Author Topic: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)  (Read 2322 times)

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2016, 09:34:23 AM »
Qara increased the range bands of local scanners and filtered for carbon in the area. Life. Machinals, Wyrds, Specialis, all these offshoots of humanity, some biologically enhanced, some mechanically enhanced, but all contained a significant amount of carbon. Even droids burned carbon. She shut her eyes and forgot herself, focused everything in her being into the search. She couldn't take the chance. If Zen wasn't alone down there, she needed to know. He needed to know.

She hadn't yet told him what that meant, that it might seem like she's gone, that he was in the dark with no support, or that she was still there in spirit. There was a lot about Wyrds like her--full Wyrds--that Zen didn't know, and that she'd yet to divulge.

The first thing to greet Zen was the stench. A human stench. Every human stench. The second thing to greet him was the room, built within a massive chamber carved out from within the asteroid. It was a wide corridor-like room, circular and connected, wrapping around a central chamber. There were two airlocks into the central chamber, one from the front and one from behind, and both seemed to be locked. Within the circular room were a myriad of windows, all looking into the central chamber, but were all fogged up. All that could be seen from them was the red glow beyond. This observation room seemed to be running on some measure of emergency power, with computers lining almost every free space. There was obviously one main terminal, given the size of it and how it faced the largest observational window to the central chamber.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2016, 11:18:01 AM by Nayt »
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2016, 01:13:10 PM »
The dead air hit him like a wave, causing Zen to briefly recoil.  The stench permeated even through his (currently sealed) helmet, far stronger than anything that had been in the waste disposal.  Blood, decay, waste--in short, the stench of death.  People had died in here, though he didn't immediately see any corpses.  Were they hidden?  In the chamber?  Or had this place been without airflow for so long that even with the sources long removed the smell remained, stuck to every surface?

"They have power here," he murmured.  That was strange; the power seemed shut off leading up to this place, all the wiring inactive.  There must have been a generator down here somewhere; either that, or there was some other connection the main facility that was running power to here.  Emergency lighting lit the room, along with the red glow of whatever it was observing.

Zen took a quick stroll around the room, confirming its circular nature and that there were to entrances to the center--both locked.  He couldn't see inside, and unless he was lucky enough that one of the consoles had a still-working camera he likely wasn't going to unless he found a way to open the doors and ventured inside himself.  He double-checked that his helmet's sensor were detecting radiation of any kind; if whatever was in there wasn't machinery, it at least wasn't radioactive enough to affect the observation room.

What it was, though, was still a good question.  One he hoped the main console could answer for him, along with why this facility was abandoned and why it smelled like an entire research team had died in here.


Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2016, 01:57:46 PM »
The console lit up at Zen's touch, now filling the room with a dim glow. While the station was reportedly owned and operated by Corban Resource Solutions, this console seemed to indicate something else. No name, just a symbol: a hollow diamond with a razor blade cut through it. The main terminal connected to all terminals in the room, each marked as observation terminal A through G. The main terminal seemed accessible by administrator only, a Dr. V, and though it should have been locked, it wasn't. Almost like Dr. V never bothered to lock the terminal before . . . whatever happened here.

There were a number of researched documents there, but a laboratory study was immediately available. A program, still active, with options to observe the experiment in process within the chamber. The elapsed time for the experiment thus far was three years, four months, and twenty-six days. Notes on the experiment in progress were accessible from the program, as well as camera feeds of the experiment, though none of them were open at the moment.

"Carbon -- decayed, passed, immobile, death -- within, beyond, a sphere? a sphere, something there, pulling? pulling at me? carbon but not: surrounded by dead," came Qara's voice in an ethereal monotone, "wants me? needs me? let it in?"

Qara, unable to speak in such a trance-like state, offered a feedback of thoughts through Zen's headset, communicating directly from her mind to his earpiece, the stream of (disjointed) consciousness and the monotonous rattle all indicative that something was preventing her from the sort of cognisance to speak consciously.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2016, 10:57:21 AM »
"Do not let it in!" Zen commanded, the authority in his voice undercut by the lump rising in his throat.  Damn stupid girl!  If he had even considered that she could Wyrd nonsense this far into the facility then he'd have ordered her to shut her damn brain off!  "This is some kind crazy, evil experiment that's killed people, you don't want it in your brain.  Until we know exactly what this is, back off, and don't even think about trying to tell me that you'll find out by linking your mind to it, or I will burn every last dress you own and you'll be wearing plain white jumpsuits for rest of your goddamned life."

Exactly how Qara, back in the ship, could project her consciousness all the way down here when every other Wyrd he'd known had to be pretty damn close (or risk bouncing their mind off a bunch of relays or something, an experience they definitely didn't like) was a question he didn't have time to consider.  Bracing himself for the worst, he attempted to get the camera feeds on the auxiliary terminals while he pulled up the notes on the main one; just because he wasn't a Wyrd didn't mean he couldn't multitask like a normal person.

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2016, 11:54:46 AM »
What followed was the sound of Qara gasping, coughing, fighting the urge to vomit, and the slightest sounds of sobbing between. Zen's shouting, commanding, drew her out of it. Made her remember herself. Coerced her to not let it in. There were tears running down her face, something she hadn't realized until she'd finally fought back to last of her nausea. She didn't have the time to warn Zen of what he'd see, of what she speculated was in there, or what she realized was trying to claw its way into her brain. By the time she got a hold of herself and her reality, he'd already checked the camera feed.

Bodies. An entire research team dead, all surrounding a small machine, long desiccated. Each body seemed in a wildly different state--and cause--of death. A death orgy surrounding the machine, bodies locked together in a bizarre intercourse, three bodies across from the others having beaten each other to death (before the "winner" beat his head against a wall until death), researchers huddled together in remorse, bodies still arched as they sobbed themselves 'til the end. All manners of emotion and human drives were on display, each somehow contributing to the team's demise.

In the middle of it all, as if on an alter, a small machine. It was roughly the size of a human finger, wired as if it connected to the nervous system.

The experiment notes, as written by Dr. V, were simple: testing the affect of the device on a Wyrd mind. Everything seemed to be going perfectly fine; they were able to subtly influence the emotional state of Dr. A, the volunteer. Dr. M decided it might be best to go against the original intentions of the experiment, and try for a stronger range of emotional influence: not just irritation or discomfort, but rage and remorse. They succeeded. The rest of the team took umbrage with M's interference, and the crew began to argue.

No other research notes followed, only automated warnings about both airlocks opening while the experiment was in progress. There were contamination warnings . . . and then, nothing. The experiment was never aborted, the device never shut down, even long after it drove them all to death.

And that is the point that Zen would feel something deep inside of him, a tickling against his back, where nothing should have been felt. Where the spine connected to the body, the replacement for a spine, that wormed its way up into the only original meat in Zen's body . . .
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2016, 06:12:58 PM »
So that's how it was.  The experiment triggered a contamination warning, which in turn triggered a lockdown of the facility; his guess was those working in the main area never even knew what was down here, just that if something were to go wrong that they were to evacuate and not look back.  The map was probably altered in order to convince anyone looking around that the airlocks were just that: passageways onto the asteroid's surface.  And the bomb...he guessed someone's last ditch idea of extra insurance, given the way it slapped on the outside of the airlock rather than integrated with it.

But...something was wrong.  There was no way anyone would staff a research time entirely with Wyrds to test a device that was mentally affecting Wyrds; that would've been a special brand of stupid.  Which meant...

"Aww hell," he muttered as he felt a twinge in his spine.  He turned around, his first instinct being to assume it was...well, instinct, but the room around him was as lifeless as before.  And the feeling only continued to grow.

"I am not going out like this.  Okay, keep talking out loud, hearing my thoughts lets me control them, or so I'm going to hope.  Can I run?  How far does it reach?  Probably to around where the airlock was upstairs if that's where the locked everything off and shut everything down, so, pretty far.  Can I make it in time?  Not worth the risk, especially as if I'm already insane when I get out I'm just putting Qara in danger.  Okay, Plan B then--get in there and wreck it before it wrecks me.  That's the kind of plan I can work with.  Airlocks are locked, but I bet the main console opens them, just got to find the command."

A grin crept onto his face, and his voice started to crack with laughter.  "I'll be the joke of Machinals everywhere if go down to anti-Wyrd weapon."

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2016, 03:45:13 PM »
"Zen," Qara gasped, her voice still choked with sobs, "If-- if you can sh-shut it down . . . without destroying it . . ."

It'd be worth something, right? No matter how much it had hurt and tried to invade her brain, Qara knew that this was the sort of thing Zen did this for. Treasure. Not all treasure was going to be harmless, but it was still treasure, right?

But ultimately, it was up to Zen.

The airlocks were unlocked. Must've been unlocked when experiment went awry. The device in the center of the room, upon any closer inspection (though that was going to be more difficult, as a haze of emotions was starting crawling across Zen's flesh: the rage, regret, lust, instinct, all of it starting to rake its claws through his mind), it seemed to be a prosthetic finger. A ring finger, left hand. The cords coming from it would have it wired into a hand, either directly linking with the nervous system, or linking up with a prosthetic hand that was already attached to nerves. Clearly it was something that could've been--was supposed to be--controlled by a singular holder, some weapon to directly influence the minds of Wyrds, but--

Machinals, too. Unintended, perhaps? The connections to the spinal cord gave it access, a slow, but inevitable crawl up the spine and into the brain. Indirect, perhaps, but Zen was experiencing it now.

What kept it active was a false nervous system, a series of wires winding up from the base of the "alter" on which it sat, directly linking with the device. Keeping it powered. It was fragile, but so were the wires keeping it active.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2016, 06:38:55 PM »
"Shut it down...yeah...hahahaha..."

He stalked towards the airlock, laughing all the while.  How much would someone pay for this?  Enough that could he buy any ship on the market (and many off-market as well) and still have enough to live on for years.  He knew of nothing like this in the system; even the strongest Wyrd implant couldn't influence another Wyrd like this, let alone creep into Machinals as well.  Would it effect even an unmodified human?  A full droid?

No, he realized--that wasn't the way.  However much he could make by selling it paled in comparison to what he could do if he kept it.  He charm and trick his way into anywhere.  No vault was unassailable.  No person beyond his influence.  He'd be in legends for generations to come.

He could even accomplish what no amount of money could buy.  He could walk into the most fanatical Machinal stronghold and have them tear each other apart.  He could march into any corporation in the system and have corrupt executives feel the weight of every life they ruined, until they all took swan dives off the roof.  Any Martian that looked at him like he was trash would be crushed by the hollowness of their own existence.

Every act against him would be retaliated.  Every wrong he'd committed could be made right.  A manic sob escaped him.  Everything that went wrong in his life, everything that went wrong with him could be fixed.  All he needed to do was disconnect it.  Power it down, and it could all be his.

He stood before the pedestal, like a priest before an altar.  Heat radiated from his spine, a fire spread, a desire like nothing he'd ever felt before.  Oh, he hadn't even thought of the possibilities for his love life.  If no one could resist his charms he'd never need to lay alone in bed again.  Even on his ship, he had the intelligent, beautiful Qara...

Qara, whose sobs still echoes out of his earpiece.

The heat began to fuel rage.  Rage at himself, for now knowing that part of him wanted to be everything he hated most, and all it took was a mental push from a mechanical finger.  At the device before him, the evil emitted, and most of all at whatever twisted mind conceived of it in the first place.

"I...will not...BE CONTROLLED!" he screamed and, overriding every safety in his arm, blasted out enough magnetism to fry a small starfighters hull at the mechanical abomination in front of him.

And then Zenniker Kylos crumpled to the ground, like a puppet with its strings suddenly cut.

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2016, 07:19:39 PM »
By the time her choking, gagging, and coughing came to a stop, Qara heard Zen's desperate roar. There was a long silence, filled only with the pounding of her heart. No sound from Zen. She had to strain to even hear breathing.

"Zen?" she whispered.

Nothing.

"Zen? Zen, you . . . you have to answer me," she called out again, again with no response. Her feelings were still so raw. She felt her throat close up and body tense up, ready to start crying again.

But she forced through it. With all the willpower she had left, Qara made for absolute certain that she would not succumb to this feeling. This hopelessness. The emptiness that followed the device's invasion. She pushed off from the wall of her cabin, grabbed at the handholds along the walls of Zen's ship, and clambered her way to the airlock, where he'd docked with the station. Once in the station proper, she used a memory, one of the room in which the miners kept all their gear, to locate one of their autodrillers. She activated it remotely, the small drone soon floating in the weightlessness of the station. As Qara reached the airlock to the unmapped corridors of the mining station, she compelled the autodriller to her.

It was a simple device, a small drone about the size of a human head, with a set of four "arms" and a pneumatic drill in the center. It could extend those arms, latch onto a surface, and drill into spots that their human handlers might have difficulty reaching. She squinted at it, forcing its actions with her augmented mind, made it grab hold of the airlock near the bolts holding it in, and gnashed the drill harshly into them. One by one, she broke the bolts holding the airlock's door closed, and when it was done, compelled the drone to drill at the center of the doors until they broke open and floated away from her, giving her access to the unmapped space.

Beyond and beneath, deep within the tunnels these people drilled away for secrecy, she found Zen. Collapsed, unconscious, and laying upon the floor, the barest hint of gravity having eventually drawn him to the floor, just as it had the scientists years ago. The room was now different. Unlit. Every computer fried, monitors shut off for good. The device in the center seemed unchanged, but was inactive. Judging by the deadened lights and destroyed computers, she could only guess that Zen had obliterated the insides of every electrical device this side of the station.

Biting her lip and fighting the bile trying to rise to her throat once more, Qara lifted Zen into her arms, and began her ascent back to his ship.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2016, 07:07:24 PM »
Zen was breathing, if lightly, his peaceful slumber in stark contrast to the manic emotional discharge he'd displayed before.  But he wasn't waking up.

Given the state of the room, it wouldn't be difficult to guess the problem: something in his mechanical body broke or shorted out from the massive magnetic discharge he'd unleashed on the area.  No doubt, even built for magnetic use and insulated as it was, there was a limit to what he could wield before it affected himself as well.  Chances were an attack of that magnitude hadn't been necessary to destroy the device, but then again he obviously wasn't in his right mind at the time.  In any case body was most likely running on minimal power, perhaps even emergency power only--just enough to keep him alive (if unconscious).

Fortunately, Zen was nothing if not prepared.  He kept all the tools necessary for maintenance of his frame on his ship, and even spare parts that he could reasonably store.  If the damage was completed devastating, it would be possible to repair him enough to at least wake him up, if Qara had the know-how for it.

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2016, 09:35:13 AM »
Qara didn't like what came next, but she'd been briefed on it, just in case. Zen's body was mostly machine, characteristic of the usual Machinal. Like other Machinals, he valued the sanctity of his brain. Though Qara had yet to ever hear him say it, it was telling that he was so willing to trade in everything else but the original pieces of his head. The only meat left on the man's body was that his of head and his neck. Below this, the machine bits replaced the bottom half of his spinal cord, and all bodily functions were otherwise rendered more efficient. Qara was one of the few who knew that Zen wore synthetic flesh over every inch of his body, and only because they lived on the same starship.

Once she'd gotten him back onto the ship, she had to take him into the medical bay, and go about the unnerving process of peeling away the false flesh around his upper chest and shoulders. There were a few bits that were EMP shielded, small life support modifications stuck close to the flesh. Emergency oxygen supply, nutritional sustenance, and blood circulation for the little meat that remained. EMP shielding was big and bulky, though. If Zen had pitched extra money to shield his whole body, he'd have doubled his size, and would absolutely be heavier than he preferred. The emergency life support bits, they were just enough so that if his body were hit with a powerful enough EMP, he'd only been reduced to unconsciousness, not killed from the sudden loss of a mechanized heart and lungs.

"Unconscious" might have been too light of a word. "Coma," perhaps, would be more appropriate.

Once the synthetic flesh was gone, Qara had to manually disengage Zen's shoulders from his torso. It had to be done from the front and back simultaneously, from the center of the chest and between the shoulderblades, using two small levers, each of them just a little too tight for the task to be easy. Starting at the base of his neck, Zen's detached head began to drift from his body. Qara caught it before it drifted too far, pulled herself closer to the Machinal life support section of the medbay, and hooked Zen into the external life support module. Nutrients, blood circulation, all of the necessities to keep Zen alive, even draw him out of unconsciousness after a certain point.

That was the easy part. The hard part came next: taking apart the rest of Zen's body, identifying everything he fried with that massive EMP, and manually replacing it all with the spare parts he had lying around the ship.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2016, 07:51:37 AM »
Fortunately for Qara, Zen kept a set of instructions on repairing various parts of his body on the ship's computer with fairly detailed diagrams on how everything worked--the last he thing he wanted, he'd noted before, was to have something break down in space and not be able to repair it or get himself to someone who could.  Which begged the question on how he got by before Qara came along, but it was a question he'd been reluctant to give a straight answer to.

Eventually, as Qara repaired and replaced, she'd hear a raspy voice from nearby: "Well...isn't this pleasant."

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2016, 08:23:00 AM »
"That's what happens when you fry out everything," Qara replied flatly.

She had a flashlight hovering next to her for the extra illumination, shining down on Zen's open chest cavity. She was in the process of replacing his heart when he came to. It was a delicate procedure; the mechanical piece had to circulate and infuse nutrients throughout the little blood that was necessary to keep his remaining organs healthy and living. She'd already taken care of the dialysis machine directly below it; the "heart" was all that was left before Zen's circulatory system was all repaired.

"Don't you think you went a little overboard?" she asked, "Not only did you wreck your body, you destroyed every one of the computers in that lab. All their research, blueprints, probably even records of who they were doing it for."

Gently, Qara set the new heart into place and took a pair of small welding pens to it.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

Zach

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2016, 10:01:26 AM »
"I did?"  Zen frowned, trying to recall exactly what happened.  "Huh; it was more powerful than I thought.  Damn, somebody probably would have paid good money for those records.  Not that there was a lot too them; no indication of who was really running it or the true purpose behind it.   Just a symbol and some basic notes."

The symbol was certainly intriguing.  A conspiracy?  Some corporation's black ops unit?  A secret governmental agency?  Whoever it was clearly hadn't wanted to broadcast who they were and what they were doing, in any case.

"Might be for the best I fried everything; selling even the info could attract the wrong kind of attention, though I'd sure be interested in who would bite..."  If he was alone he'd consider shaking things up a bit and seeing that fell out, but he was reluctant to drag Qara into that kind of risk.

"So, we can both see pretty clearly how I'm doing, how about you?"  She may have only been influenced by that device for a few scant seconds but it was made to affect Wyrds; he'd had the benefit of a slow creep in emotional distress and even he'd succumbed to it in just a few minutes.

Nayt

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Re: [BtSS] Treasure Hunting (Closed, for now)
« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2016, 10:38:57 AM »
At that question, Qara sucked in a breath. How to explain it? The feeling of a pull, subtle at first, but then quickly grabbing you by each and everything thought at once? Dragging you down into some abyss, some hellish feeling of everythingness, whilst thrumming at the locked doors of your mind, calling and cooing to let it in. It was suffocating. Nauseating. Excruciating. And yet, at the same time, it had an allure. Letting it in was giving up, giving in, letting your mind do as it was programmed to. Always meant to do. Every instinct and base emotion all exploding at once.

It was hard to get that out of her head.

"I'm . . . fine," she said with a shake of her head, "Whatever it was, I didn't let it in."

What Qara didn't admit was that she'd really wanted to. More than anything in the world. Because when the device started to affect her, in spite of the creeping madness, it made some modicum of sense. Ugh. Qara's stomach churned just sifting through all those thoughts again.

"I don't think I'd be able to rebuild it," Qara said, secretly thankful for that fact, "But I think I have a good idea how it worked, and what it was meant to do."
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)