Jade Imperium - One Small Step

fanchergw 2007-04-27 17:53:33
It's a little strange, but Semo starts to get used to the doc constantly talking to herself. At least she's not hard on the eyes.

As they tromp through the jungle, Semo checks his chronometer. "Looks to be about 20 minutes to the next gate. We may need to turn back soon, if we want to be there for it."

"Yes, ma'am," Semo says, digging about for the requested gadget. After a moment, he finds it and hands it to the doctor, keeping his gun steady with his other hand. She opens it up and lays it out next to the bank of the river in preparation for taking her samples as she goes back to talking to herself.

Something large suddenly comes blowing out of the water, filling the air with spray. The doc barely manages to avoid getting eaten on the first strike. All Semo can really see are rows and row of teeth in a huge mouth as he instinctively backpedals.

The captain's voice of authority cuts through the adrenaline pumping in his veins and Semo pauses for an instant as he brings his gun up. "Giant, hairy alligator-thing just tried to eat the doc, Cap!" Semo replies as he releases a burst of 7.62 NATO in the direction of the beast now that Cavanaugh is crawling out of the line of fire.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-04-27 18:12:55
Semo's terse transmission alerts Hugh to the situation, but then everyone hears the distant thunder of Semo's Mk. 48. Flocks of avians streak into the sky and the jungle comes alive for a moment as macrofauna dive for bolt-holes and hiding spots.

Brass and belt links thunk into the riverbank, falling from Semo's weapon in a steady stream. His shots rip across Jaws' side and upper back. Red blood sprays into the air, mixing with the creature's splashing.

The back of Semo's mind, the part that's weirded out, hopped up on adrenaline, and furiously fighting back the urge to run, is inexplicably calmed by the fact that this extraterrestrial bleeds red. And it's hurt. Arterial spray fizzles and spurts from its neck. Jaws whips away from Kitty to focus squarely on Semo.
Dieter 2007-04-27 18:15:12
"Was that gunfire?" asks Max, looking up from his laptop.
Gatac 2007-04-27 18:52:40
Hugh spares a look to Doctor Kilgore, who's only now reacting to the danger and looking very out of place.

...before he's had a chance to consider the further implications of gunshots, Hugh's on him, tackling him to the ground behind a couple of metal crates. Hugh gets back up and aims his gun over the crates, ready to shoot anything closing in.

"Defensive positions means everyone, Doc!"

He taps his radio.

"Status, Sarge!"
CrazyIvan 2007-04-27 18:55:03
Angel listens to the chatter over the radio, grumbling something about amateurs before hefting up his rifle, sighting down the scope for any sign of the scouting party - or their persuit.

"Sir? Requesting permission to advance to party's last known position and cover their withdrawl."
Gatac 2007-04-27 19:06:17
"Stand by for orders," Hugh say, almost mechanically. If the scout team's in trouble, they need to come up with a rescue plan - but as long as he doesn't have Semo's report, he's not going to weaken the defense of their basecamp.
Dieter 2007-04-27 20:19:24
Gatac wrote:

...before he's had a chance to consider the further implications of gunshots, Hugh's on him, tackling him to the ground behind a couple of metal crates. Hugh gets back up and aims his gun over the crates, ready to shoot anything closing in.


Max keeps his head down, pulling up his SMG to a defensive posture.
fanchergw 2007-04-27 20:49:25
Semo's rounds tear into the beast, spraying blood in all directions.

* It can bleed! It can bleed!* Semo thinks, just a bit frantically as the creature seems to forget the doc and turns toward him.

Just then, the captain's steadying voice comes over the radio. "It's wounded and coming for me, sir!"

An idea occurs to Semo and he waits for the beast to open that big, toothy mouth of it. Soon as it does, he intends to see if it can chew hot, jacketed lead with those huge teeth.

"Lou! Could you some help here, sargeant!" Semo shouts.
e of pi 2007-04-27 21:40:35
Startled by the sudden change in the situation, Luis is a little slow off the blcok, but after a second, he finally gets his gun up and ready, and opens up with fire of his own at the giant croc-thing.

OOC: Sorry for the dlay, I'm in the middle of the last two weeks to prepare a project that's makig up 50% of my English grade, and I needed to spend a bunch of time on it today. This is the first real goofing off I've done all day, but I think I've got a better handle on it now, and I'll be able to check in more often over the weekend.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-04-27 22:15:56
Luis snaps off a handful of two-round bursts, the heavy .45 slugs ripping into the animal's front limbs and head. Brain matter showers Dr. Cavanaugh's trampled water testing equipment, then Semo lets rip with a final burst that blows off the thing's upper jaw and spills its intestines as the rounds tear from stem to stern.

The papop papop papop BRPPPPPPPPOOM! echoes over the treetops back to the basecamp. Dr. Tupolev, currently crouched low in the passenger seat of one of the Humvees, flinches again at the noise.

Semo and Luis give each other a nod and a "hell yeah" with their eyes. Then Kitty screams again. The two Delta boys whip around to see Dr. Cavanaugh on her hands and knees. She's stock-still, staring back the way they came, where a 3 and a half foot tall creature stares at the three intruders. Luis recognizes the glint in its eyes from before; reflective, like a nocturnal animal. The creature is bipedal with hunched back, long arms, and broad shoulders. A long, broad snout and jaws with tiny tusks protrude from the animal's head. It's covered in shaggy, chameleonic hair which goes sky blue at the tips as Semo and Stanhill turn.

It's wearing a satchel or bag over one shoulder, sewn with what might be sinew. A necklace or headdress of some kind is draped around its neck - a clump of small bones, feathery hairs from avians, and some bluish stones. It definitely looks scared out of its mind. Its hands quiver, and the short, broad-bladed spear in its right hand drops to the ground. The spear-point looks metallic - one of the shards from the crash site, lashed to a length of wood.
fanchergw 2007-04-27 22:26:52
Between them, his and Luis' weapons chew the amphibian into doggie chow. By time they're done with it, there's hardly enough left to send home to mommy - whatever mommy might be.

There is time for wallowing in the afterglow of a good kill as a scream sounds behind them. Spinning, Semo sees some kind of upright monkey-dog creature is standing mere feet away from Dr. Cavanaugh. Semo's first instinct is to open up and blow this one to bits too, but something stays his trigger finger.

The creature is upright. And it appears to be wearing some kind of bag on a strap. And a spear. It's even wearing what could be seen as crude jewelry. Could it be sentient?

"Hold." Semo says, both for the creatures benefit and for his companions. "Doc, please crawl back over here slowly..."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-04-27 22:38:54
Kitty doesn't move at first, then she snaps out of it and slowly backs away. "I... I think... I think it's sentient... look at, th-the tools, the bag..."

Semo can't help thinking the thing looks like the hairy troll-beast from Big Trouble in Little China crossed with Cha-Ka from Land of the Lost.

The Ewok-sized beast seems to take great interest in everyone's movements, especially the difference between Kitty's still-scared-shitless demeanor and the two soldiers' unflappable expressions. The blue goes out of its fur, and it holds its forelimbs out to you, palms up. It has opposable thumbs and... Sasquatch-like hands, you might say. Its fur tinges with a hint of orange-brown and it snuffles a sound like "Whirrrr".

Dr. Cavanaugh's reached her camera while keeping her eyes locked with the little biped. *Max, Captain, the first animal's d-dead, but I think we've... we've discovered sentient life.*
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-04-28 04:10:20
"It's trying to communicate, I think," Cavanaugh says to Semo and Luis. "Which one of your team is the best tracker? If it runs, I want to be able to follow it."

Then, she slowly, shakily gets to her feet, which prompts a step back from the "dog-monkey", as Semo put it. Kitty stretches her hands out, palms up, and says "Hello?" She gets a blank stare from the biped, who then suddenly mimics Kitty's gestures perfectly, its hair turning a fair approximation of the color of Kitty's olive drab fatigues. This copycat game goes back and forth, then the biped points to itself and makes its "Whirrrr" noise again, then points at Kitty, Semo, and Luis, this time making a "Gruhnnht" noise.

Kitty points to the biped and tries her best "Whirrr", then points to herself. "Kate," she says. "Sergeant Putupu, and Luis," she adds. The shaggy biped makes a typically "no" gesture, pointing to all of you and saying "Gruhnnht?"

*Max, this is Kitty. We're trying to communicate and it's not... well, I don't think we can bring it back to camp. Why don't you get some people and come to us?*
Gatac 2007-04-28 06:03:01
Hugh listens to the radio chatter and cuts in.

"Stay put and don't spook it, I'm on my way. Greene, you're with me. Taylor, you're in charge of the camp."

He looks down to Kilgore.

"Come on, Doc."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-04-28 14:05:12
"Yessir," Taylor confirms. Dr. Kilgore, Greene, and Verrill head into the jungle, moving fast and staying alert.

*All right, we're holdin' down the fort, people,* Taylor says. *Riviera, pull back to camp. I want you walkin' this wreck with Dr. Tupolev. Mellish, move up twenty yards to take up the slack.*


"I still need some kind of river sample," Dr. Cavanaugh says, "And I'm not- I'm just not going over there. I'm sorry." She hands Semo a plastic jar, then turns her attention back to the biped. "Whirr. Grunt." The creature's hair flushes greenish around the neck, and it excitedly repeats "Whiirrr, Gruhnnht!"

Kitty repeats the noises, pointing to the biped, then herself, then points to the butchered predator carcass.

The biped makes a complex, lightning-fast gesture with its arms and shoulders. No color change, no noise. Kitty and the alien are only a few feet from each other now.

This is ridiculous, you can't help but think. Kitty continues her Jane Goodall impression for another fifteen minutes. In the meantime, she makes Semo and Luis do their "Whirrrs" and "Grunts" and collect bits of the dead predator until Max, Hugh, and Greene finally show up. The alien shrinks back at the sound of their movement, hiding next to a tree and camouflaging itself. Kitty tries to get it back, saying "Whirrr! (points to the alien) Grunt! (points to the noise)". That actually seems to work - the creature makes a loud "Yarp!" noise, then steps forward, careful not to position itself between any of the humans.

The doctor and the two Delta operators emerge from the jungle and see the ugly little Ewok dog-monkey, Dr. Cavanaugh making silly noises, and Putupu and Stanhill standing there covering the area, with several jars full of whatever's in the river, gibs from the monster, and relief on their faces.

Then you hear an answering "Yarp!", much deeper and louder than the first. Two more shaggy bipeds appear from the jungle not ten feet away, but these are seven feet tall, with bestial tusks, impressive musculatures, and wielding longer but thicker stabbing spears. Both of them have several... well, they're earrings. The larger of the two (not by much) has a patchy birthmark or scar across its face. One eye is clouded over. The other one pulls the smaller biped towards it protectively.

Assuming if their body language can even be considered humanlike, Max figures that they're the smaller one's parents. Without more information, he guesses two genders, and is mentally assigning "female" to the more protective of the two. The larger, one-eyed sentient stands in what Max would guess is pride or defiance, but perhaps not aggression. However, he's been wrong before...
Gatac 2007-04-28 14:22:55
"Lower your weapons, but keep them ready," Hugh whispers. He clicks the safety on his own rifle on, then hands it to Dr. Cavanaugh.

He slowly steps forward, presenting himself as the leader of the group. With measured moves, he brings up his right hand to offer a hand shake.

We mean you no harm.
CrazyIvan 2007-04-29 03:17:37
Angel grumbles softly and curses under his breath. "Well this has gone well and truely balls up."

He jogs back to where the last of the science team is still surveying the wreck, although both his glance and the positioning of his rifle seem to indicate that the doctor's survey is one of the less weighty things on his mind.
fanchergw 2007-04-29 08:16:41
"Yeah. I think you're right, doc. And damn is it ugly," Semo replies.

"You want Angel. He's the recon expert." Doing his best to be non-threatening, Semo remains very ready nevertheless.

After hearing the "Gruhnnht" noise for the third time, Semo gets an idea. "Maybe he's referring to what we are, like human."

Semo accepts the jar from the lady doc. Oh, great. Moving carefully, in case the croc-thing has a buddy, Semo fills the jar with one hand as best he can while keeping his gun trained on the water with the other. It's a nerve-wracking few moments, but he manages to get a decent amount of water in the jar and rejoin the others. "Here ya go, doc."

Getting back, Cavanaugh is still trading noises with the creature. At her request, Semo repeats them somewhat half-heartedly, his concerns being more centered on what else might be out here in the forest. Fortunately, the captain shows up just then with Greene and the head doc.

His fears are confirmed when and answering call comes from the forest. What emerges is much bigger, and even uglier, than the creature the doctor's been trying to communicate with.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that these are probably it's parents from the way they behave. Oh, great.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-04-30 18:18:25
Something tried to eat some of his team, and now half - no, more than half - of the entire mission is out in the jungle with some sort of possibly-intelligent beast. No, thinks Angel as he sweeps the overgrowth covering a possible entrance point to the shipwreck, I don't even think 'balls up' covers it.

Angel and Andy climb over a mass of dead vegetation, kept from the sun by their taller, leafier brethren. The air inside the wreck is cooler - not air conditioning, but even a few degrees is a relief. The sun streaks down through stress fractures and gaps in the metallic material, illuminating three more Gateways. The 15-foot rings are held fast in ancient gantries, stacked front to back like a 747 filled with giant donuts. A fourth Gate is visible a little farther up the fuselage. It's been damaged - fully one third of the ring is missing and there are cracks and chips across the rest of the gate, like fractured pottery.

"My guess is heat," Tupolev says. "Judging from the angle here, if this was some sort of aircraft or spacecraft, that valley we're facing now is the scar left by this thing's impact. That would make this end the end where the engines were, and if there was an explosion, well... it could very well explain why the damage to these gates is less severe than the others. These have fractures on them too," he adds, pointing to more damage on the gates held fast in their mountings.

"Of course, that assumes they used engines like we understand them. Or that this thing was actually in the air at some point. All this begs the question, where did the debris go? There's no sign of a control scheme, seats, doors, anything to indicate what kind of people built this."

Angel has a bit of an epiphany. This wreck hasn't just been left sitting in the wildnerness for centuries. It's been picked clean, and whoever looted the wreckage left the Gates behind. He's seen enough destroyed convoys and battles in the desert to know the difference between "looted by locals" and "left to rot in the sun".

"Hey, um... er... Angel. Angel, this entire place seems to be made out of, if not exactly the same, very close to the material of the Gates. Mesas Negras ran tests back in the early 90s on the other debris from Antarctica, and you'd need some very energetic reactions to cause this kind of damage. Maybe a fuel-air bomb, definitely something along the lines of nuclear blast."


The tall shaggy beast regards Hugh with a puzzled look, giving his aura a little *snurf*. It hands its spear to its... mate? Friend? and holds its right hand straight up in front of its chest, like half of a Shaolin monk's bow, then bows low in supplication and backs several steps back. Max watches it, and his best guess is that the alien thinks Hugh asked it for something it doesn't have. Then the creature makes more nonsensical gestures, punctuating certain gestures with "whiirs" or "wheres" or "garfs". It then remains bowed, looking to Hugh for a response.

Luis and Semo notice that there are several toucan-birds alighting on nearby boughs. They look pretty interested in the huge dead animal.
Dieter 2007-04-30 18:47:37
"He's making what looks like the customary greeting, Captain. Do what he does with your weapon." says Max, watching and listening to the creature's movements and syntax for any discernable dialiect.