Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Act III: Archimedes VII : Psychosis

Act III: Archimedes VII

Curse of the Yellow Sign using Psychosis

This was a game I offered Rafael and April, who both have yet to play under me.  Both were open to try any kind of game, and since they were willing to play at our place at Cubao, it meant being able to play something with a lot more drama and mood.  Knowing they were fans of Alien and science fiction horror stuff, as well, I felt John Wick's Curse of the Yellow Sign might be the way to go.  Given I didn't want them to be too occupied with learning the game system, I decided to run it using a simpler system that I missed, Chameleon Eclectic's Psychosis.

A colony ship called Archimedes VII was travelling through outer space when something causes it to emit the distress beacon and awaken some members of the crew.  From complete darkness, small points of light begin to emerge until a shade of blue covers the whole area.

A glass surface contains the condensation, and a hand presses against its face.  A woman awakens from hypersleep, confused on how long she has been under.  She steps out of the pod and finds herself still having some trouble keeping her balance.  She picks herself up from the ground, dizzy from the shifting state of awake and asleep.  The room has five other glass chambers in the vicinity.  All are misted up and frosted from within.  She finds herself annoyed that she cannot recall why she's in the room.  She can't recall if they were on a journey off, or headed home.  She investigates and soon comes upon a panel that tells her the cryosleep procedure has been interrupted.  Another hand presses against the glass.  Looking in, she realizes it is her best friend on the ship... and like her, he slips and tumbles to the ground as his body tries to regain sense of its location.  They both have vague recollections of what has happened.

A whistle blares.  The sound when the captain has an announcement to make.  But no words follow.  A glass panel opens to reveal a third occupant, a black woman with her hair pulled into a bun. When the guy reaches to check on her pulse, she grabs his arm and threatens him to give her a reason to break his arm.  The black woman identifies them both as pilots, and like them recalls nothing of her name or role here.  She seems surprised to learn they are in outerspace and that there are others. The pilot is Jenny.  The guy is Regie.  Jenny finds a cabinet and plugs in a three-number combination without thinking.  The black woman tries using the computer to find out how long they have been sleeping.  Regie realizes there is something in the pocket of the clothes - a bloodied knife.  He slides it back into his pocket in silence.  Jenny's uniform is blue with silver and white trimmings.   Regie's is gray with a gear emblem.  Neither of them have boots, however.  The cold floor makes this even more apparent.  They step outside to look around.

Bright lights blind them.  The whole vessel seems to be still running, despite seemingly no crew active about.   The opposite door is illuminated by numerous bright lights on metal stands.  All around the door arch, strange markings and symbols cover it, none seemingly English in origin.  Regie finds himself bothered, as flashes of recollection reveal he was the one who wrote them.  Jenny wonders what they mean, given the don't seem to match any language she knows. Despite so many of them marking the door, not a single one overlaps another.  And worse, they seem to be written in a reddish brown fluid... possibly blood.  The black woman sees someone standing around twenty feet away from the two.    Regie pulls Jenny close to her as the silhouetted figure continues to stare at them. Regie pulls out his knife to defend themselves. "Who's there?" Jenny calls out, and the thing turns to face them and address them.

"I believe you have named me Archie," the tall man in a black tuxedo responds.  He is bald, pale, and seemingly constantly showing a smile.  His mouth never moves as he talks.  He asks to be of service, but when Regie asks about the journey and how much time has passed, it is the black woman who answers instead.  She admits its impossible to determine as the ship's memory banks have been wiped clean.  Archie asks to make the ride more comfortable for them.  The black woman shares she noticed there's supposed to be another pod, possibly around six more people somewhere in the ship.  When asked about the symbols, Archie tells them it is irrelevant to the situation.  Regie remembers Jenny descending some steps to pilot the ship.  He cannot seem to clearly recall where the bridge is in the vessel.  Archie assures them everything is in functional capacity and once again offers to make the ride comfortable for them.  He insists they  do the standard procedural processes upon waking or they may find themselves suffering from physiological complications. Jenny asks if the other woman knows if that is true, and she admits she recalls memory loss does happen but she isn't that kind of a doctor.    They decide to follow Archie to the medical bay.

The infirmary looks well stocked, and the whole place smells of antiseptic.  A single bed stands with a side chair nearby.  All of them notice however that the floor shows bloody footprints from the bed, to the table, then cabinets.   Footprints, not shoe prints.  A small mechanical robot.. its name is Zeppo.. and like a thermos with legs, it headpiece is popped open and it is busy cleaning the floor.  Jenny asks Archie what happened and the AI calmly explains all the personnel involved in the incident have been treated and are recovering.  When asked about the incident, how long ago the thing happened, and where the involved people are recovering, Archie repeatedly merely responds he has insufficient data.  The other woman admits she knows this place, and as she stares at some files she opens, she begins to remember, "I work here."  On the display screen, text emerges with an unexpected message: Doctor Reynolds, Bonnie.   Ship Psychologist."  Bonnie starts to recall she wanted to bring her family, but they... may have died.  The outermost folder is labeled, "Maddox, R."  Opening the file, the group discovers it is Regie's own file.  It lists him as an outer planet colonist, and that he was known for Astronavigation, Electrical Computer, Mechanical Repair, Physics and basic piloting skills.  Many of the later entries, however, are deleted.  Another folder is labelled Bright, Jade. More names read Beach, J., Chambers, D., Murphy, S., Price, O.. Bonnie stops him from reading the files. Jenny asks her to check the last data log, and Bonnie mentions she was going to have a meeting with a Samantha, Murphy. "Talk about daughter."

Regie asks Archie what the standard operating procedure is for post-cryo waking.  The AI instructs him to lie on the bed and the machines come to life to lock him down in place.  Jenny asks what the check entails and Archie explains its a full bioscan.  Thermal imaging, x-rays, and more scans are being done.  Small abrasions, scratches on his toes and feet, fingers, palms and forearms are being detected.  A foreign object is then detected, a dull roughly oblong shape in his stomach.  Archie states invasive procedures are necessary to further identify the object.  Archie requests from Jenny permission to commit to the procedure.  A spinning serrated wheel emerges from the wall.  Bonnie asks for more detailed x-rays, and the wheel goes back into the wall.  "How could I have forgotten that?" Archie muses.

Jenny catches sight of something in the room.  Silently, she pulls away from the others and walks to the nearby shelf.  Tucked between two jars is a phaser gun.  Bonnie is studying the x-ray and shares it looks like a sack of some sort.  A clumped up bag inside Regie's stomach, roughly six inches long.  Jenny slides the gun it into one of the utility pockets on her overalls.  As a magnetic scan begins, Regie begins to feel a growing pulse of pain from inside his stomach.  That thing inside is reacting to the magnetic waves.  "Get it out!" Regie gasps, and Archie asks if that is compliance.  Jenny confirms with Bonnie that it is not an entity, at least she doesn't think so.  Arms extend from the walls.  Bonnie gets Regie's consent to send him under deep anesthesia to undergo the operation.     The lasers begin cutting, opening the wound large enough to draw the object out.

Some dark figure moves outside, just at the fringes of Jenny's line of sight.  She hears the metal sounds clanging in the distance.  She proceeds out to check the sound. It leads her to two door, near the cargo boxes and stairs leading to the bridge.  As she walks down the cargo area, moving alongside the cargo crates, Jenny sees to her horror a dead body suspended above the ground.  The body stares back at her, having no eyelids nor a face to help her recognize him.  Jenny gasps upon seeing the bubbles on the body's lips, suggesting he is breathing! She hits the device to engage the pulley and have it descend.  With the body down at the ground, Jenny moves close and tries to turn it over.  The body is in a gray uniform with a gear symbol, suggesting he was one of the technicians or engineers.

The foreign object in Regie is extracted, but Bonnie panics upon realizing Regie is awake during the procedure!   Bonnie sends him to sleep by engaging certain chemical releases.  When Regie awakens, he is propped up on the bed, but still numb from the anesthetic. A plastic bag, still bloody, was retrieved from Regie's stomach.  It contained three plastic cards.  Card keys, to be more precise. Bonnie asks Archie how many of the crew is currently active, and the AI responds six.  Regie asks for their locations and Archie explains one is currently with Miss Bright right now.  They stare at each other in shock, realizing Jenny is not alone!

A voice barks out at Jenny not to move.  She turns and finds a flashlight being shined at her face to keep her from seeing properly.  The other person has a weapon trained at her and warns her that she is not "letting that bastard free."  Jenny tries to calmly get the woman to explain what happened,  and she starts talking about how that engineer reminded him of someone, and how he began to touch her and talk about how no one would hear her scream in space.  When asked what happened to the man, the woman exclaims he deserved it.  Jenny backs away slowly, realizing the woman was the one who did this to the engineer.  The woman, however, starts to recognize Jenny.  The woman hisses at Jenny, talking about how Pilots like her are all alike, all focused on the money.  She identifies herself as Samantha Murphy, the Executive on board the vessel. When asked if Samantha has seen anyone else, she admits she saw Chambers and that he is still downstairs, trying to stop the whole ship.  When Jenny asks why the ship has to be stopped, and where it was supposed to go, Samantha smirks about how she really doesn't remember anything at all.  Not even what had just happened.

Bonnie refuses to go out and check.  She has Archie inject a dose of adrenaline to boost Regie back to activity.  He slumps against the wall, making his way out, asking Archie for Jenny's location.  Bonnie complains about being unable to find the scalpel, so Regie decides to just go for it. He moves in the direction of the cargo central area, but as he starts stepping into the sticky bloody puddles, he slows down, not wanting to slip or fall.  Flashes of memory hint of whose blood this all is, but he shakes it away and creeps closer at Samantha and Jenny. He listens as Samantha talks about how everyone was so focused on the money believing the statue they were bring was worth billions, but only she realized what was happening.  Nonchalantly, she adds how the pilot is dead now and even as she talks, Regie inches his way closer to her with the plan to wrestle the gun from her hand.  He makes a sound, telling at Samantha to stop, and as the executive turned to the direction of the sound, two chains suddenly swing down from the ceiling, its hooks tear into wrists, and Samantha suddenly is hoisted up into the ceiling.  And she's gone.

The panel controlling the chains is untouched.  No one seems to be manipulating it.  Regie shines her flashlight up into the ceiling but there is no visible sign of Samantha any more.  When Regie insists they return to the infirmary, Jenny tells him the body on the floor is still alive and that they have to bring him with them.  As they both drop to the ground to help the man, Regie finds himself slipping into a flash back.  He is in a room with boarded up windows.  A table with a groove stands, a small channel from the center, to the sides, then into a circle.  Leather straps are nailed to the surface to hold legs and arms.   Regie hears himself say, "I am ready."  And to his surprise, Jenny asks, "Ready to do what?" as his flashback ends.  They lift the body back to the infirmary.  Jenny sees a slip of paper drop from the body.  She tells Regie to stop as she goes down to pick it up.  The paper reads: You can trust Reynolds.  Regie picks the body up and realizes as he carries him, the body is trying to whisper something.  Regie lays him back down on the floor - but seeing the face lacking skin, Regie pulls back as the disgust overwhelms him.  Regie leans closer, hoping to hear what he is saying.  "We're all going to die. The Captain..."

The two return to the infirmary with the skinless man.  Bonnie stares at them, terror marking her face, as they place the body on the bed.  They close the chamber and quickly run diagnostics.  Jenny asks Archie to run diagnostics on how many active people are about.  Archie identifies five being operational onboard.  Jenny asks to isolate them from the readings, and Archie detects two outside the infirmary.  The man flatlines on the bed.  "Joe.. Joe Beach," Bonnie mutters as the name crystallizes in her head.  She admits she remembers talking to him, about some product he wanted to release - some kind of neurotoxin.  "One that got rid of unwanted memories. Something to help people forget traumatic events."  Jenny asks Archie to identify the contents of the crates, and the contents turn out to be two tonnes worth of a chemical product - one that has not yet been cleared for release on the market.  "Probably a black market one," Jenny muses, especially given it is registered under Beach, Joe.  Jenny asks Archie to identify anyone at the bridge.  Bonnie and Regie whisper to each other, wondering what caused the man's injuries.  Bonnie admits they look self-inflicted, especially those around the jawline area.  Bonnie wonders aloud if the toxin, which they most likely had planned to sell at the outer planets, might be what is causing them the their memory loss.  Maybe there was a leak?

Archie identifies the others to be currently at the bridge.  Jenny gives "391," as the entry code for access to the security cameras.  A man with a mustache, beard, and ragged jumpsuit is at the bridge.  A leather strap over his shoulder is connected to a broken scrap of wood.  He stands there, but is just seated there.  Bonnie wonders if she should try to isolate the chemical and find a counter or antidote.  Regie asks Bonnie if she knows a Samantha.  Bonnie admits she remembers a Samantha Murphy, executive, sent by the company to Archimedes VII.  "That must be the name of this ship."  Regie raises the information he learned that the ship is headed for Earth and Archie confirms the vessel is headed back to their home, but given the current engine thrust: 476 decades.   On self-sufficiency of the vessel with all at hypersleep, the passengers can arrive safely.  Food stores not sufficient so long as a single person remains awake for the duration of the journey.  Upon request, Archie projects a 3D hologram mapping the route to the bridge.

They notice the guy on the bridge seems to be pressed against the control console.  He looks like he is kissing the keys.  The two opt to head for the bridge.  Bonnie, however, is too scared to leave, and again opts to wait at the infirmary.  When Bonnie admits she wishes she had a weapon, Regie reveals he had the scalpel in his pocket.  Bonnie starts to question Regie about having a knife, given they supposedly just awoke from hypersleep.  Even Jenny isn't sure if Regie is telling the truth.  But Regie reassures them they'd probably all be safer if they stick together.  They head out.

Moving through the ship slowly, they walk past the mess hall, the private quarters, and hear a soft sound from the sleeping areas.  The lights are weak, but their flashlights share some illumination.  Shining into the room, they find something under the blanket, moving.  Regie approaches, while Jenny stays ready with a weapon.  Regie pulls the blanket despite his heart pounding so strong.  The thing beneath the blanket leaps at Regie!  Jenny fires, hitting the thing.  It drops to the ground, the blanket burning away, and the three see its another mechanical robot, with its parts jury-rigged in some manner.  It is lacking its rear legs.  "Harpo!" Bonnie mutters, "It's one of the three robots on the vessel."  Regie composes himself and looks around, searching for shoes or something to help get warmer.  The don't find any else worth using and decide to now head back towards the Bridge.  They, however, find a dead body just before they can leave and discover it is the pilot's body!  When they try to lift the body to check its name tag, the back collapses open and spills out its contents.  Bonnie panics and breaks into a run back to the infirmary.  Jenny looks down and finds a severed hand among the things that fell out of the dead body's hollowed cavity.  The name tag on the body reads  Wellington, G.   They decide to head straight for the bridge in hopes of getting answers.

The screens display AUTOPILOT ENGAGED.  Star Charts display the journey.  The man with the messy hair and jeans is still on the console.  The strap with the wooden thing turns out to be a guitar.  On the ground, another line of graffiti written in blood is all across the floor.  Regie notes the man has boots.  Jenny triggers the switch and the room illuminates.  The man sits up, sees them, and admits he was wondering when they would show up.  Grabbing the broken guitar, the man hoists it up like it was a baseball bat.  When Jenny asks for his name, he questions how she could have forgotten the time they've had.  He ignores her further questions and verbally assaults Regie being there.  "Did you finally tell her the truth?" he asks him.  Jenny and Regie don't quite follow his mad rants.  "Thought I could trust you.. until I saw you, Regie, in that room with Joe Beach."  Regie proclaims he remembers nothing.  When Jenny asks the man how long he has been awake, he realizes they went to sleep.  "You went to sleep and don't recall anything right now.  You mean to tell me it worked! That thing inside your head is gone now!? And it worked!"   The man even remarks that they don't have shoes, as if its important.   He tells them to drop the knife, but Regie counters the man should drop the guitar.   When the man repeats that he doesn't trust Regie after what happened to Joe Beach, Regie asks him to tell him what happened.  The man's words unlock another suppressed memory: Regie was singing to Joe Beach as he sat on the wooden table on the workshop to collect any oil.  Joe Beach was unconscious on the table as Regie used the scalpel to slowly remove his face.  Just as Beach started to feel the pain, Regie plunged the knife twice to sever the muscles in the jaw line.  And one final time to sever the tongue.   "And you started wearing his face like a mask," the man spat at Regie. "And don't ask me to get started with you," he hissed this time at Jenny.  "Oliver Price may be just a musician hitching a ride to his next concert, but he was smart enough see her switch the coordinates of the ship to that odd moon to pick up that god-forsaken idol," he complimented himself.  They ask him about the markings on the floor, and Jenny tells Price to explain what they mean.  He admits he ran to the bridge because it was the safest place he could lock himself in after everyone on the ship went nuts.   Jenny notices Archie manifest behind them, listening, as Price talks about how the markings were the same ones that surrounded the idol.  Regie had wiped them out while cleaning the idol, and that's when the shit started to happen.  Price, however, turns out had photographic memory - which made him a master in music since he could memorize sheets at a glance - and he remembered what those markings looked like. He rigged the computers to reset to default state and send them back home.  He challenges them to cross the line on the ground. "If you are who you say you are, the line won't hurt you."

Regie takes a step forward, but hesitates.  Jenny steps through, landing past the line.  Price seems overjoyed that she succeeded, dropping to his knees and the guitar hits the ground.  "You're no longer possessed..."  When Jenny asks one last time what is happening on the ship, Archie finally responds, "I am what has happened to the ship."  Price screams upon seeing Archie is present too!  "They can't cross the line!  As long as it has not been broken!"  Archie remains unmoving. Smiling.  And the three see where Bonnie's vomit had splattered atop the markings, smearing some of it.

It takes a beat before Jenny and Regie realize this Archie isn't the same hologram they were talking too the whole time.  This Archie is blinking and standing on the ground, solid and present.  He thanks Jenny for getting him inside.  Jenny fires the blaster but the plasma flies through the grinning man and fries the nearest console.  Regie runs for Price, pulling him away from the electric fire.  Chains from the cargo room have extended into the bridge, swinging at them. Jenny drops to the ground to roll away.  Regie grabs Price's shirt, pulling him to his feet, and drags him backwards away from Archie.  "We need to go back, somewhere where the symbols still stand!"  Price gasps.  Jenny remembers the markings at the cryo chamber.  Regie worries about getting to Bonnie.   He breaks into a run, dragging Price behind him.  Jenny backs up following them but Regie gasps as the Grinning Man is already down the steps.  As well as in front of Jenny.  She fires a second time, and it strikes the glass at the bridge crack and fracture, but hold.

Regie whips out the scalpel as Archie taunts Regie that there is no place to run to.  "You served me before," the grinning man hisses, "You will serve me again."  Crates begin to drop from the stacks.  Regie hits the floor as one of them crashes against his shoulder.  The scalpel spins away on the floor.  "Maddox!" Price calls out, "Hold on!" He presses a button and the crate that struck Regie begins to rise up from the ground.  Regie grabs hold and the crate is hoisted up by the cargo chain system away from the Grinning Man.  Jenny runs down the steps away from the bridge as the bridge glass spiderwebs.  She sees Regie carried by the chains to the other side of the room, thanks to Price's manipulation of the controls.  The Grinning Man however manifests behind Price and reaches for him.  Jenny fires an aimed shot and it strikes the man on the head, distracting him.  Regie lets go and lands at the entrance of the infirmary.

The Grinning Man snarls, turning to face Jenny.  He eloquently speaks why she was the one who- he stops, realizing he nearly said too much.  She asks what he wants from them, and he admits he already has what he wants.  Jenny's mind races back to a lost memory as they detect some kind of lost radiation from the cargo.  The Archimedes VII is actually dragging a massive cargo behind it.  The bald guy, a captain, tells her to send someone to check out the radiation.  Jenny chose Maddox to do the job.   The cargo behind them, supposedly, is pure diamond.  Maddox then told her not to worry as he can handle the space walk.  They were best friends.  A small explosion rocks the ship.  Maddox hurries back with some damage to his suit.  He has a tiny diamond shard in his hand, which broke from the main idol.  Jenny just happy he's safe.  Bonnie then gave a clear diagnosis and suggested to Maddox to just get some rest.   Jenny returns to the Captain and they toast to their coming millions.

"Give it up. Give it to me. And I will let you live," the Grinning Man promises.  Jenny refuses to believe his words.  Regie shoves the door open and sees Bonnie, who in terror has been tearing her hair off her head in clumps.  Blood trickles down her scalp and cheek.  When Regie steps closer, Bonnie trains the gun at him.

She warns him not to get any closer, now that she is starting to remember what they had done.  Regie explains they were possessed.  Bonnie claims he is doing it for "her..."  for Jenny.   Bonnie starts to admit her feelings for him, claiming Jenny does not see him the way he does.  "That's why you swallowed the keys. You knew she needed the keys but you wanted to make sure she had no access to them.  So you swallowed them."  She starts suggesting to Regie that they can leave Jenny with the Grinning Man.  That they can go back alone.   Regie starts acting along, moving closer to Bonnie as he whispers to her that he will escape with her.  Bonnie is easily swayed by his words, given her feelings for him.  She buries her face onto his shoulder.   The two begin to walk out.  Bonnie asks if Regie knows where the diamond is hidden, "Because that's all he wants back."

The Grinning Man hisses at Jenny how she is so much like her best friend.  She blasts at the Grinning Man's head, searing it away, and she runs back towards the infirmary.  Regie and Bonnie are moving in the direction towards Jenny.  Regie starts to remember making the markings on the wall once more, and the spotlight being held by Jenny.  The thing can't cross as long as the lines are not broken.  The light keeps the Grinning Man at bay.  The two step inside the cryochamber, and decide to wait it out in the room. Regie has the diamond in his hand.  He swallows the engine bay key, as Jenny and he steps into the cryochambers.  Bonnie, possessed, screams outside for them to step out.  "It is with her," Regie gasps, realizing it is with Jenny.

Bonnie laughs, taunting Regie to admit where the diamond is.  Suddenly, a crate on a chain system swings into Bonnie, smashing her to the wall. Regie sees Price yelling at them not to listen or talk to them.  To keep running.  Regie runs to the body and searches for the gun.  The Grinning Man reemerges beside Price and Jenny fires at him again.  Price admits they may have to blow up the ship, but Jenny wonders if there's anything else they can do.  Regie remembers the bright lights at the cryo chambers and runs for that room.  Jenny runs for the infirmary for the card keys they extracted from Regie.

Regie grabs one of the powerful lights and swings it to face towards the Grinning Man.  The Grinning Man vaporizes upon hitting the light.  Jenny finds the plastic bag where the keys were but discovers they are empty.  She realizes it probably might be with Bonnie.  She sees Regie with the light and Price is asking if any of them has the stone.  The Grinning Man keeps trying to manifest close to them, but Regie keeps dispersing it with the light.  Price asks how they broke the possession, and Regie thinks it may have to do with going back to Cryosleep.  But then again, he recalls neither of them were possessed.  They were trying to stop the Grinning Man even back then.  Jenny slides to Bonnie's body but when she flips her over, Bonnie's face is replaced with the Grinning Man's.  He hisses about teaching them a lesson and suddenly changes tactics, hinting he's willing to let them go.  But Jenny just vaporizes Bonnie's head instead.  Regie challenges Price's recollection about them being possessed, and Prince now wonders if it was the toxin that freed them.  He had blasted them with it when he was running from them.   The captain's whistle blares again, suggesting someone is triggering it from somewhere else in the ship.  The three throw ideas, whether they cause the ship to self-destruct, or to fly it to the sun, but even escaping by the escape pod won't do much as they aren't sure where they would land.  Jenny suggests they blow up the engines at the Engineering Station, so they all opt to head there.

They arrive at Atmosphere Control, where the hydroponics station stands leading to the Engineering Station.  The three lament as they realize they cannot bring the strong light further with them as the cables only go so far.  They leave it at the door way area, giving them a lit sanctuary to run to.  As they maneuver inside the forest-like area of hydroponics, the damn floor and roots complicates their progress.  Price loses his balance and begins falling.  The others try to grab hold of him, but they all start slipping and tumbling in the darkness.  The Grinning Man stands just outside the light.  Price wonders if the ship's mechanic is actually still down there.  They wonder if the intercom is down, but the man has been using the whistle to try and signal others to his location.

Jenny scans the area and sees Price and Regie finally recovering from their fall.  But before she can call out for him, the lights all across the ship go out.  Regie aims the gun at the nearest tree and fires.  It ignites the tree, providing light as the wood begins to burn.  "Do the symbols," Jenny calls out to Regie, "At the side of the door!"  She hurries off to find the other guy.   Price calls out that Engineering must be down his way.  Jenny tells him to climb up to where she is, and she scans for an intercom unit to use.  She shoves back some leaves and reveals the intercom unit.  She activates it to contact the Engineering Station.  "She calls out for Chambers," and the whistle blares.   She asks if he's at Engineering and to blare the whistle twice if he is.  The whistle blares twice.  She asks if he's okay, and to whistle once for yes.  The whistle remains silent.   Jenny insists Regie works on the symbols while she goes for Chambers.  When Regie exclaims he needs blood, Jenny tells him to cut himself or something.  Regie tells Price to stay with Jenny, while he considers going back to the cargo hold, to get blood.  Jenny tells him there's no light.  "I'll bash your head if you need blood for the thing."  A voice between Price and Regie suddenly responds, "That won't be a problem."  A red light suddenly bursts in Price's chest, and blood gushes on Regie's face.  Regie sees the Grinning Man behind Price and fires at him, making him vanish again.  A second tree bursts into flames.

Regie runs to the shuttle entrance, trying to recall each symbol and paint it using Price's blood.  His fingers shake with each stroke, fear threatening to overwhelm him.  Jenny stays alert, scanning for any signs of the Grinning Man.  Jenny asks Chambers via the Engineering Station to blare the whistles once more if he's still alive, and he does.  When she asks him to whistle once if he's alone, the whistle once more remains silent.  "Whistle once for human, and two if there's something else in there with you."  The whistle blows.  Twice.  Regie thinks he's done with the symbols.  They hope it will work.

Jenny and Regie consider if the fire will be enough to cause the ship to get destroyed by the fire at Atmosphere Control.  With the two entrances to Engineering Station, the two decide to try the one at the right and run for it.  Leaving the confines of the burning woods, the two reach the metal door separating the two sections and find it has been forced open with metal rods.  There are signs of a nearby fire as well.  With guns ready, the two move inside.  They see two motionless forms past the door.  Each one holds a knife, and each have cut their throats.  Closer inspection reveals, the hands not holding the knives are holding each other, as if they were embracing one another.   Deeper inside they move into Engineering Station.

They find a body squatted in the corner.  Skin and hair pale and white.  Eyes wide open. Jaw slack.  The man has no shoes.  Nor any visible injuries.  Regie approaches and sees the name Peters on the tag.  The door past him leading to the Main Engines beckons.  Jenny checks Peters but finds no response.  The green jumpsuit he is wearing has a symbol of a flower icon.  Most likely the man in charge of the Atmosphere Control.  They approach the final door and find it already ajar.

Walking into the room, they find Chambers grievously injured, with his body against the communications panel.  His lower body is still smoking, dangerously burned.  The Grinning Man stands beside Chambers, greeting them as they come closer. "Finally, we're at the end."  Jenny trains the gun at it, but Regie warns her that if they hit the Engine, the whole place will blow up.  Regie whispers to Jenny to run. To go.  Jenny wishes there was time to write the symbols here.  To trap him in the room.  The Grinning Man asks for what he wants, and again Jenny admits they don't have what he wants.  Chambers admits he witnessed how the two were in Hypersleep when Ronnie and Chambers, both in boots, were weighing to flush the two out of the cryochambers.  They can't get into the room due to the symbols.  But if they pump the room with the toxin, the cryo chambers would register the gas as a toxin and force them out of the sleep.  The two however fail to properly flush the two out without getting Chambers blasted by the toxin as well.  He awakens from the possession and runs for the room, only to have the others chase after him.  And how he gets brutally hurt in this very room. He begins hitting the intercom call button, despite the microphone being dead, hoping to warn them two.

Explosions rock the vessel as the fire in Atmospherics spread more.  Jenny trains the gun at the Engine and wonders if she should just blow it up.  The Grinning Man wants the stone back.  He even accuses Regie of being the one who took it.  "Tell me and I will let her live."

Regie shoves Jenny out of the room.  As she tumbles out, she yanks the gun out and fires at the Grinning Man.  Regie screams out a no, but its too late.  Her shot pops the Grinning Man's head once more.  Chambers tells them to run.  He'll make sure the whole thing blows.  The two run back to the emergency pod, locking the door behind them.   They initiate disengagement of locks and start the escape vessel's ejection process.  The Grinning Man appears, standing outside staring at them, ever smiling even as they escape his clutches at last.  They launch out of the Archimedes VII and a secondary explosion shunts them even faster away.  A bright light erupts from within the ship, and the two feel themselves blinded for a moment by the immense white glow.  The escape ship spins in space, faster and faster, until they both black out.

Hours later.
Regie and Jenny find themselves awakening inside the shuttle.  Screen panels show oxygen levels are 99.7%,  hull integrity is at 92%, power is good.  Jenny plots the course to the nearest system.  Regie turns to Jenny, admitting to her that the thing the Grinning Man had been looking for - the diamond - is inside of her.  She had swallowed it.

Regie points at the shunt door, telling her they have to throw it out of space.  Jenny admits she knows.  She wants to sell it.  To start a new life with it.  The two however realize it would be best to bid it farewell.  They shunt it out and watch as it crumples and fades away.  Lights go dim.  The two try to get some rest.

Light.  Temperature shifts.  The two open their eyes to see Archie standing at the center of the pod, smiling, as he addresses the two.  "Co-pilot Bright, you have awakened.  Your ship is ready to dock."  Jenny and Regie stare at the Artificial Intelligence, but they remember all vessels have the same AI model.  They just are bothered that this one reminds them too much of the Grinning Man.  Jenny directs the ship to the Mining Planet below.  "Would you like me to get you some shoe-" Jenny shuts down Archie, not wanting to hear his voice anymore.  Regie and Jenny look at each other and smile, realizing they still have bare feet.   The escape vessel approaches the Mining planet, safe... at least for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...