Characters in this post
View character profile for: Cassandra Jones
View character profile for: Jay Chrysler
View character profile for: Dr Jade Black
View character profile for: Jamie Eastlick
View character profile for: Bruno Downing
Sat in a pile of uniform was a green frog, staring up at them.
"I think we have company..." Jay said, and the lights flickered again.
Leaning to one side to peer around Jay, Cass frowned down at the frog “What the fuck is that?”
“It’s a frog” Jade nodded sagaciously “I should know – I’ve dissected enough of them in my time”
The frog gave an alarmed croak at this and hopped out from the pile of clothes on the floor.
“I know it’s a fucking frog” Cass retorted, indignantly “I want to know what it’s doing here? – Why’s it sat there in a pile of clothes?”
Jay glanced back at her “More’s the point: What was with that witch?”
Cass shrugged “Dwarf stuff”
“She was riding a hoover!”
“People used to dress up and do weird shit all the time, back home – Why should this Dwarf be any different?”
Jamie laughed “D’ya reckon she turned someone into this frog?”
Amid everyone's smiles, Jade pushed her way to the front to frown down at the creature “Wait just a minute...” she said “Did that frog just nod...? See? It did it again!”
“Yeah, right” Cass scoffed.
The frog croaked indignantly.
“You’ve hurt it’s feelings” Jade scolded.
“Oh, come on” Cass protested “You can’t seriously think that this frog used to be a member of the crew?” she shook her head “Next you’ll be saying that you need to kiss it to change it back”
Jay smirked “Why don’t you give it a go?”
“How about you try it?”
“The frog kissing rules clearly say that it’s the girls that do the kissing” Jay crouched down to examine the name tag on the uniform “Major Harris, it says here”
“Really?” Jade asked, sounding, in Cassandra’s opinion, a little too interested.
“Yep. C’mere...” Jay scooped the frog up in his hands, and straightened to proffer it to Cass “You sure you don’t want to?”
The lights flickered once again, momentarily plunging the corridor into inky darkness. Screams echoed distantly out of the blackness.
“That doesn’t sound good” Jamie murmured, in the uneasy silence that followed.
“Something’s happening” Jay said, in a low voice.
“This in an opportunity” Cass turned to gently extract her arm from the vice-like grip Jade was maintaining on her after the lights had gone out.
“Agreed” Jay nodded. The frog in his hands croaked in agreement.
“Oi, Bruno” Cass called to their erstwhile Captain, who was sat, critically scrutinising something on the end of one of his fingers “Stop picking your nose and get your arse over here. You’re coming with us”
Bruno briefly looked up at them and nodded before gazing back down at his watch.
“Come on you sorry excuse of a man. Move it”
“Sorry. Sorry. I... I... I’m coming”
Cass glowered at Bruno as he shambled across his quarters towards them. In fairness, he looked far better than usual in his clean, Captain’s uniform, but she could see that even after only a few short hours, his more usual unkempt, 'waste of space' look was slowly reasserting itself.
It was hard to believe that this cretin had actually been Captain, she reflected. He could have promoted them all to command positions aboard and made their lives so much easier, but instead the fucktard had selfishly pissed the opportunity away; leaving Jay permanently grounded and Jamie barely even trusted to use a screwdriver.
As for herself, Cass had no idea what position, if any, she held aboard the ship – She was dressed from head to toe in black, but that gave little indication about who or what she was aboard the ship and she didn’t want to ask Holly, fearing that the omniscient AI might flag any of that sort of unusual behaviour up to the Captain.
At least she hadn’t found herself wearing one of her old “dancing” outfits, or worse, even less; so whatever it was that she did, had to be an improvement on the position she started from the first time around.
Maybe, she was an academic; a respected scientist; maybe even a Nobel Prize winner?
That would be nice.
Back in their last reality, she’d been offered a scholarship at Cambridge University when she was just thirteen, but her father had refused to let her go. Maybe her alternate self in this universe, had left him to drink himself to death and had gone onto much greater things?
Her lip curled as the little group began their journey. It was too much to hope.
Palming Major Harris off on Jade, Jay led them in the direction the screams had come from, down the deserted corridor towards the Promenade.
Shadows lengthened around them as they walked, twisting and coiling overhead, to give the passageway the strange appearance of being in leafy shade.
“This is weird” Cass frowned at the ever more indistinct walls.
“You got that right” Jay nodded “Is that terminal of yours able to tell us anything?”
“Nope” Cass fished the device out of a pocket for his inspection “This thing’s not STCP kit any more. There's no scanner and I’ve lost every single one of my viruses and command utilities – It’s little better than a personal organiser now”
“Tell me about it”
“I’d just feel better if I knew what knowing what we were getting in to”
“I’d feel a damn sight better if we were actually armed”
“There is that” Jay sighed. None of them had arrived here bearing arms “There’ll probably be a security station on the promenade. We should be able to score some weapons there if we need them”
“Guys” Jade said, a note of warning in her voice “Listen”
“Shush – The wind!”
Sure enough, the gentle susurration of wind through leaves could clearly be heard. A wolf howled somewhere in the distance.
“What the fuck?” Cass scowled.
“It’s just the P.A. system” Jay said, dismissively
“Can you see any speakers?”
Bruno shifted nervously. “Do you think we should go back?”
“No, we press on” Jay waved them forward.
The corridor grew ever more shrouded in shade as they walked; the ducting pipes and cables, festooning the walls and ceiling, slowly resolving into eerily arboreal structures around them.
“The Promenade should be just ahead” Jay said, indicating the gathering gloom in front of them.
“Why does this place look like a wood?” Jade asked, still cradling ‘Harris’ in her hands.
“We’re still new here” Jay shrugged “Maybe this is normal?”
“Yeah, right” Cass wrinkled her nose.
Rounding a corner, they emerged out onto the Promenade, but instead of the shops and bars, all they could see were gnarled and twisted trees, rising out of gloomy mist and crowding in around them. Tiny lights danced here and there, through the branches in the distance.
“I told you this wasn’t normal” Cass said, in disbelief “How the fuck did this happen? – Is this a Ffionian nanite attack or something?”
Shaking his head, Jamie turned to look back the way they had just come, but started and frowned “Where’s the corridor gone?”
“What?” Jay and the others wheeled to look behind them, only to find themselves inexplicably surrounded by damp and gloomy trees on all sides.
“How...?” Jade was lost for words.
“I don’t remember taking any drugs or hooking into an AR rig” Cass murmured “Anyone else?”
“Wait, what’s that!?” Jay turned, his eyes scanning the trees around them. Tense.
“What -” Bruno began, but Jay held up a hand, silencing him at once.
Twigs snapped, somewhere nearby in the undergrowth...
We’re lost in the woods
What’s out there?
Anyone else out on the promenade or anywhere else? - What's happening to your character?