Campaign of the Month: January 2012
Star Trek Late Night
Matthew J. Carter, PhD
My name is Matthew Carter. Due to my mother’s love of all things adventurous, my middle name is John – a reference to her favorite literary hero (as well as one of mine). I’ve always been good with numbers and took to science quickly; I’m primarily a physicist, though I also dabble in several other disciplines as well. I’m also athletically inclined, though I tend to gravitate toward the solitary sports, like mountain climbing, parachuting, diving, etc.; essentially, if it’s more or less a test of one’s own willpower and determination, I’ve tried it.
After getting my doctorate, I was approached by the firm of Blackeagle Security and Investigations. They’re primarily hired for paramilitary and espionage/counter-espionage type jobs, but the investigation and research end was where most of my paying jobs came from. It was during one such mission that my current adventures began.
I was flown to Los Angeles from Hawaii to join the team, which consisted of five other members: Cheyenne Griffith, Teresa Estrada, Kimberly Paladino, Anthony Sendall, and Frank Dawson. We would be going to investigate a site in the Pacific, where the client’s rival was engaged in some pretty hush-hush stuff. I had a day to get to know my new team – which wasn’t unusual for the Corporation – and then we set out.
Per normal SOP for the company, we didn’t know who the client was – that made for easily deniable assets, which we all knew we were. The target, however, was Natla Enterprises. I knew a little about them from reputation; mostly, they seemed to be in the electronics and communications realm. The target we were to investigate, however, appeared to be some sort of mine, so the general suspicion was they’d discovered something along those lines.
The run was fairly smooth. Cheyenne’s security skills were on the mark, and that combined with the generally lax security at the compound made our entry fairly smooth. Gaining access to the mine was a little harder, but Tony and I were able to take out the two sentries quietly (though I nearly gave the whole thing up when I stumbled over the rails for the mine cars). Once underground, it grew apparent fairly quickly that it wasn’t a mining operation; it was more like an archaeological dig. We spent some time sneaking around, and discovered some curious artifacts, the origin of which I couldn’t readily identify. We had just found a chamber which had been converted to a computer room when the shouting started, followed closely by gunfire.
The team quickly got to cover, with Tony and Teresa moving to cover the door. Kim moved quickly to the computer, while Frank, Cheyenne and myself prepared to back up the others. The shooting was getting closer, and I was getting antsy, so I darted through the door (pissing Tony off, of course) and took some cover behind some crates. My new vantage point allowed me to see a woman running towards us, shooting back at her pursuers. I signaled to the others and then we added our firepower to hers, which pushed back the pursuit (at least for the time being).
The new arrival was, of course, famed adventurer Lara Croft. She thanked us, and then demanded to know what we were doing here. After a short and pointless argument about who belonged where, tempers were calmed, and we all got down to the business at hand – namely, getting out of there alive and in one piece. Lara had come to the island following up on some indicators she’d found on another of her treasure hunts. The clues seemed to indicate a sort of proto-culture that had once existed on this island; one that seemed to have had quite an advanced society for its time. (I’m not one of those people that equates primitive with stupid; I’m talking about technology that simply didn’t and/or couldn’t exist at the time, such as electricity and aircraft.)
We decided to move further into the cave system in the hopes of finding a means of escape. Tony used some of his toys to create some traps for those who were sure to follow us. Whether that ever had the desired result, I never found out. The fourch chamber we entered was huge, with four obelisks with strange carvings on them. I was immediately overcome by my curiousity, and began to take notes; I vaguely recall Lady Croft doing the same. The next thing was a sudden, deep thrombing and a flickering of the lights. I remember seeing a multitude of scenes, like someone changing channels on a television very quickly. Then everything went black.
When I regained consciousness, the first thing I was aware of was the cold. As I got to my feet, I noticed the others from the team sprawled about. I checked on them; they were all alive. Frank was coming to, so I looked around for any sign of what had happened. I must have been the shock, but it took me about five minutes to realize we weren’t underground anymore; instead, were in rocky terrain, outside, with the night sky above us. It was snowing lightly, though there was no accumulation on the ground. There was no moon in the sky, so visibility was limited.
The others were awake, so we got a fire going; it wouldn’t last but it would take the chill off, which was an immediate concern. Next, we tried to get our bearing; I know a little astronomy, but I couldn’t make out any constellations. The compasses were working, but with no point of reference, all we could do with them would be to maintain a course. We’d decided to head down slope and got underway. It must’ve been about two hours later that we found ourselves blinded by an incredibly bright light. Not a helicopter searchlight, but something far brighter. Then we saw them.
The aliens (no, I’m not making that up, but I’m pretty sure you know that already) were disturbing, to say the least. They were humanoid, but their faces were like an insect of some sort, including multi-faceted eyes and mandibles. The group we saw averaged around 165-170 centimeters tall (that’s about five feet six inches). Most importantly, they were armed with what were definitely rifles of some sort. My instinct was to fight and I went for my pistol. Luckily (for me, anyway) Frank was quicker. The shot caught him in the chest, causing his limbs and head to scatter as his torso disappeared. The alien that had shot him warbled something at the rest of us, motioning with it’s weapon. We got the point and dropped our weapons, after which we were rounded up and put in restraints. The next thing I knew was the ground dropping away from me and then I was being brought into a flying saucer. Once aboard the UFO, we were placed into large tubes and locked in.
I’m not sure exactly how much time passed. Most of it’s a blur, interspersed with patches of light and sound. Eventually one of the patches cleared, revealing the beautiful face of Lara staring at me. She told me to snap to, that some of the captives had managed to get free, and that I was now in the middle of a fight for control of the vessel. It took only a few seconds to clear my head, and a minute or two to get my body working again after so much inactivity. We fought like there was no going back (and let’s face it, there wasn’t), but in the end there were no winners. The prisoners had gotten the upper hand through sheer numbers, though at least a thrid were killed in the fighting. As the last of our captors made their final stand on the bridge of the vessel, one managed to place us into a collision course with a planet(!) we were passing. I’ve done a little flying – mostly small planes – but in the time I had all I was able to do was stop the impact from destroying the craft and killing us all. Instead, I managed to crash land, and most of the survivors suffered fairly minor injuries, except for one blue-skinned alien that had her neck broken from the impact. (Still, any landing you can walk away from, right?)
When the group of us managed to figure out how to open the hatch, we looked around. We were in a forest of sorts, in the middle altitudes judging by how thin the air was. (Luckily we could even breathe the air – I don’t really know if anyone checked before we opened the ship up.) Gravity seemed Earth-normal, at least to my untrained senses. My team was there (but Lara wasn’t around); there were also a bunch of aliens, all humanoids of various colorations and sizes. All of us were looking for some leadership, and everyone was talking – but of course no one could understand each other. The necessity of cooperation was still present though, and we may have been able to figure things out eventually. Of course, that was before this planet’s inhabitants showed up.
They were big guys – easily topping 220 cm – dressed in white, robe-like clothing, with oddly shaped ‘sunglasses’ over their eyes. They were identical in appearance, to the point that the only way to tell them apart was by the color of their ‘shades’. They showed up on these floating platforms; they didn’t say a word to us – they just opened up on us with weird beams from their platforms. We fought back, but the utter surprise we were in made it a short fight. When I came to, I was a prisoner again.
This time, however, we weren’t just thrown in a tube for transport. As prisoners we were separated into factions, as indicated by different colored clothing we wore. The glasses our handlers wore indicated the faction they served in the same manner. For instance, I was put into the blue faction, wore a blue uniform, and the glasses of my handlers were also blue.
Over the following days, weeks, and months, we were essentially gladiators, used for the entertainment of the masses. We never actually saw the masses; no, all we got to see were the hovering drones that followed us around, apparently recording all the activity. You see, our new captors ran ‘sporting’ events as an entertainment and gambling industry. I and my fellow prisoners would be transported to a location, depending on the needs or whims of the ‘producer’, where we would undergo varying trials, such as wilderness survival in a hostile environment; hunting down wildlife with ‘primitive’ weapons; or even battle to the death against other prisoners (from a different faction).
The winners would be rewarded; the losers punished. We lived in prison-dormitories, though we were segregated by gender; sexual activity was a prize to be earned – usually by being allowed to ‘conquer’ the losing faction, though sometimes among one’s own.
Occassionally, a VIP or guest of some sort would be allowed to wander through the dorms. If he, she or it showed an interest in a particular prisoner, they were usually accomodated. I’m sure money changed hands for this occurrence, but I never saw it of course. Such interests could be as gory as being specifically chosen to perform in one of the arenas, and as mundane as being made to entertain at a party. If a prisoner did well enough, they’d sometimes get a reward from the patron; if not, well, you can guess. Sometimes after this kind of event, the chosen prisoner wouldn’t be seen again. Some said they’d been freed; others, that they’d been killed. I prefer to think it was the former.
I hear them coming now; if I get the chance, I’ll continue this story. Otherwise… well, you know…