May 29 2011, 05:20 AM
"You're not listening! I know they're not dead! But I heard their thoughts! They have human thoughts!" she shouted, tossing Turk's offerings back at him. "I'm not crazy! We were stupid! We never bothered to ask what the virus is, or what it does to the afflicted!"
Then Zhi put a gun to his head and spoke, effectively ending the girl's outburst.
"Turk, I officially declare you a threat to our mission and safety. Drop everything you're doing, and back down peacefully. I don't want to have to resort to anything violent."
Aiko saw her look at a coil of wire on the floor and understood. "I'm sorry, Mr. Liu."
They were going to have to restrain him.
May 29 2011, 03:05 PM
Arel went a few yards back to where the staircase had broken. There were several piles of rubble...and Nate's firearm.
The voice seemed to be coming from one of the piles close to her. She quickly knelt next to it pile and began to haul away pieces of broken concrete.
"Hold on, Nate, I've almost got you." Sure enough she could soon see Nate's uniform peek out from under the pile. There were two moderately heavy slabs trapping him. Grunting, Arel slowly moved one slab off of him...and then the other. Once Nate was free, she knelt down to inspect his suit.
"You ok? Do you have any rips on your suit?"
What was that grenade? Was that the work of a civilian?
May 29 2011, 03:16 PM
"If you're so sure... I mean, I'm not the one hearing and listening to the enemy." Turk dropped his knives, and went over to the computer. "If you don't mind me, I'll be looking through the data that our psychic discovered." Damned if I do, damned if I don't. At least I can wait for the locals to kill off more of us before the Lieutenant can figure out that she's letting her emotions get in the way.
May 29 2011, 06:46 PM
It was a breath of fresh air as soon as Nate felt the load of rubble on top of him get lifted off his chest. It was still painful to breathe, which bothered him. At least he could sit up now, slowly at any rate.
"You ok? Do you have any rips on your suit?" Arel asked him.
A simple look down at his right leg and arm told the answers. Three small cuts in his suit were on his leg, combined with two on his fore-arm and one more on his palm. He tried restraining his want to panic and looked up with at Arel with a sad smile.
"Yeah, it looks like I'll get to test whether or not we really are immune to this virus, huh?" It was a grim joke, but he couldn't let her, or anyone, know about how much he wanted to scream inside. After taking a deep breath, which only reaffirmed he probably had some sort of bruised or broken ribs, he looked at Arel. "Mind helping me up?"
He reached his right hand up and leaned on his left arm, happy to see that it wasn't injured too badly. Now all he could hope was that the pain in his legs wasn't indicative of broken bones and he'd be all set.
May 29 2011, 06:53 PM
Arel couldn't help but show concern as soon as she spotted the injuries...but more importantly the rips in his suit.
"Mind helping me up?" Nate looked at her hopefully.
"Oh, yeah sure." She allowed him to lean on her as they made their way back to the captain. "Listen...I'm pretty sure that we're immune, so don't worry about it ok? If something happens to ya I won't hesitate to help you out. So....I guess just let me know if something's up..."
She helped Nate sit down on a pile of rubble before rushing back to the rubble to find their weaponry which had been knocked out of their hands.
May 30 2011, 12:51 AM
He was willing to back down so easily? While Zhi expected a lot of things to result from what she just did, Turk immediately giving in somehow wasn't one of them.
As soon as Turk dropped his weapons, Zhi lowered her gun, deeply relieved that she didn't have to resort to anything drastic to solve things. She still had her strong suspicions about what he had planned from there, but at least the worst was dealt with now.
When she watched Aiko go for the wire, and Turk sit down, peaceful and unarmed, she found herself having second thoughts about her original plan. If she tied him up now, it would put him at a higher risk if they ran into danger. They were better off just keeping a sharp eye on him, and keeping his weapons away until an emergency came up.
"Nevermind, Aiko. This seems to be under control. Thank you, though." She told the girl, finally letting herself relax a little now that things were finally in her hands again. She still had her concerns about leaving Turk in control of the information, but there were bigger things to worry about now.
"However, we still have Lars to worry about. Aiko, do you think you can check how things are looking back where Turk left him? We need to find out if it's safe to go back for him. If not, we might have to hope for the best until we can meet up with the others."
Just saying that was making her feel sick. While they certainly dealt with the immediate threat, they still had the terrible truth of what they had done back in the tunnels to haunt them. They killed people. Lars could very well be left for dead. The horrible fantasies about what could happen to them on this mission were very quickly becoming reality.
Though, as hard as it was to accept it, she had no other choice right now. Lingering would be nothing more than giving up at this point. She would just have to keep pretending until it was all over, one way or another.
Allowing herself nothing more than a quick sigh and massage of her temples, she carried on to pick up the radio to contact the others.
"Captain? Are you there?"
Jun groaned, and forced himself to at least sit up for the moment, all while not really paying attention to Raina's continuing rants. She could suck it up. He missed anyways, and she still had her suit in one piece. For all he knew, he could wind up catching this horrible disease or whatever. Yeah, supposedly they were immune, but he was pretty sure they were basing that off of something about as scientific as horoscopes or some other bull. How could they even test that?
Ugh. Whatever, if he kept thinking about it too hard, he was just going to panic, and that would only make things worse.
Well, rather, it already had. Damn it, while he was thinking, he started digging his nails into his leg. He was going to break another hole in his suit at this rate. Then he'd suffer from twice the hell disease or whatever. Like he had any idea how any of it worked.
Now really wanting to get his mind off of things, he forced himself to look up, and take a proper survey of the area around them, and what shape everyone else was in.
... Wait. No one else was here. It was just him and Draggy-Miss-Kill-You-With-Disease.
"... Where did the others go? Don't tell me that bomb..." He asked his only other companion, only to find it difficult to finish the sentence. Not because it was too disturbing to think of, but rather because he caught eye of Raina's very much displeased expression. What? Did he miss something, or was she still just pissed about the whole being shot thing?
"Look, those idiots aren't dead. There's not even corpses around here. I doubt they would have let themselves get completely vaporized while we're still 100% people. They probably just wandered off, or something."
May 30 2011, 10:01 AM
Aiko was stunned. He relented just like that? Blinking confusedly, still in she nodded at Zhi and began checking the monitors. The tunnel was relatively quiet now, which was unsettling.
"I don't see any activity . . . odd. Has Lars moved?"
May 30 2011, 05:24 PM
Zhi's Team (Zhi, Turk, Aiko) - Relto City
Catalina's Team (Catalina, Arel, Nate, Jun, Raina) - Subway Station
Taking the radio back from Arel and leaning against the crumbling wall for support, Catalina responded to Zhi's radio call. "This is Captain Fenbrook. We're down in the subway station. It looks like we got ambushed by someone. We've got some injuries and a punctured suit. Two members of our team are currently MIA and we're about to start looking for them. Be careful. Whoever they are, they have grenades."
Switching off the radio, she sighed. "All right, let's start looking for the doofuses. I don't think they could have gotten back out through the entrance, so they must be down here. Let's hit the tracks and pick a direction."
Lars's Team (Lars) - Subway Tunnel
His pursuers begin to dart toward him as soon as he starts walking away. There are a lot of them, but their emaciated bodies are weak and frail; they won't be able to outrun him if he makes a run for it.
May 31 2011, 09:55 AM
Had only wandered for a while. "That tendril right there looks kind of familiar...No wait, it doesn't." Lars didn't take too long to take notice of the footsteps following him to speed up. "Oook...I think they spotted me." The footsteps then started to get faster and louder. "Yep, definetly." And with that Lars would start running, he wasn't exactly an athletic person but he managed to pick up a good pace, adrenalin helped. "Well, looking on the bright side, at least now people can't say i don't exercise."
Jun 1 2011, 06:45 PM
Arel sighed. "It'll be hard for us to move quickly...especially since you're injured, captain."
The navigator adjusted the strap on her rifle. "I saw a trail of blood somewhere further down the tunnel. ...It could be them..."
Jun 2 2011, 08:22 PM
Raina looked around her. Tendrils and slab and more tendrils. Great.
"Well, do you wanna just sit here and wait for them, then?" She looked at Jun in the eye.
Jun 4 2011, 01:17 PM
They were in the subway station? Well, that answered her question fairly easily. They would just have to meet up and go looking for Lars together.
After quickly relaying the information to the others, Zhi lead them all back into the subway station, in the most likely direction for Catalina's team to be.
"No, I'm starting to feel kind of at home here. What do you say to us just settling down and-- Yes I want to look for them. This place is a nightmare." Jun snapped back, forcing himself back to his feet. "Do you have any idea which way won't lead us into a deeper circle of Hell?" As he asked the question, he immediately found himself just answering it for himself. Everything looked the same down here. They were almost better off just walking in a random direction.
So that's what he started to do.
After several minutes of travel, the two of them both met up with Catalina's group, just in time to see the other approaching.
Jun 8 2011, 12:48 PM
Catalina's Team (Catalina, Arel, Nate, Jun, Raina) - Subway Station
Just as their team was about to start off into the subway tunnel, Jun and Raina came into view on approach. "There you are!" exclaimed the exasperated captain. "What the hell were you doing down there?"
Lars's Team (Lars) - Subway Tunnel
Several heart-poundingly intense minutes later, Lars manages to escape the tunnel. His pursuers give up the hunt when he enters the light of day again and he is able to regroup with his team.
Jun 8 2011, 01:22 PM
After running for what felt like forever, Lars finally smiled widely as the sun rays bathed his fac- Okay, his helmet's visor, but you get the idea. He'd reach outside and let out a long breath of relief, stretching his arms out a bit. The madmen that were chasing him also seemed to have quit. "Everything went better than expected...Well, almost anything, except the part where I was left behind to get killed that is." He'd look around a bit and then remember that, since he was no longer underground, his radio would most likely be working again, he activated it and spoke up. "Hey ma, the party ended, can you come pick me up?"
Jun 11 2011, 12:27 AM
Arel immediately noticed that Jun was hurt, but more importantly his suit had a hole. That's two of our members who have their suits ripped now...
She rummaged in her emergency pack for some gauze, throwing it to Jun. "Here patch yourself up a little. Unforunately, you're not the only one hurt." At this point it seemed like Raina and her were the only ones mostly unharmed after that incident. Honestly, Arel considered it lucky that no one was killed. The fall alone probably would've been deadly had it not been for their armor and suits.
Jun 11 2011, 04:58 PM
Reading through the information on-screen, Turk realized that all the assembled data consisted of historical records, and random useless trivia. "Another dead end." He said to himself. Get away from the machine, Turk found a corner in the vehicle that was unoccupied by equipment. Now for the waiting game. Hopefully, everyone else will realize that this infestation is trying to kill us. Or, they'll all die, and then I can leave with the specimens. Sitting down and leaning his head along the wall, he began to relax and doze off.
Jun 12 2011, 10:06 PM
On Catalina's command, the team regrouped to assess damages. They had originally intended to stay out for six more hours, but the unexpected difficulties convinced the captain to call it early for the day and they began their trek back to the shuttle. Fortunately, they didn't encounter any resistance on the way back.
Over the course of the walk back to the landing site, the sun set and cast them in darkness. The lack of city lights allowed them an unshielded view of the heavens, with the stars shining high above them. Persephone had no moon, but the abundant amount of stars afforded them an acceptable level of visibility.
When they got back, Catalina set up camp. There was no room to sleep in the shuttle, but they had enough tents and bedrolls packed for the trip. Unfortunately, sleeping with the environment suits on and breathing from oxygen tanks would take some getting used to. Catalina sent Zhi to bring enough rations for everyone and the captain sat by the fire as she ate hungrily, mulling over what to do.
"Can I get a full status report?"
Jun 12 2011, 10:25 PM
Turk woke up when he heard the Captain's question over the suit network. Taking a moment to let the sleep wear away, he responded. "Turk here. Alive. Unarmed. Not killing anything. Oh, and we've got a full haul in the back. It won't be able to resist much, but we should probably get off-planet soon before we have to go poaching again. I'm certainly not going to feed it." Thinking of the creature that was stuffed in the cargo hatch, Turk wondered what the things ate. Other infected organisms, dirt, and the black growth was all he could think of. Unless, they didn't eat at all. Viruses aren't living organisms, after all.
Turk noted everyone setting up camp outside, and searched for Lars, wondering if the mechanical man had been able to outrun the limping creatures. He encountered a thought that made him shiver. In retrospect, leaving anything to the planet was a bad idea. If those creatures were bad, a newly infected titan with a mechanical arm sans 15 years of Persephonian Virus Damage.... I don't really like the idea of that. Turk checked to make sure that the door was locked, and tried to get some sleep again. Not sleeping out there. I like not being eaten.
Jun 12 2011, 10:36 PM
After eating the rations, Nate's stomach barely felt full. Considering how barely palatable they were in the first place, this shouldn't have been too much of a surprise for him in the first place. As soon as he put what he used to eat the meal down, he turned inward with his thoughts.
I'm infected. Jun's infected. I don't seem to be suffering from any of the effects of the disease though. We could be lucking out, and really be immune, but...
He suddenly heard the captain interject. "Can I get a full status report?"
He quickly heard Turk speak up, but his report was brief. Nate, on the other hand, prepared himself for what would probably be the most he's ever spoken before to anyone that wasn't in his family.
"Yes, captain. You were with our group, so you already know most of this, but still. We went exploring in the subway system when we were attacked. Someone threw a grenade at us, which exploded and caused us to fall in the subway. In the process, both Jun and I had our suits damaged, combined with some general damage all around. That said no major injuries seem to have been sustained. However, the group ended up being split up for a short while, with Arel, yourself, and I together as well as Jun and Raina together in separate groups. They quickly found us, however. I can't say what happened to them, so they should probably fill in details as to what they were doing. That said, we soon managed to escape, and meet up with the other team, and they know what happened from there."
Nate took a deep breath, and then continued.
"As for me personally, I feel pretty well, with the exception of some bruising and pain left behind from the impact of the rubble which collapsed on top of me. However, as I mentioned before, my suit was torn in the subway station, which means that if I'm not immune to the virus, I'm infected with it. Do you know how long it takes before visible symptoms of the virus begin showing up? In addition, are you picking up any NSA static?"
With no buzzing in his ears to distract him, he hoped the answer would be "no". If it was, he'd have conclusive evidence as to what that buzzing noise was.
But what does it mean? And why do I have this ability in the first place?
Even if he could get answers to the questions he asked the captain, he sincerely doubted that he would get any reasonable answers to the last two he kept to himself.
If I am able to detect NSA static, then what should I do? Should I tell someone about it, or keep it a secret?
It was just another question he didn't know how to answer.
Jun 12 2011, 11:06 PM
Still falling asleep, Turk heard Nate's voice broadcasting. He wasn't paying any attention in particularly, but something caught his attention. "...suit...torn...not immune..." Turk regained full consciousness and got to his feet. While searching around for something that he could use as a makeshift weapon, he began to stick various adhesives on the interior side of the vehicle's door. Someone's infected. Their not getting in here. The taint stays out there. Out there. Turk brought the vehicle to full power, and began engaging the electronic and mechanical locks, before turning the vehicle off. He opened the maintenance panel and manually disconnected the power feed.
Regaining some level of calmness, Turk asked Nate over the network, "Your suit is damaged?" For a moment, he thought about killing off Nate with the Surveyor. No. No. We don't need more enemies. He began to address the Captain next. "Captain, the Lucent had some cryogenic equipment. We have samples, and we have infected... allies..." Turk had a little difficulty putting the two words together. "The locals don't need reinforcements, so it's best that we freeze any virus carriers until we get back to civilization. That will give the researchers enough time to create an antivirus." Although Turk wanted to explore more of the planet, especially that large heat signature in the tunnels, he was well aware that the team contained elements that looked down the strategic killing of virus hosts.
Jun 15 2011, 11:52 PM
Arel didn't give a status report. There's nothing much wrong with me so why bother.
"What do you mean infected allies, Turk? Seriously are you listening to what you're saying!" Arel had been sitting quietly to the side taking in all the reports that various people made. "And honestly I'm against any of this 'freezing' business. They are still human. We shouldn't be treating them as items."
Jun 16 2011, 02:01 AM
As soon as Zhi caught up with all of the others outside of her own group, and providing Catalina with a quick overview of Turk's earlier actions, she followed her superior's lead to get rations. While she had her doubts about certain members of the group, including Catalina herself, she still had enough faith in most of the others to trust them alone for a while. In a way, she welcomed the break.
Once they returned, Jun let Nate do most of the explaining, figuring that the less he said about anything happening here, the better. Unfortunately, by the end of Nate's explanation-- the ever so pleasant one about the two of them definitely being infected-- he seemed to find it necessary to get Jun's side of the story, too.
"What? You expect something to have been different?" He grumbled as he curled up in his extremely uncomfortable sleeping bag, "I passed out and woke up the same as you. Then... accidentally... shot Ra-whatever-her-name is." As he approached the end of his update, he began to lower his voice, hoping, probably hopelessly, that the last bit wouldn't actually be audible. Fortunately, it didn't matter much. The conversation was too quickly interrupted by Sociopath running in and being a sociopath again.
Who the hell invited that madman, anyways?
As soon as Turk suggested that they be moved into "cold storage", or, as the nutcase was most likely insinuating, a meat freezer, Jun shot out of his blankets with a look of cold rage. It was a common look to see on his face, but, even so, he was putting particularly large amounts of effort into it this time. For a moment he even found himself wishing he could use his own voice.
"Hey, funny story I heard this one time." He began, his mouth gradually twisting into a sneer. "This one old man? He wanted to go for a walk. So, as people going on walks tend to do, he put his shoes on. Sadly, one of the shoes scratched his foot, and, because he was wearing shoes over it, it got infected. The infection eventually spread, and, in the end? Killed him. He died because he put on shoes. You know, maybe this is just me jumping to conclusions, but I'm thinking... shouldn't we just ban shoes, for safety's sake? It will save so many people in the end."
Jun 17 2011, 04:20 PM
Catalina listened to the reports, staring down at her empty ration box. "They're still well enough to continue, right?" she asked, looking at Nate and then Jun. "I'm not sticking any of my men in a fridge to be studied like mice. Besides, we need all the manpower we can get. Tomorrow, we'll head into Relto again. This time, we're sticking together. Expect resistance. Get some sleep, all of you."
"Do you know how long it takes before visible symptoms of the virus begin showing up? In addition, are you picking up any NSA static?" asked Nate. Confused, Catalina turned on her detector and shook her head. "No, I'm not picking anything up. As for the virus, I'm not sure. We know almost nothing about it."
Catalina crawled into her tent and went to sleep.
After waking everyone up at the crack of dawn, Catalina rounded up the group and they began the trip back to Relto City for the second day of their expedition.
Persephone: Relto City
Jun 17 2011, 07:34 PM
Wobbling sleepily between Jun and Turk, Aiko was nervous, for the latter, according to what she had heard from Arel (with whom she was still rooming) was once again displaying a hardened mercenary's attitude---cold, calculating, and largely detached from human emotions. She just couldn't figure him out. Can I really depend on him? No . . . no doubts. He taught me how important it is that I live to make up for what I've done. He's still a good person, even if he's really scary sometimes, and really cruel, too. But that's not him. That's his demon.
Jun, meanwhile, was understandably upset by Turk's proposition, being one of the injured. Other than that, the young man was still himself . . . for better or for worse. She was concerned that he and Turk would soon come to blows, but Jun's remark went unnoticed.
I really hate this . . . someone needs to make a joke to lighten the mood, Aiko thought. Yes. A joke, like the one Jun made when they were roused not thirty minutes ago (more of a grumpy gibe aimed at Catalina, really, but Aiko found it funny). "Are we always going to be up before the damn rooster?" he had said. She stifled another giggle by pretending to yawn, and then opened her mouth to speak.
"Does anybody, um, want me to make fruit-filled pancakes later? I've been trying to cook other food, so . . . I'm berry interested in feedback!"
Silence. Oh, no! It didn't work!
"Er . . . sorry." A hasty laugh pierced the air. "Just trying to get everyone motivated!"
Jun 17 2011, 10:16 PM
Turk's suggestion was more than enough to rattle Nate. He kept a straight face through it, though it hurt him on the inside. He remained in this state throughout the captain's response as well.
"No, I'm not picking anything up. As for the virus, I'm not sure. We know almost nothing about it."
"I see," he said, trying to hide how much pain he was feeling. I guess I was too optimistic to assume that they would know anything about the virus. Dammit... I still don't have any evidence if I'm immune or not!
A voice broke his thoughts. He turned his head to see it was Aiko.
"Does anybody, um, want me to make fruit-filled pancakes later? I've been trying to cook other food, so . . . I'm berry interested in feedback!"
It was meant to be a joke, probably to lighten the mood. Nate smiled a bit, although no one could probably see it through his suit. As soon as she apologized, he chuckled a bit that he was able to guess what she was doing. By this point, the captain was already in her tent, and Nate stood up. Aiko's joke could only lighten his mood for so long. He needed to be alone, away from everyone here. With no buzzing in his ears, he felt relatively certain he would be safe despite what he was about to do.
"I'm going to take a look around, make sure we weren't followed or anything. I'll be back in a few minutes," he said, his tone empty. It was probably enough to concern others, but he hoped no one else would follow. Just to make sure, he turned off his radio. He didn't want anyone to hear him.
After a few minutes of walking away from camp, he turned into a forested area. His only solace was that there was no buzzing in his ears. That, at the very least, was comfort. He sat up against a tree on the side facing away from camp. He closed his eyes, and let his thoughts run free.
Turk's right. I should be frozen. It's not like I'm any good out on the battlefield. And if I'm not immune, all that means is that I'll just become an even greater liability. I'm so useless... Tears began rolling down his face. He hadn't cried this badly in a long time, but it was too much for him to take in. Why am I even still alive? Why couldn't I have died in that crash? Better me than... Than...
He didn't want to recall those memories again. The images of hundreds being trampled in a mad riot. The images of people dying from a wretched disease. Even if it was fairly inedible, he didn't want to lose what little dinner he had. The tears continued to fall, and if anyone were nearby they'd probably hear him sobbing.
Why am I the one who lived? Why am I the one who's given a gift for it!? All those people, dead, and it's all my fault! Maybe I should just tell everyone I'm responsible for this mess. That I can hear NSA static. Maybe then I could get locked up like the monster I am!
He drew his legs in towards his body and continued to cry as he sat in the forest. No one else mattered to him by this point. He almost wished for some buzzing in his ears, just so someone would come and kill him.
"As if I could fix the plague! I can't do anything!"
His resolve was broken, shattered into pieces that were impossible to put together again.
I can't even go back to camp like this... He thought, knowing that someone could obviously tell he had been crying if they saw him. He looked up towards the sky, but his mood didn't improve. He was beyond help at this point. All he could do, and did, was continue to sit and berate himself for how useless he was.
Jun 19 2011, 01:26 PM
The next morning, Turk prepped the Surveyor for use again, making sure to engrave the words 'Infection-Free Zone' on the door. He ran through a check of all the systems again, particularly the infrared cameras. Considering that part of the team had encountered some sort of man-made explosion, Turk tuned the seismology systems to pick up vibrations on a smaller scale- Footsteps, wheels, and motors. Some of the automated security systems must still be working, especially if all the 'inhabitants' are in the tunnels. Hmm...
Turk turned on the Surveyor's communications systems, which he had kept offline to conserve power. The environmental suits that Oraph provided had their own proprietary network, so he hadn't found any reason to use the ancient system. "What..." Turk turned up the volume, and listened carefully to the audio feed. It wasn't the silence he expected- He could hear static and other sounds he couldn't identify. He started a private broadcast to the Captain. "The old radio is picking up static. It's connecting to something on this planet- There's some place that still has power. We can't pick up anything else, due to difference in decryption systems, but there's definitely somewhere in this city that has power. Shall we investigate? Well, unless you have something in mind, and want to keep this from everyone else."
Jun 26 2011, 10:51 PM
As the group arrived in Relto City again, Catalina paused upon hearing Turk's announcement on the radio.
"The old radio is picking up static. It's connecting to something on this planet- There's some place that still has power. We can't pick up anything else, due to difference in decryption systems, but there's definitely somewhere in this city that has power. Shall we investigate? Well, unless you have something in mind, and want to keep this from everyone else."
Catalina bit her lip and thought over the situation. Her leg injury prevented her from moving quickly, but they were all together this time. Numbers would be on their side if they encountered survivors. Switching on her radio, she spoke to the whole team.
"We're picking up a signal from somewhere in the city. Let's check it out. Be on guard. Safeties off, kids." They pinpointed the signal to an apartment complex at the edge of town. As they approached the three-story complex, a door on the second story opened and a thin, unkempt man carrying a hunting rifle emerged.
"Whoah! Hey!" the man shouted, stunned at the sight that lie beneath him. He dropped his gun and waved enthusiastically at them. "Jesus, it's been ages since I've seen anyone else around here. I thought this place was dead."
Jun 27 2011, 06:59 PM
Are,l who was the closest to the door, nearly dropped her rifle in surprise as the door burst open and a thin man emerged.
A-a local?! And for once they don't want us dead. Well that's a surprise in itself. Nevertheless, Arel kept her firearm close to her, but lowered it so the muzzle was pointing at the ground. The guy seemed so enthusiastic to see them.
"I assume that you have inhabited this place for long then?" It was a stupid question but it would serve to try to probe some information out of him.
Jun 27 2011, 07:11 PM
Sighting the local, Turk began scanning the man with surveyor's equipment. I guess there are downsides to this equipment. There's no difference from the environment, so he's not using an internal life support system. Picking up heat, so he's alive. He relayed his findings to the team, "From what I can tell, the virus is present within him, or there is something similar to the virus inside him- My equipment confirms that there aren't any major differences in the atmosphere around this area. Virus is present and all. There are a few possible scenarios- Of those, I hope that he's immune to the virus, or he has a vaccine. Considering the individuals we found before, we can also say that he's adapted to live in the presence of the virus, rather than being dominated by it. The third scenario leaves us with little means to put together a vaccine, but leaves room for a genetic cure."
Turk paused to consider what this could mean in regards to the subway tunnels. "That also opens up the possibility that the virus in the subway tunnels is a different strain, considering that the surface lacks the black growth that infests the tunnels."
Jun 27 2011, 07:35 PM
"Yeah, man. I've been living here since I was born. Al's here, too. It's just the two of us, though. Ain't see another person in ages. 'Cept the enochs, of course, but you can't really call them people. What are you doing here? Are you looking for survivors? Come on up."
Catalina listened to Turk's diagnosis and nodded. "The best course of action is probably to talk to him then. At the very least, we'll get up to date on what the situation is like here. This is our best lead so far." Catalina led the way up the stairs to the second story of the apartment complex. She winced, using her rifle for support as she slowly labored up the steps, her injured leg surging with pain each time she ascended.
The man, who introduced himself as Frank, invited them all into his apartment. The walls were broken down, expanding his apartment to include the two adjacent apartments. Four TVs were stacked in a corner of the room, playing old movies. Sitting in front of the TVs was an old sofa with numerous patches and stains. Frank's roommate, Al, was in the kitchen, fooling with a radio.
Spinning his rifle around idly, Frank led them into the living room. "Shit, man. I wasn't expecting guests. You guys want something to eat? Where do you all come from?"
Jun 27 2011, 08:50 PM
While everyone else filed into the crumbling tenement, Aiko paused outside to sit on a broken step, muttering a few words about needing some air in an attempt to hide her true reasons for idling. She really didn't want to impose on complete strangers, even if this man seemed friendly. Were the others really prepared to draw innocents into this mess? The answer escaped her, but she knew she was unstable. She understood she was a threat if she lost control again. She was also utterly useless in combat. No matter what Turk or Zhi or Jun said, she was useless.
I can't let anything else happen because of me. Maybe it would be better if I go my own way, she thought. But she worried about the others, too . . .
"Oh, why did my parents have to go and have a Trueborn!?" the girl whined.
Jun 28 2011, 05:04 AM
Turk noticed Catalina's difficulty climbing the stairs. Out of the two ranking officers, Catalina had been the more reasonable one, to the best of his knowledge, and returning to the Lucent without her would most certainly cause issues with its crew and with Oraph. Starting a private message, he offered assistance to the injured captain. "Captain, if you feel it is necessary, we can use some of the medical supplies on the Surveyor." Turk pulled out and assembled a set of bandages and painkillers, and left them in plain sight within the Surveyor. "Everything is assembled, and ready for use." Turk added, before leaving the vehicle.
Once Turk had entered the structure, he thought of a few questions to ask Frank and Al, but decided to spin his own answers to their questions to make sure that they would cooperate. "No thank you, Frank. We have eaten recently. As for who we are... We're mercenaries working for a special interest group that is looking into Persephone. I don't know the details on it, but our employers were able to convince Oraph to let us through the gate." Turk was in part thankful that they weren't forced to use the Oraph vehicle, which he had recalled having a huge logo plastered on the side. "How is it that you survive here? How do you get food? Power? More importantly, how are you able to resist the influence of the virus in this manner?"
Jun 28 2011, 12:00 PM
"I'm fine," Catalina insisted to Turk. "Don't worry about me. Focus on the mission."
"Ahh, so you guys come from off-world?" Frank asked, opening a bottle of a soft drink and taking a sip. "Crazy. I guess they started feeling guilty for locking us up and leaving us to rot for all these years. Don't suppose that means they're going to let us go now, eh?"
"Well, since most everyone's dead, there's not a lot of competition," Al replies to Turk. "Still tons of canned food if you know where to look. If you get real desperate, you can go hunting. As for power, we scavenged up a solar-powered generator. About the virus...I dunno. Maybe it was something in what we were eating? Doesn't seem like too many folks survived it. Maybe it's genetic."
Jun 28 2011, 12:15 PM
"...Maybe it's genetic." Hearing those words, Turk rested his hand near his knife, and glanced at Captain Catalina, looking for any silent commands. Seeing nothing, Turk backed down. If anything, these two will be the most useful to Oraph. Glancing at the other members of the group, Turk noticed that Aiko was missing. He left to group to search for her.
Exiting the structure, Turk noticed Aiko sitting down on the steps. "You know, all the people with weapons are inside. It's safer in there, unless Frank and Al decide that they want our stuff. Even then, we have a numerical advantage." Turk paused for a moment, reflecting on what he said, looking for something else to add. "Are you still hearing those things? The guys inside called them 'enochs'. Perhaps you could learn more, if you wanted. You decide what you want to do." Leaving Aiko to her thoughts, Turk went back to the Surveyor to look for a rifle. He quickly sent a broadcast to the entire team. "Have fun with the Persephonians. At least, the ones that don't look too hungry. I'll be on sentry duty- Who knows what will sneak up on us if we're not watchful."
Jun 28 2011, 01:15 PM
Lars couldn't help but smile knowing they weren't the only ones alive. Well, at least, not the only ones who were alive and could still tell the difference from people and "special meat surprise". He looked over at Turk as the guy left, chuckling to himself. "I'll go with him and make sure he doesn't shoot anyone, well, not unless we really need to, I mean, those things didn't follow us into sunlight but..." Lars stopped, shook his head and headed through the exit. "I'm rambling, I'll just go, I'll keep the communicator on so just give me a call if something happens." Lars then started to head back to the Surveyor, admittedly, his legs still felt sore about all the running he had to do yesterday, but anyways.
Lars followed Turk outside, waving his hand and calling out to the man as he did. "Hey! Wait up! Someone needs to keep an eye on you in case you try and act on your own again." As he went following Turk, he noticed Aiko on the way, whining as her usual seemed to be, he tapped her head as he walked by. "Cheer up, there are worse things out there than being a Trueborn. Oh...That's not very encouraging, is it? Uhh...Look, if it makes you feel any better, I'm a trueborn too, I had to deal with the prejudice and etcetera as well, then i lost my arm, my hair lost it's color, my eye sight went to the point where it's hard for me to see without glasses, but hey, here I am, always optimistic and moving forward, it's not that hard. Don't think "I could be having a cake right now.". Think "I will have a cake once this is done.". Eh...Not sure if it's a good metaphor, but I'm afraid i'm not familiar with that many baker jokes or sayings. OH! I have this one where this baker wanted to make a baguel and- Uh...No, wait, I better keep that one to myself."
Jun 28 2011, 07:48 PM
You know, all the people with weapons are inside," said a voice from behind. Aiko said nothing, deciding to let her silence communicate her current wish:
Mr. Liu . . . please, just leave!
"It's safer in there, unless Frank and Al decide that they want our stuff. Even then, we have a numerical advantage," he added. "Are you still hearing those things? The guys inside called them 'enochs'. Perhaps you could learn more, if you wanted. You decide what you want to do."
With a nod, he departed, his footsteps whisper-quiet even outside of combat. But as quickly as his shadow retreated, another approached. It belonged to Lars, who gave Aiko no time to think about the information Turk had shared with her.
"Cheer up! There are worse things out there than being a Trueborn," the white-haired man said, patting her on the head as he continued to speak. Aiko turned to face him with the brightest smile she could manage (though it was also the most awkward grin she had ever felt her lips form), wondering why he was trying to make jokes about her profession.
"Um . . . I'm sorry, but I have to take my cake out of the oven!" she exclaimed, forgetting that she had no use of an oven nor a cake baking within it. Aiko hurried inside and hoped she could find a place to be alone.
Jun 28 2011, 08:08 PM
Arel sat in a corner of the room, the rfile was leaning against a wall as the pilot observed the space that Frank and Al lived in. There was canned food tins here and there and well...frankly the space seemed messy and cluttered to her. She couldn't imagine living alone in the world like this. It seemed other members of the team left to be on sentry duty, as she noted Turk and Lars excusing themselves.
"Are there any other survivors that you know of?" Arel quickly stifled a yawn after asking her question. Her right eye had been throbbing last night so needless to say she had an unsatisfactory amount of sleep. Not soon after did she hear the door opening and Aiko rushed past her...no doubt to go find a place to sit and be alone.
I'm...actually kinda worried about that chick. She seems to be losing it more the deeper we dig into this mess on this planet. In an effort to avoid falling asleep, Arel started to prod at a roly poly on the ground with her gloved pointer finger. The small bug tried to scurry away from its tormentor.
Jun 28 2011, 08:33 PM
At Arel's inquiry about the other survivors, Frank and Al exchanged looks and laughed. "Nope. 'Side from the enochs, that is. I don't think you can call them survivors, though."
"You said that before," Catalina interjects. "Enochs. What are they?"
"That's what you call the poor saps when the infection gets real bad," Frank explains. "They stop acting human and start behavin' like wild animals. They crawl around in the tunnels and come out at night. They're the reason most people are dead, not the disease itself. They drag people down there and then they don't never get seen again."
Catalina narrowed her eyes as she pieced this together and the implications of this explanation registered in her mind.
"Wait a minute. You mean that the reason everyone on Persephone is dead isn't because of the disease, but because of the enochs? Are you saying they killed millions of people? How is that even possible?"
"Hell if I know. All I know is that the tunnels are filled with the rotting corpses of the folks that got dragged down there. If you want the details, you can probably find more at the library."
Jun 28 2011, 09:41 PM
After an hour passed, Nate just sat in the forest alone, contemplating what he should do.
I've got to do something about this plague, but what can I do? I can't tell them why I want to fix it so badly, all I'd get is... He paused, imagining his fate. Before long, his thoughts continued. And my power, all that'd be is evidence, no doubt. I can't talk to anyone, but I can't do this alone! Who can I trust...?
He stood, content at the fact that he still heard no buzzing. It meant he was alone. Safe. He suddenly laughed at the thought.
Safe, right. I'm surrounded by a virus that may or may not kill me, and I'm safe?
He walked back to camp, but by the time he had returned everyone was either in their shelter or just didn't bother to notice his return. He sneaked into the tent he was assigned to and laid down. He wasn't sure who he was with, due to how well under the covers they were, but he could assume it was someone who was male. Taking the far side of the tent, he sighed.
No matter how much I keep saying it, I'm probably not going to move. I keep wanting to talk to them, to ask them for help, but I...
He closed his eyes, thinking about what he could do. As he ran across all the members of the crew on Persephone, only one of them came to his mind as someone he could approach.
Arel... I have to talk to her tomorrow. She... She should understand...
With that, his mind was tired, and he quickly fell asleep.
The next morning, he followed everyone else. He needed to talk to Arel, but it had to be in private. Letting everyone else know about what he was thinking, especially people like Turk or the Captain, would bring nothing but misery on him. As a result, he was extremely jumpy. When someone asked him something, he shook a little bit, but at the same time assured he was fine.
As they returned to Relto City, he was relieved to hear no buzzing in his ears. But nothing could prepare him for meeting the two people, Frank and Al, who were seemingly unaffected by the virus. The more he heard from them, the more he couldn't believe. Catalina summed up his thoughts quickly enough.
"Wait a minute. You mean that the reason everyone on Persephone is dead isn't because of the disease, but because of the enochs? Are you saying they killed millions of people? How is that even possible?"
Nate closed his eyes. He was starting to get a headache, but not from the buzzing he was expecting to hear, but from his own thoughts bouncing around in his head.
They start behaving like wild animals? But that's not right...
He flashed back to yesterday, with the attack when the obvious answer hit him.
"F-Frank!" Nate suddenly exclaimed, surprising everyone. "You said they act like wild animals, right? H-How smart are they? Yesterday, we were attacked by a group who used a grenade, which seems a bit above the intelligence of a 'wild animal'."
His voice was quivering badly, but he made his point. All he could do now was wait and hope the answer he was about to get could help him understand what was happening on the planet.
Jun 29 2011, 12:01 AM
"Uhh, I don't know," Frank responded, scratching his head. "We've been pretty good about staying away from them. Not too smart though since they ain't found us yet. I don't think I've ever heard of them using advanced weaponry, 'specially not a grenade, though."
Jun 29 2011, 11:36 AM
"...so that means that there's the possibility of other survivors...or another hostile group here. I think that we should definitely investigate the library though." Arel watched as the roly poly that she was playing with curled up into a tight ball. Standing up Arel stretched her limbs before turning towards the captain.
"Should we head out and investigate that area now? If there are hostiles here I'd think it best to try to do this job as quickly as possible."
Jun 29 2011, 05:37 PM
"Never used weapons like a grenade..." Nate's voice trailed off as he retreated back into his thoughts.
If that's true, then why did the NSA static reading jump the way it did? It doesn't make any sense! If those things, those 'enochs', really are behind the NSA static, then it shouldn't have spiked when the grenade was thrown at us... Could it be that they're getting smarter? Or am I possibly just misinterpreting how my powers work? I wish I had an answer...
His concentration was broken by Arel's suggestion.
"If we are leaving though, what will we do about these two survivors? We can't just leave them here where the enochs can get them!" His voice was a bit more resolute than the quivering mess it was before. "Either way, I agree with Arel, we should take a look at the library, we need to know more about what happened to this planet."
We've got to save them, Nate reconfirmed in his thoughts, We can't leave these people behind to get eaten by the enochs!
Jul 3 2011, 08:01 PM
"The library it is, then," said Catalina. "Let's move out, boys and girls." She limped to the door of Frank and Al's apartment, gesturing for the others to follow.
"Hey, you all right over there?" called Al, noticing the captain's limp.
"I'm fine. It's no concern of yours," Catalina replied sharply. "Let's hurry it up. We've got another four hours in town before nightfall, so let's make good use of them." On the way out, she spoke to Lars and Turk, who were standing guard outside. "Keep an eye on the two survivors. They're too valuable to risk losing." Unless there was an objection, she led the group across the city to the library.
The public library is tremendous, a six-story complex. Although it might once have possessed an air of grandeur, its sad state of disrepair turned it instead into a reminder of the desolate fate of Persephone. The domed roof had caved in and plantlife had grown around its rim. Shafts of sunlight filtered in through the holes in the roof, painting an abstract pattern of white upon the marble floor. Leading from the entrance up into the main hall of the library were...
"Great," groaned Catalina, "more stairs."
Jul 3 2011, 08:16 PM
"Can I assume that I'm permitted to fire on the other survivors? The hungry underground dwelling ones, that is." Turk questioned, as he switched from watching the area to retrieving ammunition and knives from the Surveyor. He went around back, and opened the rear cargo hatch, and pulled out the creature that he had obtained earlier. "Dead. Not through the loss of body fluid it seems," Turk noted, as he looked inside the cargo bay for any mess. "It seems like there's a reason why they only come out at night." Turk dragged the corpse aside, and lit it on fire. Turning back to Captain Catalina, Turk gave a smuggler salute and headed up the stairs.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Heading back into the room, Turk looked at the two survivors. "The rest of our group is heading to go dead city spelunking. That means you two, Lars over there, and me are staying here. I'm going to assume that the enochs are intelligent, and they'll be wanted to come after Lars and I for our party in the subway yesterday. That's good, we have more party favors for them." Turk led the two men outside and started simultaneously broadcasting his speech to both Lars and his speakers. "I'll cover the stairs. Lars will be moving around to check our flank, but will be picking off anyone on the ground. You two should probably do the same. They won't be able to get up the stairs as fast, so I'll knife them as they come up." Turk paused for a second and looked back at Frank and Al. "Do you have any other hideouts, or any ideas about safer places?"
Jul 5 2011, 09:05 PM
Raina had remained quiet through most of their mission; mainly because she knew that her usual snark was inappropriate. Her usual self-confidence deflated somewhat at the face of all this mystery.
And she was getting tired of it.
C'mon, Rai! Get yourself together! She grit her teeth at her own frustration. C'mon, make a comeback! You used to literally laugh in the face of death!
And then she found her opening.
"Great," groaned Catalina, "more stairs."
She smirked. Ah, that felt good. "Don't worry, Cap'n. I can carry you if you like." She said with a wink.
Jul 5 2011, 09:39 PM
As soon as Nate stepped into the library, his eyes grew wide. After a quick scan of the place, he started to form a big smile. He dashed in, eyes scrolling over all the books that were there. It wasn't more than a few seconds until he realized everyone was staring at him.
"Oh... Uh, sorry. I just enjoy studying things, is all..." He said, a little embarrassed. "Anyway, if we're gonna start finding out information on this planet, I say we should try looking at newspaper archives. It seems unlikely that they'd publish a numerous number of books ever since Persephone was on lockdown, but newspapers were more likely still in print."
He turned and saw a row of computers, all of which were probably unlikely to run in their current state and grimaced.
"I should've brought my laptop with me! Maybe I could've found some way to connect to the library servers and get the information more directly! Oh well... I'll see if I can get the ones they've got here running. It'll probably help to see if there are any information in books about the plague that weren't covered via newspapers."
He saw everyone still standing at the entrance, and he looked at them questioningly.
"What are you all waiting for? Information's waiting for us! We need to start researching immediately!"
With that, he ran off and sat down at a computer. After finding that the one he was using was working perfectly fine, he started to browse the card catalog to find anything related to the plague.
Jul 5 2011, 10:08 PM
Once again using her rifle for support, Catalina stumbled up the stairs. Hearing Raina's suggestion, she laughs. "Sorry, but I have a strict no touching policy with my subordinates."
It wasn't hard to find information about the infection. Fliers, newspapers, and magazines with news and public service announcements about the infection were strewn across every surface. On one of the walls of the library's second story, someone has spray-painted the phrase: "SIN=SALVATION."
"Relto City Health Advisory
-There is NO known cure for infection! The best way to stay safe is to avoid exposure to infectious spores!
-Stay out of tunnels, vacant buildings, and other stagnant areas
-Avoid going out at night
-Travel in groups
-Wear safety masks at all times
-Avoid exposure to contaminated water"
"National Health Advisory Bureau Report
A recent study has concluded that mild electric currents are effective at neutralizing infected cells, but are still a long ways away from developing it into a proper treatment, due in part to concerns about permanent neurological damage which may result from the administration of electric currents.
Unfortunately, infection-carrying spores have proven resilient to the treatment, shedding doubt on whether or not it will be useful in exterminating superspore carriers."
There's a tremendous volume of information available; sorting through it all would take days. They'll have to narrow down their search.
Jul 5 2011, 10:45 PM
"Aww, c'mon, Cap'n." Rai said with her smirk still plastered on her face. She had slowed her pace to match the injured woman now. "I'm only looking out for you and all that shit. What'll we do if our beloved captain couldn't walk? You need to give your leg a break."
Then, leaning in close enough to whisper, "Besides, with these suits on, we won't be touching. Technically."
Jul 6 2011, 08:03 AM
"Besides with these suits on we wouldn't be touching technically." Arel almost stumbled over a piece of rubble after hearing that comment from Rai. youu swing the other way or something? Although I guess I can admit that the captain is pretty efficient with most tasks...so I guess that would- .... I better stop now.
"If the captain wants you to leave her alone then just do so, go take point or something ...."
Arel crouched down to examine different fliers and materials. "Well..I guess we should start taking notes, huh?" Arel took note that there were multiple areas that they had to cover.
"We should probably split up, but obviously not in solo groups."
Jul 6 2011, 08:56 PM
Aiko nodded her head vigorously in agreement upon hearing Arel's suggestion, the movement slightly restricted by the tight fabric of her suit. Inwardly, however, she balked.
I don't want to be here. I don't want to be here! But I have to make sure I don't mess everything up . . . it's why I tried to hide before, she thought, recalling Catalina's reaction to what obviously looked like cowardly duty-shirking. After a quick search of Frank and Al's apartment, the captain had found her cramped and crying inside a closet.
"What the hell are you doing in here? We have to go! Get up."
"Just get going."
"Yes, ma'am!" the baker had squeaked, not wanting to anger her.
Returning from the memory, Aiko quailed.
I don't want to make her mad . . .