MF99K

Nikola's Journal ("Data Log A")

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MF99K    2750
On 6/8/2020 at 3:23 AM, minespatch said:

Oh wow! It's over?

Yes and no. This is as far as I can really get with this formatting, as I don't really feel like doing everything from Nikola's perspective and the way I write stories tends to be making them intersect to the point that its hard to understand exactly what's going on without the full picture and I don't really know of a good way to do that. Might just paraphrase some random bits, might maybe add to the "journal" at some point, will probably mostly just play around with filling in holes in the story by having stuff in different perspectives and story formats. Will probably still post stuff here, but since Eya's arc is pretty much complete I figured it was at least a good place to pause

 

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MF99K    2750

owo what's this? rewriting the same story from other character perspective's for some reason?

 

Spoiler

It had been a couple days since several students started complaining of odd noises coming from the walls. Warper hadn’t thought much of it at first. A huge metal spaceship was bound to make some odd sounds from time to time. A couple students seemed to think there was something crawling around in the walls. It reminded her of back home, when her mother would insist there were rats in the walls, though Warper herself had never heard anything. But now she could hear them too. Squeaking and metallic scratching noises. The sounds were faint, but they were loud enough to give her insomnia, which meant they were officially a problem. She wondered if there could be rats in space. But the LUDUS, a shiny new royal flagship on its maiden voyage, seemed too clean to get vermin. 

 

She figured the best thing to do would get Lambert to investigate. The robot’s main job was doing electrical work in the walls anyway, and if there really were rats, they’d probably start chewing on the wires.

 

It didn’t take long for him to find an anomaly in the hull. Something had imbedded itself into the side of the ship, large enough that, had it been going the velocity of a normal space rock, could have torn a hole the size of a truck clean through the entire vessel. Since this meant it was incredibly unlikely that the object had been encountered while cruising, it was most likely something encountered while using a jumpgate, which meant the object was most likely from another universe of origin. All sorts of odd things were bound to happen when messing with spacetime, and even though jumpgates were much more stable than most forms of space-warping travel, it seemed to be the most plausible thing. 

 

The object was almost entirely surrounded by some incredibly hard, dark-hued mineral that even Lambert’s best tools couldn’t make a scratch in. However, there were several cracks in the surface just big enough to drill between, though it would take forever to try to crack the thing like an egg. It seemed like there were holes in the side of the object within the wall that were larger, so Lambert went about making some small probes and drones to try to view what was inside. Warper wasn’t sure what an extra-dimensional rock would have to do with whatever was making the squeaking noises, but Lambert discovered a connection fairly quickly.

 

“Warper, there’s uh… like… tiny people in this thing.”

“What?” She rushed over to the viewing screen for a closer look. Sure enough, small humanoid creatures seemed to be going about their day, communicating with each other through various hums and squeaks.

“gfgfhhs they’re so small,” Warper sputtered, grinning. “And adorable.”

“This thing’s still causing significant structural damage. I’m gonna need to remove it.”

Warper frowned.

“If you move it you might hurt the lil people in there. Maybe we can figure out a way to get them to come out first.”

Lambert sighed.

“Fine, I’ll try to get more information about what those things are and why they’re inside this. You have to be the one to figure out how to get them out though since you’re the one who cares.”

 

Oddly enough, for a while Lambert ended up paying more attention to the creatures inside the object than Warper did. She was supposed to be working, after all, and there were many aspects of life on a spaceship that could easily get distracting. 

 

Once she finally found time to focus on the little people again, Lambert had already spent enough time studying them to realize that they were coming from some sort of biological printer that was apparently able to synthesize bioink from passively absorbing fluids in its vicinity. These humanoids had then set up a small civilization contained entirely within the rock structure.

 

Warper had used bioprinters before, though she’d never used one to print out a fully-functional organism. Lambert had already collected extrusion data and template information and was fairly confident he could reverse engineer something similar if he had a separate bioprinter to start from.

 

Warper knew where she could find a bioprinter the right size, and figured since the things were so expensive she would be best off “borrowing” one from someone who wouldn’t notice.

 

It didn’t take long for Lambert to plug in the data and program the machine to be able to print the templates he had downloaded, but unfortunately none of the creatures they tried to print with the device were brought to life. Lambert suggested that Warper could dissect them, but Warper insisted that trying to get the thing to print stuff alive would be more useful. They ran out of bioink fairly early on in their experiment, so Warper went to get more while Lambert tried to solve the living thing issue. By the time she got back, Lambert had created some sort of neural implant that he had put into a printed creature and was able to somewhat bring it to life and control it. It gave Warper an idea.

“What if we customized a genetic template for those humanoids and set up the little implant thing so that we could hook it up to like a VR headset instead of just the controllers. Then I could control my own little humanoid and it would be small enough to get inside the rock and I could try to get more information about them in person.

“That shouldn’t be too difficult to set up,” Lambert agreed. “We’ve got a ton of extra VR stuff in the Basement. Editing a blueprint might be more work, and we’ll still need to figure out how to get through that black rock stuff eventually.”

“Get whatever hardware you think we’ll need and see if you can find an easy way to modify the templates and I’ll work on getting DNA samples from myself and see if there’s a special way to break through the rocks.”

 

It didn’t take long for Warper to collect genetic samples from herself and get them to Lambert, which meant she had more time to work on the odd mineral surrounding the boulder. If the object was from another universe, she suspected the material surrounding it could be another type of anomaly mineral, which meant that the right type of vibrational energy should be enough to send it back to its universe of origin. If the energy was kept in a concentrated form, it could be used to drill away sections of the barrier enough to remove it. The trouble would be finding the right tools for the job.

 

She tried several lasers and saws she didn’t think that Lambert had already tried before getting together some devices that might have a better chance of cutting through. She was able to knock off a few loose pieces, but didn’t have much luck in denting the more solid sections of rock. She considered amplifying the vibrations, but was worried about damaging the stuff inside. A more promising idea was to use a transdimensional device, probably a handheld one, to cut through the stuff like a knife and send it to wherever else in pieces. Opening portals inside objects tended to break them apart, even if made of a sturdy material. She chose one of her smaller dimensional carvers, a device about the size and shape of a linoleum knife, with buttons and a small LCD display for input and coordinate data.

She turned the device on and carefully carved a warp in spacetime into the resilient mineral. The carver didn’t last long on a single charge, one of the bigger downsides to smaller tools, but the distortion seemed to do its job, breaking away a piece of rock about the size of her fist. Behind it appeared to be more stone, but of a more ordinary composition that would be much easier to drill through.

She got out one of the more standard tools she had used earlier and carefully dug a tunnel as far into the rock as she could.

She peeked into the hole and saw a dim glow of light somewhere at the end of the tunnel. The strange little civilization was in sight.

 

When she got back to check on Lambert, he had already put together another neural implant and had set up a bunch of VR equipment in the lab. A computer had been set up to display the printer data, which Lambert was currently in the process of modifying. He looked up at Warper as she came in.

“I’ve almost got this all set up. I used your DNA to make the thing look a little more like you. Hopefully it’ll print out right.”

Warper leaned in towards the computer to take a look.

“Is it possible to change the color of their little shirts?”

Lambert shrugged.

“Probably? What color do you want it.”

“Fuchsia, hot pink, FF00FF. I don’t know, pink just seems like a good fit.”

Lambert spent a few more minutes making adjustments before finally telling the printer to print.

“I got a hole drilled into the rock,” Warper mentioned as the printer continued. “We could probably put the little printer guy in right now and walk around from there.”

Lambert nodded but didn’t respond.

 

The tiny clone seemed to print fine, with a bright pink shirt and comparatively long brown hair of a similar cut to Warper’s own hair. How exactly the machine could determine hair style from a genetic sample didn’t exactly make sense, but Warper was pleased with the result regardless.

 

Lambert went about attaching the neural implant into the clone and instructed Warper on how to turn on and start up the VR setup.

She sat down on the desk chair and carefully fit the head display onto her head as the screen flickered on.

 

 

Warper opened her eyes. In front of her was herself. Well, her real self anyways. She looked up at herself and grinned with excitement to see that the vessel she now propelled was absolutely tiny compared to who she actually was. She pressed her newly-printed hands into her cheeks.

"I'm so smoll," She giggled, squishing her cheeks further. She looked at her reflection on her phone, which was now larger than she was. 

 

She looked up at Lambert, who nodded and got up from his seat and approached her small form. She let the robot grab her gently in his rectangular fingers and carry her over to the tunnel she had dug into the stone. Even though the creatures living in the wall were adorable, and even though she now looked like one, she needed to figure out a way to relocate their little colony before they caused any real damage to the hull.

She crawled through the tunnel and eventually found herself in a tiny little corridor. It was quiet and empty, dimly lit by a few bulbs. She walked down towards one end of the hallway, but jumped as a voice yelled down at her from the other end.

"Hey! This area's off-limits!"

She turned around to find a red-haired lilliputian coming down the hall towards her. Warper smiled sheepishly as she saw that this particular female did not seem particularly pleased with her presence.

"Sorry, I'm just new. I got lost."

The red haired girl raised an eyebrow, then flicked her fingers in a way that pulled out a 2D holographic display showing a list of all the members of the colony. Warper could see there were around 25 faces.

"You're not on the list," the girl responded coldly.

"Oh, well, I just got printed, maybe it hasn't updated yet," Warper offered. She hoped the sweat she started to feel wasn't visible.

"It updates automatically," the redhead responded, scrutinizing Warper up and down, then pausing to think. She looked as if she suddenly had an idea, but Warper felt like something wasn't right.

"Oh, there you are," she said abruptly, closing the list before Warper could look at it. "I have a job for you, actually."

Warper sighed in relief and followed the red-haired humanoid.

They got to a mostly empty room, which was somewhat unkempt. Someone appeared to be sleeping in the corner.

"Make this room bigger. Deconstruct the wall there." the girl waved dismissively at the wall. "Then dig out whatever's behind it and build a new wall.

Warper realized she wasn't exactly sure how to do this.

"Uh, what do I use to-?"

"Your multitool, of course. Just hit the button by your glove right there."

Warper hit the side of her glove and jumped back as a large, weapon-like device suddenly appeared in her hands.

"Like that."

Warper could tell the redhead was getting somewhat impatient, and did her best to destroy the wall and dig out the area behind it as quickly as possible. She glanced back.

"Good, now build the wall back there with the stuff you dug up."

It took Warper a minute to figure out how to build the wall, but once she figured it out she was able to build it back up fairly quickly.

"There we go. Was there anything else or-" She turned around to see that the red-haired girl was gone. She went towards the door but found that it was locked.

"Did she just leave?" She heard a noise behind her and turned around to see that whoever had been asleep in the corner had woken up and was coming towards her. It was another female, though instead of legs her lower half looked like a larva of some sort. A tiny fang protruded from her upper lip.

"She locked you in," the girl muttered. "No one ever leaves here after the door closes behind them..."

"Sorry to ask, but what's with the larva stuff? Like, your legs..."

"It's a mistake. I got printed like this," She frowned and looked down at her squishy abdomen.

"Did she lock you in here because of that?"

"Kind of... Nisbet... locks people in here that she... wants to get rid of. Like, if she doesn't trust them, or they did something bad, or..."

"Well I guess I was snooping around where I wasn't supposed to be, which is a little bit of both of those things." She walked closer to the unusual creature. The girl tried to back away from her, scrunching up her abdomen, but was too squishy to actually get much farther away.

"You shouldn't get that close to me. The worm part might wake up."

Warper paused, confused.

"The worm part? Like, you're two creatures fused together? And the other half is dormant right now?"

She nodded.

"My... name's Eya," She muttered again, looking down at the floor.

"Oh, well my name's-"

"No no no!" Eya interrupted. "Don't tell me your name. It'll only make things harder..."

"Harder for what?"

"No one ever leaves here. Do you understand?" Eya teared up a little.

"So you're saying that I'm gonna die, and that's why you don't want my name. You don't want to get attached?"

Eya nodded.

"But, there aren't any skeletons here or anything. Just some gloves and stuff around. And from what I understand, I'm the one who's gonna die, not you? How exactly are people dying in here...?"

"I...it...we...eat them..." Eya stumbled over the words, shaking.

"Ah...lovely..." Warper said with sarcasm. This was certainly not how this reconnaissance was supposed to be going. She would probably have to get as much information as she could before getting eaten, and then would have to print out another little clone and try again. 

"You're not scared?" Eya asked, apparently surprised.

"Eh, maybe a little. Not really what I expected, but wouldn't be the first time I've been eaten alive. More of an inconvenience than anything."

"You've... been eaten alive before? And survived?"

"I mean, yea, technically. This would probably be the first time I'd ever get...digested, though. But I can just, like, make another one and come back."

"You mean get reprinted?"

"Yea."

"But duplicants don't retain their memories when they get reprinted."

Warper smiled.

"I'm a bit of an exception to that."

Eya seemed both hopeful and confused.

"So...even if I eat you, you won't die?"

"Nope. And I think once I figure out what's going on here, I might even be able to fix all of this."

"Fix?"

"I can get you out of here. And take care of that girl that keeps locking people in here with you. And I'll be the last...duplicant? that you'll ever eat."

"You won't hurt Nisbet though, right? I don't want anyone to get hurt. Even if they're doing bad things."

"Oh no, don't worry about that. I'll be careful. But I want you to tell me everything. How this all started. Why Nisbet is forcing you to eat people."

 

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MF99K    2750

more of Warper's persp. I have a more detailed version of the first part but first person persp of getting eaten seemed a little much so i abridged it lmao.
 

Spoiler

 

Eya did her best to explain what had happened; that there had been a food shortage and all the suspects were locked up together, that one of them tried to eat her and triggered the worm into eating him and another duplicant who was locked up, and how eventually the last two who were left with her were eaten as well, and how Nisbet had refused to help. Warper could tell that Eya felt guilty about what had happened, and tried to make her feel better, but it wasn’t long before the worm woke up and Warper got to experience first hand what had happened to the duplicants in Eya’s story. The worm didn’t seem to be able to see very well, so Warper was able to dodge it for quite a while, but she knew that there wasn’t a way out of here for her, and eventually allowed the worm to feed once she was satisfied she had learned all she needed to know about the creature. It had grabbed her with a sticky tongue like a chameleon’s, which was probably a useful adaptation to have for such an otherwise slow creature. Once Eya had woken up again, she apologized profusely, and Warper did her best to reassure her that it wasn’t her fault and that everything would be ok, before the little remote controlled clone lost consciousness and Warper was back to using her normal human body.

She slowly took off her equipment and sighed. Things were always more complicated than they needed to be.

She got up to go to Lambert and found him still waiting at the hole in the asteroid. When he saw her, he got up angrily and walked towards her.

“You just disconnected it? We’re not gonna be able to get it back out, and we can’t reconnect it from inside.”

“It got eaten,” Warper responded flatly.

“…what?”

“There was some like, mutant one i got locked in a room with for being suspicious.”

“How is it that we can’t manage to do anything without something trying to eat you??”

Warper shrugged.

“Bad luck?”

“Why don’t we just get rid of it then if they’re forcing each other to cannibalize people then?”

“What? No, nono, that’s not it. I’m pretty sure only one of them’s forcing the mutant one to eat people. We can’t just yeet them all out into space because one of them’s a bad person. There’s a red-haired one, Nisbet, who caught me snooping and tricked me into getting locked in with the mutant one, Eya. Eya said that Nisbet had locked 5 of them together after the food supply ran low, cause i guess some of them were known to stress eat. And Eya’s lower half is this worm monster thing that takes over when she’s hungry and it ate everyone else and then me just now.”

“You were able to communicate with them? But they were just making weird squeaking noises.”

“Yea, it was weird, when I was in there they were just speaking english. Maybe the fact they’re so small makes it sound higher pitched or something normally. I didn’t really think about that at first.”

Lambert looked at the meteor as if he was thinking about something, but didn’t respond.

“I used one of my dimensional carvers to break up the rock. It might take a while but you should be able to break more chunks off.”

Lambert nodded.

“…Would you be willing to make another of those little remote clones for me?” Warper asked.

Lambert frowned.

“That thing took a while to make.”

“Well, yeah, but you know what you’re doing this time. It’ll be faster. And I’m not gonna be dumb enough to get locked in the room with the monster girl again.”

Lambert raised his eyebrow. Warper sighed.

“It’s gonna take a while for me to cut off more of the black rock anyways,” Warper continued. “I already made a dent so it should go by faster too.”

Lambert reluctantly agreed.

 

Edited by MF99K
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MF99K    2750

more Warper persp. Massive text dump lmao:
 

Spoiler

It took a while to dig out one whole side of the rock, but once it had been cleared, Warper had a better idea of exactly how large the colony inside was. None of the colony had been exposed, save for the tunnel she had dug earlier, but all the rock inside was the same softer minerals like sandstone that would be much easier to dig through. If she was careful enough, she could probably dig around the colony enough to remove it in one piece, but she’d still probably need to remove everyone inside first for their safety.

She wore away at the softer rock until she was able to make out the outline of the colony and cleared away some debris that had formed around the tunnel she had made. She wasn’t sure how much further she should dig, as she didn’t want to damage the colony or scare the little people inside to death. Warper decided that despite his unpredictability, Entropy might be good at assisting with what she needed next. The serpent-like canine was able to see in infared, which meant he might be able to figure out exactly how big the colony was and where it was inside the rock based on the heat signature. On top of that, his gaseous venom could induce drowsiness, which could be useful for knocking the duplicants unconscious so she could collect and move them without causing mass panic. This wasn’t even including his anomalous supernatural abilities, with changing size and phasing through walls holding potential for easier access and surveillance of the colony.

Entropy agreed to help and seemed to be rather curious about the whole thing, but Warper was still wary, as his habit of shoving warm blooded animals into his mouth would very much not be an asset to her endeavors.

Entropy remained fairly well behaved while helping and was able to pinpoint certain areas of the colony so tat Warper could dig around them. He also confirmed that there were approximately 25 colony members like Warper had seen on Nisbet’s list. Warper wasn’t quite ready to let Entropy explore the colony, partially because she still didn’t trust him, but also because she planned to do that herself once Lambert had set everything up with the clone. She figured she could bring a little pad of paper like a sticky pad and map out the colony while being as inconspicuous as possible.

Lambert was impressed with the progress Warper had made, and suggested they work on figuring out where to put the colony and colonists before excavating too much more. Warper pointed out that this was something he could work on while she explored, and he agreed. She also suggested that instead of waiting for her by the colony, he should stay with her human self so that they would be able to communicate in case she needed anything.

Warper went back into the colony after setting up the clone and decided to check the room she had been trapped in previously. She cautiously approached and peeked through the chain link door to see that someone else had been locked in the room with Eya. The duplicant had spiky blond hair, and unlike Eya and Nisbet’s red shirts, his shirt was a dull yellow color. Eya appeared to be sleeping, but the other dupe appeared to be examining her curiously. Suddenly the worm awoke and began trying to eat his head. Warper flinched and looked around frantically for a way to help without getting stuck in the room again. She remembered her multitool, and summoned the device, ramming it in the door to prop it open. By the time she had gotten the door secured, she looked up to see that Eya had managed to wake up in time to free the other duplicant, and her help was no longer needed. Warper moved away from the door so she couldn’t be seen and debated what to do next. She figured it would be best to avoid interacting with the colony members just in case Nisbet found out about her presence and locked her with Eya again, but still wanted to help the duplicant in the room with Eya. The door was jammed open, so he’d be able to get out as soon as he noticed it. She decided to use one of the sticky notes she had brought to map out the colony and wrote a note on the paper to avoid Nisbet but leave Eya where she was. She stuck the note onto the multitool and walked away quietly to survey the base. She figured she would check back on Eya later once the other duplicant had left.

The colony was more vast and populated than Warper had anticipated, making it almost impossible to avoid detection. She ended up staying more on the outskirts where there was less traffic, but still passed a few colony members on the way. They seemed too busy to pay her much mind, so Warper figured that as long as she didn’t run into Nisbet or any overly curious dupes that she would probably be fine.

Once Warper had finished mapping the perimeter of the base and all the areas that seemed to be low traffic, she decided to check on Eya again. The other duplicant was gone, but her multitool was still next to the door, though it was no longer propped open. She peeked through the door and saw Eya, who looked up once she felt her gaze.

“You’re back. You were the one who propped the door open earlier, weren’t you?”

“Yep. I told you I’d be back, didn’t I?”

“I kinda started to think you’d only said those things so I wouldn’t feel bad about eating you..” Eya muttered, looking down.

“Nisbet hasn’t forced you to eat anyone else already, has she?”

“Well, she tried to feed Nikola to me, but you kind of helped prevent that.”

“Is he the spiky haired one I saw in here earlier?”

“Yeah. He got pretty lucky.”

Warper began trying to prop the door open again but Eya interrupted.

“You probably shouldn’t come back in right now, I’m feeling a little hungry and weird and I don’t want the worm to come out and eat you again.”

“I can get you food,” Warper offered. Eya seemed to perk up at the idea. Warper smiled and went back towards the tunnel she had dug. Once she was inside, she spoke to Lambert through her human form.

“Lambert, you there?”

“Yea. What’s up?”

“Can you get some like, grapes or something? Need to make sure the worm thing gets fed so no one gets eaten.” 

“Uh, yea sure. Bring it to the tunnel thing you dug?”

Warper nodded.

She switched fully back to the duplicant and walked the rest of the way to the entrance. A few minutes later Lambert came back with a bunch of white grapes and tore off a piece that would fit in the tunnel and handed it to Warper.

Warper brought the grapes back to Eya and propped the door back open. Eya was excited to try the fruits, but was unable to swallow them. She explained that the dupe that was with her earlier, Nikola, had made a snare around her neck to prevent her from swallowing him, which is part of how he was able to survive. Eya was resistant to taking off the snare, as she didn’t want to risk eating anyone else, but also didn’t want to go hungry, so she allowed Warper to remove it. She ate all the grapes very quickly, and thanked Warper for the food, but neither of them were fully sure how to put the snare back on. Right when Warper had started trying to secure it, she sensed that someone was nearby, and hastily dropped the snare and went out the door. She apologized to Eya, who seemed very concerned about not having the snare secured, but Warper was more worried about getting seen by Nisbet. She pulled the multitool out of the doorway and hid in the tunnel entrance. She stayed just far enough down the tunnel to be hidden in the dark but still have some view of the hallway. Sure enough, footsteps approached from down the hall and the red-head Warper was increasingly disliking came into view. Nisbet approached the doorway to Eya’s cell and peeked inside. She seemed pleased to see that Eya was alone.

“How’d that doctor taste, hm?”

Eya looked down at the floor and shifted uncomfortably. Nisbet smirked and entered the room.

“Where’d all this mess come from?” Nisbet questioned, kicking at the grape stem and what was left of the snare. Eya stayed quiet. Nisbet shrugged and picked the stem and snare up and tossed them out into the hallway.

“It really is a shame,” Nisbet added. “He was rather smart, but a bit too smart for his own good. Asking too many questions. If he wasn’t so curious he wouldn’t have had to die.”

Eya sniffled and glared up at Nisbet. Nisbet smirked again.

“It’s not like I can just let you go without food.”

Warper glared from the dark of the tunnel. As a human it would be easy to deal with Nisbet, it was only a matter of finding the right time and a way to get her hands inside the colony. 

Warper decided she needed to switch back to being an average human and had Lambert retrieve the clone from the tunnel. They decided to keep it in a temporal freezer to preserve it, as neither of them were really sure how well it would last when not under some form of control. She briefed Lambert on what had happened and explained that they would need to find a good spot to relocate the colony soon and that she planned to deal with Nisbet as soon as possible. She shared the crude map she had made of the colony perimeter as well.

“The wall along the lab office is mostly hollow,” Lambert offered. “We’d probably have enough space to relocate the colony. But if we rush it, we might damage stuff or freak out the little people.”

“At this point it’s for their own good,” Warper pointed out. “Giants moving their house around might be scary, but being eaten by a big worm is probably worse. Plus we can just get Entropy to knock ‘em out with the neurotoxin he produces and then get him to collect them. If they’re unconscious they won’t get as freaked out.”

“Giving them high doses of natural sleep gas probably isn’t good either…” Lambert pointed out.

“The venom is designed to incapacitate, not kill. They might be small but the vapor is diluted enough they should be fine. It’ll probably only knock ‘em out long enough for us to move the colony. Entropy knows what he’s doing.”

Lambert sighed and shrugged.

“As long as you know what you’re doing I guess. I’ll work on getting the wall ready for them.”

At some point while they were getting ready, a student came by, apparently looking for Warper’s help with something. Evidently he had gotten distracted by what they were doing, and offered to help, though Warper had to make sure he would be willing to keep it secret. It probably wouldn’t be too big of an issue for others on the ship to know about the colony, but since Warper already wasn’t on the best terms with the ship’s captain, she figured that the fewer people knew about all this, the better.

The student and Lambert found an prepared a space in the office lab’s wall large enough to fit the colony. Some piping in the wall had to be rerouted around the

area, but Warper thought they could use the extra piping left over as a travel network, as it would make it easier to get into the colony if she could enter from the desk directly. As Lambert and the student made some final preparations, Warper had Entropy do a survey of the colony with his thermal vision to get tabs on where all the colonists were. Most of the colonists were busy and moving around quite quickly, but Entropy reported that there were a total of 5 duplicants, a group of 3 and a group of two (in separate sections of the base) who appeared to be stationary. Based on where the group of three was and Entropy’s description of the group, Warper was pretty sure that the three were in Eya’s cell and included Eya, which meant that either two duplicants had been locked in with her, or that one of the dupes was Nisbet and was in the process of locking someone in. As for the pair of dupes on the other side of the base, Warper was unsure, but she was certain one of the 5 dupes was Eya and had a feeling Nisbet was one of the others. Part of her wanted to get Entropy to just sedate everyone and get it over with, but the fact that someone was probably stuck with Eya made her nervous. She’d probably need to go into the colony before they did anything with it, and she kind of wanted to deal with Nisbet and Eya herself.

“I’m gonna go back in with the clone and make sure there won’t be any setbacks coming from inside. When I give the signal, we start.”

She grabbed a couple grapes and put them into the hole before switching back to the duplicant and entering, taking the grapes with her to help whoever was inside with Eya. 

Sure enough, as soon as she got inside she could hear voices coming from Eya’s cell. She peeked through the doorway to see who was inside and saw Eya with the spikey-haired dupe from earlier, as well as another she didn’t recognize. She wanted to help them, but felt it would be better to get tabs on Nisbet first since it seemed that they weren’t in any immediate danger. She hid the grapes in the tunnel entrance and headed towards where Entropy had detected the pair of dupes. Warper could be wrong about her hunch of course, but if Nisbet wasn’t with the group of three, she was probably one of the duplicants in the group of two. She reached a metal doorway and could hear voices on the other side. She put her ear against the door and detected Nisbet’s voice along with another female she didn’t recognize. While she wanted to hear what they were discussing, she wanted to prioritize making things easier for her future human self. If she could trap Nisbet in the room, assuming it only had one door, which seemed likely given the room’s location in the colony, it would be much easier to capture her and deal with her when the colony was getting transplanted. The other duplicant in there with her might suffer mental collateral damage from seeing a giant, but Warper figured that catching Nisbet was still priority. Exactly how to trap Nisbet in the room would be its own challenge.

The doors in the colony seemed to have some sort of permissions-based lock system that Nisbet had used to create the cell for Eya. If Warper could find a way to hack this system, she’d be able to lock them both in. She examined the door for a couple minutes before uncovering a small panel next to the door. It took her a moment to pry the latch open, but inside was exactly what she needed. The interface contained a list of all the colony members, including their names and face, alongside an interactive door permissions column that could be used to limit travel for all or specific colony members. She found Nisbet in the list and removed her door permissions and was satisfied before remembering the other duplicant with her. As long as the other duplicant had permissions, they’d be able to open the door and leave. Warper didn’t know who was with her, so her best bet would be to block access to anyone attempting to use the door. She eventually decided to lock the door completely. Satisfied that the door was sufficiently locked, she rushed back to check on Eya and the dupes trapped with her, grabbing the grapes before coming in. 

In her rush she had forgotten about the door and froze as she heard it clank shut behind her. She grinned awkwardly as she saw all three of the duplicants staring at her.

“Hi….”

“You let the door close on you,” the blond one who Warper was pretty sure was named Nikola stated disappointedly. “We could have gotten out.”

“You’re the duplicant Nisbet mentioned, aren’t you?” the other duplicant questioned. She had dark skin and a double-bun haircut that reminded Warper of toy ears.

“I can’t say I know who Nisbet was talking about if I wasn’t around for that conversation…” Warper offered.

“Yeah, Banhi, she’s the one Nisbet was talking about,” Eya answered, a tone of disappointment in her voice similar to Nikola’s. Warper walked up to the blond dupe and noticed he was jotting something down on an electronic tablet of some sort. She peeked over his shoulder to get a better look, but backed off once she sensed he was uncomfortable with her presence.

“So if I’ve got this right, you two are Nikola and Banhi?” Warper asked. They nodded.

“And you are?” Nikola interrogated.

“I- it’s not really important who I am, Eya said she didn’t want my name anyways.”

“I only said that cause I thought the worm was gonna kill you!” Eya defended.

“Well, considering we’re stuck together again…”

“And who’s fault is that?” Nikola responded accusingly.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got everything under control. I brought grapes.” 

“You…what?”

“Grapes. Fruit. These things.” Warper picked up the grapes and offered them to Banhi and Nikola. They both grabbed one but seemed confused.

“This food is insufficient to sustain all four of us,” Nikola pointed out. “As soon as Eya goes hungry that worm will eat one of us.”

“Oh that,” Warper waved dismissively, then froze for a moment and shuddered as she realized what she was about to offer up.

“Don’t worry about the worm, it’ll be fine. All part of the master plan.”

“I’m sorry, you want the worm to eat one of us?!” Banhi asked incredulously.

“Well, er, me specifically… see, Eya might’ve mentioned that she’s…eaten me before and, well, I’m technically immortal like this, so it won’t be…that much of a deal if it happens again.” Warper paused as she realized how pissed off Lambert would be when he realized a clone had gotten eaten again.

“I-I mean, for you guys, you’re all actually in this room right now. For me, this body is just a vessel, it’s not actually me. I’ll have to print a new one eventually anyways, and I’ll be back to my actual self soon so I can deal with Nisbet, since I can’t really do that in my current form anyways.”

“And why didn’t you just leave the door open?” Banhi asked. Nikola inspected the grape he had been handed before carefully taking a bite. Bang glanced at him and did the same, then looked back to Warper expectantly.

“Things in this colony are gonna get complicated pretty soon, so it’s better if everyone stays put. I didn’t have enough grapes for all of you, and I need to get rid of this form before it degrades, so I figured it would be best just to let Eya eat it. I mean, no one besides me has survived or witnessed it, so it might be important for you to know what happens when the worm wakes up since it might help you survive.”

“How are you going to make certain that the worm consumes you as opposed to either of us?” Nikola asked, still scrutinizing Warper thoroughly.

“Proximity,” Warper responded. “The worm is gonna go for whoever’s closest. As long as you two stay far away it should be fine.” She walked over to Eya as Banhi and Nikola backed away cautiously. She sat down in front of Eya and leaned back so that her head rested on the front of Eya’s abdomen. Eya glanced down at her nervously.

“…Are you sure?” Eya asked.

Warper considered for a moment. Her only other option was to disconnect the duplicant, which would be the equivalent of randomly “dying” in front of them, after which point it would still be eaten, which meant there was no scenario in which it wouldn’t be eaten. While she didn’t exactly want to experience getting swallowed whole by Eya again, she knew that she’d be able to give the other two duplicants useful information, even if they might get mentally scarred in the process.

“It’ll be fine, it didn’t hurt before when I ‘died’. I’m basically immortal. I wouldn’t have come up with this plan if it hurt.”

She glanced at the other two duplicants to see that they seemed somewhat intrigued yet wary. Nikola was holding his tablet as if ready to start taking notes the second she got consumed. Warper tensed as she could hear the worm start to move inside Eya. Eya groaned and started to look queasy. She tried to steady herself but it was clear that she was starting to fight waves of nausea. 

“It’s- gonna come out,” Eya gagged. Warper stared directly ahead and shuddered. She was very much starting to regret this decision, but there wouldn’t be any turning back now. A sudden shift of expression from curiosity to disgust and horror on the two other dupes’ faces told her without looking that the worm had won out against Eya again and was now hanging with its open maw directly above Warper’s head. 

Suddenly everything became dark and slimey. The worm was faster this time, consuming its prey within moments, leaving Warper laying quietly in the gooey blackness.

Finally she heard concerned muffled voices. Warper had to strain to listen in, but she could make out what was being said.

“It can just… eat people whole??” Banhi gasped. Warper couldn’t see her expression but she could sense her fear despite the difficulty hearing.

“Nisbet did say the creature Eya was accidentally fused with was able to eat duplicants ‘in a single gulp.’” Nikola stated, apparently still primarily curious despite the circumstances. “Some of the data that was collected from the ruins implies that the worm was initially intended to dispose of corpses, but that it had a habit of eating duplicants regardless of if they were dead or not and was removed from whatever experiments they were conducting due to liability.”

“Uh, speaking of being dead…” Warper spoke as clearly as she could. There was a pause outside that most likely meant they had heard her. “I’m not yet.”

More silence. Finally Nikola spoke.

“There can’t possibly be enough oxygen in there to sustain life for an extended period of time.”

“I know, there isn’t.” Warper responded. “Last time it was only a few minutes before my clone ran out of oxygen and went unresponsive. My guess is I probably only have a couple minutes left this time too.”

Eya made a quiet noise of distress.

“They… stay alive in there…for several minutes?” Banhi asked. “So everyone else who was…eaten…was still conscious afterwards, and had to just accept that… including…. Bubbles.”

“I’m sorry,” Eya breathed. “I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to upset you guys any more than you were already but….”

Warper could sense her duplicant fading.

“It… at least it doesn’t hurt?” Warper offered. “I know it doesn’t mean a whole lot coming from me since I’m the only one who can survive it, technically. Not gonna last a whole lot longer in here.” She paused. “But don’t worry, I’m gonna deal with Nisbet before Eya gets hungry again so you won’t be stuck in here much longer.”

“You talked about dealing with Nisbet before,” Eya noted. “What exactly are you gonna do?”

“As soon as I’m back in my real body I’ll…well, she won’t get hurt or anything but she’ll certainly start to rethink everything she’s done. Just… things might get kinda weird and maybe scary for you guys today but try not to freak out too much.”

“That is incredibly unreassuring and vaguely unsettling,” Nikola stated. “Somehow the vagueness of that response is more disturbing than the fact you are currently communicating with us from inside a digestive organ,” he continued.

“I’m not great at explaining things,” Warper admitted. “Just my true form might scare you guys I guess. But I feel…slow….I think there isn’t any more air..”

She could hear Nikola try to say something in response, but the connection she had on the clone started to fail. Soon she was back in her real body, sitting quietly with the headset on her head. She took it of and got up to head back to the room that contained the colony.

 

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MF99K    2750

smoll angry redhead bean gets arrested
 

Spoiler

When Warper entered the room, Lambert, Entropy and the student were waiting for her. Lambert looked her up and down and gave her a disapproving look upon noticing the absence of the clone, but Warper ignored him.

“Gimme the saw. We’re cracking this thing open now.” She grabbed the cutting tool from Lambert and traced her finger along the edge of the room Nisbet was inside. Surely she’d noticed the door was locked by now.

“You can’t just cut it open like that, there are a couple of those creatures in that room still,” Lambert pointed out.

“If they’re smart, they’ll get out of the way,” Warper grimaced and turned on the blade. The saw cut into the wall, letting out a metallic whir that shook the rest of the rock. Dust and sparks blew from the wall. As she cut around the perimeter, the saw jammed on something hard, forcing her to cut around it. She was careful to only push the saw as deep as the wall was thick, as even though she was rushing the process, she still didn’t want to hurt the two duplicants inside. Finally the cuts were deep enough she was able to remove two sections of wall to reveal the room inside. She peeked inside to find Nisbet standing protectively in front of the other duplicant. Both of them appeared to be shaking, though Nisbet was holding a multitool that seemed to be a weapon of some sort. Neither of them appeared to be harmed. She didn’t want to deal with Nisbet if she was armed, but the multitool was most likely magnetic. She grabbed a stick magnet from the toolkit and stuck it into the room. A noise that sounded like a tiny weapon firing emanated from the room. She looked inside and stuck the magnet onto the multitool. Nisbet squeaked and tried to hold on to the weapon as the magnet grabbed a hold of it, but Warper was able to easily shake her off and remove the magnet with the multitool still attached. She handed the magnet off to Lambert before shoving her hand inside the hole. Several panicked squeaks emanated from the room as she pinned Nisbet to the floor with her hand and grabbed her. Warper pulled her hand out of the hole and grinned. Nisbet struggled against her grip, and was much stronger than Warper had anticipated, but she was used to holding small animals and kept a firm but gentle grip on the terrified duplicant. She glanced over at the others.

“I need you to remove the door in that room. It’s locked and we need airflow in order for Entropy to sedate the other ones. Cover up the holes with tape in the meantime. I’ll take care of this one.” She felt a light pinch on her finger and glanced down to see Nisbet attempting to bite her. Her small round teeth were too blunt to break skin.

“Vicious,” Warper said sarcastically. “Who knew something so tiny could be so angry.” She looked back up at the others.

“Also, there’s one of them that has a larva body instead of legs. Keep that one separate I have plans for her too.” She left the room to go find something to keep Nisbet in. Nisbet was still squirming in her hand and squeaking angrily.

“You’re just such an angry smoll,” Warper cooed. “I’m not gonna hurt you. But you did some pretty bad things so big scary giant’s gotta put you in meany jail.” She entered the cluttered storage room and glanced around for a usable container. She found a bird cage on one of the shelves that seemed to be the right size, though it would take up a bit of space on her desk. She decided it was good enough, and carried the cage and Nisbet back into the lab office. Nisbet continued to bite and squirm, prompting Warper to pull the duplicant up to her face.

“Look, I don’t know what you think you’ll achieve by getting out of my hand. It’s quite the drop and you’d just hurt yourself. As for the biting, I’d rather you not, since it should be clear to both of us that it doesn’t hurt, so you’re basically just licking my finger, which is gross.”

Nisbet stopped squirming for a moment and stared at her, but it was unclear if she actually understood. Warper entered the office and placed the cage on the desk and put Nisbet inside it. She locked the cage door and went back to the room where the colony was.

Once she got back, Entropy had already sedated and collected all of the duplicants from the colony and placed them in a large plastic bin. He trotted up to her carrying Eya gently in his mouth and dropped her into Warper’s hands.

“This’s the one you were talking about, right?” Entropy asked.

“…yeah, uh. Thanks,” Warper responded. She noticed that the fact Eya had eaten recently was visibly obvious and looked away. She turned towards the bin and peaked inside. She counted 23 colonists, which meant that including Eya and Nisbet, the colony had 25 members like Warper had estimated. Lambert recovered some kind of data bank while he and the student were relocating the colony that included detailed information on all 25 members. It seemed like some of the colony members had specified roles assigned to them. Banhi and the duplicant who had been locked in the room with Nisbet were researchers. Nikola appeared to be some sort of doctor. Nisbet herself hadn’t been marked with any particular role, which Warper thought was odd since she seemed to be some sort of authority figure that was running the whole thing. Warper took Eya back to the office and placed her in a plastic tray after lining it  with a soft fabric.

 

Lambert and the student started transporting and transplanting the colony into the designated section of wall. Lambert had figured out that each duplicant had a corresponding bed, and had each one marked so they could place the unconscious dupes in the correct ones later on. In the meantime, Warper and Entropy brought the sleeping dupes into the lab office. Nisbet was pacing in her cage nervously, occasionally squeaking something angrily at Warper. Unfortunately for Nisbet, it was much more adorable than it was intimidating. Warper unlocked the cage and reached her hand inside to grab Nisbet. Nisbet dodged and tried to run away, but Warper cut her off and grabbed her. More angry squeaking. She pulled Nisbet up to her face and tried to speak as calmly as possible.

“Look, I know you can’t understand me right now. I’ll figure out a way to fix that soon. I’m not going to hurt you.”

Nisbet didn’t seem to get much calmer, and glanced down at the bin full of unconscious dupes. She clearly couldn’t tell that they were still alive, and became even more stressed out and aggressive than before. 

Warper pulled her other hand up and gently pet the angry duplicant on the head. Nisbet tried to bite her at first, then tried to escape the finger, before finally giving up and calming down enough that Warper was able to stroke her head. She sat down and continued to try to calm Nisbet. She wasn’t sure how long she was there, but Lambert came in and announced that the colony had been completely relocated except for the wall of the barracks area, and that the sleeping dupes should be returned to their beds before installing the wall so they’d all wake up in bed before the sedative wore off. Warper agreed and put Nisbet back into the cage before bringing the bin into the new room and helped put all the dupes in their corresponding beds. She stuck a sticky note onto Eya’s room in case anyone came by once they woke up since the hole from where the tunnel was was still exposed. Lambert finished fixing up all the holes in the colony and closed the wall back up so that only a small latch where the tunnel used to be was visible. Lambert cleaned up the room where the colony had previously been and prepared the area for vacuum purging so he would be able to remove the rest of the meteor and repair the hull without losing oxygen or pressure to the void of space. In the meantime Warper decided to look through the information they had collected while keeping an eye on her two new humanoid pets. After some length of time, she noticed movement in the tray she had put Eya and saw that the dupe was slowly starting to wake up. She seemed rather dazed and understandably confused. Nisbet squeaked to get her attention and Eya looked up at the cage. Nisbet made another series of squeaks and pointed towards Warper. Eya looked up at Warper, still evidently half-asleep, but seemed equally confused and frightened by her size. She stared at her for a moment before suddenly seeming more aware and seemed to recognize her as the weird duplicant from earlier. This was probably partially since she had more context as to what was going on from what they had been told before getting sedated, as opposed to Nisbet, who had zero context as to why any of this was happening and was much more distressed. Eya seemed to explain the situation to Nisbet by exchanging squeaks. Nisbet seemed to be less fearful after the discussion, but also seemed to be a tad bit angrier. Warper had to attend to other things, so she placed some grapes inside the cage and in front of Eya and went off to do her other tasks.

 

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Spoiler

Warper had gotten sidetracked with her other duties, and was unable to check on the duplicants until close to bedtime. Eya seemed fine, but both of the dupes were out of food so Warper brought them more grapes. She would need to vary their food eventually, but she was too busy to produce tiny entrees for them any time soon. Nisbet seemed desperate to use a restroom, though there weren’t really any around her size, so Warper grabbed her and dropped her in a sink basin.

“Just go or whatever, I don’t feel like cleaning up after you.”

She left her in the sink for several minutes until she figured the dupe was probably done before returning. Nisbet seemed to be trying to find a way out, but kept slipping down while trying to scramble up the sides.

“You gotta wash up first,” Warper said, turning the faucet on before Nisbet could react. The dupe made a surprised angry squeak as she was drenched in cold water. She glared at Warper as the human picked her up and dried her off with a washcloth before bringing her back into the cage. Warper noticed that the dupe was starting to shiver from wetness and sighed. She grabbed one of the reusable hot pads she used as Entropy’s “treats” and activated it before placing it next to the cold dupe. As soon as Nisbet could feel the warmth, she snatched the pack and hugged it like a pillow and the shivering subsided.

“How do you manage to be both evil and cute?” Warper muttered. She tried to think of a way to communicate with them effectively, but gave up and went to bed instead.

The next morning, if you could call it that, since the void of space didn’t exactly have the proximity to a celestial body that could determine a visible difference between night and day, Warper got up and went to have breakfast. She considered that her new “pets” might want breakfast too. She rummaged through storage until she found a couple thimbles flat enough to use as cups, and filled each with milk after filling her own bowl with cereal as well. She brought everything into the office and placed a thimble in front of Eya and another inside the cage. She grabbed a few pieces of cereal and placed them as neatly as she could next to the thimbles. There wasn’t really anything to use as plates, so they would have to make do with the desk and floor of the cage. Both dupes seemed confused for a moment, though Eya started to sample what was given after she saw Warper take a bite of her cereal and seemed to process that the crumbly mess and strange white liquid were food. Nisbet refused to eat until Eya and Warper had both finished.

“You just wanna be grumpy, don’t ya?” Warper muttered. She shrugged and removed both thimbles once they had been emptied.

She had to work today, but she figured she’d check in with Lambert before starting.

“So, colony seems to be fine in the new spot?”

“Yea,” He nodded. “I vacuum sealed the damaged area and did most of the repair and removal work already on the hull.”

“And everyone woke up ok?”

“From what I can tell, yea. They seem a little sluggish from what I’ve seen though, will probably wear off soon.”

“Do you think you could make some sort of access tunnels between the colony and the office so I can travel there easier if I want to explore as a dupe again without you needing to carry me there each time?”

“I.. suppose. There are ventilation pipes in the wall near the colony I could revert. They’re designed to circulate air around, so it won’t matter if they have a couple more holes.”

Warper nodded.

“And could I by any chance get another dupe now? I promise it won’t get eaten this time. I need a way to communicate with the two I’m keeping in the office.”

“I might be able to work on a translator eventually. I can probably get another clone set up later, but I need to do some other things first.”

“Fair enough, I gotta get to work too.”

 

Sometime after work Warper was able to find Lambert again and remind him to make another clone for her. While she waited, she grabbed more snacks for the dupes and arranged stuff on the desk so that she could be closer to the cage to talk to Nisbet. Finally the clone was ready and set up, and she was back on the desk as a duplicant. She greeted Eya first.

“Hi there. Sorry about all this crazy stuff. I hope I didn’t scare you too much.”

“Whatever that big loud noise was, it scared everyone really bad.”

“Hmm? You mean the drill when I first went to get Nisbet?”

“I think so, yea. It took me a while to recognize you…you’re so….big,” Eya breathed. 

“But once I put it all together, cause of what you said about taking care of Nisbet, I kind of understood a little better.”

“Oh good, the two monsters around here conspired to kidnap me, fantastic,” Nisbet stated with loud sarcasm from the cage.  “What are you planning to do with me, hmm? Eat me?”

“Why…would I do that?” Warper responded with confused annoyance.

“It seems like everything bigger than a dupe around here likes eating dupes. And you can disguise yourself as one of us as much as you like but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re hundreds of times bigger than us!”

“What besides Eya was eating dupes? And wasn’t the fact she was eating dupes in the first place your fault?”

“…Before Eya there was a bigger worm. It ate Abe and I but I killed it and we escaped. The leftovers…became Eya.” Nisbet looked down with an emotion Warper couldn’t quite pinpoint.

“You do understand that’s the only reason you’re here, right? Because you were forcing Eya to eat people and that’s not ok. The fact that I’m not a dupe is kind of irrelevant.”

“Did Eya happen to mention to you why those duplicants were locked away? Or did she neglect to mention that we were all about to starve to death and those individuals had stolen and eaten the majority of our food rations. If the population hadn’t been reduced, everyone would have starved. It was only logical to cull the ones responsible.”

“What about the two you locked in with Eya yesterday? Are there so many thieves that you have to sacrifice over a fifth of your population to the belly of a worm?”

“They got locked in for the same reasons you did,” Eya responded quietly. “They were curious and Nisbet didn’t want them to find out about what happened, or at least not live long enough to tell anyone.”

Nisbet glared at Eya, then turned her attention back to Warper.

“Did you really think I’d believe that all of the people Eya ate were food thieves, especially since I was one of the people you fed to her!?” Warper asked. Instead of answering, Nisbet had her own question.

“What even are you? You’re like, almost like a dupe, but massive and stretched out, with that thing in the middle of your face.”

The description and the confused look of disgust on Nisbet’s face made Warper laugh.

“You mean my nose?” She snickered. “That’s not exactly a humans-only feature. But I guess that’s something you little creatures lack, isn’t it? As for ‘massive,’ I’m pretty average size for a human.”

“So you’re a human, then?”

Warper shrugged and nodded.

“You’re speaking english, which is a human language, which makes me pretty sure you little things are some sort of human genetics experiment. I mean, granted, english has spread to a few other planets along with other human stuff, and I don’t think you’re even from this universe, but I’m pretty convinced some humans somewhere created all of you in a lab and printed you out with a fancy little organic printer they designed.”

“Listen here…human,” Nisbet interjected angrily. “I’m not some experiment, I’m not some ‘little thing,’ or ‘little creature.’ I am a duplicant.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong here, but all of you were created from a bioprinter. Someone had to create the bioprinter. Even if the one you were all printed from wasn’t the first printer, the first iteration of the machine was not created by a dupe.”

“Even if it wasn’t created by a dupe, that doesn’t mean it was made by humans.”

“I don’t have any DNA samples on hand from any of you, but I’m sure if I tested any of them you’d all have a significant amount of human DNA. And regardless, you’re still tiny, and I’m still gonna describe you as such. You’re all incredibly adorable.”

Nisbet’s glare deepened. 

“You can’t just keep me in a cage like this! I’m not a pet! And what did you do with all the other colonists? Last time I saw them they were all unconscious in a bin!”

“Relax, all I did was relocate the colony. It got imbedded into the side of this spacecraft and we had to move it before it caused more damage.”

“So we’re in, like, a gigantic rocket?”

“Well, spacecraft, yes. Rockets are the things that get it all up into the sky. As for whether you’re a pet or a prisoner, it’s a matter of perspective.”

Nisbet continued to be visibly upset. Eya listened but didn’t speak up.

“Look,” Warper began. “Basically, you’re locked up because you did bad things. Eya’s here because she has a dangerous issue she can’t control.  I’m not going to hurt either of you. I’m going to do my best to keep the colony safe and keep you both fed. If you need to use the restroom, tell me.” She sighed and turned off the headset, grabbing the limp clone and getting up to bring it to the temporal freezer. As she left, Lambert came through the door and explained that he was going to start working on the access tunnel system she had asked for to connect the desk to the colony. She nodded and continued walking.

The temporal freezer was a large device very similar to a walk in fridge. However, instead of preserving food by being cold, temporal freezers manipulated time dilation to slow the process of decay itself. Since the clone was, at best, in a vegetative state, if not dead, freezing it temperature-wise would kill any living tissue in the clone and make it unusable. But keeping it frozen in time would prevent any sort of cell decay or degradation, even if the clone was dead. This would give the clone more use before needing to print another. 

After putting the clone in a good spot, she went back to work on her official tasks on the spacecraft.

At some point while Warper was busy in the work office, Entropy came in with something in his mouth and dropped it on her desk. Warper glanced over and saw that it was Nisbet, who seemed disoriented and was trying to get to her feet.

“W-…what?” Warper muttered, confused.

“She escaped. I caught her trying to get away,” Entropy explained.

“She got out of the cage?”

Entropy nodded. Warper groaned.

“Lambert was in there earlier getting the access tunnel ready. He should’ve seen her escape.”

Entropy tilted his head but said nothing. Warper glanced down to see that Nisbet had fully stood up and was trying to find a way to escape. She quickly pinned the dupe under her hand and picked her up. Unsurprisingly, this was met with much angry squeaking and squirming.

“I’ll put her back and figure out how to lock the cage better,” Warper muttered. She got up and went to the lab.

“The cage is for your own good,” Warper explained to Nisbet, even though she knew she couldn’t understand. “You’re lucky Entropy can only eat thermal energy and not meat or you wouldn’t survive being a snack. And while I don’t think anything else on this ship would want to eat you, you could easily get stepped on or get stuck somewhere dangerous. Eya’s not in a cage cause she doesn’t seem to be capable or interested in moving very far.”

Warper got to the lab and found the cage to be intact, though the door was ajar.

“That’s pretty impressive for you to unlatch that thing yourself,” Warper noted. “The latch is super stiff and you’d need to push really hard to get it open. But I can tell you’re pretty strong from how hard you keep pushing on my hand.”

She put Nisbet back in the cage and re-latched the door before looking for a better way to keep it secured. She found some wire she could wrap around the door for now, and decided that would be acceptable. She gave the dupes more food before tying up the door, and went back to her other work.

 

At some point she ran into Lambert again, who announced that he had finished the access tubes, but was unaware of Nisbet’s escape when Warper mentioned it to him. If she had escaped when he was there, it was possible that he was too focused to notice, but it seemed more likely that she had made her escape when no one was around to avoid getting caught. Unfortunately for her, Entropy's thermal vision had bested her attempts to hide.

 

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haven't posted in a while, have a piece so the thread doesn't get archived:

 

Spoiler

 

 

For a while things seemed uneventful with Nisbet and Eya, so Warper decided it would be good to check on them verbally and actually use the tunnels she had asked Lambert to build. She got the duplicant set up on the desk and switched over to being small before approaching Eya and Nisbet.

 

“Hi there, haven’t really talked to either of you in a while, at least not in a way you could actually understand.”

 

Eya nodded. “You never actually gave us your name, I don’t think.”

 

“Oh, right. Well, it’s Warper, at least you can call me that I guess.”

 

Nisbet made a disdainful grunt from somewhere in the cage. Warper glanced up. The redhead looked away.

 

“How do you manage to be this grumpy?” Warper mused. Nisbet humphed again.

 

“I’ve been kept in a cage and babied by a giant for several cycles. Plus, that big dog thing of yours ate me. There’s not a whole lot going great for me right now. I’d be better off running the colony like before.”

 

“Yeah, but would the colony be better off?”

 

Nisbet glared but said nothing. Warper shrugged.

 

“Anyways, I’m gonna snoop around. If you don’t wanna get eaten by a bored lupent again I’d advise staying in that cage.”

 

She walked into the hole in the wall that connected to the tubes. Inside the hole was uniform enough to seem like a small room. A pipe big enough to slide through opened up into the room, which Warper assumed was the access tunnel Lambert had connected to the colony. She wiggled into the opening and crawled through the pipe. A light air current came through the pipe, but was not strong enough to push her back. Presumably with enough pressure in the right areas it would be a faster method of travel. Eventually she ended up in a room that was attached to the same hallway as the room Eya had been kept in. She slid out of the pipe and got up and went deeper into the colony. She wasn’t as nervous as she had been the last time she came, as she didn’t have to worry about avoiding Nisbet, and even though she wasn’t supposed to be there, she figured the rest of the colony would probably be too busy to notice a stranger. For the most part she was right, though a few gave her some odd looks. She noticed a few non-dupe creatures wandering the colony that she somehow hadn’t discovered before. She got distracted by one of the creatures while walking and ended up crashing directly into a dupe that was probably also distracted.

“Gah! Watch it, will y-“ The dupe stopped mid-sentence. Warper recognized the dupe as Nikola.

“You…” Nikola finished.

“Sorry about bumping you like that. I got distracted by the….whatever that is.” She gestured to the creature as it walked past.

“The hatch…?”

Warper gave a confused nod.

“If I understand correctly, you…remember all of what happened with Eya? Despite..”

“Yes,” Warper confirmed. “I reprinted again.”

“And where is Eya?”

“…safe.” Warper wasn’t sure if she wanted to bring any more dupes into the whole picture yet. She figured Nikola was probably trustworthy, but if too many of the colonists found out that a giant human was getting involved in their colony and that they were all the size of rodents it could send all those tiny brains into existential crises.

“But you couldn’t have gotten another dupe printed that fast, could you? How did you get Eya out of the colony.”

Warper paused.

“Well, I did have to use my…true form, which I think might have freaked her out a little, but once she figured it out she seemed to do ok. She’s not being forced to eat anyone anymore at least.”

“And Nisbet is missing as well. I believe I heard you say something before getting eaten along the lines of ‘taking care’ of Nisbet.“

“I- she is also safe. A bit grumpy and my dog keeps trying to eat her but she’s ok. She’s pretty aggressive and keeps trying to attack me when she gets a chance, she’s probably a bit freaked out…” She stopped as she saw Nikola scrutinizing her suspiciously.

“There was a witness to what happened to Nisbet. She said a massive clawed hand came from the wall and grabbed Nisbet before carrying her away.”

The other dupe. Warper had completely forgotten about the dupe Nisbet had been standing in front of protectively when Warper had gone to grab her.

“There have also been rumors of large creatures outside the colony, one of which has been described as a dragon,” Nikola continued. He seemed both skeptical and serious about this claim, which confused Warper enough that she laughed a little. The fact that he had connected the dots with Nisbet meant that Warper probably wouldn’t be able to hide what she was from him very well, and decided to be as honest as possible without saying too much.

“I’m… not a dragon. I don't know where you guys got that from. There's some weird creatures around here for sure though. Might'a seen one of them,” Warper responded. The ship had a wide variety of inhabitants. Humans were a bit of a minority, and Warper herself only knew of a couple others. None of the people she knew really resembled a dragon, however.

“What are you then?” Nikola questioned. “My best guess from what I know is that you must be what captured Nisbet, or at the very least you know what did.”

As Warper had suspected, Nikola had done a good job inferring what had happened to Nisbet. Telling the truth would probably be the most straight forward thing to do.

“Claws... I mean, I haven't cut my nails in a while, they're probably long enough to look like claws at a glance, especially from the perspective of something small.”

“And how... large are you? Or I suppose, how small are we?”

Warper thought on this for a moment before responding. The data Lambert had found from the colony had measured everything in familiar units, but the actual measurements were significantly smaller than the data. It was likely that despite the units having similar names, they represented different quantities.

“I can't really give you an exact measurement cause all our units of measurement have the same names and mean totally different things. But like, three inches, I guess? Small enough that I could hold Nisbet in one hand. You things are like chubby lilliputians.”

Nikola contemplated this, and eventually decided to ask Warper how she was able to use the duplicant form. She explained as briefly as possible how the VR setup worked and how she used it to control the customized clone, as well as a basic rundown on what had happened with Nisbet and that they had moved the colony. Nikola seemed rather incredulous about her moving the whole colony, which was understandable considering how large it must have seemed from his perspective.

Nikola paused for a moment and seemed to want to ask another question, but instead he pulled out the tablet Warper had seen him use and began writing something down in it. She peeked around to get a look at what he was writing, and it appeared to be some sort of log or journal. She decided to move on while he was writing in case he started asking too many extra questions, as he was too preoccupied to see her leave. 

She continued around the colony to get more information and found some more unusual creatures around. They seemed to be moderately beneficial to the colony, and decided she would go through the colony’s data banks to find more data. Sure enough, there was an archive of “critter data” that Warper collected that would have more information on the lot of them. After she got the data, she went back to the lab and switched back to being a human. She got more food for the two dupes on the desk before going off to do other things.

 

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MF99K    2750

Nisbs gets cut

Spoiler



 

The next cycle she dropped some food off for the dupes again for breakfast and went to work. Once again, she was interrupted by Entropy dropping a disgruntled redhead dupe onto her desk.

“….You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Warper groaned.

“She got out again,” Entropy offered.

“I can see that.”

She paused and watched Nisbet get up.

“You aren’t just taking her out of the cage to eat her, are you?”

Entropy shook his head. “She’s doing it on her own.”

Warper sighed and grabbed the dupe again before going into the lab to look at the cage. The door to the cage had been bent open, completely destroying the hinges.

“How in the?-“ Warper said in confused exasperation. “You completely destroyed the door and you’re like 3 inches tall.”

Nisbet, despite not being able to understand, seemed to give a slight smirk. Warper had already suspected that Entropy was telling the truth, mostly because he was a horrendous liar, but the dupe’s expression confirmed that the little creature was somehow strong enough to bend the metal of the cage.

“Agh, what am I gonna do with you?” Warper muttered.

“I can just eat her again,” Entropy offered. Warper glared.

“No more eating dupes. I’m trying to get her to be more cooperative and she hates me enough already, if you keep eating her it’s just gonna make it worse.”

Entropy opened his mouth as if to protest but stopped.

“What about …your sleeve?”

Warper grinned and tried not to laugh.

“Ok, that’s cute, I’ll give you that, but that would also be distracting as heck to have a tiny person crawling around in my sleeve and I’d never get anything done.”

Entropy seemed to ponder something but didn’t give anymore ideas. 

“I’m just gonna find something to put her in for now and either find another cage or try to fix the one she broke,” Warper decided aloud. Entropy nodded and left the room.

 

 

 

 

 

The lab office was an average sized, L-shaped room that was used to house extra chemistry lab equipment. Though there was space to do work, Warper was the only one who ever really used the space for such purposes, which is why she had figured it would be a decent spot to keep the dupes, especially since no experiments were usually done in the room that could fumigate it. 

She found a large mixing beaker that would probably be sturdy enough to house the squirmy humanoid temporarily and pulled it off the shelf before putting the duplicant inside.

“Stay,” Warper commanded as she set Nisbet gently in the beaker and returned it to the shelf. She went off back to the storage room to see if she had any other good containers or cages for the dupe. She found several containers that were the right size and shape, but if Nisbet was capable of destroying a metal cage, the other options probably wouldn’t fare well either. She started pondering what to do before she was interrupted by the sound of shattering glass coming from the other room.

She let out an expletive.

“Please don’t be what I think that is,” Warper groaned before sprinting back to the lab office.

The door slid open and sure enough, the shattered remains of the beaker were on the counter below the shelf and sprayed across the floor. Nisbet was laying in the center of the pile in apparent shock.

“Little, no-“ Warper said while rushing over to the counter. She hoped the dupe hadn’t been seriously injured from the glass, and grew more anxious as she spotted a small bit of blood on the glass. 

“It’s ok,” Warper reassured as she gently lifted Nisbet out of the glass. As she picked her up, she saw that most of the duplicant’s injuries were surface level, save for a shard of glass sticking out of the clone’s right arm. Warper sighed in relief.

“You’re not exactly smart for flinging yourself and a glass beaker off a shelf, but you are incredibly lucky. If that glass had broken any differently you could’ve been impaled.”

Nisbet made a pained squeak and tried to struggle against Warper’s hands.

“Easy, little. You’ll hurt yourself more. It’s gonna be ok, just relax,” She knew that Nisbet probably couldn’t understand, but she hoped the tone at least was coming across. 

She cleared a space on the desk and put a paper towel down to help with the blood before placing Nisbet onto the table. She kept squirming against Warper’s hands despite Warper’s attempts to calm her. She finally pinned the dupe with her left hand and tried to pull the glass out with her fingers but realized it was too messy to get a good grip on the glass. She grabbed a pair of tweezers and started to pull out the glass. The dupe let out another squeak of pain.

“It’s ok, you’ll be ok. Just stay still.”

The squeaking got angrier but Warper was finally able to remove the shard. She grabbed a small puff of cotton to try to stop the bleeding, but Nisbet started squirming again as she tried to apply it. Warper heard another squeak, but it hadn’t come from Nisbet. She stopped and looked over to see another duplicant on the desk watching them. It was Nikola. She stared at him in surprise for a moment before glancing down at Nisbet. She vaguely remembered something about Nikola having a medical role in the colony, and realized that it would probably be better for Nisbet to get treatment from someone her own size. Warper slowly dropped the tweezers and backed away from Nisbet. She hoped her size wasn’t too intimidating to the small doctor. As Nikola started to assist Nisbet, Warper looked around for something that could be used as miniature medical supplies. She found a travel-size sewing kit in one of the cluttered drawers and bottles of hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol that could be used as disinfectant. She filled the bottle lids with their liquids and brought all the items over to the desk and placed them besides Nikola. She noticed some tape and a tissue box on the desk and pushed them closer in case they could be used as bandages. Nikola looked at the two bottle caps with concern before looking back up to Warper. He stood up, pointed to the two caps, shook his head and mimed as if he was taking a drink of water. Warper wasn’t sure at first what he was asking, but realized that he must have been asking for water instead of disinfectant. She brought a cap of water over and placed it next to Nikola again. He took the water and used it to rinse Nisbet’s wound, then began disinfecting a needle from the sewing kit and the skin around the gash. He slowly started using the thread to sew the wound shut, as he and Nisbet started to discuss something indecipherable to Warper through squeaks. She watched them with curiosity as Nikola stitched up the cut and used strips of tissue as bandages. It occurred to her that he must’ve found the desk through the access tunnels and was probably less freaked out than expected since she had already notified him of her large size previously. As he finished treating and dressing the wound, Nisbet got up and tried to move her arm, which caused her to wince in pain. Nikola sqeaked something else to her and they both started walking towards the hole in the wall.

“No no no,” Warper started, putting her hand between them and the hole and shaking her head as they looked back. “Nisbet’s gotta stay here.” She pointed to Nisbet to help communicate her intent. The two exchanged some concerned squeaks before Nikola approached Warper and tried to explain something to her with more squeaking. She considered getting the clone out so she could actually understand what was being said, but realized that if she did she wouldn’t be able to block Nisbet from using the exit so decided against it. A translator would have been more helpful, but she didn’t have one, so she could only do her best to decipher the dupe’s body language for now. The best she could guess was that he was explaining that Nisbet needed more medical attention. She figured that Nikola could always come check on her even if she stayed on the desk, but that she would need a better cage first. She knew that the duplicants had some sort of priority system that would notify them of tasks that needed to be completed, including building things, and considered the possibility of somehow manipulating this system to get them to build a cell for her. She decided to try her best to illustrate to them that she wanted to build a room to hold Nisbet and grabbed a pencil from her desk, tracing the borders of where she figured such a holding cell would fit best. They seemed to understand, though Nisbet tried to make a break for the exit and needed to be grabbed. Once Warper had a firm hold on Nisbet, she did her best to gesture that Nikola was free to leave. She would still need to figure out how to make the dupes make a room for her, but she still needed a temporary way to confine the troublesome dupe.

 

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