[Episode Four] Lockdown

Pancakei

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Enpala 13 - Orbit
72 Hours after the events of Adjoin


There was little rest for the crew of the ISS Downrider, a recurring predicament as of late for the wayward expedition. With a mission of this nature however, they would have to sleep when they’re dead. Still recovering from their escapade on Trayll II and the near-death experience it brought, the crew had been roused by their Vigali supervisors for a dire search and rescue mission. Esteemed Vigali freighter Vespar II had been marked as radio silent. With the possibility of some of the crew's own findings on the line, it was in their mutual interest to arrive as fast as expressly as possible- even if their own wounds still laid open.

Their destination- Enpala 13. The thirteenth planet in a system of twelve, which had left both the Captain and the Vigali scratching their heads as to who miscounted where. Judging from the Vesprar II's last transmissions, the overlooked planet would be the most likely location for the freighter to be located. The grey planet was a good distance away from its star, but outside of the cool temperatures and questionable haze, the planet was deemed survivable. The subtle lights resembling colonies coming from the surface only further confirmed it. It had been a few hours since the ISS Downrider tried establishing contact with the freighter, to no avail.

Muffled voices came to a conclusion from within Vargas’ study
. Dahlia opened the door narrowly, stepping out from within. “Right, right. Keep an open log on the matter,” the Captain said wearily as they wiped the lack of rest from their eye. Unable to sleep more than a few hours with everything that was happening, the Captain had resorted to a frankly unhealthy mixture of energy drinks and alcohol, the latter of which she had to peel off of for the mission. The Captain paced down the narrow hallway that ran through the entirety of the Downrider’s sweetspots, passing through the cozy-as-could-be lounge momentarily. There, she locked eyes with Tara who had planted herself firmly against the opposing wall stripped of weaponry. With a mutual humph, the two swiveled away from each other and went their own ways. Neither was having their best hour, thanks to one another.

The Captain yanked the reinforced cockpit door open, letting the warm lounge air fill the room as she began to seal it behind her. “It’s been four hours, Artemis.” the captain sighed as she fell into the sliding co-pilot seat. Her warm cloak followed behind her, draped over the seat like a cocoon. “The Vigali are still a week or so out, we wandered farther than I thought.”

Dahlia shook her head, rubbing her nose to clear her mind. “Right, briefing The Vespar II was en route to the Kanawl sector, part of a freight trade. What all was on it I don’t have clearance to know, but some of our finds may have been lost with them as well.” Dahlia huffed, looking at the grey planet ahead of them. It would appear as though a gentle storm of cloudy gas had been rolling around the planet for… who knows how long. “We may have to go ahead and start our descent before their black box dies. The planet appears livable, possibly inhabited already. Inhabited by what-” Dahlia waved her hand out to the side as she looked at the twinkling display of yellow lights below “we’re not sure. Nothing big, from the looks of it.”

”Most likely. Chances are they don’t have much big if it’s this cool, anyways. Not enough energy coming from the sun,” Artemis’s background from a successful terraforming project was already shining through. "Right," Dahlia confirmed.

She'd been studying the planet’s surface for a while while the Downrider’s scanners made a search for their query, and had found some spots worthy of note.

”Let’s say they crashed. They couldn’t have been near one of the settlements. On a world like this, there’d be scavengers crawling over the wreck in minutes, and we’d probably see all of that activity by now… Unless they’re inside of that.” The pilot stuck a finger out to the visible storm system on the planet’s surface.

Dahlia peered into the dark cloud, trying to make out a movement pattern. The marbled appearance of the planet’s atmosphere made it hard to discern a direction. "If they crashed, we'll have to approach with caution." Dahlia's communicator rang, prompting her to check it. The captain huffed, returning it to her side. "The Vigali aren't waiting any longer. You can begin a descent on the A7 Sector, most probably course of entry. I'll notify the crew…"

The Captain turned in her seat, pulling out a corded radio from the side panel of the cockpit. "Everyone, brace yourselves. We're beginning our descent. Atmosphere is breathable, but fresh oxygen is recommended. Prepare for low temperatures."

Just how I like it, Artemis thought to herself, the vessel pushing backward under her control. The orbit degraded, then vanished as the Downrider started to plummet towards the planet’s surface. It’d still be a few minutes until they’d feel the atmosphere.”And let’s not end this like Trayl II’s little expedition, shall we? It’s only been three days, keep your steam bottled,” the pilot’s voice commanded everyone - though it was doubt directed at at least two people in particular - via the intercom.

Dahlia grumbled just a bit over mention of the recent expedition, the issues that arose from its aftermath still simmering on the back burner.

---

After time, the ship began to slip into the planet’s atmosphere. The heat shielding kicked in, protecting the ship from the blaze of reentry as it rattled the old courier ship violently. The rattling slowed as the Downrider continued its descent, passing into the cloudy layers of the lower atmosphere. A certain tingly feeling passed through the crew as they evened out level with the surface. Dahlia looked out the windows of the cockpit, checking the sight outside against the scanners dotted across the dashboard. There was solid ground far below them, but it was getting progressively darker the closer they got to the surface. The gravity of the planet was a little on the heavy side, or at least it felt like so. As the ship passed through the cloud, they were peppered with what appeared to be tiny flakes of metal, picked up in the moving cloud. The grainy bits of metal plinked off the ships shielding with little pops of light, rendering it harmless. “Oxygen is definitely recommended.” the Captain corrected herself.

As the ship reached cruising altitude, the view outside was like that of dark twilight. The scanners picked up all kinds of irregular ground and mountains jutting out from around and below, containing high levels of metals and rock. Amidst the dark, even darker trenches would be detected by the scanners, like fractures in the planet's surface. The sun was distant and hazy through the thick atmosphere, leaving little light across the surface. The only sources of light were occasional, irregularly shaped patches of illumination, with hard to distinguish sources. "Visibility is lower than expected at this layer." Dahlia commented, looking out the window. The scanners were hardly helpful either, all the nearby terrain taking the form of distorted polygons and planes. Either the planet’s surface was a mess, or something had formed awry. "We may need to dip lower to get a picture, where's those axillary lights…" The Captain fumbled around the control panel, searching to locate the right control of the many faded buttons that made up the display. "We're going in low. I need a pair of eyes to get on the ventral mount to start scanning."

The ventral mount in question was a particularly ancient pivoting turret mount accessible through a trapdoor in what had become one of the ship's accessory storage closets, off the side of the main path. The mount had been primarily repurposed for scanning, but still contained locked controls for a functional repeating coilgun.
 

speeder01

Well-Known Member
Rhea hummed to herself as she watched the scanner, herself looking down at the unusual terrain below at the same time. She became aware of it sometime ago, with her tendency to get into places she wasn't strictly supposed to. So, of course, when the oppurtunity came with the request from the captain, she was there in a flash, already closing the trap door shut behind her.

If she were behind honest, she kind of wished Marie, or one of the others, would unlock the controls for her. Now that she was down here, in a cramped seat with naught but a camera to look around with, and a direct line to the captain... No, she'd be fine. This was easy! just lookie around, she could do this. "Heya captain. What is it I'm looking for down here?" She looked around, with the lights from the ship, and the barely there glow of the echyllis tablet to help read the faded labels on everything. This turret was probably older than she was.

Being down here... wasn't so bad she supposed. She should probably be mediating for the overseer and captain, but it was hard. Two people she... somewhat respected at least, at eachother's throat equivalents. Plus, the view was... pretty nice, even if it was of a planet that clearly got into a fight with god and lost.
 

Blizzard

Well-Known Member
ISS Downrider
Cargo Bay
One hour ago...


Tucked away in the back corner of the bay, the ship's resident dragon was curled tightly around himself within a ramshackle "nest" consisting of many blankets, pillows, and even a few pilfered articles of clothing from the ship's laundry. Using his great strength, Glasawyr had pushed two cargo containers into said corner, creating a square den with only a single way in through the gap between the corners. It helped keep the components of the pile contained in a sort of "bowl".

Glas was motionless, save for the rhythmic rise and fall of his torso. Which each respiration, he emitted a low rumbling that was reminiscent of a cat's purring.

One sheep.

CHOMP!

Two sheep.

CHOMP!

Three sheep.

CHOMP!

It was a classic meadow scene, with a clear sky, green grass, and a line of happy little sheep jumping a fence. One after the other...

CHOMP!

...Right into the waiting jaws of a dragon.

While the rest of the crew might have had little rest, Glasawyr had been doing just fine in that department. Sure, he'd helped out with chores and other menial tasks where directed, but being the simple creature he was, he'd spent the vast majority of his free time sleeping. Mostly, it was a way to quickly pass the time until he could leave the confines of the vessel again. The cubs didn't seem too interested in play, which was odd, but then again, humans were odd in general. So, he slept.

One of the dragon's pointed ears twitched, and slowly those eyes opened to scan his surroundings. Those jaws lined with razor-sharp daggers opened wide to let out a deep yawn. Glas took stock of his body. He felt hunger, a need to relieve himself, and a desire to move from his nest. So, he did. Slowly he crawled from his den and rose to his full height before stomping off towards arguably his favorite room on the ship: the galley.

Galley
30 minutes ago...

Trian...gle...


...

C...Circle.

...

Square.

In one hand, Glas, now shrunken down into his human form, held a breakfast sandwich. Sausage, a fried egg, and cheese, between two halves of a toasted bagle. There was a platter of several such sandwiches on the counter. Some were extras reserved for him, since his caloric needs were so much greater than everyone else's, while the rest were for anyone who wanted one. The Alpha and the cubs each had one reserved for them, for obvious reasons.

In his other hand was a glass of fruit juice. In front of him, on a tiny viewing screen, was a happy, colorful, cartoon space pirate and his crew. He had a shaggy beard and a tiny little hardlight cutlass, which he used to point at a series of shapes on the screen. The pirate commanded his audience to recite the name of the shape he pointed at, and so Glas obeyed, submitting to the man's greater knowledge of such things. It was astonishing how easily knowledge could be shared in this society.

Cockpit
Now...


Shortly after Dhalia's announcement, Glas shuffled into the cockpit, holding a couple sandwiches wrapped in paper towels. The turbulence didn't seem to affect him much, given his natural agility and reflexes. His legs merely shifted and bent accordingly to keep him steady.


I am ready to serve, Alpha. I bring nourishment.

The humanoid dragon offered Dhalia a sandwich. The other one he reserved for Artemis, but she appeared focused on piloting. No need for distracted flying.

Glas was still unused to the protocol of the ship. He didn't know if he was allowed in the cockpit. He didn't know how to do many of the technical tasks required to operate the vessel. But he could do menial labor, including moving heavy objects, fighting, and capturing errant blob creatures in pickle jars. But most surprisingly, despite his lack of intelligence, he did seem to know his way around a kitchen. So even if he couldn't operate a scanner, he could make breakfast sandwiches with the same skill and flare as when he folded an enemy's clothes while they were still wearing them.
 

Pancakei

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Enpala 13 - Atmosphere
ISS Downrider

Dahlia turned to look at Glas, with a slight smile. The dragon-human… thing was a bit of an inconvenience to accommodate, but was at least carrying their weight in thoughtfulness. “Thanks, though I don’t know how much I’ll be able to eat.” The Captain took a sandwich, thanking Glas before being interrupted by a message from the ventral station.

“Wait, Rhea??” The Captain protested, “It’s dangerous down there, you shouldn’t be in the pivot seat.”

Rhea shrugged. “No one else wanted it, its a great view, and its cozy down here.” There were the sounds of rummaging, as she investigated what they left behind in the neglected turret during its time as an auxiliary storage closet. “Oh wow, do these guns still work?” She strapped herself in and started to quickly familiarize herself with the controls. It was pretty easy to point her way around to everything she wanted to see so far. Old the turret may have been, but it seemed intuitive enough. “Ugh, fine, you can use the scanners down there,” the Captain sighed, ”but the guns are locked for safety.”

Artemis flicked a switch on basically the opposite side of the panel the captain searched. The CRACK of a high-power circuit almost beat the absolute flood of high-intensity lighting that immediately surrounded the front of the runnership. ”It’s a bit of a mess down here. Hopefully we can find traces of the ship before it gets darker… Or before something starts blinding us.”

Dahlia shielded her eyes for a moment as the perimeter lights bounced off the thinning cloud. "Right…" she said. A single blip of the radar broke the hum of the engines, prompting Dahlia to peer at the display. There was no further noise, prompting a cautious tap. As the ship descended beneath the clouds, the lights gave them an only marginal better view of their surroundings. What little sun reached this far painted the landscape dull and dim, the limited light reflecting off oddly shaped peaks of metal ahead. The Captain peered closely through the cameras and window of the ship, catching a glimpse of one of the light sources. There were no street lights, there were no buildings. The lights that could be seen from the surface were in fact luminescent trees, scattered thinly about the desolate area they were descending upon.

The active radar picked up another intermittent blip, far away. The passive sonar however threw up cause for alarm. The ground beneath the ship drew closer steadily, and from the darkness beyond emerged a large plate of metal sticking out like a gleaming blade in the light, dead ahead of the Downrider’s path.

”Hey, there it is ag-SHIT BRACE!” The pilot shouted, the last part unfortunately not being sent via the ship’s speakers as the Downrider swerved, reaction wheels whining in protest as they were forced to rapidly rotate the ship to the side, the main propulsion flaring up aggressively as its fluffy controller pushed the ship forward in the new direction. Tossing the already-battered adventuring party about the ship’s interior through this maneuver, Artemis just had to hope that nobody was playing with sharp objects when she managed to successfully talk over the internal radio.


Rhea, was glad that most of the junk in the turret was tied down. And for seatbelts. The view was still, in her opinion, making the rough flight worth it. The beautiful trees down below were… a sight. From her angle, even nicer than an unobscured night sky. She let out a laugh, and leaned forward to grip the controls more tightly.

”Sorry about that. This storm’s screwing our radar over, nearly hit some sorta… I dunno, what was that?” Still talking over the radio, Artemis looked at Dahlia for just a moment before keeping her eyes on the… Sky.

The maneuver had thrown the Captain about- as it did everyone who wasn’t currently strapped down. “Good reflexes, bring us to hover speed,” she complemented the pilot's handiwork, now taking time to properly apply the safety harness. After reorienting herself, the Captain made another announcement. “We may have a rough flight ahead, strap down the cargo and buckle up everyone...”

The Captain’s train of thought was interrupted as she realized the obstruction they had just cleared was not yet past. The grand metal blade continued on and on as they continued their slowed flight. The spotlights around and mounted on the turret beneath the ship revealed its exterior to be entirely grey and red metal, showing signs of burial and decay into the depths below as the structure had fallen in on itself. As Rhea jostled the remote spotlight around, the light gleamed across the faded sign of a warning.


IFS-077 AILERON


Rhea read the sign with a hum. “Hey what does this mean? A callsign for a ship?” Rhea frowned, and started pointing the camera around. Another wrecked ship? And probably not the one they are looking for. Three times is enemy action? Was that the phrase?

The Captain’s mouth hung agape for a moment as she read the upside down lettering that had been buried halfway into the ground. “What in the world…” The Captain picked up the radio to the gunner below, realization dawning upon her. “Search out what readings you can. Artemis, I think that’s... another freighter.” The Captain commented. The intermittent blip came once again from the direction of the wayward sunrise, this time with a little less delay.

”Gotchya gotchya - We shouldn’t be hitting anything as long as we keep this slow. That’s big, though… How’d it end up here?” As the Downrider chased the intermittent pings, Artemis had her fluffy head on a swivel, looking for any other debris. The storm was messing with their sensors, just enough to make it unreliable. She didn’t like it. Even the altimeter was on the fritz.

Dahlia checked the pages of her logbook related to the system, her face starting to droop with concern. “I’m not sure. Given the small size, relative dark position, I can see it visually being missed. If that cloud contains enough metal to throw off our scanners, I could see it distorting broad searches as well…” The intermittent ping broke the Captain’s speech, now consolidating to a single point ahead of the ship.

The Captain glanced through the window once more, peering at the more closely lit surroundings the ship was hovering through. What caught the captain’s eye was another object in Rhea’s spotlight jutting out of the ground- the remains of another ship. “And I don’t think anyone on these vessels have come back to tell-” Dahlia reeled back, starting to realize the gravity of their situation. Another ship. And another.


And another. The broken, distorted ground beneath the crew was not ground at all. The surface of the planet was littered with ships of all shapes and sizes.



“Oh- oh my God. Artemis-” The Captain was interrupted once more by the ping, this time much faster. It was followed soon by another, and another, and a dozen more. Dahlia looked up to the stretch ahead in panic, as three glints of light broke over the horizon. The beeps turned into the deafening screech of an impact warning as the Captain slammed her hands down on the armrests. “UP! UP THRUST!

Artemis didn’t even bother speaking as the Downrider groaned and creaked with its aged frame suddenly put to the test, the pilot pushing up the nose of the vessel and gunning the throttle. The artificial gravity generator held, but everyone still felt the push of inertia as Artemis desperately made a getaway. ”It’s some kinda missile! Droppin’ flares!”

On the Downrider’s exterior, several hatches opened up, and a multitude of impacts sent out brightly-glowing decoys to either side of the vessel, the set of flares falling to the ground - the opposite direction of the ship, of course - in an attempt to bait the incoming missiles into firing somewhere else. Artemis kept pushing up, and up, and further, as the incoming warnings rushed towards her on the radar, and then at the last possible moment… nearly cut the engines. The flares were still burning - she hoped that they’d be the better target.


Three streaks of purple light burned across the horizon towards the Downrider at startling speed, visible for but a fraction of a second as they raced beneath the ship. The missiles impacted the projected flares, eviscerating them as they continued along a path beyond the Downrider itself. The entire cargo ship shook loudly from the passing shockwave, rattling the panels of containers of the ship before the sonic boom settled. Dahlia straightened herself, checking the radar as the warning turned back into beeps that were getting progressively further away. Now awake with adrenaline, she commanded the crew as the ship stalled momentarily. “We are in hostile airspace, ready yourselves-”

The Captain stopped as the beeping resumed, closing in on the Downrider from afar once more. Visible from the cargo bay door, the three streaks of light re-emerged from the ships four and five o’clock. Dahlia clenched the radio away from herself, turning to Artemis. “Go, go! Full speed!”

The Downrider groaned again as Artemis put the throttle to full, thrusters screaming in protest as its little pilot went to work. She couldn’t try that little free-fall trick again so soon, and had to work harder. Leveling the courier out, Artemis made for the nearest arrangement of wrecked hulls, focused just enough to lose her ability to speak. She had a plan.

Another set of flares was thrown out as the Downrider streaked by an aileron, half of them bouncing off the side of the damaged metal. Artemis kept her eyes focused ahead, looking for something to hide behind. The precipitation of the storm made that difficult. She just hoped that when she saw something, she wouldn’t hit it. “Get out of the turret, we need a gunner!” Dahlia commanded Rhea.

Throughout all this, however, Rhea's gaze remained absolutely fixed to the screen, as she tracked the path of the missiles. And more importantly, took a gander at the functions of the turret that gave her an idea of what would hit where, and when, if she fired. The guns may be locked, but their targeting functions and aiming reticles sure weren’t. That seemed like a design flaw, what if someone detected that they had a lock on even with the guns being deactivated, and took that as a threat?

“Uh, captain I don’t know if you noticed but- urk-” She paused as the ship continued accelerating and maneuvering to avoid the incoming fire. “No one is going to be able to get here with us moving around like this- and I’m already strapped in!” And besides, with Artemis’s flying… staying strapped in would be the safest choice for her, really.

The door to the cockpit burst open as Tara braced herself against the door, looking between the hall and the two ahead. “What in the blazes is going on??” Dahlia gritted her teeth, looking at the Overseer. “Some kind of smart missiles on our tail, be useful and see if you can identify them.”

As the ship accelerated full blast, the beeping grew louder but steady. The missiles were gaining on the ship from the distance, appearing in the rear camera display. The missiles were shaped like triangular rods with a grey and blue coloration, three advanced aerofoils keeping them in a stalking formation behind the ISS Downrider. As the flares were launched against the side of the crashed ship, one of the three missiles diverted briefly- only to regain its proper target a few seconds later. “Oh fuck! the Captain exclaimed. Out of options, the Captain winced, “unlocking coilgun! Everyone else-” the Captain breathed sharply, she didn’t know. “Brace for a bumpy ride.”

There was a heavy metal CHA-CHUNK as the cannon detached from the side of the ship, falling into alignment with the pivoting seat. Rhea grinned as the reticules and trigger changed color from a dull grey to a menacing red. Even as the terrifying fear of death weighed down on her psyche, she flicked the switches and scanned the skies for targets. The missiles, thankfully, didn’t seem to possess anything resembling a self preservation instinct yet, despite probably being driven by a rudimentary internal AI of some kind.

“Alright… let’s give them a phobia of straight lines and predictable parabolas.” She muttered with a nervous chuckle. She just had to get a read on how they moved...

The screams of the missiles exhaust could be heard throughout the Downrider as the missiles gained on them. The Overseer held on to the back of the seat firmly, gazing quite unsteadily at the jostling camera monitor. “Oh gods, I know these.” she commented. Dahlia opened her mouth to drive a statement out, but the Overseer was a step ahead of her. “Those are Dragonflies, old Arcadian war ordinance. They're not missiles.”


The ISS Downrider ducked and weaved to its best ability around the graveyard as the 'not missiles' gained on them, each turn throwing any unseated crew about as the myriad of untethered items were thrown from their shelves. Glasawyr’s platter of sandwiches were thrown against the port wall without grace as the galley’s cabinets were flung open, dumping their contents entirely. In the cargo bay, strapped containers shifted back and forth, at risk of loosening. Stored within the bay for further examination, the drawer containing a certain pickle jar was flung open, letting its prisoner roll out and shatter against the metal floor.


The valley was littered with ships and debris, but the missiles kept up in perfect sync with the ships movements. Draped conduit and debris scratched against the side of the ship, bouncing off its impact shielding with streaks of light. As the ship raced towards the lighter side of the planet, Aradia caught sight of the hollowed hull of a monumental starship, large enough to weave through. “What do Dragonflies do?!” The Captain commanded.

“They hunt.” Tara spoke wistfully. “No impacts necessary, remote fired ordinance, they won’t be backing down without a fight.” Dahlia ripped the radio up once more, relaying to the crew. “They’re gaining on us! Try and get a shot in!” The trio of missiles behind the ship reached cruising speed a hundred meters or so behind the ship, slowing down so as to not impact it directly. The triangular front of the lead missile split open and slid back, revealing a serrated barrel that glowed intensely.

As far as Rhea was concerned, that was a mistake. She moved the barrel into position. She had an idea. So far, they’d been painfully predictable after the first few turns. Sure, they were virtually stationary now in relation to the ship, but there was no harm in trying to get a better target- shooting at their broadside would be easier than trying to hit a pinprick pointed right at them. And really, this might be her only easy shot- if they were basically drones, they wouldn’t just let her take free shots at them once they got return fire.

“Artemis! I think I’ve got their movement patterns down, move left! Or is it bank? However you say it! Just get them to show me their flanks!” As she spoke, she opened fire herself, trusting the pilot to work with her to move the missiles into a more predictable location.

”Missiles with GUNS? What the hell?” Artemis shouted, her eyes having flicked to the rear-camera’s display. This, obviously, complicated things. It complicated them a lot. She decided to trust the suggestion though, and cut the engines enough to pivot the ship so it was flying sideways - and then gunned forward again, turning the Downrider’s trajectory in a vastly different direction than before.

As the courier ship gave a sharp turn its pursuers followed in a wide berth, deftly dodging the skeletons of ships they raced through. With an opportunity for a perfect shot, Rhea open fired on the exposed missile. With her lack of experience and the recoil of the heavy slugs pushing back on the turret, the burst was hardly accurate. One bullet landed true, clipping the missile in one of its fins and sending it off course just in time.


The exposed barrel of the missile burst with light as a heavy shell was launched from the railgun, just missing the ship's engines as it rattled Rhea’s seat. The projectile, a thin black rod with a blinking light whizzed past the cockpit window with just enough time for only Tara to be able to register it. “Miss!” the Captain called as the projectile slung ahead as Tara gripped the wall behind her. "Not yet!" The celebration was cut short as the projectile exploded ahead of the ship, peppering it with shrapnel. A large metal shard impacted the cockpit window directly, partially piercing it. The Downrider emerged from the fireball intact, but sparks of white electricity bounced violently from the lodged shrapnel, throwing up hull breach and shield decay warnings across the board.

The clipped missile continued to spiral out and away from the other two, impacting a nearby pylon from a crashed starship with an even greater explosion. “Damnit, damn it! The impact shields!” the Captain cursed as she tried restoring the ship’s shielding with no avail. As the courier raced into the cover of the massive crash site, the two remaining missiles followed them with what appeared to be greater caution, flying in tandem above the ship’s center. Stay conduits and debris grazed against the hull of the Downrider, sending muffled scrapes and bangs across the ship’s interior.

Artemis yelped as a shard of metal found itself stopped mere inches from her face. Too many damn close calls recently! She snapped her head from one position to another, noting the new position of the pursuing bogeys and then rapidly flipping the ship upside-down, its belly to the sky - giving Rhea just enough clearance to take more potshots before these Dragonflies could react again.


Many distracting thoughts raced through Rhea’s noggin as the chase went on. Like the fact that the shields were down, or that the missiles kind of looked vaguely like the sealed shots you’d see at a doctor’s office. Were the shields gone? What happened in the cockpit? Did we just get injected? While she did her best to clear her head, they all had tickets so her conductor ahd to let them aboard her train of thought and touch all the controls.

No fancy tricks this time, she knew that she didn’t have the practical experience for it, and she was depending hard on the pilot for this- so when she saw the briefest of opportunities, she took it, letting out controlled bursts so as to not let the recoil throw off her aim too much, as she peppered at the missile once more. “D-do you” She coughed and gritted her teeth. No time for shaking in her straps. “Do you think if I get a lucky shot on their payloads it will explode and knock the other down with it?

Really, she didn’t like this. Missiles that fired air burst explosives, that had a self preservation instinct… And she swore in her mind that she could hear them screaming… could she use that somehow? She started listening hard, as she bided her time for future lined up shots.

As Rhea opened fire from the flipped perspective, the two remaining missiles took evasive actions, swaying out of the way and gliding around to the rear of the ship. One of her charges clipped a missile, but before she could take proper advantage of it the strained gravity manipulator of the cargo ship gave out. Rhea’s seat fell back against the trapdoor she came from, almost folding the young one. The port-side missile took aim, but not at the Downrider. The Captain winced as the gravity generator died, with OSC-01 having fell to the ceiling- now ground. “Roll!” she commanded as another projectile flew past the ship, impacting the terrain ahead of them. The explosion caused a cascade of metal to fall down from the massive crashed starcraft ahead of the ship, narrowing their path ahead to an uncomfortably close gap. What lied ahead wass a narrow but wide tunnel between the ships massive engines. There was light at the end of the tunnel, however.

The fired drone took a spontaneous turn upwards and away from the chase, its flight path shaky from its damaged hull. The remaining missile stayed in pursuit behind the craft as it chased them into a tight valley of fire and metal.


Artemis shouted in frustration as her view was briefly blocked and she found herself trapped in a tunnel, gripping the Downrider’s flightstick with a white-knuckled amount of tension as she desperately kept it heading straight down her only exit. ”Rhea, get ready to aim forward!”

“Urk- oh god my insides-” could be barely heard over the screaming through the comms. Followed shortly by some shuffling noises as she quickly readjusted, cheating to use echyllis to help against the G-forces here so that she wouldn’t be thrown around QUITE so much, locking herself a little more firmly into place with outgrowths of the crystal almost sprouting from her seat around her after she forced herself back into a not folded in half sitting position.

“Call an ambulance?” She muttered as she pondered the possibility of internal bleeding. She obeyed the commands nonetheless, as she turned to aim forward, confident in the pilot’s skills even if she was… not really explaining why they were aiming forward. She was sure it would be pretty badass, though, and yet another reason to have Artemis be her best friend. Beyond the whole ‘secondary medic that isn’t insane’ deal she had going on.

As she wondered whether she was just in shock, and if that was why she wasn’t freaking out so hard, she considered the fact that Friday was the ship’s primary medic, and her eyes widened. “U-uh, but not for me!” Her grip tightened on the trigger just a bit, sweating as her eyes absolutely glued themselves to the screen. No, she would not be visiting Friday after this. “It’s too dangerous, get out now!” The Captain called to the turret station.

The turret rattled as it spun around completely on it’s basin, stopping at its front facing position. With the spotlight facing towards the front, Rhea caught a harrowing glimpse of a thick support strut that rushed forth from the darkness, a head on collision course with the Downriders underbelly. “PULL UP!” The Captain barked as she saw the pylon on radar, far too late and far too confined. The racing ship impacted the strut, the bulkhead scraping across its entire belly as it crashed into the ventral turret. The turret was ripped away from the ship in an instant, hurtling and bouncing behind the Downrider’s path as it was pulverized by inertia. The pursuing missile slowed briefly, evading the bouncing debris by pulling to the side of the ship. The detatched turret bounced to a stop hundreds of meters behind, utterly destroyed.

“RHEEAAA!” the Captain screeched, nearly tearing into the armrests of her seat as the camera feed cut out the moment she jerked.




The hole where the ventral turret once was billowed with smoke and sparks, the decompression of the breach ripping at the items stored in the closet and dumping them into the crash site around the Downrider. Rhea’s legs jiggled violently in the current, nearly ripping her shoes off as she hung above the hole by her collar. WIth a strained thrust, Tara slammed the ventral hatch shut against gravity, falling against the hallway hull with Rhea in tow.

Rhea coughed and sputtered as she lay there, gasping for air. Okay, maybe the ambulance SHOULD be for her… she’s going to have to go hide behind Artemis to get away isn’t she… It took her a few, long moments, to process what the hell just happened. Did Artemis’ piloting skills fail her? Why was the ground so hard and oddly shaped? How did she even get out of the turret?

Most of those questions were answered as she looked up and saw she was giving the oversee- Tara, a hug. She considered things for a few moments longer, before doubling down and readjusting for a more complete grip on her. Definitely just to make sure she didn’t get slammed into the ceiling in the next crazy maneuver Artemis was about to do. And the hiccups were from her lungs being punched with the force of a tornado. Not any other reason at all.

Behind the Downrider, the slowed drone opened its front end, charging the cannon as it lined up with the back of the courier ship for an easy shot in the narrow valley. Dahlia snapped between the rear monitor and the myriad of damage warnings in front of her as she thought fast. The Captain ripped the radio up once more, relaying a most brief and desperate message to the entire crew. “OPEN THE CARGO DOOR! DUMP ANYTHING VOLATILE!” Dahlia twisted in her seat as she shouted, shouting down the hall at the same time. When she spotted Rhea atop the partially-folded Overseer against the wall- which had begun to act as the new ‘down’, she exhaled brief relief. There was no time for celebration. “Secure her and the crew, this is going to be messy!” Tara nodded, doing her best to stand straight hesitantly given the inverted orientation. The Overseer set Rhea ahead of her, keeping her within distance as she moved towards the wrecked lounge of the ship.


Cargo Bay

The Downrider was a mess- more so than usual. Anything not explicitly bolted and strapped to the floor had been knocked around during the dogfight. Cargo containers that had broken free from their straps had fallen against the wall, or hung precariously overhead. With the ship rolled partially starboard-side to fit through their narrow escape, the starboard wall of the ship was the only ground the crew could find. Alarm and emergency lights blared deafeningly, though they were muted for the captain’s announcement. Glas’s pillow bed was absolutely ruined.

The red light and screeching engines of the charging missile could be seen swaying through the narrow window that ran across the cargo bay door. The door controls were located against the back side of the ship, fortunately in reach of the starboard wall. As for volatile contents, numerous cargo containers could be released with parachutes should someone find a way to reach them. The most blatant option would be the extra fuel for the ship. The precariously stacked barrels on which the crew argued around the days proper were still strapped in…

...against the port wall. Getting it down from the ceiling would take some fast thinking. The bags of Kerolyne powder lifted from the Defile were also an option, though it would require climbing through the inverted ship to their storage in the hazardous materials contianer in engineering.
 

ZweiHawke

Well-Known Member
Cargo Bay

The turbulence woke Reman with a thud to the wall, planting his face firmly against the metal of the ship. Regretting passing out in the cargo bay after adjusting the weapons systems, the mechanic overheard the commotion. Missiles? The blaring sirens of the ship weren't quite helpful to the massive headache that he was now experiencing. Looking outside the now floor-bound windows, Reman caught a glimpse of these freakish dragonfly proxies and tried to divert the airflow around the missile to throw it off track, close to any stationary debris he could find.

Romulus wasn't so scatterbrained however. The Veteran was fully repaired and ready to actually function properly. Romulus pulled he trigger inside the ship, opening a portal to the outside, aimed far, far ahead of the missile. The aim was to allow the crew to jettison dangerous material not just in front of this proxy, but dangerous material at that. It was very brief before he noticed the ranged weaponry. He needed time to think.

"Don't risk falling out of the ship, If you're gonna toss something use the damn portal."
 
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Blizzard

Well-Known Member
Cockpit

Glas was about to dive for Rhea's turret himself. He had some light bruising that would heal momentarily, but for the most part he'd been unaffected by the evasive maneuvers, once again due to his uncanny agility. But he found no need, because the child was now safe, thanks to... Tara...? Glas took a moment to study Tara, with a thoughtful expression. He'd fully expected the false-life to abandon the child to save itself. The metal sky demons were said to act in such a fashion. Their army of false lives especially. Why did this one risk its wellbeing for a child? Odd.

Either way, Dhalia had given him orders.

Cargo Bay

Truly this was the most tragic day in Downrider history.

His sandwiches were scattered upon the winds.

His nest, lying in ruins.

But still he carried on, searching for "volatile" things to be thrown from the ship. From personal experience, he knew that a ship's fuel stores, when mixed with fire, could result in a catastrophic explosion. It would also make certain humans in dark blue uniforms with shiny golden pieces of metal pinned to their chests really, really angry. They would show up and begin shooting their tiny guns at him. The small projectiles would merely bounce off, but it still hurt, and it was very rude. Thankfully, Glas didn't mind those humans showing up again at the moment, his Pack's safety of greater importance.

Glas entered the bay and saw Reman and his portal. Quickly scanning, his eyes fell upon the fuel containers on the ceiling. He was okay with that being the ceiling now. Sometimes it just be like that. So, the hawaiian shirt-clad monk leapt up to the ceiling with zero discernable effort, and latched on to the straps holding the barrels in place. He was about to try yanking the straps free when a thought struck him. Just how did he plan to catch the barrels? This would require another.

Dropping back to the floor, Glas instead turned his attention to the cargo containers. Ones that wouldn't result in fiery death for everyone... except him. Damn squishy humans. Shifting up to his full size, the dragon grabbed one of the containers that had been used to build his den, and hefted it above his head as if it weighed nothing. Quickly, he stomped to the portal and hurled it through the gateway as hard as he could. He saw a flash beyond the narrow window of the bay door, and witnessed the crate he'd just been holding rocket backwards towards the missile. An idea struck the reptile, and he smiled. Well, as best as he could given his anatomy. It really just looked like he'd barred his teeth slightly. It was a bit unsettling.

Friend Reman, we must rid ourselves of the fuel. Someone must release them, so that I may catch them.


In the meantime, Glas began running to and fro, grabbing cargo containers, hurling them through the portal with the hopes of striking the dragonfly. Ocassionally, he would send a volley of blue fireballs through the portal as well. His actions followed no predictable pattern.
 
ISS Downrider
Friday's Illicit Operating Chamber


Friday was, to say the least, pissed; an uncommon sight when you consider her permanently joyous demeanor. Here she was practicing her cybernetic installation rights, when these people had to freak out on her, rocking the ship to and fro, screaming and yelling and overall making a huge mess of things. She was, at this very moment, looking down at an opened chest cavity, at which several installation tools had now been jammed, bent, and broken inside (and no doubt the new devices she was installing had suffered a similar fate too), only caused her to become filled with a fury that her face could not properly display.

As she looked up from the absolute mechanical spaghetti that was left in the open cavity, the sight that was laid bare to her caused her eyes to widen to a terrifying degree.


Being thrown around her room, her nearly 300 pounds of biomechanical weight being hurtled against every wall, desk, and shelf, denting and cracking everything in sight didn't help things either. Her huge collection of unsecured jars (containing various medicinal fluids) had obviously been launched from the shelves as everything in the room was now soaked in a slurry of drugs, broken, glass, and unethically-obtained blood samples (for the purpose of transfusion, of course), including herself. Posters detailing medical procedures, anatomical structures, and more were now torn and hanging off the walls, most soggy as well. The equipment she used for making and installing cybernetics, as well as the equipment she used for surgery, was either bent out of shape or completely broken. Not a single thing was left untouched by the carnage that her unintentional momentum left in its wake, not to mention the change in orientation screwing everything up even more so.

"O-Oh dear! What a ter-er-er-er-er-er-er-er-er-er-er-er-" Her rising anger had caused a malfunction, as she got stuck on a word for nearly an entire minute, her head twisting slightly to the side as she continued to be hung up on it. But, she knew how to fix it.

She raised her right arm, and delivered a blow to her cheek, knocking her head back to its proper position and clearing the extreme stutter. "-errible fffffffffFFFFUCKING mess! FUCK!" The doctor said, clearly annoyed, as she clapped both hands together in an attempt to lighten the situation, at least for herself.

She looked around the room, before heavily sighing at the sight of her beautiful desk crumpled like a piece of scrap paper, her collection of miniature tinfoil anatomical figures scattered across the surface in ravaged disarray. Not only was there monetary damage, but sentimental damage as well, which became especially distressing for her. (UN)Fortunately, this rapidly increasing distress only manifested itself as nothing...

...but a thin, wide, shaky smile.

"O-Okay Felicia, c-calm down. We c-can replace this. Its just t-temporary, n-nothing that a bit of hard wo-work can't fix, y-yeah." Gripping her hair, she breathed heavily through her teeth-grinding smile. "J-Just, g-gotta calm down. M-Maybe, maybe someone... someone's hurt, y-yeah, that'll take my mind off it, yeah. Just gotta... just gotta see some blood to cool my nerves."

Friday stood up from her sitting position, and attempted to wipe off the disgusting mixture that stained her clothes, to no avail. At least it had dried, but, no matter. She had a head to cool off, and maybe some people to heal. So, making sure the rest of her was working, she tiredly opened the door as she climbed out into the hallway, her madness blinding her to the new orientation of the Downrider.
 
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Pancakei

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Cargo Bay

Behind the ship, the missile slowed to duck and weave between the incoming debris being chucked out the back of the ISS Downrider. Food, supplies, findings, even OSC-01’s claimed box on the ship, everything chucked downrange was a desperate maneuver to gain space. The joint effort of slowing the charging drone down. The ploy bought the ship time as the missile was forced to slow down and cancel its shot, pursuing the Downrider from a greater distance Thinking on his feet, the Mechanic turned to look at Glas who was readying himself into position for a tag-teamed barrel throw. Reman glanced up at the barrels overhead, before choosing to abandon his attempts at throwing off the missile directly.

Using his reclaimed cyclone armor, Reman bolted across what used to be the floor of the cargo bay, clinging to the rafters for security as he reached for the fuel barrels strapped in overhead. Carefully, he loosened the strap and began passing them one by one down to the dragon, using air currents to cushion their descent. Glas got to work hurling them through Romulus’ portal towards the missile, aiming to strike it down. Barrel after barrel, the missile evaded with ease as it began to take aim at the dragon through the portal. A critical shot straight into the Downrider that would easily decimate the entire ship. The barrels continued past the missile, tumbling behind it as its path corrected. Behind the missile, violent explosions sent debris and hot air tumbling about as the narrow hallway behind them collapsed.

Down to his last few barrels, Glasawyr had to think hard and fast how to turn this around. In a struggling moment of epiphany, something began to make sense. The triangles, the circles, the squares, it all came together. The missile was expecting projectiles, it would dodge well out of their path. The explosions made the ceiling collapse. Raising the remaining barrel with a mighty heave, Glasawyr threw it downrange well ahead and below the missile.

The missile compensated, slinging itself towards the ceiling as the barrel exploded ahead of it. The resulting explosion collapsed the ceiling, capturing the pursuing missile in a cascade of metal and fire as the portal opened Romulus’ began to die out.


---

Behind the Downrider, the resulting explosion caused a chain reaction as the cargo of the missile exploded shortly after, sending a pillar of fire and debris slamming against the back of the courier ship. Artemis held her hands steady against the controls with a grip of steel as the ship rattled about, blasting out through the exit from the massive starship with an explosive thrust. The hallway they had broken free from billowed with fire and smoke as the surrounding wreckage collapsed from the damage. The entirety of the ship reoriented as they leveled out, the floor becoming the floor once more as the wayward debris, cargo, and crew settled.

The area ahead of the Downrider’s path had opened up, the entire front end of the starship they had just flown through being split in half as the hazy dark sky was visible once more. Dahlia huffed heavily, checking all the cameras that remained amidst the fight for any more intrusions. “Count, one, two... three, was that the last one??” The Captain flipped through the multitude of warnings that had flashed across the display ahead of them. The impact shields were down, mild pressure damage, fire damage on the rear. Minor hull breaches, turret was down, much of the external communication and scanning equipment was lost as well. The ship was not yet space-ready, but quick work would have to be done.

Artemis shook her head. ”Likely not. Ships this big would at least sometimes have extra defenses, so three of these Dragonflies wouldn’t take them down. Yet, they crashed still. There’s more of those things out there. Let’s hope they haven’t noticed us yet... “ The pilot took a look around the cockpit’s various readouts. ”We’re not going to be able to leave the atmosphere with the ship like this. Try getting whatever scanners we’ve got left working on finding some salvageable components. I’ll fly us low, hopefully that makes it harder to spot us.”

“Right, I’ll get emergency repairs initiated. We need to get off-planet as soon as possible.” Dahla commented as she began issuing repair orders to anyone who wasn’t currently recovering from trauma or vomiting from motion sickness.



Behind the Downrider, a purple flare of light emerged from the top of the crashed starship. The second drone which had abandoned the fight earlier hovered at the top of the monumental crash. Two pairs of glowing purple wings projected from its sides had replaced the damaged rudders, alternating beats at an intense speed. Having caught visual of its target, the wings retracted as the missile launched off once more. Though the active radar was now nonoperational, the dreadful screech of an approaching engine could be heard echoing from the metal valley surrounding the ship. “Oh hell!” Dahlia gritted her teeth as she rescinded the repair order immediately. “Sctach that, we need to leave, now!”

God damn they’re persistent, Artemis thought to herself as she punched the throttle again, forcing the Downrider into an accelerated limp. At least this time, the ship was level instead of sideways. ”We have one more coming from above! You guys got any more stuff to throw at it?”

The last missile quickly gained on the rising Downrider, having evaluated their tactics and learned a new approach. The missile did not stop accelerating until it was racing even with the Downrider, keeping a steady distance in the blind spot of their starboard-side engine. It was out of the way of the cargo bay door, out of their front sight, and at a distance where it could pin the ship during its maneuvers. The front end of the missile slid forward, before rotating one position with a menacing clunk before sliding back into an open and charging position. Dahlia peered at the missile briefly through the very edge of the cockpit window, before turning to Artemis. “To orbit, now. We’ll have to seal off the breached areas and deal with it ourselves.”

The Downrider jerked upward at its helmswoman’s command, going nearly vertical now. ”You guys better seal off the cargo bay if you can, we’re falling back to orbit!” she commanded over the speakers. She hoped that someone knew how to fix a hull breach in this crew...


The Downrider plunged into the storm once more, its pursuer keeping up in tandem as metal shards rained against the shield-less ship. Dahlia threw off her safety harness, clinging to the wall as she worked her way down to the ventral mount. The captain made sure the airlock was sealed fully, before climbing back to the cabin with a near slip in between. When she got there, the captain heaved to slam the cockpit door shut, sealing the two in with the other known breach. “Oxygen on,” Dahlia commanded as she flipped back into her seat at the wrong angle. Her attempts to mask up were interrupted as the missile made its move under the cover of the storm.

The dragonfly shot forward ahead of the Downrider, kicking into a wide drift around the ship as it did so. The ominous glow of the barrel could be seen curving around the ship through the dense cloud as the two began to approach interception. Dahlia threw her hand out to the seat handle as she called out the attack, to which the pilot could do little before impact. Having learned the pilot’s flying style, the missile matched their roll as it raced down the port side of the ship from ahead, firing its payload into the port-side engine intake with a sickening CRUNCH.

One second, caught in time. The unready crew racing to try and patch the ship's damage, others just trying to stand amidst the thrown cargo.

Two seconds, OSC-01 reached out to grab both Rhea and Friday as they had been braced against the back wall of the commons area, diving to the starboard side.

Three seconds, the Captain and the Pilot in the cockpit clinging desperately to controls amidst a yell.



---


The black rod lodged inside the engine blinked loudly as the chemical inside detonated. The portside engine of the ISS Downrider exploded outward violently in a plume of fire and shrapnel, knocking the ship away from its heading as the power blacked out across the ship. The explosion tore the entire outward end of the thruster apart, exposing shaking mechanics and burning metal to the onslaught of the storm as the ship began to fall. The port wall of the Cargo Bay had been breached and torn, with the back door hanging agape and tumbling in the wind. The crew had to hold on for dear life as the ship turned, wind ripping through the open door. The ship began to tumble from the force as the power flickered back to life, though the controls of the ship were limited at best.

The ISS Downrider continued its plunge back where it came from with a spiral of smoke behind them, planing the crew against the floor from the forces as the Captain screamed into the now-scratchy intercom. “MAYDAY! MAYDAY!”


Artemis shouted, a wordless curse to the fearsome robotic drone as her control over the Downrider rapidly declined. She was able to keep it from plummeting, but the ship was starting to spiral out of control - too fast and it’ll turn everyone inside into paste. The g-forces could already be felt thanks to the non-functional artificial gravity generator. Pale fingers danced across the dashboard. Suddenly, even above the chaos of the ship’s destruction, everyone could hear a high-pitched, angry whine. ”Limiters are off! This is the only chance you’ve got!” Artemis shouted over the intercom as the courier’s internal self-rightening mechanisms shook violently, doing their best to keep it from spinning any more. Dahlia appended the announcement. “ABANDON SHIP!”

Through the Pilots control, the ship slowed from a straight tumble into a wide, gliding spiral downwards. Emergency lights across the ship flickered and blared as bright orange lights blinked above one of several emergency panels marked around the ship. Behind them were sets of parachutes and mashed helmets with small oxygen canisters attached. Fighting the forces of gravity trying to pull them away, Tara ripped one of the emergency kits and pressed it against Rhea’s chest, moving the child to the location of Vargas alongside another kit for himself. “Get her off the ship!”

One step at a time, the Overseer made their way to the starboard airlock to the immediate right of the lounge. Tara grabbed the door, throwing their weight back and forth to force it open. The airlock door popped clean from its seal, slamming against the side of the Downrider where it laid pinned by the extreme forces being thrown upon it. The drop to the planet below was in sight now as the ship emerged from the bottom of the storm cloud, which by then it had occurred to the Overseer that there was no easy way down for herself.

Dahlia joined in Artemis’ fight, pulling back on the auxiliary controls as hard as possible to level the ship as altitude warnings began to flash across the cracked window. The remaining engine of the Downrider sputtered and whined as the damaged one rapidly shook what remained of itself to pieces. Tara pressed herself against the airlock, holding the door open as some members of the crew exited through the side, parachutes in tow as they dived into the jet stream below. Some exited through other means available, including through the wide open cargo door at the rear of the ship.

---

Tara glanced back into the ship hall, verifying the crew had been evacuated. "That's the last one!" Tara shouted with a tint of worry. The Overseer made their way slowly towards the cockpit door before being stopped by the dying intercom. “That inclu- -des you, Tara. I need you to make- take care-” Tara stopped unwillfully at first at the Captain's call, but acknowledged the order after a moment or reflection. Moving to the airlock last, they were joined by their trio of Pixy units who had managed to survive the onset of gravity through their ability. It was their only shot. Grasping the edges of the open door firmly, the Overseer threw themselves out of the rapidly descending ship into a dive.

---



Enpala 13
Surface


Tara's descent to the planet's surface was slowed as all three Pixy units held to her arms in protest of gravity. Still, their combined weight and lack of parachute made them the first to drop. The Overseer dropped themselves against an embankment of metal, sliding down the side of it before tumbling to a stop onto the rocky ground below with some damage along the way. The Overseer pulled themselves from the ground as fast as they could, though their strained arm motors resisted.

Overhead, the ISS Downrider continued into it's last bank, straightening out as it approached a flyover the landing site. It was a sight and sound equally mortifying as the cargo ship the crew called home spiraled out of the sky, leaving a plume of smoke and debris in its wake. Tara scrambled to her feet, trying to rush back up the ship they sloped off of for a better vantage. Objects ranging from debris to entire containers and boxes fell from the sky, sinking into the ground around them as the strained moan of the engines and blaring klaxon of the ISS Downrider faded into the distance. From the vantage point of the descending crew, the wayward ship quickly dipped over the visible horizon and behind the mounds of wreckage ahead leaving only a trail of smoke in its path. The screech of the missile approached and left with equal speed as the dragonfly drone zoomed overhead, ignoring the adrift crew as it's purple exhaust streaked over the horizon towards the hazy sun.A distant flash of light gave way to a solid half-minute of silence before the cacophony of explosions and crashes reverberated off the valley of metal the crew was descending upon.

Touching down after much time adrift, the crew landed in various positions and states in the same general area. They had landed in a clear patch of grey dirt, hiding in the shadows of multiple wrecked starships which formed a valley around the crew. The surface of Enpala 13 was dark and cold, with the sun being a hazy dot in the far sky that could only barely provide enough light for close vision. The ground was damp and rocky, with the occasional sight of a glowing tree being the only beacon available on the planets surface. Gentle, infrequent drops of rain pattered the dark surface, dampening everything eventually. Tara was still, slowly slipping down their perch as they gazed into the distant cone of smoke to the west that was quickly bleeding away.



Strange as it was, after the storm of metal and fire that had taken them to the ground, there was an uneasy tranquility to their current situation. No more chases, no more explosions, no more orders, only the gentle patter of rainfall and ash. After minutes passed and the partly unconscious crew came to terms with their newfound radio silence, it was quickly felt by everyone that the calmness was not a sign of peace.



It was a sign they were abandoned.

Ep4_smol.png
 
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Dadragon6

Active Member
Enpala 13
Multiple Locations™

The ex-sergeant had been trained for this, extensively over the course of his life. Stay calm, follow the rhythm of marching orders—one, two, one, two... even throughout their whole clusterfuck of an atmospheric entry, he had remained calm. In the fact of overwhelming odds and the life of his charge, Rhea, at stake, he calmly carried out his duty like clockwork. One, two, one, two. He did not make heads nor tails of the situation until long after abandoning ship, performing like a well-oiled machine programmed for this.

One, two. One, two. He finally touched down upon the planet's surface, tightly holding onto Rhea as if doing so was the only thing that gave him worth in this very moment. Vargas did not feel afraid, was not subject to pain, and depending on the point of view, his mind was either clouded or crystal clear. Landing at the metallic wasteland proper, his boots absorbed most of the impact from the gentle drifting of two parachutes sustaining the weight of both passengers. One... two...

It was only when he watched the former ISS Downrider disappear over the horizon that the adrenaline keeping him functioning like a perfect toy soldier began to recede, explosions and engine screams no longer battering against deaf ears. And then, he got unbelievably angry, a primal-like rage manifesting from somewhere within the man who had kept the most calm during their life-or-death gamble. It all manifested in a string of insults that were likely learned from sailors themselves. "MOTHERFUCKER! CUNT! I'LL HAMSTRING YOUR FAMILY AND HANG THEM WITH YOUR ENTRAILS! FUCK YOU TOO, GOD! I'LL MAKE YOU WATCH THEIR EXECUTION AND THEN KILL YOU MYSELF! THAT WAS MY LIFE'S WORK GONE DOWN IN ASHES!" Letting go of Rhea, the veteran soldier did not pay any mind to the fact she was listening to an entire new vocabulary of words she could later attribute to have learned from him. Moving to flip off the goddamn sun with both his hands, it was only then Vargas realized that his entire right arm was missing, a bleeding stump of exposed bone and muscle in its place.

It really would seem the informant had some inverted priorities, because this was all it took to calm him down instead of panicking even further. Somehow, during the entire spectacle minutes ago, he had failed to notice something ripped his arm clean off at the shoulder blade. It was hemorrhaging quite profusely, and it was anyone's guess how the man was still standing fully conscious and acting as if it was just a scratch, because he simply stared at it... disappointed? Disappointed?
 
Enpala 13
The Immediate Vicinity of Friday's Danger Zone


Drifting through the alien sky, on a parachute close to splitting asunder, was the crew's doctor. She knew that this device was nowhere near designed for her weight as it sent out tearing noises behind her, limbs limp as she descended towards the ground, faster than anyone else. Her head turned westward as she gazed at the plume of smoke, eyes wide with worry and suffering.

All of her life's work, all of her equipment (save for what she was already carrying), was on that ship. There was no way she could have removed it in time, if any of it was even salvageable from the damage she (unintentionally) afflicted upon them. Every last thing of value: gone, reduced to scrap among a sea of scrap.

As Friday neared the ground, she made little attempt to land, immediately slumping to the soil on touchdown. Her parachute continued to drag her through the dirt, with some difficulty, a trail being dug behind her. Letting out a tired groan, two mechanical arms unfolded from her back: one armed with a scalpel, the other, a circle saw. The two vicious appendages quickly frayed and sliced at the ropes, freeing her from the fabric aggressor.

After laying in the grayed dirt of this junkyard of a planet, she turned over and looked at the sky. "...huh. This is f-f-f-f-familiar. Will it always be like this?" She pondered, pushing herself upright and, upon noticing the dirt and dust staining her clothes, promptly wiped herself off. Turning her gaze back towards the western smoke cloud, she, for once, looked a little bit sad. "...its all gone. Everything... it was all so important... all of my... my..." Stammering on her words, she went from a look of sadness, to pain, to intense anger. Slamming a metallic fist into the ground, she created a puff of dirt and screamed, "...ALL OF MY FOIL DIORAMAS, GONE! HOURS OF METICULOUS WORK, CRAFTED BY HAND! FUCK!" She continued to beat the dirt with both hands, enraged at the loss of incredibly cheap and affordable foil figurines. "Everything else, that's easy! That can be paid for! But this!" Looking and feeling around her person, she quickly pulled out a single figure, the last of her collection. "This... THIS! I will NOT let you leave my sight! My dearest, my... Raphael! Yes!"


Hugging the fragile 4-inch tall anatomical figure, she stood up and turned around on the spot, trying to make sense of where she even is. She was... probably lost, although she carried enough food on her person for... well, she didn't keep count, not wanting the others to even know the existence of her snack reserves. She needed to get back with the others, there's no telling what trouble they might get into, if they haven't already attempted to kill one of the survivors to guarantee enough food for their continued survival.

"...eeeeugh... guess we'll have to share our snacks, Raph."
 

ZweiHawke

Well-Known Member
Enpala 13

Romulus and Reman both emerged from the vicinity of the drop-off point. Romulus was lucky enough to come out of the crash with a sore arm and a sprained knee. Only barely limping, the artificer stepped out, clutching the Apex. What folks didn't expect was a small piece of debris, gashed through the small disc at it's corner. Romulus, angered and frustrated, picked the metal out of the corner, and assessed the damage. The artificer was less than pleased with the place he was now in but, oddly empathetic. After hearing Tara speak about what she had encountered, Romulus saw more of himself inside that lumbering hunk of metal, albeit obscured by his ego and outwardly callous demeanor.

"The Apex was damaged in the landing. Even in it's compacted form it can take damage, the engine parts may take a decade to replace properly. Damage can't be properly assessed at this time, but once I can properly fix it I think at most it'll be usable as a lab once I can get the compression drive to respond..."

"You really do tend to break things quite easily."

'By circumstance, you goblin."

Reman emerged almost unhurt, a bubble of compressed air combined with a strong upward draft allowed Reman to dig himself out of the dirt unscathed and almost unhurt. The only thing that reman could feel was a little lightheaded from the strain of using so much effort to keep the ship safe close to crash. Unfortunately, as much as Reman could have used the atmosphere around him to his advantage he had not the raw power nor the strength to carry a whole ship safely to the ground, and watched as it sailed over the sky.

Seeing Friday over the horizon reminded Reman about the journal he had always chose to write in, the various assumed blueprints he had made over the years seemed like something of a wise move. He'd have to find her a journal at some point, as he contemplated his next move. The driver he had, while not broken was scratched, and a little looser than usual. It wasn't wise to replace a metal strip with duct tape, but sometimes it's the circumstance that makes the person. Speaking of drivers, the veteran was fully repaired, operating once again at usual, regulated capacity, barrel straightened and replaced with a bare-metal alloy for the time being. It looked like it was scrapped together, but likely it was going to last just enough time to wait for repair.

Romulus was once again in familiar territory. His bike was on that ship; anywhere he went he would have to make it on foot.
 

META_mahn

Well-Known Member
Enpala 13

Dragonflies, huh. Quite the nasty things. She'd have to make a note of them later...For now, she needed to get herself out of this...wall of airbags. Carrying some very important hard drives.

"The research was saved." A small Marie gasped, about 1/10th of her normal size, struggling to heave herself out of a small ball of inflated airbags. Nine more followed, helping each other out of the improvised airbag-fort. The ten merged together, and the normal Marie's driver ejected a sputtering green key. Swarm. "Thank you, square-cube law saving me a bunch of injuries."

She threw Romulus the overloaded Swarm key. "Pack that one for safekeeping. I've got a good few of the other keys. Also, I'm surprised you didn't think about using any key to save yourself. Now fuck, where are we..."

Alien planet. Completely unfamiliar. And...automated defense systems active. Wait, what? If there's defense systems, there must be a site. If there's a site...

"We need to find where the Dragonflies were launched from."
 
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Blizzard

Well-Known Member
Enpala 13

WOOSH... WOOSH... WOOSH...

Glas hovered in the sky, watching the Downrider plummet in the distance. He couldn't deny that he felt... a little disappointed. Just a little. He hadn't expected his new home to be annihilated so soon. He didn't have many earthly possessions, just some clothes, a music player, and his rock, which all fit neatly in the little backpack that had been in the cargo bay. That left him with nothing but the food in his stomach and the shirt on his back. But with a deep, meditative sigh, the feeling was gone.

Attachment is the root of all suffering.

Glas flapped downwards towards his crewmates, his landing kicking up a little dust and debris. He figured he should avoid the skies for now, since there would surely be more of those "dragonflies". It was a strange feeling to not be the most dangerous predator in a given ecosystem for a change. He would need to change up his tactics.

His belongings could be replaced in due time. He'd lived for nearly three centuries with zero modern conveniences. He'd only really taken the clothes because once again, the blue-clad humans with shiny metal plates on their chests wouldn't stop harassing him. They'd continued to harass him after he'd taken the clothes, which was weird. They'd accused him of lifting the shop, which was totally untrue. He'd only lifted the clothes and carried them out of the shop. Either way, point was that Glasawyr was going to be just fine without his stuff. As long as his friends were (mostly) unharmed, everyone was well-fed, and the cubs were safe, he would be fine.

Speaking of which...

Rhea was accounted for. Good. Vargas had her under his watch. The missing arm would be a hindrance, but he could just grow a new one. It would be painful, but he'd live.

Artemis was... not visible. Glas craned his neck too and fro, scanning the disoriented sea of faces for a white mass of fluff. With his keen eyes, he had no trouble seeing in these dark conditions. He saw no fluff.

Little one...?

Glas had come to learn that his fluffy charge was adept at remaining unseen. Her absence was not immediately concerning to the dragon. Glas stomped around slowly, still searching. He sniffed the air, trying to detect her scent.

Little one, where are you...?

When Artemis didn't reply, the first inkling of worry stirred in the dragon's gut. A four ton, armored bulkhead from one of the many shipwrecks created a little den where a cub could crawl inside. Glas lifted it as if it were made of cardboard and checked beneath, and once again found no sign of her.

Artemis?! Artemis, where are you?! This is no time for games, child!

Glasawyr frantically twisted his head around and began letting out short, nervous little barks.

Artemis, little one, please-!

His words cut off abruptly as his eyes fell upon the artificial mountains that concealed the Downrider's final resting place. The gears began turning in his head, much like they had when he'd thrown the fuel barrels from the ship. Artemis' position in the pilot's chair, her absence from the current vicinity, the ship's current status...

Glas stood motionless for what seemed like forever. Utterly silent. Inside he felt a horrid cold seep through his veins. His ears and wings drooped slightly.

...

In a flash, Glasawyr hurled the bulkhead away. It came to rest stuck into the hull of another vessel like a shuriken. The dragon's eyes flashed with fire. He tilted his head back and roared with all of his might, the sound echoing off the metal walls and rattling the earth, sending a column of blue flame over a meter wide almost forty meters into the air. The heat could be felt from several meters away, and the light turned the murky night into day.


It was over as soon as it had begun. Glasawyr forced himself into silence, cognizant of the crew's need to remain discreet. The dragon's terrible roar turned into a low, mournful groan. This feeling, of losing a youngling that he'd vowed to care for, it felt so horribly familiar. He didn't know why.

Slowly, the beast sank to the ground and curled up into a pitiful little ball. Glasawyr had been correct:

Attachment is the root of all suffering.
 

speeder01

Well-Known Member
Rhea floated down with Vargas, numb as Tara had pushed her away, terrified at the idea that she'd want to go down with the ship- oh, nevermind, there she was falling past them at not quite terminal velocity. But still... anyone that didn't come back from this... it would be her fault, becuase she jumped in the turret and didn't shoot down the missiles fast enough. She should have started shooting right away, instead of being unecceserily fancy- maybe then she'd have had enough time to take them all down, before... before...

"... Oh god- Vargas your..." She stared at his arm, as he erupted into utter vitriol, a tyraid of four letter words streaming out of his mouth. She looked around herself, after stumbling free from vargas' one armed grip... and hearing Glas in the distance, yelling for Artemis... Oh...

This, was all too much for her, having almost been pasted by a high speed pylon of steel. She took a seat. She was just going to... sit here, for a while. She looked up at Vargas. Then into the distance, where Artemis and Dhalia dissappeared to. Then the ground, and covered her face, more than it already was. "... Fuck." She wasn't crying. You're crying.
 

Pancakei

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Enpala 13
Starship Graveyard


Tara continued her slide down the side of the decayed structure, letting her feet sink into the rocky soil as she stopped at the bottom followed by three pixy units. Despite being the only member of the crew to posses such advantages as increased perception and photographic memory, the Overseer was perhaps taking the longest to take action,

For the moment she sat with knees to her chest, going over exactly what had happened in the past few minutes as the crew began to fall apart around her. Rage, disappointment, confusion, tears, delusion, and composure. The crews reactions were as varied as they were themselves.

Tara sat in silence for quite some time, the occasional drip of dirty rain sliding down their chassis as she evaluated her options. There was a part of her that wished to run immediately, give chase to the wayward crash, and there was a part of her that wanted nothing to do with it. There was a part of her that just wanted what was best for her, and there was a part of her that wanted what was best for the crew. And then, there were those commands given by someone she had a most peculiar friendship with. Despite everything, despite all of what she had said and done in the days prior, there was a certain fondness and respect fostered between her and the captain in that last moment. From what could be gathered by the lack of parachutes and radio silence, it would appear that Dahlia had stayed on board with Artemis to keep the ship steady enough for everyone else to seek escape. Now...


Now they were gone. It was happening again. Tara stood upright with an unchained bolt, unfurling a glaive in a lapse of rage. Infuriated, she swung the searing hot blade around to strike the side of the fallen shup, plunging it into the solid steel as if it were butter. Releasing a piercing yell, the Overseer followed through with the strike by slinging the polearm around to cross the cleaved metal with another strike, leaving behind nothing but a scorching hot cross in the metal. The Overseer heaved though they drew no breath as the fell back, looking at the mark of rage in disappointment.

---

For the moment she sat with knees to her chest, going over exactly what had happened in the past few minutes as the crew began to fall apart around her. Rage, disappointment, confusion, tears, delusion, and composure. The crews reactions were as varied as they were themselves. She hung her head low for a moment as she evaluated her options. No, no. Rage was only going to spur damage, she thought as the Overseer stared blankly into the space ahead. After another moment of silence Tara stood calmly, brushing the dirt off what remained of their robes carelessly as she turned to face the intact ship wall behind her. The Overseer took a moment to scratch a small cross into the ship wall with a finger, slivers of decayed metal and paint curling off in its wake.

Now left with the crew and nothing but a general heading, she put the crew first. Tara paced over to Vargas as the three Pixy units scattered in search of any remaining survivors - or limbs. Apparently fearful of missiles, the three drones scuttled against the ground in their search. Saying nothing initially, Tara ripped the lower end of their skirt clean off, shoving the wad of torn and dirty green fabric in the direction of Friday. "Triage, now. We can't risk sticking around and licking wounds."

The Overseer paced ahead towards Rhea, stopping just shy of the curled child as she looked onward silently. After a few seconds without exchange, the Overseer extended an arm down to the child, pulling them close into what could be almost considered a one-armed hug as she pulled the child away from the grisly sight of Vargas' wounds. There was a certain different feeling to the Overseer that only Rhea could perceive, like some kind of fiery rage bubbling just below their metal surface. With the crew beginning to reconvene and the Pixy units searching for any wayward members, Tara thought ahead to their next step. "I suppose, we must get our bearings first." With a partly unfolded glaive acting as a walking stick and climbing aid, the Overseer scaled the hill of debris surrounding the landing site.

---

Over the lip of the debris pile laid an expanse of rock, metal, and debris forming a treacherous valley that stretched for miles. The tops of crashed ships gleamed with the slightest amount of sunlight in the distance as glowing plants twisted their way around the corpses of hundreds of starships. All of them their own collection of stories brought to a sudden, violent end. Given the time between the ISS Downrider leaving their sight and the sound reaching the crew, the ship must have landed many kilometers away. Given the distance and sheer challenge of the terrain ahead, the trek could take hours- a day even given the crews injuries. The ship landed somewhere to the southeast, with the remaining missile having traveled directly east- provided it did not detour any further.

The Overseer paused on that thought as an alert flashed from their point of view.


Zen OS OAKc v 1.4
Environmental Anomaly Detected

Ambient ECHYLLIS-A particle density abnormally low.
Negative reactor pressure detected, fuse decay imminent.
Resorting to reserved consumption mode recommended.



With a puttering whine, the spinning vortex of green energy that emanated from the hole in Tara's back slowed, a folding metal apertire clapping down around it. Tara raised their head slightly, looking at the dark valley ahead before turning slowly to look at Marie, Reman and Romulus. "Echyllis is sparse here, you-" the Overseer paused to find their wording, though they sounded no better. "I advise you shut those off before they burn themselves out."

The Overseer set Rhea down gently for the moment, looking back at the valley ahead. She turned back to the crew, struggling to put together a message that could be half-perceived as motivating given the dire circumstances. "I've been berating you all since we first met, and it is not my place to give orders." Tara pointed the blunted polearm just slightly off-kilter from east. "But it's reasonable to assume someone or something knows we're still here. Our best chance at survival is to try and recover what we can before anything else comes knocking."

She knew it was a lot to ask of for a crew that may very well have just lost everything. Tara turned, beginning their descent down the slope of wreckage into the valley ahead. "Whatever cause you're doing it for, following is your choice."
 

Blizzard

Well-Known Member
Starship Graveyard
The Pity Pile


Another wave of crushing sadness overtook Glasawyr, and he emitted another low whine, staring at the metal hills rolling in the distance as if hoping he'd spot a mound of white curls come bounding over them. All of this he saw through a tiny gap in his wings, which covered his hulking form like a leathery blanket, shielding him from the world.

He had failed. The little one was dead. He had seen many hatchlings expire in his centuries of existence, and he was finding that it didn't get any less painful. Such bright little flames, forever extinguished.

The Alpha was dead too. Glasawyr wondered what would become of the pack. Would he spend yet another fifty years wandering the cold, uncaring cosmos? Alone? A new Alpha would be selected. One who would deem him unworthy and banish him. He had no standing with this pack, being so new. The decision would be easy. The humans were abysmal hunters. Once the hunger set in, they would send him away, since he required so much more to survive. The dragonflies ensured that he was useless.

He drowned out Tara's speech. Ignoring the false life was instinctive at this point. But he watched her begin her trek.

The dragon once again had no purpose. His charge and Alpha were dead. Once more, he was guided by the whimsical winds of fate. Wherever they should blow, he would dutifully follow.

The Alpha and Artemis were rather fond of the false life, Glasawyr thought. Slowly, the giant lizard picked himself off the ground and cautiously stomped over to Tara, standing behind the overseer and following along like a loyal guard dog.

That was Glasawyr's "cause", at least: Remembrance. Because those he cared for cared for this machine, Glasawyr would watch over it until such time that it either rusted into nothing, or it eventually became hostile and he had to eliminate it himself. Whether that be two days or two millennia from now.
 
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