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[IC] Diaspora: Where None have Gone Before

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Susshek System, Former Asshui Worlds System

It was one hell of a mission. There had been a few reports about what the Asshui had been fleeing from, some more detailed than others, some more trustworthy. And occasionally, there were news of things happening in their former systems. But so far, all of the were word-of-mouth, and without much evidence going for them.

 

There was ample reason to change that fact, and thus a group of refugees, supporters and a few organizations had decided to send out multiple scouts, to enter the home systems of the fleeing peoples. They had a simple mission; to document what was happening, and to get back with as much information as possible.

 

Finding people that were both trustworthy enough, preferably with their own method of transport and not opposed to doing it wasn’t easy, a large part of the muscle available in the Sharahazad Sector, the hotbed of the crisis, lacked one of the two qualities.

 

One of the few teams that had been sent out was that of Starshot - trusted enough and in possession of a suitable craft - and Bliss, who’d been suggested by one of the sponsors as somebody who was “trustworthy enough”, whatever that meant.

 

So far everything had gone smooth, there hadn’t been a single encounter. But now the Xeno, Starshot’s starship, had entered the system that the two of them had been tasked with scouting. It had been a former industrial hub, not on the scale of some of the ones in known space, but large enough to be economically important. And only a few refugees had managed to make their way out, meaning there was a lot of interest in figuring out just what was going on. And in order to do that, the planet Susshek was probably the right place. Now they just had to get there …

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Starshot

 

Starshot leaned back in the pilots chair, made of old leather and something fluffy inside. His ship was a mix of high tech convenience and function, with antique class. 

 

He had some concerns. The Xeno was fast. The Xeno was comfortable. And The Xeno had the some of the best sensor arrays a ship could buy. But it was, at the end of the day, a Yacht class vessel. Top of the range, sure, but a luxury yacht. This might have gone better if it was armed or if it had stealth capability. But at the least it was sturdy and could out run nearly anything. 

 

"All good, Dugga?" he flipped the Con to the alien monkey in the engine room. 

 

"All good bossman. Ready to bravely turn around and flee at your command" said Gunmonkey through the intercom, trying to keep a straight face. 

 

"Idiot" snapped Starshot and cut the intercom cold. 

 

He turned to the dangerous cyborg, ironically (he thought) named Bliss in the equally comfortable copilot chair next to him. She had shown herself able to fly the Xeno. But he had no doubt where here real talents lay; fighting. 

 

"I'm going to run a sensor sweep of the area. I'd prefer to be on land or sea than hanging around in space, though..."

 

 

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She was still mostly.  Her people didn't have much body language, and their faces weren't very expressive, hell discerning her gender as a non-mammalian species might be hard for the Terran, it wasn't like Xuli'pa were widespread in their interplanetary or stellar endeavors..  She was entirely like them anymore, and she was very good at showing her anger, or annoyance.  Now though it was her neutral expression.  Her several sets of eyelids opening and closing as she watched the screens and readouts.

 

"There will be an ambush once we set down.  Is the atmo oxygenated?  Or will we have to envirosuit it?"  Not that she stopped wearing hers, but then there was always the chance a hole would get punched through the hull.  Being spaced once was sufficient.  She had no urge to repeat that ever.  Plus, it allowed her to escape the oppressive crush of the likes of the stink apes.

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Approaching the planet was not particularly difficult either, even if the closer they got, the more the two of them could spot traces of civilization. Many mined asteroids, just floating through space, full of holes like terran cheese, joined by some debris just spending eternity floating through the depths of space.  Once the Xeno got close enough for a first sensor sweep, the results came in.

 

There were life-signs a plenty, spread around the planet as one would expect from a populated planet, mainly concentrated on a few population hubs, it appeared. Some further life signs were in orbit, the various other signatures lining up with what space stations usually looked like. By the looks of it, one large one and a few smaller, likely private, in various orbits. The atmosphere seemed to be pretty stable, too. While not entirely comfortable, no health concerns would show up from spending time there without equipment.

 

What was a bit troubling however were the signatures that revealed a small squadron of spaceships, probably 7 or so, all completely devoid of life according to the sensors, close to a few of the smaller stations. As for general radio, there was only static. Perhaps it was the distance, perhaps it was encrypted, perhaps it was just a lack of it.

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Starshot

 

Starshot cracked his knuckles, pondering what to do. 

 

"Damn spaceships, just floating there" he muttered to Bliss. "Like vultures, by the looks of them"

 

He leaned back in his leather chair and put his boots on the dashboard. "I'm a hunter, not a spaceman" he explained to Bliss. "For me, space is just the road from one planet to another. I'm not really at home in it. Despite all the luxuries on the Xeno, I feel more comfortable on solid ground"

 

"For me, I'd ignore those damned ships, but I have to confess that might not be the wisest move. What do you think?" he asked her. 

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"I'd recommend that you find a nice mudball to stay on.  Preferably one with an agreeable atmo."

 

Bliss was a spacer.  She travelled, because no place felt like home.  Her crew had off and abandoned her, not that she was surprised.  Honestly.

 

"However, you know better than to leave seven AI or VI controlled ships at our back.  I'd rather not crash into a planet because some self-defense protocol triggered and I was the nearest."  Her voice rasping, dry.  It helped, or didn't help, that her mannerisms lent an air of distance between her and Starshot.  That she seemed that level of omnipresent externalized hostility that someone who got paid to hit people, very hard, tended to project.  "But, it's your ship."  She managed to both show a lack of concern, and very much in a small manner of time.

 

 

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Starshot

 

Bliss had no nuance, but Starshot was not one for nuance either. It was a blunt assessment and he had to admit an accurate one too. It was what he knew was right, but he just didn't like it. 

 

"Agreed" he said equally bluntly. He was not one for many words. They just fell with a certain gravity from his mouth. 

 

He flipped on the intercom first and told Gunmonkey to buckle up and stop smoking near the metahyrodgen cannisters. Dugga swore blind that he would never do such a thing amidst a few coughs and frantic stubbing-out sounds. 

 

"Lets check them out then. And hope they have airlocks. I don't much like spacewalks..." he confessed, turning the Xeno to the seven apparently derelict ships and engaging full thrusters...

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GM

 

A rough plan now decided on, the Zeno slowly approached the closest of the ships that had shown up on the radar. It was still some distance off, a few minutes of travel at least, but it gave the two ample time to prepare. There was not much in terms of interesting things happening in the meantime. The asteroid belt surrounding the planet seemed to have been mined almost completely, meaning that tracking a path through it was surprisingly easy.

 

Shortly after, the first ship came into view. It was floating in space, only a short distance away from the station, which appeared to be scientific in nature. While it was hard to see anything detailed from the distance the Zeno was now at, thanks to a zoom the two could get a look at the ship. Its construction looked completely different from anything they’d seen before, but the size led to the conclusion it likely was a small warship.

 

As they were coasting closer, their radar indicated a smaller craft, probably a shuttle, had just left the ship, and was now travelling towards the station. A scan for lifesigns still showed none, either on the ship or the shuttle.  

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Starshot

 

"Dugga, get ready to run if we need to....warship ahead...." said Starshot over the intercom before flicking the com shut. He had no wish to discuss the tactics of the situation with a cowardly space monkey. 

 

He turned the ship, cutting down thruster speed and stabilising momentum. "I don't like the look of that warship, even with no life signs. Could be piloted by robots. Hellfire, it could be a robot" he added, not liking the turn of his thinking. 

 

"In any case, the station is the key. The hub. I think it is there we shall find answers, if we are to find any at all..." he said to Bliss. It was his honest best judgement of the situation, but no road ahead was without risk. Just the way he liked it. He just wished he wasn't in space. 

 

He turned the Xeno's sensors to the station, looking for a docking station. 

 

"I'd rather go through a more conventional route to the ship than try to cut our way through the hull in a space suit"

 

 

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She shrugged.  Bliss was a grouch, if one was being charitable.  But she rarely raised a fuss if she didn't feel a need to.  She wouldn't trust this situation behind them, but she wasn't going to tell the man whose ship it was to do something.  She didn't like being spaced.

 

Even so she was securing her envirosuit, as a just in case.  As a cynic, she generally felt that she would get spaced or worse.  Some sort of creature that would lay larva into her.  That wouldn't be the worst thing that happened to her, or at least it would be an ignominious end to her ignoble existence.  "We should be able to find away in."

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Starshot

 

"A wise precaution" noted Starshot as we watched Bliss adjust the E-suit. Being caught in space was not much fun, even with his cybernetic enhancements. 

 

He threw off his old beaten jacket and put on one of the Xeno's space suits, just to be sure. After all, even if they entered the station there was every possibility of it losing atmosphere. He shuddered at the thought. 

 

"Damn space. Its for travelling through, not dancing about in" he muttered as he sealed up the space suit. It did not afford the protection of his old jacket, laced with PlastiK strips. And whilst it was pretty slick, he still felt it didn't have that antique style of his jacket. But he could live with that trade off; his blood would not boil. 

 

He pinged on his own helmet, however, and tested the comm system. If need be, Gunmonkey would be on the Xeno, ready for a fast getaway. 

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GM

 

The sensors immediately pinged what appeared to be a docking station. The station’s design was different from what was common in known space, but some things stayed the same no matter where. And the part that the sensor had pinged seemed to match the general idea of what a docking station looked like.

 

Starshot and Bliss walked over to the part of the ship that would dock, while Dugga took over the controls, moving the Xeno closer with reasonable care. “Alright Bossman, docking now, get ready!”

 

The Xeno’s doors opened, to reveal … a closed door on the side of the station. It clearly was a door, but it didn’t seem to open. The few lights on the door all were dead, which probably meant there was a power outage. And that meant that getting inside was just a bit more complicated…

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Starshot

 

Starshot gave a tap on the exterior door, and flipped his helmet onto X-Ray mode, scanning for - well, whatever - behind the bulkead door. He didn't want to be greeted by a pack of Goldspire Mercenaries armed Bushwhacker-five blasters. 

 

"Powers done. Should have guessed. I wonder how old this thing is?" he pondered. Was it sabotage? Damage? Accident? Or was this thing an ancient relic who hadn't seen power in years?

 

"I'd prefer not to cut an Airlock open" he said to Bliss "perhaps we can trickle some power in from the Xeno?" he said, inviting Bliss's thoughts. "I'm no mechanic. Dugga isn't either, really, but he can at least hold a quad-spanner without dropping it..."

 

 

Edited by Supercape

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She folded her arms across her chest as she stared at the door, "I am not either."  She stepped towards the doors, and she looked at them carefully.  She slowly moved her tendrils over the surface, checking to see if there was a seal, or if that had been broken.

"I can see if I can force it.  I don't know how long it will take to get power into this place, and if there is damage to the circuits, then it will cause a problem with your ship."  She was not confident in her abilities to account for something wrong with what was beyond the door.  "We may not have a choice but to cut in, and seal the airlock on the Xenos side."

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Starshot

 

The options were a spartan and unappetising menu. 

 

"Better force it than Cut it open with a plasma beam" he reasoned, slinging his rifle low. "Could be anything behind the airlock. Things that go boom, for instance" he said through the intercom. "Just make sure your vacc - seals are tight" he added, rather redundantly. He was sure Bliss was as home in space as he was and probably considerably more so. It was a discipline and advice he applied to his own suit, however. 

 

"Dugga, heads up. We are forcing the door of the space station. Things might happen" he crackled over the radio to the Space-Ape. It wasn't the most precise or helpful of advice, but it was at least honest. 

 

"Go for it, then...." he nodded to Bliss. "If you can't, then I guess we cut through..."

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GM

 

The door didn’t show any obvious signs of violence being applied to it. A quick inspection couldn’t find anything that was wrong with it, at least from this side. And in order to break the entire mechanism, there would almost have had to be some traces.

 

Over the radio, the two of them could hear Dugga’s voice for just a moment. “Alright, strapping in everything. I can bring over the bombs if you need them.”

 

And then, Bliss went to work. Figuring out how the door opened in the first place took some time, as it wasn’t a traditional vertically opening door. Finally she’d figure out where she could grab on, and began to pull it apart. And after a few seconds, it first moved. It was still stuck, and quite heavy, but a small space had been created.

 

There clearly was an atmosphere, and some light shone through from the other side. Still, the door was heavy, and it wasn’t certain Bliss could actually pry it open fully…

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Starshot

 

"Damn Dugga, leave the bombs!" shouted Starshot over the radio. "No bombs! And no smoking cigars!" he ordered, well aware that the Space Ape would probably ignore him. Like every damn time. 

 

"Let me give you a hand, see if we can't wedge this thing open...its like a bear trap..." he grunted, slinging his rifle behind his back and putting his arms and legs to work with Bliss, straining to move the doors open. That they had moved at all was both impressive and heartening...surely a bit more effort and they could pry the thing open together. Starshot was no stronger than a human, and could exert himself if needed to. 

 

"If its any...help....the Damn Space Ape wanted to bring...explosives...." he grunted at Bliss. "So...we better...get this thing open...ourselves...." he groaned, straining his muscles "or...he might just...blow us all up!!!"

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Bliss grunted as she spent effort on prying the thing open enough to look in.  Her tendrils slide into the aperture, as she strained and pulled harder.  And he could tell that Bliss was stronger than a normal humanoid.  "Working, on opening enough so I can get in... then it will be easier... might need a light from your monkey." 

She moved her head down and looked into the darkened interior, seeing what she could in there.  She was just trying to get the hole big enough for her to fit into.  "If I can get over with some tools, I should be able to get this door open without damaging out getaway ship."  Another grunt, or more a rasping a hiss.  "If my monkey blows me up, I am spacing it."

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Starshot

 

His brow sweating from effort, Starshot nodded and grunted. 

 

"Damned if that monkey is coming anywhere near here....but....ungh....you have a point...." he conceded, reluctantly. It was dark.

 

"Dugga get down here with a Lumex-5 Torch, will you...we need some light. And get into your space suit!" he told the Space Ape over the phone. In all honesty, it would be kind of good to have Dugga at the air lock anyway, keeping a lookout. 

 

"Best pack your pistols, Pardn'er...but leave the dynamite, ok?" he said, trying to sound like a cowboy and failing. 

 

"Mans gotta do what a mans gotta do!" replied Dugga happily, in a pretty reasonable John Wayne Impression. Dugga did love the Duke so. With a smile, the Space Ape swung through the Xeno to pick up the high powered torch. 

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GM

 

The two managed to keep the door slightly opened under some strain until Dugga showed up not too long after. And he actually wasn’t carrying any explosives on him right now from what it looked like. Of course, there always was the chance of him having them stowed away somewhere. The torch was on his belt at this point, and he approached the door.

 

With Dugga’s additional strength, the three of them managed to open the door enough that whatever remained of the hydraulics kicked in, and with that the rest became a lot easier. And shortly afterwards, they could see the inside.

 

It was a hallway, with some lights still on. It didn’t look like a power outage, more like somebody had neglected repairing some broken equipment. Still, a torch would probably help. There was only one way to go, down the hallway, which seemed to branch off after some distance.

 

With that, Dugga handed Starshot the torch, before walking backwards a bit. “I’ll be waiting down here, Bossman”

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Starshot

 

Starshot clicked on his computer map in his helmet, and the HUD started dutifully and unerringly plotting out the space station as they moved through. 

 

"Can't see any clear route to the helm, or control station, or whatever you call it..." he muttered through the intercom. But at least there was some power still active. Some lights. The kind of lights that could splutter and flicker and fail at precisely the wrong moment. 

 

"And only one way to go, anyway. Unless we want to go cutting holes in bulkheads. And I don't..." he concluded. 

 

Plasma Rifle powered up, he started walking down the hallway. 

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"Not if i can help it."  Her eyes alight with with the deeper infrared spectrum.  While it helped with what was happening, it was not going to resolve everything.  She moved slowly, taking point, and heading down the hallway in the only direction they could go.  She kept the helmet on, not trusting the air, or her sense of smell.

"Stay back a bit, as I take point."  As she kept moving down the hall, her senses primed, as she held her severe expression as it happened.  She was expecting something, never trust sensors, especially on a luxury yacht on a place like this.  Or there might some piece of Commune there.  Waiting.

She was tense, it showed, but she had one hand back to give signs to get him to follow up.  Despite her behavior, she focused on team work.

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 Moving down the hallway was easy enough. With only a few pieces of junk on the floor, it was easy going, even if staying quiet meant that the two of them didn’t move as fast as one probably could. After a short walk, they arrived where the hallway branched off, with one route leading a few steps further and towards an oversized closed door and another one leading further down the same hallway after a minor curve.

 

What was most interesting however was the third one. There was a light burning, and as the two of them watched, careful to not reveal themselves, they could actually hear motion. They couldn’t see anything just yet, unfortunately the doorframe was positioned in a way the only visible thing were a few boxes, but judging from the sound of it, something was being moved around, likely frantically, inside.

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Starshot

 

Starshot kept quiet, and kept still, studying what he could. His plasma rifle was charged and ready, his nerves electric with anticipation. He loved this. True, the thrill was more poetic on a wild plain or in an alien jungle. But he still loved it. 

 

He flicked his helmet, and opened up the X-Ray scanners. Perhaps the bulkheads where too think, perhaps not. In any case, he would far rather get the drop on whoever was crashing about than they got the drop on him and Bliss....

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Inwardly Bliss sighed.  She looked at Starshot, and jerked her head towards it, indicating she was going to take the lead here

While she liked to fight, it didn't mean she was always spoiling for a fight.  Probably.  So she moved, as surreptitiously as she could towards the boxes, and that door.  Knowing she wasn't terribly stealthy, she held up her arms and moved towards the door.  She didn't need them, really to be in an aggressive stance, as she could lash out faster than the blink of an eye. "Hello."  She announced in Galstand, "Is anyone there?"  She couldn't assume an enemy everywhere, not yet, and if it was an enemy, she'd smack it around later.

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