Sendak: I'm under the compressor shafts right now... I can hear a clanking noise up there...
Spanners: More centipedes!
Meanwhile, up here we have been fighting off centipedes who have swarmed into the breached compressor shaft. Some rapid blaster fire by me and Serron killed a few which fell down the shaft. Eventually one survived long enough to get a foothold on the horizontal access tunnel and slashed a claw across Serron's head. We retreated to the compressor control room, shooting the centipede so that its body blocks access by others.
Ogier has been more successful directing engineers and militia in cleaning out the second blocked intake fan, and that one has been restarted now. The engineers are currently welding thick steel bars across the shafts and access ways to block off any route into the town through the two working compressor shafts.
This leaves us stuck in the control room, with now way back to the town except across the spaceport tarmac to a lift. There are hundreds of the creatures up there.
Sendak and myself have been organising militia to shoot and kill them as they drop out of the shaft, but we need a way to seal the shaft completely. Air is leaking out of the town to the surface and soon the air pressure will drop to the point where we need compressor masks to breathe.
Since the air shaft comes out of the ceiling next to the wall of the town, I am moving to plant an explosive charge in the rock to collapse a section and hopefully seal the shaft. With two compressors working and the third shaft blocked we should have enough air.
We hear from Iki Piki that his attempt to block the damaged air shaft from down in the town has been successful. Some judiciously placed plastex-B has stopped the centipedes from having an access to Smit Town, and a quick spray of packing foam over the rubble has made the blockage airtight.
We still need to weld thicker steel over the intake vents to the two working compressor shafts. Thankfully the centipedes have temporarily abandoned them in favour of the open shaft, but we need to make sure they don't get in and clog one of the fans again.
Sara Hercule: ... but let us not forget we lost four brave men in the process. Our situation is still grim, but for the time being it looks as though Smit Town is secure. Sergeant Greener?
Holden Greener: Militia have barricaded and secured all known possible access points. We have armed people on watch at each location. Power plant is good and environmental systems are nominal. I'd say we can hold out like this for some time.
Sara Hercule: Which brings up the possibility of calling for help. Serron, you and your crew have the only ship in port at the moment... I think it's time for you to leave and bring some rescue teams back.
Serron: We'd be happy to help, Administrator, but we are currently contracted with Gabatith Haulage for a cargo of egg powder, most of which is still out at the Parnaby farm...
Sara Hercule: What are you saying?
Serron: If you can guarantee to offset any penalties arising from clauses in our contract...
Sara Hercule: I see. Yes... the colony administration fund will cover your losses.
Serron: Then we're at your service.
Since Sendak is staying on Dashgad for the time being, he is insisting that we unload his cargo, most of which is still aboard the Legacy. Spanners and Ogier have gone up to the surface with Sendak to unload the ship. The ultrasonic device Spanners rigged up to keep the centipedes away is still working, but seems to be losing effectiveness. We're going to have to get on board and leave soon if we're to leave at all.
Sirene: Thank you, Administrator.
Sara Hercule: There probably isn't much reason for you to come back here after this. I don't know if we can rebuild our economy. We don't know that there are any live dashgoats left at all, but we do have cell samples we can clone. Maybe if we can somehow control these predators... Anyway, thank you for all your help, and I hope that someday we can meet again under more pleasant circumstances.
Serron: Thank you, Administrator. Now, I think it's time we went up to...
[Muffled explosion. Sounds of falling objects. Screams.]
Ogier: Oh.. now what...?
Sara Hercule: Sergeant!! What was that?!
[Louder explosion, closer... More screaming.]
Holden Greener: Ma'am, it looks like there's been some explosions up at the starport. I've got the video here... Thomson! Put it up on the screen... rewind! There! Play it.
Voice: Administrator! We got rockfalls in the town! People are trapped and injured!
Sara Hercule: Marshall Lavilli, get out there..! Take medics and militia.
Iki Piki: It looks like one of the centipedes got into an egg powder store... It's eating it.. it's covered in the stuff. Where's it going?
Serron: What's in that tanker truck....?
Holden Greener: That's full of fuel alcohol... for the trucks...
Iki Piki: And the egg powder is an oxidising agent, right?
Holden Greener: Oh, geez! Look at that! It's ruptured the fuel pipes... Holy cow...
Sirene: The Legacy!! Spanners, can you hear me?
Voice: Administrator, we have some real problems out here. The roof has collapsed on most of the town. Lots of shafts have ruptured, and the air is escaping. And it's probably not long before those creatures find their way in.
Spanners: I'm here. The explosions shook the ship up a bit, but it's in one piece. I'm checking to see if there's any serious damage.
Sara Hercule: This is bad. It's still ten hours to sunrise... If our air escapes we can breathe with compressor masks but the temperature will drop to 40 below.
Serron: Wait a minute... we have plenty of power, right?
Holden Greener: 35 megawatt fusion generator. We can redline it to 50 if we need to.
Serron: We can hook up power to metal bars. Heat the town with radiators.
Spanners: We have a problem there with a massive heat sink called... the planet. The external atmosphere is going to suck any heat out quicker than you can make it, with these gaping holes from the explosion. By the way... there are hundreds of centipedes heading down there...
[Screams and gunfire.]
Sara Hercule: Everyone! Grab a weapon and get out there! This is our last stand!
Engineers rigged up radiator units to try to keep us warm as the temperature dropped well below freezing. The centipedes came at us in waves, one after another. With the few weapons we had, we managed to pick off a few now and then. Thankfully the rest seemed so hungry that they turned on their wounded comrades and tore them apart in a feeding frenzy.
We lost a few people on the outer perimeter, but casualties have not been as bad as they could have been, thanks to Spanners finding a working lift shaft and coming down with his ultrasonic generator. That held them at bay for a while, until they got frenetic enough to ignore it and came at us anyway.
As the sun approached the horizon above us, the air warmed up slightly. This seemed to drive the centipedes into a final fury so that they started actively attacking one another. Those which had something to eat retreated and began laying eggs, while the rest become increasingly furious. A few well placed shots with our last remaining power cells held them off just long enough that the attackers dwindled away and we were left nursing the frostbitten and injured.
The last centipedes in the town have now been dealt with. Engineers are attaching thermal insulation to the hospital building and power plant buildings so that they can be kept heated to tolerable temperatures. Looking out at the town now I can see the rubble of the collapsed roof, with a few people wandering around looking for survivors, and the first rays of the rising sun throwing dusty shafts of light into the scene.
It looks like this nightmare is finally over.
Over the past two days the Dashgad colony has lost 73 people. The survivors may no longer have a home. But it could easily have been much, much worse.
Skewing into hyperspace... Now...
|New Dawn on Dashgad is based on the adventure "Long Night on Dashgad" by M. J. Dougherty, published in Pyramid, Steve Jackson Games' on-line gaming magazine.|