Copyright (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): 2017 David Noë
Co-authors/players involved: David Noë, Laura Loolaid, Kieyotie McDermott, Drew Eckhardt
The original forum thread ran from May 2014 to Oct 2014.
Read more about the Forum Leakage project here: http://bit.ly/2gkGNrm
Read previous post in this series: http://bit.ly/2xZscYM
And now onward to part 7!
“Welcome back!” Moirai called out. Knux was with her, his arm wrapped around her shoulder as she limped them both forward.
Corey jogged over to help. “How’s he doing?”
“He seems to be recovering.” Moirai glanced over his shoulder towards Smith, “Who’s your new friend?”
“You guys get to know each other, I’m going to check the ship.”
Their vessel was in a sorry state. Still upside-down, but rolled onto its right side. A pool of water and oil mix had congealed around the base.
He propped Knux against a large metal container.
“Quite… the mess…” Knux muttered, stretching out his natural arm.
“You’re telling me…” Corey replied absent-mindedly, “How you holding up?”
“My bionics are pretty damaged… My eye is stuck on infrared, need to keep it shut and rely on my normal eyesight… And my arm…” He frowned at the mess of wires and goop. He pulled himself up the side of the container, Corey rushed to his aid, but was shunned away. “I’ve got this…”
“While that may be, we should be helping one another, you’ve got nothing to prove to me.”
“I know that, I’m not proving anything to you, I’m proving it to myself.”
“Bah, fine…” Corey muttered and turned his attention back to the ship.
Behind him, Knux managed to work himself upright. He reached to a release mechanism and dropped his useless bionic arm to the ground.
Corey jumped. “Gah! Freaks me out when you do that! A little warning next time?”
Knux ignored him and started tinkering with the bionics.
* * *
Corey had climbed atop the wreckage until he’d found a suitable hatch above the waterline. He worked his way in, and to the almost dry cargo bay, powered up his blaster and, with a shit-eating grin, aimed at the exit. The doors flew off and landed with a mighty splash.
“What the hell man!?” Knux spat out some mud.
“Oh relax would ya?” Corey skipped back to the shore “I got the door open!”
“You could have killed me!”
“With a cargo-bay door? You’ve been enough of a challenge for Cervonious AND the Skilf!”
“Ugh! Don’t remind me.”
“That’s…” Corey fell silent, rubbing his chin.
“What is it now?”
“I just thought of something. Who’s our enemy here?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well… We arrived back on T-Nine, but why? Who are we fighting? And more importantly, who sent us?”
“That should be easy enough to figure out. When you were on Tucker Nine originally, who were you fighting then?”
“Cervonius. Although back then we didn’t know it yet.”
“So what’s changed?”
Corey stomped the mud. “The Skilf.”
Knux wiped the last bits of sand off the arm socket. “If the timeline holds, then it’s gonna be a while until the Skilf show up again…
“Then my money is still on Cervo. He could be up to something, that’s why he’s pulling us back in time.”
“But we killed him and wiped out his entire network.”
“Exactly!” Corey paced back and forth, stabbing air with his index finger. “What if this… reality is his failsafe? A way to bring himself back?”
Knux set his bionic limb with a click. “But if Cervo could really manipulate time, why doesn’t he just…” He shrugged.
“Who knows what reasons he has? Then again, things are different here, too different. What if this is all a simulation scenario? What if we’re trapped in some sort of purgatory? Are you even real?” He ignored the Elder’s snort. “For all we know, we could be hooked up to an Educator right now!”
“What’s so different then? You’re pretty much on the same course: grab the ship on T-9, crash it on Ar-Kaos. All you need to do now is find and repair the Alexis, hire Boats, take the job from Zhao… and we’re back where we started.”
“You weren’t even there! And Trouble was! Where is he now? And what’s up with the new faces? I’m tellin’ ya something weirder is going on here.”
Knux offered another half-shrug. “So what do you want to do then?”
Corey action : “Go get the Alexis.”
“Didn’t you just say, we don’t really know what’s going on?”
“Doesn’t matter. We crashed here so that we could find the Alexis. So let’s go find the Alexis.”
As they were approaching the fence, Smith took in the glorious sight of towering scraps ahead. Oftentimes she’d feel overwhelmed, yet oddly blessed at the sight of industrial leftovers, especially in such large quantities. To shake off the excess sentiment, she turned her attention to the path ahead. The ground was now littered with small components and debris bits. She instinctively picked up a few nuts and bolts, carefully placing them in chest pockets, then paused and gave an apologetic smile.
“Sorry, old habits.”
They were almost at the gates now. She noticed a small heap of takeoff-obsidian discarded by the fence. This was too much. “Ooh! Shiny!” she exclaimed and skipped towards it. “I’ll be right back!”
A ship’s roaring overhead brought her back to reality. She hastily stuffed the handful of black tears into a belt pouch and hurried towards the gates.
The sight of her newly-found crew at a gunpoint made her drop into a crouch and slowly back off. She peeked in through the metal sheets and rubble piles, a thousand emergency scenarios and rescue plans rushing through her brain. She barely knew these people – but she felt oddly responsible for their well-being all of a sudden.
As Corey entered the scrap yard, a low vibration filled the air. From a far-away corner a ship was slowly rising into sight. A very familiar ship. Alexis rose, made a hovering turn, and took off towards the spaceport. Despite his older, wiser, and better-trained mind, Corey felt rage and despair rising in him. Yes, things were proving to be different here… but this was too much.
Then something hit him in the chest, twice. He looked down and noticed spots of blue ooze on his armour, soreness building up underneath.
“You’re early, Fucker!” A shapely brunette climbed down from a pile of crushed shuttles carrying a customized rifle. “You were supposed to go for a ‘We survived’ drink first, and only come here tomorrow morning.” She slung the rifle. “You also need to work on your situational awareness. I saw you two staring like you’ve never seen a spaceship before. Almost felt bad about tagging you.” She offered Knux a hand and a smile, “Almost.”