Scattered Seeds

They Speak for the Truffula XIII

The team continues their adventure aboard The Consequence, which is carrying fateful liquid hydrogen shipment C7.

Mary reads the "captain" the riot act about a "last minute crate", and after listening for a while, he hangs up.  She then checks her information about the ship and its crew, and although Azat Toros is supposed to be the captain, the ID photograph on the crew roster isn't the same as the man she just talked to.  The dossier shows Azat as a middle-aged Rast, but the man she just talked too is an unmodified, light-skinned human.  She also finds that the ship carries about 15 crew, but that 5 of the crew were replaced by last-minute substitutes at Upermavik and another 3 were replaced by last-minute substitutes at Reef City.

After a discussion, the team decides their best option is to find their way to the (required by regulations) emergency lifeboat submarine, exit, and then have BSI destroy the Consequence.  With this in mind, they exit the container.

Cal is concerned that the "captain" may send crew to investigate, so they decide to try and lure someone to the empty container by rigging up a strobe on its outside.  Then they make their way down out into the hold.

The submarine is like an elongated mushroom, with a large tapered bow-shroud covering the bridge and crew quarters and shielding a number of large liquid hydrogen tanks arranged around the center stalk.  Then an elongated (150') shaft mostly filled with mechanical space but with a cramped and not-very-straight central corridor for people, and a wider base which makes up the cargo hold and is surrounded by the six driving impellers and fuel containers, etc.

The cargo hold itself is basically a 400'-long cylinder at the base of the mushroom, with a huge hatch at the base end and a personnel hatch at the top end leading to the "stalk".  The hold is filled floor to ceiling with racks or shelving designed to hold 12' x 12' x 48' containers  The shelving is basically a 15' x 15' x 50' grid of girders with the long axis aligned with the long axis of the ship, and with the bottom girders basically a set of rails with rollers and breaking mechanisms so that containers can be slid in from the end.  There are ladders on each of the racks at both ends and at the center.  Visibility is very limited, and because of all the vertical drops caution is necessary.

They work their way along the girders towards the bow of the ship with Phoenix leading.  Just as they pass the center, they see lights up at the bow end of the hold.  They hide and wait as four people with head lamps move up the girders in the very middle of the hold and then climb up and over to the row the team is using, clearly heading for the strobe.  The team decides to let them by and heads for the end, but by the time they get to the personnel airlock the 4 lights have turned around and are heading back, and are only 150' away.

So Mary, using her knowledge of ships and racking systems, hot-wires the breaking systems on all the racks to release, and as the ship changes direction and speed and hits turbulence, the containers begin moving back and forth, crashing into one another and breaking free.  They see several crash together like runaway railway cars, sending shrapnel and frozen seafood through the hold and sending one of the people with head lamps down to the bottom of the hold.

Then the ship abruptly slows and accelerates, and all the containers crash against the rear hatch, smashing it open, with the team shutting the personnel hatch just in time to escape the deluge.  The hatch holds, but is leaking slowly.  The ship immediately begins to list, and shortly loses power and stops moving forward, and they press forward in the dark.

They enter the crew area, levering open the hatch manually, and they see signs pointing to the left-hand corridor to the lifeboat.  But Phoenix, heading up the party, also sees a couple of human shapes disappearing ahead of them down that corridor.

Comments

subscriptions

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.