Post Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:48 pm

Beyond Space Spiders -- Episode #1 -- Start Me Up

<font style="font-size: 20pt">Voyages of the Solomon Grundy<BR>
<font style="font-size: 18pt">Beyond Bugs, the Second Quest<BR>
<font style="font-size: 16pt">Episode #1 – Start me up

<font style="font-size: 14pt">

It seemed like years since you last fought brain-eating zombie-creating acid-spitting space spiders, when in fact it had only been about fifteen minutes. Of course, just saying ‘brain-eating-zombie-creating-acid-spitting-space-spider’ three times could lead to at least three kinds of memory lapse and mental breakdown… So--it just SEEMED like years--for Blaster and RTFM--seconds seemed like years because that’s how much air they had left (seconds--not years--(are you confused yet?)). Bengal had put a rather large hole in the shuttle that the two convicts had stolen and were trying to fly to the mining station. Something that would be docked from his pay, but he’ll find out about that later…

RTFM who was usually a whiz with computers and ships had found the shuttle largely uncooperative, mostly because every time he hacked the control system someone, namely Hilda and later the much more capable Boltz, kept changing the override codes.

So, when Bengal, the robot-jockeying-biggun™-wielding-shuttle-shooter blew a hole in the wind screen he knew they might as well give up. The shuttle had not been prepped for a long away mission, its tanks didn’t have a lot of air to begin with, and the suits they were wearing had only emergency supplies, there isn’t much time for preparation when you’re running from angry security synth who has difficulty controlling his human-harming baser instincts--rumor has it he actually rather enjoys human-harming but that’s a another story…

Consequently, RTFM surrendered™, and he and Blaster were escorted roughly off the shuttle by Bengal--who was a bit more rough when the blood splattered insides of the shuttle were witnessed. Apparently, the two convicts had taken a hostage aboard the shuttle. Since they were wearing suits, and the crewman not, it was rather messy when a hole was shot in the airlock door…

Bengal was especially angry because he figured the hole in the door would be coming out of his pay too… not to mention little bits of a fellow crew member splashed all down the side of the Grundy… He heard somewhere that lemon was good for bloodstains… but he was too angry to think about it much… So he prodded the two prisoners in the back of the head with the machine gun and waited until they had gone into the hanger airlock. Felix, the angry human-harming-special-forces-space-synth was waiting on the other side to escort the two men to med-bay for sedation.

Once Felix had the men in hand Bengal powered up his loader and went back outside the ship to watch the umbilical that Boltz had strung from the space station to the ship. Even if the station couldn’t be used to build the new bus that the Grundy needed, they could still get a jump start from the station power core to get the Grundy’s fusion reactor running. Boltz had explained earlier that fusion cores SCRAM when there’s a serious hull integrity problem or there’s a drop in containment strength--because uncontained plasma is slightly unhealthy to ship and crew.

Normally, the Grundy would use the diesels to charge the flash storage cells (which takes a few days) and the reactor could be restarted with a surge. Standard procedure when cold-starting the reactor when not in a dock. Problem was… is… the egg-laying-metal-eating-robot-controlling queen space-spider ate the Grundy’s main bus. So the Grundy didn’t have a way to get power to the reactor OR the jump engines. Boltz came up with a brilliant plan™ to run an umbilical THROUGH the ship to the core to get the reactor cranked. But wait, we have more digressing to do…

Unbenownst to the Grundy crew aboard the space station, sinister events ™ had been taking place, the brain-eating-zombie-creating-acid-spitting-space-spiders or (bezcasss for short) took advantage of the powered up space station (which someone for some reason had taken some pains to shut down). Without warning (bezcasss aren’t good at warnings--just eating metal and spitting acid) the long range shuttle powered up and undocked from the station and aimed her needle-pointed prow at the Grundy and engaged her thrusters.

Captain Kessel, who thought pointing was rude, especially when its done with a few thousand tons of starship, ordered the gunnery officer to shoot the ship. The gunnery officer WOULD have too, if he weren’t outside guarding the umbilical cable. (Something about bezcasss getting on board or something). So, the lame-ass second fiddles shot at the oncoming shuttle to little real effect. Obviously, it had been a job for a robot-jockeying-biggun™-wielding-shuttle-shooter who predictably, couldn’t be in two places at once.

The long range shuttle sideswiped the Grundy proving two things: One, that bezcasss aren’t very good at flying starships either, and Two, that pointing is rude. Case in point… it rudely interrupted Felix’s prisoner escort.

Felix had turned away from the two men briefly to cycle the airlock hatch. As he was finishing that task, the shuttle collided with the ship causing more than a little commotion™. It was during that instant that a brilliant idea™ hit RTFM and Blaster. It was a simple one… and good thing too because they had simple minds… RUN--FAST--in different directions.

Felix turned to see that the two convicts had begun escorting themselves--at high speed. The synth was surprised--for about thirteen nanoseconds. He flipped a coin. Had a drink and a lube… then took five steps and jabbed RTFM in the back with a stun baton.

It was at that moment that RTFM realized that perhaps it hadn’t been such a brilliant idea™ after all. Neither of them had taken into account the super-human reflexes of the security synth. He was also discovering that Felix seemed to rather enjoy human-harming as he was jabbed AGAIN with the stun baton before he could even think to fight back. He really needed to get a reflex boost… He didn’t think about it long as he was pulled down into the twisty dark of oblivion™.

Felix jabbed RTFM with the stun baton a few more times (just to make sure), he liked the way it made him spaz around on the floor. Then decided that the other convict needed to SHARE in the fun.

Blaster, still under the impression that running was a brilliant idea™ came up with a brilliant plan™ of his own (his head was beginning to hurt… being brilliant twice in one day was rather taxing). He sprinted to the lift access and rather than taking the lift, scrambled out through the steel support framework and hugged the wall out of sight.

A sparking stun-baton in his fist, Felix screeched to a halt at a corridor intersection listening for Blaster’s running footsteps. Unfortunately, all he could hear was the shrieking/tearing sound of two ships grinding together and blare of collision claxons. He was glad that at least the damages wouldn’t be coming out of his pay. The captain would however be pissed if these prisoners weren’t put in sick bay.

The stun baton sparked in his hand. The corner of his mouth twitched. He and the convict would discuss ship’s policy about brilliant ideas™ and running amok in general. The tines sparked again. Five or six jabs would be sufficient. He hoped he’d stay conscious that long.

Which way had the vict gone? The lift hadn’t moved and there hadn’t been a sound of it moving, of course all they could hear was the ships grinding and shaking. Felix made a choice--the wrong one--and proceeded toward the storage lockers at the corridor end.

Blaster convinced that his brilliant plan™ was working, clambered down the scaffolding around the lift access to the cargo bay floor. There were workers in the bay but they were too busy screaming like little girls over the ship collision to notice him.

Seeing a pallet of cargo pods across the bay he headed to them and pretended that he was a crewman examining them. It wasn’t one of his more brilliant strategies as the rest of the crew in the bay were busy screaming like little girls.

Meanwhile, Felix completed his search of the storage area and came back to the intersection where he first lost the convict. The LOGICAL place to go was the lift. He went to the lift area and looked down into the cargo hold. He saw a bunch of crew members screaming like girls--how undignified--but no vict. It was then the synth came up with a brilliant idea™ of his own. He opened a comm-channel to Hilda who was manning (womaning?) the security station.

“Hilda, the two victs tried to run off. One is now subdued, he is in corridor access five. Requesting a camera sweep for the other, last observed near the forward cargo lift.”

Down below, Blaster could hear Felix’s brilliant idea™ and was thinking he shouldn’t wait around. He raced across to the forward cargo bay airlock.

About that moment, the ship alarms had finally shut off, and the men screaming like little-girls realized they weren’t dying (except maybe of embarrassment). Blaster cycled the lock and the doors hissed open. He probably should have used the lock that he’d already jimmied open earlier… but what was the fun in that? He punched the cycle button. Glancing around he saw a security camera. He got another idea (he was out of brilliant ones) and took off the space suit jacket and threw it over the camera.

At the same time, in the corridor above the cargo bay, Felix noticed the flashing lights (and heard) the hiss of the airlock cycling. Without hesitation, the burly synth jumped into the cargo lift shaft… a 10 meter drop in low gravity… how much could it hurt?

The crunch of crinkling leg chassis as he impacted the floor gave him his answer. That was going to need repair. He sprinted to the airlock and looked inside.

It appeared empty. Strange. It couldn’t cycle like that with nobody inside.

Feeling clever, Blaster had ducked down, that dumb synth would never figure out was was going on…

Felix’s gaze locked on the space suit jacket thrown over the security camera. The vict seemed to think he was clever. Well, best to leave him alone with his thoughts. Felix started punching the computer override to freeze the doors on the airlock.

Inside the lock, Blaster frowned, that sounded like the keypad on the airlock door. That stupid synth didn’t really think he was locking him in here did he…?

Meanwhile, in a damaged cargo pod, Jelita and James awake in a darkened area. Cooling gas hisses, electricity sparks, and foul methane stench fills the air. The broken and overturned stasis capsules are scattered across the floor along with the bodies of some other less-fortunate victs.

“Well, I’ll be,” James mutters. “I thought this was a non-stop flight.” He runs his hand along the staved in section of the wall. They were in a cargo container, and it had very recently took a big hit.

Jelita mumbling in some strange Asian accent is wandering around as though lost, Science Fiction had always confused her. She did recognize a door when she saw it--and a punch panel to open it. What should she do? Maybe she should just stay in the cargo container full of dead people… well, dead people and one hick… he was only little different than a dead person. No, it would be definitely be a good idea to get out.

Door, window, punch panel… damn science fiction… why did it have to be so complicated? Jelita suddenly remembered that she had a master’s degree in computer operations… maybe she should try to figure out that panel!

James, who was definitely no computer whiz was at the other cargo hatch access. “Damn, cotton picken, ‘curity codes. Ain’t no damn hacker.” He slammed the punch panel with his fist. Maybe if he had a stick. Hitting it with a stick might help.

Jelita, still somewhat confused by science fiction walks over to James.

“Whaddya want?” James growled.

“Out,” she replies simply.

“Really,” he says. “Can’t see why. Wees in a room full o dead people on the way to prison facility, and it looks like this here canister is gonna crack and let out all the air. Always was fond o sucking vaccum.”

Jelita looked at him. “Since I don’t have a stick, do you think it would help if I cracked the security code? I just remembered I have a masters in computer operation.”

“By golly, that might actually help!”

Jelita cracked the code easily and activated the cargo pod cycle. The pod conveyer activated with a sound like tearing metal. The container shuddered and lurched, making the room rattle.

“Don’t like this,” Jame’s mutters. The pod lurches to a grinding stop. Jelita hits the door cycle but it won’t open. About that time there’s a hiss from the cargo-container wall. “I knew it.”

The two of them grab the bars from the tie down slots and wedge the door open. After a lot of grunting and straining the two of them manage to squeeze out.

“We’re on a ship,” Jelita says.

“We knew that,” James mutters. “This is a J-class medium cargo hauler.” He didn’t tell her he just made that up, he actually had no idea what kind of ship it was. “Looks like we need to find ourselves a way outta here.”

“To where?” Jelita asks.

“Don’t worry, a brilliant idea™ will come to me…”

Original Word Doc for Episode
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