Friday, January 07, 2022

WoAF - Game Session 27

Having returned to the warehouse warren with the supply of Acoustic Insect Shields, Captain Samwise surveyed the road ahead.  It was getting hot, and the wet air was shimmering over Route 89.  He stared north.  A cloud of insects had moved over the road and were swarming in by the hundreds of thousands from the great insect mount.  He ordered the soldiers to mount the Shields on the jeeps.  The long line of refugees lined up along side the jeeps clustering around them so that as many could stay under the shields as possible.  The caravan began to slowly move north, the AGV leading in the vanguard.  Samwise kept a careful watch on the cloud with his binoculars.  It was composed of mosquitoes, some as large as a man's fist, and most the size of a finger.  

"Captain, are you seeing what I'm seeing?" asked a lieutenant from the forward jeep. "I'm at 1200 magnification.  Copy?"

Samwise zoomed in and took a closer look.  He noted that the collective mass of mosquitoes had formed a massive column over the road, spanning it lengthwise for about a half mile, forming a kind of tunnel through which the road passed.  But more surprising was the fact that the eyes of the creatures glowed, and pulsated with a greenish light.  And that they all pulsated in unison, such that the entire cloud created a pulsing pale green light in its shadow.  This was something the good Captain had never seen before.

Meanwhile, Fred was on the radio rig, having taken over for Linda who was away on some sort of secret mission with Pita.  Over the static he heard the voices of military men engaged in fierce firefights and running battles.  This fight was taking place just south of the town they were fleeing, Panguitch, Utah.  From what he could tell the Lizardmen forces had moved up with artillery, while the 2nd Army's brigades were trying to occupy the southern sector of the town and dig in.  It didn't sound like it was going well for the forces of men, and occasionally there were screams and the audio would suddenly clip off. Fred flipped frequencies with one hand as he stubbed out a cigarette on the sole of his shoe.  

Guns was up in the Perch wiping the sweat from his eyes as he swapped out the machine gun for the flame thrower.  He expected a wall of fire would be a heck of a lot more effective against insects than bullets.  He aimed to find out. 

They drove up slowly about a quarter mile.  Sam stopped the column and took the AGV ahead alone.  They came within 25' of the mosquito cloud.  It hovered over the road, the tunnel quite apparent, the green glow pulsating rhythmically. Sam stopped the AGV there.  Something about the pulsating light bothered him.  He felt he saw some sort of undulating pattern in the pulsing.  It became more clear the closer they got.  Having never encountered anything like this before he wasn't at all sure what to do.  He looked out the windshield and noticed suddenly that the cloud had begun moving towards them, but he didn't recollect exactly when it had started to move.  His hands were sweating.  In fact he found his entire body was sweating, though he had no sense of heat in the AGV.  Fred also noticed that he felt unusually upbeat.  Like he was on the beginning edge of a really mellow stoner-high.  He noticed his heart rate was increasing, despite the unnaturally calm disposition of his mental state, given the circumstances.  The swarm was now 20' away, at the very edge of the Acoustic Shield.  They seemed to be staying just far enough away to avoid the shield, and began engulfing the vehicle within the tunnel.

The good Captain's thoughts had become rather slow. He reached down to turn the dial of the Acoustic Shield.  He wanted to increase the radius but found that his hand simply wouldn't land on the dial the way he expected.  He looked down.  Sweat dripped from his palm.  The control panel wavered in front of his eyes, a greenish haze enveloping the the dashboard.  

"We're being hypnotized," he thought... slowly.

Fred sat up.  He suddenly had a really good idea.  It was stuffy in the AGV, and it occurred to him just then that it would be much nicer to be outside in the open air.  He looked towards the inner airlock door.  He felt a strong urge to go to the door and open it and go outside. Realizing that something was very wrong with all of this, he slid his mind into one of the other two Mental-Zones he had set up for himself when he first met Dr. Rogers.  At the time he wanted to create mental honey-traps to thwart unwanted visitors.  One Static, and one ongoing insults, with the third compartment containing his normal mind. He forced the pulsating sense of euphoria to drift into his Shakespearean Insults Zone, and so he was being buffeted by endless strings of bizarrely phrased affronts.

"Thou soulless beef-witted scut... scutt... scutt... scutt!" he thought loudly, the words echoing away into darkness.  "Thou craven guts-griping horn-beast... beast... beast... beast!"

This Mental-Zone was probably better than the alternative, which was the Full-Throttle Total-Static Zone that would have likely crushed any thoughts he might have had at all.  And so, in between appalling affronts to his dignity, he plotted his next course of action.   The euphoria, on the other hand, was being rapidly whittled away by the corrosive effect of the insults, which was fortunate as with it also diminished his urge to step outside into the open air.

Guns, feeling quite groovy himself, and suddenly discovering a strong hankering for a stroll, climbed down the ladder from the Perch, and made a fast little bee-line for the airlock.  Once outside he was sure he'd feel positively delightful. He was quite enthusiastic about it.  No sense in wasting time.  Just open the door and enjoy the fresh air!

Fred, seeing Gun's on the way to the door, tore off his leopard speedos and threw them at Gun's feet in an attempt to entangle his legs, and then threw himself onto the big man.  He was trying his best, in the friendliest way possible, to prohibit him from gaining access to the door.  This worked, to some degree, and Guns, being in a fine and happy mood, took it lightly and laughed as he continued to try to dance his way around his little friend.  He had every intention in the world of going outside to enjoy the beautiful sunshine, as soon as he could get this silly octopus off of him. Fred, for his part, was trying to hang on for dear life, but he realized it was only a matter of moments before Guns would push him off.  Guns was a hefty fellow, and strong like an ox.

Sam was also trying to break out of the happy little fog he found himself in, but to no avail.  He stared helplessly as Fred attempted to grapple with Guns in front of the airlock.  He turned his attention back to the Acoustic Insect Shield and tried to maximize the radius setting again, but that didn't go so well.  His fingers felt very clumsy, like wads of soft clay at the ends of cotton candy hands, and so instead of turning it up as he intended, he accidently turned it to the lowest setting.  Not quite off, but so low that the mosquito swarm now hovered in a darkening mass just outside the steel-glass windows of the AGV.  The wavering green glow of their rhythmically pulsating eyes filling the cabin.

"Captain Samwise, thou tottering onion-eye'd whore-master!", burst out Fred from across the compartment, "Assemble the gas of nerves that kills those who breath it, and set it at the flying demons out yonder window! Thou pragging tardy-gaited flirt-gill, have at it before we're all sucked dry to the bone!  Let them smack of my break-wind after a mushroom salsa!"

Samwise raised an eyebrow slowly, trying to take in that long winded instruction.  He thought it over, and eventually came to the conclusion that he didn't have the coordination to execute such a maneuver.  It was a dilemma.  If he failed to get the nerve gas tank outside then he could inadvertently kill them all.  That would be a bad thing, he concluded finally, and rested a bit.

Suddenly the radio blared through the static. "AGV.  Come in.  AGV Come in.  This is Lt. Karrington.  Is everything ok in there?  Over."

Fred was still trying to hold on the Guns but the big fellow was making quite good progress extricating himself from his grip as he guffawed frivolously and reached for the door panel. 

In desperation, convinced that their only chance lay in pushing the mosquito swarm as far away from the AGV as possible, Sam again lunged at the control panel.  But his luck was even worse than the last time and he managed to turn off the Acoustic Shield instead.  He glared furiously at his playdoh fingers as the mosquito swarm landed full contact all over the AGV.  The windshield turned black, and now all that could be seen inside was by the glowing green pulsations.  The sense of euphoria at the idea of going outside was becoming overwhelming. All of them felt that the fresh clean air outside, with the glorious sunshine and cool breeze would be so wonderful to enjoy... it was such a lovely day out, and so stuffy and horrid inside!  

Fred pulled out a Knockout Grenade from his backpack.  He contemplated pulling the pin and knocking them all out.  After all, that surely would be better than opening the door.  The pulsing green light filled the cabin.  It was getting harder to concentrate by the second.  Fred let go of Guns and reached into his backpack and pulled out his gas mask and put it on.  

"Guns, Thou dankish rough-hewn haggard!" he exclaimed as he donned the mask.  "Sam, that befouled pimple-rogue has eyes for Ilene!" he yelled at Guns.  "You shouldn't leave her alone in your perch with him, you bat-fowling witless fleck!"

"Oh gosh that's true!" laughed Guns with delight, and turned to head back up the ladder to get his favorite Springfield rifle.  "Ilene will like it outside a whole lot, on account of it's such a nice day!  She sure will!  Ilene I'm coming for ya!"

As Guns ascended Fred sat down at the radio console, pulled the pin, braced himself behind the steel casing, and tossed the grenade into the stairwell.  There was a very loud bang which made everyone's ears ring violently.  Knockout gas filled the cabin.  Sam and Guns both passed out within seconds.

Fred swiveled around and got on the radio.  "Hey thou paunchy puke-stocking wagtail!  Fred here!  We're surrounded by winged blood-knaves and my greasy giglits have dropped!  Don't approach, ill-bred bugbear!  The danger is is too great!"

Fred listened to the confusion on the other side of the line.  He looked around for something to restrain Guns with.  He figured they'd be out for at least an hour.  He found the Smart Rope and trussed up Guns with it.  He then went to the front control panel where Samwise was slumped over, and turned on the Acoustic Insect Shield. Thousands of mosquitoes were instantly fried, or buzzed upward into the air. He turned the radius up and began pushing the swarm away.  He stopped.  He went back to the smallest radius and lowest intensity.  He tried luring them in and blasting them but they didn't respond the way he expected.  It seemed to him that for insects these mosquitoes were smarter than the average bugs.  The swarm acted in unison, and intelligently. He turned the power to maximum with a 50' radius. Many a mosquito shattered and fried along the perimeter of the sonic sphere that day.  As the Shield pushed outward he he felt the mental effect of their pulsation lessen.  He pushed it to 75'.  The influence lessened again.  He continued to increase the radius until he reached the maximum of 240 feet.  The effect was still noticeable, but not nearly as strong as the bulk of the cloud was enormous and still formed a tunnel over the road ahead.

On the radar he saw a red blip suddenly appear.  He checked the readings and calibrated the controls.  There was something large flying in from the north at 2000 mph.  He looked out the window but it was hard to see through the mosquito cloud.  He caught a brief glimpse of a gleaming shape in the sky, coming in on a long low curved arc, but he couldn't make out what it was.  He switched to the Vizi-screen, locked the targeting computer on it, and slid the magnification to 80x.  Now he could see it, though intermittently between the mosquito bodies.  It was one of Brain V's Mechs from the Black Wind V Facility.  It was on track to arrive in 2 minutes 43 seconds at its current speed.  He looked around.  He needed to wake up his friends.  He found Sam's stash of Modafinil II syringes in his shoulder bag and gave Sam a jab.  Within a few moments his eyes opened and he roused himself. 

"Hark and avast, ye lumbering snot whistle!  We're under attack, Captain!" announced Fred to Sam.  


Meanwhile, far off in space, speeding in zig-zag patterns over the moon, UFO #01 had successfully caused untold mayhem down below.  Jacob gave Vallnam an awkward, yet heartfelt high five.  The two considered their next course of action.

Through the bronze rimmed porthole they could see Mare Frigoris.  Beneath it, they knew from prior experience, was the secret Nazi fortress, Eisenhelm.  In the fortress the two heroes had managed to ignite a civil war using copious amounts of psychic trickery, as per their Mentarian powers.  After several furious rounds of brainstorming, they decided to use Jacob's newly minted skill, speaking German, to contact the base by Radio, and pretend to be members of one of the warring factions of Nazis.  He would do his best to intimidate them and take a few more whacks at the hornets nest.

"Achtung!" shouted Jacob into the microphone.  The radio was still set to the same frequency as when he contacted the Nazi radio officer earlier.  That guy they'd managed to influence to kill his commanding officer.  He was already dead, but someone else had taken his place at the controls.

"Comrads!  Now is the time to rise up and show the world the true face of Facism!  The Commander is dead.  Now is the time to strike!  Do not hesitate!"

"What is your security code!?" squawked the terse response over the speakers.

"We don't answer to you, fool!  You will be swept under the tide!" snapped Jacob  into the mic.  He then gave a big grin and wink to Vallnam who responded with a hearty thumbs up and snicker.

"Who is this?!" demanded the officer on the other side of the radio.

"I am your doom!" responded Jacob grimly and switched channels.

For the next ten minutes he scanned frequencies but none responded. He eventually landed back on the original channel.

"Have you learned of the death of your false leader?!" sneered Jacob.  There was a long string of curses in German as a reply.

"Now you understand how powerful we are!" crooned Jacob insidiously, goading the officer into vein popping fury.

"You putrid piece of refuse!  I am going to destroy you!" shouted the officer, having slipped beyond the point of no return.  Jacob and Vallnam had the impression the man was frothing at the mouth and slamming the furniture with his fists.

"At the end of the day, you will be dead, and I'll be alive," stated Jacob matter of factly.

"You will die very soon!  I am going to execute... Plan Delta-Z!" shouted the officer.  

"That Base will be your tomb!" rejoined Jacob with a mocking laugh and flipped off the mic.  He flipped furiously through the thin brass plates of the UFO's schematics looking for any reference to Delta-Z.  None.

Meanwhile, Vallnam noticed sixty red blinking dots suddenly appeared on the UFO's radar screen.  He tapped Jacob on the shoulder.  "Um, check this out," he said pointing to the screen.  Jacob took a look.  He handed Vallnam the schematics.  "Look for Delta-Z, and see if you can find anything."

He glared at the radar.  It appeared that the sixty red blinking dots were located on the surface of the moon, in and around Eisenhelm.  He flipped a switch and turned a dial which caused the radar screen to alter its readout into a Vizi-screen mode which he could direct with controls.  He zoomed in on the location of several of the blips and saw that they were large rectangular openings in the surface of the moon. 

"Looks like they've pulled out the big guns, Vallnam," said Jacob.  "Oh my.  It looks like they're going to launch their nuclear arsenal at Earth."

"Yes, that could be a problem.  My question though is why would they be attacking the Earth, when their conflict is internal?"

"It could be their last gasp - the old 'We're taking you with us' option," replied Jacob.

"Yeah, that could be," said Vallnam thoughtfully.  They both were trying to think of what they might be able to do to forestall the threat, but it seemed like a runaway train at this point, and neither of them could contrive what to do.

As they watched the Vizi-screen, they observed that the dark rectangles had completed their opening sequence, and now began emerging gigantic humanoid robots.  They were dull grey metallic behemoths that looked to be the size of an apartment building, with dome heads and glowing crimson dots for eyes.  On their arms were assortments of auxiliary accoutrements: missile mounts, laser batteries, and cones with sparkling orange surfaces that made them distinctly nervous.  Jacob zoomed out and scanned the entire scene.  Indeed sixty of the of the behemoths were emerging around Mare Frigoris.  As soon as they made egress the robots launched into space on bright flaming rockets.

"Well, I doubt they're going to use the Robots on themselves, so they're either going to send them after us, or they're going to send them to Earth," said Jacob.  "Man the weapons!  Prepare for battle!" shouted Jacob.

"Do they even know where we are?"

"What they know is that their stolen UFO has returned to the moon after all, and that we've been stealthily lurking in space over Eisenhelm causing all kinds of chaos for them.  Flying Robots could be just the thing. On the other hand, as far as we know, maybe they're going to send the Robot Army to Earth for a final hurrah before they implode into full scale civil war down there."

"Looks like we're about to find out what Plan Delta-Z is after all," said Vallnam as he put the schematics back on the loop poles.  "Damn."

And that is where we left things that game.

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