OOC: I may be pushing the timeline a bit, but I'm assuming that like the bionic man, Tinker can walk faster, straighter, and is speedier than any living creature. Of the entire group, only Percy and Sharneste can see in the dark.
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
19:02 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM
19:05 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA P3 - PROJECT W-R
19:06 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED - CODE 3 ALPHA
19:08 WATCHER SURVEILLANCE LINKUP
.........-TRANSFER INFORMATION TO CC
.........-POWER OFF IN CONTROL ROOM / TERRA DARK
Sharneste looks at Nike with interest as they stand together in the darkness of the room. The environmental area outside is also dark as she listens to what is said. "You know, there is a village of your kind not far from here," she offers, pointing at Nike with a clawed finger, "but I don't go there. They call us Pfui... twisted ones." Her statement is factual and not meant as an insult.
Percy pulls out the map for Nike's ruse and looks tolerantly amused with himself as it grows dark and his vision changes. The almost total darkness of the room is little more than dusk to Percy. It is one more neat thing about himself, one more talent he didn't know he had. The others aren't so lucky. Those without a light source can see little more than shadows in the darkness.
At first it is just a bobbing light source in the distance, but as it grows closer and closer, approaching the control room, Zhaxier recognizes it as Tinker. If robots could smile, Tinker would have as he approaches and hears Zhaxier yell toward him. He enters the control room and scans all of Zhaxier's new acquaintances (new to Tinker, that is). Tinker's makeshift limb/torch lights up the room as its flame flickers and burns, giving off a faint trail of smoke. Chelydra eases off the grip on his weapon once he realizes the robot is Zhaxier's amigo. It brings both Percy and Chelydra some ironic amusement to think that Zhaxier befriended a robot after so many have tried to kill him.
With less skills than a diplomat, Zhaxier introduces Tinker to the crowd around him and fills him in on everything thing he has missed. Zhaxier doesn't see the weapons Tinker had the last time they were together.
With Tinker's light source, Nike searches Amanda's bedding and food bag, but does not locate a key. Without a key to the control room, things get more difficult. Nike can't help but wonder what "G10" means. It must be important, or Amanda wouldn't have said it. Nike knows she has to keep the group moving. Wasting time here only gives the Watcher more time to prepare its defenses. Her knowledge of tactics tells her to strike fast.
With some words from Chelydra about who carries what, a quick inventory is made among the group. Chelydra has a shotgun (with two shots left), Zhaxier has a laser pistol, Percy has a large wrench, Nike has a knife and a small stun gun, and Tinker has a blaster pistol and the slug thrower pistol.
Chelydra walks over, opens the door and looks into the dark hallway. "This is not going to be fun," he thinks.
What do you do?
"Let's see if I can get the power back on in here." Tinker goes to work, talking as he goes, doing a complete survey of the enviro room.
"Zhaxier, apparently your kind can become invisible by scattering electro-magnetic radiation, but you still take up space, and you need to inhale and exhale...." Tinker starts testing circuits. "...and those are their weak points...."
Tinker pulls out his duralloy torch and starts some serious spot welding. "If I can make it rain, or fog, they might as well be wearing neon orange safety vests." Tinker pulls out the duct tape. "That tubecrawler made a major mistake letting me live. And that power damper alone is worth the trouble of burning down that GAWF village. I'm sorry folks, but I am not in a charitable mood right now."
Tinker pulls out some circuit panels, dusts them off, nano-lathes some replacement circuitry, and reinserts the panels. "Okay, if this works, we'll at least have some lights and the AC working." Tinker throws the switch.
Zhaxier watches with amazement as Tinker rewires the enviro room controls. His keen engineering sense gives him an overall notion of Tinker's modifications, even if he doesn't know the specifics. "Pretty slick, dude. But why would we need lights and AC in the bay if we're leaving? And what's this about 'my people'? Who do you think I am, Moses? And where's your arsenal?"
OOC: Here I assume Tinker explains about Devon and the Natives. And I'm not talking about that cyberpunk band.
"Dude, that sucks. But I think your plan B is different from Butch's. Rescue a power damper, or a sexy blonde. Hmmm, tough decision, even for Moses."
Zhaxier lets the implication stand, and takes out his data pad, much to Percy's ooh's and ahh's. "That's right, fear the pad. Now, let's see where Mr. Watcher/Listener might be hiding...."
OOC: Zhaxier will try to bring up a local wiring schematic of the area, and see where the closest surveillance nexus lies. Barring that, all they really have to do is follow the smashed lightbulbs ...
Tinker tells the group about Devon and his merry band of GAWFs. He also explains that the enviro room would be a good fallback position. (Besides, if we can control the local weather, maybe we can get a little respect around here.) And lastly, he asks the big question: "Why does a futuristic starship still depend on lightbulbs for interior lighting?"
He turns to Zhaxier. "We need more weapons, and that power damper might work on any weapons the other baddies might have. If you guys want to take a vote on what to do first, I'll go along with it."
"Good point, Tinker. I might be able to locate another weapons locker like the one we raided. Also, power dampers are in use throughout the Warden to control feedback in the propulsion clusters. Probably where Devon "call me Koresh" got his. Might as well check...." Zhaxier's voice trails into a low mumble as he taps a few more queries into his data pad.
Sharneste's presence and her past inquiries make him aware of his hunger. "I'll put in a search for food too. Sure could go for a Big Ed's special about now."
Sharneste's look spurs Zhaxier to elaborate. "Pizza. Flat bread with a puffy rim, and all sorts of veggies, meat and cheese in the middle. Big Ed's was the finest throughout the nine planets back when Warden left the Oort Cloud. Crikey, it seems like yesterday...."
Zhaxier is amazed at the fidelity of his memory when it comes to the minutia of "his" past life. The apparent blocks he suffers when it comes to "E" seem to validate his feelings. "She must've been something else," he thinks sadly.
"Chelydra, you ready?" Nike asks, anxious to get moving. "I'm going for Amanda. I can't just abandon her, anymore than I would abandon one of you. The fact is, we don't have a key to this room, so unless Tinker here can get us back in somehow, we need to act now to get her, and act quickly." Brandishing her knife, she moves to the desk to open the corridor door.
"Anyone coming with me needs to make that decision now and follow me."
"Allow me, please." Tinker goes to work on the door, first searching for any nasty surprises, and then using his omni-power tool to start drilling out the lock.
Percy nods his head at Nike's confidence-inspiring speech. Maybe it is admiration by a civilian toward a military leader, or maybe he also feels some personal responsibility for rescuing Amanda. Probably it is a combination of both. "I'm with you, Captain. By the way, I can see in the dark, too. I'm not sure why, but I bet that'll come in handy. Maybe a remnant from my transformation into the wolf creatures earlier! I don't know. I don't really know. But yeah, we gotta rescue her. We need all the crew clones we can to gain control over this ship!"
Percy mutters something about not knowing what has happened to him while he grabs his sack off the floor with his left hand, and the wrench from its resting place against the desk with his right. He seems focused on the task and doesn't wait around for anyone else to respond to what he said.
Then he sees the robot move toward the door with his drill tool extended.
"Wait, robot!" he shakes his head in frustration. "We don't need to drill the damn thing, we found a button." He looks at Nike who is reaching under the desk. "Nike, show it the button! Under the desk, yeah!"
He looks at Zhaxier. "Do you have any control over this robot?" Then, less loudly, "Er, by the way, welcome back. We really do need all the crew we can get, even if we're not one big happy family!" He swallows nervously in Zhaxier's direction and returns his focus toward the door leading further into the darkened innards of the ship.
Sharneste shakes her head quickly, confused by all the conflicting babble. But she perks up at the mention of 'rescuing' someone. "Rescue? Someone needs rescue? Someone needs found? I can find. I find her, I get food. Yes?"
She strides over to the door and starts sniffing around it, trying to pick up any scents that she hasn't noticed already. If she picks up anything, she starts following it.
"The Hell with the door, I'm going to follow the kitty."
Percy: "Do you have any control over this robot?"
"Who do you think I am, RAM?" he speaks into his pad. When Tinker leaves through the door after Sharneste, Zhaxier adds, "Does it look like I control him?" The data pad disappears into his medical bag, and the laser pistol reappears, held upwards. "Right behind you, grizzly dude," his voice trails out the door into the Warden proper.
Zhaxier stays close to Tinker regardless of whether he lights the corridor or not.
"RAM?" Percy looks straight into Zhaxier's data pad, as if Zhaxier read the word from the pad itself. After a moment to ponder the word and its possible personal implications, Percy pauses in securing himself and his things for the trip through the door, which Nike opened with a push of the under-the-desk button.
As he sees Sharneste, Tinker and Zhaxier's bag and gun gather at and venture through the door, Percy stands there and tries to remember. "RAM? Fragdurnit, I've got spaghetti-brain again!"
He looks to the militarily-trained Nike and Chelydra for expressions on their faces: expressions Percy assumed would betray their frustration at the robot, techie, and catwoman barging ahead without thought of order and any hint of military efficiency. He certainly isn't going to waltz through the darkened corridor---night vision or not---without knowing he is right behind or right in front of the two well-trained soldiers. At least, he feels safer that way. But then again, Amanda probably felt safe, and look what happened to her?
"Ok, I'm back." He shakes his head to clear it from the whirlwind of thoughts that flew through his swiss-cheese laced memories. "Sorry, I know, focus!" He lifts his wrench and grips it, and awaits his marching orders. He is a computer guy, not a military guy, and he is all too happy to let Nike and Chelydra handle the operation.
"We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz! Wait a second, guys, wait a second!" The robot yells back at the trio in the enviro room, "First grunt that follows us to certain doom gets a shiny new blaster!"
Nike watches in amazement at the motley crew that proceeds into the dark hallway. She finds Tinker's humor misplaced. What does he think this is, a game? And why would a robot have humor, anyway? "I'm not a grunt," she replies after Tinker, "and if you want to get yourself recycled into tin cans for rat meat, keep up this kamikaze behavior." With that, she walks over to the door and leans her head around the corner to see what she can see.
OOC: Tinker, there was/is no power in the control room, so no amount of rewiring the circuit panels would have helped. As for drilling or cutting a door, normally it takes just a few minutes, but if the door is duralloy plated, then your talking about an hour of steady work to cut or drill it.
Tinker: "Why does a futuristic starship still depend on light bulbs for interior lighting?"
OOC: Truth be known, they would be a special liquid-filled glass nano-light bulbs. Unless intentionally destroyed, they would repair themselves. Most of the broken glass comes from the light covering, not the bulbs themselves. It was never mentioned before, but I am assuming anyone wearing clothes is also wearing shoes. Zhaxier is not wearing shoes and there is a lot of glass to walk across.
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
19:09 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM
19:10 SCAN CORRIDOR FX8593 - VISUAL DISPLAY LOST
19:13 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED - CODE 3 ALPHA
19:15 WATCHER SURVEILLANCE LINKUP
.........-TRANSFER INFORMATION TO CC
.........-POWER OFF IN CONTROL ROOM / TERRA DARK
Pushing a few buttons, Zhaxier brings up the schematics of the corridor. Studying it for a moment, he has a good look at each area.
Soon everyone is reunited in the unlit corridor beyond the control room. Chelydra and Sharneste lead the group, followed by Nike and Percy, and then Zhaxier and Tinker. Tinker's makeshift torch provides the only light source, which allows Zhaxier to follow and at the same time carefully avoid all the broken glass. The long corridor continues for almost 30 meters before three doors can be seen on the left wall. The corridor continues about another thirty feet and splits into a three-way intersection: straight ahead, right or left. One door can be seen down the corridor going straight ahead, and two more doors can be seen down the right and left corridors (a total of eight doors---think Star Trek type doors without the "Ssssssrp" noise).
Sharneste points down the right corridor. "The female and the smelly ones went that way."
"Do you think we should check behind some of these doors? We might find something to help us?" Percy asks curiously.
Nike looks around impatiently, her thoughts filled with the possibility of an army of those hairy beasts lurking around the next corner. Chelydra keeps his weapon up and ready, fanning it horizontally as he walks. As the group pauses for a moment, Zhaxier picks a piece of glass out from the bottom of his foot.
"And they say metal feet were a bad idea." Tinker waves his foot at Zhaxier, noting his own immunity to broken glass.
What do you do?
Sharneste doesn't have shoes, although her paw-like feet are pretty thick-skinned. The two piece outfit she's wearing (apparently some sort of tanned animal hide) also seems to be very old and worn, and a couple of sizes too small. She's apparently been wearing the same outfit for some time.
Uttering a low growl, she starts padding down the corridor, following the scent.
OOC: I once spent a summer walking barefoot when I was staying with my uncle and nieces in their trailer way out in the boondocks at the end of some dirt road. The skin on the bottom of my feet got so thick and calloused in just a few days that I could walk over a few goatheads (a type of thorn found in the grass there) and not even know it until I felt the pressure on my foot after stepping on more solid ground. Then I'd just pull them back out of the calloused skin. So I'm assuming the skin on Sharneste's feet would be pretty tough after a few years of running around in the woods. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
On seeing Sharneste, Chelydra's eyes widen for a moment and he makes a mental note to talk to this other person who, like him, seems to be a blend of human and animal. Where did she come from and are there more species of hybrids? He is beginning to feel like he is on the starship of Dr. Moreau.
Percy: "Do you think we should check behind some of these doors? We might find something to help us?"
"Percy, not a bad idea. We need supplies, and I hate the thought of something or someone lurking in ambush behind us. We can't be long about it, just a quick open, look, grab, gone." Chelydra then looks at the doors to see if any of them have any markings that might indicate what is beyond them.
Thankful for his position in the middle of the group, Percy nods at Chelydra's confirmation of his idea. He clenches his wrench tightly, although he knows he won't be any good with it as a weapon unless he transforms into an altered state. He suddenly wonders if his transformation is something he can control. Or initiate voluntarily. His night vision certainly is a reminder that perhaps he has not fully reverted to his base human form. Using his enhanced vision, he tries to keep watch on the parts of the ship he can see that he gathers the others cannot. "If I have enhanced vision," he thinks, "I wonder if I can pick up traces of heat left by the kidnappers and kidnappee?" Percy kneels down to scan the floor amid the broken glass.
"Waaaaaiiitaminute.... Nike!" Percy says from his crouched position. "Was Amanda wearing shoes? I don't remember. If she wasn't, maybe she will have cut her feet on this glass---and left blood for us to trace." He looks up at the marine and sees a visage of concentration and control. This comforts Percy, and makes him thankful that his clone activation occurred close enough in time for him to have hooked up with her and the others. What if he had awakened by himself, or worse yet, never awakened at all?
The glance at Zhaxier's data pad earlier makes him try to force himself to remember the fractured, implanted memories of his original incarnation. Does he recognize any of the rooms on the map? If so, does he know what might be in each---or what used to be in each before the ship-wide disaster [that presumably triggered the clone activation --ed.]?
Nike nods in Percy's direction. "Good thinking! But I can't see much in here, so you'd better be the one looking for the blood spots." She moves into the corridor with the others, and quickly flattens herself against the left wall, moving to take point for Chelydra, as they intend to check the first door on the left---the closest one. Chelydra and Percy are right; as long as they put themselves at great risk by moving into the corridor, they need to sleuth all they can. Information is always the unseen weapon, and they are sorely lacking.
She is glad that Sharneste can smell them, and therefore track them. She will be a valuable asset to the group, provided they can continue to communicate clearly with her.
Amanda's face briefly appears in her mind's eye. "That poor girl," Nike thinks, recalling the obvious terror in her eyes. "And G10---what the hell was that?" She doesn't know yet, but she has a feeling that when they locate those big hairy thugs, she'll find out.
OOC: All that we know for sure is that Amanda wears a one-piece military jumpsuit (embroidered with the cryptic insignia "Mat./Rp."). No further description was provided, but one could make the argument that if she had access to a military jumpsuit, she'd have access to (military) boots.
As they approach the first door, Zhaxier tersely shares with the rest of the group the corridor layout which he gained via his data pad back in the room. "Unfortunately the Warden databases are thin in this part of the ship. I found no stats on room contents or uses, nor surveillance nexi---just a floorplan. Your guess is as good as mine, though I suggest that while you guys go looking for trouble, some of us scout ahead with Sharneste before Amanda's trail goes cold."
"Okay, we have to find the girl, but we have to find supplies to survive. Should I stay here, and maybe get something back online that we can use, or should we follow the kitty?"
"I gotta go where the light goes, Tinker, and that means I'm sticking to you like a magnetic power-coil boot. You decide, but somebody oughta go with Sharneste."
previous | narration | home | nextAll text Copyright ©1999-2004 PBPArchives.