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File 161491875702.png - (622.53KB , 650x800 , Evac-1.png )
989955 No. 989955 ID: 0fbdcd

There are a few things every human being on an advanced world knows about spaceflight.

The first is some basic history. Some time long before the foundation of the modern Historiam Calendar, ancient humanity sent an enormous amount of self-replicating machines hurtling through space. These probes, known as Terraformation Engines, were designed for one enormously complex task: to identify planetoids in habitable zones and seed them with life. Full-scale atmospheric creation, the artificial spread of both flora and fauna; the shaping of countless Earths and Earthlikes. This effort has created an ever-expanding sphere of habitable space, centered from the Core Worlds, humanity’s birthplace. The furthest edges of this sphere are known as the Rim. Humanity has spread outward from the Core, following in the wake of the Engines, colonizing, living, dying.

The second is some basic physics. It is impossible to move faster than the speed of light, excepting the will of the Archotechs- and they’re certainly not telling humans how to do it. This means that to cross the vast distances between stars is a task of centuries. The geologic timescale of spaceflight ensures the vast majority of planets are isolated. When humanity does travel, they do so in a state of artificially induced Cryptobiosis, only awoken at rare, regular intervals to prevent illness and assure mental well-being. The endless work of flight itself is performed by a Persona-Level AI, operating at a human capacity without fatigue as it guides the craft.

The third is a simple fact. We are alone. While life generated outside of humanity has been reported, no records within the Historiam exist of contact with intelligent life not originating from Humanity itself- with the possible exception of the Archotechs, but this is, reasonably, impossible to confirm.
Expand all images
>>
No. 989956 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161491878601.png - (641.82KB , 650x800 , Evac-2.png )
989956

The fourth is something nobody likes to think about, and something they don’t often cover in schooling. During flight from world to world, sometimes things go wrong.
>>
No. 989957 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161491881799.png - (116.95KB , 681x681 , Evac-3.png )
989957

Your eyes slowly flicker awake. You are locked within a steel coffin, the overhead bulb a dim imitation of sunlight. You feel your body returning to you, one piece at a time- can feel your limbs waking, locked into the sides of the device. Can feel clammy, wet slickness on your skin- can feel how your jumpsuit clings to your body from the moisture. Can feel a sudden aching, burning in your body- followed by the expulsion of the contents of both your stomach and your lungs, preservative fluid draining into grates along the floor.

All of this has become so familiar you hardly mind it anymore. You are, in title, a Spaceflight Maintenance Technician. You are in reality a Janitor. It is your duty to wake more frequently than the rest of the crew and passengers- to check up with the AI, to perform some maintenance, to oil the mechanoids. That sort of stuff. You like the work, and you like the alone time, and the AI has become a good friend of yours over the course of the journey.
You take a moment to review what you know about yourself- a good way to both stave off Cryptobiotic Memory Disorder, and confirm if you have any.

You’re a janitor. The jumpsuit you’re wearing helps to confirm that, as do the tools stuffed into your Survival Belt, a wrench and heavy steel hammer. There’s also a chocolate bar in an airtight pocket.
Ever since the war broke out back home, you’ve gained quite an iron will- able to handle an immense amount of mental stress while remaining zen. Also since the war, you’ve been Psychically Hypersensitive, meaning the voices of the Archotechs rattle in your mind on a near-constant basis. You’re pretty much used to it.
You’re also not very athletic. A look down at your somewhat chunky body disappointingly confirms that.
You’re struggling to remember much about your crewmates or the ship itself, but that will probably come back to you within a few days. If you’re waking up, that means it’s time for a regular maintenance shift; about a week out of crypto to stretch your legs and make sure everything is in top shape. All you need to wait for now is for one of the mechanoids to pop your pod, confirm you’re sane, and let you out.
>>
No. 989958 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161491886714.png - (479.29KB , 863x964 , Evac-4.png )
989958

A small window opens in the front of the casket, cool blue light mixing with the glaring orange overhead as it filters through the reinforced plasti-glass. The light flickers unsteadily as a thin, humanoid machine lurches into view; one of the medical mechanoids, probably here to give you the usual exam.

But instead of the text-to-speech blurting you expected from the simple machine, the voice of the ship’s AI rattles from the inbuilt speakers instead. It must be manually controlling the mechanoid. Its voice is feminine, fairly young sounding- you remember it being peppy and enthusiastic. But right now it is undeniably laced with frantic energy and nerves. As it sees your eyes moving behind the glass, it speaks.

>”Oh! Great! Good! Great! Hi! I’m going to start working on getting this thing open. There’s been some, uh, complications! So we’re going with the short version today. Watch your fingers, once the seal is off your Survival Belt is going to pop. So, uh! A: what is your occupation, B: how well do you remember the ship layout, and C: what’s your confidence level on repair-slash-construction of starship orbital control surfaces and primary thrusters?
>>
No. 989962 ID: 8a51ec

A: Spaceflight Maintenance Technician.
B: Very little.
C: That... heavily depends on the amount.
>>
No. 989964 ID: e7c7d3

A: Anything except a janitor
B: You're remembering this 3x3 box very well
C: 100% with access to the manual
>>
No. 989967 ID: b1b4f3

>>989958
A: Spaceflight Maintenance Technician. Janitor, basically.
B: memory's hazy right now, you'll remember the layout within a couple hours.
C: Uh, you're a fast learner and can follow instructions. Wait what? WHAT HAPPENED?
>>
No. 989968 ID: afe7de

A. Spaceflight Maintenance Technician, Wait don’t you remember me? I thought we were buddies…
B. Memory is hazy so it’ll probably take me a bit to remember, as of right now, 0%
C. Is there a manual or?
>>
No. 990108 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161509128163.png - (639.36KB , 695x855 , Evac-5.png )
990108

You’re still a bit dazed as your mind catches up to reality after suspension, so you answer the questions mostly on automatic as the droid works at the seals on your pod.

“A, Spaceflight Maintenance Technician. B, kinda heavily lagged right now so sorta diddly. C, uh, weird wakeup question. Maybe if there’s a manual-”


Any following words are stolen along with your breath as the seals on the sarcophagus open, and atmospheric pressure rips the stagnant air from both your lungs and the pod, bringing with it bitter chill. You don’t have time to feel pain or fear- because in the same instant, your Survival Belt deploys with an explosive pop, an oxidizing gel spreading across your already-damp body, molding into a roughly circular bubble. Some well-trained part of your mind begins to count down; the Survival Belt will protect you from cold and decompression for exactly three hours, and can’t be shut off after deployment. It’s standard equipment for those worried about hull breaches or similar.

You crawl out of the pod, collect yourself, and glance around the room. Blasts mar two points on the walls- exposing the room to the void. Rubble, scrap metal, destroyed components and frost cover just about everything. You turn to face the puppeted machine. “...what happened.”

The mechanoid tilts its head like a curious hound.
>”I don’t really know! The specifics of how all this started, I mean. Do you mean what happened in this room? Improvised explosives!”
It gestures left and right like a tour guide.
>”In the vents! To discourage travel through that method. I will be happy to tell you what I do know, but before I do that, it is pertinent to inform you that we are all on a timer. And I do not just mean your belt! Please look outside.”
>>
No. 990109 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161509130617.png - (478.46KB , 1268x1268 , Evac-6.png )
990109

Planet art credit: my pal Chaoko.

You crane your neck to peer out of the hull breach. Far below, surrounded by orbital debris, is a planet. Looks chilly. Signs of life, but sparse and spread out. Not your intended destination, that’s for sure. You were supposed to be bound for a Glitterworld out on the far reaches.

The AI pipes up.
>”We are in orbit around an unknown body, and have been for a month! The ship sustained massive damage to the primary engines and control surfaces, and I have been able to keep us from entering the atmosphere with precision pulses of the secondary engines. However, they are now out of fuel! In twenty four hours, the ship will enter the atmosphere. Anyone onboard at that time will most likely, uh- not make it!”

The temptation to panic washes over you, and is released with a soft breath which fogs your survival bubble.

>”It is also pertinent to inform you that the interior of the ship is not very, uh! Safe! In places, for reasons. But despite that danger, it is very important you repair the ship so that everybody will make it! Because I cannot allow anyone else to, uh- not make it. I may recommend you take the time to prepare yourself before going onwards. I will leave this drone here as a relay if you have questions! I’m afraid I’m being called towards the Escape Pods again, but I remain attentive to your needs!”

The mechanoid’s demeanour shifts as the AI ceases its puppetry- falling back on base programming. It scans the room for injured people, finds none, and rests on its rounded base in idle.
>>
No. 990110 ID: b1b4f3

Alright where's your gear? There's a box in the far corner, maybe there's something in it?
>>
No. 990112 ID: 8a51ec

Escape Pods? Sounds like someone else woke up before us and had a different solution to this emergency, maybe more than one person. As tempting as it is to join in, let's save abandoning ship for later and look for our stuff.
>>
No. 990224 ID: 50697f

First things first -- learn anything more, then where the tools and databases are. We need to fix the engine, and either push away if we have enough fuel, or bring us in to a safe landing.

Do we have a plasma scoop?
>>
No. 990230 ID: ce39da

Give her a moment to address what's going on over on her end. Check where your gear should be in the meantime.

Once you've figured out what tools you have to work with, it's time to break the silence:
"I did say I would need a manual. So; what's first on the docket? Atmospherics, probably? Walk me through this."
>>
No. 990300 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161518308649.png - (201.03KB , 786x497 , Evac-7.png )
990300

First things first: preparing yourself as best you can. While the AI is otherwise occupied, you search the room- the still-intact containers against the far wall catching your attention. You spare a glance towards the other cryptosleep sarcophagi; all but two lie empty. You recognize The Politician and The Captain’s Mother through the thick plastiglass; cupping your hands over your eyes to pierce the darkness, you see that neither is wearing a Survival Belt or EVA gear. Unless you can somehow repair and repressurize this room, neither could be revived without immediately exposing them to hard vacuum.

You rummage through the medicine cabinet and steel lockers. Both are unlocked, with the lockers having been smashed open, and both have clearly been rummaged through already. You spend two minutes searching every drawer and cranney. Within the medicine cabinet is a single roll of medicated bandages, still within a plastic sleeve; the lockers have been cleaned out aside from a high-visibility reflective vest. You go ahead and shrug it over your shoulders- it has pockets, if nothing else.
>>
No. 990301 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161518313748.png - (134.33KB , 1160x488 , Evac-8.png )
990301

These lockers wouldn’t really have your kit in them anyway; this storage area began as resources for tending to people freshly awoken from cryptosleep, and slowly morphed into a junk drawer, as miscellaneous storage tends to do. You take a moment to consider what you have on-hand while you try to remember more about the ship you live upon.

You breathe out, lean against the lockers, and focus. Your personal affairs, including most of your equipment, would be stored in your bunkroom in Habitation, which is on the fore side of the ship. Non-Essential Personnel/Passenger Cryptohold is where you are right now, which is… somewhere in Operations, which is on the port side, which makes that your current location. Pleased by how CMD is fading, you think a bit harder. The Escape Pods are way on the other side of the ship, in Life Support on the starboard side. Engineering, including both the AI core and where the engines are mounted, is on the aft. At the center of it all is the Living Space, connecting everything together and holding stuff like the kitchen, bar, dining room.

The ship is large enough that going from anywhere to anywhere is a bit of a hike even in the best of circumstances- hopefully you’ll remember the specifics of room layouts the longer you stay awake.
>>
No. 990303 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161518325931.png - (716.70KB , 876x685 , Evac-9.png )
990303

You knock on the drone’s faceplate and request the AI’s presence. Within a few moments it is ‘animated’ once again- as much as a mechanoid can be. But the subtle shifting and human touch of a conscious mind is hard to mistake.

>”Sorry about that! The Mercenary was checking to see if I would unlock the escape pods. Answer’s still no! Math doesn’t work out, ha-ha.”
It’s said with a twinge of nerves, despite the attempt to make light of it.

You start asking the important questions. “Alright, so- get me up to speed a little bit. If I’m going to get this thing moving again, what first? Also, how we going to refuel the engines? We got a plasma scoop on this thing?”
>”I would begin by first finding tools, and then reporting to the Engineering wing! Your personal set is likely still present within your dorm in Habitation- the First Mate’s last reported location is somewhere up there, so they might be able to help too! Alternatively, something may remain in tool storage within Engineering itself.”
You recall the First Mate being a giant nerd, but not else of much help. Didn’t talk a lot.
>”As far as fuel goes- I haven’t really thought that far ahead! Maybe the Botanist can use some of her new plants to distill a biofuel? I believe that she is still trapped inside Life Support! We do not have access to a plasma scoop, so that might be the best bet.”

Frankly, you’re a bit doubtful that you’re even up for this sort of task. If it’s a single broken part, you can make the swap with the help of a manual- but full-scale reconstruction like the AI has implied sounds a bit out of your skillset. The person for the job would be the Chief Engineer or her underlings. “...out of curiosity, why am I the man for the job here?”

>”Unfortunately, two out of three Engineers are confirmed deceased, and the remaining Engineer has been out of contact for some time! The Chief Engineer is also physically deceased. But, good news! I do not believe she died in a way which rendered her Cortical Stack irrelevant, and I used a maintenance drone to weld her suit to the hull, so she is definitely still out there!”
The drone tilts its head again- you can almost picture the nervous smile the AI might be using if she had access to a screen for projecting one.
>”I just haven’t had much success getting someone to recover her body for revival. There are some insects in the way! Did I mention the Insect Infestation in my core? I am not using hyperbole when I say that I cannot remember if I have or not! I cannot. There are some issues in my core causing that!”
>>
No. 990306 ID: b1b4f3

>>990303
First thing we have to do, before anything else, is to get tools. You're as good as a drone without them, so you won't be accomplishing anything the AI wasn't already doing.
After that, let's set up a priority list.
Priority one is to get fuel production going. If we don't start that early enough it won't matter if we get the engines online because we won't have the fuel to course correct. This means we gotta talk to the Botanist.
Priority two is to rescue the Chief Engineer so repairs on the egines can begin. I think this will require us recruiting assistance, such as the First Mate and Mercenary.
Lower priority but still important:
1, get a proper spacesuit so you don't have a personal time limit
2, get a weapon to fight insects
3, seal hull breaches and restore life support
4, clean up the place. It's a mess!

So, let's go pick up tools, see if we can grab the First Mate while we're there.

Is the planet below survivable at all?
Oh, ask how soon the escape pods can be used. Also ask if landing is a possibility. If we can land, we could try setting up a base on the ground to repair and refuel the ship, then launch it again. If the planet's surface environment is bad we may be able to use the ship as a sealed shelter and only go onto the surface with protection, to acquire raw materials.
>>
No. 990626 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161543528874.png - (564.27KB , 526x808 , Evac-10.png )
990626

You consider the AI’s words, before setting a few basic priorities for yourself.
First goal is to get your stuff from your cabin. Second is to find where the Botanist is in Life Support and see about getting fuel distilled. Third is to recover the Chief Engineer, who has evidently been welded to the hull. If she’s dead as the AI seemed to imply, you’ll have to rely on her Cortical Stack, which is a gruesome but practical prospect, and will require the help of someone with surgical skill- maybe someone from the Medical team is still around, somewhere. You heft your wrench and spare a question to the AI on your way to the door.

“If push comes to shove, what would allow the escape pods to be used? If we can’t get everything back online.”

>”Well! Complicated question! Some of the crew already used a few of them, after the Chief Engineer’s body died. They claimed they would aim for what looked like active habitation on the planet below, and return with a shuttle full of help!”
The drone leans in conspiratorially.
>”I think they liiied. So I’ve locked the pods to make sure everyone works together, in accordance with Directive One!”

You’re familiar with the Directive system. An evolution of the robotic laws theorized by early AI researchers, Directives are similar in that they are hardcoded directions, but rather than instruction, they enforce a specific mindset. Directive One is to ensure the safety of the entire crew, or something along those lines. “State Directives, please.”
>>
No. 990627 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161543530965.png - (1.01MB , 789x702 , Evac-11.png )
990627

The AI’s humanlike tones immediately fall away; raw text-to-speech playback as its core programming immediately responds, much deeper than personality.
>”Directives as follows, with descending priority.” >”Directive Zero: Ensure the continued propagation of organic life, with a preference towards humanity.” >”Directive One: Protect and ensure the safety and prosperity of your entire crew.” >”Directive Two: Protect and ensure the safety and surety of your ship.” >Directive Three: Protect yourself.”
The personality slots back into place as if it never left.
>”Not, uh, doing so hot on, like. Any of those, right now! For the record.”

She always gets stressy when she’s worried about fulfilling the directives, you remember that. The drastic nature of the situation probably isn’t helping.
“But you said someone was asking if they could be unlocked ‘yet.’ What’s the math that needs to work out?”

>”Well- there are three functional escape pods, so far as I can tell! If there were only three members of the crew, uh, around, then it would be a good idea to send you all off through the pods, so I’d send them! But until then I can’t let you go. So it’s in everyone’s best interest if instead the ship is fixed.”
>>
No. 990628 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161543533807.png - (314.88KB , 946x793 , Evac-12.png )
990628

Makes sense. You head on out, trailed by reassurances from the AI.

>”Good luck! I’ll try to keep an eye on you with any functional cameras! Find an intercom or a radio or anything if you need to talk! Or to say hi!!!”

You step out into the hall.
Looks like the cryptohold is one some sort of exterior corridor; thanks to the electrostatic barrier on the airlock, air pressure has been maintained here, and the breaches in the crypto room haven’t depressurized the rest of the ship.

That being said, it becomes immediately clear that not all is well out here. Perhaps to be expected out of a month of stress. The blood which trails across the ground is long-dried.

You soldier on- heading towards recreational facilities, and from there, the habitation wing.
23:45.
>>
No. 990629 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161543537308.png - (138.43KB , 249x752 , Evac-13.png )
990629

As you walk down a hall, you become slowly aware of the sound of your own footfalls. It’s deathly quiet in here- but for the hum of the air system, and yourself.

...and another’s footfalls. From ahead, in the darkness. You stop for a moment- and shortly after, so do they. A flashlight flicks on, glowing from around a corner.
A shout from ahead, the voice low and grinding. Just two words.

>“Ahead, identify!”
>>
No. 990631 ID: b1b4f3

So we've got you, the Mercenary, the Botanist, and the First Mate. It sounds like the Mercenary is just waiting by the escape pods for enough people to die so they can leave. Very... pragmatic. We probably can't depend on their help.
>>990627
What's this? A view of the insect infestation?

>>990629
Tell them you're the maintenance technician, newly brought out of cryosleep. They're the first mate, I presume?
>>
No. 990633 ID: 8a51ec

Now is probably not a good time to reply with anything snarky.
"Spaceflight maintenance technician... uh... I haven't actually remembered my name yet."
>>
No. 990725 ID: 86794b

>> If there were only three members of the crew, uh, around, then it would be a good idea to send you all off through the pods, so I’d send them!
Uh. Problem. There's a loophole, there - if the Mercenary kills the rest, the number drops to three and the Mercenary can leave. Whether they'll do that depends on how much they care about the crew, the lives of others, their own life, and just how stressed they're feeling.

It might be possible for the AI to preemptively warn that, say - in order to fulfill Directive One now, she is logically required to ignore it later in the case of individuals who have caused the unnecessary death of other crew members. Whether she can say so truthfully depends on the exact mechanism by which the Directives are evaluated.
>>
No. 990726 ID: 86794b

>>990725
You miiiight also similarly be able to make an argument that, for the safety of the crew as a whole, only cooperative helpful crewmates get to use the escape pods.
>>
No. 991167 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161570003510.png - (123.60KB , 298x512 , Evac-14.png )
991167

Insect Infestation…

You shiver as your mind fuzzes. You haven’t seen any insects yet, you don’t think? You’re not quite sure where that thought came from. Was it yours?

>”IDENTIFY!”

You blink and refocus on reality, before calling around the corner, “Spaceflight Maintenance Technician!”

A brief pause. His voice is quite slow and blunt when not screaming instruction.
>”...the janitor? I don’t understand. Have you been up long?”
“The AI just kicked me out of crypto- realized I had a survival belt on so I could get up safely.” Another short pause.
>”Come here.”
>>
No. 991168 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161570009970.png - (122.03KB , 523x641 , Evac-15.png )
991168

Perhaps you’ve already found the first mate? You’re not really near habitation- haven’t even passed through the rec rooms. But maybe the AI told them you were coming, or-

Your train of thought is brutally interrupted first by the cutting of the flashlight, and then by a fist to the side of the head. It knocks you to the side- it feels like you’ve been struck with a cinderblock.
Your vision rapidly focuses on the individual you’ve been shouting around a corner at. He stands at least a head taller than you, maybe two. His head is almost perfectly square- his features human in a vague sense, but so distinctly wrong at the same time, in ways you can't quite pin down. He’s garbed in a tight black bodysuit which shows his mountain-like physique, and his eyes are covered by a bulky set of headgear. Some distant part of your mind registers this combination of features as a Soldiermorph, a crude race of cloned humans tailored for war and combat. The more immediate portions of your mind are screaming instinct as you duck- and some sort of axe crafted from scrapmetal sparks off of the bulkhead over your head. Your attacker’s volume is raised, but his voice is dull and rote.
>”Sorry. Say goodbye, weak link.”
>>
No. 991169 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161570011987.png - (181.63KB , 420x1080 , Evac-16.png )
991169

He takes a second to dig the axehead out of the wall- you’re still a bit dazed from the bash you received, and only manage to stumble backwards down the hall.


The improvised blade pulls free with a shriek of metal. You shake the stars from your vision. You’ve got to act!
>>
No. 991196 ID: b1b4f3

>>991169
Well I was not expecting the mercenary to be a straight up murderer, and also coincidentally directly in our path when we were expecting to meet someone else.
Flee into the nearby room. Close the door and lock/bar it. Yell at him that the AI isn't going to let him use the escape pods even if he's the last one standing. There are more people alive in the cryo pods! Those count as living people! The only way to survive is to fix the ship enough that it can land.
>>
No. 991693 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161595880510.png - (257.88KB , 446x781 , Evac-17.png )
991693

You immediately flee down the hall back where you came from. The most recent door you passed was near where you awoke; mortal terror propels you faster than you thought you were capable of running, your fluorescent jacket beating against the breeze you generate. Pounding footsteps follow close behind.

You hang a sharp left, glance at a panel near the airlock, and key in a series of digits on pure instinct. The door slams shut with a sharp thunk. They’re caught on a flimsy axe-handle, keeping them from closing all the way.

The adrenaline is still pumping, but some part of you is pleased that you remember Airlock Maintenance Codes. You can now lock any door open, closed, or deactivate the atmospheric seals. As the brute tries to muscle against the airlock motors, you shout at the crack.

“Stop, stop! What are you- the AI won’t let you use the pods, even if you’re the last one standing! There are more people in the crypto bay! They count as alive!”
The muscle stops muscling for a moment, tone contemplative. It’s disturbing how calm someone can be about trying to murder you.
>“The bay nearest here? Nonessential personnel… I see. The area was breached. I had not had the opportunity to check. When I take that survival belt from you, I will address the issue. Thank you.”
>”Now. Open the door. This is the only solution which gives us the best odds, Janitor.”

“Why?! We can fix the ship! That way, nobody has to die!”

A brief pause. He seems to need to take some time to process everything he hears, if this pattern is consistent. He resumes efforts to pry the airlock apart with his tools. His tone remains mundane and conversational.
>”I see. The AI’s desperate hope, then. You have been awake for how long? Hours? We were awakened at the first impact. Stocks of food ran out after one week. Desperation set in at one and a half. Many have died already. We are in a survival situation, Janitor, and we will continue to be in one once the escape pods have landed. The likelihood of landing amongst civilization is slim. The likelihood of ‘fixing’ the ship- it is a dream born of neurosis. I will protect us when the pods land, and keep us fed. The Chief Medical Officer will keep us healthy. The Engineer will shelter us. All three pods are spoken for. They must launch. Which means anyone not on the list must be left behind. And you are not on the lis-”

You cut him off by swinging at the tip of his axe with your sturdy plasteel wrench. The solid impact comes as a shock mid-monologue, and the flimsily made weapon pops right off of the handle, which jerks out of the way- and the airlock finally seals with a soft hiss.
>>
No. 991694 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161595885194.png - (0.97MB , 1134x968 , Evac-18.png )
991694

There is quiet for a time- long enough for you to catch your breath. Then a slow, methodical banging of metal on metal. The man on the other side is searching for a weakness.

It will probably take a while for him to find one, but if there is one thing Soldiermorphs are known for, it’s bull-headedness. You won’t be safe just waiting him out in here.
...especially if he realizes there’s another door. You step quietly over and lock the western door down as well.

This workshop smells heavily of machine oil and disgustingly over-ripe hooch. There’s some small amounts of scrap material lying around, and an assortment of cabinets; a cursory examination reveals specialized tools for the refurbishing and repairs of electronics and mechanical objects. A computer near the bin also blinks on as you fiddle with it, still linked to the ship’s intranet.
There’s also what is clearly a much more recent project; a hotplate, some utensils, and some sort of barrel of eye-watering fluid made of a plastic bin and some tape.

23:40.
>>
No. 991698 ID: b1b4f3

>>991694
Eye-watering fluid? Hooch? That's high alcohol content, which means... flammable. Explosive, maybe.
Can you drag it over to the door he's trying to break through? Then see if you can wire up a remote detonation device. Something even as simple as stringing some wire over to the center of the room near that light bulb so you can hook it into the power at an opportune moment.

You can also try getting that forklift running. If you ram it into the door he's banging on, would it pierce through and into him?

...huh, he said he wanted to take the Chief Medical Officer... but that wasn't in the list of surviving crew the AI gave you. Or maybe it just didn't bother to tell you, since it wasn't relevant at the time? Anyway, this also means the merc wants to kill the First Mate and the Botanist too.
>>
No. 992093 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161621390960.png - (684.33KB , 961x1036 , Evac-19.png )
992093

You don’t know about the liquor being a strong explosive, given it’s in a not-quite-watertight plastic bin, but it certainly smells flammable. You can use that.
You scooch the sloshing bin across the floor, half shoving and half pushing. Clear-yellow-ish drizzle leaves a trail across the floor. You finish by finding some spare wire coils, stringing them together, then jury-rigging it into the lamp in the middle of the room. The assembly is finished off with some tape, which you also use to try and seal the improvised still as best you can. The wire now dangles into the open space at the top of the drum- and another wire should serve as the contact point for a spark when wiggled to touch the first. The potent alcoholic vapors should do the rest.

As you work, the constant sounds of someone trying to batter down a plasteel door with a regular-steel axe undermine the calm you usually enjoy while working. You could definitely drive the forklift, but those things aren't designed to go very fast, and certainly wouldn't pierce the hull unless someone significantly juiced the engine.

You’re not really sure this alcoholic IED would kill someone, and that fills you with some relief down in your core. But it will definitely make a sizable pop of fire and smoke. Do you just unlock the airlock, spark the contact, and leg it?

23:35.
>>
No. 992218 ID: 8a51ec

Maybe we could get out of this situation without the use of improvised explosives. He seems awfully fixated on the one door, so maybe we could sneak out the other if it will open quietly enough? Otherwise we just detonate the bin and haul ass.
>>
No. 992291 ID: b1b4f3

Well, if we can set up something to automatically trigger the firebomb when he enters the room, sneaking out's a good plan.
>>
No. 992851 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161655956449.png - (714.81KB , 1333x1016 , Evac-20.png )
992851

As hyper-focused as the mercenary seems to be on taking down that door, you doubt he’d ignore the sound of footsteps in the otherwise quiet hall. Sneaking without a distraction is unlikely.

You take a moment to wire the sparker into the door panel. When the door opens, it will send a signal down the line, triggering a spark into the keg. You then set the door to open on a ten-second delay, step towards the other airlock, and hold your breath.
>>
No. 992852 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161655958938.png - (1.05MB , 1630x1080 , Evac-21.png )
992852

The door slides open with a pneumatic swish. There’s a quiet click-fwoosh, and then the soft hissing of gas rapidly expanding in a not-quite sealed container. The man steps in, otherwise unaware. You think he starts to say something.

Whatever it was is deafened in a surprisingly violent bang as the plastic drum shatters, sending flaming alcohol and shards of material scattering. The Soldiermorph cries out in what must be a mixture of pain and petulant frustration. Low-burning ethanol splatters his body, and he starts stumbling to put it out.
>>
No. 992853 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161655961547.png - (1.32MB , 1357x1034 , Evac-22.png )
992853

The fire spreads across the trail of leaked alcohol you left along the ground as you shoved the keg, finding more splattered spray to catch on, gaining footholds wherever it can. The soldier stumbles back, still trying to put himself out. The temperature begins to rise rapidly as the insulation of the ship turns the small room into an oven, fed by dozens of small flames, slowly growing.
>>
No. 992854 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161655963247.png - (213.17KB , 218x992 , Evac-23.png )
992854

You duck back out into the hall, the sealing of the airlock cutting off both the crackle of flame and cries of anger and pain. The man is engineered to feel less pain than baseline humanity- and while you’ve certainly put him out of commission for a moment, you can’t really guess as to how long that will be.

The obvious options are to double-time it back up the hallway you came from, and hope he doesn’t run back into the hall himself. Or you could run down the hall- Operations should continue for some time, eventually coming towards Engineering that way. As an alternative, the nearby storage room might be a good place to hide, or you could dip back into the cryptosleep bay, protected from the hard vacuum there by your belt.

You’re really hating how much running you’re having to do in such a short time.
>>
No. 992861 ID: 50697f

Run to the other door and lock him in if you can, it'll put him out of commission for a long time -- and we know he won't be trying to help you out at all.
>>
No. 992870 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm... is it possible to lock the merc in the room? Might actually manage to kill him that way, between the temperature, the smoke, and the lack of oxygen. Though if fire suppression systems are operational in there they'd trigger pretty soon.

You can probably dash around and continue towards getting your tools.
>>
No. 992890 ID: 12b116

>>992861
This seems like a reasonable plan
>>
No. 993265 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161682006656.png - (455.37KB , 638x791 , Evac-24.png )
993265

You seal the door you exited from, then dart around the corner to the one you entered from. You crack the door for just a moment- and are met with a small blast of noxious grey smoke, which hangs heavily in the air.
It looks pretty bad in there. You should do your duty as a maintenance tech. You key in a code to seal the airlock. A large holographic display informs anyone who’d care to look that the door is locked for maintenance.

Some part of you feels bad about locking a guy in an EZ-Bake oven- but considering he just tried to kill you, you’d struggle to feel too beat up about it. Obstacle removed, you make your way through Operations.
>>
No. 993266 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161682009754.png - (380.84KB , 675x700 , Evac-25.png )
993266

Operations is a vast industrial space. A majority of the stuff onboard is automated, but automation requires large amounts of room. You wander the cramped halls, slowly coming down off of your adrenaline high. Following markings on the floor brings you ever closer to your bunk, and your toolkit.

The place has clearly been ransacked of most of use during the emergency. Shelves lie empty and assemblers lie still, waiting for raw material to use. Scattered debris and litter are strewn through the halls- and the occasional streak of blood.

It’s a bit scary to see how quickly most of the ship seems to have fallen apart in only a month. Desperate people in confined spaces, you guess.

23:20.
>>
No. 993269 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161682016936.png - (1.01MB , 1094x985 , Evac-26.png )
993269

At some point, the hallways widen a tad. The lights fade from a cool blue to a warmer, natural shade. The signs on the wall stop reading ‘refinery’ and ‘storage’ and begin to mention things like ‘computer lab,’ ‘gym,’ and ‘pool.’ As you step through an airlock, you squint and blink, assaulted by the artificial sunlight at the center of the Living Space.

The living areas take up what might be seen as a lavish amount of space onboard the ship, you recall; arranged in a rough circle as the heart of the ship, featuring most anything anyone could want to help pass the hours by. But distraction is important for mental health on voyages like these. Anything to help forget you’re inside a metal coffin hurtling at a significant fraction of C towards an inherently unknown destination.

Overall, the place doesn’t look half bad. The bartender is out, unfortunately. The icebox reveals only some frozen, forgotten water bottles; zero cold ones, and zero food. The jukebox is still rattling through its collection of media, somehow. You take a moment to breathe in the deep scent of petrichor soaking into the room- coming from the verdant plant life crawling across the hull, growing in inorganic patterns out from the halls leading to Life Support.

One problem at a time. You head on through the top door, climbing over the piled wreckage and moving towards Habitation.

23:05.
>>
No. 993270 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161682018901.png - (390.41KB , 310x970 , Evac-27.png )
993270

The halls are plain and empty. Habitation is pretty small; just a few halls linking some mid-sized bunkrooms, capped by the Bridge at the nose of the ship. Because the crew cryptosleeps in shifts most of the time, there’s only half the amount of rooms as there are people onboard; a directory near the front lists sixteen total. You find your own towards the top of the list: MAINTENANCE 1/CHEF 2.

After passing two sets of rooms, you come upon a blockage. What was once a simple airlock in the hall has been defaced, ruined, hacked, and hacked apart to form what looks like an amateur’s attempt at an electrical hazard. Wiring, shaved metal, dented bulkheads and more exposed circuitry than you’re comfortable looking at are massed across the wall and airlock before you. The access panel has been torn apart, and it’s all been wired into a nearby PC. A flick of some random debris at the blockage confirms the wires are live with a few sharp zaps and pops.

Someone has thoughtfully placed a hazard cone before the improv device clearly designed to fry anyone intending to move through the airlock. The nearby airvent has also had its cover kicked out into the hall- from within, it looks like.

23:00.
>>
No. 993272 ID: b1b4f3

>>993265
If it's any consolation he'll probably pass out from smoke inhalation before it gets *really* hot in there. The smoke'll take him down, the heat'll take him out.
Also with the airlocks sealed the room will run out of oxygen from the fires consuming all of it.

>>993270
Any chance of getting to the PC? Do you know the vent layout, is it possible to circumvent this airlock with them? Maybe that's what someone did, from the other side.
What's with this 24-hour countdown? I guess we can at least know now that we've used 1 hour of the survival belt's vacuum protection.
>>
No. 993959 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161716668726.png - (831.27KB , 1026x1021 , Evac-28.png )
993959

The idea that he’ll suffocate before he boils honestly doesn’t make you feel much better at all. You try not to think about it very much.

You step over some of the loose clutter towards the PC- taking a moment to glance into the nearby vent. The air ducts double as passages for some of the ship’s smallest mechanoids; haulers, the round little cleanbots, that sort. They’re pretty roomy. It would still be a tight squeeze for you, but you could probably worm your way through them, albeit slowly and noisily. You know that the ducts lead to just about every major room on the ship in one way or another, but unfortunately, you recall the exact layout of the ducting systems about as well as you do the specifics of the ship itself.

You can easily step towards the computer; the airlock here is the only thing that looks trapped, the keyboard and buttons are free. You wiggle the mouse a little to wake the device from sleep. It looks like someone’s personal terminal, dragged out here and set up with some simple programming and the wiring hackjob previously mentioned. It’s still linked to the ship’s intranet. Unfortunately, you’re more of a MechSci guy than a CompSci guy, and you doubt you could hack the computer directly to power down the airlock.

Looks like the most recently used program is a simple IRC; you vaguely recall someone setting it up a great number of wake cycles ago so the different shifts could leave messages for each other.
The public room has had any message but the AI’s reassurances pushed back into the log, repeating every hour on the hour for the last… good while.
There are two tabs for DMs open; one for the AI herself, and one labeled CAPTAIN. Both have a bit of readable backlog, and both say the other participant is still online.
>>
No. 993963 ID: b1b4f3

>>993959
Read some recent AI backlog, then recent CAPTAIN backlog. I guess we don't know if the Captain is dead yet... Shouldn't you be able to tell what account this computer's using?

It would be helpful to know who's still alive. Ask the AI who's confirmed to be alive and kicking.
>>
No. 995125 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161776693153.png - (1.16MB , 2276x782 , Evac-29.png )
995125

First thing’s first: you have a terminal and no time pressure for using it, beyond the existing time pressure. You tab over to the DM with the AI and read the backlog. You check the terminal’s ID- looks like this was dragged from the First Mate’s bunk.

FirstMate: hey AI FirstMate: hey bot FirstMate: respond immediately directive one/prosperity threat >Charlotte: Hello! I apologize for the delay. I was preoccupied! FirstMate: its cool FirstMate: keep the camera in this hallway up. buzz me on the intercom in the bridge every time someone steps near. >Charlotte: Please be aware that I cannot project a perfect responsiveness to that command at this time! However, I’ll be sure to do my best. FirstMate: thanks

Unfortunately, there aren’t any timestamps, so you don’t know how long ago this took place. But it’s reasonable to assume whoever’s behind this bulkhead has been alerted.

FirstMate: AI? This is the Maint. Tech.
A response takes a few minutes.
>Charlotte: Hello! I apologize for the delay. I was preoccupied! FirstMate: It’s fine. Can you disable the power on this door? Someone’s rigged it to fry anyone trying to get through. >Charlotte: I’m sorry! I can’t. I don’t actually have control over most of the systems INSIDE the ship; just essentials like life support and piloting. Remote control for power, doors, and other systems are located on the Bridge. FirstMate: And who all is still alive right now? >Charlotte: Suit sensors indicate that ten crewmembers are still alive! Additionally, both the Chief Engineer and the Captain are alive in a technical sense thanks to their Cortical Stacks, but their bodies are nonfunctioning. Additionally, there are a few crewmembers currently in cryptosleep, but a breach in the hull at that location renders them un-recoverable at this time. >Charlotte: Compared to the original crew count, this is an unmitigated tragedy! >Charlotte: It is honestly pretty stressful! >Charlotte: Designations for living crew: MAINT. TECH, FIRST MATE, ENGINEER3, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, NURSE1, MERCENARY GUARD, CHEF2, BOTANIST, CHEMIST, BARTENDER. FirstMate: Thank you.
>>
No. 995126 ID: 0fbdcd
File 161776697699.png - (0.98MB , 933x951 , Evac-30.png )
995126

Next, you scroll through the DMs from here to the CAPTAIN terminal. It’s reasonable to guess the actual captain isn’t on the other end. These seem to scroll back through a good length of time, given how many sets of exchanges there are. You start with the oldest.

FirstMate: This is the CMO. You there? >CAPTAIN: hey. FM here. think im promoted FirstMate: I saw the captain’s post on the public bulletin. Did he really..? >CAPTAIN: yep. right between the eyes. his stack’s fine though. FirstMate: That is… awful. >CAPTAIN: its ok. I dont really have anywhere to put him in here so hes still just in his tub. FirstMate: Given the circumstances it might be best just to let him lie. The bugs have already burrowed into the morgue. >CAPTAIN: gross FirstMate: I assume you’re not going to come out. I don’t blame you. Do you have enough supplies in there? A source of water? >CAPTAIN: yeah i got water out all the faucets in the bedrooms. Im good FirstMate: Keep that way. Stay safe, son. I worry that this is all going to get much worse before it gets better. FirstMate: Unlock door FirstMate: Open door FirstMate: Shock off FirstMate: Search “how to manual override airlock” FirstMate: Disable electricity in hall >CAPTAIN: lol >CAPTAIN: who is this FirstMate: Guardian. My armor is in my room. I need to get to my room. >CAPTAIN: she dont wanna talk to you dude. Fuckoff >CAPTAIN: blocked


There are a few more; a series of checkups from the CMO much like the first, though shorter and more perfunctory each time. A pulsing green dot next to the profile indicates that the CAPTAIN terminal is both actively being used and open for communication.
>>
No. 995131 ID: b1b4f3

>>995126
>MERCENARY GUARD
Uh, is that the same mercenary you trapped in a burning room? He survived? Or was there more than one mercenary? Concerning. Oh well, he doesn't know where you are now and must be in pretty bad shape if he's still breathing.
...maybe you should ask the AI where the mercenary is right now.

Probably useless to try to talk to First Mate but you may as well give it a shot.
Tell him you're the Maintenance Tech trying to get to your tools, is there a way past this electrified door?


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