Testament The Janus system returned
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The Janus system
The battle cruiser Archipelago, hopped back into the evernight at 20:45 S.E.T, leaving its usual spherical quake of bosun particle’s in its wake. Kit stared out of the wide port window into the velvet dark. Both unsure whether she wanted to see what was on the scope or not.
‘ Exterior lighting.’ Captain Halloran’s croaky voice came in over the ship tanoi. Then there was light. Space: a place was filled with dirt. Kit thought as she stared out at numb voiceless soundless cathedral where lumps of ice and rock span in dirty brown spirals. In the middle distance and shining white in the reflected light of the beam, and resting at a cockeyed angle stood the Dimitris. Attached to that: ‘My God Draz look!’ Kit explained her voice tight in her throat. Draz Joined her.
‘Oh my god.’
It was part of Jupiter way station; she could make out the markings on the cracked hydroponic dome even from this distance
Halloran’s croakey voice again came over the Tanoi.
‘We will be docking with the Dimitris in standard by five. Droids will be used in sections five, nine and twelve. This is a search and rescue mission, so we will be running it by the numbers.
Slowly the cruiser slipped alongside the Demitris and came to a halt along its port side and opposite from the crumbling waystation
‘ Deploying grapplers.’ Said a voic
In the numb silence grappling hooks shot out from the archipelago and clung to the Demitris. Shards of the latter ship silently exploded into the void. Then transport tubes silently slid and were held in position by air pumps.
‘Should we deploy the AI.’ Johnson asked
Captain Hollaran was about to answer, his mouth almost forming words; that he didn’t want to say. Then he replied ‘Negative.
Johnson gave Halloran a bemused stare
‘You doubt my decision?
‘-I’ve just never seen it done that way before.’
‘My ship, my rules. I don’t trust the AI. Never have never will.
Johnson became aware of hostile eyes coming at him from the bridge crew
‘-heard some of you old guards were still left.’
‘A.I serve no purpose here.’ Halloran retorted
‘-They have been maintaining the Federation’s fleet for over ten years now.
Halloran’s pulled his thick iron grey fringe out of his face. His wide set, sea green eyes appeared strained under black heavy bags, his wide lips pursed and chomped in agitation, and his square jaw became taught as he moved from one console to another, checking the proximity indicator’s, before he replied his voice sounding distracted
‘Look, whatever your name is, I don’t have time to give you an ethics debate or reasons why I don’t tolerate the AI. Now, if you please, go to docking port Beta, where the rest of the embarkation crew and your fellow passengers will be waiting for you.’
As Johnson left the control room several officers smirked behind his back, to the muttering of new dawner.
The oval shaped docking chamber was a hive of activity, as Kit Dekkard, Draz and Johnson were suiting up, while the droids armed with pulse rifles, were slowly loping their way through the oval door to the first air lock
‘ Did You know that this ship has no AI on board? Can you believe it?’ Johnson muttered to no-one in particular. ‘…I mean-
‘-Well some veterans find the technology questionable.’ Dekkerd stated
Johnson stared at Dekkerd coolly
‘-What’s questionable about crew safety?’
‘-Ha. ‘ Dekkerd spat on the floor. Johnson stared at Dekkard with a look of disgust.
‘Hear that silence? No AI flating out of the walls, telling me, that I have broken Health and safety code violation one, four, seven, one of the Terran and Sloat amalgamated consortium trade agreement? That is what I am talking about.Then of course there is the Vostock.’
‘The Vostock?’ Kit asked
‘The Vostock was the first AI experimental vessel. She went out to Uranus and back on a trial run...’ Draz began ‘…all hands lost.
‘-it was never proven that the Ai-‘ Johnson retorte
‘Oh, that’s new Dawn space-shit!’ Dekkard spat again on the floor at Johnson’s feet. ‘There is evidence aplenty that the AI, while undergoing manoeuvres, went what’s the term? Ahh Technologically insane. It turned on the crew and-
‘ That’s not the only AI to malfunction,’ Kit muttered
‘-The AI system designed by the Sloat consortium has been proven-
‘-Oh please, for the love of all that’s real; just cut the Sloat crap for one single minute!’ Dekkerd growled. ‘-I know, hell, we know, that you know, he pays your fucking wages. We don’t need your new dawn crap in our heads.’
Hollaran came over the tanoi : ‘Ok ladies and gentlemen, the droids are aboard… if you please.
With their helmets sealed they made their way out through the air lock, that closed silently behind them.
In a moment they were aboard the Dimitris, the lights were red. Stating red alert status
‘No air… We can assume that the crew bought it.’ Dekkerd stated over the intercom.
‘The droids are at engineering and navigation, some are on-board the artefact.’ Captain Halloran stated.
‘As this has an AI I think it might be of value-‘ Johnson cut in
‘-Do as you see fit Mr Johnson.’ Halloran grated.
‘Dekkard secure channel please.
‘Sir.’ Kit noted that there was something in Dekkard’s reply to Halloran that was different. There was a sense of respect; it was the first time she had ever heard it from him since arriving at Janus
She tried to engage Dekkard but noted on her helmet display that Dekkard had cut her off. to make sure that it wasn'y her system she called out
‘Draz, you got Dekkard on line?’
‘No looks like Mr Angry is having a private chat.’
Kit grinned as made their way down the narrow corridor toward the Dimitris bridge.
The door slid open. Kit gasped and took a step back. Draz, who was behind her, made a call to Halloran.
‘We need medics here! and an analysis team as soon as possible. Despite the red light, Kit could see that the room was filled with blood. Dark stains covered everything.
‘My gods what happened here?’ Draz stepped in front of her and shone his torch onto the far wall.
They both stared
‘ What is it?’ Johnson asked eagerly. Kit sent the image from her Helmet cam: A roughly drawn square with a line drawn through it from top right to bottom left hand corner was painted on the wall with blood
‘It’s the same sign.’ Johnson stated. His voice muffled
‘what does it mean?’ Kit whispere
‘I don’t think it’s safe here captain.’ Draz began ‘I recommend that we-
‘-Ok....' Halloran cam over the intercom ‘...we’ve lost contact with the droids, I suggest you-‘
‘-Oh fuck me!’ Dekkard bellowed. There was the hiss of small arms fire. Kit stepped backwards ‘Engine room is compromised! They’re coming out of the fucking shadows!
Pull back now! get out of there! Code red! Move it or I’ll have to leave you behind!
All around her Kit could hear sounds she hadn’t heard since her youth, the slow slithering chatter of something from the dark rising.
Without thinking she turned and ran. She tripped and fell. Picked herself up and jumped over the items that were all over the floor. All she could hear were the exchanges of small arms fire and the slithering hiss of the things that filled her nights with dread. She heaved as she breathed
‘Katerine slow down your oxygen intake! regulate your heart beat!
‘I gotta get outta here! Hear me!
‘Kit slow down.
She was feeling dizzy by the time she reached the access tube and the safety of the archipelago. She looked behind her but Draz was no where to be seen. She was on her way back for him when she was grabbed from behind. She let out a scream and turned to see Dekkard’s fierce looming at her from his helmet. He threw her along the vent and then turned to fire his weapon along the corridor of the Dimitris firing both left and then right. She rose to see Johnson, his face pale, staring at her. Without thinking, she rose and ran back down towards the Dimitris. Her mind racing her breath failing. But Dekkard was now charging at her. Pushing her back towards The lock to the Archipelago. She saw something that resembled slime and shining metal tentacles and a face that she recognised covered in blood. She screamed. Then The door behind her hissed open and in the fading grey several officers her and dragged her along the floor
How much time had passed, she had no clue, she was lying in a stasis bed. A nurse, was checking her vitals
‘you have had some oxygen depletion, but you should be okay in a couple of hours.
Next to her sat Dekkard looking grim; while Draz was nowhere to be seen. to her far right she could just make out both the Demitris and the crumbing way station. There was a sudden bright light that almost blinded her. Then nothing.
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Really exciting chapter. The
Really exciting chapter. The paragraph beginning 'She was feeling dizzy...' is particularly effective - there was something horrific in the image of Johnson's 'pale face' just staring at her. I admire the way you are racking up the action while still raising important questions about the world they're in. Holding that balance is not easy and this is going well.
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There may be light at the end
There may be light at the end of the tunnel, if you've seen Tony's post about a possible way forward. Don't give up on this site just yet!
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