Space Quest:Exodus/Chapter 06
Chapter 6: "Dude, where's my pod?"
"When we last left our heroes, MP-X301 was cooling his non-existent heels on the Bridge, Ah'Choo was attempting to get some rest from the ordeal of being around her companions, and Roy had just finished watching 'Sariens Gone Wild VII' on the secret channel on Captain Richards' TV that no one else knows about."
"Computer, why are the shields inoperative?"
"PROCESSING... DEFENSIVE SHIELDS STATUS: OFF-LINE. SHIELD GENERATORS DESTROYED."
"Oh, not good."
MP-X301 idles about the Bridge. After an hour or so he attempts to call StarCon facility 256 again to see if the "bitchin' kegger" is finished yet. He patches through the commlink.
The line begins to ring, but no one answers at first. Eventually, after nearly a dozen rings, the screen blinks to life with the image of a rather frazzled-looking ensign. His hair is a mess, his uniform tunic is crooked, and his eyes have a glazed look to them.
"This is the cruise liner Contrived Extravagance. We were attacked by Sariens, but managed to escape, and could use some assistance."
Somewhere in the background, someone yells loudly. Shortly thereafter, a chair goes flying across the room behind the ensign. He looks blankly at MP-X301.
"Um... Ensign... is there someone there who is not drunk or hung over?"
"Dave? Dave's not here, man."
"Do you have any vessels in the area, then? Something not involved in your party?"
In the background, an officer wearing a white Admiral's tunic stumbles into view, grasping a bottle and wearing a lampshade on his head. MP-X301 wonders if the Admiral is actually an Admiral, and whether he is wearing anything besides just the tunic. Then, after thinking about it a bit more, decides he doesn't want to know after all.
The ensign's eyes suddenly go wide, as though he is just now realizing something important.
"Hey... wow, man, a talking robot! Dude, I am SO wasted..."
MP-X301 sighs. The ensign waves to someone off-camera.
"Hey... HEY! C'mere, man, lookit this! It's a talking robot, man!"
Another ensign, this one green with tentacles coming out of his head, leans into view, staring blankly at the camera.
"Ensign, the crew and passengers of the Contrived Extravagance have been kidnapped by Sarien marauders. We need immediate assistance to attempt to track them down and an escort for this vessel to a safe haven."
"Wha... wow, cool! Hey, maybe this is one of those hidden camera shows or somethin'."
The first ensign smiles drunkenly and waves at the screen. "Hi, Mr. Robot!" He snickers.
"Put your superior officer on the line, Ensign. Regardless of his inebriated status."
MP-X301 mutters something under his breath about "best and brightest at StarCon".
"...OH, wait, okay. I getcha. Hang on just a sec, and... uh... wait, what were we talking about?"
"Ensign, we were trying to get emergency assistance. Please get your superior officer."
"...OH, okay. Jus' hang on, and I'll get 'im."
The ensign stands up out of his chair with a sense of purpose, wavers drunkenly for several moments, the falls face-first onto the control console between him and the screen. Snores follow shortly thereafter.
"HELLLLLLOOOOOOO!" MP-X301 calls out.
After several moments of apparent inactivity, the channel deactivates itself, leaving MP-X301 once more staring at the viewscreen, slightly less optimistic than usual. He sighs again.
"I have the sneaking suspicion if you added up the IQ of all the people at that StarCon facility, it wouldn't even be as high as our chances of repairing the shields."
MP-X301 decides to open a channel to the planet below... again. However, as last time, he receives no response. Either no one down there can hear him, or else they're trying desperately to pretend he isn't there.
"Forget it. Best to wait until morning, anyway."
MP-X301 idles the rest of the night watching the sensors and monitoring systems and charging batteries. The night passes uneventfully, except for the part where he single-handedly fights off a rampaging horde of headcrabs using nothing but a soiled bedpan and a rolled-up issue of Maxim, but for the sake of time constraints, we won't go into detail about that.
"Hm... we're only an hour from the StarCon facility... with all of 'em drunk, we could sneak in, steal a bunch of droid upgrades and ship's weapons and shield generators and get out before everyone wakes up," MP-X301 muses dryly.
Morning dawns on what remains of the trusty cruise ship. As the nearby star rises into view from behind the planet below, the digitally-recorded sound of a rooster crowing plays over the Bridge speaker. MP-X301 keys the PA system.
"Rise and shine, ladies! The fish was delish... wait for it, wait for it... and it made quite a dish."
MP-X301 then calls Roy and Ah'Choo's quarters simultaneously. "This is your wake-up call."
Roy wakes up as the credits to "Latex Babes' Royal Rumble in Lime Jell-O" roll on the TV. He slowly sits up on his newly-conquered bed and looks around for a not-emptied alcohol bottle. Failing to see one, he stands up, grabs a less-smelly soap bottle from Captain Richards' toiletries, and heads back to his own cabin to take a shower.
Ah'Choo wakes up from dreaming of high-powered engine systems. She stretches, yawns, rubs her eyes, and looks around her quarters a bit blearily as the memories of yesterday's events pour back into her brain. She then stumbles out of bed and into her shower, where she proceeds to scrub and don a new uniform. After repocketing all of the gear she accumulated yesterday, she goes over to the intercom.
"Ah'Choo to Bridge. Good morning, MP. I'll be up there shortly."
MP-X301 checks the ship's cargo manifest again to see if there are any portable reactors or droid chargers aboard. No such luck. He then prepares the bodies of the Bridge crew for a funeral, straightening clothing, adjusting ties, etc. Eventually he finishes getting the crew members ready and hovers back to his post.
Once Roy's shower is done, he grabs a set of new clothes, transfers his inventory to them, grabs an additional beret just in case, heads to the bar for a quick liquid breakfast, and finally goes up to the Bridge.
Ah'Choo closes the channel to the Bridge and mutters to herself, "As soon as I find some edible liquid with caffeine in it."
She goes to the Galley and finds that everything looks the same as when she last left it (that is, as though some inconsiderate jerk had just finished looting the place). She finds the nearest packet of coffee and cup of hot water to throw together.
After several valiant attempts she finally manages to interface the coffee with the water. The result is something not wholly unlike a cupful of runny mud. She then heads up to the Bridge, sipping at the coffee mud along the way.
- whoosh!* vrrrrrrm *whoosh!*
Roy finds himself back on the Bridge on this fine morning.
"MP, my friend! While watching this movie yesterday, where this guy placed a camera in those bathroom and those... well, it's not important, what is important is that I found a way to find Slim!"
"How is that, Roy?"
- whoosh!* vrrrrrrm *whoosh!*
Ah'Choo also arrives on the Bridge, coffee sludge in hand.
"Welcome back to the Bridge, Ma'am."
"Morning, gentlemen." She heads over to the fellas, as Roy is busy explaining his plan.
"You'll first ask Computer for a plan of the ship with corridor names and the location of every security camera in the ship."
"Ma'am, can you assist Roy with his search for his elusive quarry?"
"Anyone desire a sip of stewed coffee beans? ...and, it's possible."
Roy waves at Ah'Choo. "Thank, but I already got my complete breakfast."
Ah'Choo shrugs and downs the remainder of the cup of sludge. She then sets the empty cup on the nearest console. MP-X301 picks up the cup before it dribbles on the autodestruct button and puts it in the Captain's chair's cupholder.
The cupholder chimes up annoyingly, "Thank you for using BobCo Beverage Containment Services, a division of BobCo, Inc."
"Now, what did you have in mind exactly, Roy?" Ah'Choo continues.
"Care to help me to find someone on this ship?"
"I may as well assist you. What did you need?"
"What I want basically is to use the ship security cameras to find my bounty."
"That should be simple enough. Which section of ship did you want to monitor?"
"The banquet hall, where the Captain made its speech when those jerks attacked the ship."
"All right, then. Are you currently using the main viewscreen, MP?"
He clears his game of Solitaire off the screen. "BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME," the computer tells him.
"Computer, display video pickup from the Main Banquet Hall, right after the start of the Celebratory Banquet last night." Ah'Choo turns back to MP-X301. "In the meantime, I am guessing that since we are still the only people on the ship, you were unsuccessful in contacting any assistance?"
After accepting Ah'Choo's security code and processing for a bit, the viewscreen dials into focus. A grainy security video similar to the one the Party watched yesterday appears, except this one portrays a room full of aliens of various types milling about aimlessly and pigging out at the buffet table.
"Ah, the pickup is all yours, Roy. Feel free to rewind and fast-forward as necessary."
"Now try to zoom on the nachos table." Roy tries to remove a sticky stain of lemon juice on his armor.
"Address the computer, Roy, it's quite responsive to voice commands."
Ah'Choo turns her attention to MP-X301 again. "And, well then. That must have been a very large alcohol-imbibing party at StarCon."
"Yes, Ma'am. The ensign I had a... conversation with was quite incapable of getting past the thought of a 'talking robot'."
Roy takes over the video pickup control. "Computer, focus on the nachos buffet."
The computer magnifies the view. In one corner of the new image, an imposing fellow in a helmet is chatting up a Droolian who seems a bit nervous.
"Good, computer, now fast-forward just a little bit."
Ah'Choo and MP-X301 continue their chat while Roy plays with the computer.
"Hmm. It is a shame we are not dealing with Vulgar space command personnel. Their parties are much more refined and we are much less... amazed... by talking robots." She pauses a moment, then adds, "It's the talking organic life forms that are a bit harder to fathom."
"Do you know where we might contact your Vulgar space command? Maybe they could help us."
"I am not sure, MP. It's been quite some time since I left my parents' starship."
"Perhaps your parents would know."
"I'm afraid my parents are quite out of contact range. Something about boldly going where no Vulgar has gone before."
"That's just so vulgar, Ma'am."
The video fast-forwards, with appropriate fast-forwardy noises. The two beings continue talking to each other. Then, a jolt rocks the ship, knocking both to the ground. The video continues to roll. As the helmeted being is tossed around on the floor, Slim quickly regains his footing. Realizing that he's just been granted a reprieve, the Droolian makes a dashing break for the nearest door and off-camera.
Ah'Choo shrugs at MP-X301, dropping the conversation, and watches Roy's video escapades curiously.
Roy notes the time that Slim left the camera. "Computer, I needs a map of the banquet hall's floor, with the location of the cameras and hallway names."
After spending some time correlating information from the ship's layout map and security grid, Roy manages to use the video recordings to track Slim as he makes his escape. After scrambling out the door to the banquet hall, Slim bolts madly down a corridor, presumably in the direction of the escape pods. After several moments, another jolt rocks the ship, and he falls face-first onto the floor.
Slim spends several minutes running through corridors, while trying in earnest to avoid drawing the attention of the several groups of security officers charging through the halls towards their fatal destiny. Eventually he reaches a corridor containing escape pods... and slides to a halt as he comes face-to-face with an armored Sarien.
Slim grins sheepishly (although without a mouth, it's hard to notice), then with the superhuman speed of pure cowardice, instantly turns on his heels and rockets back down the corridor and out of sight. The Sarien yells something, then goes charging after him.
"Trying to escape, eh, little brat? Nobody can escape the Sariens... well, usually," Roy amends.
"No one can escape a Sarien unless his name is Roy, apparently," Ah'Choo notes dryly.
"Yeah, that too." He pauses, then asks her, "So, how was your night?"
The video continues on. Slim reaches an intersection, turns to the left, and runs into a corridor and off-camera. Several seconds pass, then Slim suddenly comes bolting back across the intersection in the opposite direction... followed shortly by over a half-dozen Sarien troopers, firing wildly after him.
Eventually, Slim scrambles to a halt near a turbolift, gasping for breath. After quickly glancing around, he opens the doors and jumps inside.
MP-X301 sits back in his chair, enjoys the show, and wishes he had a built-in popcorn popper.
"My night was... a night. Quiet. Free of irritating yet oddly fascinating crewmembers and passengers. Full of even more interesting engines and machinery. Then MP woke me up. How was your night, Roy?"
After a moment, the video shows the pursuing Sariens coming to a halt outside the lift. In military fashion they flank the door from all angles while the squad leader opens them. Incredibly, the lift is empty. The Sariens, puzzled, comb the area for some time, but eventually give up and storm off, leaving a pair of troopers to guard the elevator.
"Comfy, yet interrupted with various visit to the bathroom and loud noise on the TV... what the hell?!?" Roy suddenly yells, his attention caught by the disappearing act on the viewscreen.
He continues to search the records for a while but is unable to find any further video trace of Slim.
"Any of you got an idea on what happened on this elevator?"
"He may have entered the Murphy's Tubes," Ah'Choo tells him.
"He could have slipped into the Murphy's Tubes," MP-X301 pipes up at the exact same moment.
Ah'Choo glances at MP-X301 and raises an eyebrow, or would, if she had any. He looks back at her.
"What? I entered the Tubes from inside the lift!"
"I got to see this elevator by myself, any of you fancy a treasure hunt in one of those Tube?" Roy asks.
"Sure, Roy. Let's all go," MP-X301 agrees.
"We may as well. I am suffering a lack of alternative ideas at the moment..." Ah'Choo offers.
"Computer, engage audible warning over PA system on any emergency condition, external communication, or sensor contact," MP-X301 commands.
"Thank. Let's go then," Roy says.
"And, it'd be nice to check out the planet. Maybe we can find some coolant," MP-X301 says hopefully.
"Perhaps the planet will offer a way out of our predicament... or some interesting life forms or machinery... or just something to do, period," Ah'Choo agrees.
"Sure, it was my next idea. All those corpse are beginning to smell anyway," Roy tells them both.
"That reminds me. We should also host a funeral for the dead crew, I believe is the standard procedure."
"OK... if you both insist."
"Now that we have a plan of action, let us proceed, gentlemen."
"OK, let's go." MP-X301 heads to the lift.
Ah'Choo and Roy follow him into the lift and MP-X301 directs it to take them to the location of the spot where Slim vanished.
- whoosh!* vrrrrrrm *whoosh!*
The turbolift is now sitting in the same spot as the one on the video.
"Are we there, yet?"
"It seems so, Roy."
MP-X301 pops the Murphy's Tube access hatch inside the lift and ambles on in. The Tubes are just as confining as before, if not moreso. He crawls along the Tubes and, before long, reaches an intersection branching off in several directions. He can find no evidence to suggest which way Roy's quarry might have gone.
Ah'Choo shouts into the Tubes from her position back in the turbolift. "Have you found anything yet, MP?"
"Now I feel bad for using him this way," Roy comments.
MP-X301 shouts back, "No, Ma'am. A split in the Tubes, in several directions, and no indications of Roy's mysterious buddy."
"Any chance of us all choosing a direction and splitting our search?"
"Eight directions, Ma'am. This is quite the junction."
Ah'Choo lets out a sigh, then shouts in reply, "All right, perhaps you should return for the moment." She then turns to address Roy.
"I am sorry, but the Tubes are quite a network. Without some idea of which way your quarry went, we could crawl through them for quite some time."
As MPX301 crawls back towards the lift, he hears a dull roaring sound echoing through the Tubes from somewhere far away.
"Um, I'm hearing a dull roaring sound echoing through the Tubes from somewhere far away, Ma'am."
Shortly thereafter, a constant beeping noise begins to come from the interface panel outside the turbolift.
"Oh? Any idea of which direction it might be coming from?"
"Check the interface panel."
Ah'Choo and Roy go out and look at the interface panel, which is blinking insistently. Ah'Choo studies the screen for several moments, trying to figure out why it's blinking, and eventually decides that it isn't going to do anything further by itself.
MP-X301 emerges from the access panel and hovers out of the lift to join the other two.
"Computer, report nature of alarm," Ah'Choo commands.
"WARNING: UNAUTHORIZED VEHICULAR LAUNCH DETECTED."
"What vehicle? There ARE no vehicles on board." MP-X301 pauses then has a sudden thought. "Could it be the Captain's escape pod?"
"Richards' pod," Roy has the same thought just as MP-X301 does.
Ah'Choo makes a quick decision. "Roy, you go down to Richards' quarters and check. MP, let us go to the Bridge, quickly."
Ah'Choo and MP-X301 hop back into the lift. "Bridge!"
- whoosh!* vrrrrrrm *whoosh!*
Ah'Choo and MP-X301 both emerge on the Bridge at full-tilt.
MP-X301 quickly hovers to the Navigation panel, calls up sensors, and tries to identify the vessel in question.
Ah'Choo, meanwhile, starts up voice queries. "Computer, can you track the launched ship onscreen?"
Roy takes the next turbolift. "Captain Richards' quarters."
- whoosh!* vrrrrrrm *whoosh!*
Roy dog-crawls into Richards' room and looks at the hatch. He finds that it stands closed, as it was before.
"I have a bad feeling about this."
The viewscreen flickers to life again, displaying what appears to be an escape pod rocketing away from the ship.
"Computer, hail the escape pod."
"Where is it headed for, Ma'am?" MP-X301 continues tracking the pod.
"I'm not sure, MP."
The screen continues to track the pod visually. Having launched while already close to the planet below, the tiny pod is quickly captured by gravity, and begins the slow descent through the atmosphere.
"Computer, transport the occupant of that escape pod directly onto the Bridge," MP-X301 tries.
"COMMAND ERROR: UNABLE TO ESTABLISH CONTACT WITH TRANSPORT STATION OPERATOR."
"Hey, this thing can enter the atmosphere! Let's RAM the pod!"
"I am not sure that's... an entirely wise idea, MP. Let me go to the Transporter Room instead."
The commlink crackles to life. The voice on the other end says but a single sentence:
"So long, suckers!"
With that, the link switches off.
Ah'Choo heads into the turbolift and off to the Transporter Room.
- whoosh!* vrrrrrrm *whoosh!*
Right after Ah'Choo leaves, Roy pages the Bridge.
"Well, guys, the hatch is closed but I'm not certain I want to risks my life and say hello to the emptiness of space."
"Come to the Bridge, Roy. You can't do anything else from there."
Roy appears on the Bridge a few moments later.
"I'm back, missed anything?"
Ah'Choo steps out of the turbolift and into the Transporter Room. Several more crewmembers lay scattered around the room, their posture and bodily injuries indicating a total unwillingness to get up and continue living. An Andromedan, presumably the transporter operator, lies slumped over the control console in a pool of his own blood. More blood is splattered across the transporter pads, which seem otherwise unharmed.
"Dear me." Ah'Choo gets a slightly queasy look and removes the dead Andromedan from the console.
- whump!* *bleed, bleed*
Ah'Choo sets to work fiddling with the transporter controls. Unfortunately, the system is highly complex, especially to the untrained. Still, by using her engineering skill, she manages to decipher some of the basic functions of the system.
Eventually she also manages to obtain a (relatively) solid lock on what she believes to be the engines of the escape pod. From the readings she gathers, the engines are cooling down... it would seem the proverbial eagle has landed.
"Hey, Roy. I suspect your bounty just managed to hit the planet's atmosphere."
"What make you think it's my bounty?"
"'So long, suckers' kinda seems to indicate a more personal concern here."
"'So long suckers'? What do you mean? Are you telling me this guy in the pod said something?"
"Yes, Roy. He sent us one single line over the commlink. 'So long, Suckers!'"
"Think you can get Computer to play the sentence again?"
"Computer, play back transmission from the escape pod."
The transmission from before replays itself perfectly. Roy listens to it carefully, trying to see if it is, in fact, from his bounty.
"So long, suckers!" *click*
Ah'Choo attempts to scan for nearby life forms, but, try as she might, she can't seem to figure out how to pinpoint any life signs using the transporter's instruments. She shakes her head and pages the Bridge.
"No good, gentlemen, I've lost him. I have a solid lock on the escape pod engines, but nothing else."
"Very well, Ma'am. Too bad we can't just recover the pod, in case we need it later." He pauses, then adds, "Is there a supply of transport signalers in the room there? If we beam down to the planet, we'll need a return ticket."
"Let me check, MP."
After a brief search, she notices a small cabinet in the side of the console. Opening it, she finds a box with a dozen or so transport signalers, which consist of a small black box with a red button on it. She stashes the box.
"MP, think we should rejoin Ah'Choo?"
"Yeah, let's head down there."
MP-X301 and Roy head into the turbolift.
- whoosh!* vrrrrrrm *whoosh!*
MP-X301 and Roy arrive in the Transporter Room.
"Hey, Ah'Choo. We figured we'd come down here," MP-X301 tells her.
"Ah, gentlemen. I was successful in locating signalers." Ah'Choo offers 4 of them to Roy and 4 to MP-X301, who both accept.
She then waves her hand at the carnage. "I was also successful in locating several dead bodies..."
"Always the same who get the fun," Roy gripes.
MP-X301 searches the bodies in the room while simultaneously laying them out and prepping them for the funeral.
"In any case, I have a lock on the escape pod. I suppose we could beam down and search visually from there..."
"I'd propose we head to the facility. We might acquire new coolant there," MP-X301 suggests.
"It's Slim who stole the pod. I don't know for you, but I'd rather if we kept the funeral for later, so he doesn't take a huge advance on us," Roy tells them.
As MP-X301 finishes with the bodies, he comes away with another 23 buckazoids in change and an electronic notepad. He pockets the change and turns on the notepad to see if there is anything recorded therein.
"At this point, I am not adverse to simply going down to the planet. The question is where we should start," Ah'Choo says.
"Is the pod any far from the buildings on the planet?" Roy asks.
MP-X301 finds that the notepad appears to be blank, except for a rather unflattering doodle of Chief Engineer Matt proclaiming himself to be "a big fat doody-head". He shows the doodle to Ah'Choo, then pockets the notepad for later use.
"Hmm. Looks like the transporter techs weren't very fond of Matt, either," Ah'Choo notes. She then goes to the console and determines how far away the escape pod is from the mysterious building.
"It would seem that the escape pod and the building are quite some distance apart, Roy. Roughly 30 miles."
"Well, we need to act quickly, either way. My circuits have become slightly more agitated than normal over this unusual planet," MP-X301 pipes up.
"We could split up. You and I could examine the building and Roy could search for his bounty."
"Not a good idea, Ma'am. We should stick together. Unless you have a pocket full of communicators, we would be unable to talk after hitting the planet."
"I'd be tempted to beam down to the pod and head to the building, but seeing how this prick stole our pod under our nose, I'd be tempted to beam to the building first simply to get a hand over as much equipment as we can."
"So you would want to go to the building first after all, Roy?"
"He's pretty much in the same situation as us down there. Unless if he took a signaler, he's stuck on the planet and his only way to survive is to reach the building. If we head there first, we'll just have to grab as much stuff as we can then we'll just wait for him to arrive."
"All right, it seems settled, then. We beam down to the building," Ah'Choo decides.
MP-X301 heads onto the cleanest transporter pad.
"But just in case, do you think you could lock the transporter to only work for us? With a password or something?"
"Roy, how much do you want to run the risk of damaging the systems of this vessel? They were designed for convenience, not security," MP-X301 tells him.
"I'm afraid not, Roy. The Extravagance just does not have that type of setup," Ah'Choo affirms.
"Dang. This guy escaped me one, I sure do not want him to escape me twice."
"Well... if you do not have a better idea, I suggest you may as well step up onto the pad and we shall commence this expedition. ...and, actually, Roy, by my count, I believe right now the operative phrase is 'Third time's the charm'."
"Let's go, people!" MP-X301 calls to them both.
"Agreed, let's go." Roy climbs onto the pad.
"Prepare yourselves, gentlemen."
MP-X301 holds onto his various panels and storage bays. Roy prepares himself, weapon at hand.
Ah'Choo sets the delay-timer on the transporter to beam them just outside the mysterious building, then runs up into her own spot on the transporter pad. The transporter equipment begins to hum.
The familiar buzzing, whining sound of the transporter kicks in, as they feel their bodies begin to dematerialize... it feels rather tingly.
"AAAAAAAAH! My sensors are being torn apart!" MP-X301 over-reacts.
The world around them swirls away into a field of static. After a moment, the world begins to reassemble itself. The indistinct features of the planet dial into focus as the tingling feeling stops, and the transport process finishes, leaving our heroes fully re-materialized and ready for action.