Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

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Jack_Sigma
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Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:57 pm

The sound of the last drop hitting the bottom of the glass carries many meanings and portents, or so a drunk wise man on Tith'al had once told Brevik Durne. To be fair, it was hard to tell if he was actually a wise man -- he wore the robes of the the Tith Order of Seekers, that mysterious multi-species cult of mystics, shamans and, oddly enough, wandering professors at some of the galaxy's most prestigious higher learning institutions -- but he talked far more openly than any Tith Seeker Brevik had ever encountered in the past, even including the few whose lectures Brevik had sat in on in his fifteen year ramble through the galaxy's twists, turns and spirals. Most of the Seekers Brevik had come across chose to remain aloof, as if constantly wrapped in the crisp and frosty mountain air of the lofty heights where they resided. The ones that did deign to teach always gave lectures, never answered questions, and did not respond well to challenges to their authority from the audience. Brevik had seen more than one enterprising young Academy recruit dragged off by security for daring to challenge the Seekers' view that the galaxy actually existed as a construct of spherical mirror galaxies sharing a single diametrical axis - each having its own distinct variant of the galaxy the single and simple-minded people being lectured perceived and understood. But this one, this mystic... this drunken mystic... the Opus Illus he called himself, though he claimed no connection to whatever meaning the terms might have had in the past or future. He spoke freely and openly, and maybe that's what frightened Brevik about him on a deep subconscious level.

"You know that the sound of the last drop hitting the bottom of the glass carries many meanings and portents, don't you s-stranger?" The Opus Illus had said, a drunk muttering to the man next to him at the bar - his instant companion by reason of proximity. He had punctuated the statement by flipping his bottle of Oooglag Bier and letting the last fuzzy drop dribble its way down the neck and land with a soft but surprisingly resounding 'plink' against the finger's worth of beer remaining in his glass.

Brevik had been in enough bars and cantinas in his life (his family, may they rest in the Force, might have once said a few few too many) to think he knew the next line in this timeless production, "Let me guess, does the sound of that particular drop portent me buying you another beer?" he asked wryly, a half grin on his face. What could he say? Brevik had a soft spot for drunks, especially curious ones, "I'll call it prophecy if so, but it's only going to be one, friend."

The drunk cackled and drew himself up majestically, his dark cloak falling open to reveal the green marble stole and mauve robes of the Order of the Seekers, a twinkle in his slightly glazed eyes, "I am..." he paused to cough, somewhat ruining the image of importance he had managed to cultivate in so brief a moment, "...The Opus Illus, my dear friend, no connection to anything you're t-thinking of, and while you're actually quite w-wrong as to the meaning of the drop, I am always pleased to meet a c-cynic and will take the d-drink in the spirit in which it is o-ffered."

As he ordered an extra round for each of them, Brevik noticed the bartender, a pleasant looking Twi'lek girl who might once have been a slave based on the tattoos decorating her Lekku, rolling her eyes at the exchange. It seemed The Opus was a regular, although there was a wary cast to that eye roll that Brevik did not place for quite some time.

Once the glasses were full and deposited on the slightly sticky bar in front of them in that dim-lit dive, deep in Tith'al Oork, The Opus Illus resumed his explanation.

"You see, s-stranger..."

"Brevik, Brevik Durne."

"Ah yes, stranger B-brevik, you see, most people..." he said "people" in a way that caught Brevik's ear, as if excluding himself not just from the "most" part, but from the "people" part too (although for all intents and purposes, The Opus looked human as far as Brevik could tell), "...don't realize that sound is one of the few things that transcends the multi-spiral. Oh, of course we don't hear what anyone in the same spot in a parallel galaxy would be saying, at least anywhere other than maybe a few points along the Galactic Axis, but sound and emotion reverberate through the multi-spiral like sonar, bouncing off of the galactic spokes and able to be read and understood in the tiniest of increments."

Actually, Brevik did know this, or at least he knew that this is what the Order of Seekers believed. The concept seemed preposterous... why sound and not light? Why emotion and not, well, something else? But Brevik had traveled far enough across the galaxy, and see enough crazy bantha durg, not to dismiss anything out of hand.

"Let's say I believe you," Brevik drawled, curious despite himself, almost to the point of not noticing that The Opus hadn't stuttered once since the start of his little speech, though some deep part of Brevik filed the fact away (along with the bartender's wary eye-roll) so he'd have something to beat himself up over in the future when he looked back at this starting point to the whole thing, "So what did that last drop mean?"

The Opus Illus took on a mysterious air, though how he did so without visibly moving a muscle, Brevik had no idea, "Dark days and storms to come," he murmured, almost to himself, then turned back to Brevik and piped up more cheerily, "and exciting adventures! Oh what a lucky one you are, I can tell you that!"

Brevik, a cynic as The Opus Illus had so astutely observed, really did not like the sound of that. He suddenly felt the urge to finish his beer and go.

"You see," The Opus Illus began again, taking a long draught of his beer and seemingly oblivious to Brevik's change of posture, "what people don't understand..." there it was, that "people" again -- Brevik's file was getting bigger all the while -- "...is that the beer, or any other alcoholic drink, plays an important role as a medium by which sound echoes through the mutli-spiral. Alcohol is a depressant for most species, but its consumption is so often associated with strong emotion, negative, positive, excited, contentious, that it feeds into the emotional woof and warp of the multi-spiral, and a sound that bounces off a beer in our galaxy..." The Opus finished his glass and refilled it from his beer bottle, doing so slowly to allow the individual drops to tumble from the neck and pleasantly tinkle into the glass "...echoes through the multi-spiral on the tones of emotion it carries."

Brevik didn't know if it was the way the old drunk spoke, but he could almost hear the tinkle of the beer booming through his eardrums on some subsonic level, each drop causing his insides to twist as if he were standing next to a speaker at a Trandoshen Kthak gathering and feeling the base that the Trandoshen could all hear. He asked his last question reluctantly, knowing the answer, not knowing why he was reluctant.

"So why the last drop?"

The Opus Illus laughed merrily, as if asked by a child to explain why Voorhees chocolate tasted so good (even that analogy, which popped into Brevik's head unbidden, should have raised subconscious eyebrows - it was eventually discovered that Voorhees chocolate contained hallucinogen-inducing, although ultimately harmless, micro-bacteria), "Is there any drop of alcohol anywhere that feeds more emotion than the last drop? That causes more angst, that leads to more fights, that forces us to exuberantly order more...!?"

That last bit sounded intended, and Brevik noticed that The Opus's glass and bottle were both nearly empty, though when he had had time to drink them, Brevik couldn't guess. The desire to flee the bar as if a pack of rabid dewbacks were chasing him grew stronger, "One more for you, Mssr. Illus, and then I must be on the way."

"Much obliged, m-much o-obliged," the drunk Seeker responded, settling back into his seat, "For such kindness, I will do you a favor, a service the likes of which w-we rarely render to s-strangers, s-stranger Brevik."

Where were the alarm bells, Brevik would later ask himself? Favors from strangers, in his wide experience, were always bad news. Brevik ordered another round for The Opus, but before the bartender could come back with the drinks, The Opus Illus grabbed Brevik's wrist in a surprisingly sturdy grasp, and drew him closer. The sour aroma of beer mixed with Osqui liquor and sweat emanated from The Opus Illus's wrinkled face - up close he really did resemble a common drunk, with stray facial hair and pock-marks, a gap in his teeth on the left side of his mouth and fat beads of sweat rising on his forehead, "Listen, Brevik Durne, listen and you will hear."

With his off hand, The Opus Illus poured the last drop of beer in his current bottle into his glass. Mesmerized, Brevik could only watch in suddenly honey-slow motion as the perfect sphere of amber liquid descended through the air, the few beams of light penetrating the dim confines of the bar catching it here and there as it fell, ripples flitting across its surface as the air recycler continued its thankless work. After what seemed like a millenia, the drop hit the last bit of liquid desperately clinging to the glass, and instead of a 'plink', a whisper emanated, a whisper of many voices, too many to make out, too few to hear clearly, maybe not a whisper at all, like a conversation through a wall that might have been a holocast in the room next door or might just be the scrabbling of insects in the wall paneling. As Brevik strained to hear, strained to differentiate anything audible from that muted cacophony of sound, The Opus Illus spoke. Softly, clearly, oh so frighteningly clearly, "The galaxy echoes, and it seems you have a part to play, my friend. You're going on a journey, we both know that, but it may not be one you expect..." Indeed, Brevik had received clearance to fly out later that evening, and had been killing time before heading back to his ship, "...but do not be afraid, the Axis is a wondrous place, and maybe it is one where you will find what you seek. Find it Brevik, or the next echo across the multi-spiral might be a booming one."

Brevik shook himself from his daze, and the sounds of the dive bar rushed back in, the air recycler, the droid cleaning up some patron's lunch on the back bench (sadly, after the patron had eaten it), the bartender's boots hitting the floor as she walked their drinks over to them. The Opus Illus had let go of his arm and was sitting next to him, expression glazed, eagerly eyeing the fresh bottle glistening in the Twi'lek's hand, the perfect image of a common drunk. Shakily, Brevik drew himself to his feet and dropped some credit chits on the counter.

"Thank you for your company, Mssr. Illus," he said as he took a breath and gathered himself, remembering that he wasn't actually superstitious himself, no matter that he believed superstitions might be based in truth, "It was most enlightening."

The Opus Illus looked up at him and squinted, as if almost surprised to find him there, "Of course, of course, s-stranger. The pleasure's all yours, I-I'm sure," he grinned as he greedily pawed at the bottle the bartender had brought.

Brevik had walked out, the return of sunlight almost shocking after the bar's dark interior, and headed off to his ship, the Wing of Eva, a name that had no meaning beyond a bout of inspiration Brevik had had upon seeing the roughly wing-shaped light freighter at the fifth lot he had gone to on Ord Mantell after, well, crash-landing there while on the run from an angry brother and a jealous ex-husband. The sunlight reinvigorated Brevik, and he had gone on his way.

***
"You know that the sound of the last drop hitting the bottom of the glass carries many meanings and portents, don't you s-stranger?"

The Opus Illus's voice kept slowly rolling itself over in Brevik's head as he swirled the last drop of the Whyern's Reserve he had aboard the Wing of Eva in its bottle, the ship mirroring the slow roll of the voice in his head as it aimlessly tumbled through the darkness of space without primary power, the emergency systems only keeping his life support on.

"What a frelling crack-pot," Brevik thought for the thirtieth time, as the odd events of the previous day kept coming back to him in starker and starker detail. But still he didn't pour himself the last drop. He was in the middle of nowhere, having fallen out of hyperdrive somehow when his ship just lost it for no apparent reason, and no access to navigation or his star charts to tell him where he was. With the roll of the ship and the roll in his brain from the two-thirds of the bottle he had already downed, Brevik couldn't even make out the constellations around him long enough to try to use them as placement. He had been floating for hours and his life support systems were dwindling, and no chance in the Abyss that this was a known shipping lane of some sort. He was truly, well and deeply frelled.

One last drop. "...a part to play..." The Opus Illus had said. "A journey... and not one you expect," The Opus Illus had said. Well, in that at least, the drunk mystic had been right. Brevik hadn't been expecting to suffocate to death in his own ship in the deep, dark black. Sighing, resigning himself to his seemingly unavoidable fate (or trying to), Brevik tipped the bottle over and began to pour the last drop into his glass.

As he did, he did not notice the small patch of stars that were blacked out in the far distance each time his ship completed a roll.

***
Last edited by Jack_Sigma on Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:23 pm

The drop fell.

Thunder..! Lightning....! ...none of these things appeared. In fact, the drop fell with nary a noticable sound, just a quiet 'blurp' that was barely audible to Brevik's straining ears over the sounds of the few beeping systems remaining alive on his ship.

Wait, few beeping systems? Had there been beeping a moment ago?

This time straining his eyes over the amber haze threatening to clog his vision and the slight nauseua rising in his stomach from the on-again, off-again nature of the emergency inertial dampners, Brevik scooted himself over to the starboard bank of control panels. Wiping sweat from his brow (whoever decided that air conditioning wasn't an emergency life support system was a bastard), Brevik managed to focus on the one blinking red light in a sea of dark controls, a wasteland so otherwise desolate that Brevik could imagine it as the remains of some long-dead city following a ambio-radioactive war, the buildings still standing but the power and people all gone. The light, the one blinking light -- actually, as his vision swam back together, Brevik saw it was a blinking light and a display readout, oh happy day -- was the auto-thruster control for the landing and docking thrusters. And the readout said it had enough power to... what, maybe stablize the ship? Just enough to stop this infernal rolling? But here was the kicker, and Brevik let off a sour grunt as if kicked in the shin - it was just the auto-thrusters. Not the manual ones, just the auto-thrusters. Oh sure, Brevik could re-route those to manual and have them kick off at a moments notice. Yes, he could do that easily... if his computer systems were on. Or anything else for that matter. Brevik could also dig into the thruster assembly array from inside the ship and manually reroute the power to the manual thrusters, but what the frell, who cared? Just to live his last moments in a non-spinning ship? Too much effort, too much effort - heck, the heavy breathing from squeezing into the guts of the ship might burn minutes of precious oxygen by itself. No, better to spin a few more moments of sad existance.

Scooting back over to where he had left his glass, Brevik eyed the last drop decorating its bottom disconsolately, and tried to remember if there were a bottle of anything else left anywhere on the Wing of Eva. Tilting the last drop back and dropping the glass, Brevik dozed off as the slow roll of the universe (or this ship, or his brain) lulled him to sleep.

***

Regaining consciousness with a dry mouth and a dull throb behind his eyes, Brevik squeezed them shut to try to hold back the rolling sensation and a fresh wave of nauseau. Because the rolling continued behind his eyes, it took a good minute for Brevik to realize the rolling sensation was only behind his eyes, and was not shared by the ship. Drawing in a breath of significantly staler air than he remembered, Brevik opened his eyes with a slight glimmer of optimism, and nearly shut them again as a wave of panic and hope warred in his cerebral cortex.

The ship was stable alright, but directly in front of him, occupying almost the entirety of his cockpit view, was a fearsome cruiser of a type Brevik had never seen before, never even heard of. Sleek and made of curving lines like a Mon Calamari vessel, sharp thorns protruded from the ship at odd angles, like a sea sponge impaled on an urchin. Instead of many observational bubbles, the vessel had only one that visible to Brevik, a massive observational hemispher at the front tip of the cruiser that looked like the multifaceted eye of some monstrous insect. Six massive engines formed the back of the craft in a hexagonal cluster, looking for all intents like the early stage rockets Brevik had seen in holos of the pasts of some of the more recently space-faring civilizations. The whole thing could easily have been half a kilometer in length based on what Brevik saw, and while none of the thorns had obvious weapons arrays that Brevik could see, the whole ship was covered in paneling that indicated it might have the ability to porcupine itself at a moment's notice. And the entirety of it was black. Dull, matte, black. Pitch as the pitch of space around it. But more meaningfully, black with no running lights, no signs of life, no signs of motion, no signs of operation. What. The. Frell.

It was then that Brevik became aware of something closer to him, another light. A blinking green light. Green? Life support? But no, it was on the starboard panel again, the one with the thruster controls. Brevik wandered over to it and looked, suddenly confused, and couldn't help running the encounter with The Opus Illus back in his head for the thirty-first time. It was the auto-docking system. Not the air, not anything that could save his life, but somehow, the Wing of Eva was ready to dock with this monster hovering over Brevik. Which meant the moster was receptive to docking with the Wing of Eva. Which meant The Opus Illus was easier the craziest drunk Brevik had ever met, or something deeply sinister was going on. Well, maybe not sinister, but twisted to be sure. What. The. Frell. Sighing and feeling his breath catch, Brevik looked over to the only manual counter that mattered right then. 15 minutes of oxygen left. One insidious blinking green light. And one monstrously mysterious vessel... what the frell... what to do?

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:20 pm

Now, to most, the choice would seem obvious. 15 minutes of certain life, followed by certain death, or docking with a derelict craft whose very appearance struck fear into the heart of a man who had thought himself immune to the terrors of the deep black? Well, maybe put that way, not so obvious. But still, no matter how terrifying the unknown, better than certain death, right?

Brevik's eyes were glued to the oxygen reader as it dully ticked down the seconds of his life, 14:27... 14:26... 14:25... sweat dripped off his brow and fell in fat drops to stain the mostly still dark control panel, his hands still, his brain throbbing but running a mile a minute. He was frozen.

***

Once upon a time ago, about 15 years to be precise, Brevik had been young and bored, as young people can sometimes be. Born to a family of aristocrats on his home planet of Veias IV, Brevik had received the classical education of the aristocratic space-faring age - by 10, he could pilot a speeder and ride a six-legged Graug beast while striking a small pyramidal pin up to 100 meters with an anti-grav mallet. By 15 his tutors him immersed him in classical galactic literature and philosophy, and by 18, he had had a decade plus of weapons training - both energy weapons and that favorite aristocratic fancy - sword-play. By 20, he had had two years of Academy experience under his belt, his piloting experience expanding to include shuttles, freighters and, to Brevik's delight, starfighters (the local militia had a fleet of eight, two of which were used for recruit training).

Of course, by 20, Brevik had also been stuck on the otherwise unnaturally boring world of Veias IV for, well, 20 years, and in another two, he would have graduated the local academy and followed his father into the ranks of local politics, to govern and participate in the rule of Veias IV ad nauseum, a meaningless game of azi-stones in a pond as big as some of the galactic movie stars used to hold their personal aquatic collections. The problem was, Veias IV was a rich and tiny world. Or rather, the world was large, but the habitable portion of it consisted of a floating administrative city over maybe twenty square miles of population center protected by an energy field, with workers shuffling through the field each day to the twenty or so gas and mineral mining operations dotting the rest of the world's bleak surface. The world itself had never been meant to be habitable, or so Brevik's tutors kept reminding him. Discovered in a gold rush of space-age exploration some four hundred years earlier, some very wealthy patrons on the run from a galactic war or other had decided to plant their flag and terraforming equipment and make a go of it. It didn't hurt that their sensors had picked up massive deposits of precious materials used in ship-building clustered all over the planet.

The down-side was, Veias IV was too close to its local sun, and the poles were essentially the sole habitable regions. So these wealthy patrons (one of whom was Brevik's ancestor, as his tutors made sure to point out time and again) set down a shield, terra-formed the northern pole of the planet and set up an idyllic society of aristocrats running a massive mining operation operated by off-world workers who would be shipped in on the hope of good wages and steady pay. Most of the twenty mining rigs (small cities really) had their own dormitories, and ordinances permitted no more than five shifts of rig employees back in Veias Prime, the capital city, at a time, so as the wealthy played and laughed and stabbed each other in the back, they did not need to see too much of the sooty labor force feeding their imported kodu-filet habits or paying for their childrens’ flueto-gong tutors. It was perfect. It made Brevik sick.

20 years stuck on the same twenty-mile island of life, the same circles of people, the same bars, staring at the same maroon-orange sky every night, waiting for the red-and-black streaked Tigaz clouds to roll away for the one weekly glimpse of the stars afforded the planet’s denizens. One morning, waking up in his room in the Academy dorms, just one of the floating administrative compounds above Veias Prime, Brevik knew that he could take no more. He had always been a bit faster than his tutors, a bit faster than his peers, a stretch faster than his parents, and before any of them knew he had left the planet, Brevik had stowed away on a mining transport back to Terik Vex, the Imperial administrative planet in the region, and lost himself deep in its dark belly.

For three weeks, Brevik had trolled that underground, drinking with miners, fighting with thugs, cavorting with all manner of unscrupulous beings and then, just as he felt the breath of his pursuers on his neck (his picture had been distributed to the Imperial patrols within a few days of his leaving home), Brevik was gone again, in the space winds like he never was. Like the frigid breeze that would come down to Veias Prime from the Azgrad Mountains rising high into the sky above them, in some places he would rattle the shutters as he passed, and sometimes he was no more noticeable than a shrug and a shiver against the chill. From spaceport to spaceport he would hop, sometimes taking two or three random jumps in a row, until at last he was so far into the galaxy that not even he was sure where.

In the next five years, Brevik managed to collect a lifetime’s worth of the experience he had missed on Veias Prime, rolling through odd towns, strange bars and cantinas, fascinating and awkward conversations, dangerous and dark locales. For one particularly memorable six month stretch, Brevik had stowed away on an archeological expedition to the Sith ruins on Helia Bors, and somehow managed to convince the captain not to space him. Instead he had spent that time lugging equipment, offering to climb first into dusty burial chambers that had not seen life for millennia. In some of these Brevik could feel the malevolent forces eying his intrusion with disapproval, but with the impudence of youth he thumbed his nose at them all. For those five years, he was never still, always active, always seeking, though as to what or why, who could say?

His family eventually gave up the search, realizing their precocious third son (that probably made it easier) didn’t want to be found, but never shut off his bank access (in later years, he would respect their tacit acceptance of his escape), leaving Brevik with enough to live on as he dug deeper through the pathways of the universe.

After those five years, Brevik found himself on a dump called Ce-0789, a planet so absurdly unpleasant no one had wanted to name it. A single spaceport and a single town were its sole facilities, and its population mostly researchers in search of the mysterious Xai, a legendary Xayod priest who was said to have come to this pudu-hole to die with all his knowledge of an unnaturally long 500 year life (or so the legends said). It didn’t hurt that the average life-span of the Xayod people was only about 200 standard of their years, leaving the legend of Xai as having found not only a wealth of knowledge, but possibly the secret to extended life. Brevik had tagged along with a treasure-seeker he had run into a few systems over who had spilled the story to Brevik over, what else, a few drinks. Having nothing better to do with his time (and looking for a way off-planet after a rather unsettling encounter with the mistress of the local precinct chief), Brevik had jumped on board and found himself on a dark rock with a volcanic landscape of pillars and melted slag, a forest of volcanic rock as deep as any of the great woods on Kashhyyk, and somewhere in that jungle of rock the possible key to youth and wisdom.

Of course, the place itself was so bad that Brevik found himself wondering if a duel with the precinct captain wouldn’t have been the better way to go.

It was then that he got the message, as he parlayed with his galactic bank provider through the holo-terminal at the spaceport. Emergency Message from Veias Prime. Priority Urgent. And for some reason Brevik’s bank account now registered millions more credits than it had before. Not good, not good, not good.

With a sinking feeling that there was only one possible explanation, Brevik didn’t bother to read the message but grabbed the first ship heading back towards somewhere closer to the galactic shipping lanes. A few days and a few hops later, he had booked himself a first class, non-stop ticket to Terik Vex, and then to Veias Prime.

Brevik’s stopover in Terik Vex was surreal. Five years since his initial flight from Veias, five years since a child had left home and a man was on the doorstep back. Five years changed a man. Five years where, despite the access to a galactic bank, Brevik had sometimes had to struggle for food, to escape those who sought to do him harm, to love and lose, and love again. He was by no means worldly or wise, Brevik knew that, but Terik Vex already looked so small to Brevik’s eyes, and he knew it would never look as big as it had in those first few weeks.

He got to Veias Prime just in time to stand in the back row at his family’s funeral. Plural. All of them, other than his little sister Ella. The silliest possible way to go. There had been a ball on one of the new floating garden derricks, and the Durne family had gone in grand form, all but Ella who was suffering from the selesian flu (but wouldn’t have missed it for the world otherwise) and her husband, who stayed home to tend her.

The first guests were just arriving when the anti-grav field on the docking structure gave way, plummeting the docking coupling down into the city below. The Durne’s vessel had just touched down and the pilot had flicked off the engines, leaving no time to get the vessel back up and running in free fall. Twenty-five had died of the aristocratic families, and another seventy-three in the neighborhood of Veias Prime where the docking structure had fallen. It was the biggest tragedy to hit Veias IV in fifty years, and Brevik was numb.

Afterwards, Ella had implored him to stay. Brevik would have none of it - he had signed over the vast majority of their parents’ wealth to Ella and left her and her husband to manage the family’s affairs and their aristocratic duties. Brevik himself had kept a modest fund and had bought his first ship with a hyperdrive, and left the planet within the week. Now with his own ship and enough credits to maintain it, Brevik dove back into the galaxy without restraint. No longer bounded by where others were going, Brevik took his ship deeper into the dark than he had even been before, lost himself on the fringe for another five years, sometimes trawling through planets where his spacecraft was the most complicated machine the world had even seen. The numbness drove him into darker paths, fighting alongside rebels on half a dozen worlds, violence following him from world to world. Brevik the wanderer took his turn as Brevik the soldier, Brevik the fighter pilot, Brevik the freedom fighter. And then, after five years of exploring the outback, Brevik had woken up and known it was time to move on again. He had angled his ship back towards the galactic center and spent the next five years exploring the civilized worlds. It was in these that he had sat in on lectures by the Seekers for the first time, heard their puzzling view of the universe. He had become seasoned and jaded, and when the galactic Rebellion broke out, Brevik had taken a pass for the most part. Oh he had helped the effort here and there on a few worlds, but when some contacts from his past had offered him a commission in their doomed endeavor, Brevik had gone his own way, slowly cycling back to the fringe to avoid the growing Imperial presence in the space lanes, the chances of coming out of hyperspace into the middle of a space battle.

For 15 years, Brevik had wandered the universe, and had seen and heard things the likes of which most of the galaxy’s inhabits could not even imagine.

All of which is a long-winded explanation for why, with 13 minutes left on his life, Brevik had still not made a choice.

The reasoning was two-fold. First, in all his years of travels, all his years of journeying, every single place he had been and conversation he had ever had – Brevik had never heard of a single instance of the exploration of a derelict ship ending well. Not one. Not a single one. Instead, every story of an encounter with a derelict had ended in misfortune, torture, torment and occasional zombies. It wasn’t that Brevik believed all of these tales, but you would think, after all that, someone would have something positive to say? A treasure-hunt that succeeded, some cargo liberated, something. But no, the closest he had ever come to hearing a happy ending to a derelict trawl was a man that had showed him a seven inch scar where a stir-crazy survivor had skewered him with a dining tray. The happy part was that the man had made it back to the medical station on his ship before bleeding to death, and even dropped a proton torpedo on the derelict as a parting gift. Certain death, or… near-certain horrors? Tough call.

The other part of it was, through all his travels, Brevik had seen many a sight to inspire him, to drive him to awe, to scare him, to thrill him, but the abject terror that irrationally filled him at the sight of the beast in his view-screen was like nothing he had ever felt before. A derelict. Indescribable terror. And only 12 minutes left to life. Brevik blinked, more sweat dripping on the controls, and made his choice. The docking mechanism took five to seven minutes to engage, so Brevik didn’t have much time.

He slammed his hand to engage the docking mechanism and ran into the Wing of Eva’s living quarters to grab his gear. He was definitely going to want a blaster for this.

***
Last edited by Jack_Sigma on Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:39 pm

Brevik's gear lay scattered in a cluttered pile in his sleeping quarters, closets emptied as he scanned the array to determine what he might need aboard the giant one-eyed insect on his doorstep. He could feel the vibration of his ship as it slowly connected to the underbelly of the beast (Brevik had no idea where the docking cluster on the other vessel actually was, but it seemed his ship had come to a halt fairly close to it... how convenient...) and knew that there wasn't much time left. He could also feel his lightheadedness as he gulped the remaining eight minutes worth of air on the Wing of Eva, the colored dots at the corners of his retinas already indicating the onset of oxygen deprivation, if at low levels. His EVA suit stood ready for him in the back corner of his quarters, which were surprisingly spacious for a light freighter -- one of the benefits of being a wanderer and not really needing smuggling compartments. The EVA suit actually had its own limited supply of oxygen, but without knowing how long it might take to get the derelict up and running (if that were even possible), Brevik was holding off putting it on for as long as possible, saving each precious molecule. If this did go badly... well, better not to think of that. For now, focus -- the gear.

Usually when Brevik had to pack on a moments' notice, it was fleeing from ground-side back to his ship, so leaving things behind wasn't a concern. In this case, everything would depend on what conditions were on the derelict and whether he'd have any chance to get back to his ship if things went... odd. For example, if the native species that piloted the Insect (as Brevik had taken to calling it in his head) were methane breathers, Brevik was down the spice mines without a rope regardless, and gear wouldn't matter. On the other hand, if they were oxygen breathers, well, that would depend on whether any were still alive and how much they liked unexpected visitors. Sighing and instantly regretting it as he felt the tightness in his chest when he re-drew the breath, Brevik quickly liberated the weapons from the pile of gear and liberally strapped them on in nondescript places - a few knives here, a blaster there, a vibro-sword here... well, that one was hard to conceal, but Brevik wouldn't leave the Eva without it. Some flashlights and a change of clothes made it into the pack, as well as dried food and drink. Some rope. Some grappling hooks, because who knew? A small charm Brevik had picked up on Eiros that was carved to resemble an Eireen dolphin. Basic toiletries. Some lock-picks, both manual and some electronic overrides. And... wait, what was that? Grinning from ear to ear, Brevik dug the small flask from the bottom of the pile. Shaped like a bald fat man holding his belly, Brevik remembered picking the flask up years ago on some outer rim world, and if he remembered correctly… eureka, not empty! Shaking it gently, feeling the heft -- half full -- the voice in the back of Brevik's head couldn't help observing that an extra last drop couldn't hurt. As Brevik shoved everything into his pack along with some other random items that caught his eye, he couldn't decide whether the voice in his head had been ironic or not.

Pack ready, Brevik quickly climbed into the EVA suit, doing up the last clasps as the Eva’s oxygen counter hit three minutes, his vision decidedly red-tinged. With the suit done up, Brevik engaged the oxygen cycler and took two glorious, deep, delicious breaths of fresh (well, stale, but fresh) oxygen. His eyes clearer, the unceasing throbbing in his head a bit lighter, Brevik started for the airlock with a renewed sense of purpose, as he felt the Eva connect and engage the Insect’s docking array. He was halfway to the airlock when he first smelled something crisping. Crisping. Like the scent of wood-smoke on a cold day, that pleasant aroma of a fire keeping away the day’s bitter chill. Except that Brevik was on a ship. And in an EVA suit. And why the frell did it smell like burning??

Hacking non-stop as smoke suddenly filled his helmet, Brevik struggled with the clasps in a cold panic and threw it to the side, coughing anew as his lungs struggled to suck in the last minute and a half of air left on the Eva. Stripping out of the suit, Brevik saw the charred circle around the air cycler, a short circuit? Some sort of malfunction? Fighting to breathe and shudder at the same time (what if that had happened in space?), Brevik stumbled to the airlock, red haze quickly filming his eyes, pack in hand, death again certain. There was another EVA suit in the cargo bay. Could he get to it in time? Get it on in time? No, certainly not, he would pass out trying to open the cargo compartment. He struggled to take another breath and only felt the burning agony climb up his lungs. A green light glowing above his head said the airlock was engaged. Stable. What were the chances? No really, what were the chances, and if they were in his favor, why? Coughing, struggling to stand, Brevik staggered into the airlock with his pack. If the derelict was open to a vacuum, he was dead. If they were methane breathers, he was dead. Why would there be oxygen on this thing? Why?

Knowing there was no good reason, no reason to hope, nothing to lose but life itself, Brevik pushed the airlock control and watched through slitted lids as the airlock sealed off the passage to the Eva, and the side facing the Insect began to rumble open.

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:20 pm

***

The first sensation was a cool breeze that slipped out of the growing opening and swirled around Brevik, his nostrils flaring as he gingerly tested the air, waiting for his chest to catch fire from the inside out. When it did not, the second sensation was relief, and the cautious sniffs turned into full throated gasps as Brevik guzzled air into his aching lungs, finally breathing deeply and taking a few moments to let his vision and thoughts clear.

The third sensation was a renewed sense of caution, as the airlock doors to the Insect opened up onto... nothing, pitch black. No sense of depth, no sense that Brevik was staring into another vessel or anything other than the void of space, and only the breeze to prove him wrong. Well, at least there was that. So, one thing at a time.

Unscrewing the little fat man flask and taking a quick gulp, Brevik slipped it back into his pocket and drew a few more deep breaths, his heartbeat calming, his natural explorers' curiosity starting to override (or at least thrum in concert with) the warning klaxons still going off in the back of his head. Pulling a blaster from the holster strapped to his waist and feeling instantly comforted by its death-dealing presence, Brevik flicked on the glow-lamp he had brought with him from the Eva, raising his blaster as he aimed the glow-lamp beam directly into the middle of the black opening in front of him.

With the light now penetrating the gloom, Brevik could see... frell, still nothing. Either the docking bay that the airlock opened up on was so massive that Brevik's light didn't reach the back, or... or... Brevik shuddered and hefted the glowlamp and blaster, readying himself. How much worse could this be than a Sith tomb? Brevik sometimes wished silly questions like that wouldn’t pop into his head.

One step, and then another, and Brevik passed the airlock threshold with a chill and a shiver down his spine, his glow-lamp creating an orb of light around him and a beam through the gloom that still did not reach any end to the chamber he was in. One step in, Brevik paused to see if he could distinguish anything of the Insect's docking bay. First, the floor -- standard fibrosteel as far as Brevik could tell, dusty (when he moved his foot, Brevik could see the tracks left on the floor) but otherwise unremarkable. Turning his light behind him, Brevik saw the comforting glow of the emergency sensors in the Eva’s still-open airlock, the light from inside bright only in comparison to the darkness of the rest of the docking bay. The walls to either side of the airlock were flat, with a slightly perceptible curve as they arced up into the deep shadows above Brevik’s head. Picturing the Insect in his mind’s eye, Brevik tried to place where on the vessel the docking bay could be, given all of the curved observation bubbles, and couldn’t quite get there. Ah well.

Turning and taking a step deeper into the docking bay, the sound of the airlock blast doors slamming closed behind him caused Brevik to jump and spin around, letting out a choice stream of curses that would have impressed a Hutt. Come on, come on, come on, what a frelling cliché! Brevik thought to himself as his glow-lamp played back across the now shut airlock, clearly closed on the side of the Insect. Ignorant traveller steps one foot beyond the precipice, and the way back is shut. How many holos had Brevik seen where the same thing had happened? Countless. How many of those had the protagonist survived? Not nearly enough for comfort. The way back was shut, and Brevik didn’t bother banging on the blast doors or screaming himself hoarse, affording himself only a minute to run a hand down the contours of the blast doors testing for a seam or a set of controls. Those few moments were enough to make Brevik’s hackles rise all over again. The blast doors were… flexible. Or maybe not flexible, but the material wasn’t actually fibrosteel, or didn’t feel like it. Instead, there was give to it, and the sensation was oddly familiar to Brevik, like… like… like feeling the skin of a Teleesian bore-shark, minutely serrated for discomfort, but extremely hard the more that Brevik pressed on it. Testing out a hunch, Brevik reached down for the floor and encountered the same material. So, not exactly fibrosteel, but he was still breathing, and the ship was still intact, so clearly whatever it was worked. Filing the fact away with the rest, Brevik turned back away from the airlock, determination filling him. No more of this Vorak splot, time to find the controls of this ridiculous thing and get himself back to the space-lanes. Brevik didn’t care if he found a way to fix whatever was wrong with the Eva or just hijacked this whole frelling beast, he had no intention of staying here any longer than necessary. His thought from before rang back in his ears in different form – treat it like it’s a Sith tomb, and maybe you’ll get out alive. There had been some close calls in those too, and only through caution and a skilled hand with a grappling hook (and blaster) had Brevik made it through in one piece.

Having come full turn, Brevik suddenly found himself squinting into the deep black. Was that..? Sighing, Brevik flicked off the glowlamp and closed his eyes, tersely counting to ten to let his eyes adjust while trying not to feel like invisible forces were closing in around him all the while. When he reopened them, Brevik confirmed what he thought he had seen. There was now a glowing point somewhere in the distance, an open door or entryway of some sort. How convenient that it had opened right as Brevik’s only escape had shut. Of course, if this entire chamber were just the Insect’s own internal airlock, maybe that all made sense. But why so massive? And why did Brevik feel like he was being led by the nose? With nothing else to do, Brevik headed towards the light with a resolute stride.

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:28 am

***

The walk took longer than Brevik thought, the darkness squeezing the glowing space around him like a fist, never lessening its oppressive grip on the chamber Brevik was in. His footsteps left marks on the floor but made no sound, no echo to mark his eerie passage towards the growing glow in the distance. A good fifteen minutes later, the glow took form, a hexagonal opening with parallel sides framing a doorway six feet wide and angling to a point nearly ten feet off the ground. Gold etching traced the frame, lit by the glow from the other side of the door – symbols, language or decoration, Brevik could not tell. Nor could he tell, the closer he came to it, what lay on the other side of the door. As dark as the chamber he was in was, the aperture glowed with an intensity that prevented Brevik from making out even the faintest details of what lay on the other side. The symmetry to Brevik’s emergence from the airlock did not escape him, was this vessel purposely built to disorient? A faint memory rose from the depths of Brevik’s childhood, tales of defensive towers in pre-space age warfare that were built with passageways with false endings, dead ends and trap doors, all meant to deceive and confuse invaders, all directly open to murder-holes and arrow slits that defenders could use to massacre the enemy as they tried to find their way. It was not a pleasant memory under the circumstances.

Flicking the glowlamp off as he approached the door and clipping it to his belt, Brevik stabilized his grip on his blaster with his left hand, and cautiously but quickly spun through the opening, his back against the wall immediately to the side of the door, blaster raised, adjusting eyes scanning all sides for any signs of motion. There was no motion, but as his eyes adjusted, Brevik could do nothing to keep his jaw from dropping nearly to the ground. Only the desire to avoid grass stains kept his tongue off the floor.

The airlock, if airlock it was, had opened up onto a broad square, neatly trimmed and manicured grass outlining a meandering path of what appeared to be river-smoothed stones winding through the square, past benches, empty fountains and… decorative shrubs? Sunlight streamed into the square from a skylight high above, and a cool breeze stirred Brevik’s sweat-slicked amber hair against his brow. The square was spacious, giving the sense of a public park that might appropriately be filled with mothers and fathers with strollers, nanny-bots chasing toddlers and the sound of childrens’ laughter. However, the illusion was somewhat marred by the fact the square was still completely enclosed by grey slate walls, rising up to the skylight above. Looking up, Brevik was completely taken in by the fantasy of sunlight drying the sweat on his face as it warmed his body and soul – never in his travels had he seen such realistic mimicry of a star’s glow, not even on some of the finest luxury space-cruise liners that Brevik had tried out on a whim. Brevik knew there was no star nearby for parsecs yet… well, at least there shouldn’t have been on the path through hyperspace he had initially set the Eva on, but with all the spinning the Eva did, he was pretty comfortable that he hadn’t been spinning in-system near a star. So how? And why?

Shaking the illusion from his mind, Brevik re-hefted his grip on his blaster, again feeling its coarse grip dig into his palm. More faint memories of children’s tales stirred in the back of his mind, the soothing field of yellow poppies calling the wandering children to a deep nap that they would never awake from (or, in the more gruesome versions, would awake from in a warlock’s cook-pot). As a child, Brevik had always sworn to himself he would never fall for such an obvious deceit, and he felt it wise to heed that childish bravado now. Taking up the river-stone path among the grass, Brevik soon found himself at a three-way crossroads, the path splitting to lead to either of the three walls of the square that it did not share with the airlock. On each wall, two closed entry-ways were visible, each one marked with a different set of characters, each entry-way a slightly curved protrusion from the otherwise flat wall. And next to each… a call button? With sudden realization, Brevik understood that these weren’t doors – well, they were, but they were lift doors, the whole square some sort of axis of transportation for the Insect. But where did they go? And why the massive waste of space? Brevik tried to recapture in his mind’s eye how big the Insect had seemed from the viewport of the Eva, and no matter how he judged, there was no way the ship was longer than a klick. Brevik had seen plenty of Victory-class destroyers in his time, and he wasn’t sure the Insect was even that big, let alone bigger.

Still, a more pressing issue presented itself… which lift to take? Picking the left-most path at random to start, Brevik took the five minute stroll to that set of elevator banks to get a closer look at his options. The doors to each lift were of the same Teleesian sharkskin-like material as the walls, but each was covered in sets of symbols and hieroglyphics, none of which were in any way meaningful to Brevik. Curiously, the markings on the different doors were also of different colors, but the same color on any given door. Of the two Brevik found himself in front of, one had green markings and the other purple markings, and squinting across the square Brevik could see the other lifts were marked in orange, white, deep blue and black.

On a whim, Brevik hit the call button next to the green lift (amusingly, Brevik noted that some of the markings on the lift resembled the outlines of Fournian turtles, and others Aleian swans) and waited. Nothing lit up, no sign of any movement or motion. After waiting three minutes with no discernible activity, Brevik walked to the purple marked lift (some of the markings here looked like crude cave-depictions of the six-legged Worts of Rilos VII) and hit the call button. This time, a light above the lift lit up instantly, and within two minutes, the doors had slid open to reveal a cool dim lift-chamber lit from above by recessed lights. Compared to the airlock, the lights in the lift would have seemed like daylight, but compared to, well, daylight, the lift seemed dim. Glancing inside, Brevik could see no other buttons or means of controlling the direction of the lift. One-stop only? Odd.

Leaving the purple lift for a moment, Brevik followed the stone path leading around the perimeter of the square, stopping at each lift in turn. By the time he found himself standing at the black lift, the furthest from where he had started, the final tally was the green (turtles and swans), orange (fly-fish of Ko) and black (bipedal bears of Ersis) lifts were not running, while the purple (Worts), white (Terran hare) and deep blue (some sort of humanoid) lifts were. No indication of which was connected to the control cluster, or anything to say these weren’t lifts at a zoo somewhere. What a weird mess.

Wandering back to the middle of the square, Brevik took a seat on one of the stone benches and once more lost himself in the illusion of a day at the park for a moment. He considered himself a fairly lucky individual, notwithstanding some of the big picture misfortunes that had struck him in his life and travels. Now though, his next move was predicated on a blind guess, and he hoped his luck was in. No way to know where the lifts went… Brevik stood up, his decision made. A silly reason for a choice, but there it was. The last time Brevik had encountered a Wort in the wild (six-legged, heavy tusks and coarse fur, the size of a mid-sized speeder) the thing had skewered one of the other members of the hunt Brevik had been on and had taken a charge at Brevik before a well-placed shot to the eye had taken the thing done mere inches from him. As for dark humanoid shapes… those reminded him too much of the worshipful glyphs in the Sith tombs, markings showing masses of slaves paying homage to their never-quite-dead masters. The white lift it would be. A Terran hare, why did that tickle Brevik’s memory?

Walking up to the white-marked lift, Brevik pressed the button and waited a moment for the doors to open, then entered. A moment after that, the doors closed and Brevik felt the familiar sensation of a lift beginning a speedy descent, though to the Abyss knew where. As the lift went down and down and Brevik waited to find out where it would land him, he couldn’t help wondering why the memory of a white Terran hare kept running through his mind, as if late for an important date.

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:28 am

***

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Wed May 01, 2013 2:43 pm

***

The lift doors swished open with a hushed whisper, Brevik’s blaster raised to greet whatever might await him on the other side. Needless. What awaited him was as hushed as the gentle sound of the opening lift – a single corridor leading away from the lift with no discernible end, interspaced with viewports on either side illuminated by a soft white glow that seemed to emanate directly from the walls. Brevik briefly considered taking the lift back up and trying one of the others, before shaking his head and making up his mind to explore the corridor. In any case, he could see no ‘up’ button and nothing to say that another lift wouldn’t deposit him somewhere even stranger or worse – populated.

Noting to himself that caution was never truly needless, Brevik slowly stepped off the lift, blaster still raised, taking careful steps forward and trying not to cringe at the sound of his boot-heels loudly clicking on the ground and echoing into the distance. The notion of the echo itself raised Brevik’s eyebrows, and crouching down he confirmed his suspicions – whatever the new material was, the floor here was made of something different than the walls and ground above, something that felt more akin to a combination of rock and wood (stone-bark? fossilized wood?) than the organic-seeming material above. An odd fact, but another to file away. Brevik was halfway to the first view port when he heard the lift doors swish shut behind him, but beyond a quick check-back to make sure he really was the only thing to come out of the lift, he no longer found himself concerned. For now, the only way was forward, and nothing to be done for it.

The first puzzle of this frustrating vessel was solved when Brevik reached the first view-port, although it was not so much of a puzzle as a correction to Brevik’s misconception. He had been wondering where on the Insect he could possibly be that a fifteen foot-wide corridor could have a viewport on either side, but that’s where he had been mistaken – not viewports at all, but paintings, or at least some form of art. That, of course, raised its own questions, but less important ones for the moment as far as Brevik was concerned. His mistake had really been an understandable one – each “viewport” painting had space as its backdrop, a very realistic depiction that almost made the viewer believe they were looking out of the ship, but each depicted some different scene in space that would have been impossible located within thirty feet of the scene visible from the next viewport down the line.

The first “viewport” Brevik came to showed a distant quasar, vibrant purple and orange tones suffusing a nebulous ring that Brevik could almost see rotating as he looked at it. The next one depicted a space battle around a gas giant that the Insect would have had to be orbiting to witness so clearly, capital cruisers and starfighters of unknown makes and models engaged in a massive sortie, so realistic they seemed to flit between and behind the gas giant’s four multihued moons as Brevik watched. Another showed a massive asteroid field, some of the larger bodies dotted with tiny grey structures that might have once been buildings or mining installations, a small moon hovering far behind it all. The other side of the corridor showed equally fantastic images, black holes the Insect would have been sucked into were it so close to them, binary star systems, clusters of planets arranged in formations that almost seemed unnatural (or rather, artificially created, although that was almost certainly impossible). Brevik strolled the corridor looking at each in turn, fingers gently brushing the “viewports” each time to feel the canvas-like material they were made of, making sure none was actually a single true view in a stream of false impressions. None were, and Brevik continued his stroll, unable to resist taking the time to examine each new “view” as he passed.

Then Brevik reached a set of images, one across from the other, that made him stop and stare. The one on the left side of the corridor pictured a white dwarf orbited by three barren-looking planets, each looking more like a slate planetoid than a full-sized planet if not for their scale compared to the remnants of the star. But it wasn’t the dying star or planets that gave Brevik pause, but rather the massive creature that appeared to be emerging from behind (or inside??) the white dwarf, coiling towards the planets like some great interplanetary serpent, its steel-colored scales, individually rendered in great precision, each dully reflecting the dwarf star’s remaining glow. The great beast had no discernible eyes that Brevik could make out, but its serpentine head blindly pierced Brevik with its gaze and an open maw large enough to swallow capital ships whole and filled with row upon row of mountain-sized teeth was enough to convince Brevik he never wanted to come face to face with anything like this monstrosity. In scale, the thing looked to have been nearly the size of a large moon when coiled! Just looking at it made Brevik’s eyes begin to water, as if he could hear its virulent subsonic scream vibrating out of the image. Squeezing his eyes shut, Brevik turned away, turning the concept of the image over in his head – the odd part about it was, every other image Brevik had passed thus far had been rooted in reality, even the artificially aligned planetary system. Planets, stars, galaxies, nebulae, cruisers, vessels, the tenuous dance of life and death portrayed over and over and then… this. This depiction of science fiction, like something out of a horror holo. What did it mean?

The picture on the right side of the corridor was equally disturbing, but for a very different reason. Framed against a distant galaxy that gave them contrast, that image showed an entire fleet of Insects, or whatever these cruisers were actually called. Hundreds of the vessels, all curves and protruding spikes, faced Brevik as if about to fly out of the image directly at him. Worse, the single massive viewport at the nose of each vessel glowed an eerie blue in the picture, creating the sense of an oncoming swarm of Seleesian wasps about to strip the flesh of whatever animal they fell upon (and leaving Brevik the distinct impression that he was about to be that animal). Putting aside his misgivings and leaning closer, Brevik examined the vessels in turn, finally getting a sense for what their armaments looked like. Surprisingly, it was not the crude thorn-like protrusions that were tipped with visible weapons systems (though for all Brevik knew, they could be as well), but rather many of the vessels’ gentle curves that opened to display turbo-laser batteries, missile tubes and other launch devices that Brevik could not place. These things would be formidable in an open engagement, swarm or no, maybe even enough to challenge a Star Destroyer depending on the payload of those other mysterious weapons. Looking back over his shoulder at the great serpent coiling its way towards the remnants of the planets orbiting the white dwarf (was the serpent closer to the planets? clearly Brevik’s imagination…), Brevik tried not to the think about the symbolism of the Insect assault fleet facing the image of that terror-inducing beast. Companions or enemies, in between those two was no place Brevik ever wanted to find himself again. Sighing and looking down the corridor still extending far into the distance, Brevik tried to decide how long he had been walking. He had lost count of the images he had seen, but surely it couldn’t have been more than a half a klick? The ship itself could not be more than a klick in length, of that Brevik was certain, but maybe some architectural trick was causing Brevik’s path to weave in on itself without Brevik noticing? Strangeness all around, but hopefully nothing more than that.

Shrugging to himself and stepping off to continue on his way, some detail Brevik had missed suddenly caught his eye, causing him to spin and peer back at the pictured fleet of Insects. They all still faced Brevik, their front-facing blue observation domes glowing like the eyes of a malevolent mob of cyclops, so what had caught Brevik’s attention..? There, there it was! Hundreds of blue eyes faced Brevik – hundreds of blue… and one red. A mistake by the artist? Brevik bent closer to examine the offending vessel, looking for any difference between the red-eyed Insect and the rest of the blue-eyed swarm. Same sleek curves and sharp spikes, same weapons systems, same everything, so why the difference? Without thinking, Brevik brushed the red-tipped vessel with his fingertips, jerking back his hand as the red paint came off to reveal the blue observation dome it had been obscuring. So a mistake, but… recent enough for the paint to still be wet? What the frell...? Absent-mindedly rubbing his fingers together to smear off the paint, Brevik leaned forward once more and saw some more red speckles dotting the bottom of the painting, initially hidden from sight against the deep black space around the galaxy behind the Insect fleet. Wet paint, wet red paint, wet… wet… oh frell, frell, frell, frell, frell! Brevik spun to a crouch beneath the painting, back pressed against the wall, blaster in hand, eyes flicking back and forth down the expanse of corridor to either side of him, heart pounding a klick a second.

Paint, what a joke! Brevik didn’t feel like laughing. He raised his still paint-smeared fingers to his nose and took a cautious sniff. Of course, not paint, no paint Brevik knew had that sour acidic smell to it. Not paint at all, but blood. And wet blood. So much for this being a derelict... The thought rebounded around Brevik's head like an acorn in a child's rattle.

The path that had led him to the corridor sprang back to Breivk’s mind in sharp relief, his inner eye reviewing every detail he had previously observed anew, looking for any sign of life. Although Brevik saw nothing obvious, the number of gaps that came to mind were frighteningly many – the airlock darkness, for one, could have been filled with hordes of creatures without Brevik knowing. The courtyard could have had an observation deck hidden in the bright sunlight streaming from above. The five lifts not taken could have led to any number of barracks, mess halls, feeding pits or the like. Everything but this corridor could have hidden signs of life, and that’s what put Brevik on edge the most. A single corridor, extending to the end of sight in either direction, and this is where he found signs of life, or rather, death (or at least injury). For some reason, the memory of The Opus Illus popped into Brevik’s head for the first time since boarding the Insect. Brevik felt very inclined to lay this entire absurd predicament at the old drunk’s feet, fair or not. After all, he was the first drop in the downpour of weirdness that now threatened to turn into a deluge. Well, to the Abyss with that damned Seeker and his craziness. Brevik was still alive, and he still had a blaster and a blade – in his book, that was plenty enough. Pulling the fat man flask from his pocket and taking another swig, Brevik swirled the remnants around. Enough for a few more swigs at least, and then it would be another sad day. For now though, there was an endless corridor to find the end of. And the joy of finding out what lay at that end. Oh joy.

***

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Wed May 15, 2013 3:13 pm

Brevik had been walking for another solid twenty minutes from the bloody image when he reached the first intersecting corridor to the one he was on. Twenty more minutes of this uniform corridor, no end in sight, no longer sight of the lift at its beginning. Twenty minutes of stalking down the corridor, hackles raised, blaster rough against his sweaty palm, the images to either side the only changing feature, each one different, some recognizable (Brevik thought one showed the battle at Yavin, based on accounts from his Rebellion contacts), others as unnatural and impossible-seeming as the space serpent, though none inspired the same awe and terror. At first, Brevik had carefully glanced at each one, looking for more signs of blood, or trauma, or battle, but after the first twenty (thirty?) that were unremarkable, he had decided it was irrelevant and pressed on ahead, all senses geared to a heightened state, the solitary sound of his own footsteps the only audible cue in his universe. Now, finally, he had reached something different, a change, an intersection.

Pausing before crossing the threshold, Brevik took a moment to calm his body and mind, a few Zoa-Ken-style deep breaths, another moment of feeling his heartbeat slow, all sound in the corridor reduced to the brief susurration of Brevik’s breath gently exhaling and inhaling. The technique had the double effect of bring Brevik back to tranquil focus and letting him experience the upcoming intersection with the rest of his senses, before exposing it to his eyes. Sight could lie, but in those nearly-meditative moments, Brevik confirmed the deep silence in the corridor and the stillness of the air – no sound of movement around the corner, no feel of movement in the air, no whiff of blood or gore or battle (or anything else for that matter, once Brevik isolated out his own steadily deteriorating scent).

Blaster swinging smoothly up to his cheek, Brevik pivoted around the corner sharply, first one way, then the other, ready for anything in this twisted vessel. Anything but nothing. Or rather, not nothing, but more of exactly the same. Cursing softly, Brevik lowered his blaster and stared each way down the intersecting corridor. As far as Brevik could tell, it was identical in every way to the corridor he had been traveling, images on either side, extending endlessly in both directions. Quickly pulling a coin from one of his pockets, Brevik tossed it behind him on the corridor he had been traveling. Its ring against the stone-like floor reverberated down the corridor, jarring to Brevik’s ears, but settled his mind to the more important reality that one spin and he would have utterly no idea which branch he had come from. His sense of direction comforted, Brevik took up the more daunting task of figuring out just what the frell this meant. Making sure not to actually step out of the intersection (who knew how this frelling ship worked?), Brevik peered at the images in the intersecting corridor, confirming what he figured to be the case: more of the same, no different or worse that those he had already passed. Still no signs of more blood, still nothing to differentiate the corridors from each other. Brevik may have been reluctant to admit it before, but he had to now – wherever he was, it sure as frell wasn’t the Insect. Or rather, maybe it was, but whatever the Insect was, there was some serious contortion of spatial relativity going on here.

Looking back the way he had come (and eyes constantly flitting back to the coin he had dropped, making sure it was still there), Brevik tried to calculate the distance he had traveled from the lift. He had walked cautiously, had periodically stopped to examine the “viewports” framing the corridor, but had still been walking for more than forty-five minutes. Using a rough estimate of four or five klicks an hour for standard walking speed, Brevik’s journey so far had to have brought him at least two klicks, and still no end ahead. The intersecting corridor stretched out as far as the eye could follow in either direction – a klick at least of visible ground. In a vessel that looked to be no longer than a single klick when viewed from space, and nowhere near as wide. Impossible. No matter how many twists and turns or optical illusions could have been built in to confuse boarding parties, it was sheer impossible. Which meant that Brevik was not in… well, wherever he had dropped out of hyperspace anymore.

Briefly, Brevik considered whether he might have died and this were purgatory. It seemed unlikely, so he discarded the thought, but it lingered in the shadows of his mind like a bad aftertaste, a dark afterimage of a bright light. Still, an important question remained – what now? Putting aside the impossible, Brevik had to assume he had wound up somewhere divorced from the exigencies of reality. Maybe there were rules here, but Brevik couldn’t pretend to know them, and couldn’t expect that following the rules he knew would get him anywhere. Was he doomed to wander these halls endlessly, a specter haunting eternal corridors while some unnamed entity looked on and laughed? The shadow in the back of Brevik’s mind emerged anew, this time in the form of another grim thought – what if the blood he found hadn’t come from any external act of violence against its owner… what if the creature had ended its own journey, mad with hunger and rage from its failure to escape this ultra-simplistic, never-ending maze? Sheesh, that’s depressing, Brevik chuckled to himself and stamped down his brooding. Useless at best, draining at worst, he saw no need for self-pity. In truth, an element of excitement was starting to creep in through the very realistic caution and unease filling Brevik’s gut – wherever this was, it was new, and it was frelling crazy… a life-long traveler could hardly ask for more (well, surviving the experience wouldn’t hurt).

The answer for now seemed to be to continue down the path, and turning to check his coin marker once more, Brevik took off again in the direction he had been moving, his footsteps echoing down the corridor as he walked. Echoing. Echoing… ech-echoing? Brevik stopped. Something was odd. Something about the echo. Acting as if nothing were amiss, Brevik kept walking, now paying utmost attention to the sound of each footstep. “Clack” went Brevik’s step on the stone-like floor. Clack… clack… clack faded the echo into the distance. “Clack” went Brevik’s next step. C-clack… c-clack… c-clack… it echoed into the distance. Continuing on, against his better judgment, Brevik closed his eyes to concentrate fully on the sounds. “C-clack” went Brevik’s step. “C-clack” it echoed. “C-clack” went Brevik’s step. “C-clack” it echoed, and Brevik’s eyes popped open wide as he walked on, suddenly doing his best to act as if his skin were not trying to crawl off his body. “C-clack” each step echoed, and now that he could hear it, there was no way to un-hear it… Brevik’s weren’t the only footsteps echoing down the corridor! Oh, whoever was following him was amazing, impeccable, a true artist – in a hallway like this where every step echoed, how else to follow someone than to move only when they move, to have the echoes of your steps hidden in the echoes of your prey? And prey he must be, for who else would hide their presence in this way? It was the auditory equivalent of following your victim’s footsteps in the snow.

Brevik heard it every time he stepped now, a millisecond after step, a distant step hidden under his own. The corridor still extended endlessly in front of him. Pausing to examine another image (a vessel recently gutted in a space battle, its remaining crew slowly spilling into space through gaps in the hull), Brevik saw that it still extended endlessly (and emptily) behind as well, so where..? Inwardly growling in frustration, Brevik realized he was once more attempting to apply real-world logic to this ominous place – the sooner he gave up on that quaint notion, the better chance he might actually survive. Fine. Someone wanted to tap-dance with Brevik? They could play that game as well. Moving again, Brevik kept walking at a steady pace for another five minutes, another ten, doing his best not to grind his teeth at the now all-too audible (in Brevik’s mind) steps of his pursuer. He could see another intersecting corridor another five minutes off, a short break in the walls on either side. Suddenly, Brevik stutter-stepped and stumbled, steps skittering as he went to his hands and knees… except Brevik didn’t actually go to his knees – pirouetting around his planned fall, he gently and silently spun to a stop on his toes, blaster up, facing the way he had come.

Clack. The single solitary sound echoed down the corridor, perfectly timed to fit into the sound of Brevik’s fall, had Brevik actually fallen. Instead, the sound echoed alone down the corridor, proving Brevik’s fears and magnifying them at the same time. Brevik lowered his heels to the floor without making a sound, and silence reigned for another moment, and another. Then, as if understanding the gig was up and there was no further need for subterfuge, the sound of distant footsteps resumed, echoing down the corridor, moving briskly, speeding up. Clack… clack… clack, clack, clack, clack…

The cursing in Brevik’s head started matching the pace of his pursuer’s footsteps. Frell… frell… frell, frell, frell! Brevik grimaced, blaster held at the ready. Was this what he had really wanted? What a stupid desire to be right, stupid, stupid! He had proved he was being followed, but to what end? Actually, Brevik hoped no one answered that question. Wherever he was, this was not his ground, and no place to make a stand. He needed to find something… something else, some way to gain an advantage. Cursing again, Brevik spun back around and took off down the corridor at a run, the booming drum of his footsteps masking the sound of the extra coin Brevik dropped as he sprinted off.

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Jack_Sigma
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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Fri May 17, 2013 1:59 pm

He moved at just short of a full sprint, painfully aware that he had no idea where an eventual attack could come from, no way to tell if the footsteps trailing him were behind or ahead, or even psychically implanted in his head to drive him mad in the belly of this Force-forsaken beast. The one thing Brevik was sure of was that he needed to keep running. Walking had gotten him nowhere, but running..? Brevik had an idea, but he needed to be sure, and for that, he needed to move quickly, to speed away from each coin he dropped as he passed intersection after intersection on his perpetual path forward, the sound of footsteps ever trailing (were there more than one set now?), scenery never-changing. As he ran, Brevik silently thanked a higher power that Tith'al still used physical coins as credit chits, that the drinks he had purchased for The Opus Illus had cost enough that it wasn’t worth changing the remaining coins on his way off-planet. Mind racing as quickly as his feet, Brevik counted each intersection he ran through, glancing briefly to one side or the other each time. Was that motion he saw at the distant reaches of the intersecting corridors? Were his pursuers pacing him on parallel paths? In his mind’s eye, a grid of corridors expanded into a wall-sized map, a blue dot in the middle corridor showing Brevik’s progress, red dots tracking him on all sides. It was now clear to Brevik that this corridor was truly endless, that it was somehow in a broken loop of space-time. While Brevik had no proof, he just knew it was true. What he needed to know was how to break that loop, and that’s where the coins came in.

Fourth intersection… fifth intersection… aaand… Brevik skittered to a halt in the sixth intersection, no different from the rest, heart pounding in his eardrums and breath coming raggedly, the not-so distant footsteps (yes, definitely more than one set now) still echoing ever closer. How to break the loop? That was the question. Brevik still saw no other signs of life, notwithstanding the running sounds threatening to tip his mind over the edge. Catching his breath and pulling another quick swig from the fat man flask – only one or two left – Brevik steeled himself and took off running again… back the way he had come. Time to stop playing someone else’s game. Time to play his own. Everything since the moment he had arrived at the Insect was geared towards one thing, towards driving Brevik forward, and to what purpose he could not fathom. Well, let’s see if back does anything.

It was only a few minutes before Brevik reached the prior intersection, the fifth, and pulled to a stop. As he did, his heart sank. There, exactly where it had rolled when it fell, was the coin he had dropped just minutes before. He had been sure that going backwards would break the loop, but if this really were an endless path, maybe he was already doomed. Cursing and peering down the corridor extending out to his left, nerves grating like a broken violin at the ever-present sound of running, Brevik started to turn back around when a distant glint down that corridor caught his eye. What..? Oh, too good, too good. Smiling grimly, Brevik took off to the left, his first foray off his single track. Another few minutes and he was at a new intersection, exactly identical to the others… except for the coin laying in the middle of it. Brevik couldn’t be certain (he hadn’t had enough different change to pull the trick), but his gut screamed that this was the coin from the fourth intersection. And if it was… turning around, Brevik sprinted back the way he had come, once more skidding to a stop in the fifth intersection, the coin he had left there still in its place. So as long as you only go one spur, it doesn't throw you off. But if you go two? If the fourth coin was now behind him, the fifth had to be down the corridor to his right. But if Brevik was right… hoping against hope, Brevik took off jogging straight ahead, ignoring the turn he would had to make to reach the sixth coin had this place followed any comprehensible laws of nature. Blaster at the ready, Brevik slowed as he approached that intersection, cautious now, very careful. Fortunately, there was nothing devious in the intersection, though the footsteps sounded like they were about to round the nearest corner and descend on him like an avalanche. More importantly, as he expected, the sixth coin! Somehow, it seemed that Brevik’s entire set of forward motion had been twisted to a never-ending set of right turns, spinning ever in on itself. By going forward, Brevik had gotten back down the right turn he had needed to make! But if every step forward was a turn to the right… resolutely turning left, Brevik took off again, no longer running but moving at a brisk pace, blaster in hand. At the next intersection he turned left, and at the one after, left again. Ever haunted by his constantly approaching pursuers, skin crawling with every step, Brevik found himself turning left again. And again. And again. Sometimes, he thought he could see the glint of the coins he had dropped off to the right, or somewhere up ahead, but Brevik paid them no mind. This place could play tricks, and Brevik was in no mood for them.

Turning ever left, he could not say how long he kept walking – it could have been hours, it could have been days. Finally, Brevik took another left turn and… well thank the Force… at the end of the corridor in front of him, some hundred meters away, was a set of lift doors marked with violet creatures resembling saber-cats from Io Ko.

Finally, some frelling lu… It flew out at him from his right, from the corridor that had been completely empty just seconds before when he was facing it. Sharp claws dug into Brevik’s shoulder as he spun around with the weight of its blow, flipping the knife he had long been hiding in his left sleeve up to bury deep into the creature’s torso and using its momentum to finish his spin and fling it down the corridor he had just come from. A subsonic scream pierced Brevik’s ears as the creature thudded to the floor and slid trailing orange blood, but Brevik was too busy facing back the way it had come from. His blaster spat bright death as he let loose on the mass of beady neon-eyed creatures racing towards him on all fours, each the size of a hyo-wolf, their carapaces as disjointed-seeming as the Insect itself, all sharp angles and spikes, faces sets of split mandibles with protruding teeth, terrifying and somehow lifeless at the same time. The first two coming towards Brevik went down with smoking holes in their foreheads (if foreheads they were), but more were coming up behind, slower now, a bit more cautious, seeming ready to dodge at the next hint of blaster fire. Brevik heard the sound of scrabbling behind him along with another subsonic scream and turned just in time to put another few holes in the creature that had first jumped him. Apparently the knife hadn’t done the trick.

Spinning back to shoot down an enterprising creature that had started towards him when he turned, Brevik glancing to his left to make sure the lift was still there, half-fearing it had vanished like a mirage when the creatures appeared. It was, and with a few more warning shots towards the beasts, Brevik briskly started backing down the hallway towards it, the sounds of running still echoing down the halls. As the creatures slowly emerged into the hallway after him, another puzzle piece clicked in Brevik’s head. These things moved, stalked, silently. Brevik couldn’t help laughing darkly on the inside. The sounds of running, the footsteps, all just another game! Another means of driving him forward into the teeth of these… things… or at least Brevik hoped that was the end-game.

He took a few more shots at the lead creature in line, missing as it nimbly leaped from side to side, perching impossibly on the walls of the corridor before taking another leap at Brevik, claws extended, teeth primed to tear into his flesh. Brevik rewarded it with a face full of lasers and ducked as it flew past him and slid against the lift with a thud. The others behind it – another three or four of them with more crawling into the corridor – slowed some more, heads tilted almost inquisitively at their prey, so harmless seeming with no claws of its own, but spitting bright red venom all the same. As they did, Brevik had a chance to focus in on the creatures, their glowing neon snake-eyes set deep in heads more insectoid than humanoid, though the beasts looked like they could stand upright if they had a mind to (…if they had a mind?). As it was, Brevik noticed that some of the creatures stalked forward gingerly and haltingly, legs moving unnaturally, heavy scars or cuts carved deep into their chests or limbs and those eyes… those eyes glowing, but lifeless.

Oh frell, I was kidding about the zombies, wasn’t I? Brevik fought down a panicked giggle and the urge to turn and check the creature behind him that he thought was dead, not daring to take his eyes off the beasts steadfastly crawling down the floor and walls of the corridor towards him. He didn’t realize he had reached the lift until it was pressed up against his back, the creature he head killed (luckily, this one did look dead) now next to his foot, its head cleanly vaporized by his blasts. Cold sweat broke out on Brevik’s brow as he frantically pawed at the wall behind him with his left hand, feeling for the lift switch, guessing where it should be based on the lifts upstairs. The two creatures at the head of the pack suddenly dove for him simultaneously, his blasts taking one in the head and barely knocking the other back with a blow to its torso before it could get to him. The one he had shot in the head stayed down, but to his horror the one he had shot in the chest started a herky-jerky rise off the ground on its oddly twisted arms and legs, eyes glowing anew as it shook off a blast that should have killed any living thing. Oh frell.

The corridor was full now, and Brevik was screwed. Suddenly, the lift doors behind him gave way, tumbling Brevik backwards into the lift as three more creatures crisscrossed the corridor from side to side and took slightly off-timed leaps towards him (by the Abyss these things learned fast!). Blasting frantically as he fell, Brevik managed to knock two away as the third landed in the lift in front of him, all claws and teeth. Unable to hold back a scream, Brevik kicked out with a booted foot, barely managing to catch the thing in the head and fling it out of the lift as the doors swished close behind it, leaving Brevik alone. Scrambling to his feet, not certain of the prowess of these beasts or their ability to open lift doors, Brevik was relieved to see an actual control panel. Good sign, right? Of course, none of it was in a language he could read. Maybe not so good after all. The bottom button of the panel glowed softly pink, and Brevik decided to assume that was his current floor. And if vessels and buildings had one thing in common… if you want to meet the boss, you go to the top. Brevik hit the top-most button, and was gratified to feel the lift start moving up almost immediately. At least up was still up in this place, or felt like it. With the lift in motion, Brevik slumped back against its back wall and slid down to a seat, shoulder throbbing where it had been scored by the first attacker’s claws. Checking his blaster, he saw that it was still half-charged, so no crisis there. Feeling to make sure he still had a spare power pack tucked away (he did), Brevik gingerly pulled back his jacket and bandaged his shoulder with some supplies from the med-pack he had brought. This done, lift still moving, Brevik settled back once more and pulled out his fat man flask for another swig, idly swirling it around before sliding it back in his jacket. One more swig left. What a mess of a day.

The lift moved ever upward.

***
Last edited by Jack_Sigma on Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:32 am

***

Brevik caught the first hint of burnt plastic and fried ozone before the lift ever came to a full stop. Faint and oddly musty, the smell was acrid enough to be recent but imbued with just a trace of strange heaviness that made Brevik skeptical. Fortunately (unfortunately..?), he didn’t have long to wait to find out.

After an almost comically lengthy ride, the lift came to a gentle halt with a pleasant ‘ding’. Blaster back at the ready, Brevik crouched near the left side of the lift as the doors rolled open onto a short, but empty, corridor. Immediately, the amplified smell of ozone and melted machinery that accompanied shipboard combat assaulted Brevik’s nostrils, now joined by a few equally familiar smells – blood, decay, decomposition, one or all.

At least no one’s pretending that everything’s right as rala-rain on this floor… The thought was meant to be ironic, but the half-smile wanting to quirk itself onto Brevik’s face never formed. It too-quickly struck him that he had fallen into this trap the last time he had stepped off a lift. Not so much the illusion of safety and peace, but the illusion that anything here wasn’t an illusion. Until further notice, the better part of discretion was to assume that anything and everything in this vessel had been mocked up for his benefit, a giant rat caught in a giant trap, mysterious beings cackling in laughter high above. Frell it, not this giant rat. That thought did make Brevik smile.

Easing his way out of the lift before the diabolical thing (that was unfair, it had saved his life) could drag him back to the pit it had ascended from, Brevik walked forward ten feet to where the corridor leading away from the lift ended in a ‘T’. To either side, short paths led off a bit before curving to continue away from the lift, forming what looked like a square ‘Y’-shape. The smell was worse, but the heaviness still in the air somehow belayed the urgency that would normally be chattering ceaselessly in Brevik’s head. Kneeling down to carve a quick ‘X’ on the left-hand path he wasn’t taking (left had gotten him out downstairs, so Brevik’s first instinct was to go right up here), Brevik breathed deeply, and the memory the heavy smell had tickled clicked into place. The scent of violence still hung in the air like a fog, but the heaviness… the heaviness reminded Brevik of the stale reek of a well-preserved mausoleum. And everything else? Everything else was the stench of a freshly disturbed grave, or a week-old crime scene. Brevik shuddered at the contrast. His eyes might be the first to see what lay beyond the turn.

Preparing himself, Brevik silently swept around the corner to the right and down the path that followed, ears straining for signs of life he knew would not be there. And in very short order, he found the source of the smell. Or rather, sources.

After only a minute or two, the route he had taken opened out onto the Insect’s bridge… or whatever the strange beings slaughtered at the control modules had once called this command cluster. Off to his side, Brevik could see where the path he hadn’t taken had opened onto the bridge as well. And in front of him...

Brevik stalked gingerly across the bridge, careful not to disturb anything or in any way alter the ominous landscape. There were six... no, seven of them, each seated at a different set of ships’ controls, one slumped over in what had to be command chair. Their flesh, what little of it remained that wasn’t strewn about, looked blue - or had been once. Their yellow blood… oh how these things had bled. The entire bridge took on the cast of a horribly decorated carnival attraction - yellow paint splattered around on all sides, drip-lines and blue gobs trailing down the walls and floor, the kind of funplex madhouse that left children screaming at dreams of murderous clowns for weeks on end. Just like Brevik was sure his own would be haunted by this sight for the near future.

Glancing around, Brevik was almost surprised how ordinary (gruesome violence aside) the bridge of the vessel looked. Even were he given no other context, he would have instantly guessed this to be the vessel’s control center just by the layout. A raised command seat, centrally placed, with consoles aligned in a half-moon around it – probably comm clusters, weapons controls, engineering and all the rest. And at each seat…

How did they all die like this? The thought was bleak, to say the least. Below the gaping hole in the captain’s ribcage..? thorax..? Anyway, below the gaping hole in the captain’s mid-section, Brevik could see the still-holstered blaster the creature had never reached. At each control station, the crew’s weapons were either in hand or nearly out, but barely any looked to have gotten theirs close to firing position. In fact, the odor of seared bulkheads and melted wires seemed to come from wild streaks of dark burn marks - aimed shots or triggers squeezed in death throes, Brevik didn’t know. So what the frell? There were slim air vents along the ceiling of the bridge, but not even those freaks downstairs could crawl through those… could they? A chill shivered its way down Brevik’s spine, and he shrugged it off.

Sighing at yet another maddening mystery, Brevik also inventoried the fact that this bridge wasn’t actually located in the giant eye of the Insect, but must have been hidden in one of the vessel’s odd curves. The bridge itself was set up as an observation deck, the hemisphere facing a broad curved wall that rose twenty feet above the bridge and twenty feet below, a massive viewscreen projected in front of the macabre scene. Appropriately, it showed nothing but the deep black of space, and Brevik guessed that this was the view from the eye, projected to the captain wherever this bridge was. Smart, at that, to leave your enemies targeting the obvious point while your bridge was tucked away in the ship. Brevik eyed the darkness thoughtfully - if the projection was still functioning…

A quick loop around the corpses confirmed Brevik’s suspicions – the consoles were still running too! It shouldn’t have been surprising in light of everything else running on the vessel, but somehow it was. Through the yellow haze of smeared blood and the sticky chunks of blue jelly, little green and red lights could be seen, merrily glimmering away. And on one of the consoles (next to a poor fellow whose head was resting gently in the crook of his elbow… while the rest of his torso was sitting upright) Brevik could actually see scrolling text, with a single word flashing over and over again, waiting for input. And the flashing word was familiar to Brevik. Familiar enough to bring hope and a renewed fear of coincidence surging through him on a tidal wave of adrenaline.

Looking down at the head staring blindly up at him (because its eyes had been carved out, you see… or eaten), Brevik thought he could see the resemblance, though it was hard to tell through all the gore. Sure enough, the closer he looked (though the smell didn’t let him get too close), the more he could see it. The creatures dead at the controls looked like distant cousins of a race Brevik had once encountered on a planet called 734H-01Z by the Galactic census, or “Eyia” by its inhabitants. He had come there with one of the archeologists he had met on the Sith digs, having run into her again some years later. Their second meeting had kicked off the tempestuous romance that had sparked in their earlier journeys but never kindled, and freshly imbued with love or lust, Brevik had followed her to Eyia. There, the pair had acted as missionaries to a technologically backwards race whose natural progress had been rudely interrupted by the crash-landing of several merchant vessels that had been pursued by pirates. With the creatures obviously realizing that they were not alone in the universe, the archeologists had been the first to show up and attempt to communicate with them and explain their role in the greater schema.

Brevik and Aerie had spent six months with the inhabits, the She-yie, learning the rudimentary basics of their language, teaching them Galactic standard, guiding their slow progress as their scientists tore into the vessels that had fallen to them like gifts from the heavens. They were quick learners, but their civilization had been barely past the cusp of industrialization – nowhere near space-faring, to say the least - so progress had been slow and met with much distrust. Yet these creatures here, on the bridge, looked clearly to Brevik like a subspecies of the She-yie. Or maybe their evolutionary successors? It made no sense, no sense at all, and Brevik’s head was starting to hurt. More importantly, his memory of the building blocks of Ee-yor, the She-yie language, were enough to reconstruct what he thought the word on the screen meant. It had been a word the She-yie had constantly used with Brevik and Aerie as they had explored the downed vessels together. “Ar-kat. Ar-kat!” they would demand, and when they could, the humans would comply. Repair. Repair.

And what about the scrolling text around the flashing word? Did one word mean “dock”? Maybe “bay”? Too much coincidence, too much. But what could Brevik do? He was committed to this game for life or death, and he intended to live.

Palm sweaty against his blaster, Brevik gently tapped the flashing word on the screen. Nothing happened. He tapped it again. Nothing happened. Frell, why..?

It came to him as obvious, as obvious as could be. Pulling out his fat man flask, Brevik gently spilled a drop on the console, careful to save one or two last drops for himself. Grimacing and looking around, he sucked up his distaste and started rubbing at the drop with his own sleeve, unwilling to defile the dead crew’s tattered uniforms any further. Slowly, the thin film of blood covering the console scrubbed off, and with his last motion Brevik inadvertently touched the flashing word again. This time, something happened. More text scrolled, more and longer than Brevik could possibly hope to understand and then… then a rough schematic of the Eva popped up on the screen, portions of the large wing glowing red, near the primary power couplings. More text, more blinking lights, and Brevik was transfixed. Well, as the sleigh-card players say, pot-committed... Not knowing what it would do, Brevik tapped the red portion of the Eva’s wing, and the schematic spun, identifying another area of red, this time near the hyperdrive generator. Tapping again, the Eva spun once more on the screen, now highlighting the secondary landing struts in yellow. That one shocked Brevik, fanning his hope and fear both. The secondary landing struts had been giving Brevik problems for ages, it was one of those ‘ah, who really gives a crap’ type of annoying ship problems that he’d try to fix each time he was docked, only to have it crop up again in a month’s time. But if the system had identified that correctly, then maybe the others..?

Tapping again, the [/i]Eva[/i] spun back into central position, and another word flashed green on the screen, another word Brevik remembered. “Go.” Muttering a silent prayer, Brevik tapped it, and the Eva disappeared, replaced by more scrolling text. There was no other movement or action that Brevik could see. Could that be it though? Could he have done it? He suddenly wanted nothing more than to be off this ship, and back to the Eva, working or not, alive or dead. Brevik wanted off the Insect, and he wanted off now.

Somewhere behind him and around the corner, Brevik heard the gentle hiss of air. A sound that could mean only one thing. The elevator had slid open.

Somewhere behind him and around the corner, a shriek suddenly emanated that drilled Brevik’s eyes into the back of his head, threatening to boil his brain with its ferocity.

Somewhere behind Brevik. In front of his only way out. Two paths it could come from. And Brevik standing alone on the bridge with seven corpses.

Brevik turned, and could feel the waves of malice emanating from whatever had just arrived, the sensation twisting his stomach and nearly bringing up the mostly liquid lunch he had had. It screamed again, the sound crisp and clear from both passageways at once. It was a scream full of lust, a roar full of yearning. Whatever it was, it wanted.

And Brevik, hands clammy, knees suddenly weak, knew exactly what it wanted.

Another decoration for its masterpiece. Its eight corpse. Oh frell.

***

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Jack_Sigma
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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:48 pm

The entire room lurched, the entryways to the bridge merging to one before splitting to four, Brevik’s eyes watering, his jaw clenching and unclenching, sweaty hands trying to do the same as the seconds slowed to hours. Staggered, Brevik flung a hand down on the console behind him, fighting to keep upright. His heart was pounding so hard he thought it might burst before he ever caught sight of the mystery beast. Another roar emanated from the corridors, the sound piercing Brevik’s ears and causing physical pressure to build in his sinus cavities until he thought his eyes would pop. Now, the roar was followed by slow but steady stomps, stomp... stomp... the beast approached, its feverish desire only tempered to savor the terror of its prey.

Brevik squeezed his eyes open and shut, desperately trying to steady his vision, to raise a wobbly blaster to one passage or the other. The barrel made visible figure-eights in mid-air, Brevik’s usually steady hand struggling to keep its grip. His fear of falling on his face kept his other hand glued to the console, barely aware of the soft viscera squishing its way between his fingers.

Stomp... STOMP... ROOAAAARRRRRR....

Brevik cowered at the sound, pounding at him from all sides at once.

Something is terribly wrong... the tiny voice screamed in the back of Brevik’s head, fighting to be heard amidst the cacophony of terror suffusing Brevik’s entire being.

Well no sith-spit, skag-for-brains! came the less than helpful response from Brevik’s remaining consciousness. Only seconds more had passed, and Brevik was somehow on one knee without having realized it, straining to fight back tears.

No, something is terribly wrong! the voice screamed again, as Brevik’s lungs heaved in hyperventilation. The corpses damn it, the corpses!

Brevik raised a shuddery forearm to his mouth, trying to hold back the bile rising up in his chest, his ever delicious whiskey trying to make a hasty escape. Eyes unfocused, he was oblivious to the blue and yellow globs still stuck to his trembling fingers. The corpses? It was hard to think, hard to see, hard to do anything but shudder uncontrollably as more heavy footfalls (paw-falls?) echoed down the paths to the bridge. A precious few more seconds passed, and now the other voice in Brevik’s head fought back, fought through the deconstruction of his being to breach the surface of his consciousness.

The corpses, how did they die like that? All slaughtered at their seats, just a few with blasters out... Wait, something about that. Brevik’s thought process paused as he dry-retched, ichor-covered hand still held to his mouth. Another dire scream echoed, a thousand banshees come to life.

The frantic part of Brevik not wanting to die kept clamoring in the background, but he was flat-out panicking and he knew it. Not from personal experience – Brevik had never had a panic attack before. But he had seen friends and fellow soldiers, rookies especially, fall to pieces on the line when the enemy charged, guns blazing or blades bare. And here he was, Brevik Durne, the seasoned explorer, panicked nearly to the point of soiling himself. Oh, his blaster was still up… but if he could even aim down a corridor, let alone hit anything, it would be a miracle.

Something... is... WRONG! The tiny voice of sanity growled in counterpoint to the approaching beast. Panic... don’t panic... panic..?!? By the Abyss, that was it!

Before he knew what he was doing, Brevik’s vibroblade flipped into the hand at his mouth, and before he could think twice, he slashed down, scoring a shallow furrow a hand’s length across his left forearm. Pain ricocheted against Brevik’s nausea and threatened to drown him in sensation... fighting down the nausea, he focused on the pain, focused every bit of his remaining consciousness on it and squeezed his forearm, drawing even more agony into himself. Another stomp rang down the corridor with another roar, but this time Brevik’s ragged screams struck back, filling the bridge with the disharmony of human trauma.

The seconds ticked away like melting cheese on a boiling day, all reality swimming in molasses as more screams ripped out of Brevik’s throat, his right hand bloody as he dug his fingers into his self-made wound. For a few moments, even the oncoming stomping paused, as if the creature itself was pondering the premature screams of pain ahead.

Brevik released his grip on his forearm, and his vision swam back together. And stayed there. Time suddenly clocked back up to full speed, remnants of his nausea fading, hand still trembling but blaster steadying. Maybe 45 seconds had passed, but as clarity rumbled back like an oncoming Wort stampede, Brevik knew he had no more than that before the creature was on him.

Those frelling screams! Brevik’s mind had caught the answer, but soon enough? It was yet to be seen. Whatever this thing was, its screams had affected Brevik at a neurological level, instantly triggering intense panic and its physical symptoms. At each shriek, his nausea and cold-sweats had grown in intensity – in another minute, the creature would have strolled onto the bridge and snacked on the huddled human at its leisure, as it must have the rest of the ship’s crew. Brevik’s instincts had reacted as best they could – by overloading the rest of his sensory perceptions to overpower the effects of the creature’s horrifying hypnosis. Its spell broken, Brevik’s mind and body were back to being his own (crazy throbbing in his arm aside), but what to do in so little time?

Muttering a quick apology to whatever deities the late crew had bowed to, Brevik grabbed the nearest corpse and flung it down the corridor on the right, adding the poor thing’s head as an afterthought a second later. Half devoured, the thing weighed very little. Moving briskly, he tossed another body, and another, until five of the bridge’s occupants had landed with sickly thuds to block the entrance on the right. This beast didn’t sound like a carrion eater, but anything that could slow it down was worth a try. The stomping had resumed with the first body that Brevik had tossed, and now he knew his time was up.

Sliding down behind one of the consoles, Brevik raised a now-steady blaster to the unblocked entrance, his breath evening out. Sweat and blood dripped off him to the floor, adding human flavor to the bridge’s other decorations. Silence reigned... where had it gone? Brevik’s gamble was simple. He couldn’t cover both paths at once, but if the creature came from the right, the bodies might give Brevik the needed instant to re-aim. And if it came from the left… well, wouldn’t it be surprised when Brevik’s laser blasts were surgically on point?

Silence again. A soft dragging sound. Was it pulling one of the bodies he had thrown? Was it cue enough to switch to covering the other entrance?

The question became moot as a corpse shot out of the right-hand path as if blasted from a cannon, smacking the wall at the front of the bridge with a dull splat before tumbling the twenty feet down to the bottom of the projection well. Brevik had no time to think, pivoting sharply to the right to find a target as the four other corpses erupted onto the bridge in all directions like buckshot. Clever skag! The flying debris provided momentary cover for whatever followed, and for precious heartbeats Brevik had nowhere to aim, instead ducking to avoid an arm whizzing by. There, there it is!

Through the explosion of limbs and torsos, Brevik caught his first glimpse of it. Four eyes gleamed green above a mouth as wide as his outstretched arms, the room’s lighting glinting off no less than three rows of vicious jagged teeth. The thing looked all face from the front, with a spiky spine trailing behind it, at least two pairs of thick stocky legs and marbled coarse gray skin that looked disturbingly fortified.

But how did it…

A dark streak with a trajectory distinct from the body parts was Brevik’s only warning, and he dove right as something slammed into the ground where he’d been hiding. Metal screeched and sparks flew behind Brevik as he landed and rolled into firing position, blaster ready in a two-hand grip. Tentacles?!? Through the dwindling rain of guts, Brevik finally saw them. Not all face after all – six large tentacles coiled out from the creature’s back, each tipped with a giant claw resembling a scythe.

Anger bubbled in Brevik, all the pushing and prodding, all the fear, all the frelling mind games!

"Burn!” he hissed, squeezing the trigger to spit righteous fire from his blaster, deadly beams aimed to blow away the thing’s face.

But the beast was quick, and smarter than Brevik would’ve thought possible. Growling, the creature whipped a tentacle in front of its face, blocking the blasts that would’ve scorched its eyes clean out and boiled its brain. Brevik’s chest still swelled in satisfaction as his shots shredded the tentacle and fried the monstrosity’s left-most eye, causing it to shriek in pain.

Brevik’s satisfaction was short-lived. Screeching violently, two of the beast’s tentacles lashed out at Brevik like bullets from a gun. Rolling wildly to his left, he fired on the move, ripping one of them apart. Too slow. The other tentacle bit into his shoulder, jerking Brevik from his roll and flinging him hard the other way against the waist-high railing to the projector well, his blaster spinning off across the bridge. Only the heavy padding in his jacket kept Brevik’s right arm in its socket, but as it was, he could feel blood seeping through his clothing.

Scrambling desperately to his feet and surprised to be alive, Brevik saw the creature retreat a few steps down the corridor, four tentacles coiled to protect its face, two dragging limply like hoses on a busted droid. Its remaining eyes shone with hatred above the coils (frell, it’s sentient enough to hate?) and it suddenly struck Brevik why the creature had backed off. It saw what Brevik now saw. His blaster was twenty feet away, and no way Brevik could cross that distance and live. The thing could take a moment to gather itself – Brevik was easy meat. Oh, Brevik knew he had a holdout up his sleeve, but its limited stopping power and charge made it useless in this situation. Easy meat.

Anger swept through Brevik once more, the bubbles turning to storm winds, the winds to a hurricane, the hurricane to a tempest. No easy meat here, friend! Pulling some strings on his arm to tighten his tattered jacket around his wound, Brevik drew out his vibro-sword, adopting the sword-fighter’s ready stance. There was a reason Brevik never went anywhere without it. It was the weapon he was most comfortable with, the weapon he felt most proficient with. He had trained from youth, and years of war and travel on backwards planets where blasters were unknown had honed his skills. Once, Brevik had fancied himself the equal of any Jedi in the art of swordplay. Once, because an older Brevik knew the comparison was meaningless. The only important comparison when men or beasts crossed swords was who was left standing.

Mind calming with the Zen-Cho of the Blade, Brevik brought his sword to the ready, sliding to the middle of the floor between the consoles and the railing. Maybe it was his imagination, but he thought he could see confusion in the creature’s eyes. His anger still seethed below his tranquil surface.

“Come, you Sithin’ depravity,” Brevik scowled, hoping for a reaction. “Come, you reject of a Bas-Chook spawning pit!”

The beast tilted its head a fraction. And then it came. The ferocity of its attack was indescribable, four tentacles lashing out from all directions, their two-foot blades like four assassins striking in parallel. But they weren’t assassins, they were tentacles – their movements differently constrained from blades of trained swordsmen. And Brevik? Brevik was a trained swordsman.

He danced at the heart of the storm, whirling fluidly to parry and respond, blade darting like a serpent’s tongue to strike one tentacle, then another, then a third. The brutal ballet played on, Brevik scoring small hits against the beast’s unceasing assault, but he was tired, and hurt, and this thing was fast. Soon, stinging slashes of his own marked Brevik’s leg, his arms, his chest, blood mingling with the sweat streaming down his body. This couldn’t last forever. He couldn’t last forever.

Two tentacles flicked out in unison from the right and Brevik deflected both, using momentum to hop spin over a sweep at his legs and pirouetting smoothly to block a last strike from above, then flashing back to ready, eyes searching for an opening. The tentacles drew back and struck as one, Brevik slipping between two and exchanging ringing blows with the others, scoring another quick hit as he pulled away. They drew back again, and Brevik waited. The creature had patterns, the movement of its tentacles limited by the energy needed to withdraw them after an attack and...

there! Two tentacles slashed in unison from opposite sides, Brevik moving as if to catch both on his blade as he’d done before. Instead, at the last instant he threw himself flat on his back, left arm beneath him for leverage. Gotcha you little bantha durg! A split-second after the first attack, the creature’s other tentacles had launched directly at Brevik, aiming to impale him while his sword was trapped. Instead, as they flew over his head where his chest had just been, Brevik exploded up with his blade, severing both in a shower of blood as he sprang to his feet.

Triumph rushed through Brevik – he could take two of these things, even battered as he was!

Again, the triumph was short-lived. Eyes widening as he realized his mistake, Brevik barely managed to brace himself as the creature burst out of the corridor with uncanny speed, flinging itself at Brevik in rage and agony. The bracing was futile, and the beast slammed Brevik into the railing behind him, his blade trapped between them in a struggle to hold back the snapping maw of razor blades thirsting for his blood.

Frell, frell, frell!!! He could feel the heat of the creature’s breath, smell the decomposing flesh in its teeth, feel their harsh bite reach for him again and again, frantically using all his strength to keep them at bay. Knowing this was a losing fight.

Oh, I am so dead. Brevik grit his teeth and heaved back harder against the bladed jaw, refusing to accept the grim thought. Above the creature’s head, he could feel more than see the last two tentacles poising to strike, waiting for a gap to slice down and dismember the arrogant piece of prey that thought it could fight back. The creature surged forward again and Brevik felt his back bend over the railing, back wall of the projection well only three feet behind, but a twenty foot drop between. Twenty foot drop, three feet wide. A chance? Oh frell it.

Grimacing with strain, Brevik suddenly grinned maniacally, “You want some of me you ugly Grok-dropping?” The creature pushed again, tentacles whipping in a frenzy – it seemed to recognized taunts. Well, it wasn’t going to like this then.

“To the Abyss with you!” Brevik snarled, and spat in one of the beast's working eyes. The creature drew back in shock, and the split second was enough. Pressure released for a fleeting moment, Brevik’s holdout flew into his hand and he fired, trigger depressed until he’d emptied the entire magazine into the thing’s face, low-powered bolts searing flesh and bone and scorching out two more malevolent green eyes. Roaring in agony and confusion, the beast lurched back a step, and Brevik didn’t wait to see what happened next. With a silent prayer, he launched himself over the railing and into the projection well, clutching at the narrow sides to slow his fall. It was almost enough. Brevik hit the ground, and all went dark.

***

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Jack_Sigma
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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:24 pm

Brevik woke in a pool of blood, face to face with a corpse. In the dim grey light, bulging milky eyes protruded from a sunken face, mandibles visible where skin had rotted off or been stripped away. Stifling a gasp, Brevik jerked involuntarily, skittering back a step on hands and knees. The light cast on the corpse suddenly shifted and a shriek erupted high above, the scrape of claws on metal sounding overhead as sparks splashed down on Brevik’s back.

Sithspit! he cursed, and more than for the abrupt rehash of reality. His sudden movement pulled and tugged at him, the memory of tens of small and large cuts rushing back as the sensation of those cuts cried out in reminder. Groaning, Brevik tumbled over on his left side, content to examine his surroundings from a... seated position.

First, what Brevik had initially taken for blood was really entrails, a discovery he met with great relief. After all, if they were entrails, they probably weren’t his (not with him, well, living). Brevik did remember bleeding though, and his lightheadedness and throbbing head took on greater urgency as a result. The smaller cuts he’d probably survive, but his shoulder had been scored deeply over the gashes he’d suffered earlier downstairs. He would need to take care of that, and soon.

A quick glance over at the corpse that had so rudely startled him told Brevik everything he needed to know there. The crewman that was flung down here during the beast’s grand entrance had popped like a rotten piñata on impact. Parts of it now littered the narrow floor of the projection well where Brevik lay, while others stained the walls on both sides.

Another screech sounded overhead, distracting Brevik, and more sparks fluttered down. “Diva,” Brevik muttered as he gingerly repositioned himself on his back so he could look up without turning, “just have to be the center of attention, huh?” In response, a dark shape swung above him like a pendulum, light reflecting off a scythe-shaped claw as it trailed a furrow of sparks down one wall.

High overhead, the narrow gap Brevik had thrown himself down let in the only light, the bridge’s natural illumination diminished to a faded hue by the time it reached Brevik. And there, blocking the middle of the gap, a large shape pressed a single bloody green eye to the opening, one long tentacle stretched down to try to reach its frustrating prey. A double break for Brevik - the narrow width of the projection well was far too tight to fit the creature’s body, and the tentacle came up short about five feet off the ground. Sure, if Brevik stood up it would probably lop off his head, but standing was the last thing on his mind right then.

Groaning again, Brevik cautiously raised himself to a seated position, the creature whipping up a frenzied storm each time he moved. Cautious, to make sure his earlier estimate of its reach was accurate... it would be a sad way to go out after all this. On the bright side, for whatever reason (be it him overcoming it earlier... or the constant pain now flowing through him), the creature’s screams no longer triggered Brevik’s panic. Instead, they just grated Brevik’s nerves like the wailing of a child on a public hauler, magnifying the pounding in his head.

“Oh, shut the Sith up already!” he yelled, ducking his head as more sparks flew from the wildly thrashing tentacle above. For a moment, he considered leaping with his sword to try to amputate the claw before the creature could retract it, but just the thought of leaping made him wince, and he decided to ignore it for now. First things first.

Unzipping his jacket, Brevik gingerly pulled it off, grimacing where he had to peel instead of pull to avoid reopening cuts that had already scabbed over. Fortunately, Brevik had strapped his slim pack to his chest under his jacket, and now he grabbed the remnants of his medpack, going to work on his worst cuts. Ignoring the constant racket above, Brevik salved and bandaged his shoulder and chest, along with a few larger cuts on his arms and legs. Turning a keen eye to his tattered clothing, he tore it into strips to bind his smaller wounds, silently grateful for the foresight of packing extra. Finally, Brevik cracked a blood infusion pack and slapped it on the inside of his arm, gently leaning against the wall to rest as it began its work.

Brevik opened his eyes a short while later, realizing he had dozed off. Silence reigned above him, but a quick glance up showed nothing had changed, the creature still in place, a giant cat awaiting a small mouse. Brevik did feel better though, the infusion pack now empty, the anesthetic salve easing the pain in his shoulder. Crawling away from the fragrant stew of body parts (and renewing the frenzy up above), Brevik changed into fresh clothing, comically struggling to dress in a space only inches wider than his shoulders, scared to lift his head more than three feet off the ground. Once done, Brevik re-strapped his pack and pulled on his jacket (tattered as it was), and felt like he was ready to go. To go. To go… where?

…a drawn-out silence followed, the obvious flaw in Brevik’s thinking flummoxing him. Go where indeed? Oh sure, this was a great place to fall to escape certain death, and Brevik really did feel much better, but… how the frell was he going to get out of here? Brevik stared morosely at the twenty feet of smooth walls leading up to the bridge, protected by a fairly peeved guardian. Maybe not the best way out. Was there a service entry somewhere? A maintenance shaft?

The projection well followed the half-moon curve of the bridge, allowing a 180 degree image to be displayed to the captain and crew in lieu of a viewport. Trying to ignore the tumult above, Brevik scuttled first to one end of the well and then (after a turning maneuver nearly as comical as his attempt to dress) the other. All the while, the beast’s green eye tracked him, scythe-like claw ever-present overhead like that Sword of Dymoclis his mother had once told him about.

Brevik found nothing. He repeated the circuit once, twice, a futile third time, knowing nothing would change. Finally, he dragged himself back to where he had woken, near the center of the well. Not caring if the viscera stained his new clothes, Brevik leaned against the wall near his dead buddy, gazing up at the creature.

No way out. Nothing. Not a vent nor door nor panel. Or rather, the only way out was up. Brevik eyed the beast, fantasizing about climbing up its tentacle to carve out its remaining eye, triumphantly slashing it to pieces before moving on. Unfortunately, he had the sense it wouldn’t let him climb it so easily, and that second tentacle was still up there, ready to strike if he managed to try. If he could only reach it with a vibroblade… Brevik shook his head. He might consider the throw standing up, but no way he could make it without being well in range of the tentacles.

Gently tapping his head against the wall in frustration, Brevik pulled out some rations and ate a bit, the essence of time flowing by inconsequentially. Why hurry? He had nowhere to be. Just a possibly fixed ship and a universe not populated with zombies and crazy skagging four-eyed monsters. Sighing and reaching for the fat man flask, Brevik winced again, this time for how light it was. A gulp at most. Down to his last drop.

Idly swirling the flask, Brevik’s thoughts drifted back to The Opus Illus. He had decided, if he ever made it back to Tith’al, he would deck the bastard. Punch that ruddy old man right in his sweaty red nose. Then buy him a beer in case Brevik was wrong, and high-tail it to a pleasure planet. Brevik felt like he could use a pleasure planet.

Raising a toast to his corpsy friend and closing his eyes, Brevik took the last gulp from his flask and, after a pause, tilted it back once more. A moment later, the last drop hit his tongue with sizzling warmth. Brevik kept his eyes closed, head back, savoring the heat that trickled down his chest and briefly soothed his aching body. As he did, he debated his options. Wait out the creature and starve? Make a desperate attempt to climb out? Nothing good, nothing good.

Sighing and cracking an eye, Brevik again found himself staring at the corpse laying next to him. Wait… what the frell is that? With the dim light magnified from having had his eyes shut, it now looked to Brevik that the corpse’s arm was… glowing? Oh come on, what the frell now?

Eyes barely lidded to keep sight of the glow, Brevik inched his way closer to the corpse’s arm, jammed tight against the wall. Sure enough, a faint blue glow emanated from it… wait, not from it, through it! But if the arm wasn’t glowing, then… Brevik tossed it aside, face almost to the floor as he peered at the wall where the arm had lain. Could it be? Sure enough, a faint white glow leaked out from under the wall!

Pulling out a vibroblade, Brevik prodded the wall where it met the floor, suppressing excitement as the blade managed to slide a bare millimeter under. Had the panel he’d been looking for been blocked by the corpse the whole time? What were the chances? Brevik ignored the thought.

For the next hour, Brevik painstakingly worked the gap while the beast raged above. Using the vibroblade as a chisel and his vibro-sword as a hammer, Brevik managed to widen the gap by a millimeter, then a centimeter, then an inch, the panel’s seamless sides exposed where they were being pried up. As the gap widened, more and more light spilled out, brighter than Brevik would have expected.

Finally, as he approached the second hour, the panel flew off with a crash, bright light tumbling out and forcing Brevik to squint against the sudden glare. And behind the panel… thank the Force! Some sort of vent or tunnel, just wide enough to fit Brevik.

Time to get the frell out of here.

But Brevik paused. Hefting his second-to-last vibroblade, he glanced up at the beast, then down at the vent. His way out seemed secure and it was time to go, but… the creature roared again, and Brevik steeled himself. No way to tell where this vent led, was there? And if the creature could use lifts… the last thing Brevik needed was a repeat of the bridge. More importantly, he grinned, I’d love to know if I can make the shot.

Loosely covering the vent and squeezing his eyes shut, Brevik counted to a hundred. When he opened them, he stared straight up the well towards the angry green eye murderously glaring at him. Settling into a crouch, Brevik drew his vibro-sword with his left hand, the vibroblade in his right. His shoulder ached, but he thought it had enough left in it. This would have to be done quickly. Very quickly.

Waiting for the tentacle’s swing to pass directly overhead, Brevik leaped up with his vibro-sword aimed to sever the claw. Sure enough, like a fisherman pulling bait, the tentacle jerked out of reach while a glint high above betrayed the other, dropping like a stone towards Brevik’s head.

But the sword strike was a feint, only geared to getting Brevik up. The instant he was on his feet, Brevik snapped his right arm up with all its strength, shoulder screaming in protest. And as the vibroblade left his right hand, Brevik was dead-falling backwards, desperately hoping he’d correctly judged how fast the other tentacle could move. He almost hadn’t. Its scythe-like claw passed right in front of Brevik’s eye, razor tip scoring a shallow gash down Brevik’s cheek as he tumbled out of reach. As he did, a howl erupted high above, unlike any he had heard the creature make before. Rage, shock and, for the first time, fear echoed from the beast through the projection well. In a burst of red, the last green light had gone out overhead, the vibroblade sunk deep into the beast’s last eye.

Stomping loudly, the creature stumbled back from the projection well and wailed, tentacles striking madly and blindly, horrifying screams filling the room. “Bet no-man’s ever done that to one of you before, you ugly bastard,” Brevik growled. Settling his virbo-sword back in place, Brevik made sure his last vibroblade was up his sleeve as he re-opened the vent – it was time to go. Eyes half-lidded against the glare, Brevik shuffled into the vent, the blinded monster’s shrieks following all the while.

***

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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:13 pm

Brevik was blind. The poetic justice did not escape him, but he did not particularly appreciate it. He had not progressed far down the shaft before its white glare had become oppressive and nearly overwhelming, the incandescent shine too bright even through closed eyes. Tearing another strip of clothing for a blindfold, Brevik found himself squinting to make out his surroundings through the brilliant points of light piercing the dark fabric. From time to time, he would duck his head between his arms for some relief from the terrible glow, but with the shaft just wide enough to shimmy through, turning away was out of the question. Regrettably, the light was only part of it – heat also filled the shaft, gently stewing Brevik in his own sweat, his bandaged cuts itching fiercely. Worse yet, his only recourse in the narrow passage was to vigorously rub against the walls as he wriggled past, like a hound with fleas.

Of course, even that had to be done extremely carefully. What Brevik had determined from the feel of thick reinforced wiring was that the passage he was in was actually a maintenance shaft for a power conduit. If true, this led to three inescapable conclusions. First, this shaft must eventually (directly or through substations) lead to the primary generator for the Insect. Second, the generator must have access to other areas of the ship, so Brevik had a way out. Third, blindly approaching the operational and clearly active primary generator of an unknown alien vessel was a very easy way to get boiled alive to a radioactive crisp.

Once again though, Brevik had no choice. The number of those situations recently was starting to be a sore disappointment to Brevik, who much preferred to have a whole frell of a lot of choices. Blindly, he struggled down the gentle slope, fingers tenuously feeling for drop-offs or live wires (with the hope the latter would just shock Brevik instead of vaporizing him). At one point, he didn’t quite register a shift in the decline and went sliding forward face-first, trying not to scream as vague shapes rushed past his obscured sight. Luckily, the slope soon evened out, Brevik feeling for fresh bruises but otherwise unharmed. Eventually, after almost an hour of scrabbling, clawing and pulling himself through the shaft, Brevik found himself with a hand on a grate, the incredible glow behind it (now easily penetrating his blindfold) letting Brevik know he had arrived. Somewhere, at least.

If the grate had been bolted on, Brevik likely would have suffocated there, steamed in his own juices, desperately close to an exit. Fortunately, as with the discrete panel in the projection well, the grate had been made for ready maintenance access. Fingers tracing the seam where the grate met the walls, Brevik found a likely gap and, shaking his vibroblade from his sleeve, jammed it in with all the backswing the shaft would allow him. Blade set, huffing with heat and exertion, Brevik drew back and slammed the grate with his forearms once, twice, a third time..! Brevik’s arms pushed through into empty space as the grate flew off with a clatter, his universe now malignantly white behind his eyelids.

Brevik’s sweat began to sweat before the grate even hit ground below, existing moisture evaporating almost as fast as new sweat could spring up. Brevik had encountered the sensation before, deep on a desert hunt on Tatooine, but how it could exist here, in the middle of a starship..? Yes, definitely inconvenient to be blind right now. Sighing, Brevik again ignored the irony. Better blind than eaten, a voice whispered. Well, maybe not so completely ignored, but Brevik quashed that voice down too. You don’t know that yet, do you?

On the bright side (Brevik cringed at the mental pun), it hadn’t sounded like the grate had fallen far before crashing down. Maybe ten feet? Brevik shuffled through his pockets in the confines of the shaft, pulling out a ration bar. Tearing it in two to avoid wasting food, he threw half through the opening. A second passed, then another three or four. A very distant “clunk” sounded several more later, a frell of a lot further than Brevik’s first estimate. Very odd... and so much for not wasting food. Taking a quick bite of the other half, Brevik dropped that out the opening too, this time straight down. And this time, the “clunk” followed fairly quickly – there were Brevik’s ten feet. Simple enough, it seemed – small platform below, uncertain margin of error. Hoo-rah.

Retrieving his grappling hook and rope from his pack with difficulty, Brevik activated the hook’s magna-grip, gratified that it sealed quickly and sturdily to the shaft’s interior. Tossing the rope out of the opening, Brevik slowly pulled himself out after it, one hand on the rope while the other extricated himself from the shaft. A few moments later, Brevik flopped out like a fish, legs and body flipping past his head to bounce against the wall, dire grip on the rope keeping him from dropping. As his feet swung clumsily around to try to gain purchase, Brevik kicked something on the wall, small objects clattering below him. Actually, more or less right below him. Unwilling to test his remaining luck, Brevik eased himself down the rope, feet hitting the ground a second later. The heat was still daunting, but being free of the shaft was already acting as a balm for Brevik’s nerves (finally facing away from the light helped too) and a minute of dedicatedly scratching his various wounds performed additional miracles.

His sense of center restored, Brevik shifted on his feet, toe poking something aside as he did. Felt solid. More importantly, inanimate. Very good start. Reaching down, Brevik’s heart fluttered as his fingers tightened on some sort of plastic screen, built into fabric (a hood?). Daring to hope, Brevik brought it to eyes and gingerly peeked from under his blindfold... a visor! Quickly feeling the fabric to make sure there were no surprises, Brevik eagerly pulled it on, finally stripping off his blindfold in the process. When he opened his eyes, the world came back to clear, unimpeded, painless clarity, although the wall in front of Brevik was not particularly impressive.

From where he stood, Brevik faced a shelf of the same visors he had on, a rack next to it complete with matching silver mesh cloaks. Deciding to be safe (it all looked like lab gear), Brevik grabbed a cloak from the rack and tossed it around himself. Instantly, the torturous heat lessened as if Brevik had stepped into cool shade. Incredible, he thought. A glance to either side showed Brevik he was on a platform, suspended high above an opaque glass floor. Some control panels also fronted the wall, readouts registering green. Enough of this, time for the main show. Squinting a bit just in case, Brevik turned around...and his eyes sprang wide involuntarily. Incredulous, Brevik dropped to his knees, barely able to draw breath as it caught in his throat.

No... impossible. Flat out... impossible?

Tears sprang to Brevik’s eyes, and not from heat or light, both dimmed to comfortable levels by his amazing attire. Commanding Brevik’s vision was the most beautiful, most stunning, most sheerly impossible thing he had ever seen (or even dreamed of seeing). There, in front of Brevik, dominating a round domed chamber larger than the grandest cathedral halls Brevik had ever heard of, was... was… a miniature star! A pure white star, wreathed in stellar fire, surrounded by a translucent light blue force field. Brevik’s eyes traced its contours, marveling at the sight of coruscating gasses swirling fiery bursts in its midst, small flares erupting through its gleaming corona, constrained only by the energy field. As Brevik watched, bright flashes sprang to life in the star’s depths, collapsing on themselves as others birthed nearby, its chromosphere undulating with life, prominences flashing out like serpents before settling back into the brilliant cauldron. For long minutes, Brevik couldn’t look away, lost deep in the abyss of his emotions, stripped bare in the star’s light. Childhood memories rushed back unbidden, the warm touch of his mother’s hand, the cold steel of her funeral bier. The loneliness of youth, the joy of his escape from home, the bitter dust of realizing the cost of his flight. A thousand journeys on a hundred planets replayed themselves in his mind’s eye, each shimmering in tune to the star’s white glare, people known, friends won, lovers made, tragedy endured. By everything good... how?

With strength beyond that he thought capable of, Brevik tore away his gaze with a guttural scream, spinning and dropping to his hands, tears streaming down his face. The sight of it, of a star, nearly so close he could touch it... it had almost overwhelmed him, more than anything the heat or light could have ever done. In all his journeys, all his searching, Brevik never thought to see the like, and the star had triggered something deep inside of him. There was a kernel here, a kernel of some greater truth in his life’s journey, but Brevik couldn’t see it, couldn’t do anything to contain the silent sobs that wracked him unrelenting. What felt like years later, control came back to Brevik, the untapped kettle of emotions bubbling back below the surface, walls rebuilt miles high.

Self slowly reconstructed, Brevik stood and turned once more, will held in check with a durasteel grip. Again, awe threatened to sweep him away like a child pulled to sea by a riptide, but Brevik clamped down on emotion with hoarse screams of logic. Still have to get out, Brevik, still have to get out!!

Identity crisis momentarily averted, Brevik finally had a chance to take in the room without being diverted by the star’s magnificence, though his eyes kept drifting back to it despite himself. The room was truly massive, the star itself at least 500 feet in diameter, suspended in the center of the chamber with at least half as much space separating it from any wall, floor or ceiling. A catwalk traced the room half-way up and twenty feet away from the wall, expanding into four platforms touching the wall at even points around the room. Each platform was dotted by control and measurement consoles, and it was one of these that Brevik found himself on after bulling his way out of a maintenance shaft ten feet above it.

Around the chamber, eight massive bent steel-looking brackets extended from the walls like giant hands, each gently cupping the energy field around the star at even intervals, one for each of the upper and lower quadrants. Where a bracket connected to the wall, masses of cables and wires sprang off to all sides, some weaving their way through the chamber while others disappeared into the walls. Whether the brackets generated the energy field or extracted the star’s power, Brevik wasn’t sure (could it be both?), but it was clear the tiny star was stable, and just as clear that it was powering the Insect. No wonder all the consoles and systems are operational! It would take a supernova to shut off the power to this thing! The thought struck Brevik like a hammer, his head ringing double for the one that followed, or a black hole..?

“Frell, problems for another day,” Brevik muttered out loud, not sure why he had spoken up. Shaking it off, he peered at the other platforms across the way. He couldn’t see the one directly across from him, but he had sight of each of the others, and the one on the right looked like a door led off from it. Perfect.

Taking one last longing look at the wonder of the captive star, Brevik turned to continue his escape. As he did, crumbs crunched underfoot, his boot flicking ration pieces down to join their distant brethren on the floor of the chamber. Momentarily distracted, Brevik stepped up to the platform’s side to watch them fall... far below, it was impossible to tell whether they landed next to the other pieces, but the sound still echoed through the eerily quiet room. Nothing below but a large opaque floor, broken into a grid. And sunlight, how amazing that Brevik would feel sunlight on a spaceship? A recent memory bloomed. Frell, how had that thought gone? Mimicry of sunlight so real none of the finest luxury cruisers in the galaxy could manage it? Brevik wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, resolutely stamping the sensation down – he was still too raw from the star’s loving embrace.

This was it, he had found his way out! How obvious that the beautiful sculpted park of riverstone paths he had first traversed would be lit by an actual star’s gentle light? And if that was the case, the lifts, the entrance to the darkened bay, the Eva were all perilously close, right below him! So close that it hurt. Determination filled Brevik, determination that only wavered a reasonable amount as he looked over the edge of the platform to the floor 500 feet below. Sithspit.

Turning back to the rope still dangling from the vent, Brevik tugged to disengage the grappling hook, catching it as it swung down. Reaching into his pack, Brevik pulled out another grappling hook to match the first. As for rope... Brevik uncoiled his fifty foot rope on the platform. His single fifty-foot rope. Two grappling hooks, one rope, 500 feet down. Ah frell, this was going to be interesting.

***

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Jack_Sigma
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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:31 pm

Brevik approached the edge of the platform with trepidation, stomach gently fluttering as he dropped to a crouch and considered the drop below. Brevik was no stranger to heights, but this chamber had his edges ragged and the pull of the Eva being so close warred with his natural cynicism. Nothing had come easy on this vessel, no positive turn that wasn’t met with an unexpected blowback, and it stood to reason that something would go wrong soon. Sadly, Brevik had the sense that whatever it was, he wouldn’t see it coming. In essence, that final thought comforted Brevik. The climb he faced was daunting to be sure, and there seemed to be a very large chance that he would end up smeared like jam across the floor below, but at least it was an obvious risk. Now... if flying Juzu-monkeys assaulted him on his way down? That would be more in line with the tack the Insect had taken with him so far. Mentally cringing, Brevik eyed the walls and dome above for openings – better not to give this place any ideas.

Most importantly, Brevik desperately hoped he was right about this. He thought he could survive the trip down, but if he did, there was sure as sithspit no good way back up. Well, short of free-climbing with the grappling hooks, but there were less strenuous ways to commit suicide.

Do the work in front of you. Casting grim thoughts aside, Brevik stood and moved to where the platform met the wall, pulling a grappling hook from his jacket. Trying to gauge location, he secured it to the wall about eye-level, then grabbed one end of the rope from the ground and mechanically cinched it to the hook. Picking up the other end, Brevik counted off about ten feet and began to wrap it around himself, first around his waist, a loop around each leg and finally tying off a twisted knot that left a good four or five feet free to dangle below him. Secured as much as his limited rope would allow, Brevik loosely coiled the slack between his harness and the wall around one shoulder. The other hook he clipped to his belt, making sure the blade up his sleeve and the rest of his gear were stowed and zipped. No point in waiting any further.

Grabbing the rope close to the hanging hook and pulling to make sure it held firm, Brevik took a deep breath and stepped off the platform, swinging out a bit before maneuvering his feet back against the wall. Time for a nice walk in the sun. Slowly, measuring his steps, Brevik began to descend the wall, walking the rope hand over hand and steadily uncoiling the slack as he made his way down. In short order, he had reached the end of his forty feet, poised against the wall with a massive drop yet to go. Now came the fun part.

Left hand on the rope above him, Brevik leaned back from the wall, letting his makeshift harness bear most of his weight (and wincing as it made personal acquaintance with some sensitive areas). With his other hand, Brevik unclipped the grappling hook from his belt and pressed it to the wall, magna-grip sealing firm. Next, he reached between his legs for the tail of rope below him, drawing it up and plugging it into the second hook -- a moment to auto-grip, and Brevik was secured from both sides. If only it were that easy.

Wrapping his right arm tight in the newly planted rope, Brevik paused, breathed, looked up, and executed the stuttered tug on the rope above that released the first hook’s magna-grip. There was the unavoidable lurch of free-fall, Brevik fighting to stay vertical as the tail rope suddenly bore his full weight and the grappling hook above sped towards his forehead. A quick catch saved a bruised face and ego (this time), and Brevik plucked the hook from the air as it flew past. Sealing it to the wall nearby, he re-coiled the forty feet of slack and, with another deep breath, released the tail hook holding him up. Another lurching drop, and as soon as Brevik’s legs regained feeling from the chafing harness, he was in position to climb forty more feet. He could do this.

By the sixth switch, Brevik didn’t think he could do this. His arms were starting to feel like lead sacks, his shoulder screamed in agony and he thought he might have broken open several wounds. He was just past halfway, the tail rope freshly secured above him, about to tug down the top hook. What I wouldn’t give for an anti-grav belt, Brevik thought wistfully as he unenthusiastically disengaged the grappling hook high above. The hook tumbled down as usual, but this time Brevik’s half-hearted grab missed it by inches… and tipped Brevik backwards on his rope. Free arm flapping wildly like a drunken bird, he flipped upside down with a surprised yell, arm clutching the tail rope bouncing hard between his legs. Yelping an octave higher, Brevik lost his grip and breath both, backside rebounding off the wall as he now dangled from the tail rope usually dangling from him.

Vertigo swirled as Brevik gently swayed from side to side, staring down at a twenty-five story drop. The rope harness dug into his thighs and stomach, cutting his breath short and radiating pain through his guts, red tinting his peripheral vision from the rush of blood to his head. Below Brevik (ahead of him?), forty feet of rope swayed in tandem with him, silently mocking his brilliant plan. For a moment or two, Brevik thought he would pass out, his sight dimming with each of his human-pendulum swings. Alarmingly, a part of Brevik whispered soothing words in his ear, take a break friend, you deserve it… the fall will still be here when you wake up… you can resume your climb in the morning… everything will be fine right here…

Gritting his teeth and hoping nothing had been permanently damaged, Brevik ignored the traitorous murmurs and began slowly pulling up the rope beneath him. A minute later, the top hook was in his hand and he sealed it to the wall below him. With a twisting heave, Brevik pulled himself up to grab the rope he was dangling from and, hesitating only slightly, executed the releasing pull. The sensation of free-fall was almost welcome compared to the intense pressure of the harness, but the relief was (fortunately) short-lived. Twenty feet lower Brevik slammed against the wall with a grunt, still in pain but vertical again, once more supported by the right side of the rope. Frell, that sucked.

Fighting exhaustion, Brevik let his mind drift as he leaned back into position on the wall. He would need a day in a bacta tank after this. A week. His thoughts flitted back to the small but well-stocked med-bay on the Eva, personal bacta immersion just waiting for him along with gracious unconsciousness. It was a pleasant thought, and it renewed Brevik’s urge to get off this Force-forsaken vessel. And actually… extreme discomfort and near-death aside, flipping upside down had given him an idea.

The next time Brevik reached the end of his rope, he decided to try his new trick. Once he was hanging from the tail rope with the other hook in his hand, he coiled the slack over his shoulder and clipped the hook to his belt. Then, gently, very gently, Brevik walked his legs up the wall to hang upside down again, lowering himself as far as the tail rope would allow (without the jerking free-fall, it wasn’t so bad). Unclipping the hook from his belt and sealing it beneath him, he pulled the same flip maneuver as before, but much more smoothly - no more than the usual few foot lurch this time. But he’d gained an extra ten feet or more per pass. Not bad.

Fifteen minutes later, Brevik’s boots touched solid ground. Fingers moving stiffly from the climb, he still managed to strip off the harness with unmatched speed, falling backwards to the ground in relief. For long moments, all Brevik could do was lay there catching his breath, staring up in amazement at the tiny platform high above. Beneath him, the feel of the glass-like substance serving as a massive skylight to the park he was certain was below comforted him. If the ground had been a clear form of fibrosteel, he would have been imperially screwed. All the while, the star shone down above him, watching his efforts. Guess what starry sky? Brevik propped himself up and stretched. It was time for his next trick.

***

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Jack_Sigma
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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:56 pm

Getting to his feet, Brevik collected his gear and moved a short distance out from where he’d landed, heading to the middle of one of the glassy floor-panes. He eyed it dubiously, crouching down so he could run his fingers over its surface. The panel did feel glass-like, but only muted shades of green colored its milky clear depths from below. So… translucent, but thick. It wasn’t the best of news, but then again, if less than that separated the park below from the raging inferno of the ship’s unbelievable power source..? Well, Brevik wouldn’t have taken his imaginary kids there, for one. In any case, time to see what damage he could do.

Standing and pulling his vibro-sword, Brevik swung down with all his might, satisfied to see a chip fly off the otherwise placid surface. I almost wish I had a tune to hum. For the next ten minutes, Brevik diligently hacked at the glass-like pane like he was mining for freedom, working at an area roughly the size of his hand. When he was done, Brevik’s already watery muscles felt like noodles, and the small spot was chipped out to a depth of maybe two or three inches. Brevik hoped that was all he needed.

The next part of his plan was not very bright, at least not when considering the massive captive star glimmering down on Brevik from above, shielded by what he had to assume was an extremely powerful force field. Brevik fervently prayed that was the case, because causing an explosion in the same room as a celestial body seemed like a pretty frelling dumb idea otherwise. That said, Brevik didn’t see a way clear of the situation.

Stepping off to the side and grabbing a seat between two of the panes, Brevik pulled the spare power pack to his long-gone blaster from his pocket and flipped out his vibroblade. What he was about to do was extremely stupid regardless of the context, like peeling open fireworks to see what was inside… and wanting them to blow up. Luckily, Brevik had done this before. And it had even almost succeeded.

Carefully, Brevik slipped the knife into a seam along the left side of the power pack, working it back and forth to expose the power cell. The power pack was a fairly basic dual-chamber design with a power cell and a gas module. The power cell would superheat the tibanna gas in the gas module to a plasma state, the blaster doing the rest to cycle it through supercoils and optics to focus it into killing beams. The power cell used chemical reactions to build energy to excite the gas, but when operating properly, it directed them through narrow channels in discrete bursts. Brevik absently chewed his lip as he peeled back the other side of the pack, exposing the gas module. With hands as steady as he could manage, he scored three lines into the side of the gas module, the goal to scratch as deep as possible without piercing it. Holding the pack with his scratches facing up, Brevik next worked two small holes into the power cell, one in each chemical chamber. With each puncture, small chemical droplets sprang to the surface like blood from a wound, quietly hissing in the open air. Brevick finished the process by gently scoring two shallow grooves from the punctures to the marks in the gas module.

Forehead drenched in sweat inside the hood he still had on, Brevik stood and crept to the middle of the pane with the caution of a man tiptoeing through a den of Wort eggs. Anything to prevent the drops from spilling early. Reaching the spot he had hacked away, Brevik knelt down and held the power pack flat over the chipped hole in the glass. Ready steady…

With a quick mental three-count, Brevik tilted the power pack sideways, jammed it into the hole and ran, diving to floor three panes away and covering his head with his hands. For a minute, nothing happened. In his mind’s eye, Brevik could see the chemical droplets leaking down the grooves he had carved, reaching the spot where he had scored off the gas chamber’s protective sealant, mixing, hissing, corroding, sizzling and… aaand..?

The explosion rocked Brevik’s world, the entire floor shaking, loud and violent enough that horrifying images of being immolated by a falling star flooded Brevik’s mind. When the noise and tremors subsided, Brevik’s first glance was up and he was instantly relieved to see the star still burned unfazed, eye of flame still gazing down at him and peering into his soul if he dropped his guard the slightest. Hurriedly looking away, Brevik picked himself off the ground and wandered over to see his handiwork. As the smoke cleared, there was a jagged blast radius spread across the glass-like pane -- the explosion had mostly torn a large chunk off the top, but the blast dipped to an uneven hole through the center of the nearly three-foot deep pane, a hole just wide enough for a person. Green grass shone through from below, another hundred feet maybe, but nothing compared to the distance Brevik had already come. With no idea what the sound of the large explosion could attract, Brevik decided to move quickly.

Grabbing his vibro-sword, Brevik first slashed at the edges of the hole he had formed, clearing off some of the larger and sharper ones. Once done, he secured one end of his rope outside of the blast radius and took the other in his hand, shimmying up to opening. Holding on to the secured rope, Brevik leaned himself half through the opening, torso overhanging the drop and the vista. The pristine park below spread itself out under Brevik, paths and fountains forming an odd pattern of overlapping squares with a fountain set at each point. Filing the fact away for later, Brevik stretched as much as he could into the opening and sealed the other grappling hook to the underside of the floor panes (or the ceiling here?), as far away from the blast point as possible. As he did, somewhere above and behind him, something faintly clattered. Um… what the frell was that?

Straining against the rope, Brevik pulled himself back into the star chamber, scuttling away from the edge and looking up to the source of the sound. High above him, ants streamed down the walls in great numbers from vents that had popped off above each of the four platforms, his own included. The star’s light clearly hurt the insects, their tiny squeals of pain registering high above, but some kept moving and some, unable to maintain their grip on the walls, tumbled to the ground far below. On the other side of the room from Brevik, the first of the critters hit the ground with a splat.

Brevik’s adrenaline raged through his body, sharpening every color and sensation – he knew what was coming next, knew it with all the certainty in his being, but denied it, denied it as stringently as he had ever denied anything. But life is not always so luxurious. A moment later, the fallen creature jerkily started to rise.

Oooh sithspit. All around the room, creatures were dropping from the walls to the floor while others marched steadily down, the sounds of crispy raindrops and the patter of feet filling the chamber. Frell, so many of them! The sheer volume of it stunned Brevik. Where did they all come from? But there was no time.

The “ant” that had gotten up across the room started loping toward Brevik on shattered legs, its stride a stuttered mockery. And he had no blaster this time. Time to bail! Brevik lunged to free the hook on this side of the floor, swiftly slinging the rope's end around himself and desperately hoping it held. He spun in time to see the first creature, familiar neon snake-eyes gleaming in the light of the star, leap for his throat. Drawing his vibro-sword on a moment’s notice, Brevik separated its head from its body and sent it flying past, orange blood splashing on the ground in a violent splatter. Behind it and around him, more of the fallen beasts were starting to rise, some of their other companions getting closer to the floor.

Flying Juzu-monkeys?? Frelling close enough! Taking off at a run, one hand clutching his sword, the other clutching the rope, Brevik spared one last glance at the radiant star above and jumped feet-first through the hole.

***

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Jack_Sigma
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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:21 pm

The rope around his waist didn’t hold.

Brevik plummeted through the hole into the huge solarium at the end of his fifty-foot rope, free-falling with his blade clenched in a death-grip in his right hand. That ground’s coming qui... erk! The very thought was jammed into the back of his mind as the rope reached full extension, lungs compressed as the loop around his waist caught him for a split second, nearly breaking his grip. A split second only. And then the thick head of the grappling hook, the sole reason the loop hadn’t instantly unraveled, slipped through. Free-fall kicked in again, panic bursting through Brevk as the life-sustaining rope slipped through his fingers. With a startled yelp, he snagged the hook at the bottom of the rope, barely keeping himself from the express route to the ground. A conductor’s voice whispered in his ear. All aboard, fifty foot route -- mind the deceleration.

And there he was, desperately dangling with one hand above a drop that would maim him as a ‘best-case’ scenario. Straining to hold tight, Brevik looked up, frantically trying to work out a solution.

Fifty feet above him, neon eyes in an all too curious face poked out of the hole in the solarium’s ceiling, a black blemish on the otherwise unmarked illusion of a sun-drenched sky. The creature leaned in further, sniffing at the edges. No... no... no, no, no, come on! The creature leaned further, then further... and for a split instant, Brevik thought he saw surprise on that horribly deformed face as the thing lost its balance and went skittering through the hole. Falling almost straight at Brevik, still dangling with one hand.

Brevik gripped the hook tight and vainly tried to swing away before the creature dropped to his level, but to no success. It flew right at him, claws straining to fricassee him on its way. With no other recourse, Brevik swung at the bundle of claws sweeping past like a razor dervish, his blade connecting and an arm (leg?) flying off as the beast was knocked off course. But more went flying than the limb. Barely gripping the hook, Brevik couldn’t afford the tug on his blade as it carved through falling flesh. The second he cleaved through the creature he let his sword tear away, watching morosely as it clattered to a stop far below, near the wall.

Still, if there were ever a benefit to being generally disarmed, Brevik realized this had to be it. Heaving as if death itself followed (and really, it did), Brevik swung his empty hand up to the hook, briefly relieved at his two-hand grip. Some more straining, muscles screaming, and Brevik pulled himself up a bit more, wrapping his forearms in the bottom of the rope. A quick glance up, and Brevik started moving faster. In that oh-so-bright window to the star’s raw light, three more pairs of neon eyes and six more clawed appendages scrabbled at the hole, sniffing after their fallen comrade. It was only big enough for one to fall through, but Brevik had no illusions of safety -- he had seen these things take the shortcut to the ground before.

A bit more secure at the bottom of the rope, Brevik swung his legs forward, then back, then forward, then back, driving up his momentum with every swing. He had made his hole fairly close to the wall, maybe fifteen feet away, maybe twenty. If he could get to it..? He had to keep trying. Forward, then back, forward, then back. Brevik’s arc extended a foot, then two, then three. A squeal sounded above him and Brevik braced for a blow, on the upswing and unable to look back. He could feel the creature fly by right behind him and struggled to hold on as a claw snagged his heat-resistant cloak. The fabric tore and Brevik screamed as a shallow line carved down his back, the beast gone a moment later to splat far below. Brevik could feel the drops of blood trailing it down. No way... far too close! Forward, then back, forward, then back, Brevik willed himself closer to the wall, or even the wall closer to him. The next creature fell while Brevik was on the backswing and dropped straight to the ground without touching him. If they could all be so helpful.

Seven feet, then ten, Brevik’s arc grew bigger and he gripped the grappling hook with one hand, trying to hold firm to the rope with his left hand and forearm. Closer. Closer. Brevik activated the hook as he swung to within a foot of the wall, then within inches. On the next pass, Brevik could feel the hook’s intense polarity as it tried to grip the wall from an inch away, not quite close enough to seal tight.

Just one more swing... On his backswing, Brevik could see the next beast lined up to fall, just as he could see its broken brethren rising below with the stutter of marionettes. He tried to guess how soon it would jump, tried to guess how long before he reached the peak of his swing and swung slowly forward once again. It was futile, no way to know if this was the time the thing would fall true and tear through him like a crude paper cup fashioned to hold water by a child. So many moments of sudden chance, of life or death balanced on something as inconsequential as a slippery floor. And yet oh so consequential, oh so very consequential. What to do? Breathe deep and troop on.

Brevik reached his apex, paused and swung forward again, the creature still eyeing him from above, but staying put. Troop on. This time he thought he would... Yes! With a triumphal grunt, Brevik smacked into the wall, grappling hook shoved into his belly as it gripped firm. For once, he didn’t mind the pain. And then he did.

The rope suddenly shook, Brevik’s forearm tangling painfully, his other hand knocked off. As the world spun, Brevik caught a horrifying glimpse of the creature that had been sniffing at the opening a moment before. It was stretched to its full extension like a deadly Stheo leopard, two clawed legs improbably gripping the sides of the hole, two outstretched claws set down on Brevik’s rope, now extended under the hole as it ran to the wall. And Brevik couldn’t pull the release, because his frelling left arm was tied up, and the only thing keeping him alive to boot.

Move! He heaved again, right hand going back on the rope, still shaking wildly as the creature tried to get a better grip with its arms. If it were a simple soeyo cat, its attempts might have actually been amusing, but Brevik was far from amused. The creature got one leg on the rope just as Brevik swung his elbow over, and Brevik’s grip proved the better -- the creature’s back leg gave way and it tumbled to the rope, suddenly draped over it... and sliding right at Brevik! Frell, his vibroblade! Brevik could feel it digging into his tightly wrapped-up left arm. The universe slowed again, slowed as it did in those instants where life hovered a whisper above the ether. The creature slid towards Brevik, eyes wide, snapping jaw dry and choppy, none of the slobber you might see in a live beast. Frell, at least the thing upstairs was alive. Is that a good thing? Idle thoughts drifted as reaction moved on its own. Elbow over the rope and gripping it tight, Brevlik lifted his body up as much as possible, straining to build slack for his left arm. The rope jerked as the beast flew towards him, eyes burning with malice. Why malice? The rope jerked again, and Brevik slid his arm half-way out, the rope cinching tight again a second later. Did they know that guy on the bridge? Vicious mandibles spread wide to devour his face - the thing was just feet from him. Seems very unli... With a scream, Brevik tore his arm out of the rope, vibroblade spinning into his hand instantly. Bracing his feet to the wall, he punched as far as he could with his blade, burying it under the creature’s jaw and through the back of its ugly skull as it came within arms’ reach. With a twist he pushed out even further, blade and creature sent flying to ground below. At least this one wouldn’t be getting up.

For a moment, Brevik swung his left arm over the rope and just hung there suspended by both arms, feet against the wall. The park spread out below him once again, exactly as he remembered it. From where he was, Brevik could see the purple and green lifts off to the right, could even make out some of the green Woorts and purple... what were those, turtles and birds? On his left, the dark blue bear lift and the one with the white hare sat silent, observing the proceedings. And there, across the way from him, past a cluster of milling creatures, the black entrance to the pitch dark airlock -- the path to salvation or death. The Eva.

Time to go home. For once, Brevik knew what he was doing. Holding tight to the rope with his right arm, Brevik executed the releasing pull, the hook coming free of the ceiling and swinging to a stop at the bottom of the wall. From about twenty feet away, the creatures’ beady glares came up as one. Express path to the ground, mind the deceleration. And so.

Without wasting a moment, Brevik closed his knees around the rope and slid down, using his elbows to keeps his hands from being burned. He landed with a thump and faced the beasts from a crouch, their eyes regarding him greedily. Five stood there, a sixth crashing behind them as Brevik watched, a seventh on the ground with his knife through its head and an eighth without one. The rope he would leave, no time for that. Brevik snuck his left hand into his jacket and pulled out his glow lamp, quickly slipping it into his now-empty vibroblade holster. And with his right hand, he picked up his sword from where it had slid against the wall. He had tried to swing as close as possible to the place it had come to a stop, and he had managed pretty well. And now it was time to dance.

The creatures settled back on their haunches to strike. Brevik didn’t give them the chance. With a mighty roar, he sprang forward like a demon unchained, bladed claw poised to do horrors. Some creatures sprung for him, others hesitated -- it didn’t matter, Brevik was in the middle of a courtyard, and he had room to move. He flowed between them as he ran past, not caring about taking heads, taking anything and everything else. Claws, legs, shoulders flew as Brevik separated a creature in mid-air, smoothly flowing to take the legs off another that had touched down near him. Brevik ducked away from a lunging leap, lunging himself to impale a creature that had just started to turn back his way. He attacked as he moved, and the creatures flew apart as he swept past. Whatever these horrors were, however bright, whatever they might once have been, they couldn’t process his fluid motions the way they had trailed his blaster barrel. And so he carved.

It was over quickly, though it never seemed that way to Brevik when he was in the moment. He came to a smooth stop at the middle of the plaza, turning back to the bodies he had carved. Parts and pieces lay everywhere, and crawling monstrosities still shifted through the debris. Not bad work.

But behind them... By the Abyss! What once had been drops now started to fall in a steady rain, creature after creature falling to the ground behind the dead. Brevik looked up in horror, astounded at the sight - an upside down vision of an anthill flooding, the ants clawing over each other to stream out. Except here, they dropped one after another, the beginning of a deluge.

Brevik turned and ran, flipping his glow lamp into his hand as he would his vibroblade, hitting the darkness moments later and flicking on his light, beam barely penetrating the gloom. Behind, the sound of crunching drops continued unabated, and Brevik ran for his life. How long before they re-animate? It was the question on which his survival now hinged, and Brevik ran harder for it.

****

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Jack_Sigma
'And So it Goes'
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Re: Space, Space Everywhere... and Not a Drop to Drink

Post by Jack_Sigma » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:29 pm

What had once seemed like a fifteen minute walk to Brevik was now five at a sprint, and felt like five hundred. At first, he was alone in the darkness in his orb of light, running as if in place, nothing changing around him. Then the sounds, the squeals, the subsonic yips that felt like a thousand mosquitoes buzzing in his ears. They were coming, running on silent feet towards him in darkness never-ending. And it wasn’t like he could turn and fight. He knew the Eva docking station was directly opposite the door, but if he lost his path..? He would die here. If he didn’t make it to the Eva now, he would die here. Brevik pushed harder, lungs pounding so hard he could feel their every convulsed gasp of air.

He didn’t know how but he knew his pursuers were gaining, right on his heels as he desperately tried to imagine how much more there was to go. When this path might end. The thought of the tunnels below crossed Brevik’s mind like a unexpected bat, a shadowy shape bursting from the gloom to startle and dismay. And just like a bat, the thought flitted off a second later as a real monstrosity suddenly broke into the sphere of light, pacing Brevik on his right. Slashing out with a snarled wheeze, Brevik scored a shallow hit before the creature fell back into the darkness once more, as if it never was. Brevik ran. Another creature burst into the circle on his left and he swung at it awkwardly, light never wavering an inch from its path. The thing hopped away and was gone, and then one more to his right, again Brevik slashing out, exertion catching up with him. Exhaustion catching up with him. Eternal darkness catching up with him, coming alive to swallow him whole. Frell, will it never..?

The thought was broken as a grey slate airlock door burst into the light like a distant monolith, two faint green lights glowing like emerald eyes at its center. Does that mean its..? Brevik couldn’t bear the thought, couldn’t bear the hope that tried to flood him as another set of claws reached for him from the darkness, this time cutting at his leg and making him stumble before he managed to scare it off, flailing wildly with his blade. There was only one way to find out, and Brevik thought he was close enough - even with the airlock another minute off.

“Eva! EVA!!!” the scream barely sounded human, something a giant Burro toad might have taken for a mating call. “Eva, open!” Brevik stumbled again, dropping to a knee before pushing off, feeling the air stir as something landed in the spot he had vacated. “Eva!!”

Brevik was almost at the airlock, looming large ahead of him, and still no response. Not a good sign.

Early in his travels, Brevik had learned the hard way that having a punch-code gangway could mean the difference between a week in a bacta tank and a smooth getaway. After taking a knife in his side trying to unlock his ship with fingers numb from vuoro poison (the result of an awkwardly quintessential hand-in-the-cookie-jar moment), the first thing Brevik had done when he could walk was go shopping for voice-activated entry systems. What he had ended up with was so much more. The black marketeers on Vargaas VI had provided him with a fully functional droid AI to run the Eva, an AI that had developed personality as the years went on. As Brevik dove deeper and deeper into the deep black, the companionship of the Eva turned out to be as welcome as the benefits of a smoothly run (and self-diagnosing) vessel. Of course, when that vessel drops out of hyperspace running solely on emergency life support, fat lot of good an advanced AI did him.

“Eva!” Brevik croaked again as he reached the airlock door, pounding on it twice before spinning back around, blade supported with both hands, legs barely supporting him as he gasped to catch his breath. “Open, please...” the last was no more than a whisper, the last vestiges of hope fading. Brevik had stared at the airlock door as he ran, and it looked as seamless as it did when he had first examined it - no buttons or controls, just those two green lights watching him with mirth.

Countless times since he had first installed the AI on the Eva, he had found himself running for the hatch just as he was now, desperate to fling himself to sanctuary. And countless times, the door had opened. If the Eva wasn’t opening now, Brevik’s only thought was that he had failed, that whatever he had done in the control room upstairs had just been another part of the giant frelling joke someone was playing on him. A joke that had just killed him.

The glowing orb of light around him still held back the dark and the creatures, but he could feel them gathering around him. Slowly, little by little, one glowing set of eyes after another began to shine from the borders of the black, all around Brevik. He shifted his beam up, and there were eyes even there, the glow of a thousand malicious stars ready to crash down on his universe.

Well if this was it, Brevik would face it as he had lived. On his frelling feet.

Brevik gently set the glowlamp on the ground, and after a moment’s hesitation, pulled the fat man flask from his jacket and set it down as well, putting each aside and out of his way. A small monument to his passing - the fat man could bear witness.

Drawing himself to his full height, Brevik shifted his neck around, enjoying the feel of it cracking, then rolled his shoulders to stretch out his back. All the while, the eyes watched, amused. Content to let him have his final moment before joining their feast. Brevik could almost hear the ring of the schoolyard bell, calling the children to eat.

With a snap, Brevik brought his blade to attention, eyeing the gathered watchers, still invisible but for the multitude of eyes.

“Come.” he said, and the darkness sprang forward like an avalanche. Tired as he was, Brevik stood no chance against it. His blade flew as feverishly as his jellied muscles could bear, and he wondered if he would have even at full strength. The tide rushed in, claws and teeth collapsing on him from every side, their mass dimming the feeble light of his lamp. Every leg he took off, knives cut into his arms, every arm, they sliced his shoulders, every head, they nicked his legs, streamers of red trickling down his body like tributaries to a lake forming at the foothills. Soon it would be an ocean.

But Brevik fought on, every furious instinct in his body pushing him forward, his adrenaline boosted by its own adrenaline. He was burning hotter, brighter than he could remember, blade a whirlwind of death against death, sheer force of will flinging monstrous beasts back as he desperately tried to stay alive. With a scream and a heave, Brevik flung a creature back by its throat with his bare hand, whipping his blade around in sweeping circles as the creatures hopped back, almost as one. They retreated to the edge of the light, eyes greedy, greedy and pissed and oh so many.

Brevik slumped against his blade in a circle of blood, most orange, too much red. His clothes were tattered, his energy sapped. Frell, where am I going to find a tailor who can darn a star-proof lab coat? The thought was ridiculous enough to make Brevik laugh, and then laugh harder. Great peals of mirth burst from him, ringing through a darkness clearly unfamiliar with it. To Brevik’s horrified glee, the eyes had multiplied again, shades of red, blue and orange shining out of the darkness all around and above him. How?? But it didn’t really matter. Time to face the music once again, and this ballad was his elegy. He felt like this beat was familiar. And a one... and a two...

Straining against the pain and the darkness threatening to swallow his vision from the inside, Brevik once more drew himself up, the task itself a victory. His sword was heavy, oh so heavy, but somehow light as well, like his fingers were starting to lose their sense of weight. Well, then he guessed he’d have to be faster.

The blade snapped up again, Brevik eyeing his vicious audience one by one. A grin split his face,

“Congratulations, you ugly little Zo-suckers, you pathetic excuses for obscenities!” he bellowed, voice crisp and clear, “Today you die by the blade of Brevik Durne!”

The tsunami rolled forward once more, this time pitch black descending, and a new voice joined the darkness.

Voice-print confirmed, welcome home Brevik."

And the airlock behind Brevik began to open with the loud groan of machinery. The wave reacted with confusion, new eyes scattering at the movement of steel, some old friends pushing forward towards Brevik, others hesitating at the intrusion. Brevik hacked and slashed, former grace gone in an effort to save a few more precious seconds by any means necessary, and then a few more.

“Eva, emergency cannon, now!” Slicing the head off a disjointed critter, Brevik lurched back into the airlock as it opened, nearly wiping out for going in early. Another slash at a beast, and Brevik had a moment’s airspace. With a quick motion, he reached for a compartment that had popped open just inside the airlock’s door.

And swung out a repeater cannon, hooked into an ammo compartment hidden inside the wall.

“My turn,” Brevik growled, and the cannon sprang to life, brightly colored blasts flaring by the multitudes into the gathered beasts. Brevik wasn’t sure if these things felt panic, but he definitely saw a few turn tail as he scorched the darkness itself outside the airlock. And the Eva knew what to do. As soon as Brevik had stepped into the airlock, the hatch had reversed and started to close while he sprayed fire beyond in a steady stream. It was over in a few more seconds, the airlock door sealing shut, air compression system (so the oxygen worked!) hissing to life as it swept the room. Finally, after long moments, the door to the Eva’s interior slowly came open.

Welcome home Brevik,” a mellifluous female voice spoke out, “You seem to be a little out of sorts.

Brevik couldn’t even smile at the AI’s pass at humor, could barely lurch into the Eva trailing blood across the wall as he did.

“Eva,” he coughed, feeling his body and fingers shaking, “Set course for the nearest inhabited star system and hit it, and...” he coughed again, blood loss and weakness threatening the edges of consciousness, “...and launch the bacta chamber. I want you to wait on the fringe of whatever system it is, off the space lanes, and just float around for a bit until I recover.”

Brevik, we seem to have undergone a massive systems failure recently, would you like me to diagnose?

Brevik stumbled forward, one foot in front of the other like lead until he dropped into his medbay, falling to his knees in front of the bacta chamber. The large clear oval pod, about the size of a couch, opened in front of him.

Eva, do as you will, just get us the frell away from this thing!” he managed to gasp in his haze.

Certainly Brevik, calculations are complete, the nearest inhabited star system is three days by hyperspace travel.

Three frelling days? How could Brevik possibly have dropped out of hyperspace that far off course? Just another little impossibility in a long list of them. He owed The Opus Illus a smack, but that could wait until he was recovered. At least three days should do it.

“Do it Eva, let’s get back to reality.”

The ship rumbled as it disengaged from the Insect, then tilted as it started to move. Brevik grabbed the facemask for the bacta tank and strapped it on, barely managing to flip himself over the lip of the tank. He slid smoothy into the pink liquid, bacta surrounding and sealing his still-bleeding wounds. Consciousness began to fade as the familiar comfort of the bacta immersion enveloped Brevik like a blanket.

Have a good rest, sir.” the voice of the Eva whispered through the mask’s earpiece, a shipboard communicator in case of emergency.

Brevik began to close his eyes and finally fade to black, not enough energy to even revel at his bare escape. As he did, something odd caught his eye through the immersive pink hues of the closing chamber.

There, on the counter of the medbay, as if left there in a hastily thoughtless moment, the smiling face of a little fat man peered out at Brevik from a small flask.

Wait... what?

But it was too late for thought, and the pink chased the world to black.

End Part 1

Coming (relatively) soon, Part 2: Through the Looking Glass of Scotch

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