Perhaps it is the darkness, but the hall seems too long to offer any hope of salvation from the unmerciful robots behind them. Arkady calls out, "Let's get outta this hallway!" and heads for the door marked G10.
When the man puts out his arm to stop me, I stop, still breathing hard from running, but I act shocked at his words. Use the poor sick-looking thing on the floor as a non-human shield? "No, no, no, I'm not thinking that at all, not even a little! Ug, with all the technological advances, why do men always have to stay the same?"
I duck under his arm and rush over to the creature's side and kneel down and pet it. "Awww, it's so cute and cuddly, can we keep him? Reminds me of a stuffed rabbit toy I used to have I called Peter-wabbit."
My mouth speaks of wanting to help the sad sickly-looking thing, but my mind speaks E=mc2!. "Don't just stand there, come and help me. Let's take it with us!" I wait for the man to help so we can continue on. Except for all the running, the Watcher, the autobots, and those hairy things that are trying to kill people, this has been a great day.
"I couldn't have scored better. A chick. Chicks dig me," Rufus thinks as the human female pets him.
"Wrood wroo prees hrelp mree?" Rufus feigns a 'puppy-wuppy-talkie-walkie' routine with the woman, all the while sizing up the male with her.
Looking up at the male, Rufus smiles widely, wags his tail, and pants with that sort of, 'c'mon I'll be your budd... I'll fetch your slippers...' look.
"Hopefully this pans out: some chow, a soft bed, maybe even some extracurricular petting...." he thinks.
Sharneste drops off Tinker's back, glad to be on her own feet again. She doesn't know what those things chasing them are, but the others seem afraid of them and the things they throw look painful. "We fight now?" she asks quizzically. "Shiny thing not run anymore? Okay. I ready to fight!"
"Now ma'am," Gregory counters, "this is hardly the time nor place for debating gender ethics! If you want to take this dog-mutant with us, then you'd best hurry! I can hear the autobots gaining on us now, and in a minute or two, the ship might be throwing worse at us if we don't get to that lifeboat!"
Not waiting to see if the dog-mutant can walk, Gregory starts to jog on ahead of them.
"You sure know how to ruin the mood! Look, the whole world here is metaphorical, okay? Just go with it! And my name is Amanda: A... m... anda. Welcome to my world mister, and he/she/it's not a dog-mutant, it's a rabbit-mutant, ummm, I think. I think its ears are a dead giveaway, but then again I'm not a biologist, I'm a mathematician."
I pull Rufus to his feet. "Oh come on my petty wetty, we have to hurry upy."
"A dysfunctional childhood, doing too much math in my office, nicknamed 'quasi-infinite'... go figure I would have problems with men. All I've ever wanted was a pay raise, and instead I run down corridors following men blindly. Now where is the logic in that?"
I wonder if the dog-mutant understands anything I am saying. Not seeing anyone calculating any better ideas, I hurry to keep up with the man, pulling the mutant along with me.
All the world's a stage and we are in a sea of troubles.
"All the world has mange, and o!, fleas are the trouble!" I think. I hope they are going to lead me somewhere safer than the gallows.
The two don't seem very calm. Must have been the noise, lights, darkness and such. Hmmm. Well, I'll tag along for a while... see how the chow situation is.
"Wrut's wrup?" I ask the female.
Gregory gets the feeling that this dog thing is much more intelligent than it's letting on. He gets the very strong feeling that it (whatever it is) is an opportunist. While his instincts don't tell him yet whether or not he can trust him, he is a bit wary, if only because he feels like he's already being played.
OOC: As agreed, Percy has the spears. I envision that he has them in the bag, with their tops poking out through the draw-string closed opening.
Percy stops along with the others. Zhaxier and Tinker are concentrating their efforts on opening a door. He looks on the other side of the hallway and sees another door, marked G11. As long as they are going to be stopping, he bolts inside the two-foot deep, indented archway surrounding G11's door for what cover it may provide. "What're we stopping for, Z?" [Either Percy does not remember Amanda's exclamation during her abduction, or he fails to make the connection. --ed.]. He recognizes the rooms prefixed with "S" as Sleeper rooms (crew quarters), but he can't recall what the "G" rooms are. He guesses they aren't lifeboats.
"Waaaaaitaminute! This doesn't look like an escape pod launch bay!?" he exclaims to Nike and Zhaxier. "Of course, I don't remember what one looks like anyway," he thinks, cursing his incomplete memory.
He darts his head forward and peers down the hall. What can he do to stop the hover-bots, to give his fellow shipmates more time? Nothing comes to mind, and he ducks back into the alcove. "Maybe..." he says, noticing the room's access panel. Using his knowledge of Warden's computer systems, he tries to break into room G11. He drops his garbage bag and unzips his fanny pouch on instinct, as if he has had a little practice in the fine arts of hacking. Chuckling to himself, he works on the other room's access panel, and hopes either he or Zhaxier gets a door open before the robots arrive.
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
21:03:00 LIAISONS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 IN CUSTODY
21:04:05 SEARCH AND DESTROY PROTOCOLS RUNNING
............5 ELIMINATIONS CONFIRMED
21:05:11 LIAISONS 6, 7, 8, 9 MISSING
As Sharneste, Tinker, Arkady and Nike move into the 5' wide, 2' deep alcove, they notice the huge sign printed in red metallic letters that graces the doors: "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY!!" Zhaxier tries to open the door to no avail.
"I have the means to cut it open," Tinker offers.
"That'll take some time," Nike says, "and might set off some type of anti-crime measures. Maybe one of us used to have this clearance, and if so, scanning our badge should open it." She removes her badge and takes up a defensive position, ready for the 'bots. She knows that they don't stand much of a chance with their present weaponry, but she isn't going to let them vaporize her without a fight. Maybe the 'bots won't know which room they'll go into. "Yeah, right," she thinks.
Meanwhile, Chelydra and Percy take temporary refuge in the other alcove. The turtle-man covers Percy as he works to get G11 open.
Percy: "Why are we stopping, Z?"
Before Zhaxier can answer, another blast hits close by. BLAMM!! Hot molten shards spray in the hallway outside the alcoves. Chelydra readies his weapon and assumes a defensive posture. He feels calm, comfortable. The thought of death doesn't bother him that much, and besides, taking out a 'bot is actually a bit thrilling. His adrenaline has assumed a steady-rapid-stream delivery method, and he feels it empowering every muscle and instinct.
Rufus: "Wrut's wrup?"
"We're trying to avoid being vaporized by the Watcher's security 'bots," Amanda replies, panting with effort.
BLAMM!! An explosion rocks the corridor, evidently from one of the hallways ahead of them.
What do you do?
With little hope of finding food anytime soon, Rufus goes with plan... uh... C: "Run until the shooting stops."
"Hmm... these folks are in even more trouble than I was... and there's no food," Rufus thinks. "Does blaster-cooked human sound appealing? Hmmm...."
Zhaxier, having slid his card in the door reader several times with no result, quickly steps aside and yells over the din of the explosions, "Well what're you waiting for, Butch?"
He turns around to see Percy and Chelydra in the opposite alcove. "Lifeboats are 25 doors down the hall!" he shouts. "Meet there if we get separated!"
Zhaxier takes a quick peek around the corner and then crouches behind Tinker, who is keeping a bead on the approaching 'bots with his blaster pistol. "Can you see them?"
"Their optical signatures are fuzzy but detectable. I don't see infra-red."
"That's better than me," he says, stuffing his laser pistol into the robot's free brachial appendage. "Take this. You're a better shot. And this," he adds, reaching around, popping open the robot's chest compartment, shoving in his medical bag, and closing the hatch. When Zhaxier pops his ID card into his mouth, he is completely invisible.
Tinker has a (calculated) hunch what the Blendoid engineer is planning. "Not even I will be able to track you in this lighting, Zhaxier."
"You koh hair koo hieng hee," he says with some difficulty. With that, the Blendoid dashes down the hall toward room S8346. The electro-magnetic spectrum warps around him lovingly like hydraulic fluid around an air bubble, and for the time being, Heisenberg himself would find neither his position nor his momentum scrutable.
OOC: If we don't get the doors open fast, Tinker will fire both sidearms at the 'bots (Mark V blaster, 150m, 7d6 dmg, 5 shots; laser pistol: 200m, 5d6 dmg, 10 shots). Tinker is aware that Zhaxier's bag contains a spare energy cell that would fit either weapon, but he has no intention of firing needlessly.
[Zhaxier splits off (again):
"Ohhh... this isn't good!" Gregory hollers back to the others as the hallway is rocked by an explosion. But with autobots blasting behind him, he scarcely has a choice. He delays just long enough to decide that waiting for Amanda and her pet mutant dog to catch up is a good way to use them as shields from either direction. "Come on," he says as they draw nearer. "I can't protect you if you don't keep up!" Gregory grabs the dog-creature by the arm and helps the hot looking woman pull it faster.
Arkady removes his ID card and hopes that it will open the door. As he reaches towards the door with it, a vision of himself defending his new friends against security bots with his bare knuckles appears to him. "Hey Tinker," he shouts, "you got any spare weapons in that trunk of yours?"
"None effective against these Arnolds, I'm afraid," Tinker replies, a metallic hint of regret in his voice.
"Damn that tubecrawler!" he mutters, tracking the approaching 'bots. If Devon had not robbed him in the environment bay, Arkady would now have his pick from a veritable arsenal. At the present, the two beam pistols he wields and the slug thrower in his chest compartment are all Tinker has, and rubber bullets are useless against the armored drones chasing them.
"Here Percy, try this," the turtle-man flips his security ID to his companion. "Who knows, maybe I've still got clearence." He then resumes looking for a soft spot on the approaching robots. With only two shells left, he has to make them count.
I run as fast as I can, while helping the dog-mutant and trying to keep up with the man. "What am I doing?" I ask myself. I am like an engineer crossed with a lemming, running back and forth down the same corridor, a little woolly and jumping to the wrong conclusions at every turn. Fatigue is beginning to take its toll on me. "Whenever the maths turn out to be impossible, you have to invent new physics," I tell myself. Of course it does very little to help.
"Oh, come now, stop delaying the inevitable," says Death somewhere in the recesses of my mathematical mind. I feel weaker and paradoxical. I try to ignore it and run.
"Whray Wrady, wrhat ware wrou wroing?! Wrou hroud wret whrilld -- wret wrown, wret wrown!"
"What is her problem? I keep yelling to her to stop running around and to get down---down slamit! She could get killed!" Rufus thinks. He humors her by running to the next bit of cover or entrance way in sight. Even a long dash will suit him fine.
Now, more than ever, a medium melee weapon and a pistol of any sort is Rufus' objective, given these bedeviled and panicky critters and folk. He hopes he finds either (or both) very soon.
Although neither of them know it, the dog-mutant and Gregory share a desire to reach the next bit of cover. It might even have been comical to see them fighting over it. But, alas, there is no cover to be had, and a long dash towards the ominous sounds seems the only option.
OOC: This post takes into account information from the GM.
Percy digs through his fanny pouch in an attempt to find something with which to open the door to room G11. "Let's see, needle injector, letter opener, nail file, hmm... what's this?" He shuffles through a few of the smaller items he dropped in the pouch earlier to retrieve a black, hard plastic, pocket-sized case. Opening it, he thinks it a promising find in his door-opening efforts.
Just then an explosion sounds. He hurries his search and trusts Chelydra to watch his back.
Inside the toolkit are a pair of tweezers, a mini-laser welder, some kind of hooked tool he didn't recognize--although he thought he should have, and a pair of mini-pliers. And resting comfortably in a vinyl pocket inside the toolkit...
...an ID card.
"Hey, whattaya know," he thinks, not completely surprised by the existence of the card, and taking it out of the pouch.
Chelydra: "Here Percy, try this."
Percy turns as Chelydra's card smacks him in the chest. "Alright, we'll try both of them, then." He closes his toolkit, drops it back into his pack and zips it up. Then he swipes his card across the door panel.
Nothing happens. Percy is once again not surprised. After all, a software programmer and technical trainer would have access to some computer systems, but not the whole ship. About the "G" rooms he has no idea, and apparently his former self had no access to them anyway.
Quickly he tries Chelydra's badge. Already his thoughts are on reporting failure on account of the cards, and for examining the locking mechanism more closely---from a lock picker's perspective---but he has no time to finish that train of thought as the door opens. He raises an eyebrow and peers in, intrigued.
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
21:06:02 LIAISONS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 IN CUSTODY
21:06:05 SEARCH AND DESTROY PROTOCOLS RUNNING
............5 ELIMINATIONS CONFIRMED
21:06:09 CLOSING TARGETS BETA
21:07:11 S&D TEAM 2 ACTIVATED & CLOSING ON POSITION
Nike moves quickly to swipe her ID card. The small LED-looking panel reads,
COMMAND ACCESS GRANTED. HELLO CAPTAIN THOMASON." The doors make a series of
noises from the inside, then slide open, revealing a large room with cabinets on
all of the walls. "An A&W depot!" she thinks, amazed at their good fortune.
"How did Amanda know about this?" she wonders, grateful to her friend for her
help, even in her absence.
At the same moment across the hall, Percy swipes Chelydra's card. The panel
lights with a green aura and reads, "
SECURITY ACCESS GRANTED. HELLO LIEUTENANT
JACKSON." The doors slide open to reveal walls covered in spacesuits, uniforms,
flak-vests, and other armor.
As he hurries toward the room number that has been haunting him, Zhaxier realizes that the numbers on the right side are descending, while the numbers on the left are ascending. He realizes that he may be closer to room S8346 than he thought. Suddenly, through the smoke he sees three humanoids fast approaching: a bipedal dog of some sort, a woman, and a man. (The smoke ahead prevents him from seeing much more detail.)
The motley threesome runs pell-mell down the hallway. Every now and again Amanda falls behind and Gregory pauses to pull her and her scruffy companion forward more quickly. The explosions continue ahead.
They pass through an intersection that they didn't even see until they were right upon it, then through a section of hallway that seems to have already seen some action. Large bits of pipe, steel, and sharp jagged sections of wall are lying about. A thin wispy smoke makes everything seem very strange.
Doors appear on either side of them, almost all of which begin with the letter "S" and then a number. Ahead, they can see what looks like alcoves, one on either side of the hallway.
What do you do?
"At last!" he thinks.
With unexpected grace, Rufus tumbles toward the debris in search of a suitably wicked piece of edged-something. Snorting away the wispy smoke, he perks up his jackal's ears and, almost flat on the floor, searches through the rubble until he finds at least a knife-sized bit, if not a sword-sized piece.
"Wruuvy!", he says with his tongue lolling and his tail wagging happily.
"So we're not the only clones on the run," he assumes without slowing down. He checks both sides of the hallway as he races, keeping an eye out for both S8346 and the lifeboat hangar that he knows sits close by. If he has to pass the humanoids, he will take a closer look at them, but he does not plan on slowing down.
Hearing the door open, Tinker does an about face and rushes into the room. After quickly analyzing any threats on the inside with pistols held in front of him, he races for the cabinets and starts opening them up (drilling any locks, if necessary) and looking for heavy energy weapons and power cells.
On finding a particularly high-powered beauty, he emits, "Hello, <insert full technical name of high-powered rifle here>. Welcome to Poppa." Tinker, Moonwerk General Purpose Technical Support Unit and weapons expert extraordinaire, is more than happy to restock his minor arsenal. As he did previously in the weapons room with Zhaxier and Claus, he takes as many guns and ammo as he can reasonably carry.
Gregory lets out his held breath as they round the last corner. "Just as I'd hoped," he says. "That explosion must mean that the autobots have already swept this corridor and moved on. Now, if we can just figure out which of these doors leads to a lifeboat...."
Suddenly, he has a strange inspiration. He taps his open palm to the left side of his chest by his shoulder. "Computer, locate the nearest lifeboat." Naturally, there is no response. Gregory can't imagine where that idea came from.
Busy at work, though on the defensive still, Rufus brandishes the wickedest piece of debris he can rig, and looks about the smoky area, then rejoins his newly found 'targets who aren't me'-bodies.
"Wruts wrext?", he asks.
Arkady slips through the open door as soon as he can. He doesn't like the fact that the party has split up, even though he just met these people a few minutes ago. Oh, to be stuffing his face peacefully again, back in that cafeteria....
He heads for the nearest and largest weapon that he feels he can handle. "We should get these doors shut ASAP," he shouts loud enough for his comrades across the hall to hear. "We sure could use a few extra minutes!"
"What's next is that we figure out which one of these doors leads to a lifeboat!" Gregory says loudly enough for even nearby invisible beings to hear....
"If we could only be so lucky that they have forgotten us," I say, somewhat answering the man. "Well I think we should pick a door, and do it quickly."
I look at the two of them. "Ugh. This is horrid, isn't it? Let's fall into the trap as they say---let's do the most obvious thing. Sorry, my mind's gone crazy again."
"A millionth of a second is virtually forever," says my mathematical mind.
COMPUTER TIME LOG - DAY ONE
21:10:01 SEARCH AND DESTROY PROTOCOLS RUNNING
............TARGETS ALPHA IN RANGE
21:10:39 S&D TEAM 2 APPROACHING TARGETS BETA
The walls that face Tinker are a robot's dream. Heck, they are anyone's dream who is presently being chased down by security bots with phasers set on kill. Especially if that "anyone" is wearing a red shirt.
As he rushes to open the cabinets, he realizes that they are locked fast. Quickly, he pulls out his drill to attempt a break in, when he hears Nike's voice: "STOP!! Do not drill that lock!"
She moves closer to him and flashes her ID badge across a sensor on the lock. "You trying to get us all killed? There are usually other means than force." The cabinet lock gleams green, beeps twice, and snaps unlocked.
There are solar cells, chemical cells, hydrogen energy cells, disruptor pistols, paralysis rods, pistols, torches, and rifles. On finding a particularly high-powered metal disruptor rifle, Tinker emits, "Hello, Disruptor M-3000. Welcome to Poppa." He also picks up two laser pistols, four hydrogen energy cells, and two solar cells.
Sharneste grabs a paralysis rod.
Arkady grabs a pod launcher, along with a handful of pods. Some are blue, some green, some red. He isn't sure what they do, but they look menacing, and the launcher is huge, which gives him some comfort. Now, he wonders, how exactly does one load it?
Nike grabs two disruptor pistols (metal and protein), a mini-scope, a laser pistol, a special auto-adapting stun gun (stuns "anything"), a dart ejector, two solar cells, a hydrogen cell and some shotgun shells. The laser pistol she stufs into her left holster; the metal disruptor, her right. The protein disruptor, scope, dart ejector and power cells she places into a munitions bag that she finds in another cabinet, and she then stuffs the bag full of more energy cells of various sorts. As she clips the bag onto her suit and hooks it around her left arm, the entryway fills with bright light as an explosion rocks the room. The 'bots are closing in.
"We need to join them across the hall. Go GO GO!" Nike yells, dashing into the sparks just as the light subsides, and diving into the armory across the hall.
Meanwhile, Percy and Chelydra have moved into the armory. Assuming that his ID badge will access the cabinet locks as it did the entryway (somehow he seems to know this, as if he has done it before) Chelydra flashes it in front of a lock, and presto! They pass through the security measures and have almost every imaginable type of armor at their disposal.
Chelydra, already armored with a built-in carapace, grabs a duralloy plated light suit and throws it at Percy. "Quick man, put this on!" He then grabs a duralloy helmet and shield. With only two shots left in his shotgun, he is going to need something large to protect him, he fears. As he turns to check the aftermath of the next explosion, he sees Nike slide into the room on her side.
Rufus scans the debris and his scavenging is rewarded with a 14-inch, jagged shard of steel that is still partially attached to a piece of pliable door molding covering a sturdy polymer beam. The molding is about 5 inches long, and where it ends abruptly, the steel begins. It seems as if the two materials have been smelted together, probably from blast heat.
Gregory: "Just as I'd hoped. That explosion must mean that the autobots have already swept this corridor and moved on. Now, if we can just figure out which of these doors leads to a lifeboat...."
No sooner does Gregory finish speaking than do a pair of autobots round the corner behind them, and he thinks he hears voices ahead. He winces. "Ok, so they check things twice."
Zhaxier passes the three strangers and keeps running. S8340, S8341, S8342.... Ahead, a duo of security bots rounds the corner and fires. BLAMM!! The corridor wall to Zhaxier's left disappears in a crash of energy meeting steel and polymer.
"What do you do?" Gregory mentally asks himself. Seeing the autobots in range spurs on his thinking. "Here's the plan," he says. "We open every door in the hallway until we come to a lifeboat!"
OOC: If these doors only open by ID card, then Gregory is screwed. He'll have to wait to see if Amanda or Rufus has one. Oh, and Gregory is constantly moving, of course.
"This is a rotten bit of this crazy world. Hangin' mightn't have been much worse..." he thinks while nodding at the human's words: "Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-Door-blah-blah-blah."
"Right, an open door. They aren't so stupid after all. Hey, I'm really getting hungry..." he thinks.
"Wreah, wreah, wret's wro!" Rufus agrees, with polymer-handled plasteel axe in pawed-hand.
"It's odd how times of stress such as these seem to s t r e t c h," Rufus thinks some more, waiting to reach the action.
For one reason or another, Zhaxier doesn't get a close enough look at Amanda to recognize her. He races on by the trio without slowing. Two security 'bots soon appear in the intersection ahead, right near where room S8346 should be.
"Frak!" Zhaxier's mind screams as the wall vaporizes to his left. Trusting the chaotic scene to mask his movement ripple, he speeds on and tries to squeeze by the robots. The others are trapped! Such a well-orchestrated manuever doubles his suspicions that whoever is coordinating the robots must have also disabled other obvious escape means such as the lifeboats. But maybe they missed whatever mystery lies in room S8346. The gruesome display on the vidscreen back at the clone banks flashes in his mind as he prepares for the worst....
Nike: "You trying to get us all killed?"
"No more than the approaching Arnolds!" he says, snatching the M-3000 as soon as she opens the cabinet. "Dead is dead, no matter how you die." <chick-chack>
Arkady: "We should get these doors shut ASAP."
"Then we'd be trapped! It's lock, load and leave, flyboy---and I'll cover you." With that, Tinker whips around the alcove's edge and fires as many bolts as he can at the security robots as Nike races out of the room. In particular, he targets the lead 'bot's treads.
Percy catches the suit that Chelydra throws his way. "Thanks, Chelydra, er, that is, Lieutenant! Here, you better take your ID card back." He hands over the card to Lt. Jackson. Percy puts his own ID card in his belt zipper pack, zips it up, and puts on the suit. When the next explosion sounds from around the corner, he doubles his dressing efforts.
"Hey," he says to Nike hurriedly as he buttons, fastens, straightens, and adjusts his suit. He doesn't remember ever donning one of these in the past; but, how complicated can it be? "Look what we found!" he finishes, as Nike seems already to have sized up the armory. Then he notices she is carrying a small arsenal. "Shoo-whee! Looks like you guys hit the jackpot, too!"
Percy steels himself for the close combat that will surely follow, and realizes his wrench isn't going to help much against steel-plated security bots. "One of those shooters for me, Cap?" he says reluctantly. He can't remember how good his skills are with a firearm, but he guesses he will soon rediscover.
Arkady fiddles with the pod launcher, trying to figure out how to load a red pod into it when he hears Nike shout and run for the door. He is suddenly seized by an image of himself still trying to load the launcher as a merciless machine melts his brain.
He tightens his grip on his weapon in fear and sprints after Nike across the hall. Maybe someone else will show him how to use it, or be able to use it themselves.
Nike smiles at Percy's nickname for her. "Actually, yeah---here ya go," she says as she tosses the laser pistol to him. "Got some ammo for you, Chelydra." She offers, extending her hand full of ammo, while reaching with the other to grab a helmet from the rack. "C'mon, we've got to get out of here!"
"Thanks Cap'n, I was getting awful low." The turtle-man says, gratefully accepting the ammo. "Right behind you.... Into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred, or something like that, wasn't it?"
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