LucByard

[Freebuild] Previous occupants

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Chapter 27: Previous occupants

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Somewhere far from the edge of one of the darker regions of the moon where the black daytime sky did little to illuminate the jagged features and the gas giant it orbited even less so, the last sliver of its banded clouds fading as it approached its daily eclipse of the surface, cruising across the landscape, a small glint of light defied the darkness.

With one side of Ganymede always facing Jupiter, daytime on the jovian hemisphere meant the king of the planets was always in between the moon and the distant Sun and an eclipse was a daily occurrence... each day being just over seven Earth days long elongated the process and soon, the dark surface below the dark blue transport would have even less light to reveal its character to the pilot steering her ship down a gentle glide-slope as she approached the co-ordinates she had been given.

Yseult carefully watched her instruments; there would be no approach lights for this landing, no illuminated apron. The hangar was built into the side of a steep rocky slope... Difficult to find... That was the idea. She didn’t know how Riddaeon had found it, he just provided her with the co-ordinates and the approach vector. Despite the bland field of darkness before her, the primary flight display clearly showed where she was headed and she reduced the throttle accordingly to maintain a gentle approach. The hangar’s internal lighting became visible only at the last minute and finally, Yseult was able to use her natural senses to guide the Speedy Owl in. With a shudder, the passed through the atmosfield and the growling hum of the engines acquired an echoed resonance as they entered the enclosed space. Bringing the ship to a hover in the centre of the hangar, she throttled back on the lift engines and with a loud clunk, the Owl set down of the hangar deck. As the engines spooled down, Yseult looked up out of the canopy at the hangar... It wasn’t the bright, well lit industrial space she’d expected. Black surfaces oddly lit by yellow glow - it was difficult to see the details. ‘Maybe that’s the idea’ she thought. Even from within the enclosed confines of the cockpit, there was a foreboding feel to it.

The hangar floor was black. So were the walls and the ceiling save for a few stark details is contrasting bright yellow. The air was cold and had a deathly silence, broken only by a random clank somewhere that echoed off the walls enough to hide its true origin. Yseult tried to determine whee it came from, the only evidence that they were not alone was another vessel parked neatly in one of the designated bays. Yseult had landed the Owl right in the centre over the large triangular markings that adorned the floor... No-one had told her otherwise so she parked where she liked. The other vessel, in stark contrast to the hangar was grey and red. She knew the design but the Cylbruda Starglider was a classic, there weren’t many around, certainly not in the condition this one appeared to be in. A moment later, Riddaeon appeared from behind it with Ellie, they were discussing something and pointing at various parts of the chassis. When Riddaeon noticed that Yseult was out on the deck, he left Ellie and came over.

“What do you think?” He asked as he neared her, his arms open indicating the hangar. Yseult looked briefly around while maintaining her usual non-plussed expression.

“I don’t like it.” She said.

“Well, we need to stay off the scopes.” Riddaeon replied. “Everybody’s... Including M.A.N.T.I.S. so we need somewhere...” He considered his words for a moment, as though avoiding an unfortunate truth. “... they don’t want to go.” Yseult’s gaze had returned to him, sceptical, as usual, but with more concern than he was used to. He didn’t blame her. This place was the kind that stories were told about. But with Big Sal on the run and still back in Andromeda for all he knew, M.A.N.T.I.S. were showing more interest in Riddaeon’s ‘side projects’ than he was comfortable with. They needed to be tucked away somewhere... They needed a home of their own. “It’ll do until we go back. For now, we need to get this place running properly, we’ve only got basic power at the moment... Did you bring the gear?” Yseult merely leaned her head back towards the container she had brought in with the Speedy Owl. Riddaeon took a breath and gave an assured nod... “Let’s get to it.”

The blast door slid open with a reluctant creak that screamed of the neglect the base had suffered in the absence of its previous occupants. It had taken Ellie nearly half an hour just to open it. She hoped, being the door from the hangar that it would be the most difficult - the first line of defence if intruders came. She went to step forward into the corridor but a hand across her chest stopped her. Riddaeon’s eyes scanned the stale murky air, dimly lit with yellow wall lights. His eyes, narrow, took in the details - looking, suspecting... they settled on a small detail on the wall. He found a matching feature on the opposite side; It was about 1.5 metres off the ground and about half a metre away from them. He knelt and took a piece of equipment from the bag next to him.

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Like three sides of a square, the frame had a padded handle and control on the middle edge. One the insides of the two that protruded forwards perpendicular to the handle were a row of small nozzles and either side of them, narrow field emitters. Riddaeon activated the device and a wafer thin cloud of gas flowed between the top and bottom nozzles. Cautiously, Riddaeon approached the space between the wall features and inserted the device directly between them. The smooth and steady stream of cloud was disrupted and as he waved the device gently back and forth along the line, escaping remnants of gas revealed the detection laser crossing the corridor in front of them. Deactivating the device, he turned to Ellie.

“Can you deactivate them?” He asked.

“It’ll take time.” She replied. “They could be all over the place.”

“Work on it.” Riddaeon said to her. “Yseult and I will work on detection.

An hour later the party had made progress through the main corridors. Riddaeon and Yseult were hunting for lasers, Ellie was deactivating them as they went. It was getting easier with each one - Ellie had to hack the individual detector and change the power surge parameters that caused it to reset into a safety mode, now only requiring the smallest of fluctuations which was then easily caused with a small plasma pulse charger. By the fifth or sixth one, it had almost become routine and Riddaeon and Yseult had even split up, taking two different routes through the base. The inner doors had also been easier to overcome; the technology was decades old. It was laborious rather than difficult. Yseult checked the inner frame of a door Ellie had just opened to what appeared to be some kind of storage room.

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“I’ll go see where Riddaeon’s up to.” Ellie said as she turned and walked back down the corridor. So far, they hadn’t found any detectors in any rooms, only corridors and certain doorways but Yseult still proceeded carefully. This particular room looked much like storage, it wasn’t as well lit as others they’d found, nor was it as tidy. It was also more black than the others with only a few blinking guide lights on the corners of crates and containers giving a fluttering of life to and otherwise void-like space. Her instructions had been clear: Don’t... touch... anything.

Yseult hated following instructions.

Their first priority was to locate main power and the atmosfield generator. The first was needed to make the base fully operable again and second was critical to ensure their safety; while it obviously still worked, they were losing heat and gas and Yseult’s container had brought equipment and parts to bring it up to modern standards. Yseult had seen the videos as a child; space workers in full suits with air tanks, just incase the atmosfield failed. Over time, the equipment shrank and the technology became more reliable... Habits changed. Yseult paced cautiously forward, her eyes systematically assessing each part of her field of view. A few of the containers had signage, written in an obscure lettering, almost alien-like... She widened her view and looked at the whole word... It was English, it was just the font that was so abstract. Deciphering each letter, she read the label... ‘BIOMASS’. Others nearby were similar. Then she noticed a large container near the back of the room. This one was different to the others. In stead of clean lines and flat surfaces, it was an odd, almost organic shape. Around the corner edges were rib-like contours, curved with rounded off joint-like corners. There was something... Beautiful about it. The dull flat metal of the other containers was in stead an intricate mesh of contours reflecting glints of light in a thousand different places. It was hard to make out the precise shaping. Her fingertips brushed along a bone-like ridge, allured by the the desire to see, not with eyes that failed to discern such subtle variations in the darkness, but with fingertips. Without realising, both hands now caressed the frame and soon, the lengths of her fingers wrapped the ridges. She twisted her wrists and allowed her palms to press against the wider side of the framework and firmly slide towards the outer edge. There was something about it... alluring... tactile.

Suddenly, the lights in the room brightened and the whirr of a power surge filled the walls. In surprise, Yseult jolted and looked around... The main power is on she thought.

“Yseult?” Ellie’s voice came over the A-com.

“Yes.” She replied, more alarmed and shorter of breath than she would like.

“We’ve got main power back and have located the atmosfield generator.” Ellie said. “We’re headng back to the hangar to get the equipment.”

“I’ll be right there” Yseult replied. She looked back at the black container that had captured her attention so much, enraptured her and taken her away from where she was and what she was doing. Her hands, still holding the front ridges had moved when she jolted... and the ridges with them. Just a couple of centimetres outwards... a notch... a click. Yseult tensed her hands and pulled. The ridges snapped back inwards to where they were. Gently, she let go and backed away slowly before turning and leaving the room. She hadn’t noticed that this container had not had a blinking light on it before... She didn’t notice that the light it had now didn’t blink... slowly it brightened, and slowly it dimmed, pulsating... breathing... waking.

Yseult was about to turn into the corridor when she heard the sounds... Turning, she saw the containers ridges opening and unravelling and from within a long curved tail of some kind unraveled. At the end, some kind of red glowing spike. out of the sides, interlaced with the container’s ridges emerges legs. Two, four... no, six and at the front, between two black fang-like protrusions... A glowing yellow eye... It looked at her... She ran. Behind her, a half mechanical screech echoed and metallic claws tap, tapped against the floor as whatever it was followed. She turned a corner... then another... and hoped she remembered the way back. Eventually she stopped to catch breath... She had to compose herself. She reached for her A-com.

“Riddaeon!” She said urgently and loudly as she dared.

“Go ahead.” Riddaeon’s voice came back.

“We have a problem.”

She would have explained more... She needed to, but the metallic sound of scuttling tips drew close... She edged backwards. She couldn’t run forever. She didn’t even know what this thing was. The scuttling became faster, another screech echoed off the walls. She stopped. Stand firm she thought. She poised herself ready to run... in which direction she didn’t know yet... Then it appeared, so fast it half climbed the wall getting around the corner.

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It resembled a scorpion but with six legs and instead of pincers at the front, two small cannons of some sort were attached to its belly. Instinct consumed her... Yseult was no longer thinking, not like normal people do. She ran. Not away, it would have cut her down, but towards. Not straight, it would have cut down even sooner, but at an angle. The creature, if that’s what it was, had half of its legs up on the side wall otherwise it would have simply crashed into it, it had been travelling so fast... it was oddly poised. It’s belly tipped sideways facing the wall. Yseult ran to the other side. The sound of a few shots rang through the tunnel that was the corridor but moving out of the cannon’s field of fire, Yseult forced it to rethink and it repositioned itself, the red spike on its tail glowing brighter, the sound of a weapon charging filling the air. The corridor walls have vertical struts at intervals that encroached inward at 45 degrees at the ceiling and floor. As the creature turned and closed in on Yseult, she planted her right foot on one and launched herself over the creature’s head onto its back, grabbing the base of the glowing red spike as she did. The creature tried to adjust... it was too late Yseult used her body-weight to yank the head of the glowing spike down and as the laser fired, a bright red beam shot through the outer shell of the creature, through its body and out of the bottom.

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Panicked, it began to flail, whipping it’s tail and throwing Yseult to the floor. It was hurt, the cannons on its belly were in pieces but otherwise... it reared up, poised and let out of fearful screech. Yseult scrambled to her feet... This time, she ran away.

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“Get to the hangar.” Riddaeon’s voice came over the A-com. Yseult was too busy running to respond. Her heart pounded; she could hear the creature behind her... She’d had a head start but it wouldn’t last.

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Finally she reached the door to the hangar. Riddaeon and Ellie were no where to be seen. Grabbing the frame, she swung round and hit the door control. The heavy doors screeched closed... The tap, tapping of the creature’s feet getting closer. She couldn’t see it, she didn’t know how far behind it was. The doors were almost shut... relief. It didn’t last as the creature burst through the gap, stumbling almost but with six legs it was quick to steady itself and immediately turned to face Yseult. She went to run but something caught her leg and she tumbled to the floor. She rolled onto her back, the creature upon her. She crawled backwards until she was against the wall... No where else to go. A high pitched rattled hiss emanated from the creature like spite and hatred had been given a voice. It looked at her, its solitary eye showing only a desire to kill.

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The hum of a weapon being charged, the red glow. The spike on the end of its tail close to touching Yseult between the eyes, as though it wanted this to hurt more... Revenge, she recognised... Yseult heard sounds but she couldn’t discern them; mechanical clanks... they didn’t matter. She stared the creature back in the eye and returned a look of equal despise. If this is how it is to be, I will not die scared.

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The hum reached its highest pitch, the red its brightest glow... and the laser fired.

Spoiler

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this is awesome, the contrast of the build is great and the story just seems to get better. :thumbup:

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Beautiful corridor and excellent story writing!  Things are never dull for Yseult!

Constructive criticism: I love how as things heat up, there are more pics showing the action.  But, I felt that the earlier parts of the story could have used more pics to break up the wall of text.  Not as much as when the action is really going, maybe really just two more pictures (one each inserted in the long text areas) to show what the characters are up to.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, pombe said:

Beautiful corridor and excellent story writing!  Things are never dull for Yseult!

Constructive criticism: I love how as things heat up, there are more pics showing the action.  But, I felt that the earlier parts of the story could have used more pics to break up the wall of text.  Not as much as when the action is really going, maybe really just two more pictures (one each inserted in the long text areas) to show what the characters are up to.

Thanks. Yeah, I would have liked more photos earlier on but the hangar was easily too large a build and I want to move the story on. I do builds where there are no 'story' shots, just the build and text but maybe half-half is imbalanced. Perhaps in future, I'm ensure it's one way or the other. Doesn't mean I don't build that hangar eventually though ; )

2 hours ago, Professor Thaum said:

I second Pombe !! what a corridor, and the story is very interesting and inspiring ! :thumbup:

Thanks. I like putting Yseult into more and more difficult scenarios. Not sure ow she'll get out of this one though : )

Edited by LucByard

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22 hours ago, LucByard said:

Thanks. Yeah, I would have liked more photos earlier on but the hangar was easily too large a build and I want to move the story on.

 

Ah, I forgot that you didn't have builds for the hangar.  It would be hard to have pics for mocs that don't exist!

Anyways, again, I love what you've done.  There's just always something so clean and polished about your presentations.

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43 minutes ago, pombe said:

Ah, I forgot that you didn't have builds for the hangar.  It would be hard to have pics for mocs that don't exist!

Anyways, again, I love what you've done.  There's just always something so clean and polished about your presentations.

Thanks. I like to think my film degree came in useful for something. I try to photograph the story shots with a cinematic eye - I can visualise the entire chapter, I just don't have the time and bricks to build it all... Few do.

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Great build and storytelling. Lots of atmosphere and cool action shots.

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