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AATAFOVS / Far From The Nest

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Season 3, Episode 1 (Premiere). Preceded by Birth Of A Dark Star, followed by Battles Of The Mind.
The team is relaxing at their headquarters when a message appears from professor Udite. A clockwork mouse appears in the center of the room and skitters across to Avatar, beginning to play a recorded message.

Professor Udite (in a rushed whisper): I am sorry to contact you under these circumstances... I bring not a mission, but a warning. The Dark Council has finally assign a leading member to hunting you down... is.... a manipulator, a trickster, maybe connected to... Joe. You must leave quickly... suspects where you are. Trust no one...except each other. Have faith... (The recording ends in static).

The Benders wait for several seconds, stunned. Then, Avatar springs into action, and orders the evacuation.

Avatar: Execute Process Epsilon!... (the Benders stare blankly)...Pack all the stuff we need to last several weeks! Cleo, leave the wardrobe. Same goes for the TV, Solo!

Within five minutes, they have gathered the supplies needed to survive for several weeks. These conveniently fit into two large hiking backpacks, which they give to Sue and a drunken Solo. In a last-minute search, Avatar removes several dozen beer cans from the pack Solo is carrying, and leaves them behind.

Nerdly: But... he'll throw a fit later!
Avatar: And if he gets any more drunk while carrying all that, he'll fall over, and then you'll be the one with the pack.

At that moment, there is a crash as something heavy smashes against the door to the apartment/laboratory/basement clubhouse. Quickly, Avatar opens a Story Gate with the remote, and the five members, plus a serpentine, hissing Fluffy, hurry out. They appear in front of a cliff full of caves. An embarrassed Avatar explains that it was "the first thing that came to mind when looking for a place to hide." A disgruntled Cleo suggests that they could have hidden somewhere with internal plumbing. Everyone ignores her.

Over the next few days, the Benders establish a base in one of the caves. A crude door has been built in front of the cave mouth, a fire place set up, and Avatar is already halfway done with a lookout tower. However, tensions are starting to appear, as some members question how long they will be here. Sue is eagerly preparing for a hunting expedition in several days.
Cut to the Bender's home. The door has been broken off its hinges, and all the bases contents smashed to pieces. A dark figure, shadowy despite the light from a broken window, stands in the middle, giving orders to a handful of men in dark suits. One of them approaches him with a report.

Dark suit: Sir, our equipment has confirmed your reading of their Story Gate transfer. They Gated to those mountains just before we stormed this place, and have not moved since.
Shadowy figure: Excellent.
Dark suit: We can storm the area within half an hour, Sir.
Shadowy figure: No, we will wait.
Dark suit: Sir?
Shadowy figure: I doubt that they will hold together for very long in that setting. When they are together and wary, we have no chance of neutralizing them. Have the area watched. We will move when they are weakest. There may even be the possibility of capturing them...
Dark suit: As you command, sir.
Back at the cave, we learn that Solo has (gasp!) sobered up once again.

Avatar (to Sue): I figured he had a ton hidden elsewhere on him, just wanted to cut the amount. Turns out I got most of the stash in a casual search. He hid the stuff as if he was drunk.

Nerdly has finished the lookout tower. However, with only the five of them, no one was particularly eager to spend long shifts alone up there. Nerdly turns his attention elsewhere. Sue has developed a set of arrowhead-tipped spears, and is looking for someone to help trap a deer in the nearby forest. The others' enthusiasm is mixed.

Eventually, she gets Solo to agree to it. There follows an exciting scene where Solo (stripped down to the waist) charges screaming at a grazing deer. It flees, and the chase continues for several minutes. Eventually, Sue jumps out from behind a bush, also yelling, and sticks the deer.

Cut to a large hunk of meat cooking over a fire in front of the cave.

The episode now focuses on Solo, who is starting to enjoy sobriety. He helps Sue in her various survivalist projects, serves as an extra pair of arms in Nerdly's construction of a barricade, and spends long periods of time deep in thought. However, he never seems to notice Cleo, much to her frustration.
One day, Avatar calls the team together for a meeting.

Sue: Any word from the Professor?
Avatar: No. But we've been here for ten days now. I think it's time to move on to a different hiding place before the Dark Council finds us.
Sue: They haven't shown up yet. They probably have no idea where we are. We already have this place set up. We should lie low a little longer.
Cleo: Can't we go back home? They probably gave up when they saw we'd left.
Nerdly: They probably left us a "surprise" in case we return. There's no way of finding out without revealing our location.
Avatar: They might already know our location and be coming here at this very moment. We should Gate out quickly!
Sue: We're all dug in here, know the surrounding area better than they do. They could be waiting for us to leave so they can take us by surprise.
Nerdly: Maybe if we move our base over land in case they figure out our Gate location...
Sue: That could work, but we'd have to send a two-person scouting group to make sure they don't have people hiding nearby.
Solo: Would that make us weaker by splitting up?
Sue: Not if the others were ready to rush in on a set signal.
Avatar: What if they got us by surprise? We should gate to a completely different location. We could build something more defensive there.
Sue: Alright, I'll live with that.
Nerdly: If we Gate at all, they'll find us. They probably have Gate scanners or something.
Cleo: I still say we should go home. I'm sick of digging latrines!

In the end, the Benders are unable to agree on any of the original options. Nerdly convinces Cleo that the terrain is less harsh on the other side of the forest, while Avatar and Sue are planning to trek several miles in the other direction, Gate to a different site, and then walk some more, all before setting up a secure base complete with "Avatech." The two groups leave so quickly, that a puzzled Solo is left sitting with a previously unnoticed Fluffy (kitten-shape).

Fluffy: I should have spoken up earlier, but something was stopping me. Now we're really in trouble.
Solo: What? You can talk? I didn't know you could do that.
Fluffy: None of you idiots ever notice. As I was saying, now that we've split up, we're doomed. Don't even bother to do anything (Solo has leaped to his feet). The enemy knows where we are but wanted to grab everyone. As soon as the separate groups formed, we were goners. It's far too late.

At this point, a squad of masked soldiers with laser rifles burst into the clearing in front of the cave, and surround the two. Solo and Fluffy have no choice but to surrender, as do the other two pairs of Benders when they are shown being surprised by squads of the Dark Council's laser infantry.

Elsewhere, another man in a dark suit reports to the shadowy figure:

Dark suit: All targets have been captured, sir.
Shadowy figure: Very good. Take them to the appropriate facilities, so we can see if any further benefit can be derived from this.


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