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Mickey/Wulf/Flo/Jammer: The Spoils

Posted on Thu Feb 17th, 2022 @ 1:23am by Commanding Officer Mickey Serendipity & Medical Officer Florian McLennan & Ships Engineer Delphi Jammer & Comm Tech Wulf Edevane

Mission: A Knife In The Darkness
Location: SS Albatross
Timeline: Just after Patchamama's Misguided Children

Mickey's eyes took long moments to blink away the glare. There had been trembling, the sort of thing no spacer wants to feel, and then the bright arc welder glare of a drive plume far too close for comfort. He didn't hear the suits rad alarm going off, which either meant he was okay or cooked enough the suit didn't want to worry him.

He looked up, taking a moment to swallow bile as he took in the view out of the airlock. The stars were spinning, cartwheeling around. A moment later his inner ear got the message, he was spinning with the ship. He turned around, thumping one foot down and then the other to keep his balance.


The corridor behind him that led to the mess hall and med bay was pockmarked with holes, like a kid with a cookie-cutter had gone mad. The edges of the holes still glowed from transferred heat, the molten leavings having collected and pooled in corners. PDC fire had raked the Tross at close range, a couple of thousand rounds like rain through fog.

"Report. Now!" Mickey growled, looking around at the mad jumble of crates and broken panels.

Flo had half-cowered at the back corner, closer towards the corridor. Something had happened - he didn't know what. Opening his eyes, he found himself leaning against the wall, one leg attempting to prop himself up despite the weightlessness, the other having gone completely weak and now searing with pain.

His helmet HUD flashed red from an alarm at the corner of his field of vision. A small bleeping sound came to his ears. His suit was venting air - incredibly small amounts of it - and its computer quickly determined it to be coming from somewhere near his right thigh. The one that had become heavy and limp.

Something must've hit his leg. Flo didn't know it yet, but a near-microscopic piece of debris had somehow shot through the room during the chaos, pierced his suit and landed right into his vastus lateralis.

There was a few seconds' pause before the kid's response bossman's demand for a report came through as a howl of agony

Delphi groaned as the call to report drifted in and out of her awareness. Her head throbbed, ears rang and more than one thing hurt. Something kept clanging against her vac suit helmet, doing a better job at rousing the Belter from her unconsciousness than the Captain's voice over the static filled comm channel was. She opened her eyes and the flashing red of the emergency lights made her clamp them shut again as a wave of pain and nausea surged through her head.

"Na xow(1)" she hissed as she blindly reached out, fumbling to grab onto something solid with her gauntleted hands. She was on the float and needed to steady herself, taking deep breaths as her fingers caught onto something cold and solid and she pulled herself to it. The mechanic slowly opened her eyes, her vision blurry and something seemed to obscure some of the upper portion of her helmet's faceplate.

"Na du xow" she muttered and breathed deep, her eyes coming slowly to focus. The engine room was a mess, what little she could see of it. She was hanging onto one of the support beams and had luckily not grabbed onto the jaggedly sliced through section of it that would have opened her vac suit with ease. Delphi bright her wrist mounted suit controls up to her faceplate and examined the status readouts. Amazingly she seemed to have no leaks or punctures, that was a miracle, though she had not come through it without injuries. Deep breaths were met with a sharp pain that made her gasp and almost cry out and the obstruction to her view was a notable scrape mark and blood splashed from a face first impact with something hard and solid.

She winced as she turned her suit lights about the compartment, trying to take a quick assessment of the engine rooms condition and figure out exactly where in the space she was and pulling herself over to the main control station. There was wreckage everywhere.

Pashang sabaka nakangepensa kaka felota!(2)" she growled rather loudly, forgetting she was on an open comm with the entire ship, then sucked in a breath as she saw the green light on her helmet pickup and the Captain's voice to report in all fell into place in her pain addled head.

"Ya mi xiya(3)... Here" she forced herself to translate back into regular English. "Engine room is mess. Take me time figure out how bad, bossmang" she said and started pulling up damage reports starting with the reactor bottle and Epstein drive.

"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast," Mickey grunted as he judged the tumble of the airlock corridor and made a leap across to the other side. He'd aimed for a wall, but the tumble had put him closer to the deck than not. "Looks like we're open to space, at least from what I can see from the mid deck. Spins not getting worse, so at least we're not venting anything."

Not to mention if the reactor had been powered up and taken a shot through the magnets, well they'd be having this conversation somewhere much further away.

"Wulf, need you to get a link into the 'Tross's network see if we have computers or not," Mickey scrambled along the deck until he was by Flo. "Hey, there kid."

He touched a gloved to Flo's suit, and then pulled it back. The near field connection went through, and a mirror of Flo's biomonitor. He flicked his eyes down to the thigh, where a patch of his suit had turned a bright shade of pink as the pressure loss triggered the pigment markers in the fabric to highlight the breach.

"Okay Flo you're gonna feel a little better in a sec," Mickey said as he eye blinked through some menus. A small needle in the wrist of Flo's suit stabbed into his wrist, releasing a measured payload of morphax: a combination painkiller and endorphin booster. "Steady breaths for me now okay?"

The kid winced, but nodded rather vigorously, as if doing so would help with the pain. The morphax was rapid enough and began to kick into his system, though the pain remained sharp. "Thanks," he managed to say, unsure if bossman heard it.

Mickey looked over his shoulder. "Wulf, update on that link?"

Blinking tears from his eyes, Wulf stared at the random video he'd reached by accidental virtue of his suit's accomodating software. A bright, shiny happy J-Pop track with an extra-pink Hello Kitty vibe, super heavy on the eye makeup and school uniforms. That brought a grateful chuckle from out of the pick-n-mix emotional state his brain was wandering through and pushed Wulf to take stock of the physical.

Somehow he'd jammed himself behind the main access ladder, body and left-side limbs 'protected' by that solid structure. Seemed to have brought him luck and what felt like probably only a minor concussion - no real physical damage and his suit was intact. He even still held that weapon Mickey had given him what felt like hours ago.

Mickey. Yeah - Mickey was talking at him. Wulf readjusted himself, dragged his butt out from behind those metal steps, stomped boots to the decking and amidst the sounds of female voices and adrenaline pumping in his ears, found his voice.

"On it, Mickey," the tech said, the captain's instruction leading him out of the emotional mire and filling that void of fear with renewed purpose. "Gotta link," Wulf confirmed a millisecond later. He screwed up his features as multiple pop-ups and error messages flooded his view and added with extreme understatement. "Some issues, but we're still up and running." Dark eyes sought Mickey's and held. "Whatcha need me to do first?"

"Go to the drive control screen. The first thing you do is safe the Epstein, the last thing we need is a repair rebooting it whilst we've got this spin. Then go to the orientation control menu, should be an option labelled 'Zero Rot'. Once you've done that and we've got this tumble under control get a spare suit and get to the med bay," Mickey instructed. He then chin clicked his feed to another channel. "Jammer need you to get to the med bay and patch up any leaks we have in there. Need it to hold air for at least ten minutes, longer is better."

"Aye-firmative!" Wulf closed one eye and pushed back the headache that was screaming at him from just behind his eyes. He'd deal with that later, it was nothing he hadn't dealt with a hundred times before and if anything the nagging pain was keeping him more alert and focused. While Zee handled the clean-up of the scattered software process, Wulf did as he was told. Drive Control Screen. Yup, there it was...

Delphi heard the call to get up to Medical crackle over her helmet speaker and frowned. She was still neck deep in system diagnostics and making sure the engine room was whole. "Gótefodam xelep" she cursed, then flicked her comm on and replied to Mickey. "Got it bossmang, Mi on da way" she said and set the diagnostics to automatic, feeding them to her helmet head up display.

She made sure she had her tools, patch kit and extra patching supplies stuffed into whatever pockets, pouches and webbing she could stow things in and started her way up from the engine room. She had no idea how bad off medical was and prepared for the worst. As she started her way up the keel elevator shaft, she pulled up the ships life support system on her currently wrist mounted hand terminal and started checking the ventilation and life support systems that fed into the med bay.

"Hey, Flo you there, buddy?" Mickey said, toggling back to the main channel. As he'd been talking he'd wrapped a pressure seal around Flo's thigh, capping the breach in the suit. But with it needing to hold all of Flo's air in, it was pressing down harder on the shrapnel. Hopefully, the painkillers were doing their job. "Hell of an education you're getting out here on the ragged edge with us eh?"

"Agh!" the boy yelped, his gloved hands grasping his thigh. He bent down and bit his lower lip, shutting his eyes tight as he waited for the stinging pain to dissipate again. He tried to chuckle at Mickey's suggestion. "Yeah, yeah... Really, I was hoping all I'd have to do is just cook for the lot of you..."

Humming a tune to himself while he worked through his tasks, Wulf couldn't help wondering how Ken and Emma were faring in this great ship-breaking lottery. The comms were quiet and his multi-tasking ability was already stretched, but he sent out a basic message via the Tross network and hoped they were within enough range that it reached them at some point. He could only imagine how pissed/upset/furious Ken would be at this point and that lit a fire in Wulf's heart. They could save her. He could help do it.

"Mickey," Wulf noted with a steady professional air to his voice that signalled the tech was in the zone."Epstein - check. Zero Rot - check. I'm headed to med-bay." He didn't have to ask who was injured and he tried his very best not to roll his eyes at the freeloader. With all this attention taken up by their stowaway chef, what was happening out there with their aggressors? "We're gonna be okay," the comm tech stated, for his own benefit more than anyone else's.

"Copy that," Mickey said, holding Flo in place as the Tross's attitude jets began to slow and cancel out the spin on her. He noted it took longer than normal, with the port thruster array having to burn much longer to get the job done: longer burn meant fewer thrusters in use. As soon as they were back on the float, he bundled Flo up and began to push and nudge him towards the medbay. As he did that he quickly dived into the executive menus on the Tross's shattered data net.

After a glance at the biomonitor functions, he locked out that screen, passwording against casual observance.

"Wulf, Jammer chime in," Mickey said. "Now is not a time to go silent."

Down in medbay, spare suit in hand, Wulf saw his own personal notification blink up on his screen - >>>>Function override engaged>>>> - before he heard Mickey's request for info. It delayed the tech's response for a couple of seconds, curiosity forcing him to seek out the trail. Biomonitor screen was down. Just like the comms to the cockpit. Wulf switched to a hastily rustled up private channel with the Tross's captain. "Still alive," Wulf stated. "Just got here. Gonna start patching up medbay. Headed to check the cockpit feed next, boss?" It was a question. Kinda. "Any word from Ken and Emma? Any sign of boarders?"

"No sign of boarders," Mickey said on the private channel. "And you'd know if there had been word, comm specialist that you are. And I need you to lock out the controls from the cockpit. We don't want errant data ghosts from shorting equipment up there interfering with repairs and control down here."

There was only the sound of Wulf's breathing for a few seconds, then the tech internally rallied his emotions yet again. He'd kinda hoped for a miracle, that Mickey might somehow have overcome all of physics and reality and found a way to know that their friends were okay. He reminded himself sternly and silently, repeating the words to imprint them firmly. No word didn't mean no hope. "I'm on it, Mickey," the Titan hacker confirmed, and Wulf pushed himself back into that to-do list.

"Ya, Mi here" Delphi replied over the comm. "Almost to da med bay. Keel elevator all pashang above engine room, took time get past" she said as she pulled herself through a hatchway and into the medical bay. Her suit lights played across the compartment as she started searching for holes. She spotted Wulf and gave him a belter nod hand gesture before focusing her attention on the first hole she spotted.

Smiling involuntarily as he saw Jammer hove into sight, Wulf enthusiastically returned her Belter gesture of greeting, then without further communication, turned back to his own set of Swiss Cheese: Albatross Edition. They needed to get this done. He had other chores to do.

Floating to the damage with the grace of someone who spent nearly their entire life on the float, Delphi grabbed a patch of an appropriate size and held it to the small puncture in the wall with one gauntletted hand as she grabbed the patch kit glue gun with the other and started applying the sealant epoxy around the patch to glue it in place.

Flo had slowly climbed onto one of the medical bay's recliners, seemingly falling onto it in a heap despite the low gravity. He hated how useless he'd become, or perhaps he'd always been useless, at least to the men and women on board this ship. He'd have to remind himself to raise the quality of his food service, though he was sure none of the crew had even the slightest thought on how their next meal might taste.

"I'll just... doctor myself up here..." he said.

"Ah huh," Mickey said as he prodded the Auto Doc out of its slumber. "Hard to do in a vacuum, but we're working on patching up the holes and making this place at least airtight. We'll then flood it with nitrogen from the emergency pack, hook your suit up to ships life support and up the pressure slightly. That way we can remove that leg of your suit and get to work without having to worry about getting you fully out of it."

There was a little moment of silence, which Mickey dutifully filled.

"Okay Flo, tell us a bit about Mars. You originally from there, or did you just get caught in the gravity well?"

The boy looked at bossman curiously, briefly raising an eyebrow. Perhaps it was the man's attempt at distracting him from the pain, which was indeed starting to subside. Well, the smalltalk seemed to be working. He'd never recalled having ever introduced himself as Martian, so Mickey's suggestion confused him somewhat.

"Umm, no," he said. "I'm Earther. But I've been 'round Mars a little. Just a little. I reckon I know the Belt better than Mars." His voice trailed off, Mickey's initial question now having brought his mind on a flashback tour of the past three years. He didn't feel anymore welcome back on Earth than he did with Mars or the Belt. Just a young man having spent those years aimless and without any place to really call home. He wondered if the Tross would end up being the same kind of story for him.

It felt dangerous, but it wouldn't hurt to ask, right? So he went for it: "And... what 'bout you, Boss?"

"I came from someplace I can't go back to," Mickey said. He tapped at the screen, as the AutoDoc began to interrogate the suits biomonitor. "It's still there but, I got a lot of miles to go get out from under the shadow of who I was before I was Mickey Serendipity. Pretty sure the folks there wouldn't take kindly to seeing me again."

Some place he can't go back to, Flo thought silently to himself. Which was exactly the situation he had found himself in, for the last several months. Heck, probably for the past year, maybe even longer. Yes, there were people after him, but he had a feeling that Bossman had even scarier hunters on his tail. He wanted to ask, but it was probably best to leave such information alone.

With the patches in place, and partial pressure restored, the suit's leg was pulled away to reveal the bloodied flesh beneath. Blood pooled and wobbled in zero-gee, growing and contracting as if truly more alive than single-celled organisms.

"Okay," Mickey pulled a small vacuum from the side of the AutoDoc and began to police the blood out of the air. "So according to the AutoDoc you've got muscle damage but no arteries leaking which is good."

Flo felt an acute sense of nausea and urge to just chunder away when he saw his own blood floating about. not only that, but how bits had become stringy with clot. Gosh, it was disgusting. Even worse was the wound - albeit not a big one - the dark red substance came out of. He turned his head to look away.

"Okay," the boy muttered, trusting what Mickey was telling him. "Yeah, that sounds... good. Not bleeding out is good."

With Mickey and Flo taking up time and space in the mostly-air-secured Medbay, Wulf had shifted his attention to Ops and that pesky unresponsive cockpit. Well, technically not entirely unresponsive, but he was working on that. Zee explored the haunted software mansion that the Tross' network was threatening to become, ghostbusting within the date while Wulf guided her meticulously through each leaping new attempt. It took time, like patching the holes in the ship, it took care and attention to detail and a really serious soundtrack crafted over twenty-seven years of collecting music from every person and place Wulf had ever been, traded with or virtually wandered into.

"We should go up there," he said to the comm channel in general from his floating place at the ladder below the hatch that had once housed Allegra and now possibly still Aisling. He nudged his boot about the ladder rail to secure his position. He paused for a second or two to fully realise what he was considering. And then Wulf offered an invite to the only other person who might really care. "Delphi?"

"Wulf, I'm not going to tell you not to go up there. You're not a kid," Mickey voice drifted over the com from the med bay. "But we have problems of our own down here. Ain't no problems up there we can't fix without breaking what little peace remains."

There was some muffled general cursing that could have been directed at the ongoing data cleanse or the Tross' captain, then Wulf offered up a clean response. "Cockpit controls locked out, Captain," he said, his gaze locked on that sealed hatch above his head. It wasn't good. It wasn't right. But he wanted to know. "What's your next priority, boss?" The tech asked, the unhappiness in his tone carrying like a colour.

"Double check the life support set up. Delphi's got the reactor to nurse back to health. She'll get us power, I need to know the water tanks aren't vented so we can electrolyse it into hydrogen and oxygen," Mickey said. He had plucked the shrapnel from Flo's leg, using a handheld laser to cauterise the few leaking veins that dribbled into the void. Under gravity he'd have glued the wound and patched it, let Flo's body do the work. But on the float blood could pool and turn septic in a hurry. "Hydrogen and oxygen can make a lot of things happen if we're lucky."

Wulf listened, took this all in and tried to focus as Mickey suggested. It wasn't easy, but then he hadn't been around quite as much death as the rest of them seemed to have endured. He already knew the answer to one of those questions at least. "Water's still with us, Mickey," the tech confirmed, but the words were still spoken through gritted teeth and with a unilaterally directed bad mood. "Or at least the sensors report it is. I'll go check."

"Wulf, it's okay to feel anger. Its natural. But put that anger into the work of keeping other's alive. Dead will keep, they aren't in a rush. Life support. I'll have Flo ready to go back to vacuum in a few minutes so I can help out where needed," Mickey said over the channel. He then pressed his helmet to Flo's and turned off his mic, allowing conduction to serve as a link between the two. "I have a feeling you might know a thing or two about loss. Could be Wulf needs your help later on about that."

Delphi had all the holes in the med bay inner hull patched, checked and double checked by now as she listened to the back and forth between the Captain and Wulf. She frowned at the kid's emotional response. They were in a bad place right now, the ship roughed up and damaged, but things could have been a *lot* worse than they were, hell she had been through worse recently when the rockhopper had been cored.

"Mi get da reactor start back up" she said to the Captain as she scrolled through the results of the diagnostic she had running while patching the med bay. "So far all look..." she chewed on her lip as she read over the last few lines, then did a triple check on several VERY key sub systems.

"Ya, milowda gutegow(4). Mi start da reactor power up" she said as she tapped commands into her hand terminal to remotely trigger the reactor's warm up sequence.

The reactors user interface glimmered with green telltale's. Superconductive magnets began to cycle up to full power, creating a space within the fusion bottle to contain the hellish reaction that was about to happen. If there had been atmosphere in the reactor bay the sound of the power-up cycle would have been akin to the beating heart of a beast, slowly racing towards wakefulness. The injector delivered a fuel pelt into the reaction chamber, a small particle of helium-3, and the moment it fell into the magnetic bottle high powered lasers pulsed.

The small particle of helium-3 underwent fusion, releasing the power of a small star in searing pulse 0f hard radiation the ship's reactor could use.

Sparks jetted from a torn comm panel on one wall, but other than that lights on the Tross flickered from their dull blue emergency setting back to normal soft white.

Delphi breathed a sigh of relief as the lights flickered over to standard and the readout on her handheld terminal showed the ships power levels returning to normal as the main reactor came back up. The restoration of power helped her push back the painful throbbing in her head and she took several more deep breathes as she tapped some commands, starting to rout main power back to essential systems.

"Bossmang, main power bek on" she announced to Mickey. "Mi still na ready to light da drive up until Mi get good look at im again" she added.

Caught up in a miserable, frustrated internal dialogue, Wulf couldn't help wondering how they all stayed so fucking calm. While he and Mickey had escaped unscathed, Flo could have lost a leg, and for all they currently knew, Ken and Emma were in serious danger or at least some kinda battlefield. He'd seen death - most recently and in way more volume than he'd ever considered before, on Eros - but death was not that familiarly dark shadow that dogged his shipmates. Wulf had never killed anyone, by accident or intention, but he understood what family was. Found family. Albatross family. He didn't understand why Delphi didn't want to do something. And yet he did - like Mickey said - they had to protect the living. Leaving Aisling up there still felt wrong, but he moved his arse quietly from A to B and went to check on the integrity of the water tanks.

"Needs some work, Mickey," Wulf reported with a distinct lack of brightness. "Gonna need your help getting LS back up and running when you're ready."

"Copy that," Mickey said. He sealed up Flo's suit, after giving the leg wound another look over. The wound sealant should keep it closed and infection-free, but a zero-gee wound was always a complicated problem at the best of times. "Okay Flo, you ready to get to work?"

"Oso, bossmang, Mi wanya look up in da flight deck, make sure da main control lines na cut or interfere wit flight systems" she said and glanced at Wulf, her suit lights shining at his suited form for a moment. She knew he wanted to get up there and she wanted to check on her friend as well. Things had been too quiet from up there for too long and she needed to make sure her friend was okay.

"Negative," Mickey said with a sigh. "Get to Wulf and work on the life support system. We're not tumbling, we're just on the float. But you're right, those lines will cause trouble if they fire up. I'll do it."

An alert popped up on his suit's HUD, a note from the tactical computer that the enemy ship's reactor had just dumped core and was on the drift.

"Looks like our two soldiers won the day," Mickey said, not alighting on the idea that Ken and Emma had gone down swinging and forced the emergency venting. "I'll meet you at LS, and take the mech kit up to the bow to begin cutting the data feeds directly."

If Ken and Emma hadn't won, and had in fact just bought them time, there was no chance the Tross could run fast enough to outpace a torpedo or a hail of PDC fire. Better to give people something to work on with a future, than time to ponder the end.

(1) Don't barf
(2) expletive expletive expletive expletive
(3) yeah I'm here
(4) Yes, we're ready


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