Another sunny day in Alpha complex. Jun-R-NGL-5 wakes up to “Heyyyy Juuuuude, don’t make it baaad, take a saad song and make it betterrrr…”; better than the Japanese folk music, he thinks drably to himself, but not quite there. Quickly he blinks his HUD off and begins to prep himself for the day. At least his ribs are no longer sore from last weeks water repository fiasco, he begins the morning routine…
As he arrives to the factory for a day of filling up bottles of “Edith B’s Dust-Bunny-Trapper Spray!”. If only his tentacles were out flying about, it would make for the perfect job, he’d able to do three at a time! He looks over his shoulder as Maridith-O-NGL-5 is inspecting his fellow Red workers bottling technique. Ugh… Jun-R hates Maridith-O, if he was Ultra-Violet overseer of production there’s no way he’d put up with her vile attitude toward his inferiors… would he?
With the three sharp blows of the steam whistle the day only has 1 hour left before closing. “JUN-R-NGL-5 REPORT IMMEDIATELY TO BRIEFING CENTRE NGL-CHARLIE FOR ASSIGNMENT” His HUD reports, flashing violently. Still wearing his work belt and holding his a bottle of Edith B’s spray, freshly filled, Jun-R starts for the exit, blinking a quick text message to Maridith-O “Troubleshooter assignment, see attached report confirmation, leaving early”. Thank god he got out of there, the monotony was numbing; a slight phantom pain in his ribs reminds him that monotony is not always a bad thing , not to mention a clone count of 5.
When he arrives he notices a familiar face… “Takarni-R! You make it out of the water repository okay?”
“I was so close— slipped on the walkway heading back, would’ve survived too if the drainage pipe was just a half meter wider. Takarni-R-NGL-3 at your service.”
A tall skinny man in faded red coveralls steps forward and stands on top of a milk crate. “o-o-okay Reds… I’m Darry-R-NGL-6 and I-I-I’m g-g-going to be your t-t-t-team lead today.” His voice is screechy and high pitched, it cracks from time to time — apparently someone who shouldn’t be, has been dipping into hormone suppressant-less rations. “Now i-i-it turns out there’s a B-b-blue officer traped in a m-m-mal-functioning office b-b-building in NIL. Friend Computer needs us to s-s-sort it out.” Darry’s stutter seems to get worse as he goes on, one leg shaking, not much of a leader and apparently not great keeping his head down with a 6-count, Jun-R thinks to himself, Tatsuki-R-NGL-5 would get along great with this death seeker. Realizing his clone count is at 5, one taken just the other day, Jun-R bites his tongue and rolls his eyes.
The fourth RED is Marell-R-NHL-2. A little grubby looking, he has pleasant persona about him, and a gentle demeanor that matches his sticki-outti ears and poor posture. Jun-R notices him wearing a strange vest with a roll of tubing coiled in front, a red light currently very dim and buzzing. At the end of the coil is a metal nozzle with a switch and nob. Obviously Marell-R has been deemed the Equipment Officer.
Jun-R is handed a multi-tool, and a fresh out of the wrapper hygiene kit, and a small pack of mints. Marrel says nothing, but gives Jun-R a curt nod. “W-W-When we get to the B-B-Blue officer, we need to lookkk and s-s-s-smell our best Jun-R, keep us in perfect hygiene!” Darry-R puts a very awkward hand on Jun-R’s shoulder, an act that might be considered leadership if done by almost anybody else in Alpha Complex. Jun-R performs a quick hygiene test on each member of the team and passes out a mint to each Red. He then instructs Marell-R to clean out his ears, passing him a cue-tip from the hygiene pack.
After an hour-long transbot-taxi trip to NIL, the troubleshooters stand in front a massive skyscraper that dwarfs anything else in the sector. Getting on early dusk, and with a bit of mist covering the sky, the building’s flood lights illuminate the air giving the whole structure a golden glow. Blinking quick commands to his HUD Darry-R sends a map of the building to each member, and an artificial yellow line appears before them leading into the front door. “Well… b-b-best to get on with it then!” Darry-R tries to step out of the transbot just as another taxi-bot comes screaming by ripping off the door. The only thing saving Darry-R’s life being that he forgot to remove his seat-belt which caught him in the gut as he tried to get out, with-out hitting the release button. “W-W-Well… that was closer eh g-gang?” Darry-R remarks out of breath from the belt, “don’t want to lose your t-t-team leader before the mission even starts!” Shiftily the other three members look between each other, before giving a polite nod.
After looking both-ways, the troubleshooters exit the transbot, and ascend the stairs to the main door. The door is locked shut, luckily Darry-R pulls out his trusty data-pad and begins to hack through the doors auto-lock mechanism. “_Dang-blasted thing should be open to us… not sure what in tarnation…”_ BJSHHHHH the large doors open up. “Well that’s b-b-better!”. As soon as the troubleshooters step through the doors Jun-R notices that his little yellow line flickers , than lightens back up.
The trouble shooter make their way to the lavish elevators with fine blue carpeting. “OH! that reminds me!” Darry-R passes out small blue laminated passes with embossed metal chips of gold. “Press your thumb to the scanner to activate the Blue pass, make sure you hand that back to me at the end of the mission or you may be looking at Darry-R-NGL-7 next time we meet! … we get 7 clones right?” As each member presses their thumb hard into the small scanner, a blue screen appears in their HUD. “Jun-R-NGL-4, you are granted blue access for… 3… hours and… 59 minutes…” a small count-down clock begins in the top left hand corner of Jun-R’s vision. “N-now we b-better be quick, I don’t think those security bots are going to be v-v-very happy if we’re upstairs when this timer runs d-d-dry”.
The trouble shooters step onto the elevators blue soft shag carpet. A voice erupts from a small intercom, “*_PLEASE PRESENT HUD VERIFICATION_*” Darry-R blinks the appropriate command to his HUD. “_*Verification ACCEPTED*_”. Lights on the buttons of all but the top three floors turn on.
Jun-R checks his HUD map of the building and see’s the blinking objective dot on the 47th floor. Pressing the button cautiously the doors close the elevator hums to life. A large blue and gold needle above the door spins with every floor they pass. As the elevator picks up speed its revolutions become a blurr like the blade of a fan. Theres a violent crack and the elevator thuds, but continues to rise… 23…24…25… another loud crack and a shake 35…36…37… Jun-R looks up and sees the yellow path moving with them up the elevator, it is now flickering almost constantly. The yellow has turned from a solid bright vibrant yellow to a pale shade. Jun quickly looks around and notices a roof maintenance access panel. “_Help me with this!” Tarkani-R gives him a boost but the door seems to be clamped shut from the outside. “_Step aside and give me a lift up” a deep resolute voice perks up. Marrel steps forward unwinding the coiled tubon his chest and flicking a few buttons on the machines strap to his. It hums to life. Another crack-slam and a loud grinding as the needle starts to jerk and slow down 41… … 42… … 43… Jun and Tarkani hoist Merrel unto their shoulders as he fires up the lazzer cutter 4000. A blinding light fires from the metal nozzle and slices easily through the panel. With a hard push Marrel swings the hatch. The elevator stops, creaks with a grind and begins to descend.
Marrel jumps through the hatch and begins to lift his fellow trouble shooters through roof. It’s only when the last of them are up that they realize that the Lazzer Cutter sliced through not only the roof hatch but the cables behind it as well. With only 1 of 3 support cables, the load is too great and the last line is taught as a violin string. With a final glance at each other, the cable snaps, Jun-R grabs for his grapple gun like a gunslinger pulling his sixshooter and fires wildly to the ceiling. Each team member holding on desperately one after another making a human chain, they are cast upwards. Jun-R’s arms are burning from the strain, and the little wire, built for one person, is obviously beyond its capacity. Marrel quickly burns a hole through the nearby door and manages to dive through. One by one the team manages desperately to maneuver themselves out of the elevator shaft and through the newly cut hole, just in time to hear the elevator smash in the basement, now a small crumple twisted metal with bits of blue shag carpeting.
Passing himself carefully through the “door”, Jun re-holsters his new trusty grapple gun and turns to his team. “Uh Team Leader?” Darry-R Looks very nervous again, his face as pale as the White walls and sheep skin rug they’re standing on. “W-w-we are NNNOT s-s-s-uposed to be h-h-here!” The trouble shooters try to access their maps but the system up here is completely dead. The penthouse office is unlike anything they have ever seen, it’s more of a high end apartment than anything. Everything is in white, leather couches surround a fireplace with a hood and vent in the center of the room. A small kitchen is tucked to the left, bottles of some fancy liquor suspended upside down along the back splash. A massive timber desk is at the far end of the room with a holographic monitor, a new message blinking orange is visible. All of the lights are off, and nobody makes a move.
After five minutes of running through the options of how to get out, the team decides to look for another way out of the Ultra-Violet’s apartment. Each member takes a different area and agrees not to touch anything, all understand the need to get out of the room as quickly as possible.
Jun-R heads directly to the computer having noticed that the portrait of the clone that is blinking is none-other than that elusive Karumi-O who had been absent for his last mission in NGL just the other day – could’ve used a science officer, might not be on his 5th clone if he’d been around. Looking around at the other trouble-shooter searching the apartment, Jun-R clicks on the impending message.
“Intercept Advisory – Capture and dissect immediately for autopsy. Orange clearance level security scan diagnostic has revealed a discrepancy in Karumi-O-NGL-4’s origin. Priority issue.” Orange clearance level— okay… well what if he isn’t orange… better yet, maybe he can hide better in the crowd of Infrared… Using the UV’s personal access Jun repeals his status to Infrared.
Next his pulls up a small application that operates the services of the apartment. MUSIC, LIGHTS, FIREPLACE, MAID-BOT, DOORS… doors? Opening the doors app, he can see a hidden wall-panel sliding door. He Clicks “open” and the door shifts aside just in front of Takarni.
Takarni, very proud of himself for finding the wall door… somehow… notions for the rest of his team to a set of stairs to take them down the next floor. Apprehensively, now understanding why their blue pass did not unlock the top three floors, the troubleshooter step down to the 49th floor. The door opens up to upper level of a large loft style room. A large 6×4ft table with a green felt overlay and six holes around the sides is in front of them. A timber bar is just behind it, Jun-R sees a bottle of snow-white bouncie-bubbly drink. Walking quietly over to it, he picks it up to examine what must be the greatest thing he would ever taste. “d-d-d-on’t touch a thhhhing!” Darry whispers shakingly. Jun-R nods, and secretly places the bottle in his bumbag.
A set of stairs winds down off the loft to the lower level. A large dinning room table and chairs sit ready for a fine dinner. Jun-R checks his HUD, still no connection to the network. In the quiet dark room each member is watching their breath and stepping like they are walking carefully through a mine-field. Depending on who’s apartment this is, they would be flayed alive to be caught sneaking through a UV’s personal affections. The dinning room has a small foyer with two elevators. “beautiful!” Darry-R exlaims under his breath. He begins to move quicker, his steps getting heavier with every step. “Team Leader! NOO!” But it’s too late, Darry’s thumb hits the elevator button and voice erupts from the room. “PLEASE PRESENT HUD VERIFICATION…” Darry-R look ’round to his team. “uh-oh, I highly doubt this will get us out of this area.” “SECOND REQUEST, PLEASE PRESENT HUD VERIFICATION” “We need to get out of here now!” Takarni shreeks, looking for any other exit. “FINAL REQUEST, PLEASE PRESENT HUD VERIFICATION”.
The troubleshooter start running frantically around the room, looking for something, ANYTHING, that could assist them get off this floor. “HUD VERIFICATION UNSATISFACTORY — ACCESS BREACH — SECURITY HAS BEEN NOTIFIED — SECURITY PROTOCALL BRAVO 348 INITIATED” The lights in the room suddenly go from dark to blindingly light. From vents in the floor a smoky nerve agent is expelled into the room and a loud hum sounds as the secondary elevator begins to climb, a digital floor counter starts going quickly. Merrell rips out his Lazzer and starts cutting a straight line across the secondary elevator. The red light on his chest blinks rapidly; ignoring it Merrel-R cuts a large straight line across the door. Twisting a red nob on his chest the laser’s intensity seems to surge and glow. A series of snaps and then a clanking grinding noise reports the second elevator plummeting down the elevator shaft. The laser emits a blinding light. " I CAN’T TURN THE DAMN THING O.." Merrel’s chest explodes, blasting a hole in the elevator doors and sending the other trouble shooters flying backwards. Takarni and Jun are injured with a a couple cracked ribs, but Darry-R has his Humerus and Clavicle protruding for the skin, and burns across his face. “N-n-not agggain…”.
The troubleshooters find a ladder that runs down the elevator shaft to Floor 47. Prying the door open with Takarni-R’s crow-bar, the trouble shooters search the hallways of doors, finally coming to a set of fine blue wooden doors. Together they throw their shoulders into it until they manage to break them down; would have been a lot easier with a laser cutter.
Crashing through the door Jun-R stands face to face with a beautiful woman with short dark hair and a Dark blue business dress-suit. Hailey-B-NQN-5 name is lit up above her head. “About time you morons managed to get me out of here. There seems to be some sort of explosions upstairs, only an idiot would try taking the elevator in the middle of a computer crisis.” She quickly eyes up and down the group… “and… my god do you all stink”. Jun opens his hygiene kit and sprays some quick-dry deodorant over the team, then passes out hand-wipes to remove the dirt, grime, and soot, from their faces.
They take the stairs down from that point on. Stopping only to allow a number of heavily armed Green security soldiers armed to the teeth with plasma rifles stream by. Luckily with Hayley-B’s clearance and Jun-R’s excellent hygien’ing, they hardly stop to question them, more intensely focused on the mastermind terrorists that have breached a UV’s personal quarters, before killing a whole squad of Alpha Complex’s best men by dropping their elevator just before it reached the apartment!
That night Jun pops a happyloopy pill for his cracked ribs and looks back on the day behind him, while he stores his white bouncie bubbly with the green ration bars. Back to the bottling depot tomorrow I suppose… he thinks to himself. Man does he need a day off — I wonder if Hailey-B recognized me, maybe she just didn’t want to acknowledge my existence in front of the other troubleshooters? Hopefully this pays off some of my debt…