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  1. Volkov led the way toward the airlock Anna followed pausing at the hatch to give her drone one last look. The drone floated serenely then it half turned, and its sensors swept over Ana. Maverick felt a catch in her throat as Buzzy turned back to the bulkhead. Then closing suddenly moist eyes she hit the panel closing the hatch and went after Volkov. It took them several minutes to reach the airlock and cross to the Ataraxia, “We are in and the airlock is secured,” Volkov said over her suit radio. “About goddamn time. Strap yourselves in and prep for zero-G maneuvers. I’m going to drop us from the ‘Snap and use RCS thrusters to keep it between us and the big ship. If they don’t notice us we’ll spool up and jump as soon as we can.” Jericho sounded all business, cool and collected. “Good,” Anna said, “Let me know when you want and we can blow the snap up.” “What?” Father and daughter spoke at the same time. Volkov snapped the last buckle in place. “She can blow up the ship we cannot let them have the antimatter.” “Antimatter?” “Yes we found it. The AI hid it within the bulk heads I left Buzzy there and I can remotely detonate them with a signal.” Anna explained. Penny looked at her dad who glanced at her. “What are you thinking?” “Blowing up the snap out here isn’t going to do anything but piss it off, dad. But if we have all of the antimatter and we can release it all when it’s aboard that ship…” she cocked her head. “Dammit, how long do you need?” Penny slid to another station. “Anna can you show me what you saw?” Anna didn’t answer instead she just went to work and in a few seconds Penny and her were looking at what she and Volkov had discovered. “Ok the Ai you fought is like your drone it’s a sub-routine of the thing that’s running that ship, it is cunning but not all that smart we have it trapped in a logic puzzle. It will eventually solve it and break out but we think we have time. The big AI ship is producing a noticeable magnetosphere. We can use that to trigger a command in the power circuits the spider built to power the AM containers. Releasing the antimatter when the ship enters the field. Can you do that through your drone?” Anna looked at the data penny was sending her there was a lot of engineering stuff she didn’t know but she saw what the other girls was going for. She grinned “Yeah I can, and I won’t have to leave Buzzy behind.” She opened the connection back to Buzzy and went to work. The Ataraxia fell away from the Gingersnap as the Spiders arrived, they were single minded and took no notice of the other starship the Ginger Snap held there full attention. The ghost program Anna had rigged to imitate the spider Ai fooled them easily enough though she doubted if it would the parent Ai. The Ataraxia fell. The drones attached themselves to the ‘Snap and began to thrust toward the monolithic vessel hat contained the parent AI. The four passengers of the drifting starship gathered in the command deck and all of them watched as the Ginger snap grew smaller and smaller as it moved closer to its doom, until they could no longer see it unaided. Then suddenly the sky filled with light Enough antimatter to power a whole star system for 10 years released at one. The AI vessel was annihilated. Anna was holding Buzzy in her lap, she was reluctant to let him go. He was content. “Where did it come from,” she asked dreading the answer she already knew. “Earth,” answered Penny, “We got that much from the splinter sub-routine it left on the Ataraxia.” Volkov shifted and looked at the young girl then at her father. “We have to warn them.” Jericho started flipping switches and the jump drive began it’s charging process. “Yeah, I know.”
  2. Just then coms came on, suit channels on private, "You two alive down there if so listen u drop whatever you are doing and get back to the the Ataraxia asap. We have about a dozen of those robot spiders heading toward us from the largest space craft I have ever seen and the will be on the hull in a little under three minutes." The Apostates voice was low and clear and tinged with worry. Penny has the Atatraxia primed and ready. I will be undocking in two and a half minutes whether you are on board or not. We'll make a run for it and hope the Snap gives them something to play with and that they don't come after us immediately. So get to the ship now! Jericho out."
  3. THE TOWER Vaughn flew around the impenetrable tower and saw no way in then as his circumference was completed and he came back to where he had started he saw an open doorway in the wall. It hadn't been there before. The bird landed and Vaughn stood in it's place in his humanoid form, he walked into the tower. Through empty corridors and rooms up staircases and across landing he walked. The interior was very complete, very European, which was surprising considering Kwons ancestry. There were suits of medieval armor, racks of medieval weapons, Shields bearing coats of arms on the walls. it was all so very surreal. Vaughn came to a room the door swung open as he approached music could be heard. the room was the size of a ballroom and there were dozens of people, all of them masked, dancing to some obscure 18th century waltz. At the far end of the room Kwon stood holding two glass of champagne. He raised one as an offering to Vaughn.
  4. Anna saw the flash of light from the cracked bulkhead and thought it very curious. She pulled herself to the crack and peered inside and gasped. Dangling from a cable and swaying to the ships tumble was a sixteen inch cylinder with electrical attachments on both ends. One however was capped the other had the cable attached. a cover of the center of the cylinder was partially open revealing the blue glow of an electrical stasis field. In the glow Anna could see many more cylinders like the one swinging were filling the space between the bulkhead. She had found the anti-matter.
  5. 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.
  6. "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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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?"
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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."
  14. 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.
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