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When Radioactive Mutants Go Bad


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#51 Jentastic!

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 03:06 PM

By the time Angelina got to the medical bay, it was chaos. Quatermass and Cristofori were - unsurprisingly - still injured, Miles and Taj appeared to be missing and they might not be the only ones, talking to Geedey and Glade was a man Angelina hadn't met yet, Geedey was frowning while Glade was hopping about in a rather gormless fashion. As Angelina deposited her extra supplies on a nearby surface, she was addressed by Geedey.

"Doctor - attend to the Captain and Lieutenant Cristofori immediately, if you please. We have a situation."

Geedey filled the doctor in as she examined the injured men. He was brisk and professional, but when Angelina met his eyes she could see that the Lieutenant was nervous, and he looked warily at the array of medical equipment which she had laid out.

"Cristofori has some severe burns to his chest and legs, a few superficial cuts and scrapes and concussion. Considering what happened, he got off very lightly, but he'll need treatment and then a good deal of medical supervision before he is ready for action. Captain Quatermass has a broken leg and is in shock. He'll be fine, but there's no question of him taking command in the immediate future. He's suffered a great deal of trauma."

Geedey frowned. This was all most inconvenient.
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#52 Hentzau

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:34 PM

Sanderson hated to admit it, but he agreed with Boxer. Then again he'd be a fool not to. The base lighting had failed, but that didn't matter much since the place was lit up by dozens of small fires. They would have given the place a merry, festive air were it not for the signs of battle all around them; a blaster burn on the wall here, a gigantic chunk of globulous intestine there. What's more, when Sanderson took a closer look at one of the fires to see exactly what was burning he could just make out a severed, misshapen arm at the centre of the flames.  In another he could see somebody's foot, although this one looked like a regular foot except for the slight charring. And in yet another he could have sworn he saw a pair of eyes, watching him...

No, he didn't like the look of this at all. Either the inhabitants of this place had made some... unique choices in getting around their winter heating bill or things were far more amiss here than he had first suspected.  Faint, indistinct noises from deep inside the base indicated that they weren't alone. Whatever had set the body parts aflame with such wild abandon might still be around. Sanderson dearly wished he didn't have to carry this damn stretcher so that his gun arm was free, but as it was he'd just have to rely on the merc to protect them if things got rough.

Sanderson didn't much like the idea of that, either.

Still, they had to go deeper into the base. First they had to get to Medbay to fix up the Captain, and then they could think about finding supplies and sending out a distress call. Sanderson had been slightly disturbed when he'd found he knew his way around the base like the back of his hand. He'd never been here before in his life. Hell, this was the first time he'd even been in this sector of the damn galaxy. He shouldn't have a clue where to find Medbay, yet he instinctively knew that it lay down the corridor to his left.

Onwards the four shipwreckees trudged, until they eventually came to a door handily marked 'MEDICAL BAY'. Neither Boxer nor Sanderson were in a position to open it since they were carrying the Captain, and what was more somebody seemed to have locked it. On one hand that meant that it was unlikely there was anything nasty waiting for them inside. On the other, it meant that they had no way of getting in.

Unless... yes. Suddenly the knowledge was just there, in Sanderson's head.

'Jake,' said Sanderson. 'Input access code five five eight six two one four gamma.'

'How in the multiple hells do you know that?'

'Standard Imperial locking code for Tuesdays,' lied Sanderson, covering up the fact that he himself didn't have a clue.

Jake grumbled, but eventually entered the code. The doors slid smoothly aside and suddenly instinct took over completely as Sanderson drew his sidearm and levelled it at the figures inside the room; an action which had the unfortunate side effect of eliciting a shocked cry of pain from Captain Alexander as she rolled off the stretcher.

'Who the hell are you?'

#53 Innokenti

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 08:23 PM

Doctor Angelina Factorial, or Wonder Doc! as a past unfortunate patient had once called her, had been working on Cristofori to make sure he was as stable as he was going to get. The unfortunate consequences of doing everything she could was to drag him, kicking and screaming, for indeed the Bishop's advances had gone too far, into the conscious world.

As the Medical Bay doors swooshed open Cristofori's eyes sprung open, startled Factorial.

'Who the hell are you?' came the voice from the door and nearly coincided with the screaming noise that began to emmanate from Cristofori's mouth. The next thing his body did was sit up, quickly, and headbutt Factorial.

The chain reaction, having only just started, thought it could get away with much. It was, after all, a Tuesday, a lucky day for chain reactions, some said.

Cristofori's unpleasant awakening promted Sanderson's reflexes which were surprisingly quick and awake. He pressed the trigger, the gun fired into a wall, the projectile ricocheted off a series of implausible objects including a VERY suspect wave screwdriver and proceeded to imbed itself in Lieutenant Geedey's hip who was thinking of saying "We're the Army, and you?" but though better and simply said "Ow!" before falling on the floor in pain.

Seconds later several gauss rifles were aimed at Sanderson whose brain caught up with his eyes and noticed Imperial Legion uniforms. Cristofori's scream ended abruptly and he collapsed back.

Barely away, now returned to his inner self, Cristofori carefully reflected on the fact that both the Doc and all the worthwhile commisioned officers, and he did not count the engineer Fourcade, were out. Possibly for a while.

Then he saw that his head was in the bishop's lap. He screamed... but this time nobody could hear it.

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#54 Inflammable Jim

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 10:22 PM

"WILL EVERYBODY JUST CALM DOWN!" yelled a flustered Fourcade

It had the desired effect. He hadn't shouted like that in...well, ever.

"Seeing as we have the guns that say military, you first. Who are you? What are you doing here! Who sent you!", the words tumbled out leaving him increasingly breathless. Sanderson waited until this had subsided before calmly lowering the stretcher and walking directly into the line of fire.

"Adjucator Sanderson. I would say at your service but that would be a lie, cap...uh", his eyes fixed on the part of Fourcade's uniform where stripes should be, "...second lieutenant? Who's in charge here?"

"There have been accidents. At the moment, I am the highest rank in full grasp of my bodily functions, so I am in command"

There were some disconsolate mutterings from the soldiers. Fourcade turned around sharply, "Well I am! I'm not happy about it either, but we have to stick together!". He turned back, feeling that somwhere along the line he'd lost the initiative.

"Doubtless", intoned Sanderson, his voice giving no certainty, "these people behind me, along with I, are the only survivors of a ship crash not too far from here", and several of the military party groaned in solidarity, "We need medical attention. Will you assist"

The words hit the correct dutiful spot of Fourcade's military training and he subsided, "Of course. Stand down men. Uh.." he looked at the prone forms around the outcome of all this fracas, "we might need to get the doctor up and running before we can do much of any use. Somebody wake her up!"

The soldiers allowed Georgie to be brought to a table and Sanderson drew Fourcade aside in the fuss.
"What has happened here?", he hissed.

At this moment, Corporal Higgins, without the benefits of the first-aid course, decided to get results quickly, and threw a bucket of water onto the doctor's face.
You know...we lost the first battle of the Chesapeake because of a mysterious...treacherous...Ankylosaurus

#55 Jentastic!

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 10:48 PM

Angelina spluttered and sat up sharply.

"God... damnit, Cristofori! I'd have thought a Lieutenant should be used to thinking before acting! I don't care how many wounds you have!"

She glowered at Cristofori. The glower had little effect, however, as the Lieutenant had, once again, fallen unconscious. Of all the inconsiderate things to do. The blood spurting from Geedey's hip distracted her, and she instantly became professional. Only sparing a moment to wonder why somebody always got injured when she wasn't paying attention, she turned her medical focus onto Geedey. Cristofori could wait. Angelina turned to Fourcade.

"Lieutenant! Help me lift Geedey to the operating table!"

"That's Second Lieutenant to you, Doctor," grunted Fourcade as he grasped Geedey and helped hoist him onto the table.

So intent was Angelina upon delicately removing the bullet from the - speedily anaesthetised - Geedey that she barely glanced at the new arrivals. The only impression she got was of a long-suffering young woman being supported by a large, scruffy man. She completely failed to notice Boxer, hovering near Jake's elbow, or the stern figure of Sanderson, leaning against the wall, watching Angelina work.
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#56 Kramer

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 05:17 PM

Maine hadn’t moved. He was sitting on a rock having exhausted his tears. It had dawned on him that life, as he had known it was now over. His thoughts, for the first time in very long time, were not with the Brotherhood. He had grown up in a Monastery raised by an elite group of monks, they were the only family he ever knew. At the age of 18, he had left his home planet, lovingly labelled “Axon 5 in Sector 7” by the Talnari Republic. He had known of his quest and of his status as ‘the Carrier’ from the age of 3. Currently, Maine was remembering his 15 year long journey from Axon 5 to CRM-115, in particular, his first day on the giant Space Shuttle launched from Axon 5 to reach the border of the Empire.

He remembered the first time he had seen a woman, “matters of the Flesh” were absolutely forbidden by The Brotherhood. He didn’t know her name, but she had been allocated in a room next to his. They passed each other frequently, after about a week the woman decided to break the ice:

“Hello stranger, what funny clothes you are wearing!”

“They are my robes”

She touched his cloak and looked at his face.

“Where are you from? Where are you travelling to?”

“I am from the planet known as Axon 5. My journey is no concern of yours. I must meet with an important man a lifetime away, it is my destiny.”

The woman seemed intrigued and a little taken aback at Maine’s directness and his apparent total lack of human rapport. She looked into his eyes.

“Would you like to come into my room? I have made a beverage of nettles and water, there is enough to share.”

She widened her eyes, it was a look of keen intent. Maine cut quite a dashing figure despite his poor social skills. He froze. He looked into her eyes with intensity. Even as an 18 year old he had a strong sense of moral purpose and devotion to the Brotherhood. His eyes were as dead and passionless then as they were 15 years later.

“You tempt me female.”

Passions rose in Maine’s chest, he felt a surge of adrenaline, he could feel the blood pumping in the veins of his temples. He followed the girl into the room. She gave a little giggle.

“You’re a strange one”

As she leant over to pour the drink, he suddenly got up. He took his knife out ready to slit her throat. He froze again. He put the knife back into the shadows of his cloak and exited the room sharply, without announcing it.

Back at the outpost, the memory faded, Maine shook his head. He took out a leather-bound tome and opened it. He turned to its final pages and placed it on the ground. He knelt on the floor and read it aloud:

The Carrier

I’ll rap on your door, you’ll look in my eye, in my hand I’ll create a parting gift.
I sing songs of malice and sing songs of hate, you better pray for your death to be swift.
I’ll dance on your grave when the cold night comes, can you hear the boatman’s call?
I’ll sit in the garden of your inner despair just waiting for the fall.
Your world crashes all round you, like hail, taste the smell of deceit.
They’ll stomp on that mind you’re trying to find; this will be your day of defeat.
There’s nothing to hide you as the bubble implodes, nothing to save you now.
New age rising, hope dead and dirtied, flies on the head of the sow.
Beg for your solace, crawl on your hands and knees, the stranger’s coming in the dawn.
He’ll rap at your door, you’ll look in his eye, his face so gaunt and forlorn.
So it is written, mixed in your blood, the terrorizing words for sale.
But that is not yet and thus rest well, for the cuckoo sleeps with the nightingale,
Tell me which one is the thief.


He could never make sense of those verses. He must have read them thousands times. He paused and flicked to another page.

A crack will open in the sky
Death will come to Empires
And the Four Khans will rise to rule
The Galaxy once more
.

He shut the book and stroked his moustache with his thumb. Somewhere, deep down, he was scared that the new Khan wouldn’t rise, that his whole life had been sacrificed for nothing. Here he was sitting on this rock, alone, on a moon billions of miles away from the nearest person who even knew his name. It may have all been for nothing.

He finally got up and walked slowly back to the outpost, broken and defeated.

#57 TSP

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 07:34 PM

“Rightho chaps, here’s what I want to know : how many men are with you?” Faceless started with. He addressed the question to Terrik first.

“I’m not military. I’ve got no, uh, idea,” Terrik protested, hoping that this was enough to persuade the mutant to not cut off his ear. Still in his relatively jolly military persona, Faceless ignored the Deacon - who had gone into some sort of deep trance - entirely, instead moving over to Miles. Miles had been hoping that Terrik and Taj would provide a distraction for long enough that he’d be able to come up with some kind of idea about how he was going to avoid spilling thirty years of military secrets. The hope was in vain.

“I don’t know,” Miles pleaded. Initially surprised that he’d been able to say this, he realised it was true : he didn’t know how many men there were. A plan was slowly formulating in Miles’ head.

“I appreciate that detailed operational information might be a bit about your pay grade but surely you must have some idea of how many men you’re with, son?”

“You’re correct. My pay grade is pretty low and I know very little operational information,” Miles conceded. “I thought you were asking for an exact number, which I just can’t give you. Sorry about that. The size of our group is quite difficult to keep track of because people keep crashing into the planet and commanding officers keep getting injured or knocked out.”

“So how many?”

“To the nearest fifty, I’d say fifty. I wouldn’t want to be any more specific than that because I might be wrong and well, I couldn’t lie to you.” If he actually had a face, Faceless would have been wearing an exasperated expression.

Terrik was beginning to worry that Faceless would abandon Kennington and turn his intention to the others when Taj snapped back to reality and yelled “THE ALMIGHTY HAS SPOKEN.”

#58 Janek

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 08:35 PM

"What?" Faceless swivelled slightly in his skates. "No he hasn't."

"What would thou knowest of the Almighty's intentions, defiled one? Thou who were not made in His image?" Taj struggled to his feet, and tried to fix the mutant with a stare (which of course proved difficult with no features to fix on). Unperturbed by his failure to make eye contact, he continued. "Abominations such as thee would not be permitted in the Kingdom of Heaven, even were thou to convert to service of the Almighty."

Faceless quivered in frustration, his voice raising an octave. "Clearly you have little knowledge of our kind, Deacon. I mean, hello? We're mutants? Of course I don't look exactly the same as the Almighty! And, for your information, I speak to him all the time, I've served him for years. Isn't that right, Al?"

Taj prepared to strike out at the mutant for his insolence, but was instead brought to his knees by a deep, booming voice.

"THAT IS CORRECT. FACELESS HAS WORKED FOR ME FOR MANY YEARS. WE HAVE PLANS FOR YOUR PEOPLE. OBEY."

As the Deacon grovelled, Terrik sighed as he briefly glimpsed a supernaturally huge, immensely strong mutant through the half-open door.

But Taj would not listen to his protests, and lay in supplication to a creature which, in his mind, must clearly be closer to God than he could ever comprehend.
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#59 Innokenti

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 10:15 PM

Cristofori decided that this is what those 'religious experiences' must be like. He'd heard a few men discuss it with the Deacon before, what they'd experienced, and saw God in it, was... crazy. He really couldn't see how it all worked because they were just making things up and then tacking on some half-baked convictions onto their imaginations. Foolish.

"Get off me. Now, no, don't touch that. Or that. OR THAT!" he shouted at the Bishop and wandered into a bath. It was full of half-naked people. And steamy.

Still, he'd begun to make sense of the whole thing. Something outside his mind was trying to talk to him and using these... images, manipulating his mind, to carry its message across. The problem is, these puzzles were very hard, and exerting influence on things to solve them was putting a strain on Cristofori's... something. Take these baths - what was he supposed to do with a bunch of hairy men and the occasionaly good-looking chick in a whole load of steam and water. Throw hot coals at them?

Throw hot coals at them!

A pair of Heat-be-gone gloves appeared on a table next to him and Lucio quickly threw his hands into them. It was nice and cool inside, which made sense if you were going to be grabbing hot coals. Lucio did so and judiciously applied his strength to an average toss aimed at a particularly rotund gentleman of below-average height in the 'cool' area. That would show him. Without awaiting the results he launched another coal into the thin man. Probably an accountant, which should certainly help make him feel better.

There was screaming behind him, as the fat man got the load and Lucio was soon also rewarded with the splash of the thin man going into the 'XTREME' pool. The commotion behind him was headed by angry men, with even angrier beaver terriers, and nothing terrified Cristofori more than a well-trained beaver terrier. He ran.

Straight into the bishop. He sword under his breath and tried desperately to avoid the oozing hot cross buns; upon failing, he resigned himself to the floor. The bishop did quite a miraculous thing - he stopped his pursuers with the wave of a stick (Cristofori was wondering what the hook on the end was for) and then quitely turned to sit back down. There was an ominous lack of any advance. Cristofori sat up, grabbed a teacup and took a quick swig. The tea was just right.

Then he looked at the bishop and saw. Saw what he'd been missing.

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#60 Masked Dave

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 03:28 AM

"Um, Deacon, I really don't think that was God. I mean, I'm pretty sure that big green gorilla... kangaroo... shark... thing hiding behind that door said it. No? Not interested in hearing that? Huh. Well sticking with your first idea against evidence otherwise is the cornerstone of religion I guess. Good for you." Terrik was basically talking to himself now, but that made him feel a little better than talking to the brain with eyes and lips.

Turning to said monstrosity, he said, "You realise you've just turned the only one of us who seemed to actually know anything into a... well... into somebody who is now incapable of talking."

"Ooh, oh dear!" Faceless laughed, now in a personality that scared Terrik more than any of the others, "Oh will you look at me! All locked up in a room with three strapping lads all tied up! How scandalous!" The either outrageously camp or undersexed but overly jolly fat girl version of Faceless (Terrik hadn't ruled out multiple sexes, it was after all, just bits of a head) rolled up close to his prisoner's face. "But don't you worry about us sweety. We have ways of making you talk."

Several responses to this rolled through his mind, but there was only really one option. He closed his eyes and whimpered softly, praying that something, anything would interrupt this interrogation.
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#61 Masked Dave

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 12:32 PM

Al Mighty looked down at Trevor McLongfellow who was curled around his large feet also peaking into the interrogation room.

"What's he mean, a kangaroo?" he asked, his big eyes looking rather offended. Trevor twisted to look him over with his many eyes. The largest member of the mutants certainly had a large, beast like chest covered in green hairs, and the grey, powerful fins of a shark making him strong both on land and sea, but... well it was obvious wasn't it? However, not wanting to hurt Al's feelings Trevor merely shrugged, which was quite an impressive gesture for creature who was basically a long fleshy tube.

As the screaming started in the other room, Trevor slithered away, not particularly keen to watch what was happening in there and the long, thing neck of Guy Raffee wound down to carry his round, squat face to Trevor's ear level.

"It's that tiny pointy head of his ain't it?" he whispered. Trevor whistled in the affirmative and carried on moving.
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#62 TSP

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 12:23 AM

Higgins was impressed by his own medical prowess. He hadn't actually thought that chucking the bucket of water at the doctor would actually be successful, he'd just always wanted to do it. Deciding that maybe he didn't need the first aid course after all, he set about attempting to revive the other patients. When punching Quatermass in the face proved to do little good, he moved onto the figures near the door. "What's wrong with her?" he asked, nodding to Georgie.

Mistaking Higgins for a medical officer (after all, most of his uniform had been torn off), Jake handed her over. "Cracked her head on collision."

"I think this is a classic case of space fatigue," Higgins announced. "You'd be surprised how quickly muscles deteriorate in extended space transit. Got to keep up the exercise." Higgins gave Georgie a good shake to get her to snap out of it, to no avail. Sanderson shot Higgins a look as though he'd just stepped out of the real world and into a Terry Pratchett novel. Higgins discarded Georgie as quickly as he'd picked her up, handing her back over to Jake.

"That's it," Higgins proclaimed. "I've had enough of this. We shouldn't be here pretending to be doctors -"

"I'm not pretending!" Angelina snapped. She was still working with Geedey.

"Calm down Higgins and p-put your shirt back on," Fourcade ordered, trying to regain control of the situation.

"The sight of my incredibly well-built physique should encourage the men to keep in shape," Higgins protested. "And with all due respect, I'm not taking orders from a pasty-skinned, lanky, drug addled, weakling French academic who had to buy his way into the military, sir."

#63 Inflammable Jim

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 12:22 PM

Fourcade stood there, lip flapping in the manner of the hungry goldfish at this outburst, so Higgins decided to continue.

"Two of our men have been taken away! Another two haven't come back from guard duty! Possibly stolen by a clan of ears..", (no-one had been able to make sense of the single ear they'd found in the storeroom), "..and what are we doing to save these poor muscularly challenged individuals?"

Fourcade twitched back into the argument, "We are not wheeling an unconcious command force into an incredibly dangerous situation just to get results!", he was becoming aware that a number of soldiers were subtly moving towards Higgins.

Angelina had no such faith in Higgins' rational abilities, and quietly positioned herself between him and the row of wounded.

"I forbid you from moving these patients, Corporal", she said firmly.

Fourcade looked gratified that someone was taking his side, "Besides, they wanted us to stick together. Do you want to explain to them why we went off on a wild goose chase?"

Higgins looked to be weighing up his options before shrugging, "No matter, we'll get our people back before they've woken up, and then you'll have to explain why you left men behind. Move out, men! We'll show those mutants what for!"

And he marched off to the storeroom with, to Fourcade's amazement, some half-dozen of the remaining upright military.

"Stop!", he yelled to little avail. After the last of them disappeared around the same corner that Miles and the Deacon had some hours ago, he swallowed, and turned around to see Sanderson was staring pitifully at him again. This was not going well.
You know...we lost the first battle of the Chesapeake because of a mysterious...treacherous...Ankylosaurus

#64 Barky

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 02:28 PM

Frank had been sitting down all this time. Just smoking away when he saw half the military go. "You couldn't keep control of a corpse, Fourcade." Frank said calmly.

"Well what have you been doing?" Fourcade said angrily "Smoking?!"

"Yes. I tend to do that when I'm stressed." Frank said, lighting up another cancer stick. "I'll tell you something, Lieutenant. I only came here for fuel. If I'm such a thorn in the side to you, give me some and I'll go."

"Why don't you use your fucking lighter fuel?!" Said Fourcade, cleansing his fist. When Angelina stepped in.

"Calm down! Both of you!"

Silence came over the room, Frank put out his cigarette and spoke.

"I understand why you're angry, Lieutenant, I would be to. Now, all we need is a plan..."      

The silence was broken with laughter.

#65 Lu-Tze

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 02:56 PM

Arcing light flickered inside Luther's workshop as he grafted away. Further analysis of the device had shown that it worked much as he suspected, although the workings of its core were far beyond anything he could comprehend. The outer spheres turned any lateral movement into some rotational momentum, storing it within the spheres movement. At a stable level, they moved almost indefinitely, only a barely audible ringing sound, like a wet finger along the rim of a glass, betrayed their perpetual motion. When overloaded with energy though, they seemed to transfer this energy into the core by means of a rotating magnetic field, causing it to release a broad spectrum of radiation. The sensor directly over the rainbow of electromagnetism was registering off the scale at times, but none of it was harmful to humans, completely outside any wavelength that we could perceive or react to.

Whilst the shell of the device was an intricate piece of engineering, it was the core that was truly phenomenal. It was a geometrically perfect sphere, utterly black and opaque, and seemingly impenetrable. Every attempt Luther had made to break it open had resulted only in broken tools, and every attempt to scan underneath it's surface was met with either errors, unknowns, or in the case of the universal multiplexer; classified it as a kipper.

Luther looked up at his masterpiece... the Kinematic Anti-Newtonian Stasis Anchor Sphere. The idea had been simple, 17 years ago. Everything in space moved, in every increasing circles. Planets went round stars, stars orbited in galaxies, and galaxies glided through space. The combined speeds were astronomical, and moving from point to point was a question of fighting to go even faster. What if rather than trying to go faster, you planned a course very carefully and went slower? Put on the brakes. Anchored yourself to a fixed point in space and waited for your destination to come to you? The passive system of movement could have revolutionised space travel, making it fast and cheap... but the problem was what to do with all the kinetic energy you were trying to shed? Light emitters burned out, and made blinding new stars in the sky. Trying to store it had been foolhardy, as the capacitors had quickly overflowed with the sheer weight of energy they were trying to brake against. Electric current had fried components, magnetism had fried computers... there was no end to the number of different types the energy could be converted into and each one was as much a dead end as the last. Finally though, here in his hand lay a pearl more precious than any other in the universe, because it made his impossible dream reality. Such a simple device, and easily fitted into his masterwork as it already stood... a huge spherical housing, 100m in diameter, with a transport shuttle slung underneath it like a basket and containing all manner of telemetry devices and sensor equipment.

Of course, it didn't solve the other major issue with the idea. Plotting a journey took even quantum computers months, and ideal launch conditions only passed by every few years at best. Unless the network of spheres spanned the entirety of Empire space, then it could never be a valid way of commercially transporting goods. Luther didn't care though, the core was unique, and he'd seen all he had to see in Empire space. The maiden flight would be his retirement, to travel further out than any empire scout had ever been and see things no-one had ever dreamed could exist.

Luther's daydreaming was interrupted by an insistent and annoying beep coming from the corner of the workshop. The BioRythmicResonator was complaining that it had run out of disk space. Odd, as it was configured to only catalogue new specimens in readiness for the voyage ahead. Running back over the logs Luther looked over the data that had collected in his absence... these weren't new species at all. They all shared one common DNA sequence at their origin, human. In fact they had even more in common than that... they were all dangerous, carnivorous, prone to mental instability.... and they were all right here on CRM-115. Luther stared back at the colony on the horizon, there was no doubt that these beasts were already there, and not a chance that anyone there would last until the next supply ship landed.

Luther grabbed his keys and pulled himself up into Matilda, leaving only a cloud of yellow dust as he tore back towards the outpost.
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#66 Innokenti

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:59 PM

The bishop's raiment had two interesting decorations. One of them was a badge that simply said "EXIT", which was a suitable, if slightly unfair, solution to this uncoscious riddle. The second artefact was far more interesting - he was decorated in nightingales, which caught Cristofori's attention more than anything else. His family, both the branch from which he came and the main line, had held the coat of arms depicting a nightingale for many centuries. The bishop's garbs held the exact same design. Granted, it could be his subconscious supplying detail but... but he felt more to it.

The nightingale was supposed to signify something, he couldn't quite remember what because his parents had varying opinions and surprisingly his mother's was a more aggressive and warlike interpretation. Proud of his heritage, he was still bitter about having to see the butt-end of the Empire for any amount of time and wasn't about to flaunt an image or ideology that meant nothing this far out.

"That's clever. Though a little unfair I'd say," he said to the Bishop and selected a few different biscuits. One of them was shaped like an Imperial Legionary. It looked remarkably like Geedey. He crunched on it.

"Oh? This, I do beg your pardon," the bishop said and, licking his finger, proceeded to rub the badge. A letter 'S' appeared to make it read "EXIST". "You should always remember to exist you know Lucio."

Cristofori sagged. He had the feeling he was about to experience a
lesson.

"It's very important to always exist, because when you don't exist... well, you're not there. Stand to reason," the bishop paused to wipe his suddenly-greasy fingers on a chequered napkin that became a pumpkin. "Who am I? Yes, I thought you might wonder that my boy."

"Uh, I wasn't. You're the bishop though. I'm not really sure how I know that, but I suppose you'll tell me."

"Why not?! Indeed, you know it because I told you. In a special subconscious sort of way. Yes, well, I am indeed the Bishop, though I don't suppose that means anything to you because the Church your Empire knows has long forgotten what a bishop is or what one's supposed to do. That's not really the point, since I'm not a real Bishop per se, the word merely... describes well my role and position."

"Okay. Fine. Can I wake up now. I don't suppose it would be that easy," Cristofori sighed.

"Your waking up largely depends on the delightful Doctor Angelina Factorial, and perhaps a bit of chance. Yes, chance, wonderful thing that, chance that brought you here. Here to where I could find you and begin work. So to speak of course, since my work began long ago and I am somewhere near the middle of the middle part. You, Lucio Cristofori, have destiny. Heard of destiny?"

"I can grasp the concept, thankyou, get to the bit where you tell me things, I find things out, so that I can then tell you it's all a load of rubbish. I am mostly concerned with continuing to live and getting back to the core where I can actually do something meaningful."

"Ah! Meaning! The search for! How young... how... oh my boy. Scone? I like to pretend they're spaceships and I am a sun, engulfing them."

There was a pause as the bishop engulfed a scone.

"Ever been on a spaceship heading towards the sun? No, didn't think so. Not so great to be honest. Unless you're the sun."

Cristofori raised an eyebrow.

"You'll get to do great and meaningful things, and you'll certainly have to live. See, there are these people, right, who have a big prophecy that needs fulfilling. And you're part of it! Isn't that great?"

"No. Why would I care?"

"You don't need to. But you do need to go help it all work. That'll be your quest, so to speak, and its attainment will bring you everything you want, or need. Everything. Well, I suppose I exaggerate, but you get the general drift."

"Do I get to take it or leave it?"

"You get to take it."

"Right. I'm leaving then. Because, well, I'd like to exist, and at the moment I'm not. I'M WAKING UP."

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#67 Jen

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 10:52 PM

Georgie

Georgie didn't like being manhandled. On the list of things she liked it was somewhere down the bottom - inbetween people that interrupted her whilst she was watching the latest Interstellar SpaceCricket League match (vastly superior to the American Cricketball "Worlds Series"*) and lawyers. Jake had twitched when the muscular soldier had shook his Captain about but had mercifully restrained himself from shooting anyone.

Half the men had disappeared now and the Doctor had finally finished with the man with the gunshot. She'd managed to stabilise both commanding officers as well and Georgie could tell that there was much more to the woman than her girlish attitude and pronounced accent.

Factorial had motioned for Jake to help Georgie onto a bed and was now turning her head carefully back and forth making multitudes of checks Georgie couldn't even reason.

"I'm gonna to take a pretty solid guess that you've gone and got yoursel' a concussion and nothin' worse," the Doctor said, washing out the gash on Georgie's forehead, "Without anyway of gettin' the equipment workin' I can't say more than that"

"It'll do fine," Georgie said, nodding carefully, "Can I move about?"

"Normally I'd say no but -" Factorial shrugged and let the phrase hang as if to indicate there was nothing she could do to stop Georgie from moving if she wanted to.

Georgie held her head still as the young Doctor rubbed PlastoGel onto the wound. She felt the familiar tingling sensation of a thousand healing battle wounds - it could be disconcerting for a rookie but Georgie had got herself injured enough to find it commonplace. Factorial moved away to check on the officers and Georgie levered herself off the bed.

Jake was at her side just as she stumbled slightly and she gave him a small smile of thanks. The smile grew bigger when he supported her only long enough for her to get her equlibrium before stepping away. She wondered when Jake had got to know her so well. Had it really been over five years?

Georgie met Sanderson's eyes and moved her head to one side in the Interspacially recognised signal for 'A quick word'. Sanderson nodded and they stepped to one side of the room.

"The Osprey," she said, still feeling around the edges of her lucidity, "What do you think?"

"What do you think?" he posed her question back and she knew he wanted to know what she really thought. She nodded.

"Sabotage," she said shortly and he nodded too, "Half a dozen readings went out of control when we hit Atmo"

"So - some kind of timed device?" Sanderson asked.

"More like a condition-based device - probably heat - hitting Atmo is a hot thing for a ship," Georgie said, spreading her hands as if miming pressing against an invisible barrier.

"And you don't suspect me?" he asked wryly.

"Space cops may be many things," Georgie said, enjoying it as Sanderson winced at the term, "But they're not saboteurs. No - it wasn't you and it sure as hell wasn't my crew"

"Which leaves the stowaway reporter or the mechanic," Sanderson said, half to himself. Georgie could tell he was already thinking.

"Sure -" Georgie said slowly, "That's if you rule out everyone that touched the Osprey back at Fourteen"

"You don't think -" Sanderson started but Georgie raised a hand to stop him.

"Don't you think it's unusual that no ship has been able to land here succesfully?" Georgie asked, raising an eyebrow. Sanderson quietened.

"It's strange," he admitted.

"Do me a favour and keep this quiet, alright?" Georgie asked, "I really don't need Jake making threatening noises at people right now"

"This is Forge making unthreatening noises?" Sanderson's eyes passed over the big Merc who was currently glaring at one of the shorter soldiers.

"He's a better man than he looks," Georgie said, ignoring Sanderson's incredulous look.

"I'll keep it quiet," Sanderson nodded, "If only because I think your engineer might cry, uh, more if he was told"

"Thanks," Georgie said, "That'll be two I owe you"

Sanderson raised his eyebrows.

"You carried me out of that ship," Georgie said, "I'm mighty thankful for it"


*Worlds Series indeed - it only happened on the one planet. But then the New Americans always were tossers.
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#68 Barky

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 11:16 PM

"Jake? A Better man than he looks? Well I'll be damned..." Frank thought to himself. He also thought that he should concentrate on getting fuel and keeping his job instead of concentrating on these bunch of all-over-the-shop losers.

Space cops? Imperial ships crashing? Toxic Mega Colons? Frank didn't give a flying cow about that. He gave a flying cow about none of this crap. He just stood in the background, it's what he's been trained to do, it's what he's used to, and it's what he likes to do.

"Screw this, I'm looking for fuel with OR without you lot." Frank shouted.

"Oh no you're not, Harrison!" Said Fourcade.

"Fourcade, how are you going to stop me? You can't stop half your force from leaving..." Frank said calmly, in the same melodic tome he's been speaking since the army left.

"Harrison, your not going" A new voice said, Sanderson this time. "Now I've gotta deal with this pathetic excuse for a commander, wounded men, and half a force walking out. Not to mention those 3 that got themselves kidnapped. I'm not dealing with you having hissy fits. Got me Harrison?" Sanderson glared at Harrison for about 3 minutes before he decided to sit back down.

"Thats who I give respect to, Fourcade." Frank said.

#69 Insert Name Here

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 10:13 AM

Tony staggered through the gates of the compound, and paused to rest. It had been a long walk, pausing frequently to reapply the burn ointment, and he was glad it was finally over. The journalist was still out cold.

Tony looked around the courtyard, saw what he assumed was the front door, and decided to go in. There didn't seem to be anyone around, although there were signs of a fairly large group passing through recently. He picked up the journalist, and wandered through the main door.

He decided his priority was the Medbay, for several reasons. He was almost out of the burn ointment for starters, and the journalist needed medical help. The Medbay also seemed like the most likely destination for the crew of the ship, and if he was sure of one thing, it was that he would have a much better chance of survival with someone else watching his back. And the guy slung over his shoulders certainly wasn't doing much of that.

Tony followed the arrow which claimed to lead to the Medbay. He reached the doors, which were open, and was pleased to see Boxer first of all. He was less pleased to see Jake and the cop from the ship. He suspected one or both was responsible for leaving him behind. However, none of this compared to how displeased he was to see a small group of soldiers, all pointing their weapons at him.

"This man needs a doctor," he said "As do I, for that matter. I am unarmed. I came in with Captain Alexander and her crew. I do not pose a threat to you, so PLEASE FOR GODS SAKE STOP POINTING THOSE RIFLES AT ME!"
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#70 Innokenti

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 11:40 AM

"Y'know, they really are injured," Factorial said, "Might be a good idea to do as they's sayin' and get me more practice." The men turned from her to Fourcade to Sanderson. The latter nodded and the men slowly put their rifles down, a couple went over to help the newcomers.

Doctor Angelina Factorial, who had suddenly become one of the most important people in this mish-mash of 'survivors', moved onto various patients. Geedey, a little feverish, had his thigh patched up and was resting; Captain Alexander seemed to be okay for now and Factorial could do little for her without access to more complicated instruments. Quatermass, a man she still hadn't met, remained out cold and she'd done everything in her power to make sure he'd at least get up at some point. She carefully avoided Cristofori, for fear he might cause he another bloody headache, which hardly helped the other patients, and checked out the new guys.

"I'm Tony," the man who had shouted said, "And this is Adam... I think. Burning up a little here, and he's hit his head probably."

"There's a lot of that goin' on around here," Factorial said and checked the unconscious man. She mentally chalked another concussion and moved on to Tony. He needed burn treatment beyond paltry ointment and she was just the thing he needed. She quickly found what she was looking for on the table where she had collected all available instruments and medicine and shoved a needle in one of the burn areas.

"What the!" Tony exclaimed and repressed a scream.

"Now jus' you hold still!"

Minutes later she'd gone over him and promised the man a speedy recovery.


She finally turned back to Cristofori. The Lieutenant with an attitude she wasn't sure she liked, and one who'd given her a damn proper headache too, but he was in her power now. She inspected him again, there had been progress and rather than downright unconsciouss he was really sleeping, and murmuring something. Background noise indicated an argument between Fourcade and Sanderson, the men feeling more comfortable with the leadership of the latter compared to either Fourcade or Higgins. Of course Higgins had taken a few men with him and, well, courage lack he did not.

"Right. I'm leaving then. Because, well, I'd like to exist, and at the moment I'm not. I'M WAKING UP," Cristofori suddenly screamed, Factorial swung herself away to avoid any sudden movements. The sudden movement followed soon and Cristofori sat up, eyes wide, groaned and collapsed back, but still conscious.

"Lieutenant?"

"Awake. That's... good, Doc," he said and got a jab in the ribs with an instrument Factorial was holding. "Oi!"

Factorial lifted an eyebrow and smiled. "Captain's squad is fallin' apart, you going to do something about it?"

"What the devil," he said looking around and noticing several newcomers, and several disappearances, "Don't I have to rest and all, severe injuries and... I am alright?"

"Sure, sure, you're surprisingly intact, or 'least I made you so. You've been resting for some while anyway," she told him and passed him the officer's jacket she had removed to check for injuries. It was a bit tattered.

"So tell me what's going on, I've got to take the situation by storm to sort it out."

"The religious man and that weasely navy Petty Officer disappeared off to check something and haven't come back. That lawman there, Sanderson, 's come in with the Cap'n of the Osprey and a few others. Shot Geedey, by accident, he's over there."

Cristofori shot a worried to look to Geedey and ascertaining that he was not dead, or indeed screaming, turned back to Factorial. "Go on."

"Fourcade took command, so to speak, not that's anyone's listenin', then your man Higgins took some men off to search for those missing. Rest are arguin' and Sanderson's just about the only one keepin' cool, which is to the man's credit. Then there's the spy there, Frank something, typically for a spy all he's thinking of is getting fuel and getting his ship off the planet. I don't think he's really noticed mutants, catastrophe, though's he's perfectly willin' to help us out I think. Those two are from the Osprey too, came in late," she said, emphasising the 'late' as if that was the only criminal thing that's happened.

Cristofori thought for a while. This was hardly the place to... well, be doing anything, and he was concerned with remaining alive in an environment that seemed determined to kill him. But this was all something new, for the Empire, this was the real Frontier now, the Frontier of ten years back when things were being discovered... uncovered, he had a chance to do something, and prove something. Even if he did receive odd missives in his mind.

"And, well," the Doctor continued, "If I'm to do more proper surgery an' all, I'd better get the good stuff through that door, so take your men and let's get us the whole medbay."

Cristofori stood up, straightened his jacket a little and let out the air from his lungs. Then inhaled, and shouted.

"SQUAD! SQUAD, 'SHUN!"

Almost everyone was startled, only Sanderson, who had caught sight of Lucio getting up, and Factorial who was of course expecting it, kept standing. Everyone else mostly didn't. The soldiers positively scrambled, Fourcade whimpered and straightened himself.

"Uh, squad ready for inspection," he said, too loud to come off calm. Then added, "Lieutenant, sir."

"I trust Corporal Higgins left with four men to investigate the disappearence of the Deacon and Petty Officer Kennington with your permission?" Cristofori inquired and tried, as best he could, to terrorise the Navy man with his gaze.

"No sir, he defied orders, he... insubordination," Fourcade replied.

Cristofori instinctively moved his gaze to Sanderson, and remembered that the man had shot Geedey, by accident. Sanderson shrugged, "If I may, Lieutenant, Lieutenant Fourcade was incapable of delivering orders and Corporal Higgins was acting in the best interests of the... squad integrity."

"Mild punishment for both then. If Higgins does get back anyway," Cristofori said turning back to Fourcade.

"I dunno," muttered Sanderson.

"'s a redshirt," Fourcade suggested by way of explanation.

"Redshirt Lieutenant?" Cristofori inquired.

"It's what we're calling the squaddies who get killed all easy. All seem to be wearing red shirts," Sergeant Fawn, who had had the sense to keep himself scarce ever since touchdown on Fifteen, said and muttered something under his breath. It made him seem some twenty years older.

"Sergeant, we're all, save the Deacon and Navy, wearing red on our uniform. It's the Legion uniform," Cristofori said slowly and with deliberation then sighed. "Whatever, we need to take the rest of the Medbay, so organise the men into two groups and hope that Higgins has done the lion's share of colon-bashing."
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#71 Masked Dave

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 01:35 PM

Terrik couldn't speak, they'd gagged him. He couldn't move either though, and that one was just down to shear exhaustion. He was completely drained now, his hair matted with his own blood, the wound must have stopped bleeding by now but it still pounded, like something was trying to explode out of his skull. And then they'd tortured him.

He'd told them everything he knew, which was exactly nothing, but he still didn't feel proud of himself for it. He was not a strong man though, all he wanted was to get out of here and get the hell off this rock. He'd just been trying to earn a living! To fly ten tonnes of shit to some colony he couldn't even remember the name of, and now he'd landed right in it. Monsters. Hideous fucking monsters. And the army! An invasion of the Empire by somebody or something. And he was caught in the middle of it. He wasn't made for this sort of thing, he didn't care about galactic issues, about who was in power, about war. He just bought and sold stuff. Legally, for the most part. This wasn't his life. But, he was starting to realise with horrible clarity, it looked like it was going to be his death.

He felt one of the others slump down beside him, their interrogation obviously now over, and the squeak of the pair of roller skates as they left the room, the door slamming shut behind them.

Faceless wheeled himself into the new mutant base of operations, what had once been the cafeteria of the complex. Mutants of all shapes and sizes were arranged on the long benches, perches on tables, each other's shoulders, wrapped around ceiling pipes or just running around the floor trying not to be trodden on. An army. His army.

"MY BROTHERS!" he began, "I have a dream!"
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#72 Inflammable Jim

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 05:53 PM

It was a good opener, the mutants agreed later as they gathered around the water-cooler just outside the cafeteria, alternately drinking, sloshing, absorbing by process of osmosis and somehow...breathing in the liquid it exuded. A bit hackneyed but a fine opening line nontheless. It had begun to break down then, as Faceless had shifted through a quickening variety of styles, nerves, or perhaps the lack of functioning ones, getting to him/her (at one point he'd gone to the sexually repressed voice again and everyone had gotten very twitchy. Especially Twitch.) Truth be told, they felt, collectively, he'd been laying on the megalomaniacal personalities too much.

"All he needs is a boneless, skinless, faceless, hairless white-haired cat to insubstantially stroke", said Guy, somewhat raffishly, taking a languid drink from the top of the cooler. "ggg ggg...", he stopped and swallowed the water, "We all know what happened to poor Toxic. They say the only thing left was a lingering odour, and the echoes of a raaaaah!"

"Who say that?", asked Ratarse, rolling around in a puddle.

"No, they say that. Who was on a different sentry duty."

Canny could sense the inevitable routine and released a pulse of clarity.

Ratarse stopped for a moment, contrived to scratch his spherical shape in what was a thoughtful way and continued, "Ah, the guy with the hoop-mouth. Never liked him"

"Agreed"

"Anyway, I'm just saying we have to be more careful. We don't need any more impacted bowels."

A rumbling followed by a thump from the left indicated Al Mighty had jammed his head in the wall again trying to nod quietly.

"FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF THE MUTANTS, IT MAY BE NECESSARY"

Taj quivered in his cell, his belief taking another dent. Guy shrugged, a difficult act when your neck is longer than your arms.

"It's just...his plan depends on someone mounting a rescue effort. A really poor rescue effot. They're incompetent, sure, but that's stretching it. Surely they'll radio in support"

Canny indicated that there was more to this plan than met the eye. Which was fortunate, as she only had one.
You know...we lost the first battle of the Chesapeake because of a mysterious...treacherous...Ankylosaurus