Star Gazer

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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Wed May 07, 2014 10:29 am

Dablue wrote:Well what I personally would love if you happen upon chapter 1 in mission 1, chapter 2 in mission 3 etc etc.


Oh definitely. That's the way I'd want it really, as a small collectable people can stumble upon on various missions and slowly over the course of the game get the full picture of the story.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Dablue » Wed May 07, 2014 10:31 am

Riobux wrote:
Dablue wrote:Well what I personally would love if you happen upon chapter 1 in mission 1, chapter 2 in mission 3 etc etc.


Oh definitely. That's the way I'd want it really, as a small collectable people can stumble upon on various missions and slowly over the course of the game get the full picture of the story.


I send Elena a mail to reply on this and if they agree to display the rules.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Wed May 07, 2014 10:37 am

Dablue wrote:
Riobux wrote:
Dablue wrote:Well what I personally would love if you happen upon chapter 1 in mission 1, chapter 2 in mission 3 etc etc.


Oh definitely. That's the way I'd want it really, as a small collectable people can stumble upon on various missions and slowly over the course of the game get the full picture of the story.


I send Elena a mail to reply on this and if they agree to display the rules.


Honestly, if Star Gazer ever got into the game, I'd just be surprised and humbled. Well, more so than I currently am that people did enjoy Chapter 1.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Aelyria » Thu May 08, 2014 9:36 am

We'd love to have some flavor fiction in the game, I can't promise 100% we'll get to it, but If we do we'd be happy to have submissions from you guys! Great work Riobux, I'm excited to read the next chapters :)
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby SteveAdamo » Thu May 08, 2014 9:43 am

Aelyria wrote:We'd love to have some flavor fiction in the game, I can't promise 100% we'll get to it, but If we do we'd be happy to have submissions from you guys! Great work Riobux, I'm excited to read the next chapters :)

that's excellent! :)

would Juggernaut potentially be interested in one or more "competitions" where fans can submit their fiction (with the intent that those who "win" would see their material placed whole or in part in the game)?

we have a really fun competition over on Stonehearth called the Writer's Workshop... there are a handful of rules, but in essence its a themed competition, where the participants have to adhere to one or more criteria when submitting stories for that particular contest...

the fans vote, and the winners typically receive some sort of game related swag, etc.

recently, one of the competitions was to submit entries for the in-game journal system (the comments your units leave in their internal journals - what they've seen, what they've done, etc.)

it was a blast, and the 6 folks who won will have their entries pushed out in some future build...

would something along those lines be of interest to you all? :)
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Thu May 08, 2014 3:04 pm

Aelyria wrote:We'd love to have some flavor fiction in the game, I can't promise 100% we'll get to it, but If we do we'd be happy to have submissions from you guys! Great work Riobux, I'm excited to read the next chapters :)


Honestly, anything used from these would be pretty amazing. Even if not the logs, maybe locations, people, items, anything.

Anyway, finally completed Chapter 2, and well, turned out a bit bigger than expected (and perhaps a bit rushed, especially towards the end). Probably be a while until Chapter 3 due to university work.

----
Chapter 2: The Twins.

Dear B17 Balmer Console.

Looking at the number of sleep tallies in my data pad, I make it two days after the first log. Right now we're finally leaving that blue-blood Cravexia after spilling some. It was good to let some anger out.

It started with some fool banging on the ship door at the docks. It was only blind sheer fortune, or misfortune for us, that Ricks has a tendency to flick through the cameras if everyone else is sleeping and he is unable to. According to Ricks, he went to the window built into the door and peered through. When he saw a large bald man with a sharp suit, he said through the coms to the outside (that Ricks installed, boy is paranoid and would rather talk through metal than face to face) that the parking ticket was for the night. The kid even went and grabbed the parking ticket and shoved it to the glass!

The man, finally noticing where he could reply, finally told Ricks to get me; or rather “get your captain”. Ricks then said some things to him (Ricks denied saying anything else, and no one has told me anything about of what happened), and the man finally told Ricks “get your captain, now, before I open the doors and get him myself”. So, naturally, that script kiddie scurried his way to my room and woke me up. I went to the door after a few moments to put on a t-shirt, some trousers and my holster. Ricks was already scurried back to his room. I could hear the locks clicking into place when I got into the airlock. Damn that kid. I opened up the door to the outside to find a man roughly my size, darkly tanned, with a nice suit on (that was obviously hiding body armour underneath). He spoke through a thick beard, that laid in contrast to his shining head.

“You're the captain of this ship?”
“That I am, and you're the one banging on the ship doors while everyone was sleeping.”
“Sorry about that, mate. I would have come back if I could. Well, first chance you get, I need you to meet my employer. Let me just upload the details up to your datapad. Can I have your address?”
I told him my datapad address, and he sent the details to his employer. “I'll see them once I've finished sleeping.”
“Okay mate. Bye.”

The man shuffled off and I closed the door. It took a sharp look into the cameras to unlock the doors back into the ship. So, naturally, I went back to sleep for two more hours. Way I saw it was you should never do business tired. Did it once, and didn't notice the missing 0 from the payment contract. Sadly for that contact, his datapad contract and incessant crying about “BUT WE HAD A DEEEAAALLL!” can't stop a bullet. Judging from the fact I never had anyone track me down, I guess he wasn't liked.

So the following day, I went to the address. I took Valms and Skuz with me. Skuz was eccentric enough to be able to know random trivia, which may be useful if they need us to do something complex. She'd be able to do a rough fact check if something is obviously off. Valms, well, Valms can't just tell a liar, he can sense liars. He knows if someone is pulling a fast one, and he doesn't even have to see the person stupid enough to betray me. Plus, Valms doesn't need weapons and Skuz seems to have the uncanny ability to sneak a pocket rocket (note: a pocket rocket is roughly what happens when you cut out the fancy stuff on a handgun, and make it fit into your palm) and a small stiletto onto her and no one can find either. I've tried twenty times, and found the stiletto once, in a small woven-in pouch on her belt, facing the trousers. She's probably removed it since.

So after a lot of wondering around and trying to find the building, Skuz finally noticed it. Well, perhaps noticed isn't the right word. It was a large building that seemed to be somewhere between a nightclub and a shooting range. One of those places where you can shoot at the firing range, try the guns out in non-lethal combat and when you're done proceed to drink until you can't feel anything to music that just sounds like underwater gun fire to me. Considering the nature of the business, none of us three had figured this to be the place. Sadly, it was. The final confirmation was when I saw the doorman: The same man who came to our ship. So I skipped the line and approached him.
“Hey, back in the queue with yo-...Oh, nevermind that. One second.”
He proceeded to talk over the radio. Meanwhile, one of the people in the line started to yell “why do these air heads get to skip the line?”. At first, I tried ignoring. Then the kid decided to leave the line and walk straight to me, yelling “hey! I ain't never seen you around here. Why you line skipping like a skrub?”. The club enforcer was about to speak, before I fixed the problem. The thing about kids like this is they're easy to motivate. Easy to motivate that they are being screwed with, if I had tried to talk back to him. Easier to motivate to stop. A simple palm to the nose was enough to bleed him and convince him and anyone else watching to stay quiet in the line.

The enforcer went back to the radio, now soured. Within a few minutes, two more doormen came out. Finally, the messenger from before led me away from the door and around the side of the building.
“Damn it. Now those kids will be pissy for the rest of the night.”
I shrugged. If he didn't want kids with broken noses, he shouldn't have joined a business which caters to them. So he led me down the ally to the place, and unlocked the door within. The noise inside was loud enough to hurt my head a bit, and Valms was pushing his fingers onto his ears, closing them. Skuz's face seemed to lose all emotion and colour, but it was to be expected around those way-of-the-sword nutjobs. So we're lead between various corridors, different noises around. Some noises people try to dance to, others people try to aim to. Finally, we're lead into a room unlike the others. Cold, metallic, windowless. In the middle a cheap metal table and some cheap metal chairs.
“Please sit.”
Me and Valms sat, but Skuz mummers “I'll stand” as she stands at the wall behind me and Valm, leaning on it. I could tell the enforcer wanted to comment but I think he quickly realised what a waste of air it would be. After closing the door, he started to talk into the radio, and now it was a lot more quieter than outside (it turned out to be soundproof) I realised he wasn't speaking Universal Language, but something I wasn't familiar with. Judging by the looks on Valms and Skuz, neither did they. After a few minutes, the door opened again and while I was expecting some noble, I wasn't expecting anything like this.

In walks two people, wearing blue short decorative coats over their black shirts and black trousers. They walked in, making a clicking as their black boot heels seemed to have metal plates at the bottom. Both, identical, complete with short white hair, shaved on one side with a fringe flicked over from the other side. Fortunately, despite having similar thin facial structures, I noticed one seemed to have a slightly more feminine feature than the other. If these were siblings, and maybe even twins, was a distinct possibility, but one was definitely male and the other was female.

They walked in, and said not a word as they studied us. My hand rested on the table, ready to flip it if needed. The chair I was sitting on would make for a good enough melee weapon. Take out the door guard first since he'd be a faster draw and would not be distracted by a table being flipped at him. Then go for the twins, after the table he finished flying in their direction. I trusted Valms and Skuz had their own plans to eliminate the hostiles. What happened next was more odd. One of them, the male, spoke “I am going to conclude business with one of my employees, however she has one of her friends waiting for her to meet her. If she doesn't arrive within 10 minutes, her friend is going to leave. We'd like you to stop her friend. You'll get the details where to find the friend when my employee's heart stops. Do the job well, and we will have more work for you.” It was in a voice that I am sceptical had a pulse behind it. “Questions?”.

I knew any non-professional questions would end badly, so I grit my teeth and had to force back all the questions of why the job had to be this way. Seemed strange and suspicious, but judging by things there would be easier ways to betray me than this. Not to mention, Valms hadn't said a word, so it was unlikely to be a trap.
“How much?”
“You'll get whatever you find on the friend, plus an extra 1000 credits”.

While 1000 credits wasn't a good price by crawling standards, the promise of more work left me hopeful.

“What's the security going to be like for this friend?”
“Low. This friend has a bodyguard, but they don't use heavy weapons. Handguns, maybe a submachine, but nothing more.”
“What will they be carrying?”
“We do not have that information. Me and Matilda have made some educated guesses, and it wouldn't be anything anyone will be missing.”
After a short pause. “Anything else?”.
I shook my head.
“I assume you'll be able to show yourself out, and I'll contact you later.”

The male twin then turned to the doorman and whispered something into his ear. Matilda, watching us with cold eyes as she got her datapad out. I got mine out as well, ready for the new mail. The guard opened the door and left. I waited, my heart was beginning to race as much as I knew I had to do shortly. After what seemed like ten minutes, a small woman crept in. She seemed like a generic nightclubber, minus any footwear. As she walked in nervous, the guard closed the door sharply. Me and Valms stood up as the woman turned to the door and began to scream to be let out. No one battered an eye, and I watched the datapad, as the male employer reached into his small jacket, took out an old-world revolver and took a singular shot at her head. The noise of the gunfire in the room echoed to the point of everyone at least wincing, except for Skutz who was back into her trance. My datapad blinked with co-ordinates and a photo. At that point, the door opened and we bursted out of there.

We nearly ran out of time, 3 minutes remaining, as we turned up to a bar. A different one to “Valms? Skutz? Your turn?”. I waited outside, for them two to do what I knew they could do. Glancing over my shoulder, I could see Valms sitting near by the target, who sat with their bodyguard in a booth. The target was beginning to check their watch so I began to worry about them hurrying up. Finally the bodyguard fell down onto the desk, obviously unconscious by Valms. As I could see the target get concerned, I could see Skutz casually walk over and place her hand on the target's chest, pushing her hand gently over his mouth. The bar seemed crowded outside, so I doubted anyone would have heard any screaming, or even taken it as anything more than a drunk person. Once the target was limp, I could see her pat down the body before quickly walking out the bar, Valms joining her as she walked past. As we walked away from the bar, Skutz handed me a small brown package, mumbling “only thing I could find”. I pocketed it for now.

I sent a message on the datapad to Matilda: “completed”. I was glad about Ricks putting some strong cryptions onto the datapad, otherwise the police would have been able to pick up on it. The pad pinged back “payment upon confirmation”. I then returned back to the ship and waited. I began to write up the report for what happened to the previous ship, Valms did some reading on his datapad and Skutz did her usual ritual of cleaning after a kill. After sleeping, I heard a ping on the datapad. A payment, and a message from the Doorman: “My employers were satisfied with the discretion. Will be contacting you later with more contracts.” Earlier today, I got another message with co-ordinates “my employers has another job, and wishes you to meet someone at these co-ordinates”. So, finally, we left the damn station and I can take a deep breath without possibly being charged for it.

I also took a look at the package and it was exactly as expected: Moon Dust. Pretty much pure adrenaline cut with caffeine. Like hyper-speed, for kids. Eh, I'm sure I can find someone to buy it for a few hundred credits.

Crawler Captain Nathaniel Lamb, logging out.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:26 pm

Chapter 3 is coming in the near future, as I've gotten about a quarter to half way through it. Hoping to do more of Star Gazer every so often. As much as I wish I could promise a schedule, I think one reason why the series fell through was due to my inability to stick to a weekly schedule. So as 1 week went to 1 1/2 weeks, I felt too bad to continue. That, and real life was stressful due to university. I guess it doesn't help that Sci-fi is a genre I'm not typically used to writing as I tend towards generally writing "dark fiction". I also tend towards short stories than over-arching plots. So writing it is a bit tougher than usual. So I think what I might do is try for a "when it's done" schedule, although I'm sure it wouldn't get to a point where I'm slowly posting a chapter a month. That way, I push on and I finish this (there is an end point to this story that I have planned, although I may start on another series if people want me to once this is done). I'm also hoping that by taking my time, it prevents problems that can occur from me rushing. Such as the very obvious coherency problems that appeared in Chapter 2.

Anyway, next chapter will feature something I've been wanting to for a long time: A small cameo I asked permission for. Just a videogame that has run parallel with this game, along with their branch of fan-fiction. So I hope that gets the hype-train rollin' down the tracks.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:48 am

So my original plan of "a mission a chapter" didn't quite work out. More I begun writing, the more I realised the chapter would run on longer than I thought it would be. So I've split the mission into two chapters. At least I'm getting the ball rolling though. Anyway, hope it is in the same amount of quality as the first chapter.
-----
Chapter 3: Put On Ice

Dear B17 Balmer Console.

It has been weeks since the last addition, but this is not without good reason. The task The Twins' buddy sent on us was one that left a lot of walking. Even with the hiking status cranked on the boots and time on my arse, my feet ache a bit. Sure they just need a bit more time, which I should have while we're waiting for the Star Gazer to be repaired. Probably will set up a job for the rest of the crew to get some money together while we're on this station. However, since the head mechanic gave a grin of metal teeth as he was handing out the price, Jo is keeping watch on the guy.

She didn't complain at the time, but I guess she's paranoid they're going to cut corners, sell our good gear for cheap gear or some other way, in her words, “abuse the ship”. I can't argue her kind of love as I've stood over people repairing my guns in the past, just I know it'll be hard to get a good deal from these guys in the future. Mechanics tend to hate female stalkers. At least the type that don't want to swoon in their arms and I think Jo isn't able to love anything that doesn't run on the blackest purest fuel you can find in this star system. I'm sure growing up she had posters of blueprints where most girls would put their Space Team A or Stars In The Eyes or whatever kids these days listen to posters. Jo is that type of person. Bad to drink with, but reliable. Reliable is good.

Anyway, you're probably reading this file to find out about the Morgan mission. So perhaps I should go back to when we were drifting off into space after doing the job for the twins. So after two days of travel, I arrived at the co-ordinates I got from the twins. I'll admit to being a traditionalist who prefers meeting with clients on neutral territory like stations and planets with few exceptions, after all you can't expect a corp to send a rep off to neutral territory when they can just invite you to their corp-station. Then again, the thing about a corp is they tend to betray you without you or anyone knowing they did anything. They wouldn't betray you on their home turf and get blood on their shiny black shoes. Better to have the airlock “randomly” malfunction when you're on the other side of the system.

To my knowledge, it wasn't a corp we were visiting and judging by what me and my crew saw upon arrival we sure as hell wasn't heading onto neutral territory. There were two lone ships drifting aimlessly through space slowly. There was a main ship a bit larger than mine, and a small fuel ship that was refuelling the main ship. Ricks next to me let small moan, before finally voicing his opinion, as though he could keep his views to himself, “Boss man, this is a trap. This is a grade A trap. Let's go, tell them spooky twins we turned up with no one there and go sell that moon dust to pay the fuel. Fool's outta fuel, so we can get away without even a peep.” A look was all he needed to know my intentions. Damn idiot thought I was going to break a deal due to baseless paranoia and there were better ways to rob me than this. I could hear a click-clank from in front of me in the cockpit. “Just in case.”
“Kiddo, you're more likely to shoot your eye out with the pea-hose than shoot an attacker. Just focus on dealing with the systems so we can get in and out cleanly.”

So the fuel ship zipped off and Ricks set up the deal to visit on both of the ships' airlocks connected side by side. Captain and guard. With space-suits on in case either of us felt clever about disengaging the airlocks. I thought it was odd for Ricks to set it up without arguing with me further, but then again I think it helps the pilot apparently told him that if he tried to dash off we'd be just salvageable waste floating in space. Considering the lack of resistance, they must have some very real hardware.

So we parked the ships up next to each other, and me and Skuz got into our space-suits. Figured since it's CQC, just my service blaster and Skuz's sword would be enough to deal with any threats that could appear in person. It was hard to drag away Skuz from her mini-robot design that she was making with Jo to be a personality bot for longer ship journeys. Up to the meeting, she was grinning while talking to Jo about plans. Silly idea personally, but keeps her busy.

Anything else, Jo was near the airlock doors to manually open it and Ricks can deal with any hacking attempts and drive us out of there. Valms is the only one who remained out of it. No idea what he was doing really, but he was firmly out of it.

So the ships connect together. Me and Skuz walk in, and she says bye to Jo with her usual grin while Jo did her distinct mumble back. The door closes and Skuz's face goes blank. I waited, and I waited, damn suit-men love to make you wait. Finally, both doors are open and I face not two but three people. My hand goes to my waist and I demand of them “what's the deal here? You said captain and guard.”. I was so distracted by the numbers, that I had completely not noticed who was there. Then again, those who still have a heart-beat tend to be those act first and assess later when something is off.

Finally I look to see the three people: A suit, a robe and someone on their knees, bound. All three with their space helmets on, but only the bound figure with a full space suit on. Finally the suit speaks: “You mind if we take off our helmets? I know you wouldn't be stupid enough to disengage or break a hole. Your pilot sounded understanding of what would occur.”
I relax a bit. Skuz hadn't even reached for her sword, but then again she's got those space samurai eyes. Finally I nodded, and the bodyguard and suit take off their helmets.

“Good, it's awful stuffy in there.”
I couldn't work out the suit. He definitely wore an expensive suit, but the mohawk and large microchip embedded into his skull told a different story. He was lanky, so it was unlikely to be muscle. I couldn't really work out the deal with the robe as he hand no armour or weapon I could see. Was he one of those monks Skuz mentioned once or twice in a hazy state? A void psyker like Valms? He definitely had money though. Even now I wonder about them two's deal, as I still can't read them. I may bring Valms along next if I see this guy. Skuz can sense these mini-emotions, whatever she calls them, but it's nothing compared to Valms.

After a pause, I finally broke the silence to ask him “so, you know the twins?”
“Twins? Ooooh, you must mean Matilda and her boy Dante. Bloody nice fellows them, tad odd though. Anyway, got a job to share with you if you want it. I need a book that I know a group of mercs are hiding out with. What's in the book, who wrote it or even the name of it shouldn't be your concern at all. Completely irrelevant. Don't worry your pretty little head over those details.”
“First, let's talk pay before we get down to details.”
Once he told me the pay, I couldn't help but a bit surprised. It was pretty good pay. Very much above average fees. I tried to subdue my surprise, but a smirk by the businessman suggested I didn't do it as well as I hoped.
“Now we have the fee out of the way, why can't you collect it? You have a nice ship, loyal crew and money.”
“I walk in there and offer them a deal that simply can not be refused, and they'll just march me outside and send me on my way. I try to pinch it, and nasty men from the void comes knocking on my door asking me what's what before putting a knife in me gut and just taking the book back. As long you don't draw attention to yourself and don't let any record of who you are get back to their base, everything should be randy dandy, peaches and candy.”
“Why us?”
“Why else? Twins sent you on a trial run. Seen how you fellas crawl meself, thanks to the handy cameras around that port. Don't worry about the cameras, what I saw I only had to erase 2 minutes of footage. Now this base though, there's a few live cameras that transmit straight to their HQ, so you may want to be a bit more careful. However, I know your guys can handle it, no problem at all. You'll be in, out, gone and having pink lemonade before the blink of an eye.”
“So if we don't know what's in the book, who wrote it or the name of it, how are we meant to track it? Have you even got a description? A tracker?”
“Well, it's funny you ask that because there is someone here who has seen it and will be coming with you.” He pulled the bound space-suit to their feet and told them “walk.” As they walked, he further explained “You see, this thief stole the book from their original owner and then to the mercs. It's how I learned of the book.”

As we talked, the thief had shuffled along slowly like an old man while facing the ground. Reaching half way across my hanger, the space-suit tripped. Just like that. Just to let you know, there was nothing in the air-lock chamber. There was absolutely nothing for it to trip on, and yet it did. Skuz went over and helped the air-suit up and over on my side, whispering to me “blind-folded”.

“So, what? I'm meant to baby-sit someone who could steal from me?” I asked him. Let me say, I hate baby sitting. Once baby-sat a scientist during the war and was pinned down by fire in a shopping centre. So the scientist reaches over and grabs one of the grenades on my harness while pulling the pin at the same time by accident. He's holding the grenade, baffled at how there's no pin when there should be one. I had to shove the four-eyed fool into the cargo elevator, and slam the door shut behind him. He didn't scream for long as I held the door shut, still bullets whizzing over my head. After the fire-fight, all that was left was chunky salsa.

The scientist was important, and I could have been demoted, jailed or even just been executed by having my throat sliced (bullets were expensive, what can I say?) considering the value of his work. However, considering my record and likelihood I was lying (helped that there was a psyker to check), I got a simple demotion and a new nickname: Scientist Salsa. Admittedly, less because of what had happened, and more because I formally kept referring to the scientist as “Scientist Salsa” rather than their actual name in the tribunal. Didn't go down well later though. They made sure to reject my temporary leave three times, always telling me “you need to work some things through”. I guess I technically did work some things through, but that's a story for another day.

So the mohawk tells me, his silent robe assistant still never moving nor speaking, “If she misbehaves, give me a call. She has a tracking beacon on her, strapped with enough anti-matter explosives to make a suicide bomber blush. If you give the word, I'll have her made into a paste on the floor. However, if she goes anywhere besides your ship and the planet with the book, she becomes red mist. Naturally, if I feel you're trying to rob me of her, baby goes bust and I hunt you down. Same if you try to steal the book. Clear? Good.”

I shook my head.
“Well then, I'll have to leave for a meeting, have fun shopping for my book. Ta ta.”
His external cargo door closes, as does mine. I opened the door into the ship, as Skuz helped carry our book guide. We took our new passenger into the medic bay, just in case our new business contact had another funny trick he didn't want to spoil. Our new passenger stayed silent the entire time and didn't resist laying down on the medical table. When unbound, the figure just placed their arms by their side.

I stood back while Skuz began checking the suit down for any traps before disengaging the suit. I had my service blaster and knife out, but not combat ready. I didn't want to scare our guest, but wanted to be ready in case a surprise occurred. I hate surprises. As the suit came off, none of the questions were answered. Our book-thief was clad in brown/black leather/rubber armour from head to toe. Complete with a gas-mask.
“She's not blind-folded.” I commented.
Skuz's look of concern dropped a second to smirk at my comment “I didn't say where the blind-fold was. Guess your new contract contact didn't want you to see.” Then Skuz switched back to concern as she began to undo the helmet.

Finally it came off, to reveal a blank-faced woman with a white cloth wrapped around her eyes, and a second white cloth diagonally down across one of her eyes underneath.
“Okay, I'm taking off the blind-fold dear, could you close your eyes?” Skuz whispered gently, as she untied the blind-fold and unwrapped it. A single eye was closed, and then it opened as a single dark brown eye. The other eye was wrapped by another white cloth diagonally, from the top left of here head to just under her cheek. I could tell what was likely the case, but Skuz took a look to confirm: She was missing an eye. Considering the unnatural actions, the shellshock blankness and the missing of an eye, it dawned on me at the time what had happened and to say I was angry was an understatement. There are rules of war, and these rules exist for good reason: To do only what was necessary. Even with regards to torture. My employer had broken a core rule, and I wanted to drag him out of his hole with what he wanted and show him how a real man does torture, with only a blade as my tool.

Skuz turned to me and said with a quiet voice “Could you leave and get Valms? I need to check for other physical wounds, and I need to see if Valms can find anyone in there.” So I left. I couldn't bare to in there any more. So I got Valms, just saying he was wanted. Long story short, Skuz found no physical wounds. Valms however, noticed some great disturbance had gripped our guide's mind. However, one odd thing he noticed was most of the disturbance was not of a natural (his word, not mine) nature. There was a lingering essence of the void. It had the void essence of a young void psyker. All we could do now for her was extract the information. If she was as damaged as she seemed to me at the time, I would have put her in a ward or put her into space without a suit. Both would have the same result, just different time scale difference. Personally, no one deserves the ward except the worse, but some prefer to try anything.

It took a day to get co-ordinates of the planet. Skuz was the only one who would take care of our mystery passenger to let others sleep. I'm not sure if Skuz is able to sleep, but rather meditates lightly. Probably her clan training. Probably. It was useful as, as expected, the unknown passenger barely slept. Mostly sobbed, with some screaming. After finally sleeping for at least an hour, the sobbing stopped. Skuz even told me to the side we're not keeping her after the mission, something about tainting her psyche. I can believe it really. Once this is done, we need her gone. For her good and ours.

So we approached the planet and noticed it to be icy one in the middle of nowhere. A layer of light grey clouds like silver. At first, I thought it'd be no problem. We did some surface scans and found some buildings. So we began to descend on the planet from that. However, quickly, the engines began to seize and stutter. The fans to help us levitate onto the floor of the planet flickered on and off, before whirling to an off. The propulsion jet froze up before Ricks had a chance to turn it on to get us away from the surface. All we had was a quick yelp of “HOLD ONTO SOMETHING” onto the coms as a warning before we slammed into the floor.

“Role call, Lamb, fine.”
“Ricks...Eh...Fucking...Eh, FINE!”
“Valms, okay.”
“Reims, dandy. Equipment, less so. ”
“Skimar...Uuhh...Not fine.”

I rushed to the med-bay where Skuz was with our traveller. I thought something had happened with our unknown guide, probably fell off the table and cracked her head on the corner or something. What actually happened was something a bit worse. What had actually happened, according to Skuz later, was she had lent our traveller a few books to read so she brought a small painting to work on. When the ship began slamming onto the floor over and over again, she tumbled backwards to the back-wall. Where a metal ceiling grating came down, vertically, onto her shin.

At the time however, was a frantically rushing woman in leather leather as blood was pooling around a leg, as Skuz just orders coolly around what to do. As I walked towards her, Valms and Ricks behind me, Skuz turns sharply to me barking “No.” and went back to ordering the traveller around. Me, Ricks and Valms was forced to stand back until the anaesthetic was injected and Skuz went to sleep. I turned to Valms and asked him if he could look after both of them, he gave a single answer: “Yes.” Me and Ricks left to find Jo to find out what went wrong.

I could hear Jo as I entertained the corridor leading to her usual quarters: The engine room. Even slept in the damn thing. Just swearing her head off. Although like the engine, it's not when she's loud you should worry, but rather when she's gone quiet. Entering the place, I could see Jo in her space-suit adjusting dials, checking tanks and grabbing items frantically. She turns to me sharply and yells “GOD DAMN LIBBIES. SHOULD STRING THAT LUBBER TRASH UP AND SEND 'IM INTA SPACE WITH THE RESTA THE RAW SEWAGE FROM THE CRAP SHIP.”.

I walk in as Ricks just peers from the corridor. The short clean version of Jo's rant was this: When we bought the ship, there was no anti-freeze fuel in the engine for cold planets like this one. The gauge was broken as well, so we'd have no idea until we faced such a planet. While we'd be fine normally inside the ship due to the atmospheric regulators, and in space due to the burner blasting our ships to places, once the fans were needed for landing we'd be screwed. The only way we're getting off is by signalling for help, assuming the radio wasn't broken in the crash and the antenna could be heated enough to send electricity through it. At the time, I couldn't help but sigh loudly to myself. First we have a damaged goods guiding us, then some of our crew gets damaged along with the ship and now we were trapped on a freezing planet. All we could do, I thought, was see if Ricks could get a signal out, see if Jo can find something at the mission location, and follow through with getting the Morgan book.

Anyway, it's looking like the word-processor file is running out of space, so I'll have to write more about the mission in the next log. Probably catch a nap while I'm at it, and see how the ship repairs are going.

Crawler Captain Nathaniel Lamb, logging out.
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Aelyria » Thu Oct 16, 2014 10:45 am

Awesome! I really like where this chapter is going, can't wait for the next installment :)
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Re: Star Gazer

Postby Riobux » Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:13 pm

Perhaps a little dark, perhaps a little chaotically written. I think it may suit things, including the small cameo.
-------
Chapter 4: Power Restored

Dear B17 Balmer Console.

I did not get the nap that I had hoped for as I got held up at the hanger. Apparently as they were dismantling the fans so they may check the internal workings for cracks, they dropped the fan to the floor. Naturally, it broke in a good few pieces. Jo lost her cool and shot her mouth. Security was called in, and they banned Jo from the premises after she knee-capped a mechanic with an auto-wrench. They told us we were lucky to not be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, something Jo took on board begrudgingly. I didn't have it in me to tell her that they wouldn't have pressed charges because then information of breaking a ship part would have been made official. That type of things dooms a repair-shop to emergency repairs only rather than the high-profit upgrade industry.

However, the hanger wanted me to decide between getting the fan wielded back up for free which may break if stressed according to the shop or buying a new one. I had to go with the new one, as a welded fan would be an unnecessary risk. Could have done with Jo's opinion on how much stress would be needed to break a welded fan, but she needed to cool off. I left her with my datapad that I'm using as a word processor unit while they're fixing the Star Gazer while I did the deal.

Now me and everyone else is waiting around while we work out what we can do while the ship is being repaired. I believe I've worked out a job, a bit on the dirty side but we could do with some credits after that cost of the new fan and the rest of the repairs. Skuz is mostly okay now besides some stiffness in her leg, my feet are back to normal and Valms is back to his usual collective cool self, I think. Well, at least this hotel we're staying in is cheap and cheerful and has cinnamon rum for not too much of a price, so there is that.

So, back to where I was. After hearing to Jo rant, I began to set up what would happen. So Ricks would try to broadcast a signal out asking for help from any near by ships, seeing if we can get a lift to a port so we can get a tow. Skuz would be Ricks's security, and be the primary communication between the ship and me, which Ricks didn't appreciate having security as he felt he could handle himself. A reminder of Skuz's condition of having an incapacitated leg convinced him that Skuz stays on the ship. Everyone else would leave the ship to find the merc station. Our mysterious guest would lead, Valms would make sure she didn't freak out, and Jo would look around the merc station for any supplies that could be used to fix our ship.

So we packed up any gear we needed for the walk. We seemed to have run low on snow-covers for firearms however, so only I carried a gun outside the suit in case we faced resistance. Even then, it could only fit my blaster. However, naturally people carried their choice of weapon under the space-suit so if a fight erupted inside the station they'd be able to fight back. Only our guide was defenceless, and back then I felt it was best.

So we adjusted the power supply and the footwear settings to our space-suits for the conditions. I'm not sure your experiences of being in less-than-appealing climates reader, but a space-suit has a lot of luxury details you can turn off. There's some I turn off on instinct such as the internal/external lighting, internal speakers for coms if you don't like headphones and suspension on your boots that allow for that soft thudding. I even turn down the heating/cooling as much as I can. However, with the long walk ahead, I had to turn off things such as the water-storage unit which prevents the water from going odd due to the environment (so I had to store some water in some canteens on my body in the suit, will taste disgusting but will be functional), and the weight-management system that makes it easier to carry loads for longer.

I turned on the hiking function, but left the suspension off. Makes for hard thudding which wore on my feet by the end, but at least it prevents that moist environment that breeds infections like trench foot. Seen men die from their foot just rotting away during the wars as energy saving was key for longevity; it was not a pretty sight. Usually what could only be done, to save resources, was to burn the area with a rifle barrel after sustained suppression fire against the enemy, and then cut away what had blacken away. It had mixed results, and some ended up dying as they refused to be treated any more, due to the lack of pain-killers. Others died anyway. That's war for you. At least towards the end had Valms to keep me sane. Oh Valms, how you've changed...

Anyway, back on topic, we set off into the barren white plains with the small moulds in the distance as our target. The traveller who still hadn't shared her name pointed it out very quickly, and then retreated towards the back where Valms walked. Those two stayed silent, probably wrapped up in their own mental thoughts. The only conversation I got out of Valms was if he and the woman was okay a few times, and a small chuckle as I reminisced about cooking some foods by wrapping it in heat-resistant cloth and then wrapping around our own rifle's barrels so we'd cook as we shoot. Then about the guy who used to carry his charge-clips for his gun by tying it around his body, rather than in his armour's storage units. Always claiming he could reach it faster that way, and that he could store more. He had to duck and weave through some bushes while retreating, and most of the clips fell off. Never made that mistake again. Me and Jo though talked a good amount. It helped keep our sanity during the three hour hike.

After the long uneventful hike, we arrive at the base and I knew something was wrong. Valms knew as well, but the other two I think only became wary as I reached for my blaster. Despite the place being situated in the middle of nowhere, metal black walls with laser wires on the top had been erected around the place. An obvious security measure, and a cheap one. However, normally they'd set up a guard to keep watch for signs of intrusion or approaching travellers. Yet, there was nothing. Just zilch.

So we walked in, carefully. If this was a trap, we had no option except be wary as we sprung it. Otherwise, all we could do was keep an eye out on traps and creatures. We had to continue, as towing our ship to a station would not be cheap and repairs would be astronomical. At least once we were paid for this book, we'd have some bills paid and a bit more. So we moved towards a door to the singular facility, and pressed the buzzer. I flicked on the speakers, as I heard the buzzer. Not even a sound of life. “There's no bloody juice going into that thing” Jo confirmed, “want me to over-ride the airlock?”. I gave a simple nod and Jo got to work. While Jo wouldn't be able to avoid the alarms the over-ride would trigger, at least it would get us in. Maybe we'd be able to talk to anyone hiding.

The door clanked open, and moaned open slowly. We got into the airlock room, to find our first clue to what may have gone wrong. The glass separating the air-chamber and the control room was broken, with dark brown stains on the back wall. If we weren't quick, the entire building would lose oxygen so I closed the door while Jo got boosted into the control room by Valms. “EW, fucking piece of shite” I heard Jo belt as she climbed over the panel and firmly into the control room. “YOU can have this while I work”. Suddenly a body came through the window and by our follower's feet. I expected some form of reaction, even I jumped a bit at the state of it, as the blood from the corpse splashed up her. I waited for a scream, or some sound of worry. Nothing. I couldn't even see her face due to her gas mask.
“Valms?” I ask, trying to suppress my anger at the corpse being thrown.
“Hhmm?”
“Valms, could you at least tell me if she's about to freak out?”
“Oh. No. I can't feel anything strong from her. The body though, it has a similar taint to her though. It perhaps is related some how.”
I start hearing hissing and whirling, as the air-chamber locks turn on and oxygen begins to flood in. Figuring it could offer more clues, I knelt down and examined the body. It doesn't take a medic to notice only one singular wound on the putrifying corpse: A hefty footprint on the flimsy bag of flesh at the end of a neck. I sighed heavily to myself.
“You can take those helmets off.” Jo states, as she walks through the control room door. I took my helmet off, and the horrendous smell hit me like a brick. The other two took their helmets off, although Valms showed no facial difference. Fortunately, our book-thief had her gas mask on, so maybe the smell is better for her? The door to inside the building opens, and Jo is putting a gas-tank into her suit's backpack, “Just because I said you can, doesn't mean it's recommended. Smells like burnt rubber in here.”

So we traversed the rest of the building, and all you need to know is it was a slaughterhouse. Even based on my years starcrawling, I've never seen anything like this. Only in war, and war is hell. Bodies with strange sigils carved into flesh. Suicides plenty, with many potentially being murders, all of them far from quick and clean. Strange stitch-works, as bodies appeared mutated under a simple guise. There was evidence of every single morality outlined by the New Earth Christianity Code being not only broken and disregarded, but defaced and mocked. I turned to Valms, suspecting something he may know about occurring, and he's crying. He looked at least another 20 years older, as tears just trailed down his mostly-plain gaunt face. I asked him at the time what was wrong, and if he needed to step outside but he repeated one word over and over: “Mother”.

In the end, we had to continue on deeper. Valms was not doing well, and Jo was also very vocal about how upset she was. She wanted to leave, to just go back to the ship. She even told us, that even if we never got off this planet at least she'd be away from here. By her tone, her non-shouting tone, I think she knew it would be the death of us and she wouldn't mind that one bit. There was only two people these grisly scenes did not effect: Me, and I don't know why, and our silent newcomer. I suspect my experience at war, doing terrible things I'm not sure even Valms knows about, may have helped...But what would our young thief know that could prepare her for sights like this?

We pushed on. After a while Valms stopped crying but I suspected it wasn't because the load had become easier. His chanting had stopped, I think, at least I couldn't hear him say anything and he remained unresponsive to me. Jo still cursed to herself, but was gradually becoming more guttural and quiet about it. Finally, we navigated our way to what I can only presume to be the captain's room. A place that's perhaps more eccentric than the usual cold steel walls of necessary. However, it was torn and ragged. The wooden desk (I guess these guys were well-off to afford a wooden desk) was over turn and broken to make a shrine of glowsticks and gore. Valms couldn't bare to enter the room, judging by him sitting down outside the entrance. I presumed we had gotten to the heart of the matter, as Valms did seem particularly affected by the room. I walked to the shrine, hearing the crack of bones and squish of flesh under my foot. All of it still stunk terribly. There, in the middle, was a book of leather. A singular word embedded deep into the dark brown wrinkled book, in a black font: “Morgan”. A second word did exist under that name, but it was faded and ruined with age, and caked with blood. Perhaps a surname, or just a statement of what I saw. I then did what I felt would be appropriate: I asked Jo to hack the comms. Did so, without saying a word. She said, unusually emotionally, “Let me know when to patch it to your communication headset.”

“Now.”
I then begun “This is Crawler Captain Nathaniel Lamb, and I recommend you to leave this station right now. There will be a ship leaving this planet, and we will take you there. We will meet you outside the facility in zero zero colon one zero hours. Ten minutes. If you are late, we wish you well.”
I dismantled some of my incendiary grenades for it's liquid fuel. I poured it all over the shrine, including the book. I took the oxygen tanks from Jo's pack, she gave no resistance. I set up the two tanks at two corners, and turned them on. “Start running” I commanded the crew. Jo and the traveller did as told, although the book-thief had to help drag Valms into something resembling a jog. Once they began going for the exit, I left the room and threw my last incendiary grenade. I ran, and I ran, nearly slipping on the bloody floor. I could hear the loud deafening explosion behind my head, and I knew it was a matter of time until it got into the oxygen vents.

It was tight getting out. As we got the suits on, I could hear the explosions of the vent ducts getting closer and closer. We left the final door, which Jo had to over-ride open to save time, as an explosion made an inferno behind us. All four of us jogged into the entrance to the compound. All we could do was watch the building burn to the floor, as we waited to see if any survivors came out. None appeared. Whatever was in that book, wasn't worth the credits. We had enough to at least get off the planet, and I figured I could settle for an IOU or two for the ship.

It was in the silence of the snow, our faces lit up by my attempt to exterminate what the void did, that I heard an unfamiliar voice down the comms. It was a vocal smirk, a single “heh”, followed by an obviously deliberately worded sentence: “I am Bekky, and I know how we can still get paid for the book.” It took a quick glance around to see where the voice had come from. The mysterious stranger was looking right at me, and now had a name to the face.

The walk back was mostly quiet. Jo and Valms were deep in thought. However, Bekky went on to describe what our client knew about the book, since all he knew was what she told him. That it described a weapon of great power and where it was. As long we could recreate the book, with some writing inside along with false co-ordinates, we could get away with him not knowing it wasn't the real book. Even if it turned out to be a false-hunt, at least he'd likely be convinced that it was because of the book and not us. After all, it turned out our client was a fence for Bekky's smuggling operations. There was an unbroken trust agreement not to rip each other off.

To me, it seemed like it was broken the second she was bound, but I guess she saw it as business and not one of betrayal. “After all. If I wasn't bound, you would have shot first, I would have in your position. A deal is a branch of trust, and if something doesn't follow the letter then the branch is broken and people get hurt” was how she put it. She was obviously in no way to protect back then, so she wouldn't have fit the bodyguard role. The final “icing on the cake” (her words), was she knew how to forge things. It was part of her job anyway. So she was going to do the leg work, all I had to do was sell the book and it'd be a smooth ride. I was happy to do it, considering the work we had put in for something that should have been burned centuries ago.

When we got back, I found out that Ricks had secured transportation off the planet in a few hours after he sent a signal telling a crew that the captain was back. The ship would be picked up later and taken to a nearby repair-station. Ricks managed to nudge the price down a little with his usual talk of “knowing a man who knows a man who knows a man that knows where dirt cheap ship parts that have “fallen out of a cargo hold” are being sold ”. Mostly lies, but convincing enough.

While time passed, me and Bekky talked about her future, if she was working for us or going on her way. Considering her fence is going to feel disappointed at best and betrayed at worse when he finds out the co-ordinates are bad, she talked about coming along. I asked about any places to avoid, and she listed a few. Mostly merchant-worlds, all due to being over-zealous about five-finger discounts. One place though, a planet nearby, she refused to delve into why. She appeared nervous on mentioning more, so I didn't press. Only other thing she mentioned of note was when I was asking about her medical history, she pointed to her missing eye and said “and insomnia”. I guess she can be company for Ricks while others sleep, or at least make sure he's not using “pay-to-play” services on the ship's computers.

She seemed okay enough, so I hired her. I talked to the others while waiting for pick-up. Valms appeared uneasy about the idea, but he seemed uneasy generally since back then, refusing to talk about it at all. Ricks and Jo was fine. Skuz offered an obviously weak smile and said “great! Good to hear she's getting work”. I pressed further on the smile and found out something else. While I promised not to say specifics, assuming it doesn't become relevant at all, I should keep an eye on Bekky in the future. I welcomed Bekky onto the crew, with the promise of a drink at the next bar we visit, and asked her to change the bandages on her eye before we get picked up. Perhaps a military tradition, but I tend to find you can learn about someone and learn to trust them best over a drink or two as a group. Plus, I thought Jo might need a hard drink after what she saw. Valms would likely stay on the water as usual, even if I think he could do a drink. Although I think getting him to talk to others may help him from, in his words, “the Darkest Dungeons of the mind”.

We got picked up. Then we found a hotel while the ship got taken in. All of us except Valms drunk merrily, although even Valms smiled a little as we all talked among ourselves about silly stories and moments of victory. Skuz saw a medic-bay and got some treatment to help her leg along. Got the ship into the repair shop and, well, everything else is as recorded. I'm putting into place the small dirty job, as well as arranging everything Bekky needs to forge the Morgan diary. Then I'll likely fall asleep with a warm stomach of cinnamon space rum. Tomorrow is going to be an eventful day I feel. May as well rest up, and get ready.

Crawler Captain Nathaniel Lamb, logging out.
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