Sunday, 25 November 2012



The tac-suit was a marvel of the battlefield. It was, however, fairly useless when it came to squeezing through tight spaces. The wreckage in the main bay had blocked Fuller's path over to the side where Si's drones and, hopefully, Brook were located. He was tempted to try and blast his way through the blockage, but firing off high explosive rounds inside the intervention ship didn't feel like the most sensible decision, especially on top of the damage it had already taken. 
So Fuller had had to go around the blockage, which in this case meant around the outside of the ship. Using the suit's jump thrusters, he was able to propel himself along, using the claw like grips of the feet and hands of the suit to change direction by grabbing on to protrusions on the hull and swinging round to the desired new heading. While not designed for this sort of activity, it was working well. 
It was also making Fuller feel decidedly sick. 
Europa hung below him, the large icy moon with its criss-crossing fault lines stretching to the horizon while the ship was in low orbit. The perspective felt off, and he had to stop himself from looking up at it. Not helping matters were the distracting blurs of movement he occasionally caught out of the corner of his eyes. The tac-suit told him that they were the drones from the other ship. They reminded him of flies around a cow shit back home, but that analogy reflected badly on all sides. 
Thankfully the rate of fire from the drones had slackened off since Fuller had gone outside. When he first emerged after an emergency airlock cycle he'd had a prime view of a micro missile penetrating whatever electronic defence Si was able to mount without his own drones. The missile struck the ship down towards the rear of its ion drive. Some kind of gas was still venting from the wound now, but since then no missiles had hit the ship. Keep it up Si. Just get me a little time to rescue your drones and we can turn the tables.
One more pulse from the jump thrusters and he'd be on the outside of the drone bay doors. For a scary second he thought he'd miscalculated the trajectory, but was able to stick out an arm and grab on to a piece of hull plating half torn off in the initial attack. The actual drone bay doors themselves seemed unscathed, but something did appear to be trapped in one of them. Fuller climbed over to try and release the obstruction.
The body. 
"AGGHHH!" Fuller let go and immediately started to drift away from the ship and towards Europa. He just about regained composure enough in order to fire a small jump thrust back to the ship, where he attempted to catch his breath. He'd seen death before, even caused some of it. But it never got any easier to see. Tentatively he moved back towards the body, which had been near severed by the hull door mechanism. On this side was the top half, arms lazily drifting in the zero g. 
How the hell had she ended up like this? She was vac-suited, so had obviously meant to be in the main bay, presumably at Si's request. But to then get trapped in the doors? They didn't move that fast, wasn't like you could trip and fall into them. Fuller shook his head, then filed this in the increasingly large part of his head now dedicated to 'odd goings on'. However, for the time being he needed to get the doors open. Keep your mind on the current task, Gumelar drilled in to them; getting sidetracked gets you killed. 
There wasn't an obvious way to open the doors from the outside. Made sense from a security perspective he figured. However, being on the outside made him less cautious with regards to use of weaponry. The tac-suit housed a few micro-missiles similar to what the drones were currently lobbing at them. Fired from point blank range, there wouldn't be much of the door left. However, nor would there be much of him left. Fired from further away would work, but the force of the missile firing would also send him tumbling into Europa's atmosphere. 
Time to get creative.  
A few commands into the tac suit interface and it regurgitated a micro-missile, which now drifted in front of him. Only a palm's width in length, these little fellas could never the less do some serious damage. Fuller carefully used his manipulator claws to pull off the snubbed nose cone, where the guidance and basic electronic defence systems were located. If people like Si could get past the electronic defence then a handy offensive weapon suddenly turned in to you wearing a bomb vest. Not pleasant. The tail end of the missile was removed next, containing the propellant and small rocket. This just left the highly explosive and highly volatile central core. 
A bead of sweat ran down onto Fuller's nose as he ever so carefully pulled it apart.
After a little while he had four pieces of material floating in front of his tac-suit. Ever so gently, he positioned them on the four hinges of the two big doors. If he gripped them too hard with the manipulator claws then they'd explode. With them precariously wedged in place, Fuller moved back up the side of the hull, back to the piece of damaged shielding he'd gripped on to before. Given that it had peeled away from the ship a little, hanging from it gave him a better angle on the hull doors. The suit computed firing solutions on the four hinges, the motors in the arm joints would quickly move the vector cannon slung under his left arm into the positions needed. All Fuller had to do was select the fire command.

He did.


Regaining consciousness while floating in zero g was an odd sensation; the feeling of free-fall was like someone had tipped you from bed and out of the side of a plane. Brook came to, therefore, with a start. She instinctively thrashed about for a second or two, trying to find purchase, trying to make sense of her predicament. All she succeeded in doing was bumping into some of the pieces of wreckage that were drifting about her. 
Her ears rang, her vision was blurred, red spots swam in front of her eyes. Everywhere hurt. She tried to get some kind of situation report, but all augments came back as offline. Must have been a hell of a bang. Trying to get her bearings manually, she glanced around. Light was cast by the still hot edges of the blast zone, her suit lights extinguished in the explosions. 
She briefly cycled suit power off and on, to see if it brought back any of the lights. It didn't, but it did bring with it some of the basic suit functionality. Oxygen was venting from somewhere, but the rate of loss was decreasing. This meant at least the smart material the suit was made of was refilling whatever hole had been ripped. But it also meant the suit had been pierced in an as yet unknown number of places, presumably by shrapnel.
The red spots also now made sense; blood droplets in the zero g. 
Brook tried to send a prep request to the medical bay, get it to send a triage drone over to the airlock to meet and assess her. No link. Either the AI was still playing up or her augmentations had been damaged. Or both. For now her only indication of her medical condition were the number of red blobs floating in front of her. Worryingly, she assessed that the number had increased since she came round. 
Ok, so she was alone on this one. Time to come up with a plan. First of all it would be quite handy to know where abouts in the main-bay she actually was. Looking around Brook found herself surrounded by wreckage, which made pinpointing a location hard. She pushed what looked like the severed leg off one of the marines' drones. This sent her slowly in drifting in the other direction, bumping through some smaller fragments.
She wasn't travelling all that quickly, but it still hurt when she collided with the hull wall, pain shooting down her left arm and into the shoulder as she tried to fend off the collision. It took a couple of moments of deep breathing for the pain to subside to a more bearable level. She made a mental note not to use her left arm again if possible; the number of red blobs had notably increased. As well as this being alarming in its own right, it was also beginning to seriously affect her vision out of the vac-suit face plate.   
The one piece of good news was that she was at least on the hull side where Si's drones were located. She could see the storage stacks that contained them, and while there was some charring at the top edges, the structure of them appeared to be intact. Ok, time to try and get the doors open. With one arm and half blind. And she'd lost her crowbar. Using the wall as a sort of climbing frame, she clambered her way towards the large double doors located down at the bottom of the stacks. 
Something was poking out of the doors. She couldn't quite make out what it was - the blood was getting in the way no matter how she positioned her head - some kind of obstruction in the door mechanism. Need to get closer. Jumping over to the drone stacks gave he a slightly better angle of vision on the doors. And the, er, ARE THOSE LEGS?! Brook tried to get a little closer. 
And once again, everything turned to hell. 
The pressure wave from the explosions span Brook around and sent her crashing back into the storage stacks where she became wedged between one of the drones and some of the pipes linking it into the ship's resupply system. This time she remained conscious, the explosions weren't as violent as before and the piping provided her with some cushioning. However, given the fresh wave of new pain, Brook kind of wished that she had been knocked out. Despite a large part of her wanting to stay where she was and maybe have a snooze, Brook began the slow process of untangling herself and getting back to the doors. 
The doors that were currently being ripped off their hinges by some kind of drone monster. 
Brook couldn't see the machine very well, yet more blood in the visor, but it was definitely trying to get in. Presumably sent by other ship to circumvent any defence that Si could mount, once inside it would be able to cause havoc. If only that sodding spyder was around now, they might be able to fend it off. But with the AI on the blink, it was up to her. 
And granddad's crowbar. 
The crowbar was slowly drifting in front of the stack she'd just about extracted herself from, between her and the intruder. Brook was tired, and in pain. But she was also angry. Almost without thinking she pushed off the stack with as much force as her legs could manage. Collecting the crowbar in mid-flight she hefted it into her right hand, pulled it back behind her head and brought it down on the intruder with as much force as she could muster. 
"What the hell?" the intruder's surprised voice was broadcast over the short wave coms link and picked up by Brook's suit. 
Her momentum had slammed her into the side of the intruder, winding her and sending a wave a pain so bad it sent her dizzy. In the confusion she would almost swear that the voice sounded familiar. One of the machine's articulated arms swung round, manipulator claw grabbing her suit and peeling her off. She dangled in front of it. The machine looked familiar to her, but she was still dizzy. She swung the crowbar at it, ineffectually though, as the arm held her too far away from the its body.  
"Brook?" the machine broadcast.
"GET. OFF. ME." this time she threw the crowbar, it bouncing off the front armour of the machine. Hang on, is that a tac-suit?
"Brook, it's me, Fuller"
"Fuller? Really? I thought you were from the other ship"
"So you attacked me with a crowbar?!" 
"Er, I guess. Didn't really think"
"Are you ok? We can't trace you on any of the systems?" the other manipulator claw had been moved up to her shoulder, the one that had grabbed by the scruff of the neck moving across to her other shoulder so that Fuller could move her about to inspect her suit. 
"My augments went down when we got hit. Only got basic suit functionality."
"You hurt? What's that across your visor?" 
"I'm ok."
"Uh-huh, well we'll get you checked out once we've got the drones free. Take this while I finish off the doors" Fuller let her go, deftly grabbed the nearby crowbar - he was getting a lot of practise with the manipulator claws today - and passed in back to Brook. 
"What was that blocking the doors?" Brook asked as Fuller turned away from her.
"Er, nothing. Best you go a bit further away while I finish this"
Brook was too tired to notice him ducking the question, instead pulling herself back onto the drone stack. She watched Fuller work, the tac-suit enhancements strong enough for him to be able to pull the damaged doors off what remained of their hinges. Within a couple of minutes the doors were drifting off into space, and the drones were unshackled. 
"Ok Si" Fuller broadcast via his coms augment and short wave so that Brook could listen in her suit "The doors are open, you're ladies are good to go"
"Perfect" replied Si, the panic of before no longer evident
             "It's time to hit back"

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