Swamped

Swamped
RE: Swamped
You just need to get past the thing. And it's not that tall.

Not so short that you could hop over it, but it's maybe half your height? So if you can avoid getting drilled, you might be okay.

And, oddly enough, it doesn't even try to drill you. It does try to kick you away, but you've got a stronger grip than it's expecting.

It's like they don't want to hurt you.

You rush out and head back to the meeting. You don't care what you're interrupting.

"We're under attack!" you shout. "Something's been digging under the base, and they're surfacing in the menagerie!"

Razor turns to look at you.

"What do you mean, something?"

"I dunno what they are. Machines. They've got drills. Bigfoot and Mantis are fending them off. Maybe they can handle themselves, but it seems to me backup would be a good idea."

"Right. Does anyone here know anything about machines?"

"Do execution devices count?" someone asks. You think his name's Rash.

"Good enough. Get over there. Cracks and Bite, you go with him. If you don't think you can handle it yourselves, you have my authorization to ask anyone you find for help." Razor turns back towards you. "Now, Crosswinds, that matter aside, it's convenient that you came back when you did. I have something to talk to you about."

Oh, great. What does he want now?
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RE: Swamped
He wants you to save someone that isn't necessarily crucial to the mission but important to him nevertheless.
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RE: Swamped
A backrub, but that's not relevant
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RE: Swamped
Razor looks surprisingly tired. He's been on his feet for a while, you suppose, and he's starting to show signs of strain.

"I need you to handle this next part of the meeting. I haven't had time to discuss it with anyone else, and I'm not in any state to continue right now. My back is very, very sore. But we need to cover this now."

He hands you a sheet and sits down. What in the hells, you're not ready for this.

Well. Might as well see what he wants you to... oh. Of course. This is the briefing on what he's worked out about the gateways. Only, judging from the notes he's scrawled in the margin, he's gotten a few ideas in his head since your talk about it earlier this afternoon.

He's making a plan to drag Rider back from the desert. And you're supposed to explain it to the officers.

All the while watching out for potential Kandrian spies among them, of course.

So. Where should you start?
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RE: Swamped
Uh...your base is currently being invaded by drilling machines...maybe deal with that first
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RE: Swamped
You're not dealing with this. You walk over to Razor.

"Is this really the time to go on with the meeting? We don't know how widespread the attack is."

"You only reported that it was in the menagerie. I assumed three officers, on top of the two already on site, would be able to put together a group capable of dealing with it. And if they couldn't, they know enough to report back here. Why the sudden concern? Did you see any other signs of digging on the way here?"

"Actually, yeah. Well, not on the way here, but before I saw the machines, something seemed to be moving under the ground. But they didn't seem able to get through the purple wood. Thing is, I had to clear some from under the menagerie because..."

It occurs to you that you have a lot more to report. Some of which you'd really rather not cover.

"...well, there was an incident in there. Probably should've mentioned this before, but we've got a couple of intruders too, and I made a hole in the process of stopping one. I don't think they're working together, though, and we've got both in custody."

"You definitely should have mentioned that before," Razor says, standing up suddenly.

"I would have if we didn't have an emergency situation with the digging machines! It just slipped my mind for a moment. The intruders are already under control, more or less."

"The ones you know about might be," Razor says. "But who's to say there aren't more skulking about?"

"That's what my worry is with the machines. You don't seem so concerned about that."

"I've had to fight a machine or two," Razor says calmly. "I'd hardly call myself an expert, but they just aren't that dangerous. They can only do what they're designed to do, so once they're in a situation where that doesn't work, they fall easily. People, though. People are unpredictable. Especially people who you don't even know about."

He turns to the gathered officers.

"I've just been informed that two separate intruders have been found in the fortress. It's clear we cannot let our guard down. We need an immediate full-scale search to find any associates or other troublemakers who may have slipped in. Including any other digging machines like the ones Crosswinds has reported."

There's a vaguely optimistic murmur from the crowd.

"That said - the meeting has not concluded. If I do not call your name and send you to form a search party, you are to remain here."

He calls off about two dozen names. The rest are looking more than a little annoyed at being stuck here.

Most of them, you can't help but notice, are on Razor's list of suspects.

"Now then, Crosswinds," Razor continues, sitting down again. "I believe I asked you to do something for me?"
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RE: Swamped
Okay I guess it's handled?

Start going over the plan but keep it vauge, listen to see who asks what questions.

If there are spies here, they should be uneasy seeing that all of their group has been singled out.
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RE: Swamped
Right. You're not going to address the actual plan in detail yet. You want to keep things sparse. See who seems to react as if they know more than they should.

You'll start off with the part that doesn't demand any action.

"So, here's what this is all about," you begin. "With Rider's disappearance, Razor has taken over the investigation into strange animals showing up all over the place. He's been making note of where they've been spotted, and written down descriptions of them."

You glance down at your notes for effect, while keeping an eye on the crowd see if there are any early reactions. Though, you gotta say, Razor did a pretty good job with this map of known disappearances. You saw Rider's when it was in progress, but it was a lot sloppier. Functional, but not much more than that.

"As I'm sure you've all heard by now, most of the weird animals are native to the desert. But there's a few that don't seem to be coming in from there. We're working on figuring out if they came here the same way as the desert creatures, or if there's a more natural explanation."

Now you scan the crowd. A few people look surprised, but that doesn't tell you much. Most of them would have heard some report or other about one of these weirder cases.

On the other hand, there's one sighting here that you're pretty sure only you and Razor know about. And neither of you likes to blab needlessly. So if you want a reaction, that might not be a bad example to try and catch someone with.
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RE: Swamped
Toobles is looking real nervous when you mention the rainbow mallows...odd you thought everyone knew about those already.
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RE: Swamped
Well. You can't just reveal the big one right away. That'd be too obvious. It's better to start with a few of the more recognizable sightings. Make them think this is a normal piece of business, for now. They're likely to let down their guard if they think you're not trying to pull something.

"So to begin with, we've confirmed several sightings of rainbow mallows taking over the nesting grounds of the common variety..."

Odd. This story's been going around the base for a couple of days now. So why does one officer look so nervous?

"You, there," you call out, pointing to them. "Get up here."

The officer walks to the front, clearly worried.

"What's your name? I don't think we've worked together before."

"It's Toobles. Er, I haven't had many assignments as an officer yet. I arrived here two years ago, and only got promoted just before the last storm."

"Oh, really? Guess that's why. What's that name mean?"

"Well, er, I couldn't think of anything better when they asked me for one."

So. Fairly recent recruit. New to the position. Nervous as heck.

Could just be how they are, or they could have something to hide.

"And who recommended you for promotion, out of curiosity?"

"Well, you see, when I got here my squad was rather injury-prone. I asked Doc for advice on how to keep that under control, and after about a year she was impressed enough with our progress that she got me made squad leader. Um, and apparently I did a good enough job of that for Snapper to put in a good word for me. Mind, it's just provisional for now, to see how I do in the job."

Snapper. He's got a reputation as Claws' "errand boy". Gets the jobs that are too minor to give to more experienced officers. He doesn't complain, though, probably because those jobs tend to be a lot safer.

"You seem a little nervous, Toobles. Any particular reason?"

"Well, I mean..." Toobles pauses. "I'm just always worried I'm not doing a good enough job, you know? If I mess up, that's it, I'm just a regular grunt again. And, well, this is my first time in a meeting with the Council members, right? So I'm a bit on edge."

"Really," you say. "You seemed to be holding together just fine up until I mentioned the mallows."

"Um. Well, you see, I've been sitting here for... two hours now? Three? And it was right at that point that I happened to realize I need to relieve myself."

So far, Toobles' story sounds plausible.

"There's a closet over there with a chamber pot in it," you reply, pointing it out.

"Oh! Thanks. I'm not familiar with the layout here."

Toobles rushes off to the closet, and you feel like you haven't really learned anything yet.

Well, guess you might as well get back on track. You'll just need a moment to remember what you were planning to bring up next.
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RE: Swamped
This might be more difficult since you've made clear you're singling out nervous folks.

...Razor must not think there are very many spies here, if there were, you'd be pretty outnumbered.

Mention a few more of the common sightings and then casually slip in the beetle larvae. Odd behavior could include people who are calm in the face of news, as if it's expected.
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RE: Swamped
You might have tipped your hand a bit there. Then again, Toobles was looking especially unsettled. Someone who's a bit subtler in their tells might think they don't need to worry.

"As I was saying. We've had several independent reports of rainbow mallows showing up. They're not native to the swamp or the desert, but we can't tell yet if it's the same phenomenon or just that some fool smuggled a rainbow egg in and lost it."

"Of course you can't," someone grumbles, deliberately being loud enough that you can hear it. This is a face you recognize; it's Cattail. She's always heckling - which, admittedly, is a trait you tend to consider a positive, yourself.

But you also know how to deal with it.

"Would you like to come up here and explain what you mean by that?" you say, looking directly at her.

She rather pointedly stays where she is.

"I just mean, we don't know what's making the desert creatures show up, so how can we know if it's the same thing we don't know behind the mallows?"

Hmm. She could be trying to work out what you know about the gateways already. Rile you up so you give away more than you intend to.

And it'd be easy to pass off as her usual mild insubordination. Worth keeping an eye on.

"We've also confirmed sightings of the following. Sea lizards, plated badgers, island hens, a couple of charred wolves, a clutch of dragon beetle larvae, and a common mud eel. Which, for those of you who don't know, is not so common in our swamp, as they have no real defenses against the rain."

"And which of those do you think were caused by the same mess as the desert beasts?" Cattails asks. She seems rather calm about it.

Notably, she doesn't have the same wide-eyed expression as the rest of the officers, who obviously don't know what a dragon beetle actually is. Not that you can blame them, you didn't know that yourself until yesterday.

So. Where do you go from here?
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RE: Swamped
Now's the time to dramatically reveal *where* the critters were spotted.

Most of the desert beasties showed up randomly throughout the areas described by Razor and Rider, but the critters found specifically within (or below) the fortress ought to raise some concern.
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RE: Swamped
You go into a fugue state.
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RE: Swamped
Try to make yourself look tall and imposing.
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RE: Swamped
(03-23-2018, 10:36 AM)btp Wrote: »Try to make yourself look tall and imposing.
Stand on Toobles shoulders, perhaps.
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RE: Swamped
You march right up to Cattails. You can get better results up close.

"A more interesting question is, where were these creatures found," you say, turning towards another officer. "Grief! You were the one who reported the charred wolves, right?"

"Yeah," Grief says, nodding. "I was telling Needle's squad to clean up the training room and two of 'em just popped right out of the closet. They weren't too hostile, though, mostly just confused."

"And Beach. Where did you spot those island hens?"

"In the roost, giving our crows a hard time."

"Tallow, where was the plated badger?"

"Digging up a hole in my quarters! I'm still not allowed back in."

"What are you getting at?" Cattails grumbles.

"You tell me. Where was the sea lizard?"

"You mean the one that got in a fight with Rider's missing pet in the middle of the mess hall?"

"Yeah, that's the one. I think my point's clear enough now?"

"What, they were all in the base?"

"Exactly. Outside of the fortress, everything we've got information on is either definitely a desert creature, or something that wouldn't be out of place there."

"Wait. What about the eel?" Tallow asks.

"Oh, it was just swimming under the floorboards," you say with a shrug. "I would have thought the dragon beetle larvae would have raised your curiosity more."

Tallow looks a little bit worried.

"I guess I just mixed it up with that jar you brought in earlier."

"Different kind of beetle. And those were just eggs."

"Well, all I noticed was the Bogknight kid was freaking out about it, I didn't catch the details. Thought it was a little weird you were including that in your list..."

Cattails is suddenly looking upset.

"Tallow, you damn fool! Just because the meeting's boring doesn't mean you can get away with not paying attention."

Well, that was an interesting reaction. Seems you've got a couple of suspects now.

So how should you handle this?
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RE: Swamped
Tallow should also recall the metal part found near the larvae as well.

Day is almost over, better get everyone to vote on who they think is the Mafia...wait what game is this?
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RE: Swamped
You decide to press a little harder on Tallow.

"Cattails has a point. Maybe we should help you recall that a bit more clearly, hmm? Why don't you tell us what you do remember."

Tallow groans, and then starts talking.

"The Bogknight kid was confessing to stealing murderfly eggs, said it was to fight off a greatrat infestation at their base. Then you came in and the kid panicked about your jar. Once he said they didn't kill humans, I kind of tuned out."

"You don't remember anything at all after that?"

"Bits and pieces, I guess. I caught the part about freezing the beetles? I suppose that's why I thought you were talking about them, because freezing a dragon makes sense to me. They're supposed to be all fiery, right?"

Hmm. That's the misconception you'd expect, but he might have realized his mistake and be trying to cover for it.

Fortunately, you've got another suspect to push, and you've got a chance to do it.

"Well, Cattails. Since you were clearly paying close attention, why don't you fill Tallow here in on what he missed."

She doesn't miss a beat.

"The eggs were from a rare Kandrian insect called a blood beetle. Normally very reclusive. Although infections from them don't usually kill humans, they can still be quite painful and were once used by the Aedran empire to suppress a rebellion. It's possible someone had the idea to use the same trick on us, but it's weird that the eggs weren't near our food supply or any scavenging spots. Because crushing is unreliable and burning is impractical in the swamp, Crosswinds suggested freezing them, and then Razor asked if anyone wanted to contradict the kid's story about the greatrats. No one did, but Claws asked a weird question about animals. Then Bigfoot dragged the kid away and made him hold the jar. You want me to keep going, Crosswinds? There's a lot you missed, after all, might be good for you to hear it."

Heckling by doing exactly as asked. She's good at this.

"No, that's pretty good. Though you forgot the part where I told Razor I found this," you say, pulling out the metal thing.

And now Tallow looks strangely confused.

"But I thought... oh, wait, I'm thinking of something else."

That wasn't a reaction you were expecting. It might be worth pressing him a little harder; you just need to work out the right approach to it.
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RE: Swamped
You're getting close but then someone else starts getting bored.
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RE: Swamped
"What were you thinking of, then?" you ask, sounding as calm as you can.

"Just a weird dream I had. That's all," Tallow answers hurriedly. You're definitely hitting a nerve here.

"Can we get on with this damn meeting already?" someone else asks. You don't recognize them off the top of your head. "Or are you waiting for Toobles to get back?"

At precisely that moment, Toobles steps back into the room.

"Nearly done, sorry. I hope I didn't miss too much."

That seems... almost a little too well-timed. But you can tell the mood's turning impatient. And you've got plenty to look into later.

"Just had to make sure people were paying attention," you say, walking back to the front of the room. "So. That covers basically all the strange exceptions. Moving on to desert creature sightings..."

"That's all right, Crosswinds," Razor says, getting up. "I've had enough of a break. I'll take it from here."

Thank goodness. Not that you aren't irritated with him for making you do that in the first place.

"Do I need to be here for this? Someone ought to check on how things are going out there."

"You have my permission to do so. Just be sure you're back in an hour. Preferably with Bigfoot and Mantis."

"How come the grebling gets to leave?" someone asks. Razor simply gives the heckler a pointed glare.

Funny. Isn't that the same officer who spoke up just before Toobles got back?

Well, it's not your problem right now. Razor can be thickheaded at times, but he's not an idiot. He should have picked up on the same cues you did. That was, after all, the whole point.

So. Time to check how things are going in the rest of the fortress. Where are you looking first?
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RE: Swamped
You're headed back to the fray...

Be we don't see that because we're Doc now.
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RE: Swamped
First things first. You want to make sure everyone's all right back in the menagerie room. You aren't seeing any other digging machines, at least. Though there's quite a bit of activity now that everyone's running around looking for other intruders.

You also don't feel especially good about leaving Elmin alone, but Mantis seems to understand what's going on, in his own weird way. So he'll probably make sure she's taken care of.

You hear a lot of noise as you get closer to the menagerie, though. You hope the damn things are being contained, at the very least.

---

You're now Doc.

Clams ran in here a while ago, dropped off Stinger, and said that he'd been strangled, then ran off before you could get any explanation. Typical of him.

And indeed, Stinger's neck doesn't look to be in good shape. You can still see the impressions made by the attacker's hands. But it seems someone intervened fast enough that he's still breathing.

Barely.

But at least this is a problem you're equipped to handle. Breather masks aren't perfect, after all, and you've more than once had to take care of patients who had theirs malfunction during a swim. This is actually going to be easier, because Stinger won't have swampwater clogging up his lungs. You just have to get some air flow going.

And it doesn't take you long to do that. But while setting it up, you notice something much more worrisome about Stinger's condition.
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RE: Swamped
He’s mumbling in a strange language? Maybe his home language? Better check for head trauma, see if you can get him to respond. Better to assume a concussion until you can tell otherwise.
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RE: Swamped
He's mumbling, in what seems to be his native tongue. That's not good - he's using up more air. It also means he's going to feel what you're about to do - it would be easier if he were fully unconscious.

You know several ways to render him such, of course. Lazy swampleaf being the most painless of them. But his condition is too unstable. Until his breathing is relatively normal, you don't want to risk it.

Unfortunately, his mumbling is making it harder for you to insert the air tube in his mouth.

"Stop talking," you say. He responds with another mutter, and though you can't understand it, he sounds puzzled.

Hmm. Might be delirium from lack of air, but if he took a blow to the head, that might be affecting his concentration. Making it harder for him to understand Common. Well, in that case you'll just have to be less subtle.

You hold his lips together for just a moment, then let go. He keeps them still long enough for you to get the tube in.

At least he's not a screamer. You start measuring his breath rate - it's going up slowly. He should be all right, at least as far as breathing, but it'll take a bit for him to get back to normal.

Meanwhile, you opt to take a closer look at his head. Looks like he's got a concussion. You're going to have to get some answers from Clams about exactly what happened.

Suddenly there's a knock on the door. You open it up and Glimmer is waiting.

"Are you looking for treatment, or do you have orders for me?" you sigh. "It must be serious if Razor let you out of the meeting."

"We're looking for intruders. Got reports of two already. Supposedly not working together, but it's not like I've questioned 'em so I can't say for sure. So Razor wants a full sweep in case they aren't alone... oh, and we're supposed to look out for weird machines, too, not that I've seen any."

"And what, you think one might be hiding in here?" you shoot back.

"No. Just thought you should be aware." He glances at Stinger. "What's with him? Breather mask malfunction?"

"I'm not answering that unless you can tell me why it's any of your business."

"Fair enough," he shrugs. "Hope he gets better. Is it okay if I tell Bluesight he's wounded?"

"Yes, you can do that, I was going to try to find a courier soon to do that anyhow."

"Really!" Glimmer says, suddenly sounding enthusiastic. "Y'know, that gives me a thought. I'll be running all over the place on this search, so if there's anything else you need done, you can let me know right now."

Maybe there is. You need a moment to think about that.
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