Authors: Kyle B. Stiff
Finally, one drill bit keels over, spinning and
shrieking, and tears another drill from its base. The two fall into the beast’s
mouth. You lower yourself and rest against the exposed rim, then knock more of
the drills off and into the gaping mouth. You lose your balance and teeter over
the side of the mouth - then a drill catches you in the helm, throwing you
against the wall and jarring your skull. You somehow keep from blacking out,
pound the last of the drills over the side and into the
vacuum. So crazed are your strokes that your weapon also falls to pieces - be
sure to erase it from your inventory. You collapse, unable to feel your arm.
The deconstructor stops, realizing it is damaged and
needs repair. You turn to the other and see the guard’s gun fall into its
drills. You glance up to the guard; gritting his teeth, he yanks the belt of
grenades from his chest and drops the whole thing into the other deconstructor.
You brace yourself as its innards are rocked by a series of explosions. It
falls sideways, crashing into your deconstructor; you yank wildly on the
grappling harness and it pulls you away as the two machines slide back toward
the vacuum, shrieking as their metal sides bend and crush into one another,
then nearly seal up the breached hallway. You and the guard fall to the
newly reoriented. Exhausted, you both crawl into
in the terrible battle. You
for successfully destroying the deconstructors. Be sure to
erase the hand-to-hand weapon that you lost.
Turn to section
You are in no great haste to try your luck at
running around those doors like some kind of nutty video game. You have an
idea: You could move the weakened cleaning machine in between each door, like a
barrier, and jump over the cleaning machine itself.
It’s so crazy, it just might work
That is, by turning to section
That’s the dumbest idea ever, the
machine will never hold up
. Run the gauntlet by turning to
As the laborers move to climb the gangplank, you
, now, hold on there a minute. Where
boys think you’re
“Huh?” says one, stupidly. “What... do you mean?”
“What do you think I mean? I never said you could
come on board. Get lost.”
“But,” says another, “sir, please! W-we can’t
possibly find another ship in so short a time!”
“Pathetic,” you say, turning to leave.
“Always making excuses, your whole life long.
you’re at the bottom of society, you know.
Victims of your
While one laborer clutches his fists at his side,
blood boiling in his face, an older one says, “Please, I beg you! Please, don’t
Tears well up in his eyes, tears fueled by a
lifetime of disappointment.
If you want to say, “Just
, come on!” then turn to section
If you still want to refuse them, turn to section
“Hey bud,” you say. He whirls toward you, gun aimed
at your chest. His eyes are unfocused. You snap your fingers quickly, say,
“You want out of this mess? Or you
die for nothing?”
The man’s lips peel back, and he shrieks, “What do
“I’m the man with the answers and I’m going to get you
out. Now, do you want out?”
“Of course...” the man groans.
“Then kill that man.”
“H-h-he’s a cop, man!”
“I’m not talking about the cop. I’m talking about
your idiot “friend” there. He’s the problem. If you kill him, you can get out
of here and spend your last few minutes doing something you enjoy, rather than
die for nothing.”
“Hah!” says the smiling revolutionary. “He would
never do that. The People’s Underground Revolutionary Forces are made of
sterner stuff than that.”
But you see the scared man warring within himself,
searching your face for the answer to all his problems.
If the number is 6 or more, turn to section
If the number is 5 or less, turn to section
Both sides blast away at one another. Chunks of the
wall shatter and fly into your face, your eyes,
neck. Several Invaders fall to your combined gunfire, but more seem to fill the
area, firing round after round at your position.
Though you cannot seem to make any headway against
the alien defenders, you gain
for surviving. Be sure to erase the
amount of ammunition that you used.
“They’re getting reinforcements!” shouts Marcus.
“And we’re boxed in here!”
is 3 or more, turn to
If your stat is not this high, turn to section
The red emergency lights glare with portents of doom
as you pass through the hall, wary of the manager. The hallway ends at a
curving branch. Many doors are labeled for entrances to the docks; strange, to
think that a vacuum lies just beyond those walls. You follow signs along one
wall until you come to a door marked, “DOCK COMM STATION - AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL
ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT.”
The dock command station is dark, but still has
gravity and air. You notch your helm into place and click the light on. Unlike
the gentle tan of the hallway, the command station is steel-grey. The room is
huge, full of control panels, chairs, papers, equipment everywhere. A window
covers the entire front section. You look out and see the vast expanse of a
ruined dock. Blasted hulls float, charred and weightless. You even see a clump
of red ice that may have once been a man. A large steel net rotates slowly just
outside the window; you can use that, later, to haul your supplies through
Far down the station you see two service vehicles and
protruding fuel lines. You jog to the area and find steel canisters. You haul
them to the fuel lines,
jam a line into one. The
pump is labeled, “LIQUID HYDROGEN - CAUTION!” While you cannot remember if the
Black Lance Legion used anything different for their machines, nothing really
tells you otherwise. You turn the pump on and the canister jerks a little while
the pump hums with life. You breathe a sigh of relief,
you jam more steel canisters onto separate pumps.
You take a quick glance at the equipment littering
the room. Nothing seems useful until you notice a bulky hand-held computer with
a wide screen labeled, “STELLAR NAVIGATION UNIT”. Upon closer examination, it
seems the device is full of star charts, maps of the Asteroid Belt, and even
notes the locations of other STELLAR stations. The nearest station, another
asteroid mining complex, while still incredibly far away, seems that it might
even be along the same route taken by your Black Lance Legion ship - and the
hunting Invader ship.
Of course, the estimate is approximate; minor
deviations in flight paths in space can end up at vastly different points.
Still, the machine provides some hope, for the next station is a place that you
could journey to and at least get some kind of ship.
If you are skilled in the use of
you can download the navigation data directly into your helm computer.
Otherwise, you must take the
Navigation Computer (bulk 3)
with you. If
you do not have enough room in your inventory, you must discard enough items to
leave room for the necessary computer.
The transport vehicles seem to be empty of fuel. In
another corner you find a huge array of steel O2 tanks and an electronic
handcart. While the fuel pumps hum, you haul oxygen tanks onto the hand cart,
push them into the hall near an entrance to the docks.
You lift one off and carefully set it down - then, realizing your need for
speed, kick the whole cart over and dump them all noisily into the hallway. You
continue the process several times. As you work the robot moves back and forth
down the hallway, gathering food and water for you.
You and the labor-bot amass a ton of supplies.
Perhaps an hour passes in this way. Then, without warning, the lights flicker
and go black. Even the red alarms continue for only a few seconds before they,
too, are cut off. The whir of the air conditioning system clicks
and you slowly rise from the floor. You can hear
rumbling, grinding, far away.
The backup generators have been destroyed and more
deconstructors are tearing their way through the station. The end is near. You
kick off a wall and check the fuel canisters. You disconnect one, glad to see
that it is full, then attach a line from your jetpack and refuel yourself. You
seal the canisters, then kick them into the hallway and gather them near the
rest of your supplies. The robot floats down a side hallway, treads moving
uselessly, head whirling in confusion.
Near exhaustion, your heart races with the hope of
escaping this ghost station. You kick off and stop at the door to the ruined
dock so that you can follow through with the last part of your plan.
Turn to section
up over the box,
blood singing in your ears drowning out all else. A horned head hovers into
view. You fire - and the guard falls back, one of his horns shattered, blood
spurting from a new opening in his head. You drop down again just as the other
two return fire, their bullets ringing against the steel box that covers you.
Be sure to erase the amount of ammunition that you
Your com-link clicks to life. A calm, aristocratic
voice says, “Commander Uther, do you read me? This is Captain Numitor.” You can
hear him loud and clear over the
“SIR, YES SIR!” cries Uther.
“The good news,” says Numitor, in a conversational
tone, “is that our infantry have beaten back the attackers. Unfortunately I’ve
had to recall most of them. You see, some nine enemy units have broken into the
. We had quite a battle on the deck and killed three of them,
but they managed to find our shield generator. Another has died against the
soldiers there, but the last five are putting up quite a fight. My second is
throwing around the word ‘retreat’. How are things over there, Commander?”
“Few minutes, sir!” says Uther. “Few minutes, that’s
all we need.”
I hope that hot supply depot chick didn’t get
her face seared off or her intestines blown out by some monster. I never even
caught her name
You prepare to fire at the second guard.
You must now compute a number that will determine
the accuracy of your second shot. This number is your
. If you
are trained in
Weapon Proficiency: Ranged
, and it is with the weapon you
are using, add 3 to this number. If you are using a
, add 2. If you
are using a
, add 1. For every 3
you fire, add 1. For every 2
you fire, add 1. For every
shell you fire, add 1. Furthermore, if you have
, add 1 to
If the number is 7 or less, turn to section
If the number is between 8 and 13, turn to section
If the number is 14 or more, turn to section
If you are completely out of bullets, turn to
While the ship directs
you spend some time going over the supplies that the laborers loaded. The
ship’s relatively-advanced engine uses liquid hydrogen as its fuel, just as
your jetpack does, and there is plenty of that on board. You find many heavy
tanks full of compressed oxygen. Best of all, there is plenty of water; so much
so that, not only will none of you have to worry about rationing, you can even
take baths. (Since the small ship is equipped with Fat Mass coils that induce
artificial gravity, you won’t have to worry about any embarrassing acrobatics
while bathing.) There are also boxes full of various amenities that will make
your life easier - much easier than floating through the void alone, with
nothing between you and freezing death but your infantryman space suit.
Furthermore, if you have been lugging around the
then you may discard it now, as it is easy to download its information into the