Chapter 4 - Acceptable Losses
Barnes, Karnak, Keir, Kermin and Brandock arrived at the Starboard generator on deck 12, each one of them panting from the deadly gauntlet they had just run. Commissar Shedler was dead, left somewhere back there behind them. They had been rounding yet another corner and stumbled into a large group of the ex-crew, some of them now showing signs of warp-influence with mucus covered tentacles erupting from their bodies and other misshapen limbs. They had opened fire but Shedler had been dragged down first, and it was only the strong arms of Brandock and Karnak dragging him away which saved Barnes from being dragged down too. The last time he had seen the Commissar, he was being devoured by the entire group of creatures, each one intent on the meal and not on the five who had escaped. Shedler had pulled a grenade out from his jacket and wordlessly pulled the pin, his face set in a grim mask for the next few seconds till the explosion annihilated him and the creatures devouring him. He had bought them some time, and Barnes made a note to pray for his soul the the Emperor when next he had a chance. Possibly the most capable fighter among the entire group of survivors was now dead, and Barnes refused to entertain the thought about what that meant for the rest of them.
They entered the outer observation room of the starboard generator room, checking once over their shoulders to make sure none of the dead were still after them. For the moment it was clear and the five men slipped inside, Brandock and Kermin holding up the rear with pistols in hand and locking the door behind them.
The two Enginseers got to work, checking the different dials and readouts coming from the various workstations. Barnes had only ever been to this part of the ship a few times before, and took a moment to absorb his surroundings. They were in a fairly large room with thick re-enforced plasti-glass windows stretching along two of the walls, looking down into the vast generator room below them. One of the walls was lined with row after row of voidsuits, capable of work in the vacuum of space on the hull due to the magnetised boots, and also for work in the harsh environment of the engineering decks in case of hull breaches and other such hazards. A small hatch in the floor opened up to a set of ladders and an airlock leading to the outside belly of the ship. This was an access port for Engineering crewmen to perform maintenance work on the outside of the ship.
Barnes took a look through the observation platform to the generator room below. The floor was covered in a dense orange fog, swirling around the entire chamber and obscuring the floor itself.
"Plasma" Karnak intoned, coming to join him at the window. "I and Keir are agreed. The Generators are still functioning, but there is much to be done before we can get them running and signal for help". Karnak walked to a display panel and Barnes followed. keir was busily working the different dials and instruments in the room as they talked.
"First" Said karnak "We will vent the plasma. This I will do from here in a minute. Following this I will need to go down to the Generator floor and activate the instruments manually, as they are currently in standby mode due to the damage the ship sustained". Barnes nodded, liking what he heard. So far it seemed routine and simple, and they could hopefully hold up in here till any help arrived, if it did.
"However" Keir stated, coming to join them. Barnes' hopeful expression dropped again. "We will need a team to get to the outside of the hull and activate one of the breakers a few hundred meters down. That young officer Nico spotted that the port weapon capacitor was still operational, and we will need that power to get the generators kick started. It will need a few men to do it as the handle is manual, and not easy to turn. Believe me."
"Sir!" Kermin shouted from the doorway, interrupting them. He had his las pistol pointed to the door and was looking fairly distressed. Barnes then heard it; a steady thumping noise coming from the other side of the door. There was no porthole to view the other side, and all five men drew weapons and approached the hatchway.
"Identify yourselves!" barnes shouted through the door, hoping the sound would carry through to the other side.
"Midshipman Adama, Sir!" Came the muted reply. Barnes grinned briefly and pulled the door open to the four men who had split from his group earlier. Adama came in followed by the Enginseer Mita and the two security officers. Each one of them were sporting more blood stains and were looking thoroughly frazzled, but he was glad they were all still alive. He closed the hatch behind them while Karnak and Barnes brought everyone up to speed on what was needed.
"Okay." Barnes Said. "I'll lead the team outside the hull. Vladimir, Keir, Brandock and Kermin, you are with me. Adama, you're in charge down here till i get back. Karnak and Mita will get the engines running here, and Akon I want you to make sure they're safe while they do their job." Barnes was happy to see the entire group nod their agreement, and was slightly proud he had finally memorized everyone's names.
"Suit up". The nine men selected their voidsuits from the racks, checking and occasionally swapping each one till they found one that fit. Mita and Karnak selected a few of the reserved suits designed specifically for Enginseers, which were far more bulky but allowed room for their augments and also ports for their mechandrite arms to protrude from the suit itself. Karnak was ready first, clearly used to working down here every day. He released a valve and an audible hissing went through the room. Barnes glanced down and saw the plasma pooling away from the generator room downstairs. In a few minutes of checking each other's gear, each of the crewmen were dressed for work in the void.
Barnes took his team down through the hatch and to the airlock. He tapped the button to drain the room of air and checked behind him one last time to make sure his group was ready. He received a thumbs up from each of the men in reply to his own.
"Sir, this is Adama". His intercom crackled in his ear, fuzzy but decipherable. "The plasma has cleared but the room is incredibly hot. I'm leading my team down to the Generator room deck now"
"Received. We're just heading outside now. Good luck". He pressed the airlock release and stepped outside of the ship, his feet locking down on to the hull. They had a long way to to get to the breaker.
It was only then he saw them. The outside of the hull was littered with the bodies of crew who had been jettisoned from the crash with the asteroid. There were hundreds of them, scattered for hundreds and hundreds of meters all along the belly of the ship. Each one of the corpses, as one, snapped their heads towards the group. They held their gaze for a few seconds, and then as if part of some gestalt consciousnesses, they started crawling, slowly along the hull towards the group, the mass of the ship keeping them close to the hull.
"We're under attack!" his intercom screamed into life, the voice of Adama unmistakable. After that there was just static, and Barnes could not know if any of the men he had left behind him were still alive, but he had his own troubles. They had a long way to get to the breaker....
We've had our first casualty. Shedler, RIP. Now the team who is with me, there are a lot of crewmen on the outside of the hull we have to try and work past and they will be coming for us as slowly as they can. Only lasers will work out in the void remember, and there are far too many of them for us to kill them all.
For the group in the generator room, you are not alone... Now the plasma has been drained, the dead crew will start coming through the floor, the vents, the corridors, the locked doors... from everywhere. You have to protect the enginseers long enough for them to do their job and get things running again.
Enginseers, by all means get the generators ready to go within this chapter but do not get them up and running. My team, I will write about what happens with the breakers at the end of the chapter so don't get them running yet and please don't reach them, but do get closer to them. We'll all be busy enough trying to make progress with an army of the dead trying to eat us!
- No more collaborative posts. It's confusing for me to keep track of who has typed what and slows things down a bit. We all know what the other characters are all about and how they act by now, so please write them into your own entries. Look at this post and try and include people in them like I have. Write your story from your own point of view, but progress the story by making other players do things. Remember, conversations and actions are fine to make other characters perform, but hurting or harming them is not.
We will also have a new player in the story next chapter, so keep the story going! Good luck....