Template:PostIn CatH Post 13, Clear is and a band of Stormtroopers, under the command of Captain Londris, have arrived on board The Hopeful with the intention of wresting control. After a battle with plant-creatures created by Green, Note reveals that Green seeks to destroy them all - much to Clear's disbelief. Clear rescues Pully from certain death, only to then be rescued herself by Toolkit, the group's medic. To make matters worse, two prisoners, captured by Warlord Strang in CatH Post 12, have escaped and are on board The Hopeful too.
Londris hands Clear a pair of goggles that the Salmitton puts on. They're night-vision. She guesses that the Stormtroopers all have night-vision in their helmet's visors. She glances back at the shuttle they had taken from The Excellence to The Hopeless, its internal lights shine out across the hangar bay. The pilot positions another crate near to the exit, filled with emergency gear should they come back needing it. The hangar itself shows no signs of damage - at least no need damage. She has to explain to the Imperials that the ship naturally looks like a wreck. The lighting problem, however, is new. Londris sends two of her soldiers ahead and they ascend the metal stairs with their carbines poised. The other eight stormtroopers follow after them while Londris and Clear bring up the rear. Captain Londris appears comfortable and at ease despite the situation, which helps to calm Clear's own nerves. And yet she is still fretting over the situation with the ship and wonders what the Hell Green is doing.
They continue through and they pass by the short passage that leads to Icer. Clear slows and looks down it to ensure that Icer and her room were as unchanged as ever. They are. The fire from within the room draws the attention of Londris but after a lengthy explanation, and a lot of fiddling with the door, Londris is satisfied that the mystery is unrelated to the situation. They continue on. Clear finds the night-vision to be particularly unusual and difficult to grow accustomed too. She keeps wobbling into walls and tripping on cracks she'd long ago learnt. The two scouting ahead are waiting for them and Clear finds that vines are covering the walls, ceiling and floor. She comes to the front of the group, squats and inspects the plants. They're mostly the same as she had walked amongst before and so she takes a cautionary step onto them. Londris tries to stop her but isn't quick enough. Luckily nothing happens.
Clear: "I've walked on these before. They should be fine."
Suddenly Londris reaches out and grabs Clear. The Salmitton is thrown behind the group of Stormtroopers and she hears the sounds of laser fire. She turns to see a plant hanging from the ceiling with a bright yellow stamen and several tendrils protruding from just behind it. Those tendrils ended with flower buds. Flower buds with teeth. They snap at the Stormtroopers who fire upon the creature. Focused lasers cause one of the buds to burst into flames but the other buds snap out and snag one of the Stormtrooper's by the head. He is yanked up into the air and rattled about like a rag-doll. Clear is sure he's dead quite quickly, his neck must have snapped with the first few jerks - yet the mindless creature continue to rattle him.
Two of the Stormtroopers retreat and run and down the corridor to get new gear. Those remaining focus their fire on the pollen and watch as chunks of the yellow sore flies off of the ferocious plant. Yet another bud flies out and tries to grab another trooper. After several attempts to grab him, it eventually manages to catch his arm and pull him up into the air. Clear presses a few buttons on her wrist device and a small laser blade extends. It's primary function is to cut through salvageable metal but Clear is fairly certain it will work just as well on a stem. She dashes forward and is careful to stay in line with the hanging trooper, for fear of being in the line of fire. Te plant is rattling him around and his arm looks quite limp, likely yanked from its socket. She jumps up and hacks at the stem, slicing it cleanly. The bud and the man fall to the floor. The trooper, though shouting at his pain, managed to hobble away and Clear went to follow him. However she suddenly feels intense pain as the jaws of a bud clamp around her waist. She is lifted off of the ground. She doesn't wait to be flung around or torn in half. Her skin is much softer than the armour of the Imperials. She hacks at the bud and manages to rip its upper jaw off. She falls and lands in the tendrils, which wriggle and writhe like worms. She staggers away. A Stormtrooper reaches out to her and she extends her hand towards him. But then she feels pain in her foot and she's dragged back. Just as the bud tries to lift her, she turns and jabs at the stem, cutting it in half. She's released but another bud snaps at her face. She ducks but it grabs her hair. She tries to cut it but can't reach it as it lifts up. She is pulled up by her hair until the trooper rushes at her and leaps into the air. He grabs the stem and hangs onto it, weighing it down. Although the arm doesn't fall, it also doesn't rattle Clear about and instead sways drunkenly. She tries again and manages to cut some of her hair off. The last of it slips from the bud's teeth and she falls to the ground again. The trooper helps her up and fires at the creature as they retreat. Just as they get a safe distance, Turbo and Sindra return with large metal packs on their backs and long cannon-like funnels. They unleash fiery death upon the plant and it is quickly burnt to cinders. The two don't stop with the monster plant, they begin setting fire to the wriggling plants on the ground and ceiling.
Clear feels the back of her head and finds blood seeping from her scalp where her hair had been ripped out. She winces. Not just from the pain but from the loss of hair. She liked her hair long. It had been the popular fashion in her old photos. She might not try to be fashionable and clean, but her hair had been a symbol of her people. Now it was an uneven, tattered mess.
Londris: "It's not as bad as the scar I've got."
Clear looks up and remembers Londris' terrible scar across her head. It seemed to suit the stern Captain. Clear doesn't think she'll ever get used to having such short hair. She gets up and feels the bleeding wounds on her waist. Londris motions that one of the troopers should check her and he sprays some kind of liquid onto her wounds. She whimpers from the stinging but then a numbing effect slithers over her skin and actually feels quite pleasant. The man, who Londris called Toolkit, nods when he's done.
Toolkit: "That should do it. This'll clean your wounds, numb them up and hasten the healing. Still, I should get a bandage on this. Maybe we should head back to the shuttle..."
Clear: "You won't be able to find your way without me."
Londris: "Which is why you're not to go rushing in like that again, Salmitton. We're wearing armour, you're not."
Clear: "Saved your guy, didn't I?"
Londris: "For which Pully, the woman you saved, is going to be eternally grateful. But you almost got yourself killed in the process. Forcing Toolkit here to save you."
Clear: "Thanks Toolkit..."
Toolkit: "You're welcome."
He sprays her scalp and she winces for a brief moment until the numbing takes effect.
Londris: "Just don't do it again."
Clear: "You know I'm not one of your soldiers you can order around?"
Toolkit motions for Clear to sit on the ground and she complies.
Londris: "Damn right you're not! If you were I'd have you on latrine duty for a week. Right now you're a civilian and that means we keep you safe. Try it again and I'll be forced to send you back to the transport and try to navigate this place by ourselves."
Clear helps Toolkit, carefully, remove her boot.
Clear: "Alright, alright. I got it. I just couldn't stand and watch though..."
Londris: "Being a soldier means you follow the rules. You follow the plan. Even if it means the death of your friends. Being a civilian means you stay the Hell out of fights."
Toolkit: "Your foot's not so bad. It's going to be bruised. You'll probably feel pain in it tomorrow morning. You'll be able to walk on it though. Just don't go jumping about with it."
Clear: "I'll try to control myself."
Londris: "You'd better. Toolkit, is she good to go?"
Toolkit: "I'd say so."
Londris: "See to Pully and then escort her back to the shuttle. Be quick though."
Clear: "You should have seen to her first..."
Londris: "Pully isn't a civilian. You're in our care. Okay. Turbo, Sindra, clear us a path. I don't want a single plant living. Burn every God damn leaf you see."
Clear puts her boot back on and wiggles her toes. They seem okay. She gets up and leans against the wall. Her head feels strange because of the numbing spray. A screen suddenly illuminates and draws everyone's attention, save those happily flaming the plantlife. One the screen is Note.
Clear: "You sod, Note! You ditched me back there! What were you thinking!"
Note: "Coordinates lost. Immediate jump was required."
Clear: "I keep telling you to forget the Earth! It's irrelevant!"
Note: "Coordinates lost. Immediate jump still required."
Clear: "Urgh. Just tell me what's going on here. Where is Green?"
Note: "Crewman Green wishes to kill us."
Clear: "What!? Why?"
Note: "Motives of crewman are unknown. Crewman Green shut down engines. Crewman Green destroyed backup generators. Crewman Green shut off lights. Crewman Green blocked power from the core. Crewman Green blocked access to Command Centre. Crewman Green--"
Clear: "Okay, I get it. Crewman Green is a big meanie. Do you know where she is?"
Note: "Unable to confirm. Crewman Green has destroyed sensors."
Clear: "Just great. Didn't she speak to you before she decided to turn the place into a nature resort?"
Note: "Crewman Green was erratic during our last conversation. Her intentions appear to be the complete destruction of The Hopeful. I am unable to provide counter-measures to this attack. Your return is fortuitous."
Clear: "It's fortuitous I was able to get back here, Note! We are going to have to have a serious sit down when this is over with."
Note: "I am an A.I.. I am unable to sit down."
The whir of static and then an in-coming communication interrupts Clears dialogue with Note. The sound of Toolkit's voice echoes through the radio waves. He and Pully must have reached the shuttle already.
Toolkit: "Sir, we have a problem."
Londris: "I hate those words..."
Toolkit: "I found the pilot knocked out. Seems something struck him from behind."
Londris: "Did the plants reach the docking bay?"
Toolkit: "No Sir. No plants here. Whoever did it used a wrench from aboard the shuttle..."
Londris pauses as she thinks.
Londris: "Okay Toolkit. Close up the shuttle doors and keep an eye out when you return. Make sure Pully stays alert though. She needs to keep an eye on scanners and comms."
Londris switches frequency.
Londris: "Captain Londris to The Excellence."
The voice of Deonal Strang himself returned.
Strang: "I have been monitoring your situation Captain."
Londris: "Yes Sir. Thank you for taking an interest. I just wish to check on the two new prisoners that were taken aboard The Excellence. I'm concerned they may have escaped and were hidden aboard the shuttle when we left..."
Strang: "I was thinking the same. I have already sent troopers to investigate the cells. I will tell you the results of that check as soon as I can."
Londris: "Thank you Sir. In the meantime, we'll continue our progress."
Strang: "Very good. Don't disappoint me, Captain."
Londris looks down the passage at Turbo and Sindra. They're making progress, though it's a little slow. The dead Stormtrooper has been laid out but they have no time to carry him back to the shuttle. They'll have to collect him on the way back.
Londris: "I think the best course of action would be restoring power to the ship. There must be some power online for your A.I. to operate those screens, but we really need lighting. I'm also worried that the life supports systems will be non-functioning without proper power. This armour may do a lot of things but it doesn't provide oxygen. What about this power core the A.I. mentioned?"
Clear: "I'll plot a course. I have maps in my wrist device..."
They head after the two burners but it isn't long before Strang is on the comms again.
Strang: "The prisoners are missing. They rendered their jailers unconscious and must have seen the shuttle being prepared so snuck aboard it somehow. These rebels are indeed tiresome. Proceed with your mission, Captain, but watch for the rebel scum. Ensure they are dead before you return to The Excellence."
Londris: "I don't like variables on a mission... everybody, keep an eye out for our unwelcome guests..."
"With this post I was trying to follow the suspense of horror sci-fi movies where a group will have to deal with some kind of alien enemy that hunts them down one-by-one. To this end, many of the team are granted named and personalities for the reader to begin to attach themselves to. This mini-arc leads to many minor character deaths and really ramped up the CatH series' reputation for character deaths." - Britt the Writer