OOC: Yes, Amanda is wearing boots. Your characters know this. Zhaxier's data pad lists floor plans with rooms numbers, but not contents or names in this particular area. Like Yahoo's instant messenger software, Zhaxier's data pad is meant to be updated on a monthly basis, but hasn't been. Exactly how long ago since it was last updated, no one knows for sure.
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
19:16 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM - VISUAL DISPLAY LOST
19:17 SCAN CORRIDOR FX8593 - VISUAL DISPLAY LOST
19:19 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED - CODE 3 ALPHA
19:24 WATCHER SURVEILLANCE LINKUP
.........-INFORMATION CHANGING TO EYES ONLY
.........-POWER OFF IN CONTROL ROOM / TERRA DARK
Chelydra looks for markings on the door that might indicate what is beyond it, but the door tag has been removed, leaving only a white spot behind. With Chelydra on one side of the closest door, Nike touches the button on the wall from the other side and the door slides open without a noise. Light shines out of the doorway into the corridor from the room. Both Chelydra and Nike rush inside, adrenaline pumping.
The room is large and is clearly a cafeteria: the walls are lined with food and drink vending machines while the room itself is filled with tables and chairs. Seated at a table alone in the center of the room and eating something is a red-headed Pure Strain Human. He gulps hard, seeing Chelydra's shotgun pointed at him.
"I did pay for this, you know!" Arkady raises both hands, lowers one again and takes a bite of the sandwich he holds, and then raises his hand again. His mouth full, he smiles innocently, hands in the air. "What's in my mouth they can't steal," he thinks, and quickly chews and then swallows.
Arkady Dmitrivich awoke not two days ago in a clone bank room. After climbing out of his pod, he wandered the corridors of Warden until somehow arriving here. Luck was with him, up until now.
Sharneste stands in the four-way intersection waiting for the others. She knows which way the human girl has been taken because she can smell faint traces of her and the smelly ones, just like she can smell Zhaxier, Percy and the metallic Tinker. Each has their own unique scent signature. Sharneste's nose also tells her that at least two of the smelly ones wait down the hall, maybe on guard duty, maybe as a trap. Sharneste can't see them, and she doubts they can see her, but they are down there, maybe 90 meters, maybe more. Sharneste pulls out a piece of glass stuck to the bottom of her foot. Her feet are tough and the glass has little effect, except to be bothersome.
Zhaxier stands in the hall next to Percy and Tinker, who are mid-way between Sharneste and the two miliary types. His data pad hovers in the air as he searches for details on this area.
He finds none. However, he does find a sub file placed in his data pad. Opening it, he finds a detailed path to a lifeboat. Not an escape pod, but a lifeboat built to land on a planet. The file has his name on it, so he knows that the original Zhaxier placed it there.
"Hold still, I can't read the data pad through your body if you keep moving it, Z," says Tinker, reading and recording everything he views on Zhaxier's data pad. "It never hurts to store a little extra information for when it might be useful."
Percy looks towards Sharneste, who wants to continue her direction, and then to Chelydra and Nike, who have entered the room and seem to have found something or someone. For the first time, Percy feels something inside him that tells him that he can control the transformations into his altered states, and control them easily. It comes to him as easily as the night vision he now enjoys. He issues his trademark "Waaaaaiiitaminute," and knows he needs to decide who he is going to follow.
What do you do?
OOC: Can I just download Zhaxier's data pad's files into my memory, and maybe download a copy of my persona into his data pad?
"Wait guys, we can't go yet. There's some rooms left to explore. A cafeteria that might have working vending machines. And a lifeboat. We might be able to buy this Amanda back with an armload of chocolate bars and a catalog of water-tools. How about it?"
OOC: Idea from the OOP Ringworld RPG: Water tools are simple tools that are printed on a catalog page like a picture in a book; when you need a tool, you tear the page out of the catalog, and put it into a bucket of water, where it forms into the tool you've choosen. The water tool is made out of some kind of memory metal/plastic/both. Lastly, the tools are simple tools like hammers, saws, axes, and stuff. But with nanotechnology, about anything is possible (small vehicles, livestock, ... crewmen?).
The sight of a man eating lunch is certainly not on the list of things Chelydra expected to find behind Door-Number-One. He looks quickly around the cafeteria. Not seeing any obvious threats, he lowers the muzzle of his shotgun to a less threatening angle.
"Is the chow line open for everyone?"
Sharneste sniffs the air again, emitting a low growl. "Smelly ones close," she whispers harshly. "More than one. Hider want Sharneste to..." Suddenly, her attention seems diverted as she starts sniffing the air again, her head quickly tilting up and back to follow the scent as she crouches. "Food? Is that food? That smells like food!"
Nike doesn't think this guy looks too menacing, but one never knows. Still, damn, that food looks incredible. "Hello. My name is Nike, and these are my friends. May I join you, and ask who you are and what you are doing in this area of the ship?"
Tinker: "We might be able to buy this Amanda back with an armload of chocolate bars and a catalog of water-tools. How about it?"
"Crikey, one vending machine and we're all reduced to Neanderthals. Wait, did you say chocolate? Hoh-hoh-hohhh." Zhaxier pokes his (still blended) head in the cafeteria doorway to view the goods.
"Nike, I, uh, I think I'm on to something," Percy interrupts Nike in the middle of her conversation with the man in the cafeteria. How he knows what his body is capable of doing, he has no idea. But he knows that he can change his form at will.
Percy turns to see Sharneste, who has herself turned back to the open door to the cafeteria. She is sniffing the air and no doubt smells food. He closes his eyes and with clenched fists puts his thumbs into his temples, and tries to force his transformation into the Wolfoid. His headache flares slightly but is gone completely when he opens his eyes as Percy the Wolfoid (in uniform).
"Roaaaugughwrrrol! Grwoovy!" He looks up at the astonished gazes from the others, closes his eyes and clenches his teeth (both unnecessary rituals for the transformation unbeknownst to him, but which center his concentration on the task of adapting nevertheless). His eyes open and he is Percy in uniform again. He clears his throat.
"Ahem, I, heh, I don't know how or if that helps us, but I just figured I'd test it out. I just had the feeling I could control it, and apparently I can," he explains to Nike and the others.
He casually walks into the room to extend his introductions to the man they have found---a man who looks a little spooked. "For what it's worth, welcome to our motley crew," he says to the man, smiling. "I'm Percy Jenkins, the sequel," he jokes, referring to his cloned self. "Actually, there's no guarantee I'm the only clone of me. But I'm the only one I know about, and the cloning process sure did a number on my genes."
He looks at the man whose name he does not yet know, and tries to lighten the mood. "You think I'm something, wait 'til you meet Invisi-Bro!"
Tinker walks in through the cafeteria door. "I believe that these mutations are the result of the computers in control of the cloning vats having to patch deteriorating human genetic material with whatever other genetic material is handy, in conjuction with corrupt software in nano-bot assembly caches. Be happy that you're here at all. Over the years, I've seen much, much worse than any of you scuttling about the ship."
Percy nods somberly at Tinker's observation about how, despite mutation, his clone has been assembled viably. "Just, uh, just how many years have you been wandering around?" Percy's realization that he doesn't even know the date comes as a shock to his sense of continuity, and suddenly it becomes his priority to find out what year it is. "Just how long has Warden been floating in space without a crew?"
"I've been wandering around here for almost five hundred years. At least my persona has. This is the fifth body that I've occupied since the ship ran into that radiation cloud. I've been around so long, I've had to dump some memory to make room for new data. And some of my old data was lost cloning my memory into new bodies. But at least I can still fix about anything that comes my way. Between my pitiful efforts, and those of the Nano-bot Maintenance Corps, you'd all be in way worse trouble than you are now if it weren't for us."
The robot starts checking systems status in the cafeteria. "There's more rooms here to check out. Why don't you warriors investigate first for hazards? Me and the other techie will follow up with a search of each room. We need supplies, weapons, and power sources. We can't survive long without them."
Zhaxier throws his (blended) hands up and sighs audibly. "So much for rescuing the blonde. What is she, chopped liver? Alright Tinker, your ever-faithful friendly neighborhood techie lackey is right behind you, but as long as we're blowing off Amanda, lemme get one of these Milky Way (what else?) bars first."
Zhaxier enters the room, notes the new man with whom Nike is trying to have a conversation, walks over to the candy machines, grabs his access card from his medical bag and is just about to swipe it in the vending machine when he balks. "Aw frak, Tinker. I use this, and security's gonna be all over us like quantum interference in a nano-pile. Can you drill out this lock without setting off the alarm? I can take it from there."
"Zhaxier, we are not blowing off the blonde. What do you think they're going to do with her anyway? Sacrifice her to the horned god or something? If she's a PSH, they're either going to use her for breeding stock or if she has any technicals skills, she's going to be put to work fixing something. Either way, we have a good chance of being able to buy her back. But we need something to buy her back with. Let me check out these vending machines. Some of them I can bargain with. Most of them need repairs, and I do very good work for which I get paid for dearly. Others have gone space happy. Those you can mess around with without security bothering you. And sometimes, I build a whole new machine from scrap. I also happen to have my own vending machine account, but not all of them honor it." The robot then goes to work.
"Heheh, breeding stock.... Dem blondes have all the fun, eh Percy? Actually, I don't give a frak one way or the other. Just like to keep moving, you know? Staying in one place with all these sec-bots after us gives me the creeps. Crikey, let's hurry up and get outta here."
Percy: "Roaaaugughwrrrol! Grwoovy!"
Sharneste's full attention is suddenly focused on Percy as he changes. She crouches defensively as her ears flatten against her head and a loud gutteral growl rumbles out of her throat. She backs away from the Wolfoid slowly, teeth bared in a wicked snarl.
"What you do here, Howler?!" She growls out. "This not where you hunt! Go away!"
"It's OK, Sharneste, it's just Percy. He changes like that sometimes." Then, nodding at Percy, she says, "Way to go, Perce! That will definitely come in handy. You think you can morph into one of those big ugly hairy things?"
She turns to Zhaxier. "No one, I repeat no one, is giving up or sacrificing Amanda. I will get her back or die trying. And, if you want to remain an uninjured part of this group, I suggest you desist being so damned insulting. Being used for breeding stock is a horrific experience. Make light of it again in my presence and we will have more than words between us." Seething with anger, she moves toward Tinker and asks him what he suggests their next move be.
OOC: Sorry, no Tinker, you can't download Zhaxier's data pad. It doesn't have an interface. It is updated via broadcast signal.
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
19:25 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM - VISUAL DISPLAY LOST
19:26 SCAN CORRIDOR FCH-1083 - VISUAL DISPLAY LOST
19:32 PROCEDURE BETA INITIATED - CODE 3 ALPHA
19:50 WATCHER SURVEILLANCE LINKUP
.........-INFORMATION LOST - UPLINK ASAP
.........-MOVEMENT AREA UNKNOWN - SEND CONTACT
Chelydra: "Is the chow line open for everyone?"
Arkady Dmitrivich looks at Chelydra, "Uh, if you're not going to shoot me, then yes. They're vending machines, how more open of a chow line can you get?" Arkady thinks Chelydra is the wierdest looking crewman he's ever seen, but then Chelydra has a weapon, so he isn't about to say anything. When Chelydra lowers the weapon, Arkady feels a little better. As for the lady beside the turtle-guy, she is a hot babe-o-rama he thinks.
Shocked by Percy's abilities, Sharneste seems alarmed for a moment, but then smells food and follows Nike and Chelydra into the cafeteria.
Nike: "Hello. My name is Nike, and these are my friends. May I join you, and ask who you are and what you are doing in this area of the ship?"
"Hello Nike---and everyone else---I'm Arkady Dmitrivich. Of course you can join me. Well, I woke up about two days ago in the clone bay. After climbing out from my pod, I wandered the corridors of Warden until somehow arriving here. And voilà, here I am!" Arkady smiles.
Zhaxier pokes his (still blended) head in the cafeteria doorway to view the goods. The room is a large cafeteria whose walls are lined with food and drink vending machines. The room is filled with tables and chairs.
Percy: "For what it's worth, welcome to our motley crew."
Arkady accepts Percy's hand and shakes it. Arkady looks at Percy, still somewhat amazed. "Thanks, I'm glad you could join my group of one," he jokes, trying to ignore Percy's other comments he didn't understand.
Tinker enters the cafeteria and internally computes the ratios of defective clones versus non-defective clones. Only Percy actually listens to what he is saying.
Zhaxier: "Aw frak, Tinker. I use this, and security's gonna be all over us like quantum interference in a nano-pile. Can you drill out this lock without setting off the alarm? I can take it from there."
Tinker is more than happy to help, but as he approaches the vending machines
and removes his drill, a ceiling mounted laser cannon lowers out of the ceiling
and points at him. A red dot appears on Tinker's chest. An electronic voice
from above says, "
Vandalism will be dealt with most harshly. Thank you, have a
good day!" As Tinker puts the drill away, the ceiling mounted laser cannon
disappears into its concealed alcove.
Arkady doesn't understand Nike's anger with the unseen man. "Just my luck. Maybe they are married," he thinks. Arkady reaches out and grabs Nike's hand and for a second. Nike is surprised at his forwardness. Arkady turns her thumb upwards. "Just walk over there and put your pretty thumb on the vending machine and tell it what you want. It's that easy. But you're only allowed so much food per meal time." Arkady releases her hand and smiles.
Nike crosses the distance to the vending machines to stand beside Tinker. Touching her thumb to the sandwich machine, she enters the numbers for a ham sandwich and the sandwich immediately falls out. Two more different sandwiches and three juice drinks later, the vending machines no longer work for Nike.
What do you do?
"I'm going to see what I can get from the vending machines. There also ought to be at least a first aid kit in here somewhere, this being a public area. And I intend to check every inch of space in here, including the trash cans."
"Wow, they sure upped the security in here," he grumbles almost as loud as his stomach. "I'm cool, I'm cool," he calls to the ceiling, backing away slightly from the vending machine.
"I guess you ain't gonna be 'bargaining' with these babies, Tinker. Our Watcher's probably laughing his ass off," he quips, elbowing the robot as Nike approaches.
Zhaxier watches as Nike follows Arkady's instructions and gets a meal. "Hey, punch me up a Milky Way, will ya?" But he's too late; her allotment has expired. Whatever tension Arkady sees is on Nike's enraged face, as Zhaxier is still invisible. And undaunted. And naked.
To dispel any illusion that Nike was threatening a floating medical bag, Zhaxier walks over amongst the tables and chairs toward Arkady. He unblends for a moment, activating unconsciously his innate WINO talent (Wilson's Incredible Nose Occultation), except it isn't his nose that gets blocked from everyone's view. "Hiya Arkady. I'm Zhaxier. Don't worry about Butch. She'll warm up to you in no time," he winks.
He vanishes in mid-sentence, then waltzes over to a candy machine and tries his thumb on the touchpad, attempting to get as many candy bars as will fill his allowance and his medical bag. Trying not to think how old the stuff really is, he turns to the industrious robot. "Dude, anything we find in here to trade for Amanda they could probably force her to get for them anyway. Barkin' up the wrong tree I think. We could always trade these nano-bot doses or this holo-proj---er, no, not that," he sighs, closing his bag. "We should get our food, then get back on her trail. Just my two cents."
Zhaxier gets his candy if any is forthcoming, then looks around for an emergency flashlight or some other means of illumination.
Not hungry quite yet, still thinking about Amanda, and knowing that people---even clones---work better on full, or at the very least, non-empty stomachs, Percy doesn't object to the sudden lunch-time feel of the room as food is dispensed and snacks are hoarded. When a flurry of candy bars suddenly starts pouring from one of the vending machines, disappearing into a bag floating in mid-air, he shakes his head and laughs aloud. He already pegged Zhaxier for the type who loves candy bars (and their short-duration, high-energy burst nature). But with Amanda and her kidnapping still on his mind, he turns his focus to Nike's question. Can he in fact turn into one of the hairy creatures?
Before he tries it out, he apologizes to Sharneste. "Heh, er, sorry for spookin' ya, there. I, uh, don't guess we ever had a chance to meet. Now's a good as time as any," he says. With a nod denoting "excuse me" in Arkady's direction, he walks away from the lunching clone and moves closer to the lioness. "I don't expect you to shake my hand, but.... Well, I'm Percy. I'm a clone of one of the original crew members of this ship, and I'm trying to save it!" It occurs to him that perhaps she doesn't know she is even on a ship screaming through interstellar space at God-knows what speed and heading, and he makes ready to explain it to her as best he can, if she does look confused.
"Nike over there," he continues to Sharneste, "is always thinking good strategy, so I'm gonna try to turn into one of those hairy guys. Maybe do some recon as one of 'em, right?" he says, glancing at Nike, who raises an eyebrow in ponderous thought.
"So, uh, don't get too spooked. Here goes nothin'!" Percy clenches his fists again, concentrates on the form of the hairy creatures, and wills himself into a transformation. The feeling of adaptation he experienced twice before isn't forthcoming this time, and he finds he cannot fully put together in his mind's eye the exact combination of thought and will that a successful transformation must require. He opens his eyes, disappointed, and looks down at himself, expecting no change at all.
His expectations are realized. He has seen the hairy creatures, but only for a few seconds. Maybe it requires a longer visual reference?
OOC: No "Waaaaaaiiiitaminutes" were harmed during the creation of this post.
Uncertain as to whether the food vendors will recognize him as authorized to recieve rations, and equally uncertain as to what to eat, Chelydra slowly approaches the vending machines. After staring at them in hungry hesitation for a few moments, he makes what he hopes are the right choices. As he waits for the machines to respond, he glances over at his comrades and the new member of their little band, Arkady.
"If everybody is done with chow, we should pack up and get moving after Amanda, like the Cap'n said," he announces, nodding toward Nike.
"This being a cafeteria, there ought to be a manual food preparation area. Unless the foodstocks are replenished automatically, I doubt that there is any food left, but there should be knives, salt (a most valuable trade item), and some pots and pans (also valuable trade items)."
Sharneste growls at Percy as he gets closer. It is a low growl that grows in volume and intensity as he draws near. If Percy gets within arms reach, her claws pop out, though she makes no threatening moves if he takes the warning. She listens to what he has to say.
As he talks, she does seem to relax, though possibly just because the food seems to be more and more distracting. "You talk nonsense," Sharneste growls out. "You not talk like howler. You not smell like howler. You not act like howler. Okay, you not howler. Now get out of way!"
Sharneste heads straight for the vending machines and tries to figure out how to open them. "GIVE FOOD! I WAS PROMISED FOOD!" she growls. "I WANT FOOD! I'M HUNGRY!!!"
"Looks like you need to work on your party tricks, RAM," Zhaxier quips after Percy's attempted transformation. "But here's a treat for your grand effort." A candy bar flies out of his medical bag toward Percy.
Zhaxier: "We should get our food, then get back on her trail. Just my two cents."
Chelydra: "If everybody is done with chow, we should pack up and get moving after Amanda, like the Cap'n said," he announces, nodding toward Nike.
"Did I throw my voice? I thought I said that!" Zhaxier cries, mock-hurt. "Just for that, Chel, no candy for you," he deadpans.
Regardless of Chelydra's response, he sighs. "Oh, alright, stop pouting. Here." A Milky Way flies through the air toward Chelydra. "And you too, Sharneste. It ain't raw meat, but it keeps ya goin'." Another flies toward Sharneste.
"Now can we move it along, people? Tinker, find anything yet?" Zhaxier continues looking for a flashlight.
Nike doesn't think that Sharneste will be able to access the vending machine, so, calling her name first, she throws her a sandwich. "Here you go," she says, "Enjoy."
"Ok people, let's say we take a couple of moments to scarf down what you've started on and then get moving. Sharneste, did you smell any of those smelly creatures nearby when you were down the hall? And Tinker, good suggestion---do you mind raiding the kitchen to see if there are any tradable items while we finish eating? Percy, good try---maybe you can try again later, once you've had some food in you for a bit."
OOC: Oops, as Zhaxier has pointed out, Chelydra's nod should have been in his direction, not Nike's. Serves me right for reading the logs to fast, and writing replies while half asleep.
Sharneste pounces on the sandwich, tearing at it viciously with her savage teeth. (Or was that savagely with her vicious teeth?) The poor sandwich has no prayer. Oh, the humanity!
Nike: "Sharneste, did you smell any of those smelly creatures nearby when you were down the hall?"
Sharneste looks at Nike lovingly, licking her chops. "I say there are, yes? I say smelly ones near. I smell them. We go pounce on them now? More food if I help pounce them?"
Zhaxier: "And you too, Sharneste. It ain't raw meat, but it keeps ya goin'."
Sharneste snatches the candy bar out of the air, almost taking a finger or two with it. She shoves it into her mouth, wrapper and all, ripping and tearing at it for a second, then spits it back out and scowls. "That not food!"
OOC: Don't know if anyone else is aware of this, but in real life, chocolate is actually toxic to dogs. Or so I've read. Don't know if that'd apply to Wolfoids or not.
OOC: Sharneste would indeed be very wary of Percy, seeing as she hates Wolfoids as much she does. Sorry Tinker, this is only a food vending room, there isn't a kitchen. The reason it hasn't been destroyed is the security (i.e., the ceiling laser cannon). The vending machines will work for everyone except Sharneste, since Sharneste's genetic profile is not on file (since she came from the enviro-room). She will not be given any food, no matter how hard she tries.
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
19:52 SCAN ENVIRO-TERRA CONTROL ROOM - VISUAL DISPLAY LOST
19:56 SCAN ROOM DEH-6666
19:59 BETA PLAN INITIATED - CODE 3 ALPHA
20:10 WATCHER SURVEILLANCE LINKUP
.........-INFORMATION LOST - UPLINK ASAP
.........-MOVEMENT AREA UNKNOWN - SEND CONTACT
Arkady sits at the table, watching the group interact and wondering how they have stayed together as long as they have already. When Percy changes into something indescribably horrible and back, and then Zhaxier unblends, Arkady chokes on his sandwich and wonders if the juice he is drinking from the tiny cartons is tainted.
"Uhm, hi, Zhaxier," Arkady nods, acting as though he understands what the black apparition says. Arkady also watches as Tinker sets about searching the entire room, grumbling when he can't find anything of value, even in the trash cans (which are empty and clean). Arkady notes Chelydra's surprised look when the vending machine spits out whatever food and drink he selects until he meets his daily allotment, as it does everyone else, except Sharneste.
Arkady claps his hands together, cleaning the crumbs off his hands, and stands up. "This reminds me of a joke my fellow pilots used to say: 'There's a dead pilot in the landing bay. Really? What rank is he? How should I know? It's tattooed on the back his neck!'" Arkady laughs to himself, then looks around. "Uhm, I'm a drop-ship pilot, in case you didn't know. Where are we going?" Arkady heads to the door, ready to go. Arkady doesn't have anything else to do, and Nike is very pleasing to his eye.
Zhaxier pulls his data pad from his bag and performs a search for the letter 'K'. The search instantly shows a file for the room S8346, titled "Kaminsky." Like the other subfile he found in his data pad, he opens it. It shows a detailed path to the room, not far from the lifeboat. The file has his name on it, meaning the former Zhaxier placed it there, like the other file.
What do you do?
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