COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
18:36 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM
18:38 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA P3
18:40 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED
18:45 CONTINUING 2 SURVEILLANCE-LINKS
.........-TRANSFER INFORMATION TO CC
.........-HOVER DROID IN OBSERVATION MODE
Amanda has an odd look of dissatisfaction on her face as she listens closely to Nike and searches her eyes for some semblance of understanding. Amanda briefly rubs the side of her face where it Nike slapped her moments before. Her lips tighten but Amanda refuses to cry at Nike's rejection, too stunned by the sudden turn of events. Amanda hides the fact that the slap only intensifies her feelings for Nike.
Nike offers Amanda the chance to redeem herself. "Now what else do you know that might help us?" she asks slowly, trying to focus on the vague impression she has of Amanda rather than on the kiss. Nike counts herself lucky that Zhaxier, Percy and Chelydra did not witness it. Nike has enough to worry about without having to put up with any male jokes.
"The Watcher sends its orders via the room intercom," Amanda replies softly, "but I'm certain it will never send orders while you are within earshot. Its command center is down that long dark hall." Amanda feebly points toward the door before lowering her hand. "If I don't do what the Watcher says, then it sends a robot to punish me. I mostly just go where it tells me to go." Amanda's eyes look toward the floor. "I really don't want to talk about what it does to punish me."
Some of Amanda's emotional instabilities are sure to be caused by the pressure of her situation, Nike thinks. Everyone wants someone to love or to need them at some time in their life and Amanda is no exception.
"I could take you to the Watcher, but without any real weapons you may be killed." Amanda looks down after stating the likely outcome.
Percy recognizes Zhaxier's unmistakable voice. Percy never met anyone so unfocused as Zhaxier. He figures the guy might do anything at any time without fully thinking though the repercussions. Maybe it is a physical flaw in his character, or maybe he was exposed to too much gamma radiation in the cloning process. Percy has a slightly quizzical look on his face. He still likes the big goof. The apple and the short nap help Percy, but his surroundings still loom over him and everyone else like a foreboding shadow.
Chelydra: "Come on in! We've got some loooovely candy for you."
Chelydra's comical comment is almost as comical as Zhaxier's "trick-or-treat." As Zhaxier starts to put his shoulder against the door, Chelydra jerks it open, puts one foot out and leans back. Chelydra feels a foot kick his own, but only sees Cool-Mo-G sunglasses tumbling in the air as Zhaxier falls inside, stumbles and lands on Nike.
Zhaxier: "Hi honey! I'm home!"
Zhaxier's comment doesn't play well with Nike, who was just coming off a very serious conversation with Amanda. "Ugh... get off me!" Nike reacts instinctively, slapping Zhaxier just below the floating Cool-Mo-G sunglasses.
"Eeeoow! Nice to see you too," says Zhaxier, scrambling back out of harm's way, while looking back to see Chelydra smiling and Percy straining to see anything other than Zhaxier's sunglasses.
Claus waits patiently outside, hiding beneath a large tree. Looking up through the tree tops, he sees a small hovering robot watching him. Claus hisses, showing his teeth.
OOC: As once pointed out to me by a lady, it's not the power behind the slap which makes it so effective, but the suddenness in which it is delivered to the unknowing recipient.... Heh-heh.
Rebooting from his second V.R. vending machine dream, Tinker's noise filter units (i.e., ears) detect a faint rap-tap-tapping on the elevator door from the outside. At first it seems like a single tapping, but then it grows into several different unique tapping sounds. The power suddenly comes on inside the elevator, and with that so do its interior lights.
What do you do?
Tinker takes the power cell out of the laser pistol and puts it into the laser rifle. He duct tapes the laser pistol to one thigh for safe keeping. He holds the laser rifle with one limb, ready to bring it up to fire in an instant. With the other limb holding the paralysis dart pistol, Tinker hits the door open on the elevator control panel with the muzzle of that weapon.
"Zhaxier! Well, I was going to say, I never thought I'd see you again---but I suppose," Percy says in the direction of Zhaxier's glasses, "I still can't see you!" Percy fishes in his sack for the first object he feels that is silky. He retrieves Zhaxier's boxers and tosses them back. "Sorry, not my color---and besides, if you're gonna reappear so we can have a pow-wow without getting unnerved at your unappearance, I don't think you wanna be bare-assed!" Percy looks for Amanda's reaction to yet another odd newcomer.
"Hey, waaaaitaminute--how'd you find us? How'd you escape that deranged robot? Where did you go, anyway? And why didn't you stick around, besides? Where'd you find those cool sunglasses?" Percy asks, without hesitating for anyone, much less Zhaxier, to answer each question. Suddenly he realizes he has to go to the bathroom. Or, as he used to call it---the thought suddenly popping into his head---the "little programmer's room."
He turns to Nike, then to Chelydra. "Anybody remember where the head is on this bucket?"
"Zhaxier. How nice to 'see' you again." Her look belies her distrust, though it is obvious that she doesn't despise him, probably because she isn't entirely put out that he rejoined them. "Every person can contribute, even if they are a cowardly worm," she thinks sarcastically. She just hopes that he contributes more than his instability jeopardizes them and their position on this ship. The feeling of someone's stare shifts her attention.
Amanda makes Nike feel damn uncomfortable. She feels the tension in the air that she only likes to feel when with Thom. "Thom!" Nike thinks with a start, "I remember Thom!" For the first time there is something concrete, something that defines who she is (other than her training and her job) that she can grasp and hold on to. Suddenly she feels renewed in a way that her nap hasn't allowed. She lets her mind dwell on his image for a moment, and then her discipline forces her mind's eye to address other matters.
"Thank you, Amanda, for telling me the truth," she pauses sympathetically, "I'm sure it was difficult, especially given the kind of prisoner you've been here."
"Alright everybody, let's conference!" she announces loudly.
"Whoa, RAM! Take a chill pill, dude! And keep the boxers. I'll stay blended if my ass gives you probs. Besides, it's fun, and I just love the tingly feeling!" Nobody laughs, not even the blonde. Zhaxier clears his throat.
"Hi, I'm Zhaxier," he holds out his hand to the woman. Her indifferent/confused look reminds him that she can't see him and he takes it back. He sighs and turns back to his pod-mates.
"OK, OK, so I bugged out on you guys. Sorry dudes, I cracked. But I'm a new man---er, clone! I ditched the robots back at the clone bank after recovering... a data pad!!" His Cool-Mo-G sunglasses flash about, as if searching for something. He mumbles something that sounds like, "Frak."
"Anyway, it's outside, with my new friend the cat---Claus. We also found a good robot---he's a gas---even helped us break into a weapons locker. You'd've loved the place, Chelydra! Anyway, Tinker---that's the robot---is back in the forest a bit, recharging in an elevator. Me an' Claus could go collect him and be back here in no time...."
Zhaxier notes the faraway look on Butch's face, and the blanched expression on RAM's visage. "What? You guys listening to me?"
"Ain't nobody here but us toasters!"
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
18:46 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM
18:47 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA P3
18:48 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED
18:49 WATCHER SURVEILLANCE LINKUP
.........-TRANSFER INFORMATION TO CC
.........-HOVER DROID IN TERRA P3
Nike greets Zhaxier with a slightly irritated and impatient look. Every person is different, she is perfectly aware, but Zhaxier has failed thus far to find his true niche within the group. Maybe given enough time and patience, he will become less reactive and more group oriented.
She glances back at Amanda, who smiles in response. The redness in her face has faded, but Nike doubts Amanda's feelings have done likewise.
Images of Thom fill Nike's thoughts for a moment. Pictures, sounds, places, smells. They are all somehow connected. She can only hope that more will come back later. Holding the thoughts for later, Nike thanks Amanda and then calls for a conference in an authoritative tone.
Using his own offbeat style of humor, Zhaxier introduces himself to Amanda. Amanda doesn't show fear, but she clearly doesn't want to shake his hand either, if he has a hand. The floating sunglasses and the ripple in the air at Zhaxier's movement are all that Amanda, or anyone else, can see of him.
Taking a few moments, Zhaxier explains what has happened since he went his own way, and also a little about his two new friends, the mutated house cat named Claus and the quirky robot named Tinker. One is outside and the other waiting for their return a good distance through the forest. Zhaxier also makes it clear that time is of the utmost importance. It will be dark in the environmental room very soon, thirty minutes at most. So whatever needs to be decided has to be decided quickly.
Percy and Zhaxier toss Zhaxier's underwear back and forth, not quite deciding who should keep them. Percy doesn't want them and Zhaxier doesn't want to carry them. Invisible guys just don't hide well wearing boxers; somehow the sunglasses add machismo that boxers don't.
Percy continues with a series of questions of where, what, and how Zhaxier found his way back here by himself. Theatrical performances hold nothing to Zhaxier's explanations. It seems too surreal that Zhaxier departed in the opposite direction and yet ended up back here through a twist of fate. It is almost as if someone intentionally pushed Zhaxier in the right direction. It has to be more than just the data pad.
Percy inquires where the bathroom is and Chelydra nonchalantly opens the door and reintroduces him to the forest. "Make like a Zhaxier and hurry back, P. Who knows what's hungry... and out there." Chelydra follows Percy outside and holds the door open with a foot, standing outside. Chelydra watches as Percy sneaks off into the bushes to do his business. Chelydra's shotgun is ready to be used if need be. Chelydra feels safe here, at least more secure than he has been elsewhere. His thoughts drift to many subjects as he waits.
Claus watches from the bushes for a few more minutes with nervous anticipation. When he feels that he can wait no longer, Claus turns and trots away silently, leaving the area.
"Nike, are you going... are you planning to stop the Watcher, or are you just leaving...?" Amanda's voice seems to break a few times with her question.
[Claus disappears with a puff of logic:
Bright eyed and astonished by the opening of the elevator doors, the group of beings take a step back from Tinker, almost in unison. Tinker's visual sensors identify a dozen humanoids, all with an ebony-toned skin like Zhaxier's. They are of varying ages and sexes. All are naked and look at Tinker with a strange fascination. A few move forward and touch the muzzle of his weapon before jerking their hands back and giggling. A few more come into view as Tinker's visual sensors record a faint ripple in the air before they appear.
"Don't touch the hard skinned one," calls a voice from behind the group. As the group parts, Tinker can see a white skinned, dark haired human dressed in a red shirt and black pants. He is nothing like the group with which he mingles. The patch on his uniform has a picture of an ellipsoidal ship, the word "WARDEN" above, and a white box below with "Jan/Mtn #64" embroidered in red. Tinker recognizes the patch as Janitorial/Maintenance from area 64.
"Hi I'm Devon. These savages won't bother you, robot. They're quite friendly, but not very smart." Devon tapped his temple with one finger. "I've even knocked up a couple of them." Devon smiles proudly at his own comment.
Tinker analyzes the so-called savages' whispers and identifies their unique language as a mixture of French and German. Their speech suggests they are anything but ignorant.
What do you do?
The thought of taking up company with a robot is not exactly comforting, but Zhaxier seems to have gotten back to the group in one piece, so perhaps this robot has something other than murder on its mind.
One thing troubles the turtle-man, though: how was Zhaxier able to find his way to the group so quickly and easily? It can't be sheer chance. If Zhaxier could find them, who else may come looking? Chelydra has the feeling the group is soon to meet the mysterious "Watcher." He isn't at all sure that the encounter will be to their benefit. Still, he takes comfort in the thought that Zhaxier has brought them reinforcements, and possibly some further armaments as well. That, coupled with a defensible position, may be enough to turn things in their favour, at least enough to start acting instead of constantly reacting.
"Sir, I am Moonwerk General Purpose Technical Support Unit 31454-0265-2. I am under instructions from senior propulsion engineering officer Zhaxier to hold this elevator until he and his away team returns. That should be at any moment now. Until then, may I help you?"
"OK, people---such as we are," she smiles as she glances at Chelydra and then at Zhaxier, "we need to make a decision here."
"The way I see it, we have three choices. We can get out of the environmental bay through this door and possibly face the 'Watcher,' we can leave the environmental bay the way that Zhaxier and his buddies came in, or we can explore the environmental bay and see if we can find any human settlements and possibly any allies as a result. The latter two options, of course, entail the possibility of running into the wolfmen, or something else as menacing, but honestly, I don't think there is a risk-free choice to make. It's just a matter of 'pick your poison,' as my old colonel used to say."
She pauses to let the choices and their implications sink in.
"My instincts tell me that without better firepower, facing off with the 'Watcher' isn't the best idea. They also tell me that wandering off in the environmental bay at night is stupid. Since it's getting dark out there, I say we either stay here for the night, and move out first thing in the morning, or haul ass to where Zhaxier's friend is and get out of the bay before darkness hits. If we choose to stay here for the night, the 'Watcher' may come to us. We should at least try to anticipate that."
She turns her head to face Amanda. "As for you, you have a choice to make here. When we do leave this control room, and we will either tonight or tomorrow, are you going to come with us, or stay? I'm not saying that we won't come back---we will, if only to retrieve you---once we figure this place out and find a safe haven. But what will you do in the here and now?"
The Cool-Mo-G sunglasses bob as Zhaxier speaks, "I'm for reconnecting with Tinker. Grizzly dude's got guns." He gets up and heads for the door. "Claus is probably wondering what's taking so long. Let's boogie. It's gettin' dark and spooky out there."
Zhaxier glides past Chelydra, opens the door, and waltzes out to where he left Claus. "Claus?" He picks up his medical bag and looks around for his friend.
Irritation written all over her face, Nike takes a deep breath and tries to sound remotely polite. "Zhaxier," she pauses and takes another breath, "as you seem to constantly and conveniently ignore, we are a group. We make decisions together, so if you head out that door before we have consensus, you'll be going alone."
Zhaxier: "Jus' goin' to check on Claus," Zhaxier says midstride as he exits the control room.
OOC: If you haven't guessed, you people move too slowly for Zhaxier's continual state of hyperurgency. Nothing personal! This is totally in character for Z: this kind of insistence on "due process" is exactly what propelled him to act without consensus and make for the Enviro-Room as the robot was burning through the clone lab door. Remember, it's getting dark, and Z knows there's no time to waste to get back to Tinker.
"Ahhh, that's much better." As Percy finishes the delicate operation of zipping his pants closed without causing irreparable harm to himself, he nervously scans his surroundings. Chelydra seems to be keeping a watch out for him. He likes having military---armed at that---watching out for him.
He sees a pair of sunglasses float out of the door past Chelydra toward the edge of the clearing away from him. When he doesn't see Nike emerge, or Amanda for that matter, he grumbles to himself. "Dang that Zhaxier---I wonder where he's off to by himself now?"
Percy kicks a few dead leaves over where he moistened the dirt near a bush, almost out of instinct. "Residual effects from my Wolfoid transformation? Or am I just embarrassed at having just peed on a bush?" he says to himself. Percy walks back to the room to join the others, and gives a wave of thanks to Chelydra as he approaches.
OOC: Percy doesn't know what Zhaxier is doing---whether he's looking for someone or just going off again. Given Zhaxier's history, Percy assumes he is off again. Of course, perhaps he will find out soon enough Zhaxier's true intentions.
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