“I’m so fucked,” I groaned beneath my breath, looking at my location. Of all the stupid things I have done and all the incredible risks, this is hands down the worst one. And I saw no way out of it. I stood in a boat, not much more than a metal rowboat with an engine, holding my baseball bat. In the water, all around me zees broke the surface and submerged. Those not yet completely rotten were seeking to climb into the boat, to get their teeth and bony finger claws into my flesh. I swung my bat out, cracking into another soggy head of a zee that clung to the boat’s side. If they capsized me and took me into the water, I was not going to surface again. About me, I could see sharks feasting on the dead and the dead attacking the sharks. The water was cold, making certain that if the zees did not kill me, the environment would. Around me, a thick fog confused my location and there was a sharp cold wind off the water. I was half drowned in my appearance, shivering and numb. I was going to die out here in the water and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Days ago, Searlait, a young woman, came to Terry Fox with another. The goal of the two women was to infect the male inhabitants of Terry Fox and likely myself as a leader. Beebles would have been safe to drag back to the cult and used for future recruiting. It seemed that young women were thought of as easy subjects to get into unsuspecting safe houses for the cult to spread their influence. Searlait had only been a prisoner of the cult for a few weeks. Her own family had been taken when their former safe house was purged. The males were taken into several large vans, infected, and left to turn into zees. Cult leaders dressed in black robes with their faces covered directed the proceedings. She had seen the leader, but because of the robes, Searlait was not sure if it was a man or a woman, only she was sure that the newly collected zees were being kept in mobile vehicles for transportation. Shock troops when needed. Her father’s last words to her had been, “Survive. Do what you have to do. Play their game, pretend to be one of them and the first chance you get, you run. You run so far that you leave this entirely behind. Stay safe and stay alive.” And that is what she had done until coming in a recruitment phase to Terry Fox. When that needle came out and she realized that it would be her turn to demonstrate how “safe” the “cure” was, she ran, straight into our arms and our protection. From the conflict I had a vial mostly depleted of the poison that was being used.

I took it straight to Rite Aid to start. While I did not expect the near dead to have the resources to research the concoction, I wanted protection to get to ATCO where there would be such aid. A new member of Rite Aid advised me on a different path. HBells, a woman who once was beautiful before the process of near death had turned her features into a ghoulish form, suggested I head instead to Alcatraz. Her claims were that I would find an island full of military and civilian scientists capable of researching the blackish green goo. ATCO and especially Drachen were not going to be pleased with me. I knew that K1 had been slated to do a lot of this research if it crossed his plate, but I took the advice and headed south instead. CIHUILO of the Sharks gave me a boat, a fitting token from them and I avoided the coast line as much as possible. The major cities were still hubs of undead and too dangerous to have crossed on foot.

So it was tragic that I was so close to Alcatraz and had run out of gas for the motor. It was there somewhere in the fog, but I was surrounded by death and growing weaker. The wind picked up and I felt myself sway with the gust. The fog stirred and then cleared and I could see her, dark and low on the water, the backdrop of the city behind the island. Alcatraz was within reach and I could not touch her. My hands, numbed, dropped my bat into the bottom of the boat and I dove into the locker at the front for the flare gun. It was a one in a million chance that would draw the attention of all undead eyes in the water towards me. It did not matter: Both ways I was likely dead, and a slim chance was better than no chance. My arm rose up and I fired the flare, watching anxiously for signs of life from the island. I thought I saw something and then the fog rolled back in. Lowering my arm, I looked to see that a rotting woman with a crab clinging to her face had half crawled into the boat. I threw the flare gun at her head and sent her tumbling back into the brink. Grabbing the bat again I stood there waiting. “There’s no going off gently into that good night fuckers,” I muttered under my breath more to cheer myself up than anything else.

Time passed slowly in the fog, but I thought I heard sounds. From the darkness came a light, and voices until I was half blinded. Gun shots rang out hitting the water around me and parts of my own boat. I screamed and then was hit by something, knocking me down. A ladder, rope, had struck me. Looking up, I could see a grinning face of a young man. His eyes gleamed with light that wasn’t human and his hands looked metallic. The other portion of the ladder was being secured by him on the boat that had come for me. “Come on already, you’re going to sink. Get your ass up that ladder, ladeeeeee.” The last word, presumably “lady”, was drawn out as his tongue seemed to lose control of itself and fall forward past his lips. Looking at the young man who now appeared to be sticking his tongue out at me shocked me for a moment, but then my feet started to get wet from the water filling the boat. I snapped out of my stupor, grabbed my bag, and stiffly climbed up the ladder. Repeatedly, I banged against the side of the boat until reaching the edge where two sets of strong arms pulled me onboard.

“Madam, if you will come with me, there is a standard procedure we need to follow in case of infection.” The gentleman addressing me was polite but firm, a no nonsense stiffness that suggested military.

“Who are you people?” I stammered out between shivers. The young man with his tongue still out wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and looked reproachfully at the other gentleman.

“We are the current force holding and maintaining Alcatraz, madam. I am currently in charge of this operation; you may refer to me as Officer Curtis81.”

“Officer; is that a military ranking?” I asked, my eyes flickering back to the young man with the tongue and then Curtis.

“I’m sorry madam but that’s classified. If you will just wait one moment, madam. Weasel! Weasel, get out here.” Another smartly dressed young man appeared in military fatigues. “Weasel, escort our guest to her quarters for the trip back and have the doctor confirm that she is cleared to land on the island. David, get yourself to engineering and get your tongue fixed again. I swear those gear heads cannot keep your cybertronics straight.”

David winked one of his glowing eyes at me and turned to leave. I could hear a slight whirl and grind as he moved machine parts. Weasel started to lead me towards the hatch that would take me to a room. He spoke in a softer tone, “Madam, I’m Gordy. Everyone here calls me Weasel. That was David213, his serial number, 213.”

“He has a serial number?” I asked confused.

“Yes, madam. Before the outbreak, Alcatraz was a center of robotics and cyber-engineering. We assumed you must have known that. Why else are you here?” Gordy’s eyes turned very serious and he was nervously keeping his hand near his gun.

“HBells sent me. She thought you would be able to help.” The name seemed to both relax his shoulders but cause some tension in his expression. An understandable reaction from having a member move from one safe house to another, and I needed to remind myself to be delicate about speaking on it.

I soon found myself in a room waiting for attention. What followed was the standard examination to look for any signs of infection or bites. If anything, the doctor’s hands seemed warm with how chilled my skin had gotten in the boat. By the time the vessel I had been brought onto reached the docks, I had been cleared to land.

There was a gathering of three to meet me, but the woman who spoke was Raikua. “Greetings, I understand you are Chyram from Terry Fox? We have been expecting you.” It was not unbelievable that a message had reached Alcatraz through the CVC of my travels, though we had tried to keep it quiet. We had no way of knowing if the cult were listening into the newsfeed, but rather expected they would be doing so. My confused look however as cleared up when from behind Raikua stepped a face I knew, Tenda Foot.

Raikua brought up a hand smiling to interrupt Tenda Foot from speaking, “Yes, I know you know each other from his ATCO days. But as I understand it, you are carrying a rather dangerous package. If we can handle that matter first, I will see to your other needs.” Gingerly, I held out the bag which had the box the needle had been placed into. Two men rushed off with the bag as Raikua spoke further, “I am Raikua, civil liaison between the military and civilian branch on Alcatraz. You already know Tenda Foot, currently working with our officers in a training program, and this is placekicker82, our chief communication tech. She works with our Bots to keep the backbone of the pirate signal running.”

“You mean the fact that we all can communicate through the CVC is your doing?” My eyes widen in amazement.

“Most assured, we are not the only ones involved, but most of the hardware and the signal jamming come from this facility. It would not be possible for humans to keep up with the changes in the network, so we are using three of our top cyber communication bots to do so. If you will follow me please,” Raikua turned to walk as the other two flanked me.

Tenda Foot muttered beneath his breath to me, “It’s good to see you made it here in one piece. We had been expecting you two days ago. People were starting to take bets on your arrival.”

placekicker82 added a touch smugly, “reminds me Tenda, you owe me 20 credits.” My former ATCO friend made a face but didn’t respond. “The girls and I are fans of your communications, Chyram. We’ve been monitoring your calls, and let me tell you those ones you exchange with Malkoris are…” the look I gave her shut down her comments. I resolved to remember that all communication could be monitored.

Seeing her crushed expression, I responded, “hey placekicker, right? It’s fine. It’s just, you startled me. This wasn’t what I was expecting.” In truth I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. Areas had been cleared for a helicopter landing site. There were three boats that I saw, two on patrol and one at the dock. The buildings had full electric lighting and there were armed guards patrolling the shores. Alcatraz was in lockdown.

We approached the main gate to find a very harassed looking woman waiting. Raikua’s expression turned a bit irritated before responding, “I need to take care of this. Tenda Foot I’ll need you to come with me. placekicker why don’t you show her around in the meantime.”

And that afternoon I was shown many things. The old prisons had been torn apart on the inside and turned into apartments. Shops were converted to mechanic workshops, and the clinic into a full hospital. There were stores which sold items for credits run by civilians and supported and protected by all branches of the military. All military were run under the watch of Curtis with Tenda Foot’s advisement. The civilians were directed by an elected member, currently Raikua who, despite her tone, appeared to have the ear of the people who came to her for advice and mediation on civilian matters. While only one member of a small civilian council, she seemed to have the gift to smooth over difficulties and disagreements between the two halves of the island: The military and the civilians.

Yet it was the technology that interested me. While ATCO might have Alcatraz beat in its military numbers, the military technology clearly belonged to Alcatraz. Advancements in robotics had been able to turn three young women into hubs of information. Their bodies connected with wiring into the mainframe, these three Bots as they were referred to, SuzberryBot, BethyBot and EmBot were always online. How would one describe the constant chaos of sound and voice in their room? Imagine three very excited young women on their first day of college all sharing the same room. Three nonstop talkers exchanging ideas and communications, gossiping about the latest news to pass the lines complete with laughter and giggles in-between. It was infectious to be in that atmosphere and I found myself unable to stop smiling.

I took my dinner in the room with the girls, laughing and talking to them about the things I had seen. Things they would never see as the wiring chained them to a room with no windows. None of them seemed upset by the ordeal. They had a constant cyber connection to the outside and argued they could in an hour see far more than I ever could in a lifetime.  The girls fitted me with an ear bud so that I could always be in contact with the CVC newsfeed and, if I choose, to them. My last frivolous thoughts then were how nice it would be to be able to chat with them on nights when I was out camping alone while patrolling.

When the man in the lab coat cleared his throat at the doorway to draw my attention that eve I knew that reality was settling back in, as was my duty. “Ms. Chyram. I am Moonlite, the chief researcher here at Alcatraz. We need to talk about what you have brought us today.” I heard a thumping sound like drum beats calling to war only to realize that it was the rush and pulse of my own heart beat. One step closer, I followed Moonlite into the hallway. More puzzle pieces to gather together what knowledge I could about this death cult we needed to unite against.

  • Safe House: Alcatraz
  • CVC Level: 7
  • Current Recorded Members: 83
  • Overall Opinion:Where to even start? I started with watching them in the Global Chat. It didn’t take long for me to end up joking with some and sending private messages to others. Many added me to their list of friends for healing and others encouraged and answered game questions I’ve had. The more I got to know them through the Global Chat the more I wanted to write a feature for Alcatraz but I still did not have a full sense of who they are. A few class clowns in Global were all I knew. It was Alcatraz that pushed me into downloading Palringo and brought me into their channel to get to know them. Since that night if I’m on the program I find myself hanging out in their room. The day time crew is friendly and the night time crew (the group I end  up visiting most) is fun to talk to. I’ve been over all impressed with the maturity and fun loving nature of this crowd. They remind me of the big group I used to hang out with in my college days drinking coffee and talking over all manner of things. I’ve even shared with them some of the work I’m doing for future posts which only RA has seen besides and their response, much like RA has been to encourage and to contribute to the task. While they are not yet as organized as some of the other safe houses and their off game communication seem to be limited to their PAL room it is an active room with friendly members. I have yet to appear at any time of day and not find people there who want to chat. They have welcome me and encouraged me to spread out to find more, even suggesting a few safe houses I should look into for future writing. This group has my affection and support as a good gathering of people for those looking for fun and for assistance.
  • Communication: Palringo Room (Contact within CVC or Forums for exact locations), Safe House Chat, CVC Global Chat for Safe House invites (1/2 fees when invited), Please Stay Calm Forums
Comments
  1. You’ve given me an Idea for an RPG campaign…

    Really enjoying ya story mate.

    • chyrampsc says:

      Happy to provoke such a train of thought in you! It’s been a while since I had to come up with a RPG campaign. I hadn’t thought about this story in that manner but now that you say that I can see the possibilities. Hope it goes well for you.

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