2019-09-17 - Sarah and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Really Bloody Awful Day


And the REAL Sarah Black wakes - Ripley meets the Matrix in this tale of escape

Log Info:

Storyteller: hank-mccoy
Date: Tues Sep 17 00:00:00 2019
Location: RP6 - Pod Chamber

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Theme Song




…then cold, and pain…

A moment of lucidity, a stranger's hand pressed to some sort of glass.

Silence and dark.

A flash of light, more pain…a face that looks like a mask at first, but resolves into a nightmare fusion of metallic gas mask and beetle…

And then she awakens. Sarah is fully submerged within a vile tasting pink fluid, a thick syrupy foulness. Her head pressed to cold metal, a spike at the base of her skull, red-brown with old blood.

Her body aches, but it is old pain…a stretchy-healing sort of pain.

Senses finally focus, she'd realize she is inside some sort of cold metal coffin, naked as a jaybird and cold as hell.

The first moments of full lucidity are filled with sudden, instinctual panic, as every sense tells Sarah that she is drowning in foul goo. But then she realizes that she is somehow not. That she is somehow receiving oxygen while she is immersed in and has lungs filled with this… stuff.

It takes force of will to overcome that panic. That, at least, is something Sarah has. Will and an ordered mind are the magician's stock in trade, after all. But moving past that existential crisis of the body, she arrives at one of the mind, as she starts to have enough spare thought-space for her memories of what for her was seconds ago — never mind a week or so having actually passed for the rest of the world — and being cocooned by the terrifying technomagical clockwork creatures. And then the singular horror — thanks to what success her mystical healing had at fighting off the toxin that was supposed to have rendered her unconscious already — of remaining awake and lucid as her body was disassembled, cell by cell, and all the assorted agonies that meant. Until, mercifully, her brain had suffered the same fate — by which point Sarah had resigned herself to her seeming impending death.

But now here she is, very much alive, and very much at a loss as to where she is and how she got here and how she still has limbs and eyes and skin and everything else that she no longer did in her final moments…

A light in the tube shifts from Green to Red, and with a lurch the tube extends outwards for a few seconds, and then there's a VIOLENT lurch as it goes 'kachunk', dropping so she's essentially standing now. As it does this, there's a pop, as the 'lid' of the tube breaks seal, and then that horrid choking and nasty tasting slurry starts to drain out. At first there's a sound like rumbling, then as her head is uncovered she can hear the fluid draining, and down below, the sound of it hitting stone in pink flood onto the floor about two stories below.

Into the chamber enters a construct like no creature of this Earth. It has multiple legs ending in 'toes' like a tripod, the limbs themselves slender, and triple jointed. The body at first blush is spherical, but then it starts to extend, the 'head' just a sort of sphere as it reaches up for the pod, and tendrils blossom to socket into the base of it.

The chamber is dimly lit, the tube brighter due to the red light.

As the fluid starts to drain away — and so the portion of it within her is suddenly no longer being re-oxygenated — Sarah has a brief body-panic once more, resulting in a convulsing bit of coughing that expels at least much of what of the stuff was in her lungs, enabling her to breathe actual air. The urge to retch is strong as well, but she fights that down as she sees the clockwork creature arriving to respond to or investigate her sudden decantation. If the thing is anything like as tough as the ones she, Jimmy, and Thea fought in the tunnels, she's in no shape to take it on directly. Or to deal with that volume of an explosion, if she were somehow to defeat the thing. No, this is definitely a 'discretion is the better part of' moment.

Unfortunately, her first attempt in that regard fails. There is something in the way, something blocking her from simply opening a portal to take her back to elsewhere, and safety. Not surprising, really.

Time for Plan 2. And so she looks down. And tries to find a spot within her line of sight on the surface below where the creature's line of sight will be blocked. She might not be able to leave wherever this is by portaling, but point-to-point within this space should still work.

And so, with a gesture and a bit of will, a gap in the air itself opens, bordered by glowing runes and mystical geometries. And just as quickly, Sarah passes through it and her bare feet are on the cold stone of the chamber floor, and the bulk of the support structure for the array of pods is between her and the creature. She dismisses the portal, and its potential giveaway glow, and quickly casts another spell — a concealing glamour, rendering her invisible.

The creature definitely seems strong, its bronze-like body definitely composed of the same stuff Sarah's seen before — only this stuff, is fully animated and has no concealing flesh, pseudo or otherwise covering it. It is actually rather beautiful, for all it is strange, the lines of it are graceful, and there's patterns and whorls on the armor segments forming patterns that shift in the light to take on new shapes as it moves. This is no Earthly creature, but it does seem to be almost alive and yet there's no arguing it was designed, that there's art to this artifice.

Possibly genius.

The initial attempt at portaling fails, there's something actively interdicting her access to the travel planes, but yes, site to site inside within line of sight can be traversed.

As she shunts herself out and then hides herself she'd see the extended head twist, and the pod popped free. Down it goes, the elegant clockwork construct coiling about it to form a new configuration, a walking pod that does just that, leaving the chamber, and leaving a very cold and slime coated stark naked Sarah alone once more.

But for how long?

Once she is certain she is alone, invisible Sarah allows her body's autonomous responses to take over once again, at least for as long as it takes for the nearly violent retching she's been holding back to vomit up the volume of that repugnant goo that had been roiling in her stomach. She pants, trying to compose herself, and take stock of the situation. The chamber has three exits, she could see that from when she was still in her opened pod. She's relatively certain she does not want to take the one the creature just did. And so instead, she makes her way toward whichever of the other two is closest, watching and listening and keeping away from directly in front of it, in case any other clockwork critterbots come racing in that way.

The retching is fairly wretched, it seems to take forever, at the end Sarah's left a little light-headed for several minutes. Still, her stomach settles, her head and general body aches lessened. The floor is smooth, like the finest marble, save only it looks like normal igneous rock, it would take a LOT of polishing to achieve that sort of finish to ordinary stone.

The tunnel she picks based on proximity loops a ways, and seems to be going deeper into the earth, it also is noticeably warmer than the pod chamber with its twenty-nine remaining pods.

The warmth would surely be a relief to chilled and abused flesh.

Given the moment to reflect, once she is at last done emptying her stomach, Sarah realizes, with a sinking feeling, and Thea and Jimmy are probably also somewhere within that chamber, sealed into pods as she had been. The urge to try to find them, and free them, is strong. But a bit more thought on the subject leads to the conclusion that even if she did locate them somehow among that entire array of pods, she has no idea how to decant them. Or if by doing so, they would even wake up.

But it would almost certainly, she reasons, result in a repeat visit by the thing that just left, or one of its siblings or elders. And that would definitely not be helpful.

Instead, she makes her careful way along that tunnel, keeping well to the side of it, and listening as much as looking for signs of activity ahead.

The warmth continues to rise, the gel on Sarah's skin first going tacky, then drying and leaving her skin a mottled mess of bright pink over lightly tanned. Her hair is utterly disgusting, there's a crusty mass where she might suspect that spike was buried IN her skull, and now this putrid goo is hardened into a shellac she'll probably need days to clean, if it CAN even be cleaned, she might just have to see how well she can rock the bald look for a while.

Regardless, she makes her way down until she finds herself fighting a fairly strong breeze. Eventually the tunnel opens into a deep shaft, the walls lined with pipes and tubing that descends until she can see cherry red far below. The heat here stifling — it is akin to being in front of a freshly opened oven. There are literally hundreds of fans, more like pinwheels, lining the shaft's walls, the spinning visibly producing electrical power.

A windfarm…

…a SUBTERRANEAN windfarm.

Sarah stares, for a long moment. She's read about geothermal power generation, but she's pretty sure the apparatus for it didn't look like this. At any rate, it's neither the command and control hub the investigator in her was hoping for, nor a way out. And so she reverses course, retracing her path back to the pod chamber, still carefully watching and listening for activity ahead, lest she blunder into something that she'd rather not.

Back to the pod chamber the intrepid, albeit gross feeling, heroine proceeds — armored by will and will alone on her trek. At first upon reaching the chamber all seems the same, and she was about to head down the other tunnel the pod tender didn't take when she hears footsteps approaching from down that hallway. HEAVY, thudding footsteps, and yes… they sound metallic, in fact there's scraping sounds, as if massive claws against stone.

It is freezing in here after the windfarm, she's alone, and a giant seems to be striding her way… not a very helpful predicament.

Up until now — the initial panic(s) and the expulsions of Goo(TM) from her body aside — Sarah's been keeping it together pretty well, considering. Despite the indignities, the utter grossness, and the sheer dismay of her situation, she's kept her focus, and managed not to break, somehow. Keep Calm and Carry On, indeed. A willful sublimation of fear and other emotions. The mantra, repeated in her head as necessary: I am an agent of the Crown. I shall rise to any circumstance.

But now, as she retreats toward the pod chamber again, to avoid confrontation with whatever is coming in the more confined space of a tunnel, the sheer absurdity of the situation she finds herself in forces itself upon her thoughts. She is what ppears to be deep in the Earth, evading otherworldly monsters as she picks her way through a decidedly not-human-made complex. And as she makes her way back to the more open space of the chamber, she mutters to herself.

"You just had to go and name your bloody cat after Ellen Fucking Ripley's, didn't you? Did you intentionally defy fate, or are you just daft?"

As Sarah 'Ripley' Black hides in the pod chamber it isn't very long before a… creature enters the chamber, and it is a clockwork horror unlike any seen to date.

Standing a good twelve feet tall the clockwork's body is vaguely female in the upper body, and that's as close as it gets to human. Massive digitigrade legs end in taloned feet, two razored claws in front, one in back, each like a crescent moon of pain and easily twice the length of Sarah's hand. The body shape is also vaguely along female lines, curved hips, narrow waist. It has two sets of arms on each side, one much larger than the other, wicked blades and massive clawed fingers on the larger upper set, and the smaller equipped with scarab beetle shields that likely fan open like their namesakes, and huge forearm mounted Gatling guns. Larger wing casings are on the back, suggesting it might have wings there, and then the piece de resistance — the face — a terrible and familiar face fusing beetle with gas mask. The body is all metal, but it wears a tunic of some cloth or polymer substance. Finally, at hips and waist are more pods, and out of them peek and waver small tendrils like the tender had, only thicker.

It enters the chamber, face peering about, for a long disconcerting moment it looks RIGHT where Sarah is, it grows in tension… and then the massive thing thuds off down the corridor the tender took, vanishing from sight and sound a couple minutes later.

Sarah remains stock-still as the thing looks about the chamber, and especially while it is looking in her direction. Her invisibility glamour might be proof against sight, but she can still certainly be heard, if she were to inadvertently make noise while moving about.

Once the horror is finally gone down that tunnel the first creature also took, she lets her physical tension relax, as she takes a deep breath and lets it out.

"…and now you've met this nest's bloody queen. Shall we get on with getting your skinny arse out of here, now?"

And she heads for the tunnel 'Her Majesty' came out of.

Down the tunnel Sarah goes, and this one leads to of all things what looks to be a normal, human scale studio apartment. The setup has a decidedly Victorian feel with wardrobe, canopy bed, and even a dressing dummy with a bustier top on it, and neatly folded next to it a pair of safari pants, as well as pair of boots to tuck them into, naturally with lots of buckles everywhere. At the moment, there's nobody about, though down the exit hall from the room Sarah can hear a feminine voice singing.

The song? 'White Rabbit'.

Well, this was unexpected. A decidedly human-seeming living space. And a voice — an apparently human voice. And here she'd thought it was all clockwork demons and body horror. Well, well.

Sarah makes her way toward the voice, as silently as she can. And then she comes into sight of the source of the voice — a woman in a lab coat. In a lab.

Keeping a glamour up this long has been starting to get taxing. It's no small relief when Sarah lets it drop, and casts her shields instead, the orbiting convex circles of geometries and runes flaring into existence around her nude and begrimed body.

"I'm more of a classic Who fan, or prefer a bit of Floyd, myself," she says, dryly, as she steps into the lab.

The woman arches a brow as the filthy and unclad woman appears apparently from thin air.

The lab coated woman's eyes are blue, her hair blue-black, and lustrous. Her features are beautiful, of course, and… too symmetrical, ut oh. "Ah, you must be one of the test subjects." About Sarah's size, she removes her lab coat and offers it to the WAND agent. "Cover yourself." The voice is decidedly human. "Who and Floyd both have their place, but I have a fondness for Jefferson Airplane, there's nothing like the classics." She says with a hint of smile. Under the lab coat she wears a very prim linen shirt, with a bowed tie that leaves the ends dangling over her chest.

She moves then to a clipboard, and then mmms. "Ah, here we are, Sarah Black, yes? I am Josefin. A pleasure."

"I wish I could say the same," Sarah replies. And she does not accept the offered labcoat. 'Trust' as a general concept and the woman in front of her are at opposite ends of Sarah's mental map. "I have been through kinds of Hell that I could never have imagined to get here. And trust me when I say I can imagine a lot. I think I've earned an explanation of just what is going on here, don't you?" Her voice is controlled and even, and pointedly polite. As in, the disconnect between her tone and her underlying emotions is rather clearly evident.

"Well, that's fairly rude, I thought I was perfectly cordial, Miss Black. I was just about to offer you some tea as well." She sighs at the blatant distrust, and then shrugs and puts the coat back on. "Yes, I have been assisting Doctor Gatling with her research, most interesting. We might be years with your case." The woman turns then and takes out what at first glance looks to be a compact for make up, except it has a shiny blue button, just to break with convention! "Now…I think that's all the explanation you get, in my hand is a sonic weapon I have been told is excruciatingly painful, especially to organic lifeforms. Please sit down, and we'll wait for the Doctor's return, mm?"

Especially to organic lifeforms. Yeah, that just confirmed Sarah's suspicions about the too-perfect, too-symmetrical woman. She might not know what's been going on for the past week, that there has been a clockwork impostor in her place, and that the same is true for her friends and likely others. But she knows about mystically-transformed doppelgangers and about homunculi and golems and other created life. She recognizes that something is Not Right with 'Josefin'.

There's a particular quality to the combat spells found in the MI-13 Manual of Practical Magics. They've been sourced from all over the globe. From the days of the agency's precursors, when the sun really did not set on the British Empire. They've been refined over generations. And in the end result? They're fast. A two-handed gesture and a gutteral, ancient word, together with the mental shaping of will and intent.

In the sewers, Sarah had followed her training, and refrained from elemental effects that might set off flammable gases. Here, she is under no such constraints. As with a snap of her hands into position and a word, a lightning blast targets the device in Josefin's hand. She really does not care at this point if she takes the hand with it.

The lightning blast rips into the weapon, and though the woman is incredibly fast, she's NOT faster than lightning, nope. Lightning hits the device — and it is a very VERY good thing that Sarah cast her shielding spell first.


The explosion pretty much shreds the shields, but it will do a reasonable job of protecting the naked heroine!

Josefin fares much much worse, her hand is blown off, and as suspected there's absurdly complex clockwork mechanisms under the pseudo-flesh sheathing it, in fact some of the rest catches fire. The kinetic energy release blasts Josefin into the wall… literally, the impact pulverizes stone, wedging the construct into solid rock, at least for the moment.

This allows Sarah the opportunity to charge for the open doorway behind Josefin, hey, running is probably a good idea when dealing with a super-tough nigh unkillable clockwork horror… even IF she's super cute!

Well. THAT was a more dramatic result than what Sarah was expecting, but she'll take it. Hell yes. She's even going to speed the trip to the door, if it's long enough to make it matter, via a line-of-sight portal shortcut. She's not sticking around to try to finish off Josefin. She doesn't know if she can, if after that, the construct is still functional, even if stuck in the wall for the moment. It is time for Maneuver GTBFO. With all possible speed.

Oh, yes… Josefin is still operational, and she's looking a little like she wants to separate Sarah's head from her body. In fact one of her eyes is starting to glow with blue-white light when Sarah portal-skips out of the path of the beam of quasi-solid lighting it released! Hell, if Sarah's hair wasn't effectively pottery at the moment, it would certainly be on end.

The hallway leads a short distance to an elevator at the end of the hall. The elevator, well, of COURSE it is the kind with the metal sliding door that you lift to get inside!

From behind she can hear the sound of metal tearing free of stone wall.

Time might just be a concern.

Which makes it time to get creative. Sarah's pulled this stunt before, when she and a WAND team were conducting a rescue operation to free children being held in a house by a cult, and shooters appeared in the upstairs windows. It's a bit of thinking outside of the box. Or… thinking with portals, to quote the promos for a particular game series.

With a gesture and a thought, a portal irises open, filling the hallway leading to her position — with the open side facing away from her, and toward the room Josefin is coming from. The other end? Is at the far end of the lab, with its open side facing toward Sarah.

And toward the other portal.

And that done, Sarah works in getting herself into the elevator.

One thing — whatever is blocking her ability to Portal, seems to be attenuated here, possibly with enough height…

Josefin is not NEARLY so cute with her coat and skirt shredded. Oh, and the burns? Not helping. Nor the missing hand, the flesh of which is still burning, by the way. This is all apparent when she rounds the bend and fires two beams down the hall, just in time for Sarah's portals to form.

In one portal, out the other — ZZZaaaaap! One of her legs is blown off from behind and she falls.

She doesn't even wince. Nope, she instead claws her way to her remaining foot, and even hopping on one leg is moving a good twenty miles an hour.

The elevator cage opens, there's no need for security! Or there wasn't until today. Sarah gets the cage door closed in time for Josefin to plow into it, deforming the metal, good hand reaching… trying to grab the magus.

And targeted through one of the spaces in the cage, Sarah hits Josefin square in the chest with a blunt kinetic blast. It's too close quarters for fire, and electricity could conduct through the elevator itself, giving Sarah a bad day — or frying the panel, which would be Not Helpful. And really, the main idea here is not damage, but knockback — to kick the construct clear so that the lift can get underway.

The blast of kinetic energy does the job Sarah intended… Josefin is knocked back, even though her mass is quite a bit greater than a woman her size of flesh and blood might have she's standing on one leg! The blast hits, the clockwork horror is sent tumbling as the elevator starts to rise.

What is chilling is the lack of anger as she focuses… blast after blast ripping through cage, and rock, and Sarah if she gets a lucky shot!

Finally… there is a raw tingling as Sarah passes through some sort of field of invisible energy, it is not magic enough to be a ward, not science enough to be a force field… regardless, she can feel her access to the travel planes restored.

The exultation Sarah feels when she crosses that barrier is almost enough to make up for what she's just been through. Almost. Well, maybe not quite. But it is still the best feeling she has felt in recent memory. Before the lift even reaches the top of its shaft, she is opening a portal, to a very well-known location.

And she steps through, into the SHIELD Infirmary at the Triskelion. At that point, seeing that comfortingly-familiar facility around her, she finally lets go of her determination to keep on her feet, no matter what, and sinks to her knees. There may be sobs of joy and relief involved.

Alarms fire when Sarah appears — both in case of breach and Emergency, either way you want people NOTIFIED! Even as the WAND agent appears, as she sags with the relief of her escape, a smacked hornet's nest of activity is kicked. It is only moments before she's wrapped in blankets, and whisked off to see the medics, all under the auspices of one Jemma Simmons, Agent of SHIELD.

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