Heading Down

"Let's make a break for Engineering and see if we can put a spanner in the works from there," says Doc.

He calls up an area map on his HUD sunglasses, one provided to him by Veronica. It shows maintenance pathways that are not on the public maps. Down an alley off the main road, behind the storefronts in the residential section of the deck, there's a maintenance portal that leads to a vertical shaft with stairs spiraling around a two-meter utility conduit.

"This way," he leads. The Time Operatives follow.

The riot is in full swing with nearly a quarter of the millions of passengers involved. There's no hope of Spaaz recovering order on this ship, even if he could turn the PA system back on without Dr. Ritenrong hacking into it again.

Rioters run this way and that through the residential section. No one is sure quite where to go, but all seem to be finding their way towards the front of the ship. Here and there, groups engage the security forces and overwhelm them with shear numbers. The blasts and ricochets of slog throwers echo down the endless hallways

At last they reach the maintenance hatch and open it up. Inside lies the immense spiral staircase. The utility conduit blocks the view across the small room, but the stairs themselves are corrugated metal. One can see down nearly twenty turns around the shaft before the overlapping grids obscure the view. There's no one in here. The only sound besides the clanging metal as they step onto the small landing is the sound of the sharp breeze blowing up the shaft.

Thunderhorse takes point, with Mark right behind him, followed by Doc, then Steve. They head cautiously down the stairs, leaving the hatch open at the top. The rioters leak in behind them. The trip down becomes ever more noisy, as their footsteps clang down the stairs, and more and more join above them. The voices of the rioters echo throughout the chamber, reverberating chaotically down the tube.

Doc keeps his sunglasses tuned to thermal imaging. Steam and plasma lines inside the utility conduit interfere, keeping half the shaft obscured at all times. But he keeps looking down in hopes of catching sight of anything comming up at them.

Steve pipes up. "Don't shoot the conduit. It could rupture the plasma, steam, or methane lines, or sever the high voltage lines. We don't want a high voltage power line in contact with these stairs. We don't want methane gas in a firefight. We don't want to be steam cooked or disintegrated by ionized gas as hot as the sun. Let's hope like hell they don't notice us up here and decide to blow a hole in it."

Doc acknowledges this. He makes careful note of every landing and hatch that they pass. There's one every ten stories or so.

And then his worst fears are confirmed, at least his currenty worst fears; or perhaps his priority worries. Four thermal color splotches race around the stairs below them, disappearing behind the bright violet line of heat from the utility conduit, and reappearing on the other side, slightly larger than before.

1 comment:

Doc said...

"Heads up people! We've got company!"

(through the megaphone)"You there! Surrender your arms and you won't be harmed! Fight, and you will be destroyed! Come out with your hands up!"

Action- Use some chi to convince them to surrender. If they don't, CAREFULLY take them out.