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The Myrmidon (reboot)

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    RP (Open, Recruiting) The Myrmidon (reboot)

    The jolt that rocked the ship, and the tearing scream - one that could not possibly have come from any organic throat - that accompanied it, came as a complete surprise to all aboard.

    Some were thrown to the deck, others into bulkheads. A handful of night-crew already asleep were flung from their bunks.

    This massive jolt was followed by what felt like turbulence, the ship shaking as if caught in some giant earthquake machine. This was accompanied by a steadily rising shriek coming from the direction of the engine room, and a disorienting sense of acceleration, with no accompanying inertia.

    Additionally, anything that was glowing, from the ship's illumination strips to the bioluminescence of the handful of Crystal Dragons aboard, also gained ghostly echos, lights that floated in the air around the original source.

    The signs were unfamiliar to many, but to a few, they were completely unmistakable.

    A Runaway.

    Seconds later, a second tearing scream cut through the ship, followed by an electrical arcing sound and a bang, accompanied by a second massive jolt. The light "echoes" disappeared instantly, as did the sense of acceleration, replaced briefly by a highly unpleasant - if mercifully brief - "prickling" sensation, a far stronger version of the faint tingle that normally accompanied a transition in or out of phase.

    Those aboard barely had time to register that they were back in normal space, before the main engines abruptly roared, the fusion torches audibly pushed far past their normal safety margins.

    Gravity aboard the ship shifted, many of the crew finding themselves floating towards the bow bulkheads; a sign that the artificial gravity system was unable to quite keep up.

    This lasted for almost three minutes, before gravity abruptly shifted to the floor.

    "Brace! Brace!" a voice barked over the intercom, moments before the ship slammed into something.

    :::

    Kimrith pushed himself up from where the impact had dumped him, using the storage/maintenance frame containing his own power armour as a handhold to push himself to his feet.

    He staggered slightly, before turning and surveying the room.

    It wasn't a pretty picture. While the room itself seemed to be structurally sound, a lot of the tools used for maintaining the armour were strewn across the bow end. Several of the technicians were groaning in pain, battered and bruised, while at least two had broken bones; something that Kimrith had avoided thanks only to his extremely sturdy boron-silicate skeletal structure.

    Clenching his jaw, Kimrith moved to one of the wounded techs, and knelt to examine the break.

    It was bad, the technician's arm bent partway down the forearm - a double break - but thankfully the bones hadn't gone through the skin. Still, he needed medical attention.

    "Someone get the first aid kit!" he called.
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  • #2

    Allyn found himself amidst chaos. It only took a few moments for him and the techs in the suit bay to realize a runaway was happening. It was an eventuality that nobody wanted to consider. They were rare, after all. Rare, however, didn't mean impossible. The techs grabbed onto anything solid they could find, while Allyn held onto his bay. He was test-fitting the latest revisions to the Zephyr, which meant he was already suited up.

    The sounds of rending metal chorused through the ship and Allyn winced. How much damage was being done?

    He tried to steady his breathing. He didn't want to think about what this meant. Where would they come out? Would he and the others be able to get home?

    "Is everyone alright?" he asked the techs in the bay.

    He turned to Kimrith as he knelt over the sprawled out tech. He hopped out of his suit bay and snatched the first-aid kit from the locker on the wall and rushed over.

    He hadn't taken any medical courses, so he hoped that Kimrith knew what to do.

    "Sir," he said, handing the kit over to him. "I've sent a call to medical. Hopefully, someone will be here soon."
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    “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

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    • #3

      Kimrith gladly took the medical supplied, placing the kit on the floor next to him and opening it.

      "Looks like some broken bones are the worst of it," he commented after a moment, when the techs let out vaguely affirmative or pained answers to Allyn's question.

      He took the first-aid kit when it was presented to him, placing it next to himself and opening it to pull out the bandages he needed. He snatched up a couple of spanners to act as a splint and immobilised the broken arm.

      A glance up showed that the other injured tech was being cared for, his broken femur being splinted.

      "Calling the medbay was a good call, Allyn," Kimrith stated, "That room's even sturdier than this one, and buried deeper. And there's no need to call me 'sir', Allyn."

      The medical bay was actually one giant escape pod, designed that way to allow critical patients to be evacuated in the event of a ship-destroying emergency. Because of this, it was built extremely sturdy.

      Kimrith moved to the bulkhead door, quickly turning the wheel. However, when he pulled it open, he immediately swore, as he was confronted with a blocked corridor; one of the ceiling panels had fallen, and ended up wedged into the corridor, a mess of damaged piping and other conduits tumbling from the hole.

      Fortunately, the power cables, which supplied energy to the lighting of the corridor, weren't live; no sparks were visible, through there was some flickering visible in the darkness beyond the blockage.

      "Allyn, you should suit up again," he informed the gyrfalcon, turning to march to his own suit, "The corridor is blocked; we're going to need to clear it."

      The Storm Strider suit chirped as Kimrith input a code into his comlink, swiping his thumb over a sensor built into the device. The suit's back hinged open to allow the Crystal Dragon to climb into the suit.

      The cradle released the suit as it closed back up, Kimrith's tail sliding deftly into its sheath as this happened, the faint hissing of the micro-fusion cores starting up accompanied by the whir of the suit's rear armour bolting itself into place as it re-sealed. For the moment, however, he kept his visor up.

      "Good to go, Allyn?" he asked, turning to face the gyrfalcon.
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      • #4

        Allyn nodded to Kimrith, "Gotcha, Kimrith. Just one of those old habits." he said, seeming to relax a bit.

        He made his way to his suit again and climbed in. Allyn was considerably smaller than Kimrith, so getting into his own suit wasn't quite as involved of a process. His limbs went into their spots, the wing-wraps closed over his wings snugly, and the visor closed over his beak.

        He stepped forward and out of the charging cradle and then joined Kimrith at the door. "Oof, what a mess. There must be a break in one of the junction boxes, or those power lines would believe and a big problem to deal with."

        he started to help Kimrith in clearing the corridor, picking up and moving what he could. Augmented by his suit, he was able to lift quite a bit more than he could normally, but that still paled to what the crystal dragon could do.

        Still, every bit helped. "Any update on how or where we landed?" he asked as they worked on the hallway.
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        • #5

          Kimrith nodded to Allyn, striding to the door.

          "Not necessarily the junction boxes," Kimrith replied, "It's possible that there's another break in the lines. But that does seem likely."

          He stepped through the hatch and reached out, pushing the conduits and piping to the side. The piping, being metal, stayed in place, offering a good place for Allyn to tie the cables.

          The Crystal Dragon then stepped past them to the fallen roof panel. The sheet of plate metal was designed to be moved by two unsuited people, so it was actually fairly light. However, it was wedged into place, and creaked as Kimrith tried to move it, before releasing with a clang. It nearly flew out of the manipulators of Kimrith's suit thanks to the sudden release, but the Crystal Dragon managed to keep hold of it, and set it to the side.

          "Nothing yet," he replied, "But given the damage here... It's not-."

          His suit's communications system crackled to life at that moment.

          "All hands, this is the Captain," the gravely voice of Captain Nightfang stated over an open, albeit short-ranged channel, at a surprisingly low power, "We have experienced a Runaway, and have subsequently crash-landed on an unknown, likely uncharted planet. All drive systems are inoperable, and the phase drive is a fused lump. The ship has suffered severe structural damage; both the outer and pressure hulls are compromised. However, the planet has a breathable atmosphere and near-standard gravity, and the ship doesn't appear to be in danger of structural failure. I'll be briefing you all on further details shortly. For now... Damage control teams, focus on putting out fires and clearing safe paths to and from the medbay. Everyone else, please assist the wounded to the medbay for triage. Nightfang out."

          Kimrith blinked.

          "Well... better than I feared," he said after a moment.
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          • #6

            With the two of them working together, it was relatively easy to clear the debris out of the way.

            Allyn nodded to Kimrith as the Captain made his address. "I guess any landing you can walk away from, is a good one." the falcon commented.

            "Breathable atmosphere, at least we have that working in our favour." then he shook his head, "But an uncharted planet? A runaway? Don't we have safety systems to keep those from happening? The last reported runaway was, what, years ago?" he shook his head in agitation, "Maybe it's the security professional in me, but something doesn't add up."

            As they got the hallway cleared, he nodded to Kimrith, "Well, let's check the path to medical. Hopefully, the rest of the way is clear."
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            • #7

              "Better than smashing into the landscape at orbital speeds," Kimrith agreed, "Honestly, I'm surprised the ship's as intact as it is. That speaks highly of the crew."

              He turned when Allyn asked about the Runaway, and mentioned a suspicion that it wasn't an accident.

              "That Runaway was twelve years ago," Kimrith confirmed, " And yes; there are safeties in place against Runaway drives. The sheer amount of energy involved means they're not completely effective, mind -the incident twelve years ago happened in spite of said safeties kicking in - but then again they're not normally even necessary. Phase drives normally fail safe."

              That fact was due to a quirk of how the drives worked; they needed a constant flow of energy to keep the ship out of phase. If the flow was interrupted, as per a typical failure, the ship would simply "drop" back into normal space. Even power surges normally just kicked the ship's velocity up a bit higher than intended, maybe made it emerge a couple of light-minutes from its intended destination, even if the crew failed to notice and adjust their emergence time (unless over-sensitive safeties dropped the ship out, as sometimes happened).

              Runaways were catastrophic failures, more power flowing through the drive than the material it was made from could handle.

              There was certainly enough energy available on a ship to do that; most modern ships had a lot of energy-hungry systems, usually powered by a large fusion reactor (or a bank of them, in some especially large ships). A Runaway could even be initiated intentionally, though it took disengaging all drive safeties and diverting a large portion of the ship's maximum output to the drive alone - typically a full third, though in some vessels it was as little as a quarter, and some others more than half.

              More than enough to arc several metres. Which made cutting power to a Runaway phase drive a difficult prospect. There'd been talk of designing the drive to be jettisoned completely in a Runaway scenario, or on improving the reliability of (already quite reliable) power-distribution technologies - since a Runaway could only happen in the first place if large amounts of energy were mis-directed - but the rarity of Runaways, and the engineering challenges involved, meant that had never gained any traction.

              "Who would they be targeting if it was sabotage?" Kimrith asked after a moment, holding his hands out to the sides (the only version of a shrug possible in his suit), "Everyone aboard's either solo, or part of an independent team. The ship's independent, at that."

              He paused when Allyn mentioned checking the path to medical.

              "Good idea," he replied.

              His visor lit up as he stepped past the former obstruction and into the darkness of the unlit corridor. The light revealed a number of other ceiling-panels had fallen - thankfully all the way to the deck - and there were damaged cables (this time mostly fibre-optic) and pipes hanging into the corridor in places, but it wasn't as bad as the obstruction right at the door.

              They made it roughly halfway to the medbay before flickering orange light at the turn caused Kimrith to pause.

              "Damn. We need to detour," he informed Allyn and the techs, "Fire ahead."
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              • #8

                Allyn followed Kimrith's lead down the corridor. "The thing is, this company you've got. The people the Captain tends to do business with, well, they're all the sorts of people that take jobs based on ideals rather than money. That works both ways, you know... While it's nice to have a bunch of people who share a common view of what's right and wrong, having all those people in one place means that some external influences who don't agree would have one target to deal with to get rid of a whole lot of their annoyances." he said, shrugging, "I'm not saying that's what happened, but I would like to be able to talk to the Captain and maybe help investigate the cause. For now, though, I think that's secondary to actually get things settled, though."

                As they made their way to the end of the corridor, Allyn looked around the corner to see if he could spot the fire. By the looks of the flickering, and the fact the heat hadn't risen too much as of yet, the fire was still a ways away.

                Allyn extruded a filament from his finger and clipped on a tiny spy-camera unit to it. He then snaked it around the corner to have a look around. "Maybe it isn't so bad and we can put it out." he said to Kimrith. While he doubted it, it wouldn't hurt to take the thirty seconds to have a peek. It could save them a good deal of backtracking. If not, then they haven't lost much.
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                • #9

                  "Still. Using a Runaway?" Kimrith replied, "That kind of sabotage is hard to do, and harder to hide. It would be much easier to plant a bomb somewhere. Or mess with life support."

                  While the life support systems aboard most ships were compartmentalised (in case of damage), someone with the right access could potentially sabotage all of them - setting a timed toxin release, or just planting bombs - though it would be risky. Far less so, and far less likely to be detected once carried out, than the kind of work needed to engineer a Runaway.

                  Furthermore, subtle means of sabotage to a Phase drive just tended to cause the ship to drop out, or stay in phase longer than intended. Neither was ever much more than a nuisance, especially the latter (given the common practice of having the ship aimed to intercept the target gravity well).

                  "If it was sabotage... then someone is an incredibly lucky idiot, and several people in the engineering crew screwed up," Kimrith added, before holding out his hands and shifting his wings in an approximation of a shrug, "But yeah. The Captain will want to investigate how a Runaway occurred in a well-maintained ship with a near-new Phase Drive and power-distribution systems."

                  Kimrith paused as Allyn assessed the situation with the fire.

                  "I'm not sure we have time to be fighting fires, Allyn," he stated, before pausing, "Still... this is the fastest route to the medbay..."

                  He paused for a moment.

                  "The nearest fire extinguisher is..."

                  He turned, only to find its hook on the wall empty.

                  "Ah... Crap... It got shaken loose in the impact."

                  The fire itself was small enough to be handled by a fire extinguisher, but only barely, and had the potential of needing two.

                  The fire extinguisher itself wasn't visible at any point before the fire.

                  There was a frantic moment where Kimrith suspected that it had ended up in the fire, before his suit's foot accidentally kicked something cylindrical in the gloom, and he realised what it was.

                  "Found it!"
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                  • #10

                    Allyn nodded slowly, "You may be right, but the fact remains we just suffered one. If they need help parsing through their system logs or doing forensics, I'll make my services available. There may be something in there that may shed some light onto what actually happened." he replied as he drew the camera back in and helped with the search for the fire extinguisher.

                    With Kimrith in possession of the extinguisher, Allyn stepped aside to let Kimrith move past and douse the fire.

                    "You know..." he said, his voice softening a little bit, "We may never get to go home again."

                    That was the elephant that was in the room that nobody wanted to address. It was unlikely that the ship would be repairable without a drydock. It was even more unlikely that the phase drive would be repairable. That needed replacement, he had no doubt. He had no idea of where they were, but unless they got incredibly lucky and landed on a space faring planet, they'd likely be living out their days on this planet.
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                    • #11

                      Kimrith gave Allyn a slightly distracted nod at the mention of helping figure out what went wrong, busy looking for the fire extinguisher at that moment.

                      There was a long moment's silence during the search, before the clunk of Kimrith's armour tapping the fire extinguisher came.

                      The fire extinguisher itself was one of the larger models, not meant to be transported far by hand, and was quite simple in construction. It even still used a pin as its safety, though this particular model used argon instead of carbon dioxide.

                      Kimrith nodded to Allyn as he passed, before pausing when he spoke up.

                      "... I know," he said softly.

                      They had no clue how far they were from known space, let alone the Federation. They also didn't have access to a QEC - the devices were incredibly useful for communications across the Federation and beyond, but they were rarely mounted on ships due to their strictly point-to-point nature.

                      They'd have to rely on a phased-radio distress beacon - a radio transmitter that transmitted the radio waves phased, exponentially increasing its range and causing the transmission to travel faster than light - but the signal could take years to reach civilisation. If it did at all; while the range of a phased-radio signal was increased exponentially, it did eventually degrade to the point it was unintelligible.

                      Though an unexplained phased-radio signal, even an unintelligible one, would draw attention. The technology was relatively new, and phased signals didn't happen naturally.

                      Kimrith continued down the corridor a moment later, before the sound of the extinguisher could faintly be heard.

                      It took a couple of minutes to extinguish the fire, and Kimrith, the extinguisher depleted, ended up having to stomp out the last few smolders of it.

                      "All right, the fire's out," he reported.
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                      • #12

                        Allyn nodded slowly and just pondered the implications. This was the first time he had really stopped to consider the reality of the situation. With the rush of the crash and the adrenaline coursing through his system, he had only been looking at things objectively as problems to solve. Now that the main danger had passed, though, he found himself feeling homesick. Ascenseon was a wonderful planet to live on. It had lush forests, mountains, and structures ideal for avians to inhabit. He remembered his night flights, enjoying the crisp night air of a summer's night.

                        He may never experience that feeling again. That saddened him. He didn't think he'd ever feel homesick, but that was because he always had the option to return. Now, that option was an ever-diminishing possibility.

                        Allyn saw Kimrith returning. It took him a moment to realize the dragon had spoken. He shook his head, shaking himself out of is funk, but he was sure Kimrith would have noticed.

                        "Right." he said with as much composure as he could muster, "Let's go check out medical. I'm sure we'll also start to get status reports in the next few minutes as well. With the path to medical cleared, the techs in the bay can get the injured over there. What we do next, I'm not sure. "

                        Allyn shrugged, which his lighter, more flexible suit was able to do. "Do you think the Captain will send us to explore the immediate area?" he asked, hopeful. If they were going to be stuck here, at least they could get to know the planet a little better.
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                        • #13

                          Kimright nodded to Allyn when he mentioned getting the people to medical.

                          "The status updates will probably be going primarily to the Captain," he replied, "We might catch some in passing, but I expect we'll be getting a briefing soon."

                          He turned to the techs.

                          "All right," he said, "Medbay's not far now."

                          Indeed the medical bay wasn't far. It was just two short corridors past the site of the fire.

                          This still gave Kimrith time to answer Allyn's question, however.

                          "Seems likely, yeah. I'm not sure how well the vehicles came through the crash... or if we can even launch them."

                          The ship had a small contingent of aerial vehicles, but given the damage to the ship, Kimrith wasn't sure if the doors could be opened.

                          The ship's ground-vehicle capacity was much higher, intended to carry the vehicles to get the Armoured Infantry to their battlefields. However, the ground vehicles were probably write-offs, given how the ship had impacted.

                          "Either way, we'll be sent in when they need a better look," he finished.

                          They ran into a damage-control crew just outside of the medbay, the group giving them nods as they hurried past, some of them clad in Exoskells*.

                          The frames whirred audibly with each movement, since they used linear actuators (cheaper than myomers, but noisy, and less responsive).

                          The door to the medbay was closed, but opened at the press of a button, revealing the interior of an airlock.

                          "Enviro-seal mode?" Kimrith wondered, before gesturing for the techs to enter the airlock.

                          Once they were inside, and the airlock door had closed, he turned to Allyn.

                          -----

                          *Exoskell: noun. A slang term for an industrial exoskeleton
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                          • #14

                            Allyn stepped into the airlock with Kimrith, then nodded, "Seems like a good precaution to take." he said, engaging the enviro-seal mode on the Zephyr. This brought filters online and boosted toxin sensors sensitivities. It did mean that they had to run off of their own contained air-supplies, as well. But, if anything nasty had found its way into medical, it was probably worth the inconvenience.

                            "You know..." he mused, looking up at the dragon, "This reminds me of that old film I watched as a hatchling. A crew of explorers crash-landed on an unknown planet, and then they found out the entire planet was a huge machine that read their thoughts..."

                            Allyn shrugged, "Great film, but it certainly kept me up for the next few nights. I doubt we'll be encountering anything that dramatic, but it does make me wonder..." he paused in his musings then, "Sorry, I'm just rambling now. I just can't help but feel that something isn't adding up, you know? I've just got this feeling that we're here for a reason."
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