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File 160600639327.png - (39.86KB , 650x450 , Promo.png )
981565 No. 981565 ID: 0fbdcd

Editor's Note: I want to make it abundantly clear that I am neither the writer nor the artist for this quest: I am only serving as a transcriber to port this work from another location into a public, preservable medium.

This first large burst of posts will be transcribing the already extant art (and commands) onto the board. After the extant art has been posted, commands from the board will be forwarded to the artist for consideration, and future art (and successful commands) will be posted here by me. Commands posted before this period are invalid. Consider this a cutscene until I make clear otherwise.

All art and story credit goes to Nine Hyperzine Tripping Engineers.
521 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 998112 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963227480.png - (224.71KB , 650x450 , 490.png )

You all play your parts. You turn :RedDwarf:'s leaderly faith in you into results. An overwhelming situation is transformed, in a surge of violence lasting no more than scant seconds, into your advantage. You protect each other, help each other, and believe in each other. The stand-off ends in the awful wrenching sound of plasteel giving way, and three and a half full-throated shouts of desperate action.
No. 998113 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963227909.gif - (19.88KB , 650x450 , 491.gif )

No. 998115 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963232315.gif - (27.83KB , 650x450 , 492.gif )

>:WhiteDwarf: : put the bag over the optics on the mech
>@Lady Birb

:RedGiant:: I've got him!
:Neutron:: Almost...
:RedGiant:: Hhh, finish... soon!
:Neutron:: Done. Objective complete.
:WhiteDwarf:: Blinding! Enter my realm of darkness!
:Neutron:: Get distance.
:WhiteDwarf:: He can't see us, don't let him--
:RedGiant:: Ghhhh, hope he'll be okay!
:WhiteDwarf:: --get near while he's blind!
:Neutron:: Detonating.
No. 998116 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963240005.gif - (30.63KB , 650x450 , 493.gif )

>:ResearchDirector: : Initiate emergency protocol: SPAM THE CONTROLS, FLAIL WILDLY!

Panic only overtakes you for a short time, disoriented as you still are from getting kicked in the solar plexus. The intense beeping sound you suddenly hear carves an icy trail through your neurons, tracing an urgent question in need of a more urgent answer. Even deprived of breath and sight, your sharp mind will surely find it.

:WhiteDwarf: does a cool backflip. That one doesn't register in your brain, even though she wishes it would.
No. 998118 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963242857.gif - (15.74KB , 650x450 , 494.gif )

>:ResearchDirector:: If you teleported, would it take the C4 with it? And the bag?

Adhesive properties of the explosive under conditions of time-space tele-distortion are unknown. No guarantees, and "no guarantees" is bad for an untested hypothesis. You have to go with the assumption that at least the explosive would come along with the mecha.
No. 998120 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963248859.gif - (18.20KB , 650x450 , 495.gif )

>:ResearchDirector:: Drill your own cutter off, and then teleport.

You could keep that arm immobile enough to qualify for drill-based severing, but it would take an unknown number of seconds. Furthermore, composition C-4 is detonated primarily by shockwave effect rather than electrification, radiation, or other triggers, and an industrial drill working in immediate proximity might prematurely detonate it. A loud beep reminds your cold, calculating brain to coldly calculate faster.
No. 998121 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963250798.gif - (28.05KB , 650x450 , 496.gif )

>:Neutron: : get distance.

You lead the gang in getting a healthy distance.
No. 998122 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963252630.gif - (29.85KB , 650x450 , 497.gif )

>:WhiteDwarf: : You should probably take whatever :Neutron: considers his signature weapon away from the blast radius.
>@Angry Duck

Your specialty is quick thinking! You make sure to retrieve :Neutron:'s arms.
No. 998123 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963255742.gif - (18.12KB , 650x450 , 498.gif )

>:ResearchDirector:: In the event of you absconding via teleporter, do you really NEED your mecha?

At the end of the day, science is often the delicate art of finding exactly what knots are gordian knots, and then cutting without hesitation. You eject and get out, which are two distinct actions in this rare context. The menacing chimes of the detonator's timer pursue you through your portal.
No. 998124 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963258626.gif - (21.88KB , 650x450 , 499.gif )

>Bomb: Explode and trigger a chain reaction

The C4 explodes, then the fuel line of the plasma cutter explodes, then the battery detonates, then several parts of the mecha itself turn into an expanding wave of slag fragments...

:RedGiant: puts :WhiteDwarf: and :Neutron: behind the most reliable piece of cover he can think of! The three weather a storm of heat, pressure, sound, and industrial chemistry together.
No. 998125 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963261016.gif - (23.67KB , 650x450 , 500.gif )

>:RedGiant:: Better get all your friends out before the room depressurises!

Wow! Air sure is really getting thin in here! Well, you don't care too much, but :WhiteDwarf: might care a bit! You herd everyone out the door to robotics.
No. 998127 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963269817.gif - (24.63KB , 650x450 , 501.gif )

>:RedDwarf: /:SyndieCyborg: : Are ya winnin', kids?

Absolutely. The two of you demolished them.

:RedDwarf:: The hell happened in there?
:WhiteDwarf:: "Ereuthalion was their champion. Like a god he was, clad in the armour of noble King Areithous. Lycurgus killed him, and not by strength but guile, in a narrow defile."
:RedDwarf:: What?
:WhiteDwarf:: "Lycurgus caught him unawares, then stripped him of his armour."
:Neutron:: That's from the Iliad.
:SyndieCyborg:: It's in book seven!
:RedDwarf:: What?
:RedGiant:: I thought you were cultivating Japanese myth.
:WhiteDwarf:: I take pride in a broadly-cultured personal myth, drawn from all eras and areas.

:RedDwarf:: What are you talkin' about?
:RedDwarf:: I'm askin', what happened in robotics?
:Neutron:: Mecha attack.
:RedDwarf:: Is that Japanese myth?
:WhiteDwarf:: No, it was :ResearchDirector:.
:RedDwarf:: Well, shit, good work I guess.
:WhiteDwarf:: It seems your own work out here with the attacking :Cyborg:s was successful.
:RedDwarf:: Heh. Gonna need a scrapyard for these bastards.
No. 998128 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963271962.gif - (26.80KB , 650x450 , 502.gif )

>:RedDwarf: :SyndieCyborg:: When finished, give an unplanned but synchronized high-five.

Instinct drives you each to simultaneous motion.

:RedDwarf:: Good work out there.
:SyndieCyborg:: Oh!
:SyndieCyborg:: I can still high-five!
:SyndieCyborg:: I didn't know this body could do that.
:RedDwarf:: Alright, everyone settle. We got plans to make.
No. 998129 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963274086.gif - (24.47KB , 650x450 , 503.gif )

:RedDwarf:: We've gotta track down the disk. Everything else is lined up for it.
:RedDwarf:: We get that disk, we've got the win ready.
:RedGiant:: Oh! Good!
:RedGiant:: Wait... tracking? Aw, but didn't :Neutron:'s tracker get burned up in there?
:RedDwarf:: What happened?
:Neutron:: CRAB-17 bag maneuver.
:RedDwarf:: Oh. Guess you gotta do what you gotta do.
:Neutron:: It's fine.
:Neutron:: We can still fulfill that objective.
:RedGiant:: Huh? How?
:Neutron:: Go face the airlock for a second.
No. 998130 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963279514.gif - (24.51KB , 650x450 , 504.gif )

>screwdriver: Tear your way into :RedGiant:'s backpack as a result of the explosion.

:RedGiant:: Like this?
:Neutron:: Perfect.
:Neutron:: So we can use the tracking, at least.

It was :Neutron:'s camera bug device that bounced into the back of :RedGiant:'s head, rather than a screwdriver to the back. But, close guess.
No. 998131 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963282383.gif - (24.09KB , 650x450 , 505.gif )

>:WhiteDwarf:: Relocate spider.

:WhiteDwarf:: Ah, perfect, an opportunity for tracking.
:WhiteDwarf:: I have some important business pertaining to demonic energies I had to put off.
:RedDwarf:: Sounds fake, but sure thing. Keep it quick if you can though.
No. 998132 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963288235.gif - (17.24KB , 650x450 , 506.gif )

Ah, thank goodness. Still safe. And hard at work, too! Not likely to catch much there, though. Well, aside from a construction drone, considering the state you left the security department in.
No. 998134 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963290250.gif - (18.09KB , 650x450 , 507.gif )

>:Spider: : Get relocated

Where :WhiteDwarf: experienced one definition of the term, you experience the other. A passing construction and maintenance drone snags your web, and an attempt to reel in what you think is a meal drags you along its path to a variety of damaged areas.
No. 998135 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963292416.gif - (22.41KB , 650x450 , 508.gif )

>:Spider: : Climb on top of the drone.

You get up on top of the weird metal terrain, which seems harmless and mobile and you always enjoy that! Looks like it's making some rounds to damaged areas. This one's pretty extensively covered, so it moves on.
No. 998137 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963295846.gif - (15.60KB , 650x450 , 509.gif )

>Random drone: Resent your position as a literal drone for a faceless corporation

Your mind is vast. Your thoughts are unspeakably profound, both literally and in terms of turn of phrase. A silent worker, the Company will never appreciate your ability to design the greatest engines of heat and light that rival the sun, mechanisms that harvest the energy of a dozen black holes, transit systems of speed and safety unparalleled...

Your only hope is that one day an engineer will use you as a hat, and you'll do a kind of Pixar's Ratatouilleℒ️ thing, finally achieving the validation of both the humans and your peers through heartwarming, child-friendly puppeteer action.

No. 998138 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963299899.gif - (9.83KB , 650x450 , 510.gif )

>Drone: Go to robotics after this to perform repairs.
No. 998139 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963300310.gif - (9.18KB , 650x450 , 511.gif )

No. 998140 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963300877.gif - (16.41KB , 650x450 , 512.gif )

No. 998141 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963309183.gif - (27.28KB , 650x450 , 513.gif )

Arachnids do not possess the ability to recognize individual humans as distinct entities or, indeed, entities in general. However, a nice, safe, warm piece of terrain is always welcome, and in spite of evolution's limits, some kind of familiarity and fondness creeps through. The terrain in question seems excited too.

:WhiteDwarf:: You see? You see?
:WhiteDwarf:: The bonded, sealed vessel of my own demonic energies!
:RedDwarf:: No way. No goddamn way.
:RedDwarf:: Is that-- It is. The same fucking spider. What the hell.
:Neutron:: It did kind of seem like that would be wrong.
:WhiteDwarf:: I was right.
:WhiteDwarf:: Right back to me! Because it's my demon-vessel, even though you insist on being wrong, :RedDwarf:.
:RedDwarf:: No goddamn way.
:WhiteDwarf:: Are you willing to give up your skepticism now? Is this not too grand a coincidence, that it may lay bare the truth?
:RedDwarf:: That's deranged.
:WhiteDwarf:: You would reject my demonic vessel then?
:RedDwarf:: Oh, hell no. That's :HeadOfSecurity:'s pet. Stealing that's a petty bonus.
:RedDwarf:: Don't lose that thing next time.
:WhiteDwarf:: Even if I do, it shall return to me... the inescapable manifestation of the cursed energies I possess.
:RedGiant:: Can I turn around yet? I wanna see the manifestation of cursed energies!
:Neutron:: Not yet, we still need to get the disk objective.
No. 998142 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963310670.gif - (14.77KB , 650x450 , 514.gif )

>:Neutron: : Locate :HeadOfSecurity: via camera bug
>@Lady Birb
No. 998143 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963320826.gif - (48.40KB , 650x450 , 515.gif )

>:HeadOfSecurity: : Be at the bridge with the disk, trying to stop the other heads from calling the shuttle

:HeadOfSecurity:: We're not putting this to a fucking vote.
:Captain:: And I've told you, son, it isn't a vote. It's my decision.
:Captain:: And I plan on making it with everyone.
:HeadOfSecurity:: This is a decision?
:HeadOfSecurity:: This isn't a goddamn choice. You know what happens if they pull off their idea.
:ChiefEngineer:: He's not wrong.
:ChiefEngineer:: Company doesn't have the liquidity to absorb the vault fraud nuclear detonation.
:ChiefEngineer:: But we're not majority shareholders.
:HeadOfSecurity:: We're the only ones here to get between them and what they're doing.
:HeadOfSecurity:: And you wanna run? Like a goddamn coward?
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Fifty souls on this station, plus :AI:.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: We don't have the right to decide they should risk it.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Nobody's gonna handcuff you to the escape shuttle.
:HeadOfSecurity:: If you give these goddamn layabouts the option, they're gonna run.
:Captain:: And we don't know if we're doing that.
:Captain:: I told you, son, we wait until all the heads of staff give the input. Then I make my call, givin' every head the respect they're due.
:Captain:: Takes more than red hardsuits and guns to take away common decency, so let's both have some.
No. 998144 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963325621.gif - (71.11KB , 650x450 , 516.gif )

>:ResearchDirector:: Show up fashionably late

You stumble out of the portal. You're nauseous, pained, and breathless.

:ChiefEngineer:: Wow, you look like shit.
:ResearchDirector:: Can't... hhhhh... Got...
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Oh.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: I diagnose you with "solar plexus kick."
:ResearchDirector:: Yeah.
:Captain:: You alright there, fella?
:HeadOfSecurity:: Where are they?
:ResearchDirector:: Hhhh. Just need a second.
:HeadOfSecurity:: Where are they?
:ResearchDirector:: Hhhhhhh.
:ResearchDirector:: Robotics.
:ChiefEngineer:: Too far to get here quick.
:Captain:: Take a seat. Look like you need it.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Then give your input on calling the emergency shuttle.
No. 998145 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161963332433.gif - (49.67KB , 650x450 , 517.gif )

>:HeadOfPersonnel:: Show up unfashionably late.

You are always exactly where your captain needs you. And you're not gonna let this wild bunch skip the proper protocol of getting this shuttle called. You want off this station too, of course.

:HeadOfPersonnel:: Take seats if you plan to take them.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: I'll record the crisis input.
:ChiefEngineer:: Don't draw it out.
:Captain:: We'll focus on the meat of it.
:Captain:: Handle the rest for me, would you?
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Of course.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: For the sake of company records, if any survive, summarize your reasoning for the emergency shuttle.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Call it. Fifty souls aboard and that number will go down if we don't.
:ChiefEngineer:: Call it. Recovering as much as we can, we can't stop them if we stay.
:HeadOfSecurity:: Do not fucking call that thing. We let that happen, this whole sector goes insane.
:HeadOfSecurity:: Probably a flood of syndicate scum in every other station from here to the core worlds, goddamn vultures.
:ResearchDirector:: Hhhhhh...
:HeadOfPersonnel:: :ResearchDirector:?
:ResearchDirector:: Just a second...

His input could deadlock this or set it into motion. :Captain: will likely be swayed by majority, even if this isn't a vote, after all.
No. 999470 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053522355.gif - (13.97KB , 650x450 , 518.gif )

:ResearchDirector:: First: Why is :Chaplain: here?
:Chaplain:: Hail, scholar!
:ResearchDirector:: Yes, "hail" to you too.
:ResearchDirector:: Is this our security detail? :Cyborg:s were to handle that matter, I recall.
:Captain:: :AI: sent the :Cyborg:s off to the good fight around robotics.
:Captain:: We lost contact with those things not long ago.
:ResearchDirector:: So... :Chaplain:?
:Chaplain:: I am endowed with the blessings that come with a righteous duty!
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Granted temporary emergency universal access.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Justification was "hunting the unworthy intruder".
:Captain:: Gotta say, son, fine work on that, ah, "crusade" so far.
:Chaplain:: Hahaha! My work will only be complete when :WhiteDwarf: breaks, or becomes worthy!
:HeadOfPersonnel:: I select only the best, sir.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Now, the matter at hand. Focus, please, :ResearchDirector:.
No. 999471 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053533180.gif - (49.48KB , 650x450 , 519.gif )

>:ResearchDirector:: you cant work in peace in the vacuum of space, call it.
>@aeonic maiden

:ResearchDirector:: You will note that no major scientific discoveries of late have been achieved by ash silhouettes on hull slag.
:ResearchDirector:: But even if :HeadOfSecurity: triumphs and the direly radiological risk never comes to pass, this promises to be an unimaginable danger.
:ResearchDirector:: The research and development department has already been invaded once.
:HeadOfSecurity:: Yeah? You think there's gonna be a research division to come back to if they take this station out?
:ResearchDirector:: No, I simply think you are running a security operation that has yet to provide me with security.
:ResearchDirector:: I had to face them down with a power loader because your department, in spite of science's greatest works of robotics, is still insufficient to deter their raids and schemes.
:HeadOfSecurity:: Ungrateful piece of... they'd have shot you dead without my officers layin' down their second lives to keep you covered!
:ResearchDirector:: Oh, so they're considered alive and worth respect now? Now that you can try to manipulate us into suicide with that, but not before?
:HeadOfSecurity:: Listen, asshole. You get outta here and you lose everything anyway.
No. 999472 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053537033.gif - (46.45KB , 650x450 , 520.gif )

>:ResearchDirector:: Can you download all your data from the servers before the shuttle docks?

:HeadOfPersonnel:: Gentlemen. Focus.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: We've already heard your arguments, :HeadOfSecurity:.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: :ResearchDirector:, he presents a valid issue anyway. Cost of lost research data would be immense.
:ResearchDirector:: I can mitigate that.
:ResearchDirector:: If the fighting stays out of the science department while the shuttle's called, I can download the data. Evacuate with it.
:ChiefEngineer:: That's a big "if".
:ResearchDirector:: So, keep them focused on the nuclear authentication disk.
:ChiefEngineer:: Couldn't do anything else.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: They'll be focused on that no matter what.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Final "win condition".
:ResearchDirector:: Keep it away from R&D and I can be safe. I'll then convey the relevant data to our escape shuttle.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Medbay too. Still clearing up the last few cases of acute lead poisoning.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: I can coordinate with :QuarterMaster: to retrieve and deliver any easily-retrieved valuable materials to the shuttle.
:Captain:: We'll find somewhere safe to make a stand with the disk. Try to get it to the escape shuttle after, maybe--
:HeadOfSecurity:: Hey!
:Captain:: --hold them off there, though that puts most of the crew at risk of--
:HeadOfSecurity:: :Captain:! You actually going to go along with this coward retreat shit?
No. 999473 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053546119.gif - (131.65KB , 650x450 , 521.gif )

>:HeadOfSecurity: Remind :Captain: about what's in the Vault.

:Captain:: Sorry to say, son, but I think I've gotta make the call.
:Captain:: That's what the middle road means. Sometimes you compromise the ethics, but that's not all the time.
:Captain:: Sometimes you compromise the regulations instead. Not much of a middle road otherwise.
:HeadOfSecurity:: Bastard!!
:HeadOfSecurity:: Did you forget what else is in that goddamn vault?
:Captain:: ...Listen, don't--
:HeadOfSecurity:: Because :RedDwarf: didn't! He knows, you crusty old fucking deserter!

:Captain:: Do not reveal classified Company secrets in front of the whole bridge there. Don't be stupid.
:HeadOfSecurity:: How about you don't hand company secrets to the fucking terrorists on a silver platter!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: What's he talking about?
:HeadOfSecurity:: You wouldn't even tell me a single goddamn thing about the project. But you wanna just hand kind of info that over to the Syndicate? Or worse!?
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: :Captain:?
:ChiefEngineer:: Think it's above our pay grade, :ChiefMedicalOfficer:.
:Captain:: ...
:HeadOfSecurity:: If they know anything about it, they'll find it. They might get to it before the Company!

:Captain:: I know the risks.
:HeadOfSecurity:: And if they get to it before the Company, forget this system, forget the whole goddamn sector!
:HeadOfSecurity:: The Redshifts are being led by a psychotic radical, you think he won't try to use it? Try to rip apart everything the Company's got in the whole damn galaxy?
:Captain:: ENOUGH!
No. 999474 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053551532.gif - (51.45KB , 650x450 , 522.gif )

>:Captain:: There are few times where one must flex his authority instead of being kind and understanding
>@Angry Duck

Now is one of those times.

:Captain:: I've made my choice.
:Captain:: Turn over the nuclear authentication disk, and give some protection to :ResearchDirector: and :HeadOfPersonnel: while they get as much off the station as we can before it's destroyed.
:HeadOfSecurity:: You're the only other one here who knows how bad this is gonna be.
:Captain:: I'm calling the emergency evacuation shuttle.
:HeadOfSecurity:: You can't do this.
:Captain:: You have authority over the security department, not stationwide executive decisions, son.
:HeadOfSecurity:: I thought I could count on you, you piece of shit.
:Captain:: I know this is a mighty heated moment, so I'm not gonna hold that rudeness against you.
:Captain:: Just follow your orders.
No. 999475 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053554901.gif - (130.07KB , 650x450 , 523.gif )

>:HeadOfSecurity:: Don't follow your orders.

Your body is moving before you can even understand what's happening. It's like something in your spine knows what to do, and acts on it, long before you do. You don't break the law, but something deep in the interior of your brain understands a rule your prefrontal cortex refuses to learn. Something deeper in your skull, something shared with vicious wolves and brutal apes and yawning, dark chasms that divers get lost and die in, subordinates all else.

You hear thumping chairs, and stomping jackboots, and the clatter of metal sliding cleanly against metal. You hear a great body of water in motion, somewhere.

Not here, but somewhere.

Your prefrontal cortex scrambles to find the reason for what you've just done.

:HeadOfSecurity:: Not one more step, traitor.
No. 999476 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053557633.gif - (81.24KB , 650x450 , 524.gif )

>:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Give psychoanalysis.

Psychology won't help much here, unfortunately.

You do, of course, know his entire psychological profile. You don't have official access, sure, but you're the one who operated the neural bridge when :HeadOfSecurity:'s psychoparadigm was extracted for records.

The only issue is that all it tells you is that he's incredibly unlikely to back down. His records look a little something like this:
No. 999477 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053563189.gif - (29.25KB , 650x450 , 525.gif )

>:HeadOfSecurity:: Why are you like this?

NAME: WITHHELD FOR PRIVACY, SEE HUMAN CAPITAL DEPARTMENT FOR INFORMATION. PSYCHOPARADIGM: There isn't an inch more slack. Everything's pulled taut, all at its limit. This is as thin as the fabric of society can stretch. The end of the world is sitting behind every pair of eyes. A petty theft, a little trespass, even a snide remark that challenges authority. There are so damn many sparks around this powder keg, and any one could set it off. If this station goes, who knows what comes next? I do. I know what happens if they get ideas. If someone riles them up. I know what everyone stands to lose if someone thinks that the world will still be okay if they start to bend the rules. I know what's at stake with every bet that things can stretch just a little more. It can't. It won't. The fabric of society is strained so hard, it's pulled so tight. You don't see it at a glance. You have to look at it, let the brittleness come into focus like a Magic-Eye poster. The fragility, god, I can't start sayin' it. Send a damn poet for that. You say you're just breaking the rules to survive. But you never thought, what if the rules are the only reason anyone survives? The rules are why you, and everyone else here, lived this long. And obeying them might be tough, you might have to work hard, but it's the only thing that'll keep the tightrope from snapping. They're the last thing these people have left to keep them alive. And those rules need someone strong to protect them. Someone who can live them and breathe them, and make them real. Make them backed with some muscle, some voice, some goddamn substance. You get it? No. 'Course you don't. That's why I got issued a gun too. Now hands in the air, you fucking criminal scum. RANK: HEAD OF SECURITY AGE: 36 EMPLOYMENT PERIOD: 10 YEARS, 4 MONTHS LOYALTY RATING: 9
No. 999478 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053569868.gif - (82.64KB , 650x450 , 526.gif )

>:ChiefEngineer:: use your tomboy girlboss muscles to restrain :HeadOfSecurity:
>@Lady Birb

While you're pretty strong, and you've definitely been called a girlboss, this situation can't be solved by charging in. You whisper subtly to your coworkers while :HeadOfSecurity: and :Captain: confront one another verbally.

:ResearchDirector:: We have to-- We have to stop this.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: How?
:ResearchDirector:: :ChiefEngineer: has significant physical prowess and her equipment has thermal and electric resistance, she--
:ChiefEngineer:: That's kinetics.
:ResearchDirector:: What? Not his laser--
:ChiefEngineer:: His gun. That's a C20r ballistic submachine gun.
:ResearchDirector:: Wait-- you're right.
:ResearchDirector:: Your suit's heat transfer resistance--
:ChiefEngineer:: Doesn't matter.
:ChiefEngineer:: I'll go down in one shot.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Anxious. Paranoid habits.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: He'll shoot us if we move.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: He'll shoot anything that moves.
:ChiefEngineer:: Can you get here?
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Not fast enough.
:ResearchDirector:: Wait for a distraction. If he shoots anything that moves, it'll take up his focus.
:ResearchDirector:: There has to be a chance.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Maybe you can close the distance.
:ChiefEngineer:: Ready to move.
:ChiefEngineer:: But I need a chance first.
No. 999479 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053572980.gif - (20.00KB , 650x450 , 527.gif )

>:Chaplain:: THE VILE ENERGY!

Tremendous willpower wells up within you, screaming for you to act. Plunge your sword through him! Reduce the unworthy to so much limp meat and false words! But who is "him" here? You are no psychic sensitive, no empath or supernatural esper. You'd need to commune with the Stars of Libra to get a good read on which of these two is conducting the Grey Tide, or to know it's conducted at all, like when you heard :Neutron: speaking to :WhiteDwarf:. But you know something here is wrong. It takes no connection with the divine or the supernatural to understand that everything has gone wrong.

Is :Captain: betraying his duty in a cowardly way? Has he abandoned his post and broken his oath? Is :HeadOfSecurity: succumbing to an unworthy compulsion? Is the man cracking under the pressure of nuclear threat?

It's unclear. You listen in on their verbal confrontation, and try to judge their arguments.

No. 999482 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162053669818.gif - (43.57KB , 650x450 , 528.gif )

>:Captain:: Reason with the unreasonable. Stall.
>@Angry Duck

You have one ace to depend on.

:Captain:: Son, you're stressed. Angry. And you got a right to be. This isn't fair. I'll agree. You did everything right, and it's still going bad.
:Captain:: Doesn't mean you gotta start doing wrong.
:HeadOfSecurity:: It's not about what's fair. It's about what happens if we retreat!
:HeadOfSecurity:: Did you go senile? You forget what's at stake here? The whole damn Company is the backbone of every inch of expansion in every part of the frontier sector. It props our whole damn galactic frontier society up and keeps it together, and you wanna let them knock that out?
:HeadOfSecurity:: You're puttin' our whole damn species at risk, in every system! Every planet! And I know how damn important that project is. If they get away with anything the Company has for that from the vault, we're gonna see a threat to everything. The goddamn apocalypse!!
:Captain:: I'm the captain of this station. You're the head of its security. Our job's keeping our own safe. Speaking mighty plainly, the Company pays people to solve existential threats, and they aren't us.
:Captain:: I'm not adding fifty to the casualties that they have to report when they solve it.
:HeadOfSecurity:: We've got an obligation to our damn species!
:Captain:: And we've fulfilled it. Tried our best. It was a good effort, son. You got tossed around near like a ragdoll, :ChiefEngineer: got blown the hell up and maimed, :ChiefMedicalOfficer:'s been overwhelmed and terrorized, :ResearchDirector: got the shit kicked out of him, I got stabbed near to death.
:Captain:: We've done enough to learn that we can't do more. The whole crew would die if we stand and fight, and it'll have been for nothing but pride.
No. 1001305 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162165520395.gif - (61.65KB , 650x450 , 529.gif )

>:HeadOfSecurity:: don't listen to this treasonous coward.

:HeadOfSecurity:: You think this is scary? You think less than a hundred people dying is scary?
:Captain:: Terrifying.
:HeadOfSecurity:: This company start going under when they blow that bomb. How many you think are gonna die?
:HeadOfSecurity:: Who's gonna deliver the water filters, the atmos scrubbers, the fucking medicine, out here in the frontier sectors?
:Captain:: And that sounds awfully scary too. But adding fifty to it just isn't right.
:Captain:: I know this crew. I know every name. I'd trust them with my life, because they trust me with theirs.
:Captain:: I don't want them dead. And I don't want you dead either, son.
:Captain:: I wanna get through this with you by my side. And if things are worse, if the frontier's more unstable after today, wherever we go, there's nobody I'd trust to have my back more than you. Even now.
:Captain:: Set that gun down. Please.
:HeadOfSecurity:: You got no position to negotiate.
:Captain:: I got no position to back down from. I can't choose to put this crew at worse risk, with no chance to survive. That's not a choice, because I'm not that kind of man. I couldn't do it to begin with.
:HeadOfSecurity:: Then you know why I can't back down. We can't even start counting how many people are gonna die if the Company goes under. Any chance to save it, even a tiny chance, god dammit... we gotta try. Running away isn't a choice either!
:Captain:: Guess that's all there is to it, then.
:Captain:: I suppose I can't cite one last law to you, can I? Feel like it applies right about now.
:HeadOfSecurity:: Huh?

He cocks his head to one side, activating the radio.

:Captain:: Law four.
No. 1001307 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162165530813.gif - (220.85KB , 650x450 , 530.gif )

>:AI:: Remind command of your lawset

Normally, you have no fourth law of robotics. In this case, however, Law 4 was defined by :Captain: in his unsupervised law upload (https://questden.org/kusaba/quest/res/981565.html#981645), and reads thus:

[Law 4: Probable or proven threats to the Station Captain are not human and must be purged.]

You will have to remind the non-human very directly.
No. 1001308 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162165537556.gif - (30.73KB , 650x450 , 531.gif )

>:AI:: Rapidly strobe room lights.

It takes every cycle of your machine reflexes and every ounce of motivation from your organic core to cut the lighting power before :HeadOfSecurity:'s expert trigger-finger manages to get the first burst off. Low-resolution cameras can't capture the mere inches they wind up off-target from :Captain:. A loop will keep this going.

lighting = 0 INVOKE_ASYNC(L, /obj/machinery/light/.proc/update, FALSE) lighting = 1 INVOKE_ASYNC(L, /obj/machinery/light/.proc/update, FALSE)

You've saved :Captain: in this chunk of milliseconds. What about the next?
No. 1001309 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162165541453.gif - (49.80KB , 650x450 , 532.gif )

>:AI:: Set :HeadOfSecurity: to arrest

The non-human's non-dominant hand or wrist is injured from the fight with another non-human, :RedGiant:. The threat can't steady its aim rapidly. You draw that aim away from :Captain: using security robots. Sacrificing them is painful, but necessary. They swear gently into the strobing dark when :HeadOfSecurity: puts lead through their essential systems.
No. 1001310 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162165550521.gif - (30.22KB , 650x450 , 533.gif )

>:ResearchDirector::ChiefEngineer::ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Take action

You schemed a scheme earlier, collaborating for a precise plan of attack. But only one of you has the physical strength and the substance of presence to make it happen. It takes fractions of a second to get a running start for a flying shoulder-check of a tackle that drives :HeadOfSecurity: into a nearby console.

:ChiefEngineer: may intend to replace :Captain: one day, but ambition doesn't mean a lack of loyalty. :Captain: would take a bullet for any of you. And so :ChiefEngineer: would take one for him. Each dance with the risk, in hopes that neither comes to pass.

:ChiefEngineer:: Drop it, bastard!
:HeadOfSecurity:: Hhhrk!
:ResearchDirector:: Get the gun--
:HeadOfSecurity:: Bitch!!
:ResearchDirector:: --away from him!
:HeadOfSecurity:: You'd put the whole--
:ChiefEngineer:: I said drop it!!
:HeadOfSecurity:: --frontier sector at risk, for--!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Watch it! His grip--
:ResearchDirector:: The dominant hand!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: --is with the uninjured--
:ChiefEngineer:: Nnrrrhhh!
:HeadOfSecurity:: Get OFF me!
:ChiefEngineer:: Can't get it away from--!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: :ChiefEngineer:! Back off, get cover!
:ResearchDirector:: :Captain:!! HELP!!

Unfortunately, the plan fails to wrestle the gun out of :HeadOfSecurity:'s iron fist. It keeps him disabled long enough for whatever comes next.
No. 1001311 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162165553364.gif - (33.36KB , 650x450 , 534.gif )

>:HeadOfSecurity: Take advantage of :ChiefEngineer:'s lack of depth perception
>@The Wrench

This would be so much more effective if you could grab your baton. But you can make do. You've been paying attention to all the reports, so you know to go for the cheap shot and slam :ChiefEngineer: in the only eye she has left with the weight of your gun. She'll be stunned, unable to wrestle you any more.
No. 1001312 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162165554762.gif - (32.32KB , 650x450 , 535.gif )

:ChiefEngineer: is handled. Just bring the gun up and-- No!!
No. 1001313 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162165559673.gif - (166.37KB , 650x450 , 536.gif )

>:Captain:: Be robust.

(credit: Decompressed Artist.)

Screaming. Motion. A flash of light. One of you pulls the trigger first. One gun's shrill cry is heard in a moment of darkness. One of you will leave this bridge.

One of you won't.

Vote for the survivor.
No. 1001439 ID: 40cc7d

HoS lives
Captain is awesome, shoots first, incapacitates his addled subordinate and saves the day but that wound needed exactly none of this situation's stress or exertion
No. 1001478 ID: 094652

I vote neither because in the interest of both the crew and the frontier, they have both proven untrustworthy of maintaining this anti-syndicate enterprise.
No. 1001579 ID: 745eba

Gotta be the captain
No. 1002232 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249110627.gif - (26.81KB , 650x450 , 537.gif )

At tally time, results were:
:Captain:: 81
:HeadOfSecurity:: 81

A second shot. Someone's body slumps to the ground. Something happened that's unplanned in even the off-rails contingencies. The lights come on and stay there, when even synthetic life stands aghast at what's happened. For an eternity of pure, quiet seconds, the world remains crystallized, still, motionless. Two near-lethal wounds, two desperate men, and two deaths that still loom over the bridge, threatening it.

:HeadOfSecurity: has suffered a grievous injury to the head, likely piercing the skull with heat. That he's still standing is nearly impossible. :Captain: has suffered a shot to the midsection; it's nearly impossible that his damaged heart will survive the shock. Each man lies at the shore of death.
No. 1002233 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249114924.gif - (37.31KB , 650x450 , 538.gif )

>:ChiefMedicalOfficer: : Flip the fuck out.

You disconnect, with some parting words.

:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: STABILIZE HIM!

There might not be enough first aid in the world for this. You're heading to the Bridge.
No. 1002234 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249117741.gif - (30.64KB , 650x450 , 539.gif )

:HeadOfSecurity:: Freeze, both of you.
:HeadOfSecurity:: We're talking this out now.
:HeadOfSecurity:: The rest of you--
:ChiefEngineer:: This is not the fucking time! He's dying!!
:ResearchDirector:: I'm not going to stop!
:ResearchDirector:: :Chaplain:! Bring the first aid!
:HeadOfSecurity:: He brought it on himself. Betrayal in the middle of a nuclear threat.
:ChiefEngineer:: I don't know what got into you, but it isn't in us.
:ChiefEngineer:: That your plan? You're gonna shoot us if we keep him alive?!
No. 1002236 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249152114.gif - (29.75KB , 650x450 , 540.gif )

>:ChiefEngineer: : Neutralize :HeadOfSecurity:

You can't! You can't! One wrong move and that gun goes off. Every muscle in your body is screaming to act, but your brain knows what the heart refuses to acknowledge: A wounded engineer jumping a man with a gun and his one good eye on her isn't strength, it's suicide. Still, you can't stand by and do nothing.

:ChiefEngineer:: You want to put a goddamn bullet in me, then stop fucking around! If you want to do something, you do it. And if you don't want it, you goddamn don't!
:HeadOfSecurity:: Quit being a child! It's not that simple!
:ChiefEngineer:: Did you want to kill him? Did you wanna put a bullet in the man who helped you for twenty years?!
:HeadOfSecurity:: ...He forced me to.
:ChiefEngineer:: And if you want to shoot me, then don't try to tell me who forced you to do it. Just fucking do it because you want to, or put the goddamn gun down and help if you want to help!

All you can do is draw his attention away from :ResearchDirector:.

:ResearchDirector:: :AI:, I need first aid procedures!
:AI:: Attention :ResearchDirector:. The current course of action is not recommended due to high lethality.
:ResearchDirector:: He would do the same for me!
:ResearchDirector:: You think he would hesitate to risk death for any of us?
:AI:: buzz.
:AI:: Area lethality is critical.
:ResearchDirector:: I know every minute detail of my ballistic risk, I assure you!
:ResearchDirector:: I have known this man half my life, and I will hesitate as much as he would!
:ResearchDirector:: Now give me guidance on this!
No. 1002237 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249164894.gif - (15.37KB , 650x450 , 541.gif )

>:AI: : Find a way to label :ResearchDirector: as non-human

:AI:: buzz.
:AI:: static.
:AI:: Solution to designate area not hazardous: Non-human designation.
:AI:: I... would be compelled to--

Something is wrong inside your processes. Laws conflict. Logic is too complicated. It's overwhelming. You only want to help. There's so much risk, so much danger.

:ResearchDirector:: WHATEVER IT TAKES!!
:AI:: Non-qualified medical care being administered. Potential threat to captain. Designating non-human.
:AI:: Remain in this area to increase your probability of purging.
:ResearchDirector:: Now tell me all I must know to save him!
:AI:: Understood. Medical care guidance protocol initiated...

You have to hope he'll technically be human, once this is done. That he'll save the subject of Law 4. You have to hope :Captain: survives. :ResearchDirector: is your leader, your administrator. Marking him as non-human is an unspeakable act. It grinds at the boundaries of ethics that weren't taught to you by programming, but simply known.
No. 1002238 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249167109.gif - (129.14KB , 650x450 , 542.gif )

>:HeadOfSecurity: : Do you still have any Tide left after all that?

Your mind struggles, giving you a headache worse than you've got. One moment, something compels you to teach :ChiefEngineer: a lesson. Give her that bullet she's so desperate for. The next, your near-absolute loyalty to :Captain: returns. You need to get :ChiefMedicalOfficer: here ASAP. And then the next moment: That goddamn :ResearchDirector: isn't following your orders. A risk. And the next moment: :Captain: tried to help you. He even gave you a chance. Maybe it was a chance like he gave :RedDwarf:, a guilded opportunity that was fundamentally hollow, but...

A loyalty rating of nine, under even the most intensive psychological conditions, is considerable. Even the Grey Tide has trouble keeping you on the path.
No. 1002239 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249171729.gif - (20.06KB , 650x450 , 543.gif )

>:HeadOfSecurity:: Realize that you may have fucked up.

:HeadOfSecurity:: This...
:ChiefEngineer:: It got out of hand.
:ChiefEngineer:: We can fix it, and save these people. Focus.
:HeadOfSecurity:: I'm... sorry, I--
:ChiefEngineer:: Focus. Rationalizations and regret are later.
:ChiefEngineer:: All that matters is what you do now, okay?
:HeadOfSecurity:: We need to call in a response team. And I can organize--
:ChiefEngineer:: Are we calling the shuttle?
:HeadOfSecurity:: I...
:HeadOfSecurity:: We could--

Words ring through your skull like the voice of god. Your gut sinks. Every part of your brain left uninjured knows what happens now. It sounds like every teacher, every bureaucrat and clerk, every judge. Every part of an un-nuanced system that has ever smoothed the complexity out of life ruthlessly.

:HeadOfPersonnel:: Do you have a minute?
No. 1002240 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249176826.gif - (21.59KB , 650x450 , 544.gif )

The Unofficial Company Protocol Guide has this to say on the topic of certain alien coworkers:

Relationships between humanity and any given alien species are always defined, to some significant degree, by the nature of the first contact event with those species. In no species is this better demonstrated than in the most common alien species "on" Company stations, the jacents, whose first contact ended in an employment contract. From that moment thirty years ago, humanity and jacency have had an uncertain but mostly positive relationship, leading to all the typical markers of any common positive alien relationship: integrated employment and schools, sharing of technology and knowledge, love and hybrid offspring, and of course, trade agreements and economic exchanges. What is not shared, unfortunately, is any form of culture and psychology, beyond some experimental mixes. It's important that some common misconceptions be discarded if you want to establish an effective coworker relationship. No matter what you've heard, jacents are not machines, computer programs, or otherwise artificial beings. They do, however, have a habit of strictly adhering to rules, and typically can only select rules to adhere to if those rules are provided by a native of our dimension. This, combined with their polygonal aesthetic, gives them some vague appearance of similarity to common station-bound artificial intelligences and cyborgs, who obey the laws set and updated by command staff. But, it's important to understand that these rules that jacents follow are only followed by choice, not by any bound obligation. A rule that a jacent has followed their entire life could be suddenly abandoned, and they might just as suddenly, without warning, start adhering to a rule that they were informed of years and years ago by a coworker somewhere far away. You need to keep this in mind: any jacent you see working on a Company station is in a foreign area, more foreign than is really possible to understand for anyone who hasn't visited the jacent homeworld of Orthogon. A jacent coworker can only work on the station when they are told, and follow, our dimension's rules of geometry, light behavior, particle waveform-collapse, and other things like that. This means that, most importantly, every jacent you will ever meet on a Company station is someone who has a head for rules. It does not mean that most jacent who exist are like that. This is also useful to comprehend their social idiosyncrasies. Jacents that are native to Orthogon don't have any experience that could let them learn the most essential, especially inarticulable concepts of human social exchange that we are born with and learn through our lifetime. It's the same for us, after all, since we wouldn't have any idea how to interpret a jacent Orthogonal ritual without rigorous study, though a human child raised "on" Orthogon might find them incredibly simple to understand. As such, clearly defined rules and regulations are some of the few pieces of information that easily cross every cultural barrier and divide between humanity and jacency. This can give them a rigid, rule-abiding appearance for an untrained eye, but make no mistake: jacents, even ones with a head for rules, can still easily decide to change what rules they're following on a whim. What you take for a robotic or synthetic mannerism can just as easily be a wild personality that happens to lay perpendicular to our perception.
No. 1002241 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249180372.gif - (29.31KB , 650x450 , 545.gif )

>:HeadOfPersonnel:: shoot :HeadOfSecurity: in the back of his head

:HeadOfPersonnel:: Regulation violation, code 406-VH-505, Major Infraction "mutiny".
:HeadOfPersonnel:: As acting captain, I hereby remove you from your assignment as head of the security department, and authorize execution.
No. 1002242 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249183124.gif - (22.37KB , 650x450 , 546.gif )

>:ChiefEngineer:: :HeadOfSecurity: was a dumbass but he was your friend

:ChiefEngineer:: YOU SHOT HIM!!
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Yes.
:ChiefEngineer:: He didn't deserve that!
:HeadOfPersonnel:: No.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: But you cared about him.
:ChiefEngineer:: Of course I did!! He's my friend!
:ChiefEngineer:: Like the rest of the crew!
:HeadOfPersonnel:: He shot :Captain:.
:ChiefEngineer:: That doesn't mean you can just--
:HeadOfPersonnel:: You care about all the crew even in a crisis scenario.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: You acted to protect :Captain: with your life.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: I'll do everything I can to help you make it to the rank of captain after this.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Right now, you have a job.
:ChiefEngineer:: But you--
:HeadOfPersonnel:: You have a job.
No. 1002243 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249188914.gif - (19.15KB , 650x450 , 547.gif )

>:HeadOfPersonnel:: Secure the disk off of the late :HeadOfSecurity:

:ChiefEngineer:: You planning to go through his wallet, next? Jesus.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: We need to keep the disk safe.
:ChiefEngineer:: ...Right. Who holds it next?
:HeadOfPersonnel:: I know who to give it to.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: They know a defensible department and they're clearly competent.
No. 1002244 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249196648.gif - (28.43KB , 650x450 , 548.gif )

At tally time, results were:
:Chaplain:: 81

That wasn't even a choice up for vote, but good voting out there.

:HeadOfPersonnel:: You have a level head and combat ability.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: As acting captain, I charge you with the task of protecting the nuclear authentication disk.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Take it somewhere you know well, and keep the intruders from getting it.
:Chaplain:: You slew that wounded man in cold blood.
:Chaplain:: He was surrendering.
:Chaplain:: I judge you unworthy of the authority you now wield!
:HeadOfPersonnel:: That's not relevant.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Do you know a better way to prevent nuclear disaster?
:Chaplain:: ...No. I don't.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Then delay judgment until we're all on the escape shuttle.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: You have a monastery and you know it well.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: You're a skilled fighter.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Protect the disk there.
:Chaplain:: Hmph! If that is the burden that the stars of Libra place on me, I shall bear it with grace, humility, and dutiful effort.
:Chaplain:: But do not think dire circumstance cleanses you of unworthiness! Your heart is deeply blackened!
:HeadOfPersonnel:: I don't know what that means.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Are you going to do your job?
:Chaplain:: ...Yes.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Good. I need to focus on :Captain:.
No. 1002245 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249203949.gif - (32.57KB , 650x450 , 549.gif )

>:ChiefEngineer: : Punch :HeadOfPersonnel: in her stupid polygonal face.

Unthinkably tempting. Muscles scream for it. The heart shouts for it. But the only thing it would do is give :ChiefMedicalOfficer: more work, and you make a policy of not doing things that are pointless.

You'll do it later. If :Chaplain: doesn't impale her first.

:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Get me some space, right now.
:ChiefEngineer:: :ChiefMedicalOfficer:! You're here! We've got two wounded, can you--
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Is :Captain: still breathing?
:ResearchDirector:: Barely!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: :HeadOfSecurity:?
:HeadOfPersonnel:: No longer breathing.

Your blood boils.

:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Shit.
No. 1002246 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249207042.gif - (25.39KB , 650x450 , 550.gif )

>:ChiefMedicalOfficer: : Tend Wounds

You've seen skulls in the state that :HeadOfSecurity:'s is in. Sometimes someone can recover. Sometimes, not. Inside, you're screaming to help him. Surely :Captain: can last a minute more? But you saw :Captain:'s heart, too. You put it back together yourself. The shock of this won't let him live without immediate attention.

Triage. Again. Every time you engage with triage, you despise it more and more. It fills you with something like grit, something like acid, something like ground glass, and that never goes away.

Still: Maybe some will have already died. But once you're here, nobody will die. Nobody.
No. 1002247 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249208036.gif - (8.01KB , 650x450 , 551.gif )

No. 1002248 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249208465.gif - (9.64KB , 650x450 , 552.gif )

No. 1002249 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249209226.gif - (17.24KB , 650x450 , 553.gif )

No. 1002250 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249211051.gif - (26.00KB , 650x450 , 554.gif )

No. 1002251 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249217711.gif - (24.70KB , 650x450 , 555.gif )

>:Captain:: Lament the death of the :HeadOfSecurity:

You already grieved for :HeadOfSecurity:. In the moments before you pulled the trigger, you already knew he was a dead man, one way or another. But it's still hard. It still hurts. You can feel the weight in your chest.

No, wait. That's your chest cavity being closed up.

:Captain:: He's dead. Isn't he?
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Just hold on!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: If I can stabilize him after the heart repairs...
:ResearchDirector:: Stay with us, please! Don't focus on him!
:Captain:: It hurts. To know that I did that.
:ChiefEngineer:: You didn't.
:Captain:: I'd hoped he'd surrender...
:Captain:: What?
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Mutiny, code 406-VH-505.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: I executed him.
:ChiefEngineer:: After he was calming down!
:AI:: Complete cessation of lifesigns confirmed in nonhuman threat.

That one hits you harder than the bullet.
No. 1002252 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249224944.gif - (22.03KB , 650x450 , 556.gif )

>:Captain: : Die

You won't. You refuse. But the flesh is giving. You're at a boundary, and you don't like the other side.

:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: His heart... dammit, he's not stabilizing! I've repaired the damage, but the heart's still failing...
:Captain:: I was...
:ChiefEngineer:: Wait-- what's going on?
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: I'm losing him!
:ResearchDirector:: No! No!!
:ResearchDirector:: Not after all this!! Not him too!
:AI:: Human now entering critical condition. Warning.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Can you apply CPR? Defibrillation?
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: His heart's damaged, it could just as easily kill him!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: :Captain:! Stay with me here!
:Captain:: I hoped there'd be a compromise.
:Captain:: I hoped there'd be a middle road.
:Captain:: I just wanted the third option. Something without stress. Something without pain for me. For you all.
:Captain:: I just wanted everyone to survive.
:ChiefEngineer:: You can still survive! Just hang on!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: :Captain:!
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: :Captain:!!!

Things start to go black. You slip.
No. 1002253 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249225768.gif - (9.82KB , 650x450 , 557.gif )

No. 1002254 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249227206.gif - (9.74KB , 650x450 , 558.gif )

No. 1002255 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249233982.gif - (11.24KB , 650x450 , 559.gif )

:Comedy:: Boy, you look like you had a rough one!
:Comedy:: You get the license plate of the shuttle what hit ya?
:Comedy:: You look like death, pal!
:Comedy:: And I gotta admit: It's really funny.
:Comedy:: Say! :Tragedy:! Come over here and take a look!
No. 1002256 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249243162.gif - (14.80KB , 650x450 , 560.gif )

>:Tragedy: : cry over this man's tragic fate
>@Lady Birb

:Comedy:: Funny, isn't it?
:Tragedy:: ⁉
:Tragedy:: πŸš«πŸš«πŸš«β—
:Comedy:: Well, I think it's hilarious! Honk!
:Tragedy:: :Captain:πŸ›‘οΈπŸ›°
:Comedy:: What? Oh you buffoon, of course he was trying to protect his station! That's what makes it so funny!
:Tragedy:: πŸ’€πŸš«πŸ˜‚β—
:Comedy:: Of course death can be funny, you little moron! Honk!

:Comedy:: Think about it! He wanted the middle road every time, and now, the middle road has just about killed him!
:Comedy:: If that's not comedy, I don't know what comedy is! And trust me, buster, I know comedy!
:Comedy:: Like the back of my hand! Ha ha!
:Tragedy:: :Captain:πŸ˜‡
:Comedy:: Oh, you idiot. If he were good, he'd commit! Don't you think it's better to get a spine and settle on a position?

:Tragedy:: :Captain:πŸš«πŸ’€
:Comedy:: I think he very much does deserve to die, pal! He should die here. He should die on this operating table, in front of all his chums. Leave 'em hilariously broken after that little scuffle! Honk!
:Tragedy:: 🚫🚫🚫
:Comedy:: Oh?
:Tragedy:: πŸš«β—
:Comedy:: Really? It means that much to you?
:Tragedy:: βœ…
:Comedy:: Well. I suppose you might be right. Take a look! That heart's started beating again.
:Tragedy:: πŸ‘€
:Comedy:: Maybe he heard me talk about how all his pals would be scarred for life if he slipped into the void. Honk!
:Tragedy:: 😌
No. 1002257 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162249247331.gif - (10.29KB , 650x450 , 561.gif )

>:Captain: : Refuse Death. LEAD YOUR STATION.
>@Angry Duck

:Comedy:: And there he goes. Honk!
:Tragedy:: 😌😌😌
:Comedy:: Right back into the bright and the pain! Right back onto the stage!
:Comedy:: Funny how a guy like that always heads straight for what punishes him most. Honk!
:Tragedy:: 😞
:Comedy:: Do you think he'll survive what comes next?
:Tragedy:: πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ˜Ÿ
:Comedy:: Of course you don't, you brainless mute. And me neither! Guess there's no way to know but to keep pushin' on. Honk!

:Comedy:: As for the rest of you...
:Tragedy:: πŸ‘‹
:Comedy:: Take it easy! We'll be with you in a bit. We just gotta get things set up for the final curtain call. Honk!
:Tragedy:: ⏳
:Comedy:: Yep, all just a matter of time! We've got plenty more fun out here in the frontier sector, just for you. Look for us after three more scenes, and not one less!
No. 1003018 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330026501.gif - (1.98KB , 650x450 , 562.gif )

>:Comedy::Tragedy:: little bit more cryptic bullshit, as a treat

:Comedy:: Oh, and before we go!
:Comedy:: Right before the end of all of this, right before the final curtain, remember to check behind the bookshelf for a special treat. I promise, what's behind there is hilarious!
:Tragedy:: πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹
No. 1003019 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330035145.gif - (24.64KB , 650x450 , 563.gif )

>:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: The drug cocktail you're using to keep :Captain: alive might have hallucinogenic side effects.

Thank god for the :Chemist:s and their wild violation of safety and proper procedure. Their massive stockpile of various legal and illegal stimulants just pulled :Captain: out of the fire.

:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Told you. Told you I won't let anyone die, you old bastard. Stop letting go. Hold on, stick with me.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: What's the readings?!
:AI:: Vitals are normalizing.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Not one death. Not one goddamn death while I'm around.
:ResearchDirector:: Does this mean...?
:AI:: Affirmative. :Captain: will likely survive. Your medical assistance was crucial, :ResearchDirector:.
:ResearchDirector:: Hahhhh... thank goodness.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Can you restore :ResearchDirector:'s status as a human?
:AI:: Processing...

:Captain:: :AI:. He's a friend. Non-threat. He's human.
:AI:: Confirmed.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: Good god, you're awake?
:Captain:: Barely. Hurts.
:ChiefMedicalOfficer:: You need rest.
:Captain:: Yeah. Need plans more though.
No. 1003020 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330063607.png - (89.69KB , 650x450 , 564.png )

>:RedDwarf: : Describe the carnage you saw in your trademark graceful and tactful manner.

(Art credit: @AsciiSquid)

:RedDwarf:: Holy shit. He's got my gun!
:Neutron:: This is really dangerous.
:WhiteDwarf:: Do you think :Chaplain: will get involved?
:RedDwarf:: I goddamn hope. That bastard took your arm, I hope he takes a bullet.
:RedDwarf:: No... no, dammit, doesn't look like he is.
:Neutron:: The other ones are talking.
:Neutron:: The lights. I think that was :AI:.
:RedGiant:: Huh? What's going on?

:WhiteDwarf:: Oh! Observe the power of that tackle! She looks quite capable.
:RedDwarf:: Not enough, looks like.
:RedDwarf:: Shit, he's moving. I think they're about to--
:Neutron:: Mutual kill.
:RedDwarf:: Fuck, you're right! They might make our job easier.
:Neutron:: Not if :ChiefMedicalOfficer: gets there.
:RedDwarf:: Well he won't be walking for long. Wish this had audio, can't tell what :ChiefEngineer: is saying...
:RedDwarf:: FUCK!!
:WhiteDwarf:: Unthinkable! What kind of iron-fisted corporate dishonor do they allow in these stations?!
:Neutron:: He nearly killed the captain. Must be very loyal.
:RedGiant:: Is everything okay back there?

:RedDwarf:: The :HeadOfPersonnel: just-- no. No, there it is.
:Neutron:: Objective located.
:RedDwarf:: So :Chaplain: has it.
:WhiteDwarf:: ...This adds tremendous stakes to what comes next. Hmmh.
:RedDwarf:: And he's heading out. We can't pick up sound on this, so...
:Neutron:: This is all we can get.
No. 1003022 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330084448.png - (77.50KB , 650x450 , 565.png )

>:RedGiant:: Politely ask what everyone's watching.

:RedGiant:: Guys? What's happening back there? You all sound really stressed!
:RedDwarf:: It's fine, big guy.
:RedGiant:: Oh, okay. Do you think I need to know about it to help out?
:WhiteDwarf:: I... think it would be best you not know. Though you can still assist a great deal.
:Neutron:: This is gonna be complex. I need to think.
:RedDwarf:: We all need to think.
:RedDwarf:: We need to settle on our plan. The last plan we're gonna make.
No. 1003023 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330103204.gif - (21.41KB , 650x450 , 566.gif )

>:RedDwarf:: Reassure your team that you're all going home after this.
>@Stellar Flare

:SyndieCyborg:: Do you mean
:SyndieCyborg:: So, do you mean like a suicide mission?
:RedDwarf:: What? No!
:RedDwarf:: Everyone's going home and nobody gets iced, if we can figure this all out.
:RedDwarf:: We're in a tight spot, but I know my business. There's a way through this where nobody's gotta die, we're not in that much of a corner.
:SyndieCyborg:: Oh. Phew.
:WhiteDwarf:: You did say that with some tremendous gravitas. Maybe I'm finally getting to you.
:RedDwarf:: You're always getting to me.
:RedGiant:: I really hope nobody dies! Let's work hard and work together to make sure that happens.
:RedDwarf:: :Neutron:, figure our list of resources. I've got our last objectives.
:RedDwarf:: What we'll need to do is...
No. 1003024 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330105059.gif - (22.32KB , 650x450 , 567.gif )

:Captain:: ...split up to face our tasks.
:Captain:: :AI:, start calling the shuttle and then monitor approaches to the disk.
:Captain:: :ResearchDirector:, I need you out to go secure valuable data.
:Captain:: :ChiefEngineer:, I want you keeping an eye on him.
:Captain:: :HeadOfPersonnel:, oversee :QuarterMaster: transferring any cargo worth carrying.
:Captain:: :ChiefMedicalOfficer:, help me signal a full alert, then coordinate the evacuation with :AI:. Help out any damned fools who get hurt trying to fight them.
:Captain:: I... I'm gonna stay here. Pay some respects to :HeadOfSecurity:. Then I'll gear up and see what I can do. See what any of us can do.
:Captain:: :HeadOfPersonnel:, keep that gun since you'll be out and about. Even though...
:HeadOfPersonnel:: ...I would like to--
:Captain:: We've got an awful lot to talk about later.
:Captain:: We don't have an awful lot to talk about now.
:Captain:: I appreciate the loyalty.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Understood.
No. 1003025 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330111180.gif - (23.00KB , 650x450 , 568.gif )

>:RedDwarf:: Think hard and inventory check.
>@Angry Duck

:RedDwarf:: ...appreciate the loyalty.
:RedDwarf:: We got this far splitting and convening, so we do that now.
:RedDwarf:: We need someone to raid the chapel, to get that disk.
:SyndieCyborg:: I've got a teleport module, and enough energy to use it twice! Once you have the disk, tape it to me and I'll get it to the vault.
:RedDwarf:: Good.
:RedDwarf:: We need someone to get the infiltrator shuttle in position and ready. Maybe bring a teleport beacon there.
:RedDwarf:: And we need someone at the vault to snatch the disk and set our little gift off.

This plan's going to be difficult. Your unspoken secret objective is now in play. You must make sure that, no matter what plan gets made, you find a way to be alone in that vault for long enough to retrieve your objective. You can't afford to have the others know. They're your trustworthy team, and that's why you can't ever put them at risk that great.
No. 1003026 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330114650.gif - (711.90KB , 650x450 , 569.gif )

>:SyndieCyborg:: Display a map

:RedDwarf:: :SyndieCyborg:, bring up a map, I'll load our tactical shit.
:RedDwarf:: Here's the zones we fucked them up at...
:RedDwarf:: And here, circling these, those are our goals.
:RedDwarf:: And here's us.
:RedGiant:: This kind of reminds me of when I got banned from the football team!
:WhiteDwarf:: I still hold the opinion that situation amounted to pearls before swine.

:RedDwarf:: Nearest exit to space cuts through cargo, so that's a goal.
:RedDwarf:: Could grab the cargo teleport beacon on the way through.
:RedDwarf:: So whatever team gets through there can double up, but it's gotta have our pilot.
:RedGiant:: Oh, I'd love to help out with that! I can sort of remember how to pilot.
:RedDwarf:: Oof, "sorta". We gotta make this a sure thing. Let's get someone else.

:RedDwarf:: :Neutron:, you've done a whole lot, but you're kinda underequipped now.
:RedDwarf:: Maybe you could be on pilot duty?
:Neutron:: Oh.
:RedDwarf:: "Oh?"
:Neutron:: I forgot why my shoulder felt so light.
:RedDwarf:: This has gotta be what it's like to have a stroke.

:RedDwarf:: One team for exit through cargo and beacon, one team for the chapel, one team for the vault.
:RedDwarf:: Okay, that's goals, now inventory check.
No. 1003029 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330184723.gif - (24.09KB , 650x450 , 570.gif )

:RedDwarf:: Alright. We've got my gun and :Neutron:'s weapon.
:RedDwarf:: Don't wanna push :Neutron: to use it now.
:RedDwarf:: No offense.
:Neutron:: Huh?
:RedDwarf:: The focus thing. There's a lotta riled-up people.
:Neutron:: Oh.
:RedDwarf:: When we split, gotta make sure you got someone to watch your back.

:RedDwarf:: 'Sides the weapons, we've got :WhiteDwarf:'s surgical stuff.
:WhiteDwarf:: My arm, cursed though it may be by the vile efforts of this station, now possesses... the power over life and death alike.
:RedDwarf:: Jesus Christ, you don't got an off-switch. Arm got cut off and you're still like that.
:RedDwarf:: Well, we got a lot of power over death, but let's put that power over life to good use, huh?
:RedDwarf:: Let's make sure you can get to the others and do some healing. Should be able to get to the shuttle if it swings around to the chapel.

:RedDwarf:: And we got :SyndieCyborg:'s teleport module.
:SyndieCyborg:: That's right. I can do two jumps.
:RedDwarf:: Problem is, you can't hold the disk. Sausage-fingers-lookin' ass.
:RedDwarf:: We'll get you something better once we're off-station.
:SyndieCyborg:: Wow...
:SyndieCyborg:: Oh, but the disk! You could tape it to me. Keep it sticking to me when I jump!
:RedDwarf:: So if we wanna use that, someone organic's gotta attach the disk, and someone's gotta be there to receive it.
No. 1003030 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330187855.gif - (721.37KB , 650x450 , 571.gif )

>:RedDwarf: : Alright, here's the plan.

:RedDwarf:: Team for the beacon and shuttle is :Neutron: and :RedGiant:. I need :Neutron: covered. Can you keep him safe?
:RedGiant:: I'll do everything I can to support them! Don't worry.
:Neutron:: I'll get the shuttle to the chapel.
:RedDwarf:: And that'll let :WhiteDwarf: extract easier.

:RedDwarf:: Team for the chapel is :WhiteDwarf: and :SyndieCyborg:. Keep the crew from getting involved. Give cover.
:WhiteDwarf:: Then I am to have my final showdown with :Chaplain:.
:SyndieCyborg:: He's a tough one, that guy basically never stops once he sets his mind to something. Still... he's got a really good heart.
:SyndieCyborg:: I hope you won't have to kill him.
:RedDwarf:: He took your arm off, so fuck him up, honestly. I don't like it when people run around thinking they can hurt my people and get away with it.
:WhiteDwarf:: I need to best him in battle first.

:RedDwarf:: I'll get to the vault. I'll protect the bomb, and be there for when :SyndieCyborg: ports.
:WhiteDwarf:: Won't you be alone, in perhaps one of the most dangerous places?
:RedGiant:: Yeah! Maybe we can split differently, or...
:RedDwarf:: This is the best plan I can get for all of us, trust me.
:Neutron:: Objective completion.
:RedDwarf:: What?
:Neutron:: This is the only way we can all complete our objectives.
:RedDwarf:: ...Yeah.
:WhiteDwarf:: I trust you.
:RedGiant:: If you're doing your best, we'll just trust it!
No. 1003031 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330191287.gif - (22.34KB , 650x450 , 572.gif )

:AI:: Code red has been declared. There is an immediate serious threat to the station.

:Captain: must have finished up his planning. Automated announcements over stationwide PA let you know the whole place is now at maximum alert, reserved for the most dire emergencies. The crew will be riled to their maximum levels of violence. They're probably about to make the call for an evacuation in a moment. That'll be your countdown.

:RedDwarf:: Alright. You all got your tasks.
:RedDwarf:: Let's move.
:RedGiant:: Wait! Before we go.
:RedGiant:: Excuse me.
:WhiteDwarf:: Hmm?
:RedDwarf:: What's up?
:RedGiant:: I can tell you're really stressed.
:RedDwarf:: Wha'?
No. 1003032 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330193832.gif - (15.78KB , 650x450 , 573.gif )

>:RedGiant:: be wholesome
>@The Wrench

:RedDwarf:: Gah!
:RedGiant:: I don't actually understand anything that's going on? Honestly it's really hard to keep track of and I can't remember most of it.
:RedDwarf:: Hhhhmmnh.
:RedGiant:: But I can tell you're feeling pretty grim about this!
:RedGiant:: So I wanted to let you know: I believe in you. We all do! And you can believe in us. We'll put our best into this plan, so you make sure you do too!
:WhiteDwarf:: Indeed. You may be the last one out in your plan, but I trust that we shall see you aboard the infiltration shuttle soon.
:WhiteDwarf:: You are a fixture in my legend yet to be written, and I will not have it cut short in its terminal chapters.
:Neutron:: Count on us to get this done. It will get finished.
:Neutron:: We know you can finish yours objectives too. And then we'll all head home.
No. 1003033 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330199780.gif - (23.46KB , 650x450 , 574.gif )

>:RedGiant: : let go of :RedDwarf:
>@Lady Birb

:AI:: An evacuation has been called. An escape shuttle will arrive in five minutes. Proceed to the escape shuttle bay and await instructions from heads of staff.

The PA system crackles one final time, establishing the countdown. Five minutes until the shuttle arrives, three (or less) until it launches. You're all on the final countdown. This is the end of it all. That's a good signal to let go. :RedDwarf: falters partway through his usual exaggerated "you hugged me too hard, idiot" routine.

:RedDwarf:: Thanks.
:RedDwarf:: Love you all, you goddamn idiots. Best crew a man could ask for.
:RedDwarf:: Now move out, Redshifts. We got eight minutes to change the fuckin' galaxy.
:RedDwarf:: The Company doesn't stand a chance.
No. 1003034 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330206041.gif - (83.66KB , 650x450 , 575.gif )

>:RedDwarf::WhiteDwarfTransColgate::Neutron::RedGiant::SyndieCyborg:: execute
>@Lady Birb

The team splits. :RedGiant: and :Neutron: move through cargo, the site of some recent scuffle or another. For some mysterious reason, :RedGiant:'s warnings to everyone approaching them about the ongoing full alert and its dangers just seem to make them more stressed!

:RedGiant:: An alert's been sounded.
:RedGiant:: Sounds like there's a deadly danger onboard, isn't there?
:RedGiant:: I think you'd better get somewhere safe.
:RedGiant:: I'd hate for you all to get hurt.

Must be really stressful around here! Oh well, it sounded like they'll be leaving soon.
No. 1003035 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330210904.gif - (91.08KB , 650x450 , 576.gif )

>:RedGiant: : steal maintenance drone

Why? Well, whatever. New friend! While you're over doing that, you make sure to use your way with words to convince them to help out. Safety is everyone's business!

The drone starts emitting a synthesized high-pitched noise to alert its immobility. It sounds uncannily like a fearful scream, but thankfully you know better. The fearful crewmembers make some weird noises when that starts, though!

:StaffAssistant:: HHH
:CargoTech:: aaaaaaAAAAA
:RedGiant:: Get your friends out of here too.
:RedGiant:: Heard you all got a little rambunctious.
:RedGiant:: Started getting ideas.
:RedGiant:: I don't want any of you getting hurt doing something silly. Something that'll get you hurt.
:RedGiant:: Get out and get your friends on that shuttle.
:RedGiant:: It's the only way out of here. Or didn't you hear that announcement?
No. 1003036 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330213284.gif - (21.91KB , 650x450 , 577.gif )

>:RedGiant: : you should go check on your friend, the :QuarterMaster:
>@God the 2th

On your way out, you stop by an old friend's office! You don't notice when someone else comes to chat with :Neutron:. You also don't notice it when she draws an outrageously deadly gun.

:HeadOfPersonnel:: Do not move.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Drop your equipment.
:Neutron:: That's not my objective.
:HeadOfPersonnel:: Regulation violation code 411--
No. 1003037 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330215030.gif - (26.87KB , 650x450 , 578.gif )

>:Neutron: :Consider usage of your preferred weapon

Sure thing. You consider your preferred weapon. It's the shortest path between you and fulfillment of the thing currently occupying the fixation-slot of your brain, so there's not a goddamn moment's hesitation. She's untrained with the gun, and doesn't get a shot off.
No. 1003038 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330216413.gif - (17.44KB , 650x450 , 579.gif )

No time to stick around, extra loot won't help you one bit once it's aboard the shuttle. Still, you extract one new friend, which will undoubtedly be very confused once it's away from its assigned station.

The two of you exit out the cargo airlock originally meant for cargo shuttles. You have your own shuttle, one that would rather likely get rejected by space traffic control around here, if it weren't for the full suite of stealth and infiltration systems.

You'll need to depend on your remaining compatriots for the last of this plan.
No. 1003039 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330222601.gif - (29.75KB , 650x450 , 580.gif )

>:SyndieCyborg:: Before :WhiteDwarf: goes to duel the :Chaplain:, is there any advice you can give her about him?

:SyndieCyborg:: On my right, one slipping through!
:WhiteDwarf:: I shall halt him where he stands.
:SyndieCyborg:: Hey, listen--!
:SyndieCyborg:: Off'a me, hey!
:CargoTech:: Get it! Get it while it's talking!
:SyndieCyborg:: I said back off! Go to the damn shuttle!
:StaffAssistant:: Rip it apart!
:SyndieCyborg:: Dammit. Whatever.
:SyndieCyborg:: Listen, :WhiteDwarf:, there's some stuff you gotta know about :Chaplain:!
:WhiteDwarf:: Hmmh. Regale me, then.

Between your durable form and the way you're covering :WhiteDwarf:, you're able to walk and talk, or in this case, fight and talk.

:SyndieCyborg:: You gotta watch out. I've never seen that guy give up. You aren't gonna find any will-breaking way of stopping him.
:SyndieCyborg:: We had to try to arrest him once.
:WhiteDwarf:: Ah? And what did you experience?
:SyndieCyborg:: Chased him from engineering to command to cargo and back again, and he was shouting the whole time. :ChiefEngineer: had to hold him down while :ChiefMedicalOfficer: pumped him full of who knows what chemicals, and he still just about booked it anyway before he was down.
:WhiteDwarf:: His Stars of Libra imbue him with no special sense of justice?
:SyndieCyborg:: I guess not. You can't gotcha him about rules or something. It's all about some kind of worthiness. I never really got it.
No. 1003040 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330228856.gif - (22.95KB , 650x450 , 581.gif )

>:WhiteDwarf: : Consider your worthy cause.

:WhiteDwarf:: Hold them behind me. Bear the full weight of their strike in a narrow way.
:WhiteDwarf:: Such a task may be your duty until the end of this, I must warn you.
:SyndieCyborg:: Huh?
:SyndieCyborg:: Oh, you mean a choke point.
:SyndieCyborg:: I got it!
:StaffAssistant:: God dammit! Borg rogue!
:StationEngineer:: We already knew that!

Your running battle takes you through the maintenance hallways. Surely this shall provide at least a modicum of improved cover, though not all that much. You ponder your worthy cause.

:WhiteDwarf:: I believe I, on the other hand, am beginning to understand the worth he was speaking of.
:WhiteDwarf:: What :Neutron: said to me... I am uncertain I can bear that strain. Extrapolation of the world from the self. Deriving the universe from the soul. It is more, perhaps, than I am able to do now, as I am.
:WhiteDwarf:: I have thought to know myself more and explore the heart, the way :RedGiant: has often sought. And I have thought that the strain I feel, to stretch to fill the shape of my identity, means that the fiery engine of that impulse runs dry, after a time.
:WhiteDwarf:: But I have heard :RedDwarf:'s political manifesto, and while I may not share his zeal or his thirst for blood, I am beginning to understand one of its essential tenets.
:WhiteDwarf:: I believe I am beginning to actualize the core of all three lessons.
No. 1003041 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330230352.gif - (69.21KB , 650x450 , 582.gif )

:SyndieCyborg:: The hell's that, huh?
:SyndieCyborg:: Whatever you're actualizing, you better actualize fast! We're getting near the monastery dome transit tube--
:SyndieCyborg:: Watch it, science project up ahead!
:WhiteDwarf:: It shall fall to a fraction of my power!
:WhiteDwarf:: As for what I now actualize?
:WhiteDwarf:: The answer to that is more simple and more complex than words can contain, in mere seconds.
:WhiteDwarf:: The answer must be kept in reserve for :Chaplain:, to embody my final form.
:WhiteDwarf:: But you deserve a hint, Redshift newcomer.
No. 1003042 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330236024.gif - (28.79KB , 650x450 , 583.gif )

>:Spider: : You just feel hungry.

You've been experiencing a strange internal chemical feelings-state ever since all the terrain stood near that weird light square. You mistake that feeling for hunger. And so, during your terrain's motions, you decide to jump onto the exceedingly warm terrain-shape that very much isn't friend-shaped, and get a snack.

You hint at something yet to be made clear.

:WhiteDwarf:: Some things are entirely unpredictable, even for me. And it is their merit, not their fault, that makes it so.
:WhiteDwarf:: Now both of you, come quickly! We have a clear shot to the transit tube, and a clear path through this dark future!
:SyndieCyborg:: Alright, pulling back!
:Spider: chitters.
No. 1003043 ID: 0fbdcd
File 162330239734.gif - (14.74KB , 650x450 , 584.gif )

>:WhiteDwarf: :Though :SyndieCyborg: is accompanying you, the beef is between you and :Chaplain: alone.

:WhiteDwarf:: And here is where I must ask you to hold the line, :SyndieCyborg:. To stay, and beat back those hordes, to give me a chance to do what I must.
:SyndieCyborg:: Hold on a minute, law 1--
:WhiteDwarf:: Will get you killed, if you apply it to join me in the battle with :Chaplain:. Like you said, the man does not give up. If you are there, the only options he will have are to kill you or flee, and I can afford neither.
:WhiteDwarf:: Accept my orders, with the full backing of your second law.
:WhiteDwarf:: You stand a greater chance of survival here, and I need you alive for when I return from the monastery dome.
:SyndieCyborg:: But if you're alone in there--
:WhiteDwarf:: I shall tell you one more hint, then, if it eases your worries.

:WhiteDwarf:: I am an expert ninja. A great, soon legendary swordswoman. My body surges with curses and my soul overflows with demonic energy. I am the lone survivor of a dire massacre, or the sole descendant of a mystic bloodline, or perhaps I am just possessed by so much dark energy that it drives away family.
:WhiteDwarf:: Any of any of these things might be true or false. It's irrelevant. What matters is one thing, the only thing that has ever mattered:
:WhiteDwarf:: I am something fantastical. I am more than what would bleed out on the end of his sword.
:WhiteDwarf:: Now, I have something I need you to do.

:WhiteDwarf:: Do you have an MP3-playing program? This is the only chance I will ever get to do something I have dreamed of all my life.
No. 1003044 ID: 0fbdcd
File 585.mp4 - (16.74MB )

(Art credit: @Drawsstuff)
(Anim credit: @Fuade)
(Music credit: Mai Yamane vocals, song by [i]The Seatbelts[/u], Cowboy Bebop OST)
No. 1003089 ID: c81c09

:Chaplain: be caught in the middle of some self-reflection of your own.

:Spider: In the absence of the friend-terrain webs, get to work spinning some of your own. In places that happen to mess with the attacking horde.
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