Title: Nietzsche's Soldiers: Will to Power
Description: among the other side
LettuceBacon&Tomato - October 27, 2009 07:43 AM (GMT)
This is a new Darwin's Soldiers
story I've been working on. Regular updates won't be coming yet, but I thought I could post the first section as sort of a 'teaser', just to show what the story is going to be about. This story takes place between the second and third RPs.
This time, I think I did a good job of explaining the back story within the actual story, so I don't think a Darwin's Soldiers recap is neccesary. However, new readers should know this is a mixed anthro-human world, and reading Schroedinger's Prisoners
would be a good idea. That's all I'm going to say.
Dragonstorm and some of Serris' characters used with permission.
_____________________________________________________________________________A lone Beagle scientist stood at a radio work station. It was a transportable work station, meaning it could be rolled to virtually any place the user wished it to go. However, this was only part of the reason why the work station was in the middle of a forest.
Dr. Kerzach, who was hiding behind a nearby bush, knew why. The Beagle, and all the other scientists currently camped in the forest, were members of an illegal group who called themselves Dragonstorm. After escaping Nevada with their lives, the group traveled up north, hiding in the wildernesses of Washington and Oregon. Nobody knew where Dragonstorm had gone. Nobody but Kerzach.
The Beagle set the frequency of the radio he was working on, and pressed a button. A shrill beep went off on a work station about thirty feet away. The Beagle left this one and walked in that direction.
Once he was far enough away, Kerzach darted to this work station and quietly started sliding open all the drawers. Finding a small notebook, he flipped it open and started scanning the pages.
It included a list of frequencies, requiring varying security clearances. Kerzach flipped to the last page with writing on it.
There it was. The password for the highest secure frequency is…
…in code. Kerzach swore silently to himself.
He was startled when the work station let off a shrill beep, signifying the imminent return of the Beagle. Kerzach quickly replaced the notebook, and darted back into the bush.
The Beagle returned shortly, and continued to work. After a few minutes, it perked its ears.
Kerzach knew to trust a dog’s hearing. He shimmied deeper into the bush, and soon he too could hear footsteps approaching the work station.
From within the bush he couldn’t see much, but he could tell two more people had arrived. One of them said, “How’s the work coming, Monty?”
Montgomery sighed. “Not good. I can’t find a way to shield the transmissions from outside sources. Everything I try stops it from reaching the intended receiver as well.”
“Well, keep trying. We don’t want any hikers accidentally picking up our radio signals, and we can’t operate without being able to communicate.”
“Is that all you came out to tell me?”
“No, I was checking to see if you had a second person to guard the other work station.”
“Why would I need a guard?”
“Why don’t any of you listen to me?” the second voice exclaimed, frustrated. “I was attacked by somebody during the escape, and I’m positive they’ve come with us masquerading as a Dragonstorm member! I’ve narrowed the possibilites down, but until I catch them we have to be careful about leaving important information lying around!”
“But you said it was a human male,” reminded Montgomery, “so why’d you bring a human male guard? He could be the spy.”
“Darien was driving the truck that carried Lab 101 away,” said the second voice, referring to the mobile building that had been used to house the equipment and personnel during the escape, “so obviously he couldn’t have attacked me mid-voyage. Just leave him at whatever work station you’re not, so we can be sure nobody tries to steal the frequency passwords. I’m positive it’s what the spy will try and get next.”
Dr. Kerzach’s heart sank. So much for getting the password now. He couldn’t even remember what the coded password was he’d just looked up. At the next possible moment he slipped away deeper into the forest.
The second voice had been Keegan O’Neill, a scientist who had indeed been making life very difficult. He’d almost discovered Kerzach’s true identity several times, and every day fewer and fewer options seemed available.
But even O’Neill didn’t know that there were two spies.
Kerzach located the tree that had been designated that day’s rendezvous. A dark-haired man, slightly taller than average with brown eyes, was waiting for him.
“Well? Did you get them?” Shelton asked.
Kerzach shook his head. “No. And I only had one shot before O’Neill arrived, with a guard.”
Shelton swore. “O’Neill should have been born a pit bull. I wish I'd shot him when I had the chance.”
“At least he didn’t see your face. At any rate, did you finish changing your identity?”
Shelton nodded. “You’re looking at Roger Simpson, surveyor.”
During the escape, Shelton had pretended to be Storke, a murdered Dragonstorm scientist. However, once they’d found out Storke had been an ostrich, Shelton had checked the rosters for a different alias. He’d settled on Simpson, a surveyor left at the scene of the crime, because he was human, and because he shared Shelton’s initials. Kerzach, who had impersonated deceased fellow ornithoid Bradley Gallo, didn’t have this problem.
“Retroactively changed the rosters, and just switched all of Storke’s passwords and such to Simpson,” Shelton continued. “Only reason I got away with it is that the data's already messed up from all the traveling and such. Some personnel still haven’t gotten around to registering.”
Kerzach nodded. “Do you know when we’ll be leaving this forest?”
“Don’t know if we’re going to. Now that the routine’s settled down, the folks upstairs are thinking of parking camp. This is the furthest we’ve been able to get the base from civilization.”
“Fine by me. This is still our best chance to get those passcodes. With all the cover from the trees and foliage, and such.”
“Don’t forget the foliage works in O’Neill’s favor, too. I'm comnstantly having to watch my back, and people can get really close before you notice they're there."
Kerzach nodded. “Let’s head out. Need to go anywhere?”
“Our tent.” The shortage of supplies had forced personnel to dorm with ‘tentmates.’ “I need to lift the ink of the signature on my ID card and resign it.”
They started the walk. They passed several other work stations and scientists walking through the woods. While the majority of equipment stayed in Lab 101, most of the lesser-important projects and personal living areas had been spread out through the nearby areas of forest.
“There we are,” pointed Shelton, spotting their tent among a few others. Some other scientists were purifying water or preparing dinner outside. Shelton and Kerzach waved to them as they approached their tent.
Kerzach looked at the large ranch salad one of them was making. “Maybe we should get dinner first. You hungry?”
No answer. He looked over. Shelton had suddenly stiffened up and passed out, collapsing on the ground.
Kerzach looked around wildly. All the other scientists had collapsed too. In seconds, everyone but him was unconscious. What the hell just happened?
He kneeled down next to Shelton. “Shelton, wake up. Shelton?”
He heard heavy footsteps coming. Grabbing Shelton around the shoulders, Kerzach dragged the both of them out of sight behind the bushes.
Serris - October 27, 2009 03:28 PM (GMT)
Wow! Nice high octane start!
This. Is. CANON!
However, I did catch one error, Bradley Gallo is a dark brown Sussex Chicken not a Cassowary. The only reason that Kerzach gets away with impersonating Gallo is because he taped Gallo's spur knives to his feet, hiding the fact that he does not actually have spurs like Gallo.
Perhaps there's a 3rd side to this conflict?
LBTFan - October 27, 2009 04:12 PM (GMT)
Nice story I want to see more hehe.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - October 30, 2009 06:17 AM (GMT)
Three soldiers: a Piltdown, a fly, and a Tasmanian Devil came into view, marching through the undergrowth. Kerzach recognized them. They were the three military commandos, and as such went by the first three Greek letters. Each had a high-powered tranquilizer rifle, and a shovel strapped across their back.
Alpha Leader took out a radio. “Sector 1 scanned, all personnel out cold.” He waved his hand. “Let’s get them out of the way.”
The three started dragging the unconscious scientists into the nearest tent. Kerzach waited until all three commandos were in a tent, picked up Shelton, and darted for the nearest medical tent.
Dropping Shelton on the ground and zipping the tent shut quickly, Kerzach rifled through the supplies, finally finding some smelling salt. He wafted it under Shelton’s nose. “Shelton!” he hissed. “Wake up!”
Shelton groaned. He blinked, and tried to get to his feet. “Where—?”
“Shhhh!!!” Kerzach peered through the small mesh window. The commandos had re-emerged from the other tents. “There are armed guards. We need to get away from here. Keep quiet!”
After helping Shelton to his feet, Kerzach pushed open the back flap of the tent and led the way deeper into the forest.
Once they were out of range, Kerzach stopped Shelton. “Can you tell me what just happened?”
Shelton shook his head. “One second I was talking to you, the next I was waking up in the tent. What happened to me?”
“You passed out, or something. Everyone did, except myself and these three soldiers. I didn’t see anything that would have caused a sudden mass blackout.” Kerzach peered back to where they’d just escaped. “We should get to Lab 101. We’ll be able to register the readings there and see if it could have something to do with what happened.”
They started the walk. They hadn’t gone very far, before they stopped in awe.
They’d reached the experimental section, where many of the technical projects and spare equipment sat. It was usually very crowded. Now, every scientist in sight was passed out, draped over work stations, next to tents, some had even landed on other scientists. The air was eerily quiet for what normally was a busy area.
Kerzach knelt next to the nearest scientist. “He doesn’t appear knocked out. It’s more like he’s…asleep.”
“Are we in danger of them waking up?” asked Shelton nervously.
“Don’t think so. I dragged you all the way to the tent, and you didn’t even stir.” Kerzach looked at the various work stations. “Think we should check all the work stations, see if one of them did it?”
“Nothing here is remotely powerful enough to do this. These are all the open clearance, personal projects. The big and important stuff happens in isolated areas.”
Kerzach nodded. “Then we’ll keep going.”
Kerzach looked back. “Lab 101, remember?”
“Oh, yeah,” Shelton turned. “Let’s go.”
Kerzach said nothing, but followed.
After a few minutes, Shelton asked, “You think anyone else is awake?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen anyone.”
“Wait,” Shelton cocked his head. “Listen.”
Light footsteps could be heard from their right.
“Hello?” called Shelton.
“Shelton!” Kerzach grabbed him. “What the hell are you doing? I said there were armed guards around!”
The light footsteps broke into a run towards them. Kerzach and Shelton bolted for the forest.
Kerzach heard shots fired. He vaulted over a bush, rolled under a propped tree trunk, and kept running until he had safely cleared the area.
He paused, catching his breath. He listened for a minute. No sound. He’d lost them.
But where was Shelton?
Serris - October 30, 2009 06:28 AM (GMT)
Nice! Excitement is mounting.
I assume Kerzach is my only character used.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - November 3, 2009 05:59 AM (GMT)
Pretty much, also some Dragonstorm characters. There might be a cameo, somewhere in there...
Shelton groaned softly, as he regained consciousness. His head and his shoulder hurt.
He got to his hands and knees, and felt his shoulder. There was a bump. He’d been shot with something.
He looked around. He was in a dimly lit room, with only a table and a few chairs. Three walls were painted white, the fourth was metallic black. A young man was sitting in one of the chairs.
“Are you all right?” the man asked.
Shelton rubbed his head. “Yeah. Who are you?”
“Eddie,” the man said. “And you?”
“Simpson,” Shelton said, remembering to use his Dragonstorm alias. “Have I met you before?”
“I don’t think so.” The man looked at him. “I don’t recognize you.”
“Well, I do. I think.” Shelton’s head still hurt. “How did I get here?”
“I don’t know,” admitted Eddie. “I don’t know how I got here. What were you doing before you were brought in?”
“I—” Shelton stopped. He thought. “I don’t remember. I know I was…uh…” He trailed off. His mind was surprisingly blank.
Eddie nodded. “Same with me.” He got up and helped Shelton to his feet. “When I woke up, three men had dragged you in here, and were just leaving. You were out for maybe five minutes.”
Shelton looked around. “What did the men look like?”
“Well, one of them was—” Eddie broke off, as the door suddenly swung open.
A six-foot tall Piltdown stood there. It was Alpha Leader.
“Finally awake, are you?” he growled.
Shelton opened his mouth. “Sir,” he asked, “What exactly is—?”
Alpha leader swung his fist, sending Shelton spinning into the corner. Before he could catch his breath, Alpha grabbed him by the collar, pulled him to his feet, and started shaking him. “Why weren’t you knocked out?” he demanded.
Shelton’s head lolled awkwardly. “I—I don’t—I’m not…” he tried to get out.
Alpha threw his back in the corner. “Were there any more of you? Was anyone with you?”
“I don’t know! I don’t remember anything?” Shelton protested.
Alpha leader raised his fist, and Shelton covered his head, but then Alpha rounded on Eddie. “And you! What’s up with you?” He punched Eddie three times.
“Ow! What do you mean? What do you want?”Eddie spluttered, trying to shield himself.
Alpha punched him one final time, then let him sink to the ground. Then he withdrew a pistol and pointed it at Shelton. “You really don’t remember anything?”
“No!” Shelton pressed up against the wall.
Alpha grunted, and re-clipped the pistol to his chest. “I’ll go get the Doc.”
Crossing to the door, he swung it shut behind him and audibly clicked the lock shut.
After a few seconds, Eddie and Shelton shakily got to his feet. “Are you all right?” Eddie repeated.
“Not as much as last time.” Shelton rubbed his jaw. “I don’t want to meet the Doc.”
Shelton looked around the empty room. “I don’t know where we are. I’ve never seen this room before.”
Eddie was looking at the black wall. “This wall looks familiar, but I don’t know why.”
Shelton checked where the black wall joined with the white. “This isn’t a wall of this room. This room is connected to something.”
“Caulk, I think.” Shelton touched it. “It’s dry, but not solidified yet. Probably was done when Dragonstorm first reached the forest.”
Eddie picked up one of the chairs. “Could we break the sealant?”
Shelton shrugged. “We might. There’s nothing to lose.”
They started smashing the chairs against the seam between the two walls. After some time, the air smelled like sawdust, but there visible cracks in the sealant.
Shelton dropped his malformed chair and wedged his fingers between the walls. “Help me with this.”
Together, they peeled and forced more space between the walls. Once they had a firm grasp, they felt the room tilting underneath them.
“This must be a trailer of some sort, with wheels on it,” noted Shelton. “This makes it much easier to move.”
Before long, they had a space large enough for Eddie to fit through, who had to help pull Shelton out nonetheless. Then they bolted for the forest.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - November 8, 2009 03:51 AM (GMT)
“What now?” asked Eddie, when they stopped for a rest.
Shelton thought. “I’ve got a friend here. Ker—er, Dr. Gallo. We should try to find him, if he’s around.”
“A radio terminal. I think there’s one somewhere near here. Follow me.”
They trekked a short distance, before reaching some thick bushes. An unconscious human male lay on the ground.
“How much farther?” asked Eddie.
“Uh, it should be here.” Shelton looked around. “Right here.”
Eddie looked around. “I don’t see anything.”
“Well, it should be here!” Shelton looked at the ground. “Look for tread tracks. Maybe it was rolled somewhere else.”
Eddie knelt down near the soil. “No. Nothing was rolled from or through here. There aren’t even prints from where something used to sit.”
Shelton was perplexed. “There’s another a short walk that way.”
Yet again, despite an unconscious Beagle scientist, there was no radio terminal in sight.
“But why would these people be here, unless there was something to work with?” exclaimed Shelton. “There must have been something here.”
“Well, there isn’t now,” said Eddie. “So we need to come up with the next best thing.”
Shelton rubbed his forehead. “What were we doing again?”
Eddie thought. “Looking for somebody. A friend of yours.”
“Dr. Gallo, right. Well, if there’s anywhere that shouldn’t disappear, it would be Lab 101. Seeing as it’s the main location and all.”
“That’s be a safe bet,” Eddie nodded. “We’ll head there.”
On the way, they passed more unconscious personnel. There seemed to be more and more the closer they got to the lab.
Shelton’s head was still pounding. “Is your head killing you?” he asked.
Eddie nodded. “Is there anything we can do about it?”
“I wish.” Shelton rubbed his temples. “A tranquilizer dart shouldn’t cause this bad a headache.”
“If anything, you’d think it would help numb the pain,” agreed Eddie.
Shelton’s eyes lit up. “You just gave me an idea. Remind me when we reach the lab.”
In a few minutes, Lab 101 appeared through the trees, still where it should be. Shelton and Eddie walked right past the unconscious guards at the door.
Shelton entered a specific room in Lab 101. “Does your head hurt near the middle, in the back?”
Eddie nodded. “Do you know what’s causing it?”
Shelton nodded. He found a specific pulse transmitter, and held it up to Eddie’s temple. He clicked the button, and Eddie sighed with relief. “Thank you. What was that?”
Shelton used the device on himself. “Do you remember in the Oregon desert? When we took a week off so every member of Dragonstorm could receive one of those prototype ‘email’ chips?”
“They were inserted between the parietal and occipital lobes of the brain. Their design is based off the ‘phone tooth’ invented in 2002, just a step up. The eventual plan is that that they interact with signals sent from the secondary chips in our back molars, to allow us to send and receive messages silently. Almost a private ‘network,’ only for Dragonstorm members.”
“I don’t recall hearing the chips were ever switched on.”
“Apparently they were. That’s the only reason I can think of why they’d suddenly start hurting.”
They started looking around Lab 101.
“What did we come here to do?” asked Eddie.
Shelton racked his brains. “I don’t remember. This constant memory loss isn’t natural. Something is definitely interfering with our memories.”
“Could it be the chip?” Eddie asked, climbing up onto the rafters and peering out the window.
No answer. He glanced back. Shelton was still staring at him. “What?” he asked.
“I still swear I’ve seen you somewhere before…”
“No,” Shelton shook his head. “A long time ago. But I’m sure of it.”
“You can’t even remember why we came to this lab, but you remember me from some nondescript time in your past?” Eddie asked incredulously.
Shelton spotted some radios on a desk. “That’s what we came to do! Contact my friend!”
He grabbed one and checked for open frequencies. “There are two frequencies currently in use. I can’t tell which one, if either, is Dr. Gallo.”
Eddie shrugged. “Guess.”
Shelton tried the higher frequency. “Hello?”
There was a pause. Then, Alpha Leader’s voice came back over. “Who is this?”
Shelton quickly cut the connection. He tried the other. “Dr. Gallo?”
Kerzach’s voice came over. “Shelton, is that you?”
“Aye, this is Simpson,” Shelton stressed, glancing at Eddie.
Kerzach got the drift. “Is someone with you? Who?”
“He’s a friend,” reassured Shelton. “Where are you?”
Kerzach seemed less trusting this time. “Meet me back where you first fell unconscious.”
“Right,” said Shelton, but Eddie hissed, “Do you know where that is?”
Shelton paused. “Gallo, where exactly was that again?”
Kerzach sighed. “Our tent. Gallo out.”
Shelton cut the connection. “Good call,” he said.
“Thanks,” said Eddie. “We should probably write that down.”
Shelton nodded. He crossed to a small desktop calendar and ripped today’s page off, scribbling down Kerzach’s location. He pocketed it and the pulse transmitter, and looked around. “Is there anything else we need to do here?”
Eddie opened his mouth to say something, but suddenly gunfire peppered the other side of the door. “The soldiers!” Eddie cried, grabbing a rafter and swinging onto the roof.
“Eddie, wait for me!” Shelton cried, running to the rafters, but suddenly the door was kicked down, and an anthro Tasmanian Devil marched into the room. Taking aim, he shot the ladder to the rafters at the top, sending it and Shelton crashing back to the ground.
“Got him,” Gamma reported. “Lab 101.” He stepped forward and grabbed the dizzy Shelton out from under the ladder. “Now where’d you think you were going?”
Shelton tried to fight, but Gamma laughed and held him at arm’s length easily. “You go on trying. The others will be here in a minute.”
Gamma slid his pistol out from its holster and showed it to Shelton. “See this? No more tranqs. We switched to live ammunition, just for you.”
Gamma rifled through Shelton’s pockets, retrieving the pulse transmitter, which he discarded, and the calendar page. “What’s this say? ‘Meet Kerzach at tent, ASAP’.” Gamma looked up. “There ain’t no Kerzach I know of that’s in Dragonstorm! Can you explain this?”
Shelton tried to speak, but Gamma’s grip was blocking his windpipe.
“I’ll just tell the others about this,” said Gamma, unhooking his radio again, but before he could do anymore there was a horrid squelching sound, and Gamma looked down to see a long metal rod jabbed through his chest.
He staggered and fell, and Shelton freed himself, crawling backwards to see Eddie, holding a bloodied rod. “Jesus! What the hell is that?”
“A mop handle,” Eddie panted, “with the head unscrewed.” He let it clatter to the floor. “I wasn’t going to leave you behind.”
Shelton shakily got to his feet. “Well, thanks. We should be going.”
“Wait,” Eddie stopped him. “The man said Kerzach. You told me his name is Dr. Gallo.”
“Oh, that.” Shelton’s eyes traveled to the mop handle. “Uh, Kerzach is his first name. We’re on first name terms, being friends you know.”
“Oh.” Eddie didn’t look like he believed him, but let the matter go. “You’re right. We need to get away from here.”
Eddie walked past Shelton, whose eyes hadn’t left the mop handle, and the two headed out.
Serris - November 8, 2009 05:39 AM (GMT)
Nice! I am starting to really like how the action is heating up.
Caustizer - November 8, 2009 07:13 AM (GMT)
One thing about all these Darwin's Soldiers stories... the anthromorphic characters are far too human. Their actions are often reflective of the situation rather then instinctual... for example I would expect somebody who is a lizard to have the impulse to camoflage into the environment, and attack by surprise, while someone who is a wolf might have a tendancy to throw their gun aside and go for the throat with their jaws.
Just a friendly thought. :angel
LettuceBacon&Tomato - November 8, 2009 07:20 AM (GMT)
That's one thing I admit I'm not very good at. I'm not an anthro writer, and in my DS stories that's what I've had the most problems with. For my first story, Card of Ten, I landed them on a planet of humans for a reason. For the first draft of Scroedinger's Prisoners, all the characters had been human, but Serris convinced me to mix the species up a bit. I'll try and do better at showing animal emotions with up-coming characters, though almost everyone important has been introduced by this point.
On an unrelated note, I read your fanfic. It's really good! Keep it up! :goodluck
EDIT: Updated the species of the commandos. None of them are human anymore.
Caustizer - November 8, 2009 08:16 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (LettuceBacon&Tomato @ Nov 8 2009, 02:20 AM)|
| On an unrelated note, I read your fanfic. It's really good! Keep it up! :goodluck |
Thanks :DD ... do you think you will read through the entire story or is it too long for your taste?
Serris - November 8, 2009 05:08 PM (GMT)
As the creator of the DS Universe; I have this to say: the anthros are supposed to be more Human than animal.
Though they keep some animal traits (Dr. Kerzach and Dr. Gallo fighting by pecking as well as punching and kicking; Keegan only eating salad; Alfred being far stronger than a Human; Delta Leader able to detect Shelton by scent, etc.) they think more like Humans.
In addition, the anthro soldiers are probably trained to react situationally NOT instinctively.
Caustizer - November 8, 2009 05:41 PM (GMT)
|In addition, the anthro soldiers are probably trained to react situationally NOT instinctively|
A competant trainer would not work them around their instincts, but rather train them to make the most of them. A ton of resources goes to turning these people into animals, it seems a waste of aptitudes to train them to act like humans.
From what I've read, if Dragonstorm is smart enough to prepare for any kind of attack then it would be logical to conclude that their training regime would be specialized based on the personal strengths of their anthro-soldiers.
Serris - November 8, 2009 06:45 PM (GMT)
As the creator of the DS universe, I want to issue another clarifying statement. The anthros were never Human or animal to begin with. They are merely "there" alongside the Humans and yes, some anthros are trained to use their natural abilities (I.E. Delta Leader sniffs out Shelton in the DS II RP. There will be some upcoming scenes in the DS II RP where Chameleons take advantage of their natural camo abilities to serve as snipers and spies).
However, the commandos in the story may not be Dragonstorm personnel.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - December 28, 2009 08:06 PM (GMT)
They reached Shelton’s and Kerzach’s tent. Eddie looked around. “Where’s Gallo?”
Shelton and Eddie whirled around, to see Kerzach in a tree, holding a rifle. “Who are you?”
“Eddie McKay,” he answered, raising his hands in the air. “I’m an assistant.”
“How did you meet Simpson?”
“He doesn’t remember,” Shelton cut in. “Neither do I. Something’s wrong with our long term memories. But he’s trustworthy, Gallo. He saved my life back at Lab 101.”
Kerzach hesitantly slung the rifle over his shoulder and climbed out of the tree. “You were at Lab 101? Why?”
Shelton looked at Eddie. “Something about a headache,” mused Eddie.
“Right!” Shelton snapped his fingers. “We figured out that those prototype email chips have been activated, which is causing the headaches and possibly the memory issues.”
“If they caused the blackout, that would explain why I didn’t fall asleep,” nodded Kerzach. “Also why I’m not having any memory problems.”
Eddie looked at Shelton. “I volunteered to be an embedder for the chip insertion process,” explained Shelton, “purposely so I could skip Gallo on the roster. He doesn’t have a chip.”
“And I’m glad about that now,” Kerzach nodded. “How extensive are these memory problems?”
“I can remember everything up to where I fell asleep,” said Shelton.
“I can’t even remember that,” said Eddie. “I only have a passing knowledge about myself and what my job is.”
“We should head back to Lab 101 to find out more about these chips,” said Kerzach.
“Alpha and Beta are probably at Lab 101 right now,” reminded Eddie.
“Good, we can get the drop on them too.” Kerzach hefted his rifle. “I picked this up at a weapons closet near some weather sensors. We can stock up there.”
Unfortunately, neither the sensors nor the closet were anywhere when they arrived.
“Why is everything disappearing?” asked Shelton exasperatedly.
“I should have picked up Gamma’s pistol,” said Eddie.
Kerzach shook his head. “I would have shot you if you had been armed.” He checked his ammunition. “Guess this is all we’re getting. It’ll have to be good enough. It’d be nice if any of us were good with weaponry.”
“Eddie’s good with weaponry,” said Shelton. “He killed Gamma with a mop handle.”
Nevertheless, Kerzach kept the rifle for himself.
They approached Lab 101. Beta could be seen on the roof, sniper rifle scanning the nearby forest.
Crouched behind a bush, Kerzach tried to focus the scope. Very slowly.
“What’s taking so long?” hissed Shelton. “He’s not moving.”
“You want to give it a shot?” whispered Kerzach. “He’s pretty far away.”
“Gallo,” whispered Eddie. “Give me the rifle. I can make this shot.”
Kerzach shook his head, and fired. It pinged off the wall, and Beta ducked out of sight. Return fire started peppering the tree next to them.
Kerzach swore, when suddenly Eddie elbowed him in the face, trying to wrestle the rifle away. Kerzach whipped out his knife, hitting Eddie across the face with the flat side. Quickly taking aim, Kerzach fired a single shot at Lab 101, and the enemy fire ceased.
Eddie was on the ground, clutching his cheek. He looked at Kerzach, who had his knife out and now a cut across the eye. “Sorry,” said Eddie. “We needed to get rid of Beta before he figured out our position and killed all of us. I thought I could make the shot better than you.”
“Don’t do that again,” said Kerzach. “Ever.”
Eddie nodded, staying on the ground. Kerzach reloaded the rifle and kept it at the ready.
Shelton peered out at the lab. “I don’t see Alpha. He probably took cover.”
“Then let’s get inside before he retaliates,” said Eddie. He glanced at Kerzach, who said nothing.
They made a run for the entrance.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - December 29, 2009 05:19 PM (GMT)
Once inside, Kerzach propped the door back up. Now,” he said, “let’s find a working computer and get that info about the chip.”
“Right,” said Shelton. “Wait, what chip?”
Kerzach sighed. “The one in your head, and everybody else’s. We want to know how they were turned on, and exactly what they do. And maybe why they’re not working correctly.”
“Ah, right.” Shelton crossed to a computer. “I need a thumbprint scan and a security number,” he said.
Kerzach searched Gamma’s body and found an ID card. “He’ll do,” Kerzach said, dragging the body over.
Once allowed access, Shelton scanned the chip’s inner coding. “This seems to be much more extensive than merely a messaging system,” he reported, scribbling down the code as it appeared. “It’s got bits that deal with vision, sensory information, and here’s the part that’s causing the memory…” he trailed off. He’d seen this code before.
“Simpson?” asked Eddie. “What is it?”
Shelton whirled around. “I know where I’ve seen you before!” he exclaimed. “You’re one of Dr. Tinner’s assistants!”
Eddie stepped back. “Yeah, so?”
“The Dr. Tinner who created that virtual reality machine?” said Kerzach.
“The exact same coding from thevirtual realitymachine is in this chip,” continued Shelton. “The machine, it caused headaches when used too long. It had the ability to wipe memories. And it puts you to sleep when it turns on.”
“Okay,” interjected Eddie suddenly, “if you know all of this, you are definitely not who you say you are. Not even remotely.”
Suddenly, a window shattered behind them. A bullet whizzed past Kerzach, embedding in the computer screen. Shelton fell backward in a cloud of sparks, taking cover under the desk.
Kerzach cocked his rifle and fired back. Alpha ducked back out of sight, reappearing seconds later at a different window, forcing Kerzach to retreat behind a corner.
Eddie dove to the other side of the Lab, lying prone under a lab bench. Alpha seemed to be targeting Kerzach since he had the only weapon. Plaster chipped off the walls around Kerzach as he fell to the ground, returning fire.
Shelton caught Eddie signaling him. He was pointing at Gamma’s body.
Or, more specifically, the pistol by his side.
Shelton grabbed it and prepared to slide it across, but hesitated. Can he still trust Eddie?
The door clattered to the ground a second time, and Alpha strode in, rifle raised, pointing at the fallen Kerzach. With one shot, he blasted Kerzach’ rifle.
He kicked Kerzach over, and looked confused. “Who are you?”
Kerzach blinked, and his eyes traveled from Alpha to Shelton to Eddie, who was still beckoning for the gun.
Shelton slid the pistol. Alpha started, focus switching to Shelton. At the same time, Kerzach swung his rifle and hit Alpha in the face, sending him staggering in time for Eddie to grasp the pistol and finished him off with a shot to the head.
Alpha hit the ground, and in the following silence the three men got to their feet.
Kerzach dropped his rifle and turned grudgingly to Eddie to say thanks, before realizing the pistol was still raised.
"Don't move," said Eddie, pistol trembling. "I want both of you back against the wall."
Serris - December 29, 2009 06:38 PM (GMT)
Oh, it is heating up!
One issue, Dr. Kerzach has no training in the use of firearms so him using a sniper rifle is a bit strange.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - December 29, 2009 07:05 PM (GMT)
It's because there's no one else to shoot it. Shelton is even worse at shooting than Kerzach, and Eddie can't be trusted. And Kerzach doesn't actually hit anything.
Serris - December 29, 2009 07:44 PM (GMT)
Okay, then it is justified.
Kerzach with the knife was a good touch.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - January 4, 2010 08:05 AM (GMT)
“Eddie?” asked Shelton. “What are you doing?”
Eddie kept the pistol steady. “I don’t want to shoot you,” he said shakily, “and I’ll give you the gun, but I need to know who you are. How do you know so much about the virtual reality machine?”
“Who’s side are you on?” asked Kerzach.
“Yours!” exclaimed Eddie angrily. “At least, I think I am. I have no memory, so I have no clue what side I’m on, but I want to be on yours! So you need to tell me who you really are, real names and everything! Starting with you!” he pointed the gun at Shelton.
Shelton sighed. “My real name is Rudy Shelton. We’re not members of Dragonstorm, but spies trying to gain as much information about the project, before reinforcements arrive.”
“Shelton…” muttered Kerzach under his breath.
“You haven’t been with him as long as I have,” shot back Shelton. “He’s done nothing but help me since we escaped!”
“How do you know? You can’t even remember coming to this lab, much less what Eddie’s done!”
Shelton hesitated, but stood his ground. “He has a right to be upset. I’d probably be as mad as he is if I’d gone through all this and couldn’t trust my only allies. Trust me on this.” He turned back to Eddie. “I was the scientist who traveled into the virtual reality machine during its test run a few years ago.”
“I don’t have any memory, remember?” snapped Eddie. “Give me more than that! Start from the beginning.”
“Fine. A few years ago, Dr. Tinner created a virtual reality machine, designed to train American marines. You presumably helped construct it and test the training scenarios, which would explain your combat expertise. I was among the team chosen to test run the machine and clear it for the military to use.”
“But it didn’t work?”
“Dr. Tinner had tried to hide some design flaws, potentially lethal ones. He also included a subroutine designed to wipe the participants’ memories upon disengaging from the machine, while stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain, so users won’t remember what happened in the machine, just that they liked it.”
“So what happened?”
“With my team’s help, I was able to get around the memory-erasing subroutine and terminate the test run before any permanent damage was done to the participants. You were there to help pull me out when it almost killed me. The machine was failed, and Tinner never re-submitted it for clearance. Apparently Dragonstorm was more lenient and let him expand his project despite the dangerous side-effects.”
“How can I know you’re not lying?”
“You think I made that story up? Do I look nearly that creative?”
Eddie sighed, and lowered the pistol. “I assume your real name is Kerzach.”
Kerzach nodded. “You know this little act isn’t helping me trust you.”
Eddie threw him the pistol. “There. Happy?”
Shelton stepped between the two. “Right now, we have more important thing to worry about. Kerzach, could you fill us in on what we learned before being attacked?”
Kerzach nodded. “We learned Dr. Tinner created the chips now in everyone’s brains.”
“Right.” Shelton looked at the code he’d written down before Alpha’s ambush. “According to this, the chips are remotely connected to Tinner’s virtual reality machine. The chip relays the information in a way the brain can understand and interact with, allowing hooked-up scientists and personnel to see and work with virtual equipment that isn’t really there, but performs all the same functions of the original machines.”
“What benefit would this have?”
“Non-Dragonstorm people, like hikers and such, wouldn’t be able to see or interact with the virtual equipment, meaning Dragonstorm could be invisible to the outside world.” Shelton stressed the last part. “This could be really bad. The chances of our allies finding Dragonstorm will drop to almost nil unless we can find a way to stop this project.”
"Wait, where are the original machines?"
"I'm not sure. I'll give the codes another look-through." Shelton furrowed his brow.
After about ten seconds, Eddie spoke up. “We need to get moving. I'm forgetting how we got into this room.”
Kerzach nodded. "Eddie's right. What do we do now?"
Shelton started thinking. “The chips are connected to an isolated relay source; I’d be willing to bet it’s the original machine. It was never destroyed after the failed test run.”
“So that would be our next step. Find the machine.” Kerzach turned to Eddie. “You were the guy’s assistant. You should know where it is.”
Eddie shook his head. “I don’t remember anything.”
Kerzach turned to Shelton. “Yeah, why is Eddie’s memory handicap worse than yours? He seems to have forgotten almost everything, while you remember right up to getting knocked out.”
Shelton shrugged. “Since we don’t know why Eddie is on the run in the first place, there’s no way to know. Actually, the memory-erasing code seems to serve no purpose to the overall program.”
“Hm. That’s interesting, but if that’s all we know, it’s not very enlightening.” Kerzach took out his radio. “There are two radio channels in effect. One is ours. Is there any way to triangulate the source of the other channel?”
“I think I could do that,” said Shelton, getting to work.
After a while, he sat back. “Done.” he said. Taking out his calendar page, he wrote down basic directions to the new coordinates. “Let’s head out, and hope this takes us somewhere important.”
Serris - January 5, 2010 02:57 AM (GMT)
Oh. I liked how Dr. Tinner's VR machine played into this and the virtual equipment serves as a way to hide Dragonstorm.
One thing confuses me, so the virtual equipment works the same as the real deal? So does that mean that Dragonstorm personnel work remotely and all the "real stuff" is in a heavily guarded location elsewhere?
The RP however, had Dr. Branston disguise the place as a logging camp.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - January 5, 2010 11:00 PM (GMT)
That's one of the puzzles Shelton and Kerzach are currently trying to solve. Where is the original equipment?
And the logging thing actually isn't a problem either, wait until the end (which is in sight) and you'll see why.
Before they left, Kerzach gave Eddie his pistol back. “Really?” gasped Eddie, surprised.
Kerzach picked up Alpha’s giant rifle. “Yeah.”
The trio headed out, Shelton figuring out the right direction through estimations of distances. While unconscious scientists were still lying everywhere, no technology could be seen anywhere in the forest.
“Did that code explain where all the original machines have gone?” asked Eddie.
“Not really. According to the code, they’re connected to the virtual equipment somehow, which merely reads and displays what the real machines finds out. The process wouldn’t work without the information gained from the real machines, so they must be somewhere.”
"Could they all be, say, in a remote cave somewhere?" suggested Kerzach. "Safely far away?"
"No, the virtual equipment has to be directly connected to the real stuff; the information is transmitted via USB. Plus the environmental scanners would only display information on the cave's atmosphere, negating their usefulness."
"So the equipment has to be here, despite the fact that its not."
“Maybe it's invisible?” suggested Eddie. “And the chip is stopping the brain from seeing it?”
Shelton shook his head. “Kerzach doesn’t have a chip, but he can’t see any machines either. Plus it would still be possible to walk into them, and it isn’t. The equipment has indeed been moved.”
After about ten minutes, Shelton said. “The virtual reality machine should be up ahead.”
“There!” Kerzach pointed.
Up ahead a tall thin black-walled room could be seen. A small trailer was partially attached to the side.
An autoturret sat outside the door. It didn’t appear to be on. Cautiously, Kerzach led the way into the room.
The inside was also black-walled, with the majority of the room taken up by a second, smaller white room. They seemed to be in a hallway that circled around the middle room. They entered the next room.
The majority of the inner white room’s far corner was taken up by the machine Shelton remembered. It had grown, however, and now included wires and antennae snaking off in every direction. The rest of the room was quite empty, except for a lone scientist, hunched over seemingly nothing.
“Tinner!” yelled Shelton.
Dr. Tinner looked over. “What are—?”
“Be quiet,” ordered Kerzach, aiming his giant rifle. “Start walking outside.”
“Get back! I’ve got an auto turret!” Tinner threatened, pointing at a second turret sitting motionless in the corner.
“The turrets aren’t on,” countered Kerzach, rolling his eyes. “Keep your hands where I can see them.”
In response, Tinner fiddled with seemingly solid air, and the turret fired, blasting Kerzach’s gun to scrap and sending him skidding. “Warned you,” Tinner smiled, still ‘typing’. “You should listen next time.”
“How did he do that?” asked Eddie, diving out of the way of auto-turret fire.
“Virtual reality controls,” said Shelton, ducking and covering. “They must be working.”
Eddie fired at the turret, destroying it. “Alright, Tinner!” he exclaimed, pointing the gun back, but Tinner had disappeared.
“Where’d he go?” asked Shelton, standing up.
“A better question is what are you doing here?” Tinner’s voice rang out, echoing off the walls. “Dr. Shelton. I admit you were the last person I expected to see here.”
“Where are you?” asked Shelton, eyes still looking everywhere.
“I am still here. Your chips have just decided to not see me.” They could hear the humor in Tinner’s voice, still echoing and making it impossible to find the source.
Shelton tried to figure out where the voice was coming from. “Is that your plan? To turn Dragonstorm invisible?”
Tinner laughed. “More of the opposite. I want Dragonstorm to be visible only to those with chips.”
"Yeah, we alre--" Shelton stopped himself from retorting, instead waiting for Tinner to continue. He might reveal more pieces of the puzzle.
He did. “While the personnel slept, Alpha and the other commanders went throughout the compound and buried the equipment in large protective bags. They still function correctly, but are now underground, transmitting to the virtual equipment.”
“Well, that explains that," realized Shelton, "and then you code the virtual equipment to appear exactly where the originals had been, then both sets of equipment are linked, and outside sources are unable to interact or see with any of the equipment!”
Tinner paused. “How did you know that? You aren’t telling me everything.”
Shelton looked at the door. “Neither are you. Since we didn’t see any virtual equipment, and because you’ve said nothing about memory loss, I assume something didn’t go according to plan.”
Tinner said nothing for a minute. Suddenly Eddie’s pistol was ripped out of his hand, and went invisible as well. Something hit Eddie in the face, sending him falling with a cry. “You can thank your friend here for that. He threw a bit of a spoke in the works. Once he discovered the plan, he sent the memory erasing command with the knockout and inserted gibberish code into the virtual reality subroutine. Fortunately, I had already taken steps to protect myself from the knockout command, and quickly revived Alpha, Beta, and Gamma to finish the job.”
Shelton heard the invisible pistol cock. “Said job is almost finished, and, as I am invisible, you two have no way of knowing who I’m currently pointing the pistol at. Care for a guess?”
Serris - January 7, 2010 07:01 AM (GMT)
Looks like Tinner can be incorporated into the RP.
Also, how are you planning to join the RP?
LettuceBacon&Tomato - January 7, 2010 07:48 AM (GMT)
I figured once James and his team infiltrated the logging base, they can either bump into Shelton on accident or Shelton can seek them out. and Shelton & Kerzach will serve as a sort of inside source. I have another interesting plot twist, which I want to discuss with you via PM.
But for here, we're one more post away from the conclusion of the story!
Suddenly Kerzach leapt up, slashing with his claws, sending blood flying from seemingly nowhere into the wall. The pistol skittered to the floor. Tinner’s footsteps stumbled to the door, which swung open and shut.
Kerzach grabbed the pistol. “Guess he didn’t know I don’t have a chip, and can therefore see him.” He rushed to the door and started wrestling with the handle. “Locked!”
“Shelton, what are you doing?” asked Eddie.
Shelton was kneeling where they’d first seen Tinner. “He said that the virtual equipment would be right where the original had been standing, and that the original equipment is buried in the same spot. That means the original control panel is probably right below here.”
Together, they pried that section of floor away, to see the controls for the machine. Shelton leaned in and scanned the screen. “Memory buffer has already been deleted.” He gave him and Eddie access to the virtual controls.
Virtual equipment shimmered into being around them. Shelton accessed the scanner and located Tinner. “He’s making a run for his own tent.”
Eddie stopped suddenly. “I know what he’s going for. You have to stop him.”
Shelton ran to the door. Pushing Kerzach aside, he typed his access code into a virtual pad. The door slid open.
“Shelton, stop, I should go—” Kerzach started, but Shelton ignored him and charged out of the room. “Shelton, wait!”
“You would have been shot by the turret outside,” said Eddie. He was still working with the virtual controls.
“What do you hope to do over there?” asked Kerzach angrily. “I thought Tinner erased your memory of how to use that.”
“He did. But I can still access and activate pre-made files.”
Eddie finished typing. An Artificial Intelligence was brought online. Starting as a 3-dimensional mess of pixels, it slowly condensed to form the body of a young man with black hair and slate-grey eyes, clothed in a white lab coat and tan pants.
In seconds, the creation was complete. The AI blinked twice. It glanced at his own body, then looked around.
“I need your help,” said Eddie.
Serris - January 7, 2010 07:57 AM (GMT)
Nice! And is that AI avatar Dr. Zanasiu? It matches my description of him perfectly!
Interestingly, I never had Kerzach really attack with his claws or knife in the RPs. The only time he has done so was when he fought off Dr. Gallo (which was, in my opinion, his crowning moment of awesome.)
The only time he has done so repeatedly is in the Insane Cafe trilogy and even then only in the 2nd one.
As for the RP, I guess James and his crew bumping into him will tip them off that this is not a logging base.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - January 8, 2010 08:00 PM (GMT)
Yup, that's James. I thought the Zanasiu AI from Shroedinger's Prisoners should make one final appearance :)
The wind whipped through Shelton’s hair. He dodged the last line of trees, and burst into the small pocket where Dr. Tinner’s tent sat.
Tinner was standing there, holding two items in his hands. Neither appeared to be a weapon.
“Do you know what these are, Shelton?”
Shelton squinted. “Well, one of them is a radio.”
“Quite right. The other is a remote, connected back to the machine. It can erase the memory of anyone connected to the system that I command it to. It’s got your name filled in right now.”
“After that, I’ll use the radio to send your identity to every scientist in Dragonstorm, all of whom should be waking up about now. Imagine, a whole camp of people suddenly on a manhunt for you, just when you yourself forget who you are.”
The wind blew through Tinner’s lab coat. “This is your own fault, you know, Shelton. You were the reason my machine was never cleared to serve as a training simulator for the United States Army. It would have been the military breakthrough of the twenty-first century, saving millions of lives. But, on its first test run, you failed it. Because you couldn’t bear to see me win.”
“I failed the machine because it was dangerous to those who used it, and you lied about what would happen to those hooked up.”
“It could have been fixed, if I had been allowed to continue working on it.”
“But you weren’t, and not because of me. The Board of Scrutiny grounded you, when it became obvious you were willing to jeopardize the safety of the participants just for your success.”
“Well, the Board of Scrutiny isn’t here. And soon, you won’t be either.” Tinner held the remote high. “Good-bye, Shelton.”
Shelton stepped forward. “Tinner! Don’t do this!”
The remote cackled. “Don’t worry, Shelton. He won’t.”
Suddenly there was a massive explosion behind them. The virtual reality machine exploded behind them, sending shock waves through the earth. A plume of smoke wafted into the heavens.
Tinner’s eyes grew wide. “My machine…no…”
Three gunshots broke the dead silence. Tinner staggered, and fell to the ground, dead.
Shelton spun around.
Kerzach stepped out from behind the bushes, pistol out. “Are you okay?”
“Barely.” Shelton checked Tinner’s pulse. “Did you have to kill him?”
“He still knew who you are. He was too dangerous to let live.”
Shelton looked at the remote. “Kerzach, what about Eddie?”
Kerzach was silent.
“He constructed a virtual bomb. The same bomb you witnessed during the third trial of the machine’s test run. It blew up the virtual equipment, which sent signals to the real equipment—” Kerzach broke off. He looked down. “I was wrong about Eddie. Right up to the end, I didn’t trust him. Maybe if I had—”
“No,” said Shelton. “Don’t talk like that. You didn’t have the chip, so there was no way for you to activate the bomb, and if he had waited any longer, Tinner would have succeeded.”
“He brought an AI online. The plan was to have it activate the bomb.”
“They must have run out of time.” Shelton paused. “Kerzach, we’ve always assumed that everyone in Dragonstorm is an enemy. That there’s nobody here we can trust. Well, Eddie proved that not everyone here has bought into Dragonstorm philosophy. The assistants, the guards, anyone here in a lesser position, they might not have had a choice about joining or not. Eddie had no reason to risk his life to try and stop Dragonstorm, but he did anyway. More than once. He can’t be the only one.”
“Maybe you’re right,” said Kerzach. “Maybe in the future we need to rethink about who deserves to die and who’s as much a victim as we are.” He looked around. “But if we get caught here, we won’t have that chance. If the others weren’t awake already, that explosion will have done it. We can’t be seen here.”
Shelton nodded, and the two made a run away from Tinner’s tent.
Dragonstorm buried Dr. Tinner and the three commanders with full rites the next day. Their final resting place was chosen to be next to the blackened earth of the destroyed machine. Each received a eulogy regarding their loyalty and inappreciable accomplishments, and a pledge that Dragonstorm would never forget them. Eddie, the underling who had gone insane, killed four of Dragonstorm’s top men, and then blew himself up, received a small speech of his own.
“Since the evacuation of Dragonstorm, I had known there was a traitor amongst us, and had been doing everything in my power to find him,” O’Neill spoke to the congregation. “My only regret is that I wasn’t able to find him before it was too late.”
He flicked a match, setting alight the bundles of brush covering all three of the graves. “Rest assured, my friends, that Edward McKay has promised himself an eternal reputation of infamy, and his innocent victims will never be forgotten.”
Not everyone cheered as whole-heartedly as the scientists when this was declared.
After five minutes of silence as the fires died, and a silent proceeding whereupon the gravestones were carved with epitaphs about power and glory, the congregation slowly filed away, back into camp.
That night, a cold wind blew the ashes from the machine across the gravestones. In its wake, a torn calendar page was revealed, the ink on it gleaming in the moonlight:
Here Lies Eddie McKay
d. August 28, 2009
Below this was the calendar page’s Quote of the Day:
“He who fights with monsters should take care that he himself does not become a monster.
And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”