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"GINGER SNAP"

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"Looks like the derelict had a stowaway that Jericho missed, and got onto this ship..."

Maverick paused to let the gunshots go off, making a mental note that Volkov took the lesson of 'being sure' very...very...seriously.

"...or if you mean why did it suddenly stop moving and just let you shoot it, that was me."

She wiggled her fingertips, waving hello.

"I cracked its security and locked it in a diagnostic loop at what might charitably be called an inopportune moment."

The black fog of her esper swarm clustered around her arms again, and vanished into the tiny ports built into them.

"I, uh, think you got it. Lets pull the brainbox and see what we can salvage."

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Volkov waited a heartbeat or three, just in case the thing was waiting for Maverick to withdraw her swarm before rising, magnetically clipping her rifle to her back as she dropped her cloak and shimmered back into full visibility. Out came the spear from her belt and a faint series of clacks presaged it's extension to it's full length. The armored redhead took a reverse grip on the polearm, ready to use it as a lever to force the zombie onto it's ruined stomach.

Before she got to that bit of physical labor though, she prodded the synth's neck with the butt of the spear as one last precaution, finally relaxing enough to speak aloud, "If this... thing has a chip like I think it does, I'd like to take it back with me when I go home. This creature and it's brood need to face Coalition justice. That okay with you?"

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Maverick shrugged.

"It's dead. Justice is served as far as I'm concerned. Though..."

She hunkered down over the 'body,' and poked at it, frowning. For a moment Anna looked back up at the nearby bulkhead, then back at the synth.

"You know, this thing didn't have a mindset, but...yeah. This plating here came from the Ginger Snap. It's the same metal."

Anna leaned forward and pulled the sensor cluster of the thing's 'head' to the left, exposing a deep set of scratches in its chassis.

"This is the same one as before. The one you said you killed. It's not a different one...it came back on, repaired itself with stuff from the ship."

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The power-armored marine froze in place, featureless visor giving nothing away as she processed the thought of hundreds of nanite-forged drones pulling themselves out of the hull like fungi if this thing had managed to kill them, leaving the ship with just enough internal workings to slam into another colony and repeat the process anew. Eventually she managed to suck in a breath and get her mental feet back under her. Damned Apostates.

"Try and finish up your examination quickly then. We're chucking this thing out an airlock at the nearest star before it repeats that trick if you don't mind," Volkov replied softly, shifting her grip on the spear so that it's shimmering bladed tip was pointed back at the murderous drone.

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"Oh I'm done. Chuck it out at your leisure. Might be good to download its memory and instructions first, but we'll need the captain's okay on that. I don't have anywhere to put that much data on me."

The ship shuddered, and Anna quickly took hold of one of the bulkheads.

"This might not be the best time to ask though."

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"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.

Spoiler

Anna is unconscious from the beating but she is now lying on the surface due to the centrifugal force of the tumble. Volkov is disoriented from the jump but concious and still looked to the deck by magnets. neither know about what happened of the new threat. It is unknown what the stat of the Ataraxia is or if Penny is still alive.

 

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Dizzy but conscious, Madeline pulled her pistol and swept the room for threats, trying to shake off whatever had hit them. She sucked in a breath as she spotted the smashed remains of the spider bot's torso. God willing, that'd mean the thing would stay dead long enough to be disposed of safely. There certainly were enough pieces of the thing scattered about to put even the most robust drone down. Still. This thing was an autonomous drone? Renegades able to field squads and legions of these things? She shuttered to think it. It would be another war. 

Having ensured that the scene was safe as she could on short notice, she made her way over to Anna's limp and beaten form, feet clunking solidly into place as the magnets re-engaged with each step. The protectorate marine knelt by the other woman, and started looking her over for worse injuries than bruising, thoughts running through the slightly more complicated procedures of military first aid when you might not know if your fellow soldier had a pulse or not.

"Volkov to All. Robot down. Anna down. What's going on up there?" she put out over the radio, hoping that link was still up and running. 

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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.

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Madeline had been through enough damage control training to recognize that blue generally equaled electrical arcing and that electrical arcing equaled bad, especially in an unknown ship. That realization galvanized into imedaite  concern as she heard Ana stir, thoughts for where exactly on the line between Protectorate and renegade they stood. Things were very, very simple when space was the great enemy and your own systems only a tick behind that in danger. Get the potentially injured person out of the space. *Then* come back with the right gear to contain the disaster.

"Ana, we need to clear the space and make sure you're okay. Can you move?" she vocalized through her coms, extending one hand towards the Apostate, ready to heft her up and carry her if needed. She kept one eye on the sparking potential disaster in progress, hoping her armor would be enough to keep her mobile if something exploded.

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"Wha...hell yeah I can move," Anna replied woozily. She shaded her eyes and squinted up at Maddie. "...I'm moving now. Spinning. Ugh. Tell...captain to stop spinning the ship."

Despite her dazed condition, she managed to roll onto her side and start to unsteadily pick herself up.

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