"Humanity can survive, my friends. But it will take effort and it will take sacrifice. But first, we must rebuild the wheel to study these assailants from beyond. Any piece, any fragment of the Deus Pinnae that rears its head will be ours. Yamata 16 can no longer afford to linger in the shadows. If we must, we will take all of Bastion space in our grasps and ravage it until every metal sliver of the Pinnae is revealed... By any means necessary."
Ten days LS Travel outside occupied space sector. Region uncharted.
The Arrays were one of the greatest attributes of space travel invented over the centuries. Great conduits that allowed for interstellar travel, crossing millions of miles of space within hours. It took five days to travel the cosmic highways the Arrays created before they reached the end of the proverbial road. Relying then on warp travel, they had been traveling another five days on their own wind. It was slow, certainly, but effective. Stars streaked by, spatial energy streams in a constant state of flux as the warp cores pushed the ship into the depths of dark space. It was an impossible amount of distance that they had covered. Even then, the direction they had gone was the closest border to dark space.
Uncharted, unknown, and unexplored, the Grand Horizon had been much further than any other vessel. Weeks and weeks beyond the border in its last estimated location, its signals had long disappeared. Only recently appearing on the faintest subspace frequencies, it had taken longer to triangulate the ship's position before they were able to send a crew.
Funded by Genetech, the exploratory vessel had gone dark. Presumed destroyed, the company was eager to get their hands back on the ship.
It would be more apt to call the Grand Horizon a station, however. As their ship came out of warp among the dusty rings of a large, gaseous planetoid within a system of a red star, it began to drift, running on lower pulses of power.
"Searching the quadrant now," the helmsman said, casting a quick series of scans into the solar system. "No ion emissions detected. Cataloguing subspace frequencies... None detected. This sun just had a solar flare, it's probably scramb--wait... No, wait. There it is." He looked up from the console. "Captain, the Grand Horizon is in orbit around the second gas giant."
"Set a course," Captain Alven ordered, reclining back in her seat. She tapped a button on the arm of her chair. "All hands, this is Captain Alven. Prepare for docking, we've found the Grand Horizon."
The ship hummed as its equilibrium shifted. Through the viewing ports, the immense station loomed around the curvature of the gas giant. Once a small, dark speck against the light of the sun beyond the planet, as they neared, the monstrous apparition grew. The Grand Horizon was easily ten times larger than the ship they arrived in, capable of holding a population of a hundred and fifty individuals without concern. Sculpted from fine metals, the behemoth did not retain the shining exterior it had left with. Beaten by particle dust, solar bursts, travel, and...
The Technologies officiate, Warren Estroth, brushed the bangs from his brow and adjusted his glasses. "Well that doesn't look good," he murmured as their ship ran the length of the Grand Horizon. A long gash on the belly exposed the innards of a portion of the ship. "Guess we can say something went wrong here."
"Yes, but what?" Perwint inquired. Black haired with a stern visage, she surveyed the damage with scrutiny. "It doesn't look like an engine compartment or even a power relay."
"You won't know until you get there." Captain Alven sauntered into the preparatory compartment. "The accessible docking bay is on the port side -- opposite of the damage. It looks secure but the power conduits to it are dead." The Captain looked toward Ian. "We'll need you to get us in and try to get the power working if you can, Schlip. Take a plasma cutter and whatever else you need -- you'll need it to get through doors.
"Iradell and Mr. Wolf, you're security. There are several signs of life on the station, but they're faint. The safety of this crew is your first priority. Whatever they came across, we don't want it on here if we can help it. We came here to get a job done. Let's do it and get home to collect our fat paychecks."
They could feel the faint buzz of the repulser systems move their ship into position. On the other side of some thick doors, the ship's umbilical began to stretch out to the Grand Horizon.
"Suit up," Alven said, hearing the clicking of the umbilical and the sound of whirring gears resonate through the chambers. "Perwint and Estroth, get your data drives. Collect any survivors you can." Turning, Alven moved to the other side of the door she came in, looking at the lot of them. "Once the umbilical stretches across and locks, you'll be able to get over without any problems. The suits are just a precaution -- we can't pick up whether or not their life support is still functional. Take care of the doors, Mr. Schlip.
"If anyone's still alive, chances are they're... Let's just say they've been in dark space for far too long. Protect yourselves and each other."
The door shut in front of Alven and, once the umbilical locked and everyone was suited up, the long passageway between ships opened for them to walk through.
It wasn't often that Iradell was able to accept side jobs. But luckily for her, this was one of those times. There was a decent amount of time before the Irad had to make it's next shipment and she took on this mission after hearing that the pay was more than adequate for someone that provided her type of services. Besides, running security for a bunch of rescue personnel sounded like a cakewalk compared to what she usually did.
This was one of the few times that she could openly walk in public with her full armament. Iradell had a selector pistol (with many different firing modes) strapped onto her right thigh, an 11-inch kukri style knife was in it's sheath on her lower back, a soundwave shotgun with optional laser fired slugs was vertically strapped on her back, and a recently acquired .50 caliber magnum revolver styled pistol was on her left thigh. She also wore a lightly armored suit over her robotic body ( like this ) and her synthetic hair was pulled back into a short ponytail that fell just past her shoulders. On the belt that looped around her waist, she carried several other devices such as explosive charges and a couple of grenades.
In addition to this, Iradell had on a special pair of boots that were both magnetic as well as suction based. There were thousands of micro-suction points on the bottom of each boot which would grant her the ability to either stay on the ground in the event of no-gravity situations, or if she so choosed, it was possible for her to walk up most types of surfaces. The amount of sunction points meant that the surface did not have to be perfectly smooth, but there were just some surfaces that they did not work well on.
Once summoned to the briefing room, Iradell entered and walked across to where Warren Estroth was viewing the ship that they were about to board. She nodded in agreement as he said that it didn't look good, though he probably didn't notice as he was staring intently at the ship. She knew right away that there may be some areas that she would have to venture into alone – they just looked too dangerous for most of the boarding party. That Wolf guy might be able to keep up, but if they were to search the damaged areas she might do better on her own.
“That looks more like damage received during combat,” Iradell chimed in, her voice lacking the emotion of someone who was overly concerned. “But very few ships could deliver a blow like that. Perhaps it was an explosion caused from the inside.”
Her words were little more than thoughts and then she continued on, meeting up with the others and following Captain Alven into the preparatory compartment, where they would leave this ship and enter onto the damaged one. Unlike the others, she was not wearing a “space suit” with life support. She didn't need it.
While the Captain was talking, Iradell's eyes wandered over to Ian Schlip. It was an amazing coincidence that they were going to work together. But when the job was posted for someone with his skills and the paycheck was posted, it was no wonder he was on board to assist. It was supposed to be an investigation and body recovery. Hopefully she would just be able to wander with him and talk about normal things as they searched the Grand Horizon. Iradell flashed Ian a smile, raising the arm that had been ripped off up in order to give him a small wave.
Finally, Iradell looked over to the man that she was assigned with. Tau Wolf. It was a pretty large man, quite large in comparison to her, but she was unsure of what kind of work he did or what type of battles he had been through in the past.
“You aren't going to slow me down, are you Wolf?” Iradell asked him in an attempt at humor. She looked across to Ian. “I can move pretty quick when I need to, just ask Ian.”
Iradell gave both men an odd smile and then led the way across the walkway, marching towards the door of the Grand Horizon.
It was nice to get off of Bastion for a job everynow and then and this is one of those times that he had found himself off the station. Being a member of the Black Suns his company sold his skills to the best bidder and the bidder at this point was Genetech who apparently had a missing ship come back onto radar at the end of the universe. So Tau had found himself on the recovery ship with all his gear and even his combat space suit. He didn't use it often seeing how it was usually on Bastion, but it was modified with an interesting helmet that he had customized. For the journey he had checked his gear, and gone over the roster that was provided. The man always liked to go over his associates if he had any so he learned the most that he could about the people he was working with. There were the typical Genetech crew as well as a Hephaesti and an engineer. He had looked up the ship that had reappeared; The Grand Horizon. It had apparently vanished many years ago and had lost all contact with Genetech.
A signal was received and a crew was sent out to recover it. That's where he came in. He was hired as security for a boarding party and he was alright with that. Wearing his Combat suit Tau stood off to the side with his wolf shaped helmet to the side and checking his gear. He made sure his laser pistol was strapped to his thigh and his long knife was magnetized to the spine of the suit. His scythe was held in a pouch on the right side of his suit. While he would have brought his harpoon gun he had replaced it with his new assault rifle that he had loaded different types of ammo onto his belt and had it slung over his back. The hands of the suit had been modified to allow him to utilize his lightning powers and the boots had built in thrusters that allowed him full control in zero gravity. The helmet was shaped like a wolf head, his eyes level with it's eyes the mouth was open baring it's fangs. It sealed around his face and ears keeping his dreads free but letting him breath. The entire suit was black with highlights of silver running along it, making it look deadly in the ready bay.
Slipping the helmet over his face and head, Tau waited and watched as they came up alongside the ship that he got his first glance. It was a massive ship and he was struck with excitement about what he might find. "On the edges of the gash, those are plasma burns," he pointed out through his mask "That can come from an energy blast or an explosion. Whatever happened was violent." Nodding when the captain declared that he was on security with Iradell, he swung his eyes to look over her frame. She was armed just as he was and suited as well, so he figured she worked heavily with combat.
When she addressed him about slowing her down, he chuckled through the external com of the suit."Slow you down? I wouldn't dream of it, I just hope you can keep up with me," he said with a laugh before switching back to internal coms "Let's go see whose alive and what happened." Following Iradell through the umbilical, Tau left his weapons where they were choosing to use his lightning should they come across anything at least until he actually needed to use his armament.
Ian stared out into the blackness of space, the lines of his face creased in thought. The landlord's eyes were unfocused and distant. He stood near one of the few observation styled windows, the low interior lights painted his face with pale light making him seem sickly and significantly older. In normal conditions and lighting Ian already had a pale complexion, with the five days of using the Arrays, the large, interstellar road pavers that made space travel faster, he looked like he had auditioned to be a ghost. Hyperspace sickness seems to be something Ian has picked up in the many years since his last voyage out. Despite the medicine he took, the constant usage of the Arrays steamrolled him.
The sickness had finally gone away two and a half days after their last jump. Ian was so thrilled he celebrated with more than broth, bread, and water. However, his celebration ceased when he remembered that Iradell, the Hephaesti that had come to his home in search of a hired killer named Bregand, was also on board. The event went south in some of the worst ways, including serious wounds that Ian received, and a few dozen interviews with S.L.E.D officers. Ian somehow got away without giving more than some very vague statements that never changed. The two had left on respectful terms though, Ian hoped he would never have to run into her again. Unfortunately for the Pythian, that wasn't the case.
After some time Ian heard the Captain and Perwint, another member of the captain's crew, exchange words on the Grand Horizon being within sight. Ian felt his heart rate increase. They spoke a bit more but Ian wasn't paying attention, his eyes were locked onto the Grand Horizon and the damage to its hull. His ears picked back up the conversation mid-way through Iradell adding info on the possibilities of the cause of the damage. In two with her word was a large man of dark complexion with longhair pulled back. He stood encased in a suit that looked tailored for combat. With a glance over to Iradell(whom had waved when he did) he noticed she too was sporting a more combat oriented look than she had at the Gritaven, his home. They both had weapons of different shapes and sizes on their persons, Iradell more so than the man referred to as "Wolf". Ian did notice that Wolf had the small circular marks on his face that marked him as an enhanced of some sort or another.
Captain Alven explained to him his role, though they had already talked about it once or twice before and offered him any of the tools he'd find useful. Ian nodded his thanks and understanding but said nothing. His nerves were getting the better of him and he didn't want to ruin his no doubt already weak looking exterior. With a shuffling of space suit material Ian made his way into the pile of things he figured he'd need. He took a few minutes to go over everything once more and inspect its condition and if he had spare pieces for just in case. Once he was satisfied with the haul he slipped everything into the Demsension Sack, as his daughter calls it, and hefted it onto his back. The pack was a twin strap bag that held more than its outwardly appearance let on, all the while weighing a third of what it actually should. Ian was thoroughly impressed by the design and the workings of the sack and figured it would be the best thing for him to bring along.
Once the bag was in place he picked up the heavy duty plasma cutter from the table he had left it. The plasma cutter was a large piece of machinery that Ian needed both hands to carry. With all his things in place Ian made his way to the boarding tunnel or umbilical and listened to the last bit of the Captain's words before the door shut leaving the three of them alone in the tunnel with whatever else was on the other side of the door. "Let's see what's behind door number one then." He said as he slipped between Irdaell and Wolf and made his way to the door and went to work.
Ian took a moment and inspected the door, when he was done he hefted the plasma cutter up and engaged the high powered battery to send a current through the chamber of the cutter. The cutter's center chamber held a soup of free electrons and nuclei and when the charge was sent through the chamber and into a focusing lens. The resulting reaction was an intense beam that began to super heat the door and bite into the outer hull. The procedure took about ten minutes before Ian cut off the plasma cutter. "Tag out." He said and stepped to the side and allowed one of the other two first crack at going through the door.
At the end of the umbillical, the intense flare of plasma cut into the outer layers of the door. Metal melted like a bright, neon-orange jelly before it cooled enough to form risen channels that the plasma had pushed aside as it bit into the docking door of the Grand Horizon. In doing so, the door's internal mechanisms were exposed. Tripped by the plasma torch, the inner gears shifted and began to slide apart, exposing the inner halls of the derelict ship.
It wasn't a pretty site. Debris littered the hall. Some metal sheets that formed tiles on the ceiling had fallen, exposing thick coils of the ships internal wiring. Some draped out like black snakes, reaching the floor, while others had been cut. Their frayed ends did not crackle with electricity; no, it was clear that the ship only had the bare minimum of power coursing through it. It wasn't enough to keep the lights on let alone power the ship. From what the group could tell, it only appeared that the life support was functioning, albeit in a minimal capacity.
"Minimal air flow, but oxygen levels are sound," Warren Estroth said as he walked into the ship, naturally letting his defenders Iradell and Wolf go first. "We should be alright without the masks if we need them. It'll save our oxygen tanks."
Perwint flicked off the latches of her transparent bubble of a helmet and let it swing up and over her head, hanging back by her neck. "Thank god. I hate wearing these." Tussling her hair, Perwint moved forward, pushing aside a supply cart with her foot. "This place looks like a bloody mess."
"Thank you for stating the obvious."
Perwint looked down each wing of the halls they came in, then toward a door on a small rise in front of them. Tapping on her holo-tool, a screen illuminated in the air above her arm with a blueprint of the ship's layout. "Three ways. Down the right will lead us toward the back of the ship, toward the engine and the damage. Through that door," she motioned, "will take us up to the next level toward the bridge where we can get the data logs. Left will take us along to the front of the ship; we'll be able to get up to the bridge that way, too, but on a different route. Just looks like a bunch of rooms. I think we'll find some survivors in that area... Any ideas?"
"Majority wins," Warren cut in. "I vote we head to the bridge."
"Really? Majority wins? We have five. And a mission."
"Which requires us to go all over the ship anyways. We can split up, too." Warren looked toward the others. "Make a move. We'll follow the people with the guns, either way."
Iradell led the way through the doors once Ian had opened them, walking ten feet or so into the darkness of the ship before pausing and waiting on the others. Her eyes glowed faintly as they swept down the corridor to her left and then her head turned, repeating the process to the right. Infrared showed nothing. Thermal showed nothing. Night vision was activated but revealed little besides an abandoned ship. Once she was satisfied, she turned back to the others and gave a nod to Tau.
“I do not detect anything,” Iradell stated, then fell silent as Perwint and Warren began to discuss which direction they should take. Iradell glanced over to Ian as the two discussed it, but then it seemed as if they ultimately left it to the people with the guns. She looked to Perwint and Warren. “It is safe to say that I am very familiar with ships – I was originally an AI on board a military cruiser. So to find the cause of this and get an assessment of the damage would be wise. Despite having a map, it may be hard to determine which areas of the ship are safe and which are not. We do not want to have Ian cutting through a door and then all of you getting spaced.”
Iradell moved a few steps down the way towards the right, passing Tau as she did so. She gave him a look and hoped that he was in sort of agreement with her assessment of the situation.
“Also, I think that we should stay together for now. Until we have an idea of what type of damage we are dealing with and more information as to what occurred, splitting up into search teams does not seem like a good idea,” Iradell said, looking back towards Perwint. “We have a mission, but the time it takes for us to get a solid plan together with the information we learn on the bridge will not effect it one way or another. If people are alive, they can survive for another twenty minutes. If they are dead...”
“I volunteer to take point,” she continued, turning her head to look back into the darkness of the ship's corridors. “I will see things more clearly than any of you.”
She'd remained quiet since her arrival at their shared transport. She remained quiet most times, really. This wasn't out of any sort of misanthropy or ill will towards given company, but more out of the fact that she simply had nothing to say. Most times Clynes Delta Five was busy calculating monthly costs of operations, or checking planetary and intersystem extranets for workable income prospects. Everything funded her revenge. If spoken to, she responded in cool, simple sentences. Subject and predicate. Nouns and verbs. She spoke, but she didn't talk.
Some people weren't good at small talk. Clynes was one of those persons.
She took in a man smoking before they'd departed, and that had been in her thoughts had been dwelling on him for the past ten days, eight hours, thirty two minutes and twenty six seconds.
She wished momentarily that she could choose to poison herself in that manner but since her lungs were a set of self-enclosed tubes pushing oxygen through a disembodied brain, it wouldn't be an option. Her breath was memory reflex, a useless heaving of artificial musculature that did nothing except occasionally give her the illusion of being something other than an amalgam of cutting edge plastics and alloys.
Functionally, she was geared up similarly to Iradell, though in the literal sense she wore nothing. Her body was cutting edge in its day, but now was merely respectable in versatility. She could upgrade from the old Izanagi rig that functioned as her body, but its clashing tones of robotic texture with feminine flavor gave her a sense of artificial vanity that she struggled with letting go of. Besides, there were very few minds she would trust such a task to. After all, it would require a complete relinquishing of self control on her part, and thus was not something one wanted to trust to black market cyber-hacks who would just as soon have their own slave droid as they would one less paying customer.
Her weapons were slotted in inconspicuously on her frame in easy to reach places. One automatic rifle, fueled by a pulse cell. Another metal slug-casting pistol loaded with a shave block of depleted uranium, more powerful than the rifle but also more unruly. Somewhere stashed on her person was an electrified knife, and finally the various perks of her cybernetic body rested invisible in their places until she sought to deploy them.
She had tuned out of existence for a moment, taking up the rear of the convoy into the ship. She held no awe for its derelict grandeur. She had lived in a place like this once.
That sentiment triggered synapses and a memory, however quick, flooded in and out of sensory perception. Patoria. Fire. Screams.
Kassarian was dead and her past with him. She wouldn't follow him, not in any sense. When she died, it was simply a matter of wear and tear. Humanity had its sense of memory but she was made of sterner stuff.
"The A.I. is right." She piped up. "Survivors will slow us down. Data logs and intelligence will not. If they're injured, that will slow us down, even more. They've made it this long, they can wait longer, otherwise, law of averages states it's already too late for them anyways."
Iradell was perhaps the only one here she had anything in common with. Not their quasi-artificial nature, per se, but instead their connections to Genetech, however flimsy her own tie was to that particular man. This run was good money, and so she was here. For now.
Tau's vision swept the halls as him and Iradell took point on the little group they had gathered. His masks heads up display hadn't picked up anything unusual in its intial scan of the hallway. Nothing in the air, nothing biological, chemical or anything else for that matter. His helmet was a creation of his own design, able to scan the area quickly and accurately something that he had learned from his days in the Ravens. Find out everything he could about an area and decide whether it was toxic or not. That trick had saved his life many a time and he still used it today. The sensors in the nose of the wolf mask picked up anything abnormal and they eyes had HUDs that brought up any date from the sensors.
Listening to Iradell explain about being well versed in ships, Tau continued to case the hallway making sure it was clear. As she walked past him, Tau looked at her and nodded as he took of his helmet and collapsed it before stowing it in a belt pouch. He liked to make sure all his gear was collapsible which made it easier for storage and carry. It was very similar to his scythe which was just a hard handle with loosely connected silver that hardened and sharpened when electricity passed through it. It was far easier for a single trooper to carry what he would need into combat on his own then worry about a pack or bag.
"Iradell is right, it would be easier to search as a group. Any survivors still alive can hold out a little longer. If there are any survivors that is, they would be secondary to our current objective of getting info and judging the extent of the damage. I'm more curious as to why this ship suddenly reappeared," he said as he followed behind Iradell down the hall towards the engine room. He cast a glance at the other robotic looking female acknowledging her input as well as the engineer that had cut into the ship. It was definitely going to be an interesting ride and Tau cracked his knuckles ready for the fun that was about to happen.
Like Iradell, Ian Schlipp was not unfamiliar with ships, having spent a score or his life on the Icarus cargo vessel made him quite familiar with their systems. It was one of the reasons he had been hired on for this expedition. Most of the vessels that sailed through the star ways used many of the same sorts of systems, rather simple but strong enough to keep out anyone that considered themselves adept at hacking. Ian had assisted in routine inspections of the computer systems as well as his normal work. He found the work he did, both technical and mechanical, as comforting and soothing. Except during explosions that tear the meat from an arm.
Ian watched as Wolf stowed his helmet away and felt a moment of interest at its ability to be collapsed and yet still retain all its usual function when it was returned to its normal shape. With a mental slap he forced the interest away and let his eyes trail down the corridors. There were many doors. SO many possible places for people to be. The unknown fate of the Grand Horizon's inhabitants bothered Ian for more than it's simplest of reasons. The landlord felt a nervous chill slid down his back. With a press of his finger to the underside of his fishbowl like helmet he triggered the disengage function of his suit. Ian's suit was far similar to Perwint's which should come as no surprise as she was the one that gave him the spare from the ship. While much rather wishing he had a stylish and slimming one, like Wolf's(sans the wolf helmet), that offered more protection, he was happy to have one that didn't make him look completely ridiculous.
As the security crew talked among themselves which way they were going to go, Ian took it upon himself to investigate the electronic door panel for the way they had just came. "Ugh." He grunted as his eyes took in the sight of the demolished control panel. Ian wasn't sure why but the scene they had initially walked into unnerved him more than the idea of the expedition did in the first place. He let his eyes scan the gutted sections of the walls and ceiling panels. The thick, black coated wires looked like the mangled intestines of some poor murder victim. The few panels that were around them looked marred and disfigured as if beaten or warped with heat. Though there was little evidence of fire from where he could see, it didn't mean the fire suppression system hadn't taken care of the fire before they got too bad but Ian found that as boarder line childish thinking.
Stowing the thought for his ponder file, Ian rejoined the crew and listened as Wolf agreed with Iradell on getting to the bridge. While he hated to admit it, they had a point. If there were any survivors they would last a bit longer. Ian desperately hoped they were able to find and possibly save some of the missing crew. Even if it was just a few. Even if it was just one. "Alright. Sounds like the majority has it." He said as he adjusted the plasma cutter in his hands. "Lead on. This place gives me the creeps."
"Oh, six," Perwint corrected herself when the Promethean spoke up. She had been quiet the whole trip, an enigmatic presence. Sometimes Perwint forgot she was on the vessel. Even so, Perwint scowled. "Bunch of cold people here. We should've brought more warm bodies. The bridge it is, then. But if we find any survivors, they are coming with us. I don't care what laws of averages say, they're part of this mission, too."
"Unless they've got deep space isolation psychosis," Warren cut in. "Then I'm not dealing with cannibals. Deal with those as we can. Nonlethal, alright? That's what we hired you guys f--"
The sound of grating metal, like one piece was scratching against the other, suddenly radiated from down the halls that led toward the engine room and damage. It puttered off after a few seconds into a warble before disappearing completely, but even at the distance they were, they could hear it. Alarmed, Perwint tucked her hair back into place and pulled her helmet back on. "Synth's right, too. Better stay prepared if there's a hull breech somewhere we aren't expecting."
Letting Iradell lead the way on the most direct route to the bridge, through the door. It led the group up a few flights of stairs. Each level proved to be in the same as the entryway; debris littered the floor, carts were pushed over, cables hung from the ceiling here and there where the tiles were broken. On each level of the stairwell was a sliding door that could be opened to reveal the inside of that level Four levels up, the group would be forced to pause. A mountain of debris stood in their way. Chairs, desks, tables -- the blockade was solid.
"Well that's a good sign," Warren said, giving one table a tug. It didn't budge. "Guess they didn't want someone climbing up this way."
As he finished speaking, behind the group the door on that level parted open. A man, ratty, torn, and clearly malnourished looked between them and his eyes went wide. His eyes were hollow and ringed with dark lines, hair thin. He lifted a weapon, a thermal shotgun, and had it dance between them as he backed away.
"Stay away!" he hissed. "Stay away and don't follow me!"
Iradell was not sure why she had not paid much attention to the Promethean until now, once they were on board the ship. When Clynes spoke up, Iradell looked back to her and made eye contact with the female, much like she had in the club that one day a few months ago. Perhaps it was because she had not looked Clynes in the eyes, or because she was too involved in getting prepared for this mission, but she had not noticed that it was the woman with the red eyes until this moment. Did she recognize her?
It seemed like everyone was in agreement with her. At least, the ones who mattered agreed with her. Iradell looked away from Clynes and towards Perwint, taking a step or two towards the woman as Tau headed off in the direction that they were supposed to be going.
“We will assess the situation if it occurs. Until then, we move,” Iradell said to Perwint, then turned to catch up with Tau. She moved quickly until she was alongside him and then matched his pace, leading the pack side by side with him. “I have a feeling that not everyone here understands what we are doing here,” Iradell said quietly to Tau, glancing back to make sure they were far enough ahead so that others would not hear. “We should keep an eye on Perwint and Warren.” Iradell paused. “And perhaps the red eyed woman.”
She glanced back towards Ian, slowing slightly to see past Tau's massive body.
“Ian though,” Iradell continued, looking back to Tau. “I trust him.”
About when she had finished saying that, they had reached a blockade in the hallway. It was pretty solid, made up of things found around the ship, and with a tug at the desk Warren proclaimed that it was a good thing. Iradell frowned and looked around the blockade, hoping for a weak spot that she could get a hold of in order to make a way through. Before she could though, a nearby door creaked open and a ragged looking man peeked out.
What he said was less important to Iradell than the fact that he was waving a thermal shotgun in their direction. She immediately thought that he did not seem like someone who was glad to see rescuers on board – perhaps he was crazy like Warren had suggested. Iradell moved so that she stood in front of Ian and raised a hand up towards the crazed man, while the other hand moved to the pistol that was holstered on her leg.
“You should calm yourself,” Iradell said calmly, slowly walking towards him and hoping to direct his attention away from the three who were unarmed. “We are here to assist you and any other survivors. Are there others?”
While the rest of the away team debated about their situation Tau had started to head down the hall. Taking a quick look around he didn't notice any red shirts, as a brief chuckled escaped him as he thought back to an 20th century television show about space travel. Coincidentally all the red shirted characters seemed to die and though there was some red on the suits, there was nothing quite as prominent. Tau left them to discuss as he headed down the hall, but was quickly joined by Iradell whispering her concerns to him. "I can definitely keep an eye on people, it's easy to watch people when your the biggest in the room," he said to her as he walked "I'll leave Ian alone. He's actual good for something, the others already paid for my services so I don't care so much."
It was a pretty cold statement but it was the truth and she could take it as she would. Having come up to a rather large blockade, Tau looked at it with a frown on his face. It was too large to take down slowly and the quicker explosive way could end up causing more damage to the ship. The sound of a door opening caught his attention as he turned to look. A haggard man appeared armed with a thermal shotgun and that is where the threat was perceived. Looking him over Tau could see that he was apart of the old crew but he was extremely malnourished. He had a crazy look in his eyes and that thermal shotgun was definitely an attention grabber. The Tesla had no idea where he could have gotten on the ship since it was a science vessel, but they must have had some basic armaments for trouble should they run into anything.
Iradell quickly moved in front of Ian, using her synthetic body as a shield. If it was possible Tau would have used his lightning to fry the servos of the gun, but that would risk hitting some of the people. For now he let Iradell talk as he circled around the right of the group his hands spread slightly at his sides. Tau wondered how he had managed to survive this long especially in a ship that looked like it could be scrap and could barely fly. Prepared to use his lightning, Tau waited and listened as Iradell tried to diffuse the situation while also keeping an eye on the blockade in case anything decided to try and sneak up on them.
Warm bodies, Perwint had said. Her stab at the party's lack of empathy hit home with Ian and the sickly feeling of guilt lined his stomach. He didn't like the idea of being considered cold or uncaring, he was often told he was a bit of a bleeding heart, "...but that was many years ago." He reminded himself as he better positioned his hands on the plasma cutter. Perwint was obviously one of the sole members of the group that was more focused on the survivors than the data. Ian liked that. The data was important but the lives of others would always hold more worth than data to Ian. The group, admittedly mostly Warren, spoke about "Deep Space Isolation Psychosis", something Ian hadn't seen in person but what he has heard about it made his skin crawl.
"I hate not having Archimedes." Ian grumbled as the group began moving again, following the sound of metal against metal. With a note from the book of Perwint, Ian too reengaged the locking mechanism on his helmet and felt the growing familiarity of supplied air. With a glance at the corner of his helmet hud was a small screen that showed him what his suit's cameras saw. Accompanied by the sight was the sound. Ian enlarged the feed and went back to the point of the sound and listened to it a couple more times. There was more to it than just the simple metal-on-metal sound that made his already partially shot nerves to want a bulletproof vest. While he was going over the feed he fell behind and had to jog to catch up.
Ian found the group at a stairwell leading one of two ways. Security Team Alpha, aka Wolf and Iradell, lead them up the stairs at a cautious pace. They navigated through the next few floors in a slow, methodical fashion. Ian surmised this was to make sure that if they did happen to stumble across someone, or something, they could get the drop on it rather than helping them set up an ambush for them. He hoped they wouldn't run into anything hostile. The floors they passed through were in the same state of dilapidation as the first they came in on. Ian's curiosity coxed him into investigation a few of the panels and noticed the same black marks as he did before. He thought it might merit warning but he wasn't sure what to say. It was possible for there to have been a small concentrated fire and the fire suppression system put it out before it spread but then why was there no black marks on the rest of the area.
Ian let his cameras focus on the panels before they moved on to the next floor. While this floor had a similar interior decorator as the last floors, and no doubt the ones ahead, it did lack the black marks the other floors did. "Curious." He muttered to himself. The next few floors seemed to be repeats of the marking-less floor. Ian made note of the floor numbers and marked them on his schematics for the Grand Horizon.
As the party moved along the corridors of the floor Ian noticed Iradell step up toward Wolf and get very close. Either they're whispering about something important or she really likes his suit. He thought as they came to a barricade, cutting them off from the rest of the floor. Ian, stepped forward and inspected the structure along with the others. "This is surprisingly sturdy." He said and peered through the small gaps but couldn't make anything out. "I'd guess that whomev-" He was cut off by the sound of a door opening. The sound of scraping metal took Ian by surprise and in his heightened nervous state, whipped around and had a charge in the plasma cutter as he turned. Before he completed his one-eighty, the front of the Plasma Cutter collided with Iradell's side sending Ian'd jerking back in surprise. With his attempt at a corrective movement Ian sent himself falling back into the barricade. The charge that Ian had sent into the nuclei and electron soup spat out a small beam of plasma that ate away at the floor before dying away.
Sudden embarrassment and humiliation sting at him but what won was gut wrenching fear that he might have just sparked a fire fight and helped get someone killed again.
The wiry man looked like a wild animal, half-broken of mind and body. A pale creature lost in the depths of space for years, it was clear that he was not expecting to see six people, healthy and strong, standing on the other side of that door. Perspiration clung to his brow quickly as he darted the thermal shotgun between them. They'd see that his limbs were shaking; it could have been from being so malnourished or from a tremble caused by seeing them as a group.
He raised the gun, pointing it directly at Iradell's face. Shuffling back, he kept a fair bit of distance between them. "Assist? What do you mean assist?" he snarled. As he backed up to the edge of the entryway where the hall split off. Turning along the wall, he quickly darted his head around it, daring to look away from Iradell and the others to watch his back.
"Are there others?"
Behind the synthetic woman, one of the engineers fumbled and dropped his weapon -- or whatever it was -- to the floor. It hissed into the floor, sending ionized sparks into the air; but it was the noise that was more lethal. The man had been looking away when it happened. He jumped, finger tugging on the trigger, sending a plasmic discharge of heat into the far side of the hallway. It was only because he was looking away that it went wide, but the sound blasted in the hallway in a single, heavy boom. The walls shook and when the man realized what he had done, his skin drained of all color.
"What have you done--" he said, exasperbated. The wall that had been shot had an open, gaping wound that sizzled, its metal lining red-hot around the hole.
"We're from the Company," Perwint said. "Who are you? What is your rank?"
"We--I-I can't stay here. They heard us. They'd have heard us! They'll be coming!" His voice fell sharply to a whisper. "Not now. Not after so long...!"
Warren crinkled his nose, raising the holotool on his arm. He aimed the illuminated panel at the panicking man. "Garret Volsted. He's the cook. Of all the..."
"Quiet!" Garret growled. After a moment of stillness, if they bothered to listen, they'd hear the grinding of metal further down the hallways. Metal on metal, it sounded more like something was being torn than simply pushed aside.
"They're coming." Sweating profusely, the man looked back at the party. "They'll kill you. We have to hide."
And, like a rat, Garret turn and ran away from the sound. If they bothered to follow, they'd see Garret running down the hallway before tapping a maintenance panel. A small, circular opening peeled away in a spiral and the man moved into the crawlspace behind the wall.
Perwint bit the inside of her cheek. "We can let him go if we want. There's obviously others. Shall we say hi?"
Iradell shifted slightly as she was bumped into from behind, Ian clumsily falling to the ground as his plasma cutter shot into the ground, but her balance was surprisingly solid. It would have been like bumping into the wall for Ian and her shifting of weight was more of her reaction than due to him. She didn't have time to look away from Garret even, before fired a shot from his thermal shotgun into the wall of the hallway. It was away from the group, thankfully.
“Wait, stop!” Iradell ordered as Garret began spouting how they would be killed and then turned to run away. As she watched him run, her sensitive ears picked up the sounds that Garret seemed to be afraid of. The man scrambled away, disappearing into some kind of crawlspace, and she watched him disappear. Her eyes shifted side to side as she processed the sound that she was hearing.
“Be quiet,” Iradell snapped at Perwint, turning to extend a hand out to Ian to help him to his feet. If he was embarrassed or anything else, Iradell didn't seem to acknowledge the fact that he had fallen. “I don't care which one of you do it,” she said after Ian was on his feet. “But one of you are going to get me an alternate route to the bridge. I want it now and then start leading us in that direction.”
Iradell reached a hand down to the .50 caliber pistol on her side, shifting it to her left hand. Her eyes glanced briefly towards Tau and she gave him a shake of the head.
“Something big is coming... many somethings,” Iradell said. “As far as I'm concerned, Garret can go crawl off to his death. I am concerned primarily about each of you and together, we are going to make it to that bridge. Only then can I access the AI of this ship and determine exactly what occurred. But whatever is making that sound,” Iradell paused as the sound of tearing metal was heard again. Whatever it was, it was on the other side of the barrier now. “I think it can be safe to assume it is the cause of all of this. Perwint! Do you have a route for us to take?”