Episode 422: 375°(Season Finale)

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Air Date: 14 Dec 2010
Present: Kim, Maer, Terri, Andy, and Bobby

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Part 2

Monday, 27 Oct 2521
Summer’s Gift crash site, Novaya Rodina
Georgia (Huang Long) system
Early Morning

We rise early and leave the abandoned village. Oleg and Foreman accompany us, even though the coming fight isn’t theirs. We’d discussed our options during the night and have decided that trapping Potemkin and his forces inside the Gift is our best option: it’s containable, close-quarters, and Potemkin has unwittingly provided us with all manner of things to turn against him.

We’ll flood the lower decks with hydro and flash-burn everyone we can trap inside as we wait it out in the crew gym, safe behind its pressure door. This requires blocking the corridors to funnel our targets along the path we need for the trap to work. We block the fore transverse corridor and the airlock stairs with barrels of toxic waste and debris, forcing Potemkin and his men to go down the portside corridor and up the starboard, giving us the time and distance to trap them good.

Rina determines the dirty bomb remaining on our ship can be detonated by remote. She just has to rig it up to do so. However, we don’t have a lot of time to rig this and the other traps if she’s doing everything else. She gets Joshua to do his ten-minute pick up of the skills he needs to get the hydro trap set up, freeing her to rig the bomb. She gins up the remote switch for it when she’s done.

Kiera goes to the bridge to tinker with the comm equipment, hoping to rig up a duplicate channel for the Stitches. If she can hijack it with her signal, she might be able to take them out of the equation. That would halve the number of hostiles we’d face in one fell swoop. When she’s done, she thinks she’s successful in recreating the channel. If not, she’s still got a source of channel disruption. Rina makes a simple remote switch for it, a little box with a flip switch and a tuner dial. Throw it and the jamming signal will go out on the channel the dial selects. That should flummox the Stitches good. Assuming we’ve found the right channel to broadcast on.

Beglan is working with the transmitter equipment of our girl, hoping to establish a connection. Once it’s up and running we can call for help from the legal authorities of the planet. If we’re lucky, they might even respond.

Nika helps the rest of the crew in moving stuff around belowdecks to block the corridor, intending to go to the bridge after she’s done to stand watch. Moving debris and barrels around barehanded is hard work and requires finesse in pivoting and balance. Nika fumbles a toxic barrel and gets pinned under it as it tips over, drenching her with the contents.

The stuff is slick and clings and burns. She’s screaming and Joshua gets that barrel off her and gets her as fast as possible medbay. We get the toxic crap off her with what’s on hand and Arden examines her. The spill caught Nika full in the face and though she’d had the luck not to breathe any of the crap in, her eyes got flooded with it. Arden does what he can but her eyes have been damaged beyond our means to fix. Though they are whole, Nika’s now blind and it may be some time before she can see again.

It’s a crushing blow and we’re all hit by it—Nika most of all. She doesn’t break down and weep or explode in rage. She keeps an iron grip on her emotions and it’s much more heartbreaking to witness. But she sucks it up and carries on. Potemkin is coming and we have to be ready for him. She has Joshua take her to the bridge and install her in her chair. Beglan has the transmitter is up and running. If anyone’s listening, we’ll get a call through. Nika says she’ll call for help. That way Beglan’s two hands can be added to the others to get us ready. It’s the best allocation of our resources and allows her to be useful despite her injury. Blind or not, she’s still our Captain and the command is still hers. Joshua and Beglan obey and leave her to it.

Nika’s eyes are bandaged, blind twice over, and cannot watch for Potemkin. Kiera offers to stand watch.

Meanwhile, Arden tells Joshua that he’s got something for him.

Arden: The pink pill on the counter over there will help you hopefully keep your ghost under control.
Joshua: (uh, okay?) And what’s the side effects?
Arden: I don’t know. It’s never been used.
Joshua: (snark!) So side effects may include nausea, sterility, and death.
Arden: Exactly.
Joshua: All right.

Arden believes the medicine will deaden all of Joshua’s Reader abilities. If he wanted to take it. Joshua asks how long before it takes hold? Somewhere between ten minutes and twenty four hours. Or never. Maybe. Joshua considers it: The dangers from Roskov aside, Joshua’s Reader abilities are of real tactical value in our current situation. Does he really want to shut them down now? He declines the pill.

There are still a few details left to work out. Like an exit strategy when we blow the bomb. We gather just outside the bridge to discuss it since the corridor is big enough to contain us all and the bridge isn’t. The door to the bridge is open so Nika can listen in. Beglan suggests using the explosive bolts we’d installed on our containers to blow one of them out with us in it, ejecting us away from the ship. Joshua is second in command and asks Rina if she can rig the bolts to do that. Sure, she says, which one does he want to blow out? Joshua picks the starboard aft on the lower deck.

Joshua: So blow that container to give us an exit route, all right? I’m gonna play bait— (off our looks)—I’ve got to. We don’t have any other choice. I’ll basically pop up and insult Potemkin’s manhood.
Rina: That shouldn’t be hard. It’s only five centimeters.
Joshua: That’s the general line of the insult, yes. I’ll pop out, grab their attention, and I’ll need some help. We’ll draw their attention but we won’t be able to see them coming in.
Arden: That’s assuming we see them coming from the bridge.
Joshua: And they could be coming in from a couple different directions. My point is we need to make a decision on when do we pull the trigger on blowing up the lost hatch.

Arden suggests one of us stand guard at the bottom of the stairs and give the signal to blow the hatch when he hears them coming. Joshua points out that it won’t work if they don’t use the stairs. They could climb up to the top of the hull and gain access that way. The talk goes back and forth over the subject of approach.

Nika’s fine, holding the comms handset in her lap, and after listening to the wrangling outside, calls Rina in. Rina leaves the others to it and step onto the bridge. Nika’s voice is quiet as she tells her engineer to close the door. Rina does what she’s told. Turning around, she takes one look at Nika’s bandaged eyes and breathes deep.

Rina: (softly) I’m so sorry.
Nika: Irina. I need you to do something.

Her captain’s tone leaves no room for sympathy and Rina comes to attention.

Rina: (all ears) What?
Nika: I need you to rig the port hole with one of the bolts. That one.

She points at one of the bridge windows to starboard. Nika may be blind right now but she knows the bridge like the back of her hand and knows just where to point.

Rina: All right.
Nika: And when the time comes, you make sure they get the fuck off the ship.

“They”. Not “We”. Oh no. Rina knows where this is going.

Nika: Because I think I can get Potemkin in here. But I’m not sure I can get us all out.


Rina: (very softly) You’re going down with the ship.
Nika: I hope not. That’s why I want you to rig the port hole. And when they flame the bottom I want you to bring me a weapon if you can. But I don’t want you to tell the rest of them what’s going on.
Rina: (still soft) All right.
Nika: When everyone makes the egress out, you make sure they’re all on that flatbed. If I can get out, I will. Okay?
Rina: I’ll swing around for you. (cracking) You have my word on it.
Nika: (sternly) But don’t you mess around with the rest of my crew. You get’em outa here.
Rina: Yes, ma’am.
Nika: Okay. Go.

Rina turns to go and sniffs, right on the edge of breaking. She wraps Nika in a bear hug and holds her tight.

Rina: (squeaks) … damn …
Nika: Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.
Rina: I know …

Rina nods and pulls herself together. She wipes her eyes, puts her game face on, and walks off the bridge to get her tools. The others are still talking the plan over and their comments drift onto the bridge.

Joshua: (mid sentence) …. don’t know what Roskov’s doing.
Kiera: We could do what always seems to work. The realm of never planning. We’ll just fly by the seat of our pants.
Nika: (from the bridge) Yep. Pretty much! (laughs)

It was, really. After all, it’s what we do best. Joshua raises his voice to include Nika and it’s like the interruption never happened.

Joshua: Okay. That’s fine. Whatever. Who’s driving the flatbed?
Kiera: I can. I’ve done it before.
Joshua: And how are we doing that?
Nika: Is Foreman in good enough shape to do it?
Joshua: I don’t even know if he knows how to drive.
Oleg: I can drive.

That’s assuming Oleg is willing to stick around long enough to drive us out of here. We’re not entirely certain that he will, but the alternative—being stuck in the middle of the frozen taiga—is a pretty convincing argument to stay. The unmentioned elephant in the room is how we’re not entirely sure we can trust Kiera at the wheel. But that’s jumping the gun a bit: we still don’t know where to stash the mule where it’s safe until we’re ready to escape.

So the planning session—such as it is—continues on. What if we hid the mule inside one of the ground level containers? Joshua wonders if we can use the explosive bolts to blast a portion of the container away, making a hole for us to drive the mule through. Rina says yes, it can be done. Problem solved. Since just about the rest of the prep work is done already, Joshua orders all available hands to help Rina move the bolts and rig that explosive trick on the container. Kiera speaks up.

Kiera: Do you guys want me to stand and keep a look-out for …?
Joshua: Yes, please. Because somebody needs to.

Kiera goes to the bridge and takes a metal bar with her to bang on the bulkhead as a warning. Foreman and Oleg will stay with the mule once we get the container rigged and the mule inside.

Joshua: Is that going to be hydrogen saturated? Are they going to flame out?
Rina: We can work it so it doesn’t get in there.
Joshua: Then do that. That would be a horrible horrible death.
Nika: By the time you blow those bolts, you would have already flamed the bottom deck.
Joshua: All right. Let’s do this thing, folks.

We break up the meeting to get back to work. Nika will remain on the bridge, listening in on our progress as best she can.

Work continues. We set watch. We set the bolts and Rina rigs the bomb below decks to blow. We move the barricades where we want them. Kiera alternately stands watch on the bridge or looks out the topside hatch.

It’s during one of the stints at the hatch when she sees and hears a shuttle fly by. WHOOOOSH! It’s close, close enough on fly-by that she can identify it. It’s Lagniappe. It lands in the forest about a kilometer away. Potemkin has found us and it won’t be long before he arrives. Lagniappe is accompanied by men on speeder bikes. Two of them. There’s a bright spot in all this—given Lagniappe’s size, Potemkin can’t be bringing more than twenty men with him. Twenty against seven. That’s not too bad. Right? Also, Potemkin’s put the means to escape the taiga within our reach—once we blow our girl, we drive the mule for our shuttle and fly out of here.

All we have to do is survive.

Joshua hollers up to the hatch to ask Kiera what she sees. Can she see Roskov? Well, hell, Joshua, I don’t know, what does he look like? He’s big. How big? Six-eight big. No, don’t see him.

Saturating the atmo with hydro will take only about 30 seconds to about a minute. Any more than a minute would make the atmo down below impossible to breathe. The catch is the valve to do this is in engineering. We can rig the hydro lines to flood the lower deck but someone’s going to have to man the valve for those thirty seconds He’ll need to time the flooding with Potemkin’s arrival aboard plus give himself time to get below in the safe room before he blows the hydro.

Nika asks Arden for a pain killer. She wants to have her full concentration on what’s coming, not on what hurts. He gives her a dose and offers the same to the others but no one else is taking anything.

Now that we’re about as ready as we’ll ever be, we sit tight and wait for Potemkin to show. A bullet bounces off the hull next to Kiera and she ducks back down, swearing in Chinese. Looks like they’re here. Nika perks up her ears at the language and asks Rina, who’s double checking the bolts on the starboard window:

Nika: What was that about the monkey’s ass?
Rina: I don’t know but I think the cat’s nose is stuck in it.

Kiera drops down into the ship and sticks her head through the bridge door.

Kiera: I think they have weapons.

But hey, at least now they’re one bullet down that they can’t use against us. Nika orders Kiera to use the bridge windows if she needs to. The shot came from the northwest. That would put it starboard. Joshua goes to Arden and asks for the suppression meds. Aden hands them over and Joshua looks at them.

Joshua: How many of these is the correct dose?
Arden: One. Two … The appropriate amount.
Joshua: The appropriate amount?
Arden: We’ll call it two.
Joshua: We’ll call it two and go with it.

Sarcasm, much? Joshua takes two. They’re nasty, like curdled pepto-bismol. Joshua manages to gag them down.

Joshua: (tightly) I’ve had worse. Well, if I come out of this with no Reader abilities whatsoever …
Arden: You can blame me.
Joshua: …Yeah …

We don’t know how close Potemkin’s men are, beyond the fact that they’re in rifle range if that shot they bounced off our hull is any indication. So … he’s about ten minutes away. We review our positions, get them set. Beglan feels safest closest to the engine room. Oleg and Foreman are manning the flatbed inside the container. Joshua is going to man the hydro valve in engineering. He, Rina, Kiera, and Arden are going to bait Potemkin through the maze below decks. We have the crew gym set up as our safe room and the spark switch is ready to go. Nika is staying on the bridge with the comm set to taunt Potemkin and at the moment, Kiera is manning the windows there to see what she can see. At the point we can hear Potemkin enter the ship, Joshua will flood the lower deck with hydro and take his place with the others. Nika assures him Kiera will tell us when Potemkin in on the way in and she’ll pass the info down.

We take a couple of shots to the bridge windows. It’s almost time … And then Kiera sees four figures moving with some precision toward our ship. They’re ducking behind the downed trees and the brush for cover. After all, they don’t know how well we’re armed. They have weapons, though, as the shots to our bridge windows attest.

Nika has Rina come up to the bridge and set the radio to transmit on the proper channel. It only takes a few minutes and when Rina is finished, Nika takes up the radio. Kiera stands watch at the bridge windows and we hear Beglan’s voice over the ship’s wall comms.

Beglan: There’s somebody outside here. I think they’re on top of the ship.

We’ve locked everything else down so there’s only one way for them to come in.

Beglan: They’re coming through the hull!

Okay, two ways.

As the burn gel eats through the hull, Nika turns to Rina and Kiera on the bridge.

Nika: You two. I want you to go down there and secure the door between the machine shop and the forward lounge.

Kiera hustles out of there. Rina hangs back.

Nika: Rina, too.
Rina: Yes, ma’am.
Nika: Secure the door to the bridge.
Rina: All right.

Rina does as she’s ordered and runs aft to join Kiera. She tells Beglan to get down the aft hatch to below decks to join the others and she and Kiera will secure the door forward. Beglan eels through the hatch and drops to the deck below where Joshua’s waiting.

Beglan: (breathless) Change of plans.
Joshua: Welcome aboard, Beglan.
Beglan: My original plan was not to be down here with the fiery flames.
Joshua: It was bound to happen.

There’s a last minute flurry of second guessing—do they wait before going to the gym or do we go now? Joshua decides the issue by announcing we need to stay visible to bait Potemkin’s men into the hydro trap. Which is true. We’ll flood the deck. We’ll bait them into the trap, jump into the gym, and set everything on fire. Then we’ll grab whatever weapon we can off the bodies and get the hell out of here. Joshua climbs through the hatch for engineering and opens the valve for 30 seconds, then goes back down below, closing the hatch behind him to trap the hydro. Once he’s with the others, they hunker down behind the barricade and wait for the enemy to show. They hear footsteps approaching.

Arden: (baiting) They’re coming! Let’s get’em!
Joshua: Run for it!
Arden: They’re in the ship!

Meanwhile, Kiera and Rina have locked the door between the midships lounge and the crew quarters. Well, perhaps locked isn’t the right word for it. Perhaps braced is the better word. The lock has been abused by us and by Potemkin and there is no guarantee it’ll work. On their side (forward), Kiera jams the door with a bar from the general debris and Rina rigs a way to burn through the lock to make it more secure. She also combines cleaners and detergent from the laundry room to pipe through the lock that would discourage the use of burn gel on the door. It’s not explosive or anything, but it will create a lot of nasty smoke. That will give Potemkin a little more incentive to go through the ship in the path we want. If nothing else, it will grant us a little extra time. As she waiting for it to mix up, Kiera peeks through the hole and sees two of Potemkin’s men emerging from the machine shop and yells.

Kiera: The door’s rigged to blow. Come through if you wanna die!

Down below decks, Joshua and Arden can see some of Potemkin’s men step into view, slow down and examine the barricade. One of them holds his hand up and orders the rest to hold their fire.

Joshua: (baiting) Oh my god, hide in the lounge!

He and Arden book down the corridor to the aft transverse, then around the corner to the starboard. Come and get it y’all, we’re here.

Above, Rina starts pumping the deterrent crap through and the second it hits the door it starts to smoke. The men halt and one says Fall back! (in Chinese). The Chinese sounds familiar to Kiera. In fact, she thinks these guys are Exeter’s crew, the Chinese crew that flew her and Potemkin to Novaya Rodina. Not combat soldiers, nope. She turns to Rina.

Kiera: I think it’s the crew of Potemkin’s ship. Not the mercenaries.

Fine and dandy, but the ones down below decks look like mercenaries. Joshua reminds Beglan to grab a gun if he can from one of the mercenaries once we’ve got them down. Not to use it, but to grab it. He’s not going to force Beglan to use it if he doesn’t want to. They start making noise to draw the mercenaries and start hustling away from the barricade down the 30 feet of corridor to the rear.

Below decks, Joshua and Arden have led their targets far enough into the trap, pour on the speed and jump into the crew gym.


They flame the lower deck out and it’s over in seconds. Investigating the results, they see the mercenaries are down. On fire, actually. They quickly grab the weapons to save them: five sets of assault rifles with grenade launchers and the requisite grenades already loaded, combat knives, switchblades. Joshua strips the men of their rifles, leaving the knives, and parcels them out to the crew. He has to restrain Arden from double-tapping the mercenaries.

Joshua: Let’s not do that. We have other issues.
Arden: What? I don’t care if they’re not dead. I just want them out of action.

Joshua orders everyone through the hatch to the upper deck. Arden pokes his head through first. Pow! A bullet ricochets on the deck mere inches away and grazes him. Arden sees a man with a pistol shooting at him. Yikes! He drops down below again and closes the hatch. He’s bleeding but the graze is a minor one. He’ll live.

Behind their door, Rina and Kiera hear the shot of the shot and Chinese drifts their way: They’re coming up. Through the hatch. From the lower deck.

Kiera: (to Rina) Omigod, the little beggars can shoot. Who knew?

Beneath the hatch, Joshua looks at Arden.

Joshua: I’m sorry Rina’s not here to hear me say this, but …
Arden: Use a grenade?
Joshua: Yeah. Use the grenade.

Arden cracks the hatch and shoves the barrel of his assault rifle through and launches a grenade toward the shooter. Fwomp! Boom!

Rina and Kiera hear the boom and their door rattles from the blast.

Rina: I hope that’s one of ours. Sounds like a grenade. Hope it takes them out.
Kiera: I don’t know if it’s theirs or ours.
Rina: Does it matter? If it takes them out it, takes them out.
Kiera: That’s true.

Arden climbs through the hatch and starts spraying the corridor with lead. An assault rifle has autofire, making that task easy. The Chinese crew duck into the machine shop away from the bullets. Behind their door, Rina and Kiera listen intently.

Rina: Sounds like an assault rifle.

Arden takes his finger off the trigger and Joshua climbs through the open hatch.

Joshua: (Sternly in Chinese) We have assault rifles and we’re desperate. Stand down and maybe we won’t end up killing you.

Kiera gives Rina an approving smirk as the words filter back to them and laughs delightedly.

Rina: Backbone. I knew he had one. I knew he had it in him.

The Chinese crew drop their weapons into the corridor. Arden and Joshua advance with their rifles at ready and motion the crewmen to step out and away from their weapons. The lock them into one of the crew quarters. Joshua spies the door to the miships lounge and realizes what’s happened. He goes up to it and calls out.

Joshua: We’re the friendlies. If Rina’s in there, tell her I like her birthmark.

Behind the door, Kiera shudders.

Kiera: Eww!

Rina opens the door a crack with her fist cocked, sees it’s Joshua and that he’s not under a gun, and relaxes.

Rina: (grinning) You said you’d never tell.
Joshua: Yeah, well. Desperate times, desperate circumstances.

He hands her his assault rifle.

Joshua: It has grenades.
Rina: (delighted) I love you. You give me the best presents.

Kiera peers around the door, sees Joshua, and sighs.

Kiera: It really was you. Okay …

Joshua hits the nearest wall comm and hails the bridge.

Joshua: Nika.
Nika: (on speaker) Yeah.
Joshua: It’s clear for the moment.
Nika: Hold tight. Cuz it won’t be for long.
Joshua: All right. We’re holding.

We all hear some noises from outside the ship, faint in the distance, weird cries and screams. Like Reavers.

The Stitches have arrived.

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Part 2

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