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Clockwork of the Void Quest #2
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Previous threads: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Clockwork%20of%20the%20Void%20Quest
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CALLISTO AND EUROPA HAVE GONE DARK. Gravitational sensors picked up a powerful, but brief blip before the blackout. There was scarcely anything to go on, except for the meager, garbled stream of data that squeaked its way through the disturbance.

In the beginning of a new space race, the loss of the frontier stations as Earth knew it, would crush mankind's ambitions to strike it out. People back on Earth decided no, that they can't fold so easily, not when they're starting so well.

They sent you to solve their problems for them. Welcome, Mission Commander Blake Hitches. From the dug-in Ceres station, it's off to Callisto.

Before the completion of the new refitted booster, you made a tense but workable, tentative peace with your former Mission Commander and not-so-forthcoming Shae Qenbek. You've been disclosed that the ship is not just going to survey and troubleshoot the beleagured Callisto station and get Europa's operations back online again, but that the ship has a payload for "extra measure". [1/?]

>Finally, we're back but now at the meat of things.
>>
>>44596176

>>Rules:

>>Generally, roll a 3d10 to beat a specified DC. I'm going to ease you into rolling more like this when the action heats up.
>>During write-ins, if your idea or course of action is unusual and clever, you can earn a Lightbulb --- similar to a Fate point for a reroll, or you can spend a Lightbulb for a hint/insight.
>>I can even award lightbulbs for ideas that come up during discussion between updates. Lightbulbs will carry over to future campaigns from this one, I guess?
>>But for now, there isn't really going to be farming lightbulbs by catching name references/puns, so take it easy with the names.
>>
[2/2]

YOU HEARD a piece of bad news on the way: A cosmonaut known to many was on-route to rotation to Callisto. His name was Mikhail Lebedev. He's been around the block and known by quite a few. During joint-nation training, you were introduced to him at Star City, the nickname for the Cosmonaut Training Centre. A lot of people eventually work with Lebedev up in space after training, and you were one to make fast friends with him.

Meanwhile, as your ship gets nearer and nearer now to Callisto, you've felt a nagging feeling again. The experimental "booster" was quite odd, but strangely effective to making a quick burn on the Callisto flight.

Overall, the new booster's mounts and cowling made your ship look more like a submarine more than ever, now with new vanes mounted on the main hull.

It started off with space seemingly rippling and splashing into many fine points of light in your wake, but it started to feel like your ship was starting to skim under water, seeing something brilliant, perhaps the beginning of something...faster than light. It was like reality was more pliable than ever, something the ship could perhaps, go beyond, if briefly.

For a split second, it's as if you stuck your head "underwater" and saw a new world underneath the surface.

As the ship rattles on, you feel something blink behind you. You even swear some of the lights flickered oddly.

[ ] Look at what's behind you. Maybe there's a pair of eyes burning into the back of your head?
[ ] Let's floor the experimental booster like it was meant to.
[ ] Maintain current speed
[ ] Do/Suggest some other idea/thing (This is a write-in option)
>>
>>44596363
>[ ] Let's floor the experimental booster like it was meant to.
better to work out the kinks now than when we need to run away
>>
>>44596413
>>[X] Let's floor the experimental booster like it was meant to.

Your fingers hover over the control panel, searching, reaching for the new controls for the booster, wherever it was again.

You look to Shae. "The boosters supposed to make us go faster than this, right?"

"I remember it so," she says.

The main controls for the booster were brought up to the screen. All indicators were working fine at 60%, and further up the gauge was just a faint indicator of a redline, or emergency power setting. It was so further up the gauge that it almost was a sliver to mittenlike, covered hands of an astronaut.

"This is where it gets crazy," you say, before cranking up the output, stopping almost a fair bit below the red.

It started with a lurch, but you're thrown back, the force burying yourself further in your seat. The ship roars forth, from mere spaceflight, to seemingly skimming its surface, and now, as if the ship was submerging into a totally alien ocean right below the blackness of space that you absolutely knew to be true.

For a moment, everything you saw out the viewport was an endlessly swirling brightness. You might begin to mistake seeing things, images formed from random swirls of this strange space.

In fact, it felt not like the nothingness of space, but a strange everything that might be like an ocean in itself.

Ahead, you thought you saw a great, but faint shadow in the distance, trying to touch something, seemingly poking in with one finger.

You blink, and it was gone.

[ ] Turn to look behind your seat.
[ ] I totally saw something.
[ ] I'm just tired but unused to this entirely new thing.
[ ] Do/Suggest some other idea/thing (This is a write-in option)
>>
>>44597102
>[] check to see if this experimental booster is about to fail on us anytime soon
>dial it back down to something that doesn't bury us in the seat
>[ ] Turn to look behind your seat.
>>
>>44597382
>[] check to see if this experimental booster is about to fail on us anytime soon
>dial it back down to something that doesn't bury us in the seat
>[ ] Turn to look behind your seat.

>Okay, this is sensible.

You reach out and dial back the output, and gradually, you can gradually see the fading in of the blackness of space.

With this chance to scratch your curiosity, you turn over to see what's behind you.

Behind you, is the bowels of a totally different ship and strangely you catch the glimpse of a man, who by all means, is out of place and time. Your eyes meet.

The ship's main cabin is as it always was.

Shae imitates you and looks behind. "What was it?" she asks.

"I just felt something was off, like someone was staring at behind me, just watching, and watching. "

"I don't think a door could be watching you," she says.

Callisto looms ahead. You and Shae adjust the ships' heading, and start to shave off speed to get closer into orbit. Soon, the ship comes into a comfortable orbit, but not without the lights going out in the cabin for a whole second before everything goes back to normal. A rearward camera of the booster indicates nothing, except for an odd, but faint rippling where the wake ought to be.

You pass overhead roughly where the Callisto base is, and you can make out a strange, massive structure jammed into one of the base buildings, almost like it wants to crack through to the frozen crust beneath. It's like a gigantic, bloated, metal coral stuck in there, with the base being the plant pot.

"Let's try for a radio call below," you suggest.

Nothing comes up, just static, and eventually a high pitched whine mixed up amongst the garbled noise coming in.

[ ] Send down one of the survey robots
[ ] Get the lander ready. Everyone for the surface mission and the payloads go in.
[ ] Double check by calling Ceres to see if there might be interference while in orbit.
[ ] Do/Suggest some other idea/thing (This is a write-in option)
>>
>>44597682
>[ ] Send down one of the survey robots
>grill Shae some more. If she refuses to tell us what this is about, is the surface team at least prepared to use the payloads and know what they're up against?
>>
>>44597958
>Writing.
>This is 2-3 things at once. This might be lengthier than usual.
>>
>>44597958

>Send down one of the survey robots
>Grill Shae some more. If she refuses to tell us what this is about, is the surface team at least prepared to use the payloads and know what they're up against?

The refitted long distance ship still retained its legacy bay doors when there was much more back and forth survey operations on Ceres as the base was being constructed. One of the Ceres station specialists, Stiles Prouse, forwarded the idea of using one of the bay doors to send out one of the sintered survey robots in a capsule ahead of the landing party.

One of the benefits of space mining via robots, and a nearby outpost is the capability, with a steady supply of water and material, to sinter together the raw material to build more of the construction robots. With a bit of help from a stocked supply of the more complex, Earth-sourced components and a bit of assembly work and elbow grease in a hermetically-sealed cleanbox, a robot of any role could be produced, almost ready to be sent out anywhere within transmission range.

In the case of the Callisto situation, Shae could only squeeze out roughly three minutes of intermittent footage. The robot wasn't getting fried, but sluggishly wheeling itself through the icy surface every couple of inches before sputtering and recieving more commands to keep going, or turn the camera over one way or the other way. Whatever interference is clouding over the moon, comes in fairly thick.

Inside the cabin, one of the other engineering specialists, Owen Currie, voices, "I guess calling back to Ceres is more of a crapshoot now than ever, is it?"

"It's possible to go back and forth out of reach of Callisto, but catching up to the moon's orbit every time would burn too much fuel for now," Shae says. [1/?]
>>
>>44598615


You turn to Shae. "So, do you finally have any idea what's going on down there, or what we're going to face?" you ask.

"I'm guessing that it could simply be a problem of a related test at Callisto. It could be that one of those faster than light experiments for communicating somehow did something else and sucked up a lot of matter, and now we get this metal hunk...'growing'... out of the base," she says. "Maybe there's some reactive material on Callisto that was never discovered until now, and just went crazy with the recent space travel experiments. We don't entirely know how much these things reach out into space, knowing that little acid trip and light show we had on the way here, right?"

"The rest?" she continues, "Would be a bunch of crackpot ideas that barely make any sense. It'd be as crazy as a hobo high off his ass." [2/?]
>>
>>44598757

From here on, the crew operating the ship would be a four man job, headed by Manny Roebuck, and the co-pilot doubling as counselor, Pike Sackett. You rally the surface team, with you and Shae included.

Behind the cabin were extra seats bolted to the walls. With the increase of manpower needed, they needed extra space for passengers more than just a rotation of one or two astronauts. Turns out eventually, that things turned from jokingly being referred to as a taxi service turned into a mini-bus.

The surface team's fire team leader, basically heavily armed space tourists with rookie astronaut experience (or so you've been briefed) was led by Mackey Pickster. From what you know, the operations director back on Earth dealt with a company called Strygist Solutions, that sourced this manpower somehow, instead of recruiting directly from military branches.

You give the signal to unbuckle and re-equip for an armed surface landing. From the cabin pressure suits, everyone switched into newer, plated EVA suits that, when worn, turned out to have more freedom of movement and some reasonable manner of combat-grade protection. The more familiar balloon-like suits for a landing were no longer worn, but an actual mechanical pressure suit underneath those outer environment protective layers.

There were capsules with the landers and the demolition payloads that were loosened from the belly of the main ship, and descended to the cold surface, set to land at a marked, hopefully safe distance away from the base.

[3/3]

>We'll stop here for now. We'll come back Friday night. Thanks!
>>
>>44599088
cool
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