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"What Is Left Of Us"
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Author Topic: FeL  (Read 1353 times)

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Offline FiorTopic starter

« on: January 01, 2010, 04:23:18 PM »
The chill and silence of empty space cannot be described. Some things can only be experienced. Deep within the expanse, a ship cut through the mystery. As it glided past, it's immense size became evident. Fortes et Liber was the size of a large city. In fact, Fortes et Liber was a large city. It had once been the pride of it's creators. Containing the most complex Artificial Intelligence conceivable, it floated aimlessly through all creation consuming what it wanted and leaving it's droppings on every inhabitable planet it found. It was truly something to behold.

Now, the ship was just the husk of it's former greatness. It left surrounding planets untouched. The only evidence it was more than space debris were some very faint power signatures. That was, until it found one of its missing escape pods. Systems started powering up.  A little device, something like a giant magnetized suction cup, shot out from a docking bay. Once it had a firm grasp on the pod, FeL reeled it in.

The airlock latched shut behind the little pod with a loud "Klu-Chunk!" While equalizing the air and gravity for it's passenger, FeL activated the nearest stasis room. The room contained a dozen stasis pods in 4 rows, with just enough room to walk around them. The lights came on, and all 12 pods opened with a "Woosh!" Theoretically, the occupants would begin to breath and slowly awaken. Unfortunately, the ship's stasis pods weren't designed for long term use. Most of them had malfunctioned during the last hundred years. The occupants had decomposed while "in stasis", essentially passing away in their sleep. This left one single young woman to wake alone in the stasis room.

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2010, 05:13:22 PM »
Siren felt the rush of cool air against her face as her body slowly awakened from stasis. FeL monitored her vitals, kept her muscles from atrophying, spun her through the REM cycle so that she had normal brain functioning during the long sleep-like state, so that she awoke feeling as if a mere night's rest had passed.

She gave a loud yawn. How long had they been in stasis? Her dark eyes opened and she pulled away the nodes connecting her to the pod. She could hear no movement from the other pods, although she knew the stasis room was designed to shut off as one.

That worried her.

And when she glanced into the pod nearest to her, Siren let out a loud scream, her high-pitched voice echoing eerily through the almost-empty ship. The body inside had decomposed thoroughly, only a pile of ash resting at the bottom of the pod. In one corner of her mind, Siren's brain was analytically categorizing the information, processing the fact that they had been in stasis for a very, very long time, if the stasis had failed and the body had decomposed to the point of ashes.

But in the forefront of her mind was the terror of being alone. She straightened her spine, willing herself not to faint, and peeked into the other ten pods. Her breath came faster as she realized she was the only one in the room who had survived.

Was she the only one on the ship?

Offline Starlequin

Re: FeL
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2010, 11:36:09 PM »
Thirty four wake cycles. That's how long Rati had been on this cursed heap, give or take a few hours. And so far, every one had sucked more than the one before it. When that damned grapple slithered out and harpooned his dustwalker, he'd been startled as hell. When it reeled him and sealed him, he'd been slightly terrified (well, just a little). But when it hacked his on-board systems and vocalized (in a very condescending tone of voice, no less) that his 'escape pod' would be inspected, repaired, decon'ed, and decomm'ed, he was pissed. Well and thoroughly pissed. For the first three cycs he tied the shuttle door shut with a rudimentary cable lock and sulked, refusing to allow the ship to finish its spectrum cleansing, but finally the AIs shut down his synth engines and he was forced to abandon the 'walker or suffocate.

For cycs afterward, Rati wandered through corridors of the massive ship, easily getting lost among the rather sparse honeycombs of the docking circles. Every now and then, just for an instant, he'd swear he caught a glimpse of movement ahead, or on his flank. The first few times he gave chase, but the pointlessness quickly became apparent after the fourth failed hunt. There was no sound but his own, no other footsteps, no one else breathing. He stopped at a conveniently placed synth chamber every now and then, restocked his dwindling supply of emergency rations; at least he wouldn't starve on this miserable piece of jersa. More than a few of the passageways were filled with some sort of thick green slime, mottled and dark; these Rati avoided on general principle.

At last, he found a bulkhead marked "Launch Bay" with a door that opened almost halfway and didn't have noxious fumes pouring out of it. Rati poked his head in for a quick look and hope exploded in his chest, just between his kidneys and third lung, at the sight of rows upon rows of short- and mid-range shuttles in seeming pristine condition. He was about to squeeze inside when a high, piercing scream echoed down into the corridor from a patch of nearby vent shafts. For a long moment he looked around, his curiosity piqued...but then, his curiosity had been piquing for cycs, now. With a shrug, he slipped into the launch bay.

Offline FiorTopic starter

Re: FeL
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2010, 01:27:30 AM »
The other pods did, in fact, contain nothing more than dust. It was reminiscent of powdered milk, but even less appealing. FeL gave Siren a moment to calm down before attempting to communicate.

"Good afternoon, Miss Siren. Your vitals appear stable. I trust you had a pleasant rest?" a fairly average male voice said politely via speakers in the ceiling. "I do hate to bother you so soon after reviving, but there is a slight matter that needs tending to. It seems an alien vessel has docked with the ship, and an intruder is now on board."


The ship seemed to be operational. As you wandered, lights, ventilation, and other basic support systems came to life just ahead of your path. After running into a few instances of the slime, it became apparent leaks had burst out throughout the ship. The slime wasn't the only thing in disrepair. Considering it's size and level of abandonment, it was actually in incredible shape, though. A real find.
The launch bay was another story. All the wonderful, perfect ships were just empty shells. It suddenly dawned on him that all the escape bays he had passed, other than the one holding his ship) were empty. This ship wasn't just empty. It had been willfully abandoned. Rati's ship might just be the only way off of FeL, and it was locked down tight.
Then, things got complicated. A masculine, but alien voice began speaking. It seemed to be repeating itself in multiple languages. Eventually it spoke in one that made some sense. It appeared to be saying, "Greetings alien life form. Please hold your position. A peaceful security team has been dispatched to your location."

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2010, 11:27:43 AM »
Rather than calming down, Siren was on the verge of hyperventilating. She wasn't much of a "people" person, but the deadly silence made her feel claustrophobic, even on such a massive ship. The absence of voices or any sign of life made her shudder as she ran around the room, checking and double-checking the pods. She was terrified of leaving the room, scared of what she would find--or not find--beyone the walls of her stasis room.

But before the panic reached full boil, the familiar voice of FeL cut in. She latched onto the AI's words with a sense of desperate, relieved hope, which was quickly squashed as FeL announced her mission. Such as it were.

"Are your sensors rusting, FeL?" Her sharp voice lashed out as she pointed to herself. "I'm a med tech, not an enforcer. Why don't you...."

Her voice trailed off as she recalled the other pods and the lives lost. Maybe FeL HAD tried, without success.

Siren swallowed back a lump of fear and straightened her spine. She saluted the empty room, fisted left hand beating her right shoulder twice in rapid succession. "Aye, Sir." Striding out of the room, Siren walked the hallways, ignoring for now the signs of disuse and disrepair. The "peaceful security team" of one followed the AI's prompts as she moved closer to the alien, trying to stem the rising tide of fear with little success. 

Offline Starlequin

Re: FeL
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2010, 06:52:49 PM »
Rati wandered through the launch bay, inspecting the junked 'pods with a growing sense of disappointment. Every one of them had been cannibalized, or near about, some with great jagged holes in the hull, some stripped and gutted bare. A few were missing the dm cores, some were absent their nav systems, a couple had lost their cup holders. He collapsed to the floor, leaning back against one of the less-incomplete 'pods, banging his head back against the cold metal in frustration. Then he glanced to his right.

Machine shop.

Rati jumped to his feet and dashed toward the door, hope blooming once again as he struggled to part the heavy doors. He managed enough space and squeezed through, and was not a little delighted to find himself in a near-fully stocked and maintained workshop. Tools, parts, mechpiece-programmed synth chambers and conversion arrays, shelves upon shelves of inert matter just waiting to be rezz'ed into useful material.

And then that hope was hope was clubbed over the head and chucked in a sack.

A voice crackled over the intercom, soft and almost friendly. No language Rati was familiar with, but his personal com system was equipped with some decent translation software capable of over 4.5 thousand languages and set to activate at the detection of external speech. The message was less than well-received.

"Aw, you've got to be joking," Rati muttered, rifling through the drawers and cabinets for a weapon, or a tool to use as one. The choices weren't quite what one would consider overwhelming. He snatched a small, pointy magdriver off of a wall hook and moved to the door, positioning himself as tactically as he knew how. Which, as a glorified garbage collector, wasn't much. He peered around the corner, listening for the tromp of boots or the whir of charged plasma rifles, glancing disgustedly at the "weapon" in his hand.

'Honestly, what am I gonna do, ask them to stand still and be magnetized to death a cm at a time?'

He tossed the driver aside, tightened his fists and settled in to wait....

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2010, 01:17:07 PM »
Siren followed FeL's directions as she moved as stealthily as she knew how. It wasn't much. Her footsteps sounded loud to her ears in the deserted hallway, and she wondered wildly if the AI was playing a joke on her.

Did AIs have a sense of humor?

She had never thought to ask, secure in the knowledge that an entire crew of people would be on hand to deal with flying the ship, policing the ship, programming the ship. Basically everything that wasn't her specialization.

Despite trying to ignore the disuse around her, it was hard to miss. Chambers lay open, showing signs of disrepair and a hurried depature. In some rooms, clothes were tossed on the floor. In other rooms, drawers were gaping open, items thrown around in someone's hurry to pack.

The questions grew in Siren's mind. How long had they been in stasis? Why had the stasis state failed in her chamber? Had it failed in other rooms? Why was the ship in disrepair? Who or what had left in such a rush? And who or what was this alien she was confronting?

The word "confronting" jarred something loose in her mind, and Siren gasped as she realized she was walking toward an unknown entity with no weapon in hand. "Idiot!" she muttered out loud.

She paused in one room, noting in one quick glance that no weapons had been left. The best she could come up with was a wooden bat, from the Terran pastime baseball. She gave an experimental swing and almost overbalanced with her awkward hold on the bat.

Grimacing in distaste, Siren moved as directed toward the main launch bay, wondering what she would find.

Offline Starlequin

Re: FeL
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2010, 05:45:36 PM »
It had been almost an hour since the message had come over the comm, and Rati was beginning to wonder if he was being pranked. After standing against the door for nearly 15 minutes, tensed and ready for action, he slipped back into the launch bay and peered around the corners.


Rati slumped against the door for a moment, confusion and relief blended together on his features. It would have been difficult telling which emotion held the majority. After a moment, he shrugged and returned to the machine shop, scanning the equipment logs for parts. There wasn't much here, but he recalled the apparent size of this dead ship before his shuttle was dragged aboard and turned into an artificial idiot's hostage. There had to be other launch bays, other machine shops somewhere; he just had to find them.

There was a small workman's bag lying on a nearby table, heavy grease stains marring the once bright white fabric. Rati grabbed it, stuffed it with a few scattered tools and began to make for the launch bay exit. May as well carry a few tools, he reasoned; one never knew what might come in handy on a deserted (and possibly haunted) starcrawler.

He had just ducked out of the bay when he pressed a hand against the wall to hold his balance and keyed on the vibrations, maybe 40m away and advancing. Loud, clanky, whirring, like someone rolling an oversized bag of busted parts down a medbay hall by hand. And just beneath the oncoming cacophony, the accompanying sense of footsteps...soft...stealthy...the security force!

Rati froze in place for a moment, listening. Jersa, it sounded like an army approaching! He slipped back into the launch bay, struggled vainly against the stuck door before realizing it wasn't going to move any further, and decided to hide back in the machine shop, to make his stand. With his back flat to the wall, tools rattling in the bag draped over his shoulder, Rati prepared for a blaze of glory.

As the platoon reached the launch bay, he called out fiercely:

"I'm armed! I've ion bla-er, cannon! And I'm not afraid to use it...!"

Unfortunately, Rati's personal translator echoed his sentiments in a much more polite tone. But on the bright side, it masked the tremor in his voice quite nicely...

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2010, 09:14:12 AM »
After the deep, dreadful silence of the rest of the ship, the sudden clang and clatter of the launch bay had Siren loosing a squeak of alarm. Luckily for her, her frightened 'meep' was covered by the sound of droids activating.

Had the alien somehow wrested control of the robots for its own use?

Over the sound of the approaching robots, Siren heard the cool, emotionless, and decidedly male voice say that he was armed and dangerous!

Oh... my... goo...

Siren couldn't even speak. Her throat was suddenly dry, and the hands gripping the bat was clammy with sweat. She spun in a quick circle, wondering if she was supposed to defend herself against the droids as well as the alien male that was on the ship!

Her thoughts were in a whirl, and she was frozen in her spot, hovering in the archway of the launch bay, her dark eyes wide with fright. What to do, what to do, whattodowhattodowhattodo....

Offline Starlequin

Re: FeL
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2010, 03:29:12 AM »
The security squadron had apparently stopped just outside the machine shop door, and a shroud of silence settled over the launch bay area. Had his bluff actually worked? Rati slid along the walls as stealthily as he knew how toward the door, gracefully tripping over an empty bucket and sending a tool tray clattering across the room. As he clambered back to his feet, swearing quietly, he spied a small disc of shiny, obscurely purposed metal lying in the nearest corner. He quickly scooped it up, sidled up next to the door and thrust the disc around the corner to use as a mirror.

And saw.


A strange, little pink...thing. With a worryingly big stick.

Rati twisted and turned the makeshift mirror this way and that, seeking out something more...threat-ish. After almost a full minute of staring into the reflection, he poked his head 'round the corner and spotted its source. He kept one eye on the attacker, the other swiveled down on the viewshard, relaxing just an iota as he realized the little creature with the stick was apparently even more apprehensive than he himself. Perhaps a nice, non-threatening introduction would prove the wisest course, after all. After a moment's deliberation, Rati drew himself up to his full 1.7m height and boldly stepped into the launch bay...

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2010, 03:24:20 PM »
Siren had a loud and very threatening clatter, and she almost fainted with terror. Her grip tightened on the bat, her body tensed for an attack or explosion or something. A full minute passed, and it felt like light-years to Siren. She was starting to hyperventilate again, her brown eyes darting around the launch bay, noticing all the dark shadows and unfamiliar equipment and emptiness.

She didn't notice the mirror stuck around the corner peering at her, although if she had noticed it, she probably would've had run away in terror. She was not meant for this duty, she was not an Enforcer, why hadn't FeL woken up another chamber...why why why?

When Siren finally caught movement from the corner of her eye--she had been peering intently at one dark shadow in the corner, wondering if that was the alien crouching underneath the hull of a broken ship--she spun around and gasped involuntarily. In one frightened glance, she caught the tall human-shaped body covered with transculent skin, pulsing with different colors. With the black haze beginning to cover her vision, she couldn't make out the predominant color.

Her last thought before she fainted from terror was, Oh, shit! I'm gonna die!

Offline Starlequin

Re: FeL
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2010, 07:01:09 PM »
Rati opened his mouth to speak, but before uttering a sound the little creature collapsed to the floor. He froze in place, staring in disbelief. Was this some sort of trick? A biological defense mechanism? Not a very effective one in either case, he considered. He stood leaning against the doorway, idly twirling his long, slender tongue around one of his older teeth, casually jerking it free and crunching it in his jaws. A replacement was already beginning to form in the new space.

After several seconds, the small pink thing still hadn't moved. Rati sank into a crouch, moved toward the creature with deliberate caution, and picked up the long stick from its open hands. He'd noted how it was held before its wielder lost consciousness, and gripped the narrow end in a similar fashion. Then, in the eternal spirit of curiosity and exploration, he employed a nigh-galactically known technique designed specifically for such situations as this.

Rati poked it with the stick.

And poked it again. And again.

It quickly became obvious that whatever was wrong with the alien was clearly not going to resolve itself anytime soon. Which was very bad, because at that instant a pair of very large, heavily armed drones in need of serious maintenance exited from a hatch across the launch bay, sensor arrays and LEDs flashing sinisterly. Smoke belched from the chest plate of one, and the other appeared leave a trail of coolant every few meters.

And both were aiming localized singularity generators at Rati and the alien.

"Why do these things keep happening to me?" Rati mumbled, rooted in place with terror and disbelief. The pulse of the cannons broke him from his reverie quickly, however, and with reflexes he wasn't even sure were his he scooped the alien into his arms and rolled out of the way of the first volley. Rati leapt to his feet and ran in zagging lines, dodging around the broke down 'pods and parts, making for the launch bay door, the alien slung haphazard over his shoulder. He dove headlong through the door and landed hard in the corridor, struggled back to his feet and tore off madly down the hall, running on pure instinct. Fortunately, it sounded like the drones were having a spot of trouble manuevering through the corridor, and they lost them quickly enough. Still, Rati reasoned, a ship with two malfunctioning drones could easily have two thousand malfunctioning drones. He slowed, shifted the alien in his arms and fingered the strap across his chest, ensured he still had the toolbag from the machine shop, and settled into a light jog down the corridors....

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2010, 01:35:19 PM »
Siren felt her body slowly come back to itself, with a rhythmic jouncing movement that had her head throbbing. Immediately, she recalled why she had fainted. She had hit the floor pretty hard, if the large goose-egg knot and pounding headache were any indication. And the last thing she remembered was the alien moving toward her. She also felt a dull ache in her right side and wondered what had caused that. Did I fall on my bat?

If her recall of what happened before she fainted was crystal clear, it seemed her grasp of her current situation wasn't quite up to standard. For long moments, as the alien male jogged down the hallway, Siren had her eyes squeezed tight, trying to force the headache into a small corner of her brain so that she could function. Finally, she realized that she could easily get the AI's attention. She had been in stasis for too long to forget something so basic!

"FeL," she said, only the slightest quiver in her voice. "Nearest med bay."

Her eyes finally opened, and she looked up at the humanoid shape that was running with her. She realized, a bit numbly, that she wasn't surprised. It wasn't as if there any other life forms awake on the ship. Who else would be carrying her through the halls?

"Listen, you, put me down." She finally directed her voice to the alien carrying her. And she did as any human would do, she pressed her hand against his chest to get his attention. With a gasp, she felt the less-than-resistant flesh of his body, and the terror that she had held back so admirably during their initial encounter overcame her, and she began to sob and beat against his chest. "Put me down, put me down! Let me go!!!"

Offline Starlequin

Re: FeL
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2010, 09:35:19 PM »
Finally Rati felt safe enough to slow to a stop, ducking into an empty room. He was trying to develop some kind of plan, but the frantic creature thrashing in his arms and pounding against his chest wasn't doing his concentration any favors. Fierce little thing. He wanted to be gentle, to set it down easily, but those punches were getting awfully painful and it was pretty clear the creature was in some extreme emotional distress.

So, he dropped it.

As it landed with a hard *thump*, glaring up at him through bleary, tear-filled eyes, Rati took a step back and took the opportunity to introduce himself.

"Um...Hello. My name is Ratigua dis Cabrinta sor Tibretzi; you can call me Rati. I'm a Merkhalian. I'm sorry for frightening you; are you alright?" He said, the sub-consciously activated tran stealing his words and shifting them into the default language Common, largely a blend of languages most star-faring races were at least passingly familiar with. He desperately hoped it could understand him, and offered its stick back, thinking the little alien would take some comfort in its return.

As he spoke, Rati took a few short steps backward, his hands raised non-threateningly. Of course, he couldn't go very far; it was a very small room, almost a closet, and his back was very nearly up against the wall already. In more ways than one...

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2010, 09:42:32 PM »
She lost her breath in a shocked gasp as she landed on her rear. The painful jarring reverberated through her entire body, causing the headache to bloom once again. Through the throbbing pain, she could hear the calm voice of the alien speaking. She could understand his words just fine, translated as it was in the Common language.

When the alien Rati proferred the bat, Siren snatched it from his fingers. She rose stiffly to her feet with the help of the wooden weapon, watching warily as he backed away from her. His hands were raised in the universal gesture of peace. "I can be better, thanks," she said sarcastically. She didn't have a translator, so the tone of her voice was very clear.

She considered lifting the bat to her shoulders but realized that she was currently using it as a cane to hold herself upright. So she just stood still. "What are you doing here?" she asked suspiciously.

Offline Starlequin

Re: FeL
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2010, 09:32:07 PM »
Rati's tran picked up her words, although her meaning was painfully clear from her tone alone. He lowered his arms to his sides, jammed his hands into loose pockets just above his hips and leaned lazily against the wall as he began to speak.

"Actually, you could say I've been kidnapped. I'm part of a salvage outfit based a few light years from here; I was running a sweep in this sector, and I picked up a wave on the emergency channels. I came to investigate, but scans said there were no life signs detected. I was making another pass when my dustwalker got 'jacked by this psychotic graveship. The automated systems decided my 'walker was a runaway escape pod and hauled me aboard. That was going on forty cycles ago. Now my ship's locked down, and I've been wandering the corridors ever since, looking for a way off. You're the first living thing I've seen since I fell into this mess," Rati said.

It was difficult to read the expressions flashing across the alien's face as it listened to his tale. Rati searched his memory trying to decide what species the little creature was; it looked similar to members of a few old tradeship crews he'd run across since joining Crent's salvage shop. What were they called? Solarans? Homans? Something like that. He decided in passing that this little homan was probably female, as it resembled the traders only in the most fundamental traits.

Wait. Did homans only have two genders? Or were there more?

Hm. He couldn't remember.

Finally, the little creature that was probably a female homan started to speak...

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2010, 10:12:01 PM »
Siren's mouth fell open at the word 'kidnapping' and she listened in a state of numbed shock as the alien explained his predicament to her. In one tiny corner of her mind, she was wondering why she was shocked by this turn of events. It was true, she and he--he? she didn't know and it wasn't very polite to ask--were the only living things on the ship right now.

She closed her mouth and cleared her throat. "Well," she said, not sure what to say to that. Was she supposed to defend FeL? The ship had woken her up to stop this guy for some reason. Maybe he was just making up this story to get on her good side!

The hand holding the bat had been slowly sliding downward duing his tale, but it quickly snapped back up. She gripped the bat tightly in her fists and started to back away. "If you don't mind, I'll check with FeL to corroborate your story. FeL?" she called out, directing her voice to the ship. "Care to help out a bit here?" Her voice was testy as she stared at the alien. She felt he was telling the truth, but she was too uncertain of what she should be doing.

Offline Starlequin

Re: FeL
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2010, 09:17:47 PM »
Rati's eyes bulged a bit on their stalks, disbelief written all over his face. Did the little homan still think he was some kind of threat? All the trouble he'd gone through not even an hour ago to rescue her from those malf'd up drones, and this was his thanks?

He couldn't help but laugh. 'That's gratitude for ya,' he thought wryly. His hands returned to their previous 'not a threat' positions and he slid down the wall, sitting as comfortably as the situation would allow. Rati glanced up at the ceiling as she spoke to the ship and attempted to verify his story. He couldn't help but wonder what sort of response would follow...

Offline angeli

Re: FeL
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2010, 11:21:00 PM »
After several long moments of silence broken only by the sound of the alien moving to a more comfortable position against the wall, Siren turned her suspicious glare from the alien Rati to the ceiling. "Great, just great." Just like the A.I. to leave her suspended with no assistance whatsoever!

She was at a complete loss about what to do now. But she know the stupid bat was getting heavier by the second!

Siren lowered the weapon with a heavy sigh. "Look," she said. "I don't know what's going on. But you haven't killed me yet, so I'm inclined to believe you. But... do you any idea what's going on?"

She slid down to sit Indian-style against another wall. She put the bat in her lap and rubbed her temples. "This hasn't been my best day," she murmured.