Life in the Deep

Too bad we can't stay

Getting away was the best decision they made all day. Breaking out of the hulk, Eddie endured a few jolts but was able to knock out two shield emitters, allowing the Mudslide to get close enough for the team to be pulled back on board.

Sidd, struggling with being possessed, broke free and, although definitely shaken by the experience, had enough presence of mind to follow the others when it came time to move.

Fortunately for Guy, he was able to assemble a serviceable e-suit and was pretty sure he’d make the jaunt to their ship.

Freddie did what he could medically, and was ready to move, too, once Eddie was finished and himself on board the Mudslide, ready to receive the rest of the crew. The actual evacuation took only a few moments – these were trained, experience space hands, and a little movement outside wasn’t that big of a deal anymore. Sidd had one last look through the airlock window and with it one last shock to his system, as a fanged, clawed face – different from the foes they’d theretofore encountered – scratched at the window, frustrated at the pressure door separating it from its food.

Once everyone was on board the Mudslide Eddie decided to try and drill a hole in the engineering section of the hulk, perhaps to damage the ship. No sooner than they’d focused the relatively weak beam on the aft section did Suzanne notice a figure moving along the outside of the massive ship, heading toward the still-open airlock. A figure in an ancient, tattered e-suit made its way, quickly, into the vessel, closing the door behind it. Quick! Shift fire! The door eventually collapsed, but it seemed that whatever had gotten in had successfully made its way beyond the suit locker, and moments later the hulk started to power up, and within minutes had changed course slightly, vectoring toward Delta Epsilon IV, an old colony world with a large population.

Final comments are encouraged – what would the crew of the Dublin Mudslide do after this awful day? You’ve got suit camera recordings, sensor and navigational logs, and your own stories, as well as the ship, moving slowly toward a populated world. What would they do, and how would they go about it?

A stirring among the bones...

Warmth. Power flowed; lights, dim, glowed.

They each knew what this meant. Bones stirred slowly. Cramped, rigor mortis-seized limbs and hands began to flex.

Hunger: they felt overwhelming hunger. And hatred, toward the cold walkers, whose bodies could not feed the hunger.

Move…run…toward the source. It was time to feed again…swiftly into the tubes…and food.

From Bad to Worse?

Freddy was sure that the body’d been dead for a long time – a lot longer than the time that had elapsed since they’d put a bullet through its head. They decided that, given the problems with their ship, to try and get to the bridge of the Annic Nova, as they’d found the hulk’s name to be, and see what they could find out or make happen. There were in agreement, however, on one thing: they needed to get off this ship as soon as possible.

Making their way down passageways and up ladderwells, they found a large administration control room, full of computer workstations dedicated to a wide variety of ship’s systems. In this room they also found six more walking dead, seemingly interrupted by the team’s arrival – interrupted from working on the computer? Shooting and fisticuffs ensued, and the six were eventually killed, for good.

Time spent trying to revive terminals – which were warm from use moment before – paid off in knowledge gained. The command section of the ship appeared to be intact and still wired together in terms of power and computer systems. The forward area of the ship – where passengers would have been – was mostly off the control grid, but they could confirm that there was power there. The engineering section was completely off the grid – as if that whole portion of the ship did not exist at all. Finally, the midships area, where the many cargo canisters were attached, showed damage to various systems, and was ‘cold’ both literally and in the figurative meaning of the term. Guy was able to get emergency lighting back on in this and, he thought, the rest of the command section.

Moving deeper into the command section they found and destroyed three more walkers, and then discovered their initial goal: the security office. Inside were several monitoring workstations and a caged section, in which there was a door to what they hoped was an arms locker. Inside the locker – which was not locked – they found a single corpse of man, obviously dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He wore a security uniform, and was surrounded by mostly emptied crates and shelves which had once contained some pistols and rifles and a larger supply of stunners. Ammunition for the stunners was all gone, although some slug ammo was left for pistols and rifles. Unfortunately, only the dead man’s pistol could take the ammo they found. Still, the single pistol provided them with an extra weapon and two boxes of 50 rounds of ammunition. It was better than nothing.

Using a security workstation, Guy was able to turn on cameras in some sections of the ship, discovering at least 30 or more of the walkers on the upper decks, seemingly working diligently at their posts. Engineering was still off the grid entirely, and the cameras amidships were showing errors. The forward – passenger – area, however, was the most compelling, and disturbing. The 6-story public atrium’s cameras worked, for the most part, and provided the men with an almost 360-degree view of a series of macabre bone sculptures. Human bones – from likely hundreds of people – were heaped and arranged on one another in small pyramids, hung as decorations, and others arranged around the massive chamber. Who’d done this was unclear; that the remains of most of the ship’s compliment had been stripped clean of soft parts after death – or murder? – and used as raw materials for someone’s art project was. Guy fell to the floor, scrambling back from the images, as if shoved by his own fear and revulsion.

Next they decided, given that Guy’s suit had been breached beyond repair in the last fight, to get back to the shuttle bay and get off this hulk, even if it meant taking a space walk. That’s when the lights in the security office went out – all lights, even their suit lights, did nothing for illumination. Nothing they tried could bring any of them any light, and so they talked and fumbled and stumbled their way out of the office into the hall to find that all was normal out there, and the doorway to the chamber was as black as the depths of space. There was no way to explain it away, and the chill it gave each of them spurred them to return – quickly – to the lower deck and get off the ship.

One deck above the e-suit locker they were set upon by more walkers, one of them successfully tackling Sidd. A short fight ensued, the dead were killed for good, and the team began to run, trying to reach either the suit locker or the shuttle bay and lock themselves inside in hopes of finding a way off this ship.

Ship's Log: Departure from Hopewell
following up on a sensor finding

Six days in the slip and two days of sub-light survey confirmed the sensor finding the company had bought from its contact in the Scout Service: there was something out here, something man-made, and very large. Moving, too, generally in the direction of Deneb.

Once the Mudslide was within beam sensor range, Guy determined that the thing was about .8 miles in length, was moving at a decent clip, although not under power, and displayed a number of temperature readings – all of them inconsistent with what would be expected from a ship that had been adrift and dead for years.

Getting within good visual range, they identified it as one of a number of types of massive cargo/passenger liners common over 150 years ago, during the height of the jump drive era. The bridge area registered temperatures of around freezing; engineering was colder by 30-40 degrees, and more in some places; amidships was over 100 degrees below zero in some places; and a decent amount of the bow area was at or just above freezing. These were definitely not temperatures one would expect from a dead hulk. No significant energy readings were detected; however, when Eddie directly hailed the ship – as of yet unidentified – there was a ragged spike in the electrical field around the bridge, which was mostly aft and above the engineering section.

The vessel was missing 4 of its large, detachable cargo/materials containers, and closer inspection during fly-bys found no evidence of damage – either the things hadn’t been loaded for the voyage in the first place, which was unlikely, or they’d been jettisoned during flight at some point. Odd.

The ship itself showed hull abrasion and minor damage on par with what one would expect from over a century adrift – with no power to the navigational shields or turrets, the thing had been scrubbed by dust and other small particles, leaving scratches and dents across the outside surface and all visible windows grey and opaque. In those terms, the ship was a pretty standard wreck.

Suzanne and Eddie landed the ship on the upper tail, above the main engines, and anchored the Mudlside to the hulk with magnetic plates, as usual. Eddie, Freddie, Guy, and Sidd gained access to the shop by jury-rigging an airlock next to the command shuttle bay doors – a safe assumption that’s what they were, at least, given their location. The airlock, empty of atmosphere, was dark, and aside from a small amount of ice on the window leading into the ship, there was nothing – nothing aside from some dents and scratches inside the airlock chamber itself. Evidence of a struggle? Or damage of some sort? Again, another oddity.

Entering the ship wasn’t too much trouble, since they had adapters and the tools they’d need to interface with the power system and terminals. The first chamber was as expected: an e-suit locker and suit room, with 20 lockers, one dented, and next to a cracked plastic bench, and the rest either full or empty, the suits old…very old…and probably not serviceable. A side room had more e-suits in storage containers – those were maybe in better shape, but still not to be trusted unless in a pinch.

The exit led into a hall, which split left and right – dead-ending to the right in a pressure door, with an internal door in the opposite wall to the left, and with the left hall turning right after about 15 feet. Some evidence of atmosphere was found: dust particles floated into the locker room once the door was opened, and using an oxygen and pressure sensor Guy was able to confirm that although there was air, it was very low in oxygen, dangerously high in CO2, very cold, and bone-dry.

Miranda shuttlebay 03

The pressure door opened into a shuttle bay, in which there was a small launch – likely the captain’s – and room for another. As Eddie and Guy examined the chamber and small craft, Freddie and Sidd stood near the pressure door, watching and chatting – they’d been in similar situations, and sometimes it made sense to just shoot the breeze while the techies did their thing.

Shooting the apparently dead, however, was what both men were doing a moment later, as Freddie got off only a choked and sudden scream as three figures rushed them from the hall, two wielding pipes, and all in what looked like regular duty uniforms, tattered and in some places torn and worn, with jaws wide open, offering muted moans barely audible through the salvage crew’s helmets.

A short battle ensued, with Freddie emptying his pistol into one of the creatures while Sidd riddled one in the torso and then dropped it with a head shot. Guy reacted with his portable power saw and came to Freddie’s aid, while Eddie fired rounds at the creatures from the steps of the launch. Sidd’s suit was breached, although thanks to the minimal atmosphere he didn’t suffer a rapid depressurization. Moments later all three figures were down, their heads splayed open by gunfire, and their torsos shot full of bullets.

The salvage crew’s breathing didn’t slow, what with so much adrenaline pumping through each of them. Looking at one another in shock, they stood ready as Freddie stooped to examine the bodies, which according to his medical knowledge were definitely dead – dry, frost-bitten, and showing no signs of life for a long time…and yet they’d attacked.

“Take them back to the ship to examine them.” ordered Eddie.

Sidd’s face screwed up in a scowl, visible even though the subsiding condensation inside his helmet bubble.

“No we’re not!” blurted Sidd and Guy simultaneously.

“I’m the captain and I’ll leave your asses here if you don’t!” countered Eddie.

“Not with a bullet in your brain pan, you won’t!” Sidd leveled his auto rifle on Eddie.

Before any of the men could continue, all their comm units beeped, signalling an ‘all call’ from the ship. Typically only one of an away team would be in contact with the ship, and so such a call could mean trouble. Suzanne’s voice, tight with anxiety, began.

“We’ve got trouble out here – the magnetic anchors are going haywire! I can’t keep the ship moored!”


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