Episode 210: Thy Fearful Symmetry

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Present: Maer, Terri, Bobby, Jay, Tony
Air Date: 05 Oct 2009

Monday, 29 Apr 2520
The Lodge, St. Albans
Red Sun (Zhu Que) system
16:17 hrs, local time

It takes us some time but we make it to The Lodge.

It takes us the balance of the day to make the lodge. While the rest of us wash up and Nika takes a nap. Arden talks to the Doctor and gets the lowdown on the operation that might save Lem, followed by ongoing treatments. It will cost five thousand. We don’t have the money, but the Doc tells us that Cole Islington had intended to arrive with a substantial sum of money to bankroll further research. Since we left our baggage and our guns on the train, we promise to go back and find the funds—stored on a chip and possibly small and hidden on Cole’s person—so Doc Lawrence can continue his work. And Rina can get her gun back. For now, it’s enough to get some hot drinks down our gullets and sleep. Nika crashes for thirteen hours. Rina takes advantage of the Lodge’s past history as a luxury resort to find a deep bathtub, fill it with hot water and pull it in after her. Christian shows up later and scrubs her back.

The next morning, Rick, Nika, Christian and Rina hop back into the cat engine and go back to the avalanche site to get our stuff back, find the miners have already beat us to it. We talk ourselves into not getting run off and when the miners retrieve the Qupie Dolls, we get access to the bodies and our baggage. We search Cole’s remains and Christian finds the chip in the man’s belt buckle. Christian swaps belts when the mining crew aren’t looking, we grab our legitimate stuff and allow the miners to take the bodies of Cole and the old woman away. We find evidence that the bodies have been munched on in our absence—squick!—and Rick finds evidence of animal tracks on the site. Tiger. Probably the Siberian breed, given the cold environment, and the largest tiger breed there is.


We follow the miners back to the mines to reclaim our weapons. We get them—much to Rina’s relief—and we return to The Lodge. We rest up and check on our messages, get the little things done.

Nika has received a message from her query to the Decatur:

Got your message, glad you’re okay, no longer surprised by anything. That said, expect the unexpected. –H.

Arden goes through Cole’s remaining belongings, trying to figure out how the man contracted the disease. He was wealthy enough to have carefully screened and prepared food done up in sealed packages. Cole should have been protected from contracting the disease. However, upon examination, Cole’s food packs show up with prions in the texturized food.

At least that’s one mystery solved.

Hinked that Corone Mining might come and raid the Lodge now that they know we’ve Prioned people up here—something we couldn’t avoid revealing to the Mine Boss—Rina takes first watch while Christian takes second and makes breakfast for everyone. During breakfast Christian encounters a patient doing a crossword puzzle, who mumbles something about a conspiracy to deprive us of ‘gas’, the hydro fuel all ships run on. This patient is coherent but he has this otherworldly “a beautiful mind” vibe coming off him, and despite careful questioning by Christian, he isn’t able to give us more than a few tantalizing statements.

We do the tiger hunt after breakfast and the operation on Lem that day.

The tiger hunt involves going back out to the scene of the train crash and hoping it comes back to nibble on the bodies it had found. Jake brings his camera to film the event and Nika and Rick, being the two with the most practical hunting experience, grab their rifles and drive back out there. When they arrive on the scene, they find the tiger’s tracks and get out of the vehicle to track it down the rest of the way on foot. The tiger, however, has other plans, doubling back on our party and Nika, Jake and Rick notice it in time to take cover in the treeline. When the tiger finally appears, Nike kneels while Rick stands, both of them shooting a double volley at the animal when it charges. Jake falls, unnerved, and it takes him some time to recover.

The tiger closes in with Rick and Nika and since Nika’s in front, she gets swiped by the tiger first. Rick falls back and shouts to Jake to shoot, gorrammit, and Jake hollers back he can’t, there’s snow on the lens! Nika rolls to the side, out of Rick’s line of fire. Understanding her maneuver, Rick shoots the tiger with burst fire from his assault rifle. The tiger dies, mere feet from Rick’s boots.

After that, there’s little else to do but dust off the snow and go back to the Lodge to tend to their wounds. Which they do in short order. Arden runs tests on Nika after stitching her slashes up, to make sure she didn’t contract the prion disease from the infected tiger. The test comes back negative and we all breathe a little easier.

Meanwhile, the operation on Lem appears to be successful. He’s survived the surgery, albeit is now comatose, and the prognosis is hopeful he’ll wake up. Christian reads to him while he’s unconscious, with the idea the sound of his voice and the stories will stimulate the little boy’s brain and speed recovery. Rina takes turns spelling Christian and after a couple of days, Lem wakes up.

In the ten days following the operation, while Lem recuperates, Arden has been busy. Not only is he monitoring Lem’s condition, he’s also trying to find out if the popular kitchen machine, the ProMagic protein texturizer isn’t somehow instrumental in causing the TSEB. Does it cause changes to the paste to cause the prion disease? He tries to acquire a ProMagic on the cortex so together he and Rina fiddle with it.

After 10 days for Lem to recuperate, we thank the Doc and leave for the spaceport, thence to lift off and head for Aesir (so Jake can visit his family, and Arden can pick up the ProMagic he bid for on the Cortex) and to drop off our cargo at Brisingamen.

Saturday, 11 May 2520
Kuiper II Class, Summer’s Gift
En Route to Brisingamen
10:05 hrs, ship’s time

It will take 83 hours and 183 fuel hours to get to Brisingamen, about 3.5 days.

The hours stretch on as our destination approaches. We find out via Cortex news that several of the Alliance Tohoku Class space cruisers fuel systems went afoul, taking the ships offline. The ships affected were the IAV Dortmunder, IAV Trafalgar, and the IAV Magellan. Is this what one of the Doc’s patients meant, with his theory that ‘they’ were coming to steal the ‘gas’, the hydro fuel ships run on? Is this what Harry meant when she said, expect the unexpected? There is no knowing and there is nothing we can do about it while still in transit. At least no one is actively gunning for us and for the first time in some while we enjoy a reprieve from the rough and tumble.

Lem revives two days en route and he’s up and around, looking at things and talking. And when he talks, it’s in a most self-aware manner, almost adult. Especially when Lem realizes something is not entirely right with how his mind works, especially when he forgets something he feels he should remember. It’s a mite odd, but after seeing him in the walking-dead state for so long, we’re glad that some improvement has been made on his condition, no matter how creepifying it gets on occasion. On the 2nd day, Lem starts hanging out in the engine room to listen to the engines. Rina lets him stay, but keeps an eye on him and takes the time to explain how stuff in there works, lets him hold her tools. It’s a big improvement from the cut-off little boy we’d brought aboard and we’re hopeful that the treatment will work.

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