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Author Topic: The Tally - part 2  (Read 1653 times)

Callista Dalmore

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The Tally - part 2
« on: December 03, 2014, 04:36:10 AM »

As they felt the slight tug upwards as the v-lift accelerated them downwards, Carl asked, “So what are you going to do with yours?”

After the episode in the DC node, Paul had momentarily forgotten what lay in Environment and Life Support bay 7 and why they had both broken about twelve CONCORD mandated directives regarding this ‘monument’. “That is none of your concern,” he answered, cryptically.

“Ok, ok, no problem.  Just asking, just asking.” said Carl.  “You wanna know what I am going to do with mine?” he asked, conspiratorially.

“I feel like you want to tell me, regardless of my opinion of the matter.” said Paul.

“Ha!  Spoken like a true professor.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” laughed Carl.  “I am going to bring that baby to a friend of mine who knows a guy who has trade permits all they way to the heart of gold, baby.  Jita.  And there I am going to sell it for as much as I can get and then, I’m gone.  Out.  Done.  I really thought when I left the DED and came out here, away from the politics and inner system B.S., that I’d find some peace.  But it’s all the same.  Frontiers, alliances, poverty and fear. And killing.  So much killing.  I am done, Paul.  I am going remove myself from their bloody balance sheet.  I have some sweet girlfriends in a bunch of systems.  Hell, might even buy a reproduction license or two.  Head down to a planet and breathe air.  You know what I mean.  Actual, atmosphere.  I’ve been a part of this,” indicating everything around them, “for too long.”said Carl wistfully.

“Breathing air sounds nice,” replied Paul, actually meaning it.  Too bad it wasn’t going to turn out that way for him.  At all.  “But you probably don’t have to haul it all the way to Jita.  You can get a good price in any of the local systems,” he offered.

“Hmm, yeah, maybe you’re right.  I mean, that shit is going to sell no matter where we are...yeah.  Gonna have to talk to my buddy when I get back.” mused Carl.

They arrived at the third level, slowed to a stop and stepped out into a corridor which looked identical to the one they had just left except the numbers painted on the wall were blue and said “DC-256.10”.  They turned and started walking down the corridor.  The numerals on the doors, also continually decreasing.   “Ok, so now we should be clear right into ELS.” said Paul.

They walked for several minutes in silence, passing numerous doors and v-lifts.  No bodies.  No body parts.  They finally arrived at the huge double airlock separating Auxiliary Power Two from Environment and Life Support.

The ELS of any ship was essentially a massive chemical treatment plant. At one end, storage tanks of used and fresh materials fed an incomprehensible array of hoppers, choppers, heaters, mixers and burners which, each one after the next, took those materials and produced essentially three things: air, water and heat.  These were then collected and transported throughout the ship.  This transport was, of course, through pipes.  Thousands upon thousands of pipes.  To the uninitiated, it made ELS a surreal maze of random ducts and tubes going off in all directions.   Paul went to the edge of the platform and shone his lights down upon the myriad of modules which stretched side to side and forward as far as the light reached.  As his gaze fell upon each, it lingered, recognizing the function of each by shape and layout.  He found the familiarity calming.

Until his light shone on the wall immediately to their right.  There piled carelessly as a child’s doll collection, were the remains of the hundreds of techs which had been working ELS.  As opposed to their experience in damage control, these bodies were relatively intact.  Although ELS supplied fresh cool water and warm breathable air to the rest of the ship, the environment in which they were produced contained often quite the opposite.  The bodies were therefore all wearing level three envirosuits.   Unfortunately, even level threes were not designed for hard vacuum. 

“So, when this collapses under the agglomerated mass of all the mess out there, what do you think will happen to them?  What about all the other piles, just like this one, on this ship.  On all the other ships?  Hmm?  Well I’ll tell you Paul, that someday, whatever you want to call it. Someday, this big ball of metal riddled with tiny pockets of organic material will fall from the sky onto that planet out there and it will rain blood.”

Ignoring Carl's melodrama, Paul said “see there, past the ionizing scrubbers,” pointing at a cluster of white drums some sixty meters away. We need to head to the control room at the base of that.  From there I should be able to figure out where they located the tanks.”

“Can we get there just on these walkways?” asked Carl, trying to trace a path from their current platform to the scaffolding which surrounded the scrubbing tower.

“Walk?” mocked Paul as he crouched and slowly launched himself towards the tower which lay some sixty or so meters away. “I never took you as a grounder, Carl.”

“Ha, ha” said Carl, humorlessly.  Stowing his weapon behind him, Carl jumped to follow Paul.

Gliding silently over the machinery, Paul went over his plan.  First, the tanks.  Second, the codes.  Third, the call. 

Almost done.

Bracing himself, Paul expertly caught the landing grip and maneuvered out of Carl’s way who landed moments later. “Nice jump, Mr. Professor,” congratulated Carl. “Didn’t know they taught zero-G maneuvers in nerd school.”

“I am happy to still be able to surprise you, Carl.” answered Paul, ignoring the dig. “There should be a v-lift somewhere on this,” he said walking around the tower on the narrow platform.  Carl unslung his rifle and followed Paul to where, indeed, a v-lift tube entrance protruded from the tower.  They descended. 

As they descended, Paul said, “We’re leaving the third level where most of the final processing takes place just before transport.  We’re headed to the first which is mostly dedicated to storage. You’ll notice a difference.”

Indeed, they both did, stepping out of the lift.  Instead of being greeted with a kaleidoscope of machinery and pipes, there was simply two rows of imaginably huge pressure silos leading off in both directions, as far as they could see.  “Each of those can hold upwards of two thousand cubic meters of material.” stated Paul.  “It’s this way.” he said, indicating to their left.

The first two pairs of tanks seemed intact but up ahead they spotted the eerie outline of a billowing white explosion shooting out of the right storage tank but completely frozen in place, just hanging in the middle of the passageway perched on the column of ice emerging from a fracture in the tank’s hull.  It was like looking at trid movie that had been paused.  As they approached it they saw that the cloud was made up of thousands of delicate shards of thin finger-like crystals.  Paul reached up and passed his hand right through it, tiny crystals flying in every direction.

“Helium.  Pretty.” he said and added  “I hope our tank hasn’t suffered the same fate.”

Ducking under the stationary explosion, they made their way down the row.  “Are we almost there?” asked Carl, adding, “My oh-two levels just hit sixty percent.”

“Yeah, it’s not this one, not the next, the one after that.  Number 513.” answered Paul.

Carl needn’t have asked.  Leading up to the front of the tank was a wide series of deep steps made of white polished stone.  These led to the dais upon which the tank rested.  The tank however was flanked by a double colonnade of equally white columns soared up from golden plinths upon which a vaulted structure emblazoned with frescos and scriptures to the Amarrian God. The rounded structure of the front of the tank had been covered with a wall which filled the entire space between the leading columns and the vaulted ceiling.  In the middle of that wall was a bulkhead door surrounded by its own frescoes and scriptures.  What had been a simple liquid oxygen storage tank was now a shrine.

“What the hell is that?” gaped Carl.

“That, is where gods reincarnate.” answered Paul as he walked past Carl heading towards it.

 “It was the Amarr who first decided to save space by housing their cloning units inside their ELS storage tanks.  It was simple really.  Jump clones in stasis vats need one thing beyond all things and that’s stability.  Just a slight input to the dormant unimprinted brain could cause unmonitored dendritic growth or worse, atrophy and bang.  Your neural mapping is filled with CRC errors.  Do you know what the CRC error threshold is for a “perfect” neural transferral Carl?  Less than a pico percent!”

“You lost me at dandorites and trophies.” admitted Carl. 

“Ok, well take it from me. You don’t want to disturb the clones.  So what do you do?  In the first designs, they needed a completely separate isobaric, isothermal compartment. More parts.  More points of failure.  But they already had those conditions, in multiple, redundant tanks right down here, in the bowels of ELS.  Yeah, seems obvious now, but back then, I…ah, I’m sure it was far from obvious“ finished Paul wincing.

“I am sorry to interrupt your lesson here, Paul, but really, my oh-two levels aren’t going up and those quakes seem to be coming more often.  What do you say we get what we came for?” asked Carl, impatiently.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Paul answered, “Yeah, good idea.”

The outer door was a simple mechanical hatch but once open and into the small anteroom beyond, they were greeted by a closed and heavily reinforced pressure door.  A panel to the side of it was lit.

“What the...I thought this place was completely dead?” said Carl. 

“The clone vat bay has it’s own completely shielded independent power supply for keeping the clones in stasis.  Of course, this place is hardlinked to main power as well, but that’s only for the actual transferral process.” said Paul.  “Here is where I am going to need your help.”

“Oh?  What’s that, Paul?” asked Carl.

“I need your DED authorization passcodes.” said Paul

“Paul, you know as well as I that my codes aren’t valid anymore.” said Carl.

“Yes they are.”

“Paul, I’ve been out of the DED for about two years now, I am pretty sure they are completely worthless.” argued Carl.

“No, not your old codes, I am talking about the new ones.  You know.  The ones you received before taking the job from Proteque and going undercover.” said Paul.

“Paul, Paul, Paul,” said Carl, levelling his rifle, “I should I say Dr. Paul Veschens, how’s your brother Yomir doing, by the way?  Oh, that’s right, strange encephalitis causing irreparable brain damage...sounds more like someone tried to run an analog scan without it being a burn scan.  Too much work for just the one of you, Paul?”

“Well, it seems as though you’ve unmasked me, Carl.  Can I keep calling you Carl?  But you see, I really need to get in that room and you are my key,” said Paul as he revealed a pistol shaped object in his left glove.  “Now, the codes.”

“Paul Veschens, I am placing you under arrest.” countered Carl.

“On what grounds?  I admit it. I tried to clone myself and it didn’t work.  So?”

“Vivisection, human trafficking, clone trafficking, booster trafficking...need I go on?” listed Carl.

“Remember when you said that space combat was a game of tag?” asked Paul.

“Huh? Yeah, and if you don’t start lowering whatever that is, you’re going to be ‘it’” answered Carl.

Paul kept raising his weapon.

“Don’t do it Paul, I am warning you. Don’t…”

Paul kept going.

“Paul, God dammit!”  Carl straightened his aim and pulled the trigger.

Nothing.

“I took the liberty of smearing some nanopaste over your weapon with the instructions that it was a broken fluid router. They should be almost completing their first cycle.” said Paul.

“So, let me think, were those bootprints in DC, yours?”  asked Carl, buying time.

“No, but we’d sent a survey team in.  They got all the way here but got stuck at the door.  That’s where you came in.  We knew you wouldn’t go for it unless something big was waved your way.  And that’s where I came in,” confirmed Paul.

Well I’m not going to give you the codes and if you kill me the codes are gone, so what’s your plan, professor?” taunted Carl.

“You know how, when someone says, “don’t think about a fedo” you can’t help but picture a fedo?  Well, don’t think about the codes, Carl.”
Paul fired his weapon.




The door to the clone vat bay slid open and Professor Veschens stepped into the completely intact space within.  Behind him Carl floated, still hooked into the analog burn scanner.  Paul flicked on his comms.


“This is Paul.  Yes, I’ve entered the bay and am staring at you now, sir.  Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem.  And I can have the other five including the implants and full genetic signatures?  Excellent.  Please send the extraction team, the beacon is transmitting.  Yes, I will see you shortly.”


He glanced over at Carl.  Meateorite.  He had to admit, it was catchy.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2014, 11:14:41 AM by Callista Dalmore »
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