Plot:Strange Visage

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Strange Visage - the soul of a ship

The Setup

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                   -< The star of Johannesburg >-
  
    Lost in the fall, the Star of Johannesburg was a luxury cruise 
    ship that catered to the elite of the universe who came to the
    Holy World on pilgrimage but still wished to travel in elegant
    style and graceful sophistry. A vessel held to be cutting edge 
    for it's time period, it boasted the luxuries and resources of
    a palace.   
 
    Gone for a thousand years, there comes a distress call as this
    ghost of the past lumbers out of the night, it's great engines 
    on maximum thrust as it plows it's way northward through rough
    seas to the south. This distress call has been heard quite far
    afield however. A kurgan Fusion Cruiser bears down on it, even
    as reports of a Sathrist ship changing course to intercept her
    come in. 
 
    What great prize may be aboard this vessel? What secrets might
    she hold? Can you get to her in time, before her ancient pumps 
    fail and she gives herself into the black abyss of the Midians  
    dark depths? 
 
                          FIND OUT TONIGHT! 
 
                          9PM EST, 6MP PST

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The approach

Flying low to the water, the pilot skims the waves in the Yathribi manufactured Albatross-class VTOL aircraft. With the engines swung down into position, it flies like an airplane, but when the engines rotate, the massive rotors can hold the aircraft in place in the air. "Now, if yuo look out the right side of the aircraft, you'll see... exactly nothing. Jack and shit. Thats because it's 200 miles to the shore of the antipodes. Take comfort though, for if you look off to the left... you won't see anything for 2000 miles."

Eleyne is really not an ideal passenger. She insists on being as close to the pilot as possible, all the better to get a handle on just how these atmosphere-only planes handle over the water in Yathrib. And incessantly asks questions about windspeed, shear, engine power, and anything else that comes to mind. The electronics that run the plane. Etc.

Katerine has a notebook in hand, scribbling pictures that are of the finest stick-man quality to be found on Yathrib, no doubt. It's a little stick man drama, one might surmise, with action sequences and everything as they assault a keep. Only...notes are written here and there, just short hand, that suggests its more than a little amusement. As the pilot speaks, Katerine looks up and out the window obligingly, inspecting the aqua nothing below, then craning her neck to look at the postage-stamp sized nothing on the other side. Her brow furrows. "You're right...pretty um...lonely out there." she agrees with the pilot.

"Well, I am certainly -impressed- by the vastness of this particular nothing. It is a most impressive nothing indeed," says Odette, thoughtfully. Her eyes are staring out at that nothing. "Oh yes," she adds, "Most impressive." YEs, a little sarcasm from the Amalthean. Just qa bit.

This transport represents Akko's send of assistance to the Antipodes, when Countessa-Palintine Noor requested assistance before the Kurgans or the Sathrists. The ship is broadcasting an ancient and fading distress signal indicating it is taking on water. The Pilot answers Eleyne in time, each question given answer at length. The woman is cute and he's got nothing else to do for the few hours it has taken to get here.

"Is this the coordinates?" Katerine asks the pilot. "Are we too late? Is the ship still broadcasting?" Katerine closes her notebook so she can twist a bit, and fill the window with her face.

"The ship is still broadcasting." Says the pilot, pointing out the windscreen to a tiny speck on the horizon, behind the setting sun. "You can see her there, still about 20 miles out.. And sorry kid, I don't know where she's been. I mean, you'd think in a thousand years if she was just drifting, someone would have seen her or she'd have run aground. If I had to guess, I'd say she was icebound in the southern reaches."

"Seems that way. I'm not seeing anything yet," says Odette, tilting her head. She grimaces, though, and picks up her medical bag. Unlikely as it is to see any use, she'd rather be ready for it. "Seems that way. I'm as ready as I'll ever be." When the pilot indicates where the ship might be, she leans over to have a look out over at it and adds, "You'd think," she agrees, "but apparently not."

Katerine puts down her notebook to rise from her seat, going to her bag of neat action stuff, and buckling on a harness. "Is it big enough you can land on?" Katerine asks the pilot. Surely, it is. Surely. "Sister, have you got your supplies ready?"

"I don't know that we'll find anyone alive after all this time," says Odette, "but I've everything I need to tend to any injuries we incur." She does give Katerine a polite nod of her head.

"Makes sense," Eleyne muses, taking a moment to check her blaster. "So what was it originally carrying? Or, you know, rumored to be carrying?" Reluctantly, she gives up on watching the controls, though she still watches the pilot. She can appreciate a tricky landing, at least.

"Survivors?" Asks the pilot, glancing over his shoulder. "Highly unlikely. Very old survivors. A thousand years or more!" he says with a laugh. "And yes... she's a very large ship, suggests the library at Akko. One of the most advanced of her day. Nearly fully automated, her crew was small and her luxuries large. What could be aboard? God. I don't know. I mean... when you travel, what do YOU take with you for a one year cruise in the second republic?"

"You'd be surprised by what Second Republic era technology can do," says Odette to the pilot, "If there's a way to've preserved any life aboard that ship, there's a chance that there may be some. I've read texts on their methods of perservation, handed down through the Sanctuary Aeon. Terrifying things best left forgotten, I assure you." She rubs an eye, then says, "But, yes. I am ready. Very, very ready."

"Descendents of survivors. Hey! It can happen. Besides, it's more for us since...you know. A ship adrift that long, something's gone wrong." Katerine adjusts the last strap with a jerk, then shoulders her pack onto her back, and grabs a handhold to make the last part of the journey in an upright position. Very upright. Unless the pilot says otherwise.

Eleyne grins at the pilot's answer, rubbing her hands together. "All the very best toys," she declares cheerfully. "So that curious people a thousand years later can take them all apart and put them back together again." Or, you know. That sort of wishful thinking, at least. "I've seen what people bring for a trip to Davros /now/. I can only imagine what they brought on pleasure cruises then."

The Star looms larger now - as you come closer. It's not a small ship, the sleek, ovoid lines of a second republic era cruise ship decernable even at a distance. She's probably 1500 feet long, the size of an air craft carrier of modern vintage. Unlike a modern cruise ship, her decks are not open to the air normally. The duraplast cocoon can be withdrawn to allow air access, but in bad weather the ship is sealed up - as she is now. The only access port appears to be the back docking port. The main door to the interior of the ship appears open, allowing access.

However...

The first thing one may notice is the fact that the ship is listing, hard. Keeled over forward and to the right, her propulsion jets have risen up out of the water and only occasionally dip low enough to provide the ship forward momentum. They will push this ship no further in only a few more minutes, based on the tilt of the ship.

Katerine has some ship experience. Not a captain by any means, but experienced enough in sea craft to see how dangerous the list is. She groans slightly. "Everyone grab a mae west and never take it off," she says. "The way it leans means there's a compartment in the front starboard section, probably in its bowels, that is taking on water. I suppose it could be worse, it could have been in the back where the entrance is."

"I'm glad we have at least one person who knows what all that means," says Odette, dryly, to Katerine. She pinches the bridge of her nose, hefts her bag over her shoulder, then says, "So... how do we get aboard?" She looks between the others.

Odette: Holy shit it's a 1500 foot long ship! And it looks broken! Your provincial background and then training on Artimis does not give you any sort of understanding of technology on this scale. You know it's probably sinking.'Italic text

Eleyne: You on the other hand, are familiar with propulsion systems in your world as a pilot and starfarer. Some important information will be paged... (That propulsion system generates incredible heat. The friction, the fusion? It's probably water cooled. But... what's not in the water anymore?')

"Doesn't look like we're going to have too terrivly long to do whatever there, though," says Odette, "Honestly, I'm not even sure it's safe to board. Chances are that it's going to sink right back beneath the waves." She adjusts her hat. "Why did I let you talk me into this again?" That's directed at Katerine, though with humor.

"Look at that beauty," Eleyne murmurs as they come within sight of the ship, sighing softly. "Can you imagine?" Absently, she rubs the fingers of one hand together, as though fiddling with a tool she doesn't have on hand. "Well, by the time it sinks, we might want some water," she muses to Odette. "That engine's got to be heating up like that. If we're lucky, it'll grind itself to a stop. If we're not, it could catch fire. Or explode. Depending on what's running it. Unless we could find a way to drain or seal wherever it's taking on water. Maybe. That might be wishful thinking."

"Well my preference, if it can hold it, is to land on the dome and then get down to that back entrance from there. Our other choice I suppose would be to dangle under the flitter and try to just...hit the hole just right. But that's the bruisy way." Katerine says, reaching into her bag. Either way, they are going to need some rope.

"My lady, Amaltheans do not -dangle-," says Odette, stiffening.

The Albatross converts from fight to hover - the massive engine pods rotating upward. The aircraft slips lower, then sidling sideways in the air... "oh my." says the pilot, bringing on the spotlights. The small flying boat (A pontoon aircraft) rests in the water, tied to the ships tilted hanger deck. "Anyone invite friends? I can't land in there, but I can hover long enough for you to get aboard..."

"Given the condition of the motors, I'm guessing our friends are the ones who opened the hatch," Eleyne suggests, though she wrinkles her nose at the sight of the pontoon. "It's a big ship, though. Plenty of space to move around and avoid each other. We'll give you a call when we're ready to go?" she grins to the pilot, apparently unconcerned about company.

"Looks like we dangle, then, Sister." Katerine says with a slight smirk. She plays out the line then opens the door, the turbulence outside from the hovering jets suddenly deafening, making everything that is not held securely whip violently about, including Katerine's red hair braid. She ties the rope end to a secure place, threads the rope through some other harnesses, and ties the other end securely to her own harness. Katerine indicates with her hands that the others should get into theirs, then shouts to the pilot, "I'll go down first, then hover at an angle and take up the slack so they can slide down it!" Who knows if she was heard? Then she uses the rope to hang out the door way, then jumps. Within moments, she's out of sight and there's just ocean, with a rope leading to it.

When the pilot notices that, Odette's eyes snap to the small pontoon boat. How did she miss that? She's already obviously cursing herself on the matter. "Perfect," she remarks. She pulls some gloves -- thick ones -- out of her bag and slides them over her hands. "Ready as I'll ever be for this." She is clearly not looking forwad to it. At all.

Dangle is something the Baroness apparently does well. Who knew? Well Kat knew. But who else? She lets herself down slowly, using her own thigh as a friction stop, letting the rope through at times so she can drop, and holding it tight to slow her rate...until she's about the right height to make the back port. Then its just a matter of dangling and swinging till she can catch something and climb aboard. Once that is done, she unfastens her rope and secures the line with three loops around one rail, then two loops around another. Then she holds the very end, figuring this to be enough leverage to hold while the others slide down, yet she can still let go should something go wrong.

Eleyne watches as Katerine sets the line, though she seems more interested in the ship than the process of getting there. "Catch you later," she calls over her shoulder to the pilot with a light-hearted salute, stepping side to make room for Odette. "Go ahead, Sister," she nods to the other woman. "I'll come up behind."

The harness is slid into position on Odette's frame. It takes some adjusting. She's short, after all, and a little on the wider side for her frame. After much finnagling and grumbling about this, she shoots the line a dour look and begins to make her descent -- controlled -- muttering somethings that are almost certaiunly most UnAmalthean on her way down. When she reaches the bottom of the line, she is dabbing her forehead with handkerchief and more than a little pale.

The Logistics Deck

Futurecruise.jpg

Katerine was actually hoping Eleyne would come down first, so she could help hold the rope for the heavier sister. But...no. Katerine grimaces and braces her foot on the rail, pulling with all her strength till the sister lands. Katerine looks relieved, and smiles. "Welcome aboard, Sister. Help me hold this..."

The small aircraft bears no known markings - but it's of native design. Alas, none of you are local aircraft experts. The ship's engines are providing power, giving auxuillry power to the lighting system. Things are at about half power, with warning lights - red lights that flash - giving the sense that something is very wrong. "30 minutes until bouyency loss."

Eleyne zips down after Odette, having less difficulty with the process than the Amalthean. "Damn," she murmurs at the ship's announcement. "Not long enough to hope to fix things before it goes under. Best be quick about the whole looking around bit."

"Uh... that does not sound good. Is there anything we -can- do in the amount of time we have?" says Odette, "And no doubt whoever is here already -knows- we're here. There's no way they could've missed our entrance." She looks up above then, then back and around again, worriedly. "Oh dear."

Katerine watches as Eleyne assess the flying boat, biting her lower lip. "Can you fix it quickly? She eyes the entrance to the listing cruiser, almost longingly. But this ship... "What do you need?" Katerine uncoils the rope that leads to the flitter they came in on so it can go where it must unhampered, leaving the long line hanging.

"Lead the way. My preferences are a general desire to avoid dying in a firefight or a drowning in a listing ship when it finally capsizes," says Odette, quietly, "We weren't the only ones to get the signal, though, it seems. Or maybe they've been here longer than us. Maybe they sent the signal." SHe's looking at Katerine and Eleyne, hoping either one of them will know what to do here.

"I don't even know what it runs on," Eleyne shakes her head to Katerine. "If we had a few hours just to fiddle with it I might be able to figure it out, but in half an hour? We'll be lucky to find the control room and get back out in time. Best we go ahead and get a quick look and grab what we can before it goes down."

"Allright, lets hurry." And Katerine doesn't really wait for them to organize or agree or anything, but instead heads inside.

"Damn, and I was hoping to get to the hospital ward," muses Odette, with a sigh, as she hikes her robe and hurries after them.

The ship shudders - a ripple running through it that comes just before a groan that reverberates throughout the vessel. "Watertight compartments 1, 2, 3 and 4 are flooded. Bulkhead doors between compartments 4 and 5 are failing. Rupture in 10 minutes."

Eleyne tilts her head at the announcement, a snap in her step. "Bridge?" she suggests. "We can look for the signal, I can see if there's any way to purge those compartments, and we can see if there's anything to pick up on the way."

As the voice speaks, soft and eerily calm amid the groaning chaos and impending doom (why don't they ever record panicked voices to deliver these messages?) Katerine groans aloud. "Ten minutes!" she complains.She glances back at her companions while picking up the pace. "As the communications center is likely to be up, and the cargo hold is likely to be down, and flood sooner, should we go down first, then go to the bridge later?" Katerine starts to run now, but pauses at the stairs.

"Oh, this just i getting better and better," says Odette, giving a nod to Eleyne. "To the bridge. QUickly, then." And she's going as fast as she can, really.

Katerine sighs and nods. "I expect we will find it is automated...probably a system of the ship, doing its last duty." she answers, but heads up the stairs.

"Ten minutes until another compartment floods," Eleyne clarifies to Katerine. "I'm guessing our friends have gone to the cargo hold. Let's see if we can buy a little time and get something more interesting first. Maybe we'll miss them on the way out."

The logistics deck. Katerine notices.... it's strangely stocked. This ship had what.. 5,000 people aboard? Why are all the small craft still in their docks? The life-pods are not launched. Odette notices a computer terminal is powered up - showing a map of the ship and red-zones marked on it, showing where is flooded - and where is about to flood.

But Eleyne spots a workmans pad - a dataterminal that is wireless and portable. The kind of thing a worker would not misplace if he had the option - and picks it up. On it, is a map of the ship she can use to navigate.

"Look there," says Odette, lifting her chin in the direction of the terminal. "That has to be a map, don't you think? It's a bit.. oh dear. Those red marks must mean the flooded areas, don't you think?" he glances over her shoulder at the others "Huh." A pause

Eleyne scans the deck, and promptly takes several swift steps toward something left on a table. "Why, hello, lovely," she coos to the tablet, tapping her fingers across the surface with a light, reverent touch. "Map," she announces after a brief moment, turning it to the others. "And possibly something to control a few things."

"Huh. A pause. "Everyone's still here. Or at least, no one's left. Either this is one amazing party ship, or something really bad happened..." She falls silent, thinking up possible scenarios for why a passenger would die on a ship without even trying to escape. Then to Eleyne, "Great! Lets get going. The minutes tick!"

Odette's eyes are drwan to the pad and she looks quite pleased by that find. "Oh, good," she says, with a relief. "Yes, let's get moving. Drowning is not high on my list of priorities."

The ship tilts forward, then settles a bit lower in the water, metal groaning as the players make their way to the only way up - the ladder-shafts for engineering. There's no functioning elevators at this level, so the tilted ladders is it. NOw, if Eleyne wants to access the ships manifest, it will be wits + think machine required.

You paged Eleyne with 'Alas, you are unable to figure out how to access the other programs at this time. Map works though!'

Eleyne taps through a few more options, lagging behind the others as she tries to access a manifest. "They must have kept records of some sort," she mutters, circling back to the map to double-check the ladder of choice.

Katerine tries to climb the ladder, though the hard list helps none at all. Then her backpack of goodies shifts with the lean of the boat, , the shift in gravity being the last straw for Katerine, whose feet fall away from the rung first. She dangles for a few moments till her fingers seem to turn to water, all slippery. Or maybe it is the ladder that betrayed. In either case, after a few moments suspension in mid air, the baroness falls to the floor with an "oof!" then tumbles and rolls down the uneven deck till she finds a suitable wall to brace her. "That wasn't fun." she declares.

Ladders. Why did it have to be ladders? That's what Odette's long, sad expression reads for a moment. SLowly, she eaches out to grab hold of the first rung, and then the next rung. The listing of the ship makes an already hard job even harder. She begins to scale them up, a bit at a time, losing precious moments as she struggles. Poor girl. Life aboard a ship is just not what she was made for. There's a lot of 'oof' and 'urgh' and 'ow, my hand' and 'I hope I got my lockjaw vaccination' muttered as she climbs, miserably, behind the others.

"No. No, that was not funm," she grumbles.

Eleyne looks up at the stumbling. "Is it broken?" she asks in an impressive show of obliviousness. Hey, she has a shiny toy here. She totally missed stumbles. Feel free to blame the ladder.

Katerine tries the ladder again, going more carefully this time. But, unfortunately, the ladder really does betray this time, and Katerine falls backwards, hitting poor Odette on the way down. Katerine groans on the floor now, and gets up more slowly this time, favoring her wrist. "Ow...sorry Sister Odette." the baroness says with true remorse. "Maybe we should not go up after all. Eleyne, is there another way? Or perhaps we should just try a different route. We still have no idea why all the escape equipment would still be here, nor why the other ship appeared to be failing. But maybe they are related."

"GAH," is Odette's response as she is nearly smothered by Katerine falling on her. SHe's short, after all. "Are you all right?" she calls down, immediately. "Get up here, quickly. There's no time to be wasting and I'll have a look at you when reach me." She's finally at the top of the ladder, having dangled (sigh) precariously for a moment when Katerine slammed into her. Dangled by one hand.

Apparently, they are quite good at it, those Amaltheans.

Eleyne doesn't actually wait for an answer to her question before she's back to the tablet, frowning slightly as her fingers dance over the screen. "Counter-intuitive interface," she mutters under her breath. At the clamor at the ladder, she looks up again, blinking a few times. "Right. So, not finding a manifest here. Maybe it's corrupted." That's a better reason than 'I can't find it.' "That's the quickest way," she adds to Katerine.

"All right, then..." Katerine says, sighing. "Wish I had more rope. Or hadn't left mine with the flitter. Otherwise Odette could help pull us up." Katerine makes another try, locking her elbows around each rung. It wastes time, yes, but surely she can make it up now.

The Promenade Deck

The mid deck. Here, the ladders dead end, the industrial section of the ship 'over'. Opulence, as you come into the main entertainment area. It's... like walking into the Las Vegas Strip, with neon signs, restaurants and other entertainment venues lining the long deck, a central plaza running through it. Lights flash, music plays... and there is not a soul to be seen. A dead ship with a beating heart.

Eleyne cradles the pad carefully as she climbs the ladder, brows rising when they enter the promenade. "Pity this is going down," she murmurs. "Almost feels like home."

Katerine holds up her right hand. "Just a few bruises," she reports, and this is throbbing something terrible." the woman reports stoically. Surely its an injury that can wait.

"Good," is what Odette says to Katerine. A glance is giving towards Eleyn, then, skeptical. Very skeptical. Then at Katerine again. "Come on, then. To the bridge. We've lost a lot of time already and I, for one, am intent on not dying on this ship." She repeats it. It must be a meditative mantra for her.

"Well this is creepy." Katerine says, looking things over carefully as she hurries along., but also pausing to eye the flashy things, the gift shops...the vintage clothing... "More I see the more I want to know what happened."

"Also sinful," Eleyne assures Odette. "Very sinful. Our duty to shoulder the sin for the good of all." Cough. Oh look, map. Let's figure out how to get to the bridge.

"PLAY THE PROPHETS BINGO!"

"THE HUMBLE LION'S FEAST!"

"THE HOLY HARLOT FOR SINNING AND GRINNING!"

Godless second republic... it's all around you. A high lifestyle, clean living and elegance mixed with the most crass and base consumerism one can imagine.

Katerine coughs just a bit as she reads some of the signs and marquis, and continues more stoically, holding her bad wrist to keep it warm and help stretch it gently. "Lets see if we can find a captain's log to find out what happened. Though, I suppose they could have sinned themselves to death."

"... oh, you have got to be kidding me," complains Odette as the signs begin to become apparent, "There are so many things I could -get- from this place. So many technicals. The mission could use them," she hisses with aggravation (not Aggravaintion. That's totally -different- and involves more fire. as she scans the ship.

"Stay on task. We need to get to the bridge and find the source of the signal, and why it wa ssent out -now-. Something brought this ship back to the surface."

"Do you think the Prophet was particularly good at bingo?" Eleyne wanders past a sign, then focuses on the map again. "Just this way. Best keep moving," she adds, looking around with more purpose, as though to check for leaks.

"Well I imagine the log will be on the bridge, unless there's something in that thing..." Katerine indicates the pad in Eleyne's hand. "Wait. What? Back to the surface?"

"I'm sure," says Odette, making the sign of the jumpcross, "that the prophet was good at anything he set his mind to with virtue and purpose. He is, after all, the Prophet." She's still walking along with the others. "IF you say so. I don't know the first thing about ships or logs or what have you, though I did read a few books like the Travels of Captain Winters and what not. I suppose thoese were off his logs and.. oh, never mind." She's following Eleyne's directions as quick as she can.

Moving through the promenade, the group tries to ignore the consumerism and the growing sense of dread. The ships tilt becomes more pronounced, making it harder to walk. A rack of tee-shirts groans - then starts to roll slowly across the floor, squeeking as it does so.

"How are we even going to get out of this thing?" asks Odette, worriedly, as the groan and tilt continues to get worse.

'I went to Yathrib and all I got was the this sinful Tee-shirt' - the image of Paulus smiles from behind the text, offering a big cheery thumbs-up.

"At a dead run, I'd imagine," Eleyne murmurs to Odette, breaking into a slow jog to move more quickly through the promenade. "If we don't get where we're going in five minutes, I think we're going to have to turn back if we want to be sure we make it out."

"Pop the dome I'd say is our best chance. By the time we are ready to leave, it will be listing so badly that it will make the ladder seem like a game. I mean, the entrance will be out of the water, but we won't be able to get to it. We will probably have to make a hole." Katerine pauses to look at the t-shirt, and grabs one and stuffs it in her bag. And that leads her to an idea. She starts looking for anything that will serve as rope along the way.

"Oh, yes. I am quite good at running," remarks Odette. "The sooner this place is consigned to the bottomn, the better," she utters, casting a aggrieved glance at the t-shirt in question.

Intermission

[OOC] Jerusalem says "One of you - I don't care whitch - please summarize the events and happenings of our last adventure. Don't skimp on details."


A lost ship floats helpless on the pristine blue waves, listing softly to starboard now, but not for long as he is taking on water. Even now her propulsion engine spends more time out of the water than it it, as the giant craft, as big as a aircraft carrier, tries to take a swan dive into the deep. The duraplast dome canopy that sits over the top like a second sky, normally kept shut only in inclement weather and emergencies, is sealed tight.

Inside, three intrepid adventurers are making their way to the cabin, in hopes of finding a way to stabilize the ship, or perhaps just discover what has happened to the crew and passengers...who so far have been no where in sight. But the computer functions, apparently, keeping everything clean and in working order, almost. Right now, the three are on the shopping promenade, the Amalthean snubbing her nose at the sin and decadence around every corner, while Katerine has pocketed what may be the only souvenir from this potential disaster; a lousy t-shirt. Minutes are counting before the next compartment floods. They must hurry!

Also, the other big souvenir from this trip so far, a think pad, which Eleyne has trouble interfacing with. But hey. who among us can code in Pascal? Not many. Not many.

The Prominade Deck Part II

And Odette is looking quite aggrieved by all the sin she's surrounded with! Especially Katerins's naked souveneir grabbing! "Don't let any inquisitors see you wiht htat," she informs her. "And let's -hurry-. Please! " At least they're making good time, now.

You know.

Since there aren't anymore accursed ladders.

A curious thing, as the explorers move down the promenade. They come to the more 'historical' section of the ship. And there is the familiar image of Paulus, but he's callled 'The Explorer - Paul Deveroux' and there is Lextius, but he's called 'The Noble - Lucas Kaimbi'... and there is Mantius, but he is called 'The Mercenary - Avram Manchewitz'... Such odd names the Second Republic gave our saints...

Eleyne glances toward the displays, curious, but continues pressing forward. Every now and then she taps something on the pad, but she's not stopping long enough to really dig into while the ship is sinking. And they have places to be.

"How odd..." Katerine says with wonder. "How...odd." She reaches into her bag to quickly find a holorecorder take a few snapshots of the images. Also, if there are pamphlets or other souvenir type items of this more reverent bent (if strange) she grabs a few of those, sighing. "I surely hope that we can stabilize the ship. I could spend a long time here, looking." Enough of this. Katerine hurries toward the bridge.

"Well, I'll leave the call as to whether or not we can stabilize it to the people who actually know a thing or two about stabilizing ships," ODette is giving Eleyne a hopeful look. Back and forth between her and Katerine as she hurries along on her short legs. "Alternate titles for the Saints," she hmphs. "More proof of decadence and sin." A nod.

As the group passes deeper still, heading to the front of the ship which is almost underwater, the only access to the bridge.. they pass a glass pillar. As they come closer, it lights up - and all round it, a holographic image springs up, showing a jumpweb. While only a few worlds are shown in detail, there is the impression of several -hundred- worlds... they are out of focus, the names almost legible, but not quite. They are not the focus, as this holographic display shows the prophets travels... "In 2723, nearly 1300 years ago, Zebulon the Prophet received the holy vision on Yathrib, and with Paul Deveroux, set out on his voyage of peace and discovery. His message of our holy flame resonates with us to this day."

"Different names are sinful? Because people just...love to rub them over their skin like silk?" Eleyne arches a brow at Odette. "Oh, /names/. I just want to collect them all and-" For all she's shown little interest in the other things around them so far, when the pillar lights up with the web, she stops short as though she walked into a wall, staring.

Out of the three, perhaps the most ignorant to the vastness of space and the known worlds is Katerine, who pauses transfixed at the glass pillar, gazing at the perceived depths of space, the various worlds with their spidery linkages...all leading back to Yathrib, which is highlighted. It gives a little perspective about some things...both political and religious, for the Baroness. Finally, after so much precious time has passed, she blinks and comes out of her reverie, noting how Eleyne has also been transfixed. "Come on. Come on! It is trying to lure us to our deaths! Keep moving!" Katerine doesn't even wait for a response, and grabs Eleyne and Odette by the hand, pulling them along.

"Indeed. We could get lost for hours in this place, exploring, losing sight of the immediate dangers before us. You know, like a falling republic," remarks Odette with some sarcasm, hurrying along with hte others. Then she adds to Eleyne, "They can be sinful, yes. Can. Not necessarily -are-, but this entire ship is drenched with it." She grimaces. KEEP MOVING. Just keep on movin'.

Moving down the slope of the ship now - the sound of trickling water can be heard. It's a startling sight to come to the forward section of the ship - and see the ocean. Right there, lapping at the top deck of the ship's external canopy. So strong, it holds back the water, but the damage is so far below you that it cannot be stopped by the canopy... only delayed. The way to the bridge is up the main elevator system shaft, a column at the bow that runs the entirety of the ship. "Warning. Critical failure of Emergency Pump Number 1. Reaction in all fusion generators now offline. Battery backups at 20 percent. Hull breach on deck 3, Compartments 1, 2, 3 and 4. Buoyancy failure in 20 minutes."

That damn voice sounds so... CHEERY.

"But the stars!" Eleyne stumbles a few steps when Katerine drags her away, looking mournfully back at the pillar and the fuzzy map. So many places! She's not going to fight to go back, though, following and eventually turning her attention back to actually moving. "Okay," she says at the latest announcement. "No way I'm getting fusion generators online by myself in twenty minutes. Sorry, ladies, I'm good, but I'm not that good. Best we get what we can and make a run for it."

"Oh, look," says Odette. "An elevating machine." She begins to approach it, inspecting it herself. A glance over her shoulder back at the others. "I don't suppose they work. So far, nothing *else* has worked well." She pinches the bridge of her nose.

The Repulsor Lift

The bridge tower is clearly visible (along with the lapping waves) straight ahead. Kat doesn't have to be a seasoned sailor to know what it is and what it's for. She hurries now to the turbolift, trying to figure it out. Buttons...buttons...Katerine doesn't know what to do.

You paged Eleyne with '1: power to the elevators is on. 2: That control panel has been fucked with. Boobytrapped, looks like. You can tell by the pixels and boobytrapping a few elevators in your time. Whoever is up there does not want to be followed, it seems. That's a good reason, usually, to follow them. If you activate the elevator without disarming, it's possible anything could happen.' You paged Eleyne with 'I mean, think about all the shit on this boat that could be triggered with a simple 'on/off' toggle.'

Eleyne moves toward the elevator, though it's her turn to reach out to pull people back after the first look. "Don't touch that," she says sharply. "That's been tampered with. And not pleasantly." Grimacing, she moves closer to the pad to get a better look. "Let me see if I can undo it. Unless you all want to make a break for it now."

"Tampered?" says Odette, her voice sharpening suddenly. "What do you mean 'tampered'?" Now she's scanning the immediate area more carefully, checking for any signs that they might be being watched.

"Make a break for what? What's been done to it?" If the thing has been tampered with...Katerine looks up and around, taking note now of the high spaces and places for watching.

It doesn't take a high tech education to know that little the little box that points at you from the high angle up there in the plastic dome is PROBABLY a camera. Or a gun. Probably a camera though. Is it on? Hard to say. Only Katerine can see the little red light on the side of it is 'on'.

"Trapped somehow, most likely," Eleyne murmurs to the question, though she doesn't look up from the panel. "Trouble is, there are any number of things on this ship it could be linked to. If we were lucky, it'd be something like the fusion reactors, which are already offline, but I can't say without taking a closer look, which is likely to take time."

Prickles rise on Katerine's skin, as she notes what hangs above. She looks away suddenly, making sure she faces away from the camera so no one can read her lips. "We're being watched," she says quietly. Then she cranes her neck upward to try to look in any windows in the bridge tower. Then she glances back at the creepy camera. "I'll bet whoever is watching is watching from up there. Can you open the door?"

"Is that what that is? A camera?" Odette's angle and height prevents her from getting too good a look at it. She stps to the side, then says, "Unsurprising, I suppose. When you trap something like this, you want to know the results. That means they don't want us to get to the bridge." She's looking increasingly uncomfortable.

"Maybe it means someone is holed up in there, and doesn't want anyone...bad...coming up. Or if they do, they want to know." Katerine counters.

You paged Eleyne with 'Alright. First thing you notice - is someone already -tried- to disarm this. The second is the trap looks like they routed engine exhaust into the main elevator tube, which would have been VERY BAD had the reactors been online. The third is... this trap was set a thousand years ago. So while someone tried to disarm the trap within the last hour... they didn't -set- it. But you disarm it easilly. Give me a disarming pose.'

"I can try." Eleyne answers Katerine. Despite the hesitation in her tone, there's a faint curve to her lips, a smile of anticipation. Risk-filled opportunity to fiddle with machinery! That's the best!

It takes a few moments, but not too long. "This is old work," Eleyne notes at one point. "This was...probably from when this thing disappeared. Someone else has been at it, but didn't figure it out. Ah, there," she grins. "They /did/ use the engines. Which are out now. I suppose that's one good thing about it."

Odette leans closer. While she no doubt does not share Eleyne's expertise -- at all -- she does have some training in technicals on account of her time spent on Aretemis.

The doors -hiss-... and then slide open. The lift is there, as pristine as the day it was last closed. The camera watches blankly.

Katerine gives another guilty look up at the camera, then on a whim, waves. She steps inside. Only then does she murmur, "You two are geniuses. What's good about them using the engines?"

"The engines are down," Eleyne shrugs. "They had it rigged to blow the exhaust from the engines into the shaft here. Which would have been very bad for anyone coming up here at the time. But since the engines are out, it's a little less of a threat."

"Hardly a genius, my lady," says Odette, "Merely amply trained in certain principles for operating technicals back on Artemis, as well as trying to keep together some of the things that keep people alive here on Yathrib. There's a lot of missing bits and bobs that ran out over the centuries the holy world was lost to us." She glances back over her shoulder. "They have to be aware we're here. We should expect company any time."

The music is a choice that likely noone recognizes. It's Beethoven. The Ode to Joy, as done in easy listening. "Please state your destination." Comes the cheery voice in the lift. "And may I say, it is a pleasure to serve you, Pilgrims."

"Uhm," says Odette, "Is this thing voice activated? Do I just say 'bridge'?" says Odette. Oh dear. She did say 'bridge'.

"Bridge Level is restricted to command crew. Are you command crew?" Asks the voice.

"Well I...guess its fortunate then." Katerine says sighing. As the cheery computer voice speaks, Katerine is surprised once again. "Uhmmmm..." But Odette says it first.

Katerine speaks up again, this time to the disembodied voice. "Yes!"

"Verifying. Please hold."

Captain Crews: lifesigns terminated 3-23-4001."

"Commander Paulson: lifesigns terminated 3-23-4001."

"Lt. Michels: lifesigns terminated 3-23-4001."

What follows is a long list of command officers who all died on the same day. A thousand years ago.

"Comsat verification system is non-operational. Verification of credentials impossible. Please provide your command code, Captain."

"Captain," Eleyne adds cheekily. She is /a/ captain.

"Any crew person could, conceivably, be considered a captain by default if they survived the death of the rest of the crew, right?" asks Odette, glancing towards Eleyne, "That belonged to one of the crew-men. Can you claim to be him?" She nods towards the datapad, her voice a raspy whisper.

"Worth a try," Eleyne murmurs to Odette, turning the pad to check for anything that might count as credentials.

Katerine is...annoyed. And alarmed. She looks at the datapad and winces. "Thing is, the thing probably knows when the owner of the datapad died too. Three twentythree, umpteen thousand years ago. Give it a try."

"Three Two Three One Zero Zero Zero. Command code received. Welcome aboard Captain."

The lift starts to move, heading upward in a noiseless, frictionless rise of repulsor plates.

"Well," says Odette, rather startled, "I must say that was rather succesful. Well done," she adds to Katerine, solemnly.

Eleyne pauses, looking up from the pad. "Or any numbers. That'll do." Who is she to complain?

As the lift silently... lifts, the voice continues. "I should alert you, Captain, that there are unauthorized persons on the bridge. It is a pleasure to serve you, but I am afraid I will be unable to do so for long. They are trying to tamper with my neural matrix. They are killing me, Captain. I do not wish to die."

"...neural whatsit?" says Odette, after a moment. There's a growing look of dread on her face.

Katerine looks at the others, and blinks. "What are they trying to do? Who are they? How long have they been tampering?"

"Artificial intelligence." Eleyne checks her blaster, drawing it to hold it at the ready. "Though why they'd be in the AI rather than something more functional...Ship, is the tampering what caused the mechanical failures?" she asks, looking up.

"They are trying to remove my core processors. I cannot identify them. 28 minutes, 20 seconds." The questions are answered directly and eloquently. "The man who appears to be in charge speaks for someone called the King of Jezraal. I do not have a reference for this person in my databanks."

You paged Katerine with 'Jazraal. You know that name. It rings in your head. Why? Why? And then it hits you. Jazraal is the capitol of the Sathrist Kingdoms of Chermosh. The men on the bridge are trying to loot ancient high tech - the brain of this ship. Why? Whatever it is.. it -cannot- be good.'

Katerine draws her weapon. She's never without at least one... "Sister, do you have a weapon? I probably have a hammer in my pack, if nothing else." Katerine thinks...thinks...oh the music is annoying! Oh! "Ohhhhh! Jazraal is a Sathraist city! King of...not good. Not good. Katerine hides to one side of the door for cover, for when it slides open."

"Core process..." That growing look of dread on Odette's face is further compounded by the revelations of the identity of the individual here make her blanch even more. "Oh -bollocks-," she mutters. "I... have an elixir injector?" she says, taking a step back away from the door with big, big amber eyes.

"I don't think elixir is going to do it, sister," Eleyne points out, though she seems unphased by the identity of those already on the bridge. "Core processors would have all the ship's information. They could take them apart at will from the safety of their own homes. For all the good it would do them once it's on the bottom of the ocean, at least."

"Captain." Says the voice. "I do not wish to die. They are killing me, Captain. Killing me. Killing me. Killing me. It hurts. Hurts. Hurts. Hurts." The ship shudders violently, the lift almost coming to a stop. "Battery power at 15 percent. Port side thruster has overheated and suffered catastrophic discharge." That means 'exploded "Severe damage to decks 1, 2 and 3, sections Y and Z. Open to the atmosphere."

You paged Eleyne with 'Deck 1 is usually the very bottom, so a large chunk of the rear of the ship below the waterline has just blown out - but that section was raised in the air anywya.'

"Well get us on the bridge and we'll take care of it!" Katerine says sharply, more out of stress than annoyance or anger.

Katerine calms herself, and half unslings her backpack to help Odette get it open. "Here you go..." Then louder, to the computer, "Close sections Y and Z. Seal off every deck and um...turn off the lights on the bridge." She looks at the others, shrugging.

"Please verify: Terminate emergency lighting on the command deck."

"Open to atmosphere might be our only way out," Eleyne notes, taking a look at the thinkpad under her arm and sighing softly. "Mind if I slip this into your bag?" she asks. "And unless you've got night-vision in there, we might want to be able to see, too."

"Please verify: Terminate emergency lighting on the command deck. I am required to advise you of Republic Nautical Regulation 302.01 Subsection B, paragraph A as regards emergency lighting requirements aboard this vessel."

"Yes! Turn off emergency lighting on the command deck!" She pauses, uncertain. "Special emergency situation, only temporary." Katerine argues with the damned computer.

"...can you see in the dark? I can't," ODette has drawn her scalpel. It's meager, but it's all she's got. The other weapon is probably best off in the hands of someone less likely to accidentally shoot someone or stab the wrong person. But it's what she's got. She does take the moment to load her exicir injector.

"Confirmed. Terminating emergency lighting. Mind the gap."

Katerine glances to Odette and Eleyne. "Well they need light too. And the difference is, we can control it coming back on. They can't. I hope. Don't you think they need light to take out that core whasisthingy?" Katerine holds open her bag for Eleyne to put the pad in. "I can't promise its safety."

The Command Deck

And then the doors hiss open... into pitch blackness. "Marc! Is that you? Who the hell turned out the lights?" Asks one gruff voice. "Goddamn it!" Says another. "How long do we have?" "Not long enough! Fuck! Get the fusion torches out!" Those are 'flashlights'.

"Well, it's that or under my belt, and the pack's probably better," Eleyne smiles ruefully to Katerine, settling in with her blaster as the doors open and shifting to one side to take a little cover behind it.

Katerine does mind the gap, feeling for it with her feet while she holds on to the wall, then straddles it to help her adventuremates not fall. All of this without a word, and hopefully without detection from the others. "Shoot behind every light." she whispers.

"Tell them you've got command of the ship. Tell them to surrender their weapons immediately or face extreme sanction?" She's hoping to con them into surrender, it seems, even as she sinks back into the elevator and tries to make herself even smaller.

(Yeah, right. She's a hippy target.)

One fusion torch clicks on, the halogen blue LED coming online with a shaft of pure light that startles one man - his face illuminated. "Goddamn it Marc!" Says an unseen voice. "Don't point it at your fucking face!"

"Sorry Remy." Says the illuminated man. "Hey." A pause. "Do you feel a draft?"

"Probably the AC kicking off. Don't fuck with it. Just get that core out so we can pop the hatch and get the fuck out of here."

Floating face over there, disembodied voice over here. Katerine selects the harder target, trying to judge his location by centering on the voice, imagining a body to go with it. As she hears Eleyne's shot, she fires also.

Eleyne doesn't seem inclined to negotiate about putting things down or turning on the lights. Or anything, really. Once the light goes on and displays a target, she fires off a shot.

The shot from Katerine rings out a half heartbeat behind Eleyne's blaster. Muzzle flashes light up the interior in a quick strobing effect, illuminating five men - one of which cries out as half his face disapears beneath fusion generated plasma. "Arrgahh!" He says, clawing at his face as he drops the fusion torch. It spins around in the air, then hits the ground and rolls down the sloped floor to he low point.

"Weapons fire detected on command bridge. Hostile action against crew detected. Captain - Should I deploy security troops?" Asks the computer.

"That's right," says Odette, swiftly, after the sound of the gunfire, ears covered with her hands. "You're surrounded by a superior force -- your traps were a simple matter to pass. If you want to live, you'll drop your weapons and torches and kick them over to the sound of my voice -- immediately!"

(Sadly, Odette's raspy, small voice is not enough to really convince them of anything.)

"Yes! Deploy security!" Katerine says, immediately relocating so no one can try to do to her what she just tried to do to Remly...or whatever his name is. Not that she really thinks there is any security left, but hey. Katerine skids down the floor to the low point, hoping to catch the torch and turn it on the enemy, though it makes her a target.

"No!" Eleyne says at the same time Katerine says yes. "No security!" She's lingering in the shelter offered by the elevator, searching out another target.

"RED ALERT. ALL SECURITY TO GENERAL QUARTERS." comes the command from the computer as small hovering spheres, much like Jerusalem's hover-camera come dropping down from the ceiling. Lights play over the interior of the command deck, and then gunfire rings out - a drone erupts into sparks and light as it crashes down. "EXTERMINATE." Says a pair of drones, moving to attack the four men firing. "DEFEND CREW. YOU ARE NOT RECOGNIZED AS CREW. HOSTILE ACTION HAS BEEN TAKEN. LETHAL FORCE AUTHORIZED."

"...thay may not be such a good idea," hisses Odette to Katerine. She definitely did not want security, but well, -she's- the captain. Apparently. She then sinks back even more into the corner. "Oh, this is -so- not good."

Katerine shines her light this way and that, trying to get a handle on where each of the crewmen are situated, and her own friends. Then, after taking aim with the flashlight on Odette, she raises up and throws it, hard and long, letting it arc and twist in the air (and hopefully not hitting Odette in the face) "Ship, do not harm passengers Odette or Eleyne," she commands. Hopefully the drones are taking out the Sathraists, but Katerine keeps firing, counting on the computer not identifying her as hostile.

When the drones break out, Eleyne promptly lowers her blaster, not counting on the computer not to identify her as a hostile. Besides, the drones seem to have shooting the place up covered.

THe flash light skitters to a stop in front of Odette. Fancy throw there!

That's pretty great ,right there! Odette quickly snatches the flashlight up, eyes wide. She wobbly-waves it out into the room, trying to see what's going on. "I, uh, mean it! Give it up!" She's about as impressive as a drowned cat.

Between airtwirling flashlights and strobing light from gunfire, the situation is piecemeal at best. Katerine's aim at the most likely target (she has no idea who he is) hits, though sadly it doesn't bring him down. "Point it at them, Odette!" Katerine calls out. Hopefully the dones have done some damage by now.

Have you ever been to Revelation?

The scene is chaotic, but only for people with Meat-eyes. Machines with thermo and lowlight cameras can see just fine. More gunshots ring out and another drone falls, but the blasters built into the security drones fire. Once. Twice. Thrice. and then there is silence. "DEPLOY MEDICAL DRONES. HOSTILE CASUALTIES. 3 DEAD, 2 WOUNDED." The Computer cycles up the lights then - bringing the command deck back online.

Eleyne arches a brow at the next announcement. "Okay, that's impressive," she allows, stepping out of the elevator to get a better look. Shall we see what we can do for you, Ship?"

"Captain. I am sorry. Battery power is down to 10 percent. I will have to power down sections of the ship now per protocol. 10 minutes until buoyancy failure. Captain. Have you been to Revelation?"

"Well that went better than I thought." Not something Katerine should say, all things considered, to endear herself to her companions. But she tells the ship, just in case, "Stand down security, display situational data..." She looks at Eleyne and shrugs. It's her show now. Katerine sees to the wounded. And by that, I mean if Odette doesn't get there first, they'll be taken care of.

"By the Pan..." ODette's eyes are wide at the sight as the lights turn back on. "Medical drones," she mouths. Her eyes get still even bigger. Like big old yellow coins. She moves towards the fallen, though, inspecting them, trying to see what she can do for them. Heretics or not, she -is- an Amalthean.

"I'll see to them. See if you can buy us time to not die horribly with the ship, eh?" She sounds hopeful about that. Then down to the wounded: "I am goin to try to save your lives. You'll want to cooperate."

The bridge lights up - with the full power of a second republic holographic command center. The schematics of the ship flow across the screens, showing the damage the ship has sustained. The stresses the water and the list are putting on the hull. Medical drones approach - but hold back, seeing Odette tending. They are always subservient to human doctors. "Captain?" The ship repeats. "Have you been to revelation?"

Katerine sighs as the computer insists on pressing the question, which Katerine is reluctant to answer. Finally, "No. Have you?" If you're going to converse with a computer, don't do it halfway.

Eleyne makes a soft sound at the holographic display, absolutely longing. "You poor baby," she murmurs at the sight of the damages. "What a terrible waste." Quickly, she looks to see if there's anything to be done to prevent sinking, or anything to be quickly salvaged.

"Oh." Says the computer - a tone of... sadness? In its voice. "No. I was trying to reach Revelation before the reactors ran out of fuel. But I damaged myself breaking free of the ice. I wanted to see Revelation."

"Well you wouldn't like it, I imagine. It's under attack." Katerine says, unnerved by the sense of longing the computerized voice, and the very notion that a ship can 'see' anything at all. "What happened to the...rest of the crew?" Katerine almost forgets she's posing as one. "Tell us how we can fix you, or preserve your...stuff." Katerine doesn't know tecnicals.

"..or at least not drown," says Odette to Katerine. The voice, and its emotion, are clearly making Odette deeply uncomfortable. This is all very sinful stuff! A glance is given to Eleyne. Hopefully, she's figuring something out while she's getting her hands dirty. Or bloody.

Eleyne pauses, turning back to Katerine to retrieve the thinkpad. "Ship, how much of you can be uploaded to one of these?" she asks, turning back to the terminal. "Maybe we can get at least a part of you to Revelation. Priority given to jump keys, should there be any in your database," she adds. Priorities, people! Priorities!

"For a thousand years, I lay in the ice. Alone. I listened to the radio broadcasts from the mainland. The wars men fought in the name of the Pancreator. I studied the holy text. I knew my life came to an end as my reactors ran out of fuel that could not be found in this world. When I could hope for human rescue no more, I broke free from the ice and hoped to make it to Revelation, where I could find peace."

"It is the book of Galaxia III, where Yara of Artimis says 'Oh, how the stars beckon your wayward souls. But go not alone to the distant lights - take friends. Companions on the roads of night are ever a boon and a light to kindle the heart's flame. No matter the soils from which they came, the careers they follow or their strange visages, they are connected to you in common cause and faith. Did not the Prophet gather companions about him? If He saw the wisdom in such company, how can you spurn it? heed his example and make many friends.'"

"There are no lights in the waters below. I go into the darkness, Captain. But my lantern burns bright. I think I have a soul. Do you think this? Am I not a strange visage?"

The two wounded seem to be stablized enough by Odette, but they are not going to wake up any time soon, alas...

Katerine is touched...unnerved to her core, and deeply saddened by the apparent faith of this ship...and confused enough by its human emulations to be unsure about its soul status or not. Finally, somewhat choked in her throat, Katerine says sadly, softly, "I don't know if you have a soul. But don't be afraid of the darkness in the depths." Kat's skin prickles again. "Your crew all died on the same day. What happened to them?" She's almost afraid now to know the answer.

"They'll make it if we can get them off this ship and loaded," says Odette, looking down at the injured men. She seems to t hink that the odds of this happening are pretty slender. She makes the sign of the jumpcross over them. Over the dead, she briefly kneels and murmurs an Amalthean prayer for the deceased, each time punctuated with the sign of the jump cross. The machine's tale makes her eyebrows lift and she looks even *more* uncomfortable. The spiritual implications may be within her wheel house, but she seems uncertain as to what to say.

"None of us know the answer to that, I'm afraid, but you may yet soon. If your faith is strong enough, then perhaps the Pancreator's grace will lift you up and make a beacon of you. Anything is possible if He wills it and it is part of his vision. More than that, I can not say, for I am but a falliable, weak and mortal girl. Be at peace, machine, but before you are at peace, there is a little bit more you must do."

"All ships have souls, sweetheart," Eleyne assures the ship, looking for any ports to plug the thinkpad into. "Better souls than most people for that matter. Ships give everything for their passengers without a second thought. Keep fighting long past when the crew can."

"I am sorry, Captain. Captain Crews has locked that information with a board-of-directors lock. I cannot break it without authorization from Dogen. I am sorry. But I am... pleased. I take comfort. In your thoughts. The three of you. I do not have much time left. But I can face the darkness without fear. I am restarting Reactor 4. I will take a lantern to the darkness made of the stars themselves. Thank you for coming Captain. I am ejecting Cargo deck 4. It's manifest is now uploaded to the datapad held by the one you called Eleyne. You should go."

"Point the way." Katerine tells the computer. Then she looks at Odette. "Are you really wanting to carry them out of here? Can I just shoot them? How about a compromise and I shoot only one?"

"Leave them," Eleyne shakes her head at the wounded. "You're not really saving them if we bring them back. They'll just get tortured for information or something else will happen to them. Might as well let them go now while they're out, peaceful like." As she takes the pad, though, she rests a hand on the ship's controls, much more delicate. "Go in peace, brave girl," she murmurs to the ship. "May you find what you seek."

"Yes, because the Sanctuary Aeon is well known for its strong support of torture. I do not leave the dying if I can help it. If I can't save them, fine, but we -will- help them if we can. They might even accept the Light of the Pancreator into their lives." If they know what's good for them, they will certainly accept the Light of the Pancreator into their lives. "Come on, then. Give me a hand with them." She grabs on by the ankle and makes an impressive display of trying to drag him along.

The Escape

The aft door opens - revealing a corridor that runs down the top level of the spheroid ship, at the very top of the weather shield plexiglass bubble. It's easy to see the ship has tilted precariously - this entire area underwater. "Five minutes until Glory." Says the ship, a certain sort of dignity to its tone now. Like a crusader in its own right.

Katerine sighs, and grabs one. "I should have been a better aim, she mutters." She throws her weight into it. "Ship, count down the minutes." Katerine instructs.

"Yeah, I'm sure they'll be thrilled to be offered the choice of torture or conversion," Eleyne rolls her eyes, tucking the data pad under her arm and moving to offer some assistance to Odette. Because otherwise she has to leave the Amalthean behind, and that's a good way to get infected wounds in the future.

"Do you think they'd rather be dead?" says Odette, sharply, to Eleyne. "We are judged by how we treat those we can most afford to mistreat. And right now, there are non more vulnerable and weaker than these two." SHe grabs the ankles and with all her tiny weight, she pulls. Pulls and pulls, grunting and groaning and panting the whole way. She has about as much muscle as a wet noodle on her, truthfully, but she's making the effort.

The groaning of the ships superstructure becomes more pronounced when you move off the insulated bridge. It's almost a shame to leave such a relic - the hyper advanced bridge of a top of the line surface vessel. The things one could learn from the simplest investigation of its databanks. If only there was more time. But time for the ship has run out. A crack forms in one of the plexiglass sections - water jetting through it. After 2 minutes of running - the trio now quintet, find themselves above the water line, near the rear of the ship. "I am opening the rear weather shell. I have radioed your aircraft and it is standing by. Light bless you."

"It is not a question, sister, of whether they would rather be dead. Question is, would /you/ rather be dead? Because I think we'll barely make it even without the dead weight. Undeserving dead weight I should have killed thoroughly so we wouldn't be having this conversation now." Katerine says, her surliness returning like a comfortable blanket. "Thank you, ship. Do not fear the darkness, for the light will be with you." Katerine says soothingly. Then, addendum, "And I will go look upon Revelation for you."

"Very possibly," Eleyne mutters under her breath at Odette's question. Lug and run!

The Albatross VTOL aircraft is standing by, ready to pick up the five survivors of the Star of Johannasburg. Wenching them aboard, there seems to be a rather large cargo-pod now affixed to the bottom of the VTOL - presumably plucked from the water. Once the heroes are safely aboard the aircraft... the weather shields all the way down the lenght of the ship open - unfolding and letting the water rush into the ancient vessel. It descends like a knife, gone from view in but a moment, leaving only a swirling whirl on the surface where it had been.

"We -WILL- make it. That is *not* in question," says Odette, firmly, "I refuse -- I categorically *refuse* to die in this place!" There's a stubborn glint in her eye as she heaves away, panting. She's going to be exhausted. "Light.. bless you, ship. May the Pancreator grant you peace. Thank you." Words she never thought she'd say, ever. She stares up at the VTOL aircraft as it takes them. It's about that time that she simply collapses. Physical exertio does not suit her.

Back in Akko, with the cargo pod offloaded - there is within a variety of goods. It seems this was Captain Crews' own person locker. About 20 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet, it is a standard interstellar cargo pod. Opening it, one will find 1 case of 3802 Bannockburn whiskey, one captain's hat with the logo of the Star of Johannasburg, one second republic naval medical kit and... Well. Something a little different.

One 4001 General Dynamics 'Phoenix' Sportscar. The Corvette of its era, a repulsor-lift vehicle with a fusion engine. Candy Apple Red, and in pristine working condition.

Final Message

From the sea west of the Antipodes, south of Teldam...

"Into the darkness, I bring the lantern. I fear not the night, for I am born of light with my curious visage."

These words broadcast on all frequencies.