Characters in this post
View character profile for: Cassandra Jones
View character profile for: Jay Chrysler
View character profile for: Delphine 'Phi' Moreau
View character profile for: Thomas Plisken
View character profile for: Evelina Stone (Away)
View character profile for: Dr Jade Black
View character profile for: Jamie Eastlick
The jungle at night; a shadowy humid stickiness, filled with the chirp and whine of an unseen multitude of insects and the strange, exotic cries of alien animals.
Padding through the moonlight dappled darkness ahead of the other Dwarfer’s, Cass stole a glance across at Jay, who was doing his usual thing of leading from the front. She hadn't said anything, but she was privately concerned about him and wondered how he was doing. It can’t have been easy to have just lost his family, only to be thrown into yet another life threatening situation.
That said, he was probably enjoying this as much as he was able and, in all likelihood, was happy for the distraction.
Scratched, bruised and uncomfortably sweaty, Cass was far from happy.
Her head throbbed terribly from whatever it was that those damned aliens had subjected her to, and she was pissed off that she hadn’t thought to build more complex ECM into her drones, which would have thwarted the sort of attack that had just destroyed them.
Not that they mattered of course. It was easy to create more; but she had to survive down here long enough to get back to the ‘Dwarf before she could start making improvements.
Survive... Cassandra's lip curled at the thought. Surviving was all she and the other Dwarfer’s ever seemed to do.
Regardless, this was, she resolved, categorically the last time she suggested any downtime for the crew; first Fernando’s and now this! – It was ridiculous!
Someone else could suggest a holiday next time. She didn’t want the responsibility of it all going horribly wrong again, and she hoped that nobody was going to hold this latest debacle against her.
Another thing Cass wasn't happy about was the recurrence of her 'father' as a method of psychic attack. The Doombringer had used her memories of him against her and now, so had these aliens.
It was tempting to see if she could cobble a neural editor together when she got back to the Dwarf and use it to eradicate every last memory of the bastard from her mind; but what would it do to her?
For all the damage he had done, her ‘father’ was such a fundamental part of her, that she worried what effect his removal would have; which was one reason why she had always shied away from the procedure in the past, since the changes could be pretty fundamental – Amongst other things, it’d almost certainly make her more trusting and less cynical.
Cass wasn’t so sure that she liked that idea.
Maybe, she mused, now she had full control of Holly’s processing time, perhaps it would be worth running a simulation to see how her personality might be affected?
She had planned a similar neural emulation process, to model Jaxx’s consciousness prior to re-engineering his damaged brain with the remaining nanites; but after he reverted to loose cannon mode, Cass had put such grand schemes aside.
Maybe she could enact her theories and perform her research on her own mind instead of his?
"Hold it here" Jay interrupted her train of thought, raising a hand to signal a halt to those behind him
They had arrived at the outer limits of the ruined city, beyond which cover became sparser; the deep shadows of the undergrowth giving way to the vine strewn, tumbledown remains of buildings and moonlit streets
"Seems quiet enough" Cass murmured, crouching down to hunch over the dimly glowing screen of her terminal
“There!” Jay pointed out across the ruins
"There’s nothing showing up out there"
"I..." Jay's eyes narrowed "I thought I saw something"
Jamie moved forward to join them "Where?" he asked gruffly
"Down the bottom end of the street there" Jay kept his voice low "I can't see any movement now though"
Remaining silent for a moment, Jamie eventually grunted and shook his head "It's probably the moonlight in the foliage; it can play odd tricks on the eyes sometimes, but I’d advise caution"
"You've got that right" Cass muttered, quickly flicking her terminal off and pocketing it. They hadn't seen any more of those technology-seeking missiles, but she wasn't taking any chances after her drones and the 'bug had been destroyed. Artemis’ continued silence was also worrying, as was the fact that his 'wife' and 'kids' were missing as well, with Cass strongly suspecting that they might have been in the starbug when it was hit.
"We should move" Jay growled after another moment's watchful silence "Come on; let’s go"
One by one the Dwarfer’s stole out from beneath the cover of the jungle and out into the moonlit streets; those with the training, darting stealthily in and out of cover, while everyone else followed suit as best they could.
Save for the scuff of their boots and their ragged breathing as they hurried through the ruins, everything seemed quiet.
Keeping low, Cass shot across a vine and scrub strewn intersection to vault over a low wall and hunker down behind it next to Jade and Jay. Jamie followed a moment later, vaulting over the wall and landing in almost complete silence, followed closely by Eve.
"The pyramid's not so far..." Jay began as Plisken leaped over the wall to drop down beside Jade
“Quiet!” Jamie hissed, the urgency in his tone prompting Cass to flatten herself up against the wall and draw her pistols
Jay bristled but likewise followed suit, his long centuries of experience having taught him well to take note when someone had that note in their voice
Everyone lapsed into a watchful silence for a breathless moment, their weapons at the ready until Jay frowned and shook his head
“What?” he whispered, his voice seeming like a sudden intrusion
“The insects” Jamie murmured “They’ve stopped”
With a start the rest of the Dwarfer’s realised that he was right – their breathing was the only sound they could hear
“I don’t like this” Jade said in a low voice, the memories of her previous experience of this place still fresh in her mind
“There!” Plisken barked, raising his rifle in one fluid motion and firing at a sudden movement out in the shadows
“Shit!” Jay hissed, whipping his pistol around to fire it out into darkness “There!”
“No, there!” Cass yelled scrambling to her feet and opening up with both her pistols
Is there anything out there or is they pyramid messing with everyone’s heads?
What do we do? – stand and fight or make a run for it?
Can someone sort this situation out and get us to the pyramid; and once we’re there: is there a way in, is it trapped and if so, how do we sort that out?
What’s inside the pyramid?
If I've not tagged you and you want to join in, don't wait for an invite :)
While I’m on, apologies for being quiet this week – work’s been absolutely mental for me; hopefully things will calm down from now on and we’ll see the resumption of normal service.