Monday, November 29, 2021


The Cube was a little different, this time - a huge ring floated in front of it. As they arrived, it was apparent that the few scientists and military personnel left on the ring had survived the trip; they had sent some of their number off to get reinforcements, and the others were still trying to get off the ground. Once back in this system, the controller lights up again - all four corners, this time. One controls the power station Tesseractus, one controls the ring, one controls the Cube, and the final set of controls - once some button-pushing was done - seem to control the glowing symbols that have appeared around the ring. There are 22 positions, each with a unique symbol; each symbol has the ability to be swapped with another symbol, or deactivated, meaning that there are 4.71 x 1027 possible options to choose from. Silver, under the direction of Reggie, memorizes the symbols for later use. Leaving it on the setup they found, they activate the Cube; once again, the Cube blasts out a cone of black-purple energy, but this time, the ring stabilizes it; it remains open. The scientists left on the ring's surface are thrown through the portal.

Following them through, the Hephaestus finds itself in the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy - assuming they could find a suitable jump-path, they could arrive back at Earth after only a year of travel! However, after returning through the ring, Elise's "favor" is activated.

The Fairy Princess appears in front of her. "You have done well - but you need to return. I have need of your services."

It appears that the favor included implanting a small AI in her arm...

Meanwhile, during her travel, Elise had managed to construct a robot - a stealth assassin. She finally got it working as they arrived at their next destination - Ladarth. Oddly, the ship is empty - except for a handful of children. Looking for life signs, they find Ted Samsun, 14, and his 7 year old sister Melody, hiding in a med bay. Searching the huge colony ship, they find Jessie Bilmann, 8, and his robot dog in a locked bedroom; Perlie (13) and Suzy (11) Brassington, and their cousins Emil (11) and Daniel (9) Gosse in a maintenance area; Langdon Foster (16) and Maria Segreti (16), locked in another maintenance area; Julia Alvars (15), a junior cadet - and thus the highest ranking member of the crew - locked in a kitchen area; Jayce Saku, 12, locked in a cafe; and Bart (10) and Stevie (2) James, hiding in their playroom. All the children had been trapped two days before; each of them had been locked in their rooms by parents, guardians, or friends.

According to the ship, the crew did not leave, nor was there any emergency; however, judging by the few blaster marks on the walls, and the ash of people burned alive in bridge, something certainly happened!

Rodney stayed behind with Lins, Silver, and Dr. Gunderson, as the rest headed to the next system - Cairn Faegle. That system was as devoid of life as the previous - most so, actually, since there was no life at all. However, they did find a new ship - a stealthy asteroid ship, built for a single person, with no jumpspace capability, but some heavy firepower. Reggie boarded it, and was able to get it back online. The ship has a rudimentary AI, still vanilla, and the only information it had was of a large ship full of Deaders attacking the Cairn Faegle. Strapping the ship to the Hephaestus, they jumped to the next location - Happy Landings.

More Deaders, swarming the station, though being barely held off; they attacked, destroying the ship hosting the creatures, and mopping up the rest with the help of the Happy Landings mercs. The battle is short and sweet, due to the heavy torpedoes of the as-yet-unnamed stealth ship.

Elise asks around for some parts; Henry says he's got a flight system, but he'll need some parts imported from Ellipsis for it. For the same deal, a little old lady named Lady Deathlok ordered a hit on Jarrod Scarbow, a pirate, arrested at Cloury Loch. Reggie, meanwhile, played a game of poker, and picked up some information on one "RK"; he used 400 credits to ask Lady Deathlok to dig up information on him, and she assured him that "Daft Marvin" will do a grand job of it.

Moving on, they arrived at the giant eyeball, Nova Gagarin, and fought off a horde of ships there. Though the ships were gone, they still had to brave some anti-aircraft friendly fire from the surface to get down. After intimidating a guard, they ran into their old friend Capt. Tkkktch Chaagggttpptt, of the Yellow Submarine; he was all too happy to help them out. It seems that the bug-people aren't affected by the feral Deaders, though humans can be turned, zombie-like. While he doesn't think it's fair, and will take away from the humans' fun, the captain agrees to call some of his relatives from the deep sea to come help. The huge sea-serpents make quick work of the feral deaders!

Blue, their old friend, asks for their help - she is joined by Red, a muscular, grumpy fellow. She explains that this whole thing isn't the Deaders' fault, but rather the Forgotten - strange, shadowy creatures that seem to be controlling things from the sidelines. That is, the same creatures that gifted Silver to them. Durst Tech may be working with the Betel Republic to control the Deaders; they might be behind some of it, or they might be trying to stop them. Either way, they need information from some of their friends.

Their little cabal is made up of people named for colors - Blue, Red, a scientist named Yellow - who blew himself up to keep some information safe, Green (who is staying in the Outer Colonies, most likely RocketTown), Gray (who is probably hiding out on Ouranos), and Chrome, a member so secretive that none of their group have ever spoken to him directly. If they could get the information from Gray and Green, they should be able to piece together enough to actually stop the deader swarm.

Blue hinted at her origin earlier, but spilled the beans more fully. Her mother was killed; hoping to save his unborn child, her father made a deal with the Deaders, who brought her mother back to life - give or take. However, through some fault of biology, the nanites that kept her mother alive infected her, as well; while she isn't a deader, per se, she is immune to feral deaders, and has heightened abilities due to the nanites in her bloodstream. Red's story didn't start the same, but reached the same result - a Modder, he got some bad hardware from a damaged deader that infected him as a teenager. The others are the same - one way or another, they were infected with Deader nanites, and are now no longer human, but a symbiont, two halves fused into a whole being.

After the Sunsport (and the children, who are now being trained under Rodney) arrived, they turn course to Ouranos, to look for Gray.

No comments:

Post a Comment