Fleeing with the stolen ship, the crew sleeps in hyperspace as the android 02BZ maintains course. But he soon discovers that he is not alone…
The human crew all get into cryo for the jump to the Matsuhira Omni system. 02BZ the android spends the jump puttering around the ship. He checks on the cargo and cryopods — everyone in cryo seems to be fine. But as O2 approaches the bridge, he hears sloshing and clattering. Entering, he sees that Sonia is freaking out, flailing in her tank amidst a storm of objects — chairs, mugs, and the like. A pen hits him in the head as he tries to communicate with her. Seeing that they’re still on the course they plotted before entering hyperspace, he leaves Sonia to her misery and checks the science computer to look in on Yu Yin in the test chamber. But she’s disappeared.
Active Crew: Alex Hardcastle 02BZ Sasha Denisovich Janice Nyman
O2, puzzled but surprisingly unperturbed by the disappearance of one of the subjects, heads to the barracks and starts dismantling it for use as a workshop, since the rest of the crew has opted to take the officers’ quarters (formerly occupied by the captain and scientists who once controlled the ship). While setting up benches and taking apart beds, he hears a clattering in the galley next door.
O2 tries to silently peek inside, but the distorting properties of traveling through hyperspace cause him to misjudge distances and he clangs against the doorway. He sees a teenage girl in a jumpsuit look at him in terror and run out of the galley, clutching a bowl.
The deck of cards is 02BZ’s Trinket, rolled at character creation.
O2 sees the number “05” on her jumpsuit and surmises she must be the missing Yu Yin. He stalks the halls and finds her on the lower deck, cowering in a narrow Jefferies tube and eating cereal from the bowl with her hands. As he approaches slowly and tries to speak to her, she becomes increasingly panicked, staring aghast at him as if he were some kind of cyclopean horror. To try and calm her down, he pulls out his deck of playing cards and starts doing card tricks and dancing around. This manages to shift her expression from horror to confusion, which O2 figures is some kind of progress. He splays out the cards and asks her to pick one.
She slowly, cautiously approaches and reaches out, picking a card. But as soon as she does so, the card begins to warp and flutter, flitting into different multidimensional origami-like abstract shapes. Then the warping extends to her hand and her arm, where it seems to flay her skin, curling it back into nothingness, revealing her muscles and sinews, which geometrically rearrange to reveal a churning whirlwind of bone and marrow. The effect extends up her arm to her torso, her whole body. 02 panics, backing rapidly away. Yu Yin, once again a vortex of flesh, flings herself back into the science lab, and when 02 chases after her, she’s gone. He realizes suddenly that they’ve dropped out of hyperspace.
He checks the science computer again and sees that she is back in the test chamber, forming and reforming her body in the gory cycle they’d witnessed before. But now she’s holding something, an ever-shifting geometric object that occasionally manages to unfold itself into a playing card.
O2 wakes everyone up and tells them what happened. The crew confers, voicing suspicion that Yu Yin may only be able to function normally when in hyperspace. They’re not sure what to do about this, but they decide that O2 will keep trying to communicate the next time they jump.
They check on Sonia, who’s calmed down, but was clearly rattled by the jump. She still doesn’t want to go into cryo when they jump because it hurts to be away from her ship-body but being conscious in warp is deeply distressing — she could lose control of herself, and of the ship. Hardcastle theorizes that if they could transfer her consciousness to a cybernetic brain, she might be able to withstand hyperspace with minimal issues, like an android. Sonia’s enthusiastic, excited by the prospect of discarding her “useless” human body and being wired directly into the ship computer. This would be a complicated and expensive process, and they’re not sure how to accomplish it, but they keep it in mind for the future.
As Sonia wakes up the ship, the crew sees their destination: the Matsuhira Omni system. An orange sun shines before them, partially eclipsed by a massive derelict spacecraft, the ancient husk of an early colony ship. Around the hulk are numerous mining ships and a few small military vessels, swarming like flies around a carcass. A space station floats by the hulk, broadcasting the callsign Iblis’s Crown. The mining ships hail as Anders-Klimt Mining Corporation ships, while the military ships are SMC — Sol Military Contracts. They’re a familiar name — SMC is one of the biggest military contractors in the galaxy, probably here as hired protection or union-busters. A shuttle docked at the station hails as a Kenbishi Heavy Industries ship, belonging to a manufacturing megacorp.
The crew and the newly-christened IMV Grasshopper gets permission to dock from the Iblis’s Crown without much fanfare, other than nearly being cleaned out by the 600c docking fee. As they dock, they start making plans: they’re out of money, and they need to find work. From the activity outside, it looks like the mining corporation is running a major salvage operation here, gradually scrapping the massive space hulk.
The crew figure they need to work out the power structure on the station and find out how to get cleared to do some salvage themselves. Or, who knows, maybe they can do some odd jobs, like protection, or helping out with whatever passes for agriculture out here — Dr. Hardcastle is a botanist, after all. They also suspect they may be able to sell off some of the equipment and stock they have on board. But did they manage to shake Tannhäuser, or are they being followed?
Continued in 01.06 On the Iblis’s Crown