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Club Dead

Posted on Tue Dec 3rd, 2019 @ 9:40pm by Client Soto Nabaal & Commanding Officer Mickey Serendipity & Client The Narrator & Pilot Allegra Jennings & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue & Passenger Kol Wescott-Fitzgerald & Comm Tech Wulf Edevane

Mission: The Forgotten Arm
Location: Platinum Ward, Eros Station
Timeline: Eros Incident T-plus 3 hours

The soundproofing on the hatch was A-rated because the moment Mickey popped the pressure seal the bass thump of the music rolled in around the edges. Mickey swore a silent prayer to Patchamama and all her vac suited saints, that if Wulf was trying to salvage the shore leave turned disaster with a visit to the famed clubs of Eros, there would be no hell to pay. He would simply be dead. Perhaps even creatively dead.

He crawled out of the hatch, which was behind a well-stocked bar. The bar was a broken circle of metal and glass, surrounded by a tiered dance floor that rose up two levels to a secondary bar along the top row. VIP territory. Lasers, lights and a holo fog system were still rolling along to a DJ's playlist. A bright computer-generated, impossibly beautiful female figure floated through the air, changing colour in time with the beat of the Japan-twang pop number that was probably doing the rounds of Earth.

((https://youtu.be/ili_HdPj8Ik?t=46))
"Listen, girlfriend, can't you see?
I'm all of the things that you'll never be
I'm cool like the rain and I'm hot like the sun
I'm a neon rainbow and you're no fun"


The floor of the club's dance levels was coated in a scum of spilt drinks, sprinkled here and there with variety of lost shoes and smashed terminals. Two people lay dead on the floor, their heads cocked at angles not survivable to a human being. Crushed in the rush to escape the club.

"Its clear out here," Mickey shouted back into the tunnel. "Though finding the other entrance with a direct line to the docks from here might take a minute. How are we all doing on ammo?"

VIP! Well, thought Wulf for a couple of seconds at least, if you’re gonna screw up there are worse places to come back up out into the world. He followed Mickey up on the ‘all clear’ and seamlessly caught the next stanza of the song in perfect time to the female singer.

“Maybe time, to retreat. You need a diva review. You can see I never miss a beat…” A catch of breath as his head rose up above the bar level and Wulf’s gaze caught the devastation and unexpected crooked-necked dead people. His face fell, but his voice kept going, wavering though the last line into an unhappy silence. “Your makeover's long overdue…”

A moment of stunned brain-reboot later, Wulf vaulted the bar, dropped down onto the sticky floor and began the hunt for an alternate exit.

“Wulf, if you can find the data stack in this place running the music feed, I’d appreciate the silence,” Mickey said, still looking around the club as the flashing lights and holographic finery played merry havoc with sight lines and simple spatial geometries. “Maybe kill the entertainment system system whilst you’re at it.”

Wulf turned won the spot, sneakers squeaking through the filth, and - still singing along - fired off a lazy salute in Mickey's direction. The tech half-ran, half-danced swiftly across the wide open space, taking full advantage of the lights and music, then hopped up the couple of levels in the direction of the DJ's nest. He knew exactly where that was - clearly he'd been here before - but it took him a moment to locate the stack itself.

Crawling from the hatch was a bit more work that Allegra had anticipated, but the view that greeted her lit her eyes as they fell upon the bottles upon bottles of the definitely well stocked bar. The music was a bit distracting, and had her nose wrinkling in obvious distaste as she wondered if anyone would miss a few of the bottles if she tucked them….hell, she didn’t have anywhere to tuck them. Unless she snuck them into Ken’s bag.

Rising, she shook her head at the creepiness of the place. It was surreal in a way; the empty place with the music still thumping away and the holo still in play. Just needed it’s crowd, just needed live people.

"Fun every day, the clouds roll away, try it you'll see, just be more like me!" Wulf muttered in the ensuing silence, the words spoken with a reverence as if it were some secret mantra hooked directly to his fading sanity. Between him and the others, the lights, smoke and holographic lady still happily existed and Wulf watched them a little longer, clinging to the tendrils of previous fun times.

Ca-click.

The sound echoed like a cracked twig in a forest. Form Wulf's right, behind the side of DJ nest, the stubby barrel of a shotgun pointed up at him. The man holding it was dressed in a bright red jumpsuit, the livery of the Vector Red corporation of Mars. His aim was steady, and the eyes under his sandy blonde hair were cold as ice as he kept the muzzle of the weapon aimed right at Wulf's legs. There were two other people behind him, their faces hidden but similarly dressed in the bright red of Mars's premier cargo carrier.

"To your friends down there by the bar!" he shouted in a drawling Mariner Valley accent. "Y'all come on out, or your boy up here's gonna need to do all his pissin' through a tube and a med bay's auto doc! That's if this here deck broom don't just take his legs off."

Wulf froze. His face rapidly paled and statuesque, the tech stared down at his crew for guidance.

Kol immediately withdrew his firearm, the first time he'd done so since meeting the crew of the Albatross. Aiming the weapon in the direction the voice Kol waited for the others to react, from what he could see the martian and his cohort was outnumbered by more than 2-1, They must be desperate he thought. Perhaps They'd stumbled on a situation where the crew's wanton murder wouldn't rub the agent the wrong way.

Allegra shook her head at Wulf’s antics, thankful that he could still have them after all of this, after everything they’d seen and learned. Only once he finally succeeded in turning the music off, and she thought she could breathe a sigh of relief, the telltale sound echoed through the bar, followed by the obviously Martian voice.

“Well, ya know,” Allegra’s own Mariner Valley drawl slipping expertly through her lips as she strolled as nonchalant as she could from behind the bar to get a better view. Just who did this buckoo think he was threatening to shoot the ‘Tross’s com tech? “That ain’t really that smart of an idea.”

Was that….was that a familiar red jumpsuit catching her eye?

"Well, you'll pardon me for sayin' that options aren't exactly falling from on high. And I reckon this here situation we're in gives me a better bargaining position. Fella be right smart in keeping his wits about him in these tryin' times," the speaker with the shotgun said. "Of course if you're wanting to open up a slot in your crew for a new hire, just give the word."

"And if you do that, what's the incentive to stop me and mine from coming up there and fillin' you full of holes?" Mickey responded back.

"...I recognise that belligerent tone of speakin'..." the shotgun moved away from pointing at Wulf's legs, and he held it up by one hand over the edge of the DJ nest. "Serendipity? That you fortifying that bar top for the comin' of Patchamama down there?"

"It is," Mickey sighed as the blonde man in the red jumpsuit slowly raised up, shotgun still raised in one hand. Mickey sighed heavily "Reggie, good to see you."

"Yeah, good to be seen by folks who are the right kinda folks," Reggie said with a grin. He then slapped Wulf on the shoulder. "I didn't mean nothin' by it. Negotiations 'tween crews, ya got it kid?"

Throughout this friendly exchange, Wulf’s eyes had grown wider and wider, his face paler and his shoulders more tense. But that anxious downward slide ended when the XO’s surname was mentioned. Or he’d thought it had. Just as relaxation threatened to calm him, that slap on his shoulder from the shotgun’s owner sent the comtech into a slow slide down the back of the low wall until Wulf sat cross-legged on the floor.

"Everyone easy up," Mickey raised a palm up to gain attention. "Reggie's the XO on the Vector Red gas haulier Zanzibar Ellipse, I know him. Not a half bad gambler."

"Ain't the truth of it," Reggie grinned. His right canine had been replaced by a polished diamond, the sort of thing that could be grown in a lab for a few credits for the sake of vanity. He cocked the shotgun again. "Deck broom ran out of shells a while back. You seen whats wandering around the station? These vomit zombies?"

"Yeah," Mickey sighed. "Where's your captain? He up there with you?"

"Naw," the Martian sighed and shook his head. "Tony got jumped by these thugs running station security. Got the upper hand on one, then these glow eyed freaks came out of a transit pod and...well, I got the rest of my crew up here. Comm's tech and engineer, Mag's and Cohorn. We're as unarmed as a Mormon in a brothel up here."

"I know the feeling," Kai commented, from the back of the group. It seemed to have become her job to keep the back of the group safe. Plus who wanted their medic to be the canary?

The ‘no ammo’ message had slowly sunk into Wulf’s addled brain over the last minute. He rose up swiftly now, intending to give Reggie a hard two-handed shove. Words were blurted out with something between anger and relief. “Bastard! I really thought you were gonna shoot me!”

"That was kinda the idea kid," Reggie said affably. He waved his crew forward from where they were hidden. A combination in contrasts the two other crew members was a tall long-limbed woman and a short, almost child-sized man. The man looked angry, like a pitbull on edge and ready to bite. The woman stayed behind him, one arm crossed over her chest, the other arm buried deep in a pocket. Reggie hopped down a flight to the second level of dance floors and squinted. "Ken? That you back there hold up behind the bar? You still flyin' with this no good card sharp?"

"You know how it is. He still owes me money. Can't have anything happen to him until he's all paid up." Ken joked with Reggie. Oddly though, Ken hadn't flipped the safety back on his rifle, nor had he taken the butt of it away from his shoulder.

"Cap?" the short man said, his Vector Red jumpsuit name tag read Cohorn. He bucked his head back towards Mag's, who was eyeing the others nervously. Reggie clicked his fingers.

"Sign of a good wireman reminds the boss hog of that which is important. You all find an aid kit on your travels? Mag's caught some birdshot from one of the CPM thug's in the back the hand. Could use some skin fixin' or endorphin patch till we get her back to the Zansibar. Ain't no big thing," Reggie said with a shrug. He then caught eye of Kol and his pistol. "That there is a Glock Sandman. UN DRM print locked their law enforcement. You working for the UN governor? Nawh, stance like that I smell farm-raised Earther bacon. Mickey, you are travelling in very mixed company if that charming Martian accent I heard was anything to go by."

"Show me to the hurt crew member," Kai said, stepping forward. She slung the weapon she'd acquired and held up her first aid kit. "I don't have a lot left but I'll do what I can."

"That's alright, wouldn't be the first time I've used my MCRN field manual for something other than a fine pillow, wouldn't want to waste your time with something trivial," Reggie said. Behind him, Cohrorn moved between the 'Tross crew and Mags who just pushed her hidden and presumably wounded hand deeper into her pocket. "My Engineer's had a rough day is all, feel better settling her myself."

“Mick?” Allegra questioned the XO, but really she wasn’t sure if she was being overly cautious considering the whole situation. Who didn’t want a medic tending their wounds?

"Reg, we've gone quite a way back. But your girl there better get her hand out her pocket right quick. The good doc can patch her up and we'll all be on our merry way." Ken said as he stepped closer to the group, and to an angle with Allegra. "But the way you lot are acting makes me nervous."

Kai lowered her first aid kit and prepared to unsling her weapon being careful to not make any movements that were too sudden.

As he killed the entertainment system and the laser show switched off, Wulf looked to the mixed gathering of crews in the general vicinity and swiftly re-evaluated the situation. A nagging, unpleasant thought was in his mind for a millisecond before he spoke it out loud, directed at the tall, silent Mags. "You didn't get bitten by one of those things... did you?" Wulf asked, his voice clearly ringing out in the empty club.

Mag recoiled at Wulf's words and staggered back, face ashen. Her jumpsuit pocket, the one her hand was buried in, had a darkening stain on it. The red of the material had hidden it, but the dark matted stain burned there now like a neon sign. The engineer's eyes darted around, bright with terror. She tried to smile through it, the shakes taking her.

"It was only a scratch," Mag's said, her voice high and terrified. "Like a kittens, you know, it didn't break the skin that much. Right Reg? Right?"

"Yeah, yeah thats right," Reggie said, stepping between Ken and Mag's now as he held up his hands. "All we need is something to help us get her to the ship. 'dorphin patch or skin fix. Then the ships autodoc can pump her full of anti-whatever the fuck is in its dispensers."

"Reggie..." Mickey said slowly, hands out in a calming gesture. "...you've seen what we've seen. You tell me, straight to my face, you think there's something in your sickbay that'll fix what attacked Tony and the CPM?"

Reggie looked back at Mags, her shaking was getting worse. A trickle of dark, tacky blood began to dribble from her nose and over her pale lips.

"It was only a scratch," she said, her head twitching as one of her eyes dilated fully open, the opposite side of her body twitching in time with the flow of blood. Something very wrong was happening within the machinery of Mag's body, some vital neural structure beginning to unravel as Dr Takkaden's so-called 'protomolecule' began to strip Mag's for parts. She seemed to lose interest in the group, the spasmodic twitching beginning to draw her into a slow spin. "It was only a scrat- It was only a scra- It was only a scrat-"

Without warning, Kai lifted her weapon and shot Mags in the chest twice. She then pointed her weapon at Reggie. "It needed to be done," she said, flatly. It would be pretty obvious to those present that her background which she'd not alluded to probably included some sort of military or law enforcement training.

Ken whirled on his heels, the barrel of his rifle shifting up at Kai's center of mass. "Allegra, cover Reggie." Ken ordered sharply in tones drilled into him almost a decade ago. "As for you Doc. You're going to put that rifle on the floor. We don't shoot people unless Captain or XO tell us to."

Her weapon shifted to Ken, "I haven't been hired yet... so you can fuck right off. Or better yet I'll just let the next zombie get you," Kai said, angrily.

Well, she thought, as the sound of the shotgun rang through her ears, that certainly changed the current situation. Allegra also didn't fail to notice the aspect of training in the other woman as she had handled both the situation and the other woman. She did however, listen to Ken, for the moment, and leveled her own gun at the Martian.

That had escalated quickly. But Wulf broke it down to essentially two important things, Vomit Zombies bad. Ken, family. Well, crew, but that kinda amounted to mostly the same thing. So, without much more thought to it than that, the comtech stepped lightly into the mix and placed his hand on Kai's arm. He'd deal with the trauma of this whole episode a bit later, when imminent death hopefully wasn't hiding around every corner.

"Guys, we're gonna need all the ammo to get us all out of here," Wulf said, with the emphasis on the word 'all' as he looked to Ken. "Can we maybe just save it for the zombies? Please?"

“I’m not putting mine down until that asshole does. Take your hand off me,” Kai said, angrily.

Wulf kept his gaze on Ken, considered stepping in between them for the briefest of milliseconds, then opted for staying exactly where he was. "No," he said.

"Wulf." Allegra all but growled out between her clenched teeth. Just the simple one word that was his name. Now wasn't the time for his knight in shining armour routine. Not when they knew next to nothing about the woman, how did they know she was really even a medic?

The tech's backbone straightened, but he didn't let go of Kai's arm.

"I don't think you're getting what's happening here. You put your rifle down, or you lose your ride off this station." Ken explained as he looked at Kai through his sights. "If you shoot me, you die. If you shoot anyone on the crew, you die. If you keep pointing that shotgun at me, we're staying put. Simply put, there's no win for you here except getting with the program."

"Enough."

Soto's pallid face looked out from behind the bar, his gunshot arm resting on the countertop. He looked at Reggie, speaking the unspoken words a captain of a ship might say to save face to another. The Martian in red nodded firmly, and let out a breath. Soto nodded in return, the tension leaking out of the exchange.

"There has been more than enough death today. What had to happen, has happened. Ceremony would not have made the task easier, time would not have made it any less painful. Kai did the right thing," Soto turned his fatherly gaze to her. "But you did it the wrong way. A crew is a family, our ship's a collective being strung out between the small rocks we cling to in the black. Today we have lost many of our family, their loss is painful to all who take flight."

"Ken, lower your weapon. She is still coming with us, as are all who wish to leave this place?" Soto asked with a raised question mark at the end, as Sully brought up the rear. The larger Earther with the loud shirt opened his mouth to speak, to slide in another crass comment about the nature of folksy wisdom. But he had been standing by the door to the mech tunnel, a black void that opened into the dark recesses of Eros history.

The hand, encrusted in black hardened scabs reached out as though the darkness was a pool of inky night. Fingers veined in pulsing, livid blue closed around the Earther's throat. Fingers whittled down to bloody, oozing bone stubs carved into the meat of his neck. Sully didn't scream, couldn't scream, as the vomit zombie pulled him back into the mech tunnel. His gun did go off, illuminating the patchwork collection of deforming people crowding into the tunnel. There were so many they had clogged the egress, their ragged clothing hiding the ethereal glow of their sickness.

First round: there was a mass of arms and legs.
Second round: their mass had moved closer, drawn by blood or the sound of the Glock Sandman going off.
Third and final round: the muzzle flash glinted off of the firefly eyes of the vomit zombies as they looked into the open hatch from the mech tunnels.

Then darkness. Filled with a deep, painfilled moaning...

Soto reached for the hatch, pulling it closed with his one good arm as a half dozen of the infected reached out, their blooded stump tipped arms or glowing fingertips curling around the pressure seal, or jamming into the hinges.

"Find the other exit now!" Soto commanded as he leaned back into pulling on the door. Mickey stepped forward to aid, but Soto's glare spoke volumes. As did the gore covering the captain's fingers. "Mickey...find an exit."

"Let's go, now," Kai said, agreeing with the Captain. There was a look of terror on her face but she kept herself calm. These people were not yet her crew and they were not her family... but she also wasn't stupid. She made a good decision and the mechanic who seemed to be more brawn than brain would need to figure it out. "This way," Kai said, pointing her weapon down a corridor, "I spotted a doorway down here when we first came in."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Howled Wulf.

And there it was. The death throes of that final strand of hope. That they would get out of here, that everything would be okay. That the world around them wasn't going to absolute hell.

Hell was definitely already here.

Petty rivalry and discussions vanished, there was an encroaching suffocating sense that they were absolutely fucked, but all of that paled in comparison as Wulf took in the horror of Soto's position. Sanity frayed.

"No!" Wulf decreed, ignoring Kai, ignoring Soto's own shout, the tech shook his head vehemently and lunged in the direction of the Captain. "No, we're not leaving you."

Mickey intercepted Wulf, an arm across his chest holding him firmly in his place.

"A man gets to choose once in his life, a choice he can make willingly. It will be alright," he said softly, so only Wulf could hear. "Follow Kai and Ken to the door. Get ready to override the locks as soon as we're on the far side."

As Mickey spoke, Wulf’s gaze focused entirely on Soto as if he might somehow manage to convey everything he felt and wanted to say in mere eye contact alone. His body relaxed its tension just a little as the XO’s voice spoke gentle, supportive words, though his pulse was still audible in his own ears. It didn’t feel like it was ever going to be alright again, but Wulf was hardwired to trust the older man, and the fight left him swiftly. He nodded solemnly to Mickey's quiet instruction, bit down on his lip and sucked a deep breath in through his nose.

Anzen'na tabi no ie no chichi,” Wulf said, and then he turned and walked away, wiping his sleeve hurriedly across his eyes as went.

Mickey stepped back after letting Wulf go, and cast a look down to Soto. He was keeping the door closed, but more and more of the infected on the other side were beginning to pull on their side. A timer of inevitable conclusions was rapidly spinning down to zero.

"Like the old poet said 'if life transcends death I will look for our mutual friends there. And if not, then I will there also'," Soto grunted as he yanked back on the door. "I will give her your regards Mickey."

"Damn well better boss," Mickey pulled his revolver from his pocket, checked the chamber and placed it close to Soto. "Four rounds in the chamber."

"Arigatōgozaimashita." Soto said calmly.

"Yeah we both know it's me who needs to thank you," Mickey stood back up. "I'll take care of them. All of them."

And then he left, the main doors out into the corridors of Eros Station soon closing shut on motors that would never work again. But they were not thick enough to muffle the sounds of rage as the mech tunnel hatch was forced open.

One shot.
Two shot.
Three shot.

Silence.


 

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