Episode 714: Business as Usual
This was another combat heavy ep and unlike the previous episode, didn't get talky at all. UPDATE: It turned out talky. So ... multiple parts, this time around.--Maer.
Air date: 10 Apr 2012
Present: Andy, Bobby, Kim, Maer, and Terri
Tuesday, 08 Feb 2524
Brig, Anna's Ship
Somewhere in the Black
The crew has been a guest of Anna for three days. Kiera, Rina, and Joshua have been tortured. They are injected with drugs to lower their sensory thresholds and subjected to stimulus levels to induce excruciating pain. Some are electrical, some are sonic, some tactile. Anna and her Chief Torturer administer the … um, torture. No one else is allowed to touch them. No questions are asked. Of course, Anna needs to fine tune the process to inflict maximum suffering, so it takes a few sessions with each of her subjects before she gets it right. Each session takes hours and renders the victims unable to move. The guards have to drag them back to the cell. The cell is kept brightly lit. The guards keep the prisoners awake, depriving them of much needed rest. Recovery is slow. Kiera recovers the least, Rina the most. Joshua lies somewhere in the middle. Even without being tortured, they're all suffering fatigue and they are all definitely hurting.
Nika: (at Kiera) You were mouthiest, so they worked you over first.
Rina: Yeah, and that's sayin' a lot. Cuz I can be mouthy in three different languages.
Nika: No joke.
Joshua: They didn't like it when I suggested those two give oral to that sonic thing. The look on her face was worth it for the first hour and a half.
Joshua: The second hour and a half was not worth it.
Kiera: Not worth it. No, not worth it.
Joshua: Was not worth it … (groans) I hated—That was not good ... (scrubs face) … So … uh … When are we breaking out of here? Tomorrow?
Rina: As soon as I can get the guard to come in here alone.
Kiera: (wincing) As soon as I can find my head.
Joshua: (points blearily) It's right there.
Kiera: Uh-uh. That one's not my head.
Cuz it's splitting in two and Kiera distinctly remembers her head being in one piece.
Arden: I wonder when the guards are going to check in on us?
Usually there are two guards who have that duty. They blast our ears with a klaxon a scant moment before they enter our cell and anyone not sitting on the far bench when they come in gets hit with the agonizers, a nasty device we'd run into at Anna's palace on Sihnon. There are no clocks, no calendars. We have no way of knowing what time it is or what day it is or when to expect the guards to come back to screw with us some more. It's all part of the luxury vacation package.
Joshua: I can do this for a little while but I can't do this forever. Um … how are we getting out of here?
Rina: (sourly) I'm working on it.
Arden: Walking out that door.
Kiera: My brain hurts.
Rina: Trying to figure out how to get out of here …
Rina's up and pacing, never the sort to stand enforced inactivity.
Nika: You make me tired watching you.
Rina: Then close your eyes.
Arden: (to Joshua) Did Anna make any demands? Did she want anything?
Joshua: Nope. She just wants to hurt us.
Arden: What's the chance of overpowering somebody the next time the door opens?
Rina: That's what I suggested last time.
Nika: (tired) Somebody brought that up three days ago.
Try three minutes ago, actually. As an idea, it might work. There are six of us to just the two guards. Although the guards have taken to just shocking us whenever they come in. Which would make rushing them a mite difficult.
Arden: Uhnn, it's better than this. (waves at the cell)
Joshua: (pained) … Uhn, no …
Arden: Uhn, yes.
Joshua: That getting-shot thing is not good.
Arden: It beats this.
Joshua: No it doesn't.
Rina: Nobody listens to me.
Joshua: I'm listening. (to the room) She listens to me. Occasionally.
Nika: I don't listen to you anymore. You're a paranoid Russian lady.
Rina: The paranoid Russian lady that's gonna get you out of here.
Nika: Only if you promise me.
Arden: How big is the room?
Rina: (pacing) Fifteen by fifteen.
Joshua: (looking up) I wonder if that vent goes anywhere. (eyeballs it) Betcha it dead ends somewhere. With a sign that says 'ha-ha'.
Nika: If they know Rina at all, there is.
Rina: (to Joshua) Give me a boost.
Joshua: Didn't we try this already?
Nika: Boost the mini-Russian.
Joshua: All right.
Joshua laces his fingers together and hoists his wife. She plants a sloppy kiss on him on her way up.
Nika: Don't do that in public, willya please?
Kiera: (groaning) Argue quieter.
Yeah. Humor will get you through just about anything. Well, except maybe a vent cover that's welded shut. Rina also gets a little shock from touching the thing, too, and she morosely wonders if maybe she could short it out by pissing on it. Just for spite. Beneath her, Joshua's propped himself up against the wall and is grabbing forty winks.
Nika: I wonder how Joshua could stand up straight and sleep? Hm. He's multitalented.
Rina: Hell, I could'a told you that. (shimmies down, plants another kiss) Thank you, sweetie.
Joshua: (sleepy) … hmm, myeah … (blinking) …. Maybe I can use my telekinetic powers to lift open the door … I have telekinetic powers, right? I seem to remember that.
Kiera: (pained) Think quieter. My brain hurts. Uhhghhhh …
Joshua: Maybe I'm doing that.
Nika: It would be nice if you could, like … (whispers) … mindrape the fuckers.
Joshua: Well, no, not if it doesn't get us out. (weary) … Okay ... (ticks off on fingers) Welded shut ... Door opens toward them so they can shoot us all the time ….
Kiera: Nika, you sitting down?
Kiera crawls over to Nika and puts her head in her lap. Nika hugs her.
Nika: There you go, baby.
Joshua: (muzzily) So … okay … maybe when they open the … door, maybe we can all … uh …
Arden: Get shot again.
Joshua: (nodding) Get shot again. Right … (shakes head) … There's got to be a better way out of here ….
If there is, we haven't hit upon it yet. Of course, we've rushed the guards a couple of times already, cuz we're stupid and optimistic and the lesson just isn't sinking in and because it's just an "us" thing to do. Which is why they keep zapping us whenever they open the damned door. Besides, how the hell are we gonna ambush them anyway? There's a ceiling mounted camera and another one over the door keeping an eye on everything we do. There's no place to hide. The benches offer negligible cover, the space underneath them clearly visible from the door. All we have going for us is our determination and greater numbers—and the quality of both is beginning to fade.
Kiera: I got an idea. (nods at Rina) You all lift her up. She's got a hard head. Bang her up against the camera and break it.
Rina: (on board!) That'll bring'em in here.
Save for the fact that the camera has a protective cover.
Kiera: Her head can break through anything.
Joshua: Uhn, no … I don't think that's a good idea ...
Kiera: But her head can break anything.
Rina: Or I could fist it.
Joshua: I don't think that's a good idea either.
Nika: I would rather you didn't break your hand, please.
Joshua: (to Rina) We need that hand. We need your hand. Don't break it.
Rina: Damned metal-carbonate alloys ….
Rina resumes her pacing and Nika lowers herself into Arden's lap while Kiera lays in Nika's. Joshua and Beglan make themselves as comfortable as they can. Sometime later the klaxon goes off, making everyone flinch. We drag ourselves to the benches. Arden, Kiera, and Nika are already there, having piled up on them earlier.
Kiera: Ow …
Nika: Ugh. I hate that klaxon.
Kiera: Ohhh … ow … my head …
Nika: I hate it.
Kiera: I want my happy little cuddle pile …
Rina: Yob tvoyu mat….
Joshua: (to Rina) Get on the bench. No, be on the bench.
The guards like us on the benches when they walk in. Otherwise, it's just another excuse to zap us. Despite his own warning to his wife, Joshua perversely stands. Not about to have him face the consequences alone, Rina stands with him.
Nika: You two are stupid.
Rina: (damn straight) Yes we are. Never underestimate the power of stupidity to throw a monkey wrench into other people's works.
Arden: None of this is gonna monkey wrench their plans.
We'll see who's right. The door's going to open up in a minute. Joshua sticks his tongue out at it. Rina tells him to put it back in.
Rina: The guards'll just shock it on principle and when they do that, you'll bite it off. I'm rather fond of that tongue.
Joshua: (off her look) I'm not going to let her break me.
Kiera: (from Nika's lap) … oh my God, ow …
Nika: (eyeing the door) Here we go again.
Arden: Maybe they brought food this time.
Nika: Do you think we'll be that lucky?
Arden: I'm hoping.
Joshua: I'm not letting her break me.
Arden: I'm not broken. I'm just tired of being hurt.
Joshua: That's Step One in getting broken!
Arden: No. That's common sense.
Joshua: It's Step One, sorry.
Nika: It's conservation of energy.
Joshua: Well, you go on conserving your energy. I'll give them something to focus on.
Arden: Yeah, I can remember multiple times in our journeys together where I've done the exact same thing that you're doing right now. Each time it wound up with me getting hurt.
Joshua: Yes, but somebody has to step up for you. You're not doing your normal thing.
Kiera: No, cuz he's finally run out of underwear. Cuz every time they shock him he pees all over himself. It's underwear conservation.
Beglan: That's very charitable of you to describe it that way.
That gets a laugh out of Nika. She jerks her head at the sink/toilet unit in the corner.
Nika: Maybe we can pour water all over the floor and have them shoot Rina so that the electricity arcs through her body and water and gets them too.
Kiera: That's an idea.
Rina: Yeah, it is.
Kiera: She's tough. (off Joshua's look) You're giving me the eye like this is going to change what we're muttering about. So, NO, too bad.
Joshua: I didn't mean for that to mean anything.
Kiera: Oh, okay. I thought I heard Joshua as a husband saying "Please don't shock my wife into oblivion." Hey, wait a minute, it'll work cuz she'll have to—
Joshua: (to Kiera) Sit and spin.
The door opens up. Joshua goes for broke and bull rushes the first guard he sees. Rina tries to keep up right behind him. It's a crazy plan but if you think about it, not surprising. We've been off our Halcyon maintenance drugs for days now. The personality changes have already kicked in. The fact that we're exhausted and hurting has toned down the effect some … but it hasn't eradicated it completely. So of COURSE we're going to try something optimistic and foolhardy. We can't not.
Nika levers herself up to help Joshua and Rina. Joshua's faster than everyone and plows into the guards first.
Joshua slams the guard brutally hard. The guard's armor absorbs the damage and sends him backward into the guard behind him. The guard behind dodges and the first guard slams into the wall. Joshua's a man on fire—totally going for broke—and moves to trip the guard, going for the ankles. He grabs, flips, and the guard is down. Joshua moves for the second guard. He manages to flip the second just like the first. When Nika gains the doorway, she sees two guards down on the floor.
Rina: Joshua, save me one.
Joshua: (moving) No.
A third guard runs up and Joshua manages to flip him too. The guard hits the deck. All thhe guards are prone but they are not out. They're armed and they've got the agonizers. Not that it stops Joshua and Nika and Rina from trying to grab their weapons and escape. Nika grapples with the one on the left, grabbing his rifle. The guard rips it out of her grasp.
Arden leaves the cell next, goes for the guard on the right, and kicks him in the head. They're wearing armored helmets with faceplates, but Arden doesn't care. He kicks for the head anyway. He connects but it bounces off the armor, doing little damage.
Rina goes all out and throws herself on the middle guard. She disarms him and comes away with his weapon.
Kiera tries to disarm the guard on Nika but is unsuccessful. Even so, she manages to maintain her hold on the gun. It's an instant tug-of-war, with neither opponent gaining the upper hand. She sees Rina has a weapon and yells.
Kiera: Shoot him, shoot him, shoot him!
Nika draws back and aims a kick at the guard grappling with Kiera, anything to help her friend get that gun. She connects but his armor soaks the damage. The guard is too focused on keeping his gun from the screaming redhead prisoner to even notice the blow.
Joshua assists Arden and tries to grab the guard's gun.
Joshua: (to guard) Say hello to your mother. She was really nice last night.
Arden attempts to pry the guard's fingers from his gun. He's unsuccessful. Nika recovers from her kick and yell at Rina.
Nika: Shoot somebody!
Rina starts with the guard in front of her and shoots him with his own gun. The shot coruscates off his armor, doing little damage. Eyeballing the effect, Rina's got a pretty good hunch the armor's shielded against that particular weapon. Just in case someone manages to disarm the guard of his gun, for instance. Who'd'a thunk?
Kiera rolling on the floor with the guard she's grappling with, and even though they're in a heated clinch for possession of his rifle, she's looking him over for any advantage she can find. She sees the guard's armor is designed to keep the buckles and catches safe from grappling attacks. Not that she's got a free hand to try out her theory, anyway. Her fleetin lack of attention is the opening her opponent needs, however, and he pulls his rifle from her hands. He staggers upright and puts his back against the wall.
By now, the crew is wondering if anyone's caught our attack on camera and though we can't make out the words, we can hear the guards talking inside their helmets. Calling for back-up, most likely.
We're running out of time.
The guard on Rina staggers to his feet but against expectation, he withholds attack. She can't see his expression through his faceplate but he acts confused, his movements uncertain. Maybe her shot has scrambled up his in-helmet HUD or something. Whatever's happened, he stands with his head cocked to one side, as if trying to figure something out. Rina remembers that Anna's troops moved strangely when we first encountered them, as if some were mechanized. Is this more of the same? Maybe. Rina doesn't take any chances but raises the rifle and shoots the guard again. The shot goes wide of the mark and hits the wall.
Nika dives in and grabs for the guard's gun, backing Kiera's play. Joshua continues his attempt to disarm the guard on Arden. Joshua grabs the weapon and hauls mightily on it and the guard lets go without warning, causing Joshua to stumble backward.
Joshua: I got the gun!
Arden: I see that!
Joshua: (to guard) Stay down!
Nothing doing. The guard attempts to head-butt Joshua. Joshua dodges.
Joshua: Hey. Don't try to do that.
Arden spies a baton on the guard and while Joshua keeps him busy, Arden grabs the baton. It's attached pretty firmly to the man's gear belt and Arden can't quite manage to take possession.
Rina's guard abruptly sits down. His posture makes his intention clear: Don't shoot me. Thrown, Rina pauses. Kiera sees this from the corner of her eye and yells at her crewmate.
Kiera: Shoot our guy, shoot our guy!
Nika does her best to keep the guard busy by grappling with him. She's not terribly effective. He yanks the rifle from her grasp. Even though he's still down on the ground, he shoots hits her and she's drowning in pain.
Joshua sees Nika going rigid in shock. He throws his rifle to Kiera.
Arden: (sees) I hate you!
Joshua: (to Arden) And I love you.
Arden: I don't care!
The gun falls short and Kiera dives for it. She gets it and scrambles up. Arden can do nothing but try to grab that baton. He manages to put hands on it but in so doing, accidently shocks himself.
He falls unconscious.
Since the guard in front of Rina poses no threat, she trains her rifle on the guard who shot Nika. She shoots and hits and it does pretty much nothing to him. He shoots in turn and just manages to clip her. She screams, paralyzed by pain, and drops the rifle.
Nika's able to make some simple moves, despite the pain, and stumbles back from the fray to check the corridor for reinforcements. Arden's guard is rapidly crawling away. Joshua quickly assesses the situation: one guard has given up, another has a gun on him. Joshua grabs the guard crawling away and starts dragging him for our cell.
Joshua: Not that quickly, sir.
Kiera unloads her rifle on the guard that shot Nika and Rina. She just lights him up like Christmas. His armor withstands the onslaught but some of it gets through to him anyway. We can hear him yelling inside his helmet. Meanwhile, Joshua's guard tries to break free. Joshua readjusts his grip, folds the guard into a position that his armor makes it hard to get out of, and forces the man into the cell.
Joshua: Beggar, get out.
Rina recovers from her shock enough to move. She throws herself onto the remaining guard, hoping to blunt-force him to the ground. He's armed. It's risky. She does it anyway. She misses him and crashes into the wall.
Good. Now she's behind the sucker. Rina will take his knees out from behind, as soon as she's able to move, thanks. If she fails, she'll at least distract him and make him turn his back on the others to deal with her—letting the others get a clear shot at him. It's a win-win. Well … if it works.
Kiera shoots him again and again his armor absorbs it. The rifle goes dead in Kiera's hands, its power depleted. Kiera shifts her grip on it. It might make a crappy rifle but it will make a pretty good club.
The remaining guard shoots at over Kiera's head, taking out the lights in the corridor. Sparks fly, there's a hum, and the lights go out. It's gloomy, with ambient lighting keeping it from being completely lightless. There's another hum as the rifle in the guard's hands dies.
Meanwhile in the cell, Joshua has the guard in an arm lock and is slamming the man repeatedly into the wall. The successive concussions are enough to knock the guard out and when he goes limp, Joshua lets go.
Rina's still hampered by the shock effects but goes for a leg sweep. He jumps out of the way. The guard swings at Rina with his rifle. She dodges in turn. Kiera backs up in Nika's footsteps, going farther down the hallway. At the moment, no reinforcements have arrived and it's beginning to look like we just might very well be dealing with the only guards left on Anna's ship. If we can take them out, we're golden.
Nika's shaking off the stun from the agonizer, finally, and she sees that the hallway we're in goes about 60 feet and turns sharply to the left. Kiera peeks around the corner and sees it opens up into a chamber. It's pretty obvious they're on a ship. It's also pretty obvious the chamber ahead is empty. No one else is in evidence.
Behind her, Joshua throws himself on the last remaining guard. He grapples, trying to force the man into a submission hold. The guard is able to resist. Rina shakes off the pain effects and gets to work getting the guard's helmet off. She fails and leaves off, going for the guard who's surrendered.
As she approaches, he puts his hands up and jerks back. Rina's got blood pouring from her nose and a wild mean look in her eye—of all the crew, she got the Reaver-esque reaction to the Halcyon and right now, she looks damned scary. Her blood is up and by God, she's gonna kill something.
Rina: (deadly) Take. Your. Helmet. OFF.
The guard hurriedly complies. There's a faint crack and a hiss, the helmet hits the deck, and Rina finds herself staring at the man inside the suit: Nikolai Feodorovich Tigranov.
Kolya. Her brother. Back from the dead.