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  1. A flash of actinic light caught Volkov in a flash which caused her to look up from the seeming unhurt u unconscious Anna. At first she wasn't sure what she was seeing. The stress placed on the freighter had caused the overhead bulkhead to crack and split the flash of light was coming from within the split. Volkov see that Anna's vital were stable stood and tried to peer into the split but her helmet was in the way but the flash of bluish light was a puzzling concern. She heard a low moan over her suit com and turned back toward Anna who was stirring. Jericho flipped switches and toggles and slowly power started coming to the ships systems. It took a supreme act of caution but he stopped himself from using the ships drive to stop the tumbling until he had some idea of what the big things was. But that was proving difficult since he could only see it every 30 7 second and then for only about 4 seconds before the tumble took it out of sight again. But now he had cameras on it and would be able to get a better look. It was a ship of some sort he could see massive gravity impellers both for an aft. it basic structure was that of a flat oblong plate with dispersed superstructure rising from both the bottom and top of the frame. it was 3.87 kilometers long and and 2.335 wide. and was bristling with weapons many which he could identify and as worrisome as that was it was what was making that deep down sense of fear start to rise. No that was caused by the two dozen spider robots descending from that monster toward them. Robots just like the one they had faced on board the Ginger Snap.
  2. "Penny?!?" "I'm alright dad, I isolated Moxie in a ram cell so she's safe too. I had to shut down the computer core the only thing operating now is hard codded devices that wer'nt in the network. Moxie says it's a virus or something she in a bit of a shock." Penny's voice came over the intercom and it sounded to Jericho that she might be in shock as well. Suddenly the ship rolled and acceleration increased the artificial gravity pules send Volkov and Anna to the floor then throwing them up onto the ceiling then back to the floor. Volkov activated her magnets locking her in place Anna, not trained for this sort of thing didn't. Jericho tried to bring the two ships under control but the flight controls were unresponsive then he saw the red countdown time spiraling to zero. The ships jump drive had been engaged! The Jump drive is a short cut through for want of a better term hyper-space. for it to function properly a series of very complex calculations taking into consideration over a thousand different variables, a lot of them about gravity both where the jump drive is located and where it wants be. for this reason Ships travel great distances into deep space to lessen the variable effects of gravity on a ships jump. While possible to jump with in a gravity well it is an extremely difficult calculation and absolutely dangerous. many ships have been lost jumping to close to a gravity source some outright destroy as gravity ripped them and their contents apart, others simply vanished into nothing never to be seen again. The Ginger Snap and Ataraxia locked together in a deadly dance were only 1 78 .63 kilometers from the moons surface well with in it's gravity well. the calculations for jump this close were massive and would take far longer than even the best computer to manage than it would to simply drive to a safe distance. Any ship making a jump this close to any world was doomed. The Ginger Snap/Ataraxia jumped into real space tumbling end over end none of her attained velocity had been shed. The drive was dark. the ships looked dead as they tumbled in a strange ballet. In the rapidly cooling control room of the Ginger Snap, Jericho opened his eyes slowly there was no artificial gravity so he was at the mercy of the tumble he swallowed the vomit that tried to come up from the intense vertigo. the panel in front of him was dead. His ears were ringing but not from sound. Warily he looked right then left. There! A light that meant power. He needed to get to that panel find out what it was. He reached down to unbuckle his safty belt when the control room was suddenly awash with harsh white light then dankness again. He looked up at the cockpit window saw the stars spinning due to the tumble and then there was the light again. He had feared that hey were tumbling into a sun. this may have been worse. The ship/construct was huge and alien in design. Man had never built anything on this scale at least not as a single entity. And the Ginger Snap/Ataraxia was head straight for it.
  3. The apartment was a corner unit halfway up a mid-rep residential tower. It's a modest place, it's open floor plan making the apartment seem bigger than it actually was, areas defined by the placement of furniture and area rugs over the hardwood floor. The furniture was generally low, fashioned of curved polished metal and glass and rugged fabric, softened with what appeared to hand knitted accessories, judging by the rattan basket filled with needles and yarn. The apartment was largely decorated in muted shades of blues and greys, enlivened by splashes of color, red or green. Digital frames displayed scrolling Martian landscapes, mostly from Helios and Olympus. Everything was well appointed, clean, and in its place from apparent habitual dedication. By the kitchenette area stood a high quality personal compiler unit. Floor to ceiling smart-windows made up one wall of the the apartment and the upper half of another, which led out to a narrow terrace. A low half-wall sectioned off what seemed to be an office or work area and a long silken screen patterned with abstract blossoms and wild animals gave her bedroom area some privacy. Ryan wondered how Kurosagi could afford such on a Detective salary. The trip across the dome had been uneventful. The two cops had been silent during the transport and Ryan had been following Vaughn internally. The manifested bird flew across the digital landscape and after what seemed like hours but was merely a second, Vaughn found himself circling what was an impressive sight. A forbidding black tower rising into the sky. It looked like something from a fantasy story. He imagined that armies of orcs and elves battling at it's foot would not be out of place. he studied the edifice and spied what could only be a purposeful entryway, an open invitation or a trap. As soon as they arrived at the apartment Anselmo went to the wet and began puring a couple of drinks as an after thought he asked Rick if he wanted anything. Jordan meanwhile had accessed the chip and didn't take long to find whatthe RO wanted her to find. All of the bodies in the 1st car had been clones. Including the little girl, not only that but none of them were more than 24 hours old, and all of the recovered cores were mirrors of the same core, that of the mind of Kwon.
  4. The round flew true, the bullet hit and the world lurched throwing Volkov, Anna, and the droid crashing first to the ceiling then to the floor as the ships gravity fluctuated and the inertial compensators stressed... The 'Snap collided with the still descending Ataraxia with a bone wrenching jolt. In the 'Snaps cockpit Jericho snapped the Grappling clamp trigger, latching the two vessels together once again, and with the other threw the 'Snaps thrusters into over-drive putting incredible stress on the two ships in an attempt to avoid crashing into the moon surface only a few kilometers away! Volkov recovered as gravity restored and rolled into a crouch bringing her rifle to bear on the robot form against the far bulkhead. She hesitated, the mechanical wasn't moving, seemed lifeless. beside her Anna moaned as she righted herself and looked at the robot as well. "What happened?"
  5. Jericho puts all power into the drive and with one hand preps the docking clamps while the other make minute adjustments to keep the plummeting Ataraxia in his sights. ********* The two humans dodge to opposite sides of the wide corridor each unleashing their own brand of hell on the momentarily shaken adversary. Volkov's expertly aimed sniper round catches the thing in the upper chest and shoves it back appendages scrambling to maintain balance, the gaping smoking hole now emitting sparks. Anna's wild shots find their mark in a shower of steel but do not penetrate instead shattering and ricocheting off the thing's armor. But the wild shots did catch it's attention and the shoulder mounted particle weapon fired at Ana. The swarm does it's job and the robots aim is diffracted and the beam goes wide burrowing into the bulkhead.
  6. The Cobbler shook his head, "I have told you all I know, you will have to go to the Source, if you want more. you should go now." The cobbler went to the front door and locked it and put up a closed sign in the window then he walked behind his counter and went through and opening into the rear of the shop. Vaughn followed but when he reached the back of the shop it was empty. Vaughn cursed under his digital breath. The Source was a near mythical data node made up of hundreds or thousands of AI. They had come into existence after man fled earth and bartered for data with data. They were the filter through which everything flowed. Only problem, you had to give up something to deal with them, and what you gave up was never your choice. The trip back to the station had been strained but as soon as they arrived Jordan recived a call to come to the morgue. There they found the Ro with a very nervous expression. He met them in the hall way outside the office and in a low voice spoke to Jordan eyeing the others warily. "I got shut down this whole investigation has been classified and I had to turn the remains over to Government Security."he passes Jordan a data chip. "I didn't give you this." Without another word he goes back into the office shutting the door behind him.
  7. They arrived at the ladder it went up and down Jericho mumbled something the others couldn't make out. "What?" asked Anna "I said dammit Penny is having to fight Moxie and get control of the Ataraxia, she can't do both, not in the time she has. I have to do something. You two go after that thing I'm going to the bridge to save my daughter." The Apostate said as he push passed the two women and jumped up onto the ladder and started going up to the bridge. "Perfect," said Volkov, "Looks like it's just you and me." Then she jumped into the ladder and pushed herself down with her weapon pointed in the direction of her fall. Anna cursed and followed. Jericho made it to the bridge without incident. He knew a thing or two about space ships and everything had been set to standby while they had been hauling the 'Snap, with a few button pushes he had the power recycling and cut in the gravity thrusters and manually took the controls and put her into a dive to catch the Ataraxia! When the gravity shifted Volkov and Anna had just reached the engineering deck, Jericho had warned them over the suit radios of the G shift so they had been prepared. The Assassin had not had any warning and so was not prepared. With a crash it fell to the deck from its upside down perch on what was now the ceiling, where it had been waiting it's cannons primed and ready to blast the two humans coming down the shaft. As it slammed into the deck it's guns went off scarring the walls with the misplaced shots. quickly it righted itself.
  8. Madeline crept to the open hatch and crouched low bringing her weapon to her shoulder then with one swift move stepped in and to the right of the opening swinging her weapon in quick arcs to cover the whole of the small infirmary. It was empty of any sort of robot monster or any other humans but the place was a mess someone or thing had been in here looking for something. "It's clear but the place has been ransacked." She said as she moved through the room looking for clues. "Looks like whoever did this took some surgical tools and a power saw." Madeline slid the drawer with the empty foam cutouts of the missing tools closed. "That's all I am sure is missing..." Suddenly the Ginger Snap shook and the artificial gravity produced by the Ataraxia cut out leaving them weightless. "Dad! Are you alright The 'Snap's broke loose!" came Penny's frightened voice over the suit radios. In orbit above the desolate moon the Ataraxia still under orbit keeping trust had already pulled several kilometers away from the now drifting Ginger Snap which had taken on a slight roll from the force of the separation. penny saw movement as she adjusted the Camera pointed at the rogue freighter. The young girl gasped as she saw something moving on the hull of the other ship. "What is that?" her fingers flew across the command board bringing the moving object closer on the screen and better focused. The multi armed figure looked much like the thing Madeline had killed on the surface but with more arms and two cannons mounted one on each shoulder. " Moxxi can you identify that object is it a robot or a sleeve?" " I'm sorry hon. I don't see anything and I'm too busy right now to play games. Commencing Emergency Deorbit Thrust now!" droned the semi- amused voice of the Ataraxia AI. "Moxxi No!" Penny screamed as the Ataraxia shot toward the surface of the moon with ever increasing speed!! Jericho and the others heard the exchange over the radios, all of it. Then they heard the sound of several loud metallic bangs on their own ship. That something Penny had seen was inside the ship now.
  9. Scary That is what an empty ship is like and even more so when you half expect some boogy-thing to come out of the darkness all spinning blades and tearing pincers. The three suited figures moved into the dark Ginger Snap, while the ship had atmo now since it landing at Sanctuary the powere was still only running on essential systems and to allow the Ataraxia to use he thrusters, which meant no lights and no heat. Volkov lead the way being in combat armor and with more robust weapons, Jericho was guiding her over coms while he and Anna hung back. Volkov went slow her nerves taut she played her light over every inch of the coridor in front of her and when Jerich call for her to stop suddenly she dropped into ta crouch and raised he weapon. "Hold up! That hatch up ahead on the right, that should be closed."
  10. The Crossroads The cobbler shook his head slightly and took off his wire rim glasses "Straight to the point, no playing your role. Okay your not the only ghost in the machine Vaughn and your probably not the smartest. He has transcended he isnt Kwon anymore he calls himself the Necromancer. His ghost has built a data fortress way out on the edge where the storage is clean It's not hard to find or get to but it is hell. It's a multilayered sim and his ghost resides in the center of the fortress a place he calls the black tower. No one who goes there comes out Vaughn, not ghost, not AI, no one." He slips the glasses back on and picks up a shoe and places it on the horn then picks up a tiny hammer and starts tapping the sole. "Anything else?" RHO, LUNA PHEADALON GARDENS AND SPA INSIDE THE DOME "This is just getting better and better," Anselmo said as he glanced around scanning the vicinity for threats. "I blame you for getting us stuck wit this job O'K." He glances back at YoYo, "If she is still a target maybe we should take her inot protective custody. If what Bunny-ears here says is true then we are looking at an organized House action ain't no terrorist have access to casting tech. I think we should get back to the station and wait for the morgue reports and let csi finish this then we can look at their report." said the male cop his nervousness poorly hidden.
  11. Anna had spent most of the jumps trying to put the corrupted data from the executions in the cargo bay of the Ginger Snap, but whatever had been used to shred them had done so on a more thorough scale than any shredder she had eve seen. She gave herself only a 1 in 10000 chance of recovering anything useful. Volkov had felt like a fifth wheel pretty much ignored by the “apostate” and the ship, Penny tried to be nice but her father kept her busy and that left the computer bitch. She was in the small cubicle Maverick used, she was always asking questions about the bunker today she had been silent as she frustratingly worked on some data stuff Volkov on barely understood or cared about. Around her various screens showed replays from the freighters AI memory. Madeline decided she was needed here and turned to leave when something on a screen caught her attention. “What was that?” She asked pointing at the screen “What?” maverick grunted and glanced back “I saw something. Is this a recording? Go back about twenty second.” Maverick sent a command to the system and the screen altered to show the previous 30 seconds. “There! Freeze it.” shouted Volkove They both looked at the screen It showed a dark corridor of the Ginger Snap dimly lit by the ships floor lights up in the top corner where the corridor turns the could see what looked like a metallic leg of something that had just passed the corridor. The blood drained from Volkov's face. The leg looked exactly like the one that belonged to the thing on the moon. The thing whose parts lay in the cargo hold. The thing that killed all of her comrades.
  12. THE COBBLERS HOUSE CROSSROADS, THE 'NET The cobbler stiffens perceptibly Vaughn saw half a dozen small mice dart out in various directions from under the work table, each disappearing through small holes and cracks in the wall. The old man set his tools aside and pushed his stool back “Just like you always straight to the point, no beating around the bush, no taking care with who might be listening.” he said as he moved to the window and drew a set of dusty curtains then he bolted the door after flipping the welcome sign to closed. “He doesn't go by that name any more, might not even be that soul, but he does listen for it watches and acts when it's spoken” RHO, LUNA PHEADALON GARDENS AND SPA INSIDE THE DOME Anselmo looked at the carnage and shook his head as O'K asked the gore splattered hot chick some questions. “I swear to all that holy if these guys are clones...,” he mumbled. Then he noticed Church standing still as a statue on the edge of the site. “Hey Buttercup, how about using those big ears and eyes and giving us a hand since your here?”
  13. Space above the planet of Sanctuary Lark's voice.... “Well the Ginger Snap isn't just a freighter she's a special one built for smuggling very special cargo. And that cargo couldn't have been taken off in space like you described. She was carrying 24 containers of Grade-A Antimatter that's a hundred and ninety-two cells, each one had to be individually powered with uninterrupted current. The 'Snap was special designed to smuggle antimatter and she has secret connections that only government sanction carriers are allowed to have.” The two Ships rose gently on their contra-gravity drives and push for the depths of the outer system where jumping would be possible. “So You can see how your version of the story has a bit of impossible added in. To take that cargo off in space would be almost impossible. Which in my book means that probably isn't what happened That ship had to offload on solid ground where that sort of cargo could be handled. Now that don't explain why you found her in space where you did but if there ain't any clues on the 'Snap then your gonna have to retrace her jumps. Either way your gonna need her with you.” The Ataraxia opened the jump portal and both ships vanished
  14. SANCTUARY 70 LY from Sol Madeline was quiet for a moment her eyes moving up and down taking the measure of the young woman...girl really, before her. Finally she gave a little shake of her head. “And that matters why?” Without waiting for the reply she faced the Apostate. “I don't want to sound ungrateful Captain but I do need to return to the coalition. If I understand your about to go off on some sort of treasure hunt Which kind of means your not taking me where you promised.” “If it's about pay I can make some arrangements and get you at lest class2 rate for the duration.” Lark broke in with a smile for the attractive woman. “This isn't about money. This is about the loss of a protectorate starship and the deaths of my squad. I need to get them home.” Volkov said her anger bleeding through Lark raised his hands “Didn't mean nothing soldier, and before you go getting all worked up. We ain't as backwards as you think. This city is made of Starships and we have all the integration that implies and we aint some backwater inbred rubes. I know you been trying to access our feeds we aren't as open as your coalition be we do have more of the amenities than you would think by the way we look. I can see to it that your mates get Home and I can see to it that you get a chance to report what happened to your superiors. This job is very important to my client and he has very deep pockets. What do you say?”
  15. THE EXTRANET LOCATION GUARDED “Okay, I have a few channels to investigate on my own. Keep me in the loop” Vaughn's avatar sat back as he contemplated which avenue to probe. Data flowed out at the speed of light multiple agents searching in nano seconds replies came back and were catalogued, ranked, filed, two were especially promising. One gave rise to the possibility that this may all be some sort of concerted attack on House Kimura. Not unheard of and definitely a possibility Several glitches and anomalies had surfaced in what was arguably the universes most popular virtuality, Stygia, and all of these things seem to coincide time wise with the incident on Luna. The other though caught Vaughn's attention and imagination. At the Crossroads, another virtuality based in a magical fantasy setting where old fashioned random events were commonplace, more anomalies had cropped up in the last few hours. Normally the events took place within defined localities with in the virtuality leaving other areas unaffected. But now complaints of events leaking into safe zones had been reported. It had also been reported that these incidents which were often violent not caused actual pain and damage to those who encountered them. Something that only alteration of base code could accomplish. The same kind of code alteration needed to change the focus of the MESH. Vaughn stood and became a bird, spreading his wings he took flight and flew through the now open window. Data flowed and his ego channeled across the vast distances that weren't and suddenly the Bird that was Vaughn burst from the branches of a tall Majestic oak. He soared high into the blue sky looking out over fields of nearly ready for harvest grain and quaint farmers tending fields and live stock. In the distance he spied a village his destination. He needed to speak to the Cobbler........
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