Space Quest:Exodus/Chapter 01

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Chapter 1: In Which All Hell Breaks Loose

"As we join our hero, Rog-- er, I mean, as we join our heroes, we find them aboard the luxurious interstellar cruise ship, the S. S. Contrived Extravagance, pursuing their... unique talents..."


Ah'Choo serves as one of the many engineers aboard the ship under the command of Matt, the ship's Andromedan chief engineer and biggest pain in the ass. A grizzled old veteran of the Cologne Wars, Matt is not happy about having been reduced to chief engineer of a pleasure cruise vessel, and makes this perfectly clear to anyone forced to work with him.

Ah'Choo is currently in the starboard engine room, running diagnostics on the #2 engine in relative peace, and hoping Matt stays occupied elsewhere. Many other engineers clatter around the myriad of catwalks overhead as they maneuver to reach the various access ports on the side of the massive horizontal cylinder that is engine #2.

Ah'Choo observes the passing engineers. With a skill born of years of practice, Matt glides up noiselessly behind her. After studying her work long enough to spot her numerous flaws, he barks at her.

"Hey, 'Choo! There's a faulty light panel in the banquet hall. The top brass wants *someone* to fix it before the big event." He looks meaningfully at Ah'Choo.

"You do not wish the diagnostics to be finished?"

"Screw the diagnostics, Richards will have my ass if this shindig doesn't go as planned. Get up there and fix that light ASAP!"

"Very well, then. Since extracting your 'ass' would be a painful procedure, I shall spare you the trouble and attend to the broken light." Ah'Choo gives a salute and heads towards the door to go repair the light.

Matt mumbles to himself. "Pfft. Damn Vulgars." He wanders away in search of more souls to torment. Ah'Choo exits the engine room and heads off to the banquet hall.


MP-X301 serves in "indentured service" in the ship's medical bay, under the supervision of lead doctor Broderick Stafford. Stafford is a nice enough guy, but just a little bit... eccentric. Of course, since MP-X301 is effectively property, he doesn't get paid anything... and can't leave... and the Doc frequently has him perform the disgusting menial tasks often called for on a cruise ship full of senior citizens... but all in all, it's better than getting melted down for scrap.

Currently, he's pulling his standard 18-hour shift in the MedBay, cleaning the caked blood off some of the more disgusting surgical instruments. MP-X301 looks about the MedBay while cleaning.

The Doc is on the other side of the room, poking and prodding at something in a jar that looks disgustingly like a... well, let's not finish that thought. The bay is currently vacant, except for a few patients in beds behind a privacy curtain on the far end of the room. These beds are all occupied by extremely old, extremely crotchety old men who were forced to come on this cruise by their idiotic but well-meaning younger relatives.

Suddenly a wet, tinkly noise comes from behind one of the curtains. MP-X301 knows it all too well...

"Oh no... not another bedpan..."

The Doc turns to address him. "Hey, Em-Cee, Jenkins needs servicing again. Take care of it, will you?"

"Yes, sir."

In all of MP-X301's months of service, the Doc has yet to get his name right.

MP-X301 sets down the instruments and heads to Jenkins' bed to replace the bedpan and clean the old one. Jenkins looks at him amusingly.

"Hey, Shorty, why doncha change the oil while you're at it? Heh heh!"

MP-X301 pulls some petroleum jelly out of the fridge, puts on a glove, and says, "Of course, sir. Where would you like it?"

After getting no immediate reaction, MP-X301 continues, "Well, guess you don't want the oil change after all, sir. I'll just put this away... do you need any additional assistance?"

"Don't get sassy with me, you bucket of bolts, unless you want to pull some overtime. I've got plenty more where that came from!"

"Ew. Er, I mean, yes sir. I'll... be off, then."

MP-X301 carries the bedpan to the waste disposal unit on the opposite wall of the bay. He dumps the pan into the disposal unit, then cleans the pan. *WHIRRRRRRRRRRR!* goes his bedpan cleaning tool.

The disposal chute encapsulates the waste in a plastic polymer container, then jettisons it from the ship. The canister hurtles through the cosmos at unbelievable speeds before plunging into the atmosphere of a nearby planet in a raging ball of fire, finally impacting and leaving a stinky crater and a nice even coat of flaming urine across the backyard of a Mr. Krink Talbot of Thatisol 8.

MP-X301 returns to cleaning the medical tools, with a glance at the chronometer to determine how long 'til the end of the shift. Fortunately, the torment is almost over, as the shift ends in only a few minutes!

"YAY!"

MP-X301 cleans tools while looking about the MedBay for anything interesting going on. Soon his internal clock beeps an alarm. He's free! FREE! He puts away his last tools and heads out of the MedBay.

"See you tomorrow, Doctor Stafford!"

The Doc pipes up again. "Hey, Ar-Too, don't forget about the big party in the banquet hall. It's not every day that a ship celebrates its 153rd voyage, you know!"

"Oh, right! Thanks for the reminder, Doctor Staph... er, I mean Stafford."

MP-X301 heads to the banquet hall. The Doc mutters under his breath, "Nice kid, but a bit slow for my liking..."

MP-X301 hovers his way to the turbolift, punches some futuristic buttons, and soon finds himself exiting the lift into the circular corridor surrounding the hall. Several large doors provide access to the interior. MP-X301 enters one of the doors.


Phoenix Dark, a.k.a. Roy, has booked passage on the ship for the purpose of catching "Slim" Golganis, a small-time thug from Polysorbate LX. Slim used to do gruntwork for Slobba the Gutt, the notorious crime boss, but made the mistake of embezzling a sizable sum of buckazoids from Slobba's account before disappearing. Slobba has posted an open bounty of "1,000 Bz dead/2,000 Bz alive" on Slim.

Roy knows for a fact that Slim is on the ship somewhere, having booked passage as a way to reach Vega, the ship's destination. Vega is the galaxy's premiere beach hotel resort and casino world; Slim plans to live the high-roller's life there with Slobba's money. Roy, of course, plans differently.

Roy has been aimlessly wandering the corridors of the ship, hoping to spot Slim. So far he hasn't seen him at all. There are many aliens wandering about, but none of them match Slim's description.

Roy finally decides to head to the purser's desk to see if he can find some idea where to look. The desk is manned by a tall, lanky alien with the "holier-than-thou" attitude required for members of the service industry.

The purser sighs at Roy. "Can I *help* you?"

"It's probable. I heard an ol' friend of mine also took this ship to reach Vega, and I thought I could give him a surprise visit to laugh a little and remember the good old days. Could you help me to find his room? His name's Slim Golganis. S-L-I-M G-O-L-ganis."

Without ever taking his eyes off Roy, the purser brings up a list on the display screen in front of him and visually scans it for the name.

"Hmm... Golganis, Golganis... nope, sorry, not on the list."

"Are you sure? He's Droolian."

"I'm SO sorry, sir, but I don't see that name anywhere in our registry. Perhaps you were mistaken?" He glares meaningfully at Roy.

"Bah, I guess he canceled his holidays. Never mind 'bout that."

Roy heads to the bar, realizing he should have investigated there first. The bar is filled with the usual random assortment of beings drinking their lives away. A green, 14-armed bartender greets Roy with a solemn nod, then goes back to polishing glasses... and pouring drinks... and wiping down the bartop... and ringing up the register...

Roy walks up to the bar and orders a Keronian Ale. While waiting for his order he carefully examines the place for familiar-looking or criminal-looking persons, but sees no one interesting.

The bartender deposits a bottle of piss-yellow beer in front of Roy.

"That'll be 5 buckazoids, guvna. I'll add it to your room tab."

"Yeah, you'll do that. Hey chummy, I'm looking for an ol' friend of mine, Slim Golganis, he's Droolian, seen him?"

"Beats me. What's he look like?"

"Red face, round black glasses-looking eyes. He's also insanely rich and don't ask me where his mouth is. Does it remind you something?"

"Hmm... don't know that I've seen anybody like that 'round here."

"Wait a tic..."

Finally remembering that he has a photo of Slim, Roy searches in his pocket for it and shows it to the barman.

"...nope, I haven't seen 'im. Lots of folks come on these cruises lookin' for privacy, though."

"And where people who look for privacy lurk?"

"In their rooms, mostly."

"Thanks for the tip."

"Don't mention it."


A large number of the ship's employees are scurrying around the banquet hall. A party is about to begin, and they are currently setting up decorations and making last-minute changes. Captain Richards, the cruise ship's Xenonian Captain, stands near the stage adorning one end of the room, watching the goings-on intently. Nancy, the painfully-cheerful activities director, is (cheerfully) barking orders at the grunts as they shuffle tables around.

"Oh-KAY people, we've only got a few minutes, and this place is SUCH a mess! I want those tables in place three seconds ago, thanks!"

Ah'Choo enters the hall, goes over to the Captain, salutes him, and announces, "Reporting to fix a broken light, Captain."

The Captain nods at her. "Nice to see such a prompt response from Matt for a change." He gestures at one of the overhead panels. "That light's shorted out. See what you can do about it. And, try not to dally, we've only got a few minutes before the passengers arrive."

The entire ceiling of the hall is a reinforced plasteel dome, which affords a breathtaking view of the stars overhead. Light panels are attached to rods that hang down from the dome. Ah'Choo accesses the nearest antigrav panel and uses the platform therein to float up to the light and assess the damage.

As MP-X301 enters the hall he approaches Nancy. "Anything I can do to help?"

Nancy looks down from the stage, and makes a "tsk" sound. "OH-kay, WHO let the *droid* in here? We're trying to set up a CULTURED atmosphere here, people, not run a garage sale!"

"...I guess you don't need a hand, then... Sorry for offering to help." MP-X301 wanders off in a random direction.

Nancy looks like she's about to admonish him, but then gets distracted by something else. "Hey, HEY, we do NOT put the tables next to the kitchen! No! Bad crewmember! Bad!"

As Ah'Choo hovers beneath the offending light, she notices that the bulb within is flickering on and off in an extremely annoying fashion. There is a quartet of screws holding the panel in place. Ah'Choo pulls out her trusty screwdriver, unscrews and opens the panel, and removes the bulb to study the problem.

Using her finely-honed Engineering instincts, she comes to the conclusion that the problem is the faulty bulb, which is sparking and emitting a smell not unlike that of burning aluminum foil. Ah'Choo keeps the faulty bulb, closes the light panel, floats back down to the ground, and stows the platform. She then heads over to the Captain and holds up the bulb.

"It would appear I shall have to retrieve a replacement bulb from Supplies. I shall return shortly to finish the repair."

The Captain looks at her with a raised eyebrow. "Yes... uh, you do that." Ah'Choo heads over to the door, observing the activity of the workers as she passes.

MP-X301 meanders around the banquet hall, trying to avoid the movers before they mistake him for an ottoman.


Ah'Choo heads to Supplies, gets a new bulb, puts the faulty bulb in the nearest "Bad Parts" receptacle, and heads back to the banquet hall.

Behind her, as she leaves, a robotic arm reaches out of a panel in the wall, opens the receptacle, picks up the bulb, and places it gently into the "Spare Bulbs" container.


Roy finishes his beer and runs back to the purser's desk. The purser looks up and, upon recognizing him, lets out an even bigger sigh than before.

"...YES, sir, whatEVER can I help you with THIS time?"

Roy shows his newly remembered photo of Slim Golganis to the purser.

"Still looking for my friend again. Run a search for this face, will you?"

"ExCUSE me, sir, but we do NOT make a habit of filing the faces of all of our passengers. What ARE you anyway, his parole officer or something?"

"OK. I wanted to keep this secret, but, the friends and I are playing this stupid silly little game, where we are all given plastic air guns and a person's name, and we must *kill* the person whose name we got, and when it's done, the player we just killed gives us the name of the person he was hunting... 'til one of us survives the game."

The purser stares at Roy in mock interest. "REally? How quaint. Well, mister person man, I'm afraid I just can't help you. If you don't know his name, you're out of luck."

"You're not really helping, you know that?"

The purser's voice is dripping with sarcasm. "Oh, I'm SO sorry, sir! Allow me to bend over backwards to fulfill your EVERY inane desire."

"I'll BE back!"

"I'm filled with anticipation."

"You sure are."


As Ah'Choo returns to the banquet hall, the Captain walks past her in the direction of the turbolift. A few moments later a bosun whistle sounds over the ship's PA system, followed by an announcement.

"This is your Captain speaking. Passengers, preparations are now complete for our spectacular 153rd voyage celebration banquet! All passengers are invited to attend, though be advised, this *is* a black tie event. Loaners are available, of course. That is all. Once again, thank you for flying 'Neavou' Riche' Cruiselines."

Ah'Choo enters the hall and heads over to the antigrav panel again. She retrieves the antigrav platform, levitates up to the panel, opens the panel, replaces the bulb, closes the panel, floats back down, and returns the platform to its slot.

Chatter is heard outside the hall. Dozens of cruise ship tourists begin shuffling into the hall through the doors, most of whom stop long enough to grab something from boxes near the doors before milling around the floor in search of a table. The moving crew beats a hasty retreat, as Nancy ducks behind the stage curtains.

Ah'Choo tries to follow Nancy behind the curtains, but a feminine hand darts out to block her progress. "Stage crew ONLY, please! Go take a seat if you want to, otherwise, beat it!" Ah'Choo shrugs and tries to see if she can glom a standing spot near the back wall of the room. She posts herself in close proximity to the wine table, trying not to draw attention, and settles herself in to watch the proceedings.

MP-X301 heads to the banquet hall doors to search for a "loaner". He finds that the cardboard boxes on the tables near the doors, with the word "Loaners" written on them in black marker, contain dozens of cheap black bow tie clip-ons. He snags one and clips it on.

Roy decides to head to the party from the purser's desk, for lack of a better idea. He soon finds himself in the midst of the throng of badly-dressed tourists filing into the banquet hall. He looks around for Slim and follows the crowd in obtaining a "loaner". Suddenly... there he is! Roy isn't certain at first, but he thinks a familiar red cranium bobs about near the buffet table!

Roy keeps an eye on the bastard and discreetly follows him in case he leaves. As Roy gets closer, he realizes that the man is, in fact, the one he's been looking for. At that moment Slim appears to be seeing just how much cheese spread he can heap onto a single cracker. Roy walks next to him.

"You made Slobba the Gutt pretty mad, you know that?"

Slim nearly chokes on his cheese-laden cracker, then scrambles nervously upright.

"I... uh, I don't know what you're talking about!"

"Cooperate and everything will be fine."

Doc Stafford comes into the hall, wheeling Jenkins before him in a wheelchair. Both of them grab a tie from the door boxes. Jenkins waves at MP-X301, still by the doors. "Heya, Shorty! Fancy meetin' you here! Heh heh!"

"Er, hello again, Mr. Jenkins. Pleasure to see you feeling well enough to come down."

Jenkins addresses Stafford. "Hey, Doc, c'mon already! We gotta get to the buffet before someone cleans out all the pâté!"

MP-X301 whispers quietly, "Oh no, not pâté!" He envisions more bedpans fully loaded. He looks around, spies a computer access panel near one of the doors, and checks to see if he has any new messages.

The panel chirps up, then speaks with a badly-synthesized voice. "YOU... HAVE... ZERO... NEW... MESSAGES. BEEP." MP-X301 notes with amusement that the computer speaks the word "beep" instead of actually beeping.

The crowd suddenly goes quiet. Nancy walks out onto the stage, wearing a forced smile. "HI-iiiii! I'm Nancy, your activities director, and I'd like to welcome you all to our 153rd voyage celebratory banquet!" The crowd lets out a mildly enthusiastic cheer.

Slim sputters at Roy nervously. "Hey, look p-pal, I don't know who you are, but I don't appreciate people who butt into other people's business, ya know?"

Nancy continues to speak. "Now, I'd like you all to give a big hand to our gracious host, Captain Richards! Yay!"

MP-X301 claps quietly in line with the crowd. Ah'Choo simply stands in place, staring with curiosity and her arms folded. Roy ignores the proceedings and concentrates on Slim.

"Slobba the Gutt put a little fortune on your head for what you did, so, either you cooperate, or you don't and I'll be forced to stick your face in the cheese right here."

Slim gets noticeably more nervous. "He, uh... *gulp* he did, huh? Well, uh, maybe you could, you know, go back and tell him, uh, you know, that I was just... er... ...borrowing! Yeah, I was just borrowing the money! I was gonna bring it right back, I swear!"

"Swearing is not an option."

Nancy steps aside as the Captain walks up to the mike and addresses the crowd.

"Greetings to you all, and welcome to our celebration! We're quite proud of the Contrived Extravagance today. It's not every day that a ship lasts long enough to make it through 153 consecutive voyages!"

Slim gulps again at Roy. "You're, uh... you're gonna shoot me now, aren't ya?"

"Only if you don't give me other choice."

"Crap."

Roy grabs a pair of handcuffs from his pocket. The Captain continues speaking in the background.

"Please, feel free to take advantage of our banquet buffet and wine table. We've got the finest selection of wine and artificial cheese-like food spread this side of Andromeda, and--"

*BADOOM!!!*

Without warning, a massive jolt rocks the entire ship! Passengers, tables, and hour'devours go flying in all directions!

Roy gets jolted hard, and falls down. By the time he recovers his footing, Slim is nowhere to be seen, having presumably slipped out the doors before the panic set in...

"Dang!"

Roy stands up and looks around for the red-headed dude, but between the noise and the panicked crowd, there are too many distractions to single out anyone in particular.

"Double dang!"

MP-X301 flies across the room and slams into the far wall... possibly beaning Mr. Jenkins somewhere along his flight path... intentionally? Who knows? He gathers himself together and exclaims in confusion, "What the...?"

Ah'Choo tries to keep her footing but fails, and her and the wine table crash onto the floor.

The passengers begin to panic, screaming loudly and attempting to flee through the doors. The natural bottleneck situation this creates prevents most of them from actually leaving the room.

MP-X301 shouts, "PLEASE CALM DOWN AND REMAIN WHERE YOU ARE UNTIL THE CREW CAN DETERMINE WHAT HAS HAPPENED!"

The Captain shouts to make himself heard above the crowd. "What in the hell is going on? Someone get in touch with the bridge, and--"

The PA suddenly crackles to life. "This is Ensign Sykes to all hands! We are under attack! All hands to battle stations! I repeat, we are under atta--" *KSSHT!* With a burst of static, the intercom goes dead.

The crowd pauses thoughtfully for a moment as they consider this, then begins to scream and panic even more. Roy grunts as his target runs away in the frenzy.

MP-X301 looks for injured people to help, and for the Doctor. "Doctor Stafford?!"

Ah'Choo shouts, "Please, remain calm! In the event of an emergency, your seats can be used as a flotation device!"

*BADOOM!!!*

Another jolt, bigger than the first, rocks the ship again. Dinner plates go crashing into the walls (and various passengers).

MP-X301 flies around crashing into walls and passengers. Roy and Ah'Choo get shaken to the ground again.

"Where is Doctor Stafford?" MP-X301 shouts. "We've got injured people to deal with here!"

Suddenly, the light in the room grows dim. Outside the transparent roof above, the distant stars are blotted out by a *massive* shape moving past.

Ah'Choo and Roy try to make out the shape from their respective vantage points on the floor. The sheer size of the... thing, coupled with the angle of the light, makes it difficult to make out clearly. It is definitely very big, however. Very, very big.

MP-X301 grabs onto the nearest wall, suspecting a sudden explosive decompression might occur. He also turns up his built-in lights to help compensate for the dimmed lights. A moment later the shape has moved past, out of sight.

*BADOOM!*

A third jolt, even more powerful than the last two. Whatever just hit the ship did so very close by...

By this point, most of the crowd has managed to either flee the room or end up trampled on the floor. The Captain and cruise director are nowhere to be seen. The last of the panicked passengers stampedes out of the room. Aside from a trio of soon-to-be adventurers, the hall is eerily silent...

MP-X301 checks on the nearest fallen person, to see if there is any chance of helping them. "Doctor Stafford?" he calls again... but no reply. Apparently Stafford has a particularly well-developed sense of self-preservation, as he is nowhere to be seen. MP-X301 mutters something about stinkin' ship's doctors...

Ah'Choo closes the banquet hall doors and heads for the stage to look for the Captain and Nancy. A quick survey behind the curtain reveals... nothing much of interest. The stage entrance hangs wide open.

Ah'Choo heads over to the entrance and looks through it. The corridors beyond are totally devoid of people. A tumbleweed rolls lazily down the nearest hallway. She heads back to the audience area of the banquet hall.

MP-X301 checks the status of the people left on the floor. They all appear to be okay, relatively speaking. Most have just had the wind knocked out of them by hordes of rampaging tourists. Some of them scramble to their feet, glance around hurriedly, then make a beeline for the exits.

"See, Harold, I *told* you this would happen! We should have gone to the Andromedan mud spas instead!"

Harold and his wife quickly escape out the door.

Roy looks at the people on the floor for a certain red headed guy, but no such luck. Slim has disappeared entirely.

The lights flicker off briefly, then back on. Something is taxing the ship's power supplies.

MP-X301 attempts to contact the MedBay using the computer interface. Ah'Choo finds the nearest comm panel to buzz the engine room.

As they flip the intercoms on, they are overwhelmed with a stream of radio chatter, intermingled with desperate screams of panic. The communications channels are being flooded with traffic as the ship's crew tries to deal with the situation.

"This is Bravo team, we have hostiles! Repeat, we have hostiles! All available back up, report to Deck 4-11! For God's sake, HELP US! ...oh, sh#t! They're coming through!"

A sharp hissing sound begins to come from the speaker, presumably from the events on the other end of it. Finally, the intercoms switch themselves off.

MP-X301 ponders, "Hostiles? Bravo Team? I didn't know we had any serious security on this liner..."

Roy draws his pistol at hearing the intercom's pronouncement. He then addresses Ah'Choo and MP-X301 (seemingly the only other people in the hall still coherent).

"I don't know for you, but I think it would be wise to hide somewhere."

Ah'Choo thinks differently, however, and notices MP-X301. "You there! Droid! It seems we need to get to Deck 4-11 posthaste!"

"Yes, Ma'am."

Ah'Choo then looks back to acknowledge Roy. "Who are you, sir?"

"Phoenix Dark, but you can call me Roy."

"Well, Roy, I suggest you either sequester yourself or lend us some help at Deck 4-11."

"I'll follow. I have no reason to rot here."

"Let's go, then."

Ah'Choo draws her stunray gun, nods her head towards the door, and heads out with MP-X301 following. Roy double-checks that his face-concealing helmet is still set to rights, and follows the Party.

The corridor outside the banquet hall is devoid of any sign of life. The nearby turbolift's doors stand open, beckoning to whoever remains to ride it. The Party enters the turbolift and encodes Deck 4 Section 11 into the panel. The doors *whoosh* shut, and the lift moves rapidly downward.

Seconds later, the lift comes to a stop. The doors *whoosh* open again...

The corridor outside the turbolift is... devoid of any sign of life. A sign on the wall points the way to various sections, including 11 (which lies to the left). The Party proceeds down the corridor towards Section 11, weapons still at the ready.

As they round the corner of Section 9, a grisly sight greets them. Strewn all throughout the corridor are the bodies of the ship's crew members, each sporting a new array of variously-sized blast wounds. Blood is everywhere, and the stench of scorched flesh hangs heavy in the air.

Ah'Choo surveys the damage. "It seems we should proceed carefully, gentlemen..."

MP-X301 checks for signs of life, his built-in biosensors quickly sweeping the room. He finds that not a single one of these poor stiffs is anything but and reports to Ah'Choo.

"All personnel here are dead, Ma'am."

"Noted, Medic."

Multiple carbon scoring marks on the walls make it clear that whoever did this didn't bother to be precise. Most of the corpses look as though they died in a fighting stance, bearing uniforms that mark them as the ship's security team. Strangely, their weapons are nowhere to be seen.

Further down the corridor, several more bodies lay smoking. Their flesh is badly charred and partly disintegrated, as if they had been horribly burned at very close range. Section 11 lays a little further down the corridor.

Roy wonders aloud, "Why are we here anyway?"

"The Medic and I are here to render assistance to crew members under attack. Why are *you* here, sir?"

"I'm just looking for a way to leave this place. Preferably alive."

MP-X301 pipes up. "Ma'am, considering the level of damage to the personnel in this section, I would say this is a notably unsafe area to be in. My primary responsibility is to the health and well-being of the crew, ensuring their ability to slave away at making corporate profits."

"Consider this, the best way to ensure the well-being of the crew, Medic, and your escape route, Roy, is to ensure that any invading attackers do not succeed."

MP-X301 concedes, "Very well, Ma'am." He proceeds slowly and quietly in the direction of Section 11, his biosensors hot to check if something alive is ahead. Ah'Choo and Roy linger behind and debate the situation.

"I'm not sure I understood that correctly."

"In other words, Roy, if we don't stop these attackers, no one will be leaving this ship alive."

"Shouldn't just finding a cheap way to escape without being spotted be the best way to escape?"

"I am a crew member. It is my duty to aid the crew. You are free to do whatever you please."

Ah'Choo raises an eyebrow at Roy and starts to follow MP-X301 towards Section 11.

"Look around you, those guys were fried alive, you seriously think we should run into the trouble?"

Ah'Choo sighs, stops, and turns back to Roy.

"And what makes you think if we escape, the invaders won't just hunt us down and shoot us?"

"What make you think we'll escape somewhere where we'll be easy targets?"

Meanwhile, as MP-X301 crosses the threshold into Section 11, he finds that the carnage gets worse. Even more bodies lay piled around the corridor. Many appear to have been caught in explosive blasts, their flesh torn to shreds by shrapnel. There also seems to be a thick layer of white powder scattered across the floor sporadically, which fails to register on his scanners. Footprints have been tracked in it many times over.

MP-X301 calls a report back to Ah'Choo. "More dead personnel, Ma'am. Some of this trauma is severe, explosive blasts, shrapnel hits... I haven't seen anything like this since the Space Gang Wars when I was driving an ambulance. Also a white powder, Ma'am."

Ah'Choo comments to Roy, "Well, it appears this particular section is clear, then."

But as he continues his survey, MP-X301 sees that on the outside wall of the corridor is a startling sight. A large hole, big enough for most humanoids to pass through, has been cut into the bulkhead. Since this is the outside edge of the ship, this would normally cause the air inside to rush into the vacuum of space. However, a large metal iris, a door of some sort, has sealed the breach shut from the other side. MP-X301 calls out again.

"Ma'am, you've got to see this! Someone has cut a hole in the bulkhead!"

Ah'Choo turns away from Roy and runs into Section 11.

Roy sputters in annoyance. "Gah!" He follows Ah'Choo.

As Ah'Choo enters, MP-X301 tells her, "It appears to be some form of airlock, Ma'am."

Ah'Choo studies the iris curiously. It is made of very heavy metal, and has all the looks of an airlock door. There is no visible means of opening it, at least from this side.

"Well," Ah'Choo declares, "It appears that we're too late to assist our crewmates. And we've obviously been breached and boarded."

MP-X301 considers the ugly remains of Bravo Team. "Perhaps they have combat recorders of some type, Ma'am. I'll check."

Roy also considers the damage. "Mmmmm, this carnage looks insanely familiar."

MP-X301 searches a few of the corpses. All of them have apparently been stripped of their weapons, along with any other devices they may have had.

"I don't see any indications of Bravo Team's datacorders, equipment, or security keycards, Ma'am. Whoever did this was very thorough."

Ah'Choo continues examining the airlock door. The scoring patterns around the airlock indicate that the hull was cut open from the outside, on the other side of the airlock door. It seems logical that this is the business end of a boarding tube.

"Yes, definitely boarded. But by who? And why? ...Roy, you said this carnage looked familiar?"

"Yup."

"In what way?"

"It's just a feeling I got."

"Ah."

MP-X301 chimes in. "Ma'am, maybe we can board their ship? Surely their combat personnel are tied up here on the Extravagance. There may be minimal staff on board now."

"That would be a thought, provided I could think of a way to open this door."

"I was actually thinking about that some minutes ago," Roy offers.

MP-X301 tries to hook up to a nearby access panel and see if he can use it to shed more light on the situation. But before he can get any info at all a noise catches his attention.

He listens carefully, then reports, "Ma'am, I just heard someone shouting in a language I don't recognize down this corridor. Sounds urgent." He pauses briefly, then, "I hear footsteps!"

Ah'Choo looks around frantically for options. She notices a decided lack of places to hide in, but the dead bodies give her a sudden idea. "I believe a good course of action might be to play dead?"

"I second this idea," Roy agrees.

"Let us, then," Ah'Choo declares.

Ah'Choo drops to the floor, pulls a couple of the dead bodies over her, and lays still, listening.

MP-X301 grabs some of the charred flesh, smears it onto the side of his chassis, removes one of his arms and holds it in his other arm in an artistic pose - as though it was knocked off in the damage - then shuts down all externally visible signs of activity.

Roy takes handfuls of blood and organs from the nearby corpses and tries to be convincing in his death.

They all lay perfectly still, in hopes of fooling the approaching beings. The footsteps get louder, and closer. Finally, they arrive, and slow to a stop no more than a few feet away. From the sound of it, there are two beings, but, because of the Party's dead act, they can't look directly at them without moving.

One of the beings says something to the other, his voice masked by a commlink modulator. The other being responds similarly, and the two speak back and forth for a moment. Ah'Choo and MP-X301 are clueless as to what they're saying, but Roy understands perfectly...

"Dammit, I could have SWORN I heard voices!"

"Calm down. We'll get them all, eventually. The pods are guarded... they're not going anywhere."

"This isn't right. Why can't we just *shoot* them and be done with it?"

"Because the Commander said otherwise. Now shut up and move."

The aliens finish their conversation, and move towards the southern corridor. As they do, the Party catches a clear glimpse of blood-red metal boots as the beings march away from their position. Soon the footsteps recede into the distance completely. Eerie silence once again prevails.

Roy slowly stands from his convincing pose. MP-X301 returns from shutdown mode, but before coming fully active, he runs a biosensor sweep. Ah'Choo uncovers herself.

"What do you make of that, gentlemen?" Ah'Choo wonders.

"Sarien," Roy whispers.

"Ah. That presents quite the complication."

Roy continues his whispered explanation, "All the pods are guarded."

MP-X301 returns to full activity and reattaches his arm.

"What'd I miss?"

"We apparently have been boarded by Sariens and the escape pods are not accessible."

Roy warns, "And they have ears, too."

Ah'Choo has a sudden thought and asks Roy, "How do you know all this?"

"I speak Sarien."

Ah'Choo finally gets a clue and starts whispering. "Ah."

"Should I try accessing the computer again?" MP-X301 whispers. "I'm not sure if that might have triggered their approach."

"As long as you can use it quietly," Roy tells him.

MP-X301 quietly returns to the computer interface and tries again to access as much useful information as possible...


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