Week 22, Taking the Factory
We left the group after just having destroyed Tweedledum, the last remaining JAS robot that we've seen. "Tin Man," who has finally now been given the name Nick (his brother is "Buddy"), flies Alag over to Chris, who heals him up. Then he, Cantrel, and Chris head over to the last airlock on the waist, and Alag breaches the outer door by hacking through it with his macro-metal katana.
Five minutes left until the point of no return for guiding the factory away from the Jack.
A short discussion follows, and Chris and Alag set off to the front of the factory and disable the dock and the airlock there by cutting a hole in the wall near the lock. The intent there is to make it easy to repair, but not too easy. Cantrel stays to guard the blown airlock.
As they finish, they notice two JAS robots heading towards the ship. Lorelei and Jarid wait for them in the airlock. Each of robot takes the same tactic, firing twice at the ship and once at someone in the airlock. The robots hit the ship, but miss the people. This is a pity for them, because neither Lorelei nor Jarid miss. That makes 9 of 9 -- unless the other got activated, too.
Meanwhile though, Gene has gone into evasive maneuvers, and is having trouble controlling the ship.
During this, Alag and Chris speed back toward the middle of the ship. Chris notices that Cantrel is off the net, and starts yelling telepathically for him. They notice a person strapping Cantrel into some sort of device. Alag is flying faster and reaches there first. When he gets in range he starts shooting at the fellow. A short battle ensues, and Cantrel's assailant psilences himself when Alag tries to stun him with a psi-based stunner, and attacks back with something akin to TK that Alag perhaps deflects some with TK block (unless he just missed). In any event the fellow is quickly pin-cushioned (including his psilencer).
Chris gets to Cantrel and starts to work in unstrapping him from the device, which explodes, wounding the both of them, but fortunately not making holes in their space suits. Chris heals himself and Cantrel up, and then wakes Cantrel, who has been very much out of it. Gene regains control of the ship and steers it back into position.
Alag hog-ties the fellow with TK and then he sort of implodes. Apparently, he had some sort of last-gasp booby-trap on him.
Two minutes remaining.
Cantrel and Alag investigate the assailant but remote control, and find him even more booby-trapped, with grenades and the like. They don't find out a whole lot more then reasonable evidence that he was not a Worldbender, and not one of Rashid's monstrosities.
They wait until zero-time, and then decide it is time to go in. The crew going in is three on EVA, with Jarid, Nick, and Buddy.
They recover their warning grenades, and head into the main part of the building. Chris sees a floating piece of machinery that is likely to be Jock. Well, part of Jock. The top part. Buddy confirms that Jock's distress signal is coming from there. They rescue it, and Nick hangs back to work on seeing if he's the equivalent of alive.
They head off to the control room, and survey the situation (by second sight) with several disassembled robots and things plugged into the controls. They radio back to the Sim, who volunteers to come and check it out.
The assessment is that some of these robots had been suborned and one robot pulled the others apart to reprogram the console. They have to hog-tie this last robot with TK, but once that's done, they disable the console. By now, Nick has decided that Jock is repairable, and does the equivalent of sedating him.
Next they head off to the power station, that being the next thing that seems in need of being secured. It is only held by a few small robots, and they quickly shut down the power station.
Jeremy reports that the ship is barely fighting back as they get to the power station, and after they shut it down, he reports that there's hardly any life in the factory's fight at all. When they shut down the station the central lights go very dim. This doesn't seem to be out of the ordinary to the humans, but Buddy notes that they had to have really drained the factory's reserve power for it to be this dark -- moonlight instead of sunlight. The last major center to be held at all are the main engine rooms.
Once they get there, they find it being held by two large repair robots, and several small robots. A short fight follows, with Nick, Alag, Cantrel, Jarid, and Chris having to all but dismantle the repair robots. Nick gets slightly (more) damaged, but the room is taken, and the factory is completely under our control.
We set up the smaller nose engines of the factory to start braking, and we dock our ship at the main dock. Then the robot crew sets about repairing Jock and the ship.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.