Week 49: Elevator Music to Their Ears [Unedited]
The Power Authority
There was a time when laser rifles would at least be capable of fighting the Deew back. However, now was not the time to become nostalgic. Its attacks had evolved from the stab and strangle attacks of the Alpha Phase, the disorienting rumble which shook the entire planet during the first lull period, the terrifying budded pounce of the flowery yet sinister foliage of the Beta Phase, and the puffs of deadly allergens that accompanied this current rest period to include a swirling combination of all four.
A reverse daisy chain of backtracking in footwork allowed the last three members of the contingent to watch each other's backs with lasers being flung in all different forward-facing and overhead directions while the other seven members got situated within the relative safety of the transport which still remained lodged between floors. With the wounded secured and accounted for, the three soldiers (turned caretakers) who had been tasked with watching them were able to revert back to military form, complete with the barrels of laser rifles jutting up and out from the crevice that was the three-foot high elevator opening in an attempt to lay down some semblance of cover fire for the dutiful stragglers. Flickering beams of white, high-intensity flashlight and amber-colored laser pulses laced the darkness with a calamity of frantic chaos. Throughout it all, the appearance of an eerie live-action reel of stop-motion permeated the darkness at the request of those flashes of light and instanced the horrifying advance of a much more extremely aggressive biological weapon.
It was the type of nightmare that a person just tried to run from and took no time to ascertain. The insanity of the life and death situation took its toll on the open-mindedness for such consideration by taking away anything except the base instinct for survival. There were no thoughts - only actions in these moments as this was the one time when the speed of thought happened to be too slow and yet another example where thinking too much could get people killed.
With laser rifle flailing, the first of the final three remaining soldiers took to a slide and slipped between the gap in the protruding laser rifle barrels which were working furiously to prolong the relatively safe passage. With the wounded troops resting along the sides of the elevator, the center of the elevator became a primed landing pad. The soldier's own weapon scraped along the top of the tight entrance before touchdown.
The three soldiers (who were sending out valiant streams of laser pulses) paused momentarily by ducking downward as the second of the final three remaining soldiers leapt to a jump stop, succumbed to its ensuing crouch, and then performed a side roll through the transport's open crevice before plopping down inside the elevator. Almost immediately and even synchronized in their bounce back, those soldiers returned to their firing perch and each either gritted their teeth, pressed the trigger pad a little more tightly, or stowed any inkling of blinking as the steely resolve and intensity from the protective pursuit which had befallen them tried its hardest to raise to that of the Deew's level.
This was not a level that they could match, but their efforts allowed the final of the three remaining soldiers to dive head-first through the crevice opening to the transport with only a left ankle being snagged by a coiling wooded tentacle. Had not the cover fire been flung around with deft impunity, that soldier would have been cut down rather than snared and dangled inside the elevator upon having the forward momentum of the lunge stopped - slamming the person into the wall of the shaft that nobody ever saw because the transport doors were normally and typically closed when the car was occupied.
Both soldiers, who had made it inside the elevator without undue incident, rushed to grab hold of the third soldier's arms and torso - yanking against the supernatural tug of the biological weapon. The three soldiers, who had most previously played the part of gunners, began to split up their collective efforts in the interest of leveraging a more specialized form of teamwork. The first turned the laser rifle on the Deew tentacle which tensed and strained as it sought to prove that its grasp over the captured soldier was strongest. The second resumed firing out the crevice indiscriminately at anything that moved because chances were that whatever happened to be moving was probably of the foe variety. The third would have joined in but noticed (via the high intensity beam attached to the laser rifle which shined outside the transport) that spiky thorns began to pimple all the way across the background of the troublesome vine in the distance and a rapid approach toward the foreground and their overall position.
"Incoming!" The soldier turned back and alerted.
"We've gotta get that fu--ing thing outta here!" One of the wounded exclaimed before lurching for a laser rifle and then sitting up painfully in an effort to help assist in that endeavor.
"What's taking so long?" One of the final soldiers to make it inside the transport asked while being dragged across its floor in a straining attempt to wrest a comrade away from the biological weapon's sturdy grip.
The desperation chide was aimed at the soldier with the slate computer who had to work through all this. An emotional insinuation was not taken from the rather respectful reprimand for anything other than what it really was - a timely prodding of her to hurry up. Still, she could have done without so much confusion. Three hundred and sixty degrees worth of an 'end of the world' distraction hampered any hope for a clear train of thought. And neither clouded judgment nor impeded resourcefulness made for a succinct combination as far as the prospects of their eventual success were concerned.
What did Janette do? How did she get the transport to stop? With the slate computer tethered to some wires which originated from behind a ripped-out panel beneath the elevator's main touchscreen console, it might have been a good idea to start there. Isolation was the key here. Luckily, troubleshooting was a process and not a guessing game.
The soldier with the slate computer had already asked the questions, and now was the time to do some research as she continued to block the considerable amount of commotion out in order to focus on this dire task. Her fingers flew across the face of the rectangular device as it navigated between screens that had rudimentary transport specs, the onscreen keyboard to type in various different search queries, and the actual readings that were being instanced of the elevator's current plus uncanny holding pattern. The thing literally just sat in place. Those electromagnetic risers were not registering as functioning in any optimal sense, and yet, there they were holding in a sturdy position - unmovied. Plus, the acceptable polarity variance of magnetism which was necessary for the car to be able to traverse the shaft system without dropping to slam itself into the lowest recesses of the well where the vertical path ended inside Inner Corridor...had been altered at only a level that an engineer or a ranking official could gain access to.
This might have been a spur-of-the-moment hack on the part of Janette, but none of this was done as a matter-of-fact. Turning the slate computer to its side created a stunning high-definition split screen of possibilities...or probabilities as it were. The soldier started to look at the tentacle which had lifted her comrade into the air and threatened to drag the person back outside before examining the Deew a different way via the readings on the left side of the savvy device. Interestingly, the biological weapon's readings were the exact polar opposite in terms of electronic fields from the transport's.
So why would the botanist not have made that vital piece of information known?
With no time to contemplate the answers to an even more frightening (than this predicament) question, the soldier with the slate computer wiped the tips of her fingers across the face of the device to clear the screen before pulling up a virtual console which had the exact same button configuration as the one on the front elevator wall. She pressed the 'Close Doors' button and they obliged, sheering off the tentacled limb of the Deew in the process and dropping the previously ensnared soldier into the grasp of the others - while kicking away the limp vine into the corner ahead of a couple of the wounded soldiers blasting at it. Fire purified all when seeing to the task of eradicating a potential threat.
A single finger moved the current console screen up and out of the way so that the soldier with the slate computer could bring up a command prompt area. After tapping on the selectable area where those commands would go, she was able to enter in:
100 ****riser subroutine begin****
110 accept_override protocol: Janette Ueberrhein
120 actualize_parameters: override protocol
140 accept_safety parameter: soldier w/sc
150 actualize_parameters: transport console
160 if_transport console≠override protocol, goto_110
170 run_parallel translation: transport console
180 if_transport console=override protocol, then_run
200 ****riser subroutine end****
After bringing the virtual console screen back into the complete focus of the slate computer full screen view by dropping it down on top of the coding area, the soldier pressed the button for the top floor. A jolt by the elevator and a raucous cheer from the occupants later, and the car was on its way up! She collapsed to her haunches from mental and physical exhaustion and received a pat on the shoulder as a result of a job both well-done and much appreciated. The alphabetical ascent which was illustrated by the selectable buttons with the respective level's letters lighting up in a steady succession happened to be mirrored on the transport's console as well as the device's screen, so all was working in tandem and as planned.
Ten nerve-racking minutes later - the transport slowed to a stop, and its doors opened up the contingent's access to the Power Authority surface facility. After gathering up their supplies, equipment, and wounded in anticipation of exiting the elevator; a deep unwavering push was about to be made to hurry through the next leg of the journey...except....
The surface facility was not there. Nothing was. For miles in all peripheral directions, the only vision was of an engorged biological weapon which had taken to gnawing on buildings for its steady stream of nutrients from an unfathomable diet. Obviously not withstanding, the Power Authority stood no chance against the famished Deew's appetite as town-sized tree trunks wrapped around the facility. The ginormous, beautiful buds that flowered along its greenery served as the instruments of mastication when their petals draped so elegantly across numerous and various pieces of architecture before viciously taking chunks out the building as individual bites.
In terms of scenery, the floral arrangement (which had apparently turned this side of Dio Qze into a tropical rain forest) was pretty, but the absence of the city and that once familiar skyline happened to be disheartening. The Gamma Phase finally upon them, at least the Deew seemed disinterested in the contingent. With no apparent answers on the undersized horizon that seemed to be swallowed up by a plant which appeared to have outgrown its own potting soil, they left behind the security blanket of the transport and ventured forth bravely into whatever it was that this newer world held in store for their future. Overflowing with life yet devoid of sanity, solace would be taken in the fact that this ongoing ordeal could continue to be faced together. But much like the other glimmers of hope as of late, these prospects for survival were fleeting at best.
"We're still alive," the soldier with the slate computer asserted, "which means that we still have a job to do." In leading by example, she set her device to transmit a locator beacon and stepped out front of the contingent to guide them through their latest trek on foot. Sometimes, presenting a fabricated bravado of assuredness was all it took to motivate a group - even if the leader had a hard time believing in the feasibility of this quest herself.
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