Detachment 2551 : A Star Frontiers Adventure

Late March Story

Charon Tavis Station - Deck 3, Deck Officer's Office - stardate 1110938 - 0900 hours

Cymon works quickly and efficiently on Marcus' injuries. Marcus can feel the pain in his torso receding as the Biocort takes effect. As he sits and waits, he notices Cymon's work on the computer. A paragraph of strange heiroglyphs that look like ancient Yazirian language run across the top of the screen.

Marcus fidgets with impatience. Their comrades were lost and this didn't seem like the time to get first aid. But he acknowledged the wisdom of it and allowed the procedure, keeping himself occupied while the doctor did his job. As Cymon heals his wounds, he can hear in his mind the translation his reverent Yazirian comrade had made.



Marcus closes his eyes, repeating the passage over and over to himself several times. The words were allegorical, the meaning completely lost on him, yet somehow he feels they have a significance that may serve them in the near future. After what seems like a minute he is satisfied with his command of the message and opens his eyes. To his surprise he find his vitality returned. Cymon has not lost a beat, returning to the computer terminal to continue their search.

Cymon keys the Vercingetorix once again, hoping to finally put all the pieces together to the crazy puzzle surrounding the disappearances. "OTTO, identify all three Crimson Pirate technicians on the video feed. Get ID and location information for these characters, as well as their assignments, and positions. Confirm which is the senior tech of these men, their stations on this level, and which may be the robotic tech with the skill to re-program the robot that damaged our ship.""

OTTO replies after a moment's pause: "Slone. Duragarr. Cannastee. All three technicians are listed as assigned to Bay One on general maintenance. All three have equal experience in ship repair and robot maintenance/supervision. All three are reported to be currently on duty in Bay One."

Cymon thinks for a minute, then turns to Marcus. "It seems the robot incident may have been an accident, Mr. Cole"

The human is still rubbing his lower torso. His expression is a mixture of skepticism and probing analysis. "I'm not so sure. But in any case I think it goes without saying that we had better be careful in case any future ‘accidents' seem designed to divide us."

"OTTO", Cymon quickly follows, "Please track the security cam coverage of the cargo sled in question."

"Acknowledged, Mr. Ak-Barruda. Relaying feed to your terminal." Cymon and Marcus peer closely at the computer monitor before them, trying to follow the action on-screen. Security cameras track the cargo sled moving to the west freight elevator and down to deck 7. The camera near elevator A on that level sees them exit the freight elevator, turn left, and disappear around the corner as they turn left again.

Cymon checks his notes. "It appears that our Mr. Tiberious was in this room for 22 minute before he was carted off. Hm. OTTO, open a secure channel to Myrlinax. Mr. Patrou, we are tracking Mr. Grogan's whereabouts. Of the four tech's we scanned, see if Freya knows of them. Also, see if you can get an exact fix on their positions. We may need your assistance as we plan to interrogate them... immediately." Cymon measures the dose of telol in the hypo spray, and checks his needler, just in case.

Marcus lets out an anxious sigh. "Never mind them. The container is our only concern at this point. If we see one of them on our way out, you can telol them all you want. But Ty and the others could be in immediate danger." As he says that, Marcus checks his auto-pistol and loads a fresh clip.

The monitor blinks again as Freya appears from the ship. His concealed, bandaged face gives the impression of a death shroud. His low voice mutters like wind rustling through a cave. The times had indeed made for interesting bed-fellows. "Cymon, this is Freya. I recognize the three yazirian techs as being current members of the crew, but not inside Chamra's circle of confidantes. As such, they cannot be implicitly trusted. As for this human called ‘Max', not only do I not recognize him but station records show no trace of this or any other human named Max ever officially docking on this station.

Cymon again turns to Marcus, attempting to quickly formulate a plan. He leaves the secure channel open to the bridge of the Vercingetorix. "Nature boy, perhaps we should take it upon our selves to 'enlist' one of these techs ourselves, and have him lead us to our companion. Mr. Patrou, you could assist with a watchful eye and a quick hand, tail. Your skills are much more suited to this than your humble Azram."

Marcus sniffs at the idea. "That would take too much time. We don't know what Ty and the others are going through. Myrlinax and I will get to Deck 7. You can enlist Freya's help to apprehend the tech, then contact us by chronocom if you find anything. A technician isn't likely to give you guys too many problems. After you get what you need, get back to the ship with Freya and stay there."

"What should we do with this one?", Cymon inquires, gesturing to the unconscious tech on the floor.

"Leave him. You could use this room for the other interrogations, too - it doesn't seem to get much traffic. Oh, and while you're at it, see if Ruby can join us. I don't want anyone running around alone from now on."

As the two rise to go, Marcus takes one last look at the video to commit to memory the faces of Ty's abductors. They would be sorry they messed with Detachment 2551 today.

Charon Tavis Station - Deck 3, Bridge of the Vercingetorix - 0901 hours

Mrylinax watches as the images of Cymon and Marcus wink out on the main viewscreen of the small bridge. He drains the last of the Jaala from his cup and clears his throat, turning to OTTO's bridge interface. "OTTO, can ya give me a location of the techs Cymon mentioned? Actually, give me the location of all three of the techs, highligtin' the ones who are alone."

OTTO: "All three technicians: Slone, Duragarr, Cannastee are listed to be currently on duty in Bay One. No other technicians are in the area at this time."

The Humma begins smiling, the first smile he can remember in a while, relishing the upcoming chance to get back into the fight. "Finally, some action . . ." he mumbles to himself. Mrylinax rises and goes to his cabin. There he grabs two radio triggers for the td-19 he carries in his satchel. In addition, he checks to make sure the tanglers are in place.

As he passes through the main computer berth, Mrylinax is met with the rapid-fire sound of fingers racing over every interface OTTO has. Freya seems to have adjusted quite well to the new computer system, mixing verbal and coded commands efficiently in implementing OTTO's vast functions.

"Whatcha doin, fren'?"

Freya continues his work but responds without missing a beat. "Placing safeguards on the ship, setting up a tracking system to monitor the locations of our remaining team members, and continuing a search of the station's systems to find the missing members. I'm also chasing down a lead I found revolving around the station's water treatment plant on Deck 7."

Even to Mrylinax' untrained eye, it is obvious that the bandaged stranger was throwing himself into more work than an average programmer could do in a week. The Humma merely shrugs and shuffles off to his cabin, muttering along the way: "Good to have you on OUR side, monkey-boy."

The light clicking sound that permeated the conversation with Cymon now becomes Freya's primary focus. His hands finish entering the last command routines into OTTO and he switches to voice input. "OTTO, display defense action summary on main screen." Almost instantly, an ordered list of reports fills the main terminal:

>>>Response from Hullbot - all external access ports are closed - physical/electronic search of ship's interior complete - negative >>>Switching to internal power - disconnecting from station feeds >>>Ship systems electronically isolated - "firewall" erected around all possible points of signal entry. >>>Scanning for hostile approach >>>Monitoring engine/weapon emissions in hanger bays >>>Security implementing 360 degree video surveillance around ship

Taking only a moment to review the list, Freya continues "OTTO, clear display and activate program."

OTTO chirps in response. "Acknowledged. Tracking of existing team members in place." Six separate monitors light up, each showing a different angle of the docking bay from the ship's point of view. Another monitor lights up with the station's maps on display, flashing dots marking the current position of the team members. Only five flash where there should be eight.

Freya considers the math. "Excellent. Continue electronic search for missing team members. Interface with the station computer and identify any sources of power drain on deck seven that are not explained by the station's normal operations. Repeat for any drain on life support. Note anomalies and contact team via chronocom with results."

"Affirmative. No detectable drains on power on deck 7 outside normal parameters. Security still down on decks 6 and 7. Life support systems detect a 5% rise in carbon dioxide present in the atmospheric scrubs."

Freya's bandages rumple slightly as he frowns. The clanking shound of the port-side airlock opening draws his attention away for the moment. He turns to see Cymon and Marcus entering the ship. Neither looks very pleased with their findings, but both look eager to move.

"Cymon, before we move, I thought you should know that a thorough search of the station's records reveals some interesting anomalies which correlate with the disappearance of our comrades. At 0317 hours the access door to the water treatment plant on deck 7 was accessed without a user id number. This happened again at 0431 hours. At 0502 hours a power junction box was accessed on deck 7 by Crimson Pirate technician Slov Ch'Holo. Both events represent highly infrequent actions based on station traffic patterns and all three happened within the last few hours since sighting the missing members."

"I might note that the technician named Slov was supposedly attacked on 1110937, the recording follows:

"Freya, this is Slov. I'm on Deck 7. Just got through repairing an electrical short that occurred yesterday and Meerok's gone missing! I'm trying to get out of here but I heard some activity near the freight elevator...waiting to see if it's those Doghan creeps that bug warned us about. comes someone....OH GOD NOOOOO!!!!!<>>"

By this time Mrylinax has returned from his cabin to find the other three staring gravely at one another and at him. Marcus is beside himself with rage at the story these clues are telling him.

"C'mon, hairball", he snaps at Mrylinax as he checks the action on his autopistol, "we're going down to deck 7 to deal out some of what we've been getting!"

Location Unknown - Time Unknown

"Do not proceed out!" warns V'Sndyk. "The floor is charged!" The insectoid's cheek-plates tingle with their proximity to the electrified surface which extends out before him and his Yazirian cell-mate. All that trouble to get out of the room, just to run into this!

Looking up at V'Sndyk, Groo replies, "Like I'd do something like that. If I remember correctly, I'm the one on my hands and knees looking up and down the hall way with my head sticking out the door."

Groo rises from his spot on the floor near the now-opened prison door. His fangs are bared in a snarl of frustration. "Damnation!" The tall simian figure begins pacing. His insectoid Vrusk companion watches him curiously. Finally, he leans out of the doorway and shouts down the hall for his fellow prisoner and longtime partner to hear from his cell.

"Ty, keep an eye and an ear open for anyone coming." Groo looks around and sees one of the pieces of plastic scavenged from V'Sndk's uniform. He promplty wedges it into the runner that the door travels on, jamming it open. He then returns to the exposed circuitry in the wall to see if he can somehow disable the power to the floor outside. As he peers into the mass of tangled wires and relays, his companion accompanies him with analytical banter:

"Indeed, Mr. Karchudka," says the Vrusk, "deactivation of the electrical field would be the most effective strategy, assuming the means of achieving it are plausible. Fortunately for us, the materials we have extracted from my uniform are both conductive--like these seam wires, and non-conductive--such as this plastic card from my insignia patch. Using the card and some uniform material as insulation within my hand, I shall extend this wire to the surface of the floor to test for..."

Groo turns from his work and snaps at V'Sndyk: "Enough with the yapping already! Just do it!"

(Groo: Machinery: Operate skill check (lvl 4): 49%; rolled 91 - failed)

Long minutes pass, with Groo calling out in regular intervals ‘try now' and V'Sndyk answering in kind: ‘still charged'. After every possible combination he can think of, Groo finally relents. "It's not going to work. We gotta think of something else."

V'Sndyk's antennae perk up. "It is be wise to accept the possibility that this plan of action may not succeed. Other possibilities would be climbing over the floor, if we can find ample support overhead to cling to, or placing some sort of electrical insulation between ourselves and the surface of the floor.

V'Sndyk looks above, then to both sides. The Vrusk's technical mind begins calculating like a binary machine. The only fixtures in the room are the two beds bolted into the walls and the retractable cushion. With effort, V'Sndyk and Groo are able to pull the cushion out. It is indeed non-conductive. The walls are 2 meters apart, the ceilings 4 meters tall. They are sealed deckplating at the very top, but several pipes and tubes run along the ceiling.

"I suggest extreme caution in such an attempt. One slip and the next prison meal may be OUR cooked entrails." The Vrusk perks his antennae, welcoming any form of suggestion.

"That's what I was thinking. However, from the look of those pipes running along the ceiling, I think it'd be a safer bet for me to climb along them and try to access that c.a.s. panel. Ty, you and V'Sndyk be ready to rush the door if I can get it open. Use the retractable cushions to move along the floor - their insulation may be enough to protect you as you slide along."

Ty snickers from his cell around the corner: "Yeah, but as we slide we may build up static electricity. That could be dangerous, you know!"

Groo groans at his partner's lame joke, then turns to the scraps of clothing left from V'Sndyk's uniform. He tears off two long strips of cloth and proceeds to wrap his hands to protect them in case the pipes are hot to the touch. Next he moves to the door and motions for V'Sndyk to give him a boost.

"Well, bug, wish me luck", he deadpans as he leaps out the doorway to grab one of the pipes overhead.

(Groogash Dexterity check: 75: rolled 39; succeeded)

V'Sndyk's feet thrum nervously against the cell floor as he watches his companion move hand-over-hand along the pipes to the end of the hallway where the c.a.s. panel is set into the wall. Once there, the Groo realizes there is no other way to manipulate the panel without letting go his grip of the pipes. With the quick motion of an acrobat, the Yazirian pulls up his legs, grabs the pipes with his long toes, and lets his hands go to hang up-side-down in front of the panel screen. V'Sndyk whistles in amazement, leaving Ty to wonder what happened.

"Hey, what's going on, guys?"

Groo chuckles at his feat. "Heh, heh...just like a pro! Now lessee about getting outa here." Groo tinkers with the panel for what seems like forever. As he works, he can hear a scraping sound coming up the corridor. He turns to see Ty sliding along the hallway on his retractable cushion, moving himself along by pushing off of the walls. The sight is comical, watching a human move about like some land- turtle. Groo chuckles again.

"Aw, stow it!", Ty grouses as he pulls up alongside his inverted friend. "Some of us more intelligent races had to come down outa the trees, ya know!"

Groo laughs louder hearing this. "Ha ha yer heart out!"

Finally V'Sndyk appears, somehow managing to balance himself on the cushion on two sets of legs while the other two sets push him along the hallway. This time the sight is almost too much for Groo, who nearly loses his grip from laughter. Even Ty finds it hilarious to see the Vrusk all splayed out and doubled over at the same time. V'Sndyk merely tilts his head in curiosity. "We are trapped and threatened with physical harm, forcing us to improvise our own escape. What is so funny?"

Groo chokes back his tears. "Ahum..heh heh...oh, nothing, bug. Just the tension getting to us, I guess. Nothing I can't..."

Before Groo can finish his sentence he notices the hairs on his mane begin moving. His body feels lighter. The tension of hanging from the bars recedes.

"Damn! They're on to us, guys - killing the gravity!"

Ty RS check: 45; rolled 45 V'Sndyk RS check: 52; rolled 27

V'Sndyk manages to wedge himself in tight between the walls. Ty barely does so himself. Groo merely maintains his grip on his perch, glad to have a respite from the task of hanging. After a few seconds of tense waiting, suddenly the feeling of gravity returns to normal. None of the three are certain enough to keep moving, though, and sure enough after another 15 seconds things go back to free-fall.

"How long are they gonna keep this up?", queries Ty out loud. "They obviously want us spilling all over their electrified floor, but I don't see any cameras so how do they know if this business is working?"

Groo continues working on the c.a.s. panel, discovering there is normal atmosphere on the other side of the wall marking the end of the hallway.

(Groo LOGIC check: 65; rolled 55)

"Well, there's gotta be a hidden doorway right in front of us, boys. I can only hope we get it open soon."

The gravity once again returns to normal, leaving Ty and V'Sndyk looking all around for any more surprises.

Stamina Checks: V'Sndyk: 40; rolled 89 - passed out Tiberius: 70; rolled 56 - awake Groogash: 55; rolled 34 - awake

Suddenly V'Sndyk collapses in a heap. A hissing sound can be heard emanating from hidden gas-jets near the floor.

" they're gassing us!", yells Ty through a fit of coughs. Groo continues to work at breaking the security on the c.a.s. panel, but without his tools and the limited access the panel's software allows to over-riding security he realizes he is stumped.

"Okay, I can't get us out using the panel. We'd better wait for the fight to come to us."

As if in response to Groo's words, a distant rumbling of machinery can be heard. Suddenly the end of the hallway begins to open near the floor. In seconds a hidden doorway has appeared and Groo and Ty feel themselves being pulled through it. Scraps of paper and metal fly past them, through the empty room ahead, and through the open doorway facing them on the opposite wall.

"Damn! Now they're flushing the atmosphere..sucking us out into space for all we know!" Groo's voice is barely audible over the rush of wind that now threatens to consume them. V'Sndyk's limp body is caught up in the terrible current and is propelled like a macabre projectile towards the opening.

STRENGTH checks: Groogash: 55; rolled 83 Tiberius: 70; rolled 89

REACTION SPEED checks: Groogash: 75; rolled 31 Tiberius: 45; rolled 01

Ty and Groo clamber in vain to catch their comrade's body as it sails headlong towards certain doom, but their grip isn't strong enough. They are barely able to catch themselves from joining him as their hands slip from the furtive form of the Vrusk. Both watch in horror as he sails through the room and into the opposite doorway. But once there he hovers mysteriously, caught in the doorway to go no further. Instead he bobs up and down, back and forth like a boat tied to a landing in a great storm. It is a curious sight. So curious that Groo and Ty barely notice the pounding in their ears, the swelling of blood vessels in their extremities, and the agonizing tug at their lungs that every spacer knows is the harbinger of vaccuum setting in.

STAMINA check: Groogash: 55; rolled 40 Tiberius: 70; rolled 46

The world darkens and tilts. It sways this way then that. Finally, grudgingly, the light returns. Far-off echoes of voices register in the mind. Ty and Groo find themselves still clinging to the walls, somehow still standing/hanging after being brought to the very edge of consciousness. Groo shakes his head and manages to see a humanoid form move over to the limp figure of V'Sndyk who is still hanging in mid-air within the doorway. From behind the figure appears to be a human female, dressed in ruddy coveralls and adorned with miscellaneous flight equipment. In her hands she hefts a gyrojet rifle. For the briefest of seconds, the figure is concentrating on the Vrusk.

"Wake up, Ty...this could be our only chance. Let's go!!!"

IM Check Groo 8 + rolled 6 = 14 female human: 7 + rolled 7 = 14 Ty: 5 + rolled 6 = 11

Time seems to slow down as Groo drops from the overhead pipes, Ty clears the remaining space to the next room, and the female figure turns to see the two emerging from the detention area. Groo's hand comes up, brandishing a diamond-shaped tile he pried from his cell wall. The female grimaces, her mouth opens in a shout, and the barrel of her rifle swings wide to train on the pair. Ty is the only one without a ready weapon. His actions carry the slightest delay, as if waiting to see how this contest will turn out before making his move.

Groo: BTH 38% + 20 (2nd level zamra) = 58; rolled 32

female: BTH 30% + 10 = 40; 73, 86, 42

Ty: running tackle: (clears 8 meters in one turn) - 1/2 STRENGTH as melee attack: 38%; rolled 49

The diamond-shaped tile zips through the air like and lashes through the female's shoulder. UNGH! The female grunts in pain, replying with three quick shots from her rifle. All three go wild, splattering tangler threads all over the walls of the small, 8 meter by 8 meter room. Her curses are cut short as she side-steps Tiberius, whose running tackle lands him flat on the floor. His body slides to an abrupt stop as he slams into the wall beside V'Sndyk's hanging body.

Groo snarls from his position at the doorway into the detention area. His blood pumps furiously with the rage of his race's militant nature. Battle was finally joined.

Charon Tavis Station - Deck 3, Bridge of the Vercingetorix - 0920 hours

Cymon checks his whoomp needler for the hundredth time as he waits for Freya to emerge from the cabin lent to him as living space. Marcus and Mrylinax have long since departed the ship on their way to deck 7 when it occurs to Cymon that this is the first time he's been all alone with the strange fellow Yazirian. It seems the right time to try and relate to this ‘brother' of sorts, but time is a commodity short in supply nowadays. As the robed figure emerges next to the portside airlock Cymon makes a mental note to try and follow up on the good intention one day.


"Yes, I think so."

"Good. Since you know these guys I'll just let you do the talking. I'll be waiting for you as planned, you just bring them to me. Are we clear on the back-up plan?"

"Yes." The answer is terse and without hesitation. Freya came off as a seasoned pro, if you went based on his cool head under pressure. Still, the directness of his peronality was unsettling. Cymon merely smiles and sheathes his needler from view.

"Good. Let's go then."

Docking bay one is relatively quiet at this early hour. The night flight has already boarded, the next has just left on morning patrol. There is little to do for the next eight hours except maintenance. Freya paces through the jumble of parked spacecraft, constantly monitoring the three lone figures milling about an assault scout that hangs from a crane. He glides up next to one of the techs who is hunched over a damaged landing light.

"Excuse me,....Duragaar, isn't it?"

The frustrated technician turns and stands to his full height, which is at least 15 centimeter above Freya's head. "Chief Technician Freya? What is it?"

"I have a special task I need you to oversee. Something about a malfunctioning c.a.s. panel in the quarters of one of the Hospitality Girls. I'm too busy to.."

"The Hospitality Girls?" The Technician almost drops the fixture that's in his hands.

"Yes. I need you to check it out. What with that new shipment of girls we got last week, they need some extra attention. Follow me."

Freya leads Duragaar over to the deck officer's office. He motions for the Yazirian to step inside. The tall figure shrugs and enters, then takes a seat in front of the desk as Freya sits behind it. His last recollection is the quick, mild sting of a spray-hypo biting into his neck. Then nothing.

His world teeters back into a distorted version of its former self. Two fuzzy figures sit before him. One sits close and speaks with a calm voice.

"What is the exact location of the pilot you helped Max capture?"

His voice responds in a slow drawl. "I...I don't know. Left...water treatment plant. S'all I know. Is it warm in here?"

"Never mind that. Is he alive? Are a Vrusk and a Yazirian with him? Is there a guard there? How do you pass the guard?" None of these questions seems to register on his face. He grows more and more confused.

"I...I dunno. Man, I could use a drink of water."

"LISTEN TO ME! Who is Max? Who is he working for?"

"Never...never seen ‘im before. Paid me some money..."

"Okay, then where are the Doghan? When will they attack?"

" my head hurts...where are the who? I dunno." At this the Yazirian's eyes begin to glaze over and his mouth goes slack. Cymon rushes to wake him before he sinks into unconsciousness.

"One last thing...did you rig the robot to damage the vercingetorix?"


The word trails off as the Yazirian's head slumps forward and he passes out altogether. Cymon straightens and lets out a heavy sigh. He turns to ask Freya what he thinks, only to find he's already left to ‘enlist' another test subject. Cymon rushes to stash the technician's body in a closet, barely making it when Freya returns with Slone. The procedure is repeated twice more, with no new revelations except that Slone cheated the other two in cards the night before. Cymon pauses to ponder their next move. Freya speaks first.

"Our best bet is to return to the ship and relay our findings to the search party. We need to be there when Rubadel arrives."

Cymon's eyes widen. "Say, speaking of Ruby, he still hasn't replied to my last call!" Cymon hurriedly keys for Cymon's chronocom, but there is no reply. The signal doesn't even register an operating receiver. Given the recent events, it could only mean one thing. Cymon slams his fist into a nearby table. "GRACHAAK!!! We're being picked off like flies! How could we let this happen!?"

Freya responds coolly, as always. "The question is moot. We must hurry to help the search team. The technicians should be of no further concern. Their memory of this event will be too sketchy to piece toegether. Let's go."

Cymon and Freya rush back to the ship, heedless of the four bodies left in the office. As they leave, Cymon's mind is a knot of worries for his comrades. He grips the golden Kohinoor at his belt, wondering what the cost of this battle will finally be when all is said and done.

Charon Tavis Station - Deck 3 west freight elevator - 0920 hours

Marcus and Mrylinax waste no time leaving the ship and heading to the freight elevator Max had been seen taking to deck 7. Marcus' steps are hurried but cautious, fast enough to keep even Mrylinax on his toes. The huge Humma doesn't seem to mind the hurry - he's been anxious sitting in the ship all this time and could do with some action. After all, he was the team's security escort to begin with. If there was a danger out there to the crew, who better to face it? And who better to lead the way than the team's recon expert? Mrylinax smiles in anticipation as he slaps the last of three clips into his triax auto-rifle and fingers his TD-19 satchel charges. There would be much to talk about after today, he was sure of it.

Marcus was less content. His face played out a myriad of worries and frustrations. Too many things happening too fast. They were in a foreign environment, off-balance from the beginning, and always in too much of a hurry to escape danger to plan appropriately. Even now their actions were motivated by pure survival instinct. Not the way to avoid a trap, he is quick to remember. When you want to bring your prey to ground, you beat the bushes where you DON'T want them to go. He thinks about this for only a second, cursing the factors that bound his hands.

The pair finally arrives at the elevator and the doors open. Once they enter Marcus quickly coaches his partner: "Okay, Mryli, I want to remind you that even though we're heading into potentially dangerous territory don't take this as a blank check to blast everyone and everything in sight. Whenever possible, try to avoid mindlessly blowing anyone away."

Mrylinax seems put off by the words. "Mrylinax hears your words, Marcus. I fought alongside you to repel the pirates who boarded us and was proud of the blows we delivered that day. You are indeed a worthy ally. Now my comrades are missing. Maybe dead. I was hired to keep that from happening." With an ominous sound that rings off the elevator's walls he chambers the shells in his triax rifle and glowers off into space. "By the maker I will taste the enemy's blood in payment!"

Marcus stares at his companion for the longest time. In all his days serving in the Fleet he'd never known a Humma personally. Their gruff manner and antisocial disposition had always cast them in an undesirable light as potential colleagues. Yet amidst the gloom of their present situation, Marcus secretly counted himself lucky to have the unrefined beast alongside him.

Seconds pass silently as the elevator descends the four levels, depth indicator lights sailing past in a regular rhythm. Seconds more pass. Then even more seconds, the rhythm of the passing lights seeming to slow down, stretch out in time. Soon that is all the hold on reality the two occupants can manage as their eyes grow heavy and their vision blurs.

"Sure is a long...ride", Mrylinax mumbles, then collapses with the force of a fifty-meter drop. Marcus lazily peers down at his companion's inert form. Just as the curtains come down it dawns on him that he'd run in the direction the hunter had wanted him to go all along. He grits his teeth in anger.


The world goes black.

STAMINA CHECK Marcus - 40; rolled 93 Mrylinax - 92; rolled 00

Charon Tavis Station - Deck 3, Bridge of the Vercingetorix - 0925 hours

The airlock on the Vercingetorix flies open. Cymon bolts through, his fears urging him on. Without waiting for Freya, he rushes to OTTO's main terminal and eagerly scans the monitors for the one that will tell him what he so anxiously needs to know.

"OTTO, bring up the team personnel status display." Maps appear for every part of the station, lights indicating where the five remaining operatives can be found. Cymon's fears are confirmed - Ruby's signal is nowhere to be found. All that remain are his, Freya's, and the two in the elevator descending to deck 7.

Freya draws close and joins him at the console. "We must contact the search party immediately. They may be in danger."

Cymon nods and keys his chronocom. "Unworthy to Natureboy, come in. Natureboy, you may be in danger...reply at once!" The sharp hiss of static fills the room. Cymon looks gravely at Freya, then back to the monitor. His eyes light upon the indicators for Marcus and Mrylinax just as they wink out altogether.


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