Around the Bend

“Forgive me if I may.” Kenneth piped up, scaring most of the group and eliciting a rudely worded grumble of annoyance from Cassandra. “But I do think that this may be another hallucination. This whole chamber isn’t registering properly on my scanners, reminds me of the time I had to single handedly fight off a legion of dancing trout. Artie old chap, what do you think?” Jolted out of his silence, the brain ‘bot spoke up.
“I would agree, not so sure about the trout though. Although, I feel that I may still be affected by this monstrous toxin to a degree.” He cradled the shattered remains of Junior a bit closer and looked around at the ghosts of his nightmares. Jade meanwhile, was examining the ‘ink’ on the floor. She turned to Eve and shook her head slightly.
“I’m not sure what you see, but I’m seeing a pool of blood?” The Doctor spoke up, dusting herself off as she got up.
“No! It’s oil where that monster dragged away my poor Missus!” Artie wailed.
“You are kidding right? It’s a spilled pint?” Phil said, gesturing around him. “This is the worst bar I’ve ever seen. I mean who pays $£850* for a pint!” he shuddered and turned away from what was in his mind a chalkboard behind the bar displaying overpriced cocktails and beers.
“Look this is getting us nowhere.” Jay said, casting his gaze and his rifle about the room. “There has to be something in here. Something to get us out of this mess, to turn off this psychic field.”
“Maybe a common denominator? Or an exit of some kind?” Kenneth offered up, “Well, at least that’s what I’d be looking for if I was on my own at least. Just like that time I got trapped in the virtual reality world of the killer nasturtiums… You know, normally you pickle the capers?.. No…?” He trailed off at the blank looks.
“Right so, it looks like everyone can see some sort of fluid on the floor there.” Jay pointed at the puddle.
“It could be a broken terminal, or a leaky pipe.” Jamie said, twitching like a nervous rabbit at the shadows.
“Oh for the love of….” Cassandra said rolling her eyes and unloaded an entire clip of ammunition into the area of the puddle. The wall seemed to shimmer and reveal a doorway forwards. “There. Easy.” She said, holstering the weapons again. There was a short round of descriptions and everyone agreed that this new room was free from the psychic influence.

“Looks like a control room.” Artie said, looking over one console.
“Can we shut it down from here or what?” Eve asked, suddenly wondering where the Gibbles had vanished to.
“Yeah, just… I need… Hang on” Cass said, pouring over the various consoles in the room. Jay meanwhile was looking over another console.

Eve was now concerned that the Gibbles were not real or perhaps the ghosts of the Gibbles were trying to help her. Either way she was saddened by their disappearance. Just to make sure the crystals were real she looked in the many fuzzy small purses she had over her shoulder to check how many crystals she had left. As Eve counted her crystals she had 3 yellow (glow) crystals left, 4 red (heat) crystals, 2 blue (cold) crystals, and 2 green crystals (If tied to a red heat crystal the green crystal for about half a minute the green crystal will begin to grow into a spiked green crystal bouquet that is roughly two square feet big. If tied to a blue cool crystal the green crystal for about half a minute the green crystal will explode like a grenade.) Eve was now concerned that she was down to her last two green crystals in case she got into trouble. Then Eve studied the map Jay put on display of the area so she could understand the terrain. Since she was a Navigation officer she was able to understand maps quite easily. As Jay was laying out his plan Eve remained silent as she tried to memorize the map.

“The munitions base is here.” He pointed to a holographic map of the area of the town they were in. “It looks like the missiles were fired from this secondary location. I guess that way the launch doesn’t interfere with this place.” He looked around the control room at the center of the pyramid.
“We can’t call in a shuttle until the base is disabled. It’ll just get blown to hell again. Can you do it from here Cass?” Jacky asked peering over her shoulder. She shrugged him off.
“No but I can stop this psychic field from working. Just give me a minute.” She said, furiously typing away on one of the consoles. “Looks like the whole town is a kind of alien rat maze. The field activates when the subjects get too close to the pyramid. Those beings we encountered are scientists of a sort, studying the way that we react to the situations. Not sure they planned on us being able to get in here though.” Cass grinned.

“What about the JMC girl?” Eve asked curiously “She’s not an alien.”
“I believe I can answer that.” Artie turned around the servos in his robot body whirring as he did. “She was on a ship that crashed not far away from the beach, looks like long ago there was a cephalopod living under the pyramid that could cause these nightmares. An exploratory JMC ship crashed here and succumbed to the effects. With the aid of the local population however they managed to infiltrate and kill the beast. Since then they’ve used technology cannibalized from he crashed ship to replicate the effect.”
“Urm.. How does that explain her and the suit she was in?” Eve asked politely.
“Patience girl I’m getting there.” Artie sighed, shaking his brain in a dismissive gesture. “She was captured by the aliens, and placed inside a suit to look like them. Over the years they augmented her to keep her alive. It’s another experiment see. To see if she will fight for or against the affected test subjects. The suit offers a degree of insulation against the effects.”
“Well that explains the message in the bottle too! They must have got to her, so she sent it out to warn others. Poor girl. She was already half insane from the psychic attacks.” Jade said, looking back at the slumped figure they had carried for the stealth field in the previous room.
“Right! Got it, the field is down now. Although I’d be happier if I could destroy the console too.” Cass said, frowning.
“Let me madam! The ship is fitted with weapons, I can take out planets if I need to!” Kenneth beamed, a high pitched whine came from inside him and a small jolt of light zipped out of his bellybutton and hit the console.
Nothing happened.
“It’s… It’s not even scratched.” Jaime said, blinking at the uninspiring feat.
“Wait for it…” Kenneth grinned.
There was a fizzling pop from where the laser had struck, and a small burn mark appeared on the console, smaller than a $£1 coin.
“Stupid AI.” Cassandra grumbled, shoving him out of the way and placing her boot through the screen.
“That’ll do it.” Jamie grinned.
“Right people, lets hustle, we have to take out that other base.” Jay said, ushering everyone out into the night air. Slowly on the horizon, the faintest glimmer of light was appearing, turning the night sky almost imperceptibly lighter blue. “If we want to use the darkness as cover we have to move now.” He said, looking up at the sky.

The air outside the facility felt different to everyone, with the psychic field gone. Yes, there was still the potential for aliens with their optical camo keeping them from sight, but at least there was nothing to make them go crazy any more.
Eve looked around, now the Gibbles were nowhere to be seen. Proof positive of them being a hallucination, some might say.
It was going to take the rest of the night to get to the foot of the mountain, but everyone seemed to make good time. Everyone kept their eyes peeled though, the few weapons the group had were with those who had the best training, and the most suited for such weapons. Jamie had a pistol, given that his other arm was still wounded, a rifle would have been cumbersome and inaccurate.
"Hey, Jay." Jamie said, as they crouched near a ruined wall, guarding them from the sight of the remains of a road.
"What?" Jay asked, a little harsh given they didn't have much time, but happy for the break for the others to catch up, and catch their breath.
"Look over there." He said, gesturing, rather than pointing. A hazy patch of air in front of them meandered down the road. It didn't seem to pause, in the way you'd expect a being to if it had seen someone or something, but the fuzziness vanished as it moved into shade from the beginnings of dawn.
"huh." Cass said, seeing it as well. "I think they're using older camo technology, the first versions always had problems with dawn and dusk."
"That means," Plisken said, kneeling down next to them. "We have a tactical advantage. We should take notice of this, and move forward at an increased pace. They may not be aware that we know of their weakness."
"Agreed. Double time from here? We can get there before daylight if we move now." Jay said, looking for acceptance from the others, and they gave it.
The stars on the horizon were beginning to fade from view as daylight changed the hue of the sky. The burning orb of day was still behind the hillside from their perspective, giving them a bit of extra time. The collection of Dwarfers bolted from their cover, and made a strong move down the street. The fuzzy form they had seen before reappeared, and had obviously noticed them this time. As it moved towards them, Plisken was the first to react, raising a rifle and loosing a single shot that knocked the creature to the ground, its camouflage kicking back into full power as it lay beside a wall that blocked it from view of the impending sunrise.
It wasn't long before they reached where the holographic map had shown the secondary base.
"There's nothing here?" Jacky said, looking around. "Are we sure it was on this side of the hill?"
Jamie knelt down in the dust. "It is here. Look." He said, pointing out some footprints in the dust, just ahead of them. They appeared to vanish into thin air, with half a footprint still visible a few yards away.
"Optical camouflage for the base?" Cass said, voicing her thoughts.
"I'm no engineer." Jade said, "But wouldn't that take a lot of energy?"
"There's no telling how big a power supply they have here. They don't need to power engines, or life support..." Jamie hazarded, but Plisken stepped forward, having more experience with this place.
"At the height of its use, it would have had enough power to shield the entire base from view, even the surrounding town. It has probably degraded in output since then, so it can only extend this far." He said, his brow furrowed in thought. "The fact that it still works this much is surprising."
"So, we walk in?" Jay said, confident in his question in a way that only Jay could manage. Everyone rallied, and once again, the armed members of the team stepped in first.
"It's not a mountain..." Jamie said, eyes open wide as they entered the stealth field. Everything was now visible to them, and it looked more like a huge bunker with multiple missile pods atop it. Many aliens shuffled around it, loading more missiles onto the launchers, half of them were aimed up into the air, and half of those were already loaded.
"They look like they're aimed at the Dwarf..." Cass said, making the mental calculations.
"I concur. Their angle is conducive with an atmospheric target." Kenneth said, having made the same calculations.


As the Dwarfers entered the building Eve was very nervous now that she was in the home of the enemy. At least in the forest she could hide but now she and the others were in plain sight. As they made their way through the base Jay and Plisken silently killed the guards that happen to pass by. After removing the helmets of the dead guards the Dwarfers were saddened as they saw the guards were former JMC crew members with cybernetic implants. Eve stayed close to Jamie since he was armed but wounded. Eve's mind was filled with similar episodes of sci-fi shows similar to her situation. Deep down inside Eve wished Jaxx was there to help out. Yes it was true he was having problems with his violence issues, but it was times like this that he was most useful to the team.

As the crew moved deeper into compound they saw many strange and creepy things they were not sure of. After getting past a few more guards Jay and Plisken had the crew hold their position as they checked around the corner. After they came back they informed the crew that around the corner was what seemed to be a large and open cafeteria for the aliens. Each crew member took quick turns looking around the corner to see that indeed the aliens were in some kind of alien cafeteria. The slop on the trays they aliens were eating looked like recycled garbage and easily offended most of the crews stomachs. Now they had a problem as they debated on how to sneak by the cafeteria without being noticed by over a hundred aliens.

TAG (What do the aliens look like? How will we get passed them?)

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