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Derelict II: Gaze of the Abyss [Part 2]

12 Oct 2008, 00:44

“So, we’ve got Commander Traken in the command position now. Doctor Lanyard is the head of the support division, and Lieutenant Yumis is head of the security division.” Gallen Aldarus ticked off names with his fingers, sitting easily in a chair. Across from him, reclining on the simple bench that adorned the ship’s brig, Galas Indira nodded slowly. In order to pass the time, she had asked Aldarus to explain the ship’s command structure to her, and since it wasn’t classified, he’d obliged her. If she was going to be spending a lot of time as a prisoner of war – which seemed increasingly likely – she figured it was a good idea to know how things were set up.

“Of course, usually we’d have the Captain above all that, but…” Aldarus shrugged uncomfortably, then continued quickly. “The bridge crew is three members plus the Captain and Commander. Lieutenant Ryland commands when they’re unavailable. Support is divided into medical, engineering, and thaumaturgy – two doctors, two engineers… well, one now… and Specialist Ramadi. And the security’s split between the gunnery crew – that’s Yumis and Kayle – and the actual security crew, which is now just Kaltos and me.” He sighed, sitting back. “Can’t believe Jasin’s gone.”

“I’m sorry. If you hadn’t come after us…” Indira broke off suddenly, looking away. Aldarus shrugged.

“Couldn’t be helped. We can’t leave a beacon unchecked.” His face clouded. “Besides, if we didn’t, someone else would have, and they might not have stopped that thing.”

“There is that.” Indira fell silent for a moment, twisting her hands. “Jamas used to say that it was better to have died for your duty than to…” She broke off, swallowing heavily.

“He must have been quite a guy.” Aldarus spoke softly. Indira nodded.

“He was. Soft-spoken for a Dragon King, but totally dedicated. He was a good friend.” Indira swallowed again, wiping furtively at her eyes. “They all were. And now it’s just me… and soon, probably not even that.”

“Hey, now.” Aldarus smiled reassuringly. Reaching forwards, he tapped the bars separating him from Indira. “Don’t let these fool you. The Imperium doesn’t execute war prisoners. Probably, you’ll be ransomed back in a few weeks in exchange for some prisoner on the other side.” He chuckled faintly. “We’ll both check each others’ prisoners for traps, find nothing, and move on. Life continues.”

Indira was less sure, but she smiled anyway. “Life continues.” Her smile fell away, and she sighed. “After everything we did, I don’t see why you’re being so nice to me. The other one – Kaltos, is it? He’s certainly not. I think he wants to throw me out the hatch.”

“He’s just in mourning. Kaltos takes his grief out on other people. And he might not have shown it, but he and Parn were pretty close.” Aldarus shook his head. “Give him some time. Once he calms down, you’ll see what he’s really like.”



A level below, in the engine room, Assistant Engineer Sallen Mendai and Specialist Ramadi Nala were studying the ship’s Essence core with a faint frown. After a moment, Mendai tapped the long, twisting tube that extruded from the left side of the engine, running up the wall and into the jade framework of the ship. “It’s definitely right here. Parn was doing some sort of patch job, but I can’t for the life of my say what for.”

“Trying to get more time out of it, I’d bet.” Nala, sitting on a crate of spare parts, smiled faintly. Her uniform was dusty from the work she had been doing, but her smile was earnest. “You know Parn. Never mind that the military replaces these things when we ask, he always wants to squeeze in that extra season.” She paused, catching herself over the use of the present tense, and her smile faded.

“He did.” Mendai nodded heavily. “I just wish I knew which modifications mattered. Any luck finding documentation?”

Nala snorted. “Oh, sure, I’m sure it’s all in his report brief.” She gestured pointedly to the folder the two had brought down, stuffed to the brim with papers detailing random thoughts, sketches, and ordinance reports, undated, and unordered. “I’ll just whip up… Corporal Kaltos!” She straightened quickly, wiping at the oil stain on her face, and smiled. “What are you doing down here?”

Kaltos smiled embarrassedly. “Looking for you, Specialist Ramadi. I was worrying about the thing we left behind. I spoke with Doctor Lanyard, and she thought it might put my mind at ease to talk to you. Are you sure it can’t follow us?” He hesitated a moment. “What if it hid inside that New Realmer?”

“Don’t worry. I’m a pro.” Nala grinned proudly. “Even if a ghost was powerful enough to punch through one of my wards, it would trigger the alarms for sure. They’re all over the ship.” She stepped lightly off the crates, rubbing her nose. “All of you from the surface passed through at least three on your way to the brig, and there wasn’t a peep.”

“The wards are intact?” Kaltos was unusually insistant, and Nala found herself stepping forwards to him.

“They are.” She gave him her most reassuring smile. “You have nothing to worry about.”

“No, I guess I don’t.” Kaltos hesitated. “Thank you, Nala.” To both her and Mendai’s surprise, he suddenly stepped forwards to embrace her. After a startled moment, she stepped into it as well, flashing another grin towards Mendai, who turned away in embarrassment.

There was a sudden, sharp snap, and he turned back in time to see Specialist Ramadi’s lifeless corpse hit the floor. Mendai staggered backwards in shock. “What the…”

Kaltos crossed the space between them faster than should have been possible. His grin was predatory as his arm fixed on the engineer’s throat. “Why did I kill you, you wonder? After all, she clearly was interested in me.” He sighed mockingly. “The Maw of the Void would have driven poor Nala mad, crushed her soul to fragments and rebirthed her as a spectre. Call me selfish, but I didn’t want to deal with her twisted shade for the next several centuries. Besides, I rather liked her. So she gained a quick death.” He considered briefly. Mendai’s eyes bulged as he saw the fangs descending from the mouth of the thing that had been his shipmate. “Truth be told, Mendai, I rather like you too. So let’s be brief.”

A few moments later, Corporal Kaltos, wiping blood from his lips, stepped out of the door to the engine room, sealing it shut with Assistant Engineer Sallen’s key. He shrugged as he snapped it in half. “Sleep well, you two. Maybe we’ll meet in your next lives.” Humming faintly, he started towards the ladder out of the engine area. Nine to go.
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Re: Derelict II: Gaze of the Abyss [Part 2]

12 Oct 2008, 05:47

So, after the doctor, they were eleven? <^_^>
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Re: Derelict II: Gaze of the Abyss [Part 2]

12 Oct 2008, 11:09

Quick work by our Abyssal, that's for sure.

I'm also amused he expects to meet in their next lives or something. Aren't Abyssals aiming to make sure no one has a second life? Then again, he didn't want Nala coming back as a spectre either. Interesting.
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Re: Derelict II: Gaze of the Abyss [Part 2]

12 Oct 2008, 14:09

Epiphany wrote:
Quick work by our Abyssal, that's for sure.

I'm also amused he expects to meet in their next lives or something. Aren't Abyssals aiming to make sure no one has a second life? Then again, he didn't want Nala coming back as a spectre either. Interesting.


Ideally they would kill the living and then kill the ghost, but I think the Neverborn will settle for trying to undermine a subject's sense of order in the cosmos by having them end up cast in corpus for a time.
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Re: Derelict II: Gaze of the Abyss [Part 2]

12 Oct 2008, 23:48

Dinosaur: Yeah, he mentioned that in passing. I figure he's got a little countdown timer in his head right now. ;)

Epiphany: Yeah, Kaltos liked Nala, and he wants to avoid feeling guilty by killing her. As far as the next lives go - it takes time to eradicate all of existance, especially with it spread out like that. There's a good chance he'll meet these folks again.

And then kill them. Again. It'll be very Arthur Dent of him.
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Re: Derelict II: Gaze of the Abyss [Part 2]

14 Oct 2008, 00:24

So, the question occurs, as to whether this is a horror movie or an exalted game. Because in a horror movie, everyone dies and the monster lives, although the good guys might manage to break something so the monster lives, tumbling through space lost for all time.

In an exalted game, one of the humans would act heroically enough to exalt as something and would manage to kill the monster, commandeer the ship, and set sail for the New Realm. I suspect that the real ending will be some combination of the two.

Either way, I'm going to continue reading this, but I hope for an ending that doesn't go " ....upon arrival, he managed to massacre an entire Legion before they took him down."
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