Are they still missing for you? They're showing up for me, but if people are getting errors, I can use imgur instead.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 02:42|
|# ? Jun 24, 2018 12:40|
Yeah. Maybe it's a photobucket-wide thing, I've seen it in a couple other threads too now.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 02:46|
Ugh, now I'm seeing it on a few random Talos images. Hopefully it's just PB being flaky; if it's still happening tomorrow after I get off work, I'll probably start migrating images then.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 02:58|
Lpix.org was always reliable if you need alternate hosting.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 03:00|
Recreate them in ASCII, they'll last longer than the forums themselves.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 10:40|
As the errant crate hurtles toward you, you immediately bolt forward, throwing your body to the ground and sliding beneath the tumbling missile. You hear the whine of charging pulsers, and the bright flashes of discharges as bolts of accelerated plasma smash into the stasis crate instead of your body. You finish your slide in the lee of the cargo trundler, fouling your primary assailant's aim, and as he leans forward to regain line of sight, you give him empirical evidence of the error of that course of action.
Your foot torch slices through the attacker's armor like a deadly wind, opening his vitals to the outer air that is probably not the best thing for them. The thug clutches with futility at his scorched and newly-emancipated entrails, and collapses into the bed of the trundler with a hollow groan.
Kamula has not been idle in the seconds since the attack began. An Ogreb flails uselessly, facial tendrils and one arm neatly severed by a pass of Kamula's thermablade, while its Yaguzi associate topples backward after a burst from the cyborg's sidearm.
Ramadi frantically dives to one side as a Lamropean opens up with dual pulsers, the bolts narrowly missing her, while all but vaporizing an unfortunate bystander behind her. The serpentine attacker keeps one weapon trained on the Raq, but brings the other in your direction, tracking you both with its compound eye.
A. Return fire with your pulser!
B. Close the gap and attack!
C. Take cover among the crates!
D. Bodyguard-tackle Ramadi to the ground!
Then shout for Kamula to...
E. Cover me!
F. Cover Ramadi!
G. Just kill this krumping snake already!
H. Nothing; let him take care of any other killers approaching from the periphery while I deal with this.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 22:22|
Keep him distracted or maybe get a lucky shot while Kamula goes for the kill. Even if there is another killer in the periphery, Kamula just showed that he can deal with multiple problems at once.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 23:50|
Caught up again! Woo!
Lets go for Action Movie style.
|# ? Apr 27, 2016 13:30|
Unholstering your pulser, you fire a salvo of plasma at the lamropean foe. The creature writhes and twists its sinuous body, avoiding your largely untrained assault, but you buy time for Ramadi to scurry to cover as he turns his attention solely to you.
“Kamula,” you shout, hurriedly ducking back behind a stasis crate as the snake's answering fire leaps through the air, “a little help here!”
Kamula knocks a tattooed vordubiri to the ground with a fierce boot, dispatching it with a savage twist of his thermablade as he dashes toward the lamro, snapping off a quick plasma burst that sends the snake diving for cover.
The lamropean's unredictable slithering makes it a difficult target as it fires bolt after bolt from its modded pulsers, but Kamula's advance gives you the moment you need to anticipate your enemy's movement and line up a shot.
Your fire strikes the lamro between shoulder and neck; its armor helps ablate the damage, but the splash of plasma burns the flesh of its jaw, eliciting a frenzied screech as it drops one of its weapons and clutches its face. It raises its remaining weapon in your direction, but by this time, Kamula has entered close range. Too late, the lamropean rises up on its serpentine body and switches targets, only for Kamula's incandescent blade to sever its arm at the shoulder, and most of its head on the backswing.
You stare at the dead lamropean for a moment, holding your pulser out at arm's length like some strange alien creature. The shouts of bystanders recede to a dull backdrop to the insistent tattoo of your pulse pounding in your head, and a sudden cold emptiness radiates out from your belly and washes over you in a wave of fatigue.
You distantly hear Kamula's blade sputter and die, and the ringing of the ejected power cell as the hissing cylinder bounces on the decks.
“That's them sorted,” he growls. “All hands intact?”
You take a moment to focus, and nod, holstering your sidearm on the second attempt.
“I'm...good,” you affirm, managing to keep the quaver out of your voice. “Ramadi?”
“Present,” comes a voice from behind the shaggy hulk of a very confused ankrozon, accompanied by a raised blue hand. “Alive. Oddly hungry...I could entirely demolish a savorstack right about now.”
“Just shock,” Kamula replies, “the both of you. It'll pass. Right now, though, we need to be a krumping vapor trail.”
A. Ramadi: “There are...some seriously krumped bystanders here. We should maybe help out a little? Before we vanish mysteriously into the shadows?”
B. Kamula: “Negative. We need to evac, five slotting centi-cycles ago.”
C. Regal: “Not saying we build a summer home, but we should at least check these sleebs for any sign of who hired them.”
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 18:05|
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 18:29|
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 21:43|
C, as quickly as possible. Don't loot anything unless it only takes a second to grab and we're absolutely sure there couldn't be a tracker in it.
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 22:09|
C, as quickly as possible. Don't loot anything unless it only takes a second to grab and we're absolutely sure there couldn't be a tracker in it.
This and 'minister to the fallen'
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 23:50|
“Think the Raq Elders decided to tie up loose ends?” you ask, quickly checking over the dead Vordubiri's concussion burster.
“That's...I mean, they wouldn't,” protests Ramadi, gingerly trying to pick up a dropped pulser without getting any Lamropean on her. “They couldn't do that!”
“You didn't think they were krumping slavers, either,” growls Kamula. “Still, though, it's too fast a turnaround for the Raq. These grife-beggars are professionals, and I doubt the Raq just happened to have them on krumping retainer.”
“Fair enough,” you reply, “but they could have told Manes, and Manes could have had his Verdugar buddy send a few friends to deal with us.”
“Interesting theo-ooooh boy!” Ramadi, reaching for a belt of power cells, rapidly backpedals as a large, surly Cecropian heaves its wriggling bulk onto the dead killer. “But I think we all know this was Poole.” Ramadi eyes the vermiform being warily, edging away as it begins to chew on the fallen with its tiny, disturbing mouthparts. “You, ah...just keep that one, friend, how about?”
“Neither of you know Poole like I do,” you say with a sigh. “I know this seems like his style, but I promise, if this were him, it wouldn't be so...impersonal.”
“Lock it down, ladies,” rasps Kamula, “this zone is still krumping hot, and we can jaw about this later.”
“I mean," you continue anyway, "yes--”
“--he's a controlling”
"Grenade!" The hoarse scream from Kamula barely has time to register, before the world vanishes in a white-hot starburst, and an apocalyptic roar, suddenly silenced.
"Talk to me, Reeg!"
Your vision swims in and out of focus, before finally Ramadi's shape coalesces before you. You reach out a questing claw, and the Raq grasps it gently.
"You scared me, Reeg. I wasn't...I wasn't sure what I was going to do if you didn't wake up. I...I'm not sure I can smoke this whole lump of lumi-spice by myself..."
Her comment breaks through your fear and pain, and you laugh, which proves to be a mistake.
"Woah, Reeg, stay with me!"
"Reeg! Maybe...don't laugh like that again. You're...a little krumped."
"Yeah," you groan, clutching your skull, "yeah, I think...I think I'll take that under advisement." At this point, you notice the condition of your surroundings.
"If I look half as bad as this tunnel, I'm surprised you didn't just flush me altogether."
"You're leaking, sure, but this tunnel's got you beat on that front by an order of magnitude."
"Great...I'm sure I'll be up and getting shot at again in no time."
You pause, looking around.
"Hey, Ramadi? Where's Kamula?"
You hear the whine of servos and a grunt, followed by metallic groaning and a heavy crash as a large, mangled portion of the cargo trundler rolls to the side, revealing the cyborg.
"Over here. Under this krumping truck."
"You...you alright over there, K?"
The cyborg stands, bearing numerous superficial injuries, but seemingly free of anything more serious.
"Five by krumping five," he coughs, rolling his shoulders, "appreciate the concern."
Ramadi's eyestalks pan around, surveying the wreckage, the bodies, and most alarmingly, the increasingly cracked and leaking TransBarrier holding back the crushing weight of the planetary ocean beyond.
In the sudden quiet, you can hear a chorus of sounds, none good. The anguished groaning of damaged supports. The slow, inexorable cracking of duraglass. The burning crackle of exposed conduits. And ever the endless trickling and splashing of seawater into the accessway.
"We need to go," you say unsteadily.
"First prize in the station-wide understatement pageant," replies Ramadi. "But take a look around...the emergency bulkheads are sealed. We're trapped down here."
"And none of us are about to get through those doors before the ocean comes in...even if those sections aren't underwater."
"Flapping our face-holes about it don't improve the slotting odds any," growls Kamula. "Let's get out of this drokk-funnel before we all krumping implode."
"I did find a conduit," offers Ramadi, thumping a recessed hatch in the deck, "and it should probably go all the way to the lift shaft."
"A conduit," you state dubiously. "Setting aside the Why-didn't-you-lead-with-that-ness of the entire idea, can we even fit through it?"
"Well," Ramadi considers, "I can, sans the impediment of a skeletal structure. You...well, let's hope you skipped that second sucre-bun at breakfast, but I feel good about your chances." Then she looks at Kamula, eyestalks wobbling.
"I've been through tighter spots," Kamula growls.
"Maybe so," you comment, but that was probably a few upgrades ago. I don't suppose you're...modular?"
The look Kamula gives you could weld a bulkhead.
"Right," he rasps, "let me just pop off my krumping arm and we'll get going."
"So," says Ramadi, "that's a yes on the modularity, or..."
"Let me send Scuzzy down there," you say. "We'll find out for sure what we're getting into."
Scuzzy's filters amplify the negligible ambient light within the conduit, revealing a narrow tunnel, "Coffin-sized, conveniently," you mutter, almost half flooded with seawater. The remaining half appears to be filled with a thin haze of smoke from burning electronics, and cascades of sparks periodically spray from torn wires.
"I know the term "Death Trap" gets thrown around a lot down here," comments Ramadi, "but..."
"It's not an ideal solution," you reply, "but it's what we've got."
Steering your drone around a jagged spar of broken pipe, you scan upward, focusing on another access hatch, this one bulging inward alarmingly.
"Answers the question about the next section being flooded, at least," you comment bleakly.
"How long do you think until that thing gives way," Ramadi asks, a tremble of either fear, cold, or shock in her voice.
"Seal's not grifing well designed for full crush," growls Kamula. "Could go any time." The cyborg looks away, up to the steadily-growing spiderweb on the side of the accessway sheltering you. "As well could this whole krumping pipe."
A. Kamula: "Not as I'm slotting keen on crawling into a drokk-eating torpedo tube, but we need to evac now, while such a thing is logistically krumping possible."
B. Regal: "I need to run Scuzzy down the whole run of the conduit, do more scans...it could be blocked farther along, for all we know. We'll have time...we have to."
C. Ramadi: "Most of the damage is in front of us, but this conduit runs under the accessway the other way, too. We could follow it back to the Enclave."
D. Dying Bystander: "With my last breath, I bequeath to you this other plan: ______________________" *gak*
|# ? Apr 29, 2016 02:31|
C. Even though they hate us now, the Enclave is less dangerous than the certain death of staying here or the probable death of going through the damaged and imminently-flooded part of the conduit.
|# ? Apr 29, 2016 03:50|
A Lets go with the survival-savvy cyborg on this one.
Explosives. This is going to cause quite a stir. Would have thought most grenades in this kinda place would be incendiary or 'tiny charge to send out thousands of tiny loving needles that wont let in the loving water' types.
|# ? Apr 30, 2016 03:12|
Would have thought most grenades in this kinda place would be incendiary or 'tiny charge to send out thousands of tiny loving needles that wont let in the loving water' types.
Needle grenades, or hivers, would indeed be standard ordnance for the discerning killteam. Incendiary charges are actually as bad or worse than concussion ones in this enclosed environment. The plasma det used is basically the worst of both. It's definitely a noteworthy anomaly, and there are going to be some pissed-off people.
|# ? Apr 30, 2016 14:27|
We should try and get ahold of some plasma det.
|# ? May 1, 2016 04:08|
You have described one of my qorst nightmares. Drowning in a tightly enclosed space.
|# ? May 1, 2016 16:36|
You have described one of my qorst nightmares. Drowning in a tightly enclosed space.
A grim fate indeed. Only you can prevent it...with your vote!
|# ? May 1, 2016 16:57|
"We move forward," you declare. "We're not risking a pants-filling demise crushed and drowned in a tiny tube just so we can be sold into slavery or something."
Ramadi cocks her eyestalks.
"Well, when you put it that way..."
Creeeaaaaak Pop Groooan Tick
The desperate crawl through the conduit is laborious in the extreme. The tube, already panic-inducingly tight around you, is flooded, and the water fights against all your attempts to move; pushing your body and slopping into your mouth and nostrils. Scuzzy's light washes the tunnel ahead, allowing you to see obstacles ahead, but in the close confines there is simply no avoiding entirely the pipes and wires that alternately burn, freeze, and shock you. You shiver with cold and fear, body leaden and aching, head throbbing and dizzy, and can only imagine what hell Kamula is experiencing with his larger, unyielding frame.
GrOOOOOaaan Pop Tick
The walls of the conduit groan around you, threatening to crush you at any moment, but the true terror comes from ahead. The increasingly intense shrieking of metal warns of the buckling hatch that promises to any moment give way, crushing you with tons of frigid, merciless seawater. A piece of jagged debris, hidden by the water, scrapes against your synthetic forearm with a metallic screech, and you are suddenly thankful for the loss of your natural forelimbs.
Tick Tick Creeaaak Pop
“Careful,” your voice echoes back along the tunnel, “there's a piece of metal under the wa—GAGH!”
Brackish, oily water fills your mouth, your head spins, and your vision fills with bright flashes as you choke.
Pop Groooaaaaan Pop
Gingerly, you edge around the bulging hatch in the conduit's roof, carefully avoiding any contact. Gritting your teeth against the shower of icy seawater raining down on you, you try to set aside the thought of the endless crushing ocean pounding at the door a hair's breadth from your face, and slip past.
Taking a moment to catch your breath, you lift your arm and peek at your drone link. Ahead, visible only through Scuzzy's filters, you can see a sealed hatch, labeled Cargo Lift Access in faded stencilling. A surge of renewed energy floods your body, and you rush forward.
“Almost there,” you shout back, “hurry!”
The end of the conduit comes into view, and relief is beginning to flood your chest, when...
Creee-GROOOOOOAAAAAAN POP POP CRASH!!!
With a scream of metallic anguish, the swollen hatch behind you finally gives way, and an indescribable roar dashes all thought from your head.
All thought except, RUN.
Water sluices, and debris tears at you, unheeded, as you scramble to the end of the conduit as fast as your jumper's legs and thrashing tail can propel you. You fairly collide with the hatch, pounding the actuator.
Sector Compromised, the control informs you in a pitiless mechanical voice. A shriek of frustration and panic rips free of your throat as you scrabble for the manual release. The roar of the water growing ever closer, you pull desperately at the panel, expecting every moment to be your last.
The corroded panel resists any attempts to open it, and you pry savagely at the seams with your claws, the panicked shouts of your companions almost drowned out by the increasingly overwhelming thunder of the rushing water.
You give a final desperate pull, wincing as a claw snaps.The panel screams and tears free, dropping into the water, and you thrust your hand inside the box...
Your slick hand grips the lever...
You yank on the lever with all your might, feeling the hydraulics resist, then finally give. The hiss of the hatch releasing is lost in the thunderous roar of the water, and you are struck from behind by an enormous hammer, thrown bodily and tumbling through the hatch and into the darkness...
Your body jolts with the sudden arrest of your descent. Dangling helplessly, you look up to see Ramadi clutching your tail with her grippy caterpillar fingers, herself held by Kamula's unyielding bionic grasp.
“Ramadi,” you begin, flashes of white beginning to burst in your vision, “I think...head...”
“Where...” once more, your eyes slowly focus on unfamiliar surroundings.
“Gigas,” chimes a mechanical, but liltingly feminine voice. “Thoon Station. East Habitation Tower. Zone Three. Sickbay. HanziHealth MET-405c Multispectral Examination Surface. Further taxonomy risks the uncertainly of quantum observation, I fear.” Craning your neck from the table, you see a multi-armed gynoid poring over a series of anatomical scans. You struggle to compose a response to this medibot apparently making fun of you, and the gynoid steps into that silence.
“Greetings, Ms. Kore. I am Doctor Gornot. You have suffered cranial concussion, minor traumatic brain injury, severe hypothermia, and a litany of mild to moderate contusions, abrasions, chemical and electrical burns, and lacerations. Your prognosis is quite positive, however.” Her cheerful tone continues to be entirely at odds with the subject matter.
“So the meat works,” you say, “but what about the tech? No damage?”
“Your limbs are fully functional, but there is the possibility of nanoscopic damage to your neural linkages. As a general practitioner, not a cyberneticist, I haven't the specialized equipment to determine for certain...”
“But you're a medibot,” you protest, “can't you just do...the thing...with your eye dealies?”
“Synthorg,” she replies, “and no, I cannot utilize my...dealies.”
“Synthetic organism. My people did not painstakingly construct our sapience over the course of megacycles to be called 'bots.”
“Ah,” you say awkwardly, attempting to emote through a haze of painkillers, “well...I apologize. What...should I call you?”
“Doctor Gornot will do,” she replies. “As I was saying, I will need to consult with the cyberneticist who originally installed your implants. Who would that be?”
“Oh, uh...It was kilocycles ago...Nack something. Pnakoptis?” you reply.
You swear Doctor Gornot raises an eyebrow. “Interesting...”
“Interesting.” The voice of Doctor Pnakoptis is an eerie chorus of four voices, issued from pale flaps along the sides of its cone-like trunk of a body.
“Interesting,” you repeat warily, having learned to distrust that word from a medical professional.
“I will find study of Erb uplifts fascinating,” the Doctor replies. “Any observation could have been the salvation of my race.” Before you can untangle tenses and ask about the last comment, Pnakoptis continues.
“Did you know you have an extra chromosome?”
“What?” you inquire with alarm.
“Calm yourself. It will do you no harm; quite the opposite. It became dormant in utero, and will remain so until you produce offspring. It contains the pattern for the nanoassemblers that constructed the synthetic portions of your brain. Quite an elegant design; you should have no difficulty with cybernetics, either tolerating or operating.”
“How do you know so much about Troodon augs,” you inquire, as the fleshy pillar that is Doctor Pnakoptis calibrates an elegant set of brachial bionics with a series of bizarre probes, “did you study at Maastrichtian?”
The doctor's drooping head-pod, roughly resembling a dirty paintbrush, swings to regard you. “My great race will fight the Erb,” Pnakoptis intones, “We shall believe their primitive cybernetic uplifts to be easily defeated, and will have paid for our hubris with our lives. I will spend decades studying the mechanics of the Erb's servitors, and now have an exhaustive knowledge of your...augmentations.”
“Elder” species and their understanding of time gives you a headache.
“Your limbs are prepared, as well as a dedicated drone network cortex.”
“Hey now, I didn't ask for that last one, Doc,” you protest, mentally ticking over your meager available funds with a frisson of panic.
“During the war, it was useful to my research to analyze the interaction between a primary organic mind and a secondary synthetic one. As such, I have installed a remote biometric monitor for use in my efficiency studies, and applied an appropriate discount to your account.”
“When your balance is cleared, I shall reconnect your peripheral nervous system; will you be paying with credits or transuranic elements today?”
The waiting area is cramped and pooly-kept; more in line with the rest of Thoon. As Doctor Gornot ushers you in and glides back into her exam room, Ramadi and Kamula move to join you, both looking well-recovered.
“You guys in working order,” you inquire.
“We're like, paragons of wellness and stuff,” Ramadi says, “but you should see this. It's all over the local links. All the Deep Sectors are shut down while they drain and repair all the bits that were crushed, melted, shattered, incinerated, exploded, or otherwise bothered.”
"Nobody on Thoon, “ you declare, “no matter how drokk-for-brains, would set off a belt of plasma detonators in an accessway."
"Pirates," Kamula growls. "Not locals; maybe topsiders. No krumping shipboard weapon discipline."
"I thought Poole had burned his off-world connections," puzzles Ramadi, "he was certainly inclined to bemoan, at length, the depths to which he had sunk. Figuratively and literally."
"It wasn't Poole," you hiss, clutching your head. Dr. Gornot's painkillers have done some heavy lifting, but that doesn't stop you using the concussion as an excuse for a few theatrics. "I told you, somebody tipped off Manes, and Manes put in a call to his pirate friend Yngado."
"And I told you," Ramadi bites back, "the Elders wouldn't do that.” Ramadi stops, wringing her squirming fingers. “Look, Reeg, look. If I accept your super-hot assurance that Poole, while decidedly a gribbly little sleeb, is not a gribbly, pirate-employing, little sleeb...Then you can accept mine that the Elders, while about twelve parsecs up their own cloacas, did not put in a call to the Kill Regal Hotline whilst camped up there."
You look down at your hands, abashed, then back at Ramadi, and take a deep breath.
"Okay. Put down some pylons, steer around that conversational debris field. Who, aside from Poole and the Raq, do we like for this?"
"What about that astrogator we, you know, shook down and threatened? She could have way easy run back to Manes, all, 'Look how much I didn't betray you, evil boss! Give me your unhealthy and sociopathic luuurve!" Ramadi accompanies this with a series of bizarre and somewhat off-putting gyrations that do no favors for your lingering dizziness.
"That's...specific. And upsetting. Stop doing...that."
"Works, though," rasps Kamula. "Not the...whatever the drokk that was. Your 'gator. Alternatively, the whole krumping thing was a setup by our journo."
"Why would Baz want us dead before we delivered the evidence?"
"Well," Ramadi offers, "I mean, in this scenario, Baz-if-that-is-her-real-name doesn't want the recording. She sells us out immediately to provoke the desired result.”
“The desired result being...Ah, the shutdown.”
“Maybe...that would require an unlikely amount of foreknowledge about how unhinged those pirates were, though. Maybe she was looking to bring down the Raq, and Manes was a means to an end?”
“Idle krumping speculation doesn't get us out of this,” growls Kamula. “We need a response.”
“Right,” you agree, “well...”
A. I want to go see Baz and get paid. I'll make some excuse to my companions about why I'm going alone.
B. As (A), but I want to bring them along. This will involve coming clean about the recording.
C. We're going to see Baz, and get some answers.
D. We're going to drag Astrogator Martel out of whatever tentacle pit she's crawled into and get some answers.
E. We're going to go to the Limpet Beds and pay Yngado a visit. Shooting or talking, that's up to him.
F. Whether involved or not, Poole's probably got something to say about this. Guy's had people trying to kill him for kilocycles.
G. Action is required, but direct action is inadvisable; let's go talk to Vrade and get some underworld intel, and maybe some help.
H. Try to get in contact with Fury Praxis; it's possible this whole thing is about our deal with her, but even if not, she might be able to help us out in some capacity.
I. Seek an audience with the local Gigantes synod. They are the closest thing to an ultimate authority, they can't be happy about recent events, and our testimony might be able to get our enemies got.
J. Going somewhere makes us a target; just lie low for a while.
K. Something Else: _______________________
|# ? May 3, 2016 01:37|
I. The bigwigs need to know the details. If someone is hiring goons who set off plasma grenades in this place, poo poo could get extra hosed, extra fast. Self preservation, and we might learn a thing or two.
|# ? May 3, 2016 02:46|
C. Whether or not she had anything to do with it, it's clear Baz knew this would be an extra-dangerous job and was holding back important information.
The Gigantes will be more interested in control and stability than justice. Exposing the truth would mean making enemies with important factions, from their point of view it's much better to pin the disaster on a trio of no-account criminal lowlifes. And even if they didn't see it that way, it's bad for business to get a reputation for ratting to the authorities.
|# ? May 3, 2016 04:02|
It's more like letting the authorities know the details on the scrubs who dont think twice about blowing up everyone's house.
|# ? May 3, 2016 04:48|
“What about the Gigantes,” you speculate.
“Wwwhat about them,” replies Ramadi, a creak in her voice betraying her sudden nervousness.
“We can get ahead of this,” you reply. “We're witnesses, and we've got information. We might stand to be rewarded, or at least not punished, whereas if we wait for them to summon us, things might be a little less fun.”
“They'll just make krumping examples of us,” growls Kamula. “Easy target, no effect on their bottom line.”
“You...want to go see Baz Kemandi, then,” you ask with hesitation. Odds are, the topic of the recording is going to come up, and you're either going to have to come clean, or lie and forfeit your payday. “Could be risky...if Manes still has hitters out looking for us, we could lead them right to her.”
“We can't just sit here,” Ramadi retorts. “The vending machine is broken, and I read all the magazines waiting for them to screw your head back on.”
"Okay," you sigh. "Give me a few decis; I've got a contact...process...for Kemandi."
Leaning on the battered rail of the autovend, you look around you cautiously, then tap in a meal order on the faded and scratched touchpad.
"Blackened exoscrab thorax in glutinous mlang-oil reduction," the tinny, distorted voice from the kiosk chirps, "is that correct?"
"Yup," you reply, to the startled looks of bystanders.
"I didn't catch that," the kiosk complains, "is that correct?"
"Yes," you say with a frustrated sigh. "Correct."
"Thank you, your account has been debited. Enjoy your meal, and please use GigaDine again!" A wave of off-putting smells and grinding noises issues from the kiosk, until finally an unassuming sealed packet drops into the delivery slot. Grabbing your item and a handful of hand wipes, you duck into the shadow of a vertical gas conduit and tear open the opaque bioplast. Probing the slimy, nauseating mass within with a claw, you feel a solid metallic mass hidden inside.
"This cloak-and-shiv drokk is for the worms," you mutter, extracting a thin data spindle from its tomb of sticky mlang-oil and dropping the rest of the oozing packet to the ground with a heavy splat. Wiping the grease from the spindle, you snap off the cover and slot it into your datalink.
"Got it," you say softly, keying Ramadi and Kamula's com-codes. "Meet me in the atrium of Stack West 2. It's a brown zone, so bring a mask."
Ramadi, a look that passes disgust and shoots directly to revulsion stamped on her features, picks her way through the piles of steaming detritus, gingerly stepping around a still slightly-moving puddle of something (or someone) unspeakable.
"Reeg. Reeeeeeg. I am largely immune to most of the local cluster's toxins, and I think I'm getting cancer. This place smells like somebody's throw-up threw up. Why."
"This zone is full of habs for anaerobes," you explain, your rebreather hissing. "You won't be breathing it long. Seriously, though, put on your mask before you die." Kicking a chunk of debris to the side, you recoil as a swarm of vermin scuttles in every direction. "This way," you gesture, "past the scrab buffet."
You make your way through the hazy corridors, avoiding eye contact with shuffling inhabitants and the puddles of caustic condensation that collect in depressions in the decks.
"This reminds me of an op," Kamula rasps through his filter mask. "Raid on an organic gas refinery on D-Vrane. Acid krumping rain nine tenths of every cycle. Be slotted lucky if the seals on your hisser lasted a week. Turn your krumping boot soles to sleeb-snot. Real drokk-humper, is what I'm saying."
An arthropoid being in a ragged cloak steps out of a hatch just as you pass, and lets out an aggressive hiss. Without interrupting his story, Kamula sends the bug into a wall with a bionic backhand, where it slumps heavily, leaving a dark yellow smear down the wall.
"So,” Kamula continues seamlessly, “this krumping refinery's being held by a band of drokk-eating Rigele separatists, load of small-time grife-beggars that lucked into a shipment of heavy arms and combat mechs. Cod-handed sleeb-sucks with enough firepower to blow up half a krumping moon, with about the sense and skill to fill my piss-tube half-way.”
“Let me guess,” Ramadi speculates, “they were too scrod-skulled to maintain all that superhot gear, and when you rolled in there, none of it worked.”
“Neg,” Kamula rasps. “Reactor on one of the mechs went. Took out half the slotting refinery and my whole grife-damned team."
“Aaand that has what, exactly, to do with our current situation?”
“Just said it krumping reminded me, is all.”
You stand on the landing, letting the updraft from the towering cylindrical atrium ruffle your crest. Your mask is uncomfortable and stuffy, and the breeze gives you a momentary impulse to take it off, but that whim is soon tempered by the awareness of that breeze's constituent molecules, none of which are oxygen.
The directions on the data spindle have led you here, thirty meters up the stacked habitations that ring the zone's central shaft, to a heavy, corroded hatch, marked with a barely legible '6134'. Beneath the legend, a pair of freelance philosophers has scratched a series of dueling graffiti into the metal, reading 'Eet drokk and die,' followed by 'You kiss the paralyzed worm you chewed your way out of with that mouth?,' and finally, 'No, just ur mum.'
Just outside, a swarm of scrabs scuttle over an unidentifiable mass, the tiny sounds of their chewing setting you on edge and aggravating the headache you're rapidly developing from the ammoniac stink that manages to penetrate your mask.
You look to your companions, question evident on your face: How do you play this?
1. Your entourage?
A. Go in alone.
B. Take Kamula with you, set Ramadi as a lookout.
C. Take Ramadi with you, set Kamula to guard the door.
D. Take everyone with you, set Scuzzy as a lookout.
E. Take everyone with you, including Scuzzy.
2. Your negotiation stance?
F. Be aggressive! Keep Baz off balance, and keep the conversation on the hired killers trying to zero you out.
G. Be...aggressiver. Actually threaten her with exposure to the Gigantes or her enemies if she doesn't cooperate.
H. Be aggressivest. Threaten her with Violence.
I. Be diplomatic, and play it by ear. If she wants to talk about the job, talk about the job. Wheedle the information out of her. Get more money? Anything's possible.
J. As (I), but be genuinely cooperative. Try to get this sorted out.
3. Your priority? (You may choose up to 2)
K. Fat Ducats.
L. Actionable intelligence.
M. Your safety.
N. The trust of your team.
O. Connections/Future opportunities
|# ? May 6, 2016 16:49|
B (with Scuzzy on the lookout too)
LO - Find out what's going on without burning any bridges yet.
|# ? May 7, 2016 06:33|
Fat stacks of ducats.
|# ? May 7, 2016 17:35|
ALL the ducats.
Also I just want to say how immersive things like the in-universe slang terms and swearing can make this.
|# ? May 8, 2016 03:08|
Also I just want to say how immersive things like the in-universe slang terms and swearing can make this.
Thanks, I really do appreciate that. I'm enjoying writing and drawing for the game, but given the very small voting population, the votes and input do a lot to help keep me going.
|# ? May 9, 2016 13:49|
You decide an aggressive stance is called for, here. You need to be able to dictate the course of the conversation, instead of just reacting. So, in that interest:
"K, you're with me," you declare. "Ramadi, you're on lookout with Scuzzy. We see anything hinky here, and we're vapor." You turn to Kamula. "We need a hard touch on this one. You're lead."
"Right," you acknowledge. Delegation can be a difficult command skill, as is acknowledging your deficit in a skill. You remember a deployment on Khepris, where you were stuck under a prodigy of a CO; extraordinarily skilled at combat and tactics, and totally incapable of asking for help with anything. The situation ultimately balanced in favor of the latter, and a promising officer died choking on his own blood on a sun-cracked alkali flat, along with the rest of your squad and your left leg below the knee.
All that to say: Your estimation of Regal has just increased.
Even as Regal's claw moves to the keypad, the door slides open with a mechanized whirr and a metallic groan. Standing in the doorway is an insectoid chigoe with one missing eye, the belts strapped to her carapace bristling with weaponry. You know firsthand that Chigoe are fond of throwing weapons and projectiles, and you see a fair assortment of both strapped to her. The creature hisses through vents in her thorax, and you smell something like burned sugar and new plastic.
"YOU ARE DELAY," crackles the box strapped to the chigoe's chest. "BECOME INSIDE."
You scowl at the chigoe's interpreter module. Normally you'd take exception to the tone, but this time just tally it to technical limitations. The devices typically have little trouble with audible cues and body language, but even the most advanced models still have difficulty with the chemical emissions used by some species. Stinkboxes are notoriously inept at discerning nuance, as you learned on Grieger III at the expense of your entire crew and all the bones in your right arm.
"NOW," the module blares, as the chigoe buzzes, "BEFORE I AM DRINKING YOU."
As much as you'd like to let everyone know where they stand by punching this bug's proboscis through the back of her head, you figure Regal would prefer you keep it in your spacepants for now.
Stepping through the doorway, you find the hab much cleaner than the outside; the corroded decks have been swept, at least, and it lacks the 'piles of reeking garbage lying around' aesthetic of the rest of the stack. Instead, patches of resin adhere to the walls and ceiling in ropy strands, to which a nest of resting chigoes clings, softly buzzing and rustling in their torpor.
Your count says eighteen, and you silently chide yourself when you target tracker paints nineteen of the bugs. Sloppy, old man.
Regal's anxiety isn't hard to sense, and it's understandable for someone who hasn't fought a Chigoe nest or three. You'd tell her that these biters are really only a serious threat in microgravity, and that downwell you could probably account for this lot, but you figure that might put a cramp in negotiations.
"THIS," your guide says, leading you through another doorway into a less crowded room. This one has been given over to various computers and technical consoles, as well as a bunk more suited to a humanoid being.
One such being looks up, standing from one of the consoles. She wears a worn shipsuit, reinforced with additional belts and padding, and the sleeves have been removed to reveal wiry arms covered in elaborate lumi-tats. Her face is hidden behind a bug-faced helmet with a wide brim that further shadows her features. Strapped to one hip is what looks like a Model 6 needlegun, but more interesting is the excruciator with a worn, taped grip sheathed on the other hip.
A needler that size is never going to put you down before you make her eat it, but it'll give Regal a bad day for sure. The excruciator, on the other hand, is a real threat, both physical and rhetorical. A monomolecular-edged blade attached to a particularly nasty neural disruptor; a piece of kit like that will turn anything with meat and a nervous system into a wailing pile of blood and drokk, and everyone knows it. It looks well-loved, and in your experience, people who sling weepers without the skill to back it up don't tend to last long in the underworld. Weapon like that makes a certain statement.
"Thanks, Kireek," the woman rasps through the mask. "Shut the door." The Chigoe palms the access pad, then takes up a position by the door as it rumbles shut.
“Have to say, Baz,” Regal good-cops, “I liked the previous meeting place a lot better. How do you stand this?”
"You get used to it. Implanted filters help. Honestly, this is nothing...you should have been there when I was covering that insurrection on Kighal; ever see a hurricane made of frozen methane?"
As it happens, you have. There was a campaign on Ercivest; mining platforms suspended in the upper atmo of the gas giant, and three rival pirate gangs looking to monopolize them. Didn't end well, but now's not the time to get distracted.
"Nice knife," you comment instead. "That why you changed kit? Wouldn't fit in your krumping purse?"
"Party Girl has her uses," Baz replies dryly, "but she didn't suit the situation. She was getting a little overexposed, anyway."
"I know the krumping feeling," you growl, an edge coming into your voice. "Why are Alektosian slotting pirates trying to shoot my krumping head to drokk, Kemandi?"
"I heard about the incident down-station," Baz agrees. "You seem none the worse for wear, though." She's cool, unintimidated. Time to turn it up a bit.
"Not my first pissing sleeb-wrangle," you bite back, subtly shifting your stance to appear larger. "Nor I krumping daresay the krumping last. Doesn't mean I have to grife-damned like it." You hear the Chigoe shifting anxiously behind you in response, but Kemandi doesn't flinch.
"Colorful crew you've picked up, Kore," Baz says to Regal. "Don't worry about my delicate sensibilities, though...I heard a lot worse covering the succession war on Selvan Prime."
Selvan Prime. What a drokk-fire that one was. You left your whole squad and about a third of your skull in the burning palaces of Selvan Prime. You know her mentioning it wasn't random; even a fake journo has to do her research. You could write a novel about Prime, but you're not going to let Kemandi distract you.
"You hired us for slotting recon, not for a pissup with a bunch of blast-happy krumping topside scrab-humpers."
"I hired professionals for a risky mission that was within their skill set," she corrects. "Or at least I thought I was hiring professionals. Senator Val-Gradis didn't cry this much when I exposed his eighteen mistresses." There's the salt. Almost time to toss it back to Regal; you just need to cook this grenade a little longer...
"You thought you were promising imaginary krumping ducats to a cage-full of tigron-fodder to instigate the major slotting incident of your krumping choice. You drokk-well didn't expect the poor grife-beggars to crawl out of that piss-storm. And now you've got a problem. A big slotting problem."
There it is, the tension in Kemandi's frame, the readiness, the killing impulse. She's hot and bothered, and the Chigoe on the door is buzzing like someone stuck her ovipositor in a power conduit. Time to pass it to Regal.
"Hey, c'mon, K," Regal croons, right on schedule. "We never said she was the one who tipped off Manes."
Kemandi shifts back about a centimeter, deflates almost imperceptibly. It's nothing most beings would pick up on, but for an old campaigner, it's as clear as a missile lock tone.
"--The drokk are you talking? That's what you're on about? I wouldn't tell Manes where the oxy-damper was if his perfect hair was on fire!"
"Somebody did," Regal says evenly. "And you've got awfully deep pockets for a journalist."
"About right for a spook, though," you rasp. "Just about krumping right to set two groups of grife-begging sleebs at opposite krumping ends of the thing. And to det-rig some scrod-brained Yaguzi for finishers."
Baz instinctively throws up a spacer's warding gesture. She narrows her eyes and draws breath to speak, but Regal beats her to it.
"What's your interest in cutting off Deep-3," Regal insinuates. "Your bosses have something against the Raq, or is this about revenge for your brother?"
Kemandi is mustering a response, but she's getting flustered and slow on the draw. You can finish this right now.
Acquiring Truth Missile Lock...
A. “Your pissing bosses don't know you're here. You've gone krumping rogue.”
B. “Your brother's still alive out there somewhere, isn't he?”
C. “You don't have a krumping brother; it was you Manes did over, weren't it?”
D. “Manes didn't zero your brother: He is your pissing brother.”
|# ? May 9, 2016 14:02|
I believe I've already sung the praises of your immersive dialog and conversational voting thingies, but I figure it's a good time to reiterate it. This is a unique gem of a CYOA and I can't wait to see where it goes.
|# ? May 9, 2016 14:24|
Don't know how to votw on this one. Sticky situation.
This though. Your stuff is great.
|# ? May 9, 2016 18:58|
D that sounds like a nice story hook of it turns out to nice true
|# ? May 9, 2016 22:39|
C sounds the most realistic. The brother thing is a great way to generate sympathy and not have us question why this is worth so much. And she's talented and ambitious and well-equipped but hiding out in a craphole, as if she's suffered a big setback somewhere along the way.
A is possible too. In fact aside from the first half of C, none of the options are mutually exclusive.
|# ? May 10, 2016 02:23|
“Manes didn't zero your brother: He is your pissing brother.”
A sudden silence.
In the interminable bouts of oppressive anticipation, punctuated by quick bursts of suit-soiling terror and nightmarish mayhem, that have made up your long life of battle, there is strangely little you've found more serene, more sublimely relaxing, than that perfect, quiet moment before someone draws a weapon on you. Everything else melts away, and for an instant, you truly know someone. Then you shoot them in the slotting face.
You and Baz square off, visors locked on one another.
An instant passes.
“You're half-right,” she says, breaking the moment's silence that had seemed to draw out to decicycles. The Chigoe on the door relaxes audibly, the scent of raw dough wafting from her thorax. Looks like no one's getting shot yet. You're almost sad about it.
Regal's eyes widen for a moment, but she recovers quickly.
“Tell us about it. Stop hiding, and maybe we can all help each other here.”
Baz looks up for a moment, then sighs raggedly though her filters and steps over to sit on the edge of her bunk.
“Seph and I grew up together. Not in the creche, I mean, but in a house, with our line-parents.”
“That's a little unusual, isn't it,” Regal replies mildly.
“One of the luxuries of a powerful family,” she replies. “Oh, Social Orthodoxy has a fit when children are exposed to unhealthy domestic configurations, but everyone looks the other way when you're rich.”
“That why he's such a...” Regal begins.
“Qwag,” you helpfully complete.
A bitter chuckle bursts from Baz, and she nods. “Probably. Jurani aren't wired for small families; it krumps up the socialization. He was alright as a kid; a little weird, but so was I. Line-father rode him insanely hard, though. He was an influential admiral, and he was determined that his son would follow in his footsteps.” She looks over at you. “You know what an uphill career the gendered have in the League Navy,” she says. “Particularly males. Not typically officer material. Line-father was a bit of a fluke of privilege and opportunity, but he was going to make sure that Seph had the skills and temperament he needed to grab brass. Kid could barely walk and he was already learning breach drills. Alarms shrieking in the middle of the night, line-father shouting at this piss-nappied little ball of pudge to get to “the bridge” before the bulkheads sealed and his eyes popped out."
“That...sure is a thing,” Regal replies.
“Sorry,” Baz comments, “I do go on. Point is, kid was profoundly warped. He was taught to control people and situations from an early age, but Line-father couldn't help but infect him with his own bitterness. He invested him with a deep sense that he was owed, and a disdain for 'those weak-chinned, codless nulls in the brass.' She stops for a moment, gathering her thoughts.
“Where were you in all this,” Regal asks. “Why didn't your sire do the same to you?
You know the answer; you've met the sort. There's a type of radical atavist that's endemic in the upper echelons of Jurani society. Men belong on the battlefield, women in the home, blanks in the mines. They float all kinds of maka-drokk measures in the Hegemonic Council to restrict the Gene Archives to certain desirables. Rich as they are, it's hard to make headroom when the Hegemon has traditionally been sexless for six hundred rota. You served under an atavist on Kepal; he wasted a lot of lives before you put one in his back.
“Because he's slotting bent,” you tell Regal, before turning back to Baz. “What did you mean about being half-right?”
Baz hesitates, looking down at her hands. “I...did have another brother. Shem, the youngest. He was...an opportunity for Seph to demonstrate his leadership capabilities. He...” She trails off, assiduously concentrating on straightening her left glove.
“It's chel,” Regal soothes, “we don't need the whole story. Look, it's complicated, we get it. We've got your recording, so if you've got the ducats, we can be well clear of this whole sordid mess.”
Kemandi stops, takes a breath, seems to marshal her cool.
“Right. Let's take a look at what you've got.”
Baz whistles appreciatively as she sets down her scriv.
“This is good...quite good. I think you missed your calling with the whole crime thing,” she suggests. “You ever considered a career in journalism?”
“Nah,” Regal counters, “the criminals don't shoot at me this much.”
Kemandi chuckles. “Well, let me know if you change your mind. Operator with your chops could have some...opportunities.” You meet Baz's visored gaze; you're not sure if Regal picked up on the tacit job offer, but you've been hungry enough in your time to never miss the mess bell. Wouldn't be the first time you did a spook's dirty work; it's tended not to end well, though.
“You've more than earned your ducats,” Baz continues, “and I'll do you one better.” Kneeling, the woman reaches under her bunk, and withdraws a slender, palm-sized case. As she opens it, you recognize the component nestled inside the memefoam padding: a palm stunner for a cybernetic hand. Yours is an NCQ-48; this looks like a newer model, probably late 50-series.
“Nice blackjack,” you croak. “That an NCQ-57?”
“Naturally,” she replies, and you can hear the grin in her voice. “Figured Regal here could use a non-lethal option, if she's going to wind up in messes like this on the regular. Should be compatible with her rig.”
“That's...thanks, Baz,” Regal replies, nervously smoothing her crest.
“I look after my contractors,” Kemandi replies with a shrug. “I've got some serious work to do if I'm going to capitalize on your operation, though. Kireek?” The Chigoe opens the door, and gestures with two left hands.
“DEPARTURE IS. BE OF MY PATH.”
After medical expenses, you have 20 exoducats to spend.
Required: Select a lifestyle.
A.Rough. You've lived rougher, but not by much. Just enough to keep your meat running and prevent scavengers from harvesting your organs. (0.5 xd)
B. Average. A nicer grade of squalor, with some pleasant diversions and treats for yourself, without the risk of running dry before the next job. (2 xd)
C. High. The meagre luxuries of Thoon do not come cheap, but you'll be living high on the octohog until your next job. (5 xd)
With remaining funds, select all that apply; anything not invested in options will be lost, spent, and/or stolen.
D. Store some (specify) in a secret cache. Has the benefit of being relatively easy to access in a hurry, unless someone else finds it first.
E. Sink some (specify) out-station with a tracking beacon. Almost perfectly secure, but hard to recover.
F. “Invest” some (specify) with Vrade. A middle ground of savings options. Your money will be safe, but the arrangement is contingent on staying in Vrade's good graces.
G. Buy a second-hand microsub, as-is. It will need extensive work to be made opertional. Comes with a basic berth in the Limpet Beds. (7 xd)
H. Improve your neighborhood. Make Habstack East 3 a little more livable by acquiring amenities, paying for repairs and maintenance, and slipping Vrade protection money. (5 ed)
I. A personal energy shield. Significant and low-profile protection from particle and ballistic weapons, with a battery life of about 15 minutes. (4 xd)
J. Advertisement. Make your money work for you, and get your name out there. (1 xd)
K. Upgrade your drone's existing capabilities (specify). (3xd)
L. Add a new capability to your drone (specify). (5xd)
M. Move out of your squat into a nicer hab. This will make purchasing amenities for the home possible. (12xd)
N. Some other purchase (specify).
|# ? May 10, 2016 16:01|
B I K H
L - Storage compartment capable of holding a sidearm, KO grenade, emergency med supplies, what have you.
N - Buy Kamula something nice. Guy is indispensible.
|# ? May 10, 2016 16:33|
Get wriggidy wrecked on expensive designer drugs
Vote later on other stuff.
|# ? May 10, 2016 23:36|
B I K H
I like your style
|# ? May 11, 2016 01:28|
K: Increased range.
L: Add a laser to blind people or cameras and to slowly cut through things. Useful for getting to where it isn't supposed to go. Might not be very effective as a direct offensive weapon, but given a little time it could, say, cut through an explosive container. Preferably at a safe distance.
|# ? May 11, 2016 04:51|
|# ? Jun 24, 2018 12:40|
B I M N
I want a lair. Also for N treat your friends to nice stuff with the last two exos.
|# ? May 11, 2016 05:44|