Hyenas 3

V_001 buenas noches chicas V_001 buenas noches chicas

Hyenas 3

A surprise trip to The Valley

SheLa began with an ebullient greeting for the Catty Chatters, "Buenas noches chicas! [Good evening girls!]"

V_002 theleon and the favela V_002 theleon and the favela

"I just got back from the most amazing trip! Last I had talked with the Leon he was just chilling at his place in the favela he favors. Not sure why he prefers that lifestyle with his resources. But..."

V_003 meditation V_003 meditation

"Then about three weeks ago now I was doing my Chakra Alignments meditations when I get a call from the Leon."

V_004 theleon13 V_004 theleon13

"Says he is at the port or will be soon and he wants me to meet him there on the quick. Dress like a tourist going someplace warm. Very warm."

V_005 black hole V_005 black hole

"Before long we hit The Inphus Gate's black hole portal."

V_006 Inphus Gate V_006 Inphus Gate

"The transit thru the Inphus Gate hole was really quick, just a blue flash before we popped through it."

V_007 adairs spiral V_007 adairs spiral

"We popped out very near Adair's Spiral and continued with the quantum pulse drive."

V_008 insertion V_008 insertion

"We made our insertion into the atmosphere of this planet, The Valley, towards dawn and there was a bit of dust blowing."

V_009 hot times2 V_009 hot times2

"So our descent was quite the scenic display of hot times." She chuckled.

V_010 the valley V_010 the valley

"The planet we were now down on had not always been called "The Valley" but instead had recently been named with a string of alphanumerics that made its nature obscure. Before the already arid climate became even drier, the place had a bit of traffic. Human traffic, or at least sort of human."

V_012 megaplex V_012 megaplex

"Most of the planetary traffic went to a megaplex habitat and "research center" whose primary products at that time were weapons grade bionics produced for the Ishtar. Some penchant for descriptive names led to the place being called the Megaplex."

V_013 open pit mine V_013 open pit mine

"But the original attraction of the planet in more or less contemporary times was rare earth elements and radioactives in abundance. There were still a couple of huge open pit mining operations on the opposite hemisphere of The Valley from the Megaplex. Even so there was less of such activity now that the Ishtar's aims of empire had been squelched. Hooray for our side, right?"

V_013A village ruins V_013A village ruins

"There were a few uninhabitable sites as well, entire villages left abandoned to their deceased inhabitants after some accident or another."

V_014 domed cities V_014 domed cities

"Now even the once glorious Megaplex had gone to structures more suited to the arid climate, and there was little remaining vegetation."

V_014A cyborg 1 V_014A cyborg 1

"The Valley had continued in biomorphic research even after the Ishtar dreams of conquest ended. The Leon and I were feigning being an archeologists tourist couple with an interest in obtaining a cyborg "entertainment unit", especially since we were already here. Some were more biological than were others.

V_014B cyborg toy V_014B cyborg toy

"But there is no judgement in the limits of taste, and there was obviously also a market for more metallic pleasures."

V_015 mine V_015 mine

"Out in the actual valley there were a couple of hardscrabble open pit digs."

V_016 two nomads V_016 two nomads

"Most of the diggers lived a kind of rough, life on the edge sort of existence. Most of them lived pretty much out in the open with their collection of what not cans and the like."

V_016A stone hut V_016A stone hut

"But a few of them had erected these round stone huts."

V_017 nomad family group V_017 nomad family group

"A family group or some sort of clan related folks might live in one but still have their fire pit close by."

V_018 sand dogs V_018 sand dogs

"The staple item of their diet was these sand dogs."

V_019 rodent dogs V_019 rodent dogs

"The sand dogs were less plentiful now than they once had been, but there didn't seem to be much hunger."

V_020 barbecue rat V_020 barbecue rat

"You might occasionally see some cooked up in a stew of sorts, but most of them ended up as barbecued delights."

V_025 hoochim bar V_025 hoochim bar

"We were touristas, yes? Archeologists also looking at entertainment units, right?" A slight chuckle punctuated her remarks. "So we ended up at this place called Hoochim's Bar doing touristy things."

V_026 fire hut V_026 fire hut

"Seems the place, not the Bar, but The Valley at least, had a huge body of legends about the sand dogs and some critter called a fire rat. They showed us this local artist's depiction of a "fire hut".

V_030 fire rat 2 V_030 fire rat 2

"Our server set out a little bowl and lit its contents afire. In just moments a fire rat came to investigate. They were drawn like moths to a flame."

V_031 fire rat bait V_031 fire rat bait

"Another table had its own visitor. The fire and the food provided plenty of rat bait ."

V_032 rat bait V_032 rat bait

"Outside of the megaplex area, out in the deserts, they were baited and trapped for use as foodstuffs."

V_033 cozy fire V_033 cozy fire

"According to legend the sand dogs and the fire rats were both carnivorous and preferred cooked meat."

V_034 the legend of cheelo V_034 the legend of cheelo

"We saw some strange art about "the legend of Cheelo" but damned if the art or the legend made any sense to me."

V_036 artistic artifact V_036 artistic artifact

"One thing that was kind of interesting in an arcane sort of a way was some artifact, apparently artistic in intent, that had been found out in the deserts. It had a slightly different appearance depending on the angle of your view. No one had ever come up with a satisfactory explanation for what it was."

V_040 jozz V_040 jozz

"Maybe it was partly that we were faking the tourist kitsch, but frankly you've seen one fire rat you've seen enough fire rats, know?" Another slight chuckle. "Anyway this fellow named Jozz, an obvious augment, came to our table and said Heevus would be along shortly. The Leon offered him a seat but he declined. Obviously things were starting to happen."

V_042 heevus jeroob V_042 heevus jeroob

"It was just a couple or three minutes later this Heevus Jeroob fellow came up to our table."

V_043 nyuka V_043 nyuka

"And his partner whose name was Nyuka accompanied him. Heevus told us he and Nyuka had been together for quite some time. Nyuka had been a researcher in the biodomes of the Megaplex when they met."

V_044 temple V_044 temple

"One of the things that had initially drawn Heevus to The Valley was the evidence of numerous past inhabitants that had somehow disappeared over time. Archeological curiosities abounding. One place we saw on the way to his camp was possibly some sort of a temple, now obviously long abandoned. By whom? Or perhaps what?"

V_045 jerbo hut V_045 jerbo hut

"Another interesting place we saw was a jerbo hut. This one was one of a very few that had been found at widely separated locations. Was it a shelter, or maybe some sort of an outpost, again from who knew when or by whom it was used. Heevus and Nyuka had spent a lot of time investigating these sorts of places. Perhaps it was observing this curiosity that had led the nomads to allow contact."

V_050 desert rat habitat V_050 desert rat habitat

"Before long we arrived at Heevus' desert camp. It was a bit more than half way across the distance between the Megaplex and the Valley Wall. Most of the habitat's livable space was actually underground."

V_051 rodent sand dog pair V_051 rodent sand dog pair

"Heevus and Nyuka had a pair of the sand dogs named Bella and Luigi. They were kind of like pets."

V_051A sand dog pup V_051A sand dog pup

"This pair had one pup that Heevus and Nyuka had kept. The Leon made some remark about lunch nuggets that didn't go over real well."

V_052 sand scorpion V_052 sand scorpion

"I guess that made it seem like a good time for Heevus to tell us about some hellified critter called a sand scorpion. There was apparently some chance we might encounter one on our trek.
I am thinking trek? So we are going on a trek?
Now it looked like the script was indeed developing."

V_055 the sacred and the profane V_055 the sacred and the profane

"If this thing jabbed you it was virtually always fatal. But the time between being jabbed and death would seem like an eternity in your own personal Hell of pain, physical and emotional. Being jabbed was in fact how Heevus had met Nyuka. She was a researcher on sand scorpions, or more accurately the intended weaponization of sand scorpions, and she had possession of a potential antidote. They never said what had initially prompted her decision to rescue Heevus. Heevus told us that he had undergone every sort of spiritual conversion imaginable while he spent time in pain within the temple of the sacred and the profane. The rescue had led to gratitude and friendship and finally to romance. Now they were partnered."

V_056 trilobe_flux_unit V_056 trilobe_flux_unit

"There was a pause, a short lull in the talk, and then Heevus brought up the trilobe flux unit. There had been a spate of strange events or manifestations of late and one of the nomads had told Heevus of seeing something like a flux unit being bartered in or near Kingo Dorn. Even more, apparently some of the nomads were playing with one, that is they were actively exploring its capabilities. I saw the Leon cast a frown, and then I knew why we were here. Or at least part of why we were here."

V_057 the gate V_057 the gate

"Then Heevus showed us a viewbie of some structure called "The Gate" that was just a few clicks from Kingo Dorn. I gathered that Kingo Dorn was a settlement or at least some location of note. The Gate was apparently not a primitive structure, almost made a statement of sorts."

V_058 the gate 2 V_058 the gate 2

"But he told us to look closely at his next viewbie. It was obviously the same place and yet not quite somehow. The Leon's analytics picked up the addition of a new door of sorts in two places.
Heevus said that indeed was what was of import."

V_060 valley wall V_060 valley wall

"The next day we were all going to depart on a trek toward the Valley Wall, a range of steep mountains at the Valley's edge. We were all going to use exosuits but our transportation would be old school hiking on foot. The idea was to appear like we were all along on one of Heevus' archeology explorations, and it seemed the nomads frowned on vehicles."

V_061 Dillo V_061 Dillo

"Heevus had a pair of Pack Dillos and there was some discussion about using them. They were about a meter tall and each could easily pack 750 kilos for a long trek, and that without any food or water for weeks. Place like this they could be worth their weight in gold as they used to say."

V_065 round the fire V_065 round the fire

"Later we went outside and joined some folks at their fire. They had a sand dragon they had more or less domesticated and some of the adults would join us on the trek. Yes, the barbecue was excellent."

V_066 construction V_066 construction

"Just a bit after the barbecue we looked at a viewbie of some new construction activities that had been discovered by the nomads. We couldn't tell from just these viewbies, but the Leon and Heevus and Nyuka all said it looked to have other purposes than habitat. Maybe they were seeking the same thing we were set to look for."

V_067 strange huts V_067 strange huts

"And near this new construction there was also a new group of strange huts, but there was no sign of inhabitants or activity. All of this leant the impetus of curiosity to our quest."

V_080 the desert before them V_080 the desert before them

"Once we had traversed the Valley Wall range the high desert plateau lay seemingly endless before us.

V_081 sand dragon lizard V_081 sand dragon lizard

"We came up over some dunes and suddenly this huge sand dragon crested over a dune before us. Heevus wanted a closer look and took off up the dune."

V_082 trio of dragons V_082 trio of dragons

"Then, just about as quickly, another pair of dragons appeared, but these two looked like they could be holojects instead of real creatures. One of the nomads said this was the sort of strange things others had also seen."

V_083 sand dragon dunes V_083 sand dragon dunes

"But then the second pair kind of evaporated and the first one scuttled away over the dune and out of our sight."

V_084 the midday heat V_084 the midday heat

"There was little comfort in the heat and endless sand before us."

V_090 desert nomads V_090 desert nomads

"Finally we saw some desert nomads that were not in our group. Heevus said we were fairly near Kingo Dorn and this group might even be from there, more or less."

V_091 desert nomad V_091 desert nomad

"One of the nomads was an adult female who spoke with one from our group."

V_092 small herd V_092 small herd

"She had a small herd of some kind of livestock animal she was shepherding."

V_093 watching us V_093 watching us

"And strangely enough there was a fairly good sized group of sand dogs nearby watching us from their dune."

V_095 kingo dorn V_095 kingo dorn

"Just a few clicks later and we were at Kingo Dorn. It was now obvious that it was in fact some sort of a settlement, village sized by my approximation. No walls or boundary structure, just these round hut like buildings, some of them cone shaped. No grid or street layout, just random placement like mushrooms."

V_096 jug vendor V_096 jug vendor

"Near the outskirts of the built up area we came across this jug vendor set up in an open area. Kind of place you could use a good jug I am guessing."

V_097 vendor V_097 vendor

"Then we saw this guy with his brightly colored textile offerings, looked like clothing. The Leon told the fellow that he had an unusual collection, we didn't see such very often. So the fellow chuckles and pipes up with an "I should hope not! They are funeral garments." I was floored.

V_098 vendor2 V_098 vendor2

"We were coming up on a more densely built up area and we saw yet another jug vendor. There was something jarring about that." SheLa brayed with laughter at her pun.
"Anyway, this group or area all seemed to have these like straw hats instead of the hoods or caps on most of the nomads."

V_098A nomad 1 V_098A nomad 1

"Here and there on what might pass as a sidewalk we saw a nomad standing alone as though that corner might be their turf."

V_098B nomad traders V_098B nomad traders

"We saw two couples at barter who were obviously surprised that we saw them, and the Leon said a soft "ah ha, yes" to the rest of us.

V_099 nomad firepit V_099 nomad firepit

"By now it was evening and we joined a group around a village firepit to share sand dog barbecue or whatever other fare might appear. The occasional sand dragon offered a small change from the everyday."

V_100 masked nomad V_100 masked nomad

"We passed the night in our pop tents right out in an open area and the next day we were up at first light. We were dressed in our wardrobe department version of nomad couture (a slight chuckle) in the hope we'd better fit in."

V_101 awakening V_101 awakening

"We saw this guy waking up where he had fallen out. Most of the nomads had everything they owned on their back, and this guy looked to be no exception. Success was measured in terms of survival."

V_102 trading wares V_102 trading wares

"We saw these guys trading what looked to be pottery bowls. We asked them if they knew about any strange recent events, or a 'gate'. No, of course not. We should ask at the shop of many colors just down the way. Maybe our luck would improve."

V_105 upscale wares V_105 upscale wares

"Indeed, there was a place just a couple of spaces down from this shop, a place that looked to have colorful and perhaps upscale wares. There was no apparent enthusiasm for our presence, like we were a bunch of interlopers. Which, being honest, we were exactly.
Strangely, when we asked if they knew anything about a gate or magical events and sightings, they all immediately clammed up, looked away even. Except one woman, she might have been in charge, she pointed across the open area at a nomad standing by himself and said simply, "That one."
Then they all went back to haggling like we were no longer there. We took the hint."

V_106 nomad two V_106 nomad two

"This guy seemed almost to be expecting us as he watched us coming towards him. Even so his greeting came as at least a small surprise."

"Greetings and warm salutations Mr. Jeroob. I have heard so much about your good work." he piped up as we closed to hailing distance.

V_110 flux_unit2 V_110 flux_unit2

"Heevus asked him straightaway if he had ever seen a flux_unit or knew anything about them? No was the reply, but he knew who did. Progress."

V_115 the swap V_115 the swap

"So this fellow, his name was Churl, took us to meet a couple of traders with such knowledge. We had interrupted their bargaining, and Heevus asked them if they knew of any such artifact. They offered up that they did not have such a device, but they knew who did for a certainty.

V_120 the gate 1 V_120 the gate 1

"This next pair said that yes they knew of such things. They had also heard we might be coming. And they confirmed our understanding that this all involved a place called 'The Gate'. Indeed it did look like a gate but without much of a wall or fence. We had made the few clicks out to this place in good time, and yes now we could see there were now doors open to the outside. Heevus and the Leon went ahead to reconnoiter."

V_121 in the temple V_121 in the temple

"They found a small room through the door at the base of the gate. These guys had been out just looking around after a particularly strong sandstorm, and they had found the changes in the Gate, the doorway, which they were now referring to as the temple. In the temple, so they said, they could show us the flux unit."

V_129 Two shamen V_129 Two shamen

"The Leon and Heevus were either fearless or foolish, but they seemed to take what was said at face value. Anyway we all went into the room to watch what we were to be shown."

V_130 dimension shift V_130 dimension shift

"First there was something like a dimensional shift, distortions in their appearance."

V_131 deeper still V_131 deeper still

"And that became more profound pretty quickly."

V_132 Reaching dragons V_132 Reaching dragons

"But then these two guys normalized and whoa! They had pulled a dragon not too unlike those we had seen out in the desert on our trek."

V_134 dragonmancers V_134 dragonmancers

"Then the Leon said "Watch your eyes!" and even with my eyes closed I could see the two nomads and their dragon thingy all lit bright as Hell!"

V_135 magicians V_135 magicians

"In less than moments the dragon had disappeared and the Elon told the pair they had a dangerous toy."

V_136 conjured from bones V_136 conjured from bones

"The next thing you know he is telling them there are places they might not want to go. The home of the tiger for example."

V_137 casting ashes V_137 casting ashes

"Or strange places where only what the candle lit could be seen."

V_138 the shaman 2 V_138 the shaman 2

"And then he did some kind of an adjacency transform on the older of the pair. I found out later that it was as though he had become entrapped in some sort of invisible web where he could see us, even hear us, but we could not see nor hear him. He was effectively gone for the moment."

V_139 one gone V_139 one gone

"Then the Leon tells the remaining fellow, who is in amazement at all this anyway, that we might be able to retrieve his companion if they would show us where they got the flux unit, which by the way is with your friend gone the other side."

V_140 Grateful V_140 Grateful

"So the younger guy, he paused for just an instant before he replied, like he had to think about our proposition. When the one who had temporarily been 'los desaparecidos' renormalized he was shouting gratitude at whatever dieties he knew and joyful with his companion for making the right decision. All of which he had witnessed without interaction,"

V_141 Pointing V_141 Pointing

"And then he didn't waste any time pointing out where they had found the flux cube."

V_145 deep in the temple V_145 deep in the temple

"Deeper in the 'temple' and down a short passageway we found a room that contained a lot of what first appeared to be clay blocks and some pyramid object."

V_146 trove of artifacts V_146 trove of artifacts

"The Leon could use his flux cube to reveal what the trove of artifacts actually looked like. Numerous devices of some alien technology lay before us."

V_150 Learning to conjure bones V_150 Learning to conjure bones

"So the Leon told the traders they could keep the flux cube they had found. He even showeed them how to "conjure bones" or transform extra dimensional flesh to their presence that they might eat it. Heevus suggested helping to set these guys up to sell vegetables to the other nomads."

V_160 in the temple room1 V_160 in the temple room1

"Of course we knew The Alliance was going to take control of the operation, but while we were waiting for the drop ships the Leon showed us something about the temple front room."

V_161 in the temple room2 V_161 in the temple room2

"From inside the temple room you could operate the flux unit to reveal something new."

V_162 in the temple room3 V_162 in the temple room3

"A gateway portal of some sort could be revealed, a passageway or gate to another place not just outside the temple. More of interest from the alien tech. Even the alien flux units were different though the tech was compatible. The Elon revealed that he had surreptitiously swapped the alien unit the nomads had found with one of our tech."

V_165 science boys V_165 science boys

"Surprisingly the science boys were the first to drop a ship. While we continued to wait Heevus told the Leon he was thinking about maybe going through the gateway in the temple room. Then he asked the Leon if 'we' might like to join him and Nyuka, be the adventure of a lifetime. I guess out of politeness the Leon paused without reply like he might be thinking about it at least a bit. Didn't want to mock the idea as a quick out of hand response."

V_166 mil spec landers V_166 mil spec landers

"But when that mil spec hardware dropped out of the sky with the landers I knew where his loyalty lay."

V_167 land crawler V_167 land crawler

"When we saw the land crawlers we knew our guys were going to be here for the duration."

V_170 the favela V_170 the favela

"On the hop back to the Megaplex out of curiosity I asked the Leon what he liked so about the favela. He showed me a viewbie of a drawing he had made of his favela."

V_172 the understudy V_172 the understudy

"As it turned out we had hardly gotten back to the Megaplex when Jeevus called. Nyuka also nixed a trek through the hole in the wall, and Churl became their understudy."

This is V_175_upgrade_cyborg_toy. This is V_175_upgrade_cyborg_toy.

"We were going to lift from The Valley pretty quickly, but even so one of these sales types knew we were back in the Megaplex and was pitching us for the "new improved" exoderm on this cyborg we had looked at. A true sensual tactodermic delight. The Leon told them that we had reconnected out in the desert and we didn't really have any continued interest. I am not sure if it was the Leon or the salesperson that looked more surprised when I muttered "Oh bull manure!"

"It was a pretty quiet trip back, like tourists lost in our own thoughts. I mean, you know, I could live with a purely professional relationship."

This is V_180_Feral_the_Cat. This is V_180_Feral_the_Cat.

Feral the Cat interjected a rather catty remark by asking SheLa if she had just sighed at the conclusion of her last comment.

This is V_185_HyenasCityBKGND. This is V_185_HyenasCityBKGND.

It really wasn't that much of a surprise when the node dropped and all the avatars disappeared. Now it was just the night and Hyenas City.