posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 04:45 AM
Consciousness flowed back into my mind with the patient deliberation of a pot of coffee being boiled on that old slow-drip automatic machine back at
Camp Lajune. I dimly stared at the images the monitors presented me with- empty corridors, wrecked walls, and broken machinery. In the back of my
head, it dawned on me that I was on board the Von Braun, a newfangled lemon produced by our friends...the Tri-Optimum Corporation, engineers of such
disasters as the Citadel Station tragedy. Great. I remembered just before reassignment, another leatherneck was packing up to head to Io.
“Hey Adams, you heading onto that POS that they’re strapping the Rickenbacker to?”
“Yeah, first trip faster than light. One small step for man and all that.”
“The Rickenbacker’s a good ship, heavy destroyer. But the Von Braun... she’s a giant scrapheap. I guarded construction. Best of luck guy, but you’re
probably just going to sit around while the Navy tows her home.”
“Better luck than YOU, chump. I barely survived Io.”
The memory ended abruptly, with a giant gap between then and now. I looked around, peering outside the cryotube, astounded. Clearly, this was the Von
Braun. My body felt different, but I passed it off to being frozen for...well, I have no clue how long. I stepped out of the tube unsteadily, reaching
with one arm to keep my balance, the other going to my pistol. Ol’ trust...no, wait. I had one of the newfangled laser pistols that Tri Op gave to
their rent-a-cops. The armorer didn’t know # from candles. I took another experimental step, and almost fell flat on my ass. I heard a voice in the
background. A woman’s voice, coming through a one-way radio in my skull. I shivered involuntarily.
“This is Dr. Janice Polito of the Computer Ops Staff of the Von Braun. You’re safe for now. You’re recovering from the effects of surgery and are
unable to remember the events of the last few weeks. Something’s gone very, very wrong- an unknown force has highjacked the ship. That’s why you
volunteered to be implanted with some experimental cyberware. Rely on your cyber-interface, it might just save your life. Come up to deck four. Can
you remember that? Deck four. They’re after us both now.”
Staring out the large bay windows, something was clearly wrong. The cryo recovery room was in shambles. There was a big pool of blood on the floor,
with a trail leading off into a back roof. Out the window, a dish on the nacelle smoldered and bent. I heard metal creak above me, and dove out of the
way. An overhead duct almost fell on me as a hunk of satellite dish hit one of the huge windows. It shattered, and I felt a brief tug before the
forcefield activated. Then, Janice was screaming. I was moving. I made it to the small control alcove before half the ceiling hit the ground. I saw
this Navy guy, all busted up and pretty obviously dead. Almost all the machinery was smashed to #. There was a heavy wrench still in his hand, and a
few nanite tokens in his pockets. I grabbed both- my pistol wouldn’t last forever, and I was damn hungry. Who knows, maybe I’d find a vending machine
or something. At any rate, I saw that a whole bunch of heating duct covered the ladder leading out of the room. In the background, I heard a
mechanical voice chime in over the room’s speakers, telling me I had sixty seconds until the room depressurized.
Now, this was clearly bad. I had sixty seconds to put a door between me and hard vacuum, and judging by the size of the shrapnel that hit the ship,
the whole section as compromised. I swung the wrench back, and smashed the duct out fo the way. Then, I was scrambling up the ladder...