6 Ring, 6104 RTR (21 Sep 2000) Envoy defends against an alien attack!
(Envoy) (Nordika) (Spheres of Magic)
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Weeks have passed since the saucer-shaped structure was first entered, and there has been opportunity to replenish supplies and to get word back to Caroban of the amazing discoveries and the progress that has been made so far. At present, Caroban is located far from the Wandering Roams, and they have many other pressing concerns, so no new mages have been sent to assist. Besides, Envoy and Iona have been doing pretty well so far on their own.

Workers in the camp have set about the tedious business of clearing away debris and cataloguing anything that might be found. Thankfully, the zakis have been easily enough avoided, and there have only been a very few "clashes" – and none of those terribly serious, since, if all else fails, you can always run away, and the zakis won't stray far from their "shells".

Nearby, a big Titanian clambers up the side of one of the Goliath shells … taking as much care as he can not to draw undue attention from the snoozing zakis to himself. He pokes and prods around the shell … then he digs around in his tool-belt, pulls out a little mallet. With tongue held firmly behind teeth, he taps around the metal … then swings back … and gives a mighty … *TINK*. *click* A panel pops open. He grins and wags his tail.

Earth Mage Envoy of Lothrhyn"I wonder how many words Titanians must have to describe hitting something with a hammer," Envoy muses to Jaffi from a hopefully safe distance.

Jaffi seems to be paying little attention to Envoy, but breaks out of his reverie at another *TINK* from the Titanian. "Hmm? What was that?"

Meanwhile, the Titanian pries the panel open, and disappears inside the shell. A moment later, his largish form can be seen through translucent panels – windows – of what looks an awful lot like a cockpit serving as part of the Goliath's "skull", for lack of a better term.

Envoy grins! "He's in, let's go see," she suggests and heads for the open hatch.

Jaffi hmphs. "Easy for you, I suppose. I don't think I will be making that climb, thank you. I'll just watch from down here."

The Aeolun spreads her wings, and says to the Zerda scholar, "Well, maybe we can lower a cable and Backhand could pull you up? There may be some easier way up as well, I'll check when I get there." With that she takes off for the cockpit, trying to keep close to the hull of the Goliath.

Jaffi shrugs noncommitally. The flight up the side of the Goliath is short – more of a jump than a journey. The hatch is still open, and if Backhand could get through, it's all the more easy for her to slip in as well. She can see a floor inside the hatch with a non-skid rough surface similar to the interior of the saucer, but it is far less roomy than the corridors – though still with ample space for herself and the Titanian and maybe a few others to squeeze in, from what she can see of the space inside.

Envoy climbs into the space, and checks to see if anything is glowing or making noise, besides her own horn (from a held Shape spell) and Backhand.

Unlike the interior of the saucer, there are no glowing green tubes here. The ceiling, such as it is, is part of a framework supporting very thick layers of a glass-like substance, scoured by ages of abrasive winds, but showing no signs of cracks. Furthermore, while glass would tend to "flow" over decades – not to mention how old this must be – there is no sign that the panes might rattle in their frames at all, or of any such warping. Backhand curiously sniffs around, though his nose isn't likely to tell him any more about the environment than Envoy's would.

It looks consistent with the interior of some sort of cockpit, in that there are chairs of a sort, and what look to be control panels. However, there is seating for four humanoids of proportions similar to the alien Envoy "saw", and there is enough space to crawl around the seats, and to reach what looks like another hatch leading back further into the shell, toward the back.

Moving forward, Envoy searches for a control chair, assuming it would look similar to the ones in the main ship. "Do you see anything that looks like a mechanical control, Backhand?" she asks the Titanian, assuming that since they build mechanical contraptions, they might recognize such details.

Backhand nods. "Lots!" he whurfs, and points at the front-most seat. There's something oddly organic about the interior here … not actually organic, that is, but the aesthetics don't seem quite right. There are curves and aerodynamic-looking forms where there don't need to be, and angles in places that one might think would be unsafe, risking an injury if one were to bump into the edge. Some of the shapes seem to have an appearance of something inspired by living creatures, though not plainly so. No actual organic components, however, can be discerned.

Envoy examines the odd contours. "These surfaces, or something on the chair?" she asks, not having had much experience with physical interfaces. "Can you tell what they do?"

Backhand scratches his head. "Look sorta like levers here," he says, gesturing toward a few jutting pieces. "But I dunno." Envoy's head, meanwhile, fills with a strange sensation like a jumble of disjointed memories … a strange sensation, perhaps, given the usually fairly orderly state of her mind, and her nearly perfect memory. She is struck by a sensation that seems to describe what someone once described to her as "déjà vu".

Envoy blinks three times, and sits in the pilot's chair to see if it makes the information any clearer.

As Envoy slides into the chair, the feeling becomes stronger, until the fragments of memory resolve themselves. A shuttle. That's what this is. It doesn't have legs. Or, that is, her memory doesn't indicate that it should have any.

"This was a flying machine," she whispers, more to herself than to Backhand. "Originally, at least." She thinks of those huge tubes attaching to the nascent Goliath though, and doesn't think that part could be normal for a shuttle. "It must have been rebuilt to be a Goliath."

Backhand rrrrs? "Fly?" He grins, tongue lolling, and wags his tail. "Can you make it work?"

"Oh no, it couldn't fly now," the Aeolun says, sounding mostly sure of herself. "Their machines didn't work correctly after they crashed. It just … remembers … being a flying machine, I think. I don't know what the controls do now."

No instructions come to Envoy's mind on how to accomplish such a feat. From her "borrowed" memories, it would seem that this isn't quite the shape a shuttle really ought to be. Rather, it seems as if the Goliath's form is a mish-mash of different parts … parts of the "shuttle" … parts of the "mothership" … somehow grown together, like a branch grafted onto a tree…

Envoy holds an outstretched palm over the controls, trying to tell if they cause the same sort of tingle that the door-iris switch had. "It's more like something patched together from different parts now."

The controls are utterly dead in response to Envoy's touch … though that "déjà vu" sense confirms that this is not the way things should be. While this cockpit may have once served a purpose in the shuttlecraft, it is now but a vestigial remainder of what once was, long ago.

Envoy looks to her Titanian companion, and asks, "What would you do if you had a Goliath? It's big and powerful and fast, but assume it can't go beyond the Wandering Roams."

Backhand grins, then frowns at the last part. "Awwww." Then, he brightens. "I could stomp Goliaths with it! I'd have my own TITAN!"

An image flits through Envoy's mind. A squirming, naked little creature being pulled from a vat. It has six, perhaps eight limbs … but they are calmly and systematically snipped off … and then mechanical devices with sharp points are precisely shoved into the quivering flesh … and the creature is stuck into a cavity of a larger device, in which there are several other mutilated creatures, joined together by artificial means … a machine.

"They used living things to control the machines," the Aeolun says. "Like using a bird to control the wings of a flying machine. But the Goliaths use the living part as … as the machine, and the machine part as the control? If you didn't have a lot of machinery left, I suppose it would make sense, wouldn't it?"

Backhand just gives Envoy the most dense and blank look he could possibly muster, with an expression that just positively says, "Duh?"

Envoy doesn't really seem to be expecting an answer, and just goes on. "Energy. They tried to use Sifran crystal to keep their machines running, but animals just need chemicals. If they needed a big powerful machine, and their normal power sources weren't reliable, then they should have used animal power. But what did they need so much strength for? They were building something, but they didn't build it here next to the mothership … "

Noticing Backhand again, Envoy asks, "What do Titanians use to power their Titans?"

Backhand blinks, finally faced with a question he can answer. "Steam!" he whurfs. "Or other stuff, if'n it don't blow up first!"

Envoy nods, and asks, "So, you'd need water and something that can be burned for fuel. And if you needed a lot of power, then you'd want to build right near a river and a coal mine, wouldn't you?"

Backhand nods several times, enthusiastically, grinning as if pleased that he's catching on … but that soon fades. "Uh … and?"

"And then you wouldn't be able to move your giant Titan," Envoy explains. "If it didn't need to move though, it wouldn't matter. Building it in the right place would matter. That's why they didn't build it here. And maybe that's why they needed Goliaths."

Envoy pulls a fist-sized chunk of amber from the pocket of her robe. It's new amber, made from some of the sap that oozes out of the organic parts of the saucer. She seems to study it for a few moments, then asks, "Do you know that there are giant veins of Sifran crystal under the surface of Sinai?"

"Oh?" responds the Titanian. "Uhm … no." He scratches his head. "How far down?"

"It varies, sometimes deep but sometimes close to the surface," Envoy says. "I think the aliens found a vein that was big enough to power a Gate, if I'm right about them being able to tap into the crystals for energy. They'd need a huge amount of power to open an escape passage to another world. So maybe some of the Goliaths were used to dig down to the crystal, just like you'd dig down to a seam of coal. Other Goliaths could be specialized for lifting or hauling huge structures or supplies. That way, they could build their gate right at the power source."

Envoy puts the amber away, and lowers her voice. "Then when they tried to turn it on it didn't work, and created a Forbidden Zone instead."

The Titanian nods. "Created … a Forbidden Zone?" His ears perk up. "You can do that?"

"I think so. If I'm right, then this one could be the very first." Envoy looks out through the windows towards the saucer. "The technology to make the Goliaths is here, in this crater. So they were born here and come here to die. But they probably go to the construction site when they're healthy or big enough. Without anyone to control them though, they just revert to Zaki behavior … butting into each other to try and merge. That could be the battles that the Xients talk about."

"Or the area could just drive them mad," she adds. "Something drove their creators mad, after all. But it's still out there, at the heart of the Forbidden Zone I imagine."

The Titanian raises his eyebrows. "You mean this idn't the center? There's more?" He grins. "Goodie! I get paid more if we explore more!"

Envoy hmms. "I'd like to see the structure they were building, but I don't want to see people go crazy as we get close to it. If the machine was partially successful, it could have left behind a hole or disruption in space-time. That would certainly affect how people thought and perceived things."

"The Xients talked about a terrible wrath from the Sky Gods too," Envoy notes. "It sounds like a very violent area, in any case. And it's outside the scope of this expedition. We were sent to see if a Goliath could be captured, and I think it's clear that it wouldn't be feasible. The Temple of Rephidim usually handles the exploration of dangerous First Ones artifacts in the middle of Forbidden Zones."

The Titanian scratches his head. "Mebbe you could get folks who're already crazy to help you?"

Envoy grins. "I'm sure there are plenty of Technopriests and Natural Philosophers that would love to go, and any number of spies for the various nations. Even this site will be crawling with more scholars than zakis once people see the mummies. All of them looking for some edge or advantage over each other, no doubt. I think you're going to be a very wealthy person, Backhand. Either for the money people will pay you to take them out here, or for the money people will pay you to make sure this place isn't found again."

Backhand wags his tail and lolls his tongue. "Enough to get stuff to build my own Titan?"

"Possibly," the Aeolun says, rubbing her chin. "I don't know how much a Titan costs to build though. But if there is a new expedition to find the device I suspect exists out there, would you want to be in on it?"

Backhand nods vigorously.

Backhand then pauses, and ponders, "How you find the center of a Forbidden Zone? I mean … I kin tell north 'n south and east 'n west, and 'Don't go this way' … but that's magic weirdo stuff."

"There is one thing I need to know though," Envoy says, looking back towards the pilot chair. "Do you get any funny visions when you put your head near the seat? As for finding the center … a Chaos Mage might be able to detect the direction. I'll have to find out."

Backhand leans over near the seat. "Nope! I only gets funny visions when I's whopped onna head real hard!"

Backhand, meanwhile, blinks, as he looks out the window from his current position. "Hey, where dat big-ear guy go? Idn't he gonna wait for us to tell'im what cool stuff we done found here?"

Envoy doesn't suggest the idea of riding a Goliath when it leaves the area. No way of knowing how long it would take for it to finish growing into the shell. "He didn't want to make the climb." She goes to the window to see if she can spot him nearby. "You could track him from the ground, couldn't you?"

Jaffi is nowhere to be seen. His manservant Ari is nowhere to be seen, either, though Ari has been kept busy in manual labor with the regular workers of the expedition for the past few weeks anyway.

Backhand nods. "Yeah." Without further ado, he clambers out of the panel, and climbs most of the way down, then leaps further than most would consider prudent … and starts checking the ground, sniffing for effect, since that's what he's seen Jupani trackers do.

Envoy follows after trying to get the hatch closed again, and asks, "Does he seem any different to you now than before he got zapped in the big saucer?"

Backhand nods. "Yeah." He pauses in his tracking. "He was much more yakky-talkie afore. Now he's … " Backhand frowns. "Different," he finishes.

Nodding, Envoy keeps close. "And he hasn't mentioned any new theories about things since then either. Those nearly adult bodies in the tanks make me suspect that they had a way of transferring more than just memories if they wanted to."

Backhand continues examining the tracks. It looks like Envoy and the Titanian are headed in the direction of the saucer.

Envoy walks faster now, since there isn't likely to be a different destination. "Let's check the saucer first. He's probably there."

Backhand whurfs disappointedly as it looks like Envoy isn't going to wait for him to make his big show of being the great tracker of fennecs, but he gets up and bounds after Envoy. Nonetheless, she still makes it to the saucer first. The iris door is closed, but by now, the matter of opening it has become almost routine. The tingle is unpleasant, but it seems that through repeated use, the door has become more responsive … rather the opposite of the way machines usually tend to degrade, if anything, after repeated use.

Envoy notices the slight improvement, and hopes it just means the ship is waking up more by itself. She enters the revealed tunnel and calls out, "Jaffi, Ari, Iona? Anyone in here?"

Nobody responds. The Titanian squeezes into the corridor behind Envoy.

"Do you remember how to get to the chamber with all the machines?" the Exile asks Backhand. "I'm going to check on the one with the alien bodies first." She starts along the corridor before the Titanian can answer.

The Titanian nods several times. "Sure I do! You want – Whu?" He jogs after Envoy. "You want we should split up to find Jaffi quick-like?"

"Yes, see if he's in the machine room," Envoy says, as she turns down another passage. "I'll check the labs and meet you there."

Titanian barks in response, and jogs out of sight. In short order, Envoy makes it to the labs. No sign immediately of Jaffi. The bodies are still floating in the vats – No one has been bold enough to try taking them out, after all, though various implements and other articles lying out have been dutifully catalogued and put into storage for shipping off for more detailed research elsewhere.

Envoy heads to the next lab over, wanting to check each one to be sure.

A quick search of the lab reveals nothing … until, just as Envoy is about to head out, she notices that a door is open that she hadn't noticed being open before – In fact, she hadn't even recognized it as a door before. It opens up into a pitch black chamber.

Moving as quietly as she can, Envoy makes her way to the door. She keeps alert for any sounds of talking or movement from the dark portal.

As Envoy's eyes adjust to the dim light – provided mostly by her own horn – she can be pretty clear that no one is in here. There is a jumble of wires and cables, and it looks like some sort of restraint cage, perhaps, but if there was any sort of creature or object in here at one point, it's out now. Before she has a chance to examine things further, though, she feels a foot planted in her backside, and a rough shove that sends her stumbling forward into the chamber!

Envoy lets out a quick yelp before she bangs into things!

The kick sends Envoy stumbling into the mass of cables and wires … and she can hear the sound of a door being slammed shut behind her, blocking out all external light for a moment … until dim lights begin to blink on around the chamber, and a dull throb can be heard and felt through the walls that seem to press in so closely on each side. The cables and tubes are cold and not entirely mechanical … and they begin to twitch.

Envoy tries to find the door again, using the weak spell-light from her horn and trying to reach past the wires and tubes with her arms. Jaffi must have been imprinted with something from the learning chair, she thinks.

The light is sufficient, once Envoy regains her bearings, for her to make out what must be the exit from this chamber … but the tubes and cables seem to be moving in an entirely un-mechanical way as they probe about her … In fact, she feels a sharp sting in her right arm, then in her left leg.

"Do not resist, Envoy of Lothrhyn," the fennec's voice can be heard, as a membrane set in one wall vibrates. "You will soon learn all there is to know about us."

Frowning, the Aeolun replies, "Forgive me for doubting your motives, as you aren't giving me much choice." She doesn't struggle though, since the chamber is obviously able to restrain her.

The cables and wires seem intent upon seeking out Envoy and then piercing her skin … and even deeper. This is, in a word, painful. As she surmises, the room does prove to be quite capable of restraining her, as locking arms seek out and find her limbs and pull them back into uncomfortable positions.

"JAAAAFFI!" the Titanian's voice can be heard bellowing, as he stomps around in the corridor. The corridor must be immediately behind the back wall of this chamber.

Envoy tries to call out upon hearing the voice. "BACKHAND! CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

As Envoy has little else to do at the moment, she is able to better see her surroundings by the glow of her horn. The chamber is a mixture of organic and mechanical parts – chitinous shells, vibrating membranes (though shielded behind protective layers of harder substances), mechanical struts, and so forth. Like much of the rest of the ship, there are signs of decay and wear here and there, as well as "weeping" areas of red solidified goop, and calcified deposits. The stomping in the corridor stops. The Titanian whurfs, "Wuh?"

"I'm trapped in a chamber," Envoy calls, hoping Backhand can still hear her. "I was pushed in! Watch out for Jaffi or Ari; don't let them get you!"

There's some pounding on the wall behind Envoy. "Where are you?" the Titanian whurfs.

Meanwhile, there's an angry snarl through the membrane. "Ari!" the fennec's voice commands, "Eliminate the Titanian! He is sabotaging the expedition!"

"Behind a hidden door in the lab off this passage," she replies back. "You have to warn Iona and the camp, Backhand! Don't let Ari or Jaffi get back before you!"

"Buh … but what about you?" whurfs the Titanian. Meanwhile, more heavy footsteps can be heard, getting closer. They most likely do not belong to the Titanian.

Envoy turns her attention to the speaker membrane, and screams at it at loud as she can to hopefully distract Jaffi – or whoever he is now – and Ari.

"Silence!" the voice commands, but the voice is broken up, as Envoy builds up a resonance. Although the membrane may be shielded from physical interference, it is not designed to withstand Envoy's unique sonic mistreatment. Backhand can be heard to howl out in the corridor … and then ichor bleeds from the membrane as it ruptures!

Unfortunately, Envoy's own ears aren't really up to handling it either, and she has to stop before her eardrums burst.

Envoy's ears ring from the noise, and it's hard to tell what's going on outside. The cables and wires are twitching … which isn't very comfortable in the least bit … but it seems that they are no longer moving to restrain her further. In fact, there's quite a bit of slack now in her restraints, though she's by no means free at all.

The Aeolun tries to move her left arm enough to reach the pocket on that side of her robe. She still has a chunk of amber in there that might be shapeable into something useful.

Fortunately … Envoy is able to just make it. She now has a chunk of amber. Her hearing is slowly returning. She can hear some sort of commotion outside the chamber … It sounds violent.

Closing her eyes, Envoy pictures the restraints on her left arm in her mind. Releasing the Shape spell and singing to the amber, she urges it to flow up between her skin and the restraint closest to her left wrist.

The amber contorts and expands and contracts and flows according to the commands of Envoy's spell … and then swells, putting an unpleasant pressure against Envoy's wrist, which soon becomes painful and would leave a nasty bruise at the very least on most people … but it's rewarded by a crack … from the restraint, thankfully, not Envoy!

Alas, the light from Envoy's horn dies out … but she now has one free hand to work with.

Envoy takes a deep breath and opens her eyes again, even if it's pretty dark now. She tries to reach her freed hand across to the still restrained one, attempting to get a grip on the restraint there.

That, she finds she can easily accomplish. With some probing around, she finds what feels like some sort of release lever. Apparently, this chamber wasn't originally designed, per se, to just take prisoners by booting them in the posterior and letting the chamber do all the work – although it's just demonstrably been adapted to that purpose. It would seem that the restraints on her legs likewise have manual releases.

Moving carefully, Envoy releases the various restraints before dealing with the more painful wires and tubes that have connected to her. She tries to listen for more noise from outside, hoping that Ari didn't take out Backhand.

There's some more commotion, then a howl, and the sound of running feet. The distinctive sound of the iris door closing can be heard … then a loud slam and a painful rending of metal. Doors with lots of moving parts aren't likely to be as sturdy as nice simple ones.

Envoy searches for a door latch in the darkness with one hand, and tries to ignore the itching feeling of healing skin as she pulls the various probes from her body with the other hand, as well as the other unpleasant sensations.

The probes are mostly limp, though she can still feel them twitch a little as she lets them drop. Alas, the door doesn't seem to have a latch on the inside.

Envoy finally tries tapping against the door, hoping someone is on the other side that would be willing to let her out.

No one answers. Envoy can make out some cursing beyond. "… idiot … supplies … must go … before … I'll take care of the … HURRY!" Then, there are heavy footsteps rushing off, away … and quieter footsteps walking up to the other side of the door. "Well, well," the voice says, muffled on the other side of the door. "Quite the clever one, aren't we, little construct? You could have proven to be useful, but right now, I'm afraid you're just a liability."

"What do you think you can accomplish out there," Envoy says through the door. "Still hoping to escape this world?"

"Precisely, little puppet," the fennec hisses, in between sounds of clambering about. "We discovered a world in flux. Broken towers providing connections to other realms – realms of power. And where these ancient devices had decayed and broken … reality itself was torn asunder, creating what you primitives refer to so quaintly as 'Forbidden Zones'. Other such tears in reality were created by those who tried to recreate the experiments of the ancients and – not surprisingly – failed miserably. Or, perhaps you could say they succeeded, but didn't get quite what they expected!" The fennec laughs bitterly. "In any case, a tear in reality would serve us just fine. A way to get off this accursed planet, into a place where reason abounds. Our reality or another, it matters not, for our homeworld was gone long ago, and we've evolved beyond natural selection or primitive breeding to further our line."

"I take it you don't plan to use the Gateway Tower network then," Envoy says, feeling around the seams of the door for any kind of hinges. "Surely you aren't going to try and use the same tear that you failed to stabilize before?"

"The Gateway Tower won't do," the fennec says, panting as he works on whatever he's doing. A few sparks shower from a receptacle on the wall, though they do Envoy no harm, and only serve to give her a brief glimpse of the damage in the chamber from her "outburst". "We must take as much as our library as we can. That is our identity now. Our mistake before was in falling to the lure of 'magic', as you call it. We discovered the ways of the Sifras, and were swayed from our original goal of leaving this world, and instead to try and complete what the ancients had begun. It is a mistake that has been repeated again and again, countless times, though we did not realize it at the time."

"Aha! There we go," the fennec says, as a thrumming noise emanates from behind the walls of the chamber, and it feels slightly warmer.

"Why risk escape?" the Aeolun asks as she sits down and faces the door. Magic isn't very successful when dealing with worked materials, but the door might have been around long enough to have acclimated. "There are those here who would revere you for your knowledge, and you could live quite well. Even I have adapted."

"Ha!" the fennec says, "Revere us? Let the lower, unevolved life forms gawk at us and our intellectual superiority? How utterly pathetic! Life is meant to be put to use, not entertained or coddled."

"Come now, you aren't all that superior," Envoy says. "You couldn't even create original life forms, much less something like myself. You seem quite mired in mortal pursuits, if you ask me. Even your technology isn't much better than that of the Expedition. You're just running away because you're afraid."

Some of the lights in the walls begin to glow faintly, filling the chamber with very dim illumination … but by now, Envoy's eyes have adapted to the dark, so it's sufficient to see her surroundings, such as they are. Some of the tubes have leaked fluids onto the floor, and some of the ichor has accumulated there as well.

Envoy watches to see if any of the fluids seem to be melting through the floor, and makes a closer examination of the walls now that they're more easily visible.

"Afraid?" shouts back the voice, accompanied by the sounds of tools being dropped, as the fennec stomps over to the door to shout through it. "You pathetic little worm, projecting such feelings upon beings you cannot comprehend! We reached a stage of evolution beyond that of nature. We reshaped our very selves, eliminating the arbitrary divisions imposed by nature, and recreating ourselves into new roles more conducive to our civilization! We created laborers, craftsmen and thinkers all perfectly designed for their duties, and we took the dumb organisms of our world – and of others – and fused them with inorganic technologies to create perfect machines capable of repairing themselves, regenerating themselves, even adapting themselves!"

"Sounds like Zelaks to me," Envoy says. "I'm more versatile than any of you then."

Meanwhile, yes, it does appear that some of the fluids have an acidic effect on the floor, though it's a slow process. The walls are far from the featureless panels that would be more sensible in some sort of restraining chamber. Rather, it looks like, while there may have once been obscuring panels sealing the innards behind the walls, they have been torn away or otherwise removed, revealing glimpses of the machinery – and organic components – hidden behind.

The fennec fumes, then barks, "I will not fall for such petty name-calling! I will not be overwhelmed by the emotions inherent in this inferior body that I have been forced to take control of!" The fennec stomps back, and the sounds of clattering and clicking resume.

"So that's why you wanted my body instead?" Envoy asks, as she pokes through exposed guts, as it were, near the door, looking for something like a locking mechanism.

The fennec laughs. "You are not perfect, but, as a construct, your form would be more receptive, I believe, to the whole of my essence."

There are a few bug-like carapaces, and squirmy tendrils, but as she hasn't taken a basic course in this particular alien's brand of "mechanics", she isn't quite ready to grasp the full workings of the mechanism. However, it is within the realm of possibilities that these exposed creatures could perform some function in connection with the opening or closing of the door.

Envoy tries twisting and turning the shapes. "I'm not a remote anymore. You would have been outnumbered trying to control my mind."

One of the little creatures splatters under Envoy's twisting. At the very least, she has just discovered a source of glowing green goo.

The Aeolun moves on to the next potential control, and uses a bit less force as she tries to manipulate it.

One of the tendrils squirms. The next one protests by spitting up black goo onto Envoy's fingers when she touches it … but thankfully it's not acidic. The next one convulses, and a clicking noise can be heard at the door.

"What are you doing? Stop that!" the fennec shouts, as he can be heard to rush over to the door.

Envoy turns and kicks at the door while trying to reach for the leaking tubes with her hand.

*SLAM* *POP* *CRACK* The door swings open, smacking the fennec square on the nose, knocking him backward onto the floor! In the same instant, Envoy also manages to get a good hold on some leaking tubes with quite a bit of slack to them.

Pulling on the tubes, she steps out of the chamber and tries to bring the leaking fluids in contact with the fallen Zerda's feet.

*sizzle* "YAAAAAAA!" shrieks the Zerda, as he curls up in a near-fetal position, clutching at his feet!

Envoy winces at the sound and lets the tubes go. "Sorry about that, but I didn't want you running away without me." She looks around to see what the possessed fox was up to.

It looks like a panel had been ripped open, and the fennec was in the process of pulling some organic components out of some areas of machinery and sticking them into other positions, replacing dead or missing creatures … perhaps cannibalizing one system to get another to function. It may only be a guess, but it appears that the mechanism the fennec was working on may be linked to the chamber Envoy was in just a moment ago.

Outside, some more commotion can be heard, and distant shouts … and several zakis acting up.

"You mentioned your library," Envoy says, as she looks into the open panels. "Are these the components, or were you trying to kill me somehow?"

The fennec seems to be too busy shrieking in agony – giving in to his "weak emotions" – to expound upon his plans like any good villain ought to be doing about now (if not simply trying to deal with Envoy, that is).

A Titanian head pokes in through the door, looking quite battered and bruised. "ENNNNVOY!" he bellows. "WHERE ARE YOU?!"

Envoy checks around the lab for any other signs of activity, hoping it really was just limited to the little chamber. "Oh, hello Backhand! I was worried that you'd been hurt by Ari. Jaffi here is really one of the aliens now, so be careful. A Spirit or Mind Mage might be able to separate them back into individuals."

Meanwhile, a few gouts of flame burst from receptacles in the walls of the restraining chamber, toasting the area where Envoy was a few minutes ago.

Backhand lets out a yelp, and takes a couple of steps back away from the chamber … stepping on Jaffi in the process. Jaffi cries out all the more loudly.

The Aeolun watches the flames with raised eyebrows, and then goes and pushes the door shut. "Well, at least he wasn't trying to blow up the saucer then." Looking at the fennec again, she sighs and asks Backhand, "What happened outside, and do you have a first aid kit on you by any chance?"

Backhand shakes his head, then says, "I warned da camp, an' at first they thought I was nuts, then Ari comes out, starts grabbin' stuff, shoving any who got in his way … And, well, I got me some help, and we done clobbered him, and then I came back for you!"

Envoy smiles and gives the Titanian a hug … well, as much as she can get her arms around anyway. "Thank you, there's no telling what would have happened if Jaffi got back to camp. I still don't know what to do with him. If the real Jaffi can't be recovered, then the alien is a murderer. Good thing he told me how advanced he was, though. I don't think they'd have kept the ability to feel pain when they redesigned themselves, so he wouldn't know how to handle it."

Backhand wags his tail. "I did good, then?"

Envoy smiles and nods. "Very good! Let's get Jaffi back to camp though, in case those burns really are serious. I don't need any rumors about me being cruel or sadistic now that everyone's forgotten about the brain-eating one… "

---

GMed by Greywolf

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