Space Quest:Exodus/Chapter 48
MP-X301: "How goes that computer system?" MP begins searching the office and the bodies of the guards.
Rex: Click. "YOU'D BE SURPRISED HOW MANY PEOPLE *THINK* THEY'RE PREPARED TO GET PUNTED IN THE FACE."
Ada cracks her knuckles, then rubs her hands together and cackles eagerly as she checks out the menu.
Ada: As the menu blips on, a trio of large, touch-sensitive buttons appear: SURVEILANCE, ACCESS CONTROL, and ALARM.
Ada presses "Surveillance".
Ada: A sub-menu opens up...several buttons advertise the ability to switch off the camera feeds being displayed on the nearby bank of monitors.
Ada backs up and tries "Access Control".
MP-X301 attempts to dismantle the wall panels to follow the camera feed wires.
Rex waits patiently. As patiently as a giant death machine can wait.
Ada: As you press the button, a large map appears onscreen...you recognize it as the same floor plan detailed in the binder you found earlier.
Ada: A few buttons allow for the switching of floors...on the current map (the brig area), there are numerous red lines, apparently indicating locked doors.
Ada rubs her chin thoughtfully, then turns to MP. "This might help us out in moving about, MP."
Ada: From the looks of it, the red lines for this floor represent the forcefields on the cell doors.
Ada: The only other automatic doors are those leading into the twin elevators, both of which are unlocked.
Ada: "We can turn off the camera feeds from here, as well as release various doors, including the ones here in the brig."
MP: Using your trusty screwdriver, you bang on the wall for a while, but ultimately fail to accomplish anything. As is befitting a space station - and a space station's security room at that - the bulkheads are very durable.
MP-X301: "Meh, oh well." MP hovers upright, and continues looking around the room to see if there are any hidden compartments containing contraband stashes.
Ada: "Question is how best to proceed here. If we turn off the camera feeds, it may alert people in the command area, but we should do so before releasing any of the prisoners..."
MP-X301: "Well, there's really only three cameras, anyway."
MP-X301: "And we've already neutralized the threat associated with this one. We can release the prisoners once we've secured a way to save them."
MP: The inside of the security room is rather spartan...aside from the computer and monitors, and the thin metal table they sit on, the only objects of interest are the two guards' chairs, and a locked cabinet in the corner.
Rex: "BOOOORED... BZZZZT."
Ada: "Good point."
Ada closes out the menu for now.
MP-X301 jiggles the locked cabinet door, and examines the lock. "Where'd Bioo head off to, anyway? Oh, well... Ada, will you cut this lock off?"
Ada: "Sure." Ada pulls out her trusty borrowed laser cutter and plays slice 'n dice with the lock.
MP-X301: "Besides cutting off the cameras, is there anything else you can do?"
Rex: "SHOOT CAMERAS, DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SNEAKING. DOGGIES AREN'T GOOD AT SNEAKING."
Ada: "I told you, we can unlock doors on the various floors as well. There's also an alarm button, but I don't want to mess with it."
Ada: The cabinet quickly falls to your torchy might. The (slagged) doors swing open...inside the cabinet are a pair of plasma rifles, and three (Deadly) frag grenades.
MP-X301: "Hmm... unlock all the doors, then we'll go up this back elevator and head to the main elevator... although I wish we had some better plan for engaging the enemy in a way that would put them down in a hurry and leave them alive for surgical removal of their implants."
MP-X301: "Oh, wait, not the cell doors. Never mind."
Ada: "The cell doors too, MP."
MP-X301: "Grenades. We can use those. Oh, we can use those."
MP-X301: "Plasma rifles, anyone?"
Rex: "I DON'T HAVE A PLASMA RIFLE."
Ada: "I have my pistol."
MP-X301: "...I wonder if we can short circuit the controls and lock it into full auto, then chuck it into the control room..."
Ada: "Maybe, but I'm betting there's more than one room of bad guys, MP."
MP-X301: "Two rifles."
MP-X301: "And grenades, too."
Rex: Click. "... TURNS INTO A GIANT LUMBERJACK AND BURSTS THROUGH THE CEILING, ENRAGED AT HOW MANY TREES STILL STAND WITHIN HIS VICINITY."
Ada: "Well, I think we might as well try to talk to a few of the prisoners while staying out of the visual pickup. If we don't discover anything more useful, I guess it's time to stick our head into the lion's mouth."
MP-X301: "Right, got it. I should know some of them, too." MP hovers out of the security office, headed for the cells.
Ada follows MP. "Come on, Rex. Stay behind me."
MP-X301 looks into the first cell he can see.
MP: You take a look into the cell nearest the security office...inside are nearly a dozen beings, in various states of boredom. Several humans and Andromedans, a couple of Vulgars, and even a couple of...well, you still don't know *what* they are, but there's a pair of those stumpy aliens like the one in the specimen room. These two are decidedly more alive, however.
The conditions in the cell are noticeably inhumane...there are only three cots hanging from the wall, and a single exposed toilet and sink, which presumably they all have to share. Judging from the filthiness of both the cell floor and the prisoners' institution-style white uniforms, they haven't bathed in a very long time.
Within moments, one of the cell occupants notices the party...within moments, all of them are crowding the area just inside the invisible force field, chattering in a mixture of astonishment and anger.
MP-X301: A shocked stare. "...I've not seen conditions this bad since the Guiding Light Hospital on Xenon!"
Rex doesn't seem to notice.
Ada looks at the prisoners herself. "Geez! What a bunch of creeps these bad guys are."
Rex: "PUT THEM OUT OF THEIR MISERY, BZZZZT?"
Ada: "No, no. The prisoners we have to keep alive, Rex. We'll put the bad guys out of their misery."
Suddenly, almost all of the prisoners back away, their eyes locked in horror on the massive battle droid threatening them questioningly.
MP-X301: MP raises his hands, "Hold it, hold it! Please, calm yourselves, we need to have information so we can get you all out."
MP-X301 looks at the faces, hoping to identify a familiar one.
The prisoners murmur to themselves...one of the Vulgars steps forward to address you. "You are here to release us?"
MP-X301: "Yes, that's the plan. But, the moment we turn you all loose, we need to have an escape plan in place, or your lives will be forfeit. Our ship is too small to carry you all. I was the medical droid from the Contrived Extravagance. Are any of those passengers here?"
Two humans and an Andromedan raise their hands.
MP-X301: "Oh, good... I feared the worst. Although this is pretty close." He shakes his head. "Now, what exactly is going on here, do you know?"
Rex: Click. "NO NO, IT IZ VERY EASY; VATCH ME, VATCH ME. AHEM. HELLO, MR. PUPPETHEAD, HOW ARE YOU? 'I AM FINE, DR. SCRATCHANSNIFF. HOW ARE YOU?' I AM FINE, MR. PUPPETHEAD. DID YOU HAVE A YUMMY BREAKFAST? 'OH YES, YES! VERY YUMMY. HOW WAS YOUR BREAKFAST?' MY BREAKFAST WAS VERY YUMMY AS VELL. NOW YOU SEE? ISN'T THAT EASY?"
Ada: "Don't mind our other droid. It's just a wee eccentric."
The Vulgar speaks up again. "We have all been held prisoner here for some time. Some of us were abducted from starports; most, however, are apparently the victims of ship hijackings."
Rex: "I AM NOT ECCENTRIC."
Rex: "I AM A DOG."
MP-X301: "Okay, good to know. Any of the ships make it here intact? We need a way to get you all off. And ideas as to WHY you were abducted would help."
The Vulgar nods. "From what I can conjecture, a group of Sariens have entered into a contract with the operators of this station...they have been raiding vessels and kidnapping beings to sell to our captors, apparently as experimental research subjects."
MP-X301: "Sariens... okay, that matches what I know thus far. Any grasp on the purpose of the experimental research?"
"I am afraid not; no one they have taken from the cells has returned. Until recently, the prisoners here left for the labs almost as rapidly as they arrived. Now, however, they no longer seem to need us; it has been two days since they have carried any of us away."
MP-X301: "They must have perfected their design..."
MP-X301: "Whatever their plan is, it's close to fruition. We must act quickly."
Another of the prisoners steps forward, an Andromedan.
MP-X301: MP looks at the Andromedan.
"I was kidnapped from a starport bar back home...when I woke up, there was a few dozen of us being herded onto a ship. It looked like they'd stripped the inside of a small cargo freighter to haul captives; that's how they brought me here, at least."
MP-X301 glances back at Ada, seeing if she catches this and comes to some good conclusion.
"There's a door halfway down the hall here, that goes to the airlock they used when they unloaded us. Maybe it's still there."
Ada: "There is the two shuttles in the bay, possibly... well, one shuttle, since our impromptu door opening."
MP-X301: "Is that airlock out of view of the cameras?"
MP-X301 glances at Ada.
Ada: "We're still alive, aren't we?"
"I dunno, I didn't see any cameras."
Bioo pauses by the cell as she peruses the station level.
MP-X301: "I'll check it out real quick." MP hovers toward the supposed location of the airlock.
MP: *hover, hover* Several cells down, a large airlock door sits opposite the cell banks on the far wall. As you'd expect, a control panel is mounted next to it.
MP-X301 examines the control panel.
Bioo: "I don't suppose any of you are famous or well insured, or have wealthy relatives, or anything like that?
Ada: *scratches out Ada's responds.
Ada: "Bioo!" Ada elbows the being in question.
One of the humans, a female, pipes up. "Why, yes, actually, we're all incredibly rich and famous, and our respective families would reward you handsomely for our safe return."
MP: Two buttons...amazingly, they're labeled "OPEN" and "CLOSE". What sophistication!
Bioo: "Now, now, Ms. Sarcasm. That's not the way to secure a first class position on the flight out of here.
The Vulgar steps forward again. "Pardon me...I don't know if this is helpful, but I did notice a pattern regarding the prisoners being taken away."
Ada: "What pattern was that?"
The human girl pouts. "WhatEVER, just, get me out of here already."
Rex: "SQUISHIES BEING RUDE?"
MP-X301 pokes the OPEN button.
MP: The doors open...beyond them is a large airlock room, with another large door, and another control panel! My GOD, will the engineering miracles never cease?
MP-X301 looks to see if there is a WINDOW.
MP-X301 enters the airlock.
"Well..." The Vulgar motions to the pair of squat, pink aliens in the cell. "My friends here have noticed that more of their number have come and gone through here than any of the other species of beings."
Rex whirs quietly.
Ada: "What sort of being are they?"
MP: Once inside, you notice a display on the interior control panel. The readouts indicate that the area beyond the door is pressurized and sealed; apparently, there *is* a ship docked at the moment. That, or else someone has cured the whole "vacuum of space" thing while you've been gone.
Ada waves at the little pink aliens.
MP-X301 presses the Open button again, and goes to examine the cargo ship.
Vulgar: "They are Pinkunz, miss, the native sentient species of a world in the Unexplored Territory. I do not know where the prisoners are coming from, but an alarming number of them have passed through here as of late."
One of the pink creatures pipes up, its voice high-pitched and chattery. "They've taken dozens of our kinsmen away, and none of them have come back!"
Rex looks at the Pinkunz curiously.
Bioo continues her perusal of the level in search of something more interesting.
MP: The airlock door opens...beyond it is a large, empty room resembling the interior of a small cargo ship. Instead of the usual shelves and storage devices, however, the floor is lined with dozens of crash seats lined up end-to-end. Each seat has heavy straps built into it, presumably for restraint. A door towards the front of the craft leads to what you assume is the cockpit.
MP-X301 examines the cockpit, fuel and power status, etc, to ensure the vessel is space worthy.
The Pinkunz looks up at the massive droid. "...um...hi?"
Rex: "... NOT MASTER."
MP: The cockpit is a rather cramped affair, the sort of thing you'd expect from a spartan cargo ship. A pair of seats sit before a manual control console, lit up with gauges and indicators and lots of little winkly lights. According to the meters, the ship's fuel reserves are about 3/4 full, and all systems are green.
MP-X301 nods, then returns to the main group. "Are any of you piloting certified?"
The other Pinkun, who didn't speak, steps forward and raises his tiny arm.
Rex: Click. "MON DIEU! I HATE BRIDGES! ZAT WAS FOR KILLING MY FATHAIRE! BRIDGE!"
"I used to fly in the Starcon Elite Fighter Corps. a few years ago. 23 confirmed kills. Is that good enough?"
Ada: "What did you kill?"
MP-X301: A long stare. "Wow... Alright, looks like you are going to be flying that ship out of here once we got all of you on board." MP turns to the group. "Okay, let's load on all the passengers who are out of range of the camera. Then, we can 'simulate' a camera failure, and load the rest. We'll turn the cameras back on, then, while we make a distraction on the command deck, they can fly out of here. How's that sound?"
Ada: "Fighter craft. Duh." He makes a loopy motion with his finger near where you assume his ear is.
Ada blows a raspberry.
MP: The crowd in the cell responds with a unified "Meh."
MP-X301: "Don't want out of here? Okay."
MP-X301: "We'll go upstairs and blow the whole station up, then get out of here."
MP: The crowd in the cell responds with slightly more enthusiastic "Meh."
Ada: "Geez, MP. Feeling a little vindictive, are we?"
The Vulgar speaks up. "We will do whatever you wish, if you do intend to assist us."
MP-X301: "Nah, I'm just being silly. I didn't really expect them to get excited." He grins.
MP-X301: "Either that, or we can give some of these people plasma rifles and grenades and send them up to deal with the guards..."
Ada: "Sure, if any of them have a death wish."
MP-X301: "Nah, that's my job."
MP-X301: "So, any objections?"
MP: The crowd in the cell responds with a unified "Nah."
Bioo: "Hey, are any of you solders of some sort?
The prisoners all shake their heads.
Bioo: "That goes for all you in the other cells too!
MP-X301: "If they want to solder stuff, they need an iron and some solder."
Bioo: "That's unusually lowminded of you to make fun of my accent, MP.
MP-X301: "What accent?"
Bioo glares at MP
Rex: "SQUISHY IS JEALOUS OF MP."
MP-X301: "Why would she be jealous? She asked if any of them were solders..."
Rex: "BECAUSE MP DOESN'T HAVE AN ACCENT."
Ada: "Come on you guys. Let's get these poor folks out of here."
MP-X301: "Right, right. Okay, by the numbers, Ada, control the doors, Bioo and I will usher people onto the cargo ship, and Rex, I want you to torch anyone who panics."
Rex: Click. "AS PRESIDENT, I WILL ASSURE THAT ALL MANKIND HAS ITS LEGS SAWED OFF!"
MP-X301: "Thank you, Rex. Ada, open this one first, please." He points at the cell with the pilot.
Ada: "...all right." Ada heads back into the security office, calls up the menu, and pops the door in question.
Bioo: "OK. Let's make this go smoothly, people.
Rex lowers its flamethrower towards the squishies.
Bioo: "Just line up in a orderly single file line,
MP-X301: "Now, please remain calm, go in a single file, orderly fashion to the airlock, and take your seats immediately. We don't have time to waste if we want to do this right." MP points.
Bioo: "Give either MP or myself your bank account number and security information, then proceed into the ship and find a seat.
MP-X301: "Bioo! Stop it."
There space in front of the cell flashes briefly, as the force field deactivates. The prisoners hesitantly put out their hands, feeling around to make sure the field is really gone. Then, as a group, they immediately begin yelling and whooping aloud, charging toward the airlock like a stampede of wild horqs. Within moments, the dozen of them have crammed into the airlock and the ship beyond, and started bickering over who called shotgun first.
MP-X301: "Besides, they probably already cleared those out."
MP-X301: "Okay, next!"
Bioo: "Hey, I don't rescue people for free.
MP-X301: "You are getting a large sum of salable loot. I don't see any reason we can't sell this entire station if we take it intact."
SOME TIME LATER...
MP-X301: "...and for the last time, I'm not going below 33% of the total proceeds for your personal account!"
MP-X301: "Ada and Rex deserve some of that cash, too!"
Bioo: "...and after you add that to the cost of hauling the thing to a commerce sector, you'd barely break even.
Ada emerges from the office. "Look, can we rescue first, kill bad guys second, loot later?"
Bioo: "Loot LAST??!
MP-X301: "Commerce sector? Are you nuts? Anyway, it appears this went perfectly." MP pokes the close button on the airlock, and heads for the back elevator.
Bioo: "The way you lot are going there won't be anything Left to loot.
Rex: "WHY LOOT?"
MP-X301: "Nothing besides top secret moddie technology that is worth a fortune in R&D alone, high-tech and illegal weapons, and this station."
Bioo: "What high tech weapons?
MP-X301: "Because loot is worth buckazoids, the only thing that seems to matter to Bioo, here."
MP-X301: "Plasma rifles, grenades, heavy repeating lasers... all of these are modern high-tech and illegal for private citizens to own."
Bioo: "Well, that's mainly because I don't take pleasure from killing people.
Ada: "Yes, but you get buckazoids from selling the nasty weapons to people who do."
MP-X301: "You think I'm having a giddy blast here? Something is really wrong here, my olfactory sensors are reporting levels way out of standard specifications on this one... and I think the lives or economies of the entire galaxy may be at stake."
Bioo: "Look, tangling with weapons dealers can get dangerous Really fast.
Bioo: "It's not something I'm fond of either.
Ada: "So can tangling with the offspring of cruise ship passengers who realize you just stole their future inheritance."
Rex: Click. "OKAY, I'M THINKING THAT WAS A BAD NOISE. I'M RELEASING THE MYSTERIOUS BLUE SMOKE HERE. THAT'S BAD BECAUSE WHEN YOU SEE THE MYSTERIOUS BLUE SMOKE, ELECTRONICS DON'T WORK ANYMORE."
Bioo: "That was perfectly legitimate extortion!
MP-X301 hovers into the back elevator.
Bioo: "And it's not like I was going to take ALL their money....
Rex: "MONEY IS USELESS."
MP-X301: "Every dollar in whatever account they gave you."
Rex: "JUST NEED TO BE A GOOD DOGGY."
Bioo: "Just a reasonable "life saving fee", thank you.
Bioo: "I don't rob people blind, you know.
MP-X301: "Moving on." MP heads back into the security room and picks up the grenades and rifles.
Bioo: "And I don't take from those who can't afford it.
Ada: "You just rob them somewhat nearsighted."
Bioo goes back to the security office to give the monitors another look.
MP-X301: "Okay, Ada, Bioo, you two go into the security office and get the uniforms off the guards and put them on." MP pulls out the uniform from the guard upstairs and begins to don it.
Ada: "Gotcha, fearless leader."
Ada heads into the office. "Hey, Bioo. We get to play 'Strip the Guards'."
Bioo: "I'm not wearing those.
Rex: "I'LL WEAR IT."
Bioo: "They're covered in slime.
Ada: "You are, unless you feel like having people shoot at you."
Ada: "Maybe there's a sink around here somewhere."
Bioo: "I don't see how being covered in slime will help us.
Ada: "More like covered in helmet."
Ada goes over, smiles malevolently at the tied-up guard, then proceeds to divest him of his outer clothing.
Bioo: "And you don't think they'll notice the green goo?
Ada: "Look, we'll wash it off."
Ada: "Or claim we had a lunch accident."
Ada: After a valiant struggle, the guard gives up his outfit, with only a little whimpering.
Bioo prods the guard with her foot, "do you have a spare uniform somewhere?
Ada heads into one of the vacated cells and washes off what remains of the jello.
Ada then makes sure no one is watching, and dons the uniform over her existing one.
Bioo: "The guard mumbles something incoherent, and vaguely insulting, through his gag.
Ada arrives back in the office wearing the newly-cleaned, though somewhat damp, uniform.
Ada: "All ashore that's going ashore, Bioo."
Bioo glares at the guard.
MP-X301: "Looks good, Ada. Good work. Helmet when you're ready."
Bioo: "For that, I'm taking your shorts.
Bioo does so "they'll go nicely in my collection"
Ada: "OK, I'm leaving the room. Tell me when you're ready to storm the bridge."
Ada averts her eyes from the divesting of boxers.
Bioo: "You take the guard's britches. The details of this operation shall be omitted in the interests of good taste.
MP-X301: "...uh, join me on the elevator, Ada." MP heads over there quickly.
Ada follows MP to the elevator.
Bioo: "What's the plan?
Ada: "The plan is, you put in a uniform and we pretend to be guards."
Bioo: "There isn't enough money in the world to make me put on a dead man's slimy clothes.
Rex: "I'LL WEAR IT."
MP-X301: "...uh, what can we do with Rex?"
Rex: Click. "ENOUGH EXPOSITORY BANTER. IT'S TIME WE FIGHT LIKE MEN. AND LADIES. AND LADIES WHO DRESS LIKE MEN. FOR GILGAMESH...IT'S MORPHING TIME!"
MP-X301: "Why not? Just put it on over your clothes. Or wash it off like Ada did."
MP-X301: "...fine. Take mine and hand me that one." MP peels off the uniform.
Bioo: "Now that, I'll do.
Bioo puts on the uniform (not over her clothes)
MP-X301: MP takes the other uniform and cleans it off in the sink before shaking it out and donning it, including helmet. He returns to the back elevator.
Bioo grumbles under the helmet.
Bioo: "I can never see in these darn things....
MP-X301: "Okay... we can probably get the other helmet from upstairs and cram it onto Rex's head... but how are we going to get him past all those people?"
MP-X301: When everyone is on the elevator, MP presses the button to send them upstairs again.
- whrrrr* *DING!*
Bioo: "And Xenonian style helmets always squish my eyes...
Ada: "Maybe we could say..."
The doors open back into the operating theater...everything looks more or less like you left it before.
Ada: "...that he's a new experimental droid. I mean, we're already going to have a hard enough time with you, MP."
MP-X301: "Go ahead, Ada."
Bioo: "We could just have it wait for us.
MP-X301: "I can just hover behind you and Bioo."
Bioo: "Rex could wait here, then come up if it hears gun fire.
MP-X301: "...I hate to leave Rex behind... if we need him, it's going to be fast. Of course, if we can get past, we can hit the guards from behind while Rex gets 'em from the front. Or vice versa."
Ada: "It's a thought. We distract them enough to clobber them."
Bioo: "Why don't we go up first then, and Rex can come up in a moment?
Ada: "Wait... hmm."
Bioo: "It would be very distracting....
MP-X301: "Then that's what we'll do. We slip past, then Rex comes up and we clobber them."
Ada: "Yes, we pretend to 'help' them defeat Rex, and off them with friendly fire."
As the Party rounds a corner, you find the bloodstain on the floor marking Rex's earlier encounter with the two guards.
The elevator is just down the hall from here.
MP-X301: "Perfect. I like it. Let's do it." MP hovers into the elevator.
Ada heads into the elevator.
MP-X301: MP gets to the back of the elevator.
Bioo tries to move her eyes into a position that isn't Too uncomfortable.
Rex: "I WAIT HERE, THEN?"
Ada: "Just for a bit, Rex. Then come up with the next car and guns blazing."
Rex: "UM, OKAY."
Bioo: "But don't shoot us, OK?
Rex: "I'LL TRY."
MP-X301: "Thank you, Rex."
MP-X301: "Press the button, Ada." MP holds the huge heavy repeating laser behind his back in a quasi-comical fashion.
Ada presses the button. "And with this button we embark on a trip to hell in a handbasket."
MP-X301: "Is the handbasket space-worthy?"
The doors shut...*whrrrrr* *ding!*
The doors open...the bridge you saw before on the security feed now lies before you. To your left and right, a quartet of techs, all dressed in the same full-body black uniforms you've seen thus far, busily play Solitaire and Minesweeper on their consoles while trying to look busy. In front of them is a massive bay window, looking out into the infinite starry void. Off to the left, a single door leads Somewhere Else.