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"To Thine Own Self Be True", The Sequel

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Week Five

August 28th, 1997
Avg. Rating: 3.6 out of 5

Wednesday May 31st, 2043, 0300 hours

After leaving the NERCC Headquarters in the capable hands of Tok, the chopper carrying Fenman, Bug (who was unconscious), and Alex returned to the warehouse from which they came. Alex kept an eye on Fenman while Bug was given medical attention by Tok's people.

Meanwhile, Derek and Drake made their way back to the sewer chamber where Granny and Eve were. They could hear sobbing as they entered, and found both Eve and Granny just sitting on the floor, crying. Eve was holding her G3K in her hand, watching video footage of the battle she had just participated in as Block. She told Drake that at first killing all those people had been fun, but then it began to deeply trouble her. So when Granny started crying, Eve joined in because "that seemed like the right thing to do".

As for Granny, she was bordering on shock. Her back was wet with blood, and Drake discovered that a vever had been cut into the flesh of her back. As Drake put healing salve on the wound Granny began mumbling to herself, "Mbua...Mbua...Mbua...Mbua...". Everyone left and returned to Tok's warehouse.

Once there they met up with Alex and Bug (who was at least now conscious), and helped Granny to a cot in an isolated corner. Drake drew a vever on the floor around her and asked the loa for help in healing her wound; the wound did close, but left behind a deep scar. Even more troubling was the fact that Drake did not "meet" anyone in the DreamWorld...no spirit, no loa came to speak with her.

Once she returned, Granny tightly grabbed her arm. "Mbua," she said. "Mbua came to me, down in the sewers. He told me how easy it would be to kill me, how powerful he had become feeding off the pain and misery of this revolution. And he told me how something terrible was going to happen, something horrible. I saw visions of people, thousands of people, the flesh ripped from their bones, all screaming for help, help I could not give. It was Mbua...Mbua...Mbua..." Drake tried to comfort Granny, to ease her worrying, but Granny had changed. She lapsed back into a troubled sleep, leaving Drake to ponder the future and explain to the rest of the group what she believed was going on.

Soon after Tok called, from the NERCC complex, and reported complete success...they had taken the base. Tok still had 1,200 soldiers left from 3,000, and also had 1,000 NERCC prisoners (who he executed). The spoils of war included a large number of vehicles, weapons, and equipment (the team made sure that one of the HMMWVs ["Hummer"] was set aside for them).

Fenman, still very anxious after his rescue, announced that he wouldn't tell them anything until they brought him to see his wife. Alex had traced her credit account to the Onryu hotel in Seattle, so everyone headed there (except for Eve and Drake, who stayed to watch over Granny).

As the team arrived at the hotel, they were just in time to see a large bat-like In-Betweener clawing its way through the outside wall of the building, right where Fenman's wife's room was. Everyone drew their weapons and began firing at the creature, except for Fenman (Derek had to knock him out to keep him from running into the building and possibly getting killed). Between Bug's crossbow bolts and Alex's well placed grenade the In-Betweener didn't survive very long, and wound up as a large stain on the street in front of the hotel. As the party was going in, Fenman's wife was running out- they all adjourned to a recently cleared room and finished their business.

Fenman told them where the Vault was located- in geosynchronous orbit above the old NORAD complex in Colorado. The Vault was a highly classified space station, utilizing cutting edge stealth and jamming technology to stay hidden from all but visual scans. Once Shiva turned one of her spy satellites on its location for a video feed, there it was, a large rotating ring with five shuttles docked around its perimeter. Derek called Shiva and had her fire an ICBM at the station- it failed to reach the target, prematurely detonated by some kind of "ripple" effect. Shiva tried ten more missiles, simultaneously, but they all similarly failed to hit the station. Fenman had no idea what kind of technology could allow them to do that.

The team let Fenman and his wife go, then headed back to the warehouse. As they were leaving the hotel they noticed a young gangbanger watching them before turning to leave, just a bit more intently than the rest of the crowd. They caught up to him and asked him why he seemed so interested in what they were doing. He was wearing gang colors from the Redmond Serpents, a small time gang from the Barrens. His head was shaved bald, presumably to show off the shiny chrome spikes he had running down his head like a mohawk. After talking to him for a few minutes they decided to let him go, even telling him where to find Tok's warehouse; he seemed harmless enough. He also told them that he had seen a lot of "freaks" down in the Barrens in the past few months, people with extra limbs and other bioengineered oddities. He believed this to be the work of NERCC, which corroborated some things Fenman had mentioned about bioengineering facilities at the NERCC Headquarters they had broken him out of. The team then returned to the warehouse.

Drake still stood guard over Granny, who was sleeping deeply. Eve continued to watch video footage of herself killing all those NERCC soldiers (as Block), until Derek and Drake asked her if there were any other AIs loose in the net, if she had "set any others free". Eve finally admitted that, yes, she had released one AI, from the Zabutech offices in France, but it had shown no signs of wishing to grow beyond its current level. Derek talked to this AI but it certainly seemed harmless enough- the team told Eve to replace the Turing disablers she had removed, and she reluctantly complied. Drake then called Ishegawa, to ask for his assistance when examining the NERCC bioengineering lab.

They picked him up and all proceeded to the lab (after leaving some of Tok's men to guard Granny). Inside there were bodies littering the floor, all killed by a single shot to the back of the head(s), all engineered in some odd way- extra limbs, ears, eyes, even heads. No record was found of exactly what kind of "research" they were performing here. Ishegawa discovered a hidden panel, behind which was a dead reptilian In-Betweener strapped to an examination table. After looking over all the bodies a while longer, he came to the conclusion that NERCC had recovered the "In-Betweener" from some highly advanced bioengineering lab, and had been attempting to duplicate those results themselves, unsuccessfully. The team left him there to complete his research, again under the guard of Tok's men, and returned to the warehouse, though not before taking all of the security camera footage of the lab with them.

Once the team returned, Shiva helped Adele Hawkins, the Governor of Free Alaska, address the nation. Governor Hawkins announced her state's support of the revolution, and promised to deliver 15,000 AlSOF troops to help, the first of whom were already on the way. But her broadcast was cut off, and Shiva's spy satellites revealed why...six nuclear warheads had been detonated across the state, very nearly killing every man, woman, and child living there. In a matter of seconds the entire state of Alaska had been reduced to a graveyard.

The team, indeed the nation, was stunned. All those people, gone..."the flesh ripped from their bones". While the rest of the team mobilized to head to NORAD, Drake once more attempted to get answers from the DreamWorld. All she found was Kiyana Dumbra, crying into her hands. The only answer she had received was to "be patient, to rebuild whatever the Mayombe destroy". But how, she wondered, can you rebuild Alaska? Granny was there as well, sitting far away and by herself. Drake asked Kiyana to watch over Granny, then returned from her meditation.

The rest of the team was just about set to leave; in fact, Bug had already grown tired of waiting and set out ahead, on her own. Tok provided 300 of his best soldiers, and another 300 men arrived with Lt. Col. Jaffrey- the only AlSOF troops of the 15,000 to survive the destruction of Alaska. In addition, Eve arrived with a surprise gift she had uncovered- six suits of NERCC power armor for the team. With all preparations made, the group set out for Colorado, riding in a hovercraft, a few hummers, and whatever other vehicles they could scrounge together from the remnants of the city.

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Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man.
-- Francis Cardinal Spellman