Jasra No. 1: A Stranger Comes Knocking

Someone’s banging on the hull of the Dark Angel.

Stretched out in the large captain’s chair that graces the center of the Dark Angel’s bridge, Jasra is startled from her quiet reverie of the surrounding stars through the viewport by the banging on the ship’s hull.

“What the hell!?” Jasra mutters, raising quickly from the chair and leaning over the display to check that yeah, they’re still floating in space. She tries to determine where on the hull the banging is happening and if there is a nearby ship that snuck up on her while she was spacedreaming. “As I pondered nearly napping suddenly there came a tapping…” she quotes a favorite line. “Can’t be a raven.”

The banging continues. A rhythmic thump-thump-thump. Seems to be coming from the lower quarter of the fore hull.

Jasra moves over to the inside hull where the thumping seems to be coming from. She peers through the viewport angling herself in a way to see what she can see… and she sees nothing but space. No ships, no objects. Moving to the lower quarter of the forward deck she moves her auburn curls away from her ear and presses it against the cool hull. She listens…

The thumping stops. It is replaced instead by a humming whir, as if a belt sander is being run over the hull plates of the Dark Angel.

A frown creases Jasra’s forehead just above her auburn brows, “HEY!” She shouts at the hull, lips almost touching the metal, “WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING STOP!”

The whirring noise stops. Now all that remains is the usual thrum and rumble of the Dark Angel’s engines and internal systems.

When the noise stops Jasra leans back in surprise, “Like that worked… hrm.”

The console wraps around the high backed padded chair the pilot occupies and is equipped with a shoulder and lap harness. It acts as the nerve center of the ship, monitoring communications, systems status, and the sensor displays. Dim light panels assist the pilot in seeing the controls without overpowering the viewscreen or console displays.

Quickly Jasra moves back to the console, green eyes checking the radar, sensors and all the other displays that tell her the condition of her ship. “Somethings not right here, Angel babe.” she murmurs to the ship, “Might be time to pull up stakes and move along to another spot in the Universe.” She sits down in the Captain’s chair and begins laying out a new course fingers flying over the console keys, “Been here too long anyway. Never stay in one place too long. Which way shall we go?”

Whirrrrr. Thump-thump. Whirrrr. Now the noise appears to be coming from the vicinity of the airlock.

Jasra’s fingers stop as soon as she hears the first thump, “Holy crap” she murmurs raising from the console and heading to the ladder leading down to the main deck. “What the hell, I told The Artist that we should have cameras all over the hull.” She drops the last few feet of the ladder, landing quietly on the plush magenta carpet that covers the main cabin deck. After a moment she heads for the airlock inner hatch.

She leans against the padded gray wall next to the airlock and peers through the little window there to look inside it…

Peering back through the porthole of the outer airlock door, two pale blue glass lenses framed by metallic ocular cubes. A metal fist-like appendage – one not being used to cling to the Dark Angel’s outer hull – lifts into view and waves back and forth, almost meekly.

Jasra’s eyes widen as she looks from the inner airlock viewport to the outer door porthole. She blinks a few times. “What the …” she murmurs. “Tis some visitor from outerspace…” She leans back away from the viewport out of sight of whatever it is with the metal fist thingy waving at her from outside. “What to do?”

Taking a deep breath she hits the button to open the outer airlock door. There’s the usual swoosh of air being pumped from the vault area before the outer door slides open, so no breathable air is wasted in the vacuum of space. From a hidden panel near the airlock she grabs a weapon set on stun and makes it ready. Brushing back a few wayward curls from her face she leans in to peer through the inner viewport to see whatever is going to enter the Angel’s airlock.

Into the airlock drifts a squat, bipedal mechanoid – possibly a Phyrrian – and the outer hatch clanks shut behind it. The blue lenses glow in the dim shadows of the airlock as the orb of the mechanoid’s head turns to regard the porthole of the inner airlock door. It raises the fist-like appendage again, then utters in a male computerized voice: “Salutations.”

“Shades of Silent Running” Jasra mutters as she flips the switch to activate the intercom to the airlock. “What do you think this is? The Valley Forge?” Then finally locking green human eyes with the metallic ocular cubes and blue lens she frowns, “What do you want?” Reaching out at the same time she flicks the outer airlock door close switch, with a slight rumble the door begins to slide towards that goal. Trapping the spaced visitor in the Angel’s airlock.

“This unit requires shelter,” the mechanoid replies. “This unit appreciates your cooperation.”

Breathable air swooshes into the airlock, momentarily fogging the portholes. “Where’s your ship?” Jasra asks, waiting for the fog to clear, though really what expression can be read off that face anyway. She frowns some more, “How’d you get out here in nowhere space and do you have weapons?”

“This unit has no recorded memory of a vessel under its ownership,” the mechanoid replies. “This unit possesses no powerful offensive weaponry, although it does maintain a welding laser, a plate sander, and a jumper module.”

“Let me think about this a moment.” Jasra leans a bit away from the porthole, “Be right back.” Turning away from the airlock she leans her back against the bulkhead. She closes her eyes and takes a long deep breath. “There’s no place like home.” she whispers, clicking the heels of her boots together three times. She opens her eyes and sees that nothing has changed, “Damn, someday that’s got to work. Ok… let’s see.” Reaching for the belt at her waist she pulls out matte black gloves made of some sort of leather. Tucking the weapon she’s been holding under her arm, she pulls the gloves on, one at a time, smoothing each finger, taking her time. They fit like a second skin.

Jasra retrieves the tucked away stungun from her armpit and turns back to the airlock porthole, “What is a jumper module?” she asks in her best researcher voice, brushing a few curls from her eyes as she speaks, tries to keep her face from betraying emotion, “What do you use it for?”

“When a mechanical device is powered by a battery and that battery loses its charge, this unit is capable of circumventing the chargeless state using the jumper module,” the mechanoid replies. “This unit is programmed primarily for maintenance and repair.”

Jasra seems to ponder this answer for a moment, then she actually smiles at the thing in her airlock. “Ok, I’ll let you in, but you stay only on the main deck…. for now. Hey, do you cook? I could use a cook. Ever since I lost The Artist I’ve been eating rations.” She reaches over to activate the inner airlock door now that that vault has filled with breathable air. “Welcome aboard the Dark Angel. If you mess with me the Falk, the King of Space Pirates, will take your inner copper for cash.”

“This unit is not programmed for the production of nutritious sustenance,” the mechanoid replies. “This unit is identified as RPR-03C. This unit is familiar with space vessel functionality. Unfortunately, this unit’s prior assignment was disassembled by hostile interaction.”

A noticeable sign of relief flashes across her face, Jasra waves a gloved left hand towards the main deck.

This room runs down the center of the ship from fore to aft. The walls of the room are a soft gray and are padded for the safety of the passengers, and the lighting is soft. The floor is covered in a plush magenta carpet. At the aft end beside the airlock is a ladder leading up to the bridge or down to the lower deck. In the port & starboard bulkheads are hatchways leading to the cabins. Forward is a small lounge area. It holds an inset kitchen area next to a light magenta and hunter green patterned couch and two matching overstuffed chairs, all facing a cherry wood coffee table.

“Okay RC… here’s the layout” the humanoid female is 5’8″ tall and slim, she has green eyes and long dark auburn hair that appears to be a deep red when viewed in the light, she wears it loose, flowing down her back and around her face in relaxed curls. She is dressed in black jeans, a white loose collared T-shirt with a stylized celtic drawing of a raven in black on the front is tucked into the waist of her pants. Her jeans are tucked into black leather motorcycle type boots, which encase her feet and reach to her knees, lacing up on the outside of her legs.On her hands she wears tough black leather gloves.

“Port and Aft…” she continues, then stops, “By the by, I’m Captain Jasra Beaulieu, if I haven’t already said that.” she adds, “Get a little space crazy sometimes.” then turns back to the port and aft pointing them out to her visitor again, “Those are the staterooms. Sure you don’t need those. Engineering & the hold are below this deck, take the ladder. Bridge is up the latter. It’s a quiet space…” black gloved hands wave towards each location as listed. “That is the cooking area.” Jas points towards the kitchen unit, “Supplies are in the hold, some are in the cabinets and I don’t like peas. Shouldn’t be any on board, but hey, The Artist liked them and would smuggle them aboard. So if you find any forget you found them.”

Once done with the orientation she turns back to face the “unit”. “Next question?” then pauses, face relaxed, waiting.

Such calm falls on the cabin after that flurry of speech.

“This unit is permitted to remain?” RPR-03C inquires. He rotates the cranial unit to take in the surroundings. “This unit will provide any engineering services required to earn passage. At some point, it would be beneficial to return to Phyrria for communion with the Overmind. However, this unit is under no time constraints in that regard.”

“Yeah, RC. You can stay for now.” the woman responds as she moves to flop in an overstuffed chair. Throwing one leg over an arm as she settles in, “You can be my cabin boy… err… whatever you are. Too bad you can’t cook.” After a moment Jasra asks, “How do you get into communion with the Overlord? Might as well get comfy and tell me your story, Nuts&Bolts.”

“This unit suffered data storage corruption during the mishap that resulted in de-assignment and vacuum drift,” the mechanoid replies. “As a result, this unit is incapable of providing much more information. This unit can tell you that if it is delivered to Phyrria for consultation with the Overmind, its memory can be restored to the last save state on record.”

“And where’s this overlord located?” Jasra asks, shifting in the chair till both boots are flat on the deck and she’s sitting like a normal person. Brushing back a few curls she seems to be examining the visitor more closely.

“The capital of Phyrria,” the mechanoid replies. “Task Matrix Central. Normally, vessels commanded by sentient organics are discouraged from making suborbital descents under their own power, but if this unit is aboard, this unit is confident that we would be permitted to land. Do you happen to know how far it is to Phyrria?”

Jasra ponders a moment then answers the question with one of her own, “I don’t know, don’t think it’s on my waypoints list, so do you have the coords for the location of Phyrria, RC?”

“This unit requires a fresh download of data from the Overmind, or perhaps access to the Consortium infomatrix, to determine those coordinates,” the Phyrrian replies.

Jasra leans towards her visitor still sitting on the chair, elbows on knees, gloved hands folded together, “Look RC I don’t know where Phyrria is and I know it’s not listed on my waypoints, cause if it was I’d have gone there to… a… trade… and stuff…” she sniffs rather unlady like, “So what do you suggest we do? Without coords we’re just a lost little noseeum in a Florida hurricane if we go looking for your overlord without that data.”

“If this unit could access the Stellar Consortium infomatrix, then perhaps this unit could be of further use in that regard,” the Phyrrian replies. “Are we within easy reach of the Consortium territory?”

“Well, can’t get there from here without a rift drive.” the human woman explains, “I was saving up for one to be installed. Still saving, not cheap.” She stands and stretches, then looks at the unit, “Guess that’s out then. Any other suggestions?”

“It is not vital that this unit ascertain a complete restoration of past data at this time,” the Phyrrian replies. “This unit is satisfied to assist the sentient organic commander of this vessel in whatever capacity is required as compensation for rescue.”

Jasra wanders over to the mini-kitchen area, sliding open a compartment. A little whisper of frost appears as the cooler air reaches the warm air of the main cabin. She reaches in and pulls out a cold beverage of some kind. Opening it she takes a long drink, caps it and turns to her guest, “Well I guess that will have to do, though I have no missions right now so I guess you can start by doing an inventory of the hold and up here.” She waves a hand towards the kitchen compartments, “Make sure I have plenty of this left.” she adds holding up the drink that seems to say Ensure on the label.

After sliding the compartment closed again with a slight snap of a magnetic latch, she goes on, “You can find oil and hardware stuff below if you need to repair or replenish. If you have a suggestion of where to go in the Ancient Expanse I’ll hear it. Going up to the bridge to check on stuff… when you’re done whatever come on up…” With that she moves to the ladder to the bridge, climbs nibblely and disappears through the upper hatch.

“This unit has no particular preference about where to go within the Ancient Expanse,” the Phyrrian states as he whirs onto the bridge behind Jasra. “However, it may prove beneficial for both of us to acquire a rift drive. Perhaps this unit could assist in that regard?”

A step down takes you to the navigation and astrogator console that sits directly in front of the viewscreen installed in the forward wall. The console wraps around the high backed padded chair the pilot occupies and is equipped with a shoulder and lap harness. The console acts as the nerve center of the ship, monitoring communications, systems status, and the sensor displays. Dim light panels assist the pilot in seeing the controls without overpowering the viewscreen or console displays.

Jasra has flopped into the large central pilot’s chair and turns to look at the Phyrrian, auburn eyebrows raised, “You have a way of getting a rift drive?” she swivels the chair till it’s facing the back of the bridge and her ‘guest’. Leaning forward she continues smiling now, “So tell me how we go about it. Would give us freedom to go elsewhere… and maybe get you back to your Overlord.”

“The ship this unit was aboard before the pirate attack was equipped with a rift drive,” the Phyrrian states. “It may be salvageable.”

Jasra blinks a few times, taking this information in, then spins the chair to face the console, gloved fingers start flying over the controls, “Let me run a scan for the ship’s location, unless you have the coords, RC.” She starts watching the displays for results.

“This unit can supply the coordinates,” the mechanoid replies. “They are stored within this unit’s current internal data cloud.”

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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