Episode 418: Mouse Trap

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Air Date: 09 Nov 2010
Present: Maer, Terri, Andy, and Bobby

SYNOPSIS, full transcript on request--Maer

On or near 23 Oct 2521
Somewhere in the Black
Georgia (Huang Long) system

We’re ambushed 23 Oct 2521.

Rina wakes some unspecified time later. She comes out of a dream where she’s warm, safe, and stroking her lover’s chest, and finds herself next to Beglan on the metal floor of a cargo container. It’s dark, the only lighting the red emergency lights over the doors. She’s dressed grey prison coveralls and when she sits up her gut gives her a stab. Unzipping to examine herself, she finds she’s naked and has a three inch incision on her abdomen. It’s crudely sutured, clearly not Arden’s work, and pressing gently, it’s farkin’ painful. She leaves off further examination, zips up, stands up and starts exploring.

Nika, Arden, Joshua and Beglan are with her in the container, likewise in prison jumpsuits. She also finds half a dozen barrels of toxic waste, an old medical bag with three gas masks, three ration bars and a liter container of water and oh, a bomb attached to a gas canister and an electronic panel that has no timer on it.

The others come to, one after the other, and she fills them in on this lovely state of affairs. Welcome back, y’all.

We probe the container—it’s locked. Its windows are grimed over but we think we glimpse the corridor of the lower decks outside. We distribute the gas masks to the people critical in getting us out: Nika, Arden, and Rina. We task Arden to pick the lock on the door open and Rina is tasked to defuse/disable the bomb. She’s only partially successful. Arden gets the door open a moment after the bomb blows—black noxious smoke fills the container and Beglan starts screaming and clawing at his face. It’s not fatal, just painful. The door opens, we stagger out, and Nika tends to Beglan.

Which is good because the rest of us are busy taking care of the three rabid dogs waiting outside for us. They’re rabid-looking, at least, and we can clearly see they aren’t right. They’ve been experimented on, they have wet ware and tubes sticking out of their heads. Arden manages to dodge the one coming for us from the far end of the corridor. Rina strips out of her jumpsuit and uses it in her left hand as a feint/entangling weapon. The dog latches on to it with its powerful jaws and she takes it out with a mean (right) hook. Arden runs ahead to the door to the foredeck corridor and the weapons locker beyond: it’s welded shut, as is the door to the airlock stairs. The crew lounge door is unlocked and Arden quickly pulls a bar from the barbell rack to use as a club. He runs back to the others.

The others are facing off two more of the dogs. Rina has a second dog on her, Joshua has a third on him. Rina is using her fists, Joshua is using Aikido, and Joshua’s getting bitten badly. Nika sees this going on and tries to assist, but cannot get past the bottleneck in the corridor—Rina and her dog are making it too tight to slip by. Nika tag-teams with Rina on her dog and together they manage to kick and punch it to death. Both women get bitten in the process. Arden rejoins our party at this point and brings his club to bear on the remaining dog. The fight is nasty and brutish and short, with a dead dog and a severely bitten Joshua at the end of it.

The PA crackles to life and Potemkin’s voice slides through the air. Well, we have survived his dogs. We will not survive the ship. But we can try … he always does enjoy torturing his enemies with hope before he kills them.

And he’s not kidding—the entire time we’ve been awake, our engines have been humming and roaring far too loud and fast. Our throttle is wide open and we’re going faster, burning hotter than we should be. It makes our ship shudder and shake and if the engines don’t blow, she’ll rattle herself to bits. Listening carefully, Rina surmises the regulator on our thruster package has been disabled or removed. Our first priority must be to get off the lower decks and into the engine room. She can try to fix it then.

Which is hard to do with all the access points to the upper decks welded shut. We start exploring for a way to get past the welds. We search the other containers. We were in the portside aft container. The center aft container was like ours—only filled with more of the toxic waste drums. The starboard aft container is filled with rotting raw foodstuffs—grains, tubers, and the like all going off and soft and moldy. The stench is incredible. We close it up and push on.

In the center forward container is what is clearly a construction contractor’s office, complete with file cabinets, drafting tables, a water cooler and sitting in a task chair, is a receptionist bot in disrepair. We get the door open, hoping to find something useful toward our escape and the robot comes to life. We ascertain it can work, albeit haltingly, and when it attempts to make us tea from the water cooler, it turns the spigot and a hiss is clearly heard. Fearing a bomb or a booby trap, we slam the door shut and wait for the boom. Nothing happens. We look through the window on the door and see the bot has returned to its chair.

We go starboard to check the forward container and see it has been exposed to vacuum, one of the exterior doors left open part way. And at the far end of the container, clearly visible and heart-breakingly out of reach, hangs a tool bag and a cutting torch. EXACTLY what we need to get out of the lower decks. Knowing we have one more container to search, we search the portside forward container and find another living soul.

It is a man in a large cage, such as animals are kept in. He is in a straightjacket, awake, and clearly in a terrible state of distress. His eyes are bloodshot, he’s mumbling to himself and rocking. On the wall hangs a pouch with a label attached: Euthanasia Kit. We enter and find the pouch holds a bolt gun. A crude method by which to euthanize anything but it’s in keeping with the cruelty we know of Potemkin.

The man looks up as we enter and surprise! he can carry a coherent conversation. His name is Yorgei and he is an accountant who ran afoul of Potemkin. He asks us for food and water and we give him what we can. Arden opens the cage—unlocked—and removes the straightjacket to examine Yorgei. He has a horrible badly healing wound on his right flank—he says he’s been bitten by a rabid dog and he knows he’s dying. Perhaps we can help him get to a doctor with proper treatment in time? If we regain control of our girl in time, we might be able to swing it for him. The kit on the wall, however, is a grim reminder we may not succeed. We assure him that we are as desirous as he to survive and draw off to the side to devise a plan.

Based on what Potemkin said, we realize that he’s hidden the means to escape and survive on our ship with us. It’s going to be a race against time to find what we need. Rina’s of the opinion that the cutting torch is the first priority. The others aren’t so sure. They want to look around first. So we go container by container, splitting up in groups. Nika takes Arden’s pole and plumbs the toxic waste barrels in our initial container. She finds something at the bottom of one of the barrels. It feels like a box. She devises a way to bail the majority of the muck out before reaching in to remove the box. We wipe it off with rotting grain sacks from the aft starboard container and see that it is a first aid kit.

Soaked in toxic goo. But still. We wipe it as clean as we can and crack it open. Inside is enough to treat one or two of us for our injuries but not enough to treat all of us. We treat the most wounded and save the remainder. Arden examines Rina’s incision site as well, palpitating it to see if there is anything foreign or inimical inside. Rina bears with the pain and after Arden is unable to feel anything unusual, he leaves off. Whew.

Back to searching.

In the aft starboard, Joshua and Arden find the first of four pieces of the thruster regulator valve. Now that we know what’s wrong with our engines, we renew our efforts to find the other three pieces. The second piece is found at the bottom of one of the barrels in the center aft container and again we end up bailing as much of the waste out before retrieving it bare handed. More searching fails to turn up the other two pieces and we are left to conclude the other two must be on the deck above. We have to leave this level if we’re to survive.

For that, we need to get past the welds. And that means we have to get that cutting torch. Rina suggests sending the receptionist bot in after it. The starboard containers connect via doors where they butt against each other. We can send the bot into the starboard aft container, shut it in, command it to open the adjoining door and wait for the aft container to depressurize, then retrieve the tools. Then it will close the adjoining door before we open the aft door. This way we can avoid decompressing the entire lower deck and get the tools. All it would take is a container’s worth of atmo.

Beglan says he can repair the bot and reprogram it well enough to carry out the task and for the next few hours that is what he does while the rest of us search through the other containers for useful things we might have missed. When Beglan announces he’s done all he can, we send the robot into the container to carry out our plan. The plan works, the bot works, and we’ve got the cutting torch!

We decide to go through the office container one last time to see if we’ve missed anything important and Rina finds an immersion heater. It’s of the sort one drops into a coffee cup to heat water for coffee, tea, or a single serving of soup. She plugs it in to see if it works and it sparks.


The entire container is engulfed in flame as the hydrogen released by the bot earlier ignites. The flames shoot out the door and lash the corridor outside, trapping Rina, Joshua and Nika inside as Arden and Beglan duck for cover.

(Episode continues in Dodging The Hammer)

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