Ring around the rosie
Pocket full of poises
We All Fall Down
"Docking clamps engaged, we are in the green." Donald informed the crew as the USG Pathfinder settled within the cavernous flight deck of the seemingly abandoned USG Ishimura.
"Alright people, get settled and get ready to move." Skip informed his crew. "Vasquez, Raven you two take point. Donald and Jackie take the rear and I'll open any doors we come across. And Jackie, for the love of Christ, don't forget your fucking side arm this time."
"Yessir." Jackie responded meekly.
The hatch hissed open, and both Vasquez and Raven stomped down the ramp, Pulse Rifles up and sweeping the shadows of the bay, but beyond the occasional sound, nothing stirred.
"We're clear!" The black and red haired woman named Raven called back to the ship. "Disembark."
As the other three stomped down the ramp, Skip suddenly reached over and slapped a helmet hard down on Raven's head.
"You forgot it." He said as Raven gave him a dirty look from behind the visor.
"Skip!" Jackie called from near the edge of the docking platform. "Come and take a look at this!"
Flashlights swung down into the darkness of the flight deck's cargo loading area to rest on a twisted mass of white and red metal.
"The Kellion." Donald whispered. "Now we know why she never checked back in."
"Looks like they lost the port booster." Jackie pursed her lips in a silent whistle.
"But...where's the crew?" Vasquez asked quietly. "You don't think...?"
"No, this explosion looks like it was secondary." Skip replied. "My guess is they didn't realize the fuel tanks had ruptured till they tried to start her back up, and even then they'd have plenty of time to get the hell out of it. So my guess? They're somewhere on board."
"So why the hell haven't they tried contacting us?" Raven asked harshly, Pulse Rifle sweeping the flight deck. "And why the hell aren't there more lights in this joint?"
"Ship's running in standby mode." Don remarked. "Given the amount of impact craters, never mind whatever caused the grav tethers to fail in the first place, my guess is they took the main reactors out of the loop to prevent a meltdown."
"Well speculation isn't going to do us any good." Skip remarked. "Come on, if anyone is home on this bucket, they'll be on the bridge."
"Door to the flight lounge is open." Jackie commented. "That's weird. I don't remember it being open when we got on board."
"That's because it wasn't." Raven said harshly, and gestured to her partner. Vasquez nodded and quickly rushed to one side of the door while Raven the other. A silent three count by Raven and then the two rushed within. As they crossed the threshold, lighting activated to reveal...nothing.
"That's funny." Skip replied as he, Jackie, and Don made their way into the flight lounge, weapons drawn. "The Bio feedback sensors are still powering the lighting. That means the door couldn't have been opened without someone tripping the lights."
"So what?" Don asked. "Random power glitch?"
"The flight doors aren't connected to the primary systems. It keeps the sort of power glitch your suggesting from happening." Skip said. "Everyone, sync your RIGs with the ship. I don't know about the rest of you, but I've got one helluva creepy vibe coming from this ghost town."
"Tram's this way, Skip." Raven nodded towards the far door. "It should take us all the way to the bridge."
"The security station's been abandoned." Don remarked as they began filing towards the tram. "You'd think if there's been a com failure, they'd at least keep somebody down here to welcome new arrivals."
"We'll just have to get to the bridge and ask them about it, won't we?" Skip replied.
As the group filtered out of the flight lounge, the lights to the lounge flickered out and died. As the room went dark, the soft glowing amber lighting of the security station revealed the drying blood along the back wall - as well as the bloody hand print pressed up against the glass that the lounges normal illumination concealed.
The ride to the bridge was uneventful, but Skip and his crew's nerves were on edge as they exited to Tram to...nothing.
"Son of a fucking bitch." Raven complained. "Where the fuck is the crew?"
"That is the million dollar question at the moment." Skip responded, circling around in the tram station. "Ten to one odds we find the bridge abandoned at this point."
"I really don't like this boss." Donald replied. "Why don't we get back into the Pathfinder and just call it a day?"
"Donald, there is nothing I would like better at the moment." Skip responded with feeling. "Unfortunately, we're getting paid by the company to get important people and documents off this boat. So let's get to the bridge, access the main computers, and do it fast. The sooner we do this, the sooner we can all go home."
The team entered the silent bridge, the only noise coming from the slight hum of the displays - what few were functioning.
"Well, the Skip was right." Jackie said with a sigh. "Bridge is abandoned."
"Ghost ship, wonderful." Don grumbled.
"Dios mio...Skip!" Vasquez's light was pointed at the bridge's elevator system...and the strange fleshy growth spouting out of it.
"What in the name of all that is holy is THAT?!" Donald cried.
Skip stepped forward and gingerly touched the growth. "Hell if I know." He said, while pulling his hand away and wiping it on the leg of his RIG. "But it's warm, and feels like skin. Looks like we're dealing with some kind of bacteria, maybe?"
"Weirdest looking bacteria I've ever seen." Raven remarked.
"Shit Skip, if that's running all around the ship who knows how many systems it's interfered with." Jackie put in. "If it's gotten into the Mainframe then the whole computer core might be damaged."
"Agreed." Skip sighed and shook his head. "Jackie, check it."
Jackie nodded and walked over to a still functioning terminal, handing her pistol to Donald while she sat down and began typing. Skip and the others, meanwhile, continued to examine the strange growth with only Raven keeping an eye on Jackie's back. In moments, the screen dutifully obeyed Jackie's query.
"Oh SHIT!" Jackie cursed.
"What?" Skip asked urgently as he trotted over to her station.
"Mainframe's down." Jackie said disgusted. "Worse, it looks like the control lines have been severed. Also reading multiple decks out in space or their life support systems have been compromised. This ship's a mess."
Skip looked at the ship schematic for a few moments before shaking his head and letting out a deep sigh. "Alright people, listen up this is how we're going to do this."
"Donald and Vasquez, get to the tram and get your asses to the Engineering Deck.When you get there, do whatever you have to to get the mainframe back online, even data dump it to a portable if you need to. While that's going on, Raven and I will head to Medical to check on the status of the crew. If this shit is growing all over the ship, then it's possible the crew all went to the Medical deck - they've got far better facilities down there to help with infection control and decontamination."
"What ever happened to not splitting up?" Raven demanded.
"We'll save time this way." Skip replied. "Jackie, you stay here and see what you can learn from what's up here." He paused for a couple of heartbeats, then nodded slightly to himself. "And I'll seal the door to the bridge behind us so nobody can sneak up on you. That should help keep you safe."
"Safe?" Jackie asked with a slight grin. "Safe from what? This ship's derelict, remember? The escape pods and small craft are all missing, which means most of the crew got out...right?"
"I don't know." Skip admitted. "We still haven't found any sign of Kellion's crew. Everyone keep in com contact and don't fucking dally. I want us either getting this ship underway for home in 72 hours, or watching this thing go up like a Christmas Tree while we pull out. Let's move."
"Take away a mans light, his clothes, his food, his friends, his air, and you leave him with nothing but himself. And for most that is not pleasant company."
~ Ramse Truman, "Decending"