Chapter 0030

From Discovered

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Narrative Order Chronological Order
0030 2034-03-01 0700 UTC
Narrative Purpose
Describe the events of the game session
Deke, Jenkins, Red , and Grace have a transformative experience.
Points of View
Locations Sessions

Wherein it hits the fan for Deke, Jenkins, Grace, and Red while everyone is distracted by Droo, Ralston, and Miranda. These events happen on the VAIL side of the PAIL-VAIL.

0630 UTC / 0130 EST

Deke woke up in a cage. An immaculate cage, gleaming white and steel, but still, a cage. Like any old soldier he took stock. White hospital scrubs with - he reached around to his back - velcro. Fancy. He sat up on the bunk, testing his body. He felt strong and vital – maybe too strong. He hadn't felt this fit in decades. He took care of himself, practically living off the land he was responsible for – but this was something different. He flexed his muscles carefully and slowly, doing isometric exercises. I don't just feel stronger, he thought. I really am stronger. The ceiling in his cell looked to be about twelve feet high. He was sure he could jump up and touch it.

Free Viagra in Canada, they said. His lips pursed and curled up on the left just a hint, thinking about the old joke.

He turned to the glass wall that made up the front of the cell. A foot thick? he guessed, considering the way it distorted the view at even a slight angle. His cell looked out into an octagonal room. The other cells were separated by about three feet of concrete and stone. To his left he could see Jenkins stirring. Red was to his right, sitting on his bunk with his elbows on knees, forehead on fists.

It was Grace who held his attention though. She lay still on her bunk. He could make out her slow, deep breathing, which surprised him. His eyes were still sharp, but even back in the day he wasn't sure he'd have been able to pick up that much detail through two feet of distorting glass and ten yards of open space.

It was only then that he realized the large central space was filled with androids and other robots, all working at speed. He had been so focused on his daughter that he had blocked everything else out.

Deke caught movement in Jenkins' cell, and saw he was now up and exploring. He was obviously gesturing and talking to someone Deke couldn't see. A Waldo extruded from the ceiling and opened a drawer beside the sink. It reached in and pulled out an AR set, handing it to Jenkins. Damn AR, he thought, turning back to his cell. A set of AR glasses now sat on the counter beside the sink. Looking up quickly, he saw the robot arm retract into the ceiling. With a sigh he slipped the glasses on. In the mirror he noticed his weatherbeaten face didn't look any more energetic than it did before, no matter how he felt now.

With the AR on, the cell and the room beyond transformed. Robots were replaced with lab-coat-clad people working furiously on various tasks.

"They'll let us chat for a moment, Deke," Jenkins said.

"I hate this thing," Deke muttered. "Alright, Jenny, what's the sitrep?"

Jenkins narrowed his eyes and nodded slightly. On missions his call sign was Jenny. He answered, "I don't know, Padre. They're trying to figure out what we were all infected with and why. They took samples when we were out."

Red then Grace, then the two of us together… "Is it spreading?" Deke asked.

"It doesn't look like it," Jenkins said. "The rest of these rooms would be full." He paused for a moment. "How are you feeling?"

Deke flexed his arms and shrugged. "Better than someone infected with a mystery bug should feel." His eyes got wide for a moment, and Deke saw him flexing too.

One of the white clad virtual lab workers walked straight through the foot thick glass. It caught Deke off guard until he remembered he was wearing the AR glasses. The young man said, "Mr. Heppener, I'm sorry we had to meet like this. Mr. Jenkins has mentioned you on occasion." He reached out a hand to shake and Deke response automatically.

He was surprised when his hand met flesh. AR handshakes didn't usually have any physical sensation. Pulling down his glasses, Deke saw he was shaking a robot arm attached to the wall of his room. Damn thing feels real.

"Gord is part of the weekend poker game, Padre," Jenkins said.

"Good to know, Jenny." Jenkins was very selective about those games. He only invited people he trusted. Deke turned to Gord. "Now you get out of here and go help my daughter.

"My colleagues are with her right now, Mr. Heppener. The best way to help her is to figure out what is in your system, how it got there, and how it was transmitted. To do that I'm going to need some more samples to test.

"Fine," Deke said. "Whatever you need."

"Well, a biopsy of a few muscles would help."

Deke raised his eyebrows. "Biopsy? You mean you want to cut out a bit of a few muscles?"

"Yes sir. I just need you to lie down on the bunk on your stomach so I can get a sample from your tricep, lumbar, and calf. I can numb the incisions, but the muscles will be sore afterward."

Deke shrugged off his shirt and trousers and lay down on the bunk with his head toward the glass door, his chin on his hands. "I don't want painkillers, though," Deke said.

"Uh…" Gord hesitated. "This will be quite painful."

"Look at the scars, kid. I can take it. I want a clear head for when Grace wakes up."

"All right, then," Gord said slowly. "I'll get started." It was more painful than Deke expected, but he handled it fine. Gord provided a color commentary of every cut and stitch but Deke didn't really listen until he said, "All done."

He watched Gord put the samples into a small cabinet built into the wall beside the door when the ceiling of the central room irised open. Two large canisters covered in biohazard warnings were lowered into the room on cables while the glass doors on either side of Grace slid up into the ceiling. The cannisters were pushed into the rooms by researchers. The glass slid down in the blink of an eye. The door panel showed a good seal a moment later, so the researchers started unsealing the cylinders.

Deke's amazement at seeing the aliens –
he's been out of touch or isolated for the
last six hours and has no idea what they
are. Describe their physiology a bit while
Miranda and Jade (among others)
examine the corpses.

0700 UTC / 0200EST

Deke woke up when the feeling in the room changed. He saw Jenkins come alert at the same time. Habits of old soldiers, he thought. Three new people were in the room now. With a start, Deke saw that they were all slightly translucent, and realized that they were just images in his glasses. They didn't appear to be controlling any of the robotics in the lab like the other images, but they had everyone's attention.

Describe Ralston and Droo, with an aside
about Kaleb. Deke found the interactions
interesting, especially seeing the
relationship between Ralston and Miranda.
Droo had him confused until Gareth spills
the beans.

While everyone was distracted, Deke caught Jenkins eye and signaled for a sitrep.

Jenkins pointed to Ralston, indicating he was a VIP. Droo was an unknown. He also pointed out Kaleb as a potential ally.

Grace and Red were both standing at the doors of their rooms, watching the commotion and gesturing to each other. Deke recognized a few of the signs and signals. He felt a swelling pride at how calm and collected Grace appeared. Grudgingly, he admitted to that Red looked like a good partner for her. They look like Jenkins and me when we were locked up outside Kandahar. They've been in situations like this before, he realized. I missed a lot.

Gareth lead the strange Vögell/Droo person out of the room, an everyone relaxed into a sudden babble of releasing tension.

"Discuss it on break," Miranda said, her voice cutting through the noise. "We still have two aliens and four patients to –" Her words stopped abruptly when Jenkins threw up violently on the glass door and collapsed to the floor.

"What the hell?" Deke said. Pounding the glass hard enough to make it vibrate, he yelled, "Jenkins! Jenkins!" Across the room Grace collapsed too, convulsing so hard that she was flopping around the room, smashing the furniture and robotics with each spasm. She looked like a fish in the bottom of a boat. Deke's throat felt raw from screaming, "Help her!" Then he coughed violently, spitting up hair. Shocked, he reached up to find his hair falling out in clumps.

The researchers were frozen in shock for a moment, then burst into a mad scramble of activity. Deke stood in shock, staring at the hair in his hands. When he looked up he saw Jenkins had been moved onto his bunk, and Grace was lying on the floor amidst the rubble of her room. Red was still up, but his face was blank and he was punching the wall in a methodical way, like he was chopping wood. Deke's eyes widened when he noticed that Red was not coming away with broken hands: the wall was cracking under the force of his blows.

Then the air lit up with an eerie blue glow and all the electronics sparked and fried. Deke snatched the smoking glasses from his face. The temperature in the room seemed to jump and he began to sweat, hard. There was a rushing sound, like an explosion, but it faded quickly. The blue glow dwindled just as quickly, but now the walls were brightly lit with a fluorescent green glow.

He cooled off very quickly in the silent darkness. His heart was pounding, and he couldn't catch his breath. He tried to yell for his daughter, but couldn't make a sound. With a shock he recognized the rushing sound: the lunar dome failure sounded like that in the news videos of the event. How am I not dead? And the blue glow – he remembered that too. One of his missions in Afghanistan was a raid to recover a dirty bomb. During mission preparations he'd seen videos with that blue light. It was caused by a blast of hard radiation. We're cooked, he thought numbly. It might take a few days, but we're all dead.

Slowly, Grace pulled herself up from the floor, using the glass wall for support. At first Deke thought the weird lighting was making her look different, but as she stood he could see that her skin was turning darker and darker as he watched. That's not how radiation works, he thought, but I'm breathing vacuum just fine. He gestured to Grace. "Are you ok?"

Rather than responding with another hand signal, she looked at him with wide eyes, shrugged, and mouthed "What the fuck?"

Deke nodded agreement. Despite their bizarre situation, he felt a thrill at even this short interaction with Grace. We're not dead yet. Make the most of it.

Looking to the right, Deke saw Red had crumpled up some equipment into a big metal fist, and was using it like a boxing glove, continuing to pound the stone beside the door. He was making progress, but the stone was still quite thick. To the left, he saw Jenkins pull the metal toilet off the wall with little effort. His room immediately filled with snowy mist as water boiled away into the room.

Jesus. Just how strong are we? With a shrug, he braced himself and pushed on his door. The door didn't move, but he slid back a meter. A lot stronger. The glow from the walls had faded quickly, and stabilized at a dim and murky light, too dark to see what the others were doing.

Remembering where Gord had put the samples into the wall, Deke figured that was as good a place to start as any. His first punch buckled the steel plate enough for him to get his fingers around it and tear it out of the wall. Exerting that much force hurt, but he found it hard to see any damage on his dark skin in the dim light. All four of them were very dark now. Bracing himself, he put his fist into the next layer of steel. This one was stronger, but after a few good hits he was able to tear it out as well.

Deke had just punched out the third steel door when the lights snapped back on and air rushed back into the room. He found himself suddenly desperate to breathe. Gasping and heaving, he braced himself against the wall and sucked in air. Red and Grace had made some progress breaking their door frames, but it looked like they had some distance to go. Jenkins had bent parts of the metal toilet into a primitive saw, and had been scratching the glass in a cross-hatch pattern. Deke stuck his arm out through the hole and into the room, waving. The others stopped what they were doing. Deke stepped in front of his door and mimed picking up a phone while pointing to the hole. The others immediately pounded their way through their air locks.

As soon as he saw her fist, Deke yelled, "Grace, are you ok?"

He found it surprisingly difficult to read her expression now that her eyes and skin were inky black, but the tone of her voice was very clear. "Seriously, Dad? That's your first question?" She turned toward Jenkins and called out, "What are you doing? We're not having a lot of luck."

Jenkins answered by stepping to the back of his cell. He centred himself, took two steps forward, and levelled a devistating side-kick to the glass. The inner surface exploded. "There are five layers to this stuff. If you can score the materials along and across the grain you can cause a layer to shatter." He picked up his makeshift scratching tool and began working the next layer in a diagonal pattern. "Fold over the toilet steel or bed frame to make a scratching tool," he said. "The first layer is vertical and horizontal lines, two centimetres apart. The next is a diagonal grid, same spacing."

Red immediately started to tear out the toilet in his room, but Grace just stood there, staring at her hands. Deke had seen that look before. Carefully, she put her fingernail against the glass and dragged it downward. A deep scratch appeared. "Don't use the metal, boys," she said. "Our nails are stronger, I think."

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