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BattleTech Player Boards => Fan Fiction => Topic started by: Cannonshop on 26 September 2020, 20:14:37

Title: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 26 September 2020, 20:14:37
The man on the green couch shuddered and sweated, groaning pitifully.

Carmelita watched and waited as he writhed in apparent agony.

She watched, and sipped bitter water, wiping a driplet off her lips with one filthy sleeve, as he shuddered into stillness and his breathing regularized.

she spoke no word, waiting patiently for his eyes to open with awareness.

eventually, they did.

"FOUNDER...what-"

"Shh." she shushed the 'mechwarrior,   "Have some water."  she handed him the flask, he took a sip, and spat it out "Gahh! foul!!"

"yeah." she grinned maliciously.  "It is.  Star colonel, you have been exposed to the contraband narcotic Bliss for the last eight hours, your body now requires it to live.  when you enter withdrawal-and you will, it will come with cramps, and a craving that you will never find something to fill, you will lose the ability to experience pleasure, and then, you will lose the ability to sleep...and then, you will go insane, and you will die, and do you know why this will happen?"

He painfully sat up.  "What?"

"This will happen, because you don't know where to get more-and you will want more, I assure you...and nobody will help you.  This is what I do for my family, Star Colonel-every man in your unit, will experience what you will experience, and you will all die like dogs...after losing your honor and your dignity and everything that separates you from animals."

she stood up, "You'll regain your strength soon, your sidearm is in the desk, over there." she gestured at a half destroyed piece of furniture.  "I left you one bullet.  your choice in how you'll use it.  Your next dose will be needed in seven hours, thirty one minutes. have a nice day."

she walked out of the half-destroyed slum-house, into the ruined streets of the village.

one down, fifteen to go.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: mikecj on 26 September 2020, 20:16:22
nice!
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 26 September 2020, 20:30:27
I look forward to seeing where tis one goes
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 26 September 2020, 20:52:15
They are almost invisible in the grand sweep of things, the displaced and truly dispossessed, not "Dispossessed" like a 'mechwarrior without a ride, but truly dispossessed, the orphans and the widows, the homeless made that way by the sledge of war unending and the demands of the would-be conquerors, generals, Khans and Kings and whatever other grand titles accrue to those who order the murder of civilization and manage the ending of communities.

it's always done in the name of grand visions, 'the proletariat', 'Manifest Destiny', 'restoring the star league'.

Carmelita handed the credit chit over to the merchant in the stall, and accepted her ration.  "Thank you." she said.  She always said it, to each of them, the ones who would lose everything, or be traded like a deck of cards in a fixed duel.

They never see it coming.  She'd learned it well.  she walked away from the merchant's stall, clutching her meagre purchase of rations, avoiding eye contact with passerby.

Her target was close.  He'd risen far in the ranks since his trinary destroyed her home, just as the Star Colonel had.

but they always do.

"Identicard."

she stopped, looking at the feet of the Clan Police, she pulled the ident card from her rough shawl, and presented it without a word with shaking hands.

He checked it, then lifted her chin with a finger.  Her meek, frightened, beaten-down stare met his visor.

the reader flashed green three times, and he handed it back.  "Be safe miss." he told her, "Be on your way, Glory to the Clan."

"Glory to the Clan." she answered him, mirroring what he expected to hear.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 26 September 2020, 22:10:15
They are invisible to the rulers, except when they are unsightly.    She dipped a mop in the bucket, and spread the solution on the corridor.  Her target works late, perhaps an attempt to make up for what he'd participated back then.

tonight, he was going over another Training exercise conducted by his subordinates, working alone, an aide just nearby enough.

she spread the mop solution along the floor, working the scuffs and the dirt out from the day's operations in the command center.

Labor is invisible, techs are more visible, but Carmelita had been a worker her whole life-before that life had been ended with the destruction of their wars for pride, for 'ideals'.

She was beneath their notice.  The guards did not even look at her, one or two pointedly looked away as she continued in her menial task, because in the Clan labor system, tasks like this were so menial they were not worth automating, and given only to the lowest and least capable of the laborer caste, the ones considered borderline unfit to even be allowed to breed.

Beneath them, not a threat.

she reached the offices, and slid her card in the slot.  The door unlatched, and she went inside.

the floor above was where he was, for efficiency, the air system was centralized, and the rooms shared ducting, because who would spy on a Clan Headquarters this far into Clan controlled space? where would such a spy report?

She stepped up onto the case of toilet paper, and undid the fasteners for the filter housing.

she changed the filter, and replaced the grating.  In a few minutes, the security system would sweep the area for devices.

it would find nothing, for there was nothing to find.

She placed the dirty filter into a reclamation bin for the weekly collection, and left the store room.

continuing on her task.

Beneath them.  a face they become used to looking through.  studying them, their habits, their unique needs and desires, the unconscious patterns of routine.

become part of the routine.

she finished the level, and took the mop-solvent to a reprocessing station, pouring it, her nightly task complete.

She walked out of the headquarters with a bare acknowledgement of her existence and a security sweeping of her body, done by the least of the Warriors assigned here as punishment, they made her strip, and used latex gloves to search her for anything that might be stolen, or contraband, any indicator of a spying device, or transmitter, before they let her dress in her clothes again, and leave the compound.

Invisible, and patient.  This one would make it thirteen, when he went to the machine for coffee, two sugars, cream, his paycode would tell the machine to fill his order, and it would tell something else, to add a little treat.

it wasn't perfect, or seamless, but she walked with the drudged gait and poor nourishment of the lowest of the castes, but without obvious signs of guilt.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Ttw1 on 26 September 2020, 22:30:19
TAGed
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 26 September 2020, 23:41:12
at first, the Watch didn't see a pattern.  a couple of warriors, one disgracing himself with addictive narcotics, not wholly unexpected but still offensive, then killing himself.  A distinguished Star Commander found dead in his office of, well...

'he died'.

No pattern emerged or was even suggested until the third casualty-a mechwarrior recently sent to Solahma duty after failing to retain his position, screaming about ghosts and cutting his way through half a dozen of his new comrades before he could be put down.

This time, there was something to find that truly shouldn't be there.

"Dimethyl Sulfoxide and...Phencyclidine concentrate in the nervous system and blood, the amount is well above dangerous levels."

this stimulated a more careful examination of the body, and possessions.

the materials were found in his undergarments, applied with a temperature and moisture sensitive laquer to his sidearm's grips, and in his neurohelmet's liner.

The dosage was suitable to trigger acute anxiety and even psychotic violent outbursts.

Computers placed in the Clan's care after conquest made the initial common connection-all three had been members of a specific trinary several years ago.

It was laughed off as a coincidence when the fourth victim occurred.  Death by overdose by a chemical that stimulated the release of aggression hormones while lowering inhibition, heart attack and pulmonary failure while engaging in 'coupling' with a junior warrior who claimed the recreational activity was non-consensual and had the bruises and injuries to prove it.

"There is a killer, these were certainly not accidents..."
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 00:44:36
October 2, 3062, edge of the periphery...

The Clan had been here for over a decade now.  Long enough that veterans of the first wave of Operation:Revival were rotating to the PGC covering this part of space as they tested down from the front line warrior formations in favor of younger warriors fresh from their trials of position.

Point Commander Arlene has been assigned here almost since arrival, a garrison specialist brought in under Khan Ulric's orders, she had managed to keep a low profile, and she cared about her duties here, enough to resist the call to follow the Wardens into exile, enough that as political winds shifted, she simply changed flag and uniform as needed.

There is little call for conventional infantry leaders with the best of the Touman, and she had been a PGC soldier practically since barely making it into the Warrior Caste back in 3048.  She wasn't trueborn, she was a freebirth, and that gave her a certain...perspective in dealing with occupation duty, and that certain 'feel' for the currents of sentiment among the lower castes meant that she handled things a little differently.

There were fifteen files on her desktop.  four were marked 'Deceased', one was listed as lost to the Jade Falcons, but still alive, and that left her with ten warriors and a gut feeling that someone really wanted those ten warriors dead.  that ten, specifically.

"you turning in tonight, Deputy?"  her nickname had become 'Deputy' because of her unorthodox methods of crime control.  Instead of rounding up suspects for interrogation in groups, she invested time and effort into each case, seeking not to find someone to punish for order's sake, but instead, seeking to find the specific guilty party.

Star Captain Robert was new to this garrison...he was also on her list.

"No. Not yet."  she answered him, "I still have details to apply to the latest report."

He laughed.  "You should get out more, when was the last time  you took recreation?"

"I don't." she told him.  "I am well past my prime, and getting old.  If I am to keep making a difference, I have to maintain proficiency while performing effectively."

"Why? this is a dead-end assignment with no glory."

"An assignment that still must be done." she countered.

"You will accompany me, and the rest of the Headquarter Star, for drinks."

"Is that an order?"

"Aff."

she sighed, and closed out the desktop.  "Fine..."

***

"...your attention to duties is laudable, and you have a great deal of experience to pass on."

"I am not prepared to step down yet." she told him as they walked down the mostly-empty streets to the canteen.  "Let me get it out of the way-my chances of promotion are nil, I am too old for even a second-line position in most of the Touman..." she watched warily anyway, and a civil worker, a laborer waiting at the transit stop tripped something...an instinct.  she slid her walk slightly askew from the normal disciplined subordinate march, moving slightly ahead of her new CO.  "...I am unlikely to earn promotion higher than my current rank, but I occupy a position that is undesirable, on a backwater.  There is no chance I will ever be included in the breeding programme...so, that is all out of the way."

the worker turned and started toward them.

something is not right.

Arlene paused in reciting her defects.

definitely not right.

"You! Identification!"

The woman stopped, and fumbled for an identicard.

too submissive.

She reached out, and took the woman's hand.

it was ice cold, more like dead meat than living flesh.  "This identicard is incorrect."  she said, "you will co-"

and then something remarkable happened, and it happened in front of them both.

Arlene was holding nothing, except a slip of duraplast, because the woman was gone.

not running away gone, not slipped the grip and ducked into an alleyway gone.

gone.

just gone.

"And this is why I don't step down."

she glanced at Robert, and his face was as white as the vanished woman's, only it was fear white.

"Star Captain, I think I need to ask you some questions about a case."
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: ThePW on 27 September 2020, 01:26:30
One. Ping. Only.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 01:57:16
"...we sanitized a lot of early actions during Operation:Revival."  Robert sat across from her in the interrogation room.  "Speed, it was critical, staying ahead of the others, and my trinary, we were mostly sympathetic to the Crusader cause, except for Star Commander Jonah, which is pretty ironic, in a sick way." he sighed, and Arlene poured a cup half full of the local distilled spirits from a hand-blown glass bottle.  He took the offered up, and downed it with a wince.  "The place was a little two-village colony, They barely had running water and primitive power from a dam...but they wanted to fight."

"I've seen duty stations like that." Arlene sympathized.  "little hell-hole full of people who would not be a threat, if only left alone...go on."

"We spent three weeks there, some of the data said there was a Star League facility left behind, some kind of research project or something, but you would not be able to tell from how those people were barely alive..." He sighed, "We had orders, there was still the possibility, especially after the Smoke Jaguars started testing for taint-Osis wanted everyone to run samples, remember that?"

"I oversaw a few of those, mostly finishing the details so we could set up medical centers." she agreed.

"heh, 'medical centers'...aff...that was the official term, but our unit's medical support had copies of the charting for not-named DNA...and at first, it looked like a waste of time...and after, it was, but during?"  he held out the cup, and she refilled it.

"During?"

"There was a false positive.  One of the families living outside the second village." He said, "Little girl, carmen or..some damned name...and suddenly our openly Warden Star Commander...got very interested in aggressively pursuing the matter.  to the point that he convinced the rest of us that we'd found a secret pocket of the Not Named.  Fanatical about it.  so...we did our duty, we killed them."

"How many?":

"all of them." he said, "even the ones that did not register false positives...only we had a medtech going over the bodies.  The gene profiles...did not match the initial readings, it turns out there was a fault in the reader."

"HOW MANY?"

"It took us eleven days, Arlene.  two villages, eleven days before the error was discovered...around four thousand civilians, men, women...children...and after, Jonah kept it up, to be sure to be...certain there would be no witnesses to turn insurgent later.  It is all a wash now."

"What do you mean?"

"My sins have caught up to me." He told her, "How do you apologize for that?  what possible surkai can anyone..ever offer for that?  I saw her tonight.  The girl, the false positive, right there on the street! in front of us! as clearly as I see you sitting there in front of me, right now!"

"I saw her too.  this is not your guilt driving you insane, Robert.  This is real, and she is a real witness who can truly testify to what you did...you are under arrest for war crimes."

He finished his drink, "It will not matter." he said, "I will repeat with details in front of a recorder, and maybe the judgement of the Clan will kill me first, or maybe...maybe she will finish it for you...but I have disgraced the Clan, and the uniform."

"Yes, yes you have."

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 02:12:07
so close! The building she woke up in had been a commercial building at some point, repurposed for housing farm labor under Wolf's watch to better deliver supplies and keep things regulated.

she pulled her shawl close around thin shoulders, though it wasn't particularly cold in here, and stepped out of the bunk cubicle.  Immediately, she sought out the floor officer.

"I have lost my identicard!" she told him, "what am I going to DO??"

The Merchant administrator acting as floor officer took her name.

"Carmelita Rosen."

He typed the name in, "Ident number? oh, wait, here it is...  You are a good worker according to your file."

She smiled at him.  "Thank you, I was raised to work hard." she tells him.

a new identicard began printing.  "Try not to lose this one, Carmelita, with your clearances your identicard and ration cards are valuable to the bandit caste, even here on a safe world."

"Yes sir.  I will do my best."

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Artifex on 27 September 2020, 02:23:46
TAGged.

I guess this'll turn out to be the classic race between the perpetrator and the investigator for the remaining 10. :thumbsup:
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Giovanni Blasini on 27 September 2020, 03:19:24
There is also something off about Carmelita.  Star League research facility. The cold hands...
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: XaosGorilla on 27 September 2020, 04:10:20
Also, did she age?
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 04:40:59
The planet didn't even merit having a name. just a stellar catalog number and a set of jump coordinates, coordinates that, according to records, corresponded to an SLDF Naval laboratory that the initial trinary sent to find it, had not found.

According to Robert, a Trueborn from the line of Connors, they had butchered the population instead, and then abandoned the search for strategic reasons.

'Strategic Reasons' such as hiding their mistake.  Fifteen files sat on Vladimir Ward's desk, and a freebirth from arguably the lowest rung of the Warrior Caste, aging clear on her face, stood at parade rest on the holostage.

"Four of those warriors are presently deceased.  One, is in the hands of Clan Jade Falcon, taken bondsman and retained after your successful refusal to submit to an illegal absorption.  That leaves ten warriors that need to be apprehended, interviewed, tried, and sentenced, OvKhan, for war crimes every bit as bad except in scale, as those committed by the traitor lords.  I have one in custody, and without either a clear refutation, or corroborating evidence supporting his registered confession..."

politically, a public trial of this nature could seriously damage Clan Wolf's position among the Clans, and would be propoganda gold for the Inner Sphere.

the nature, and impact, of the charges, the crimes alleged committed even against filthy barbarians, could do damage.  Vlad knew this.

He also knew in his bones, that it may already be too late to quietly settle this.

"Star Captain Arlene, you are now detailed to conduct this investigation as a war crimes investigation, on my order as Khan, you  are to receive whatever support is not directly committed to continuing the war effort to establish the veracity or lack thereof, of the charges, Establish if this crime did, in fact happen, and then establish whether or not the suspects are, in fact guilty.  I want this handled within the next four months.  An Explorer class Jumpship will be detailed for your travel requirements and the suspects will be transferred into your AOR from whatever units they happen to presently be assigned.  I want The Truth."

"Seyla, My Khan.  It shall be done."

He had considered keeping the Explorer class ship captured over Tamar during the invasion as a VIP transport or diplomatic courier, a role that his predecessor, Ulric, had actually also considered long enough that it had not been sent to the breakers for the miniscule amount of Germanium in its core.

sending it out to the back end of beyond for an internal investigation seemed convenient enough, and would make the vessel useful-at least, for a while.



Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 04:51:21
"No rest for you, Robert Connor."  the cell was chilly after lights-out, and aside from the speaker grill and an armored camera, he should have been in isolated silence.

Star Captain Robert...well, former and maybe future star captain, peeked through half-closed eyes.  "No rest for you, murderer"

freezing hands caressed his cheeks and for a moment, he saw her face over his.

"The verdict is guilty."

and then...he woke up, screaming, soaked in sweat, and alone.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 06:42:47
She doesn't sleep.  no, that's not right...she sleeps. she dreams.

Her dreams are filled with fear, and screams, and the hiss-crack of human beings blown apart as lasers tuned to antipersonnel frequencies transmute human blood into pinkish steam, of her people begging, pleading...

and dying.

This is all that Carmelita knows when she closes her eyes, over and over, over and over, and over and over again.

pain, fear, loss, and a frantic burning desire for revenge.

Carmelita doesn't sleep well, and she doesn't sleep often.

Information seeps into her consciousness, knowledge of a series of orders, orders connected to names.

She has fifteen names, fifteen faces.


the list is not alphabetical, it is not even by current rank.  The only order that it is, is 'who dies first'-and the order has shifted.

One of the murderers must have broken, must have spoken. 

They are bringing them to me whether they know it or not.  This can end.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: jonen c on 27 September 2020, 06:51:47
Hm... Banshee?
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Tegyrius on 27 September 2020, 08:43:32
The title brought me here expecting heroin addiction and I was pleasantly surprised to find one of Roland's proteges hard at work evening up the score while time stands still.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 16:31:00
It was time to change methods.  Before, the Wolf Clan authorities didn't know.  She'd worked fairly hard to keep from doing the same things twice, and they shouldn't have known.

But they know.  It compresses time a little when your prey knows they are being hunted, and have protection.

Carmelita rinsed her face in the communal bathing area, and wiped steam from the steel mirrors of the labor shelter. 

on the face of the stainless steel, a slightly distorted image of a young woman looked back at her, the face of someone like her mother, but different.

Unseen to the others, was the shadow behind her.  We have to move more aggressively.

she nodded in agreement.

she finished her washing, and dressed for another day of work assignments.

as she pulled on her shoes, her mirror self watched for a moment, before disappearing.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 17:03:46
Carmelita reached the location on her work order, and slid her identicard into the reader.

"Carmelita Rozen?"  a voice interrupted her focus, and she turned.

Two Wolf Clan Police were looking at her.

"Yes?"

"You will come with us."

"Of course."  she lifted her work-bag.

"Your gear?"

she handed it over meekly, and obeyed instructions.

To Daryl, the laborer woman's behaviour was almost tragic.  She did not even ask where she was being taken, or why she had been singled out.

She just obeyed like a flesh-and-blood robot.

it was disturbing. even in the Homeworlds, a laborer from Clan Wolf would wish to know why their day had been interrupted, or what the problem was, or where they were being taken.

she asked none of those questions.

***

"Sit in the chair, miss Rozen."

She sat.

"Do you know why you are here?"

"I was told to follow directions, I was brought here by two officers of the Clan Police, who brought me to this room." she replied.

"I meant, the reason why you were brought here."

"I do not understand the question."  her tone was almost mechanically lacking in inflection.  The words were clear, but there was no understanding in her eyes.
***
Behind the one-way mirror, Arlene folded her arms.  The laborer who'd disappeared from her hand had looked almost exactly like the young woman whose medical records showed a mild mental impairment in the interrogation room, and a projected intelligence quotient of around 85-barely capable of function, but still capable of being used in trained, menial, simple tasks.

officially, Carmelita Rosen was 25 years old...which would make her 11 at the time of the massacre.

Medtechs examined the young laborer with military grade diagnostic tools, and imagery showed up in the monitoring room.

bone scarring to the cranium, a piece of inert shrapnel too deeply lodged to be safely removed in her pre-frontal cortex, abnormal, reduced development in several sections of the girl's brain-likely adaptations to the trauma that damaged it.

but she looked just like the woman who so expertly 'ghosted' Arlene on an empty street.

except for the skin tone.

***

"I am a hard worker, everybody tells me I am, I do good work.  Do you need someone to clean here?" Carmelita asked.

this made the Watch officer hesitate.  In the mirror behind them, Carmelita could see her reflection studying the room.  then, she watched her reflection get out of the chair, and walk out the door.

They didn't see it.

"Have you done anything...wrong or bad?"  The Clan policeman asked

"I..I had to get a replacement because I lost my card and I can't find it.  am I in trouble?  I didn't meantoloseitIforgetstuffsometimesandI'mreallysorry!!"

her sudden hysterical outburst and weeping held their attention on her.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 17:38:41
The cell had gone cold enough Robert could see his breath, like in the nightmares, only it is daylight outside.

the screen mount in the corner of the cell, a leftover from when this was a Periphery World with strange customs, lit up for the first time since the conquest (aside from a brief time where it was tested for use in delivering pro-Clan information and entertainment under the previous governor).

It showed the surveillance image of his cell.

only in the image, he was not alone.

"I knew you would come." he said.

ice cold fingers wrapped around his throat, and there was nothing to push back against, no physical foe to fight.

There was pounding at the door to the cell, as Robert strangled.  The men on suicide watch were trying to get in, trying to render assistance, trying to do their duty.

as his vision darkened, he saw her face, twisted in pain and rage, and the last sound he heard as the world went dark, was the sound of the chime in his cockpit, telling him that his 'mech was out of machine-gun ammunition.

he didn't feel it when his throat was torn open, to leave a message...

***

Point Four Irena had been here only a month, her demotion from service in a Provisional Garrison Cluster had come as bad news, but not unexpected.  her Elemental physique made short work of forcing the door-once whatever had been holding it closed was gone.

"Savashri!!"

The disgrace Robert lay dead on the floor, his face purple, neck broken, and something had torn part of his throat out...


and on the wall, scrawled in the man's blood.

"Only the Guilty should pay"

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 27 September 2020, 17:43:45
Bean Shidhe!

(I'm enjoying this)
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 17:49:54
The girl Carmelita Rosen flopped in her restraints, the sedatives taking effect late, but with an almost supernatural effectiveness.

"What just happened?"

alarms sounded, and Arlene didn't have time to wonder. 

Her prisoner was dead, inside isolation holding, with no means to bondsref or even harm himself, he was dead.

and his killer, for the first time, left a message.

"Only the Guilty should pay."

somehow, an assassin had gotten inside the base once again.  somehow, that assassin had managed to strangle a fit forty year old man, snap his neck, and cut...no, she knelt, looking at the wound...tear his throat open to reveal and sever his carotid artery, had time, in less than five minutes, to write a message in blood on the wall...and had escaped detection leaving the cell.

"I want every surveillance recording from this level, every maintenance sensor, even airflow and seismic! and I want this killer found!" she ordered.  "They can't have gone far.  Take the...remains to the Autopsy, and I want him fully gone over, leave no molecule undisturbed!"
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 17:56:42
in Interrogation room 1, unconscious, brain-damaged and mentally handicapped Carmelita Rosen's snores were interrupted as the alarms distracted everyone.

"dim ond y euog ddylai dalu am eu troseddau"
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: JA Baker on 27 September 2020, 17:57:39
So, either a Fury or a Wraith.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 18:08:02
When Carmelita woke, the Police and the nurses let her out of the chair, gave her a note and her possessions, and led her through the police administration building to the exit.

The man who asked her questions gave her a candy and told her she had been a very good girl.  This made her smile in an achingly pretty way as she thanked him.

if she wasn't so thoroughly damaged, it would have been more than pretty or cute...as it was, Interrogation Technician Lyle felt only a kind of sick horror as he fought down urges that made him instantly ashamed.

Carmelita carefully made her way down familiar paths, to the public transit, and from there, to her laborer barracks.

she had no way to know she was being followed discretely.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Elmoth on 27 September 2020, 18:13:35
Fury is my guess
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 18:23:51
Arlene studied the surveillance video.

At the specific time that laborer Carmelita, a bottom-tier employed laborer, was hysterically apologizing for losing her identicard, the cameras in Robert's cell glitched.

the image that followed was strange, Robert's hands, flailing as he fell back and landed on the floor, clear signs of physical distress...

"This is where we tried to open the cell, Star Captain."  Point Four Irena stated.  "the door was jammed shut, and the lock was non-responsive."

she watched him slump limp, and then, his head twisted bending in a way that would snap the top five vertebrae and sever the spinal cord.

then his throat seemed to rip itself open, and blood spattered out in a spray.

"THERE! freeze frame!"

the surveillance tech froze the image.

"leave the artifacts in the image, but enhance it....here."

small hands covered in blood...the hands of a child, or small woman.

"Advance frames one hundredth speed."

the hands dipped into the growing pool of blood, then wrote their message on the wall...

and then, the door opened.  No interuption, just a pair of splashes.

"that has to be the most impressive stealth tech I have ever seen." the surveillance tech opined without being told.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 27 September 2020, 18:32:57
"dim ond y euog ddylai dalu am eu troseddau"

That looks suspiciously like Welsh.

[edit]
At least, more p-celtic than q-celtic.

I wonder if the Clans can translate what's probably a very obscure language in the 31st century?
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: jonen c on 27 September 2020, 18:42:02
That looks suspiciously like Welsh.

[edit]
At least, more p-celtic than q-celtic.

I wonder if the Clans can translate what's probably a very obscure language in the 31st century?

Google says welsh for only the guilty should pay for their crimes.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Brother Jim on 27 September 2020, 20:19:36
Passive sensors Locked. Do not go active, it will alert the target.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Sharpnel on 27 September 2020, 20:19:42
That looks suspiciously like Welsh.

[edit]
At least, more p-celtic than q-celtic.

I wonder if the Clans can translate what's probably a very obscure language in the 31st century?
According to Google Translate, it's Welsh
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 20:30:36
Carmelita carefully folded her work clothes and slid them into the three-draw chest, her cubicle mates were going out to spend work-credits for a night out in the recreation area, and leaving her alone.

she carefully folded her socks, stood, and glanced at the mirror of her wall-locker.

Her reflection was dressed.  Get Dressed, it's time to leave.

time to leave.

Oh! of course.  one more name off the list, it's time to go.

she unfolded her small cache of non-uniform clothes, and slid into a pair of jeans, topping it with a blue shirt and a simple working jacket.

Then tied her hair back into a ponytail, tucking the stray strands into a simple hair-clip.

she checked reflections, mimicing what her mirror self did, until everything was arranged properly and normally.

It was time to go out.

Carmelita the Laborer was meek, confused and frightened.

the young woman who walked out, and walked right past the Watch surveillance team, was confident and  poised, dressed in fashions considered suitable for an off-duty technician of rank, the brief 'out of place' confusion missed in the hubub of an early summer evening on pay week, as a diversity of lower caste and off-duty warriors swarmed the streets in this part of town.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 22:25:31


"It took some doing, Katya."  Arlene said, carefully lacing her tone with sympathy, "But considering you are the next one on the list, a bit of cooperation would do well for you."

Katya looked at the images of dead comrades she  had not seen in fifteen years.

Uniformed Clan Watch are rare.  Having one visit her so shortly after being transferred to a new unit was not unexpected...having that interviewer bring up LV-5775?  could not have been anything but a sign indicating the end of her career.

"What did you find on LV-5775, Katya?"  Arlene asked, "Not what did you report, what did you find there?"

"We believed we had found a nest of the Not-Named." she answered coldly, "A malfunction of our medtechs and their equipment."

"Your star captain issued orders, quaff?"

"Aff, and we carried them out." Katya was cold, calm, and collected in her reply.

"Who ordered you to falsify your report?"

Katya looked away for the first time.  "Star Captain Jonah."

"And you did not report this, but instead obeyed.  Why?"

Katya snorted, "It would have been my word against the word of every warrior in my Trinary." she said, "Some because they wanted to obey him, others because they...because the admission would have tarnished their records further."

"Well, you made an enemy with powerful stealth technology."  Arlene stated, and laid the next flatrendering on the desk.  "Only the Guilty should be punished...I actually sympathize with the sentiment.  The executions on the other hand...this executioner is breaking any number of laws and must be stopped."

Katya stared at the cell in the holoflat.  "You have ten names from our Trinary, but I only see myself here."

"The others are not yet available." Arlene stated.  "I have colleagues in the Liberation zone interviewing them as we speak, but I will still ask them additional questions-assuming any of you are alive when you become available.  Now..." here, Arlene slid one last document across the table for Katya to examine. "...that is an order from the Khan himself, to cooperate and tell me everything.  Your future, and the future of your legacies, hinges on how much useful information you can give me about what happened on LV-5775."

"What defines 'useful' Star Captain?"

"any detail that can clue us in on how to catch, or at least stop this killer before there are no more survivors to tell me what happened there."
Title: LV-5775, 'once upon a time in a distant little town' Katya's Testimony
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 22:40:37
Katya sighed, "My unit proudly deployed for Operation:Revival.  There was some internal friction, which you get when your commanding officer is a Warden and your troops are all Crusaders...Jonah was unpopular with the men, but one of the best 'mechwarriors I have ever seen.  Challenging his leadership in the field was not only pointless, but prohibited without documented cause..."

***

The first thing we noticed on landing, was how miserable a place the planet was.  Plenty of water, right at the cold edge of the habitable zone, local gravity was 1.015 G's, just enough higher to be uncomfortable on landing.  the atmosphere was thinner than you normally find for an earthlike world as well.  the place is a miserable rock from pole to pole, but in the tropical zones, it was almost as temperate as the upper latitudes of Strana Mechty.

The locals survived mostly by fishing and growing a winter barley hybrid, potatoes, and some local vegetation wildlife.  They hid well, their settlements had camouflage netting or other means of camouflage, but there are signs you can not hide without advanced technologies, such as roads or fields.

They hid themselves at first, as well.  it took us three days to find someone to speak to, much less interrogate, though we knew where they had to be, based on carefully tended trails and a monument on one of the larger hills.

The monument was strange, a circle of multiton granite blocks, assembled like archways in a series of concentric circles.  the blocks had been shaped by technology that was no longer available on the planet, laser cut and inscribed with a sort of angular script, with a wider, lower block in the center.  Near to that, on another hill, was another circle of stones, but this one had a table made of stone-granite again, but with red staining and what looked like positions for restraints.

Jonah found this disturbing.  founder, so did I.. The day after we found the stone circles, we detected our first resident...
Title: Katya's Testimony (Continued)
Post by: Cannonshop on 27 September 2020, 23:03:41
He was a young man herding a group of pigs, and skittish as you might imagine someone confronted by battlemechs would be, but when he realized our command star had him surrounded, he tried a local greeting.

"dieithryn ddim i'w croesawu.  Cer o 'ma!"

Is that what he actually said?  Arlene asked idly.

"Aff. it is word for word, to the best of my recollection. I do not know what language it derives from."

What happened next?


"Robert lowered his 'mech and climbed out, hands open, and tried to speak to the pig-herder...he said, 'we are the return of the Star League Defense Force'."

sigh.  the boy's demeanour changed when he saw the daggerstar, and said, "Tŷ Cameron?"  and Robert, damn him, nodded yes.

"Do you speak English?" Robert asked.

"Yah I spek et som, sarrah."  the kid said it, and I studied our new intelligence source with my sensors.  the boy's heart rate was elevated, and he was intimidated-but what civilian would not be?

Robert convinced the boy to tell us where everyone was.  The boy commented that raiders have been through before, some even claiming Star League provenance, and that people were hiding from us.  There was enough lingual pollution that clear conversation required patience and care to extract, but we found out the nearest village was called 'Lugh', pronounced "Luff", that there was a militia that was probably mustering, and that there was little worth a bandit's time.  He was firm that the women and children would not be seen by us, not without some proof we were not just another band of slavers.

now contextualize that for us-we had heard of some of the degradation of the Inner Sphere, but civilians hiding from slavers

Jonah parked his Kit Fox and joined them, pressuring the boy to get a meeting with the representatives of their leaders.  I believe we all felt a burning sympathy for these people then-they lived in constant fear, with no real protectors, for centuries!

If there was ever an argument for the Crusade, for bringing back the light of civilization, it was right in front of us-or so we thought initially.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Elmoth on 28 September 2020, 01:16:14
Google translator can do it. I am fairly sure a computer 1000 year sin the future has a widget that does that as well
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: jonen c on 28 September 2020, 03:52:33
Though a computer translation would struggle to make sense of centuries of undocumented dialectal drift, local colloquialisms, slang and so on so forth.

The Clans do have the advantage that Star League English (and derivatives of it), out in the periphery at least, may hold something like a position of language of the learned, and a lingua franca for trade.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Sir Chaos on 28 September 2020, 03:57:35
Stonehenge in the Periphery?
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: JA Baker on 28 September 2020, 05:52:00
Stonehenge in the Periphery?
But, do the children play to the Pipes of Pan?
Title: Katya's Testimony (Continued)
Post by: Cannonshop on 28 September 2020, 11:01:04
The Village of Lugh had internal plumbing and running water, at least.  Whoever set them up, was aware of basic sanitation and health requirements at lowered technology levels.

In other words, the place was a bit of a shithole.  I suppose the best way to describe it, is 'backwards several centuries'.

Jonah and Robert got them to relax a bit, and convinced one of the local elders that they had nothing we would steal...which gained us access to the village's pathetic armory.

SLDF issue Mauser 960s were racked at the back, because they could not recharge them.  Toward the front, were primitive projectile weapons, single shot and manual repeating rifles feeding Black powder cartridges made with a series hand-press, a single Mortar that only had a few, well-past-due-date mortar bombs, and a recoilless on a painted brass carriage...set up to be drawn by animals in harnesses.

The recoilless had maybe twenty rounds to defend the entire village, and the shells were also centuries past their best-used-by date.

Masha and Robert questioned people about their knowledge of the Star League, and the possibility of a base here.

Most of the oral histories were...creative.  More creative was something Jonah and I noticed.

every house had a horseshoe mounted over the door, every door was slightly too small for an adult person-even local person, to use comfortably and opened outward at an off-angle. 

Our second night investigating the site, I noted that most houses would put out a bit of bread, or small amount of milk in a low basin.  When I asked our translator, he told us 'offerings for the good folk in the hills.'  He said 'Good', but there was a defined anxiety that seized him as he told me.

possibly fear, or awe.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 28 September 2020, 11:14:39
As Sir Terry said in Lords and Ladies, "Elves are terrific - they beget terror..."
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: DarthMetool on 28 September 2020, 11:15:29
Now this is reminding me more and more of the Sidhe or Fae.  Grimm's original version.  Probably worse.
Title: 22:00
Post by: Cannonshop on 28 September 2020, 12:05:14
"...it sounds like things were going well.  No visible resistance, cooperation with the locals, learning the local customs." Arlene was taking notes, "So, how did it go from them showing you their homes and welcoming  you-however reluctantly, to a massacre?"

Star Captain Jonah thought it would be a good idea to stay in the village on the second night, at the invitation of the elders.  They found bedding and quarters in those little shacks for each of us.

The food was simple-even by Clan standards, but filling, and high in calorie density which you would need in a colder temperate environment.

We found ourselves being treated as honored guests, I suppose-these people had almost nothing and they were willing to share it with us...but you are correct, it seems almost insane now, quiaff?  How did we go from guests to killers so easily?

On the fourth day, we ventured to the only other village our hosts knew about, past the hills with the monuments.  The one with the table, I was told, was called Brynn Llad.  He claimed it was rarely used, a meeting place for the villages and the handful of people in the hills.

The other village was Lle Alberth.  now, Lle Alberth was the first real sign that there had been an installation on this world.

"Let me stop you there, Robert claimed no sign was found of the Star League installation you were sent to investigate, you say this testimony is inaccurate?"

Aff.  He lied.  We found a lot of derelict equipment in Lle Alberth, including a ruined fusion field charging unit.  the village itself was a dead giveaway-it was laid out with long-houses in the same pattern we still use for base construction in Enclaves in the Kerensky Cluster.

The same superstitions were in evidence, but Lle Alberth also had something else...  a mock-up of a Guillotine class battlemech, made of wicker and wood, which they had assembled at some point between our landing on the planet, and our arrival-only a few days at most.  The 'skin' of it was made of some linen-like cloth bleached and dyed to resemble SLDF Parade colours for a generic Star League unit.

They had a second set of those stone circles too.  One with a single stone, the other with a stone table.

Masha spoke with one of the locals who was willing to speak and knew enough english.  the local insisted that the 'dues to the Good Folk' be rendered or they would lift their protection of the community.

We assumed it was a weird local religion, something for the follow-on waves to deal with eradicating.  The hills were where the lab we were looking for had to be.

at about the moment the command star was going to head up a stone path into the high country, a local girl suffered an accident.

Jonah saw this as a golden opportunity.  Our Medtechs had seen what passed for an infirmary, the hand made glass equipment and primitive tools, the collections of herbs and fungals...it was below medieval, they even had leeches.

The girl was unconscious and possibly suffering brain swelling from her fall. 

so we rendered help...savashri, we should not have done that.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 28 September 2020, 12:30:31
"Tell me about this part, Robert testified that a false positive was triggered during the girl's examination, quiaff?"

Aff.  The girl was ten, or maybe eleven, dark haired and green eyes, she fell from a height and landed badly, damaging her skull with a severe concussion.  Our medtech, Patric, went to her aid immediately-almost before teh girl's parents could respond.  such a small thing, in the entire scheme...a child fallng from a roof, and it ended her community because of a bad piece of code in a Medical diagnosis scanner.

bad luck, quiaff? heh...our equipment is so refined, it is nearly fool-proof, a one in a billion mistake...I would like that drink now.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 28 September 2020, 12:38:48
Make me wonder if the medtech's DNA scanner failed because it didn't know what to make of a Changling
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Sir Chaos on 28 September 2020, 12:40:56
"Tell me about this part, Robert testified that a false flag was triggered during the girl's examination, quiaff?"

Aff.  The girl was ten, or maybe eleven, dark haired and green eyes, she fell from a height and landed badly, damaging her skull with a severe concussion.  Our medtech, Patric, went to her aid immediately-almost before teh girl's parents could respond.  such a small thing, in the entire scheme...a child fallng from a roof, and it ended her community because of a bad piece of code in a Medical diagnosis scanner.

bad luck, quiaff? heh...our equipment is so refined, it is nearly fool-proof, a one in a billion mistake...I would like that drink now.

"False positive", not "false flag".
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 28 September 2020, 12:52:00
***

"Do you hear that?"  Katya asked.

"Hear what?"

"I hear...never mind.  You will think me a fool."

"Katya that is without a doubt, but what do you hear?"

The old trueborn closed her eyes, "I hear...it is like a music-a tone, a song. growing closer.  it is nothing, perhaps my mind is going, I am very tired, Star Captain.  May we continue this in the morning?"

"Aff, we can continue this interview in the  morning."

***

Holding Cell 2...

The warriors on guard tonight included a female elemental sitting inside the holding cell.

"Is this truly necessary?" Katya asked.

"Star Captain Robert was killed in an isolation cell, he might not have been, had  he not been alone."  the Elemental Solahma guard stated.  "I am here to assure that does not happen tonight." 

"May I take a shower?"

"Not without escort."

"fine..."  the guard walked with her to the communal shower room, and stood impassively as Katya stripped and started the hot water.

steam billowed in the shower room, reducing visibility to only at best two meters.  an unusual amount of steam, and this time, Irena noted that frost formed on the mirrors and glass fittings, as if the local temperature had dropped precipitously.

Then, the steam moved.

Screams and a wet, thumping sound echoed, and Irena rushed to her charge.

to find Katya's skull broken open against the shower fitting

and a message drawn on the glass partition.

"gwestai gwael yn ymosod ar eu gwesteiwr.  Mae moesau drwg o'r fath yn deilwng o gosb."

Irena called it in as she checked Katya's vitals.

the 'mechwarrior was dead.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Sir Chaos on 28 September 2020, 14:09:20
The way Google Translate phrases this, I can almost feel the whatever-it-is wagging its finger in an admonishing manner. "BAD guest! Off to hell with you!"
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: nerd on 28 September 2020, 22:17:52
Ok, this is getting weird.

Anyone else getting "The Wicker Man" vibes here?
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Ajax_Wolf on 28 September 2020, 22:50:46
Ok, this is getting weird.

Anyone else getting "The Wicker Man" vibes here?

The locals may have been prepping for a wicker hoodown, but the Trianary broke Guest Rights, something CS takes seriously.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 29 September 2020, 03:39:11
Ok, this is getting weird.

Anyone else getting "The Wicker Man" vibes here?

It got weird a little while back :) , and maybe we should we be calling it at "WickerMech" vibe?
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 29 September 2020, 11:05:34
This time, there were enough sensors laid out to get something.

"watch.  this is visible light..." Technician Maurise was excited. 

the steam, the frost...the movement in the steam.  The water didn't distort much in how it fell in the shower.

"Stealth system, right? only I've never even heard of digital camo that can hide in a rainstorm...so let's shift things..."

Thermal showed very little deviation.

"and now...EM flux-this one nobody really uses, but..."

His program blacked out the environment, but there were clearly two individuals in the shower.

the attacker was smaller than the victim, except when it wasn't.

"It is even better on acoustic."  the Tech's grin was wider.  "I am still parsing down the ambient noise, but there's at least twelve distinct voices speaking.  Do you know what this means, Star Captain?"

"that you are confusing the hell out of me?"

"No! this is..." he reined himself in, "Okay, we were only able to detect it using a discredited technology-that is a ghost...ghosts maybe, maybe psychic phenomena, but...I had to use methods from a so-called 'science' that has been discredited as a hoax for the last thousand years.  the only solid detections we've gotten on this thing, came from trying gear that was last used to look for ghosts and aliens."

Arlene's frown deepened, "I did not approve 'ghost hunting'." she said, "So..."

"We could not get solid results using standard methodologies, ovKhan, I...i took a chance."

"Keep taking chances, but I want them documented...and I guess I need to ask the Clan for a scientist familiar with 'pseudoscience' and fringe phenomena...joy."  her lip curled.  "You knew about these techniques-why?"

He kind of shrank into himself, "it is a...hobby?  a few of us get together and visit 'haunted' sites on-world looking for-"

"So you inserted your 'hobby' into a serious investigation...and got results, quiaff?"

"Aff?"

"right, everything you have on...lore? every crazy supposition or superstition you know of that might tangentially connect to what has been happening, I want reports, Technician, I want hypotheticals, I want possibilities.  Make it as clear and logical as you can using your hobbies and research.  you are now assigned directly to supporting this investigation."

"What is the objective, Ma'am?"

"We knock away everything it can not be until we are left with what it must be."  she told him firmly.  "If this is real, you will be famous, if it is someone using technology to make it look like something from superstition, we can work out the counter and neutralize it before it is used against the Clan on a wider scale."

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 29 September 2020, 11:24:04
It took three weeks before a scientist from off-world was in Arlene's office.

"The language is an old earth one." Dr. Genevra Hoffspatzer had been a mythology professor before Tamar was conquered, she had tested into the Scientist Caste's sociology planning group, a collection point for people whose scientific skills weren't immediately useful, but were too valuable (and valued) to be completely done away with. "it is Welsh, with some interesting lingual drift.  One of the pre-languages to English, and from the same socioethnic roots."

"So what does it say?"  Arlene asked.

"A poor guest attacks their host, such behaviors merit punishment. It's a common enough saying among Sol-Belter, Kowloonese Rockjack, and Galax spacer subcultures." she explained, "People who observe something called 'guestrite', some of them take it quite seriously.  The concept of attacking your host after breaking bread with them meriting death is not unusual in cultures from the northern indo-european groups, including notably celtic and germanic derived societies pre-spaceflight, especially among ethnicities from the British Isles and Scandinavian areas...such as the Welsh."

"Would such an insult merit a long, drawn out campaign of revenge?"

"The mythology of ancient European society is loaded with stories of vicious vengeance taken after a violation of Guestrite." the former professor asserted, "there are even stories of beings, such as the Greek Furies, Celtic Bane-Sidhe or 'Banshee'..."

"A ninety ton 'mech?"

"No, the spirit of a murdered woman, hunting down her killers and murdering them in return..."  the Professor stated, "Sometimes not a spirit at all, but a member of the Fae court, particularly the court of Winter.  Why?"

"Maurise, play the Katya interview for this scientist."  Arlene stated, "I would like to know what someone is trying to imitate to frighten us."



Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 29 September 2020, 11:49:29
Carmelita smiled at the night crew, and waved.  The AsTech for the 'mech unit waved back,  "See you tomorrow, Morgan!"

"I'll be there!" she answered cheerfully.

Her prey was in the operations shack, being briefed on the next day's exercises.  Dmitry's record was a good one, and his current CO had threatened a trial of refusal over the transfer orders.

It made getting to him easier, in retrospect.  'Carmelita Morgan' was a freebirth test-in, Technical specialist signals and sensors.  the local Watch had already pulled  her in for questioning, as part of winning the job of doing maintenance for a second line unit in the Touman, they put a lot of work into the background check, and the interview.

Her story held up, because it hit every expected note-a war orphan with time as an able spacer on commercial routes, looking to increase privileges and such by working into the Touman's support staff.

The tech-testing had been relatively easy for her, the broken rig had practically told her how to make the repairs...and it helped that her mirror self laid over the exact diagram in her vision needed to make the repair.

This stalk had required more care than the double kill at the Militia barracks on her last world, in part because her target was popular and well-liked among his comrades and therefore, rarely alone.

Only the guilty should pay for the crimes.

so, she had to be patient.  She had been patient for twelve years before finding a way to pursue her prey...a few more days more or less would be nothing.

Besides, he was being stalked by someone else.  Two hunters going at the same prey usually end up getting each other.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 29 September 2020, 12:47:16
"...description certainly sounds like some examples of remnant pagan ritualism, but this could also be elements of stage-dressing.  Sort of like how Comstar used pseudo-religious ritual to conceal basic technological activity, I'd have to examine the site-which would also be necessary for the war-crime investigation."  Professor Hoffspatzer set her cup down.  "how far away from here is this supposed site?"

"The catalog number points to being roughly one jump."  Arlene noted, "the planet is considered uninhabited, but...if this is derived from that, we should take a look.  our killer takes their time, and I doubt this assassin can simply walk through interstellar space.  Maurise?"

"Yes Star Captain?"

"Gather your 'scoobies', I will file the necessary excuse papers for their regular duties, we are going on a 'field trip'."

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: JA Baker on 29 September 2020, 12:53:47
We're going to need a medium blue Broadsword with a horizontal green stripe around the middle.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Sir Chaos on 29 September 2020, 13:09:48
We're going to need a medium blue Broadsword with a horizontal green stripe around the middle.

I´m leaning more in the direction of a set of proton packs and an extra-strong ghost trap.

Or maybe an Aqueduct load´s worth of holy water.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 29 September 2020, 13:15:05
22 LY rimward, inside the Wolf occupation zone...

Dimitry pulled his Neurohelmet on, and began running system checks on Roadrunner.  Roadrunner is a Locust IIC assigned to second-line duty, and Dmitry is a second-line 'mechwarrior now with a good reputation, but not good enough to keep his front line position.

the machine had served for over a century, and was likely, after the most recent updates, to outlive its pilot-assuming it was not destroyed in combat.  Dmitry had a certain affection for the old light 'mech.

the hangar doors opened on a beautiful, sun-kissed morning, and he walked it smoothly out into daylight.  Newer 'mechs, even omnimechs, didn't have the sheer smoothness a 'mech that had gotten every bug and failure worked out of it does, he did an experimental skip, the 25 ton machine 'hopping' on the power of its legs alone, then brought it up to a jog.

and that's when he heard the barking.  The baying of a pack of hounds.

"Tower, is there interference on the comm channel on your end?" He asked.

"neg, Roadrunner, your comm shows clear on this end.  can you describe the problem?"

"I think I am picking up overlap from a civilian broadcast, let me see if I can lock down the source from in here, Over."  He brought up the 'mech's sensors and tuned for radio direction finding, running through the onboard bands.

a direction pip showed on his screen.  "Tower, I am going to investigate an anomalous radio transmission, do you see it on yours, Over?"

"Roadrunner, we see your scope, ahm...registering no signal on this end, could be a software glitch, Over."

a glitch..?  he felt certain he had it on his screen.  "Alright, I am going to modify my patrol routing, and do some manuever testing, over."

"Logging your course change, Roadrunner, have fun, Tower out."

he brought the 'mech up to a full jog, and headed out along the service road northwest, in minutes passing a cargo VTOL and crossing into a cross-country course.  as he crested one of the rolling hills covered in greenbelt trees, (his skill leaving the trees rocking, but unbroken), he could see with his eyes something on the far hill.

he flicked the cameras to enhanced mode, and stopped his 'mech mid-step.

no...it can't be.  his heart triphammered in his chest, as he looked at the face on his screen.

"no..."  fifteen years to forget, gone in an instant, and his body froze like ice, as the cockpit's windows grew frost.

ni allwch redeg o'r hyn yr ydych wedi'i wneud.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: paulobrito on 29 September 2020, 13:15:35
This is one of the most interesting techno-horror stories I have read in ages.
Trying high-tech sensors in banshee's and relatives is fun to watch.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 29 September 2020, 15:56:46
and that's when he heard the barking.  The baying of a pack of hounds.

A Wild Hunt?

I'm lking this more and more!
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: cklammer on 30 September 2020, 05:20:38
This is very well written and plotted.

What makes it so believable is that, IMO, only one change (Banshees!!!) has been introduced plausibly into the BT canon setting.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 30 September 2020, 10:29:43
LV 5775, anomalous class M planet, deep periphery..

it was not difficult to find the landings because the vegetation had not, in fourteen years, completely reclaimed the two colony towns.

the ruins of the two colonial town spaces.  they were within 100 km of each other, and with the camo nets long gone, it was easy to find the remains of cultivated fields, eroded trails that may have once been roads, and other signs of human occupation.

nobody was hiding it anymore, you see.  everything was out in the open.

the narrow muddy streets glittered with the greening debris of machine-gun cartridges and belt links.

This wasn't a battlefield, it was a murder scene.

"Savashri, they even killed the livestock."

there would be no excusing this level of....waste.  Arlene spotted a pile of cartridges, 100 mm shells, 400 milimeters in length, she knew without picking one up what it would say on the headstamp, and could guess even which arsenal in Clan Space produced them.

Class 10 cluster munitions aren't that rare.   The pocking of the granite cliff showed where civilians had been herded into a killing box.

as she walked through the area that suggested itself as 'Lugh', she could play out the massacre in scene after scene, her imagination inserting the screams and pleas of civilians as they were cruelly killed by the most advanced warriors known to man.

she came to a burnt out building made of stones mortared together, and stepped through the low, narrow doorway.  The floor was charcoal and ash, and there was no roof, but in the gloom, she could imagine how it must have looked when it was whole, when people lived here.

she walked to the back wall, and there it was.

the primitive weapons were charred and bent by heat, but at the back, were the racked Mauser 960s, still where they had been when the front of the building had been hit with an inferno round and flamers.

"They did not fight back because they had no means to fight..." she mused aloud.  "their weapons were in here."

some charred bones lay here and there-proof that someone had been inside when the building had been lit up.

she stepped outside.

the horror of what she could imagine just from the damage around her, turned her insides with nausea.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 30 September 2020, 11:27:11

Masha would be a problem.  She was taken by Clan Jade Falcon as abtakha three years after the crime. 

There would be nowhere to hide, regardless.  She could feel the direction to travel like a needle in her head.

Carmelita stepped into the spaceport's bathroom a vivacious redhead, and came out a honey-blonde, her tech uniform traded for a Merchant's travel clothes.

There would be a billet open on a ship, but that ship was bound for the wrong direction...at first.

She knew where the next one was, she just had to get there...
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Artifex on 30 September 2020, 11:30:52
So, it is a race to the end. :D
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 30 September 2020, 12:02:50
LV 5775...

Dr. Genevra Hofspatzer looked at the stones, "well, it's similar to pre-roman celtic inscriptions and I see elements of pre-roman germanic...but this is fairly straight forward."  she frowned, "The table is a sacrificial altar."

"What did they sacrifice?"

"Probably animals, we can hope it was just animals."  she climbed up onto the stone and examined it, "Of course, hope is overrated, sweet jesus."

"The proportions are right for tying a human being down and bleeding them out, and the table is sized in a way that it would support restraining a human during the ritual...I can think of that as a possible motive for a massacre."  the Professor was thoroughly dispassionate as she examined the setup.  "The other rituals described by Katya's testimony-the offerings of food to 'the good folk' and the fear of discovery, even the boy telling them that visitors are unwelcome and they should leave?"

"there was supposedly a facility on-planet the Trinary were looking for."

"Well...if i were betting, I would suggest it's..." the academic got to her feet, and pointed, "Thataway.  based on the orientation of the stone circles.  Now, I can't imagine what the SLDF navy would be researching on a planet settled by religious lunatics, but who knows?"

***

It took some work with shuttles, running sensor scans, and the clue only turned into a clue-and an arrow pointing in a direction, after someone decided to look for sensor distortion-dead spaces.

the Dead Space was nearly five kilometers wide, and centered high up on one of the large, rolling hills.

It hadn't been apparent, because it wasn't expected.

Once it was, it was easy to tune around the jamming-which was SLDF standard jamming as provided by an older model Guardian suite.

They took a shuttle instead of trying to walk it, and found their way to a point that was too flat, because it was shaved off the top of the mountain, fused solid, and capped with ferrocrete.

a set of stairs led down from the exposed landing pad, to a sealed and locked set of blast doors, and those doors were marked.

Authorized Personnel Only

THIS IS A STAR LEAGUE MILITARY FACILITY
NO ENTRY.
VIOLATORS WILL BE MET WITH LETHAL FORCE.

"Nice!"  Maurise had been thoroughly creeped out as they surveyed the town-sites and looked for bodies and evidence, the poor man had also been sweeping with his EMF device and finding various shades of absolutely nothing.

"Nice?"

"This scanner, it's set up for biometric readings, no keypad, no card slot.  they really meant it back in those days, if you weren't authorized personnel, the door simply wasn't going to open no matter whose identification you swiped or how good you are at lockpicking."

"Can you open it?"

"Star Captain, this is a gene-coded biometric lock, probably with a spoken code-phrase unique to each authorized person, it's a locking system more complex than you see on a modern neurohelmet and the only reason you don't see 'em on Brian Cache sites, is that there are no guarantees that the right person with the right codes can be found."

"So...?"

"Yes, but I want you and the rest of the Warriors and techs here to understand just what kind of super-entry hacking awesome ristar I really am.  Give me a few minutes before you break out the crow-bars and cutting charges."

"If you are such a ristar, why would we need them?"

"Because...I might not be." he admitted, "the difficult done immediately, but the impossible might take a few hours.  Especially since the power is on here."

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 30 September 2020, 13:03:45
It ended up taking twelve hours for Maurise to pick the lock.

the upper levels were clearly meant to be service levels.  a set of hidden blast doors and an elevator to the surface were revealed when they walked in, the staging pad for a Mark VI surface-to-orbit shuttle held...a mark VI.

complete with the mummified remains of the flight crew, the personnel hatch on the shuttle was open, and deformed-something had forced it.

"Well...that does not look good."

"no signs of toxins, a little bit of halon though..."

"Fire-suppression systems?"

"Probably.  No fires though, and it's been circulated out."

further movement required removing a welded bar from the personnel doors after a check of the elevator shaft showed the cables had been cut and the doors jammed closed and welded shut.

from this side.

"raise your hand if you have a bad feeling about this?" Professor Hofspatzer said nervously.

Everyone, including Arlene, raised their hand.

"And we're going on in, aren't we?"

"Language! Aff, we are going forward...regardless of the very bad idea it might be."

the next dead body wore a laboratory smock over coveralls, and cause of death was clear-a broken neck, which, lying halfway down the stair and at an odd angle, suggested the cause of death being an unfortunate fall.

at the security station at the bottom, inside the ferroglas booth, a dead infantryman in SLDF uniform sat forever, his mummified fingers frozen to a keypad and burned.  again, an obvious cause of death, from what appeared to be a freak malfunction.

"Bad feeling getting worse, Star Captain."

The doors hissed open on compressed air cylinders, revealing what appeared to be a fairly common long-term living space, laid out in standard fashion that is still in use over ninety percent of human space.

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 30 September 2020, 17:31:41
Jade Falcon occupied Zone...

Star Captain Masha  heard the barking, and reached under her pillow, to grip a sliver of metal. 

She knew...

"Hello Masha."

the former Wolf officer turned over under her covers, and peered into the gloom.

The Girl was sitting at her writing desk.

"Not far enough, quiaff?"

"no, not far enough." the girl agreed.  "You can run, if you like? so far, your comrades made that choice, except Dmitry, he tried to fight.  I have to say, your strategy for fleeing is the most inconvenient thus far.  a new name, a new uniform, a posting far from me.  challenging."

"I know how to fight you."  masha rolled to her feet, the jagged piece of elemental, asteroidal iron poking through her knuckles like a punching dagger.

"oh, good, you'll make this entertaining...where did you learn?"

Masha laughed a bitter laugh, "I got curious.  all those horse-shoes,but no horses.  your kind have rules."

"you don't know them all."
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 30 September 2020, 17:40:16
LV 5775...

Because the base was laid out in a standard layout, finding the administration office was not difficult.  the scattering of death here was much the same-accident after accident, like the world's worst slapstick holovid-but with lethal consequences.

Electrocution, automatic doors, fire suppression systems, slips, falls...

a catalogue of workplace violence.

a staff, murdered by bad luck, sealed away after the fact for centuries to mummify in dry air.

the expressions of terror still on some of the faces put the lie to that-they had been in a panic, when they died.

"What were they working on?"
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Grognard on 30 September 2020, 18:43:30
Wowzers my Friend! :D
You're a month early with THIS missive. :))

but THANKS :thumbsup:
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: ThePW on 30 September 2020, 18:58:40
Wowzers my Friend! :D
You're a month early with THIS missive. :))

but THANKS :thumbsup:

and we still have more than 1/2 a dozen stiffs to stiffen. It might take some of October to finish this story *whips*
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: nerd on 30 September 2020, 20:41:38
The tech hacker breaking in was good. And now, let's see!
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: worktroll on 01 October 2020, 05:01:55
[Masha laughed a bitter laugh, "I got curious.  all those horse-shoes,but no horses.  your kind have rules."

"you don't know them all."

Nasty ...
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Nikas_Zekeval on 01 October 2020, 07:41:54
Nasty ...

Whom the gods would destroy, first they make proud.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 01 October 2020, 12:44:17
Frost covered the barracks room, and there was pounding and shouting at the door.

Masha could feel the cold, but thus far, she held her assailant at arm's length-for as long as she could get the piece of meteoric iron between herself, and the girl.

"I told you, Your kind have rules!" she snarled, sweat dripping.

this fight had gone on for hours now.

"you can't last forever." The Girl told her, blinking to the side, too-close, Masha barely brought the spike of iron down in time-

cutting her foe.

"That is one, I can go all night, Carmelita.  what a name?  you borrowed it like you borrowed that face."

"it's bought and paid for."  the thing hissed.  Masha noted the blood was the wrong color, "it's mine because I traded for it."

"but not your real name is it?" Masha snapped a punch, blocking her foe and driving it backward, to blink back to standing just outside her reach.

"You did do your research! impressive, I would not have imagined that bit would have survived these millennia."

"Caradoc was very helpful." Masha admitted.

"Would have been before you blew his brains out."  The girl snarled.

"a mistake."

"Not all mistakes can be forgiven."

the pounding at the door was louder.

"You are holding them out?" Masha asked.

"It seemed reasonable to keep collateral damage down.  I am not here for an innocent."

"that is not the reputation of the Wild Hunt."

"That's because innocence is so very scarce.  my oath is vengeance on the guilty.  The men outside may not be innocents, but they do not share your guilt, I have no claim on them."

Masha chose to Move, a bold lunge, catching the...girl by surprise, and bringing the spike of iron against her throat.

"Open the door then, thing." she hissed, "This will be done in the circle or not at all!"

The freezing form burned in her arms.  "HOW-?"

"I told you, I did my research." Masha snarled, "Door, NOW!!"

in a contest of wills...

the door opened.

"THIS!!" Masha shouted, "THIS is why you always check before you open fire on Civilians you stupid surats!!"

The girl's form blinked, and Masha's throat was in clawed fingers as the warriors trying to enter the room flinched in pain, the screams audible to all, as something , white and pale and furious, tore their Star Captain limb-from-limb before their eyes.

on the wall, scrawled to the floor, in the blood of Star Captain Masha of the bloodhouse Nygren...

Dyma'r gosb am ladd gwesteiwr diniwed

by the time they could get their senses, the attacker was gone.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 01 October 2020, 12:49:42

They are learning.  How are they learning?

Carmelita opened her eyes as the jumpship came out of hyperspace.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 01 October 2020, 13:04:32
LV 5775...

The lowest level did not look like a scientific installation.

Not at all.

There was a bronze and stone altar, and on it, a body that was not mummified.

"savashri..."

"Alive."  Pembroke, the senior Medical tech said, "Or really well preserved in stasis, it's difficult to say."

the girl on the altar was a child, far too small and frail for the restraints holding her down.

the scattered bodies around the room told a story.  medical department coveralls, surgical tools, and dried stains of blood.  A surgical team practiciing on one another with all the viciousness of a pack of rabid animals.

"Don't get too close."  Arlene had a feeling.  a bad feeling.  the uppe level had a walkway that looked down into this pit, this pit inscribed with markings the professor termed 'glyph like structures, possibly similar to historical superstitions". The floor had a bronze inlay pattern that drew the eye from above.  "Pretend to forget three thousand years of science, Professor, tell me what you think we are looking at?"

"A human sacrifice, interrupted, some kind of ritual.  I would have to spend a month digging through dusty archives and we might not know what all of those symbols mean, but the inlay on the floor is something I'm familiar with."

"What is it?"

"The Seal of Solomon."  Genevre stated, "which is not in tune with the origin of the rest of the symbology in here, or with laying a person out for dissection...jesus, christ...what were they trying to do here?"

"We may find answers in the administration office." Arlene stated, "I want two men on overwatch, nobody has access in here until we know what they were attempting, and medical monitoring in case the body on the altar is more than a body, and needs to eat, or shit, or something."

"you know, Star Captain, I used to like weirdness..." Maurise commented.  "I really did..."

"Too weird for you?"

The tech nodded.

"Me too.  we are going to see what records are still present, what they were trying to do and how they intended to do it...and then we are going to take this...atrocity apart until nothing is left."

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 01 October 2020, 13:20:29
Tamar, Wolf Clan OZ...

Carmelita the Merchant stepped out of a shuttle, and hefted her sample bag with a grunt. she favored her right arm a bit, and bandages were visible under her tunic.

She could feel Yuri's presence here, less than a mile away, under the bright sunlight.

Sunlight that rendered her as powerless as any mortal.

she showed her identicard, the minor glammer on it was weak enough and mild enough that the warrior's eyes glazed over it, before passing her on from port control into the city.

she could feel an echo here, a memory of the old ways, flickers of belief among the population as she wandered into the streets, a few symbols of tribute and worship here and there, left-overs from when humanity crowded under stone and feared the coming of night and cold.

Bloodhouse Kerensky was holding a Trial tonight, and competitors from that bloodhouse were congregating here to fight for the honor of a name.

Yuri would be here, among the warriors, committing to a ritual that is older than he could possibly know.

She considered whether to claim his soul before, or after his competition.

Would she allow him one last honor before destruction? Masha sat poorly  with her, the woman had bothered to dig for secrets, and had chosen to die willingly as a lesson to her comrades. 

It made the vengeance curdle a little, like sour milk.  The sweet terror wasn't there, only the final ending.

but it is honor...

a memory of the Warrior laughing as he played fire over a crowded home.

he does not deserve to die with honor.

her selves were in agreement.  Yuri would be denied his chance at a blood name.  He would fall before the grand melee.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 01 October 2020, 13:32:23
LV 5775...

"Savashri...founder...is there nothing of this but an endless parade of horrors?"  Maurise had once prided himself on shedding his sibko background, his failure to become a Warrior, and he once took a perverse pride in his lower-caste placement, determined to be every quirky, weird and iconoclastic stereotype of the Technical caste.

That was gone, as he helped examine the detailed, painstaking records of the experiments done in this place.

"The colonists...they were used as test subjects."

"Some of the military personnel as well." the Professor noted, "My god, this is...this is beyond sick."

Arlene noted her subordinates were expressing her own feelings.  The image in place of prominence where the site director sat? was not unfamiliar.  The face of Richard Cameron, in a portrait known to every sibko cadet and lower-caste student in the Homeworlds, looked on approvingly at what could only be described as a vault of horrors.

the intent of the research here, was to stimulate something called 'parapsychic phenomena'.

and for nearly a decade this cursed research had gone on here, until....


"Test subject 1144, Carmelita Morganna Llews, age eleven...manifestation of possible psychometric abilities, scheduled for dissection..."

She looked up, "The same day that Stephan Amaris launched his coup attempt.  That little girl on the altar down stairs is over three hundred years old...or she is a very good facsimile of someone who died here three hundred years ago."

with a boom, every door out of the habitation level slammed shut, and locked.

Screens lit.

"byddwch yn aros yma fel fy ngwrddo nes i'm tasg gael ei chwblhau."

Automatic security protocols enabled. Biohazardous Level One Initiated. Please Stand By.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: croaker on 01 October 2020, 13:35:31
Oh, my, this is absolutely fascinating, CS. You have outdone yourself. I love this. Keep it up!
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 01 October 2020, 17:03:54
I'm really loving this!
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 02 October 2020, 10:16:15
Tamar City Manuever Range, Tamar, Wolf Clan OZ...

The Grand Melee this year would be the last time Yuri could try for a bloodname-he was already technically too old, but he'd managed to pass the physical testing and he wasn't the oldest competitor-Zerah was older by a full three months.

He pulled his boots on, and looked up into a mirror.  I can do this.

the assertion felt...hollow.

the air chilled in the ready room, and he saw a puff of breath. 

He looked around, the others didn't seem to notice it.  show offs.  there was a rumble just below his hearing, and a young warrior walked past, clapping him on the shoulder, "Good luck, Star Commander."

"Yeah...you too."

he checked his kit in the door-mirror, and noticed someone standing behind him, a woman's alabaster hand... he turned, but there was nobody there.

Nervous.  settle, settle, it is just nerves...

He turned, and she was standing in front of him in the mirror.  Lank, dark hair, white skin, rags like robes, crossed with patterns of red...

in his mirror, in front of him, looking at him.

The memory of LV 5775 flooded into the front of his mind, and he heard the sound of baying hounds, as she reached up, and scratched something into the mirror...

Kin lladdwr, roedd hi'n feichiog pan wnaethoch ei llosgi.

and the mirror changed background, as he watched himself, his younger self, in scenes-the local girl he'd coupled with the night before the false test triggered the massacre.

her dying under his flamer-up close...

The girl in the mirror reached out, and he felt icy cold wrap his heart, and then, Darkness.

the medical examination showed a pattern of frost damage on Yuri's heart, in the shape of a young woman's hand.

the blood he coughed up, formed a pattern on the mirror that almost concealed the words scratched on the wrong side of it.

mae calon oer yn dod â marwolaeth oer.

Yuri never got to compete.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 02 October 2020, 10:30:42
LV 5775...

"...keep working on those overrides, Maurise." Arlene told her technician, "the Professor and I will continue."

"continue what?"

"Working the case." she said, "We do not have all of the answers yet, I do not have what I set out for...and we appear to have ample time, at least until the food runs out."

Their medtech was treating Warrior Bruel, who got impatient and tried to shoot the girl on the altar with his rifle-the rifle self-destructed, causing minor injuries, and their sidearms and weapons heated up violently, forcing everyone to drop their arms.  the PA announced, "No playing with guns!"

maybe it was her own acceptance of her own obsolescence, but Arlene found she could still focus and think rationally. 

even evaluate their situation with something like logic.

"professor, how are you holding up?"

"I never thought I would be stuck inside a myth, Star Captain."  Professor Genevre said quietly, "It is less...delightful than I dreamed."

"What are we dealing with?"

"Well...let's see.  we're inside a hollow  hill, at the will of an immaterial intelligence, there's an ageless child downstairs, and she's apparently picking off specific victims whom offended her in very specific ways.  I would suggest we're in a Fairy story, but not the kind they play on children's hour television."

"And your professional assessment?"

"Figure out what the story hook is." Genevre stated, "These myths always revolve around a moral, even the really dark, original myths.  Some lesson the hero learns or masters that removes the threat, it's usually something that isn't in the normal pattern-a warrior who out-clevers his captor, or a peasant who demonstrates superior ettiquette, or a fool who demonstrates wisdom...or in some cases, a wise man who plays the fool.  Find out what it...what she wants, or what her source of power is."

"Power...Maurise!"

"Yes Star Captain?"

"Find the specs on this bunker.  They have to be here somewhere for maintenance purposes, I want you to look over the specific design of the structure and systems here."

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 02 October 2020, 11:41:22


"There are four left."  Khan Vladimir Ward stated, "Four.  out of fifteen warriors, warriors who survived Operation Revival, Tukayyid, the Refusal War, the restoration of this Clan, a series of skirmishes, advances, assaults, and defenses...and they are being picked off one, by, one."

Loremaster Katya Kerensky accepted the folders, "You sound like you are about to make a decision, quiaff?"

"Aff."  He said, "We tried protective custody, but the resources were...not sufficient.  Tried leaving one out for bait, and the bait was taken without any reasonable sign or trace."

"The Watch officer working the case is close to the source." She said, "There is some reason to be confident this may resolve."

"It will resolve." Vlad corrected his Loremaster, "When the last one dies, or when we stop this...hunter, uncover their secrets...but it will resolve."

"Your orders?"

"Increase resources on the remaining four,  No privacy, under no circumstance can any of them be allowed to be alone, I do not mean electronic monitoring, I want physical escorts at all times until this resolves one way, or the other."  he sighed, "This is a threat, something is penetrating our security as easily as one might walk into a public square, someone is killing warriors with surgical precision without suffering so much as a bruise, if this is a field test of some new technology, I want that technology secured and identified, if it is not, then that equates to a threat to all the Clans, possibly the entire human race, if it is of alien origin."

There, he said it, alien origin

"The preliminary report from Star Captain Arlene of the Watch suggests this may be attempting to appear supernatural in origin."

Vlad frowned and looked at the dead man in the Morgue, and at the frostbitten scar on that dead man's heart.  "Mythological.  She said 'mythological' specifically." he stated, "Get a team working on known mythologies that match these methods, myths often contain a kernel of fact buried in them....because this-" he reached out with a gloved hand and turned the frozen meat taken from Yuri's chest, "-I am told, is physically impossible."

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: JA Baker on 02 October 2020, 11:45:48
There are more things in heaven and Earth, Khan Vladimir Ward, than are dreamt of in your philosophy
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 02 October 2020, 12:46:16
Somewhere in the Wolf OZ...

"...because so far, eleven members of your old Trinary are dead under...unusual circumstances."

"Unusual how?"

"Unusual, in that the first four died in explainable, if unusual ways.  A drug overdose, a suicide, several accidents...but then, it got overt-one was bashed into the water-faucet of a shower and impaled through the skull, another, was murdered in her quarters in front of a group of witnesses, and the latest had his heart frozen-no other mark on him."

Tim put the Fusionaire down.  "Frozen?"

"In his chest cavity." the freebirth Watch trooper clarified, stirring at her drink with a glass spoon.  "Right in the locker room, again, witnesses, but nobody saw anything until he vomited blood and collapsed.  Do you know what gets me?"

"I have no idea." she was cute, Tim decided, for a freebirth military policeman assigned to ruin his privacy and follow him like an anchor on a chain.  "What gets you?"

"Your record, their records. improbable escapes, against-the-odds victories, but you never seem to get promoted.  Why is that?"

"Luck of the draw? poor transfer orders, maybe?" he shrugged, "I do not know why.  I can never seem to secure a sponsor for a bloodname, and now I am...old-almost past my prime."

she looked into his eyes coyly, "Not that old.  You've got some personal magnetism to you." she gave him a half smile, "The perfect man for a girl with daddy issues."

He wrinkled his nose, "Ew...please not that! as if I needed a reminder!"

she giggled, which made him feel strangely good, but there was something about her...he couldn't quite place it.

"I think, we have drunk our last drink." he said, standing, "I have duties tomorrow."

"Fair enough." she got up, and slid her credit-stic into the port on the table.  "I am ready when you are."

a not-so-subtle reminder then.  "I only have the furnishings I require." he told her, "individually."

"Double in a single bed works."

"That was not an invitation."

she rolled her eyes, "yes, but I am not supposed to let you out of my sight, and what little career i have, I want to keep.  I will sleep on the floor, or in a chair, or stay awake until my relief shows up.  Just thought you might be fun for a roll."  her tone betrayed disappointment.

"Work before pleasure." he reminded her.

"Sey...la." she said boredly, and shouldered a bag.

"What is in the bag?"

"Stuff.  Related to your case." she told him.

"I...it looks heavy."

"No touchy." she told him.

they walked to the barracks without incident, and up to his room on the third floor.

"What are you doing?"

"Stuff, it is related to research involved with your case, in this case..." she held up a bag, "early warning, we do not know how they are getting in, but it seems to fool advanced warning sensors..so...something primitive."

she poured the white powder in a line across the window sill, and across the door jamb, then she said, "Go ahead and get ready for bed, sir."

she placed some candles around the room, "To detect air disturbances, the file says they are using some form of advanced sneak or stealthing, so we came up with a suite of simple, low-tech methods to try."

"Innovative." he said approvingly.  "If I had said 'yes' to your proposition..?"

"eh, I would still be setting up, but then we'd be coupling for half the night.  This job is great for the benefits, but it truly sucks ass most of the time...and not in the fun way...you can go to sleep, sir.  I've got you."

something seemed off, but he couldn't pin it down, but he was tired...he lay down on his rack, and pulled the coverlet over his nude body.

"What is your name again?"

"Gwendolynn." she told him, "no worries sir, you can rest easy, this will all be over soon."

the lights went out, leaving only the feeble candles, and a sweet scent in the air...

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Sir Chaos on 02 October 2020, 12:57:28
You should have said "yes", Timothy. At least that way, you´d have gone out with a bang.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 02 October 2020, 21:13:31
LV 5775...

Arlene ran the video record again.

it was sickening to watch, three hundred years later and it was still sickening.  The extremes on screen...

what would I want, in her place?  she got up, and walked to the access door down.  The outer doors were still sealed, but this one was secured mechanicall, meaning that she could turn the latches with a wheel, and it would open.

"Star Captain, what are you thinking?"  the Professor asked.

"You mentioned mythology usually demands some action that is either a paragon of character, or an action against type." Arlene stated.  "Put yourself in the girl's position-taken from her home, subjected to experiments, and restrained.  What would you want, most in the whole world?"

She turned the wheel as she spoke.

"uh, is that a good idea?"

The door opened.

"I do not know."  Arlene turned to the civilian, "But I know a crime was committed here, and the primary victim-and our only witness, is through this door.  The root of our questions, the cause...an angry little girl who's been at the bottom of a hole full of dead men for centuries.  what would that child want?"  she snorted, "I never had kids..."

"We all make choices."

"so we do."  Arlene stepped onto the stairwell, and started down it.  she had a theory.  it reacts to hostile actions, and hostile intent.

avoiding the lift, she used the service ladder to reach the bottom level, and walked into the chamber, stepping over  dead men to reach the altar.


Elsewhere...

Timothy woke in darkness.

The Watcher, Gwendolynn, was on the floor, sprawled out.

"She'll wake up."

the Girl was standing over her.  "It was a decent effort.  she delayed me for minutes.  but we do not punish those who are simply doing their duty."

"this is for Lugh, isn't it?" he asked.

"Yes."

"I'm ready.  I won't run."

"You'll wish you had."


LV-5775...

the cuffs were a standard model used for restraining mental patients and those who can not control their outbursts.  it took Arlene a moment of searching bodies to find the keys, and she unlocked them, then, she followed the leads plugged into the body in the couch, to a panel, and began shutting it down.

"What they did to you, was a crime."  she spoke.  "Let's end it."

She turned back to the prone body, and gently lifted ninety pounds of ancient child into her arms.  "Let's take you home now."

the body was warm.  she cradled the girl and walked to the elevator, which opened.

Elsewhere

The girl rushed at him-and he felt a cold wind...but Timothy was alive.

the darkness in the room lifted.


LV-5775...

The faclity's doors opened, as power died down.  "What happened?" Maurise was asking.

"We are going home."  Arlene told him, and felt the girl stirring against her chest.  "We're going on home now."  a small arm wrapped her in an awkward hug. "Ssshhhh...it is going to be alright, they are never going to hurt you again..."

"How do you know if she is safe?"

"I do not.  I guess we can call this an experiment-ending the madness of a First Lord's insane experiment, rescuing a child?"

"Turning a terror loose on the universe?"

"I think the terror was already loosed.  we will know more when the girl can speak, but for now, I expect to find she is an excellent witness for compiling charges against a group of criminals.  Placing her with a family may prove...challenging, but for now, this fresh air after days underground is refreshing, quiaff?"

Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 03 October 2020, 01:05:42
Aftermath...

Four warriors of Clan Wolf, survivors of Revival and the following years, submitted to a tribunal for judgement over their actions on LV-5775.  Two did this voluntarily, the other two, tried to fight the charges, then tried to fight their convictions, and then lost.

Scientists examining documentation from the former facility on that world came to a set of conclusions:

1) that the experiment run on LV 5775 was extremely unethical even by Clan standards, and the inescapable fact that it had been done under the Aegis of the original Star League in the decade leading to the Amaris coup showed that the systemic failures that let Stephan Amaris launch his coup had roots leading potentially back to before Simon Cameron's assassination.

2)There are some directions of research that simply should not be pursued.

Carmelita Morgan Llews has been placed in the care of Star Captain Arlene of the Clan Watch, and Arlene has been reassigned to the office of the Loremaster's support staff.  Arlene's current security clearance sits within the Clan Watch hierarchy somewhere between "Yes, I am authorized to know about that' and 'you had best get with answering my questions honestly and completely, in detail, with illustrations and a help file'.

Her purview is rather specific: phenomena and actions that nobody is qualified to handle...including her team, but someone needs to handle them.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: idea weenie on 03 October 2020, 01:54:48
Excellent finish.  Thank you for writing this
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: ovk8102 on 03 October 2020, 02:16:03
Cannonshop, this was an Excellent story, thank you for some of the disturbing dreams I've had the last couple of weeks. Any plans to post it as a PDF or word doc? this is a novella that is worth reading again.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 03 October 2020, 03:03:32
[out of story]

I kind of struggled with how to handle the climax/finish, and went with the cheap ending instead of slogging through another 30,000 or so words to get a more satisfying ending.  (Well, the ending is pretty satisfactory, but there's probably 30,000 words worth I could've dragged it out to get there, anyway.)

I knew before they got to the bunker what the aftermath ending looked like, that I wasn't going to get entirely through the list (or even give everyone on it their own scene).  this was probably a bit of short-change, but how many weird, violent deaths could I really come up with without it being torture porn or some form of Vore/Gorn?

so I didn't do that.  The idea that 'Carmelita' would be reduced to a normal 11 year old girl with bad dreams (and 300 years separation from where she started) just felt kinda fun-we stop the monster by freeing the girl.

but it left some open holes I didn't really know how to fill in a satisfactory way, except by implying, instead of being explicit.

Which kinda raised the question of what Clan Wolf would actually do.  (this kid is 300 years old, the last time someone tried to kill her their gun blew up, the people that put her into that position died horrible and ironic deaths, and she's been isolated in stasis for centuries at the bottom of a hole...what do you do with her now?)

Some fun bits I couldn't figure out how to show; which is why the ending and aftermath are so short, include details that live only in my head (and on this page, since I'm writing them down.)

Carmelita is a weapon of mass destruction, that's at least for the time being, disarmed.  You might say she's a paranormal nuke, and unlike the usual tropes, I intended for the Wolf Clan leaders to figure this out fairly early (since Clanners supposedly breed for intelligence, and Wolf's been successful while others have not.)

But if armed, she's not the kind you can actually safely use, nor is she easily disposed of.

So? what do you do??

well, her physical body is still an 11 year old girl, and THAT part (aside from some language issues) is still human, and has mostly missed the last three centuries in stasis.  (Watch out for the subconscious on that one though...and be wary of imaginary friends!)

My chosen outcome was to put her with a responsible adult that lacked other attachments and could be trusted not to misuse such contact.  How?

Kids need parents in this setting.  Whether it's a steady instructor figure for Trueborns that they grow up with, or foster parents, or actual parents, the setting I'm using implies that children have an unspoken NEED for a caring adult figure.  300 years of displacement from what she might have known, plus the extinction of her colony means lining up someone, and while the team has several members that are grown up, Arlene is an authority figure and has some experience dealing with broken homes and broken families (spend 20 years as, effectively, a cop and you would too...or you'll just go insane. either way...)

Thus, the happy ending portion taken care of, except I have difficulty writing comedy.

so basically, Arlene got a new job-mostly centered on keeping the WMD child disarmed and socializing her into something (relatively) harmless...or at least, low risk to the Clan.

I mean, what else are you going to do when you have someone who's a child, with potential for god-tier reality warping power?  (Small 'g' god, like pagan gods, not big G god, like in judeo-christianity).

I'm not going to explain exactly what Carmelita is, except that a lot of what her 'alternate self' was doing was informed by the fairey stories she heard as a small child.  Whether that's a direct link to an actual Fae court, a psychic manifestation of a child's imaginations mixed with techno-arcane manipulations, or ghost possession or even demonic/angelic activity, I leave to the readers.

because the characters aren't telling ME, doesn't mean they won't tell YOU.

I still haven't figured out the angle for Orcs yet.  I may have to just shelve any Orky ideas until something percolates.

Wishlist for today: that someone would grab what I laid down in this, and give me their take on 'what happens next'.  I really don't know what might become of Carmelita Morgan Llews when the Jihad kicks off, but it strikes me that there's probably a story there, along with what she might look like as a teenager who's had time to socialize herself into the 31st century.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: JA Baker on 03 October 2020, 06:11:18
I like the ending: it's like something out of Dr Who
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Sir Chaos on 03 October 2020, 07:38:56
So the people still living on that world, the ones that the Wolves massacred - they were descendants of those Star Legaue personnel that Carmelita didn´t kill when she snapped, right? Either because they weren´t in the base when it happened, or because they were too far removed  (organisationally or physically) from the experiment for Carmelita to consider them guilty enough to kill.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Euphonium on 03 October 2020, 07:50:59
Thank you for a wonderful story, Cannonshop.

I can see so many interesting directions where it could go next, depending on a couple of background details you've left open. I don't think I've got the chops to write them, though.

If you don't mind, I'd like to steal the basic plot idea for the next time I get to run an MW2 RPG.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Cannonshop on 03 October 2020, 07:51:58
Thank you for a wonderful story, Cannonshop.

I can see so many interesting directions where it could go next, depending on a couple of background details you've left open. I don't think I've got the chops to write them, though.

If you don't mind, I'd like to steal the basic plot idea for the next time I get to run an MW2 RPG.

you're welcome to it!
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: ThePW on 03 October 2020, 09:36:20
And that's a wrap? I didn't expect the ending (but it was still excellent). *claps...*
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: paulobrito on 03 October 2020, 09:43:01
One of the best (if not the best) 'disturbing' stories I have read in this forum. Congratulations on a job very well done.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: Brother Jim on 03 October 2020, 12:27:06
I liked it a lot !!

Thanks !!!!!!

 :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: LightGuard on 03 October 2020, 20:10:21
I just realized who she reminds me of, after you mentioned a paranormal nuke Cannonshop.

Alma Wade, from the F.E.A.R. franchise. Carmelita's also a million times more stable even figuring in the events of this story.

Thank you for sharing this with us.
Title: Re: ...hold me tighter, I think I'm sinking down...
Post by: mikecj on 04 October 2020, 10:30:34
Loved it, thank you for this story.  Nice, neat, and well-written as always.