27 November 2020

Death Station, Part II

 Aboard the Boxing Kangaroo

            Lieutenant Brickley was in a conundrum regarding what was going on aboard the Burwell. He wanted, like every officer, to take control of the situation on the ship, but realized it was not an option. Like every Jump-capable captain, he was a prisoner of his own status. Thinking back to his tour on the Mortal Quench-Fire, he realized how his captain then had been constrained by limitations on his role. Realizing how he wasn’t alone, he started drafting a message for the planetary governor. He needed the doctor from the garrison. The other thought was to tell Brand to leave the bodies in the freezer. The horror had to stay.

 Search One: Hassan, Hall, Appledorn, and Hoedmaker

            Sub-Lieutenant Hassan understood the fracas going on with the other team couldn’t bother his. They had to keep pressing on. They came to the next stateroom after the library, empty, but with cloth stripped. The marked it with “DS”. The next one, though, was different. As he opened the door, and looked into the darnkess, he noted the bunk was torn from the bulkheads, and material thrown around. Reaching for the light switch, he looks up and sees the lights are broken. “This won’t work.” Stepping in, he moves around the barricade, where the mattress covers a hole in the deck.

Marine Appledorn has joined him in the room, and asks, “Sir, do you want me to take a look down there?”

“No, we’ll just leave it. We need to get to engineering.”

“Aye-aye,” as they leave and head for the next staterooms, marking the one the left with tape and “DD”. The next is surprisingly normal and untouched, the apparent harmony at odds with the rest of the ship, earning it a “DS” marking. The following is dark and empty, earning it a “DS” as well. The next, Hassan and Hall open, with the Marines on each side of the door.

Red lights are a tradition when examining darkened areas
As the door opens, the stench comes out, and the hand reaching for the lights find they don’t come on. Two red flashlights move across the floor, but quickly reach the center, where they both see the source of the smell. A male human, missing his left leg. Obviously, he’s been dead for a few days. In shock, they leave, and mark the room “CR”. In the passage, Hassan looks Hall over, noting how she’s still shaking. “That’s the shit we see on these. My first tour, I saw an old spacer loose his lunch when I was on a cruiser out of Savisz. Some jumpnutter was wrecking through a Sub Liner. The crew had managed to contain him when he went crazy during jump, but he’d cut a family open before they’d subdued and froze him. We’ll get through this,” turning to the Marines, they button hook to the next stateroom, which has working lights, but stripped sheets. Finally, they reach the auxiliary control station off engineering. The Marines take up position at each iris valve to the small compartment, as Hassan sits down to examine the computer. Working through, the controls, he notes the ship is in a geostationary orbit, and will not require a change in the forseeable future, and the drives are in good shape. There is mention of an explosion in a lab, and how it was sending chemical fumes through out the ship at the end of the logs. He resolves to sit down and examine them more in depth.

 Search Two: Brand, Castillo, Fini, Binici

            Once the survivor had been carried away, the examined the dark smashed up stateroom, and pick through the pile of filthy blankets and mattresses, ensuring nothing is there. They mark the compartment “DS”, and move on. The next stateroom, is dark, and apparently wrecked as Brand and Castillo look through it. Strangely, the mattress is missing form the bunk, despite the stateroom showing “Stavro, P.” next to the door. Dismissing it, they note it as “DS” and move on. The corridor, though, Brand notices there’s a trail that’s led from the iris valve to the second stateroom in. It’s spotted, and red-brown.

            “Blood. We’ve got more traces of some foul play here. We definitely need a criminal investigator here,” she coolly reports back to the ship. Following it in the stateroom, there’s the remnants of two brown bottles on the deck in the center of the stateroom. Castillo, looking at them, saw the parts of a label holding some pieces together.

            Terran Gentleman? What’s that?” he earnestly asks.

            “Cheap whiskey. When I was your age, I tried some, but I was miserable. Come on, we’ve got more to get through. I’d guess that someone got drunk and did something here, but we don’t know. Mark it as “DS”, and let’s keep going.” Brand replied, trying to keep them going.

            “Wait, you partied?” was his youthful reply, astounded to hear that his LPO didn’t have the quasi monastic existence he’d expected.

            “When we get to Fenris, go to a barracks party, now that you’re less of a boot,” she explained, as the moved out into the passage, marked the room, and moved to the next. Locked, they tried to open it, with some of the small tools in the kit. The simple lock popped open to reveal a neat and undisturbed stateroom. They marked it, and moved on. The final stateroom before the bridge was a mess, but showed no sign of any bodies.

Brand examining the computer
            Entering the bridge, Binici ran to cover the far entrance from the corridor, while Fini stayed to
ensure nobody could sneak up on them. Brand sat down in the left-hand couch, while Castillo moved to sit in the right. She shook her head at him, and he paused, then moved to the ensure she wouldn’t be surprised. She opens the memory for the logs, and starts examining them. There are regular transmissions to the lab down on Loki, but a second set of those same reports going to an anonymized out of the system account every week. The final item of interest in her search was the visitor logs. There are several mercenary officers, some from major units like the New Bavarian Freikorps. “Mercenaries on a lab ship,” she asks aloud, before copying the information to take with. “Let’s get going here.”, as they head to the drive pod, and she notifies the rest.

Search One: Hassan, Hall, Appledorn, and Hoedmaker


           After getting the message the other team had secured the bridge, they move into the drive pod. The iris valve opens, showing a darkened pod, Marine Appledorn flips on the lighting switch next to it as he leads them in. The party walks around, and examines the space, not seeing much. Examining the overhead hatch nearest the door, Hall starts undogging the hatch and moves slowly up there. The oversized battledress is not what they need in this case, with Hassan following her.

            Entering the darkened, confined space, they can’t see much, even with flashlights. “Red filter,” he orders. Passing over the filth, they come to a man lying in the far corner on a pile of mattresses, with blankets poorly pulled over him.

After his push, she goes over to the man, and says, “Sir, sir! We’re from the Navy and here to help!” while tapping on a shoulder. He awakens with a startled expression.

“What? Huh? What about the rest of them!”

“The others? How many other survivors are there?” Hassan answers, taking control of the situation.

“Four, wait three others. There were four of us who survived the explosion,” came the survivor’s response. “We were running low on food, but then, the secondary lab had an explosion.”

“And what about them? The one our comrades met turned out to be feral, and tougher than expected.”

“Something happened to all of them, I don’t know, but they’re all dangerous cannibals!”

“Wait, did you say cannibals? What have you been living off of?”

“Me, I’ve been eating what remains of our supplies. Got a bite?”

Hassan opens a sealed pouch on his vacc suit, and withdraws a survival bar, and gives it to the man. “Your name? We’ll get you back to safety shortly.”

The man takes a very hungry bite, and says, “Pent Stavro, drive hand. They wouldn’t get me in here,” and he gets out of the den he built, and stretches some.

“Come with us, and we’ll get you back.” Hassan replies.

“They’ll get me if I leave, I’m not going anywhere” Pent asks, surly and uncooperative.

“I’ve got two Marines in battle dress. You can come on your own two legs, or else. We’re taking you back one way or another.” Pointing at the open hatch, “You have your choice,” as he reached for his snub pistol.

“Fine, but turn down the lights!” Stavro shouts, stepping over the filth on the deck, and going down the Marines below, with Hassan refastening his holster. Hall goes down immediately following Stavro. Hassan waits, and calls ahead. “All units, Search One. Have one survivor. Give them food, avoid lights, and do not trust them. They’re deranged. We’re returning to the Joey right now. Joey, do you copy?”

“We copy one survivor, do not trust,” came Sergeant Valdez’s response. The awkward five go through the drive pod, and into the corridor, where Valdez and Franke were there to meet them. Seeing more Marines in battle dress, Stavro starts shuffling on his feet some. Grabbing the man abruptly, Valdez, Appledorn, and Hoedmaker force him down, cuff him, and then inject a sedative.

“The other one’s in Yap’s supervision, sir,” explained Valdez as he hefted the unconscious man, and started taking him back to the lift in a fireman’s carry. “Anything else?”

“Keep them separate and strapped down. This is an investigation; we don’t want it ruined,” Hassan replied, in the manner that suggested an order.

“Aye-aye,” as the groups moved apart, with Search One heading for where they left.


Search Two: Brand, Castillo, Fini, Binici

            Leaving the bridge, they check the empty turret control station. Seeing nothing, they enter the drive pod. Looking through, there’s nothing but a thin coat of dust, something Brand is slightly disgusted with. The quick search shows nothing, and they leave, taping both compartments as “DS”.

            The Marines take up position around the iris valve to the air/raft hangar. Castillo opens it, and goes in, finding it dark, he and Brand turn on their helmet lights. Seeing the smashed lights, but a well stowed air/raft, they head back out into the corridor, leaving their tape mark on the iris valve. They move into the cargo bay.

The cargo bay

            Fini runs ahead to the iris valve at the far end to stay in overwatch position, with the other three fanning out into the area. It’s a fairly standard storage area aboard ship, dimly lit with a few crates, mostly for scientific instruments. At the end farthest from the air/raft bay, Castillo finds something different.

            “MM1! I’ve got something here!” he shouts out, “Can you can Binici take a look, it’s interesting.” He stands next to a different crate. This one was marked for live specimens, and there are some smaller cages nearby. “Blood trail as well,” he points out as they get to him. “Looks like they were testing stuff on some critters.”

            “Good work, Castillo,” Brand notes, as she takes down some quick notes on what happened. “Nobody else found, but it looks like there’s something up here. Poke around a little more to make sure nobody else is hiding.”

            As they examine the space, they find the door at one end can be opened to allow cargo to be brought in from the air/raft, but don’t open it. Most of the containers are empty, just retained for future cargo. As they went through, Brand’s radio chirped, receiving Hassan’s message, and called her team together.

            “Right, we’re going through the next space, and there’s still more people unaccounted for. Fini, you take point, then me, Castillo and Binici, bring up the rear. Red lights, if in there the lights are out. Got it?” she laid out the plan for searching the next compartment.

            “Aye-aye,” the trio responded in unison. They got into position around the iris valve. It hissed open, and they could not see in the inky blackness. Their flashlights turned on, red light, revealing two aisles of lab tables. The quartet moved into the lab.


Search One: Hassan, Hall, Appledorn, and Hoedmaker

            As they reached drive pod they’d previously inspected, the crew briefly checks on the hardpoint. Empty, they pass on. Opening the iris valve, they look into the empty air/raft bay. Dark, empty, and featuring no way to turn on the light, like the proceeding space, they mark it “DS”. They move into the secondary laboratory. Smashed lights, and an area wrecked, it looks like an explosion went off in there, as well as they can in the red light. Looking to the left as they enter, Hassan looks and sees a familiar looking heap of waste in front of a stack of lab tables and benches. “Let’s take a look,” he says.

            They move over, and see a person coming out from the stack. Quickly, four red flashlights illuminate the survivor. “HANDS UP!” comes Appledorn’s voice as he takes out his gauss rifle, and levels it at the unknown person.

            In a state of shock, the survivor slowly complies, right arm coming up to clean the mouth. Hoedmaker and Hall hustle over to secure the prisoner. Disdaining the time for interrogation, they start the frog march back to the main spoke. “Joey, Search One, we’ve got another,” Hassan calls.

            “Search One, Joey copies,” Valdez replies. “We’ll sedate this one as well.” The two groups meet in the middle of near the open iris valve sectioning off parts of the lab ship. The sedated survivor gets taken to the boat, until they hear a message from Search Two. Valdez takes off at a run to the main lab with Franke in tow, with Search One taking the survivor back to the boat.


Search Two: Brand, Castillo, Fini, Binici

            Entering the darkened lab, they see nothing of importance as they enter, moving slowly up the aisle. Sensing an opportunity, Binici moves to the right 10m up the lab, and starts looking along the other aisle. Walking through, they come to a computer terminal, still on, with flickering lights. There is a sequence of numbers flashing by, 1103, 1101, 1077, 1079, and 1067, with no apparent meaning. Brand stops the numbers, and sees what they are. Her face lit up by the screen, she scrolls through, and see what happened.

            “Combat drugs, that makes sense.” She pulls out a hand computer, and starts downloading the information. Then they notice something.

            Coming out of the corner by where they entered, but missed, is a man, running at them. Taking them by surprise he clumsily jumps on Castillo, who manages to escape. Fini turns, and moves to hit him with her cutlass. Castillo, avoiding the attack, moves out to dodge the attacker. Brand, taking a second to collect herself, wheels around and takes a punch and the crazed survivor, dropping him to the ground. As he falls, Binici shoots the man with his gauss rifle.

            Gasping, she keys her radio, “All stations, Search Two. We were attacked in the main lab by a survivor. He’s down, and we need help. Over.”

            “Search Two, this is Valdez, Franke and I are on the way. Can you do first aid? Over”

            “Search Two, this is Kangaroo, are any of our people injured? Over.”

            “Valdez, Search Two, yes, I can. Over. Kangaroo, Search Two, wait one.” Brand looks at her team, “You all right?” The trio responds positively.

            “Kangaroo, Search Two, we have no injuries. Out.” She states, and starts performing first aid on the injured man. Not knowing exactly how, but she makes it work enough that by the time Valdez and Franke arrive, they manage to get him patched up enough not to die.