Home, Death and Other Abstract Ideas Part 2

Plisken led group two done a dark alley, the tall unkempt walls blotted out the sun, or what little there was in the cloudy English night. To most the night was quiet and still, apart from Artie’s soft beeping. But the night was full of noises to Plisken’s trained ears. The odd rustle of leaves, the scraping of litter against the walls, the odd whisper of the wind.
"So... anything yet?" asked Jamie, breaking the silence. Plisken nearly turned around and snapped him shut but things usually seemed to work out in the end whether or not they were professionals.
"Nothing yet Mr. Eastlick, it's still locking it in" Replied Artemis.
"Hmm" muttered Alex.
"What? Is there a corporate commando?!" whispered Boyd.
Corporate commando? It was sometimes hard to tell if Boyd was spouting random nonsense or genuinely trying to make his comrades aware of genuine threats.
"No mate. I was just picking at the irony. We finally get back to Earth and it's in a paradoxed, alien riddled 18th century- what luck."
The others scoffed and laughed at the irony.
"I haven't been back to the big blue since I was thirty two" Artemis whispered. "It was to claim my crazy Uncle Toby's body after he was shot down flying a stolen Starbug over West Point."
"My condolences," Plisken added. Death was not something anyone coped easily with and it was perhaps worth breaking his silence to offer his commiserations.
"Yeah, my father wouldn't claim his body because he refused to acknowledge that he and Toby were related, even though it was his own brother and they shared the same last name. Since I was in the same boat, being shamed by the 'great' Artemis K. Pritchard V, I decided to recover him. I spent six days being processed by the US Army before they gave him up. Me and my cousin Quinten, Uncle Toby's son, buried him in the backyard of the Pritchard estate. Ol' Toby had gotten the estate from my grandfather when he died, and he gave dual ownership to me and Quinten. Quinten sold me his rights to the estate because he wanted to distance himself from New York, and moved to Titan"
"Wow, the Pritchard estate? I remember seeing it on homes of the rich and wasteful!" Jacky added.
"It’s a truly remarkable place, biggest house in the Hudson River Valley. I grew up there until my father and Uncle Toby had a falling out and we moved to New York City. The house is still in my name, my mechanoid Jeffery tended to it while I was away at Charon and subsequently on Blue Dwarf. That house is probably still standing today, well, in our today. Poor Jeffery still waiting on my return. I would give anything to go back home"

“What about you Plisken?” asked Jaime, “When was the last time you were home on Earth?”
Plisken stopped and turned around, his eyes heavy. “Earth isn’t my home,” he said gravely.
“Oh, that’s right,” said Alex, “You were born on Io, right? On a little moisture farm?”
“Hang on,” said Artemis, his vast knowledge of exceedingly pointless things coming into play, “There are no moisture farms on Io.”
“Hmm,” said Plisken, turning back around, “Funny that.”
The others looked at each other, there faces drawn serious.
“So where is it you really come from then?!” asked Boyd, although it sounded like he asked out of fear rather than curiosity or concern.
“Trenzelore,” said Plisken simply, giving up on hiding one of his many secrets.
Artemis laughed, “Trenzelore? The lost planet of the Golden Storm?”
“Wait, what’s Trenzelore?” asked Jaime, not as familiar with the legends of the other cultures as Artemis was.
“Trenzelore was the planet from the beginning of time itself, before the Big Bang,” explained Artemis, “Ol’ Toby used to tell me the tale when I was a child.”
“It has rivers of silver water than is said to quench the mouths of a thousand in a simple cupful,” added in Alex, the fairytale also having been told to him.
“Every race in the galaxy that has achieved space travel has heard of the legend. But it’s a fairy tale. Plisken was just joking,” said Artemis to Jaime.
“Was I?” muttered Plisken, slightly offended that they’d not believed him.
“Wait,” said Alex as a memory burst from his mind and played on his mind’s eye, “Artemis, remember back in the AR game?”
“Oh my science,” cried Artemis as he too remembered, “Yes, of course, how could I forget?”

“Something must be corrupted in Plisken’s profile, it should only have taken a few seconds but this data profile is huge,” Artie said as he examined the streaming lines of data that the tracer program had recovered. Something seemed to have caught his eye. Artie glanced at Lil’ Plisky, who was splashing about in the blue liquid happily, and then back to the screen.
“What’s wrong?” asked Alex, coming over to read the screen.
“Plisken, he’s-“

“The spatial co-ordinates of your origins placed you near the centre of the Central Cluster of the Milky Way,” breathed Artemis.
“The Golden Storm…” said Jacky slowly.
“Hush,” said Plisken, who hadn’t really been listening, as they approached a large mansion in a clearing.
"Wait!" Artemis shouted. "I've got a positive! It's coming from....there!" He pointed at the spooky old mansion sitting alone in a clearing.
"Like hell!" Boyd shouted.
"Simmer down Boyd,” snapped Plisken. The time for talk was over, this was to be done right. “Alright, let's get inside. Stay close and keep your eyes peeled, there's bound to be some solid resistance" Plisken ordered.
The alley way opened up into a large court yard, a low mist hanging on the ground. The court was cobblestoned; a small fountain pitifully spat water into the air, the water then landing with a splash in the shallow pool around it. A wind swept across the court yard, the clouds parting for a brief second and a bright moonlight poured through the gap. The light cast itself over the mansion, the eerie mismatched stone work glistening with a strange wetness.
As the walked up to the mansion door, the overgrown grass punched its way through the unkempt path that wound through a messy garden, great iron fencing trapping the garden in.

The front door was large compared to other doors, which would have made other doors jealous could they be jealous, and made of a solid wood. Plisken gently stretched out his feminine hand and gave a soft push to the door.
The front door to the stereotypical mansion slid open. A light swept across the open doorway. Plisken stepped in first, rifle drawn. He was followed by Alex and Jamie, then Boyd, Artemis, and Jacky. Flashlights swept across the large atrium, footsteps echoed throughout the empty halls.
"Fascinating" muttered Artie.
"Yeah, what makes you say that?" asked Alex.
"It's too creepy, too quiet in here; they couldn't have made it more obvious that they're hiding in the shadows, the infected that is. Yet, I feel as if something is wrong... like... I don't know... something feels very off.”
Jamie checked the corners of the room, pistol drawn. "Yeah, I feel it too. I know they're here but something feels so...disturbing."
"Boyd feels funny!" added Boyd.
“Indeed,” agreed Plisken, “Not everything is at peace here. Something lurks in the shadows. But we have to find that node. We'll just have to be more careful," Plisken whispered. "Artemis, see if you can further refine that signal. Alex, Jamie, give him a hand, I'm going to update Jay." Plisken dialed in the communicator.
"Plisken dude, what's up?" Jaxx's gritty mechanic voice caused feedback on the communicator. The others grabbed their ears and protested.
"Jaxx... put Jay on," Plisken groaned, rubbing his ears.
"Plisken, what's up?" asked Jay.
"We've located the first node in a mansion, we're going to close in and try to-"
There was a loud bang.
Flashlights swept over the room trying to search for the source. A door flew across the room, landing near Plisken. A group of infected waltzed into the room toting melee weapons ranging from razors to giant wooden clubs with nails driven through them. "Oh...my..." a Dwarfer muttered.
"Open fire!" ordered Plisken. Shots rang out, a hail of bullets and syringes flew across the room and into the group of infected. A few fell, and were quickly replaced.
"Run!" Jamie shouted.

The Dwarfers took off leading the various infected hosts on a Scooby Doo esq chase.
Plisken ran down a narrow corridor, peeling paint and crooked pictures adorned the walls. What little light there was came from flickering candles that cast frightening shapes on the walls. In his new female body, Plisken found that he had much energy. Despite Garnet not being that athletic, her body was still much fitter than Plisken’s old and worn corpse that was sitting in Stasis (or meant to be). He was actually beginning to like it.
Plisken chanced a quick look over his shoulder: two ‘zombies’ were chasing him, both not carrying anything but they were fast. Un-naturally fast. One was a portly 50 year old with a ruddy face and large rolls of legs and arms and the other was an equally fat woman wearing an apron that was decorated with red flowers (did they have aprons in the 18th century?).
Plisken swung round, drawing swing her rifle into his hands, his soft brown eyes staring down the iron sights. With a squeeze of the trigger, a whole was punched in the portly man’s chest. No fancy shots were needed, just get them down. As the portly man collapses, blood gushing from the wound, Plisken moved to aim at the woman, who was quickly getting nearer and nearer. A loud bang and smoke appeared and Plisken though he was safe. But as Plisken stood up, a figure appeared through the smoke, a large wound in her stomach.
Plisken barely had a chance to curse before she was pinned to the ground by the un-naturally strong woman. Glowing blue eyes stared down into Plisken, a wind mouth threatening to infect him with what ever it was that he would be infected with. With a roar, Plisken brought out a knife, (which he’d always had just nobody had seen it before, okay?) and brought it down into the woman’s neck, right were the sick spider-creature was lurking. A horrible scream broke through the air, a cry for help as she died. The light in her eyes faded as Plisken twisted the knife further and further into the spider from the outside, blood splattering his dress. With one last breath, the woman loosened her grip and her mouth closed. Plisken rolled her over and sighed.
But from behind him, the portly man stood up, the light in his eyes glowing brightly. Without looking, Plisken threw the knife at the man, it landing directly in the opened mouth and killing the spider creature.
“No second chances,” muttered Plisken to himself as she stood up. He sighed in annoyance as he looked down at his blood spattered dress. He walked over to the portly man and pulled out his knife, a spurt of a black viscous liquid leaping from the spider-y creature.
The eyes, they must glow because they are near the node. Whatever the node was.
There was a shout about something nonsensical.
“Boyd!” breathed Plisken, running to his discarded rifle and moving back down the corridors.

From the nursery of the mansion, a collection of little children, only about 5 or 6, staggered out. As Plisken came to them, she could see that they had that tired look about them.
“Children,” said Plisken, “Are you alright?”
The children snapped to attention, their little faces glowing from an ice blue light from their eyes. They hissed as they took in Plisken. But as they began to wake fully, they screamed. It was a high pitched blood curdling scream that shook the very bones of Plisken, if he had any bones. They had lost their mother.
“Dear god,” breathed Plisken as she raised his rifle, “Forgive me.”
“Plisken!” shouted a voice from behind him. Plisken spun round, thankful of the distraction. It was Jamie and Boyd both running from a large man dressed in a footman’s outfit. Plisken pulled the trigger of his gun and the footman dropped.
“Quick!” shouted Plisken to his friends, “He’ll get up in a moment!”
Boyd and Jaime looked at each other. From somewhere deep inside them they managed to push themselves even harder than they were going already. They thanked Plisken and turned off down a corner. Some of the children flew after them, passing round Plisken’s skirts. He slowly turned and looked at the three children that were left.

He pulled back the bolt of his gun, ejecting a cartridge.


“Artemis!” cried Plisken, turning into a large hallway, her skirts flowing around her.
“Yes Mr. Plisken?” said Artemis a bit too calmly as he fought off an infected host with his bare hands. Plisken took out his knife and drove it down into the base of the host’s neck, twisting the blade when it was in. A sickening crack was heard before the host slumped to the ground.
“Ah, thank you Mr. Plisken,” said Artemis as he brushed himself down.
Plisken gave a swift salute as a ‘your welcome’ out of simple habit. She turned her eyes to the rest of the room. It was a large hallway with various wall hangings and paintings decorating the interior. Pretty brass candle holders were bolted to the walls and a flickering flame was in each. The carpet was nice too. It was a deep red and soft under foot. A few desks and tables and chairs were littered around the room in no particular order. But what really drew the attentions of the two men that stood in the hall was the great big oozing egg shaped plant thing that pulsed in the centre of the room.
“Just what the hell is that?” asked Plisken, raising her rifle to it.
“I believe it’s the ‘node’, Mr. Plisken. It uses a psychic link to the spider creatures we’ve encountered. I presume it works using pheromones. [Artemis paused a moment to taste the air] Yes, I’m quite right as usual. But look here. [Artemis indicated a large clutch of broken eggs that were held within a sickly wet sack attached to the lower half of the node] This is more than just the ‘brain’, if you will, of the infectious spiders but the mother of them.”
“It doesn’t look like a mother,” said Plisken as she lowered his rifle after seeing that the ‘mother’ posed no threat at the moment.
“Yes,” chuckled Artemis, “We do have some strange preconceived notions of what a mother is, do we not? No, look here.” Artemis leaned in close to the ‘chest’ of the mother. He used the barrel of his pistol to lift up a flap of skin that had peeled of from the main body. “This appears to be… wait… no… I couldn’t be…” Artemis extened his tongue and licked the edge of the flap of skin, Plisken’s stomach churning over at the sight. Artemis moved the taste around his mouth. “But of course… it makes sense… that’s pretty impressive… no, that’s very impressive… kind of disgusting and horrific…”
“What is it?” sighed Plisken.
“This is a human, Mr. Plisken. Perhaps beyond recognition but still was a human. The spiders must grow to consume the bodies of the infected in some way, prolonging their life span by turning their host into a mother. Then the eggs hatch, seek out new life and start the process again. Almost perfect.”
“Jesus, what is that?” asked Alex as he, Jamie, Boyd and Jacky came into the hall.
“That, Mr. Solvay is the ‘node’. It uses a psy-“
“It’s the thing we’ve got to kill to go home,” concluded Plisken.
“I thought your home was Trenzelore?” asked Artemis snappily, not happy about being interrupted.
Plisken made no comment but took out the communicator from underneath his skirts. He punched in the frequency and waited for a response. None came.
“Hmm,” though Artemis, “It could be our close proximity to the ‘node’.”
“Or they're dead!” cried Boyd.
“Boyd!” snapped Alex, turning his attention to the matter at hand, “Artemis, you have a plan, right?”
“Mr. Solvay, I always have a plan.”
“It’s not always a very good one,” muttered Jacky, provoking a laugh from Jamie.
But a sound from the hallway entrance interrupted the laughter. Everyone snapped their eyes to the small crowd of infected host that had come to defend their ‘mother’.
“What ever you’re doing,” shouted Plisken as she raised his rifle, “Do it now.”

<OOC - Too much?>

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