Wardens Fourth Edition
Prime Evidence - Stories
A look at what happened during and/or after Session 33.
Story - Karex Reminisces
Game Date: 9/7/2006
Location: San Francisco, California
Karex packed his things, the High Council was to decide his fate but who knew how long that would take. Until the decision he would be staying on Earth, living amongst the natives. He picked up a non-descript cigar box and opened it, he had eight of the special blend left and wondered when he would be able to get by Fillmore's to pick up more...
Karex's scout ship flew swiftly through the ocean, its ram scoop silently filtering out the atoms of dissolved gold from the sea water. One by one, tiny rectangular ingots of gold stacked up in a small hopper inside the alien craft. When he had enough, Karex gently twisted the control stick and headed back towards San Francisco. Thank goodness humans were still primitive enough to value gold as a medium of exchange, Karex thought to himself, as he loaded the tiny gold ingots into a large change purse. It made his stay on this world so much more pleasant.
He sat the cloaked craft down gently atop 'Fillmore's Cigar Emporium,' grabbed the change purse and took the stairs down to the main floor.
Gentleman George, as the owner was known, greeted him with a smile and reached underneath the counter to reveal, with a flourish, a non-descript cigar box. "All here, my friend. Custom-made to your exacting specifications. The producer was rather, how should I say, surprised at your request. But you did pay half the price up front in a most negotiable medium of exchange."
Karex gently opened the cigar box's lid and took a deep snort of the aroma given off by the tightly wrapped cigars. "They are a mixture of chili leaves and tobacco, soaked in vinegar and rum, then gentle dried over a fire of hickory and maple?"
George nodded, "Exactly as you requested. Now, if I may have the remainder of the payment?"
Karex tossed the change purse onto the counter, then pulled one of the cigars free. He easily snipped off the end between two of his finger-talons and used the molecular-vibrator on his right index finger to instantly ignite the cigar. He pulled in a deep breath and then gently exhaled. "Perfect!"
George coughed, his eyes already turning red from the acrid foul-smelling smoke, "If you'd mind smoking those outside, my good sir?"
Karex nodded, sweeping up the cigar box with his free hand and heading back up the stairs. "I'll be back with more gold in a few days. I have a few ideas for interesting new combinations that I will want special ordered."
George nodded, as he frantically raised a window to air out his store, "Of course. You and your gold are always welcome at my establishment."
Karex placed the cigar box into a watertight wrapper before turning back to the stack of things that he was sorting through and packing away for his new 'adventure.' He checked his portable display case and pulled out a small painting. He carefully placed the painting into a large plastic case with others from his collection...
Karex sat his cloaked scout ship down just outside San Francisco's famed Bazaar Bizarre. Part costume party, part flea market and part freak show, the number of actual paranormals present could likely be counted on one hand. The rest 'bought' their supposed 'mutations' at local costume shops. However, the advertising gimmick meant that folks came to the bazaar expecting to see the strange and bizarre. Which made it the perfect place for a prudent alien to make some paper money.
After parking his scout ship, Karex shoved a pile of gold jewelry into a large display case. Acquiring local currency had become significantly easier when he realized he could reprogram the scout ship to shape gold extracted from sea water into rings, bracelets, and necklaces instead of simple ingots. Hefting the gold-filled case easily, he popped open the hatch and headed out towards his usual spot. He smiled a toothy grin as he considered how prudent a choice it had been to get the premier display case with the extra-strong retractable legs.
Setting up the display case took only a few moments. As the first of the patrons began to wander past, Karex cleared his throat then called out in his carefully practiced merchant cant, "Get yer genuine gold jewelry right heres. Rings. Armbands. Neck-less-ess of all sizes and shapes. Guaranteed one hundred percent pure gold. Prove it's plated and get twice your money back!"
Just for effect, he gave his wings a few flaps, letting the tiny golden scales catch the rising sun. As the first of the customers began perusing his wares, Karex carefully avoided laughing. The humans always figured it was a trick. Who in their right mind would sell real gold jewelry for less than half the market price of the raw metal? A few of the sneakier ones even showed up with pincers in hand and snapped a newly purchased ring in two, confident that it would reveal a cheap core of base metal.
It was a good day, and soon his case was empty. Karex snapped the legs back in place and started his usual rounds, his pockets bulging with newly acquired cash.
As he spotted Ralph Keiser, he gave him a friendly wave and went over to inspect the 'new arrivals'. Karex was always amazed at the wondrous creativity and artistic skill of humanity's most skilled painters - those that worked in the particularly difficult medium of black velvet. He'd nearly completed his set of 'Dogs Playing Poker' and his collection of 'Sad Clowns' now numbered in the hundreds and threatened to overflow the limited storage space in the scout ship. Still, he couldn't resist adding just one more clown to his collection. A judiciously small piece that could be conveniently stowed in his case. He gave Ralph a couple extra bucks for the piece, for friendship's sake. Ralph wasn't a 'real' mutant, merely an ordinary human whose face was disfigured as the side effect of a medication taken at the wrong time by his pregnant mother. Not an uncommon plight among the part-time merchants and craftsmen who hawked their goods here.
Next he wandered over to the stall of Ed 'Gimmie' Baxter. Not quite an antique dealer. Not quite a junk dealer. Ed hawked one of the stranger assortments of odds and ends at the bazaar. Like usual, Karex spent some time rooting around the cheap crates of unlabeled 'stuff'. Most of which was unrecognizably primitive but often colorful with its chrome and brightly hued wires. Karex still found most earth technology baffling with its reliance on dangerous electric currents and primitive magnets, rather than the much more refined molecular engineering and nano-technology of his own race. Ed put his forked tongue to good work, keeping up a steady line of patter about the wonders of whatever Karex happened to be looking at. Eventually Karex parted with a few bills in exchange for an incomprehensible device labeled a 'Kitchen Buddy' and moved on, Ed's reassurances that it would 'revolutionize' his mealtimes echoing behind him.
His last stop was at the fresh produce stand of the 'Commune.' A collection of low-powered, strange looking paranormals who had abandoned modern society and the stares of the 'norms' to raise wholesome crops without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Jenny, one of the more normal residents of the Commune, if you could look past her light blue skin, dark blue hair and webbed hands, was manning the booth. Karex always made a point to spend heavily on the fresh fruit. He gave a friendly smile as he picked over the apples and selected several of the largest before handing Jenny twice their normal price. "Keep the change, Jen. I got me a whole mess of free-spending gawkers at me stand. Spreads the wealth, I say," Karex cheerily related in his carefully practiced fake accent.
Stowing the apples in his case, he headed back to his scout ship. All in all, it was a good day.
Karex checked the small bridge area on his scout ship for any personal effects. He was going to miss the freedom of flying around unobserved being able to watch and listen in wherever he wanted...
Karex reached out with his right big toe and gently nudged the control stick to move the cloaked scout ship a few feet closer to the open window. Even with the audio pickup at maximum, he was having trouble overhearing the fascinating business discussion between the loan shark, drug dealer, and their assorted minions.
Karex reached into the large tub perched precariously atop his tummy and pulled out another heaping handful of honey-glazed beetles. He let them drop one by one into his open mouth as he listened to the humans exchange threats and wave around their primitive chemical-based projectile tubes.
He let the tip of his tail hover for a moment over the trigger button for his ship's neural suppressor. One quick push, and all the criminals would be instantly rendered unconscious and easily available for pick up by local law enforcement. Reluctantly, he moved his tail aside. It was his job to observe humanity, not interfere with its natural development. Certainly not to go showing off his race's superior technology.
Suddenly, his toe slipped on the control stick and the edge of his craft ran along the outside of the building with a disturbingly loud shriek. The tub of sticky beetles went flying as Karex rose to grab hold of the control stick with both hands and pull his ship away.
But, it was already too late. The sound of the impact was just the trigger the volatile situation inside had been waiting for. Gunshots began ringing out even as Karex stabilized his ship.
Racked with guilt, Karex finally acted, slamming his palm down on the neural suppressor. But, sensors showed several of the criminals had already been injured by the exchange of small lead pellets. Karex fretted for a precious few seconds, then began rummaging through the grocery bags and cardboard boxes that cluttered the interior of his craft until he found a pre-paid cell phone. He tore off the plastic packaging and called an ambulance. This would take some serious explaining next time Captain Hurg stopped by to check up on him. He'd already violated one of the Council's directives in using the suppressor. Calling the hospital would add another violation to the list.
Karex watched as the plastic crates were inspected prior to being sealed and moved to another scout ship for the trip to the surface. He turned and looked out one of the observation window in the docking bay at the planet below. He wondered when would be the next time that he had such a view...
With a quick gesture of his right hand, Karex zoomed the holographic image of Alcatraz to focus on the group of forty protestors at the tourist launch landing. Briefly, he considered having his race's cloaked surveillance satellite scan down through the dirt and metal so he could observe the interior of the Warden's mysterious base, but there was always the slight possibility they might have some device capable of detecting such an intrusion. Better not to take the chance.
Karex watched the protest in silence. That was the only problem with satellite observation. You couldn't hear anything. It was purely a visual experience. But, satellite observation only was the only allowed method for observing paranormals. It was impossible to predict whether they might have some unusual sense or power to see through a ship's cloak.
The sudden panic of the protestors told Karex that something interesting was about to happen. He scrolled the image back out until he caught sight of a strange weather anomaly. To his delight, Sturmkrieger and Sturmpanzer charged out of the anomaly. A paranormal battle! Keeping one eye on the conflict, he calls up the satellite's records in a secondary display. While Karex had only been on the planet for less than a decade, the satellite, with its immense AI, had been dutifully recording and analyzing data for nearly seventy years. Conveniently, the AI cross-referenced the tactics used by each of the paranormals with the first recorded instance of its use and provided detailed interpretation of later tactical refinements.
It was almost like being there in person! Impulsively, Karex ordered the AI to construct a virtual combat simulation based on the incident. If he couldn't be there in person, at least he could experience the next best thing!
Karex boarded the scout ship that would take him down to the surface and into exile amongst the Earthlings. He looked up at the supply ship as the descent began...
Karex gulped down gallon after gallon of water as he stepped out of the virtual combat simulator. It had all started with that one little simulation of Warden's battle with Sturmgräfin, Sturmwolf, and Sturmjäger. But simulation after simulation had followed. Karex had ended up ordering simulations made of all the major paranormal battles for the past seventy years - at least those that had been successfully recorded by the cloaked surveillance satellite. And he was doing his best to run through them all at break-neck speed.
Karex grinned at how easy defeating the villains was. These human villains were no match for his race's superior abilities and advance technology. His scales itched to try it all for real. With a heavy Yrician battlesuit, no earthling villain would stand a chance!
Well. Why not give it a try? He'd wait until the surveillance satellite was busy analyzing a major paranormal battle elsewhere on the globe, then he'd pop down and bust a criminal or two. With any luck, his activities would be lost in the general background clutter and be missed by the satellite's AI.
The opportunity came three days later. Hurriedly, Karex steered his scout ship down the alleys and streets of Los Angeles. There had to be a crime going on somewhere! Finally, just as he was thinking he was going to have to give up the quest, he spotted a young thug running off with an elderly woman's purse. It would have to do.
Setting the scout ship on autopilot, Karex climbed into the massive battle armor and opened the scout ship's cargo hatch. As the five-ton battlesuit dropped the twenty-feet to the ground below, asphalt buckled beneath its feet. Karex wobbled from side to side, reaching out instinctively to steady himself - and in the process knocking a telephone pole onto a row of parked cars. No time to worry about that now, he thought, as he raised his other arm and fired off a cone of neural disruption energy. The purse snatcher fell instantly to the ground, unconscious. As did the drivers of several nearby vehicles and a half-dozen customers at a nearby coffee shop.
Karex blinked in surprise. That had never happened in the simulations! He shifted from foot to foot for a moment as he tried to decide what to do. Then, just in time, realized the out-of-control cars were the immediate problem. He activated his boot jets. As he soared into the air, he fired down grapple lines into the cars, pulling them safely into the air behind him. As the car's began bouncing against one another like the metal balls on an executive's desk, Karex realized the flaw in his plan. He lowered the now badly dented cars back down to earth and soared back into his scout ship through the open cargo bay.
As he clambered out of the battle armor, he decided that perhaps the simulations were not quite the same as the real thing after all.
Karex settled into his acceleration couch and thought to himself the situation he was headed into would be about as real as it got for an explorer caste Yrician. He hoped he was ready for the adventure.
Record Last Changed Date: 10/26/2008
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