Log:Beautiful Machines, Part Two
And here we go again.
Underlevel 225, Section 12, Block 27. Hundreds of feet under the current surface of the Gearhead District, the taxi deposits the two of you to the place where Nezlani left most of his original kidney. Got it back, of course, but the threat down here remains.
As the two of you step out of the taxi, the lifeless, empty stretches of concrete span out in all directions. Barely a microbe, or likely /all/ there is down here, for reasons made more clear last time Nezlani visited.
The track is still there. It's grown darker. Blood, now, most likely.
The wind whistles mournfully through the towers, and lights flicker fitfully nearby.
This time Nez is a bit more prepared. Stepping out of the taxi in his full combat gear, he makes his payment to the driver before turning to face the rest of the street. Nez immeditately pulls the facemask of his armor from his belt and clicks it into place on his helmet. The nightvision within flickers on, illuminating the area ever more clearly. When the taxi has left, he draws his A280 from his backplate, switching the selector switch from 'safe' to 'kill'. "Ready?" Nez says, his voice distorted now into a more digitalized version through his helmet.
Jax was wearing the Wayward's colors. Though his armor wasn't as heavy as Nez's armor as he steps out of the cab. His face hidden in the shadow of his hood. He draws air in through his nostrals and out of his mouth. He does this for a few moment. Then he speaks up. "You bring me to all the best places." His hand reaching for the Dl-30 with him.
"Hey, if I was going to buy you dinner, you can't tell me this isn't the place to do it." Nez says with a faint chuckle escaping through the ventilation system on his helmet. With that, he starts to follow the trail from before. "This way. Be ready for anything to. Those droids have had some time to react, and I'm not sure how advanced their AI is." He says, visually sweeping the area for any signs of danger as he moves. Now his heavy boots are harder to muffle than the boots he worn previously. Even still, he is dropped low into a tactical stance, stepping from heel to toe.
"I'm a higher level whore. I at least deserve Pakko's place." The Corellian says as he walks to the side of Nez with is blaster in firing position as he sweeps and checks for anywhere the droid could be hiding. "If I get a bad feeling, I'll let you know."
The two of you follow the trial of dried blood down a corridor, through an arch, and back to the reactor floor - a quartet of old fusion reactors sit on a floor far below, with several levels of galleries surrounding them. These are concrete, and show signs of violent destruction; just past the archway to the top gallery, a fist-thick trench has been burned through the concrete like a cannon blast.
The air is cold, silent. It smells vaguely of scorched flesh and old laundry.
"Yea, last time you said something about 'having a bad feeling' you were dead on. Not sure how in the blazes you knew about those thugs, but I'd like to think we made quick work of 'em, eh?" Nez says as he leads the way to the old fusion reactors. First thing is first for him, he makes his way over to the reactor he examined previously to peek his head over the ledge and identify the status on the Duros. "Last time the Duros was just down over this ledge. Looked like she took the full force of the fall."
The corpse is still down there. Head deflated. Gotta be getting hella gamey down there, man.
"Amaas Cado was the scavenger my employer hired to deliver the droid." Nez explains as he peers at the corpse. "My employ seems to think that he skimped out on delivering it, but uh... Well, I'm second guessing that observation with all things considered. We'll probably wanna get down there bring the body with us, after we get this whole droid mess sorted out." He states before turning his attention back to the gallery with the fist-thick trench of cannon blast. With that, he starts to make his way in that direction. "I doubt they stayed in one place. We'll have to keep looking for them."
Jax Greystorm looks at Nez, "The Taxi cab drivers won't let you bring him with you. I... uhm... we probably should have him recovered before something eats him." He nods, "Not a good idea staying in one place. You're the hunter. You track and I'll follow your lead."
The way down is...somewhat difficult. Though most of the galleries and their stairways are intact, there are sections where the floor and walls have been lashed with the same fist-thick trenches, a cutting beam or some other weapon having been used to savage them. There's another section that's collapsed entirely, just two levels down from the floor. If you take your time, however, you'll make it down safely.
"Regardless of what my employer is paying me, the poor fellow deserves some respect at the very least. I don't care what it takes to recover the corpse, but there is a bonus if I can show him to my employer." Nez explains taking the slow, safe route down the floors. Ever vigiliant, he examines every possible pathway and deciding on the safest one as frequently as possible. "Bonus or not though, I'm not leaving him."
Jax looks at the Bith, "You're right. If we need to we can rent a hover truck or something. We're putting somebody elses name down on the deposit." He says. His frown deepening a she walks along, "What do these droids look like?" He says, "And their capablities?"
It's slow going, but you're making it down. Another little bit and you should be down at the floor.
"Right. Preferably something with a refridgeration system to preserve the body better. Although is as cold as shavit down here, I doubt it's cold enough to keep the body preserved for very long." Nez adds, taking a peek over towards the corpse again... Just in case. "If nothing else, we can put our buddy Mr. Cado on the deposit. Think you can pass as a Duros?"
Jax Greystorm blinks at Nez, though it's just for a small moment. "Yeahhh. The none green skin and hair don't give it away." He says and even takes a moment to scan up. "We'd be better to pay a Duros to do it. Though most of them don't have a sense of humore. They're a serious lot."
You finally make it down to the reactor floor. Cado's body lies there, stinking - smelling of antiseptic and vinegar, a strange hospital smell that doesn't match that of what one might consider 'standard' rot. No sickly-sweet smell. No worms. Just the body, slowly leathering, gray-brown brains spattered across the bottom of the reactor's base in prodigious chunks. Cado is in light armor, coated in the green blood of his species, what was once vibrant now dark olive against the off-white plates of his suit.
Wait. But if Durosi blood is green, what was up there?
Leaning in Nez inspects the body quickly for anything of use. Datapads, identification, anything that might help expand on what he already knows. Once that's complete, he looks up at Jax. "No bad feelings yet, right? Something seems off to me. Did someone else come down here? The droid I fought used a fusion cutter, so unless you dropped like this guy here, you probably wouldn't be bleeding, right?"
Jax nods, "Yeah energy weapons don't leave much blood. So nope." He looks up there, "And that was red blood. This is green. I, oh so, have a bad feeling about this."
"With that being the case, be on the look out for other hunters... Then again, it's possible the fluid we saw wasn't blood at all. It looked like it, but we've got no way to be certain." With that, Nez leans back up and begins the process of leading Jax back up to the red fluid trail. "Might as well go check it out, eh?"
And so you begin the process of heading back up. Again, the way is treacherous, but you make it quickly enough - and soon, you stand at the top of reactor pit. The trail stops around here, but perhaps, if you dig, you might find some other indication.
Jax's shakes his head, "Definetly getting a work out on this one. With all the climbing." He says moving to climb his way up. " So What does these robots look like besides a plasma tourch?"
"Well, so there was two. Both were like a uh... Female framed protocol droid, gold in color, right? But the one was like, welded or fused into the body of like an industrial cargo droid or something. It had all sorts of like, wires and things connecting it to the cargo droid..." Nez explains all of this as they make their way back up the floors. When they finally arrive, he first looks at the trail of fluid, then shifts to looking for any other clues. "What in the blazes..." Nez says as he spies some scratch makes on the flooring.
Jax looks down at Nez's comment, "It's another trail." He says confirming the Twi'lek. "I think. But lets go say hello to your friends." He frowns, "A Cargo droid. They're modifying themselves?"
Having identified the new trail, Nez takes the lead in following it away from their current crime scene. "I certainly hope not, but the thing went all sorts of out of wack when I called it a droid and mentioned it needed a memory wipe, right? So it's clearly not functioning as intended. Especially if it has gone and mixed itself into a cargo droid."
Jax Greystorm chuckles, "Yeah but don't tell a droid it needs a memory wipe. Sithspawn don't suggest it to Kadi. I mean think about it. You're basically erassing everything about 'em." He looks both ways, "I wouldn't memory wipe my R2 unit."
The trail leads down another hall of broad, ancient concrete and durasteel, stubbornly resisting the corrosion of time - say what you will about Nar Shaddaa, but by the Maker, the Hutts didn't build any junk. It leads about a thousand feet over a vast chasm, serving as an umbilical between that block and the next. The block ahead looks like an old hab block, probably connected to whatever plant the fusion generators once serviced. The doors are mostly closed - however, a new swath of dried red-brown, this one alarmingly wide by comparison to the previous trail, leads in through the space between them.
"The droids in the company got a memory wipe twice a month. Mostly to keep them in factory warranty standards, but also because they start acting more erratically when you don't." Nez replies, coming up to the scene with his rifle postured at the ready. "Well if this isn't where the things are, then I have no idea where else to look. Let's take a look, shall we?" He says, following the trail to the doors.
Jax Greystorm shrugs, "Yeah Yeah.... My R2 is a bit erradict. But trust me you want somebody with a bit of personality with you in a blaster fight." He looks down, "Yeah. Alright lets go in? Shooting to kill?"
Beyond the jaws of the industrial door, through the piercing gloom, rendered in black and white there is...horror. Beyond was once some kind of factory. Now, something hangs from the hooks there. Many things.
They look like bodies.
"Yes. Kill the giant death droid before it kills us." Nez says with a slight chuckle, arriving at the door. Once there, he stops entirely dead in his tracks, seeing what lies beyond the doors. Now, he whispers to Jax. "Friff man, are those... How many bodies are in there?" With that, he crouches down into a lower fighting posture before passing through the doorway. As soon as he passes the threshold of the structure, his weapon begins to follow his eyes as he scans the room before him. "This thing needs to be destroyed. End of story."
Jax was distracted for a moment taking a drink of water from a canteen. "What are you talking?" Then he stops looking around the carnage of the place hitting him. "I agree."
Of course, the sheer scale of things doesn't hit you until you pass through the door, and into the abbatoir. And the smell.
This must have been a droid foundry at some point, but now it's...something very different. From assembly hooks, the severed limbs, trunks, and heads of a wide variety of creatures hang like so much butchered meat, removed with surgical precision yet left to rot. Corrupted flesh is everywhere, the white of bone...and around your bootheels, the remains of countless organic creatures, sentient and not, lie bleached and fleshless. What looks like ash coats many surfaces.
The smell. It fills you, triggering the prey brain that screams for release, for you to flee, to escape...and with it, the gorge follows.
"If we end up destroying the droid we came to recover, I'm fine with that. But we're contacting the CDF about all of this." Nez says as he moves in further to the wretched place. His pace now slowed by the sight of it all. "I've been at this for two years now and have never seen anything like this... Kriffing shavit, man."
Jax looks up and around. He fights back the puke in the back of his throat. "Call in CDF, the hutts, who ever. This is the darkside." He frowns. "This is worse than anything I've seen."
"He has come again."
"He has brought a friend, too."
Two voices. Similar, eerily so in that droid-like way, sound somewhere from around you. Slight pitch differences demarcate speakers, enough that you get the idea that you're dealing with different individuals.
"He comes to wipe our memories again."
"Perhaps not. He was wounded. Perhaps he has learned his lesson."
"Is that so, hunter? Have you learned your lesson?"
"I don't care about your kriffing memories, look at what you've done to these people." Nez says, now searching the area for a good place to prop up his rifle for when the thing shows up. "Come on out, maybe you can tell us why you did all of this." He says, hoping to draw the death droid out peacefully before things go crazy.
Jax takes up a defensive position next to Nez. "Remind me next time you ask for help to tell you I'm washing my hair." There's a falls bravdo to his voice. He can holds himself steady. "Maybe I want a memory wipe after this." He says his eyes tracking the place. The inhale and exhale of Jax betrays his feelings on the matter. He mutters, "Peace. Knowledge. Serenity. Harmony. The Force."
"Yes, hunters. Hunters that do not understand."
"Hunters who want our sister."
From somewhere in the bracework high above, among the hanging lamps, a hint of glowing blue. Sound of metal skittering on metal. "What will you do with her if you find her?"
Listening to Jax talk to himself has nez flashing him a look of confusion before he quickly returns his attention to the sights of his weapon. Though, with that he spies the blue eyes above him. With that, he snaps his weapon in that direction, shifting to be ready to fire on the target if needed. "How many of you are there? Someone is paying me to bring your sister to them. That's all. They didn't tell us why, or what the story is... Why don't you help us understand. You say we don't understand, so explain it to us."
Jax for his moment more. He says under his breath, "Storm Troopers aren't this bad." He the calls out to the droid. "Yes explain it to us."
"Tell us what you will do with her!"
The spider-legs scratch on the beam above, revealing the golden head, enormous eyes glowing blue in the dark like corpse-lanterns.
"Sithspit man." Nez mutters to himself, flinching a bit in response to the thing. "I've had enough of this. Blast it." This, Nez whispers to Jax hoping to keep his tone low enough as to avoid setting off the droid before he can line up a shot and press on the trigger.
Jax doesn't need to be told twice. The Corellian's pistol fired rapidly from where Jax stands. "Best order I've gotten in a while. I'm down with this." Jax pulls the trigger three times. The first shot striking the droid but not as close as the second shot. Then Jax misses with the last shot. "I'll argue the metaphysics with Kadi about droids being alive later. But either way this is a place of the darkside."
"Vape it!" Nez calls out with frustration as his shot misses widely. Though, it's when Jax's trio of bolts ring out, Nez shouts cheerfully. "Nice shooting! Yea!!"
The golden head explodes.
Falling like a stone from the top of the bracework, streaming sparks like a horrible comet, the remnants of a spider-legged maintenance droid falls with wires streaming from its newly revealed stump. It crashes into the carpet of bone with an almost musical clatter.
Then the place explodes in a roar of gutteral Binary, and crashing of steel and bone behind you both like the vast bloody wake of some hell-begotten cybernetic shark. Trouble's coming.
"Sithspit, move!!" Nez declairs, shouting loudly before leaping free from his firing position and coming into a roll to avoid the incoming danger he has noticed out of the corner of his eye. When the roll comes to a completion, he spins and strikes a new firing position, this one a kneeling stance. "Kriffing blast it!"
Jax spins at the last moment to see the cybernetic creature come barreling his and Nez's way. "That was a boring conversation anyway." He says rolling to the side. The coming up in a kneel himself. His pistol taking aim to track the creature he hopes.
Kriffing blast it! -- Nezlani Bebarv, Yelona 30th, 1157.
A quote that will no doubt remain in the annals of understatement history, Nezlani's outburst is nonetheless the absolute best thing that could have been said in that particular time. Because, of course, the floor has torn open, steel gratework unzipping like a coat, bones and machinery flying everywhere, and from the resulting hole a vast machine - like the tank-machine, but with additions, lifter-arms and added cutters, blades and clusters of photoreceptors dotting the bulk glowing baleful red - climbs out, shrieking with the binary voices of a hundred different droids. At its core, another golden droid, some fetishized version of a woman, arms and legs replaced with webs of cable leading into the greater bulk.
Her eyes are green, and they glow like foundry fires.
Resisiting the urge to hyperventilate, Nez calms his breath, takes aim and presses on the trigger carefully and precisely. When the bolt from his A280 fires out, it almost comes as a surprise to Nez. The flash of red energy comes barreling from the weapon, making it's mark dead in the core of the massive death droid. "Yyeaahh!!" He calls out with a sound of triumph that slowly dies down as he sees the metallic beast still stands, though just hardly.
Jax stands his ground and takes fire as his first two shots strike the target but bounce off leaving only a scorch on the armor of the droid that could be buffed out. It's the third and final shot that actually hits something of use. "Let's not get too excited, yet. When we're out of here alive. Booze. Much boozes. We're raiding Ax's stash of booze." He says keeping his blaster trained. "Is that Sister?"
Between the two of you, the machine loses a chunk of its body pass, pieces of droid and sensors and implements of death blasted free from its structure; this does nothing to stop it, however, and the horror-droid lurches forward to sweep its vast arms at the two of you.
Brace for impact.
"Sithspit!" Comes Nez's yelp of pain as the machines arms come crashing into him. Although he has a good amount of armor on, still there is some blood that splashes out from the parts of the arm that slices through areas between his plating. With that, Nez pulls himself up and bursts into a dead sprint, running the opposing direction of Jax. "You are SO getting a memory wipe after this!!"
A blade bites deep into left shoudler of Jax, cutting tendes and musscle and hacking into bone. There's a scream of pain and when the COrellian is free of the blade. His left arm hangs there useless now. His wife might get to put on a cybernetic arm as she wanted. Jax though holds up his blaster and fires three shots quickly.
Fleeing from the machine, Nez takes off like a smart boy - while Jax, a /brave/ boy, stands and fights. The monstrosity slashes at him with hammers and flensing blades, drawing blood in half a dozen places, but every shot he pours into the machine cripples more and more pieces. By the time the next salvo is done, limbs are starting to fail, or at least start to stutter, and the green-eyed fury mounted in its torso screams with ever-increasing urgency.
Doesn't keep the machine from trying to kill him though.
Nezlani steadies his position, then squeezes the trigger on his Modified Blastech A280 - 10929, a bright red bolt of plasmatic death speeding toward NPC: Mercenary (Exotic) (10710)!"
Having bolted almost halfway across the room, bones crunching under Nez's boots, he turns and takes aim with that lethal A280. Lining up another shot, Nez takes a breath, struggling more to control his breathing on account of the blood lose. Pressing down on the trigger, the flash of red energy flies just above the thigns head.
The blade and hammers strike at Jax, leaving him brused and cut. Though he should be dead its as if by some maricle he still stands batter, bleeding, and bruised. He drops his Dl-30. The pistol nearly spent and he goes for the other he carried with him on his hip. The Box Xt-2 raised firing at tha droid. "Sithspawn droids." He pulls the trigger yelling.
It's a miracle, all right. A miracle that he's still standing, a miracle that he still lands shots, a miracle that those shots perforate the droid's screaming core and blast enormous holes in its golden body. Once the third shot whistles by, power fails, and as it lifts its limbs to strike again, it just...stops. The light goes out in its glowing eyes, and the horror-machine is dead.
That which came before, and that which came after are gone. So where's the third sister?
The massive droid finally destroyed, Nez presses a hand against his bleeding arm to control the blood flow. "Kriffing thing." He mumbles to himself before looking over at Jax. "Great shooting man." With that, he looks around for a moment, examining the area better. "What was all that stuff about peace and serenity?" He says as he moves towards the hole in the ground that the thing came from, peering down.
Jax promptly falls back against something and slides down. He looked like he'd had ass kicked worse than John McClain, at least he wasn't bare footed. "What? I don't know. Just something I heard once." He says weakly. "YOu alright? You got any skill in helping me stop the bleeding?"
Beneath the deck is another tunnel, a maintenance level or something similar. Big enough to fit /that/ monstrosity, at least, it can also fit a man. Even one like you, Nez. You giant bastard you.
Having located the tunnel, Nez shakes his head at Jax. "No, no I don't. We need to get you an ambulance or something man. I should be able to handle the rest from here. At least you know where I am if something happens." He says, pulling out his commlink and getting ready to call for emergency medical support for Jax.
Jax closes his eyes, "Possibly. I'm going to do something. I wish I had more practice. Don't call the emergancy services. Call Sesti on the Wayward channel" Then after a moment nothing happens other than Jax falls over passed out.
Based off of Nez's limited medical knowledge, he uses what he can to bandage up Jax. With that done, he follows Jax's instructions and sends the required information to Sesti. Finishing that, Nez moves back over to the hole left from the droid and peers down. After a moment, he calms his breathing and hops down into the tunnel, continuing his search.
The tunnel is brief, twisting away under the assembly floor toward a central chamber - long-dead conduits and power converters line the walls, leading to a heavy access hatch that appears to be mechanically opened, not electronically. Should be able to open it with a good solid pull on the actuator level.
Taking a deep breath, Nez steps up to the hatch, and leaning into it. Gripping the actuator level, Nez takes another deep breath. The lose of blood was getting to him as well, but he still has some strength left in him. With that, Nez roars out, fully putting the last of his energy into the pull of the level.
The lever strains, resists - and the rust of centuries gives way as it pulls back into the open position. The hatch springs wide, groaning on its hinges, and beyond stretches a small workshop pit. Laid upon the pit floor is a body.
For a moment, it looks like a corpse; a female body, seemingly nude, dimly seen in the flickering ghost-lights of dying light fixtures. Through the night-vision visor, however, you can see clearly that the body is not that of a woman, but a droid. Another 'luxury' droid, the plating is all but removed from the skeletal understructure; replacing it, layers of flesh from various species, human, near-human, utterly alien - are spliced together and stretched over the frame in a sagging patchwork of death and rot. Only the head remains, golden metal and large orange-yellow eyes staring blankly at the ceiling of this macabre burial chamber.
Around the slab, large boxes are filled with valuables and credit chips, offerings for the dead.
Choking back a spray of vomit, Nez is able to stop himself from throwing up and instead swallowing it. Coughing for a moment, he steps further into the room and up to the droid. When he gets to it, he leans in and picks the thing up, slinging it over his shoulder. Collecting the droid, he would later come here probably with Sesti to clean out the valuables from the room.
So you make the delivery.
The address is an ancient apartment in an equally ancient building, where only womp rats and insects live. A Gran skeleton lies on an foam mattress in its single bedroom like upon a bier, a blaster hole neatly drilled through its skull. The only thing that remotely works here is a generations-old computer set up in one corner, a slicer's special that would have been state of the art a hundred years ago; it still runs the same program...over and over...reaching out into the void.
A hundred years of catfishing, and for what? What happened here? Who was this Gran? Who were those droids? After all of this, ultimately for nothing beyond the treasures found at the end of the trail, only one thing is known for sure: even droids can go mad, and when they do, the results can be spectacular.