Back in August, Buffy started a chain story, which I (and I suspect others) were having quite a bit of fun with. But we got distracted away from it (the last posting was 10 September).
But I thought we could try to start it up again. Metadiscusion here.
"... and so I popped in here to let you know what happened to me before I leave", Steven wrapped up. "Are you awake?"
"Hmm? Oh, yes," I mumbled, "Sorry. Someone slipped me some decaf this morning. I seem to have gotten distracted. Please retell me the part I missed."
Steven asked, "Where should I pick up the story?"
"'Why, right before I got the fluff in my ear.'" I smiled my best "what canary?" smile.
He gave me a dirty look. "Okay, smartass, tell me what you *did* hear, and I'll pick it up from there."
"Okay, to summarize: Three months ago, you were stopped on your way to work by a hermit (come now, Steven, must you strain my suspension of disbelief so early with such a cliche?) who warned you..."
Steven interrupted, "The hermit was not all he seemed. Or maybe he was more. I'll let you decide, since your comment suggests you didn't hear the truth about him."
"If you keep interrupting me, we'll never get out of here." I ordered another Caffinator and continued:
The hermit warned you that you'd be visited by a woman who would give you excitement and adventure, followed by misery and heartache. And he told you to not to eat a green M&M.
After you got to work, you had a premonition of your cubicle farm getting destroyed. Then you met Mindy, and you ate a green Skittles (or possibly a green M&M) that she offered you. And then a clerical error resulted in a wrecking ball passing through your cubicle farm. She hopped onto the wrecking ball (quite a feat!) and pulled you on with her, pausing only to grab a stack of sticky notes.
The two of you climbed the wrecking ball crane to a waiting helicoptor. On the helicoptor, Mindy advised you that you were "our only hope". The pilot, Julius, dropped you off at an abandoned building that led to a labyrinth beneath the city. Since Mindy admitted she didn't know her way around the labyrinth, you used the sticky notes as bread crumbs until you were bitten by a spider.
After an indeterminate time, you hid to avoid getting spotted by some creatures that looked like small blue children with over-large heads and unblinking eyes and no noses, whose presence was preceded by a dazzlnig blue light, humming and sizzling, and Mindy's flashlight flickering. You later told me they're referred to as the "Blues". These creatures were searching for something, and apparently concluded you were hiding behind the desk you were, in fact, hiding behind, as they converged their spotlights on it.
So you came up with the idea of climbing down another drain, but as you lifted the grate, the sound drew the attention of some large alligators (Steven, really! From cliche to urban legend!) as well as the creatures. But a screech not unlike that from a modem caused the creatures to flee in panic, as the desk rattled and the ground rumbled from below. And the concrete beneath you and Mindy collapsed.
You landed on a stairwell in the sewer below, and decided to go down. As you walked, Mindy explained that you are a genetically-altered clone, with the alterations suppressed until activated by the green pill she gave you. She then revealed a second face on the back of her head obscured by wig, and she advised that you'd be experiencing some changes yourself. She she's a similar clone, from the first "official" batch, but it turns out you were the "prototype".
At this point, you mentioned her hair changed color, but you weren't clear whether it was the wig that changed color, or her natural hairs on the side of her head that changed color...
("Both. The wig was designed to respond to changes in her 'real' hair color, so she can blend in where she needs to. Her skin can change color, too.")
And then you were bitten by a Geek Recluse spider; based on your description, its toxin must be a nerve toxin, since your legs promptly went numb and your speech became difficult to understand.
Turns out she was "recruiting" you into the Janus Society, and she decided the only way to save you was to carry you the rest of the way. And while no antivenom exists, she hinted that some Janites might be able to do something anyway. The Janites are all the result of genetic experiments who are then recruited (though abducted sounds more precise) at an early age and trained for various activities the Society requires.
Anyway, as Mindy carried you out of the sewer and into a natural cave system, Mindy discovered a freestanding "door", which was attended by someone expecting "Karen". Mindy identified herself and advised that she had "Target Foxtrot", presumably you. But before she could get you through the door (which sounds like some sort of transport device to me), you two had to again hide, this time from large bipedal rats marching in formation (the "ROUSes" or the "Rats"), which was sufficient for Mindy to express concern. And then you passed out.
Now, it would seem you know the perspective of some other guy named Jack Anderson, though you haven't explained how.
("Yes I have. You just snoozing at the time.")
Anderson watched you and Mindy escape on the wrecking ball and apparently reported it to the police. Some time later, he received a call on his cell phone by someone who referred to you as "Steven 26" and who was very interested in your escape. In particular, he was concerned whether you had shown any physical mutations. And he was pleased to hear that you had not yet shown any changes. The caller instructed Anderson to collect anything that might relate to you or Mindy. Based on your description of Anderson's reaction, I don't think he knew what he'd gotten himself into.
Now, it's interesting that this someone referred to you as "Steven 26" because we later learn that Mindy is AKA "Mindy 49", and someone you meet later is known as "Sheryl 49".
So, by and by you woke. Your head hurt, you suspected you had a second heart, your leg was very red, but you had no feeling below the knee. You had difficulty focusing your eyes, but that may have been the result of a hallucination since you saw two Mindys, one of whom was upside-down, and whose unintelligible words "sparkled". Someone gave you something to drink through a straw, and you passed out again.
You were either briefly lucid enough to overhear a conversation (or you're going to have to explain another instance of knowing someone else's perspective, because you described to me a conversation between Mindy and Sheryl -- to whom you had not yet been introduced). From this conversation, we know that the first few Janites (so maybe there were more prototypes before the first "official" batch?) were guinnea pigs, and they didn't know which genes you have. Sheryl (ah, this must be a "perspective" thing since she didn't voice her next observations) -- Sheryl noted that you didn't yet show any secondary facial characteristics, though that could take a few days; except for your leg, your skin color was unchanged; the light was too dim to look for hair color changes; your eyes were closed so she could check them; and anything subtle would require unavailable equipment. They decided to move you as soon as you were stable, due to swarming Rats and Blues.
Then you described a dream sequence...
(Whatever.) You described a non-corporeal experience in which you felt you were falling. You saw several images that you couldn't quite focus on, until you saw the spider crawl toward you. You screamed for help, but the hermit's voice, coming from the spider, told you to help yourself. The spider/hermit remarked that "they finally found you" and that "they got plans for you." The hermit/spider claimed to have bitten you for a reason, and when you expressed confusion, the spider/hermit groaned that "we have a lot of work to do." He cautioned that if you don't learn control, then you might go insane and hurt yourself and others as the tweaks to your genetic code "that might let you do things you never dreamed of" manifest. (Are you insane?) As you lost focus, the hermit/spider metaphorized, "If you wanna pick a rose, you're gonna get stuck by thorns first".
And you awoke facedown on something cold and hard. You had difficulty opening your eyes due to a thick film of crud, but you did open them. You rolled over to find yourself staring at your bed. Mindy and Sheryl, wearing black-and-grey jumpsuit uniforms entered the room. Mindy introduced Sheryl to you as her commander, and despite your blurred vision, you decided that the rank insignia on Sheryl's collar had a few more "blue things" on it than Mindy's. Sheryl gave you a once-over examination and promised more tests and therapy.
Sheryl left, and Mindy helped you up, whereupon you found that you still had the four limbs you had before your adventures. Your legs apparently were weak, because you needed Mindy's help to stand. She got you a jumpsuit from the closet, and you were able to make it to the "head" on your own.
There, you looked into the mirror and saw ther hermit's face looking back. You wet yourself and you looked down at the mess. When you looked back up, you found you were facing the door behind you. You blinked, you were looking at the mirror again, and this time it was your own face, though you'd been shaven bald.
Here you asked yourself a few questions: Who was the hermit/spider? What direction were you facing? Who were the women? Why did they think of you as Target 26 or Steven Foxtrot? (Steven, really! You never heard anyone refer to you as "Steven 26" -- I think you made this all up!) Who were the Blues and the Rats? Why didn't the jumpsuit have a zipper?
(And that's the last I heard of your story before I, um, got distracted. But you told me a little more about Sheryl and about Jack Anderson.)
It would seem neither Sheryl 49 nor Jack Anderson were having a good day. Sheryl, because she thought she heard something in the General's voice that suggested the extraction of Steven 26, you, would not be routine. And the background check confirmed her suspicion. By Janus standards, your background file was rather incomplete -- the usual stuff about place and date of birth, genetic lineage, genetic alterations (but you earlier said that Mindy or Sheryl said that they didn't know what genes you have), and contact information for monitoring agents. To get more information, she contacted one of the monitoring agents, Mindy 49, to learn a little more, such as your education, employment, and hobbies. And that you were a prototype. So she ordered Mindy to activate you and bring you to HQ quickly and quietly. But the Blues had an interest in you. Someone had tried to assassinate you or Mindy or both by altering a demolition order. And when she got word from the gatekeeper at Safehouse 42B that Mindy 49 had Steven 26 were in the ancient tunnels (*ancient*? Steven, this city isn't old enough to have tunnels that could be classified as "ancient".), Sheryl rushed to the nearest gate to enter the tunnels and get to the Safehouse. After Steven 26 was stable, Sheryl and Mindy carried you through the tunnels to headquarters.
Anderson wasn't having a good day because, while every enjoys a good building demoltion, most people don't enjoy it from inside the building and he was shocked to see there were people in the building getting struck by the wrecking ball. So he called 911, not knowing the cell network was monitored. A Blue "operative" forwarded the copy of Anderson's call to the Chief. (Okay, Steven, yet *another* perspective-not-yours? If you were an a creative writing class, I'd have to mark you down for point-of-view violations.) After retrieving all necessary information about Anderson, the Blue Chief called Anderson to intimidate him into collecting information.
"And the last thing I remember you saying was 'Things were getting interesting.'"
Steven sat thoughtfully for a minute. "Okay. So you paid attention to what, for lack of a better description, could be called 'Act I'. So, here's the rest. And do pay attention, this time, please. I only have about an hour before I need to leave."
And so, Steven resumed his story where my summary left off:
Steven decided the best way to deal with his disorientation was to close his eyes. By feel, he undressed and slipped on the jumpsuit. He felt for some sort of fastener. No zipper, as he noted earlier. No snaps, no velcro. He called out to Mindy, "Hey, how do I close this thing?"
"The outfit you gave me."
"Oh. It's so second-nature, I forgot it might not be obvious. Here, I'll show you." Steven heard Mindy open the door...
Oooh! What does this button do!?