Area of effect (lightness = intensity) (although note: effects are invisible):
(As all of the following is going on, Vynkor pays no attention to it whatsoever. She checks for her plat in the pile of goods that the Cybersuit tossed onto the floor, but sees nothing. This does not bode well for her plat's future. Hopefully it found a nice set of parents to adopt it as it began its new life. She's very easily able to deal with her own injuries, at least, even if she can never fix the hole that her missing money has left in her heart.)
Buck looks rather uncomfortable. "What the hell are the guns for?" he spits out. "Is this s'posed to be some kind of ambush, or you're just tryin' to look tough?"
Almina snorts, putting an arm on her hip as she points a tentacle at Buck. "Tryin' t' look tough?" she asks, mocking his accent. "We look a sight tougher than you do right now, huffing and puffing." She laughs pleasantly, her voice a silvery tinkle. Then she adds, "The FMU and Minas Maniri are swarming everywhere, so you can't be too careful... especially with allies like these." She gestures vaguely in the direction of the commander and her marines. They make no reaction to the implication. "It's better to be safe, shy?"
Saying nothing, Buck glowers, pissed off by the squid's arrogant demeanor - and especially how she mocked his accent. While everyone else talks, he starts thinking over his options for getting out of what he sees as an ambush. He's convinced that as soon as they turn away, the hiltorel will stab them in the back.
Brom steps past Buck and raises his voice as he strikes a pose. "I am Connley McKale, the unequaled sharpshooter. Who, might I ask, are you? And what is your business with us? If you're open to negotiation, perhaps my team may be of some assistance to you.
The hiltorel woman smiles impishly. "Almina Dheda, at your service," she says, making a graceful mock bow with a flourish. "I'm the niece of Big Daneelo. Surely you at least have heard
of Danee, being an unequaled sharpshooter like yourself?" She giggles, and then adds, "You've already been of plenty use to Big Daneelo, though. In fact," she turns to Caleb and Saoirse, "you've done your jobs really well. Danee is pleased, but he says he wants you to leave the station. And quickly, before... well... before anything else happens. You guys have already caused a lot of chaos."
This ruffles Saoirse's feathers. "Oh we c-caused that, d-did we?" she stammers. "Not the fact t-that ye sneakily planted bugs on us t-that made them f-figure out we weren't FMU? Or t-that you failed t-ta mention they had two plonkers who b-both thought th-they were in charge?"
The commander, Serava Dai, says nothing for a moment. Then she slowly turns to Almina, as though repressing a mounting anger. Her voice is flat and accusing: "You did what?
"Surely you do not refer to my group," Brom says, puffing out his chest. "My team has managed to avoid serious trouble, and have only done their job as was intended. We are the very picture of professionalism!"
The Irish lass looks confused. "Eh? N-no, I mean Kinnorvan and F-feb or whatever his n-name was. I don't k-know how ye g-got here an' I don't g-give a shite."
"What she says is right, though!" Caleb speaks up, stepping forwards as he points at Saoirse. "Perhaps if we hadn't been set up to fail
, we might've performed more to your liking...and maybe we would still be at full strength." Caleb glares witheringly at Serava Dai and Almina in turn. "What were we even sent there to do, anyway? Given that these guys were on your side too, what role did we even have except as a sacrificial distraction?!"
The commander watches Caleb's face closely through his helmet, and then turns again to Almina. "Explain. Now." Behind her, her soldiers' hands reach for their weapons simultaneously, moving as a unit. On sighting this, Almina's soldiers do the same, albeit less cohesively.
Almina ignores it all, and smiles softly. "Danee gave you guidelines. You didn't listen."
Serava Dai quickly puts two and two together. "You threw a wrench in my plans. Intentionally."
"This is Danee's
turf," Almina declares proudly, stepping forwards. "Everything he does is to keep the balance on the station. You come here, you follow his rules. Or he makes
you follow them, ahega
"So... because of you... I failed my secondary objectives." The commander is beginning to sound very annoyed.
The squidgirl shakes her head and laughs, seemingly oblivious to the mounting rage of the heavily-armed cybersuited warrior standing before her. "Not because of me - because of Danee. I'm just his niece. And you accomplished your main objective, didn't you? That's what he said you should do."
"Then we aren't really on the same side, are we..."
Almina shrugs. "We are if your side is Fuhodo."
Buck pipes up, taking it upon himself to try to encourage the squids and the Cybersuits to fight each other. "Wait, Dan-o-ol! I've heard that name! That's Squigg's friend we're also workin' for, that's why I was so damn confused! That bastard told us y'all (while looking at the robo-aliens) are workin' for Krinorvran's bugs, n' that they'll cave in that tunnel in or somethin' to tie up loos-" Abruptly, he shuts up, covering up his mouth with a surprised expression that clearly reads "Whoopsies, I've said too much." It's a great plan, but unfortunately it's so theatrical that nobody falls for it.
Caleb sighs tiredly. "What the fuck
are you on about? They shot
"Me? On about somethin'? No, no!" Buck gasps, clearly not knowing how to quit while he's ahead. "None o' this is our problem! Dan-e-o's right, we should all get off this fukcin' station, especially before that ugly ten armed lizard alie - AARGH!" The man stops short and falls to his knees, jerking about in response to a mild electric buzz as - at Serava Dai's orders - one of of the Cybersuits nonchalantly zaps him in the chest with a concealed weapon. She's clearly not buying a single word of it and wants him to shut the hell up. He doesn't seem to get this, though. He gets back to his feet, his voice rising. "Goddamn it...I FUKCIN' HATE THAT STUPID ELECTRO CRAP! C'mon, it wasn't that
obvious - you read my mind, that's cheatin'!"
Not wanting anymore friendly fire, Caleb steps out, choosing to talk directly to Serava Dai; he feels more at ease with her after learning that Daneelo had duped her team as well. "Look, you got Adopan. I figure she was your primary objective. My team just wanted to get out of here alive at this point. If we turn on each other now, that'll make getting all of us out of here that much harder. Enough of your and our people died getting this far that I don't want to risk jeopardizing that. Don't you agree?"
She's still pretty pissed that she failed her secondary objectives, whatever they may have been, but getting to watch Buck get electrocuted seems to have tempered her mood a little. (Being honest, probably a lot of the people present got at least a little
enjoyment out of that.) It's additionally hard to deny that what Caleb says makes sense. The commander takes a deep breath, and sighs. "I do agree," she admits. "We did accomplish our primary objective, but -"
Suddenly, she pauses; the Cybersuits around her grow tense and ready their weapons, moving to the edges of the room - but they seem confused. "Do you hear that?" Serava Dai whispers. She glances about the chamber, then looks to Almina.
Almina, looking puzzled, slowly shakes her head. "No... I don't hear anyth - wait -"
Gradually, a crackling sound - like radio static - begins to fill the room. It starts just at the edge of hearing and grows louder, and louder - and it seems to come from everywhere and nowhere.
Serava Dai barks orders, raising her voice above the noise.
Almina Dheda looks intensely confused, but does the same; her soldiers take cover behind bits of rubble, hunkering down and readying their weapons.
"Caleb! Get to cover!" Saoirse shouts, as she dashes to cover herself and does an electric scan with her PDA. Her prosthetics are beginning to feel a bit tingly, and there's a little weirdness, as though her control sensitivity is a tiny bit off.
Caleb follows, diving behind a pile of rubble, and readies his shotgun.
Saoirse's electric scan is complete: the heatmap reveals a reddish energy buildup in the center of the chamber, steadily building. It's producing no visual signs, but it gradually becomes more, and more, and more intense - soon becoming so powerful that it whites out the screen her your PDA.
Buck takes cover near Brom and Yuuji. He checks his PDA screen; he tries to do a quick check of the local networks, but the PDA screen begins to distort and change colors, as though someone was holding magnets over its surface.
Everyone's hairs begin to stand completely on end; PDA screens begin to distort.
Saoirse shouts to be heard over the noise: "Electric anomaly, c-center of the room, MOVE!
Caleb! I'm trying something! If that doesn't work, hold on to me!"
Caleb's eyes widen; he dashes closer to Saoirse and gets ready for a rockety good time.
"Haha!" Brom calls, "The thrilling adventures of Connley the Wise continue!" He's trying to take advantage of Talking being a Free Action. He's readied a tremendous speech that is sure to take at least 30 full seconds to execute. Needless to say, he has vastly overestimated the amount of time in his possession. No one is really paying attention, either, but that's kind of a moot point.
A dull hum begins to throb in the ears of everyone present. It grows louder and louder: an electrical buzz like an enormous buildup of power. Everyone in the room is beginning to feel an uncomfortable, prickly tingle. They're also beginning to notice a vague sense of tiredness in their limbs, as though they're becoming more difficult to lift.
Using her extensive knowledge of Tartarus PSI tech, Saoirse channels her efforts into creating an energy conduit that travels out of the chamber entirely - seeing as there aren't any large metallic objects in the room. This attempt, while a very clever and valiant one, ultimately meets with failure; sparks of electricity begin to arc outwards from the center: trailing tendrils of electric power.
Vynkor moves away from the center of the room, bringing her semiauto pistol to the ready. The plasma rifle had already failed her once, and with the apparent static buildup in the room, she thinks she'd rather not take the chance with the plaspistol either.
Caleb is still clinging to Saoirse. "Are we going?"
Shaking her head, Saoirse answers negatively. "It's not safe!"
Almina Dheda and the other hiltorel are struggling to stay standing. Almina stays up by holding onto her cover, but only barely manages. Several of the other hiltorel soldiers near her crumple to the ground in disarray, as the gravity in the room seems to climb.
"Follow me into cover, my friends!" Brom calls valiantly, still ironically out of cover. "Together we shall eliminate this new threat, and bring glory to our partnership!"
Sukava does not move. She's just snapped out of the Black Flake high, thanks to the syringes donated by Serava Dai, and is completely oblivious to her surroundings. "I'm naked. Why am I naked." Then, ignoring the chaos around her, she calls out, "Is there a vac suit around here I could use? Or should I just strip all the way down for everyone to enjoy?"
Chaos erupts. A powerful CRACK
echoes loudly in the air. A spinning orb of energy, screaming with crackling electricity, lashes tendrils outwards and snaps them against the walls, lighting up the room with bizarre, otherworldly caustics. Sukava and Brom get whipped in the back as they try to get to cover. While Brom only stumbles, Sukava collapses, her robotic limbs temporarily disabled. Yuuji shouts as he gets zapped hard in the chest; he trips and falls backwards onto the floor. His chest is smoking slightly, but his suit is holding steady.
Serava Dai shouts in alarm. "REVEL OVAILUS!
" At that moment, a blast of compressed air explodes from the vortex; her soldiers brace themselves against it and stand their ground.
"Epalesh??" Almina calls, bewildered; she barely ducks in time to avoid an electric arc that sears the wall behind her. "A breach? What do you mean, 'breach'!?"
But Serava Dai wouldn't have had time to answer even if she wanted to.
The vortex expands. The fabric of reality in the center of the room splits, as though peeling away - as though a separate fully-realized version of reality has formed within our own. The gravity in the chamber abruptly snaps back to normal, the intense static hum drops back to a low crackle, and the electric tendrils disappear.
The inmates take a closer look at the hole in reality - the version of reality implanted in our own - but see nothing particularly ominous. It's a white, sterile, smooth-tiled room, filled with unidentifiable scientific apparatus. Several lab workers hover around the edges, blurred, distorted and transparent - as though they aren't entirely there - but in the very center stands an agape brunette human who seems positively shocked that she even exists.
((The following occurs in the timespan of about 30 seconds.))
"What the f-fucking hell?" Saoirse stammers. She whips out her PDA (which thankfully is working again), spamming every type of scan imaginable - infrared, electrical, electromagnetic, x-ray, anomalous - and records the results for posterity.
Caleb, completely bewildered, hunkers behind cover and holds his shotgun at the ready, just in case.
Vynkor remains silent, but keeps her pistol raised.
The woman in the Anomaly glances over the room, across the hiltorel, the cybersuits - but her eyes fixate on the members of the Nemesis Ten, one after another, her face painted with familiarity, awe, and disbelief. Her mouth moves - she's trying to form words, perhaps numbers - but she's unable to find the ability to speak.
Sukava, on the other hand, finds no difficulty in speaking. "I want to touch it," she announces decidedly. "I really
want to touch it. Brom! Handsome man! Please help a lady up to the spacetime anomaly!"
Brom is hesitant at first, not wanting to send an ally to her death, but Sukava wins him over by pointing out that her robot arms are fully replaceable. He walks over to Sukava and easily hoists her onto his back, and they approach the anomaly together.
Buck is less entranced. He throws a glare at Almina and says, "If this is some kind o' stupid trick o' yers, I ain't gonna be fooled!" Then he glances back at the anomaly, ponders it for a second, and exclaims, "Welp! Time for some sci-en-tific exper'mentation, folks!" He begins groping in the rubble for a decently-sized object he can lift.
Saoirse's scan results come back, and they're a jumbled mess. There's an elevated level of background radiation and electromagnetism, and the gravity in the center of the room forms a "bubble" of 1g - and the "original" center of the room doesn't show up at all, as though the "hole" in reality has actually replaced
"true" reality. The replacement fades away at the edges in a way that defies physics. As she continues looking over the data, Saoirse is able to infer that they take up the same physical space, but at different "priorities". If it were a true wormhole, that would make no sense - wormholes are supposed to be gates between two different locations, not... this. She continues puzzling over the results - she can just feel
there's an answer in there somewhere, if she could just find it
Yuuji steps forward cautiously, more calm and composed than anyone else. "Hey, you there!" he calls out, addressing the woman. "I'm Yuuji! Your wormhole tried to fry my internals! Any explanations as to what happened there?"
The woman, still agape, turns to Yuuji - then her eyes shift back to Saoirse, then Brom and Sukava. She breathes, almost as if to herself: "They're... dustwalkers..."
"I am the great Connley McKale," Brom waves. "Unequaled sharpshooter, and skilled leader. To whom am I speaking?"
The woman looks hesitant, but she looks like she's about to respond when a couple of the REKT crew members begin pulling Shenanigans™.
Sukava, on Brom's back, takes out one of her knives and throws it into the Anomaly. It flies through into the laboratory reality, bouncing on the tile floor and skittering to a stop at the edge of Sukava's vision. The woman steps out of the way, and then looks back, very concerned, at Brom and Sukava. "No! Don't do that!" she warns urgently. "This is - oh no -"
The Anomaly begins to shudder and diminish; the edges grow fuzzy and dim, and the static sound begins to climb in volume.
In a blind haste, the woman drops the paperwork she's holding to the floor, snaps up a PDA off the nearby table, and charges towards the edge of her reality.
Buck, still behind the debris, shouts, "Ah, here's a good'un!" In a single, smooth motion, he hefts out a large rock and prepares to hurl it with all his might.
The woman pales, a look of horror in her eyes. "No!" she cries out; she leans forwards and begins sprinting with everything she has, holding her PDA out far ahead of her. "Dustwalkers, I -"
Buck's rock passes between realities. Immediately, the image of the laboratory vanishes; the chamber becomes dark again, and the background static abruptly ends. The rock, and Sukava's knife, have vanished without a trace - but the top half of the woman's PDA and half of her index finger fall to the carved-stone floor, momentum preserved, and tumble to a stop.
Silence reigns for a moment... but then Buck decides to break that, too. "Huh, musta been some kind o' octipal illusion," he shrugs with disinterest. "So, we leavin' this shithole already?"
Caleb turns to Serava Dai. "You seemed like you recognized... whatever the hell is going on. Have you seen something like this before?"
"Yeah, what was
that?" Almina asks in irritation, getting out of cover. "'Epalesh
', you said? Breach from where?"
"Not your concern," the commander says harshly. Then, to Caleb, "I will give your people more information after they leave," she finishes, nodding roughly in the direction of Almina. "Usually the forces involved were more destructive."
"Destructive?" Almina interjects. She steps between the two soldiers, both sets of arms folded indignantly. Serava Dai turns away from her with a dismissive wave, but Almina continues. "My people's lives were in danger, too, tafa
. If this could become a problem for Fuhodo Station, Big Daneelo -"
The commander whirls back around. "It won't!
" she lashes out forcefully. "This is not
your concern! I have fulfilled my end of the bargain." The commander pulls a small device out of a chest pocket and tosses it to Almina, who catches it deftly. "The records are there. It'll be enough to unbalance the FMU. That is the conclusion of our agreement. Now leave
The hiltorel woman looks over the device for a moment, and then tucks it somewhere behind her head, in among the tentacles. She seems to understand she's not getting anything else from the commander, and shrugs, muttering. "Suit yourself, firoael. Mara Azhakel khihan, baldrawal inetse lahal.
" Almina Dheda waves at her soldiers to follow, and starts to leave. She calls over her shoulder, "Big Daneelo will be in touch, Saoirse and Caleb! He said he may have further work for you in the future. Stuff that will actually pay!
" As she backs out, she gives four thumbs-up signs and a happy grin.
With Almina leaving earshot, Serava Dai turns back to Caleb, speaking in a softer voice. "The Nezoelb
, she explains. Usually when there is a breach, the nezoelb
come through, from wherever they dwell. They are deadly enemies - such that even my squad would have great difficulty fending one off, much less eliminating it. Even by itself. It has not happened often, but when it has, it has always been in - or near - the Exclusion Zone."
Saoirse walks up to them. "But th-they're not from our universe, are they?"
Serava Dai looks at the woman for a moment, but shakes her head decidedly. "Interuniverse travel is impossible."
But Saoirse is quite certain of her conclusion. She pieced together everything she found with the scans. Comparing it with her extensive knowledge of astrophysics, as well as the fact that the scans registered as ever-so-slightly Anomalous... it's the only thing that makes sense. Of course, none of the species in the galaxy have the ability to create spatial wormholes, much less interuniversal ones... but the facts don't lie.
And that woman appeared very clearly human. ...and, on further reflection, the faintest bit familiar, in the strangest sort of way...