Monday, August 15, 2011

Human Black Box: What Happens In Vegas... (pt 2)

... Gets made into commercials.

The last installment left Chloe in a rather tight spot - she'd run afoul what was apparently one of the exhumans, who got the drop on her in a rather startling way. That was only after their first encounter with the exsurgents, who resembled so much as giant floating snot-bubbles that could fling an acid like substance.

The stakes are high in Vegas, and it's not at the blackjack table.

Welcome to "What Happens in Vegas...", part 2. You can find the Human Black Box archive here: HBB Archive.


Unknown: [Why, 'lo love 'lo love. It don't take muchta bring you folk in no more no more - a few piss-bubbles to pop an' onna you is always gawin' to check it out it out. But I'll say this, love love. You look right yummy, you do you do.]

Chloe screamed and slid backwards, grabbing her gun as the assailant flipped over her, landing on the other side and grabbed at her with the long, clawed fingers. It got a good grip on her arm, drawing blood and pulling her forward, the next set dragging across her face and knocking her over.

She could hear running, and the snap of gunfire. Chloe reached up and touched the blood running from the cuts on her face, and while what was apparently one of the exhumans was startled by the Zira looking like she was charging at him, Chloe aimed the gun and blew his kneecap out. The exhuman crumpled to the ground, a spray of blood and hunks of bone marking where his leg used to be at.

He looked up at her as Chloe put some distance between her and now crippled exhuman who, despite his injury, was able to find himself back upright and crawling around his three remaining limbs like an animal.

There was more gunfire. Chloe realized then that the fire wasn't aimed at the exhuman she was righting. When she looked over she realized there were other exhumans who had engaged the team, and the team was wrapped up with them. Chloe couldn't tell how many there were - her attention was jerked back to the exhuman was was crawling across the ground at her, moving side to side like some kind of sized-up spider looking to hem her in.

She took aim and fired again as the exhuman threw itself out of the way, landing a few feet beside her and quickly flipping towards her. It couldn't use it's leg, but the exhuman was being creative in making up for it. It landed near her and struck out again, Chloe ducking under the swing and shoving her shoulder into it. It latched on with the claws and tried to take a bit out of her neck, but it was protected by the armor. With the exhuman where she wanted it, she began a full blown charge towards the car, leveling her shoulder and ramming it, and the exhuman on it, as hard as she could into the car. It dislocated her shoulder, but she broke something in the exhuman - it screamed and tumbled on the ground, thrashing about as she took several steps back.

Blue: [Chloe! Shoot him in the head!]

Chloe: [But that'd kill him!]

Blue: [Do it! Otherwise he'll kill you!]

Chloe took several steps backwards, as the exhuman snapped its spine, or whatever had broken, into place and forced itself back up. Chloe closed her eyes took aim, and opened fire on full auto as the exhuman charged her. It's head detonate like a dynamite-stuffed watermelon, the body crashing to the ground. Chloe stood there, horrified and unable to move.

She'd killed it. She'd honestly killed it.

Blue: [Chloe...]

Chloe: [What... what were those things called? Cornelius had one.]

Blue: [A cortical stack?]

Chloe: [Yeah.]

Blue: [Why?]

Chloe: [Tell me that he had one of those.]

Blue: [He had one. I think.]

Chloe wasn't going to check; hearing her muse repeat that was enough to push it out of her head for the moment. She turned around and started a quick run away from the headless body, towards the others. As she raced around the car she spotted several of them - two were engaging Zaius, while another one was engaging Ahmed. She couldn't see Zira or Hotaru.

Unknown: [You're rather dangerous with that gun. Genocide was stupid in letting you get the chance to shoot back like that. I won't be.]

Chloe wheeled around and all went black.


Chloe couldn't feel initially. As her senses came back to her, she realized she had a massive headache, and she could barely open her eyes. At first, anyway. One-by-one, everything came back online - first her Mesh connections, then the sensors scattered throughout her body. The most damage done was a massive and traumatic blow to the back of the skull that, had it not been for what were being called "medichines" by her input, would've killed her.

She saw her green hair fall in her face, and as she looked around, she got the first solid glimpse of where she was. It looked like a back room of some kind, but rather being knocked out on a bed, there was a pile of unused and blood-stained clothes. Scattered around were bones; she couldn't be sure if they were human bones or not, but she didn't want to be sure.

Chloe (private chat, #Blue#): [Blue, are you there?]

Blue (private chat, #Chloe#): [As long as you're here, Chloe, I'm here. I was so worried about you - I thought that blow killed you until the medichines kicked on. They were calling for aid, but they stabilized you long enough for them to heal the majority of the blow.]

Chloe (private chat, #Blue#): [I've got one hell of a fucking headache. What happened when I blacked out?]

Blue (private chat, #Chloe#): [I found out you had an oracle hive. This is an expensive and impressive body you have, Chloe. Also, they dropped you here - I think this is their lair or something.]

Chloe (private chat, #Blue#): [Here? Where is here?]

She stood up, staggering for a second and looking out the window. Where on Earth would a bunch of flesh-eating, blood-drinking madmen claim as their lair?

She  looked down, spotting a sign on the side of the road, illuminated by the moonlight outside:


Chloe (private chat, #Blue#): [Honestly, I was expecting a steakhouse or something.]

Blue (private chat, #Chloe#): [I'm surprised too.]

Chloe walked over to the door, careful not to step on any of the bones. They'd left her in her armor, so they must've been certain that she was dead. As she reached the door, she tugged twice and took it off the hinges, lying it down nearby. She was going to surprise them.

She walked into the clerk's office, taking note of everything that was around. It was unfathomably hot; she was collecting a sweat even as she merely staggered. And it stunk - the smell of decay and rot was stomach churning.  It was a good thing she hadn't had anything to eat in a while - she was fairly certain she didn't want anything to eat after this.

Ahead was the door leading into one of the hallways; she pushed it open, and stepped into the much cooler hallway. She could hear chatter and talking, and laughing. She walked right past what looked like a dining room, but didn't bother to look in. She didn't want to see what was in there. She continued creeping along the hallways, looking back and forth to make sure that no exhuman was going to get the drop on her again. They were apparently good about doing that.

She continued her slow creep until she reached a flight of stairs. She looked around, spotting several doors but not sure what was in them. She didn't want to check, though - her first duty was to try and find the others.

Chloe (private chat, #Ahmed, Blue#): [Hey. Hey, are you there?]

Ahmed (private chat, #Chloe#): [That's going to depend. What do you mean "there"? Because right now, I'm a little everywhere. Have I mentioned today how much I hate these exhuman fuckers?]

Chloe (private chat, #Ahmed, Blue#): [What do you mean?]

Ahmed (private chat, #Chloe#): [Well, you know how sometimes when you can't figure out how to turn something off, you have to take it apart? Well, those fuckers still didn't figure out how to turn me off. I'd stand defiant if I could get my damn legs back on.]

Chloe blinked in shock.

Chloe (private chat, #Blue#): [Blue, can you find him?]

Blue (private chat, #Chloe#): [I can. I got a location; Ahmed is nearby. Maybe a few rooms from here.]

Of course? Why change locations, when it was just so much better to put the prisoners close together? What were they dealing with here, a bunch of amateur wannbe supervillians?

She took in a deep breath. Small miracles, she told herself, small miracles.

Chloe watched as her AR kicked out a new feature; a red silhouette of Ahmed flashed on the screen, lying down in one of the rooms just down the corridor that she'd come from. Sighing, she crept back up the hallway, careful not to draw any attention to herself. She reached the room that Ahmed's silhouette was flashing from, and she managed to pull that door open, sliding inside. Ahmed's upper torso, the two legs removed, lay on the ground. His one arm lifted up, holding the palm flat.

Ahmed (private chat, #Chloe#): [It lives... it lives... mwhahahaha ... :-) ]

Chloe (private chat, #Ahmed, Blue#): [Just barely.]

Ahmed (private chat, #Chloe#): [Hey. That's all that counts in the long run. I'm honestly shocked at how much this body's been through. This is probably the most durable synth I've ever been sleeved in.]

Chloe walked over and crouched down, throwing the remaining half of the synth over her shoulder like a backpack. He clung to the armor, as Chloe held onto him with one hand so he didn't slide off.

Chloe (private chat, #Hotaru, Zaius, Zira#): [Hey, if you're out there, respond to me. I need to know where you are.]

Hotaru (private chat, #Chloe, Ahmed#): [I'm sending you where I'm at right now, Chloe. It'll only take a few seconds to upload to the Mesh.]

Chloe (private chat, #Hotaru#): [Good. Hold on, I'll be right there.]

Blue (private chat, #Chloe#): [That's not Hotaru.]

Chloe (private chat, #Blue#): [I know. I'm not sure who Sava thinks he's fooling, but it's not me. And I'm going to rip his ass something serious for it.]

Chloe, with Ahmed over her shoulder, ducked back out into the hallway. She hadn't heard anything from Zaius or Zira, but she kept the channel open, hoping that they would get back with her.

Ahmed (private chat, #Chloe#): [If it is Sava, the real question is why he's responding instead of her.]

Chloe didn't know. Perhaps Hotaru was unconscious. She knew that he had access to her Mesh, but what she didn't know was whether or not Sava could take control over Hotaru's body. Because she didn't know the exact extent of the technology that they were dealing with, she couldn't be sure.

Chloe followed link right to a room at the end of the hallway, and then braced herself against the door. Something didn't set right with her. She focused on her ability to sense any individuals watching her and picked up something else: there were eight egos nearby.


Ahmed was ego one. She was ego two. Hotaru and Sava were egos three and four, respectively. Where were the other four?

Even more chillingly, there were only four bodies nearby.

She looked in the room, spotting Hotaru lying on a table, with the bag that had the black box inside of it nearby.

Hotaru looked unconscious. She walked over, as the doors slammed shut behind her.

Chloe: [Oh fuck.]

Ahmed: [Hahaha we are so fucking stupid.]

Chloe looked over her shoulders as a lean looking individual sauntered into the room from the darkness. The face was hidden behind a gas-mask, and it was cloaked in what looked like piecemeal armor. Long claws extended from its fingers, and a tail thrashed back and forth.

Unknown: [Oooh... Sava, you brought them right to us.]

Sava: [Of course. What did you think, Mikhail, I was going to let them escape?]

Chloe's blood froze, looking back over at Hotaru's body as Sava laughed into her AR.

ES-Mikhail: [We thought you were dead, too. See, I got the drop on you and cracked your skull right open. I guess I underestimated how strong your morph was. Well, we won't be doing that again.]

Chloe: [Sava, you piece of fucking garbage!]

Sava: [Now now, Chloe. Don't act so hurt. Once I have control over this body, we'll be able to eat and make up.]

Why on Earth would Antares stick her with a exhuman?

She froze. Control over the body?

ES-Mikhail: [Not that there's much you can do about it now. I was hoping that we'd get a chance to merge the two egos in that body before you found us. There's three of us living in here right now. Apparently you woke up too soon. We'll just have to change that. Now hold still. This will only hurt until you stop feeling.]


  1. where his leg used to be at.

    Extraneous "at".

    between her and now crippled exhuman

    The now crippled exhuman.

    crawling around his three remaining limbs

    On his three remaining limbs.

    the exhuman she was righting


    couldn't use it's leg


    Chloe closed her eyes took aim

    There should be a comma between "eyes" and "took".

    It's head detonate

    Its head detonated.

    She looked down

    Extra space between "She" and "looked".

    lying it down nearby


    amateur wannbe supervillians?

    Wannabe supervillains.

    Blue (private chat, #Chloe#): [That's not Hotaru.]

    Chloe (private chat, #Blue#): [I know.
    Ahmed (private chat, #Chloe#): [If it is Sava, the real question is why he's responding instead of her.]

    Ahmed acts as if he heard Chloe and Blue's conversation, despite not being included. (Even if he figured it out on his own, he wouldn't phrase it like that unless he knew Chloe knew.)


    Ooh, thickening plot. Yum.

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