[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Unlikely Rescue #amwriting #storytelling #otherspace

One moment, Robert Colclough is aboard a shuttle that’s
plummeting toward the uncaring sands of Demaria. The next, he’s light years
away, emerging from a swirling blue portal onto the deckplates of a Consortium
Intelligence outpost hidden among the wrecked hulls of the Line of Pain.

He links his HUD to the local computer system and data
archives to confirm the location, then mumbles to himself: “Well, at least
it’s not Nalhom.”

Whiptail stumbles through the portal, a bit confused.
“Where in tarnation are we now?”

The Cliffwalker rises from the deck where he landed, one paw
going to a queasy stomach. He looks around at the walls, and any screens
thereupon. “A Consortium station,” he says, shaking his head to get
his bearings.

“Listening post, to be precise,” Colclough replies
with a tight smile as he looks around their arrival chamber – a rather cramped
place, dimly lit, with no windows in the bulkheads and just one hatch leading
deeper into the station.

A disembodied voice speaks via intercom: “Um, welcome
aboard?”

Colclough offers a feeble wave at the ceiling.
“Hi.”

“Heard you might be coming,” the voice says
wearily.

“Sorry, unannounced and all.”

“Yes,” the voice agrees. “Visit won’t be
long, I’m afraid.”

“Oh?” He looks toward Razorback and Whiptail.
Sheepish smile. Then back at the ceiling: “Not even time to hit the head?
Long trip, after all.”

“Won’t need to worry about your bladder in the vacuum
of space,” the voice replies.

“Ah,” Colclough says.

“Let me get this straight in muh head here… so we
done survived bumbler herdin’ and assassins, managed to escape a buncha
zombified folks, and now we’re gonna get spaced?” Whiptails says, looking
over to Razorback. “I shoulda charged muh standard rate.” he says, a
bit of a toothy grin. “Well, I’ll say one thang, if this is the end of the
road, I cain’t say it was borin’.”

Razorback watches the exchange between Colclough and the
disembodied voice with a growing lack of patience. “We shall see,”
the Cliffwalker says Whiptail with a growl, storming towards the hatch.

The hatch remains shut – and the bulkheads pull apart and
upward around the chamber, exposing the trio inside to the vacuum of space…

…and into a tractor beam that hauls them aboard a waiting
Nall warship, just before it opens fire on the listening post, destroying the
base.

Colclough, Whiptail, and Razorback soon find themselves
gasping for air and shivering to regain heat as they spill onto the damp
deckplates of a misty chamber illuminated by green plasma lanterns.

Whiptail finds himself blown into space, his face thrown
into a rictus of surprise, with just enough consciousness in those valuable
seconds before suffocation to notice the tractor beam. Once they are deposited
into the Nall ship, he collapses to the floor, gasping heavily for breath, his
ears throbbing from the attempt of the pressure inside trying to blow out his
ear drums. As soon as he is able he struggles to one arm, and looks about the
room. He takes a deep sniff of the air, and frowns with a low growl. “It’s
been a spell, but I know the smell of Nall.”

The Cliffwalker seems even more frustrated when he feels the
deckplates beneath him, more so when his lungs first new breath of air is
filled with the scent of Nall. He is too busy trying to oxygenate his
bloodstream to say much, but a certain level of impotent rage seems building
behind his eyes.

“That’s…lucky,” are the first words Colclough
manages to rasp out as he finds his breath again, rolling onto his back on the
deck and staring up at the ceiling.

Whiptail collapses to the floor again, painfully rolling
onto his back. “I dunno what book yer readin’, but gettin’ captured by
those scaley sonuvabitches ain’t what I’d call lucky.”

“Luckier than dying in space,” Razorback growls,
struggling to rise to his footpaws. His ears are laid flat, his tail brushed
out to twice its normal width. He takes measure of their surroundings, knowing
that there are enemies aplenty nearby.

A hatch opens. Into the chamber steps a reptiloid warrior in
black metal armor, cradling a plasma rifle. She’s accompanied by four more
warriors, similarly armed.

“We did not expect you quite sssso sssssoon,” the
lead warrior says as she glowers down at Colclough. “If we had arrived ssssecondssss
later, you would be dead.”

He pulls himself slowly to his feet, brushing droplets of
water from his pant leg. He glances toward Razorback and says, “Perhaps I
*did* know where that portal would lead.” A thin smile, then he returns
his attention to the Nall. He bows his head in deference. “Ur’Huluth Iktha
of Hatch Kavir, allow me to introduce my companions: Whiptail and
Razorback.”

Whiptail narrows his eyes a bit. “Just what in
tarnation is goin’ on here?” he says, quite confused.

The Cliffwalker does his best to keep his claws sheathed for
now, and his paws decidedly away from the short swords at his waist. He glances
over at Whiptail, his ears flicking back and forth a bit. “I am certain
that all will be revealed in due course,” he says, straightening up. He
doesn’t intend to tower over their new “hosts”, but …

“We are even now, you and I,” Ikthakavir replies
to Colclough, before shifting her gaze between the two Demarians. “The
debt issss paid once I have delivered you to…where, exactly?”

The human answers: “Odari, if it wouldn’t be too much
trouble. I have resources there that could provide further assistance.”

“Odari,” the Nall repeats. “Very well. Go no
further than thisss chamber. Thessse guardsss will open fire if provoked.”

With that, she turns to depart the chamber through the
waiting hatchway. Her contingent of warriors remains with Colclough and
friends.

Whiptail looks even more bewildered. “Ok.. so.. we
ain’t dyin’. Yet..” he says, glancing to Razorback. “But this ain’t
no wranglin’ mission now, so what’s the story here, Colclough?”

Razorback nods to Whiptail. Satisfied that he does not need
to enter combat just this second, he moves to the wall opposite the guards and
slides down into a seated position. He keeps a wary ear on the Nall as he looks
expectantly at Colcough. “Indeed, he growls, “I am most interested to
hear just what debt a Nall Captain incurred with you. And why someone on a
Consortium installation would eject you into space.”

Colclough leans against a bulkhead before regarding his
companions and offering a reply. “Ikthakavir was implicated in the
defection of a Nall physicist who worked in the Clawed Fist Fleet weapons
division. I helped extricate her from that particularly dangerous
situation.” A brief silence, then: “As for your other question, I
truly hope to gain some clarity after we arrive on Odari. But if what I suspect
is true, something has gone horribly wrong in my agency.”

Whiptail nods slowly. “I kin see how that thar would
get ya on her good side.” he says, finding a bulkhead of his own to settle
down against. “If this here adventure we’ve bin sucked inta is any sign,
this problem yer talkin’ ’bout is gonna put the hurt on the whole dang
Consortium.”

The Cliffwalker opens his mouth to ask more, then glances
over at the guards and thinks better of it. “For now,” he says,
“It would seem that there is no need to further belabor the point of how
we still live, nor discuss in too much detail our plans for the future. I’m
sure that when we reach our destination, all will become more clear.”

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Diverted #demaria #storytelling #otherspace

Razorback steps out of a hover-vehicle and onto the pavement near the hub of the Demarian government. He looks around, rubbing his tongue against the roof of his mouth in disgust. He steps aside to allow the others to exit the vehicle, his ears cautiously sweeping the city noises for signs of danger.

Moments later, Colclough emerges from the vehicle to stand next to the significantly taller Demarian. He seems relatively untroubled as he taps a glowing blue node under his right ear, activating a shaded holographic lens across the upper half of his face. The display serves a dual purpose: protecting against the glare of Demaria’s twin suns and presenting Colclough with a cascade of vital data.

“Down this street,” the agent says, “and then the third left. We’re looking for Brownfoot’s Saucer in the western market district.”

Whiptail looks around in a bit of awe at the capitol city. “This place shore has grown up a bit.” he says. “Use’ta know it like the back of my paw, probably couldn’t even find the spaceport now.”

The Cliffwalker looks about him with a twinge of memory. “I know the feeling,” he mutters to Whiptail before he sets off down the indicated street. For whatever reason, he might seem to Whiptail to be more on edge than he was out in the wilderness.

That edginess might be justified by the handful of small drones skimming the edge of the market district as the busy afternoon crowds move to and fro. Particularly when cylinders affixed to the bellies of those drones give a soft hiss, releasing their contents in a fine, pine-scented mist that begins a descent toward the unsuspecting citizens below.

Whiptail twitches an ear as he hears the hiss, and looks towards the drones. “What in tarnation? That some new fangled, fancy schmancy city folk deal, sprayin’ air freshener in the market?” he says, looking totally bewildered.

Razorback looks over at Colclough, jerking his muzzle towards the tiny aircraft. “Yours?” he asks tersely, sniffing gently at the air.

“My what?” Colclough’s hearing isn’t quite as highly attuned as the Demarians. He follows Razorback’s snout-pointing. He adjusts the HUD implant via a subvocalized command, zooming in on one of the drones. “No. No ops planned in this area today. Certainly none that involve airborne deployment of…” His voice trails off as something flashes red in his sensor display. “Biological agent. Possibly viral. Unknown origin and lethality.” He activates his commlink: “Colclough to Catnip. Scramble an extraction craft to my location. Fast.” He scans the HUD, checks the wind drift speed. “Wear your hazmats.” He then looks at Razorback and Whiptail, saying, “Bad things afoot. How long can you hold your breath?”

Whiptail widens his eyes. “Ok… so it ain’t air freshener…” he says. “I kin hold mah breath for a while, but I ain’t gonna be able to do it forever.”

“Not much longer than you,” Razorback mutters to Colclough. He glances rapidly around him until he spots an office building with a helipad stories above the street. “There’s your extraction point,” he says, pointing up to it, “And your people must notify the local authorities, start an evacuation immediately.”

Not soon enough, it seems. As Colclough follows his Demarian companions toward the indicated office building, the first victims fall prey to the strange mist. A Demarian female coughs, sneezes, and her bright eyes fill with blood as she becomes enraged. She turns and lunges toward her mate, a male Demarian who *also* has become crazed and bloody-eyed, his jaws frothing. They tear at each other with fangs and claws. Blood splatters sandstone walls.

The violence continues to spread outward, as combatants sneeze and send infected droplets in all directions.

The Consortium Intelligence dropship settles onto the helipad, awaiting the arrival of Colclough, Razorback, and Whiptail.

“Whatever that stuff is, it’s makin’ ’em act like they bin possessed!” Whiptail says, running as fast as he can with what breath he has managed to pull in towards the dropship.

“Lock that door!” Razorback roars to the building receptionist as he races past the desk. A quick glance at the building’s directory points him to the stairs. If the door to the stairwell is locked, he merely tries to blast his weight through it.

Colclough is through the main door as the receptionist and a pair of security guards move to secure it. He turns to watch through the tinted glass wall as homicidal mayhem erupts on the outskirts of the Market District and begins to spread inevitably outward. He sees more drones whirring overhead and decides to stop gawking. He runs after Razorback and Whiptail as they ascend the stairs.

“I hope that there ship is fast, or we’re in fer ah heap o’ trouble!” Whiptail says as he climbs the stairs as fast as possible.

The Cliffwalker keeps glancing back at Colclough to check his progress, perhaps concerned that without him, none of them will leave the rooftop helipad. “One thing at a time, friend,” he calls to Whiptail as he glances at the nearest sign to ascertain what floor he has reached.

About the time they push through the door to the roof, far below the Demarians in particular can hear the shattering of glass and roars of intruders tearing into the lobby of the building.

Colclough’s HUD gets a message that reads: “LOCATION BREACH.” He motions to the waiting craft on the helipad and says, with overstated calm: “We should go.”

“Ya don’t have to tell me twice.” Whiptail says, darting into the dropship as fast as possible. “We better git this thing movin’, or we’re about to have a lot of company and they ain’t gonna be lookin’ to chew the fat with us!”

Razorback slams the door shut behind them once everyone has reached the pad before turning to board the craft himself. “This seems an unlikely coincidence,” he says to Colclough as they climb into the ship.

“The timing does seem rather suspect,” the CIS agent agrees as the dropship lurches from the helipad and arcs away from the building, above the violent chaos in the streets below.

The pilot, a Castori, burbles: “Weapons lock!”

Colclough catches a similar warning in his HUD, turns his attention to a rooftop about a half mile distant. “Evasive!” The Castori tries, and effectively dodges the first rocket-propelled grenade as it roars past the dropship.

But neither the Castori nor Colclough notice a shooter on a different building – a tower not far from the Alhira spaceport, wielding a shoulder-mounted plasma skylancer.

The beam pierces the dropship on a perpendicular, directly into the cockpit, setting the pilot ablaze. Despite his agonized screams, the pilot is still trying to navigate the dropship (poorly) when he slumps over dead from shock. Safety klaxons wail inside the dropship.

The ship starts a gradual descent, passing the outskirts of the city and easing out toward the dunes of the Sandmother.

Whiptail shields his eyes from the blast, but then training from times past kicks in, and he dives for the controls, trying to avoid the burning pilot as much as possible as he tries to wrangle the controls. “It ain’t no bumbler but I’m gonna do what I can to wrangle this thang!”

The Cliffwalker’s ears fold back into his mane as he braces himself in his seat. He marks the land as they pass, trying to keep their position in mind. “You might want to turn off your trackers,” he shouts to Colclough over the wind and fire.

The CIS agent almost doesn’t hear Razorback, so distracted is he by the task of trying frantically – and to no avail – to subvocalize commands across every known agency channel in the hopes of raising assistance. No response is forthcoming, which sparks some alarm in Colclough. When he finally registers what Razorback is saying, his first instinct is to say: “But if we turn off the trackers, no one can find us!” But then that alarm in his head grows a little louder, competing with the one blaring in the cockpit.

He deactivates the trackers in his implants, the green pulsing dot in his HUD goes to a steady, pale blue.

Of course, it all might be moot if the ship crashes and burns in the desert. He gives a nod to Razorback, glances toward Whiptail, genuflects for the first time in about 30 years, and finds a porthole to gaze out of for what might be his final seconds of life.

Whiptail works the control panel frantically, throwing switches as he maintains a grip on the controls. “Damn shot knocked the bumbler shit out of the stabilizers..” he grunts, fighting against the yoke which wants to go in any way other than that which Whiptail is trying to move it. He switches the descent thrusters to manual, and attempts to fire them as needed to maintain course as an augment to the damaged controls.

The Cliffwalker has by now strapped himself in as well as possible, bracing his body against what surfaces he can find. He watches the Sand Mother rushing towards them with a defiant glare. “Take me if you will,” he mutters quietly, “It is long past time.”

Colclough tilts his head as the dropship continues its unsteady descent, then turns his head toward the rear of the passenger cabin. Another quick twitch of his head brings the HUD back up. “Maybe,” he mutters aloud. Subvocally, he transmits: “Activate.”

The vessel’s engines suddenly go silent as the power is rerouted to what appears to be a hexagonal vortex of swirling blue energy.

“Not sure where that goes,” he admits to his fellow passengers, sliding out of his seat and into the aisle. “But it has to be better than what’s waiting in the desert. Or anywhere else on Demaria right now.”

With that, he passes through the portal with a hiss and a pop. The vortex swirls as the shuttle deepens its descent, threatening to spiral out of control.

Whiptail is taken aback at this turn of events, but he knows a useless situation when he sees it. Letting the yoke fall back to neutral, he heads for the vortex. “Without them engines, this thang is gonna fall faster than a freakin’ brick.” he says, looking back to the vortex. “Best take m’ chances in thar..” with that, he dives through the vortex.

The Cliffwalker just stares at the vortex for an excruciatingly long few seconds, almost as if contemplating just going down in the crash. “Sands,” he spits finally, then looks out the porthole at the approaching desert, “Another time, then.” And he jumps through.