Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Human Black Box: What Happens in Vegas... (pt 5)

Welcome back all. When we last left Chloe and her intrepid friends, they had barely managed to give one creature the slip before accidentally discovering the lair of what appeared to be more exsurgents. The team struck out with the last bet, and this one is for all or nothing...

You can find the Human Black Box archive here, with all of the previous entries in the story, and a running list of characters. So, that said, let's continue with Part 5 of the "What Happens in Vegas" act. 

Chloe: [I am so fucking tired of running!]

She reeled back and planted her fist firmly in the face of whatever it was that was standing behind her. The humanoid thing tumbled backwards, as she wheeled around started attacking it, Zira and Zaius moving in quickly to assist. They were still out numbered, even with Hotaru helping as she could, but the sudden attack had thrown all of whatever these things were off-guard, giving them the advantage for the moment.

It was some kind of bar that they were in; this became apparent when Chloe shoved the strange creature beside her backwards and into a liquor cabinet, sending the entire thing crashing to the ground with a cacophonous roar.

It was hard telling what all was going on. She could see next to nothing, she was acting only on touch. She was only sure she wasn't attacking her friends because they were silhouettes in her AR; Zira a pale red silhouette, Hotaru an orange-brownish silhouette, and Zaius a dark bluish color. Because they were all out of reach, Chloe felt safe in attacking anything that was stupid enough to get close.

It was Hotaru who knocked something over, causing several tables to crash to the floor and allowing light to come flooding into the room. It temporarily blinded Chloe; she shielded her eyes and took several punches to the gut, recovering quickly and returning them in kind, ignoring the screaming pain in her side from her busted ribs.

When she recovered her sight, she paused to take stock in the situation. She was expecting to see monsters. Inhuman monsters - what kind of monsters she didn't know, but she was expecting to see them. She had mentally prepared herself to see them.

So it came as a blunt shock when the creatures they were fighting, whose eyes had shone so red a few seconds ago, looked no different from her or Hotaru in the light. That shocked her - they were exsurgents. Unlike the exhumans, they looked no different from her.

She didn't have time to fully absorb it. Two of them came at her at once, the brawl continuing all around. She grabbed one and slammed his head on the edge of the bar counter top, slamming the other woman's face into a mirror. She spun around and Chloe flattened her again against the mirror, the woman falling to the ground.

Chloe took several steps back, looking and spotting what she thought was an exit.

Blue: [There! Take it!]

Chloe (private chat, #Blue#): [But I'm so tired of running.]

Blue (private chat, #Chloe#): [Keep your eyes on the big game, Chloe. We're running because we don't have time to waste. The sooner we can get to Area 51, the better off we'll all be. We have good reason to keep running.]

Chloe nodded. In all of the frustration and fighting, she'd utterly forgotten about that.

She wheeled around and spotted Hotaru, who was defending herself with a broken two-by-four. Chloe turned around as Zira bumped into her.

Chloe: [Exit.]

Zira: [Does that mean we have to stop kicking their ass?]

Chloe: [I'd rather live. Hotaru! Zaius! We're leaving!]

Chloe turned and started up the stairs, Hotaru dropping her board and racing after them, as Zaius brought up the rear. Chloe reached the top of the stairs first, only to be broadsided by another exsurgent. Zira jumped backwards in shock, as Hotaru ducked under the swinging fists. The exsurgents were coming up the stairs, and there had been exsurgents camping out in the front lobby.

Today really wasn't their day.

Chloe kicked the exsurgent off, as the brawl resumed - with more exsurgents joining into the fray. It was like being part of a violent soccer riot.

She ducked under the swing of a fist, balled up her own fists, and rammed them into the Exsurgent's belly. It went backwards, tumbled, and then hit the ground, as two more approached from the left. Chloe looked to her right as one of the approaching exsurgents was cut off by a sudden blur.

ES Mikhail: [I should've know you wouldn't make it far.]

Chloe recoiled in horror, as the handful of Exhumans that had managed to escape the headhunters appeared, battered and bruised, but wasting no time in ripping into the exsurgents.

Chloe: [How the hell did you survive that? Are you here to try and kill us, too?]

ES Mikhail: [I survived because you didn't give my body the credit it deserves. And I may kill you in due time. In the meanwhile, I feel it may be for both of our group's benefits to try and finally flush this threat from Las Vegas. See, unlike us exhumans, the exsurgents are created by a virus. That virus spreads, it infects, and it turns whatever it touches into a slave for whatever it was that created the virus. So while we all find transhumanity weak and pathetic, exsurgents are even worse. We chose to give up our transhumanity to become something better. They had no say. We aspire to godhood. They are mere slaves.]

Chloe didn't quite know how to react. Not until the exsurgents caught up with her, anyway; she wheeled around and decked one, not at all comfortable with the thought of having a cannibalistic exhuman protecting her back.

She didn't have much of a choice in the matter, though. She struggled to keep the multiple exsurgents ahead of her at bay, as the other exhumans that had appeared started ripping into the exsurgents. Maybe, just maybe, it would be enough to turn the tables.

Just maybe.

She broke from the combat, so tired that she doubted she could make another swing that was worth anything.

Zaius: [Chloe! Catch!]

Chloe turned around and caught the gun Zaius threw at her, as she loaded the clip into the weapon.

Chloe: [Where did you find it at?]

Zaius: [Our truck! It's out... where did the exhumans come form?]

Chloe: [See, that's probably why our trucks and stuff are out there.]

She leveled the gun. Now the game was set and match. She squeezed the trigger in several controlled bursts, gunning down the exsurgents as they continued the brawl. Zaius opened fire as well, only he didn't restrict his fire to the exsurgents - he was also targeting the exhumans as well.

Chloe: [Zaius! Don't shoot the exhumans - they're helping... I think.]

Zaius: [What? You're kidding me.]

Chloe: [Boy, I wish I was.]

The exsurgents turned to flee now, breaking up into groups and offering a quick retreat. Hotaru stumbled back, Chloe catching her, as both stood, breathing hard.

"That was tiring."

Zira: [What the fuck are they doing here?! Shoot them!]

Chloe held her hand up. "No, don't."

Zira stood in stunned silence.

"Don't shoot the exhumans."

ES Mikhail: [Think of it as a temporary peace. With the emphasis on temporary.]

Zira: [I'm not...]

ES Mikhail: [See, I suspected as much. That's why I have this.]

He produced a cortical stack.

ES Mikhail: [Now, we will sit down and talk like adults. This is what we call 'enforced method acting.']

Zira stammered,  holding her hand out. "That's... that..."

"It's Cornelius," Chloe finished. "You didn't get the synth's too, did you?"

ES Mikhail: [No. The headhunters got him before we could.]

Chloe looked sideways at the exhuman.

"Do you think we can get him back?"

ES Mikhail gave her a weird look, even visible under all that he wore over his face.

ES Mikhail: [Are you new to this?]

Zaius: [We'll play along, fine. Only because you've got Cornelius. If you pull anything funny, though...]

ES Mikhail: [I am an exhuman of my word, if nothing else. Now, we've broken up the exsurgents. There's one more threat to my dominion over Las Vegas, and I feel that, between the ten or eleven of us, there's enough skills and weapons to handle it.]

Chloe knew what he was talking about.

Chloe: [You mean ARES.]

ES Mikhail: [Exactly. First, we deal with the warbot he forked himself into. Then, we go to Area 51 and deal with him and Kelley in person.]

Chloe helped Hotaru down. "Kelley? Now who the fuck is that?"

ES Mikhail: [Abraham Kelley. A General in the United States Military that turned Area 51 into his own personal fortress, probably protecting ARES, who infected him.]

"So we're going to be attacking the U.S. Military?" Chloe asked, horrified.

ES Mikhail: [No. You'll be attacking Kelley. Kelley has dozens of delta and epsilon forks, if not thousands, that's he's created, and uploaded into an army of synthmorphs. ARES only forks himself into one warbot because between him and Kelley, there's more than enough force to protect Area 51.]

A general infected by the exsurgent virus that forked himself into an army of synthmorphs?

"I just want this to be over with. I don't think this could get any worse," Chloe said.

Chloe (private chat, #Zira, Zaius and Blue#): [Look, here's what I'm thinking. Our goals with these monsters have eclipsed. It's in our best interest to work with them to crack open Area 51 and get ARES out of there. Best case scenario is that ARES and Mikhail kill one another. Worst case scenario is that we have to finish them off.]

Blue (private chat, #Chloe#): [Uh, no. Worst case scenario is that we get killed.]

Chloe paused for a second. This was playing with serious fire. If they were thinking about stabbing the exhumans in the back at the most opportune time, the exhumans had better well be thinking the same damn thing. She didn't want to be the only one willing to take that calculated measure of betrayal. At least if she could assure herself that they were, she could justify her own thinking.

She was pretty sure they were, anyway.

Zira (private chat, #Chloe, Blue and Zaius#): [Damn it, you better be fucking right about this, Chloe.]

Chloe (private chat, #Zira, Blue and Zaius#): [I hope so, Zira. I really do.]

Chloe walked towards Mikhail, and extended her hand.

"Temporary truce."

Mikhail's hand was cold. "Temporary truce."

Even the voice was agendered and almost mechanical.

Chloe: [Okay, so what's first on the table?]

ES Mikhail: [Finding the warbot and destroying that.]

Chloe: [No problem. I'm good at taking out... we don't have the crash van anymore.]

"That just means we'll have do this one the old fashioned way," Zaius said. "With lots of ammo and heavy firepower."

Chloe closed her eyes. What she really wanted to do was rest. But it didn't seem like that she was going to be getting any of that anytime soon.

"So where is it?" She asked, as the exhumans stopped collecting their grisly souvenirs and crouched towards Mikhail.

"This way," Mikhail said, with a wave of hir hand. "The Luxor Pyramid is where the warbot usually lairs at."

Chloe stumbled after him, helping Hotaru along the way. She was so tried - she hoped that this was at least a little bit away, so she could sleep at least for a few minutes. It was better than being sloppy and getting killed in a firefight.

Hotaru looked up at Chloe.

Chloe (private chat, #Hotaru#): [Don't worry. We've got this all planned out. I hope.]

Chloe watched as Hotaru nodded in agreement. Hopefully their sudden change in luck would follow them through. The last thing she wanted was to walk right into the lair of the lion and then get eaten. Of course, given her current company, there was no guarantee she wouldn't be eaten even if she survived...

1 comment:

  1. (I realise there's been a bit of a delay. Five dozen blogs on my RSS feed + very active Slacktiverse + busy out-and-about day = deluge of things to read. I saved this for last so I wouldn't feel in a rush.)

    The humanoid thing tumbled backwards, as she wheeled around started attacking it, Zira and Zaius moving in quickly to assist.

    "The humanoid thing tumbled backwards. She wheeled around and started attacking it, Zira and Zaius moving in quickly to assist."

    still out numbered, even with Hotaru helping

    "Outnumbered" should have no space.

    She could see next to nothing, she was acting only on touch.

    Semicolon, not comma.

    on the edge of the bar counter top

    "Countertop" shouldn't have a space either.

    Chloe kicked the exsurgent off, as the brawl resumed

    "And" seems like it would be more fitting than "as", especially with your tendency to use "as" a lot.

    into the Exsurgent's belly

    "Exsurgent" hasn't been capitalised in the middle of a sentence before.

    both of our group's benefits

    Groups' benefit.

    Where did you find it at?

    Extraneous "at".

    the exhumans come form?


    the exhumans stopped collecting their grisly souvenirs

    You never mentioned they'd started.

    She was so tried