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Chapter 4: Separated (Original Archive)

gene_queen_supreme 2/15/2001


"You're both right," Nike says, stating the obvious but striving for a smooth transition away from grumpy feelings. "It's clear that we have to find our bearings, find the exits, and try to find a computer terminal or data pad to help orient us to our surroundings, if not give us a map of the ship. Any suggestions on how we go about doing that?"

gammaben 2/16/2001


"I don't remember how many portals connect this enviroom to the rest of the ship." Percy squints, scrunches his nose, and grits his teeth. "This damn headache!" he thinks to himself. "Ah, I hope there's not just one way in and out!"

Percy thinks about what he has, and what he can do with it. "There's this control panel I stripped from the food processing robot. I wonder if we could rip open the wall, find the wiring for the door mechanism, and connect this to it to activate a connection to open the door? Of course, that robot might be there waiting for us."

He looks around at all the flora and at the two clones before him. He'd probably do better to call them persons, crew mates, fellow survivors. "Say, you think there's envirobots wandering this place? Maybe we can track one down and capture it." He looks at Nike.

"Say, uh, Nike, what do you think the chances are of the three of us taking control of this ship?" He asks this grimly, already knowing they will need to find more crew to help them in the effort. Percy wonders if the captain of the ship has been cloned, and if any other clones have been activated, as well.

blaen_495 2/16/2001

OOC: I will be away for the next week. I will post a story post when I get back. In the mean time try not to get me killed. Otherwise Chelydra will be his usual cheery self, and eat a lizard or something.

gammaworld_gm 2/20/2001

13:12 ENVIRO-SCAN-TERRA 239837-E11
.........-STATUS: 3 INDIVIDUALS IN TERRA 239837-E11
.........-STATUS: 1 INDIVIDUAL IN POD XR-346598-E7
13:14 SECURITY ROBOT - IN HALL 569870-K4
.........-FAIL SAFE 2
.........-CONTAIN A1 GROUP 1 / B2 GROUP 2

Clone Bank:

Zhaxier, still not quite realizing the extent of his laser wound, makes a quick tap on the data pad to bring up a search option, for which he selects "Clone Bank." The data pad displays 134 different clone banks. A second search of clone banks nearest any environmental room turns up only one, listed as "Clone Bank Pod XR-346598-E7." A third selection brings up the floor schematics of the area. Almost as a function of his former duties, Zhaxier tries to memorize three different routes which will take him back to his fellow clones.

OOC: Both the data pad and the holo projector are almost identical in size and shape.

Exhaustion kicks in and the engineer weeps silently.

Zhaxier's temporary lapse into his emotions is quickly interrupted when the clone bank door slides open and three security robots enter (at the other end of the room where the dead computer terminal is).

The last robot to enter closes the door (tightly). To a robot it is nothing, but to a human, the thousand-pound duralloy door would require a pry bar to force open. The three robots spread out while the center robot starts spraying a fine mist which begins to fill the room. The clone pods make a noise as all of their lids electronically lock simultaneously. Zhaxier realizes it is just a matter of minutes before the entire room is filled with the mist.

The pain in Zhaxier's shoulder is a throbbing pain that weakens his arm. Crawling over to the end of the pod (his items still in hand), Zhaxier notices an air vent on the wall (against the floor) big enough to enter if he can remove the two wing nuts in time.

Enviro Room:

Nike and Chelydra gather closer near Percy's position so their words will not carry so far. Reluctantly, Chelydra snorts, his eyes gazing outward into the forest and his weapon pointed up in the air out of harm's way (and the safety on). "Everything we do is a gamble, Nike," he snaps. "We risk our future regardless of what we do, so I see little choice. You lead, we follow, and we pool our resources to survive." Chelydra's bluntness seems to ring with wisdom in his strangely grim tone.

Nike replied, "It's clear that we have to find our bearings, find the exits, and try to find a computer terminal or data pad to help orient us to our surroundings, if not give us a map of the ship. Any suggestions on how we go about doing that?"

Nike's two companions have as much visible doubt on their faces as does she.

Percy knows that even in an environmental room such as this, there has to be controls, computers and programs running everything. Thinking for a moment, Percy offers some advice:

"There's this control panel I stripped from the food processing robot. I wonder if we could rip open the wall, find the wiring for the door mechanism, and connect this to it to activate a connection to open the door? Of course, that robot might be there waiting for us.... Say, you think there's envirobots wandering this place? Maybe we can track one down and capture it." He looks at Nike.

Nike considers their words and her options for a few minutes. The trio's emotional fatigue abruptly vanishes when something screams a blood-chilling scream no more than 250 meters away, deeper into the forest. Even for a moment, the birds, or flying lizards, or whatever they are, become quiet.

What do you do?

zhaxier 2/20/2001


"ClusterFrak™!" Zhaxier gets to his knees, sees the robots at the far end of the lab, frantically checks his remaining avenues of escape, and finds the air vent. "Sweet!" He immediately grips the data pad, holo projector and ID badge in his teeth and unscrews the wing nuts, one in each hand, with all the efficiency of a propulsion engineer, 2nd class (he also is aided by his heightened dexterity, but he doesn't know this). The pain in his burnt shoulder throbs with increasing intensity as he tries not to think of what kind of gas he will soon be breathing if he doesn't escape.

gammaben 2/21/2001


At the sound of the scream, Percy turns around to face the heart of the forest as his back suddenly presses against the hard wood in fear. Fear is visible on his face, and the lines on his forehead became more present and defined. He tries to regain control. "Damn, I scare easy!" he thinks, trying to remember the last time he felt this much on edge.

"Say, Chelydra, Nike, maybe we should go check out that scream." Percy pulls the stun ray pistol out, and after a moment's hesitation, offers it to Nike. "You, uh, probably would have a better aim with this thing than me, if you want it." He looks at the patch on her uniform and tries to decode it. "Marines, eh?" He looks at Chelydra and back at Nike. "This civilian here is quite happy to be in the same graduating class of clones with the two of you in this whacked out ship!" He looks worriedly at the two near him and looks to them for the next move.

gene_queen_supreme 2/22/2001


Nike sizes up Percy in her mind. Percy is smart, that much is obvious. He seems to be afraid, but has his fear masked enough to be able to function as a part of a group, which is good. And, there is no doubt that he has information that the group will find invaluable in the future. She is glad he is with them.

"There may be other clones, or even living crewmembers or their descendants, on the ship. Given that possibility, and our need for further information, I think it would be in our best interests to check out the scream. Our next priority should be mapping out this environment, finding exits, and forming a plan of action when all available information is gathered. Agreed?" and with that, she looks to Chelydra for agreement or further suggestions.

gammaworld_gm 2/24/2001

.........-STATUS: 3 INDIVIDUALS IN TERRA 239837-E11
.........-STATUS: 1 INDIVIDUAL IN POD XR-346598-E7
.........-FAIL SAFE 2

Enviro Room:

"Agreed Nike. Always glad to cooperate," Chelydra murmurs, shifting the shotgun in his grip, pointing it towards the ground this time. Chelydra's eyes scan the intricacies of the leaves and the trees, and the brilliant softness the forest offers. He looks back at Nike and Percy, now more focused. "I'll circle west, you circle east, Nike. Percy..." he gestures at Percy, "you lag a bit behind and come up the middle and we'll all meet back up about 250 meters deeper, so it's not all of us just traipsing through the woods together.... that is, if you are in agreement with the plan, Nike."

Nike stands up carefully and motions for Chelydra to proceed. Patting Percy on the shoulder she circles east using the cover of the trees to her fullest advantage. Nike feels fiercely enlivened by the action---anything to attempt to change their current situation. In a cool and professional manner she moves as stealthily as possible, keeping her bearings as to where everyone is as she moves. Nike grimaces to herself when a small tree limb whips her in the face. Ignoring it, she presses on, believing they are all doing the right thing. Minutes pass as she moves onward as they planned.

Percy knows his talents are best suited for creating software applications and reprogramming, not playing soldier boy in some man-made environment gone haywire. He calms himself stiffly and presses on. So far he has survived by making the right choices. He wonders just how bad his blending fellow clone's choices were. If anything, Percy feels someone or something is dutifully pulling the strings behind the scenes. Ripples of uncertainty caution him to be very careful. The entire situation feels awkward. Concentration, focus, long term thinking: these are the qualities he needs right now. "And maybe a little food too," he thinks as his stomach growls.

Nike, Chelydra, and Percy come back together exactly as planned. What they now see is beyond belief. The forest gives way to waist-high grass-covered hills higher than the trees within which they now hide. A thick woods can be seen continuing for several kilometers to the right, hills continue straight ahead, and a deep valley with a huge lake can be seen to the left, kilometers away. About 55 meters away (straight ahead) in a shallow ravine where a small creek twists its way going down toward the valley, you see a single blonde human female dressed in a military green jumpsuit. She is lying face down in the sandy creek bed. Standing around her are six tall, humanoid-shaped, wolflike creatures, each of them holding a spear. Two of them have bows on their backs. One of them has its foot on the center of the woman's back, holding her down. Their language sounds like a mixture of barks and English.

Clone Bank:

With the heightened speed of a ruba fruit peeling robot, Zhaxier dexterously unscrews the twin wing nuts. With the rush of adrenaline and his second near rendezvous with death, Zhaxier momentarily forgets the throbbing pain in his shoulder and removes the air vent cover. Having no chance or time to waste to replace it, he scurries into the opening, gripping the ID card, data pad, and holo projector in his teeth as he crawls into the darkened and unknown escape route. The robots have gone far beyond simple harassment, he thinks, and he feels at a serious disadvantage.

Suddenly the slick air vent begins to slope downward and Zhaxier begins to slide. His hands and feet attempt to grip the slick metal for traction, but he finds none as his speed increases and he slides downward faster and faster for what seems like minutes. With a sudden bang, Zhaxier's head hits an air vent cover, and it flies off as Zhaxier shoots out the vent like a missile into the dark below, landing on something very hard and painful. Rolling off, he falls onto the floor and drifts into unconsciousness. His ID card, data pad and holo projector are lost somewhere in the darkness.

Sometime later, Zhaxier wakes to pitch black darkness. His shoulder is wet with blood where it has been bleeding, as is his face. "ClusterFrak™!" yells Zhaxier, now feeling the full effect of his saved up injuries. His face is bleeding, his shoulder is bleeding and his elbow feels like someone has just shot it, and he can't see shit!

What do you do?

gene_queen_supreme 2/25/2001


Nike motions to the others to hunker down in the grass. She knows she can't put this up to a committee for a vote. The prey is human, she is dressed in military green, and she is clearly outnumbered. In Nike's mind, she can't assume that the woman is innocent and undeserving of being hunted (what if she were a crook, a thief or a murderer?) but at the same time, she can't assume that she isn't innocent and deserving to be some mutant's lunch, either. Quickly, she assesses the situation and forms a plan of action.

"Chelydra," she whispers, "we have to intervene. Circle about to the West and cover me. Percy, stay out of sight, and try to find some rocks or something to throw to distract them if we get into a pinch. I'm going over there to make an ally with someone---we'll see who it ends up being!" And with that, she hands Percy her wrench. "For self-defense," she offers, and moves stealthily through the grass to the hunting party's east flank, armed with the stun gun and her trusty blade in easy reach. She has the tactical advantage, and there are only six of them. She doesn't want to start off their clone lives making enemies right away if she can help it. Still, "Semper fi has traditionally applied to humans, wolfies," she thinks, "so you better have a damn good reason to have her on the ground."

gammaben 2/25/2001


At the site of the wolf-humanoids and their subdued prey---a human of all things!---Percy hunkers down, as Nike suggested, and swallows the shock of the last half hour. Chelydra and his carapace, the invisible guy (Zhaxier, as he stated outside the clone bank door), flying lizards, and now wolf-men? This is starting to get a little too hard to swallow! Maybe he is dreaming? The headache reminds him he isn't.

Percy stammers through his astonishment as Nike hands him a wrench. "Stay out of sight, right!" As Chelydra and Nike move off, Percy, oblivious to their initial movement, stares off into the ravine at the wolf-men. Suddenly realizing he's alone, he gasps, "Waaaiitaminute!" He looks at Nike, who hushes him down with a movement of her arm, and he remembers. "Right, rocks, self-defense, got it!"

The programmer quickly looks for cover---and rocks, and creeps forward using the last few trees and tall grass as cover. Rocks, or anything else he might throw, for that matter, aren't going to do the girl down there any good from this distance. All the while, Percy looks for any signs of mechanical or electronic presence, anything he might be able to tap into using his real talents. "Damn this headache!" he curses under his breath. Despite the situation, and despite not having found any projectiles yet, Percy stops, focuses on one of the wolfmen and slows his breathing in an attempt to refocus his thoughts.

zhaxier 2/26/2001


Through his blinding pain, Zhaxier realizes his loss. "My pad!" he says out loud, half to verify his own odds-defying, continued existence, half to get some sense of the extents of the darkened enclosure. He wipes the sweat from his brow with his forearm, only to discover with a sickening gag, that it's his own blood. His face feels like it was hit by a waffle iron! "Frak, what's a waffle iron?" He gropes about on his bruised knees, feeling with his sore hands for his treasured three possessions, and for any possible egress into the light.

blaen_495 2/26/2001


"Six to three. Good, we have them outnumbered!" The turtle-man chuckles under his breath as he moves to take up a covering position to the west. Spears against shotgun and shell: those odds are looking pretty good. He hopes Nike's tactics involve more than just walking up to the Wolfoids and relying on her charm and winning good looks to convince them to release their captive. Oh well, too late to find out what she has in mind now. He shifts position slightly and draws a bead on one of the Wolfoids with a bow. "Take out the ranged weapons first," some deeply buried training whispers in his mind.

gammaworld_gm 2/27/2001

.........-STATUS: 3 INDIVIDUALS IN TERRA 239837-E11
.........-FAIL SAFE 2

Enviro Room:

The six tall, humanoid-shaped, wolflike creatures continue barking their mangled English as one of them holds the woman securely with a foot on the center of her back. None seem worried about anyone approaching them unannounced.

At Nike's motion, everyone hunkers down in the grass. She doesn't have the luxury of reconnoitering the area, but their edge is surprise---or so she thinks. After quickly formulating a plan, she gives her orders to Chelydra and Percy, and then turns and moves stealthily through the grass to the hunting party's east side.

Chelydra takes but a few minutes to get into position west of the Wolfoids. He shifts his weight slightly and draws a bead on one with a bow. Almost instinctively he spins around, with the sudden realization that they themselves are bait, to face three wolf-like creatures who leap from their hiding places.

The silence is broken as Chelydra fires his first shot into the lead Wolfoids's throat. Two more successive shots kill the other two Wolfoids outright. At the short range, he could not miss, and it takes less than two seconds to drop all three of them. Chelydra spins back around.

Hearing the shots, five of the six Wolfoids leave their prone captive and charge en masse up the hill towards Chelydra's position. Knowing he cannot outrun them and that he only has 2 shots left, Chelydra stands upright and takes careful aim at his target. He will take out the two with bows, he tells himself. He grits his teeth and waits, having never thought about his own mortality before now....

Percy's hand grips the wrench as blood courses throughout his veins at a heightened speed. His body begins changing and adapting: his size and appearance becoming a new form. Moments later, a wolf-man in uniform now grips the same wrench. With several running lopes, Percy leaps off the ravine. As he lands, he strikes the lone Wolfoid (guarding the captive) over the head with the large wrench. With a second great strike, the Wolfoid falls to the ground twitching and then stops moving. The woman looks up at Percy and screams.

Realizing it is a setup, Nike spins to meet her attacker, a seven foot, or taller, gray-furred Wolfoid armed with a short spear. With a hard thrust, the spear rips through Nike's shirt and should have run her through, but for her body armor underneath. Nike's response is to slash with her knife, which cuts deeply into the pack leader's forearm. Dropping his spear, he lunges toward Nike. Her reaction is to leap to her right in a forward roll (going back to her feet), which keeps her from being caught beneath the Wolfoid's hulking frame. Nike points the stun gun at the Wolfoid's face, having caught him on his hands and knees. "This is a black ray pistol and it will kill you instantly. Now call off pack or you die!" Nike bluffs. The huge Wolfoid freezes in place. It is apparent he understands English. His eyes study Nike for the slightest hint of guile or fear.

GM: Weapons Locker:

The pain burns like a simmering fire in Zhaxier's shoulder and elbow. His face somewhat resembles a blood sausage. Zhaxier gropes about on his hands and knees in the darkened enclosure.

Raising his head, he bangs it on the bottom side of a heavy table which rattles with the hit. "Ouch... Frak!" he curses, after which brittle silence hangs in the air. Having thus far failed to find his precious items, his emotions border on helplessness.

Taking a grip on the table, Zhaxier stands, having only a vague recollection of what has happened to him. His throbbing pain only grows worse. Zhaxier reaches out and touches what feels like a cabinet, and begins slowly following it around the room. The cabinet seems to be covered with a metal grate. Eventually Zhaxier finds a door and touches the light switch by chance. Like a slap across the face, the room lights up.

Zhaxier stands in a five by five meter room. A metal table is bolted to the floor in its center. On it lie the air vent cover from the ceiling, Zhaxier's ID card, his data pad and holo projector. The cabinets circle the entire room and are filled with all types of weapons, from pistols to fusion rifles. A good-sized pool of blood stains the floor, and Zhaxier's bloody hand prints mark everywhere he has been. Blood still trickles from his shoulder wound.

What do you do?

zhaxier 2/28/2001


"Groovy." Zhaxier stands in awe at the minor arsenal before him. Even though a lowly propulsion engineer (2nd class), whose knowledge of weaponry is limited, he feels a rush of excitement with his lucky find. His elation is muted somewhat by the sickening pool of semi-congealed blood on the floor. His blood, he realizes with an exhausted sigh, and the most of it he's ever seen at once.

Fighting his wooziness at the loss of so much blood, he snatches up his data pad, re-accesses the clone bank schematics, and zooms in on the ventilation shaft down which he fell, both to get his bearings, and to try to find a way back to the enviro-room where he assumes his pod-mates are still trapped. (He doesn't know how long he was unconscious.)

Then he checks the weapons cabinets and door to see if they are locked. He also tries to bring up the ship's personnel weapons manifest on his pad. He needs statistics on the weaponry herein if he is (able) to choose one---preferably something light and deadly, especially to robots.

Finally, Zhaxier looks around for anything he can use to bind or treat his wounds, and for a bag in which to carry his possessions. "There's one good thing about being blended," he realizes with a wince as pain shoots up his arm. "You don't have to look at the mess you've made of yourself."

gene_queen_supreme 3/2/2001


Nike is pissed off. Somehow they were bait from the get go, first with the bots, and now with the wolfies---what the hell is going on here anyway? There is no room in her mind for worry about whether or not the wolf-creature will believe her---she is too hopping mad to care. She wants blood and answers. Her thoughts briefly touch on Percy, and she hopes he is all right. She also wonders if the girl is in on this little scheme too. Her eyes blaze as they bore holes in the pack leader, daring him to try anything other than surrender, and her mind works overtime to think of ways to debiliate him if necessary. She dares not take her eyes off of him to check the status of the others. At least not yet.

gammaben 3/3/2001


The woman's scream jolts Percy Jenkins, Warden computer systems administrator and technical trainer, back to reality. He looks at the blood on Nike's wrench in his hand, and notices his hands and arms are covered with the same greyish wolf-hair of the wolf men. He reaches a hand up to touch his face and it feels hairy too. "What... what!?" he stammers, backing up, then seeing the prone Wolfoid at his feet. His gaze returns to the woman, and a conflicting maelstrom of emotions play havoc with his desires. She is clearly terrified.

He tries to regain complete control over his thoughts. He has to act quickly! Subdue the woman, pounce to the aid of the Wolfoids in their attack of the humans. Percy shakes his head, gripping it with frustration. "No, wait, I'm not a wolf man!" He looks straight into the eyes of the woman and speaks sternly, loudly. "My name's Percy Jenkins and I'm here to rescue you!" His headache resurfaces as he struggles to maintain control, both over his human thoughts and new animal instincts.

"Waaaiitaminute," he says mostly to himself, his gaze still locked upon the woman. "Chelydra... carapace. Zhaxier... invisibility. And me...." He finally broke his line of sight with the woman, who stares at him, her face transfixed in horror. Percy looks at his hands again, clearly realizing that he, too, was not immune to the mutational disaster than befell the other two, and from the looks of this biosphere, the rest of the ship, too.

Suddenly, Percy turns to find his companions, and sees Nike's standoff with another Wolfoid. Spinning to the west, and now recalling hearing several shotgun shots, he sees Chelydra standing still, gun raised at the five Wolfoids clambering toward him. How can he help either of his shipmates?

He looks down again at the woman. "I---I'll be back. I have to save the ship, and to do that I have to save Chelydra!" Then he jumps in the direction of his fellow clone, hoping to catch up to the other wolfmen before they catch up with Chelydra. As he bounds away from the woman, Percy lets out the fiercest wolf-sounding scream he can manage.

"ROOAUGGHWOWOGUGWLGUGLGLLLHHHH!" He realizes he is going to have to work on that for it to be more convincing, should he survive this bizarre turn of events.

gammaworld_gm 3/5/2001

.........-STATUS: 3 INDIVIDUALS IN TERRA 239837-E11
.........-FAIL SAFE 2

Enviro Room:

"No, wait, I'm not a wolf man! ... My name's Percy Jenkins and I'm here to rescue you!"

Percy's wicked looking canines fully display in a snarl as he speaks, but to the woman on the brink of sheer terror at his feet, the words are a jumbled mixture of English, growls, and barks.

"Aaaah... get away from me, you monster!" screams the woman. With pent-up agility and adrenaline, the woman jumps to her feet and runs away from wolf-man-Percy and toward Nike, the only other person whom she can see who even remotely resembles a human.

A very tense moment holds Nike and the pack leader enthralled as each dares the other to make a move. The huge gray-furred Wolfoid flexes his sinewy muscles, revealing massive canines, much larger than the other Wolfoids, and seems to debate to himself whether he can leap to the woman holding the pistol and tear her apart before she pulls the trigger.

His instinct for survival resists the impulse of death. "ROOAUGGHWOWOOOOOWWWLL!" howls the pack leader. The Wolfoids charging Chelydra hear the command from the alpha male and turn away, fleeing like beaten lap-dogs, leaving only the sounds of their ferocious teeth snapping angrily as they depart over an adjacent hill to disappear from view.

"You win hummie... for now! Sleep well, prey." The barkish words are very clearly meant as a threat. Slowly the pack leader backs away in the tall grass, never taking his eyes off Nike or her pistol. When he has placed a reasonable distance between himself and Nike, he turns and flees.

Catching sight of Chelydra, Percy jumps in his direction, hoping to catch up to the other wolfmen before they catch his fellow clone. The idea of what he will do once he does so doesn't seem to enter his mind at the time. As he races after the other baying Wolfoids, a howl from somewhere behind him causes them to turn away and flee over a hill and out of sight. The valiant Chelydra now stands alone, his shotgun still in hand.

But Chelydra does not lower his shotgun; instead he points it at the approaching wolf-man-Percy and takes a careful bead on his vulnerable throat. Unaware of Percy's transformation, and unaware of the uniform on the wolf-man due to his turtle-sight, Chelydra's finger slowly begins pulling on the trigger. Percy cannot believe what he is seeing, then suddenly he realizes that Chelydra doesn't recognize him!

"Pray to your god, wolf creature, because you're history!" spits Chelydra, his jaw set sternly.

gammaworld_gm 3/5/2001

Weapons Locker Room:

Zhaxier's shoulder and elbow throb painfully to the point where the lowly propulsion engineer (2nd class) trembles like a cup of Becemian spice Jell-O. Trying to focus his thoughts, Zhaxier scans the schematics on his data pad. A few quick taps and he locates the secure room in which he now stands. It is listed as "Armory AK2100" and bears the icon for an exterior force field. Access to AK2100's equipment list is denied for security reasons. It places him one deck below where he was previously. It will not be easy to retrace his way back to his fellow clones. Zhaxier isn't a gambler, but he knows the odds are stacked against him and it isn't going to get easier if he keeps fleeing in the wrong direction.

The deck vibrates briefly beneath Zhaxier's feet for just a second. He hears no sound as he looks around the room, his face set into tight lines of pain and frustration. "I'm getting out of here, and I'm surviving!" he tells himself out loud, trying to believe his own confidence-building words.

One by one, Zhaxier checks the weapons cabinets, all of which are securely locked with an old fashioned key lock. Zhaxier leans forward and peers through the metal grate covering the last weapon cabinet. Inside he can see five pistols, each hanging from a separate hook. Inside at the bottom of the cabinet, Zhaxier spots a green bag with a medical red cross on it. There is no guessing that it is a medi-kit. But with no way to open the cabinet, nor anything in the room to aid him, the only way he will ever open it is if he leaves the room to find something to force the lock.

What do you do?

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