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Dumb As A Bullet, Straight As A Rock.

Posted on Wed Dec 11th, 2019 @ 1:06am by Commanding Officer Mickey Serendipity & Pilot Allegra Jennings & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue & Comm Tech Wulf Edevane

Mission: A Shadow On Velvet
Location: Eros Station, Dock Kappa 15
Timeline: Eros Incident T-plus 3.45 hours

Mickey's feet hit the deck of the Albatross's a moment behind the outer door to the ships airlock cycling closed. But even then, with the emergency pressure seal of the dock and the ships armoured hull between them and the Station, it still felt like rice paper against what was brewing within. Cohorn's body, because the Vector Red comm tech was clearly dead from the hang of his head, had been strapped into a jump seat in the airlock. The tech wouldn't need a crash couch for this ride, and having him loose would just mean he might become a fast-moving projectile if they went on a hard burn.

Coming out of the airlock he mentally had to reorientate his map of the ship sideways. Under thrust, the ship acted as a building, with Allegra's piloting nest at the top and Ken's roost in engineer settled right over the rounded bulk of the reactor vessel in the basement. But trapped in the spin gravity of the stations docking gantry, the Tross seemed beached on her side.

So instead of climbing up the crew ladder from the airlock to the Op's deck, he turned left instead. Behind him, the inner door to the airlock sealed acting another barrier between the nightmare and his crew. His crew now. That would take some getting used to.

"Will you just stop that?" Reggie snapped. On the Op's the crew's crash couches had rotated on their gimbles to the new 'down' of station gravity. Which didn't make Reggie's job of trying to strap Dr Takkaden into her couch any less difficult as she disassociated at a reasonable percentage of C. She kept trying to undo the harness or got fingers in the way of buckles. And given the fact she was staring off into a corner of the Op's Deck was all the more eerie for it.

"The famed Hawthorn charm not working for you?" Mickey asked as he walked past.

"Girl's a few ration bars short of an Oatie Bar commercial," the red jumpsuited spacer grumbled.

"She can have some of mine if she calms down. Hey, Doc you have anything to calm her down? Couches' juice injectors can probably sedate her, but I'd rather not risk turning our crazy passenger into a high crazy person," Mickey asked. "Though day we're having that might be preferable. Wulf once everyone's strapped in seat yourself, and get the Tross's eyes and ears online. Ignore the warnings about radiating the docks with the main array, I want to be damn sure we don't have to worry about those blue vomit zombies climbing around out there."

That was unlikely.

Then again so were zombies, and today had been full of them

"I need to check sickbay I don't have anything in my kit," Kai responded. "Can someone show me to it?"

The comms tech looked paler than normal, visibly shaken, but he nodded smartly to Mickey's request and tried not to think about zombie hitchhikers clambering about on the hull. His head snapped around to regard Kai as she asked for directional assistance.

"Don't think we have time," Wulf said, keenly aware of how fast Ken and Allegra could get the Tross underway when it counted. "Any other ideas welcomed though."

Kai walked up to the woman and grabbed her arm, holding the other from touching her, she manipulated the woman's arm and wrist for a moment and then dropped the second arm. The doctor looked relaxed and then Kai grabbed the back of her neck and pushed and the woman was out like a light.

"Uh, okay... Nicely... er... done..." The expression on Wulf's face shifted between being scared and impressed and settled somewhere in between as he stepped back. With wide eyes and flourish of enforced confidence he then indicated the couch he'd chosen for Kai. It wasn't that far from his own. "Take a seat, Kai. Don't worry, I'll make sure you're secured in real tight," he told the medic.

"I'll buckle myself up," she said, moving to the couch indicated and dropping in. "You should probably get yourself settled before they hit the gas."

"Kid, if your folks ever told you to watch out for a woman who'd end your life with a wink and a smile, that there would be it," Reggie commented as he passed Wulf on the way to his own couch.

"Worse ways to go, Duster," the tech replied quickly, but that shadow of a mischievous smile didn't quite reach his eyes.

Wulf frowned and reluctantly nodded towards seated Martian, but he still checked Kai's couch over after he'd made sure Kol was safely directed to one of his own and secure. Only then did the tech strap himself in and start scanning the Albatross' hull. Paranoia and discomfort made him check three times before he reported loudly to Mickey. "All clear!" His voice chimed across the space.

Ken was bouncing around his engineering deck. His first point of order was to push the reactor through it's start up sequence. He didn't like running this initial sequence. When they had bought the 'Tross Ken had discovered that the control software for the reactor was its military software. That means tightly controlled authorised user access control system, several software redundancies and failovers, and currently the most important feature, a high speed start up. This high speed start up means that the reactor only runs the most important magnetic bottle checks and that the drivetrain was connected and open. Ken was grateful that he was the only engineer, he knew that the drivetrain was fully secure and nobody would be fucking around with it.

"Op's Deck to Cockpit and Engineering," Mickey said as he thumbed a wall panel. "You two better tell me we have a sea of green lights on your boards? Are we ready to push off or do I need to get out and push us off the dock?"

"Engineering. All green." Ken reported after a long pause as he strapped into his couch and pulled his consoles up. "Strapped in and secure."

"Music to my ears. Watch your dosimeter Ken," Mickey said as he cast an eye back to the rest of the Op's Deck. Everyone was strapped in, and if they weren't then they'd be a fun psychic problem if Allegra had to do any hard manoeuvring. He stepped over to his crash couch and strapped himself in, the high point harness retracting a little to draw him into the gel padding. Under his fingertips, haptic controls shivered to life, and he began to flick through his own abbreviated pre-flight checklist.

Which is when the error light on the docking collar began to blink. He was about to reach for his buckle when the comm began to chime insistently. Bypassing Wulf, he flicked the accept button. The grainy low res image was looking up at the roof of the docking bay, which only took up a fraction of the screen. Most of it was filled with the gaunt, hungry features of a CPM goon with a Southern Cross tattoo creeping up his neck.

"Hey there inyalowda, you not goin' nowhere to pochuye ke?" the gangster snarled, his voice tinny and scraped down to the bare minimum. Docking collar intercom then, the sort of thing a dock worker would use if there was a malf with a ships docking umbilical. "All beratna be out here, need a ride out ka? Got you locked down, Inner. Open up, or we's blow our way in. We can be a nice fair eh?"

"Interesting proposal," Mickey nodded thoughtfully. Because these guys would totally let them all live, a trustworthy bunch that they are. His finger's worked over the haptic controls again, opening menus locked away from the rest of the crew behind a mix of UNN firmware based fire control software and some that fell of the space elevator on the way up to orbit. Mechanical noises chittered and hummed within the Albatross. He stroked his thumb over the pad, accessing the manual targeting controls. A new screen appeared, a high definition camera image that rolled back and over until it was looking along the spine of the ship, a cross-hair resting just over the top of the docking collar where the ship's umbilical met Eros Station.

"Here's my counter offer," Mickey said as he depressed the fire key. A shrill buzz filled the air for a half-second, and the grainy dock intercom line fizzled out in static. On the gun camera feed, the ventral Point Defence Cannon finished it's a second long discharge of Teflon coated titanium. The docking collar was shattered, as was the mating connector attached to the tip of the Tross's umbilical. Flickers of gas began to dance around the station's docking collar, followed a moment later by a sudden plume of gases, debris, and bodies. The Tross rolled slightly as the outburst of the atmosphere from Eros Station's ruined dock gave them a weak shove. This was followed by a sudden, lurching falling sensation as the stations spin gravity released the ship.

And they were away.

"Allegra, take it away," Mickey shouted.

She didn’t have to report back that things were all green on her end, and she didn’t have to be told twice.

And with that, the SS Albatross lit up her main drive and sang to the cosmos. The comet tail the ships drive plume slagged most of the dock, the superheated plasma of the drive vaporising the metal struts. What was left was a glowing wound slowly fading to black under the pitiless stars, as a bright dot arced across the heavens.

On the other side of Eros, a similar escape took place. Both ships were quick to be away from Eros, having seen what grew now within its walls.

One would meet with destiny, whilst the other would meet with fate.

 

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