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Dragonfly's Vignette - Gruevasion 2010

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headache nightmares standard fare V1f = [CR * M2 * (V2 – V1) + (M1 * V1) + (M2 * V2)] / (M1 + M2); V2f = [CR * M1 * (V1 – V2) + (M1 * V1) + (M2 * V2)] / (M1 + M2); V1f = 0; V2 = 0; approximate CR as head hurts always hurts focus side effects – lasting not side effects – impact? focus – through the pain used to that by now open eyes

Head still spinning a bit, Mara blinked her eyes open and glanced around herself. She sat bound with a chain to a large pillar support, one of a handful of other civilians. They seemed to be randomly selected – targets of opportunity – wearing everything from fine business suits to hobo’s rags; for her part, Mara wore old, clearly second-hand clothing and looked like she hadn’t showered in a week. Dark, strung-out eyes and the tired slump in her shoulders made her look like she hadn’t slept in twice that, because...well, she hadn’t. Being knocked unconscious notwithstanding.

unknown location steel (iron carbon chromium minimum 11% to prevent oxidation possible vanadium prevent fatigue in construction) aluminum (2.7 grams per cubic centimeter) overhead lighting (unknown wavelength lack tools for analysis) warehouse? – temporary storage storing civilians unknown motivations - sinister? captors – ah

Lifting her head up she laid eyes on her captors – humanoid, red-skinned, and unmistakably Grue. Most of the team was spread out along the warehouse floor, standing guard; the remaining few stood on opposite sides of a large terminal covered in screens and flashing lights, which in turn was hooked up to a space-age tower of metal spikes and glass bulbs that screamed ‘dangerous’.

"Mmbagh," she managed, and frowned as one of the terminal-attentive Grue glanced her way. Blinking a few times to clear the last of the fog in her head (what fog can be cleared estimated time remaining for 80% clean biological system three weeks gradual decline will make do head hurts hurts focus focus) she tried again. "Bag. Mine. Where is it?"

The Grue left his device and made his way over, looking down at Mara like you’d look down at an insect...an ugly one. "The solid thing speaks! Your things are of little concern, human, for soon we will be finished here and your memory will be forgotten, wiped away under the feet of the Grue Unity!"

She just shook her head, looking around the room as if she either hadn’t understood or didn’t quite care. "Bag’s important. Things, designs, prototype – need the prototype. Have to keep it safe from – can’t be used by – for – no. What? Wiped by what?"

"No technology you could have would stand against us, human child," he sneered. "But you make me curious. What is so important to you, I wonder? What is of value to your pathetic solid brain? I think...." He glanced over at his companions, still toying with the console. "I think...I shall satisfy my curiosity."

He reached down to touch her head, narrowing his eyes half in a sneer and half in concentration. For a few heartbeats there was silence broken only by the shifting and murmur of other captives before he jerked his hand away, actually taking a step back like the chained, malnourished scrap of a girl on the floor in front of him had bitten. "What...?"

Mara was certainly awake and focused now – at least, as focused as she could be lately. Having someone try to push into her mind was never pleasant, and the Grue had just found out what a messed-up place her brain was: he’d gone in for information and come away with a brain full of static, feedback, and chattering mile-a-minute thoughts. Despite the pain in her head, the nausea in her stomach, her present situation, despite everything she smiled a little, she looked up at him and spoke with wry satisfaction. "Trouble?"

"...no, nothing. Of no consequence. Soon you will be only a memory, reshaped to serve our needs in taking over this pathetic world you call-"

She’d stopped paying attention, looking instead at the...thing set up ten feet away. "Don’t even bother, solid creature. It is technology beyond your understanding. A wondrous device that will re-write everything you know, leaving only the Unity. You should be honored to be among the first to be tested by the latest in-"



"Suppression. Can’t overwrite. Not configured for that much precision. Interesting application of magnetics. Not elegant, but effective. Synaptic decelerator, redundant modulators, establishment of self-contained bio-electric ‘thought wall’ – theoretical but feasible. Poor aesthetic design. Poor tactical design – parts obvious. Better contained in non-ferrous material – plastic? – for security and control. Suspect stolen. Alien technology?"

The Grue was incensed, leaning down to look her in the eyes. "Clever...for a human. Why do you assume we stole it?"

She laughed – not a terribly happy laugh, but tired, almost broken-sounding. "Mounted upside down. Clearly structurally designed to hang from ceilings."

This earned her the Grue equivalent of an angry growl and the universal equivalent of a slap across the face. Now she really did laugh – quietly, still tired, still broken, but unmistakably laughter as her head bobbed up and down under her hair. A more attentive (and less furious) Grue might have noticed that somewhere in that bowed human head, behind the disheveled hair, tiny lights flickered behind her eyes. The invaders by the terminal made distressed sounds as the machine hummed and beeped of its own accord, symbols and numbers flashing across the screen as the tower powered up. Mara lifted her head and looked the Grue in the eyes, still laughing that infuriating broken laugh. "Did you know that if you combine enough modulation devices with a synaptic decelerator field, you can completely suppress higher mental functions in localized areas at a range limited only by power source and an extremely complex targeting function?"

The Grue didn’t have much to say to that...he didn’t have much to say at all, really. Every Grue in the warehouse had collapsed, wordlessly, their eyes glazing over as they slumped to the floor. She brought her legs up, resting her chin on her knees as the warehouse descended into silence and the sound of the humming tower. The smile was gone, nothing getting in the way of a tear as she looked down at the living but motionless alien. "I made one when I was eleven," she said, quietly. "It was lethal, though."

Outside, no more than a few blocks away, the still-chained captives could hear superheroes driving the would-be conquerors back.

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