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This is the raw story data in the game files. This can be used if anyone wants to make flowcharts and/or improve on what we know about the game:

:: Start <<silently>> <<set $toldname = 0>> <<set $boulderdayone = 0>> <<set $deadenddayone = 0>> <<set $hurtshoulder = 0>> <<set $mapsuggest = 0>> <<set $toldstudent = 0>> <<set $backofship = 0>> <<set $frontofship = 0>> <<set $rations = 0>> <<set $ratpellets = 0>> <<set $startedburialtalk = 0>> <<set $capalive = 1>> <<set $ginny = 0>> <<set $power = "none">> <<set $capburied = 0>> <<set $crewburied = 0>> <<set $hurtankle = 0>> <<set $pills = 0>> <<set $glowrods = 0>> <<set $ginnycaravel = 0>> <<set $zombierats = 0>> <<set $compassweird = 0>> <<set $bringginnytwo = 0>> <<set $proximityalarm = 0>> <<set $trycaravelgalley = 0>> <<set $homemadecompass = 0>> <<set $triedgalley = 0>> <<set $peakdoorway = 0>> <<set $sendingsos = 0>> <<set $warnship = 0>> <<set $overridetarget = 0>> <<set $clockwisecrater = 0>> <<set $plural = "none">> <<set $testrods = 10>> <<set $gameend = "none">> <<set $inBridgeContent = false>> <<endsilently>> [incoming communication] [[launch]]

:: launch_test THIS SHOULD NOT BE IN A PRODUCTION BUILD.. ALERT ALERT [[connection lost|connectionlost]]>> | <<choice [[wrapping things up|wrappingthingsup]]

:: launch [establishing connection] [receiving message] Hello? Is this thing working? Can anyone read me? <<choice [[Who is this?|whois]]>> | <<choice [[I read you.|message received]]>>


:: whois <<silently>><<set $toldname = 1>><<endsilently>> Right, right, sorry. Should've started with that. I was just excited to get a response to my signal. My name's Taylor. I was a... an astronaut on board the starship Varia. <<choice [[The Varia?|Variainfo]]>> | <<choice [["Was?" What happened?|whathappened]]>>


:: Variainfo The Varia was a transport ship. Nothing fancy. Crew of less than a dozen. We were en route to Tau Ceti IV and, as far as I knew, everything was going fine! We were set to dock in six more days. But then... I don't know what happened. We crashed on some moon. I don't know where. <<choice [[How do you not know?|dontknow]]>> | <<choice [[Try using a map.|usemap]]>>


:: dontknow <<silently>><<set $toldstudent = 1>><<endsilently>> <<if $mapsuggest is 1>>Yeah, I seriously don't know.<<endif>> Why don't I know? Why don't I have this whole sector memorized, like any astronaut worth a damn would? Because I'm a STUDENT, okay? My number came up in a lottery of science students, and I got to join this mission. I was on board the Varia running zero-G experiments on rats and lichens and stuff, all right? I was never, ever meant to be without a trained supervisor by my side at any time. So it's safe to say that this crash landing wasn't covered anywhere in my student handbook. <<choice [[Okay. Calm down.|calmdown]]>> | <<choice [[Whoa. Take it easy.|whoatakeiteasy]]>>


:: calmdown Right. Sorry. As you can imagine, I'm pretty freaked out right now. We covered a ton of different protocols in training, but this was never one of them. But it's cool. It's cool. I just have to find the other survivors, and they'll know what to do. Only... [[delay 4s|nosurvivors]]


:: nosurvivors ...what if there ARE no other survivors? What if I'm the only one who made it? Aw, God, Captain Aya is probably dead. And all the others, too. Colby... dammit. Colby. I just... what if I'm all alone out here? <<choice [[Easy, now. Just breathe.|justbreathe]]>> | <<choice [[Want to talk about Colby?|talkColby]]>>


:: justbreathe Right. You're right. The atmosphere is breathable, might as well breathe it. I mean, it's like Colby said, more than once: Don't waste time worrying about "what if," just concentrate on "what is." So. Let's do that. <<choice [[Okay. Where are you?|whereareyou]]>> | <<choice [[Are you hurt?|areyouallright]]>>


:: sorryaboutearlier It's all good. Tensions are running pretty high. People are bound to say things they don't mean. I'm glad to have someone to talk me through this. I have no idea what I'd do if you weren't here. Okay. So. Let's deal with what we DO know, at this point. <<choice [[Where are you?|whereareyou]]>> | <<choice [[Are you hurt?|areyouallright]]>>


:: message received Oh, thank God! It's so good to have human contact! It's been hours! <<choice [[Who are you?|whois]]>> | <<choice [[What happened?|whathappened]]>>


:: whathappened Our ship crashed on some moon. I have no idea where. I managed to get to an escape pod, but I couldn't tell if anyone else made it into one. My IEVA suit sensor tells me that the air here is breathable, at least, so that's nothing short of a miracle. But I've got no food or water rations on me. The toolkit on the pod is about as basic as they come. I managed to get the pod's mobile transmitter working, but -- lucky you -- you seem to be the only one in range of the signal. Whoever and wherever you might be. <<choice [[Are you all right?|areyouallright]]>> | <<choice [[Where are you?|whereareyou]]>>


:: StoryTitle Lifeline 041115


:: usemap <<silently>><<set $mapsuggest = 1>><<endsilently>> Yeah, that'd be a fantastic plan, if it weren't for the tiny problem that I, and my escape pod, are right here... ...whereas the astromap room is still in the Varia. Which, given the two separate plumes of black smoke to the south, is in AT LEAST two pieces, nowhere near me. So you'll forgive me if "use a map" isn't at the very top of my "to do" list. <<choice [[You seriously have no idea?|dontknow]]>> | <<choice [[Sorry. Are you all right?|areyouallright]]>>


:: whoatakeiteasy "Easy" isn't exactly at the top of my list of ways to take it, at the moment. I am marooned in deep space and -- if we're being honest -- I'm freaking the hell out! <<choice [[It'll be okay. Calm down.|calmdown]]>> | <<choice [[Don't be a baby.|dontbeababy]]>>


:: dontbeababy "Don't be a baby"? Oh, and I suppose YOU get stranded on a desert moon every day, huh? You wouldn't be much good on a crisis hotline, anyone ever tell you that? I think I was doing better before I got this transmitter hooked up. Just... I'm gonna take a break for a while. Try to assess the situation. I'll call you when I'm ready to talk again, okay? [[delay 30m|readytotalk]]


:: readytotalk Okay, look. I hate to admit you're even a little bit right. But sitting here feeling sorry for myself isn't going to get me rescued. So I guess it's time to take action. Please, just... remember I'm scared out of my mind, okay? I'm grateful to have any human contact at all, I really am, but... take it easy on me, all right? <<choice [[Sorry about earlier.|sorryaboutearlier]]>> | <<choice [[Grow some thicker skin.|thickerskin]]>>


:: thickerskin Damn. You've got the "tough" part of "tough love" down cold, but the rest could use some work. Look, I'm going to keep this channel open... ...but only because having you on the other end of the line is better than bouncing my thoughts into the void. Any help you can offer, well, that'd just be peachy. <<choice [[Any idea where you are?|whereareyou]]>> | <<choice [[You all in one piece?|areyouallright]]>>


:: whereareyou The only way I can answer that with any confidence is to say "stranded." If you know where nowhere is, just look right in the middle of it, and you'll spot me. <<if $toldname is 0>>My name's Taylor, by the way. Probably should've started with that.<<endif>> The Varia was on a gentle elliptical path toward Tau Ceti IV. I don't know whether we went off course, or by how much. I was nowhere near the bridge when it all went down. Colby, she... she shoved me into an escape pod and then went to see how she could help the others. That's just who she was. I guess I blacked out in the pod, from shock or fear or something -- I don't know how long -- ...and when I came to, I was here. <<choice [[Describe "here."|describehere]]>> | <<choice [[Want to talk about Colby?|talkColby]]>>


:: StoryAuthor Dave Justus


:: areyouallright Let's see. My ship just crashed in the middle of nowhere. No one is hailing on this frequency, and I don't see any survivors other than me... ...the least prepared person in existence for this sort of emergency! But I got out of the whole mess with nothing more than a stubbed toe, so things are looking just peachy. Thanks for asking. <<choice [[Sorry about the toe. Smartass.|sorrytoe]]>> | <<choice [["Least prepared"?|leastprepared]]>>


:: leastprepared <<if $toldstudent is 0>> Because... I'm a student, okay? Not an astronaut. My number came up in a lottery of science students, and I got to join this mission. I was on board the Varia running zero-G experiments on rats and lichens and stuff. I was never, ever meant to be without a trained supervisor by my side at any time. So it's safe to say that this crash landing wasn't covered anywhere in my student handbook.<<endif>> I mean, this definitely wasn't on the exam in science class. And I was in Advanced Placement! <<choice [[Oooh. Smart kid.|smartkid]]>> | <<choice [[Okay. So where are you now?|whereareyou]]>>


:: talkColby Oh. Yeah, maybe that'd help. Colby was... she was like the "mom" around the Varia. The nicest, but also, I think, the smartest. Not in a showy way, but in that way of, you know, if something broke, she'd know how to fix it. (And yes, even on a multi-billion-dollar starship, half the time the answer is "duct tape.") But Colby was sweet enough that her smarts never made anyone else feel stupid. I really appreciated that. I know I'm hoping against hope, but I really hope Colby made it through this nightmare alive. I mean, I hope EVERYONE did, obviously. But maybe I hope a little extra hard for her. <<choice [[Thanks for sharing that.|thanksforsharing]]>> | <<choice [[Describe where you are now.|describehere]]>>


:: thanksforsharing Hey, no, thanks for listening to me blather. That actually felt normal. Like I was telling my new friend about my old friend. Hey, if this all turns out for the best, maybe we can all go get coffee sometime. I'm buyin'. Or, hell, if I make it out of this alive, I'll have earned something a lot stronger than coffee! <<choice [[Sounds good!|coffeesoundsgood]]>> | <<choice [[Describe where you are now.|describehere]]>>


:: sorrytoe Ha. Yeah, well. I've been told I use sarcasm as a weapon, and right now, I'm not armed with anything else. So let's hope that if there's any sort of little green men waiting to jump out and attack me... ...they're vulnerable to ironic comments and eye-rolling. <<if $toldname is 0>>Oh, hey, my name is Taylor, by the way. Probably should've led with that. Sorry.<<endif>> Anyway. Why don't I tell you what I can see from here, maybe you can advise me on where to go. [[describehere]]


:: smartkid Yeah, right. Smart kid with a stubbed toe. <<choice [[Sorry about the toe, Einstein.|sorrytoe]]>> | <<choice [[Cope. Where are you now?|whereareyou]]>>


:: deadendmountain <<silently>><<set $boulderdayone = 1>><<endsilently>> Damn! Looks like the path is blocked off. I was tracing this shallow canyon, but I hit this huge boulder. Way too big to climb over. What do you figure... should I look for some way around it, or head back to the crash? <<choice [[Find a way around.|wayaround]]>> | <<choice [[Head back to the crash.|backtocrash]]>>


:: movetopeak All right. I guess I have to start somewhere. Hey, I, uh, I appreciate the advice. It's just good to have any sense of direction at all, out here. Anyway... looks like this hike could take a while. [[delay 60m|deadendmountain]]


:: gotopeak You think? It's a lot farther away than the crash site. I'm not sure I'll make it there before nightfall. <<choice [[Better get moving, then.|movetopeak]]>> | <<choice [[Okay, head for the crash site.|gotocrash]]>>


:: describehere All right, so, my escape pod came down in some kind of desert. The ground is all cracked white rock. There's a huge white peak a few miles away. Or, uh, kilometers, I guess. (They tried to get me to think metric for the trip, but some things are just hardwired.) It's weirdly symmetrical, like it might not be a natural formation. My IEVA suit's compass places the peak northeast, and then, in the opposite direction -- south and southwest, to be precise -- ...are two funnels of black smoke from what I have to assume are two pieces of the Varia. Best case scenario, it's ONLY in two pieces. The crash sites look closer than the peak. What do you think I should do? <<choice [[Check the crash.|gotocrash]]>> | <<choice [[Head for the peak.|gotopeak]]>>


:: saveyourenergy Sure, sure. But I'm going to have to start heading in some direction, sooner or later. Can't just stay here by the pod forever. Look, let me tell you what I can see from here, maybe you can advise me on where to go. [[describehere]]


:: backatflightdeck I've got the Captain. It's funny, with her flight suit and everything, I guess... ...I don't know, I guess I just expected her to be heavier, or something. But it's like she's just sort of... a shell, now. Like everything that made her who she was is just... gone. I'm gonna go ahead and rig up a field stretcher with a Mylar blanket and duct tape. Easiest way to transport her. I'll check in again when the two of us are back (once more) at the crew quarters. [[delay 30m|backtoburycap]]


:: wayaround Okay. I'll give it a shot. This is pretty rough terrain, though. [[delay 40m|deadendforreal]]


:: backtocrash Yeah, you know, I think that's probably the smart move. I've gotta hope that some supplies made it through the crash intact. I'd really rather not starve to death in the middle of the moon desert, if I can help it. Anyway... this looks like it's gonna be a pretty long hike. I'm gonna head south, and I'll let you know when I get there. [[delay 120m|stillhikingcrash]]


:: gotocrash Yeah, cool, that makes sense. There might be other survivors... fingers crossed. (It's not actually possible to cross your fingers in an IEVA suit, but just take my word on it.) Or at the very least, there should be some supplies I can use. Okay, I'm headed south now. Looks like the smoke is at least an hour away. Or whatever the metric equivalent of an hour is. I'll let you know once I'm there. [[delay 60m|stillhikingcrash]]


:: coffeesoundsgood Yeah, anything sounds good after the Varia's rations! Speaking of which, I'm gonna want to find something to eat and drink before long. I have this theory that if I just built an intersection here, competing Starbucks would magically appear on at least two of the corners. But I'd hate to do all that work just to be proven wrong. <<choice [[Save your energy.|saveyourenergy]]>> | <<choice [[Describe your surroundings.|describehere]]>>


:: justkeepmovingcrewcapdead Right. That... that makes sense. The longer I spend staring at them instead of trying to figure a way out of this mess, the closer I get to joining them. God, that's the most morbid thought I've ever had to think. [[branchingcorridor]]


:: gogetcap Yeah... you know you're living right when a half-hour hike in an IEVA suit to pick up a corpse and drag it a half hour back sounds like a vacation. I promise you... THIS was not in the training protocols. Anyway. Off I go. [[delay 30m|backatflightdeck]]


:: backtoburycap So after a depressing trudge across a barren wasteland, we arrive once more at a crewless crew quarters. My life has become bad middle-school poetry. I'm going to get the rest of the graves dug and inter the Captain and the crew, which I think will be a really good thing. Just to have some sense of closure, you know? I want to come up with a few words to say over each of them. I'm gonna take a little private time while I work. I'll get back to you in a bit. [[delay 60m|everybodyburied]]


:: keepitforcap "Keep it together"?! Really? I'm coated in the blood of a woman who, for all intents and purposes, I just killed -- on YOUR advice, by the way -- and the most comforting thing you can offer is "keep it together"? How about maybe go screw yourself. That's MY advice. [[delay 15m|goscrewyourself]]


:: goscrewyourself Hey. Uh... sorry about that. Emotions are running a little high on this end. The truth is, you're right. I DO need to keep it together if I have a prayer of getting rescued. The, uh... it's awful that the Captain died, but it happens. All the blood she'd lost, it may have been a mercy. So. Me, I'm alive, let's figure out where to go from here. <<choice [[Just keep moving forward.|movingonforcap]]>> | <<choice [[Never forget her.|dontforgetcap]]>>


:: dontforgetcap No, of course not. I could never forget her. But if I'm going to keep the Captain's memory alive, I'm gonna have to survive myself. So... I've got a beacon, got a turret. Need power, food, and water. Sounds easy enough, right? Sure. I'm gonna head over and search the wreckage of the crew quarters now. I'll message you soon. [[delay 30m|headingtocrewqs]]


:: deadendforreal <<silently>><<set $deadenddayone = 1>><<endsilently>> Listen, there's just no way around this thing. Not enough footholds to get even a few feet up it. Or "meters" up it, whatever. These canyon walls look like nothing but loose rock, too. And -- surprise, surprise -- as a science fair champ, I'm pretty much the definition of an "indoor kid." I don't think I'm cut out for rock climbing. <<choice [[Might as well head back.|backtocrash]]>> | <<choice [[Give climbing a try.|rockclimbing]]>>


:: stillhikingcrash Holy crap. It's a lot further than it looked. My legs feel like Jell-O, and I'm maybe halfway there. [[delay 4s|jello]]


:: refreshed Believe it or not, I actually feel better after sleeping a little. I'm going to get the rest of the graves dug and inter the crew, which I think will be a really good thing. Just to have some sense of closure, you know? I want to come up with a few words to say over each of them. I'm gonna take a little private time while I work. I'll get back to you in a bit. [[delay 60m|crewburied]]


:: pullitout Okay, okay, good deal, I'll just OH MAN now there's way more blood than before! How do I, you know, stanch the bleeding? Stanch? Staunch? I don't even know the right word! Oh man, please stop bleeding Captain Aya, please, I'm gonna, I'm gonna look for gauze or something. I don't know. Oh man. Oh man. [[delay 15m|capdidntmakeit]]


:: capdidntmakeit <<silently>><<set $capalive = 0>><<endsilently>> She... she didn't make it. Captain Aya is dead. <<choice [[I am so sorry.|sorryforcap]]>> | <<choice [[Keep it together!|keepitforcap]]>>


:: sorryforcap This is... just the worst. The Captain was the first person I met at Mission Control. She just made me feel like part of the team, you know? Effortlessly. That was her thing, she just knew how to get people working smoothly together. That's what made her such a great leader. I didn't... I didn't think twice about putting my life in her hands. [[delay 4s|capsgone]]


:: capsgone And then when her life was in MY hands, I just... watched it bleed out. I lost her. What... what do I even do now? <<choice [[Just keep moving forward.|movingonforcap]]>> | <<choice [[Never forget her.|dontforgetcap]]>>


:: movingonforcap Yeah. You're right. There's nothing for it but to just keep pushing ahead. Find things to do, keep body and mind active. So... I've got a beacon, got a turret. Need power, food, and water. Sounds easy enough, right? Sure. I'm gonna head over and search the wreckage of the crew quarters now. I'll message you soon. [[delay 30m|headingtocrewqs]]


:: headingtocrewqs Okay. Okay. Well, this wasn't unexpected, but still. I, uh... I found some of the crew. It's... oh, man. Hang on. [[delay 2m|threwup]]


:: threwup Sorry about that. I had to go be sick behind some moon rocks. So, there were a few crew members who were apparently pretty near where the Varia's hull split. I can't... I can't tell who they were, or how many. They're all sort of fused, to the metal or, uh, to each other. And we, I don't know, we might've lost some crew when we lost pressure. [[delay 2s|deadcrew]]


:: deadcrew Behind the sealed door to the rear quarters, though, I... I found the rest of the crew. Antoine, Trotter, Colby, Adair. All dead. All of them, just... dead. I... I don't think I can do this. Knowing that all of them, every one of them... I just... <<choice [[Honor the dead.|burythemall]]>> | <<choice [[Just keep moving.|justkeepmovingcrewcapdead]]>>


:: burythemall <<silently>><<set $startedburialtalk = 1>><<endsilently>> Yeah. You're right. I should... bury them, or something, huh? There's got to be, like, a spade or some kind of... something to dig with. Man, this is gonna take some work. Maybe I should keep exploring the rest of the ship, see if I can find some rations first. I'm pretty much running on fumes, here. <<choice [[Makes sense. Keep exploring.|branchingcorridor]]>> | <<choice [[Dig now, explore later.|dignow]]>>


:: dignow Okay. Okay. I guess you're right. These are good people, they deserve a proper memorial. There's a... it's a piece of shielding that's mostly broken loose. The way it twisted when the Varia came apart, it's got kind of a scoop end to it. I'll work with that. Listen, this is gonna take a while. I'll get back to you in a bit, okay? [[delay 30m|hardground]]


:: hardground Whatever the ground is made of... it does NOT want to be dug. I've got... one grave. Pretty shallow. Plus, it occurred to me I should probably go get Captain Aya's body... she'd want to be buried with the rest of her crew. Might go do that now. Hiking and hauling actually sounds preferable to digging. <<choice [[Sure. Go get the Captain.|gogetcap]]>> | <<choice [[Probably better to keep digging.|betterkeepdigging]]>>


:: betterkeepdigging Seriously? Are you trying to kill me? I'm all about paying respects, but I'm not looking for the next grave I dig to be my own. This is hard work, and I'm burning calories I haven't eaten yet, and maybe never will. <<choice [[All right. Rest a while.|takeabreak]]>> | <<choice [[Fine, go get the Captain.|gogetcap]]>>


:: takeabreak Yeah. I think that's a great idea. Just a little catnap. Or, you know, the metric equivalent. A chinchilla-nap. [[delay 30m|refreshed]]


:: rockclimbing I really... aw, screw it. Okay. I've come this far, no sense in giving up now. Here goes nothing! [[delay 30m|taylorfalls]]


:: jello Great. And now all I can think about is how much I want Jell-O. [[delay 60m|arriveatcrash]]


:: arriveatcrash Okay. At long last, I'm in sight of the Varia. Or what's left of it, at any rate. It seems to have cracked hard once it hit atmosphere. Like I figured, it came down in two major chunks... ...with a ton of scattered debris thrown around just to make the whole scene look terrifying and post-apocalyptic. (In case anyone asks, it's working; I'm appropriately terrified.) Looks like the flight deck came down pretty far from the crew quarters. Where do you figure I should go first? <<choice [[Look for the crew.|checkcrewqs]]>> | <<choice [[Check the flight deck.|totheflightdeck]]>>


:: totheflightdeck <<silently>><<set $frontofship = 1>><<endsilently>> All right. It's gonna take me a few minutes to sort through the wreckage. A lot of the heat shielding was stripped on entry, but it seems to have taken the worst of the damage. Most of the instrumentation looks surprisingly intact. Let me poke through this mess... [[delay 5m|defensesandbeacon]]


:: defensesandbeacon Hot damn! We're in business! (Well, I mean, if you keep in mind that most businesses fail before they ever really get off the ground.) So, let's play a round of Good News/Bad News. Good news: I found the ship's distress beacon, and from what I can tell, it's totally intact! Which means, hey, maybe I won't be stuck here forever. More good news: One of the defense turrets is still operational. Yes, that means that three of them AREN'T, but there's only one of me to operate a turret, so in this case the math works out great. So that means if the little green men DO come poking around, I'll have more than a smarmy pop-culture reference to defend myself with. But now for the bad news: I've got no power for either the beacon or the guns. The reactor came down with the back half of the ship. I'm quite certain we didn't pack any extension cords long enough to bridge that distance... ...and even if the reactor were right here, I seriously doubt it's in good enough shape to power much of anything at the moment. So... I'm going to keep hunting in this end of the Varia and see if I can dig up some kind of alternate power source. [[delay 10m|captainsbody]]


:: captainsbody Oh... oh, no. I hadn't found any of the crew up here near the flight deck, but... I just found Captain Aya. There's just... so much blood, I wouldn't have thought OH HOLY HELL she's not dead! The Captain's not dead! She's got a huge piece of metal through her side, like a, like a support strut or something... it doesn't matter what it is! What do I do? Should I... do I pull it out? Oh, man, she's really bleeding. Oh, man. <<choice [[Pull it out!|pullitout]]>> | <<choice [[Leave it in.|leaveitin]]>>


:: leaveitin Okay. Good plan. Who knows what kind of damage I might do if I yanked it out? It's... the wound isn't really actively bleeding right now, but her breath is really shallow and kind of... rattling? Oh, man. I think there's a good chance this thing pierced her lung. Crap, crap, crap. What am I supposed to do? <<choice [[Look for a medkit.|lookformeds]]>> | <<choice [[Make her comfortable.|makehercomfy]]>>


:: lookformeds Yes. Okay. Great plan. There should be a medkit on the flight deck. Just gotta find it. [[delay 1m|nomedshere]]


:: nomedshere The damn forward med supply cabinet is scorched over. I'd need a crowbar and a power drill... ...and with my luck, I'd injure myself so badly that I'd have to use all the contents on myself if I ever DID get it open. There's another med locker in the rear of the ship, by the crew quarters. I've gotta go for that one. [[delay 30m|medsupplyhunt]]


:: medsupplyhunt Okay. Okay. I'm at the wreckage of the crew quarters. And, well, this wasn't totally unexpected, but still. I, uh... I found some of the crew. It's... oh, man. Hang on. [[delay 2m|threwupcapalive]]


:: movethecaptain Are you sure? I mean, I think I can get her here -- maybe set up some kind of stretcher -- but I'm worried that if I move her too much, the bleeding will start up again. Although... it's gonna take a lot longer to get this pod to cover that distance... <<choice [[Move the Captain.|movethecap2]]>> | <<choice [[Move the pod.|movethepod]]>>


:: movethecap2 All right. Time is of the essence, after all. Maybe, like I said, I can rig up a field stretcher. Mylar blanket, duct tape... yeah, I can scrounge stuff, make that work. Okay, I'll be back, and then I'll get the Captain sealed up in this pod! Wish us both luck, would you? [[delay 60m|captainDOA]]


:: captainDOA <<silently>><<set $capalive = 0>><<endsilently>> I... Dammit all, I was so careful! I moved her as slow as I dared. I was... I just wanted to get her here in time! The, uh... the pod's saying she lost too much blood. "Beyond thresholds." It's just blinking at me with its stupid LED light, and I'm just staring at it with my stupid face. I'm... I need a minute, okay? [[delay 10m|sorryforcap2]]


:: sorryforcap2 This is... just the worst. The Captain was the first person I met at Mission Control. She just made me feel like part of the team, you know? Effortlessly. That was her thing, she just knew how to get people working smoothly together. That's what made her such a great leader. I didn't... I didn't think twice about putting my life in her hands. [[delay 4s|capsgone2]]


:: capsgone2 And then when her life was in MY hands, I just... watched it bleed out. I lost her. What... what do I even do now? <<choice [[Just keep moving forward.|movingonforcap2]]>> | <<choice [[Never forget her.|dontforgetcap2]]>>


:: dontforgetcap2 No, of course not. I could never forget her. But if I'm going to keep the Captain's memory alive, I'm gonna have to survive myself. So... I've got a beacon, got a turret, and a generator that should power one or the other. Now all I need to survive is food and water. Sounds easy enough, right? Sure. So I guess my options over here are either grave-digging, or else exploring the ship further. <<choice [[Dig those graves.|digthosegraves]]>> | <<choice [[Keep exploring.|branchingcorridor]]>>


:: checkcrewqs <<silently>><<set $backofship = 1>><<endsilently>> All right, I'm headed that way. If there are any rations to be found, that's where they'll be. Things look kind of messy, though. Give me a minute to scout around. [[delay 5m|crewbodies]]


:: makehercomfy "Comfortable." What, while she dies? Look, as far as I know, she's the only other living person on this rock. I owe her more than just a nice memory-foam pillow under her head while she bleeds out. If there's a chance of stabilizing her, I've got to do it! [[delay 1m|nomedshere]]


:: taylorfalls ah no i broke i broke my leg oh god its a compound its the bone is sticking right through the ieva suit [[delay 4s|brokenleg]]


:: threwupcapalive Sorry about that. I had to go be sick behind some moon rocks. So, there were a few crew members who were apparently pretty near where the Varia's hull split. I can't... I can't tell who they were, or how many. They're all sort of fused, to the metal or, uh, to each other. And we, I don't know, we might've lost some crew when we lost pressure. [[delay 2s|deadcrewcapalive]]


:: movethepod Right. That's the safer plan, so long as I can figure out some way to get this pod over there quickly. You know what would come in handy on one of these things is -- nope, nope, nope A-ha! YES! A hover mode! Well, this is gonna suck some extra power from the ginny, but I'm not gonna look a gift hover-horse in the mouth. (That's exactly how the old saying goes, right?) Okay, I'm headed back to the Captain. I'll message you once she's safe and sound. [[delay 40m|capinpod]]


:: capinpod <<silently>><<set $power = "pod">><<endsilently>> She's in, and the pod says she's stabilized! Blood loss is dangerous, but not at critical levels yet, and this will keep the lung perforation from getting any worse. Oh. Man. I'm not alone on this stupid rock. This feels like a miracle. <<choice [[Don't celebrate yet.|dontcelebrateyet]]>> | <<choice [[You've earned a rest.|takearest]]>>


:: dontcelebrateyet Yeah. Yeah, of course not. "Stable" doesn't mean "better." Plus, I've still got to figure out how to get us rescued, and get her some real medical attention. <<if $crewburied is 0>>In the meantime... what? I guess I should go see to the rest of the crew, right? I mean, they're just... lying there.<<endif>> I'm heading back to the other half of the ship, bringing the Captain in her stasis pod and the ginny with me. I'll message you once I'm there. [[delay 30m|backhalfcapalive]]


:: movingonforcap2 Yeah. You're right. There's nothing for it but to just keep pushing ahead. Find things to do, keep body and mind active. So... I've got a beacon, got a turret, and a generator that should power one or the other. Now all I need to survive is food and water. Sounds easy enough, right? Sure. So I guess my options over here are either grave-digging, or else exploring the ship further. <<choice [[Dig those graves.|digthosegraves]]>> | <<choice [[Keep exploring.|branchingcorridor]]>>


:: gogetmeds <<silently>><<set $ginny = 1>><<endsilently>> Okay! Good News/Bad News time again. Bad news: No medkit that I could find. I could get into the cabinet just fine, but the kit was gone. Someone must have taken it for something, and not put it back before the crash. So it's probably still around, somewhere. But! Good news: The Varia had two medical stasis pods on board. One is so much scrap metal now (bad news), but the other is still intact, and all functions have a green light! How do I know, you might ask? Because I also found a portable generator! (And then I did a little portable generator dance.) It's small, but it'll keep the stasis pod running for days. And the pod might not be able to heal the Captain, but it'll keep her wounds in check and keep that lung from getting any worse. It's gonna be a pain in the ass to haul the pod and the ginny all the way back to the Captain, though. You think I should bring her here, or try to rig this thing up to move it to her? <<choice [[Move the Captain.|movethecaptain]]>> | <<choice [[Move the stasis pod.|movethepod]]>>


:: crewbodies Okay. Okay. Well, this wasn't unexpected, but still. I, uh... I found some of the crew. It's... oh, man. Hang on. [[delay 2m|threwupcrewfirst]]


:: lookformedscrewfirst Yes. Okay. Great plan. There should be a medkit on the flight deck. Just gotta find it. [[delay 1m|nomedsherecrewfirst]]


:: nomedsherecrewfirst The damn forward med supply cabinet is scorched over. I'd need a crowbar and a power drill... ...and with my luck, I'd injure myself so badly that I'd have to use all the contents on myself if I ever DID get it open. There's another med locker in the rear of the ship, by the crew quarters. I've gotta go back for that one. [[delay 30m|medsupplyhuntcrewfirst]]


:: medsupplyhuntcrewfirst Man. All this running back and forth between the two crash sites... it's really starting to wear me down, you know? But, okay, I'm back at the crew quarters. Gotta... just keep charging ahead. If I stop moving now, Captain Aya will end up dead too. Right now, she's all I've got. There's... a lot to sort through. Gimme a few minutes, here. [[delay 10m|gogetmeds]]


:: brokenleg ive never broken a bone in my life and now this oh my god shouldnt i go into shock at some point cause the pain is freaking overwhelming [[delay 4s|badadvice]]


:: takearest Yeah, you know, that's probably a good idea. All this trekking back and forth, burning calories... I'm trying to ignore how exhausted I am, but taking a quick break sounds like a smart idea. Just a little catnap. Or, you know, the metric equivalent. A chinchilla-nap. [[delay 30m|refreshedcapalive]]


:: refreshedcapalive Believe it or not, I actually feel better after sleeping a little. The pod still says the Captain is stable, which is great. But "stable" doesn't mean "better." Plus, I've still got to figure out how to get us rescued, and get her some real medical attention. <<if $crewburied is 0>>In the meantime... what? I guess I should go see to the rest of the crew, right? I mean, they're just... lying there.<<endif>> I'm heading back to the other half of the ship, bringing the Captain in her stasis pod and the ginny with me. I'll message you once I'm there. [[delay 30m|backhalfcapalive]]


:: backhalfcapalive So after a depressing trudge across a barren wasteland, we arrive once more at a crewless crew quarters. My life has become bad middle-school poetry. <<if $crewburied is 0>> So I guess my options over here are either grave-digging, or else exploring the ship further. <<choice [[Dig those graves.|digthosegraves]]>> | <<choice [[Keep exploring.|branchingcorridor]]>> <<elseif $crewburied is 1>>I guess there's nothing for it but to keep exploring the ship further. [[branchingcorridor]] <<endif>>


:: deadcrewcapalive Behind the sealed door to the rear quarters, though, I... I found the rest of the crew. Antoine, Trotter, Colby, Adair. All dead. All of them, just... dead. I... I don't think I can do this. Knowing that all of them, every one of them... I just... <<choice [[I am so sorry.|sorrycapalive]]>> | <<choice [[Just keep moving.|keepmovingcapalive]]>>


:: keepmovingcapalive Right. You're right. If I stop moving now, Captain Aya will end up dead too. Right now, she's all I've got. There's... a lot to sort through. Gimme a few minutes, here. [[delay 10m|gogetmeds]]


:: totheflightdeckcrewfirst <<silently>><<set $frontofship = 1>><<endsilently>> All right. It's gonna take me a few minutes to sort through the wreckage. A lot of the heat shielding was stripped on entry, but it seems to have taken the worst of the damage. Most of the instrumentation looks surprisingly intact. Let me poke through this mess... [[delay 5m|defensesandbeaconcrewfirst]]


:: defensesandbeaconcrewfirst Hot damn! We're in business! (Well, I mean, if you keep in mind that most businesses fail before they ever really get off the ground.) So, let's play a round of Good News/Bad News. Good news: I found the ship's distress beacon, and from what I can tell, it's totally intact! Which means, hey, maybe I won't be stuck here forever. More good news: One of the defense turrets is still operational. Yes, that means that three of them AREN'T, but there's only one of me to operate a turret, so in this case the math works out great. So that means if the little green men DO come poking around, I'll have more than a smarmy pop-culture reference to defend myself with. But now for the bad news: I've got no power for either the beacon or the guns. The reactor came down with the back half of the ship. I'm quite certain we didn't pack any extension cords long enough to bridge that distance... ...and even if the reactor were right here, I seriously doubt it's in good enough shape to power much of anything at the moment. So... I'm going to keep hunting in this end of the Varia and see if I can dig up some kind of alternate power source. [[delay 10m|captainsbodycrewfirst]]


:: captainsbodycrewfirst Oh... oh, no. I just found Captain Aya. There's just... so much blood, I wouldn't have thought OH HOLY HELL she's not dead! The Captain's not dead! She's got a huge piece of metal through her side, like a, like a support strut or something... it doesn't matter what it is! What do I do? Should I... do I pull it out? Oh, man, she's really bleeding. Oh, man. <<choice [[Pull it out!|pullitoutcrewfirst]]>> | <<choice [[Leave it in.|leaveitincrewfirst]]>>


:: leaveitincrewfirst Okay. Good plan. Who knows what kind of damage I might do if I yanked it out? It's... the wound isn't really actively bleeding right now, but her breath is really shallow and kind of... rattling? Oh, man. I think there's a good chance this thing pierced her lung. Crap, crap, crap. What am I supposed to do? <<choice [[Look for a medkit.|lookformedscrewfirst]]>> | <<choice [[Make her comfortable.|makehercomfycrewfirst]]>>


:: threwupcrewfirst Sorry about that. I had to go be sick behind some moon rocks. So, there were a few crew members who were apparently pretty near where the Varia's hull split. I can't... I can't tell who they were, or how many. They're all sort of fused, to the metal or, uh, to each other. And we, I don't know, we might've lost some crew when we lost pressure. [[delay 2s|deadcrewfirst]]


:: makehercomfycrewfirst "Comfortable." What, while she dies? Look, as far as I know, she's the only other living person on this rock. I owe her more than just a nice memory-foam pillow under her head while she bleeds out. If there's a chance of stabilizing her, I've got to do it! [[delay 1m|nomedsherecrewfirst]]


:: badadvice hey no offense but your advice? sucks [[delay 4s|connectionlost]]


:: sorrycapalive Ugh. This... this is awful. Part of me was still holding out some tiny hope that they'd be okay, but... oh, man. I feel like I should have some sort of memorial service for them, you know? <<choice [[Sure. Honor the dead.|burythemallcapalive]]>> | <<choice [[Later. Meds come first.|gogetmeds]]>>


:: burythemallcapalive Yeah. You're right. I should... bury them, or something, huh? There's got to be, like, a spade or some kind of... something to dig with. Wait, what am I thinking? I don't have time for sentimentality right now, and I certainly don't have time for grave-digging. Captain Aya is waiting on me! [[delay 10m|gogetmeds]]


:: pullitoutcrewfirst Okay, okay, good deal, I'll just OH MAN now there's way more blood than before! How do I, you know, stanch the bleeding? Stanch? Staunch? I don't even know the right word! Oh man, please stop bleeding Captain Aya, please, I'm gonna, I'm gonna look for gauze or something. I don't know. Oh man. Oh man. [[delay 15m|capdidntmakeitcrewfirst]]


:: capsgonecrewfirst And then when her life was in MY hands, I just... watched it bleed out. I lost her. What... what do I even do now? <<choice [[Just keep moving forward.|movingonforcapcrewfirst]]>> | <<choice [[Never forget her.|dontforgetcapcrewfirst]]>>


:: movingonforcapcrewfirst Yeah. You're right. There's nothing for it but to just keep pushing ahead. Find things to do, keep body and mind active. So... I've got a beacon, got a turret. Need power, food, and water. Sounds easy enough, right? Sure. I've got the Captain's body. It's funny, with her flight suit and everything, I guess... ...I don't know, I guess I just expected her to be heavier, or something. But it's like she's just sort of... a shell, now. Like everything that made her who she was is just... gone. I'm gonna go ahead and rig up a field stretcher with a Mylar blanket and duct tape. Easiest way to transport her. I'll check in again when the two of us are back (once more) at the crew quarters. [[delay 30m|headingtocrewqsagain]]


:: connectionlost <<set $gameend = "connectionlost">> [connection lost] [[delay 2s|gameover]]


:: deadcrewfirst Behind the sealed door to the rear quarters, though, I... I found the rest of the crew. Antoine, Trotter, Colby, Adair. All dead. All of them, just... dead. I don't see Captain Aya anywhere. I don't know... I... I don't think I can do this. Knowing that all of them, every one of them... I just... <<choice [[Honor the dead.|burythemallcrewfirst]]>> | <<choice [[Just keep moving.|justkeepmovingcrewfirst]]>>


:: walktoflightdeck All right. This is gonna take a bit. I'll send you a message once I'm there. [[delay 30m|totheflightdeckcrewfirst]]


:: capdidntmakeitcrewfirst <<silently>><<set $capalive = 0>><<endsilently>> She... she didn't make it. Captain Aya is dead. <<choice [[I am so sorry.|sorryforcapcrewfirst]]>> | <<choice [[Keep it together!|keepitforcapcrewfirst]]>>


:: justkeepmovingcrewfirst Right. That... that makes sense. The longer I spend staring at them instead of trying to figure a way out of this mess, the closer I get to joining them. God, that's the most morbid thought I've ever had to think. [[branchingcorridor]]


:: burythemallcrewfirst <<silently>><<set $startedburialtalk = 1>><<endsilently>> Yeah. You're right. I should... bury them, or something, huh? There's got to be, like, a spade or some kind of... something to dig with. Man, this is gonna take some work. Maybe I should keep exploring the rest of the ship, see if I can find some rations first. I'm pretty much running on fumes, here. <<choice [[Makes sense. Keep exploring.|branchingcorridor]]>> | <<choice [[Dig now, explore later.|dignowcrewfirst]]>>


:: hardgroundcrewfirst Whatever the ground is made of... it does NOT want to be dug. I've got... one grave. Pretty shallow. Plus, it occurred to me... while I'm working on this, there might be survivors in the other half of the ship. Maybe I should take a break and head over there to check things out. I'm all for honoring the dead, but it'd suck to realize I'd been doing this while someone else was still alive, huh? <<choice [[Check the flight deck.|walktoflightdeck]]>> | <<choice [[Keep digging.|betterkeepdiggingcrewfirst]]>>


:: sorryforcapcrewfirst This is... just the worst. The Captain was the first person I met at Mission Control. She just made me feel like part of the team, you know? Effortlessly. That was her thing, she just knew how to get people working smoothly together. That's what made her such a great leader. I didn't... I didn't think twice about putting my life in her hands. [[delay 4s|capsgonecrewfirst]]


:: betterkeepdiggingcrewfirst Seriously? Are you trying to kill me? I'm all about paying respects, but I'm not looking for the next grave I dig to be my own. This is hard work, and I'm burning calories I haven't eaten yet, and maybe never will. <<choice [[Fine. Rest a while.|takeabreakcrewfirst]]>> | <<choice [[Go check the flight deck.|walktoflightdeck]]>>


:: dontforgetcapcrewfirst No, of course not. I could never forget her. But if I'm going to keep the Captain's memory alive, I'm gonna have to survive myself. So... I've got a beacon, got a turret. Need power, food, and water. Sounds easy enough, right? Sure. I've got the Captain's body. It's funny, with her flight suit and everything, I guess... ...I don't know, I guess I just expected her to be heavier, or something. But it's like she's just sort of... a shell, now. Like everything that made her who she was is just... gone. I'm gonna go ahead and rig up a field stretcher with a Mylar blanket and duct tape. Easiest way to transport her. I'll check in again when the two of us are back (once more) at the crew quarters. [[delay 30m|headingtocrewqsagain]]


:: headingtocrewqsagain So after a depressing trudge across a barren wasteland, we arrive once more at a crewless crew quarters. My life has become bad middle-school poetry. So I guess my options over here are either grave-digging, or else exploring the ship further. <<choice [[Dig those graves.|digthosegraves]]>> | <<choice [[Keep exploring.|branchingcorridor]]>>


:: dignowcrewfirst Okay. Okay. I guess you're right. These are good people, they deserve a proper memorial. There's a... it's a piece of shielding that's mostly broken loose. The way it twisted when the Varia came apart, it's got kind of a scoop end to it. I'll work with that. Listen, this is gonna take a while. I'll get back to you in a bit, okay? [[delay 30m|hardgroundcrewfirst]]


:: takeabreakcrewfirst Yeah. I think that's a great idea. Just a little catnap. Or, you know, the metric equivalent. A chinchilla-nap. [[delay 30m|refreshedcrewfirst]]


:: keepitforcapcrewfirst "Keep it together"?! Really? I'm coated in the blood of a woman who, for all intents and purposes, I just killed -- on YOUR advice, by the way -- and the most comforting thing you can offer is "keep it together"? How about maybe go screw yourself. That's MY advice. [[delay 15m|goscrewyourselfcrewfirst]]


:: goscrewyourselfcrewfirst Hey. Uh... sorry about that. Emotions are running a little high on this end. The truth is, you're right. I DO need to keep it together if I have a prayer of getting rescued. The, uh... it's awful that the Captain died, but it happens. All the blood she'd lost, it may have been a mercy. So. Me, I'm alive, let's figure out where to go from here. <<choice [[Just keep moving forward.|movingonforcapcrewfirst]]>> | <<choice [[Never forget her.|dontforgetcapcrewfirst]]>>


:: digthosegraves All right. Here goes. <<if $crewburied is 0 and $capalive is 0>>I'm going to get the rest of the graves dug and inter the Captain and crew, which I think will be a really good thing. Just to have some sense of closure, you know? I want to come up with a few words to say over each of them. I'm gonna take a little private time while I work. I'll get back to you in a bit.[[delay 60m|everybodyburied]] <<elseif $crewburied is 0 and $capalive is 1>>I'm going to get the rest of the graves dug and inter the crew, which I think will be a really good thing. Just to have some sense of closure, you know? I want to come up with a few words to say over each of them. I'm gonna take a little private time while I work. I'll get back to you in a bit.[[delay 60m|crewburied]] <<elseif $crewburied is 1 and $capalive is 0>>Shouldn't take me too long to get one extra grave dug. Sad to say, I've had a lot of practice today. I'll bury Captain Aya with her crew. I think she would have liked that. I'll get back to you in a bit.[[delay 30m|everybodyburied]]<<endif>>


:: refreshedcrewfirst Believe it or not, I actually feel better after sleeping a little. I'm going to get the rest of the graves dug and inter the crew, which I think will be a really good thing. Just to have some sense of closure, you know? I want to come up with a few words to say over each of them. I'm gonna take a little private time while I work. I'll get back to you in a bit. [[delay 60m|crewburiedcrewfirst]]


:: crewburiedcrewfirst <<silently>><<set $capburied = 0>><<set $crewburied = 1>><<endsilently>> So I guess my options now are either to go check on the flight deck and hope against hope to find the Captain... ...or else to explore this end of the ship further. <<choice [[Check the flight deck.|walktoflightdeck]]>> | <<choice [[Explore this end.|branchingcorridor]]>>


:: everybodyburied <<silently>><<set $capburied = 1>><<set $crewburied = 1>><<endsilently>> Well, that's it. Everyone is buried. I guess there's nothing for it but to keep exploring this end of the ship. [[branchingcorridor]]


:: crewburied <<silently>><<set $capburied = 0>><<set $crewburied = 1>><<endsilently>> Well, that's it. Everyone is buried. I guess there's nothing for it but to keep exploring this end of the ship. [[branchingcorridor]]


:: branchingcorridor Okay, so... past the bunks, there's a corridor that branches. The way to the galley looks pretty scorched. The other option is the lab. I'm afraid of what I'll find if I check on my rats. If the humans didn't make it, what chance do those little guys stand? <<choice [[Try the galley.|trythegalley]]>> | <<choice [[Try the lab.|trythelab]]>>


:: tryinggalleydoor Man... you're a glutton for punishment, as long as it's somebody else's, huh? All right, against my better judgment, I'll take another swing at it. [[delay 3m|intogalley]]


:: stilltryinggalley Okay, I don't want to say this is "impossible," because that sounds like I'm exaggerating... ...so let's just say that getting into the galley is "improbable." Highly, HIGHLY improbable. It's starting to get late, anyway. The sun (er, star... Tau Ceti) is getting low on the horizon. I need to think about bedding down for the night. So, what do you think? Keep bashing this improbable door in the hopes that it gives in before I do? Or forget it for now and figure out my sleeping arrangements? <<choice [[Keep trying the door.|tryinggalleydoor]]>> | <<choice [[Forget it for now.|stoptryinggalleydoor]]>>


:: trythelab <<silently>><<set $ratpellets = 1>><<endsilently>> Well, it's time to play Good News/Bad News. Good news: All my handwritten notes on the maze-running and food-seeking habits of Sprague Dawley rats in various gravities? They're TOTALLY INTACT! So you can stop worrying that this whole trip was for nothing. We got the goods. Bad news: Their cage looks like it's been through a cage match. Half-crushed, warped from the heat. And the rats are nowhere to be found. I'd love to believe that they escaped into the ducts and that they're going to start repopulating this barren moon. I'm gonna leave my notes here. Who knows? In a million generations, these could be the planet's sacred historical texts. <<if $rations is 0>>Good(ish) news? I won't starve to death. I have rat food pellets and a half-full ball-spout water bottle. Look at that. I called it "half-full." Feelin' more optimistic already. So... I guess I can count my blessing and snack on rat food for a while... ...or that can be a distant "Plan B," and I can go hunting for people food. <<if $triedgalley is 0>> <<choice [[People food! Try the galley.|trythegalley]]>> | <<choice [[Stick with rat food.|eatratfood]]>> <<elseif $triedgalley is 1>> <<choice [[Try the galley again.|tryinggalleydoor]]>> | <<choice [[Stick with rat food.|eatratfood]]>><<endif>> <<elseif $rations is 1>>And hey, in addition to the rations, I've now got a fallback stock of rat food pellets and a half-full ball-spout water bottle. Look at that. I called it "half-full." Feelin' more optimistic already. Anyway, like I said, it's getting late. I'd better try to work out sleeping plans. [[sleepingplans]]<<endif>>


:: eatratfood Uh... yum? Rat pellets may count as caloric intake, but they're not about to win any awards for flavor. If I close my eyes, I can imagine that they're... uh... Nope. It's no good. I doubt anyone could trick themselves into thinking these were anything other than what they are. Eatin' rat food on the moon. Sounds like a lousy prog rock album. [[delay 4s|tasteslikeone]]


:: trythegalley <<silently>><<set $triedgalley = 1>><<endsilently>> The door is... SUPER stuck! Fortunately, I am not above bashing it with scrap metal... ...because, confidentially, I don't think we're getting our deposit back on this ship. I'm gonna keep at this for a bit because this is my best bet at finding rations. If I can just get through... this... damn... door! [[delay 3m|stilltryinggalley]]


:: tasteslikeone Tastes like one, too. Okay, this is pretty good incentive to try to get into the galley and get some real food. Either that, or I'm gonna start making plans to bunk down for the night... ...and just hope that I dream about something that'll get this taste out of my mouth. <<if $triedgalley is 1>> <<choice [[Try the galley again.|tryinggalleydoor]]>> | <<choice [[Get some shut-eye.|sleepingplans]]>> <<else>> <<choice [[Try the galley.|trythegalley]]>> | <<choice [[Get some shut-eye.|sleepingplans]]>> <<endif>>


:: intogalley <<silently>><<set $rations = 1>><<set $hurtshoulder = 1>><<endsilently>> I totally pulled my shoulder out of joint! And it was totally worth it! Because I am in a great deal of pain WHILE AT THE SAME TIME eating chili macaroni and drinking bottled water. This chili mac is kind of nasty WHILE AT THE SAME TIME being the best thing I've ever eaten. It'll be gone soon, sadly... ...and then I'll have to deal with the shoulder that I repeatedly hammered against a dead hydraulic door to get to the chili mac. But that's a problem for three-minutes-from-now-Taylor. <<if $ratpellets eq 1>>And I think we can ALL agree, this beats rat food any day. So I've got food and water taken care of, and rat pellets as a fallback plan. Guess it's time to start thinking about bedding down for the night. [[sleepingplans]] <<else>>So, now that food is handled, I can either go see what, if anything, is left of the lab... ...or I can start trying to figure out some sleeping plans. What do you think? <<choice [[Try the lab.|trythelab]]>> | <<choice [[Get some shut-eye.|sleepingplans]]>><<endif>>


:: stoptryinggalleydoor Cool. Thank you. I think I needed someone else to tell me it was okay to stop beating myself up. <<if $ratpellets is 0>>So, I can either go see what, if anything, is left of the lab... ...or I can start trying to figure out some sleeping plans. What do you think? <<choice [[Try the lab.|trythelab]]>> | <<choice [[Get some shut-eye.|sleepingplans]]>> <<elseif $ratpellets is 1>>Guess it's time to start trying to figure out some sleeping plans. [[sleepingplans]]<<endif>>


:: sleepingplans All right. Let's think through things here, try and figure out what my next move is. <<if $crewburied is 1>>The crew is all buried.<<endif>> <<if $capburied is 1>>The Captain, too.<<endif>> <<if $ginny is 1 and $power is "pod">>The stasis pod is humming along nicely, keeping the Captain alive and well. Or at least alive. Still, as long as the ginny is powering the pod, there's no way for me to fire up either the distress beacon or the gun turret. I'm not so worried about the turret -- I seriously doubt there's anything else living on this rock besides me... ...but without the beacon, how will anyone know I'm here and alive? How will I ever get rescued? After everything... I can't unplug the Captain for my own sake. Can I? <<choice [[Keep powering the pod.|powerpodcapalive]]>> | <<choice [[Power the beacon.|powerbeaconcapalive]]>> <<elseif $ginny is 1 and $power is "none">>I've got the generator that I found alongside the stasis pod. Now that the, uh... now that the Captain is gone, I guess I've got a couple of options for what to do with it. I can use it to fire up either the distress beacon, or the gun turret. I'm slightly less worried about the turret -- I kind of doubt there's anything else living on this rock besides me... ...but the beacon is my only way of letting someone know I'm here and alive. What do you think? <<choice [[Power the gun turret.|powerturretcapdead]]>> | <<choice [[Power the beacon.|powerbeaconcapdead]]>> <<elseif $ginny is 0 and $frontofship is 1>>It'd be great to get the distress beacon up and pinging, or to have the gun turret operational, just in case... ...but without some kind of power source, I'm pretty much screwed on those fronts. And hey, just to add to the magic: It's getting dark, and it's getting cold. [[nightfalldayone]] <<else>> And hey, just to add to the magic: It's getting dark, and it's getting really cold. [[nightfalldayone]]<<endif>>



:: powerbeaconcapdead <<silently>><<set $power = "beacon">><<endsilently>> Cool. That's what I was thinking, too. Give me a few minutes to get that hooked up and running. [[delat 15m|powerbeaconcapdeadrunning]]


:: powerbeaconcapalive I... God, I guess I really have to consider that, don't I? I mean, if I don't signal someone that I'm here, then the Captain's dead when the ginny runs dry... ...and I'm dead when I'm out of rations. (And before you even THINK of suggesting cannibalism, just know that the idea is off the table. Figuratively and literally.) Captain Aya was always about using hard logic to make her decisions. I guess that's what we've come down to. Am I really willing to let her die, just for the chance to save myself? <<choice [[No. Power the pod.|powerpodcapalive]]>> | <<choice [[You need that beacon.|reallybeaconcapalive]]>>


:: reallybeaconcapalive This... this feels like the wrong decision. Even if it's the right one. I guess... without the beacon, we'd both die here. Maybe this way, at least one of us has a fighting chance. I'm just going to tell myself that, anyway. Okay. I'm powering down the pod now. I need... I need a little while to process this. [[delay 20m|beaconpowered]]


:: beaconpowered <<silently>><<set $power = "beacon">><<set $capalive = 0>><<endsilently>> Okay. So. Broad-spectrum distress beacon, splashing my location all over this sector, to anyone who's listening. Which, if the monitor screen is anything to go on right now, is absolutely nobody at the moment. The, uh, the stasis pod is showing no life signs within. Dammit, beacon, you had better work. [[nightfalldayone]]


:: powerpodcapalive Right. Of course. There's no way I'd let the Captain die now, not after everything she's been through already. Maybe in the daylight tomorrow, I'll be able to figure out some way to get the beacon working. Some part of me thinks they picked the wrong science student for this trip. Or that I picked the wrong trip. Either way, this has gotta be worth some bonus points on my final grade. [[nightfalldayone]]


:: powerturretcapdead <<silently>><<set $power = "turret">><<endsilently>> Sounds like you're a little more paranoid about Things That Go Bump In The Night than I am. But you know what? Better safe than sorry. Give me a few minutes to get the turret hooked up and running. [[delay 15m|powerturretcapdeadrunning]]


:: powerturretcapdeadrunning All right. The dorsal gun turret is powered, and I've got it set to automatic defense. Anything bigger than a breadbox comes snooping around, the turret'll pop off a warning shot, and signal me. (Not that I think I'll be able to sleep through a light breeze tonight, much less a gunshot.) The intruder keep on intruding after that, I'll be able to switch to manual, or just let the autogun finish them off. ...Is it weird that we're still using "breadbox" as a term of relative measurement? I wonder what a breadbox is in metric? [[nightfalldayone]]


:: powerbeaconcapdeadrunning Okay. So. Broad-spectrum distress beacon, splashing my location all over this sector, to anyone who's listening. Which, if the monitor screen is anything to go on right now, is absolutely nobody at the moment. But, hey, it's a nice enough sector. Lots of, I don't know, airless vacuum to look at. Tourists could be along any moment. So now we wait. [[nightfalldayone]]


:: nightfalldayone Tau Ceti is down now, and I don't mind telling you, it's darker than a goth kid's journal, and colder than the prom queen's shoulder. So, uh, here are my options, as I see 'em. I can stay here in the wreckage -- although without power to the ship, I can't reseal any door I've opened. So I'll have a roof over my head, sure, but I'll be exposed to the elements. Or, I can head around to the rear of the ship and pitch a tent near the reactor engine... ...which is nice and toasty warm -- I can tell from the squiggly heat lines it's sending off into the night. (You like that science-speak? "Squiggly heat lines?" That's some advanced-level terminology, right there.) Only problem there is, there's radiation involved in that engine, and I'm not precisely sure whether it's enough to roast me overnight. So, would you mind doing a little research for me? If I get about 150 rads overnight, will that kill me? My IEVA suit sensor tells me that's about what it's giving off. Can you look that up and let me know whether it'd toast my marshmallows? Thanks. [[delay 5m|reactorquestion]]


:: reactorquestion So, uh, hopefully you had a chance to look that up, because it's getting really, just stupidly cold here. What's the verdict? Should I just layer up under whatever cover I can find and spend a night shivering in the Varia? Or risk radiation poisoning by cuddling up to a faulty fusion reactor? <<choice [[Stay in the ship.|sleepintheship]]>> | <<choice [[Camp out by the reactor.|sleepbythereactor]]>>


:: sleepintheship Yeah, you know, I think that's the safest bet. I'd rather be a little chilly than a little, I don't know, mutated. Or a little dead from radiation. All right. I'm turning in for the night. It's been... well, I won't sugarcoat it. It's been the worst day of my life. But I appreciate everything you've done to help me through it. Here's to a better tomorrow. Good night. [[delay 180m|socold]]


:: socold c c cant feel hands frzzng clld [[delay 8s|connectionlost]]


:: nothanksspit Your loss. [[afterspitassessment]]


:: sleepbythereactor I gotta be honest with you: I'm really nervous about this. I mean, you've gotten me through this day so far -- definitely the worst day of my entire life. (I'd put it up against the worst day of pretty much ANYBODY'S life, pretty confidently.) So I'm going to trust you on this. I mean, either you looked it up and you know I'll be safe at these radiation levels... ...or else you didn't bother to look it up, and you're just blowing me off. I guess I won't know until I wake up in the morning. And with that cheery thought... goodnight, wherever you are. Here's to a better tomorrow. [[delay 360m|dawnofdaytwo]]


:: dawnofdaytwo Hey! Check it out! I'm not dead! I don't even have an ear growing out of my forehead, or any other weird toxic radiation mutations! Nice. Okay. Fresh new day, same old moon. Maybe I'm oversharing here, but I woke up with a HORRIBLE taste in my mouth. Rinsed with some water, spit out it... and it had a weird green tint to it. Probably something to do with trace elements in this place's atmosphere... ...but still, pretty strange, huh? <<choice [[Ugh. Thanks for sharing.|ughthanksforsharing]]>> | <<choice [[Radiation sickness, maybe?|radiationsicknessmaybe]]>>



:: ughthanksforsharing Yeah, well. Who ELSE am I supposed to talk to about this sorta thing? Feel free to tell me what your spit looks like, we'll call it even. <<choice [[No, but thanks anyway.|nothanksspit]]>> | <<choice [[Like normal spit, weirdo.|normalspit]]>>


:: afterspitassessment <<if $rations is 1>> Anyway, at least I've got rations to get the taste out of my mouth. I'm thinkin' a little maple sausage -- closest thing to breakfast in these pouches. Let me chow down and freshen up as best I can. I'll drop you a line in a few minutes. [[delay 15m|afterbreakfast]] <<elseif $ratpellets is 1 and $rations is 0>> Anyway, rat pellets don't taste much better... ...but I gotta do SOMETHING to get this weird flavor out of my mouth. Let me choke enough of these down to keep body and soul together. Maybe I'll try and freshen up with what water I've got, too. I'll drop you a line in a few minutes. [[delay 15m|afterbreakfast]] <<else>> Anyway. Wish I'd found any kind of food yesterday. Not just because I'm weak as hell and my stomach is starting to eat itself... ...but because I'd love to have something to get this weird taste out of my mouth. I'm gonna poke around one last time, see if I can find anything at all to eat. There's that corridor that branches off to the lab and the galley (the door to which is burnt pretty severely). Or else I can keep hunting through the rest of the ship. <<choice [[Try that corridor|trythatcorridor]]>> | <<choice [[Try the rest of the ship.|trytherest]]>><<endif>>



:: afterbreakfast Well, that was... "delicious" isn't quite the word I'm searching for. Maybe "sustenance" is. And maybe just barely. But it should hold body and soul together for today's field trip. [[moveondaytwo]]


:: radiationsicknessmaybe Oh. God. You think? I don't feel bad, or anything. No headache, no nausea, nothing like that. In fact -- apart from the whole "lost in space" aspect of things -- I actually woke up feeling really good this morning. It's just... green spit IS a little weird, huh? Man. I sure hope it's not radiation poisoning. It'd be tough finding a matching bone marrow donor around here. [[afterspitassessment]]


:: normalspit Well, well. Look who's all high and mighty about their spit. Congratulations on having unremarkable saliva. Your parents must be so proud. [[afterspitassessment]]


:: trythatcorridor All right. Here we are in the corridor past the bunks again. Just like yesterday, it leads to either the lab or the galley. (Nice to know some things don't change.) <<choice [[Try the galley.|trythegalleydaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Try the lab.|trythelabdaytwo]]>>


:: trytherest Yeah, good thinking. I'll poke around in the rubble. Probably a four-course meal in here somewhere. [[delay 15m|noluckfindingfood]]


:: noluckfindingfood No luck. And you know what's worse? This moon -- unlike every other moon in the cosmos -- is NOT made of green cheese. Starting to feel like my science education didn't prepare me AT ALL for this jaunt. Oh well. Maybe there's a decent Tex-Mex joint just over the next dune. There usually is, back on Earth. [[nobreakfast]]


:: nobreakfast So, I'm exhausted, malnourished, parched, and can barely stay upright. That must mean it's time for today's field trip. [[moveondaytwo]]


:: intogalleydaytwo <<silently>><<set $rations = 1>><<set $hurtshoulder = 1>><<endsilently>> I totally pulled my shoulder out of joint! And it was totally worth it! Because I am in a great deal of pain WHILE AT THE SAME TIME eating maple sausage and drinking bottled water. This maple sausage is kind of nasty WHILE AT THE SAME TIME being the best thing I've ever eaten. It'll be gone soon, and then I'll have to deal with the shoulder that I repeatedly hammered against a dead hydraulic door to get to the maple sausage. But that's a problem for three-minutes-from-now-Taylor. <<if $ratpellets eq 1>>And I think we can ALL agree, this beats rat food any day. So I've got food and water taken care of, and rat pellets as a fallback plan. Guess it's time to start thinking about getting a move on for the day. [[moveondaytwo]] <<else>>So, now that food is handled, I can either go see what, if anything, is left of the lab... ...or I can start getting a move on with the day. What do you think? <<choice [[Try the lab.|trythelabdaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Move on with the day.|moveondaytwo]]>><<endif>>


:: tryinggalleydoor2a Man... you're a glutton for punishment, as long as it's somebody else's, huh? All right, against my better judgment, I'll take another swing at it. [[delay 3m|intogalleydaytwo]]


:: stilltryinggalley2a Okay, I don't want to say this is "impossible," because that sounds like I'm exaggerating... ...so let's just say that getting into the galley is "improbable." Highly, HIGHLY improbable. It's starting to get late, anyway. The sun (er, star... Tau Ceti) is getting low on the horizon. I need to think about bedding down for the night. So, what do you think? Keep bashing this improbable door in the hopes that it gives in before I do? Or forget it for now and figure out my sleeping arrangements? <<choice [[Keep trying the door.|tryinggalleydoor2a]]>> | <<choice [[Forget it for now.|stoptryinggalleydoor2a]]>>


:: trythegalleydaytwo <<if $triedgalley is 0>> <<silently>><<set $triedgalley = 1>><<endsilently>> The door is... SUPER stuck! Fortunately, I am not above bashing it with scrap metal because, confidentially, I don't think we're getting our deposit back on this ship. I'm gonna keep at this for a bit because this is my best bet at finding rations. If I can just get through... this... damn... door! [[delay 3m|stilltryinggalley2a]] <<elseif $triedgalley is 1>> Still... the door... refuses... to budge! I'm going to hit the metal door with other, non-door metal, in the hopes that the metals will become friends and the door will open. That's how it works, usually, right? [[delay 3m|intogalleydaytwo]]<<endif>>


:: trythelabdaytwo <<silently>><<set $ratpellets = 1>><<endsilently>> Well, it's time to play Good News/Bad News. Good news: All of my handwritten notes on the maze-running and food-seeking habits of Sprague Dawley rats in various gravities are TOTALLY INTACT! So you can stop worrying that this whole trip was for nothing. We got the goods. Bad news: Their cage looks like it's been through a cage match. Half-crushed, warped from the heat. And the rats are nowhere to be found. I'd love to believe that they escaped into the ducts and that they're going to start repopulating this barren moon. I'm gonna leave my notes here. Who knows? In a million generations, these could be the planet's sacred historical texts. <<if $rations is 0>>Good(ish) news? I won't starve to death. I have rat food pellets and a half-full ball-spout water bottle. Look at that. I called it "half-full." Feelin' more optimistic already. So... I guess I can count my blessing and snack on rat food for a while... ...or that can be a distant "Plan B," and I can go hunting for people food. <<if $triedgalley is 0>> <<choice [[People food! Try the galley.|trythegalleydaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Stick with rat food.|eatratfooddaytwo]]>> <<elseif $triedgalley is 1>> <<choice [[Try the galley again.|tryinggalleydoor2a]]>> | <<choice [[Stick with rat food.|eatratfooddaytwo]]>><<endif>> <<elseif $rations is 1>>And hey, in addition to the rations, I've now got a fallback stock of rat food pellets and a half-full ball-spout water bottle. Look at that. I called it "half-full." Feelin' more optimistic already. Anyway, I guess it's time to start getting a move on with the day. [[moveondaytwo]]<<endif>>


:: stoptryinggalleydoor2a Cool. Thank you. I think I needed someone else to tell me it was okay to stop beating myself up. <<if $ratpellets is 0>>So, I can either go see what, if anything, is left of the lab... ...or I can just get a move on with the day. What do you think? <<choice [[Try the lab.|trythelabdaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Get a move on.|moveondaytwo]]>> <<elseif $ratpellets is 1>> Well, that was... "delicious" isn't quite the word I'm searching for. Maybe "sustenance" is. And maybe just barely. But it should hold body and soul together for today's field trip. Guess it's time to get a move on with the day. [[moveondaytwo]]<<endif>>


:: eatratfooddaytwo Uh... yum? Rat pellets may count as caloric intake, but they're not about to win any awards for flavor. If I close my eyes, I can imagine that they're... uh... Nope. It's no good. I doubt anyone could trick themselves into thinking these were anything other than what they are. Eatin' rat food on the moon. Sounds like a lousy prog rock album. [[delay 4s|tasteslikeonedaytwo]]


:: moveondaytwo <<if $power is "beacon">>The beacon's still broadcasting, but screens show no traffic in a day's range. So I figure I've got time to go check out that strange peak to the north... ...and still make it back to the Varia well before nightfall. <<elseif $power is "turret">>Should be plenty of time to go check out that strange peak to the north... ...and still make it back to the Varia before nightfall. <<elseif $power is "pod">>The generator's still humming along happily, powering the stasis pod... ...and Captain Aya's still stable inside. I'd prefer "healed," but oh well. I guess when it comes to miracle technology, you take what you can get. Anyhow, with her stowed safely away, I can step out for a few hours. Should be plenty of time to go check out that strange peak to the north... ...and still make it back to the Varia before nightfall. <<else>>Should be plenty of time to go check out that strange peak to the north... ...and still make it back to the Varia before nightfall.<<endif>> Just one more pass over the ship, make sure everything's locked down... <<if $rations is 1>> ...and then I'm packing some rations and water, and heading out. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 1>>...and then I'm packing some rat food and water, and heading out. <<else>>...and then I'm heading out. Clear heart, empty stomach.<<endif>> I'll keep you posted along the way. [[delay 60m|backatescapepod]]


:: tasteslikeonedaytwo Tastes like one, too. Okay, this is pretty good incentive to try to get into the galley and get some real food. Either that, or I'd better just get a move on with the day. <<choice [[Try the galley.|trythegalleydaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Move on with the day.|moveondaytwo]]>>


:: backatescapepod Back to where my escape pod came down. Looks like it rolled over during the night. I guess the wind caught the 'chute and dragged it a little ways? Damn. Must've been some pretty high winds. It moved probably ten feet. But, hey, that's only -- what -- three meters? Three doesn't sound so far. Things are less freaky in metric. [[delay 40m|deadendmountaindaytwo]]


:: deadendmountaindaytwo <<if $boulderdayone is 0>> Damn! Looks like the path I was on is blocked off. I was tracing this shallow canyon, but I hit this huge boulder. Way too big to climb over. <<elseif $boulderdayone is 1>> Ah, yeah, crap. Same canyon, different direction. I'm coming up on that same point where the boulder blocked my path yesterday. Somehow, it's no smaller than it was then. (Go figure.) Still can't climb over it.<<endif>> What do you reckon... should I look for some quick way around it? Or back out of the canyon and try another path altogether? <<choice [[Find a way around.|wayaroundboulderdaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Back out of the canyon.|backoutofcanyondaytwo]]>>


:: backoutofcanyondaytwo Yeah, I'm with you. I think that's the right call. That whole boulder situation looked like a deathtrap waiting to be sprung. There's a gentle slope up the canyon wall, a few hundred yards back. (No, I can't rattle that off in metric. A hecto-bunch? A picobuttload?) I hate to lose time from doubling back... ...but it's preferable to the whole "breaking a leg 5,000 picobuttloads from the nearest hospital" scenario. Anyway. Off I go. [[delay 45m|craterlip]]


:: craterlip So... I'm having one of those dilemmas that only people stranded on a moon can have. Bear with me here. I'm standing at the lip of a huge crater. I mean, HUGE. As in, like, if I weren't terrified of dying alone in deep space at any given second, I'd take a moment to be really, really awed. Problem is, this marvel of geography is smack-dab in the middle of where I'm headed. So... it's either a slog around the perimeter, making a big semicircle in one direction or the other... ...or else I try my luck easing down the side and then cut straight across. There's certainly something to be said for the shortest distance between two points... ...but people don't usually factor giant craters into that equation. What do you say? <<choice [[Head straight across.|straightacross]]>> | <<choice [[Walk the perimeter.|walkperimeter]]>>


:: straightacross You got it. I'm gonna scout for the gentlest gradient. I'll get back to you momentarily. [[delay 5m|slippedcrater]]


:: slippedcrater <<silently>><<set $hurtankle = 1>><<endsilently>> Okay. So. That did not work very well. Everything was going fine, and then suddenly the ground just gave out from under me. (Which, now that I think about it, describes most of my relationships back home.) What looked like a solid piece of crater wall was nothing but sand. My foot went through, I pitched forward, and... yeah. Good news: I made it to the bottom of the canyon! Bad news: Twisted the living crap out of my ankle. I can feel it swelling already. Good news (?): If there ARE any aliens watching, it's a sure bet I'm a finalist on their Desolate Moon's Funniest Videos show. Bad news: Any time I was saving by moving in a straight line, I just lost to injury. <<if $hurtshoulder is 1>> So for anyone keeping track at home... ...that's one (1) banged-up shoulder, one (1) screwed-up ankle.<<endif>> So it's either keep pushing forward to the other side of the crater... ...or climb back up now and THEN walk the perimeter. <<choice [[Keep moving ahead.|keepmovingaheadcrater]]>> | <<choice [[Climb back up now.|climbbackupcrater]]>>


:: keepmovingaheadcrater Only logical move, really. So, there's gonna be a long, flat march of nothing but me swearing about my ankle. I'll switch off the comm and spare you that, if it's all the same to you. If anything amazing happens, though, I promise, I'll let you know. [[delay 45m|anythingamazing]]


:: anythingamazing OH MY GOD! You'll never believe it! I'm still stuck in a moon crater and my ankle still hurts! ...Sorry. I was just going a little bonkers, with nothing but the sound of my own thoughts. <<choice [[No worries. Wanna chat?|noworrieswannachat]]>> | <<choice [[Sorry. No time to chat.|sorrycantchat]]>>


:: noworrieswannachat Yes! Please. I mean, I don't want to be a bother, but you're kind of all I've got. (Wow. How needy is that?) So, uh... have YOU ever wandered around in a giant moon crater? <<choice [[Sure. All the time.|allthetimeincraters]]>> | <<choice [[Never had the pleasure.|neverincraters]]>>


:: allthetimeincraters Oh, yeah? First time, for me. Maybe you can give me some travel tips. Any idea where to score a quality mocha latte around here? I'm absolutely USELESS before that first cup of coffee. Other situations in which I'm absolutely useless: wandering around a giant moon crater. Sigh. <<choice [[Just keep at it.|keepwanderingcrater]]>> | <<choice [[Now I want some coffee.|iwantcoffee]]>>


:: keepwanderingcrater Yup. That's the plan. The opposite wall is in sight. I'm gonna buckle down, grit my teeth, and hobble my way on over there. Thanks for the pep talk. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 20m|oppositewall]]


:: oppositewall Well, it actually didn't take as long to cross the crater floor as I thought it might. Putting pressure on the ankle doesn't feel great, but I can handle it. Here's the strange thing, though: Maybe fifty yards back, I tripped over something while I was walking. (Yeah, I know, I've been so graceful so far, it must be hard for you to believe.) Anyway, it was pretty well buried in the sand, but when I looked down at it... it glinted at me in the sun. Because it was METAL. It took me a minute to dig it up, and I've been examining it ever since, but I'm still not sure what it is, exactly. I mean, I guess it's GOT to be a panel from the Varia... it's just weird that it came down so far from the rest of the ship, huh? Anyhow. I've found a gentle grade to try and climb out of here, but I want to give it my full concentration. So I'll message you once I'm back up top, cool? [[delay 10m|moremetalpieces]]


:: wayaroundboulderdaytwo Okay, I'll give it a shot. Honestly, though, this terrain looks pretty unforgiving. [[delay 20m|deadendforrealdaytwo]]


:: walkperimeter All right. You know, this is probably the safest call. All flat surfaces up here. Flat... dull... plain... planes. Wheeee. Look, the most exciting decision I'm anticipating in the next couple hours is whether I should take off walking left or right. And since I don't have a coin on me (because there are very few laundromats or video arcades up here)... ...I'm leaving this one up to you. Should I walk around this stupid hole in the ground clockwise? Or counterclockwise? THIS COULD BE THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION YOU MAKE ALL DAY! (It won't be.) <<choice [[Clockwise!|clockwisecrater]]>> | <<choice [[Counter!|counterclockwisecrater]]>>


:: deadendforrealdaytwo <<if $deadenddayone is 0>> Listen, there's just no way around this thing. Not enough footholds to get even a few feet up it. Or "meters" up it, whatever. These canyon walls look like nothing but loose rock, too... ...and -- surprise, surprise -- as a science fair champ, I'm pretty much the definition of an "indoor kid." <<elseif $deadenddayone is 1>> Listen, like I said yesterday, there's just no way around this thing. The boulder's too smooth, and the canyon walls are just loose stones.<<endif>> I don't think I'm cut out for rock climbing. Thoughts? <<choice [[Back out of the canyon.|backoutofcanyondaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Give climbing a try.|tryclimbingdaytwo]]>>


:: climbbackupcrater Ugh. With a little effort -- okay, MORE than a little effort -- I can make my way back up, at a more solid part of the crater wall. I just feel dumb for having tried to take a shortcut. This is the price I pay, I guess. Let that be a lesson: Anything worth doing, is worth doing in the most tedious, mind-numbing fashion imaginable. Let me concentrate on making it back up to the top, then I'll get back to you. [[delay 5m|walkperimeter]]


:: sorrycantchat Cool. Cool. I totally get it. Anyway, the crater's opposite wall is in sight. I'm gonna buckle down, grit my teeth, and hobble my way on over there. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 20m|oppositewall]]


:: neverincraters Well, try to imagine being a single grain of rice in the universe's biggest wok. That's about the scale of things here. Some part of me is terrified that a gigantic sugar snap pea is going to come plummeting out of the sky and crush me. (Not a very rational fear, I know... but then, two days ago, I wouldn't have thought "spaceship crash" was a very rational fear.) Anyhow. The crater's opposite wall is in sight. I'm gonna buckle down, grit my teeth, and hobble my way on over there. Thanks for the pep talk. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 20m|oppositewall]]


:: iwantcoffee You know what? That's totally fair. Go on and get yourself a cup. Maybe pour a little out for your ol' pal Taylor, stranded at the cosmic crossroads. As for me, the crater's opposite wall is in sight. I'm gonna buckle down, grit my teeth, and hobble my way on over there. Thanks for the pep talk. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 20m|oppositewall]]


:: moremetalpieces Um. So. Here's something. On this side of the crater, there's a little ridge. And on that little ridge, there are more little pieces of metal. Like, SEVERAL more. And then, just on the other side of that little ridge -- where you can't see it until you've crested the little ridge -- There's, um... ...there's a spaceship. [[delay 1m|discoveredship]]


:: taylorfallsdaytwo ah no i broke i broke my leg oh god its a compound its the bone is sticking right through the ieva suit [[delay 4s|brokenlegdaytwo]]


:: tryclimbingdaytwo I really... aw, screw it. Okay, I've come this far, no sense in giving up now. Here goes nothing! [[delay 30m|taylorfallsdaytwo]]


:: counterclockwisecrater Wow! Counterclockwise? That is a very daring choice! As I take off marching to my right, in a big gigantic circle on an unknown moon in a poorly trafficked quadrant... ...know that your strong, clear decision-making skills have made all the difference! Clockwise sucks! Counterclockwise rules! Those who swim against the tide get hit in the face with all the best fish! [[delay 4s|craterenthusiasm]]


:: clockwisecrater <<silently>><<set $clockwisecrater = 1>><<endsilently>> Wow! Clockwise? That is a very bold choice! As I take off marching to my left, in a big gigantic circle on an unknown moon in a poorly trafficked quadrant... ...know that your strong, clear decision-making skills have made all the difference! Counterclockwise sucks! Clockwise rules! Without it, clocks would be useless! Except for digital ones! [[delay 4s|craterenthusiasm]]


:: sorrycantchatperimeter Cool. Cool. I totally get it. Anyway, the crater's opposite side is in sight. I'm gonna buckle down, grit my teeth, and keep truckin' my way on over there. Thanks for the pep talk. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 40m|oppositeedge]]


:: neverincratersperimeter Well, try to imagine being a single grain of rice on the rim of the universe's biggest wok. That's about the scale of things here. Some part of me is terrified that a gigantic sugar snap pea is going to come plummeting out of the sky and crush me. (Not a very rational fear, I know... but then, two days ago, I wouldn't have thought "spaceship crash" was a very rational fear.) Anyhow. The crater's opposite side is in sight. I'm gonna buckle down, grit my teeth, and keep truckin' my way on over there. Thanks for the pep talk. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 40m|oppositeedge]]


:: keepwanderingcraterperimeter Yup. That's the plan. The crater's opposite side is in sight. I'm gonna buckle down, grit my teeth, and keep truckin' my way on over there. Thanks for the pep talk. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 40m|oppositeedge]]


:: oppositeedge Well, it actually didn't take as long to trek around the edge of the crater as I thought it might. <<if $hurtankle is 1>>Putting pressure on the ankle doesn't feel great, but I can handle it.<<endif>> Here's the strange thing, though: Maybe fifty yards back, I tripped over something while I was walking. (Yeah, I know, I've been so graceful so far, it must be hard for you to believe.) Anyway, it was pretty well buried in the sand, but when I looked down at it... it glinted at me in the sun. Because it was METAL. It took me a minute to dig it up, and I've been examining it ever since, but I'm still not sure what it is, exactly. I mean, I guess it's GOT to be a panel from the Varia... it's just weird that it came down so far from the rest of the ship, huh? Anyhow. I'm pretty much directly opposite the point where I started circling this crater, so I guess it's time to keep heading north. <<if $clockwisecrater is 1>>What a long, strange, clockwise trip it's been. <<else>>What a long, strange, counterclockwise trip it's been.<<endif>> [[delay 5m|moremetalpieces]]


:: discoveredship So... yeah. It's a good thing that the air here is okay to breathe, because I've been hyperventilating it for the last minute or so. What the hell? I mean... I mean, what the hell? Seriously, just, what the hell? (I was a science student, not an English student. Forgive me.) From up here, I can tell it's a much smaller ship than the Varia -- it's what I think they call a caravel-class vessel. It would've had half a dozen crew, tops, making quick runs with minimal armament. Minimal defenses. What is it doing here? How long has it been here? The engine looks like it was just... SHEARED from the rest of the ship. Did they collide with space debris, maybe? God. I have about a million questions. Should I go down there and explore the wreckage, do you think? Or do I keep to higher ground, and stay the hell away from that ship and whatever brought it out of the sky? <<choice [[Explore the wreckage.|explorecaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Stay clear of it.|stayclearofcaravel]]>>


:: brokenlegdaytwo ive never broken a bone in my life and now this oh my god shouldnt i go into shock at some point cause the pain is freaking overwhelming [[delay 4s|bad advicedaytwo]]


:: bad advicedaytwo hey no offense but your advice? sucks [[delay 4s|connectionlost]]


:: craterenthusiasm ...Ooh, boy. I think I used up all my enthusiasm, and I've still got an awful lot of walking left to do. I'll message you when I get to about the halfway point. If anything amazing happens, though, I promise, I'll let you know. [[delay 45m|anythingamazingperimeter]]


:: anythingamazingperimeter OH MY GOD! You'll never believe it! I'm still walking around a moon crater and it's still boring as hell! ...Sorry. I was just going a little bonkers, with nothing but the sound of my own thoughts. <<choice [[No worries. Wanna chat?|noworrieswannachatperimeter]]>> | <<choice [[Sorry. No time to chat.|sorrycantchatperimeter]]>>


:: noworrieswannachatperimeter Yes! Please. I mean, I don't want to be a bother, but you're kind of all I've got. (Wow. How needy is that?) So, uh... have YOU ever wandered around the circumference of a giant moon crater? <<choice [[Sure. All the time.|allthetimeincratersperimeter]]>> | <<choice [[Never had the pleasure.|neverincratersperimeter]]>>


:: allthetimeincratersperimeter Oh, yeah? First time, for me. Maybe you can give me some travel tips. Any idea where to score a quality mocha latte around here? I'm absolutely USELESS before that first cup of coffee. Other situations in which I'm absolutely useless: circling around a giant moon crater. Sigh. <<choice [[Just keep at it.|keepwanderingcraterperimeter]]>> | <<choice [[Now I want some coffee.|iwantcoffeeperimeter]]>>


:: iwantcoffeeperimeter You know what? That's totally fair. Go on and get yourself a cup. Maybe pour a little out for your ol' pal Taylor, stranded at the cosmic crossroads. As for me, the crater's opposite side is in sight. I'm gonna buckle down, grit my teeth, and keep truckin' my way on over there. Thanks for the pep talk. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 40m|oppositeedge]]


:: stayclearofcaravel Yeah. That's definitely the most sensible plan here. I mean, if this were some B-grade horror/sci-fi movie, I'd be yelling at the screen for the idiot kid not to go down into the wreck. I'd probably be eating popcorn, too. I would definitely rather be eating popcorn than trying to decide whether to explore a derelict spaceship on an isolated moon. Honestly never thought that'd be a decision I'd have to make. But yeah. This is smart, right? Just stay up here, avoid that ship, keep heading for the peak. <<choice [[Right. Head for the peak.|postcaravelassessment]]>> | <<choice [[Maybe check the ship.|checkcaravelafterall]]>>


:: explorecaravel This is crazy. What I'm doing right now, heading down TOWARD this derelict ship instead of away from it... it's CRAZY. I mean, this is the part in every single horror movie where I'd be watching the idiot on the screen... ...and I'd be muttering to myself, "Well, I sure wouldn't do that if *I* were you." Except that right now, I'M the idiot on the screen. Seriously, shouldn't I walk away now before the killer in the space-hockey mask from Camp Mare Tranquillitatis jumps out and stabs me? Or, worse, forces me to play space-hockey? I'm TERRIBLE at sports. <<choice [[Okay, turn back.|turnbackfromcaravel]]>> | <<choice [[No, you should explore it.|goexplorecaravel]]>>


:: goexplorecaravel All right. Fine. But if I get serial-killed in there, it's on you. Hell, even if I'm just maimed, nonserially, I'm gonna be upset. Gimme just a minute to get down there. [[delay 3m|atcaravel]]


:: atcaravel It was really surprisingly easy to get down from the ridge. A little TOO easy. I seriously hate everything about what is happening in my life at this moment. So, the hull of this thing is pretty badly beaten. There's some writing that isn't too legible... looks like Chinese characters? Or Japanese? There's too much paint missing to be sure. That said, the metal isn't overly oxidized. This ship hasn't been here that long. Ugh. My stomach is doing flips, just looking at the exterior. I'm sweaty and ice-cold, all at once. <<if $rations is 1>>Either that maple sausage wasn't the greatest breakfast in the world (impossible!)... ...or this is the creepiest thing I've ever encountered.<<endif>> The airlock iris looks like it's open just wide enough for me to crawl inside. But I'm looking for any reason in the universe NOT to do it. <<choice [[You have to keep exploring.|goinsidecaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Sounds scary. Turn back.|dontgoinsidecaravel]]>>


:: goinsidecaravel Okay. Deep breath. Switching on the IEVA suit's helmet light, because it's dark as pitch inside this ship. (OF COURSE it's dark in here. How could it terrify me to my core if it weren't dark in here?) <<if $hurtshoulder is 1>>Let me tell you, I sure didn't do my banged-up shoulder any favors trying to get through that door. <<elseif $hurtshoulder is 0>>I wrenched my shoulder a little trying to squeeze through the door, so... that's fun.<<endif>> Looks like the ship was shaken around pretty hard. There's stuff all over the floors, falling out of bins and cabinets... ...it's slow going, having to pick my way through all this debris with only a headlamp to navigate by. So, I can tell you this just from here: The instrument panel are smashed to splinters. And then the splinters were smashed to splinters. I had some hopes that maybe this thing had a functional distress beacon, but that notion just went out the proverbial window. Anyway. Right now I seem to be in a sort of pass-through. Figure I should take the east hall, or the west one? <<choice [[Try the east hall.|eastcaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Take the west hall.|westcaravel]]>>


:: checkcaravelafterall ...Really? I was so on board with the "don't go down there" plan. I really thought we had something, there. Ugh. You really think I should check it out? [[goexplorecaravel]]


:: turnbackfromcaravel Yeah. Yes. This is the safe plan. The smart plan. Nobody ever got space-murdered by NOT walking into the space-murderer's lair. At least not in any space-murder movie I'VE ever seen. And I've seen more than a few. (Remember, I'm terrible at sports.) So let's leave this creepy wreck in the rearview and keep heading for the creepy peak instead. (...It sounds worse when I say it out loud.) [[postcaravelassessment]]


:: dontgoinsidecaravel Yeah. Yes. This is the safe plan. The smart plan. Nobody ever got space-murdered by NOT walking into the space-murderer's lair. At least not in any space-murder movie I'VE ever seen. And I've seen more than a few. (Remember, I'm terrible at sports.) So let's leave this creepy wreck in the rearview and keep heading for the creepy peak instead. (...It sounds worse when I say it out loud.) Okay, then. I'm gonna forget I ever saw this thing (not likely), and keep marching onward (very likely). [[postcaravelassessment]]


:: eastcaravel <<silently>><<set $compassweird = 1>><<endsilently>> Turning right, we head down the lovely (not lovely) and spacious (definitely not spacious) east hallway. On either side of me is a sealed door. Without any power to get behind the pneumatics, I don't stand a chance in hell at getting these open, so I guess it's... Huh. That's strange. I just noticed that the compass on my IEVA suit still claims I'm headed north, even though I took a hard right turn down this hall. That's... kinda messed up. <<choice [[Keep moving straight ahead.|aheadincaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Turn back around.|turnaroundincaravel]]>>


:: westcaravel <<silently>><<set $compassweird = 1>><<endsilently>> Turning left, we head down the lovely (not lovely) and spacious (definitely not spacious) west hallway. On either side of me is a sealed door. Without any power to get behind the pneumatics, I don't stand a chance in hell at getting these open, so I guess it's... Huh. That's strange. I just noticed that the compass on my IEVA suit still claims I'm headed north, even though I took a hard left turn down this hall. That's... kinda messed up. <<choice [[Keep moving straight ahead.|aheadincaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Turn back around.|turnaroundincaravel]]>>


:: getoutofcaravel Yup. I'm just going to ignore the fact that my directional readout is going crazy... ...ignore the fact that my headlamp has suddenly decided to fail for no reason... ...ignore the fact that, if there were a soundtrack to this moment, it would be all shrieking violins and heavy breathing... ...and I'm just going to go right back out the way I-- [[delay 4s|justleavingcaravel]]


:: turnaroundincaravel Yes. That's sensible. That's what I'd be yelling at the screen right now if I were watching myself in this movie. So, here's some interesting trivia. I turn around 180 degrees to go back the way I came... ...the compass goes around a few times before settling on the increasingly popular "north." Which means that, inside of this wreck, my compass is useless. And I've gotta be honest, that's not endearing this place to me one bit. <<choice [[Get the hell out of there.|getoutofcaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Keep exploring in there.|keepexploringcaravel]]>>


:: aheadincaravel If I were a character in a horror movie I was watching, I would be SO PISSED watching myself keep walking further into this wreck. I can practically hear myself yelling at myself for proceeding down the hall. "You've got a faulty compass," I'm shouting at myself. "You can barely see where you're going!" "Your headlamp is starting to flicker, because you're a character in a bad horror movie!" Oh. Crap. My headlamp is starting to flicker. <<choice [[Okay, turn back.|turnaroundincaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Keep moving. Faster.|fasterincaravel]]>>


:: justleavingcaravel <<silently>><<set $zombierats = 1>><<endsilently>> WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? Oh God. Okay. Oh God. Uh, there was this... I don't know, this, like, scuttling type noise. Coming from behind me, out in the corridor. And I turned around. And, and... I saw something. Something moving. Something GLOWING. Glowing green. Lots of little somethings, actually. Close to the ground. Glowing, and moving, and scuttling. Which are three things that are way, way high on my list of stuff I was NOT EXPECTING TO SEE today, if I'm being honest. I don't think I'm alone in this ship. I gotta get the hell out of here. <<choice [[I agree. Get out now!|leavecaravelnow]]>> | <<choice [[Find out what it was.|findscuttling]]>>


:: fasterincaravel Sure, that's great advice. "Oh, you're doing something stupid? Well, then, just do it FASTER." No one ever went wrong by pursuing that particular strand of logic. There's an open door at the end of the hall. That's where I'm headed. The light on my suit is strobing like I'm at a rave. Any second now, I'm expecting a pounding bass beat to kick in. Maybe tonight a DJ will save my life. Geez. This door is... just barely open enough... for me to slip inside the next room. I'd better hope there's not a buffet on the other side. If I gain an ounce, I'll never get back through. [[delay 1m|insidemedroom]]


:: takenopill Yeah, all right, maybe that's smart. I'll hang onto the pills for the time being. If the last couple days have taught me anything, it's that, no matter how bad things seem at the moment, they could always get worse later. Crap -- my headlamp is really flickering badly. I think I should get out of here before it fails me completely. <<choice [[Okay, get out of there.|leavecaravelmedroom]]>> | <<choice [[Risk it; keep exploring.|riskitcaravelmedroom]]>>


:: insidemedroom <<silently>><<set $pills = 3>><<endsilently>> Ugh. They should've sent a contortionist, not a science student. Anyhow, I'm in. This looks like a pretty basic sick bay. I say that because I found a medkit in here. And inside the medkit was a bottle -- a large bottle -- labeled in both Mandarin and English, so I could tell it was painkillers. Which, I thought, yay! Because my shoulder hurts like there's no tomorrow. (There may legitimately be no tomorrow. Fun thought.) But the bottle is almost empty. It would make a nice maraca, but there are only three pills in it. I'm not here to judge, but someone on this ship must've had a pretty serious problem. Or else... they downed a whole bunch of pills rather than face whatever brought the ship down. (Nope. That's officially too dark. Not gonna think in that direction.) <<if $hurtankle is 1>>Between the shoulder and the ankle, I could certainly justify taking one of these pills now to make things easier. <<elseif $hurtankle is 0>>My shoulder is killing me. I could certainly justify taking one of these pills now to make things easier.<<endif>> But then again, things could always get worse later. I might want to hang onto them. <<choice [[Take one now.|takepillone]]>> | <<choice [[Hold off for now.|takenopill]]>>


:: leavecaravelmedroom Okay. So, I'm gonna head back to the main corridor, and then squeeze my way back out of this weird ship before-- [[delay 15s|whatthehellwasthat]]


:: takepillone <<silently>><<set $pills = $pills - 1>><<endsilently>> Yeah. I think that's a decent idea. No sense in suffering if I don't have to. And I've still got <<$pills>> pills left for later. Crap -- my headlamp is really flickering badly. I think I should get out of here before it fails me completely. <<choice [[Okay, get out of there.|leavecaravelmedroom]]>> | <<choice [[Risk it; keep exploring.|riskitcaravelmedroom]]>>


:: riskitcaravelmedroom <<silently>><<set $glowrods = 10>><<endsilently>>I am SO FREAKING NERVOUS about staying here any-- Hey! Check it out! A whole drawer full of glow rods! Okay, there's no way you possibly could've known these were here, but still, I have to hand it to you... you were right to tell me to stay. I'm gonna crack a couple of these and shake 'em like they wronged me. Now it really DOES look like a rave! Plus there are ten more glow rods here that I can stash for later. Nice! Suddenly I don't feel so freaked out by the dark anymo-- [[delay 4s|whatthehellwasthat]]


:: keepexploringcaravel This is a terrible idea. I just want that on the record. That way, when they find my body all chopped in half with a space chainsaw or whatever, I get to say "I told you so." (Hey, I'll be dead. I'll have to take my little victories where I can get them.) Okay. Okay. So, I'm back in the main corridor, with all the debris all over the place, and I'm just trying to be careful so I don't-- [[delay 1m|ginnyincaravel]]


:: findscuttling Are you kidding me?! Like I want to go CHASING AFTER whatever that was! Seriously, you didn't hear it. I did. It was freaky as anything. Like, "Don't follow me into the dark" freaky. That's the worst kind of freaky, in case you're keeping track. <<if $ginnycaravel is 0>><<choice [[Seriously, go find it.|keepexploringcaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Okay, get out of there.|leavecaravelnow]]>> <<elseif $ginnycaravel is 1>>I'm taking the ginny and getting out of here while the getting's good. [[delay 1m|leavecaravelnorats]]<<endif>>


:: whatthehellwasthat <<silently>><<set $zombierats = 1>><<endsilently>> WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? Oh God. Okay. Oh God. Uh, there was this... I don't know, this, like, scuttling type noise. Coming from behind me, out in the corridor. And I turned around. And, and... I saw something. Something moving. Something GLOWING. Glowing green. Lots of little somethings, actually. Close to the ground. Glowing, and moving, and scuttling. Which are three things that are way, way high on my list of stuff I was NOT EXPECTING TO SEE today, if I'm being honest. I don't think I'm alone in this ship. I gotta get the hell out of here. <<choice [[I agree. Get out now!|leavecaravelnow]]>> | <<choice [[Find out what it was.|findscuttling]]>>


:: liedownanddievaria Um. Listen. I'm just... I just feel exhausted right now. I just want to lie down. Maybe I'm being, you know, melodramatic. Maybe I'll be just fine out here. Wake up refreshed, like I just took a brisk, cold, eight-hour shower. But, uh... in case I don't... ...I just want to say thanks. For sticking with me, for being a voice in the darkness. Because this is about as dark as it possibly could've gotten for me, so... I appreciate it. It really is beautiful, out here under all these stars. Thousands, hundreds of thousands of them. I wish you could see this. I'm... just gonna close my eyes for a little while. [[delay 8s|connectionlost]]


:: ginnyincaravel <<silently>><<set $ginnycaravel = 1>><<endsilently>> Sorry. I tripped over something and went down hard. And, uh, despite everything you may have read... in space, you can definitely hear YOURSELF scream. And it's a little embarrassing. <<if $ginny is 1>>But the good news is, the thing I tripped over? It's another little generator! It's a different model than the one I've got back at the Varia, powering the <<$power>> -- a little smaller, a little lighter -- but in essence, I've just doubled my power supply! <<elseif $ginny is 0>>But the good news is, the thing I tripped over? It's a little generator! That means I've finally got a power supply!<<endif>> So I'm calling this excursion into the nightmare ship a success, and I'm also calling it finished. Time for me and my generator to get the hell out of Dodge. <<if $zombierats is 1>>[[delay 1m|leavecaravelnorats]] <<else>>Maybe I've seen too many horror movies. I guess I was worried about noth--[[whatthehellwasthat]]<<endif>>


:: leavecaravelnorats Ah. God. I would kiss this soil if I didn't think Earth would get jealous. I don't know what that was. Maybe... maybe it was nothing. Just my mind playing tricks. It would sure suck if I survived a spaceship crash only to suffer a heart attack jumping from shadows, huh? I'm just gonna sit here for a minute and try to catch my breath, okay? [[delay 10m|caravelrecovery]]


:: leavecaravelnow I'm going. I'm going! Fear is an excellent motivator to get you through tight spaces, and to make you forget about hurt shoulders. Fear will also make you not care about your screwed-up compass. Fear will make you forget about absolutely everything except getting back outside... ...where a barren, desolate moon in the middle of nowhere is somehow the most comforting place in the whole universe. Ah. God. I would kiss this soil if I didn't think Earth would get jealous. I don't know what that was. Maybe... maybe it was nothing. Just my mind playing tricks. It would sure suck if I survived a spaceship crash only to suffer a heart attack jumping from shadows, huh? I'm just gonna sit here for a minute and try to catch my breath, okay? [[delay 10m|caravelrecovery]]


:: deathmarchvaria Hey, the star is setting. It's starset. I'm all alone on the moon at starset. It's starting to get really dark. <<if $glowrods gte 1>>I just cracked a couple of glow rods. They help a little, I guess. But they don't last long. Probably not long enough for me to get someplace safely.<<endif>> I think... I think I'm a little bit screwed right now. I'm nowhere near the Varia. Or the wreck of the caravel. Or the peak. Or ANYWHERE. I'm out here under the stars. Which is beautiful... but also cold. <<if $bringginnytwo is 1>>I've got this generator, but nothing to hook it up to. How completely pointless.<<endif>> It's gonna get cold, and then colder, and then... ...there's a pretty good chance I'm going to die out here, under all these beautiful, beautiful stars. Dammit. I'm not even hydrated enough to cry. This misbegotten rock has even stolen my tears. [[delay 2m|liedownanddievaria]]


:: dehydrated Hey the star is setting soon. It's starset. Im all alone on the moon at starset. Itd be beutiful if i werrnt uh oh hhhhheey mmmyy mmmmmm som kiind f seizzure zzzzzure mmmm mmmmmmmm nnnnnnnnnnnnnn [[delay 8s|connectionlostdehydrated]]


:: caravelrecovery Yeah. Much better. All right, before I go any further, let's stop and assess things for a minute. [[postcaravelassessment]]


:: pushontovaria I'm at a point where I can no longer differentiate between stubbornness and lunacy. Ha. "Lunacy." Because it's a moon. I hope you're laughing, wherever you are. That might be the last joke I ever tell. [[delay 15m|deathmarchvaria]]


:: variaalltheway This feels useless. All I'm doing is putting one foot in front of the other, over and over. I'm not actually getting anywhere. Just keep going. South. Or where I think south is. This moon has stolen everything from me. Even the cardinal directions. One foot. The other. Over and over. No. This is stupid. I should really go back to the caravel, before it's too late to make that call. <<choice [[Go back to the caravel.|returntothecaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Push on to the Varia.|pushontovaria]]>>


:: firstcheckin Feel like... it's definitely taking longer on the way back... than it did on the way out. <<if $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>[[nofoodcollapse]] <<else>>Tau Ceti's getting really low. Maybe trying to make it back to the Varia isn't such a hot idea. <<choice [[Keep heading to the Varia.|variaalltheway]]>> | <<choice [[Return to the caravel.|returntothecaravel]]>><<endif>>


:: nofoodcollapse Hey. Hey, my legs just stopped. Working. I'm telling them to go but they won't go. I'm all "go" and they're like "no." Legs what's wrong? [[delay 4s|dehydrated]]


:: postcaravelassessment It looks like I've got a long hike north, in a northward direction, before I get to that peak up north. From here, I can see a couple more craters in my direct path -- small ones, though, nothing like the one I navigated earlier. <<if $rations is 1>>This probably wouldn't be the worst time to pause for a little food and drink to refuel before I start off again. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 1>>This probably wouldn't be the worst time to pause for a snack before I start off again... ...if you can call rat pellets and Habitrail water a "snack." <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>The fact that I still haven't found any food -- or, more importantly, water -- is really weighing on me. My head is pounding, and my muscles are staging a coup against me. <<if $pills gte 1>>I've still got <<$pills>> painkillers -- I can work up enough spit to dry-swallow one, but I hate to do it on an empty stomach.<<endif>><<endif>> <<if $hurtshoulder is 1 or $compassweird is 1>>Shoulder hurts pretty bad. <<if $hurtankle is 1>>And my stupid ankle isn't doing much better. Man, I'm kind of a mess, aren't I?<<endif>><<endif>> <<if $ginnycaravel is 1>>I've got this little generator. The question is, do I lug it with me all the way to the peak? Or I do leave it here with the caravel, and just snag it on my return walk back to the Varia? (Check out the optimism inherent in the idea that I'm even gonna make it back to the Varia. Go, Taylor.) <<choice [[Leave the ginny there.|leaveginnyatcaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Take the ginny with you.|takeginnywithyou]]>> <<else>>[[finishassessment]]<<endif>>


:: returntothecaravel Just have to trust that turning around backward will get me where I need to go. My compass might as well be a mood ring, as accurate as it's decided to be. Okay. Back to the caravel. Too tired to be witty. I'm shutting down the comm until I get back there. "No! Don't!" I hear you protesting. You're wondering what you'll do without my sparkling personality and informative updates for the next hour. I don't know. See if you can find someone else who's stranded on a distant moon. Strike up a conversation with them. But just remember, I was your first, okay? [[delay 60m|oncemoreatcaravel]]


:: keepgoingtovaria Yeah. I know there's a reactor waiting for me there, to keep me warm. I've just gotta hustle. Four-plus hours is a long way to walk. <<if $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>Especially on an empty stomach.<<endif>> All right. Off I go. I'll check in with you in a bit. [[delay 60m|firstcheckin]]


:: leaveginnyatcaravel <<silently>><<set $bringginnytwo = 0>><<endsilently>> Yeah. Good idea. No point in expending any extra energy hauling this thing halfway around the moon and back. Either I'll make it back and it'll be waiting for me here... ...or I won't make it back, in which case I won't need the generator anyway. (Or, third option, I'll make it back and the generator will be missing... in which case, I'll suddenly have MUCH bigger worries.) [[finishassessment]]


:: takeginnywithyou <<silently>><<set $bringginnytwo = 1>><<endsilently>> Yeah. Fair enough. I mean, it'll slow me down a little, but it might be worth it in the long run. I mean, there's a chance I could need it for something when I get to the peak... ...or -- and I'm trying not to think about this -- there's a chance that if I left it here with the caravel... ...I might make it back here, only to find the generator missing. In which case, I'd suddenly have MUCH bigger worries. [[finishassessment]]


:: finishassessment I guess there's no point doing much more thinking about it. I'm just burning daylight, and I don't really know how much of it I have to burn. So... off I go. It's gonna be a long march. If it's all the same to you, I'm gonna switch off the comm for a while and just concentrate on hiking. Talk to you in a bit. [[delay 90m|stillhikingtowardpeak]]


:: oncemoreatcaravel Back again at the scary ghost ship. I'm not quite sure how this became my most appealing option. [[makecampatcaravel]]


:: backatcaravel I'm back in sight of the caravel wreckage. I never thought I'd be grateful to see this haunted house of a starship again. <<if $ginnycaravel is 1 and $bringginnytwo is 0>>The generator is right where I left it -- which, of course, is exactly where it SHOULD be. Because, I mean, who was going to take it? I'm all alone on this ugly hunk of chalky white rock. Right? Right.<<endif>> I'm feeling weak as anything. <<if $rations is 1>>The rations from the Varia will keep body and soul together, nominally... ...but I don't think they were designed for the active, outdoors lifestyle I've been living ever since I got marooned. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 1>>The rat food has just barely enough calories to keep me from falling completely to pieces... ...but it was never designed to sustain (or appeal to) a human being. Especially not one who's enjoying the active, outdoors lifestyle I've been living ever since I got marooned. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>I've been doing nothing but burning calories for two days straight, and I haven't taken in anything. I'm so parched, it feels like my insides are upholstered in sandpaper, and my head is freakin' KILLING me.<<endif>> From here, if memory serves, it's better than four hours' walk back to the Varia. At least, that's how long it took me to get from there to here earlier. And that was WITH a working compass. My suit's headlamp is totally dead at this point. <<if $glowrods is 1>><<set $plural = "">><<else>><<set $plural = "s">><<endif>> <<if $glowrods gte 1>>But I've still got <<$glowrods>> glow rod<<$plural>>, so I wouldn't be completely blind. <<else>>Once Tau Ceti sets, I'll be completely blind.<<endif>> I guess my options are to forge ahead toward the Varia, and pray I get there before I run out of light... ...or else make camp here, despite how scary that sounds, and get busy figuring out how to stay warm for the night. <<choice [[Keep going to the Varia.|keepgoingtovaria]]>> | <<choice [[Make Camp.|makecampatcaravel]]>>


:: turnbackwhileyoucan Yeah... maybe this is the best plan. I mean, given Tau Ceti's position in the sky, I've got less day ahead of me than behind. As long as I can see my boot prints in the sand, I'll have no problem. If and when those disappear, I'll have to navigate by landmarks like the caravel site and, past that, the enormous crater. If my luck holds, I'll make it back to the Varia before sunset. Maybe once I'm there, I can build a compass out of spare parts. I think I still remember how to do that. Anyway. Enough talkin'. No time for chattin'. Not even enough time for puttin' the "g" at the end of words. That's how you know I'm really runnin' short on time. All right. Back to hikin'. [[delay 90m|backatcaravel]]


:: stillhikingtowardpeak Something strange to report. I've been keeping close tabs on it, because I didn't want to say anything until I was absolutely sure. My IEVA suit's compass is 100% useless. I got to the rim of a small crater, a little ways back, and elected just to walk its perimeter. But the compass didn't alter itself in concert with my orientation. It just spun at random, or not at all -- it had nothing to do with which way I was facing. <<if $compassweird is 1>>I mean, back when I was inside the caravel wreckage, the compass was acting all weird... ...but I'd figured that was just a localized event, that whatever had brought the ship down had played havoc with its polarity somehow. I thought, once I got away from there, everything would go back to normal. <<elseif $compassweird is 0>>In fact, I'm not sure it's been working properly ever since I was back at the caravel wreckage. I wasn't really watching it closely back then, but looking back, I'm more and more certain of it. Could whatever brought the ship down have played havoc with its polarity somehow, too? And more importantly, why wouldn't it have gone back to normal once I got away from the crash site?<<endif>> I could still keep moving toward the peak, just navigating by sight, obviously... ...but this is a little bit troubling, in consideration of the return trip. The winds have been really calm for the last hour or so. If I wanted to trace my footsteps back the way I just came, this would be the time to make that decision. <<choice [[Keep heading for the peak.|onwardtothepeak]]>> | <<choice [[Turn back while you can.|turnbackwhileyoucan]]>>


:: onwardtothepeak You're right. I've come this far. There's really no choice but to keep moving forward. <<if $bringginnytwo is 1>>A big part of me is wishing I hadn't decided to lug this generator with me the whole way, though.<<endif>> All right. Ever northward. Despite what the compass says. [[delay 60m|noclosertopeak]]


:: noclosertopeak You're gonna think I sound crazy... and, hell, maybe by this point I am. But I honestly don't think the peak has gotten any closer since the last time I checked in with you. I've been marching relentlessly in that direction -- nose to the grindstone, full steam ahead, other similar expressions -- but just eyeballing it? I haven't gained any ground at all. I'm sure it's just an optical illusion. I'm tired as hell, but I'm just gonna keep at it. Unless... you think maybe I shouldn't? <<choice [[Keep going for the peak.|keepgoingpeak]]>> | <<choice [[Head back to the Varia.|turnbackwhileyoucan]]>>


:: makecampatcaravel There's no way I can sleep out under the stars -- as romantic as it sounds, the temperature drop is just going to be too severe. Just like back at the Varia, there's clearly no power on the caravel to help me get the doors shut... ...but UNLIKE at the Varia, here, I think I have a solution to that. The only opening to the outside is the iris door on the airlock, which is just barely big enough for me to shimmy through. <<if $hurtshoulder is 1>>Although, let me tell you, I sure didn't do my banged-up shoulder any favors trying to get through it. <<elseif $hurtshoulder is 0>>I wrenched my shoulder a little trying to squeeze through the door, so... that's fun.<<endif>> And once I'm in, there's all sorts of junk littering the corridor -- junk I can use to seal over that opening in the door. A few layers of Mylar blankets, maybe some bedding if I can turn any up from the cabins, and I ought to be able to insulate myself decently. <<if $glowrods is 1>><<set $plural = "">><<else>><<set $plural = "s">><<endif>> <<if $glowrods gte 1>>I've got <<$glowrods>> glow rod<<$plural>> left, so I'm gonna go ahead and crack one to hunt through the rubbish in here. <<silently>><<set $glowrods = $glowrods - 1>><<endsilently>> <<else>>With the light on my IEVA suit out of commission, though, I'm basically gonna be feeling around in the dark... ...just hoping for the best, and praying I don't-- Holy crap. You're not going to believe this. I just stumbled across a box of industrial glow rods. Those things with the liquid in 'em, that you crack and shake? There are only a couple remaining in the box, so I've got to be choosy about deploying them... ...but COME ON. How often does it happen that you need something, and then you just literally trip over it? (I mean, I trip over things all the time. But rarely are they things I need.) <<silently>><<set $glowrods = 2>><<endsilently>><<endif>> Okay. I'm gonna scavenge a little bit. <<if $compassweird is 1>>I can go back down one of the hallways to the east or west, or else I can try the flight deck... ...even though I can tell from here that the control panels are smashed to bits. <<choice [[Try one of the hallways.|tryahallwayagain]]>> | <<choice [[Check out the flight deck.|backtomainhallfirst]]>> <<else>>Looks like there are hallways to both the east and the west, or else I can try the flight deck... ...even though I can tell from here that the control panels are smashed to bits. <<choice [[Try one of the hallways.|tryahallwayfirsttime]]>> | <<choice [[Check out the flight deck.|backtomainhallfirst]]>><<endif>>


:: nooasisnopeak Still... don't think I'm any closer to the peak. Tau Ceti is on its way down. And the peak looks -- I know how weird this is gonna sound -- but it looks sort of... shimmery. Shimmery and green. Like it's putting out a real low-level glow, kind of. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get any closer to the stupid peak to figure out what's making that stupid glow. I think... I think I have to turn back. I don't feel like I can get there before it starts to get dark. Hell, I don't know if I can get back to the Varia before dark. I might be lucky to make it back to the caravel wreck. And that's about the most tenuous definition of "lucky" I can imagine. <<choice [[Turn around and head back.|turnbackwhileyoucan]]>> | <<choice [[Just keep pushing ahead.|pushaheadeveningtwo]]>>


:: keepgoingpeak Right. Of course. No stopping now. <<if $rations is 1 or $ratpellets is 1>>There is, however, pausing now, because I'm so thirsty I can barely think straight. I'm gonna hydrate and then get back to hiking. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>Although, honestly, stopping may happen very, very soon... ...because I'm so thirsty, I can barely think straight. I've got a migraine so angry and powerful, it might be a Southern senator. But oh well. Unless there just happens to be an oasis over the next hill, I guess I'm just out of luck.<<endif>> I'll check in after a while, when I'm closer to the peak. Which I OBVIOUSLY will be. Because you can't keep moving toward something and never reach it. OBVIOUSLY. (Obviously?) [[delay 60m|nooasisnopeak]]


:: connectionlostdehydrated [ieva suit sensors indicate hypovolemic shock] [blood pressure levels below minimum thresholds] [oxygen levels below minimum thresholds] [[delay 8s|connectionlost]]


:: tryahallwayfirsttime Fair enough. East hall, or west hall? I'm literally too exhausted to remember all the words to "eenie meenie minie mo," so I'm leaving this up to you. <<choice [[East hall.|eastcaravelfirsttime]]>> | <<choice [[West hall.|westcaravelfirsttime]]>>


:: tryahallwayagain Fair enough. Everybody loves a good hallway excursion. <<if $pills gte 1>>I think I already discovered all the treasures the med room had to offer earlier, so I'm gonna try the opposite hall. [[oppositehall]] <<else>>I chickened out last time before I got too far, so I'm going down this same corridor, come hell or high water. (Actually, if high water comes around here, I would be very, VERY surprised. If hell comes... less surprised.) [[insidemedroomfirsttime]]<<endif>>


:: pushaheadeveningtwo This is a terrible idea. All I'm doing is putting one foot in front of the other, over and over. I'm not actually getting anywhere. Just keep going. North. Or where I think north is. This moon has stolen everything from me. Even the cardinal directions. One foot. The other. Over and over. [[delay 15m|deathmarch]]


:: deathmarch Hey, the star is setting soon. It's starset. I'm all alone on the moon at starset. <<if $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>Itd be beutiful if i werrnt uh oh hhhhheey mmmyy mmmmmm som kiind f seizzure zzzzzure mmmm mmmmmmmm nnnnnnnnnnnnnn [[delay 4s|connectionlostdehydrated]] <<else>>I'm nowhere near the peak. Or the Varia. Or even the wreck of the caravel. I'm out here under the stars. Which is beautiful... but also cold. I don't have a reactor to cuddle up against tonight. <<if $bringginnytwo is 1>>I've got this generator, but nothing to hook it up to. How completely pointless.<<endif>> It's gonna get cold, and then colder, and then... ...there's a pretty good chance I'm going to die out here, under all these beautiful, beautiful stars. Dammit. I'm not even hydrated enough to cry. This misbegotten rock has even stolen my tears. [[delay 2m|liedownanddie]]<<endif>>


:: liedownanddie Um. Listen. I'm just... I just feel exhausted right now. I just want to lie down. Maybe I'm being, you know, melodramatic. Maybe I'll be just fine out here. Wake up refreshed, like I just took a brisk, cold, eight-hour shower. But, uh... in case I don't... ...I just want to say thanks. For sticking with me, for being a voice in the darkness. Because this is about as dark as it possibly could've gotten for me, so... I appreciate it. It really is beautiful, out here under all these stars. Thousands, hundreds of thousands of them. I wish you could see this. I'm... just gonna close my eyes for a little while. [[delay 8s|connectionlost]]


:: eastcaravelfirsttime Turning right, we head down the lovely (not lovely) and spacious (definitely not spacious) east hallway. On either side of me is a sealed door. Without any power to get behind the pneumatics, I don't stand a chance in hell at getting these open. There's an open door at the end of the hall. That's where I'm headed. Geez. It's... just barely open enough... for me to slip inside the next room. I'd better hope there's not a buffet on the other side. If I gain an ounce, I'll never get back through. [[delay 1m|insidemedroomfirsttime]]


:: westcaravelfirsttime Turning left, we head down the lovely (not lovely) and spacious (definitely not spacious) west hallway. On either side of me is a sealed door. Without any power to get behind the pneumatics, I don't stand a chance in hell at getting these open. There's an open door at the end of the hall. That's where I'm headed. Geez. It's... just barely open enough... for me to slip inside the next room. I'd better hope there's not a buffet on the other side. If I gain an ounce, I'll never get back through. [[delay 1m|insidemedroomfirsttime]]


:: oppositehall <<silently>><<set $trycaravelgalley = 1>><<endsilently>> The side doors down the opposite hallway are sealed too, but the facing door at the end is ajar. It's... hnnnn... it's not open... wide enough... for me to get through. But I can see into the room. It's the galley. A lot smaller than the one on the Varia. And it looks like the inside of a galley-themed snowglobe after someone shook it violently. Everything is everywhere, just strewn all over the place. MREs just waiting to disappoint someone's palate. <<if $rations is 1>>I've got enough rations from the Varia to last me for a good little while... ...but it's great to know this is here. Because if I get hungry enough, I'll find a way to get through this stuck door. I can promise you that much. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 1>>I'm way too tired tonight to try to bash my way through that door... ...but the idea of eating something besides rat food is pretty freaking compelling. And tomorrow IS another door-bashing day. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>I need to get into that galley. I haven't had food or water in a dangerously long time. But the door won't budge. And without having eaten, I don't have any kind of energy to put into forcing it. This right here, this is some Twilight Zone-level irony. Rod Serling, if you're about to step out of the shadows with a pithy monologue, hurry up and get it over with. Then maybe the two of us can work on this door. <<endif>> <<choice [[Keep trying the galley door.|tryandfailgalley]]>> | <<choice [[Back to the main hall.|backtomainhallfirst]]>>


:: insidemedroomfirsttime <<silently>><<set $pills = 3>><<endsilently>> Ugh. They should've sent a contortionist, not a science student. Anyhow, I'm in. This looks like a pretty basic sick bay. I say that because I found a medkit in here. And inside the medkit was a bottle -- a large bottle -- labeled in both Mandarin and English, so I could tell it was painkillers. Which, I thought, yay! Because my shoulder hurts like there's no tomorrow. (There may legitimately be no tomorrow. Fun thought.) But the bottle is almost empty. It would make a nice maraca, but there are only three pills in it. I'm not here to judge, but someone on this ship must've had a pretty serious problem. Or else... they downed a whole bunch of pills rather than face whatever brought the ship down. (Nope. That's officially too dark. Not gonna think in that direction.) <<if $hurtankle is 1>>Between the shoulder and the ankle, I could certainly justify taking one of these pills now to make things easier. <<elseif $hurtankle is 0>>My shoulder is killing me. I could certainly justify taking one of these pills now to make things easier.<<endif>> But then again, things could always get worse later. I might want to hang onto them. <<choice [[Take one now.|takepillonefirsttime]]>> | <<choice [[Hold off for now.|takenopillfirsttime]]>>


:: takepillonefirsttime <<silently>><<set $pills = $pills - 1>><<endsilently>> Yeah. I think that's a decent idea. No sense in suffering if I don't have to. And I've still got <<$pills>> pills left for later. Crap -- the glow rod is fading already. I think I should get out of here before it fails me completely. [[delay 1m|caravelmain]]


:: takenopillfirsttime Yeah, all right, maybe that's smart. I'll hang onto the pills for the time being. If the last couple days have taught me anything, it's that, no matter how bad things seem at the moment, they could always get worse later. Crap -- the glow rod is fading already. I think I should get out of here before it fails me completely. [[delay 1m|caravelmain]]


:: caravelmain <<silently>><<set $trycaravelgalley = 1>><<endsilently>> All right. Back in the main corridor now. The side doors down the opposite hallway are sealed too, but the facing door at the end is ajar. It's... hnnnn... it's not open... wide enough... for me to get through. But I can see into the room. It's the galley. A lot smaller than the one on the Varia. And it looks like the inside of a galley-themed snowglobe after someone shook it violently. Everything is everywhere, just strewn all over the place. MREs just waiting to disappoint someone's palate. <<if $rations is 1>>I've got enough rations from the Varia to last me for a good little while... ...but it's great to know this is here. Because if I get hungry enough, I'll find a way to get through this stuck door. I can promise you that much. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 1>>I'm way too tired tonight to try to bash my way through that door... ...but the idea of eating something besides rat food is pretty freaking compelling. And tomorrow IS another door-bashing day. <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>I need to get into that galley. I haven't had food or water in a dangerously long time. But the door won't budge. And without having eaten, I don't have any kind of energy to put into forcing it. This right here, this is some Twilight Zone-level irony. Rod Serling, if you're about to step out of the shadows with a pithy monologue, hurry up and get it over with. Then maybe the two of us can work on this door. <<endif>> <<choice [[Keep trying the galley door.|tryandfailgalley]]>> | <<choice [[Back to the main hall.|backtomainhallfirst]]>>


:: tryandfailgalley I'd love to tell you that if you just clap hard enough and believe in me, I'll make this happen, like I'm some sort of space-Tinkerbell... ...but it's no good. I'm even working the door with a piece of scrap as a lever, and it hasn't moved an inch. Centimeter. WHATEVER. I'll try again tomorrow after I've had some sleep, but for now, I'm callin' it. Back to the main hall. (P.S. If I make it back home alive, Space-Tinkerbell is copyright me. That's a million-dollar idea, right there.) [[delay 1m|backtomainhallfirst]]


:: backtomainhallfirst Good grief. There's enough junk thrown around in here that I could probably build myself a jaunty robot companion out of spare parts. If I knew much about building robots. Or programming them to be "jaunty." <<if $ginnycaravel is 0>>In fact, I wouldn't be surpri--[[trippedonginny]] <<elseif $ginnycaravel is 1>>I mean, I already stumbled over a generator in here earlier. For all I know, I'll find a time-traveling Delorean if I just keep digging.[[afterginny]]<<endif>>


:: trippedonginny <<silently>><<set $ginnycaravel = 1>><<endsilently>> Sorry. I tripped over something and went down hard. And, uh, despite everything you may have read... in space, you can definitely hear YOURSELF scream. And it's a little embarrassing. <<if $ginny is 1>>But the good news is, the thing I tripped over? It's another little generator! It's a different model than the one I've got back at the Varia, powering the <<$power>> -- a little smaller, a little lighter -- but in essence, I've just doubled my power supply! <<elseif $ginny is 0>>But the good news is, the thing I tripped over? It's a little generator! That means I've finally got a power supply!<<endif>> See there? Good things come to those who go bumbling around in derelict nightmare ships. [[afterginny]]


:: afterginny Apart from those halls and their barely-open doors... ...nowhere else in the ship is open to explore, other than (what's left of) the flight deck. Like I said, the instrument panels are trashed. Not that this caravel was ever in danger of taking off again, what with the whole "missing its engine" problem... ...but it looks like it's all wrecked: guidance, communications, waldo controls. The whole nine yards. (The whole eight meters and change.) ...Well, except maybe I spoke too soon. There's a... looks like a proximity alarm. Panel appears to be intact. God knows whether the rest of the hardware is functional. <<if $zombierats is 0>>I don't think I really need an alarm system. Not like this ship is parked in a high-crime neighborhood. <<elseif $zombierats is 1>>I'm not sure I'm convinced I need an alarm system. I'm pretty sure I'm all alone out here. Weird, scuttling, "that must have been my mind playing tricks on me" noises notwithstanding.<<endif>> Plus, that means figuring out how to hook the system up to the generator. And that's IF the thing even works, which is a BIG "if." What do you think? <<choice [[Hook up the alarm.|hookupproximityalarm]]>> | <<choice [[Just go to sleep.|dontbotherwithalarm]]>>


:: dontbotherwithalarm I'm with you. I think it'd be a waste of time, effort, and light. All of which are in pretty short supply around here. I'm bedding down instead. [[flightdecksleepytime]]


:: hookupproximityalarm <<silently>><<set $glowrods = $glowrods - 1>><<endsilently>> Woof. I can't help but feel like this is probably a waste of time, effort, and light. All of which are in short supply around here. All right. Another glow rod cracked. Only <<$glowrods>> left. Fortunately (?), the wires to this thing are mostly exposed, so maybe it won't be that hard to get it patched in to the ginny. Gimme a few minutes to mess with this. [[delay 5m|hookedupalarm]]


:: hookedupalarm <<silently>><<set $proximityalarm = 1>><<endsilently>> In what I'm calling nothing short of a miracle, I've got the alarm hooked up, and the monitor powered. Whatever detection grid this thing projects, it actually appears to be projecting most of it. (The section that covers the rear of the ship says "No Readings," but that's probably because there IS no rear of the ship anymore.) All right, then. I guess no one's going to steal my hubcaps while I catch some ZZZs. [[flightdecksleepytime]]


:: snipehunt <<silently>><<set $glowrods = $glowrods - 1>><<endsilently>> One more glow rod cracked, which means now I have exactly <<$glowrods>> remaining. So I hope this is worth it. How do you know that this scuttling monster's whole modus operandi isn't to wait until its prey is ridiculously sleepy... ...and then lure it into a corridor so littered with trash that the bleary-eyed prey slips and breaks its own neck? Because I am about 99% sure that's what's going to happen to me sometime in the next few minutes. All right. I'm gonna walk the halls. I'll scream like I'm the singer for a Van Halen cover band if anything jumps out at me. [[delay 15m|nosnipeshere]]


:: flightdecksleepytime The ship really must've been designed for a small crew. Only a single mission specialist seat up here, half-uprooted. Which, in fact, seems to be my most comfortable option as far as sleeping arrangements go around here. <<if $glowrods is 1>><<set $plural = "">><<else>><<set $plural = "s">><<endif>> I figure it's time to call it a night. Only got <<$glowrods>> glow rod<<$plural>> left; no sense in cracking another one now. I sealed over the airlock door, and I've got enough blankets to swaddle myself and hopefully beat the cold. <<if $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 0>>Would've loved to get my shaking hands on something to eat or drink... ...but maybe I'll feel better after a long night's sleep. Maybe it'll make this horrible headache go away, too. Anyway. I'm signing off. Goodnight, wherever you are, from me. Wherever I am. [[delay 180m|starvenighttwo]] <<elseif $rations is 1 or $ratpellets is 1>>I'm signing off. Goodnight, wherever you are, from me. Wherever I am. [[delay 180m|scuttlingnighttwo]]<<endif>>


:: starvenighttwo head is killimg me hhhhheey mmmyy mmmmmm som kiind f seizzure zzzzzure mmmm mmmmmmmm nnnnnnnnnnnnnn [[delay 4s|connectionlostdehydrated]]


:: scuttlingnighttwo Huh? Whuzzat noise? You say something? <<if $zombierats is 0>>WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? Oh God. Okay. Oh God. I'm awake. I'm awake. Uh, there was this... I don't know, this, like, scuttling type noise. Coming from behind me, out in the corridor. And I turned around. And, and... I saw something. Something moving. Something GLOWING. Glowing green. Lots of little somethings, actually. Close to the ground. Glowing, and moving, and scuttling. Which are three things that are way, way high on my list of stuff I was NOT EXPECTING TO SEE tonight, if I'm being honest. <<elseif $zombierats is 1>>I swear I just... I totally just heard that weird scuttling noise again. Like from before. And I turned around in the chair, and I saw it again: Little glowing, green, moving things in the main corridor.<<endif>> That's just... I mean, I didn't ACTUALLY hear anything. Or see anything. Right? It's just my exhausted, terrified mind playing tricks on me. "Space Madness," like in that old Ren & Stimpy cartoon. Remember that? I should just... go back to sleep, yeah? <<choice [[Right. Back to sleep.|backtosleep]]>> | <<choice [[See what that noise is.|gochasenoise]]>>


:: gochasenoise Wow, is that the last thing I want to do. Go traipsing around in the cold and the dark, looking for something that isn't here to begin with? It's not like glow rods grow on trees. And even if they did, it's not like there are any trees on this moon. Seriously, I feel like it's a better plan if I just go back to sleep. Don't YOU prefer sleep to snipe hunting? <<choice [[Fine. Back to bed.|backtosleep]]>> | <<choice [[No. Chase down that noise.|snipehunt]]>>


:: nosnipeshere I've been everywhere I can get to inside this ship, and I didn't find a thing. No noises, no movement, no glowing green anything. I must've just dreamt the whole thing. And that's what I intend to do now, is get back to sleeping and dreaming. And probably scaring myself silly yet again. But next time I'll know better than to go looking for monsters under the bed. [[backtosleep]]


:: alarmnighttwo Crap! The alarm is going off! So this is what it feels like to go into cardiac arrest in deep space! There's... there's nothing on the monitor screen. I mean, OBVIOUSLY, there's nothing on the screen. What WOULD be there? I'm the only living thing for who knows how many light-years. Screw this. I'm unplugging this stupid device. I'm regretting ever hooking it up in the first place. Gonna go ahead and say, tonight is NOT angling for a shot in my "Best Sleep Ever" Hall of Fame. Back to bed. Such as it is. [[delay 150m|dawnofdaythree]]


:: backtosleep Let's just pretend this chair is comfortable (it isn't) and that I'm going to go right back to sleep (not likely)... ...and that when I wake up in the morning there'll be a rescue ship waiting with a whole breakfast buffet on board (seems probable). G'night again. <<if $proximityalarm is 1>>[[delay 90m|alarmnighttwo]] <<else>>[[delay 240m|dawnofdaythree]]<<endif>>


:: youareloopy Yeah, I think that's fair to say. Only... are you familiar with the term "pareidolia"? I only recently learned it myself. It's the tendency of the human mind to spot human-like shapes in random things. Like when people see the Virgin Mary in water stains, or smiley faces in car grilles and headlights. I'm probably more prone to it than anyone right now, being the only living person out here, desperately seeking the familiar. So even though this looks like a person EVERY SINGLE TIME that I rewind it, I know that, of course, it ISN'T a person. Deep breaths. Not freaking out. <<choice [[Go get some breakfast.|breakfastdaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Keep studying the footage.|keepstudyingfootage]]>>


:: keepstudyingfootage It doesn't matter how many times I watch it. I see it every single time. And every single time, I have to tell myself that I'm not really seeing it. I know myself. I could keep doing this all day long, but I don't think it's particularly healthy. I'm gonna get some breakfast and stop worrying about whatever it is I'm seeing. Which I am clearly NOT seeing. [[breakfastdaytwo]]


:: dawnofdaythree Morning, which means it's time to rise and shine. So I'm rising. And I'm definitely shining. By which I mean, I'm feeling like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. Intensely cold and more than a little crazy. And -- again, not trying to be gross here -- I've got the absolute WORST taste in my mouth, and my saliva is green. Last night I slept indoors rather than out, and nowhere near a radiation source... ...this has GOT to be something atmospheric, a by-product of whatever I'm exhaling. I wish I knew what. <<if $proximityalarm is 1>>I guess I should go try to figure out what the hell went wrong with the proximity alarm last night, huh? Although I'm pretty sure it was just a malfunction. And I'm pretty sure I'd rather eat breakfast instead. <<choice [[Check out the alarm.|checkoutalarm]]>> | <<choice [[Grab some breakfast.|breakfastdaytwo]]>> <<else>>Anyhow. Given that it's morning and I'm hungry, I suppose some breakfast is in order. [[breakfastdaytwo]]<<endif>>


:: checkoutalarm The generator's plugged back in and running the alarm system. Now I can scan back through its memory and try to figure out what broke the grid and set this thing off last night. Best guess? Strong winds whipped up a dust cloud, or even some small rocks. I mean, the wind gusted strong enough to roll my escape pod something like ten feet, night before last. I'll bet you anything that's all that happened here. I mean, it w-- [[delay 1m|whattrippedalarm]]


:: whattrippedalarm This is so weird. I've watched it a couple times now. I keep rewinding and playing it over again. If you're watching really, REALLY carefully in Quadrant 2 (of the three that are functional), at the very outskirts of the grid... ...something moves by and breaks the perimeter just for a second. Something that looks like... ...No. Never mind. It can't be. I'm just going loopy, out here alone. <<choice [["Looks like" what?|lookslikewhat]]>> | <<choice [[Yeah, you probably are.|youareloopy]]>>


:: lookslikewhat Okay. Keep in mind that I know how crazy this sounds. Keep in mind that I don't believe it, myself. But it looks almost like... a person. I mean, it's all shadows. It's almost impossible to make anything out on this monitor screen, at this distance. And the human mind has a tendency to spot human-like shapes in random things. I just learned the word for it recently: "pareidolia." Like when people see the Virgin Mary in water stains, or smiley faces in car grilles and headlights. I'm probably more prone to it than anyone right now, being the only living person out here, desperately seeking the familiar. So even though this looks like a person EVERY SINGLE TIME that I rewind it, I know that, of course, it ISN'T a person. Deep breaths. Not freaking out. <<choice [[Go get some breakfast.|breakfastdaytwo]]>> | <<choice [[Keep studying the footage.|keepstudyingfootage]]>>


:: mmmmtasty Sarcasm doesn't always translate well in print, but I'm gonna go ahead and assume you were being sarcastic. Simply because I don't think it's possible to discuss the topic of "fish for breakfast in space" without heavy sarcasm. [[delay 5m|afterbreakfastthree]]


:: breakfastdaytwo Breakfast. That's what normal people eat in the mornings. And despite being stranded in deep space, I want to just do as many normal things as possible. <<if $rations is 1>>So, like a normal person, I'm just gonna chow down on an MRE of, uh... lemon pepper tuna. The breakfast of champions. <<choice [[Mmmm... tasty!|mmmmtasty]]>> | <<choice [[Sounds disgusting.|soundsgross]]>> <<elseif $rations is 0>>So, like a normal person, I'm just gonna chow down on rat pellets and stale water. The breakfast of champions. <<if $trycaravelgalley is 1>>Oh, man. I've really got to see if I can get into the caravel's galley today. <<elseif $trycaravelgalley is 0>>I wonder if there's some kind of galley on this ship. I mean, there MUST be, right? Assuming it wasn't in the part of the caravel that was torn off.<<endif>> I guess that should be my mission after I choke down this hearty meal, huh? <<choice [[Sure, give it a shot.|surecaravelgalley]]>> | <<choice [[Make do with rat food.|nocaravelgalley]]>><<endif>>


:: surecaravelgalley All right! That's the spirit! Let's just wash down these last few kernels of lab food, and then it's galley time! <<if $trycaravelgalley is 1>>I already know I can't shimmy through the crack in the door... ...but I also know there was stuff falling out of the cabinets in there. So I have an idea. <<elseif $trycaravelgalley is 0>>Back through the main hall, and then down one of the side corridors... ...and, hey, Good News/Bad News time. There IS a galley on this ship! And its door is ajar! But it's... hnnnn... it's not open... wide enough... for me to get through. It's a lot smaller than the galley on the Varia. And it looks like the inside of a galley-themed snowglobe after someone shook it violently. Everything is everywhere, just strewn all over the place. MREs just waiting to disappoint someone's palate. The door seriously will not budge. But hey, all hope is not lost. I think I have an idea.<<endif>> If I can find enough spare parts among the junk in this ship, I should be able to fashion some sort of reaching pole. And it won't be too difficult to make a simple grabbing claw that I can trigger from my end. Give me a few minutes to root around in here, and I'll see what I can come up with. [[delay 15m|reachintogalley]]


:: reachintogalley <<silently>><<set $rations = 1>><<endsilently>> Okay! My Reachin' Stick is done. That's with capital letters because this is obviously a million-dollar idea. (It's amazing how many million-dollar ideas you come up with when you're stranded in space, where a million dollars is useless.) I've already banged up my shoulder, so why not strain it to the breaking point by shoving it as far through the door as it'll go? All right, Reachin' Stick... let's start reachin'! Steady... steady... CRAP! I was not steady enough. Okay, slowly but surely... I've got the claw on either side of something shiny and silver and presumably edible... Here it comes... don't drop it... DO NOT DROP IT YOU CLUMSY DROPPER YOU Ha! Yes! Oh my God, I did it! I went fishing and caught myself a chicken pesto pasta! Part of me wants to tear into this right now... but maybe I should keep grabbing meal packs until I have a sizable stash. <<choice [[Eat! You earned it!|eatyouearnedit]]>> | <<choice [[Keep fishing.|keepfishing]]>>


:: keepfishing Good point. With a Reachin' Stick this nice, it'd be a shame not to keep on reachin'. (That'll probably be the official motto of Reachin' Stick. You are witnessing history being made, my friend!) Carefully... annnnd... just nabbed a teriyaki beef! And just beyond that... is... ratatouille? I have to admit, I have no idea what ratatouille is, outside of the Pixar movie. Could this be freeze-dried, CGI-animated rat? I guess I'll find out. <<choice [[Yes. It's CGI rat.|cgirat]]>> | <<choice [[It's stewed veggies, dummy.|stewedveggies]]>>


:: stewedveggies Huh. Yeah, I guess that's sort of what this tastes like. Although it equally tastes like computer-animated rodent, so now I'm not sure WHAT to believe. [[delay 5m|afterbreakfastthree]]


:: soundsgross Oh, well, then you'll be happy to know that it tastes EXACTLY the way it sounds. [[delay 5m|afterbreakfastthree]]


:: nocaravelgalley Well, yeah, maybe that's the smart plan. Minimal reward, but minimal effort. Save my energy for hiking today. Which might also be minimal reward. It's hard to know until I do a hell of a lot of it. [[delay 5m|afterbreakfastthree]]


:: eatyouearnedit Wow. This chicken pesto pasta is terrible. It's also probably the single greatest thing I've ever eaten in my entire life. I remember Colby mentioning that these meal packs had a shelf life of five years before they got thrown out... ...assuming they were stored in a cool, dry place, that is. Doesn't get much cooler or dryer than a desert moon. Ha! According to this one's code, it was packaged four months from now. Obviously a misprint. But it robs me of a clue in my very amateur detective work... I have one less way of knowing when this ship was supplied. So... how long has this caravel been sitting here, gathering dust, I wonder? <<choice [[Check the logs?|checkthelogs]]>> | <<choice [[Put it out of mind.|dontworryaboutit]]>>


:: morefishing Carefully... annnnd... just nabbed a teriyaki beef! And just beyond that... is... ratatouille? I have to admit, I have no idea what ratatouille is, outside of the Pixar movie. Could this be freeze-dried, CGI-animated rat? I guess I'll find out. <<choice [[Yes. It's CGI rat.|cgirat]]>> | <<choice [[It's stewed veggies, dummy.|stewedveggies]]>>


:: cgirat Huh. Well, it tastes like stewed vegetables. They really managed to mask the computer-animated rodent flavor well. Good job, MRE engineers! [[delay 5m|afterbreakfastthree]]


:: checkthelogs Well, yeah, I'd already considered that, but I think it might be a lost cause. With all the computer systems smashed, it'll be pretty hard to find out anything. Even if I can recover the black box, I have no way to read it. Unless someone kept a handwritten record for fun -- which isn't protocol -- I'm kind of at a loss here. I guess there's not much I can do but keep fishing for MREs in the galley. [[morefishing]]


:: dontworryaboutit I guess there's some wisdom to that... I mean, I might not like what I turn up. I can't imagine there's any answer that would be particularly comforting. Besides, with all the computer systems smashed, it'd be pretty hard to find out anything. Even if I can recover the black box, I have no way to read it. Unless someone kept a handwritten record for fun -- which isn't protocol -- I'm kind of at a loss here. I guess there's not much I can do but keep fishing for MREs in the galley. [[morefishing]]


:: afterbreakfastthree Okay! Finished with breakfast (such as it was -- beggars can't be choosers, and all that). The way I see it, today is all about reaching that peak. I have to hope that my inability to get to it yesterday was just a combination of exhaustion and optical illusion. With food in my belly and the full day ahead of me, I'm liking my odds a lot better today. I also like knowing that this caravel -- and the little generator -- are waiting for me on my return trip to the Varia. <<if $power is "pod">>That'll allow me to fire up the distress beacon to maybe get out of here... ...or else the gun turret, on the slim chance that there really IS something else out here besides me. <<elseif $power is "turret">>That'll allow me to fire up the distress beacon, and maybe get out of here. <<elseif $power is "beacon">>That'll allow me to power the gun turret, on the slim chance that there really IS something else out here besides me. <<elseif $power is 0 and $frontofship is 1>>That'll allow me to fire up the distress beacon to maybe get out of here... ...or else the gun turret, on the slim chance that there really IS something else out here besides me.<<endif>> So, what do you think? Figure I can make it to the peak today? <<choice [[Yes, go for it!|peakdaythree]]>> | <<choice [[I sincerely doubt it.|sincerelydoubt]]>>


:: sincerelydoubt Look, between you and me, it's not as if I don't have my doubts, too. I nearly killed myself trying to reach that peak yesterday. Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead. There's a tiny part of me that thinks I should just go back to the Varia. It's a known quantity -- and since I'm surrounded by the unknown on all sides, the familiar is nothing to sneeze at. But something is... I don't know, COMPELLING me to go check out the peak. <<choice [[Okay then, you should go.|peakdaythree]]>> | <<choice [[It could be dangerous.|couldbedangerous]]>>


:: peakdaythree Yes. I'm with you. I've trekked too far into this mystery not to find out its answer. I'm just gonna pack up a few munchies, and stow the ginny someplace safe... ...and then I'll get on my way. I'll message you when I'm heading out. [[delay 15m|headingouttopeak]]


:: headingouttopeak Stuck my head out of the caravel and caught what was, honestly, one of the most impressive sunrises I've ever witnessed. (That sun being Tau Ceti and not good ol' Sol, but still, I'm gonna go ahead and count it.) So, first of all, let's just be impressed that I was up and at 'em before first light -- that hasn't happened in... ever? And second, I should mention that I could see that weird green corona around the peak again, that sort of soft glow. The light -- like the shape of the peak itself -- is just a few degrees away from natural-looking. It weirds me out. ("Weirds me out" is the technical, scientific term for it. Look it up. From the Latin for "Icky yucky squicky.") <<if $compassweird is 1>>Oh, and last but not least, my IEVA suit's compass is still acting all icky yucky squicky. <<elseif $compassweird is 0>>Oh, and last but not least, I've noticed that my IEVA suit's compass is acting all icky yucky squicky. It doesn't change correctly in concert with my movements. Sometimes it just spins, other times it stays firmly in place. Maybe there's something weird about this wreckage that affects the polarity... I don't know.<<endif>> I guess I don't REALLY need it for hiking to the peak; so long as I've got line of sight, it shouldn't be a problem to get there. But I bet I could spend a few minutes and cobble one together from spare parts before I take off. <<choice [[Hike without a compass.|nocompass]]>> | <<choice [[Build yourself a compass.|buildcompass]]>>


:: nocompass Yeah, it might be a waste of time to try to put one together. I'll bet there's enough garbage in the caravel to do it, though. Probably enough garbage to build a whole 'nother caravel, if I had the time. (Who am I kidding? Like I have anything EXCEPT time.) All right. I'm heading north. Weird-ass peak or bust. I'll message you after a while. [[delay 90m|stillpeakbound]]


:: stillpeakbound Okay. I reached this point yesterday, having detoured around the rim of a little crater. This was where I was realizing that my IEVA suit compass was all screwy, even though I was probably five miles from the wreck. (That's... like... eight kilometers? I'm trying. I really am.) And that's still the case today. The suit compass is nuttier than two squirrels in a winter food hoarding competition. <<if $homemadecompass is 1>>My homemade compass, on the other hand, seems to be working perfectly. Maybe they should've had me scratch-build the Varia, too. It might've stayed in one piece that way. ...Ugh. That joke went a little dark right in the middle of me telling it. Sorry about that.<<endif>> Once again, I don't feel like I'm any closer to the peak. Once again, I'm questioning whether to keep going. <<choice [[Yes, keep going.|keeppeakdaythree]]>> | <<choice [[Forget it. Turn back.|turnbackdaythree]]>>


:: keeppeakdaythree Yeah, all right. Plenty of daylight ahead of me. Finite amount of moon. If I keep putting one foot in front of the other enough times, I'm bound to get someplace. Or die trying. [[delay 60m|notdeadyet]]


:: notdeadyet Well, the good news is, I haven't died trying. The bad news is, I honestly can't tell whether I've gotten any closer. It's as if time and space and perspective have all taken a little vacation in the vicinity of this weird peak. One moment I'll look up and think, "Hey, I'm almost there!" And then I'll blink, and it'll seem like it's ten miles away again. I'm thinking of taking a snack break before I get back to it. <<if $rations is 1>> <<choice [[Sure, you've earned it.|snacktime]]>> | <<choice [[Don't waste time on snacks.|notsnacktime]]>> <<else>> <<choice [[Sure, you've earned it.|ratsnacks]]>> | <<choice [[Don't waste time on snacks.|notsnacktime]]>><<endif>>


:: notsnacktime I'm not sure how it's a "waste of time" to try to replenish all the calories I'm burning on this hike... ...but okay, maybe I'll hold off a while. Until I'm SURE I'm getting closer to this stupid peak. If you hear a loud grumbling noise, that's just my stomach. [[delay 40m|progressatlast]]


:: couldbedangerous I'm a barely-trained, unskilled student stranded alone on a desert moon in a faulty IEVA suit... ...so far from Earth that I couldn't begin to tell you which is my Sun out of the million pinpricks of light in the night sky -- (that's the FREEZING COLD night, by the way, which I survived by probably giving myself radiation poisoning) -- and I just spent the night in a ghost ship haunted by something that scuttled around and glowed green. And also I have a hangnail. So I guess what I'm saying is, what part of this trip up to now HASN'T been dangerous? I think it's peak or bust, my friend. <<choice [[Let's hope it's "peak."|peakdaythree]]>> | <<choice [[My money is on "bust."|dontgobust]]>>


:: dontgobust You're a real optimist, you know that? I tell you what. If I go "bust" -- whatever that means in this case, from dying of exposure to losing a laser-sword battle with a cyborg barbarian -- you get to say "I told you so." Won't that feel nice? Anyway. I'm just gonna pack up a few munchies, and stow the ginny someplace safe... ...and then I'll get on my way. I'll message you when I'm heading out. [[delay 15m|headingouttopeak]]


:: buildcompass Hey, all right. This should almost be fun! (Maybe I should put "fun" in quotes. It's a pretty nerdy version of "fun," if we're being honest.) The medkit has a couple of needles in it, so that's easy enough. I've done this before with a bowl of water, but it's not like I'm going to balance one of those while I'm hiking all day... ...but really, the important thing is just that the compass face is able to float, frictionless, while it spins. So instead I'm gonna do a variation, where the compass face is balanced on, like, a pushpin or a brad. Something like that. Of course, the most important part of making any compass is finding a magnet -- preferably, a rare earth magnet -- but fortunately, up in the flight deck there's whole bank of computers that aren't using their hard drives right now! A little bit of gentle disassembly (by which I mean, I'm gonna smash the living crap out of 'em with whatever's handy)... ...and I'll have the magnets out of those drives and rubbed on these needles in no time! [[delay 5m|madeacompass]]


:: madeacompass <<silently>><<set $homemadecompass = 1>><<endsilently>> And voila! I magnetized the needles, attached 'em to a featherweight disc of plastic MRE wrapper... ...mounted it all on a bent paper clip, and couched the whole assembly in a piece of PVC tubing. It may not be pretty, but it seems to actually work. By which I mean, it points toward the peak and tells me that's north -- which is better than my suit compass can do. Score one for the indoor kid! All right. My compass and I are heading north. Weird-ass peak or bust. I'll message you after a while. [[delay 90m|stillpeakbound]]


:: turnbackdaythree You think? I mean, I know I'm painting a pretty pessimistic picture of my progress right now... ...but I guaran-damn-tee I won't get any closer to the peak by walking in the other direction. You really think I should throw in the towel already? <<choice [[At least take a rest.|takearestyouloser]]>> | <<choice [[No. Keep going north.|keeppeakdaythree]]>>


:: snacktime All right! I'm just gonna go with the first MRE I grab out of my pack. And the winner is... chili with beans! (In space, no one can hear you fart.) Some would argue that chili with beans isn't proper chili at all. Which side of this all-important debate do YOU land on? <<choice [[I prefer it with beans.|chiliwithbeans]]>> | <<choice [[No beans, ever.|chilinobeans]]>>


:: ratsnacks So. We meet again, rat pellets. I gotta tell you, I am completely sick of these things. I can't help but thinking that somewhere along the way, there MUST have been some decision we could have made... ...that would've resulted in better food than this. Even the crummy MRE packs on the Varia, as much as I complained about them, are better than this. Not MUCH better, but better. Anyway. I guess we'll never know. I'm gonna choke these down and get back to hiking. I'll catch up with you after a while. [[delay 40m|progressatlast]]


:: takeonepill <<silently>><<set $pills -= 1>><<endsilently>> Yeah, I think this is a good idea. Especially because, as soon as I said "never-ending story," I got the theme song for "The NeverEnding Story" stuck in my head. And if pain pills weren't designed SPECIFICALLY to counteract the pain of that earworm, then I don't know what. Gonna rest. I'll message you soon. [[delay 30m|neverendingstory]]


:: takearestyouloser Okay. That's not a bad idea. <<if $hurtshoulder is 1 or $hurtankle is 1>>All the places where I've banged up, twisted, folded, spindled, or otherwise mutilated my body are aching.<<endif>> <<if $pills gte 1>>I'm thinking I might take a pain pill and give that a little time to kick in. Could really help me push through the next leg of this never-ending story. <<choice [[Sure, take a pill.|takeonepill]]>> | <<choice [[Hold off on the pill.|nopillrightnow]]>> <<else>>This trek to the peak is turning into a never-ending story. And now I'm gonna sit here for half an hour and sing the theme song to "The NeverEnding Story." Oh, this is a special kind of hell I have made for myself. [[delay 30m|neverendingstory]]<<endif>>


:: chiliwithbeans Well, you should try this MRE. It'd change your mind, real quick. Still, I'm glad we solved that riddle. If, God forbid, I die out here on this desert moon... ...please make sure they serve chili WITH BEANS at my wake. I'm eatin', then hikin', pardner. Talk to you in a few. [[delay 40m|progressatlast]]


:: chilinobeans Having tried this MRE, I'm inclined to agree with you. They should've left out the beans. Hell, they probably should have left out the chili. Still, I'm glad we solved that riddle. If, God forbid, I die out here on this desert moon... ...please make sure they serve chili WITHOUT BEANS at my wake. I'm eatin', then hikin', pardner. Talk to you in a few. [[delay 40m|progressatlast]]


:: progressatlast Okay, I've finally been able to make some real, noticeable progress. I'm at the edge of another crater -- a pretty enormous one, with massive walls to rappel down into it. But the base of the peak is at the center of the crater, right at the deepest point of its concavity. So as long as I can keep an eye on it, it can't go anywhere. (In theory, anyway.) It's a long way down into that crater, and I've got no climbing equipment (obviously). Can I get down safely? Will I ever get back out? What do you say? Ready to find out? <<choice [[Yup. Go for it.|gointocrater]]>> | <<choice [[Nope. Turn back now.|dontgointocrater]]>>


:: nopillrightnow All right. I'll hold off. But I have to tell you, my suffering is unimaginable. Because as soon as I said the words "never-ending story," I got the theme song for "The NeverEnding Story" stuck in my head. Go ahead. YOU try and deal with that without taking pain pills. Can't be done. Anyway. Gonna rest. I'll message you in a bit. [[delay 30m|neverendingstory]]


:: backatcaraveldaythree Oh boy! I'm back at the wreck of the caravel! Should I go back inside, or would that simply be too daring? Too bold? Too much adventure for one day? <<choice [[Go on inside.|gobackinsidecaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Bypass it. Go to the Varia.|bypasscaravel]]>>


:: headbackforreal Yeah. Okay. Fine. I would say you sent me on a wild goose chase, but this was somehow LESS interesting than that sounds. At least on a wild goose chase, I'd get to, I don't know, chase a wild goose. Here? I just walked a lot in one direction. Now I'm gonna walk back in the opposite direction. I'm turning off my comm. I'll message you when I get back to the caravel, I guess. If you can handle the excitement. [[delay 190m|backatcaraveldaythree]]


:: seriouslygiveup You really mean it, huh? Wow. You know, I didn't see a dictionary when I was rummaging around in all the detritus back at the caravel... ...but I wouldn't be surprised if there was one. And I wouldn't be surprised to find your picture in it. Right next to the word "anticlimactic." So, uh, I guess I'll head back. If you're really sure. <<choice [[I'm sure. Head back.|headbackforreal]]>> | <<choice [[I'm kidding! Into the crater!|justkidding]]>>


:: dontgointocrater You... you're KIDDING, right? I've come all this way. You're not seriously suggesting that I give up now? <<choice [[I was kidding!|justkidding]]>> | <<choice [[I was serious. Give up.|seriouslygiveup]]>>


:: neverendingstory Okay. That's enough rest for now, and that's enough choruses of Limahl for a lifetime. Plenty of daylight ahead of me. Finite amount of moon. If I keep putting one foot in front of the other enough times, I'm bound to get someplace. Or die trying. [[delay 60m|notdeadyet]]


:: bypasscaravel Now you're just being ridiculous. There's a perfectly good generator inside here. I should clearly go get it. Hey, are YOU getting enough to eat? You're making irrational headache decisions right now. <<choice [[Go get the ginny.|gobackinsidecaravel]]>> | <<choice [[Forget about the ginny.|forgetthatginny]]>>


:: gobackinsidecaravel Yeah. I was going to anyway. It obviously wouldn't make sense to leave the generator here. (Not that "making sense" seems to be factoring into your decisions at the moment, so I'm pulling rank on this one.) I'll get back to you when I've got what I need from inside the ship. [[delay 10m|gotitall]]


:: justkidding Oh. Whew! I thought we'd established a pretty good rapport over the last couple days, but you seriously had me going for a minute there. Yeah. Of course I'm going down there. This is what it's all been leading up to. [[delay 2m|gointocrater]]


:: gointocrater I've scouted out the crater walls in scouting-out distance, and found a section with a decent amount of crags and footholds. I guess, in the absence of nylon ropes and carabiners, a few shallow divots in the rock is as good as it's gonna get. I mean, what's the worst that could happen? I end up sawing off my arm with a blunt Swiss Army knife like the "127 Hours" guy? ...Yes. That actually DOES sound like the worst that could happen. Wish me luck? <<choice [[Good luck climbing.|goodluckclimbing]]>> | <<choice [[Break a leg.|breakaleg]]>>


:: goodluckclimbing Thanks. Unfortunately, I think I'm actually gonna need it. [[descentintocrater]]


:: descentintocrater This would... probably be easier if I wasn't talking to you. No offense, I just really ought to concentrate. If you never hear from me again, it's because I pulled a "127 Hours" just like I was afraid of. Not sure what that translates to in metric terms. Hopefully it sounds more impressive. "49,087 Megaminutes" or something. Okay. Down I go. Talk to you soon. I hope. [[delay 30m|downincrater]]


:: variayetagain You will forgive me if I turn off the comm for the next little while. I have a theory that the cold, empty void of space might make a better and more rational conversationalist than you. I'll message you after a while. Maybe. [[delay 190m|wenttowardpeakanyway]]


:: forgetthatginny This is just dumb. What next? You want me to dump all my food supplies out, too? Strip off my IEVA suit and run naked across the moon desert? You've been a big help to me up until now. You've kept me going, kept me alive. And I genuinely appreciate it. And that is the ONLY reason I'm listening to you now. And I'm only barely listening. I'm going back to the Varia. This is stupid. But it's what I'm doing. <<choice [[So do it, already.|variayetagain]]>> | <<choice [[Wait. Stop. I was wrong.|iwaswrong]]>>


:: iwaswrong AAAAAAHHHHHHH oh my God are you KIDDING me?!? You think this is fun? Marching back and forth across barren white rock, half-starved and half-crazy? Because let me tell you, it's NOT fun. Not even a little bit. And having you out there -- sitting in the luxury of... of wherever it is you're sitting, which I assume is luxurious -- and turning me this way and that on a whim, because, what? You think it's funny? You think it's cute? Yeah, I think maybe I'm done with it. Because it's not funny, it's not cute... ...and it's pushing me past half-crazy and into just full-blown pissed off. I'm going back to the peak. I don't give a damn what you think or what you say. Maybe I'll message you when I get there. Maybe not. Depends on whether I've calmed down by then. [[delay 190m|bigoldcrater]]


:: bigoldcrater I'm back at the giant crater. The one with the peak growing out of its center. And I'm going down there. I don't care whether you think I should, or not. (For the record, do you think I should?) <<choice [[Yeah, might as well.|shrugokay]]>> | <<choice [[No, I really do not.|reallydont]]>>


:: shrugokay "Might as well." There's a shrug of an endorsement, if I've ever heard one. Tell you what. When I break my neck trying to get down there -- which seems really, really likely, as I'm looking at this again -- you can at least have the deep satisfaction that comes from being able to say "I told you so." So you've got that going for you, which is nice. [[delay 2m|gointocrater]]


:: breakaleg Oh, HA HA. If I do, I'm gonna leave the comm channel open and just complain about it for hours. So look forward to that. [[descentintocrater]]


:: wenttowardpeakanyway Hey. Uh. I have a confession. So, you know how you told me to give up on going to the peak? How you said I should just go back to the Varia? And you know how I thought you were being completely irrational? How you were making absurd, nonsensical calls seemingly based on whims, rather than on actually helping me? And I got pretty upset, and I turned off the comm for a really long time? <<choice [[Yes. I remember.|irememberthat]]>> | <<choice [[I missed you.|imissedyou]]>>


:: downincrater I made it! A couple of minor mishaps along the way, but who doesn't love a little adrenaline rush from time to time? <<if $hurtankle eq 1 and $hurtshoulder eq 1>>My shoulder and my ankle are screaming at me right now, though. I pushed myself harder than I intended to, and I'm paying for it. <<elseif $hurtshoulder eq 1>>My shoulder is screaming at me right now, though. I pushed myself harder than I intended to, and I'm paying for it.<<endif>> <<if $pills gte 1>>I could probably stand to take a painkiller. In that I have pain that would benefit from being killed. <<choice [[Sure, take a pill.|takepainkiller]]>> | <<choice [[Tough it out.|nopainkiller]]>> <<else>>In the absence of an ibuprofen, I'm actually sort of wishing for that Swiss Army knife. Surely, just hacking off the arm and the foot would solve all my problems, right? <<choice [[I highly doubt that.|highlydoubtit]]>> | <<choice [[Try chewing them off.|chewthemoff]]>><<endif>>


:: takepainkiller <<set $pills = $pills - 1>> <<if $pills eq 1>><<set $plural = "">><<else>><<set $plural = "s">><<endif>> Okay. That takes me down to <<$pills>> pill<<$plural>>, but I'm pretty sure the relief is gonna be worth it. [[longslowtrek]]


:: reallydont Yeah, well. Like I said, I don't care what you think. However, when I break my neck trying to get down there -- which seems really, really likely, as I'm looking at this again -- you will at least get the deep satisfaction that comes from being able to say "I told you so." So you've got that going for you, which is nice. [[delay 2m|gointocrater]]


:: variayetagainginny <<silently>><<set $bringginnytwo = 1>><<endsilently>> You will forgive me if I turn off the comm for the next little while. I have a theory that the generator might make a better, more rational conversationalist than you. I'll message you after a while. Maybe. [[delay 190m|wenttowardpeakanyway]]


:: gotitall This feels dumb. I mean, you've been a big help to me up until now. You've kept me going, kept me alive. And I genuinely appreciate it. And that is the ONLY reason I'm listening to you now. And I'm only barely listening. I'm going back to the Varia. This feels dumb. But it's what I'm doing. <<choice [[So do it, already.|variayetagainginny]]>> | <<choice [[Wait. Stop. I was wrong.|iwaswrong]]>>


:: iforgiveyou Thanks. You're all I've got out here. I don't want us to fight. But I really need to do this. So. Anyway. Let me catch you up. [[bigoldcrater]]


:: chewthemoff <<if $rations is 1>>You know, as much as I imagine that I'd taste better than the rations I've been snacking on... <<elseif $rations is 0 and $ratpellets is 1>>You know, as much as I imagine that I'd taste better than the rat food I've been snacking on...<<endif>> ...I think it's probably still a bit too early to resort to autocannibalism. Give me another couple hours, ask me again. [[longslowtrek]]


:: highlydoubtit Yeah, well, I doubt it too. But I'm trying to be proactive here. [[longslowtrek]]


:: nopainkiller All right. I'll suffer in silence. (Who am I kidding? I've hardly done ANYTHING in silence since I got here.) [[longslowtrek]]


:: whatkey That's just it. I don't really know. But that glow around the peak, that shimmer... as much as it creeps me out, it also fascinates me. I have to get there. I have to find out what it's all about. Maybe it's nothing, and then you can say "I told you so," that I should've just gone back to the Varia all along. But... I don't think it's nothing. So I hope you'll forgive me this once for doing what I felt I had to do. <<choice [[I forgive you, I guess.|iforgiveyou]]>> | <<choice [[Still kinda pissed.|stillkindapissed]]>>


:: stillexplaining To really consider all the angles, and ponder why you might have asked me to do something so illogical. And I eventually reached a place of calm, a place where I was ready to open back up the lines of communication again. It's just... it turns out, that place is on the way to the peak, and it sort of ignores what you suggested I do. And by "sort of" I mean "completely." I'm sorry. I really am. But there's something about that peak that's... it's almost like it's drawing me there. I can't ignore it. I need to go. I think maybe it's the key. <<choice [[What do you mean?|whatkey]]>> | <<choice [[The key to getting home?|whatkey2]]>>

:: whatkey2 [[whatkey]]

:: irememberthat Well, it gave me some time to myself. Time to think. [[stillexplaining]]


:: imissedyou Aww. That's nice of you. I missed you too, eventually. Which makes this harder to say. Because, uh, it gave me some time to myself. Time to think. [[stillexplaining]]


:: stillkindapissed Well, that sucks. You're all I've got out here. I don't want us to fight. But I really need to do this. You go ahead and carry that grudge if you have to, but hopefully the ends will justify my means. So. Anyway. Let me catch you up. [[bigoldcrater]]


:: longslowtrek Now I've got a long, slow slog ahead of me -- I really can't overstate how big a bowl this crater is, especially now that I'm down inside of it -- but the peak is in view. It's not going anywhere. I'm going to get there if I just keep walking that direction. <<if $homemadecompass is 1>>My rattletrap compass still tells me I'm pointed north, so I guess I get my merit badge for that. <<elseif $homemadecompass is 0>>My IEVA suit's compass isn't too clear on what "that direction" actually is, but whatever.<<endif>> <<if $hurtankle is 1>>I'm not in love with the idea of putting weight on my ankle at the moment... but I guess I've got no choice.<<endif>> I'll check in with you when I'm closer to my goal. Until then... [[delay 60m|neartopeak]]


:: neartopeak Things are... a little weird. Mind if I unload? <<choice [[Lay it on me.|layitonme]]>> | <<choice [[I preferred silence.|preferredsilence]]>>


:: layitonme Thanks. So... you know how this peak has seemed to sort of, I don't know, stay just out of reach? I had thought it was just an optical illusion -- like, I must be getting closer, but the various hills and valleys on this moon were playing tricks with my perspective -- but now I'm not so sure. I know this sounds crazy, but... ...no, never mind. It sounds crazy because it IS crazy. Forget it. <<choice [[Yeah, okay. Forget it.|yeahforgetit]]>> | <<choice [[Wait, tell me!|waittellme]]>>


:: preferredsilence Ouch. Never mind, then. I was gonna tell you something I bet you'd never heard before... but forget it. <<choice [[Sorry. Please tell me.|waittellme]]>> | <<choice [[That's fine. Don't care.|shutupalready]]>>


:: shutupalready So I'm back to walking in silence. Fun for me, fun for you. Talk to you when I get there. If I ever do. [[delay 45m|finallyatpeak]]


:: waittellme Look, this is nuts, but... I think the peak might actually be sort of... wavering. In, like, a existential sense. I'll be looking at it, and then I'll blink, and for a second, it just... it won't be there. And then, of course, it's there again, and I'll question my sanity. And that's happened about a half a dozen times since I got down into the crater. <<choice [[Okay, that IS weird.|reallyweird]]>> | <<choice [[That MUST be an illusion.|justanillusion]]>>



:: yeahforgetit Okay. You're right. I'm talking myself into a lather when there's really nothing to worry about. It's just that... no. Never mind. Not gonna think about it any more. <<choice [[Go on, tell me.|waittellme]]>> | <<choice [[Good plan.|shutupalready]]>>


:: reallyweird I know, right? But here's what's really tripping me out: I've been walking for about an hour now, more or less making a beeline for this place. And just a minute ago, I looked down... ...and there was another set of boot prints in the sand. I don't mean in an inspirational poster, "that's when I carried you" kind of sense. I mean, these are exactly the same shape and size as my own footprints. As if I was doubling back on my own path. How is that even possible? <<choice [[It definitely is not.|itisnt]]>> | <<choice [[You're sure they're yours?|sureyours]]>>


:: justanillusion I know. That's the only explanation that really makes sense. Things don't just fluctuate in space and time. They don't! But here's what's really tripping me out: I've been walking for about an hour now, more or less making a beeline for this place. And just a minute ago, I looked down... ...and there was another set of boot prints in the sand. I don't mean in an inspirational poster, "that's when I carried you" kind of sense. I mean, these are exactly the same shape and size as my own footprints. As if I was doubling back on my own path. How is that even possible? <<choice [[It definitely is not.|itisnt]]>> | <<choice [[You're sure they're yours?|sureyours]]>>


:: sureyours Well... I mean... who else's could they possibly be? They're exactly my size, exactly the same tread pattern. I don't know. I'm not sure how I could be walking in a straight line, and walking in circles at the same time. I don't want to think about it any more. I'm just gonna put my head down and keep walking forward. [[delay 45m|finallyatpeak]]


:: itisnt That's what I'm saying. But still... it's freaking me right the hell out. They're exactly my size, exactly the same tread pattern. I don't know. I'm not sure how I could be walking in a straight line, and walking in circles at the same time. I don't want to think about it any more. I'm just gonna put my head down and keep walking forward. [[delay 45m|finallyatpeak]]


:: finallyatpeak I'm here. I'm finally here. I sort of can't believe it. I know, a lot of times, people talk about how they "never" thought they were going to achieve some goal... ...but I think it's usually hyperbole. Not in this case, though. I literally never thought I'd make it here. It's big, bigger than I would have thought. Not just taller, but bigger around at the base. There's a recessed area, maybe fifty yards to my left. Should I check that out, or scout around the perimeter first? <<choice [[Scout the perimeter.|scoutperimeter]]>> | <<choice [[Check out the opening.|checkopening]]>>


:: checkopening <<silently>><<set $peakdoorway = 1>><<endsilently>> All right. I'm going to try not to be thoroughly unsettled by this, but I have to tell you, it's gonna be an uphill battle. Because the recession in the peak wall? It's a doorway. I don't mean, like, it's a cave entrance that naturally formed in the rock, or that sort of thing. I mean, it's a DOORWAY. With right angles and everything. At human scale. What the hell do I even do with this information? <<choice [[Go through the door.|gothroughdoor]]>> | <<choice [[Do some more exploring.|exploresomemore]]>>


:: scoutperimeter Okay. I'm taking off in a circle to my right. I'll look into that opening when I get to it from the other direction. First impressions: Like I said on day one, squinting at this thing all the way from the Varia... ...it looks oddly geometrically perfect. Almost like it was CARVED out of this moon's dense white rock, rather than forming naturally through erosion and upheaval. And yeah, I know, it sounds crazy to say that this peak looks built... but it's not the craziest thing I've said today. (That was supposed to sound comforting, but it sure didn't come out that way.) The thing to keep in mind is-- HOLY CRAP. <<choice [[What is it?|whatdidyoufind]]>> | <<choice [[Are you okay?|areyouokay]]>>


:: exploresomemore Okay. Yeah. Maybe that'll give me some time to process this. I'm gonna circle the perimeter. I'll look into this doorway again when I get to it from the other direction. First impressions: Like I said on day one, squinting at this thing all the way from the Varia... ...it looks oddly geometrically perfect. Almost like it was CARVED out of this moon's dense white rock, rather than just forming naturally through erosion and upheaval. And yeah, I know, it sounds crazy to say that this peak looks built... but it's not the craziest thing I've said today. (That was supposed to sound comforting, but it sure didn't come out that way.) The thing to keep in mind is-- HOLY CRAP. <<choice [[What is it?|whatdidyoufind]]>> | <<choice [[Are you okay?|areyouokay]]>>


:: areyouokay Yeah. Yeah, I mean, physically, I'm fine. I'm just more freaked out that I've ever been in my life. [[whatdidyoufind]]


:: checkforhbo As much as I'm sure that "Real Sex, Part Four Billion" would be really fascinating to watch right now... ...I kinda feel like I've got more pressing issues. But please, don't let that stop you from watching on your own time. [[scannerscreen]]


:: whatdidyoufind You're not going to believe this, but... ...there's writing on the outer wall of this peak. <<choice [[Writing? Seriously?|writingseriously]]>> | <<choice [[What does it say?|whatsitsay]]>>


:: broadcastingsos <<silently>><<set $sendingsos = 1>><<endsilently>> Yes! I managed to interrupt the feed, type an S.O.S. message... ...get mad at myself for not knowing S.O.S. in multiple languages, decide "S.O.S." was probably pretty universal... ...and then get the feed broadcasting again. If anyone stumbles through this sector -- or, hell, maybe just brushes up against it, I don't know how powerful the signal is -- they'll know I'm here. Even if I'm not totally sure where "here" is. This is great. In spite of all this weirdness, I actually have hope for the first-- [[disappearance]]


:: scannerscreen If this place is broadcasting (which it is), and I have access to the broadcasting center (which I do)... ...then every second I'm not sending out an S.O.S. is a second I'm wasting! Gimme a minute to see if I can nose my way into the proceedings. [[delay 5m|broadcastingsos]]


:: trycomputers Oh. Man. I might've just hit pay dirt. This one's a sector-wide scanner. It's also the one that the majority of the wires seem to be coming out of. Which... oh, whoa. I think those wires comprise a broadcasting antenna. And that means this peak, this whole structure... it's got to be some sort of broadcasting TOWER. Seated at the center of an enormous crater that... I don't know, maybe it functions like a parabolic reflector? It's a giant satellite dish. Five miles across. I would go looking for the premium cable channels if it weren't for the fact that MY MIND IS MELTING RIGHT NOW. <<choice [[Check out that screen.|scannerscreen]]>> | <<choice [[See if they have HBO.|checkforhbo]]>>


:: buildathing Unlike at the caravel, there's not a bunch of scrap lying around here. Even those chairs I mentioned are bolted in. I've got nothing to climb on. Probably just as well. With my luck, I'd have come all this way just to break my neck trying to touch the ceiling. I'm gonna check out the computers instead. [[explorecomputers]]


:: explorewiring There's not much more to explore, really. The bundled wires are as thick as a tree trunk -- maybe eighteen inches in diameter? They lead up through a hole in the ceiling that's just big enough to let them through. The only way I could find out more is to chip away the rock of the ceiling... ...and since I don't have a pickaxe, nor any way to get up to that height, that's not really an option. <<choice [[Build something to stand on?|buildathing]]>> | <<choice [[Check out the computers.|explorecomputers]]>>


:: breathableair Right. The atmosphere IS breathable -- for me, at any rate -- with what my suit says is primarily nitrogen... ...but enough oxygen that my lungs are happy, and next to zero carbon dioxide. And also, I know I didn't imagine whatever those things were that ran by me in the corridor earlier. Those, though... they were small. A matter of inches and ounces. Insects, maybe? Or some other arthropod? Whatever's approaching the peak right now, though... they're as big as I am. Maybe that just means they're humans... ...but the thought that they might NOT be is what's keeping me from rushing out there with open arms. I'm just gonna settle in and get comfortable (NB: I am as unsettled and uncomfortable as I have ever been in my life)... ...and wait for my guests to arri-- [[scuttlingrats]]


:: goodlogic Thanks. I've got absolutely no precedent for this sort of situation (as I imagine most people don't)... ...so it's reassuring to hear someone else tell me that what I'm saying isn't complete gibberish. The thing is -- as weird as it sounds -- I can't shake the possibility that these humans could be... NOT HUMAN. Some sort of native creature that sees me as a threat. Or, worse... as a meal. And, yeah, I know it sounds unrealistic. This moon hasn't exactly given me a lot of reason to believe it can support life. I haven't seen any evidence of water -- no rivers, no clouds. No vegetation that I've spotted, either. <<choice [[Breathable air, though.|breathableair]]>> | <<choice [[Those creatures earlier?|creaturesearlier]]>>


:: whatsitsay I have no idea what it says. It's... I'm 99% sure it's Chinese characters. The caravel looked to be a Chinese-origin ship. Does that mean... someone survived that wreck? Someone made it to this peak? How did we never hear about a Chinese ship being scuttled on this moon -- ESPECIALLY if there was a survivor? Could their National Space Administration really have covered this up? And WHY? What... ...what went wrong? I don't know that there's much for me to do other than keep walking around this thing. I forgot to pack my Chinese-to-English dictionary. You never have one when you really need it. Okay. Back to exploring. <<if $homemadecompass is 1>>[[delay 10m|compasscraziness]] <<else>>[[delay 10m|nocompasscraziness]] <<endif>>


:: writingseriously Yes. Seriously. I feel like every moment I spend out here, I ratchet up the crazy another ten degrees. I don't know how much more I can stand. And here's the worst part about this mysterious writing: [[whatsitsay]]


:: donttrycomputers Yeah, given what I've found so far, I'm more than a little nervous about what else might be on these computers. Maybe, in this case, ignorance is bliss. I'll just-- [[disappearance]]


:: staywhereyouare Yeah. Yeah, maybe that's the best plan. Give myself a little while to mentally prepare for this. (As if there were any way to mentally prepare for this.) Because there's no doubt, they're heading right for where I am. And then... what? Am I rescued? <<if $power is "beacon">>Did the Varia's beacon actually bring somebody to save me?<<endif>> I've got some time. Might as well see what else I can do with these computers, huh? <<choice [[Sure, see what's what.|trycomputers]]>> | <<choice [[Don't mess with them.|donttrycomputers]]>>


:: areyousure I've never been more sure of anything in my brief and -- lately -- crazy life. That is a person. And that person is coming HERE. <<choice [[Go out and meet them.|gomeetthem]]>> | <<choice [[Stay where you are.|staywhereyouare]]>>


:: whatproximity On the screen of the proximity alarm... ...there's something moving. Something outside the peak. Moving toward the peak. Moving toward ME. Something... ...human-shaped. <<choice [[Are you sure?|areyousure]]>> | <<choice [[How is that possible?|howisthatpossible?]]>>


:: awakecomputer Okay, I just nudged it awake, and... ...a language option menu? Not what I was expecting to see. Let's go with "English," since it's right there at the top. And it's what I speak. Okay. Here's what the screen says: [ALL SYSTEMS: OPERATIONAL] [BROADCASTING] [TIME TO PULSE:] ...and then there's a sequence of numbers moving so quickly, I can't read them. Whatever "TIME TO PULSE" means, we appear to be counting down to it. I can't tell you that this notion fills me with confidence. There's another idle monitor next to it. Just gonna jog that one awake too. <<if $proximityalarm is 1>>A familiar look to this screen: It's like the proximity alarm I set up back at the caravel. <<elseif $proximityalarm is 0>>Oh. I've seen one of these before, back on the Varia. It's a proximity alarm.<<endif>> Slightly different model, different bells and whistles, but at least I know exactly what I'm looking at, here. It's functioning, too, which-- No. No way. <<choice [[What do you see?|whatproximity]]>> | <<choice [[Is everything okay?|okayproximity]]>>


:: howmanytotal I've counted... twenty-nine... thirty... and I still haven't seen the whole surface of the moon yet. My God. How many ships have been downed, here? And how have we not heard anything about it in the news? This place is the damn Bermuda Triangle of outer space! There are other monitors, too. This one's idle. <<choice [[Wake it up.|awakecomputer]]>> | <<choice [[Let it be.|asleepcomputer]]>>


:: whatscrolling There's another bright green block. Southwest of the Varia site. And... oh, no. There's another one. Pull back. Pull back as far as it'll go. Sweet mother of... There are DOZENS. Dozens of shipwrecks, on this moon. How... HOW? This is... impossible. <<choice [[How many, total?|howmanytotal]]>> | <<choice [[Get out of there.|getoutnow]]>>


:: explorecomputers This... this is wild. This screen is displaying a topographical map of the area. There's some pixelation, but that's clearly what it is. It's centered on this peak, inside the giant crater that I just walked halfway across. But I can toggle out, and scroll. If I go... yup. There's the wreck of the caravel. It shows up as a bright, broken brick against the dark of the moonscape. And if I keep panning to the south... past the crater, past the canyon... ...there's the Varia. Two bright pieces, glowing back at me from the screen. This is surreal. Where are these images even coming from? Is there some sort of satellite up there? A network of them? I wonder how much of the moon this imaging covers? Like, if I keep scrolling, will-- Oh, my God. <<choice [[What? What is it?|whatscrolling]]>> | <<choice [[Are you okay?|okayscrolling]]>>


:: tellmenow Okay. I'm standing in a room. In the interior of a mountain, let's not forget. It's... I guess you would have to call it a "control room." I don't know what, exactly, it's controlling... but there's really no answer to that question that'll ease my mind. The room itself isn't very large -- large enough to stand up in, and move around a little, and that's about it. But in banks on the walls... there are computer systems. Functioning computer systems. There are brand names I recognize, a sort of mix-and-match patchwork of monitors and CPUs. There are even a couple of chairs in front of the computers... ...clearly taken from some old starship flight deck and repurposed here, to build a freaking workstation. On the moon. This all must be salvaged parts from ships. The computers, the chained generators, the wiring... Oh. Yeah. That's the other thing. The wiring. There's TONS of it. Bunched and bundled. And it all leads out of the computer banks and up, into a hole in the room's ceiling. And from there, who knows where? <<choice [[Explore the computers.|explorecomputers]]>> | <<choice [[Explore the wiring.|explorewiring]]>>


:: interiorpeak ...Unless there were, I don't know, ELECTRICAL LIGHTS in here. What. The. Hell. I... I'm not sure I can even describe this to you. I don't know what I was expecting to find when I reached the peak, but I promise... it wasn't this. <<choice [[Tell me!|tellmenow]]>> | <<choice [[Take a second.|takeasecond]]>>


:: followthosethings Those... creatures (it sounds so weird to say that; it's not a word I thought I'd be using on this moon) -- anyway, those creatures went running toward the light, ahead of me. So I guess that's where I'm going, too. Why would it get BRIGHTER the deeper inside a mountain you go? There's just no way that makes sense... [[delay 3m|interiorpeak]]


:: whatjusthappened <<if $zombierats is 1>>Okay. I know. It's happened to me before out here. But never this close. <<elseif $zombierats is 0>>I don't know what the hell that was. But it was really close to me.<<endif>> I heard the echo, bouncing off these rock walls, before I even heard the source. And I was looking around, trying to figure out where that scuttling sound was coming from... ...and I saw this faint green glow, near the floor. And it took a second, but then it resolved itself into... I swear, it was a bunch of little pairs of eyes. And as I'm trying to process that, one of... of WHATEVER they were... ...brushed against my leg. It didn't hurt me. It just kinda bounced right off and kept running, with the rest of them, deeper into the mountain. But... this means... I'm not alone in here. I liked it so much better when I was alone in here. <<choice [[Follow those... things.|followthosethings]]>> | <<choice [[Get out of there.|getoutofthere]]>>


:: gothroughdoor Here goes nothing. Through the doorway. It opens into a sort of nondescript hallway, rock walls on all sides. "Nondescript" other than that it, too, is at human scale, which does actually seem like something worth mentioning. Once the light from outdoors tapers off, it's dark as pitch in here, which is not helping my nerves at all... ...but there's light ahead. Distantly. <<if $glowrods gte 1>>In the meantime, I guess I can spark up a glow rod and-- <<else>>I'm gonna hustle, because I'd rather have more light than less--<<endif>> OH HOLY CRAP! <<choice [[What happened?|whatjusthappened]]>> | <<choice [[Are you okay?|whatjusthappened2]]>>

:: whatjusthappened2 [[whatjusthappened]]

:: creaturesearlier Right. I know I didn't imagine whatever those things were that ran by me in the corridor earlier. Those, though... they were small. A matter of inches and ounces. Insects, maybe? Or some other arthropod? Whatever's approaching the peak right now, though... they're as big as I am. This atmosphere IS breathable -- for me, at any rate -- with what my suit says is primarily nitrogen... ...but enough oxygen that my lungs are happy, and next to zero carbon dioxide. Maybe those are humans out there, breathing it too... ...but the thought that they might NOT be is what's keeping me from rushing out there with open arms. I'm just gonna settle in and get comfortable (NB: I am as unsettled and uncomfortable as I have ever been in my life)... ...and wait for my guests to arri-- [[scuttlingrats]]


:: somethingworse I... look, maybe it sounds nuts to you, but I can't shake the possibility that these humans could be... NOT HUMAN. Some sort of native creature that sees me as a threat. Or, worse... as a meal. And, yeah, I know it sounds unrealistic. This moon hasn't exactly given me a lot of reason to believe it can support life. I haven't seen any evidence of water -- no rivers, no clouds. No vegetation that I've spotted, either. <<choice [[Breathable air, though.|breathableair]]>> | <<choice [[Those creatures earlier?|creaturesearlier]]>>


:: stayrightthere Yeah, absolutely I'm gonna stay here. If this is a rescue team, then I can wait an extra few minutes to get rescued. I made it this long already. If it's stragglers from another downed ship... they might be crazed from wandering through the desert for days, or weeks. (I mean, I've only been wandering since day before yesterday, and I think I'm about half-crazed, myself.) I figure I'd rather wait and see how they react to this place, and make sure they know I'm a stranger here too. And... if they're not rescuers OR survivors... if they're something worse... ...then I sure as hell don't want to deliver myself into their arms. <<choice [[Good logic, all around.|goodlogic]]>> | <<choice [["Something worse"?|somethingworse]]>>


:: tryforgoodnews Yeah, that'd be my preference too. Let's put it this way: If things come down on the "good news" side of the equation, then I'm about to get really, REALLY rescued. Because where there used to be one human-shaped human approaching my location... <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>...now there are four. <<else>>...now there are five.<<endif>> <<choice [[Go out and meet them.|gooutandmeetthem]]>> | <<choice [[Stay where you are.|stayrightthere]]>>


:: wegotdisconnected I'm not surprised we were disconnected. I think I was... what? Out of phase with reality, for a second there? [[checkthetranscript]]


:: justhappened I don't know what that looked like from your end, but from where I'm standing -- (okay, let's be honest, from where I've crumpled into a nervous heap on one of these salvage command deck chairs) -- there was this sort of humming noise that was SUDDEN and EVERYWHERE, and my vision started to go a little swimmy... ...and I just had time to look at the monitors, and I saw that the TIME TO PULSE countdown was at all zeroes... ...and then it was like the whole world just... fell apart. Like everything moved away from me, and I moved away from it, simultaneously and instantaneously. Before I even knew it was happening, it was over. Everything was back to "normal" (and I use that word loosely). But... I think I just experienced what happened when I was outside the peak, and it shimmered and disappeared... ...except, this time, I was INSIDE the peak. And I shimmered and disappeared WITH it. <<choice [[We got disconnected.|wegotdisconnected]]>> | <<choice [[Do you feel okay?|feelokay]]>>


:: checkthetranscript Yeah, the communicator gives an "invalid date/time stamp" message. So... what the hell date and time was it reading? This is... Oh. Hey. I, uh... I have some news to report. Not sure where it lands on the whole Good News/Bad News spectrum. <<choice [[Lay it on me.|sharethenews]]>> | <<choice [[Please try for "good."|tryforgoodnews]]>>


:: compasscraziness WHOA! What the hell?! I was walking the perimeter, with my little makeshift compass in hand, watching it slowly move along with me, like it should... ...when all of a sudden it starts jolting backward and forward, spinning like a kid at a dance party on really good drugs. And then, the whole peak just... shimmered green, and disappeared for a second. I didn't blink. I didn't look away. I reached my hand into the space where it used to be, and there was just... nothing. Air. And then I yanked my hand back, quick, because it started to reappear. And now my compass is working fine again. WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL? <<choice [[That's insane.|thatsinsane]]>> | <<choice [[Must've been an illusion.|mustvebeenillusion]]>>


:: nocompasscraziness WHOA! What the hell?! I was walking the perimeter, just sort of idly tracing my fingers along the outer wall of the structure. And then, the whole peak just... shimmered green, and disappeared for a second. I didn't blink. I didn't look away. I reached my hand into the space where it used to be, and there was just... nothing. Air. And then I yanked my hand back, quick, because it started to reappear. WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL? <<choice [[That's insane.|thatsinsane]]>> | <<choice [[Must've been an illusion.|mustvebeenillusion]]>>


:: scuttlingrats That scuttling sound again! Oh. Man. This is the first time I've heard it when there've been lights on. I might actually be able to see whatever the hell it is that's making the noise. Whatever it was that brushed by my leg. Whatever it is that has glowing green eyes. (Do I even WANT to see whatever this thing turns out to be?) The sound's coming from... wait... I think it's behind the monitor bank. Running around in the wiring. <<choice [[Go looking for it.|lookforscuttling]]>> | <<choice [[Step back from there.|stepbackscuttling]]>>


:: disappearance [communication interrupted] [date/time stamp invalid] [searching...] [reacquiring signal] [establishing connection] [receiving message] ...is happening?! Hello? HELLO? <<choice [[It's okay. I'm here.|stillhere]]>> | <<choice [[What just happened?|justhappened]]>>


:: gomeetthem Yeah. I can do that, I guess. I mean, they're still a little ways out. The walk will give me a while to mentally prepare for this. (As if there were any way to mentally prepare for this.) Because there's no doubt, they're heading right for where I am. And then... what? Am I rescued? <<if $power is "beacon">>Did the Varia's beacon actually bring somebody to save me?<<endif>> Or is this a survivor from one of the other crashes? Someone in worse shape than I am? Okay, I'm gonna go intercept them. Whoever they are. I just-- [[disappearance]]


:: howisthatpossible? How is any of this possible?! How am I in a computer control room in the center of a mountain on a moon littered with wrecked spaceships? None of it makes any sense. But it's happening. That is a person. And that person is coming HERE. <<choice [[Go out and meet them.|gomeetthem]]>> | <<choice [[Stay where you are.|staywhereyouare]]>>


:: okayproximity I don't honestly know. [[whatproximity]]


:: asleepcomputer Look, I'm scared, too. But I don't know how it could be any more unsettling than what I've already found. (If those aren't "famous last words," I don't know what is.) I've got to check it out, don't I? <<choice [[I guess you do.|awakecomputer]]>> | <<choice [[Just be careful.|computercareful]]>>


:: keepatit I just keep scrolling on this map, and I just keep finding more ships. [[howmanytotal]]


:: getoutnow No... I... I have to figure this out. Don't I? There's something HUGE happening here. Shouldn't I be trying to figure out what it is? <<choice [[Yes. Keep exploring.|keepatit]]>> | <<choice [[No. Get out of there!|reallygetout1]]>>


:: okayscrolling Uh... no. No, I really don't think I am. [[whatscrolling]]


:: takeasecond Thanks. Maybe at some point I won't need to catch my breath every time some new mystery unfolds itself up here... ...but I sure haven't reached that point yet. [[delay 5m|tellmenow]]


:: getoutofthere Believe me, that was my first impulse. But I've come this far. Giving up now would just make the whole thing pointless, you know? Am I terrified to my very core? Yes. Absolutely. But sometimes, the only way out is through. <<choice [[You're right. Keep going.|followthosethings]]>> | <<choice [[You're nuts. Get out.|reallygetout]]>>


:: igetitnow It really might be. And it's gonna be pretty sparsely attended. I hope you'll say a few nice words about me. You know I'd do the same for you. Anyway. I gotta follow those things. Whatever they are. [[followthosethings]]


:: goodluckgilligan I appreciate it. I'm setting off now. If you don't hear from me in-- [[scuttlingrats]]


:: seriouslymeetthem If you really think I should, then I will. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>But I'm telling you, being outnumbered four-to-one doesn't make me feel safe. <<else>>But I'm telling you, being outnumbered five-to-one doesn't make me feel safe.<<endif>> But okay. I'll go. If I'm understanding the scale of this map correctly, they're probably still twenty minutes out, give or take. So if I leave now and meet them halfway... ...I'm ten minutes from making contact with people again. (Or what I'm PRAYING are people.) This is thrilling and terrifying, all at once. Am I about to get off this moon and head safely home? Or are we just rounding out the cast of castaways on Gilligan's Planet? Wish me luck. <<choice [[Good luck.|goodluckgilligan]]>> | <<choice [[Break a leg, Gilligan.|breakaleggilligan]]>>


:: gooutandmeetthem I'm a little wary of that idea, honestly. I feel like, if this is a rescue team, then I can wait an extra few minutes to get rescued. I made it this long already. If it's stragglers from another downed ship... they might be crazed from wandering through the desert for days, or weeks. (I mean, I've only been wandering since day before yesterday, and I think I'm about half-crazed, myself.) Maybe it'd be better to wait and see how they react to this place, and make sure they know I'm a stranger here too. And... if they're not rescuers OR survivors... if they're something worse... ...then I sure as hell don't want to deliver myself into their arms. <<choice [[Seriously, go meet them.|seriouslymeetthem]]>> | <<choice [["Something worse"?|somethingworse]]>>


:: sharethenews Okay. I'm not exactly sure what to make of this. Best case scenario, I'm about to get really, REALLY rescued. Because where there used to be one human-shaped human approaching my location... <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>...now there are four. <<else>>...now there are five.<<endif>> <<choice [[Go out and meet them.|gooutandmeetthem]]>> | <<choice [[Stay where you are.|stayrightthere]]>>


:: feelokay I guess I feel all right. Like I said, it happened so fast, I didn't really have time to react. If I stopped to consider what just happened to me, I'd probably get motion sickness. Can you get that from going out of phase with reality? [[checkthetranscript]]


:: stillhere Oh. Wow. I'm glad to hear it. Because for a minute there, you weren't. Or maybe *I* wasn't. [[justhappened]]


:: thatsinsane It is. It absolutely is. But I'M not insane. I could not be more certain that I experienced this. I could have believed everything up to this point was just an optical illusion. A trick of the light. My exhausted brain putting one over on me. But this... I was RIGHT HERE when this happened. This was some next-level, otherworldly stuff. Okay. O...kay. I'm just going to keep walking around the magic disappearing man-made moon mountain. That's a normal thing people say, right? [[delay 10m|backatdoorway]]


:: mustvebeenillusion No. I'm telling you. I could have believed everything up to this point was just an optical illusion. A trick of the light. My exhausted brain putting one over on me. But this... I was RIGHT HERE when this happened. This was some next-level, otherworldly stuff. And it was NOT an illusion. Okay. O...kay. I'm just going to keep walking around the magic disappearing man-made moon mountain. That's a normal thing people say, right? [[delay 10m|backatdoorway]]


:: lookforscuttling This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy. Why am I actively hunting some creepy alien creature that's scampering around in the wiring? I mentioned before, I've seen an awful lot of sci-fi/horror movies. Over the last couple days, it's become pretty evident that I've seen TOO MANY. More than was good for me. But I know, this scenario NEVER ends well for the person wearing the "Hello, My Name Is TAYLOR" nametag. Okay. It's... it's louder over here. Behind the pulse countdown computer. I think, if I can just get my fingertips behind this plating, I can OH MY GOD <<choice [[What happened?|whatsupscuttling]]>> | <<choice [[Are you all right?|allrightscuttling]]>>


:: stepbackscuttling Yes. Good plan. No sense in actively hunting whatever creepy alien creature is scampering around in the wiring, is there? I mentioned before, I've seen an awful lot of sci-fi/horror movies. Over the last couple days, it's become pretty evident that I've seen TOO MANY. More than was good for me. But I know, this scenario NEVER ends well for the person wearing the "Hello, My Name Is TAYLOR" nametag. It's... it's louder over here. Behind the pulse countdown computer. This is me, stepping away from the pulse countdown computer, not rushing headlong into OH MY GOD <<choice [[What happened?|whatsupscuttling]]>> | <<choice [[Are you all right?|allrightscuttling]]>>


:: computercareful Yeah, that's not bad advice. I've broken more computers than most people have owned. A couple on purpose (to see how they worked). Several on accident. One with root beer. (Not my finest moment.) But I promise, I'm going to be extra-cautious with these, since apparently one wrong move can rip a spaceship out of the sky. I really do NOT want to have to disclose that snafu to any potential future employers. [[awakecomputer]]


:: igetitnow1 Thank you. I know sometimes I can come across as a weirdo, but... this really means something to me. So thanks for not making me feel like a weirdo for that. Anyway. I gotta keep searching on this thing. [[keepatit]]


:: reallygetout1 Okay, I hear you, but... I just can't, you know? Whatever I expected to find in here, this is above and beyond every possible guess I could have made. Now -- having seen all these other ships on the map -- now, more than ever... ...I have to believe that this place is the reason that the Varia crashed on this moon. The reason that the entire crew is dead. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>And that Captain Aya is just barely clinging to life (I pray she still is).<<endif>> These were good people. Some of the best I've ever known. And if there's even a CHANCE that, somewhere in here, I can get an answer to WHY they had to suffer... WHY they had to die... ...then there's no way I can leave here without that answer. I just can't. <<choice [[Okay. I understand.|igetitnow1]]>> | <<choice [[Got it. Keep at that map.|keepatit]]>>


:: reallygetout I... I can't. Not yet. It's freaky, no doubt, but I can handle it. I just know that there's more to be discovered here. I've come so far. Even when I wanted to give up, it felt like I was being compelled here... like I was being PUSHED. I can't walk away yet. I have to see. <<choice [[Fine. Your funeral.|igetitnow]]>> | <<choice [[Got it. Follow those things.|followthosethings]]>>


:: breakaleggilligan Thanks, Skipper. I'm setting off now. If you don't hear from me in-- [[scuttlingrats]]


:: backatdoorway That's it, then. I've made it all the way around the peak. No more writing on the walls, that I could find. And no more temporospatial shimmering. (That is a sentence I never dreamed I'd be saying in my life. Even when I DID win a lottery to ride in a spaceship.) So I'm back at the recessed area. <<if $peakdoorway is 0>>[[justreachedpeakdoor]] <<elseif $peakdoorway is 1>>[[reachedpeakdooragain]]<<endif>>


:: whatsupscuttling One of them just stuck its head out! It's... the things that were making the noise... the things that ran by me earlier... Oh my God! It's my lab rats. <<choice [[Are you certain?|certainrats]]>> | <<choice [[How is that possible?|possiblerats]]>>


:: allrightscuttling No! No, I'm not all right! It's... the things that were making the noise... the things that ran by me earlier... Oh my God! It's my lab rats. <<choice [[Are you certain?|certainrats]]>> | <<choice [[How is that possible?|possiblerats]]>>


:: makeabreak Right. That's the plan. <<if $glowrods gte 1 and $hurtankle is 0>>I'm gonna crack a glow rod for the sprint down the hallway. That goes in my left hand, and my right hand makes a fist, and that's as prepared as I know how to be for what happens next. <<elseif $glowrods gte 1 and $hurtankle is 1>>I'm gonna crack a glow rod for the sprint down the hallway. That goes in my left hand, and my right hand makes a fist, and that's as prepared as I know how to be for what happens next. Just THINKING the word "sprint" makes my ankle hurt worse, but I'm gonna make this happen. I HAVE to. <<elseif $glowrods is 0 and $hurtankle is 1>>Sprinting down that hallway in the dark is gonna suck. Just have to be super-fast AND super-cautious -- a combination I've never once gotten right. Or either part on its own, really. Just THINKING the word "sprint" makes my ankle hurt worse, but I'm gonna make this happen. I HAVE to. <<else>>Sprinting down that hallway in the dark is gonna suck. Just have to be super-fast AND super-cautious -- a combination I've never once gotten right. Or either part on its own, really.<<endif>> Although... maybe I'm freaking myself out for NOTHING, you know? Wouldn't the odds overwhelmingly support the idea that the people approaching aren't hostile? That they're either a rescue team (please, please, please)... ...or fellow crash survivors who are in the same predicament I am? Or in worse shape, even? <<if $rations is 1>>Maybe I can offer them food that keeps them from collapsing.<<endif>> <<if $pills gte 1>>Maybe they need pain meds more than I do, and I can give them a hand with that.<<endif>> Maybe I'M the one who helps rescue THEM. We keep broadcasting an S.O.S. until somebody hears us. Yes. Okay. I'm talking myself down off a ledge. All of this makes so much more sens-- OH MY GOD WILDBOY <<choice [[Wildboy? Your dead rat?|wildboydead]]>> | <<choice [[What just happened?|wildboydead2]]>>

:: wildboydead2 [[wildboydead]]

:: getoutbecauserats Believe me, I've been trying to figure out my options. There's only the one corridor into (and out of) this control room. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>The proximity monitor tells me that, whoever or whatever the four people (please let them just be people) outside are... <<else>>The proximity monitor tells me that, whoever or whatever the five people (please let them just be people) outside are...<<endif>> ...they're gonna be here in a matter of minutes. If I hauled ass, I think I could sprint out of here and make it outside, before they get to the doorway. And then... what? I'd have a matter of a few seconds to assess the situation, figure out whether they're a threat... <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>...and if they are... I pretty much have to opt for "flight," because "fight" isn't an option when it's four against one. <<else>>...and if they are... I pretty much have to opt for "flight," because "fight" isn't an option when it's five against one.<<endif>> My heart is jackhammering in the back of my throat right now. At least it's louder than the rats. So... what do you think I should do? <<choice [[Make a break for it.|makeabreak]]>> | <<choice [[Stay put, see what happens.|stayputandsee]]>>


:: poorlittlerat I know. He was such a little sweetheart. He didn't... God, NOBODY deserves to go out the way he did. (I am currently getting very panicked about the possibility that I might go out the way he did.) [[getoutbecauserats]]


:: wildboydead There is something... green... crawling out from his body. OH MY GOD It's... oh, God, it's nothing that exists on Earth. It's, it's that same, you know, glowing, luminescent green... ...like its whole body is made of rats' eyes, oh, God, and it's... how can I even... ...it's REELING sinews and veins back into its body mass, like, like retracting them from inside Wildboy, from inside his limbs... ...like this, this THING was, I don't know, was working him like a puppet, a marionette... but from the INSIDE! <<choice [[It's an alien?|itsanalien]]>> | <<choice [[You've got to get away!|gottogetaway]]>>


:: itsanalien Yes! It's not like anything I've ever seen in real life! Or... I guess it's native to this moon, so... that makes ME the alien. And it doesn't seem to treat outsiders kindly. Aw, man, what do I do? <<choice [[You have to kill it.|killtherat]]>> | <<choice [[You need to run.|gottogetaway]]>>


:: justreachedpeakdoor <<silently>><<set $peakdoorway = 1>><<endsilently>> All right. I'm going to try not to be thoroughly unsettled by this, but I have to tell you, it's gonna be an uphill battle. Because the recession in the peak wall? It's a doorway. I don't mean, like, it's a cave entrance that naturally formed in the rock, or that sort of thing. I mean, it's a DOORWAY. With right angles and everything. At human scale. Built for someone my size. Built for ME? What the hell do I even do with this information? <<choice [[Take a minute to process.|processtime]]>> | <<choice [[Go through the door.|gothroughdoor]]>>


:: reachedpeakdooragain It still looks like a doorway machined out of the rock. Built for someone my size. Built for ME? I don't know whether it's coming across or not, but right now I am terrified out of my skull. <<choice [[Take a minute to process.|processtime]]>> | <<choice [[You have to go in.|gothroughdoor]]>>


:: possiblerats How should I know? I mean, I survived the Varia's crash, so it's totally feasible that the rats did, too. <<if $ratpellets is 1>>Their cage was beaten all to hell, but I never found any evidence of their bodies.<<endif>> But... these are definitely MY rats. The first one who stuck his head out... it was Patch. I called him that because he was all white, except this one spot of brown over his right eye. Looks kind of like a checkmark. Or a pirate's eye patch. It's very distinctive. There's no question, this is him. Except that patch used to be over a little pink eye, like all Sprague Dawley rats have. And now... that eye is green. Luminescent green. Glowing. And looking right at me. <<choice [[Are all your rats there?|allratsthere]]>> | <<choice [[Do not get close.|donotgetclose]]>>


:: certainrats I'm absolutely certain. The first one who stuck his head out... it was Patch. I called him that because he was all white, except this one spot of brown over his right eye. Looks kind of like a checkmark. Or a pirate's eye patch. It's very distinctive. There's no question, this is him. Except that patch used to be over a little pink eye, like all Sprague Dawley rats have. And now... that eye is green. Luminescent green. Glowing. And looking right at me. <<choice [[Are all your rats there?|allratsthere]]>> | <<choice [[Do not get close.|donotgetclose]]>>


:: stayputandsee I... okay. I was going to argue with you, but maybe this is the best plan. I mean, maybe I'm freaking myself out for NOTHING, you know? Wouldn't the odds overwhelmingly support the idea that the people approaching aren't hostile? That they're either a rescue team (please, please, please)... ...or fellow crash survivors who are in the same predicament I am? Or in worse shape, even? <<if $rations is 1>>Maybe I can offer them food that keeps them from collapsing.<<endif>> <<if $pills gte 1>>Maybe they need pain meds more than I do, and I can give them a hand with that.<<endif>> Maybe I'M the one who helps rescue THEM. We keep broadcasting an S.O.S. until somebody hears us. Yes. Okay. I'm talking myself down off a ledge. All of this makes so much more sens-- OH MY GOD WILDBOY <<choice [[Wildboy? Your dead rat?|wildboydead]]>> | <<choice [[What just happened?|wildboydead2]]>>


:: swearalot Thanks. If even one more stressor gets added to the mix, I promise I will take you up on that. Another big question right now is, can I find a way to warn the approaching ship that they're being targeted? And sadly, the answer is: [[warnshiptwo]]


:: sickfromtherats Sorry. I couldn't stop my gag reflex. Patch just tore into Wildboy's guts, and, yeah, I turned around and threw up. Which I think is fair. My puke had a kind of green tint to it, too. So my mind is churning over the implications of that. Why won't they stop SCREAMING? <<choice [[Throw them some more food.|throwratsmorefood]]>> | <<choice [[Get out of there.|getoutbecauserats]]>>


:: throwratsmorefood <<if $rations is 1>>Yes, yeah, good thinking. Normally I'd be wary of using up my rations like this... ...but I know there are more to be recovered from the caravel. (And, apparently, from ships tossed all over the moon like toys in some hyperactive child's bedroom.) <<elseif $ratpellets is 1 and $rations is 0>>Yes, yeah, good thinking. I'm just... I'm gonna give 'em the rest of the rat food. That means I'm out of anything to eat, myself -- so I sure as hell hope that rescue is coming soon, one way or another.<<endif>> But whatever. The rats were quiet, earlier, while they were eating. And right now, that's the only thing I want, is for them to stop making this hideous noise. Here you go, guys. Bon appetit. <<choice [[Is it working?|isitworking]]>> | <<choice [[You should get out now.|getoutbecauserats]]>>


:: isitworking It seems to be working, actually. They're in kind of a frenzy over the food, but they're quiet, and at least they're leaving Wildboy's body alone. <<choice [[That poor little guy.|poorlittlerat]]>> | <<choice [[You should get out now.|getoutbecauserats]]>>


:: gottogetaway Believe me, I backpedaled into the opposite corner while I was telling you about the situation. I mean, the scientist in me is FASCINATED at the idea that I'm witnessing an unknown life-form here... ...and if my IEVA suit's camera hadn't crapped out on day one, I'd be recording every angle of this... ...but that doesn't mean I'm not ready to bail if that thing so much as sneezes in the wrong direction. <<choice [[Try to capture it.|capturetherat]]>> | <<choice [[You have to kill it.|killtherat]]>>


:: killtherat Kill it? With WHAT? It's not like I've got a rolled-up newspaper handy so I can take a few swats at it. Besides, A) this is an unknown species. I hate to think that "kill it" is how humans are going to deal with first contact. And B) if I make an aggressive move on the wounded one... who's to say the other three won't turn on me? <<choice [[You're right. Just capture it.|capturetherat]]>> | <<choice [[You're better off killing it.|killratforreal]]>>


:: onlyifsure No. Of course I'm not sure. How in the world could I be sure about something like this? For all I know, there's a giant laser cannon with "Taylor" etched into the side of its barrel... ...and it'll blow my head off and cauterize the wound, the second I step through that door. And that wouldn't be one iota crazier than anything else that's happened already today. But I've come this far. I've got to do this. [[gothroughdoor]]


:: readytogoin I think I'm good. I mean, as good as I'm likely to get. What do you think? <<choice [[It's time to go inside.|gothroughdoor]]>> | <<choice [[Only if you're sure.|onlyifsure]]>>


:: processtime Okay. I'm just gonna sit here for a minute, and try to breathe slow, calm breaths. I would eat something, but I don't feel like I could keep it down. I've never felt so nervous, so anxious in my life. My goosebumps have goosebumps. Give me a few minutes, and then... I don't know. I guess I'll be ready to go in. Or to run screaming. [[delay 5m|readytogoin]]


:: donotgetclose Yeah, I won't get too near them. That's fine. On the one hand, I've handled these rats so much, I think of them more as friends than as test subjects... ...but on the other hand, that was before they had spooky, bioluminescent eyes. Not to mention... they've traveled as far across this moon as *I* have. <<if $zombierats is 1>>They found the caravel wreck, and then they found their way here, too.<<endif>> Were they following me? Or... were they drawn to the peak somehow? That's a haunting notion... ...but at the same time, their glowing green eyes and the glowing green peak DO have that, you know... ..."glowing green" thing in common. <<choice [[Are all your rats there?|allratstwo]]>> | <<choice [[What are the rats doing?|whatareratsdoing]]>>


:: allratsthere I... I think so. Patch and Runt stuck their heads out first, and I pretty much tripped over myself backing away from them. But then Logan nosed his way between them, and I can still hear more scrabbling noises behind the monitor... ...so I have to assume that's Wildboy, and everyone's accounted for. This is... in an unbroken string of bizarre events on this moon, this one is right at the top of the heap. <<choice [[Yeah, no debating that.|nodebating]]>> | <<choice [[Do not get close.|donotgetclose]]>>


:: hopeitworks You and me both. If you're the praying type, I'd take some of those, too. <<if $warnship is 0>><<choice [[You got it.|yougotprayers]]>> | <<choice [[Can you warn the ship?|warnshiptwo]]>> <<elseif $warnship is 1>><<choice [[You got it.|yougotprayers]]>> | <<choice [[How close are your visitors?|howclosearevisitors]]>><<endif>>


:: yougotprayers Much obliged. Hopefully they'll make up for all the swearing I did while my teeth were chattering in the cold last night. <<choice [[Swear all you need.|swearalot]]>> | <<choice [[Can you warn the ship?|warnshiptwo]]>>


:: hardtosayoverwarn Impossible to say. Just like everything else around here. If I get home alive, I'm going to have the same kind of PTSD that the kids who visited Willy Wonka's chocolate factory had. <<choice [[Fewer cavities, though.|fewercavitiesoverwarn]]>> | <<choice [[How close are your visitors?|howclosearevisitors]]>>


:: fewercavitiesoverwarn Ha! That's a very thin silver lining on a very large, very dark cloud, my friend. [[howclosearevisitors]]


:: horrifyingrats It is. Like you wouldn't believe. I mean, I've had experiments and science projects go wrong before. Plenty of times. Using baking POWDER rather than baking SODA, for a less-than-spectacular papier-mache volcano. Non-Newtonian cornstarch fluids that splashed all over the car's upholstery on the drive to school. Finding out exactly how much chocolate constituted a lethal dose for my friend Daryl's pet hamster. (On accident! We weren't paying attention to Chunks or to that pan of brownies. Yay, science.) It's just that -- OH GOD hang on hang on hang on [[delay 1m|sickfromtherats]]


:: sureyouwont I wish I had your confidence. I mean, I KNOW this is completely psychosomatic, but as soon as I started thinking about the air possibly causing this... ...it's like it suddenly became ten times harder to breathe. My lungs feel all achy and... and green. (I know, it's ridiculous. Doesn't mean I don't feel that way.) But maybe I'll luck out. I'm a lot bigger than the rats. Maybe I'd have to take in a great deal more air before I start experiencing the side effects. Not knowing, though... THAT'S what's killing me, at the moment. I just wish -- OH GOD hang on hang on hang on [[delay 1m|sickfromtherats]]


:: breathedummy Yeah, I know. And maybe I'll luck out. I'm a lot bigger than the rats. Maybe I'd have to take in a great deal more air before I start experiencing the side effects. Not knowing, though... THAT'S what's killing me, at the moment. I just wish -- OH GOD hang on hang on hang on [[delay 1m|sickfromtherats]]


:: capturetherat Capture it with what? I told you already, this isn't like the caravel; there isn't just a bunch of junk lying around. If I'd known I was going to need a rat cage -- or a Mason jar with holes poked in its lid -- I'd have packed them. And an ashtray, and a paddle game, and a remote control, and some matches, and a lamp, and a chair. And that's all. ...Uh oh. Computer's flashing at me. <<choice [[What does it say?|whatdoescomputersay]]>> | <<choice [[That can only be bad.|thatcanonlybebad]]>>


:: killratforreal My only real killing implement is the sole of my boot! And if you think I want to stomp on whatever this little green creature is, until I've turned it into a little green smear... ...well, think again. I've been through a lot already, stranded out here, but I won't put myself through THAT. I just... ugh. I hope everyone and everyTHING, both inside the peak and closing in fast, turns out sufficiently humane... ...and lets me bury what's left of Wildboy. I know it sounds silly, but I grew really attached to these little guys during our journey. They went through something amazing, and they deserve to be honored for it, I think. ...Uh oh. Computer's flashing at me. <<choice [[What does it say?|whatdoescomputersay]]>> | <<choice [[That can only be bad.|thatcanonlybebad]]>>


:: allratstwo I... I think so. Patch and Runt stuck their heads out first, and I pretty much tripped over myself backing away from them. But then Logan nosed his way between them, and I can still hear more scrabbling noises behind the monitor... ...so I have to assume that's Wildboy, and everyone's accounted for. This is... in an unbroken string of bizarre events on this moon, this one is right at the top of the heap. <<choice [[Yeah, no debating that.|nodebating]]>> | <<choice [[What are the rats doing?|whatareratsdoing]]>>


:: nodebating If I make it back from here alive, they're going to have to shelve my memoirs in the "Fantasy" section of the bookstore... ...because NO ONE is going to believe even a fraction of the stuff I've experienced here. [[whatareratsdoing]]


:: tendtotherats I'll be perfectly honest with you: I know these were my li'l guys, but I don't think I want to get too close to them anymore. There's just something... WRONG about them now. <<if $ratpellets is 1>>What I could do, though, is leave some rat pellets in a corner for them to snack on. <<elseif $ratpellets is 0 and $rations is 1>>What I could do, though, is break open an MRE for them to snack on. Cheese tortellini? Sure. That sounds like something space-rats would dig. I'm just gonna dump it out in the corner.<<endif>> I mean, they're probably starving by now. I have no idea what they've survived on over the last couple of days. A little food should keep them occupied and out of my way so I can work with the computers. <<choice [[Good thinking.|goodthinking]]>> | <<choice [[You should eat, too.|youeattoo]]>>


:: wasittherats Huh? No. Uh, nothing to do with the rats. This is... something on the other computer. [[pulsetargeting]]


:: overridetarget <<silently>><<set $overridetarget = 1>><<endsilently>> I don't know. I'd love to, but -- unlike in all those B-grade science fiction movies I love so much -- there's no big red button with the words MANUAL OVERRIDE stamped on it here. I know enough about computers to torrent some BBC shows or program little "choose your own adventure" games for fun... ...but trying to hack into this thing and override a weapons system? Unless the password is "password," I might be in trouble. Doesn't mean I'm not going to try, though. <<choice [[I hope it works.|hopeitworks]]>> | <<choice [[Can you warn the ship?|warnshiptwo]]>>


:: warnshiptwo <<silently>><<set $warnship = 1>><<endsilently>> I don't know. I could try. Just send another general message, the same way I did with the S.O.S. I'd have to hope they read English. And... I don't even know what I'd be warning them of, really. I don't know what's targeting them. Missiles, some kind of projectile? Or -- No. Of course not. Taylor, you dummy. It's a PULSE. An electromagnetic pulse, probably. Some kind of directed-energy weapon, like, I don't know, a particle beam? Good lord. A strong enough energy beam, set loose in the vacuum of space, you could really do some damage. You could tear a spaceship like the Varia right in half. <<choice [[Must be what happened.|mustbeitoverwarn]]>> | <<choice [[How close are your visitors?|howclosearevisitors]]>>


:: mustbeitoverwarn Yeah. The Varia, and who knows how many more... all those bright green bricks glowing on the map screen. But why? What possible reason could there be for blasting ships out of the sky and then just leaving them to rot? <<choice [[Hard to say.|hardtosayoverwarn]]>> | <<choice [[How close are your visitors?|howclosearevisitors]]>>


:: keepwatchingrats Given that these rats, and their behavior, are nominally the entire reason I'm here... yes, I guess I DO have to keep watching. It's just that -- oh, GOD -- seeing Patch tearing into Wildboy over a handful of crumbs is... ...it's SO disturbing. This isn't a fight. This is a vivisection. <<choice [[This sounds horrifying.|horrifyingrats]]>> | <<choice [[Calm down. Just breathe.|calmandbreathe]]>>


:: calmandbreathe That's just it. I'm halfway scared to even breathe. I keep waking up with green spit -- the same kind of green that's in the rats' eyes, don't think I hadn't noticed that -- and the best I can figure is that it's a side effect of whatever's in the atmosphere. Whatever I'm BREATHING. Is that how they got this way? And does that mean I'M going to turn out that way, too, if I keep breathing this air? Because I don't think I could take that knowledge. I don't know if I could keep breathing, knowing it'll turn me into... THAT. <<choice [[You HAVE to keep breathing.|breathedummy]]>> | <<choice [[I'm sure you'll be fine.|sureyouwont]]>>


:: whatdoescomputersay It's... wow! This is kinda unbelievable! [[herecomesrescueship]]


:: thatcanonlybebad No, believe it or not, I think for once it ISN'T bad! [[herecomesrescueship]]


:: pulsetargeting You remember the one with the TIME TO PULSE countdown? That one just lit up too. There's new text on the screen. And I don't like the way it sounds: [SECTOR BREACHED] [TARGET ACQUIRED] [TRACKING...] I think it's reasonable to assume that's in reference to the new ship. The one that's potentially coming to rescue me. The one that I would REALLY prefer not to be a "target." <<choice [[Can you override it?|overridetarget]]>> | <<choice [[Can you warn the ship?|warnship]]>>


:: howclosearevisitors <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>The four human-shaped shapes (and yes, there are still only four, and I'm feeling grateful that the unknown is at least finite)... <<else>>The five human-shaped shapes (and yes, there are still only five, and I'm feeling grateful that the unknown is at least finite)...<<endif>> ...they're maybe ten minutes out from the peak. I'm just going to stay right where I am. No need to go out and meet them; for better or for worse, they're headed straight to me. Besides, between keeping an eye on the rats... ...and trying to keep my potential rescuers from being shot out of the sky... ...I've got plenty on my hands already, thanks. <<choice [[Keep working on the computers.|keepatcomputers]]>> | <<choice [[Tend to the rats.|tendtotherats]]>>


:: whatareratsdoing The rats are just... just acting like rats. It's so unsettling. I mean, apart from the eyes, they look just like they always did... ...but then they turn and stare at me, and they seem so... eerie. Otherworldly. Alien. This, on top of everything else that was happening. The computers in this mountain. The visitors. The time/space disappearance. I just need a few minutes to process this. [[delay 5m|closinginonpeak]]


:: closinginonpeak A ship. Oh, my God. There's a ship! A ship in this sector! I can't tell... I mean, it's too early to know whether they're on an arc to this moon. Whether they got my S.O.S. But they entered the sector map, and the monitor lit up like Christmas. I imagine my eyes did too. I've been sort of slowly pacing the room, just trying to keep my distance from the rats... ...but I went running over to check it out in a heartbeat. Creepy space rodents be damned. Because this is HUGE news! Please. Please. PLEASE let them pick up my S.O.S. signal. Please let them get me off of this godforsaken rock. All I ask is that-- Huh. THAT doesn't seem good. <<choice [[What is it?|whatsnotgood]]>> | <<choice [[Did the rats do something?|wasittherats]]>>


:: goodthinking Thanks. I guess I was due for one good idea in the midst of all this chaos. All right. The rats are going to town on their lunch, so I'm going to bust out my (very meager) hacking skills. [[keepatcomputers]]


:: youeattoo Look, I appreciate you thinking about my well-being and everything... ...but I am SUPER not-hungry right now. My stomach is in knots. I doubt I could keep anything down if I had to. So instead, I'm going to bust out my (very meager) hacking skills, and try not to dry-heave from nervousness. [[keepatcomputers]]


:: whatthehell <<set $gameend = "whatthehell">> Uh... apparently, what happened was, I got punched in the jaw. HARD. By a member of the rescue team. Because I was spouting some kind of gibberish that, honestly, I don't remember saying AT ALL. Something about... capturing host bodies from throughout space and time? (I have no idea.) And so I'm now on board the rescue ship, and... I'm afraid to say this because I might jinx it... ...but I think we're going to be okay. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>In a lucid moment, I managed to tell them about Captain Aya, in her stasis pod back at the Varia. They obligingly stopped by and grabbed her, and even now the ship's medic is working on her. He said that the measures I took to keep the Captain alive were the best anyone could have possibly done in the circumstances... ...and because of me, the odds are really good that she's going to make a full (if slow) recovery. Thank God. So, I'll count that as a "win."<<endif>> Now the ramp door is safely sealed, and a full-vessel scan turned up no extraterrestrial stowaways... ...so all the aliens and their glowing green eyes are back on the moon, while we are rocketing away as fast as we possibly can. There's talk of calling in some sort of nuclear strike on the whole damn rock. I'm sure that's above my pay grade, but if for some reason I DO get a vote... ...that's one in favor of blowing it to hell and tap-dancing on the ashes. So. Yeah. They've brought me some food and some Gatorade, and told me to take it slow on both... ...and they're saying I'm due for a long rest, and probably a lifetime of trauma counseling. But I'm alive. I made it. And I couldn't have done it without you. So... thank you. I mean it. And here's to a brighter future. This is Cadet Taylor, formerly of the Varia, signing off. [connection terminated] [[delay 2s|gameover]]


:: whatsnotgood There's, uh... there's something on the other computer. [[pulsetargeting]]


:: warnship <<silently>><<set $warnship = 1>><<endsilently>> I don't know. I could try. Just send another general message, the same way I did with the S.O.S. I'd have to hope they read English. And... I don't even know what I'd be warning them of, really. I don't know what's targeting them. Missiles, some kind of projectile? Or -- No. Of course not. Taylor, you dummy. It's a PULSE. An electromagnetic pulse, probably. Some kind of directed-energy weapon, like, I don't know, a particle beam? Good lord. A strong enough energy beam, set loose in the vacuum of space, you could really do some damage. You could tear a spaceship like the Varia right in half. <<choice [[Must be what happened.|mustbeit]]>> | <<choice [[Can you override it?|overridetargettwo]]>>


:: overridetargettwo <<silently>><<set $overridetarget = 1>><<endsilently>> I don't know. I'd love to, but -- unlike in all those B-grade science fiction movies I love so much -- there's no big red button with the words MANUAL OVERRIDE stamped on it here. I know enough about computers to torrent some BBC shows or program little "choose your own adventure" games in my spare time... ...but trying to hack into this thing and override a weapons system? Unless the password is "password," I might be in trouble. Doesn't mean I'm not going to try, though. <<choice [[I hope it works.|hopeitworkswarnover]]>> | <<choice [[How close are your visitors?|howclosearevisitors]]>>


:: tellmewhatyousee They're... they're KILLING each other! I mean that in a completely literal sense. These were the gentlest, sweetest two rats of the test group, and... ...oh, my God. I can't watch this. The sounds are... oh, God... and they're just ripping into each other's flesh, there should be... Huh. There should be so much blood. But there isn't. There isn't any blood at all. What the hell is going on?! Why has EVERY SINGLE THING gone off the deep end since I got to the peak? <<choice [[Calm down. Just breathe.|calmandbreathe]]>> | <<choice [[You have to keep watching.|keepwatchingrats]]>>


:: hopeitworkswarnover You and me both. If you're the praying type, I'd take some of those, too. <<choice [[You got it.|yougotprayerswarnover]]>> | <<choice [[How close are your visitors?|howclosearevisitors]]>>


:: herecomesrescueship That ship that came cruising into this sector earlier? It's altered its flight path! And it's decelerating! The ship's new arc will take it right to this moon! And it's not as if I can tell much of anything about telemetry from these old-school, blocky monitors and pixelated readouts... ...but if I had to guess? It's locking in to land inside this crater! To come nab me from inside this mysterious peak! To get me THE HELL OFF THIS ROCK! <<choice [[Excellent news!|excellentnews]]>> | <<choice [[Are they still being targeted?|stillbeingtargeted]]>>


:: keepatcomputers So, the good news is, I already know how to break into the broadcast and get my own message into the feed. Bad news? Nothing here has me convinced that there's a way for that ship to respond to me. I don't know whether they actually received my original S.O.S. message (as opposed to just chancing upon the sector)... ...and I'll have no way of knowing whether they're able to pick up my warning. So all this "desperately trying to reprogram the mysterious computer system" could all be in vain. <<choice [[So why bother?|sowhybother]]>> | <<choice [[Keep at it, just in case.|doitanyway]]>>


:: crazypants They need me in that control room. Bringing them more ships. Bringing them more HOSTS. There aren't enough hosts on this moon, so we call them from other sectors. And there aren't enough hosts in this sector, so we call them from other times. We reach into the future for our prey; we fish from the past for our sustenance. We pull starships from every space and time to feed our needs. Still it is not enough. We must bring them all here, from all places and from all times. Until every living thing is our host. And we are within every living thing. WE ARE-- Hey! Ouch! <<choice [[What happened?|whatthehell]]>> | <<choice [[What were you just babbling about?|babblingabout]]>>


:: closertorats You're insane if you think I'm sticking my hand in there to try and separate them or anything. I don't know how much experience you've had with angry, starving space-rats, but I'm gonna guess it's SLIGHTLY less than I've had. So as the resident expert here, I'm gonna make the call to NOT get any closer to them. I should be adding all of this to my notes back at the Varia -- this definitely qualifies as atypical for these little guys -- but I don't see anything to write on, or with, around h OH MY GOD OH WHAT THE HELL AM I EVEN LOOKING AT <<choice [[What?!|tellmewhatyousee]]>> | <<choice [[Tell me what you see!|tellmewhatyousee2]]>>

:: tellmewhatyousee2 [[tellmewhatyousee]]

:: awayfromrats You don't have to tell me twice. I was already backing away. I should be adding all of this to my notes back at the Varia -- this definitely qualifies as atypical for these little guys -- but I don't see anything to write on, or with, around h OH MY GOD OH WHAT THE HELL AM I EVEN LOOKING AT <<choice [[What?!|tellmewhatyousee]]>> | <<choice [[Tell me what you see!|tellmewhatyousee2]]>>


:: mustbeit Yeah. The Varia, and who knows how many more... all those bright green bricks glowing on the map screen. But why? What possible reason could there be for blasting ships out of the sky and then just leaving them to rot? <<if $overridetarget is 0>><<choice [[Hard to say.|hardtosay]]>> | <<choice [[Can you override it?|overridetargettwo]]>> <<elseif $overridetarget is 1>><<choice [[Hard to say.|hardtosay]]>> | <<choice [[How close are your visitors?|howclosearevisitors]]>><<endif>>


:: hardtosay Impossible to say. Just like everything else around here. If I get home alive, I'm going to have the same kind of PTSD that the kids who visited Willy Wonka's chocolate factory had. <<choice [[Fewer cavities, though.|fewercavities]]>> | <<choice [[Can you override the pulse?|overridetargettwo]]>>


:: yougotprayerswarnover Much obliged. Hopefully they'll make up for all the swearing I did in the cold last night. <<choice [[Swear all you need.|swearalotwarnover]]>> | <<choice [[How close are your visitors?|howclosearevisitors]]>>


:: swearalotwarnover Thanks. If even one more stressor gets added to the mix, I promise I will take you up on that. [[howclosearevisitors]]


:: stillbeingtargeted Oh. Uh... yeah, I guess they are. I have no idea how to override whatever weapons system is hooked up. Hopefully, they've got their defenses up -- hopefully, they CAN defend against an EMP, or a particle beam, or WHATEVER it is. Hopefully, they're not jus [[disappearancetwo]]


:: excellentnews Right? Now I just have to make it past the lab rats with the green parasite aliens inside them... <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>...and hope that the four people walking up to my front doorstep are friendlies... <<else>>...and hope that the five people walking up to my front doorstep are friendlies...<<endif>> ...and try to figure ou [[disappearancetwo]]


:: babblingabout What WAS I babbling about? Good question. I'm not too sure. But I DO know why I stopped. [[whatthehell]]


:: doitanyway Yeah, of course. I mean, I've got so much nervous energy at the moment, I've got to burn it off in some fashion. Better I should make an attempt at something proactive with the computers, rather than, I don't know... ...heroically twiddling my thumbs, or bravely picking my nose, or whatever. Anyway, give me a minute or two, here. [[delay 3m|warningsent]]


:: sowhybother "Why bother"? I mean, I've "bothered" to stay alive this long, against the odds, marooned on a desert moon... ...it just feels like maybe being proactive here is the right thing to do. I certainly don't want the last few chapters of my memoirs to go, like... "And then I put my feet up on the desk and heroically twiddled my thumbs until everything was better somehow!" Anyway, give me a minute or two, here. [[delay 3m|warningsent]]


:: absolutelynot I don't... want to board that ship. Or... if I board it... I don't want it to leave. It should just be another in the collection. The collection that begins here but will span eternity. All along my path to the ship are the eyes. [[ignoretheireyes]]


:: ignoretheireyes I can't ignore the eyes. There's nothing to look at anymore, EXCEPT for the eyes. They can see deeper into me than anyone ever has. [[crazypants]]


:: whoaindeed An ENORMOUS crevasse just opened up -- right in front of me, and right at the entrance to the peak. I damn near snapped my knee out of socket when I swerved to avoid it. There's -- there are DOZENS of those creatures spewing out of that one fissure alone. I can't... dammit! They're totally blocking my way back inside! <<choice [[Find another way in?|anotherwayin]]>> | <<choice [[Run for the rescue ship.|runforrescueship]]>>


:: cantoverride If I had any idea how to do it, I would! I can't even get a clear read on the TIME TO PULSE, the numbers are moving so fast. There's a part of me -- the not-very-scientific part -- that wonders what might happen if I just started unplugging things. Or, if that doesn't work, if I just started bashing things. Probably a bad idea; with my luck, I'd screw up the broadcasts I WANT to be making, without solving the problems. But confidentially? Just between the two of us? Sometimes, even the nerdiest of science nerds really wants to move "bashing things" to the top of the list of things to try. [[ratsgocrazy]]


:: whatisit I heard this squealing sound, coming from the corner where the rats are eating. They must've been hungry. They got through everything I had on offer, pretty fast. So I look over, and Wildboy and Patch are fighting over the last scraps of it. But -- aahhhh! -- it's escalating, and fast! It went from normal rat squeaks to this, aahhh, this... it's like a SHRIEKING. It's painful! Seriously, it's making the fillings in my teeth vibrate! The other two have started doing it too. They're just circling, like -- nnnnn! -- like cheering fans at a boxing match. <<choice [[You need to get closer.|closertorats]]>> | <<choice [[You need to back away.|awayfromrats]]>>


:: fewercavities Ha! That's a very thin silver lining on a very large, very dark cloud, my friend. Another big question right now is, can I find a way to override the targeting system before it fires? And sadly, the answer is: [[overridetargettwo]]


:: anotherwayin There IS no other way in. My only option of ANYTHING to do would be to try to sprint for the rescue ship, but... [[runforrescueship]]


:: disappearancetwo [communication interrupted] [date/time stamp invalid] [searching...] [reacquiring signal] [establishing connection] [receiving message] ...happening again. No! This is the last thing I need! What do I do if the ship comes to rescue me... ...and the peak decides to freakin' DISAPPEAR with me inside it before they get here? <<choice [[Don't be inside it.|dontbeinsideit]]>> | <<choice [[You're reappearing quickly.|youreappearquickly]]>>


:: ratsgocrazy Oh. Man. The visitors are almost here. I'm coated in cold sweat, and there's a lump in my throat that has nothing to do with the terrible meals I've been eating. I don't think I've ever been this anxious in my whole-- Oh, now what?! <<choice [[What is it?|whatisit]]>> | <<choice [[Is everything all right?|everythingallright]]>>


:: warningsent Annnd... sent! Okay, whoever's out there in that starship, I hope you got my message. And I hope you're on your way to come rescue me. But I hope you've got your defense systems at the ready, 'cause you're being targeted. And I hope you can defend against whatever the weapon is, since I don't really know its nature or power. <<choice [[That's a lot of hope.|lotsofhope]]>> | <<choice [[Can't override it?|cantoverride]]>>


:: runbackinsidepeak Right... less ground to cover between here and the peak. Not that it's necessarily any safer, or saner, inside there -- but at least once I get there, I'll have a minute to try and assess just what the HELL is happening around here. Holy -- there are fissures opening up just everywh WHOA! <<choice [[Are you okay?|whoaindeed]]>> | <<choice [[What just happened?|whoaindeed2]]>>

:: whoaindeed2 [[whoaindeed]]

:: youregonnamakeit The rescue team understood me! They got their helmets on! That means -- I'm the ONLY potential host. Thousands of eyes on me. It's... hard not to be drawn in. They need me. They're calling to me. They're screaming. All of them, screaming. But I'm starting to understand it. It's starting to sound... sweet. Like music. The longer I look out, at this sea of green... ...the more sure I am that I should stay here. <<choice [[Absolutely not! Board that ship!|absolutelynot]]>> | <<choice [[Ignore their eyes.|ignoretheireyes]]>>


:: haulinass I'm haulin'! And I'm yellin'! And... [[youregonnamakeit]]


:: lotsofhope Yeah, well, my grandmother told me more than once: "'Hope costs nothing.' Some French chick said that." Yes. That was the whole quote from my grandma. She studied literature. But not very hard, I guess. [[ratsgocrazy]]


:: everythingallright Uh, no... I kinda don't think it is. The rats are acting really psychotic all of a sudden. [[whatisit]]


:: dontbeinsideit Yeah, easy to say. But this is where the computers are. If I hadn't gone inside here, I wouldn't know about the rescue ship in the first place. Here's what I don't understand... (I mean, there's a list a mile long of things I don't understand, but here's one more bullet point to add.) ...this is clearly a control room. So... who's supposed to be in control of it? Who was it built for? And where are they now? ...Oh. Oh, it's happening again. <<choice [[What is?|whatsupagain]]>> | <<choice [[Are you okay?|yetagainokay]]>>


:: youreappearquickly "Quickly" is a relative term, though. I mean, how long was that for you, just now? <<choice [[Only a few seconds.|onlyafewseconds]]>> | <<choice [[Not long at all.|onlyafewseconds2]]>>

:: onlyafewseconds2 [[onlyafewseconds]]

:: onlyafewseconds Right, only a matter of moments. But from my perspective? I was gone closer to FIFTEEN MINUTES. Now, clearly, that's not what happened on this end; you're telling me it was fast... ...and the visitors outside are only a few steps closer than they were. So what the hell kind of nightmare is this place... and how trapped am I, now that I'm in here? ...Oh. Oh, it's happening again. <<choice [[What is?|whatsupagain]]>> | <<choice [[Are you okay?|yetagainokay]]>>


:: dyingisselfish What do you mean, it's "selfish"? <<choice [[You have to warn others.|gottawarnothers]]>> | <<choice [[You've seen what others haven't.|gottawarnothers2]]>>


:: gottawarnothers2 [[gottawarnothers]]


:: donotgiveup But giving up is the only thing that makes ANY SENSE right now. No matter how hard I've worked to make it to this point... this horrorshow moon has worked just a little bit harder. I'm tired of the fight. You want me, moon? You can have me. <<choice [[Shut up and run for it.|shutupandrunforit]]>> | <<choice [[Dying right now is selfish.|dyingisselfish]]>>


:: morecracks The surface of the moon. All the rock inside this crater, it's... it's cracking. With the peak at its center, the rock is just... splitting. Just opening up. Little cracks feeding into bigger ones. And there's light coming through those cracks. Three guesses what unnatural color it is. No. This is a nightmare. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>I thought... I thought I had eight little green aliens to worry about. <<else>>I thought... I thought I had nine little green aliens to worry about.<<endif>> But no. I've got THOUSANDS. <<choice [[Run for the rescue ship.|runforrescueship]]>> | <<choice [[Run back inside the peak.|runbackinsidepeak]]>>


:: youarewelcome There's a lot of ground to cover. Most of that ground has cracks in it. Most of those cracks have alien parasites emerging from them. There are about a million of them, and four potential hosts that I can see, including me. Me? I'm the one yelling for the other three to get their helmets back on, before the aliens get to their mouths. (I'm trying to do this while covering my own mouth. It's working... NOT GREAT, I'd say.) Rescue ship's VTOL engines are firing. They know they're in trouble. And they're in trouble because they're waiting on ME. I'm never gonna make it. I'm never gonna make it. <<choice [[You're gonna make it!|youregonnamakeit]]>> | <<choice [[Less talk, more haulin' ass!|haulinass]]>>


:: runforrescueship I don't... I don't think I'd make it. It's a hundred yards away, over increasingly uneven terrain. And these THINGS have broken me. I don't have the spirit to run. To hell with it. To hell with ME. <<choice [[So that's it? You're quitting?|soyourequitting]]>> | <<choice [[Do NOT give up right now!|donotgiveup]]>>


:: gottawarnothers ...Dammit. You're right. See, where I started to get into trouble -- where it all went wrong in the first place -- was when I first made contact with you, a couple days back. If I hadn't done that -- if I would've just rolled over and died BACK THEN -- it would have made everything so much easier. Instead, you've kept me alive through thick and thin... ...and I'm massively grateful... ...and now I have to repay that kindness by keeping other people alive, too. So, you know... thanks for that. <<choice [[You are welcome.|youarewelcome]]>> | <<choice [[Sure. Now... run!|youarewelcome2]]>>


:: youarewelcome2 [[youarewelcome]]


:: whatsupagain It's that sound again. That screaming, from the rats. <<choice [[Are they out of food?|aretheyoutoffood]]>> | <<choice [[Are they mourning Wildboy?|mourningwildboy]]>>


:: yetagainokay Yeah, I'm... I'm unhurt. But this just sets my teeth on edge. It's that screaming sound that the rats were doing earlier. They're at it again. <<choice [[Are they out of food?|aretheyoutoffood]]>> | <<choice [[Are they mourning Wildboy?|mourningwildboy]]>>


:: shutupandrunforit "Run for it"? While the ground is literally giving way beneath my feet? <<if $hurtankle is 1>>If my ankle wasn't ALREADY twisted all to hell, this would pretty much take care of that.<<endif>> I can't think of one good reason why I should put in the effort. <<choice [[Dying right now is selfish.|dyingisselfish]]>> | <<choice [[Are you really that weak?|reallythatweak]]>>


:: soyourequitting Yeah, I think... I think that's it. No matter how hard I've worked to make it to this point... this horrorshow moon has worked just a little bit harder. I'm tired of the fight. You want me, moon? You can have me. <<choice [[Shut up and run for it.|shutupandrunforit]]>> | <<choice [[Dying right now is selfish.|dyingisselfish]]>>


:: wontbeanother ...You're right. That's almost poetic. I don't think I'd mind if my last thoughts were about poetry. The... the creatures are coming out of the ground at my feet. I know how they get inside. I remember the taste. I'm just... thinking of poetry, instead of pain. [[submitlikeapoet]]


:: restrightthere It's amazing, how strong the urge is just to go into the fetal position. Just how comforting that seems. Just to lie here on the dry, white, cracked surface of this unforgiving moon and cry. Cry into the cracks. There are... there are more cracks than there were a minute ago. A lot more. Oh. Oh, DAMMIT. <<choice [[What is the problem?|morecracks]]>> | <<choice [["More cracks"?|morecracks2]]>>


:: morecracks2 [[morecracks]]


:: tryitandsee Hey... so... they aren't being... PLEASANT about it... but they're not physically holding me back. It's like trying to get a good look at the Mona Lisa around all the tourists. Okay. Mad dash down the hall. I'll talk to you in a minute. [[delay 2m|emergefromhall]]


:: aretheyoutoffood Yes. They finished off what I gave them to eat, down to the smallest crumb. And I can't keep tossing them a new snack every few minutes just to keep them quiet. I've just... I've got too many plates to keep spinning right now. The rats, the food supply, the ship, the computers, the... ...uh, well, I guess I just figured out which plate to spin next. For better or for worse. (Who am I kidding? It's never for better.) <<choice [[Which plate?|whichplate]]>> | <<choice [[No freaking out. Just breathe.|nofreakingout]]>>


:: mourningwildboy It'd be nice to think they're that sentimental. Or that organized. Frankly, I'm mostly surprised that they haven't started EATING Wildboy by now, much less holding a candlelight vigil. I've just... I've got too many plates to keep spinning right now. The rats, the food supply, the ship, the computers, the... ...uh, well, I guess I just figured out which plate to spin next. For better or for worse. (Who am I kidding? It's never for better.) <<choice [[Which plate?|whichplate]]>> | <<choice [[No freaking out. Just breathe.|nofreakingout]]>>


:: emergefromhall The rescue ship has landed about a football field's length away. (A hundred yards. Not great at sports, but I know that one.) It's a small craft -- maybe the size of that caravel. Maybe even smaller. But the big difference is, unlike all the other ships on this horrible, godforsaken moon... ...it's ALL IN ONE PIECE. Ha. Ha ha ha. This is... I'm laughing, and crying, and I feel freakin' DELIRIOUS. I, ah, I just fell to my knees because I can't make my legs work correctly, the stupid things. I'm just SHAKING, I'm so happy. <<choice [[You should get back up.|getbackup]]>> | <<choice [[Rest there. You earned it.|restrightthere]]>>


:: reallythatweak Yes! I've stayed strong this whole time, and I just... I don't have any strength left, okay? Aren't I allowed to be weak in this moment? Just in this one moment? <<choice [[There won't be another.|wontbeanother]]>> | <<choice [[If that's really what you want.|reallywhatyouwant]]>>


:: submitlikeapoet nnngghhh theres no poetry in this [[submitanddie]]


:: getbackup No, I know. I should. I should get up. I don't have time to just go around collapsing in gratitude every time someone comes from half a galaxy away to save me. I should really get some perspective. Ha ha! [[restrightthere]]


:: bepreparedtofight I was "prepared," I guess -- by which I mean, I have no idea how I would have prepared -- but there was no fight. They weren't exactly... PLEASANT about it... but they didn't physically hold me back. It's like trying to get a good look at the Mona Lisa around all the tourists. Okay. Mad dash down the hall. I'll talk to you in a minute. [[delay 2m|emergefromhall]]


:: gettherefirst Yeah. Okay. I'm gonna try. It's a question of, will I be able to push past them in the corridor? If we're all going the same direction, will they try to impede me? <<choice [[Try it and see.|tryitandsee]]>> | <<choice [[Be prepared for a fight.|bepreparedtofight]]>>


:: isthereaproblem There's a problem. There are a bunch of little problems, adding up to one big one. [[heresthesituation]]


:: whichplate <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>The proximity alarm just dropped from four approaching shapes to three. <<else>>The proximity alarm just dropped from five approaching shapes to four.<<endif>> Two. One. Zero. Because they're no longer in proximity. They're in PRESENCE. They've entered the peak. They're in the same long, dark hallway that I walked through. The same hallway where the rats brushed by my leg, before I knew they were MY rats. Back when all four of them were alive. (Are... are ANY of them actually alive? Carrying those green creatures around inside of them?) The same hallway where I really wish I'd have looked for side corridors. (Places to hide in the dark; to plan my escape, unnoticed.) The same hallway that now stands between me and the freedom of the outdoors. (How screwed-up is it that I'm considering the cracked, uninhabitable surface of this moon to represent "freedom"?) <<if $glowrods gte 1>>Hey, uh, I just had a weird thought. Can I run it by you? <<choice [[Sure, lay it on me.|surelayitonme]]>> | <<choice [[I'd rather you didn't.|ratheryoudidnt]]>> <<else>>What do I do now, other than just waiting? <<choice [[Go meet them in the hall.|godownhall]]>> | <<choice [[Try for a casual pose.|casualpose]]>><<endif>>


:: nofreakingout I'm breathing, I'm breathing. But somewhere in the midst of all that breathing, I'm freaking out just a little bit, too. [[whichplate]]


:: submitanddie [ieva suit sensors indicate severe tachycardia] [ischemia detected] [myocardial infarction detected] [[connectionlost]]


:: heresthesituation <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>There are eight ALIEN BEINGS in this room. <<else>>There are nine ALIEN BEINGS in this room.<<endif>> "This room" being a control center that seems to exist for the express purpose of pulling ships out of space... ...and using the bodies of those ships' crews as hosts for a parasitic lifeform. I have no idea whether my rescuers are armed and can fight off these creatures... ...hell, I have no idea whether these creatures are even VULNERABLE to standard-issue stun batons... ...which is probably about as heavy as any armament is going to get. And the alien beings have taken notice of the rescue ship, too. Good news, they're leaving me alone, here at the computer. Bad news, they're starting to head down the corridor. Oh, hell. They're going to intercept my rescuers before my rescuers can rescue me. <<choice [[You gotta get there first.|gettherefirst]]>> | <<choice [[Stay, guard the computer.|stayguardcomputer]]>>


:: submitlikeawuss It it hurts oh god hurts so much [[submitanddie]]


:: reallywhatyouwant ...Yes. This is what I want. I'm just so tired. These creatures are coming out of the ground at my feet. I know how they get inside. I remember the taste. I know I don't deserve to hope this... ...but I hope it doesn't hurt. [[submitlikeawuss]]


:: whatsiren It's... Oh, my God. Finally! It's the rescue ship! They're landing! My screens are all lit up with what can only be THE GREATEST NEWS IN ALL OF TIME AND SPACE! I'm finally going to get out of here! Uh... EXCEPT. <<choice [["Except" what?|exceptwhat]]>> | <<choice [[Is there a problem?|isthereaproblem]]>>


:: goodsiren It's louder than the alien screaming, so I'm gonna go ahead and say "good siren"! [[whatsiren]]


:: glowrodgoodidea I'm hoping it'll come across as a gesture of goodwill. A peace offering. It'll let them know that I'm in here, and that I'm trying to make their journey easier. If they turn out to be stragglers, survivors from another one of the downed spaceships... ...I can't even IMAGINE how relieved they'd feel to see a gesture of friendliness at this point. Me personally? I probably would've broken down crying in gratitude if someone had tossed me a glow stick. Okay. I'm throwing one. <<choice [[Bombs away!|throwarod]]>> | <<choice [[Can you see anything?|canyousee]]>>


:: yousaidno This moon. This horrible, angry moon. It wants me to suffer. It wants me to die. On the proximity monitor, I can see it. The surface of the moon. All the rock inside this crater. It's... it's cracking. With the peak at its center, the rock is just... splitting. Just opening up. Little cracks feeding into bigger ones. And there's light coming through those cracks. Three guesses what unnatural color it is. No. This is a nightmare. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>I thought... I thought I had eight little green aliens to worry about. <<else>>I thought... I thought I had nine little green aliens to worry about.<<endif>> But no. I've got THOUSANDS. <<choice [[Is it too late to run?|toolatetorun]]>> | <<choice [[What happens if you stay?|whatifyoustay]]>>


:: canyousee <<silently>><<set $glowrods = $glowrods - 1>><<endsilently>> Oh say, can I see by the glow rod's early light? <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>Not really. Not so much. The people, the four of them... they're still a couple minutes away from reaching it. <<else>>Not really. Not so much. The people, the five of them... they're still a couple minutes away from reaching it.<<endif>> (I may have mentioned that I was never big on sports. Not much of a pitching arm. In other words, I suck at throwing glow sticks.) Anyhow, not much to do now but wait it out for the next few minutes, and... ...huh. Something weird(er) is happening with the little E.T. that was inside of Wildboy. <<choice [[How do you mean?|weirdratthings]]>> | <<choice [[Stay the hell away from it.|staythehellaway]]>>


:: keepguardingcomputers I'm going to stay right here. They're coming for me. Everything's going to be fine. Everything's -- Wh... what is that? No. NO! <<choice [[What happened?|yousaidno]]>> | <<choice [[What went wrong?|whatwentwrong]]>>


:: lookatwhatexactly On the proximity alarm screen. I can see the rescuers disembarking! Holy crap, they're really here! Small ship, maybe the size of that caravel. Maybe even smaller. But the big difference is, unlike all the other ships on this horrible, godforsaken moon... ...it's ALL IN ONE PIECE. They're sending three crew down the ramp. That's probably a majority -- I'd guess just one, maybe two are still on board. They've got their helmets off. Just like me, they figured out the air is breathable, so why be burdened? Oh, my God. I'm saved! <<choice [[Should you go meet them?|shouldyoumeetthem]]>> | <<choice [[Keep guarding the computers.|keepguardingcomputers]]>>


:: stayguardcomputer Yeah. Right? I made it all the way from the wreck of the Varia to this unfathomable control center. The LEAST my rescuers can do is trudge a few hundred feet and come scoop me up. I just have to trust that if they elected to embark on a rescue mission, they took reasonable precautions... ...and that, if they DON'T have weapons, they'll at least have bright lights and common sense... ...which should be enough to keep them from being ambushed by the Varia zombies in the dark. Hey... look at that! <<choice [[Look at what, exactly?|lookatwhatexactly]]>> | <<choice [[What are you seeing?|lookatwhatexactly2]]>>


:: lookatwhatexactly2 [[lookatwhatexactly]]


:: exceptwhat EXCEPT that they're walking into a situation that they cannot POSSIBLY be prepared to encounter. [[heresthesituation]]


:: surelayitonme <<if $glowrods is 1>><<set $plural = "">><<else>><<set $plural = "s">><<endif>> All right, so, I've still got <<$glowrods>> glow rod<<$plural>> left. I just peeked down the hall -- and if these guys have any kind of lights, they're sure not using them. That's a five-minute trudge in near-total blackness; there's just the low light of the control room at the end to guide them. Should I, maybe, crack a glow rod and toss it down the hall toward them? <<choice [[Yeah, good idea!|glowrodgoodidea]]>> | <<choice [[No. Absolutely not.|glowrodbadidea]]>>


:: godownhall What, like... meet them partway? <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>In the very dark, very enclosed space of the hallway? Where I'm outnumbered, four to one? <<else>>In the very dark, very enclosed space of the hallway? Where I'm outnumbered, five to one?<<endif>> Could I maybe NOT do that? Because it doesn't sound like the best plan, from a sheerly tactic point of view, you know? <<choice [[Do it. You only live once.|youonlyliveonce]]>> | <<choice [[Okay. Stay put, then.|stayincontrolroom]]>>


:: maybeverybrave That kind of bravery is gonna get them killed if they stay here any longer. That kind of bravery... ...dammit, that's the kind of bravery I'd like to believe I'M about to dredge up. [[impossibleodds]]


:: toolatetorun It is. It's too late for me. I'd never make it to the rescue ship in time. Hopefully, when they see the chaos out there, and the fact that I'm not out in the clearing... ...they'll figure that out, and won't stay here and endanger themselves, waiting for me to show. If they were smart, they'd have already left. But they HAVEN'T, so... I guess they're not too smart. God, are they actually disembarking? They're not planning to fight their way INTO the peak, are they? Yeah. They're REALLY not too smart. <<choice [[Or maybe just VERY brave.|maybeverybrave]]>> | <<choice [[Must REALLY want to save you.|reallysaveyou]]>>


:: casualpose "Casual"? <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>Like I'm, what, a James Bond villain, welcoming these four people to my super-secret lair inside a hollowed-out mountain? <<else>>Like I'm, what, a James Bond villain, welcoming these five people to my super-secret lair inside a hollowed-out mountain?<<endif>> (Well, yeah, actually...) Although, for all I know, this is THEIR super-secret lair, and I'm just crashing their party. What if I'M the James Bond in this scenario? That'd be a first for me. I don't understand the rules of baccarat, and martinis make me gag. I think I'd be a pretty lousy secret agent. But then again, Bond is merely international in scope. I'm INTERPLANETARY. <<choice [[Million-dollar idea.|milliondollars]]>> | <<choice [[Take it down a notch.|ratheryoudidnt]]>>


:: guardyourthroat I'm trying! Believe me! I don't want that THING inside me! Whatever's piloting my old friends, it's making them stronger than they ever used to be. They're not bulkier, but it's like... all their muscles are working... way too efficiently! I can't grapple. I'm just kicking out, lashing out, trying to keep them at bay! Wait, there's... there's a siren going off! <<choice [[What does it mean?|whatsiren]]>> | <<choice [[Good siren or bad siren?|goodsiren]]>>


:: guardthecomputer I'm doing everything I can just to keep my body between them and the computers. I already ripped out the keyboard... ...but now my fear is, they're just going to start tearing apart the whole system with their bare hands! Whatever's piloting my old friends, it's making them stronger than they ever used to be. They're not bulkier, but it's like... all their muscles are working... way too efficiently! I can't grapple. I'm just kicking out, lashing out, trying to keep them at bay! Wait, there's... there's a siren going off! <<choice [[What does it mean?|whatsiren]]>> | <<choice [[Good siren or bad siren?|goodsiren]]>>


:: getbackup1 No, I know. I should. I should get up. I don't have time to just go around collapsing in gratitude every time someone comes from half a galaxy away to save me. I should really get some perspective. Ha ha! [[restrightthere1]]


:: restrightthere1 It's amazing, how strong the urge is just to go into the fetal position. Just how comforting that seems. Just to lie here on the dry, white, cracked surface of this unforgiving moon and cry. Cry into the cracks. There are... there are more cracks than there were a minute ago. A lot more. Oh. Oh, DAMMIT. <<choice [[What is the problem?|morecracks]]>> | <<choice [["More cracks"?|morecracks2]]>>


:: whatwentwrong EVERYTHING IS WRONG. It seemed like something was right, so EVERYTHING had to go wrong. [[yousaidno]]


:: throwarod <<silently>><<set $glowrods = $glowrods - 1>><<endsilently>> Yeah, so... I may have mentioned, at some point during the last couple of days, that I was never big on sports. Not much of a pitching arm. Or a shot-putting arm, or, um, an ANYTHING arm. In other words, I suck at throwing glow sticks any distance down hallways. It's the thought that counts, though, right? Anyhow, not much to do now but wait it out for the next few minutes, and... ...huh. Something weird(er) is happening with the little E.T. that was inside of Wildboy. <<choice [[How do you mean?|weirdratthings]]>> | <<choice [[Stay the hell away from it.|staythehellaway]]>>


:: wrongaboutrod Yeah? Okay, cool. I'm gonna throw one. <<choice [[Bombs away!|throwarod]]>> | <<choice [[Can you see anything?|canyousee]]>>


:: glowrodbadidea Yeah, all right. I get where you're coming from. No point in wasting my few resources before I have any idea about these people or their intentions. I had been trying to stay optimistic. Thinking it might come across as a gesture of goodwill, a peace offering. It'd let them know that I'm in here, and that I'm trying to make their journey easier. If they turn out to be stragglers, survivors from another one of the downed spaceships... ...I can't even IMAGINE how relieved they'd feel to see a gesture of friendliness at this point. Me personally? I probably would've broken down crying in gratitude if someone had tossed me a glow stick. But holding off is probably smart. <<choice [[I was wrong. Throw one.|wrongaboutrod]]>> | <<choice [[Just wait. Act casual.|casualpose]]>>


:: impossibleodds Look. These are impossible odds. Not in the "together we'll conquer these impossible odds, like in the climactic final scene of a movie" odds... ...but really, literally IMPOSSIBLE odds. I can't make it from the peak to the rescue ship without being overtaken by the creatures. Likewise, the rescuers can't make it from their ship, get in here to get me, and then get all of us back to their ship. Those THINGS, those alien parasites, are going to get into us, and then use us, like... like puppets. Unless I miss my guess, they've ridden around inside humans to build this control center... ...to bring down ships from across space -- my God, to pull them out of TIME, too -- so that there are a handful of new host bodies, every time someone new crashes on this moon. But all the ships so far... they've had to CRASH on this moon. Now, if the aliens have host bodies AND -- with this rescue ship -- a fully functioning, spacefaring vessel? One that isn't confined to this moon? One that can LEAVE here, and bring those thousands of alien parasites ANYWHERE? <<choice [[They could spread unchecked.|spreadunchecked]]>> | <<choice [[Mass galactic genocide.|spreadunchecked2]]>>


:: spreadunchecked2 [[spreadunchecked]]


:: shouldyoumeetthem Maybe I should, you know? To celebrate. Maybe they brought some champagne. I neglected to grab a bottle, myself; that's a little embarrassing. I'll have to owe them when we get home. So. Yes. Let me greet my rescuers, sans champagne. The question is, will I be able to push past the alien zombies in the corridor? If we're all going the same direction, will they try to impede me? <<choice [[Try it and see.|tryitandsee1]]>> | <<choice [[Be prepared for a fight.|bepreparedtofight1]]>>


:: youonlyliveonce That's a good point. I only live once. I was just really hoping that I wasn't going to get to the end of that "once" in the next couple minutes. But... okay. Between the creepy green alien thing screaming and wriggling around in rat guts in the corner... <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>...and the four human-shaped things (that may or may not be humans) trudging up the pitch-black corridor, closing in on me... <<else>>...and the five human-shaped things (that may or may not be humans) trudging up the pitch-black corridor, closing in on me...<<endif>> ...I figure I've got about a 50/50 shot, no matter WHAT my next move is. So okay. I'm going down that hall. Wish me luck. Please? <<choice [[Good luck.|goodluckinhallway]]>> | <<choice [[I'm sure you'll be fine.|youllbefine]]>>


:: milliondollars This is gonna be great. Write this down for me, would you? "I emerged from the escape pod shaken, not stirred. Most people don't even know that Aston Martin MAKES spaceships. "Then again... most people aren't Bond. Taylor Bond." And then the saxophone kicks in, and Duran Duran sings about what a badass I am. Cut to the title card: MOON-WRECKER. (It turns out that, when I'm nervous, I babble and make bad puns. So... sorry about that.) Anyhow, not much to do now but wait it out for the next few minutes, and... ...huh. Something weird(er) is happening with the little E.T. that was inside of Wildboy. <<choice [[How do you mean?|weirdratthings]]>> | <<choice [[Stay the hell away from it.|staythehellaway]]>>


:: whatifyoustay If I stay? Oh, man... if I stay, then I die. If I run for it, I die. If I do ANYTHING, I die. But... maybe that doesn't have to be the worst thing. [[impossibleodds]]


:: ratheryoudidnt Oh. Man. Am I babbling? I'm sorry. I don't mean to. When I get nervous, I just kinda run my mouth. And -- big surprise -- I'm probably about a bajillion times more nervous now than I've ever been in my entire life. (I don't know what a "bajillion" is in metric terms. Probably "three.") Damn. I'm babbling about not wanting to babble. I'll shut up now. I'm just gonna sit here for the next five minutes or so... ...until the people walking up that corridor suddenly come walking into this room... ...and I suddenly wet myself, from fear or excitement or both. Sorry. Sorry. Stopping babbling... ...NOW. Um. Hey. I know I was gonna stop babbling, but, uh, I just noticed... ...something weird(er) is happening with the little E.T. that was inside of Wildboy. <<choice [[How do you mean?|weirdratthings]]>> | <<choice [[Stay the hell away from it.|staythehellaway]]>>


:: whatsgoingonnow I had enough time for me to get the pulse weapon targeted to the precise location of the peak. Confirmed it against the topographical map. Latitude, longitude, we're good to go. But the crew from the Varia... they seemed to understand the plan, and they did NOT like it! I don't know how they know. They don't seem to be sensate. They're not speaking, they're just... freaking... SCREAMING. And they're all coming at me! I'm trapped. If I back away from the computer, I'm afraid they'll shut down the sequence. But if I stay here, I'm afraid they'll rip me apart, or shove that green thing down my throat! <<choice [[Guard the computer.|guardthecomputer]]>> | <<choice [[Guard your throat.|guardyourthroat]]>>


:: timejustpassed I don't know! Seconds for you, I'm guessing? More like eight or ten minutes on this end. Good news: Enough time for me to get the pulse weapon targeted to the precise location of the peak. Confirmed it against the topographical map. Latitude, longitude, we're good to go. Bad news: My friends from the Varia did NOT like this plan! I don't know how they know. They don't seem to be sensate. They're not speaking, they're just... freaking... SCREAMING. And they're all coming at me! I'm trapped. If I back away from the computer, I'm afraid they'll shut down the sequence. But if I stay here, I'm afraid they'll rip me apart, or shove that green thing down my throat! <<choice [[Guard the computer.|guardthecomputer]]>> | <<choice [[Guard your throat.|guardyourthroat]]>>


:: bepreparedtofight1 I was "prepared," I guess -- by which I mean, I have no idea how I would have prepared -- but there was no fight. They weren't exactly... PLEASANT about it... but they didn't physically hold me back. It's like trying to get a good look at the Mona Lisa around all the tourists. Okay. Mad dash down the hall. I'll talk to you in a minute. [[delay 2m|emergefromhall1]]


:: reallysaveyou Well, that's noble and everything, but that kind of nobility is gonna get them killed if they stay here any longer. It's... it's certainly the kind of nobility that's about to get ME killed. [[impossibleodds]]


:: spreadunchecked So here's what I can do. I can break into the broadcast, like I did earlier, and get a message to the rescue ship outside. Tell them to pull back their people, pull up chocks, and fly away from this hellhole as fast and as far as their ship will take them. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>I'll give them the Varia's coordinates so they can pick up Captain Aya in her stasis pod. With a proper medic and a ton of luck, she'll be a survivor -- the sole survivor, now -- of the Varia's crash.<<endif>> And then? When I'm sure the rescue craft is a safe distance out? I've got the peak's coordinates programmed as the target of the weapons system. I zero out the pulse counter... ...and I blow this damn mountain off the map. <<choice [[But... what about you?|butwhataboutyou]]>> | <<choice [[Will you escape in time?|escapeintime]]>>


:: youllbefine It's really admirable, how much confidence you're able to have when you're NOWHERE NEAR THIS SCARY-ASS HOUSE OF HORRORS. Hey, uh, listen... I know this is going to sound like I'm just stalling -- and I promise that's only like 20% true -- ...but something weird(er) is happening with the little E.T. that was inside of Wildboy. <<choice [[How do you mean?|weirdratthings]]>> | <<choice [[Stay the hell away from it.|staythehellaway]]>>


:: holdonweapontwo No, no, there's no time to "hold on." Time is at a premium around here. It's moving in ways I don't totally understand. You and I might get cut off for a second that turns out to be half an hour, from where I'm observing. Who KNOWS what these Varia zombies could do in that time? No. I've got to act fast. Are you with me? <<choice [[Do I have a choice?|doihaveachoice]]>> | <<choice [[Tell me your plan.|tellmeyourplan]]>>


:: reallyreprogram I was able to interrupt the feed, wasn't I? <<if $overridetarget is 1>>I already broke in and got the targeting system not to target the rescue ship as a... uh... target.<<endif>> [[tellmeyourplan]]


:: goodluckinhallway Thanks. Seriously. I've never asked for someone to root for me just to make it halfway down a hallway before. This must be what it's like to be elderly. Or blind drunk. (I certainly hope I live through this, so I can be BOTH of those things in the future.) Hey, uh, listen... I know this is going to sound like I'm just stalling -- and I promise that's only like 20% true -- ...but something weird(er) is happening with the little E.T. that was inside of Wildboy. <<choice [[How do you mean?|weirdratthings]]>> | <<choice [[Stay the hell away from it.|staythehellaway]]>>


:: stayincontrolroom Yeah, if it's all the same to you, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Plenty of weird crap going on in here already, without rushing headlong into even more of it. Anyhow, not much to do now but wait it out for the next few minutes, and... ...huh. Something weird(er) is happening with the little E.T. that was inside of Wildboy. <<choice [[How do you mean?|weirdratthings]]>> | <<choice [[Stay the hell away from it.|staythehellaway]]>>


:: emergefromhall1 The rescue ship has landed about a football field's length away. (A hundred yards. Not great at sports, but I know that one.) Ramp's down. Rescue squad should be able to see me. Ha. Ha ha ha. This is... I'm laughing, and crying, and I feel freakin' DELIRIOUS. I, ah, I just fell to my knees because I can't make my legs work correctly, the stupid things. I'm just SHAKING, I'm so happy. <<choice [[You should get back up.|getbackup1]]>> | <<choice [[Rest there. You earned it.|restrightthere1]]>>


:: wishyouskill Yeah, maybe that's a better idea. You know, I REALLY don't like the fact that the whole Varia crew all just turned and looked at me, at the same time. Scary monsters and super creeps. Never mind that, it's-- [[disappearagain]]


:: disappearagain [communication interrupted] [date/time stamp invalid] [searching...] [reacquiring signal] [establishing connection] [receiving message] ...awful lot has gone on since I disappeared! Not exactly the best time for it to happen! <<choice [[What just went on?|whatsgoingonnow]]>> | <<choice [[How much time just passed?|timejustpassed]]>>


:: tellmeyourplan Here's the thing: <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>I've got four undead coworkers, three undead rats, and a little green extraterrestrial I don't know WHAT the hell it is... <<else>>I've got five undead coworkers, three undead rats, and a little green extraterrestrial I don't know WHAT the hell it is...<<endif>> all staring me down with these cold, unnatural emerald eyes. There is NOTHING behind those eyes. And they all seem to really want MY eyes to look like that, too. So I've got, literally, nothing else in the whole universe left to lose. If I fail, I'm no worse off than I would be anyway. And if I succeed... ...they'll have to stop this goddamned screaming. Wish me luck. <<choice [[Obviously, I wish you luck.|wishyouluck]]>> | <<choice [[I wish you skill, instead.|wishyouskill]]>>


:: tryitandsee1 Hey... so... they aren't being... PLEASANT about it... but they're not physically holding me back. It's like trying to get a good look at the Mona Lisa around all the tourists. Okay. Mad dash down the hall. I'll talk to you in a minute. [[delay 2m|emergefromhall1]]


:: escapeintime There isn't an "escape." There's no way to duck out of this at the last second. Not having one of those alien things crawl inside my mouth and start piloting me around? That's all the escape I get. And you know what? I'm okay with that. [[wrappingthingsup]]


:: butwhataboutyou What about me? [[wrappingthingsup]]


:: whatweapontwo This peak, this control room, it's a command center for a weapon, yes? That's what the TIME TO PULSE is all about. I don't know what the weapon IS, exactly -- I'm guessing an electromagnetic pulse, a particle-beam, something BIG -- but odds are pretty good that, if it's powerful enough to rip starships out of the sky... ...then all I have to do is figure out how to reprogram it to unleash on THESE coordinates... ...and it'll be powerful enough to fry every inch of this peak to a crisp. Including the screaming green aliens that are running around inside the undead crew of the Varia! <<choice [[Hold on a minute...|holdonweapontwo]]>> | <<choice [[Can you really reprogram it?|reallyreprogram]]>>


:: staythehellaway Look, I have no intention of getting any closer to it than I absolutely have to. I'd much rather just film it with a zoom lens from across the room, believe me... ...but the camera on my IEVA suit isn't functioning. It's literally costing us history, right now. So I feel like I need to describe this thing to you, as best I can. Which might not be very well; I'm kind of at a loss for words. This thing, this CREATURE, it's... for the last few minutes, it's been pulling parts back into itself. Which is EXACTLY as gruesome and unpleasant as it sounds, in case that wasn't coming across. I've been half-ignoring it, because it makes me ill every time I look over there. <<choice [[You have to describe it.|havetodescribe]]>> | <<choice [[Take a minute, if you need.|takeaminute]]>>


:: weirdratthings I mean... I'm not really sure how I'd even describe the little lifeform to you. (The fact that the damn camera on this IEVA suit isn't functioning is literally costing us history, right now.) This thing, this CREATURE, it's... for the last few minutes, it's been pulling parts back into itself. Which is EXACTLY as gruesome and unpleasant as it sounds, in case that wasn't coming across. I've been half-ignoring it, because it makes me ill every time I look over there. <<choice [[You have to describe it.|havetodescribe]]>> | <<choice [[Take a minute, if you need.|takeaminute]]>>


:: doihaveachoice I mean, SURE, you have a choice. And if you really wanted to, I'd give you a forum to try to talk me out of this. But this is what it's all been leading toward, isn't it? Something incredibly stupid and slightly heroic -- or maybe the other way around -- that just might save the day? <<choice [[Ok then.|tellmeyourplan]]>> | <<choice [[Can you really reprogram it?|reallyreprogram]]>>


:: wishyouluck Thanks. You know, I REALLY don't like the fact that the whole Varia crew all just turned and looked at me, at the same time. Scary monsters and super creeps. Never mind that, it's-- [[disappearagain]]


:: mustbeanillusion1 I... I don't know. I don't think it is. I thought it was an illusion yesterday, when it seemed like the peak never got any closer. But with the IEVA suit's weird time/date readout stuff earlier, I think it's less about baffling illusions... ...and more about baffling REALITIES. <<choice [[Just stay clear of the E.T.|clearoftheet1]]>> | <<choice [[What are the other rats doing?|otherratsdoing1]]>>


:: otherratsdoing1 They're just acting like normal rats. HUNGRY, but normal. That's what I was saying: They move and scramble around just like always. There's nothing about their gait, or their sniffing behavior -- yes, sniffing behavior is a thing people study in lab rats, and YES, I know it sounds weird, but whatever -- or anything else that would make an observer think that these rats weren't fully in control of their own bodies. But seeing the level of integration that the parasite had into Wildboy's muscles and nerves... ...I'm CERTAIN that the E.T. was piloting my rat around. [[aretheratsdead1]]


:: whatisitdoingnow1 Like I was saying, it seems to have reeled all its various tentacles and capillaries back into itself. Now it's this kind of sleek, almost featureless thing, just sitting inside a pile of hair and meat that used to be Wildboy. What's really strange is that... the E.T. actually looks BIGGER than the rat was. Like there's no way it all could've fit inside Wildboy's skin. It isn't physically possible. <<choice [[Must be an illusion.|mustbeanillusion1]]>> | <<choice [[Just stay clear of it.|clearoftheet1]]>>


:: wrappingthingsup <<set $gameend = "wrappingthingsup">> I just lived through three days of hell. I'm going to press a button, close my eyes, and prevent what happened to me from ever happening to anyone here again. Given EVERY SINGLE ALTERNATIVE this moon has thrown at me? This is, far and away, the best death I can imagine. ...All right. Rescue ship is up. All those angry, hostless aliens just turned around and started heading for the peak. It's about to get very, VERY crowded in here. They're screaming. They're all screaming. Good. I WANT them to scream. I hope this really hurts them. Look, before I go, I just want to say... ...I never could have gotten through these last few days without you. So... thank you. I mean it. And here's to a brighter future. This is Cadet Taylor, formerly of the Varia, signing off. [connection terminated] [[delay 2s|gameover]]


:: aretheratsdead1 Okay, so, I know this is going to sound psycho... ...but I think the most accurate word for them is UNDEAD. Maybe that's a logic leap. Maybe I'm shouting "zombie" when this is something altogether different. I mean, I think that whatever's inside them... it's keeping them functioning, keeping biological processes going. But are these the same rats, with the same personalities, that I was testing before the Varia crashed? Before their eyes turned green? I really don't think so. At all. The thing is -- Oh. Oh, no. <<choice [[What is it?|whatthistime]]>> | <<choice [[Something more with the rats?|morewithrats]]>>


:: cantbeyourplan No, all right, that's NOT my plan. Not my ENTIRE plan, at any rate. But hear me out. [[whatweapontwo]]


:: randombashing No. Not random bashing. Well, not TOTALLY random. Just hear me out. [[whatweapontwo]]


:: holdonweapon No, no, there's no time to "hold on." Time is at a premium around here. It's moving in ways I don't totally understand. You and I might get cut off for a second that turns out to be half an hour, from where I'm observing. Who KNOWS what these Varia zombies could do in that time? No. I've got to act fast. Are you with me? <<choice [[Do I have a choice?|doihaveachoice]]>> | <<choice [[Tell me your plan.|tellmeyourplan]]>>


:: takeaminute Thanks, but... I don't know if I even HAVE a minute, you know? I want to get this all out there, before our visitors show up, and that's a whole new can of worms I have to worry about. Besides, I know how bizarro the stuff I'm about to tell you is going to sound. But you've stuck with me over these last few days. You know it's this moon that's crazy, not me. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>Trying to get these four new people up to speed on that? I don't know if I've got that kind of time to waste, right now. <<else>>Trying to get these five new people up to speed on that? I don't know if I've got that kind of time to waste, right now.<<endif>> <<choice [[Okay. Keep describing it.|havetodescribe]]>> | <<choice [[How close are the visitors?|howclosearethey]]>>


:: whatweapon This peak, this control room, it's a command center for a weapon, yes? That's what the TIME TO PULSE is all about. I don't know what the weapon IS, exactly -- I'm guessing an electromagnetic pulse, a particle-beam, something BIG -- but odds are pretty good that, if it's powerful enough to rip starships out of the sky... ...then all I have to do is figure out how to reprogram it to unleash on THESE coordinates... ...and it'll be powerful enough to fry every inch of this peak to a crisp. Including the screaming green aliens that are running around inside the undead crew of the Varia! <<choice [[Hold on a minute...|holdonweapon]]>> | <<choice [[Can you really reprogram it?|reallyreprogram]]>>


:: havetodescribe It's like it had... TENDRILS, woven all throughout Wildboy's body. Arteries and sinews and, I don't know, dendrites... ...a whole network, multiple networks that had spread out from the creature and tangled themselves into Wildboy's system. So this thing was just... enmeshed with my poor rat's nerves and musculature and organs and everything. A parasite, a passenger that was inside of Wildboy and that, I don't know, that had gotten to the point where it was just... ...WEARING him around like a suit. Dancing him like a puppet. But not in a clumsy way. Not like it didn't know how rats moved or operated. In a PERFECT way. Where the only thing that was different was the eyes. The eyes had gone that bioluminescent green. And then... that scream. I've never heard a rat make that sound. I've never heard ANYTHING make that sound. <<choice [[Well, that's... terrifying.|wellterrifying]]>> | <<choice [[What's it doing now?|whatisitdoingnow1]]>>


:: clearoftheet1 Yeah, I'm keeping back from it. But that doesn't mean I'm not curious about it. As far as I know, I'm the first human who's ever seen this lifeform. (Or, scarier thought: I'm the first one who's still alive to tell about it. So far.) So in the absence of any real way to record this experience, I'm trying to take in as much of it as I possibly can. <<choice [[Makes sense. Tell me more.|tellmemore1]]>> | <<choice [[What are the other rats doing?|otherratsdoing1]]>>


:: tellmemore1 I mean, I've been observing these rats for months. I know the behavior that's typical for rats in general... ...and I know the behavior that's typical for THESE rats. I know that Logan has a little "hot spot" behind his left ear because he won't stop scratching. I know that Runt ducks his head low while he eats, like in deference to the others. Stuff like that, they're doing even now. [[otherratsdoing1]]


:: whatthistime The visitors are here. What... what do I do? <<choice [[Are they threatening you?|threateningyou]]>> | <<choice [[Are you safe?|areyousafe]]>>


:: morewithrats No. No, it's nothing to do with the rats. [[whatthistime]]


:: somethingtocompute I'm at a loss with these systems. I might as well start bashing my fists -- or, hell, my forehead -- against the keys at random, for all the good it'll do. ...Wait. That's it! <<choice [[What's "it"? Random bashing?|randombashing]]>> | <<choice [[That can't be your plan.|cantbeyourplan]]>>


:: alwayspackheat I know, I know... I'm really falling short of the ideals of the American flag patch on my shoulder, aren't I? Think, Taylor, dammit... think! ...Wait a second. I need a weapon, right? I've GOT a weapon! <<choice [[What do you mean?|whatweapon]]>> | <<choice [[Hold on a minute...|holdonweapon]]>>


:: howclosearethey Quick glance down the hallway... and I can't see a damn thing. They could be five minutes away or five seconds away. They could've found some side corridor to explore -- the way *I* should have, if I'd've been thinking straight. They could have disappeared deeper into the peak, and I'll never see them again. I don't know. I don't know. I just... I should tell you about this little creature thing. [[havetodescribe]]


:: wellterrifying Yeah. It absolutely is. I've gone from sweat to chills about a hundred times over inside this suit. I feel like I'm about to jump out of my damn skin at every little noise I hear. And somehow, I'm hearing TONS of little noises. <<choice [[Just try to stay calm.|trytostaycalm]]>> | <<choice [[What is the creature doing?|whatisitdoingnow1]]>>


:: submittocreature I didn't think it would hurt so much [[submittocreaturetwo]]


:: submittocreaturetwo [ieva suit sensors indicate severe tachycardia] [ischemia detected] [myocardial infarction detected] [[delay 4s|connectionlost]]


:: trytostaycalm Believe me, I'm trying. But it's not easy when there's an extraterrestrial biological entity splashing around in rat entrails in the corner. You know? [[whatisitdoingnow1]]


:: youmustgetaway1 I know. I want to. I want to run. But my legs feel so weak. I've been walking all over this moon for three days, on barely enough food to survive. So much of me just wants to stop running. Just stay here with my friends. [[stoplookingateyes]]


:: havetofight I'm not strong enough! I can't win! Oh, my God... this is it, isn't it? I'm gonna die, right here in this room, at the hands of the Varia crew! They're going to infect me with whatever the hell their little parasite creature is... and I AM GOING TO DIE. Why won't they all stop SCREAMING?! <<choice [[There must be a solution.|mustbeasolution]]>> | <<choice [[Are you submitting to it?!|submittocreature]]>>


:: trotterhappened Trotter is... no longer the slowest of the bunch. I'm not sure there IS a slowest of the bunch, anymore. [[escapeinjury]]



:: likeisaid Yeah, well, as the invasion force is turning us into pod people, you get to say "I told you so." So THAT'S got to feel pretty nice. I think I can get out if I can knock down my old friends here and just scramble away in the chaos! I think I can duck past Trotter; he was always the slowest of the bunch-- WHOOOF <<choice [[What happened?|trotterhappened]]>> | <<choice [[Did you make it?|didyoumakeit]]>>


:: areyousafe I... I don't know. There are tears running down my face, and I haven't even figured out WHY. It's like my eyes decided to do whatever they wanted, throw a party before my brain had gotten anyone's RSVPs. <<choice [[Tell me what you see!|whatdoyousee]]>> | <<choice [[Take a minute, if you need.|takeaminuteifyouneed]]>>


:: threateningyou No. Nobody's threatening me. Nobody's said a word or made a sudden move or done ANYTHING. They're just... standing there. And I'm... I'm shaking so bad, I feel like I might collapse. <<choice [[I don't understand.|idontgetit]]>> | <<choice [[Please tell me what's going on.|areyousafe]]>>


:: mustbeasolution What possible solution could I have? If I try to make a break for the exit, they block me, and they're strong as hell. If I back off, they go back into this weird "standby" mode, just waiting for me to try another dash. All I can do from this room is fiddle with these computers... that I don't really know how to fiddle with. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to be more proactive about taking out my jailors, but it's not as if I have any weapons. Really wish I'd packed one -- or, hell, BUILT one from spare parts back at the caravel -- but I didn't honestly think I was gonna need to be packing heat for a shootout at high moon. <<choice [[Always good to pack heat.|alwayspackheat]]>> | <<choice [[Must be SOMETHING to compute.|somethingtocompute]]>>


:: escapeinjury They were... dammit... they were all just standing there, aloof, until I tried to get around them... ...and suddenly they've become... really strong... and REALLY focused on stopping me. <<if $hurtshoulder is 1>>Aggh! Adair went straight for my hurt shoulder!<<endif>> <<if $hurtankle is 1>>Antoine -- ow -- has a death grip on my twisted ankle!<<endif>> It's like they're targeting my injuries -- like they KNOW, somehow! I can't... I can't fight off all of them! I... any ONE of them is stronger than I am! <<choice [[You've GOT to fight!|havetofight]]>> | <<choice [[If you can't fight, flee!|nofightflee]]>>


:: fightthecreature I... I can't... Oh! God! What am I DOING? "It gets in through the mouth." I just realized. The... the green spit. The horrible taste in the mornings. Oh, God. One of these things was trying to climb inside me WHILE I WAS SLEEPING! I have to get out of here! <<choice [[That's what I've been saying!|likeisaid]]>> | <<choice [[Can you find an exit?|findanexit]]>>


:: surestaycalm This is serenity like I've never experienced before. Colby's picking up the little green creature that was waiting, over inside Wildboy's remains. Now I understand. It was waiting for ME. I was waiting for IT. It gets in through the mouth. That's what the claw marks are. I just have to relax. Smile. <<choice [[No! Fight it!|fightthecreature]]>> | <<choice [[Are you submitting to it?!|submittocreature]]>>


:: notstillyourfriends I know. I KNOW they're not. But they look just like my friends. The eyes are wrong, I know... but the longer I look at them, the more sense they make, too. And there are... little marks around their mouths. Dark green scabs from... it looks like... claw marks of some sort. Like something was struggling to... to climb inside their mouths. <<choice [[You have to get away.|youmustgetaway1]]>> | <<choice [[Stop looking at their eyes.|stoplookingateyes]]>>


:: whatsupwithzombies Something that I was praying wouldn't happen... ...although I have no idea how I thought I was going to avoid it. [[whoareyoutalkingto]]


:: cannotbepossible Yeah! I KNOW it can't be possible! <<if $capburied is 1 and $crewburied is 1>>I buried them -- ALL of them -- IN THESE UNIFORMS -- back at the Varia! <<elseif $crewburied is 1 and $capburied is 0>>I buried the crew -- IN THESE UNIFORMS -- back at the Varia! <<elseif $crewburied is 0 and $capburied is 1>>I buried the Captain -- IN THIS UNIFORM -- back at the Varia! <<endif>> <<if $capburied is 1 or $crewburied is 1>>Dammit all, I tried! I did everything I knew how to do! I tried my best to honor them, to give them a proper burial, and this damned moon won't even let them have THAT!<<endif>> Oh, no. Oh, please stop. <<choice [[What is happening?|whatsupwithzombies]]>> | <<choice [[Who are you talking to?|whoareyoutalkingto]]>>


:: thisisexciting Yeah, I sure thought so too. Super-exciting. [[nametagtime]]


:: nofightflee Flee WHERE? There's nowhere to run. They've got me cornered in this control room. I can't outmaneuver them. I can't win. Oh, my God... this is it, isn't it? I'm gonna die, right here in this room, at the hands of the Varia crew! They're going to infect me with whatever the hell their little parasite creature is... and I AM GOING TO DIE. Why won't they all stop SCREAMING?! <<choice [[There must be a solution.|mustbeasolution]]>> | <<choice [[Are you submitting to it?!|submittocreature]]>>


:: didyoumakeit No! I didn't make it! "WHOOOF" is not the noise of someone who made it! [[escapeinjury]]


:: findanexit <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>The only "exit" is gonna be knocking down four pod people who used to be my shipmates... <<else>>The only "exit" is gonna be knocking down five pod people who used to be my shipmates...<<endif>> ...and hoping I can scramble out in the confusion! I think I can duck past Trotter; he was always the slowest of the bunch-- WHOOOF <<choice [[What happened?|trotterhappened]]>> | <<choice [[Did you make it?|didyoumakeit]]>>


:: stoplookingateyes You don't understand. You're not really hearing me. This is the first time since the crash that I'm not panicked about anything and everything. Whatever happens next... it's what's SUPPOSED to happen. All of this: the Varia crashing, me finding the peak... all of it was meant to take place, to bring me to this moment. To this calm. <<choice [[Okay. Sure. Stay calm.|surestaycalm]]>> | <<choice [[Screw calm. Get out of there!|screwcalm]]>>


:: whatdoyousee Okay. There just... there aren't any words that are going to accurately capture everything I'm going through... ...so I'm just going to tell you facts, and I'll try not to hyperventilate or scream or anything, midway through. The first thing I saw, when they walked in, was the American flag patch on the spacesuits. There on the left shoulder, just like on my own suit. Stars and stripes forever. The suits are kind of beaten up, kind of dusty -- like they've been through hell and back. Or maybe not quite "and back" yet. They're all wearing the dome helmets, with that basically opaque gold layer on the visor. I know, I know, it's there to help filter out UV rays... ...but again, nothing screams "America!" more than viewing the whole world through a thin layer of gold, huh? <<choice [[Feeling pretty homesick?|feelinghomesick]]>> | <<choice [[This is so exciting!|thisisexciting]]>>


:: idontgetit I'm sorry. I just... need a minute. I'm sorry. [[delay 3m|whatdoyousee]]


:: nametagtime I mean, seeing these spacesuits, they were just so comforting, they were just so familiar... ...they're just SO DAMN FAMILIAR. <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>I'm looking at four patches. Sewn onto four American uniforms. Four words in clear, legible, san serif font. Antoine. Trotter. Adair. Colby. <<else>>I'm looking at five patches. Sewn onto five American uniforms. Five words in clear, legible, san serif font. Antoine. Trotter. Adair. Colby. Captain Aya.<<endif>> <<choice [[That cannot be possible.|cannotbepossible]]>> | <<choice [[Get out. Now.|getoutoftherenow]]>>


:: screwcalm No... before, I might have run from this. But now I know that I need to be a part of this union. I need this passenger, just as it needs me to play host. [[surestaycalm]]


:: youmustgetaway I know. I want to. I want to run. But my legs feel so weak. I've been walking all over this moon for three days, on barely enough food to survive. So much of me just wants to stop running. Just stay here with my friends. <<choice [[Those are not still your friends.|notstillyourfriends1]]>> | <<choice [[Stop looking at their eyes.|stoplookingateyes]]>>


:: whoareyoutalkingto Colby. Or, the one with Colby's nametag. Lifting off her helmet. ...Aw, no. No, dammit. It's her. It really is her. I was hoping, hoping that somehow these were just survivors from another shipwreck. Just normal people who had chanced across the Varia, and who had taken the IEVA suits to protect them against the elements. But no. It's really Colby. It's really ALL of them. Helmets off. Exactly the way I last saw them. Except with blank, green, glowing eyes. <<choice [[You have to get away.|youmustgetaway]]>> | <<choice [[Those are not still your friends.|notstillyourfriends]]>>


:: getoutoftherenow And how, exactly, would you propose that I get out? There's exactly ONE exit... <<if $capalive is 1 and $power is "pod">>...and exactly FOUR people (or whatever they become when they stop being people) between me and that exit. <<else>>...and exactly FIVE people (or whatever they become when they stop being people) between me and that exit.<<endif>> Mathematically speaking, I'd say my odds are precisely "screwed." (In metric terms, that's "up poop creek, sans paddle.") And now... oh. Oh, no. Oh, please stop. <<choice [[What is happening?|whatsupwithzombies]]>> | <<choice [[Who are you talking to?|whoareyoutalkingto]]>>


:: feelinghomesick Oh, man, yeah. I'm definitely feeling SOME kind of sick. [[nametagtime]]


:: takeaminuteifyouneed Thank you. I do, I just, I do need a minute. I'm sorry. [[delay 3m|whatdoyousee]]


:: notstillyourfriends1 I know. I KNOW they're not. But they look just like my friends. The eyes are wrong, I know... but the longer I look at them, the more sense they make, too. And there are... little marks around their mouths. Dark green scabs from... it looks like... claw marks of some sort. Like something was struggling to... to climb inside their mouths. [[stoplookingateyes]]


:: gameover gameover

:: optIn_extra [signal interruption] [data packet “Lifeline: Silent Night sneak peek” attempting upload] [upload complete] [***BEGINNING NEW TRANSMISSION FEED***] [[Start_extra]]

:: Start_extra <<set $baltydown = false>><<set $brokenleg = false>><<set $coadvice = false>><<set $doorstory = false>><<set $drillers = false>><<set $helmetoff = false>><<set $informal = false>><<set $jeff = false>><<set $lastone = false>><<set $relaxmission = false>><<set $relaxwhere = false>><<set $sequel = false>><<set $inBridgeContent = true>> [incoming communication] [priority clearance -- EYES ONLY] [clearance override] Pan-pan. This is Viridian actual. Radio check. Over. <<choice [[Uh... what?|uh_what]]>> | <<choice [[Who is this?|who_is_this]]>>


:: who_is_this This is Viridian actual. You are receiving? Radio check. Over. [[What does that mean?|what_radio]] | [[What's a "Viridian actual"?|what_viridian]]


:: what_viridian Viridian is the name of the ship. And "actual" means you're speaking to the person who's actually in charge of the actual ship... ...as opposed to my RTO. And yes, I just realized that if I had to explain all that other crap... ...then I obviously have to explain that "RTO" stands for "radio telephone operator." Over. [["Telephone Line" is my favorite RTO song.|no_elo]] | [[So "radio check" means...?|what_radio]]


:: no_elo You're thinking of ELO. Electric Light Orchestra? Hoo boy. Is there any INTELLIGENT life in this sector? Over. [[You're talkin' to it.|talkin_to_it]] | [[That's not very nice.|not_nice]]


:: talkin_to_it Huh. That's... not as comforting as you probably think it is. [[informal]]


:: intense_stare Yeah, well. When it comes to hearts and flowers, I figure, go big or go home. And "going home" isn't really an option at the moment. [[informal]]


:: StoryTitle Lifeline: Viridian Actual 112315


:: uh_what Pan-pan. That's... possible assistance needed. State of urgency, not yet emergency. Just a heads-up to all receiving parties. Although it looks like you're the ONLY receiving party. Over. [[So is this a mayday call?|mayday_call]] | [[Are you in trouble?|mayday_two]]


:: what_radio Radio check? It's... I'm asking for an evaluation of my signal strength and readability. You know, like, "loud and clear." Or, "weak and intermittent." Or, "This isn't technically a radio, it's a quantum tunneling communicator." Over. [[Oh. That last one, then.|last_one]] | [[Loud and clear, I guess.|loud_clear]]


:: last_one <<set $lastone = true>> Great. Then unless they shipped me a bad batch of atoms... ...I'm gonna assume I'm "loud and clear" on your end. You're coming through five-by-five. Over. [[So, that's... twenty-five?|informal]] | [[That's good, I'm guessing?|thats_good]]


:: not_nice The military doesn't pay me to hand out hugs. Although, think about how great it would be if they DID. I've been concentrating on my upper body lately. Got some pretty sweet biceps happening here. I'm probably like ninety-eighth percentile in hugging. They oughtta put me in charge of my own regiment of Care Bears. If we could weaponize adorability, I'd blow a rainbow hole through Jupiter. Over. [[Are we at war with Jupiter?|war_jupiter]] | [[Your Care Bear Stare is intense.|intense_stare]]


:: war_jupiter Nah. But it just seems so smug. Sitting there, all huge and bloated. A "gas giant." Just like my dad. Swirling, stinky vapor, with no real substance. Needs to be taken down a peg or two. (I may have some daddy issues that need resolving.) [[informal]]


:: informal <<set $informal = true>> Listen, you're clearly not military, so I'm gonna dispense with the formalities. Out here where the armpit of the galaxy meets the butt crack of the universe... ...I feel like it's okay if I don't "Roger" and "Over" every last thing I say. You good with that? Over. [[Roger.|roger]] | [[Ten-four, good buddy.|ten_four]]


:: StoryAuthor Dave Justus


:: mayday_call No. I want to be very clear, for the record. This is NOT a mayday call. [[mayday]]


:: loud_clear Glad to hear it. [[informal]]


:: thats_good Yeah. That's good. [[informal]]


:: ten_four Okay. You're not military... ...and you're DEFINITELY not Burt Reynolds with 400 cases of Coors on the line. So relax with the lingo, there, Bandit. [[Fine. So is this a mayday call?|mayday_call]] | [[Are you in trouble?|mayday_two]]


:: mayday This is just, uh, mild distress. Nothing we can't handle. <<if $informal is true>>I want that on the record. <<else>>I want that on the record. Over.<<endif>> [[What "record"?|what_record]] | [[Who are you, exactly?|whos_we]]


:: mayday_two No. I want to be very clear, for the record. This is NOT a mayday call. [[mayday]]


:: roger Great. "Humor." I hope you can see the little air quotes I'm making around that word. [[Yup. So is this a mayday call?|mayday_call]] | [[Are you in trouble?|mayday_two]]


:: what_record Yeah, see... that's the problem. Our black box -- you know, the voyage data recorder? The thing that's supposed to keep on working, even when the rest of the ship is a smoldering wreck? Yeah, the black box has stopped working. I know this because of a little flashing light on the instrument panel... ...which flashed for a couple days before it, too, stopped working. <<if $informal is true>>I feel like I'm cruising deep space in a '74 Ford Pinto. <<else>>I feel like I'm cruising deep space in a '74 Ford Pinto. Over.<<endif>> [[So, there IS no record.|no_record]] | [[Can you repair the ship?|repair_ship]]


:: no_record Not an official one, at any rate. And that's why I sent out this call. Now, listen... this isn't protocol. Far from it. But I sent out a call because "two-way transmit" seems to be the only mode that's functional... ...and a transcript of our conversation is gonna have to serve as my flight log. Which is unorthodox as hell, I know. <<if $informal is true>>But it's the only workaround we could come up with. <<else>>But it's the only workaround we could come up with. Over.<<endif>> [[Who's "we"?|whos_we]] | [[What if I hang up?|hang_up]]


:: hang_up If you hang up? Well... then I guess I'm screwed. I guess there'll be no flight log, and no record of our mission... ...and you and I will never have the chance to exchange our favorite recipes. Which would suck for you, because the things I can do with a packet of freeze-dried ice cream? <<if $informal is true>>Blow your mind. <<else>>Blow your mind. Over.<<endif>> [[Well, that WOULD be a shame.|big_shame]] | [[Who are you, exactly?|whos_we]]


:: whos_we We're a small detachment from the Ninth Battalion. Wing Commander Melanie Chior, Viridian actual. I've got my boys Cruciger and de Ley up here with me in this sardine can... <<if $informal is true>>...because I guess the Ninth figured they could get by without the three of us for a while. <<else>>...because I guess the Ninth figured they could get by without the three of us for a while. Over.<<endif>> [[What's your mission?|what_mission]] | [[Where are you, exactly?|where_exactly]]


:: big_shame I'm tellin' you. You'll only SORT OF want to puke in your mouth after you taste this. Which is a HUGE step up from how you'd usually feel after eating these rations. Anyhow. About us. [[whos_we]]


:: repair_ship There aren't exactly any Jiffy Lubes out here in the far reaches, you know? And, I mean, I'm pretty handy with a wrench -- I can change my oil or fix a flat -- but dual ion engines are a little outside my wheelhouse. Like, LIGHT YEARS outside. So the odds of getting some quick repairs done on the Viridian's black box... ...or any other part of her, really... are pretty freakin' low. And as it stands, there's no flight record. [[no_record]]


:: where_exactly <<if $informal is false>>[[informal_where]]>> <<else>>[[relax_where]]<<endif>>


:: what_mission <<if $informal is false>>[[informal_mission]]>> <<else>>[[relax_mission]]<<endif>>


:: informal_where Hey look, you're clearly not military... ...so from here forward, I'm gonna dispense with the formalities. Out here where the armpit of the galaxy meets the butt crack of the universe... ...I feel like it's okay if I don't "Roger" and "Over" every last thing I say. Now. You were asking where we were. [[relax_where]]


:: relax_where <<set $relaxwhere = true>> We're nearing a remote moon out in the Tau Ceti system. [[remote_moon]]


:: relax_mission <<set $relaxmission = true>> So, the mission... obviously I can't go into all the particulars. But here's enough to keep you interested: A mining vessel called the White Star intercepted a distress beacon from right out here... ...which, if this sector is "nowhere," then we're smack dab in the middle of it. Some kid named Taylor, sole survivor of a crashed ship... ...managed to stay alive for three days, somehow, out on this rock. <<if $relaxwhere is false>>[[Where is "this rock," exactly?|this_rock]] | [[Right, some nameless desert moon.|remote_moon]] <<else>>[[know_taylor]]<<endif>>


:: informal_mission Hey look, you're clearly not military... ...so from here forward, I'm gonna dispense with the formalities. Out here where the armpit of the galaxy meets the butt crack of the universe... ...I feel like it's okay if I don't "Roger" and "Over" every last thing I say. Now. You were asking about the mission. [[relax_mission]]


:: better_name <<set $jeff = true>> Yeah, I think you're right. I'm gonna call this moon "Jeff." From all readings and anecdotal reports, Jeff's atmosphere is hospitable. So we're gonna land on Jeff and then walk around a little. And if Jeff starts acting weird, we're gonna blow him up. <<if $relaxmission is false>>[[relax_mission]] <<else>>[[know_taylor]]<<endif>>


:: remote_moon This sector is so lightly trafficked, no one's bothered to come up with clever names... ...so the planets and stuff out here just get classified with jumbles of letters and numbers. This delightful hunk of desert is labeled 31U00W. Catchy, huh? [[Really rolls off the tongue.|rolls_off]] | [[Surely we can do better.|better_name]]


:: this_rock It's a remote moon, out in the Tau Ceti system. [[remote_moon]]


:: know_taylor Oh, yeah, there was some note that Taylor had been in contact with somebody back on Earth. I guess that's you, huh? Well, now you're in contact with ME. And you know what they say... the sequel is ALWAYS better than the original. [[Uh... sure.|sure_sequel]] | [[Nobody says that.|nobody_sequel]]


:: nearly_died Okay, yeah, you were in contact with this Taylor kid... ...maybe you can give us some insight into the report we got from the White Star. Their Captain, Shepherd, contacted the Ninth with this crazysauce story... ...about how this place was overrun with zombie astronauts and green-eyed rats... ...and a horde of "aliens," which, I'll be honest, we all had a good laugh about. [[Every bit of that is accurate.|accurate]] | [[Nothing to laugh about.|aliens]]


:: aliens Nope. Sorry. I'm not buying it. <<if $sequel is true>>Aliens is one of those sequels that's, if not better than, at least AS GOOD AS the original... ...but it's fiction. As are all aliens. <<else>>Aliens are fiction.<<endif>> Despite your most fervent hopes, E.T. was not a documentary... ...and it sure wasn't filmed out here on 31U00W... ...which appears to be as desolate and devoid of life as a Mac And Me fan club. [[The aliens are real!|accurate]] | [[Don't believe me. Suit yourself.|suit_yourself]]


:: suit_yourself I WILL suit myself. I'll suit myself right up. Balty and the Ghost -- sorry, that's corporals Balthazar de Ley and Caspar Cruciger, respectively -- are already in their IEVA suits. Instruments indicate that the atmosphere is breathable here... ...but better safe than sorry, right? Gimme a minute to get dressed, I'll be back in touch. [[delay 5m|excursion]]


:: rolls_off If our space program's good for anything, it's poetry. My favorite kids' book is the one with the little bunny rabbit... ...who says, "Goodnight room. Goodnight 31U00W. Goodnight cow jumping over 31U00W." Really takes me back to my childhood. My terrible, terrible childhood. <<if $relaxmission is false>>[[relax_mission]] <<else>>[[know_taylor]]<<endif>>


:: sure_sequel Wow. You really know how to boost a gal's self-esteem. They say sarcasm doesn't work in print... <<if $lastone is true>>...but I'm reading yours loud and clear. Five by five. <<else>>...but I'm reading yours loud and clear.<<endif>> [[landing]]


:: nobody_sequel <<set $sequel = true>> Uh, The Empire Strikes Back. Uh, The Godfather Part II. Uh... the... that one with... Huh. Birdemic 2: The Resurrection? [[landing]]


:: away_peak Wait... why? Do you know something about this place? [[That's where it all went wrong.|went_wrong]] | [[Taylor nearly died there.|nearly_died]]


:: went_wrong O... kay. You care to elaborate on that any? Because I can tell you what WE heard... <<if $sequel is true>>...but I might as well recount the plot of Birdemic 2, for all the sense this makes. <<else>>...but I might as well tell you a damn fairy tale, for all the sense this makes.<<endif>> The White Star's captain, Shepherd, contacted the Ninth with this crazysauce story... ...about how this place was overrun with zombie astronauts and green-eyed rats... ...and a horde of "aliens," which, I'll be honest, we all had a good laugh about. [[Every bit of that is accurate.|accurate]] | [[Nothing to laugh about.|aliens]]


:: accurate Come on. Even if I bought that -- which I obviously DON'T -- how do you explain the fact that there aren't any bio-readings in a fifty-click radius? If this moon -- and this weird peak, especially -- are meant to be crawling with alien life... ...how is it that me and my boys here are the only three things with a heat signature? [[I... don't know.|dont_know]] | [[Maybe the aliens are cold-blooded.|cold_blood]]


:: cold_blood Maybe. Or -- if you'll allow me to shave down the problem with Occam's razor, here -- maybe THERE ARE NO ALIENS. Hot-blooded, cold-blooded, or otherwise. <<if $drillers is true>>[[suit_time]] <<else>>[[Then why are you there?|why_there]] | [[Whatever. Suit yourself.|suit_yourself]]<<endif>>


:: landing Listen, I've gotta initiate landing procedures... <<if $jeff is true>>...get the Viridian all settled down on the surface of Jeff. <<else>>...get the Viridian all settled down on 31U00W's surface. (Gets more poetic every time I say it.)<<endif>> I'll message you back once we've touched down and done an atmospheric scan. Viridian actual, over and out. [[delay 15m|landed]]


:: landed This... is... ...EERIE. We plunked the ship down on the biggest piece of flat ground we could find. Which you wouldn't think would be so difficult, on a moon made of freakin' DESERTS... ...but there are these huge cracks and fissures running everywhere. Like there was some sort of massive seismic activity or plate shift. (I don't know if moons even HAVE tectonic plates.) It's crazy, though... it's like all the cracks radiate out... ...from this sort of collapsed peak. [[Stay away from that peak!|away_peak]] | [[Explore the peak.|explore_peak]]


:: dont_know <<set $coadvice = true>> Yeah. Sounds like you don't. My C.O. once gave me some advice that's served me pretty well ever since. He said, when it comes to trust, it goes: Your own five senses, then your instruments, then the military intel... ...and last and least, the five senses of the next guy. And, again, I'm not trying to sound like a jerk... ...but when you're telling me about aliens and zombie rats, you're "the next guy." [[Whatever. Suit yourself.|suit_yourself]] | [[You'll regret not listening.|regret_it]]


:: why_there <<set $drillers = true>> We're here because the Ninth is beholden to the drillers, now, aren't we? Sorry to burst your bubble, but this space armada wasn't created to fight aliens... ...we're here for the much more pedestrian reason of enforcing corporate interests. I know "mineral rights" isn't a very swashbuckling reason for space skirmishes... ...but sometimes reality intrudes on your science fiction. [[suit_time]]


:: regret_it Woof. You just morphed from "the next guy" into "my dad." Next you'll tell me you're gonna dock my allowance if I don't believe in UFOs. Well, sorry, pops. To paraphrase what I told you just before you kicked me out of the house... ...I'm not the kinda girl who'll meet a nice (little green) man and settle down. [[suit_time]]


:: excursion All right. Let's go put some footprints in the sand. The peak is due west-southwest of where we landed. Looks like we'll have a pretty easy stroll there, sticking to the edges of this little canyon... ...and doing our best not to step on the cracks and break our mommas' backs. As always, Ghost is a few paces ahead... except... [[What is it?|what_ghost]] | [[Is something wrong?|wrong_ghost]]


:: wrong_ghost Not totally sure. [[what_ghost]]


:: explore_peak Yeah, that's what we were planning to do. But... thanks for the suggestion, I guess. The Viridian's old black box was never much of an active participant in our adventures. (Although "adventures" is a pretty strong word for what we do.) ("Slogs" would be a lot more accurate.) [[How do you mean?|how_mean]] | [[You're space marines. That's awesome!|space_marines]]


:: how_mean <<set $drillers = true>> I mean, we're here because the Ninth is beholden to the drillers, now, aren't we? Sorry to burst your bubble, but this space armada wasn't created to fight aliens -- mostly because there's no such thing as aliens, obviously -- we're here for the much more pedestrian reason of enforcing corporate interests. I know "mineral rights" isn't a very swashbuckling reason for space skirmishes... ...but sometimes reality intrudes on your science fiction. [[Aliens are real!|aliens_real]] | [[Taylor saw aliens on that moon!|nearly_died]]


:: aliens_real Yeah... here's the thing. You're a disembodied voice on the other end of a communicator. And, don't get me wrong, you seem very pleasant... ...but for all I know, you're wearing a tinfoil hat right now... ...and banging your Mulder and Scully action figures together to make them kiss. So I'm gonna go with the official party line here, rather than taking your word for it. No aliens. End of story. [[There were aliens at the peak.|nearly_died]] | [[Whatever. Suit yourself.|suit_yourself]]


:: suit_time Anyway. Time to get suited up. Balty and the Ghost -- sorry, that's corporals Balthazar de Ley and Caspar Cruciger, respectively -- are already in their IEVA suits. Instruments indicate that the atmosphere is breathable here... ...but better safe than sorry, right? Gimme a minute to get dressed, I'll be back in touch. [[delay 5m|excursion]]


:: what_ghost He's checking his gauntlet an awful lot. I wonder what the -- Oh, hey, never mind. I think I just figured it out. My compass is going nuts. It's all over the place. I'm walking in a straight line, with that peak centered in my field of vision... ...and the compass says I'm going in circles. No, wait... figure-eights. Fantastic. [[That happened to Taylor, too.|taylor_compass]] | [[Just trust your eyes.|trust_eyes]]


:: space_marines That's true. We're space marines. But if any part of that sounds cool and fun to you... ...maybe think about the desolation and hard work inherent in the words "space" and "marine." [[how_mean]]


:: taylor_compass Look, given the rest of the gibberish your Taylor was apparently spouting... ...I don't know what to believe anymore. Damn. Now my clock is starting to act up, too. Are we sure there's not just a gas leak somewhere on this moon? [[The peak has weird properties.|weird_peak]] | [[Keep marching forward.|march_on]]


:: trust_eyes <<if $coadvice is true>>Solid advice. Let's hear it for my own five senses. <<else>><<set $coadvice = true>> Solid notion. My C.O. once gave me some advice that's served me pretty well ever since. He said, when it comes to trust, it goes: Your own five senses, then your instruments, then the military intel... ...and last and least, the five senses of the next guy.<<endif>> Of course, in this case, "the next guys" are Balty and the Ghost... ...and I'd trust them to the ends of the Earth. Or the ends of 31U00W, in this case. So let's stay close, let's be cautious... ...and let's requisition new compasses when we get back to the Ninth. [[Taylor's compass broke, too.|taylor_compass]] | [[The peak has weird properties.|weird_peak]]


:: get_advice <<set $coadvice = true>> Solid notion. My C.O. once gave me some advice that's served me pretty well ever since. He said, when it comes to trust, it goes: Your own five senses, then your instruments, then the military intel... ...and last and least, the five senses of the next guy.


:: roll_over I'm just gonna -- nnnghh -- roll over on my side... ...try to... reposition a little bit... take some pressure off the leg... RRGHHGHH! Oh. Man. Oh. Man. That was a whole world of pain. A whole MOON of pain, I guess. But I think this is a better... position... for... Holy crap. [[What?|holy_crap_one]] | [[Did you hurt yourself more?|hurt_more]]


:: hurt_more No. I mean, yes, but that's not what I was holy crapping about. [[holy_crap_one]]


:: march_on I'm a marine. "Forward" is the only direction I know how to go. (It makes parallel parking a real bitch.) All right. Onward to the peak. Ignoring all the stupid readings on my stupid gauntl-- Uh... Hold on... [[delay 1m|seismic]]


:: weird_peak What does that mean, "weird properties?" It's not like this is some kinda Space Hogwarts or somethin'. That peak is a pile of rock in a desert of rock on a moon of rock. And I don't know if you're aware of this... ...but, left to their own devices, rocks don't tend to DO much. There's not -- Uh... Hold on... [[delay 1m|seismic]]


:: call_guys It's just static tone on their end. I'm gonna presume instrument failure, and nothing more dramatic than that. They're fine. Those guys. They're always fine. They'll be along soon. [[roll_over]]


:: take_easy There's literally no other way I could possibly take it at the moment. [[roll_over]]


:: holy_crap_one Turned on my side like this, I can see... ...there's a new crack in the moon's surface. Maybe not quite ten meters away. And it's... this doesn't make any sense... ...but it's GLOWING. [[Let me guess... glowing green?|green_crack]] | [[You HAVE to get away.|away_crack]]


:: away_crack You don't understand, friend. There IS no "get away" for me at the moment. There's "lie there," and there's "lie there some more." Why are you so worked up about a glowing fissure? I mean, granted, it's WEIRD, but... [[The aliens glow green!|alien_green]] | [[They'll come for you!|aliens_coming]]


:: aliens_coming Oh, hey, I bet they WON'T... ...because like I said before, there's no other life out here. <<if $brokenleg is true>>I may be incapacitated, alone -- hell, I'll even cop to "uneasy" out here -- <<else>>I may be uneasy, unprepared, and suddenly a man down --<<endif>> but I am clearheaded on one point: There is NO SUCH THING as ali-- [[aliens_are_real]]


:: seismic Guys? You getting these readings? I don't -- With the compass all wackadoo, and my clock on the fritz too now... ...I'm not sure how seriously to take this. But, uh... ...the P-wave detector on the Viridian just pinged me. [[Which means what?|p_wave]] | [[What is a P-wave?|what_p_wave]]


:: green_crack Yeah. How would you know that? ...Wait. There was... there was something about "glowing green" in that report. That crazy-ass story from the White Star. Rats with glowing green eyes? [[Rats infected with aliens.|rats_infected]] | [[The aliens glow green.|alien_green]]


:: where_others I gotta assume Balty and Ghost made it to the peak okay. No idea how long I've been out -- these readings are clearly worthless. But I imagine they'll come back for me as soon as they can. Pick through all the debris from the rockslide, find me half-buried out here... ...get me hauled back to the Viridian and patch this leg until we can rejoin the Ninth. Don't worry, I won't be down for long. I can -- urrgh! -- I can feel the healing beginning already. [[Just take it easy.|take_easy]] | [[Can you call the guys?|call_guys]]


:: thanks_shock No problem. Least I could do. [[where_others]]


:: aliens_are_real Um. There are... coming out of the glowing crack... ...there are these... these... ...something is wrong with my eyes, or my brain, or, or... ...because these things look like... ...I mean, they ARE, they MUST BE... [[Aliens.|aliens_now]] | [[Told you.|aliens_told]]


:: aliens_told Yeah! Yes! What a helpful thing for you to say right now! [[aliens_now]]


:: what_p_wave It's, uh... the "primary" wave. The first thing a seismometer -- like the one on board the Viridian, that deploys anytime we land planetside -- it's the first wave that instrument detects. Who knows if it's even accurate, at this point? But if it is, it means we're on the verge o-- oh no oh hell EARTHQUAKE! [[Run!|run_quake]] | [[Hunker down!|hunker_quake]]


:: p_wave Anytime the ship touches down planetside, it automatically deploys a seismometer. I've never once seen it go into active mode... ...but all of a sudden, it's messaging me that it's got P-wave -- "primary" wave -- readings. I don't know how worried to be -- who knows if it's even accurate, at this point? But if it is, it means we're on the verge o-- oh no oh hell EARTHQUAKE! [[Run!|run_quake]] | [[Hunker down!|hunker_quake]]


:: rats_infected All right. Just STOP IT already. First of all... why would there be rats out here? Doesn't make sense. Don't know what you've heard... ...but they disproved that whole "moon is made of green cheese" thing a couple years back. Second, we didn't pick up any rats -- or anything else -- when we did thermal scans. And third -- and most important -- like I keep saying... ...there is NO SUCH THING as ali-- [[aliens_are_real]]


:: alien_green All right. Just STOP IT already. We've been over this. We did thermal scans. There are no other lifeforms out here. And even if there were -- which there AREN'T -- they wouldn't be aliens. And you know how I know that? Because, for the last freakin' time, there is NO SUCH THING as ali-- [[aliens_are_real]]


:: aliens_now Oh. God. Aliens. Aliens are real. Aliens are real, and they're crawling out of a glowing crack in the moon... ...and they're coming toward me, and there are... ...oh, God, there are dozens of them. No. Hundreds. <<if $baltydown is true>>I thought... I thought maybe I'd be able to see Balty, with the glow... ...but before I could even look down, these things were swarming up. It's... weird. My mind tells me I should run, or I should draw my rifle and fire... ...but there's something stronger, telling me to just stand here. Just watch. And I... <<else>>And I...<<endif>> ...I can't move. [[You have to!|gotta_move]] | [[Don't let them reach you!|gotta_move_two]]


:: return_ship Hey, that's a good joke. You know any others? I'm not getting back to the Viridian, or anywhere else, without some serious help. Just looked down and saw bone sticking through my spacesuit. Tibia? Fibula? One of 'em. I'm clearly in shock, because I'm numb all over... ...and I'm not screaming down this connection to you. [[Well, thanks for that.|thanks_shock]] | [[Where are your men?|where_others]]


:: injured_peak Hey, that's a good joke. You know any others? I'm not getting to that peak, or anywhere else, without some serious help. Just looked down and saw bone sticking through my spacesuit. Tibia? Fibula? One of 'em. I'm clearly in shock, because I'm numb all over... ...and I'm not screaming down this connection to you. [[Well, thanks for that.|thanks_shock]] | [[Where are your men?|where_others]]


:: run_quake Okay. Okay. Think fast, think clear. There's less valley ahead of us than behind... ...but that peak is an unknown, whereas the Viridian is home sweet home. What the hell direction do we go? [[Run for the peak!|run_peak]] | [[Run back to the ship!|run_ship]]


:: hunker_quake What do you mean, "hunker down?" We're inside a canyon! There are rock walls to either side, coated in scree! If we stop here, we're likely to be buried in a rockslide. We've got to run! [[Fine, then! Run!|run_quake]] | [[No, just stay there!|stay_canyon]]


:: stay_canyon Maybe I'm not describing this well. We're at the vaguely flat bottom of a "V" right now... ...and the walls of the "V" are coated in loose rocks... ...and those rocks are already starting to shake loose! And I'm not sure how gravity works where YOU are... ...but here, rocks fall DOWN. And me and my boys are down. So I'm ordering them the hell out of here before we get buried. There's less valley ahead of us than behind, so... Balty! Ghost! Get to that peak! Cover your necks and run like h-- [[delay 15m|awake_again]]


:: awake_again <<set $brokenleg = true>> wh wh'ppened Oh. Oh, man. My EVERYTHING hurts. I think I broke it. Looks like... faceplate on my helmet got shattered by a rock. Good thing I don't need it for breathing, huh? Heh... speaking of breathing... there's like a gurgly, liquidy sound when I do it. That can't be good, huh? [[Get back to your ship.|return_ship]] | [[Keep going to the peak.|injured_peak]]


:: gotta_move_two I couldn't stop them if my life depended on it. Which... I'm guessing... it probably does. [[gotta_move]]


:: gotta_move Oh. Man. I haven't been scared of anything since I was a girl. I was a daredevil on my bike. A risk-taker at school. Even when my dad kicked me out... I wasn't afraid. I knew I could get by. Joined up with the Ninth the first day they'd take me. Never so much as sniffled during boot camp, while guys twice my size were sobbing. I haven't been scared for so long... ...I almost didn't recognize it when it crept back up on me. But that's what this is. This is scared. This is helpless, and confused, and alone... ...and scared. [[I'm so sorry.|sorry_scared]] | [[Try to stay strong.|strong_scared]]


:: scared I haven't been scared of anything since I was a girl. I was a daredevil on my bike. A risk-taker at school. Even when my dad kicked me out... I wasn't afraid. I knew I could get by. Joined up with the Ninth the first day they'd take me. Never so much as sniffled during boot camp, while guys twice my size were sobbing. I haven't been scared for so long... ...I almost didn't recognize it when it crept back up on me. But that's what this is. This is scared. This is helpless, and confused, and alone... ...and scared.


:: strong_scared I'm trying. I promise, I am. Closed my eyes. Counted to ten. But when I opened them again... the creatures were still there. Ten counts closer. [[alien_potatoes]]


:: sorry_scared I... weirdly, I appreciate that. It's a lot more sympathy than I ever got from the old black box. Heh. [[alien_potatoes]]


:: run_peak Yeah, I'm with you. The fastest way out of this canyon is the best plan. Balty! Ghost! Get to that peak! NOW! I don't -- crap, my communicator's not even working anymore! Doesn't matter. They got the idea from my hand signals. They're on the move. Ghost is already way out ahead of us, as usual. I better shut my mouth and beat feet to that peak, try and catch up to them. [[delay 5m|arrive_peak]]


:: run_ship Right. Right. Good plan. The Viridian can weather whatever this stupid moon throws at it. We just have to get back inside the ship before that throwing commences. Balty! Ghost! Get back to the ship! NOW! [[delay 1m|ship_dash]]


:: ship_dash I can... feel the tremors getting stronger. Wait, why the HELL am I running alone? Where are the guys? The... the damn comm channel is dead! Did they not get my order? I don't see them anywhere. Maybe they kept going for the peak. [[Go after them.|go_after]] | [[Keep going to the Viridian.|go_ship]]


:: scan_ship Yeah. Yes. Okay. I'm not abandoning them. I'm gathering intel so I can aid them more effectively. This is a good plan. I'll just keep telling myself that... ...even as the quaking's getting worse, and the rocks are pelting me pretty bad... ...and the walls of this canyon look like they're gon-- [[delay 15m|awake_again]]


:: alien_potatoes They're so... so strange looking. So... ALIEN. I guess that's why they call 'em that. Little bioluminescent, like, LUMPS, just sort of propelling themselves along... ...with little tendrils or something that kind of unfurl and then pull their bodies. It's... almost hypnotic. This strange, undulating motion of the mass of them... ...coming toward me like the tide rolling in. It's... interesting, isn't it? The longer I stare at them, the calmer I feel. [[They're hypnotizing you.|hyponosis]] | [[Keep them out of your mouth.|no_mouth]]


:: no_mouth What? What a weird thing to say. You're being weird. I wish you were here. I wish you could feel how calm they're making me. You wouldn't be worried. You wouldn't be weird. [[final_thoughts]]


:: run_peak_two Up ahead... I see somebody! It's... it's Balty! Standing there, helmet under his arm, sweat pouring down his face. He's pointing at... yeah... Ghost is most of the way to the peak already. Way out in front of us. As usual. Only, here's the problem. There's a big ol' crack in the moon's surface between him and us. He must've jumped it when it was smaller... ...'cause I can actually see it expanding with my own two eyes, right in front of us. It cuts across the whole canyon. We'd have to completely double back to avoid it. I think I can cover the jump, no problem, even with the IEVA suit's bulk. [[Jump it.|jump_crack]] | [[Don't risk it.|dont_jump]]


:: go_after I must be INSANE for turning around at this point... ...but you never leave a man behind. Okay. Back to the peak. Can't talk now. Gotta haul it. [[delay 3m|run_peak_two]]


:: go_ship All right, all right, hang on. Just give me a second to think. Maybe they took a different route? I don't see how, but... ...or maybe their path got blocked. Maybe they got hit by falling rocks. Dammit! I can scan for them from the Viridian... ...but if they're trapped, or in trouble, I could lose valuable time by not going back now. [[Go back for them.|go_after]] | [[Scan from the ship.|scan_ship]]


:: game_over [Insert email signup, legalese, ads for other Lifeline games, etc. here]


:: hyponosis Sure. That makes sense. Why not? The aliens have hypnosis powers. Okay. If all they do is make us cluck like chickens when they snap their fingers... ...maybe their invasion force won't be so bad, after all. [[final_thoughts]]


:: final_thoughts This is fine. This almost feels... nice? <<if $brokenleg is true>>My leg doesn't hurt anymore. Nothing hurts. Hey, one of them has reached my helmet. Sorry about the broken faceplate, little alien! Don't cut yourself! The little alien wants to be inside my helmet with me. How adorable is that? <<else>>I'm gonna... I'm gonna get down on my hands and knees... ...so I can get a better look at these things. They're so ugly, it almost comes back around and becomes cute again. Hey, this one is coming right up to me. How adorable is that?<<endif>> It's tapping on my mouth. So cute! So patient! What do you need, little alien? You want me to smile? Okay, sure. I'll sm [[green_death]]


:: arrive_peak Okay. We're here, at the peak. The tremors seem to have stopped. I mean, there's always the worry of aftershocks... ...but for the time being, things seem... ...I hesitate to use the word "normal." But at least we're exploring a weird mountain, based on a ridiculous report... ...on a dead moon that ISN'T currently experiencing earthquakes. So. That's a plus. [[Explore the outside of the peak.|outside_peak]] | [[Go inside the peak.|inside_peak]]


:: jump_crack All right. Running start, and... ...WHUFFF! Made it! Balty cleared it, too. And just in time... ...it's like the moon just sighed and shrugged, and the crack grew another few centimeters. Let's beat feet to that peak, try and catch up with Ghost. [[delay 5m|arrive_peak]]


:: dont_jump <<set $helmetoff = true>> Yeah, look, I know it's chancy, but I don't know how long the moon's gonna keep shaking... ...and I'd really rather get a move on. I'd love to be able to get an accurate measure on the gap... ...but my instruments are useless. So I'm taking off my helmet, with all its worthless mapping HUDs... ...and I'm just trusting my eyes. And my eyes are telling me, I either jump now, or I lose my chance. [[Okay, jump!|jump_crack]] | [[Don't do it.|no_jump]]


:: no_jump <<set $baltydown = true>> Fine. FINE. Maybe you're right. Come on, Balty, we'd better find anoth-- So... ...Balty just jumped for it. CRAP! He didn't clear it! He's scrambling at the other side! His helmet went skittering and he-- OH GOD I just lost him! He dropped into the crack! [[How deep is it?|how_deep_one]] | [[Can you reach him?|reach_him]]


:: green_host [incoming communication] [priority clearance -- EYES ONLY] [clearance override] <green>This is Viridian actual.</green> <green>Had a... spot of trouble back there. Nothing we couldn't handle.</green> <green>Injuries were sustained but... things are looking better already.</green> <green>Mission update: Do not -- repeat, DO NOT authorize nuke drop on 31U00W.</green> <green>No activity to report on that moon. Viridian crew were the only ones there.</green> <green>No rats. No zombies. And definitely no aliens.</green> <green>Every word of this "Taylor's" report was a hoax.</green> <green>Myself, along with corporals de Ley and Cruciger, are prepping for liftoff.</green> <green>Plotting new coordinates. Updating mission log.</green> <green>We are now on an intercept course with the mining vessel White Star.</green> <green>No big deal... we'd just like to see this Taylor...</green> <green>...with our own eyes.</green> <green>This is Viridian actual.</green> <green>Over and out.</green> [connection terminated] [[gameover]]


:: green_death [ieva suit sensors indicate severe tachycardia] [ischemia detected] [myocardial infarction detected] [biosign data unusable] [[delay 5m|green_host]]


:: inside_peak <<set $doorstory = true>> What do you mean, "inside" it? Is there a cave, or something? [[There's a door.|find_door]] | [[There's a whole room inside.|whole_room]]


:: outside_peak I'm gonna. We are, after all, on a recon mission. And "recon" is short for "reconnaissance." So exploring the place we were sent to explore? That definitely counts as "recon." I don't know where Ghost disappeared to, but me and Balty, that's two people... ...and there are only two directions to walk around this thing. So the math works out. Which way should I send him? [[Clockwise.|balty_clock]] | [[Counter.|balty_counter]]


:: how_deep_one It's... I don't know! [[how_deep]]


:: how_deep It's like it was almost, like, hollow underneath the moon's surface. Like it cracked and there was just a cavern or something below it. It's dark. I can't see him at all. How can it even be this deep? [[Go down there after him.|go_down]] | [[Lower a rope or something.|lower_rope]]


:: reach_him I can't! I can't even SEE him! [[how_deep]]


:: whole_room Look. I know that you got all of this info from Taylor. But you understand that it sounds like total nonsense, right? Like a kid playing "Bridge to Terabithia" or something... ...making up stories about secret rooms inside of mountains... ...and magical rats that, what, escaped from NIMH? I think your pal Taylor went a little loopy out here on the moon. [[I don't know. Maybe.|maybe_loopy]] | [[You'll see for yourself.|see_yourself]]


:: find_door It's a mountain. Mountains don't have "doors." We'll stay on the lookout for a cave entrance or something... ...if Ghost found that, I guarantee he went inside. He's like a child sometimes. Come on, Balty. Let's go find our missing kid... ...before he starts showing up on 31U00W milk cartons. [[delay 6m|found_entrance]]


:: balty_counter Great! You really know how to make the tough calls under pressure. I'll get going clockwise. Balty, you go the opposite direction, and we'll meet up. [[peak_walk]]


:: balty_clock Great! You really know how to make the tough calls under pressure. I'll get going counterclockwise. Balty, you go the opposite direction, and we'll meet up. [[peak_walk]]


:: go_down Dammit. Yeah. I guess I have to. Only... Ghost has all the rappelling cables in his pack. There are more back at the ship, but... ...I can't just leave Balty down there. I can't just... Huh. What the hell is going on? [[You tell me.|tell_me]] | [[Something with Balty?|balty_thing]]


:: lower_rope Yeah, okay, sure... except that Ghost has all the rappelling cables in his pack. There are more back at the ship, but... ...I can't just leave Balty down there. I can't just... Huh. What the hell is going on? [[You tell me.|tell_me]] | [[Something with Balty?|balty_thing]]


:: ignore_colby I don't think this Colby is the sort of person who can just be ignored. And besides... I want to hear what she has to say. I want it more than I've ever wanted anything. [[colby_speech]]


:: resist_her I can hear your words. But they don't mean anything. Anything at all. She's leaning in. I think... I think she's going to kiss me. There's something green in her mouth... ...reaching out... ...aching for me... ...and I [[green_death]]


:: maybe_loopy It happens. Space does strange things to people. Marines go through rigorous training to handle the pressures... ...and still, every once in a while, someone cracks. This Taylor was just a student, with, I'm guessing, the most rudimentary prep possible. No one should be surprised that it didn't work out so well. Anyway. I'm gonna go look for that cave. Give me a few minutes. [[delay 6m|found_entrance]]


:: see_yourself Sure. You sound very confident. But between you and me, only ONE of us has actually been to -- and is currently in -- space. And I know... space can mess with your mind. [[maybe_loopy]]


:: balty_thing Uh... I don't know. Kind of? That crack, where he fell? It was all pitch black, you know... [[glow_crack]]


:: tell_me It'd be a lot easier to do that... ...if I had the first clue what I was seeing right now. The, uh, the crack, where Balty fell? It was all pitch black, you know... [[glow_crack]]


:: colby_speech <green>Melanie Chior.</green> <green>Your companion here has told us so much about you already.</green> <green>Look at you there. So strong. So robust.</green> <green>The tears you've just wept from fear, the ones that still glister on your cheeks...</green> <green>...are the last you will ever need shed.</green> <green>Apologies for the injuries to your arm. They were necessary to prevent you harming us...</green> <green>...but they will be healed posthaste, as if they never occurred.</green> <green>This body I'm in currently, this "Colby," was a suitable short-term host...</green> <green>...but you, Melanie?</green> <green>You will be my new home.</green> <green>More than a home. A PALACE.</green> <green>Only fitting... for a queen.</green> [[Resist her!|resist_her]] | [[She's going to infect you!|infect_you]]


:: peak_walk If you run into Ghost, try and make him heel long enough for all three of us to chat, huh? Comms are down, so stay frosty, don't do anything that might require assistance... ...and fire off a flare if you have to signal me. But ONLY as a last resort. Not just to show me a rock that kinda looks like Vin Diesel. (I mean, they ALL do, honestly.) Okay, Balty. See you on the other side. ...Of the peak. [[delay 3m|wall_writing]]


:: wall_writing Huh. That's weird. There's writing on the wall of this peak. Looks like... Chinese, I think. Taylor wrote this? [[No. Taylor FOUND that.|found_writing]] | [[Can you read it?|read_writing]]


:: hall_finale Hey, there he is! There's the Ghost! His eyes are glowing green, too! He looks so calm. So at peace. I'm ready to be that peaceful. The others, I don't recognize them. They look a little worse for the wear. In the glow of their eyes, I can just barely make out the name patches on their suits. Antoine. Trotter. Adair. And then the one named Colby. She's leaning in close, to talk to me. Those eyes. She's beautiful. [[You have to ignore her!|ignore_colby]] | [[You've got to escape!|escape_hall]]


:: escape_hall No. No. I've spent my whole life escaping. I finally get it: All that time, this is where I was escaping TO. Everything else was the means. This is the ends. [[colby_speech]]


:: infect_you I know. I know. But that's okay. Her eyes are telling me, that's okay. That's why I came here. That's my whole purpose. She's leaning in. I think... I think she's going to kiss me. There's something green in her mouth... ...reaching out... ...aching for me... ...and I [[green_death]]


:: glow_crack ...but suddenly there's this, uh... this is so weird... ...it's like there's a GLOW coming from down there. [[Let me guess... a GREEN glow?|green_crack]] | [[You need to get out of there.|leave_balty]]


:: found_entrance So, uh... ...there's a door. <<if $doorstory is true>>The good news is, I won't starve to death out here... ...because I can eat crow, huh? <<else>>If you knew about this, I sorta wish you'd said something... ...although I know I wouldn't have believed you, so never mind.<<endif>> It's perfectly sized for humans, which is... pretty unsettling. Who would've built this? And WHY? There are fresh bootprints leading up to it -- Ghost went in here. <<if $doorstory is true>>I'm gonna send Balty the rest of the way around the perimeter... ...and then have him join us inside the peak, bringing up the rear. <<else>>I only see one set of prints, so I don't guess Balty's made it here yet... ...or else he FLOATED his way inside. Which, honestly, wouldn't be any weirder than the fact that there's a door here.<<endif>> Okay. This is crazy, but... ...I'm walking through the door, into the mountain. [[Stay alert.|stay_alert]] | [[Bad stuff happened in here.|bad_stuff]]


:: leave_balty Heard and ignored. I've got a man trapped down there. I'm not going anywhere until I get this solved. [[But that glow is the aliens!|alien_green]] | [[They'll come for you!|aliens_coming]]


:: found_writing So you're saying... what? China's already been here? On some sort of fact-finding, graffiti-writing mission? What is it about this moon that would make anyone care enough to stop here... ...much less stick around long enough to carve their name into the wall? I was ready to leave the second we got here. [[delay 2m|found_entrance]]


:: read_writing I'm afraid not. Ghost knows enough to get by in about half a dozen languages... I think this is one of 'em. I wonder if he saw this already? Eh. Won't know until I find him. [[delay 2m|found_entrance]]


:: hypnosis_hall Sure. That makes sense. Why not? The alien zombies have hypnosis powers. Okay. If all they do is make us cluck like chickens when they snap their fingers... ...maybe their invasion force won't be so bad, after all. [[hall_finale]]


:: resist_hall No. There's no reason to resist. This is what's supposed to happen. I wish you were here. I wish you could feel how calm they're making me. You wouldn't be worried. You wouldn't want me to resist. [[hall_finale]]


:: stay_alert I've never BEEN more alert. [[bad_stuff]]


:: bad_stuff You know, I blew off most of that report that came in from the White Star. I took this mission because it came with a field promotion and flight time. I didn't expect to actually find ANYTHING down here. But the more I find... ...the more I feel like I should've paid attention to the detai-- WHOA! What the hell is--? GET OFF! [[What happened?|happened_now]] | [[Are you all right?|all_right_now]]


:: all_right_now ...Yeah. I'm okay. Just startled. And I don't startle easily. [[happened_now]]


:: strong_scared_hall I'm trying to stay strong. I promise, I am. Close my eyes. Count to ten. But when I open them again... the zombies are still here. Their green eyes are the only light in the blackness. It's... it's weird. The longer I look at those eyes... the calmer I feel. Like there's a purpose to all this. Like I came to this mountain for a reason. [[They're hypnotizing you!|hypnosis_hall]] | [[You have to resist.|resist_hall]]


:: sorry_scared_hall I... weirdly, I appreciate that. It's a lot more sympathy than I ever got from the old black box. Heh. [[strong_scared_hall]]


:: happened_now There was this, like, scrambling noise from out of nowhere... ...and then I saw these little glowing green dots in the dark... ...and suddenly there were these, these THINGS running toward me, and then onto me. [[Taylor's rats.|the_rats]] | [[Are they still there?|still_rats]]


:: still_rats No. They're... they're fast and they're tiny. I think I've already lost 'em. Huh. The famous green-eyed rats. From the report. And I figured it was fiction. Should I go after them? Try to shoot them? [[No. Keep moving forward.|keep_forward]] | [[Sure. Hunt them down.|hunt_rats]]


:: what_that [[mel_okay]]


:: get_out_hall Yeah, that was... my first plan, too. But I'm bein'... pinned down. Can't move. Where the hell are Ghost and Balty? I'm... Oh, God. I'm scared. I haven't been scared of anything since I was a girl. I was a daredevil on my bike. A risk-taker at school. Even when my dad kicked me out... I wasn't afraid. I knew I could get by. Joined up with the Ninth the first day they'd take me. Never so much as sniffled during boot camp, while guys twice my size were sobbing. I haven't been scared for so long... ...I almost didn't recognize it when it crept back up on me. But that's what this is. This is scared. This is helpless, and confused, and alone... ...and scared. [[I'm so sorry.|sorry_scared_hall]] | [[Try to stay strong.|strong_scared_hall]]


:: zombies Rats. And now zombies. God. The report was right. Does that mean aliens are real, too? The aliens are inside the rats and the zombies? I've got a broken wrist AND my entire worldview is shattered? Today SUCKS. I... I need to get out of here. But I'm bein'... pinned down. Can't move. Where the hell are Ghost and Balty? I'm... Oh, God. I'm scared. I haven't been scared of anything since I was a girl. I was a daredevil on my bike. A risk-taker at school. Even when my dad kicked me out... I wasn't afraid. I knew I could get by. Joined up with the Ninth the first day they'd take me. Never so much as sniffled during boot camp, while guys twice my size were sobbing. I haven't been scared for so long... ...I almost didn't recognize it when it crept back up on me. But that's what this is. This is scared. This is helpless, and confused, and alone... ...and scared. [[I'm so sorry.|sorry_scared_hall]] | [[Try to stay strong.|strong_scared_hall]]


:: the_rats The, uh, the famous green-eyed rats. God. Those were in the report. And I figured it was fiction. Should I go after them? Try to shoot them? I... they're fast and they're tiny. I think I've already lost 'em. [[No. Keep moving forward.|keep_forward]] | [[Sure. Hunt them down.|hunt_rats]]


:: hunt_rats I don't understand what they're even doing out here... ...much less why they look like that. If I can contain one of 'em, I'll take it back to the Ninth, have them dissect it. But I figure, I only need one. It's open season on the others. [[trillion_midnights]]


:: what_moved Not sure. Freakin' light won't cooperate. But it was... [[it_moved]]


:: it_moved ...right up against the rock wall, and then it, like... ...peeled away. Moved toward me. Come on, light! I need you right now! Work, you stupid son of a-- HRRRNNNGGHHH [[Mel? What happened?|mel_okay]] | [[What was that?|what_that]]


:: mel_okay NNnnfff Good news... flashlight on the gun is working again. Bad news... it's on the ground, a few meters away. Something just lurched up... wrenched it out of my hands. I think... ...I think -- might've broken my wrist. [[What attacked you?|what_attack]] | [[Get out of there!|get_out_hall]]


:: what_attack Not totally certain. Seemed... human. Or, sort of human. Moved like a human. A strong one. Smelled like rot. [[The zombie astronauts.|zombies]] | [[You need to run.|get_out_hall]]


:: keep_forward Right. Yeah. Of course. God, I wish I could see Ghost up ahead. Or that I'd waited for Balty before I came in here. [[trillion_midnights]]


:: trillion_midnights Man. It's blacker than a trillion midnights in this hall... ...and you won't be surprised to hear that my helmet light, like everything else, is busted. There's a flashlight on my pulse rifle. Let me see if that still works. Come on. Come ON! It's just... just flickering. I get a split second of light, then it goes out again, over and over. And those moments of light aren't doing this place any favors. Hey -- something just moved. [[What was it?|what_moved]] | [[The rats again?|rats_again]]


:: rats_again No. Bigger than the rats. Bigger shape. Bigger sound. Something that was... [[it_moved]]

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