WHOOPS, NO THEY DON’T
Previously: Hack the Gibson
Themesong: Countdown by Deltron 3030
Oh… my… god… I have… How the hell did I get this many FIGMAS? The warehouse is swimming in them. I don’t even know who half these girls are… and I have a memory palace larger than the fucking Pentagon! I have a throne made entirely of Figmas in lexan boxes. I have a giant lifesized figma of myself… made out of broken or malformed bits of Figma. If there were multiple ways to set up the same figma… I have all the combinations. I have 14…. 14! Containers of unopened Figmas… because I didn’t have time in jump to build them all. Oh… my… me… I…. no…. Best not to think about it… or why I have way too many cute things… or a doomsday device painted to look like a black pig. Or why I seem to have stolen Index’s habit. So much of my memory of the last jump doesn’t make logical sense… And not just the Esper stuff.
I seemed to do things that were cute… because they might be cute… not because they… I am a being of logic. I was so when I was prepubescent… but Twin Cannon… she was… moe. Soooo moe. My brain hurts. I need coffee… all the coffee… and porn. And sex… and… I haven’t had sex in a decade.
Took me three weeks to decompress after that and we’re out of Romulan Ale now. Fuck. Need a TNG jump to restock… also to get a Replicator. TOS’s fabricators and food synthesizers are okayish… but they’re big and clunky and not 70 years advanced like TNG’ll be… no matter how much I upgrade them.
Finally I look at the VMoD… They Live? They… Live! I laugh… Note to self, do not run out of bubblegum.
“Zane. Speed Run.”
“I betcha we can resolve this jump in a week. Speed Run.”
I check the Origins… in this case called Backgrounds… Drop-In of course, Drifter… which might as well be Drop-In v2… at least if you’re ‘Merican…. Which I was… once upon a time. The other two are an Alien and a Human Sympathizer…. Yeah… not gonna be one of those fuggly aliens or a race traitor… no thanks. Drop-In or Drifter it is… not much difference on the front end, have to check the discounts. Huh… screen just glitched… but now it’s back to normal. Whatever… A quick glance lands me with Drifter  (900/1000). The perks are just right.
That gets me Situational Sharpness for free, “You’ll always come up with the perfect insult, joke, or comment to the current situation. You will also never lose your cool and look like a badass in the process.” It also came with Bubblegum “Might run out. Refills after kicking ass or an act of badassery.” and Special Sunglasses… which I could pretty easily reverse engineer I suspected. To that I add Incredible Wealth for  (800/1000)“You’ll have a constant income of money directly deposited into your warehouse each year you spend inside a Jump. This money can be taken from the warehouse with ease and is automatically converted to the local currency.” First Bank of Warehouse. Excellent.
I also snatch up the Drop-In capstone, Brainwash-Proof, even though it costs a cool undiscounted  (400/1000). “You don’t require the special sunglasses or contact lenses at all and you are always immune to the alien propaganda… Brainwashing you is impossible.” Resistances are always nice… Immunities sooo much better. And (after another glitch) I grab the Drifter Capstone “Hero Sense”  just because “You can feel when shit is about to hit the fan and react accordingly with ease, always turning around just in time.”
That left me with 100 and Zane asked “You’re not going to take any drawbacks, are you?”
To which I replied “Oh. yes I am!”
To which Zane asked… “Why? You’ve got every we need.”
“Because, Zane old boy, you’re coming in with me… plus, this scenario is bean and toast. We need to ramp up the difficulty.”
“Nooooo… stupid movie is stupid!”
“Zane, that’s what I love about you… thousands of years old and you’re still a duffus.” Of course, sometime early on in Raildex World, I’d hit my 13,000th year as a jumper, and I’d been busy obsessing over plastic miniatures and animal ear hoodies, so I wasn’t exactly one to talk.
He glowered as I took Bollywood Fighting (+100), because a) hilariously long fights are funny and b) because absolutely no one in this world was going to be stronger than me. He fumed as I picked up Sudden Realism (+200) which promised to add drama… like running out of bullets at the worst possible time. And then got down right pissed when I took “They Know” (+400) which would make the Aliens away of my true identity or at least suspect it in some way, and will know what my plans are, in general. “I thought we were going for speed run here.”
“SJ… you just bought the thing that lets them know we’re coming.”
“Yeah? Good. They will know I encompass their doom. Let’s kick this anthill!”
“Won’t that slow us down a bit?”
“Really? Have you seen the movie? The Aliens get taken down by Rowdy Roddy Piper. And some sunglasses. We could cakewalk this scenario and be home in time for tea without some conflict.”
“We caught it on cable in Buffyworld… and you’re mental.”
“Yes… well… that’s true. Have you seen the Figmas?”
With 800 in the bank, I imported Zane for 600 (silly expensive, but there wasn’t much else to buy), also as a Drifter, which nabbed him Situational Sharpness, Bubblegum, and Sunglasses too… and he took the Brainwash-Proof as well (momma didn’t raise no dummy), and both of us picked up Hip Fire with our last  (You can aim and shoot rifles and other similar weapons from your hip without losing any considerable amount of accuracy and without the need to use the sight.)… I mean… I’m a crack sniper and this meant I could be a reasonably decent sniper firing a sniper rifle from my hip. That’s just… insane.
And what is up with these damned glitches! machine went down the moment I locked in my build and it was 28 hours before Ahab and Joy could finalize theirs. And speaking of them, they came in as Human Elite (the race traitors), partly for the contacts, partly for the fact that Human Elite got not only Incredible Wealth for free, but 100,000 dollars US as starting cash… but no bubblegum… poor them. Still three yearly deposits to the group fund would be nice.
Found out what the Glitch was the moment I dropped. I knew this body. I’d spent 11 months in it way back in my first century of jumping. I was back in an 80’s action movie for the first time and… I was back in the psyche of Lt. Sam Jones, LAPD, Retired. Five years had passed since I’d left Sam, who’d spent most of those years sitting on his porch and drinking beer and yelling at local gangbangers to get off his lawn.
That had lasted until a recent Earthquake had cracked the foundation of Sam’s house, causing a gas line break that had resulted in a massive fireball taking out the entire structure… and then the insurance company had found Radon, and in trying to clean it up had found an ancient Indian Burial ground, and so Sam had been rendered homeless as one thing after another kept his… my… home from being rebuilt. I was 69 years old, and the intervening half decade had not made me any less grumpy.
I felt the full force of the drawbacks from the aborted and heavily glitched previous jump reasserting themselves, especially “Get Off My Lawn!” which made me cranky as hell, all the time and locked my age at what it was. Twice in a row I was agelocked, just at different ends of the spectrum. Fun. And “One Riot, One Ranger” meant that I had good reason to be grumpy, since I was the one who got called when shit needed fixing. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but then again… 80’s action movies.
However, being in “They Live!” made the third of my old drawbacks make sooo much more sense. “Suburban Hellhole” meant that the world was in a sorry state, with wars and crime rampant and guns everywhere and a steady rise in “Big Brother” type nonsense… not the lame TV show, the surveillance state.
With the negatives came the positives, “Do You Feel Lucky” (which boosted my intimidation factor while holding a gun, but didn’t work on non-punks, non-mooks, or non-civilians), “One Bullet Left” (which gave me a final round in the chamber of any weapon once I ran out of bullets), “Beyond the Threshold” (which made me sarcastic, as well as tougher and harder to kill, when being tortured), “Hidden Talent” (which made me a skilled Sushi Chef), and Old Age & Treachery (which kept me in peak physical condition no matter how old I got)… which was good, because I was immortal. I also got a small dufflebag full of mundane tools for any one job and the job could change from day to day. It was called “The Right Tools for the Job”.
I did get to find out what that Glitched item was, though, at long… looooong last. 800 points had gone into “If it Bleeds”… You have a truly unnatural talent for killing. You can kill things that normally don’t die. This doesn’t grant any special weapons, or any other skills, but even things like gods and immortal beings will, for some reason, lose those protections in combat with you. If you can beat them in a fight, you can kill them. Permanently. Of course, you can’t just wish them dead: you’ve got to do the deed with a handgun, a knife, or your bare fists. Some really big gods might die and stay dead if you kill them by ramming a ship into them or piloting a huge mechanical war machine, but it’s gotta be a pretty fair fight: and you definitely don’t want to find out you were wrong and they can still come back. If there’s no dramatic tension or huge struggle, it’s probably a sign that you messed up, and you’ll have a very angry (and prepared) immortal after you soon.
It wasn’t bad… but I was still cranky as sin and I might have taken it out on the Aliens. 37 minutes. That’s how long it took. 37 minutes. I want my god damned money back. We took out the Alien threat in less time than the movie ran. Sudden Realism or not, They Know or not… I had Zane pull Black Jenny out of the dock while I communed with the electron flow of LA. A broadcast of that order was going to be using and beaming a non-metric fuckton of energy. I isolated it, then painted it like a christmas tree, backing up the electron flow and watching as the building simply… came apart at the seams.
We isolated the other regional control broadcast centers by signature, took them out as well. Alien ships started lifting off from all over the planet, but Zane and the Jenny were up there, blasting the skull-faced gits to kingdom come like some bizzaro inversion of space-invaders. Meanwhile the Bosses were capturing alien techs and storing them for interrogation.
“You realize we just took all the fun out of this?” Zane commented.
“Zane old boy. I did no such thing.” I glowered at him, “I added fun.”
“How do you figure?”
“Look, the reality of the setting is that the movie takes an hour and a half… covering a week or so… Even assuming RRP wasn’t around to bring down the mess, we could scarcely do worse than half-rate rebels led by a day laborer. We were always going to take down the aliens in a month or two tops… unless we fucked off to the forest and went camping for a year. Now the real fun begins.”
“Society is about to collapse. There are going to be wars, there are going to be purges and witch trials and six kinds of fucked upness. That’s why I took Sudden Realism. I wanted the world to react like… well… like the entire planetary leadership and most of the corporations and celebrities were either alien or alien conspirators. And… if we’re incredibly lucky… the aliens will try and come back!” I bit the end of my cigarette off “And we’ll make them get off our god damned LAWN!”
Spoiler Alert. They did. Double Spoiler Alert, cloaked mines. Boom. Triple Spoiler Alert… I reverse engineered their teleport watches. Interesting. Portal tech… fairly sophisticated. I stored it back in the tech banks, then we stepped through onto an Alien World. Did some sightseeing, checked out the local hotspots, met interesting people… and killed them. Did some readings of the night sky, leveled a few major cities, stepped back through the gate… They didn’t have FTL. They used gates… gates with relays. Relays linked with quantum entangled bits, FTL Coms, creating and linking portals.
Good system… vulnerable as hell… and they used ion drives… nice… but no match for my assault shuttle, let alone the Jenny… I should write a book… how to bring down a trans-stellar colonial empire in four easy steps… plus lots of battles that went on too damned long. Best Drawbacks ever.
OH, and Earth? Soooo fucking messed up when we left. Seriously. Think Africa after the colonial powers pulled out… on a global scale. Inner me wanted to do something about it… but Joy pointed out, and rightly so, that these people had just come through an era of being told what to do by aliens. Outer me just wanted everyone to go fuck themselves. And we were, appearance aside… just more Aliens. So we left them to it. All the petty squabbling and bitchery… let them worry about it… it was their birthright after all. Though I did have Joy issue a firm blanket statement than anyone who tried to turn this into an excuse to conquer or commit genocide or other atrocities would find themselves and or their countries experiencing the full brunt of Big Sister’s wrath. Big Sister was my anti-Alien defense grid, and while I wasn’t going to become the world leader pretend, but, at least for the next 8 years and change, this Earth was under my protection… and that meant from enemies within and without.
Wanna know the worst thing about “They Earth”? All the movies sucked… and there weren’t any good figmas… I checked. And no damned internet… even the videogames sucked… if I hadn’t been busy killing Skullhead Aliens and drinking too much, I might have gone stircrazy. Hope the next jump’s more exciting.
Next: West Wing Side Story