Knee Deep (Part 4 - Subnormal discoveries)

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Date Event
16.10.05  
102.100 (cont) (evening) With the new arrival joining their group, the shelter is getting crowded, much to Julio’s annoyance. He made a deal with the Frank, Rave and Alex. He’s got no use for Mudu or Eileen. If they want to stay, they must make themselves useful. Mudu informs him he’s a good fisher.
Julio still wants to pimp Eileen and wants to have a ‘test ride’. Rave : "You’ll have to go trough me first". "I’m not into pussy", Julio responds. "Oh, then you don’t need Eileen either.", Rave retorts, thus closing the conversation.
The subject shifts to possible escape. Julio scoffs. Escape is not possible from this hell-hole.
First they’ll need to know where they are. Mudu tells him he got captured just as he left his village on Westcape.
Rave thinks this may indicate they’re close to Dyfedd. And then maybe the Citadel is actually there to spy on LavOrg. Speaking of which, perhaps LavOrg may spring them soon. Unlikely, thinks Alex. The group is a liability; they might even turn all them into new versions of Junior (which, according to Frank does not sound too bad at the moment.)
Attempting to pinpoint their location Mudu exits the shelter, studies the stars for a few minutes and tells them they’re some 100 miles north of Westcape, but he doesn’t know which latitude.
Alex suggests a plan to escape: First they’ll get themselves to the Citadel, then hijack a sub and make a getaway. Alex suggests Mudu can swim there to scout. The latter is not too keen. There are all manners of predators swimming out there.
Other problem: what to do with the transmitter implanted in their back. A horrific thought strikes the group: What if these transmitters also act as microphones!
Frank thinks this is unlikely. You would be too hard to hear. Besides, people hardly ever talk into each others ass. It is decided that the transmitters need to be studied a bit further, and Rave is volunteered to have his removed.
"Bend over and let me show you my affection", Frank says as he draws his coral knife. The transmitter is not implanted too deep and Frank easily removes it. Rave grits his teeth and not a sound escapes his lips, until Frank decides to suture the wound with a glowing branch from the fire. A guttural howl pierces the night.
Frank studies the thing he’s removed from Race. It is indeed a transponder, working on bioelectricity. Damn. That means that it must be re-inserted soon or else it will stop working. And that may cause the guards to come and check. Frank suggests to put it in Rave’s thigh. Easier to remove and less likely to cause him discomfort.
Frank cuts Rave and inserts the transponder. With a dreamy looks in his eyes he sighs "Ah, but that brings back memories". Slightly alarmed the Rave asks Frank exactly what kind of experiments he did before they met him. "Told you: working on cybernetic eyes.", he responds.
The group continues with their escape plan. They still want to go to the Citadel. Perhaps they can steal uniforms, take out the powerstations and comm station. This plan is quickly abandoned. The Citadel is too large, and will have numerous backups generators.
Perhaps there is someone who has been inside the Citadel? "Yes", answers Julio: "Kaiser. He used to be a high-up Hanover Security Services". It’s decided that they will not be asking Kaiser for help.
How about luring the guards here. Stage a revolt or something then capture a jumpcraft. This plan too is rejected.
Perhaps they can rally the inmates. Julio scoffs at the idea. People here will never cooperate. They’re murderers, rapists, robbers etceteras. Besides, as soon as you start organizing people you’ll run into Kaiser’s gang.
Which brings the discussion to another unknown factor : Jamal. They still do not know what he is and why he’s taken such a keen interest in the Citadel. And why has he shown such an interest in the group? He arrived here weeks before the party got convicted, so he should not know for what crime they got convicted.
The group also asks why Mudu got dumped on Böse Strand? He tells them his story: He is a freedom fighter against the oppressing forces of Hanover. He was en-route to New Freemantle (a Hydrospan holding) and got caught. This troubles him greatly as he does not know how Hanover found out, and why he’s still alive.
The meeting is adjourned. They’ll all sleep on it.

103.100

The next day does not bring enlightenment. Alex talks to Jamal again but learns little of use. Frank and Mudu go fishing and talk a little about their hobbies.
In the evening the group notices that Mudu is gone. The last time Frank saw him was when they were walking home after fishing. Frank had assumed Mudu had followed behind. He does not know what happened. Perhaps Mudu has gone to check up on the forest gang, or maybe Kaiser’s gang has gotten him.
They decide to organize a search party while there is still daylight. They walk along the shoreline to the east. The grassland quickly becomes a scrub plain. They can already see the forest.
Then, as the beach is giving way to the mangroves, they notice footsteps in the wet sand, leading straight into the mangroves. They could be Mudu’s as they’re about his size. The track is followed until the footsteps disappear in a brook flowing inland.
Rave and Frank spread out to see if the footsteps make landfall somewhere, and Frank smells something; a sweet odor emanating from a large flower. The frond contains some kind of liquid. Carefully avoiding the brimming thorns, he dips his finger and tastes. Wow. Yummy. The world is, like, groooovy men!
Rave intervenes. Steering Frank back to the group he manages to catch some of the liquid in a make-shift container made of a large leave.
He hears something rustling in the forest. It is dark, especially here between the trees, and despite the full moons they can see very little. The group decides to head back to the shelter. Frank stays happy for half an hour. Potent stuff he only took a small sample.
When they are on the scrub-plain, a reflected moonbeam catches Rave’s eye. He looks again. There is someone watching them, hidden in the dark between the shrubs. Frank zooms in and spots the man as well. They can’t make out details and discuss what to do. Whoever it is is not waiting for them and moves in, in the direction of the forest.
A few hours later at the shelter (Eileen and Julio are already asleep), Mudu suddenly arrives. He had gone looking for polypods. Frank had mentioned that painting was one of his hobbies but that he had no ink or paint. He did not find what he was looking for. However, he did find something way more interesting …… a minisub.
He found it submerged between the mangroves, anchored to the roots of the trees. He wanted to investigate further but heard someone approaching so he left.
The group excitedly discusses what to do. Mudu is not sure if he can find it again, but think he probably can. Whoever approached is probably the owner of the sub. Most likely the guy they saw hiding in the shrubs. That may mean that he suspects the group has found the sub and will attempt to move it, thus removing their only chance of getting out of this pit. They decide to leave at once. They’ll wake Eileen, but leave Julio behind.
Back at the mangroves, Mudu scouts ahead. Twice he leads the party down the wrong path and they’ll have to backtrack. Then, just as Mudu recognizes the place, Frank spots a man in one of the trees.
They take positions. Rave dips the spear he made out of the sandarcher’s spike in the nectar he took from the plant, carefully aims then flings the spear with all his might to the man and completely misses.
The man uses a stun gun. Both Frank and Rave manage to resist its stunning effects, but are deafened. Using coral knifes, branches and rocks they assault the man and after long last manage to evict him from his lofty perch.
The group rushes in and turns the man around. It’s Jamal, still alive. So he was a spy, but for whom. Frank provisionally tends his wounds.
The sub is checked out. It has an entrance hatch leading to an airlock, and is very small. It has two seats in the cockpit, and apart from the airlock there is no storage space. This is going to be a very cramped ride.
Frank and Rave take place in the seat. The sub is very utilitarian. All identifying marks have been removed. Only after searching very, very thoroughly, Frank discovers that a few major parts of the board computer are manufactured by Atlas Materials. Hardly conclusive evidence, but still...
Also, the NavComp shows their exact location, 100 miles north of Westcape, roughly 38° west. There is enough fuel for a few hundred kilometers. Mudu suggest to head for the north coast of Westcape, from where he can guide them to his village. They’ll be safe there.
Before they leave, a few details are taken care of. Using the first aid kit from the sub all transponders are removed and implanted in Jamal, and Jamal is position so that he stays alive for the moment.
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