Oolong nodded and looked to Eli, asking, “Do you have any questions for Private Hutchens before we take him home for a full debriefing?”
“Here’s your gun back Vladimir. Good as new. Better even,” said Eli.
Turning to Oolong: “I got questions of plenty partner. But, I got questions for you first before you go do your thing,” smiled politely the man with the double irons on his hips.
“One: What are you going really do with Vladimir here? We got some work to finish here and I wouldn’t him be detain for too long. Army of one plus sort-of one ain’t so fun.”
“What about me?”
“Kiss kiss J.J. Make kissy face with Ze 'cause the meat bags boys are talking here,” as Eli set the health spider down on the console.
(Translation “kiss kiss”, Jump in and hide in the station network if things get hot.)
“Women… I am right?”
Eli will interrupt any action these guys take shoo him away and take Vladimir away
Jelia Jamb crept over to a console to begin an interface with the Tram’s A.I. At that moment the usual happy Cherub named Ze was replaced by a big red eyeball.
“Security protocol initaited over Tram System. External hacking threat detected. Tram within Metro 4 Security Zone. Moving to neutralize.” the Tram’s speakers echoed.
Eli watched as Jelia Jamb was struck with enough voltage and wifi override codes that Health Spider was crippled and hurled with enough force to strike the clone in the chest. Hutchens doubled over forward, both trying to catch the falling mekanoid, and trying to stop the shock spasms through his body.
In that moment, Eli watched as time seemed to slow around them. Oh shit, he worried, it meant his instincts were picking up a threat and dumping enough adrenaline into his blood stream that he could actually see Oolong as the Commander moved. Oolong’s sword was already in motion, beheading the clone while he was bent over the mekanoid.
The blade was cleaned and sheathed by the time the clone’s body hit the floor.
“Now that Mr. Hutchens is no longer listening, we can speak a little more openly Eli,” said Oolong, motioning one of the wraiths to prop up the clone’s body and begin reattaching the head, "Make sure Hutchen’s doesn’t get too messy. I want a situation easily explained away by the security system attacking the mekanoid, once we resurrect him.
As you may or may not have realized. This clone is not just any clone. Mr. Hutchens is just another faux-name used by the Old VLAD. Unfortunately for this clone, he’s been here long enough not to know that cover name is compromised, and the Old VLAD has moved on.
Right now Hutchens trusts you. Or at least trusts you enough to tell you about why he was here originally.
He seems to be hunting for an earlier McMurphy clone. Like most of the criminal slime working with Old VLAD, the McMurphy clones were used to kill many honored and respected EEF officers and Government Agents. In fact just a few years back a McMurphy clones was hunting me across the Colonies. Luckily Agent Love recovered Big Gun #5 and used its cannon to wipe out the McMurphy clone in charge.
I suspect Hutchens is here to kill the last remaining proof of a conspiracy between Commissar Von Glomhammer and Old VLAD and McMurphy that dates back before Refuge was even colonized. A plan to kill and enslave everyone on this planet. And it is perfect timing. It seems the McMurphy clone in charge of the new VLAD Agency revealed himself as a murderer, at the same time we find proof of his clones earlier conspiracies. I want to make sure McMurphy is banned from VLAD leadership, and his evil clones are all locked up in the Goru Prison.
If you can use Hutchens to find and capture the old McMurphy clone, Riley, then I can use either Hutchens or Riley’s testimony to prove what really happened here over two thousand years ago.
The people of Refuge deserve to know the truth…"
“I will officially take Hutchens in for a briefing after he is revived. Then my soldiers will return him to you here unharmed,” said Oolong.
Turning to a nearby Wraith spec ops, Oolong said, “Inject Hutchens with the Eye Spy artifact so we can keep an eye and ear on him. Also administer a healer patch to the Health Spider, I think Eli’s A.I. could use a little repair.”
Then looking at Eli he said, “Here is my comm codes. Pass them along to the EEF switchboard and you can reach me while you are here in the GRF and surrounding lands. Any real questions before Hutchens wakes back up?”
Ze reappered and began apologizing profusely to Jelia Jamb, “Sorry little Jelia, I do not have control over protocols inside the Security Zone…”
“Looks like I got kicked out of VLAD at the right time,” sighed Eli. “We need a little more privacy though before my questions.”
“Oolong, got a place here you and me can have some tea in one peace?”
Oolong said, "Unfortunately ever since an older McMurphy clone shot me in the gut with an acid bullet I don’t do private meetings. Especially not with former VLAD agents, no offense intended.
My bodyguards are specially chosen, and frankly if they were OVC agents of the Old VLAD, both I and Colony General Malthus would be long dead. As for the locale?"
He motioned to one of the Wraith Spec Ops, who opened an energy bridge to another dimension. Oolong, Eli and the bodyguards stepped through.
Eli didn’t recognize the strange skies, or the odd building they stood in.
Oolong said, “You have exactly 15 starting now. Time flows differently here, so we are not staying long. But suffice it to say, we keep this place for the secretest sort of communication. So what is it?”
“Don’t blame you about being paranoid. Been getting that a lot lately. This is better.”
“Vladimir is a ticking time bomb with a target on his head. You know his body and mind is worth lots of ghaz to the right collectors. Hell, the legit bounty alone would set a small city worth of people up for life.”
“This is assuming this Vlad is older than dirt and not some current version. All and all this is one bounty I ain’t going to collect. Too hot of a egg plant.”
“Could we 'eep his life hush, hush to everyone alive except for you, me and Strykker? Oh, and the personal and A.I.s you just ousted to him? Damn.”
"I like to figure out what’s his deal, 'cause something is off about him other than him being V A L D. You theory is good and meshes with mine, but I’ve learn this isn’t always the case. "
“You said McMurphy murdered someone? We all gave someone a dirt nap before. What did he do this time that got you a weird twist?”
“Also speaking about weird, you should get a team sometime to metro twenty four. Something not right with that hole in the cell. 'eally.”
Rubbing his eye lids, “Look, still want me to go find this Riley with Vladimir?”
Commander Oolong replied, "Yes we can keep it relatively quiet, absolutely.
I did suspect the A.I.s are all compromised, so a little test of the systems will let us know if Old VLAD is watching. If he is listening, I suspect you will be facing some of his agents trying to recover Hutchens or liquidate him.
I’ll send some Onis down to Metro 24 with full hazmat and enviro-seals to secure the situation.
You should know when McMurphy and the Expedition team lead by Grim and Lurtor arrived here there was a murder. Apparently Mr. McMurphy killed the senior officer here when Grim tried to resurrect her. That senior officer also fingered McMurphy as part of the Sabotage team that killed off the entire first colony in this building about 2,500 years ago.
If so my suspicion is that Hutchens was an Old VLAD clone sent to clean up whatever this operation was supposed to accomplish.
Now this is all a gamble, but my Wraiths will have backed up Hutchens for some later interrogation.
Take this Hutchens, let him lead you to this Riley, radio back to my command team the second you run into any more Old VLAD Clones, or any clones of Lurtor or OtO."
Clones of Lurtor and OtO? Eli sort-of knew of Lurtor and he figured Oolong meant Olgog the Olgog when he mention OtO. That’s new and horrible. Eli just shrugged at the man with sharp sword.
“Alright, I think I’ll check Metro Twenty-three, Toxic Chemical Storage, next. Lets wake up Mr. Hutchens then,” as Eli then punch himself in the face and made a cut with his knife on his right cheek. The left eye now had a shiner and the cheek a bit of a scar. He used some of the blood from the cut and splatted it onto his jacket.
“Okay, looks like I was in fight. Lets do this.”
They returned to our dimension, and quickly established a plausable scene for the clone to wake up into. In fact after the staged briefing, Hutchens seemed even more assured he was in a future where no one knew who he was or what he was about.
With the clone in tow, Eli was back on the Tram only a few hours later. In the meanwhile he had gotten himself a sleep, and cleaned up. Not wanting to have an open wound in a room labeled Toxic Chemical Storage, he had patched it up. But the shiner over his eye was beat red, and purple, and told a story Hutchens was more than willing to believe.
The pair stood on the Tram as the doors opened revealing a room that was stack after stack of barrels. In between every four stacks was a row you could walk though, and each was lit by a flickering lighting rod.
As Eli breathed out he could hear something man sized shuffling between the barrels somewhere on the left side of the large storage room.
Hutchens called out, “Hey Riley? Riley if that is you…say something? My friend here has a quick trigger finger, and hates nightmares so…?”
“Rileeeeyyyyy,” came the moaned reply. It echoed off the barrels in that same area of the room. But it didn’t sound human.
“I do have a quick finger. That darn not sound too right without context. Honestly I don’t hate nightmares - I hate things trying to kill me,” Eli stated factually.
Eli readies his pistol to Quick Draw if the voice turns out to be hostile. Or salesperson.
A barrel was hurled towards them, but it didn’t take much to dodge out of the way. The barrel shattered against the far wall, and acid began eating away at the concrete.
Whatever had thrown the barrel from the darkness seemed wounded in some way. There was a slight dripping noise from that direction, and a dragging sound.
There was the sound of another barrel being dragged off its ledge in that direction, and Eli fired. The flare off the end of his revolver lit the room for a moment, and Eli could see what looked like a twisted mutated monster made of flesh and steel.
Its face was obviously that of McMurphy, leader of VLAD, but its body was twisted by technomantic growths. Its eyes no longer looked human, looking more draconic and predatory.
The body had been splashed by acid and the wounds seemed like they would be mortal wounds on a normal person. The leg dragged at a wrong direction, held on by technomantic growths even after the muscles were all severed by acid burns. Eli had seem creatures that looked similar during his stressful time helping his brother-in-law in Tal Hanon. Those creatures had been called Akunan Technoghouls.
Eli’s shot had been spot on though, and cut into where the technomantic monster was holding the barrel of acid readying another throw. The hand reformed after being shot, but the bullet spend onward to slice a wide gash in the barrel. The acid poured from the slice, spraying down the monster’s lower half. Flesh and technomantic growths melted together into a nasty grey goop.
Only the monster’s shoulder, neck and head were still visible.
The Clone calling himself Hutchens said, “Hey Eli, I guess we should have requisitioned a flash light when I got debriefed. But even in this low light I would recognize Riley anywhere. That is him, but something changed him. Something very very bad.”
On the other side of the pool of spilled acid was Riley’s severed arm. Eli watched with concern as the arm went through death spasms. But instead of the fingers simply clenching, it technomantically morphed into a plasma drill, then morphed back into a hand. The odd part was the design of the drill, it wasn’t some technomantic creation, the drill itself was a very old model of drill.
One he had seen as a child being sold in Dusk’s markets as an authentic original colonial model drill. Somehow this Riley had incorporated nearby technology directly into his body. Eli was both fascinated and horrified at the same time.
Time to get brave and stupid. Reaching into his “Extreme Camping Equipment tm” Eli pulled a flashlight and handed it to Hutchens. “Hold this for me will ya.”
Advancing Zombie-Techno-McMurphy, Eli McGraw readies his Shock Gauntlets and gives him the purple nurple. What can we say? Eli was (is?) kinda of a bully along with being a bit nuts in the coconut.
Eli approached the acid burned body parts on the floor of what had been a McMurphy.
Prodding the body caused a spark to jump from shock gauntlet to the acid burned upper half of the technomantically altered body. A few of the nanites were still active and immediately incorporated the entire shock gauntlet into the dead body.
To Eli’s surprise the missing shock gauntlet did not appear here on the upper half of the body. Instead it appeared on the severed arm a few feet away. As if the nanites had wirelessly transmitted the data to nanites still active in the flesh of the dead arm.
Eli was pretty sure the body was down for the count. His earlier shot at the acid barrel had killed it just like an akunan would have died, leaving infectious bits all around. The nice part was Eli was sure both he and Hutchens would have been infected if it was airborne. But luckily for them it had not gone airborne.
Looking closer at the severed monster hand that now had both the drill and the shock guantlet incorporated into it, Eli again was surprised the much more modern shock gauntlet tech looked at odds with the older drill, neither quite the same bio-organic tech of the rest of the dead hand.
Hutchens leaned over saying, “I don’t really know what I am seeing here. He looks like somebody was growing some kind of robot inside his body. But that is definitely Riley. Should we bring it back to Oolong or just dump the rest of the acid on it, and clean up whatever the hell was growing down here under the ice?”
“This is new and different. Horrible. I hate technomancy. Hand me the flashlight and help me carry the body parts,” sighed Eli as he pulled a few heavy duty trash out of his pack.
“Misty the Tsoga says give a grow and don’t leave your shit around.”
They gathered up the body parts, careful not to let anything touch them. Double wrapped in the garbage bag, Eli had the samples.
Looking around the room, he could see a box of emergency glowsticks and grabbed them…just in case.
The glowsticks reminded him of his more epic but embarrassing younger days before he found his calling as a gun-slinger…
…yeah. Okay, for the love of god, maybe not so epic.
[b]OOC: Good thing I don’t have spare points to put into Dancing(Rave). Yet…