it is the embodiment of calm.
The voice of Ansel DeVrees seems to speak to him outside of time, as if from the timelessness of being: "Biff, seems like you're having quite a day." DeVrees' image comes into focus. "Here you are, a veteran of campaigns against biocreepies, aware your environment could be dangerous, wielding a weapon, exposed to an environment where they are likely to flourish: you weren't surprised. And yet you did not react. This is highly suspect. Has your new youth changed you that much?" The image smiles a becoming smile.
Picking up on Lemmi's curiosity, both consciously from observing his body language and unconsciously thanks to the chimp's subtle projections, Bud explains, "You looked me squarely in the eyes while a voice---your voice?---said in my head that it could fly this carrier if the security locks were removed. That is what I am attempting to do."
Nicolaglee grabs Clyde's shoulders and shakes him to his senses. "Get a hold of yourself man! Something that improbable wouldn't happen in a world with me in it!" She looks at Deidre and Lemmi. "And I don't think Lemmi would buy it either! It's just a trick of your mind, man!"
With a smirk at the android's statement of worldview, Willem broadcasts, *Ja, I'm thinken dat the spirit of de world I beleeve in leens toward comprimise und fairness among all tings.*
One brain continues to spin the sample. The other is unable to hold her jaw up.
Lines like these make roleplaying Metamorphosis Alpha® so much fun. Thanks for the smile!
Thanks Zhaxier. As a wise man once said, "just doin' it for the kids."
Seeing the horror attached to the screams, Christine has a flashback to her own recent jungle experiences....
Brain #1 directs her telekinetic arm to rip a leg off the plant beast. Brain #2 directs a mental paralysis attack, also at the plant beast.
"KWAAAA!!!" Equally horrified by the screams and the scene, Hershey attempts to determine the weakest point of the plant creature's midsection and leap-kicks it.
Herman runs toward the scream. If he has a clear shot at the beast attacking Biff, he fires one shot of the laser rifle, muttering, "Light amplification through selcted emissions of radiation."
Fingers crossed, Biff!
Zhaxier races with Lynn and Herman toward the scream. At first he presumes Biff is pulling a prank, even though this doesn't gel with his other presumptions of the young man. His mind struggles with the possibilities of what could have provoked such a scream.
Just before nearing the clearing, Zhaxier has the uncanny feeling of two unidentified presences nearby and closing fast (on later reflection, he connects this sensation with his acute awareness of Raylik's proximity back in Lewis and Clark Park Village before he even saw/tripped over him). He takes this datum in stride; the sensation comes to him logically, naturally---from the same place as his intuition.
The sounds of a struggle and the rush of vegetation reach him as he struggles to keep up with Lynn and Herman in the dense undergrowth. The tail and sleeves of his lab coat catch and tear on various bristles and thorns as visions of a large predator tearing into Biff flash by his mind's eye. A serendipitous confluence of thoughts sheds new significance on something Lynn said back in the village:
"Even if you could leave, Zhaxier, you wouldn't last. There are Wolfoids out there."
"There are Wolfoids out there."
"Frak!" Why hadn't he thought of this before? If mutant humans were running amok, then why not mutated animals? Something odd about the violent swishes of vegetation hidden from view but directly ahead make him shiver---mutant plants?
Time seems to jump forward in distinct quanta as he struggles against a jungle seemingly as viscous as molasses in January. He imagines engaging the enigmatic monstrosity: ill-equipped for combat, but spurred on by his comrades' bravery and Biff's terrifying screams, he runs toward the fracas as he whips out his laser torch, then launches himself into the air with his beloved Air Mercers.
"Hang on Biiiiiff!"
No office furniture (sentient or otherwise) was harmed in the creation of this post, but if you like, you can pretend that Zhaxier envisions Biff's assailant as an overstuffed settee. ;)
This page updated: Mon Jan 09 14:22:26 2006
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