Year 18

Chapter 10
Denmark, July 2358

by E.Escher - 5th Jan 2017
'Cille? What do you see?'

'A corridor, what looks like a security station, and a locker. Probably weapons storage.'


Cille studied the scene. If the site was military the government would claim everything as salvage.

'Hard to say.' she replied. 'I don't think so.' She stepped away from the broken doorway and gestured to the wheeled recon robot at her side. 'I'm sending in Wheeler. Do you have the feed?'

She blink-clicked some commands to her goggles, and watched through the robot's cameras for a couple of seconds. Over by the crawler, Ernst would be doing the same.

'Broadcast is fine.' he confirmed. 'I'm going to get suited up.'

'Aye. Starting recon run. I'll yell if it finds anything.'

'Send in drone one, as well. It's doing no good out here.'

'On it.' The hover-drone's AI wasn't as clever as the wheeled machine, it just went where it was told, but it could give her a more normal viewpoint. She shunted the first window to one side and blinked up the Drone's feed, summoning it to her location.

There was a moment of dizziness as she herself from the drone's viewpoint, and then it was in through the door, scanners active. Her goggles fed the streams from both machines to the crawler's computer, which processed them both and kept a careful record.

Wheeler found something of interest, and chirped an alert. She swung the drone around for a better look.

'Ernst, I found a weapon. Discarded.'

'I see it,' he replied. 'Old neuroshock rifle. G842, carbine. Civilian security, not military.' He sounded pleased.

'Not just old, those things have been out of production for a hundred years or more.'

'Noted. We'll bag it later. I'm hoping we'll find something more than an old stun-gun.'

'Wheeler says the air's no good. I'll get some samples and check for nano-pathogens.'

'Looks dusty in there.'

'I guess the air scrubbers stopped when the vents choked up. Maybe sooner if the power went out. I'm not reading any live power sources.'

She nudged the drone onward, sticking close to the little recon robot as it zipped away down the corridor. Her goggles overlaid a wireframe of the floorplans from her map, matching the view fairly accurately and highlighting the location of rooms beyond her view.

'I can fly around this outer loop, but all the inner rooms will have doors. There's a central access route through the middle, but I think there's a door on that, too. I'll check.'

'Can wheeler operate the doors?' asked Ernst. The recon droid was small, but had a telescopic manipulator limb on its back, and knew how to operate a door handle.

'According to the blueprints, all the doors are motorised, with electronic latches. Without power we're going to have to force all the doors manually.'

'Any chance of restoring power?'

'That's a good thought. Find the battery backup and try to feed it from the crawler. Can you get the cables ready? I think I'm going to have to go in and hack the door system.'

'Wait for me. How much cable do you need?'

'No idea. Check the plans for me.'

Cille dismissed the drone feed and pushed her suit through the cramped hatchway. The articulated shoulders threatened to jam in the gap, but a powered shrug shoved the door open another few inches.

She strode toward the security station, and picked up the stungun. Her suit sensors immediately complained about the air quality, but that was no surprise. A second alert popped up in her view; Wheeler had identified something else for her to look at. It was only fifty metres from her location, so she told it to stay put and made her own way over there to see for herself.

Ernst chimed in over the chat channel. 'Cille? What's got Wheeler so excited? What's it found?'

'Hold on,' She spotted the little robot moving back and forth in jerky motions, as though unsure what to do with itself. Usually it would just send back some images, after consulting with the crawler to identify whatever it had found.

The machine was designed to identify loot and tech. They'd never programmed it to identify human remains, but it was nonetheless acting up.

'We found bodies,' she reported. 'Or parts of bodies. The remains are scattered, but I'd guess this is three, maybe four people.'

She knew Ernst could see the video feed from her visor. 'What the hell happened there?' he demanded. 'Looks like an animal got at the bodies.'

'Could be, I guess, but I can't see how anything would get in here.'

'Stay alert, Cille.'

'Oh relax, this place has been sealed up for a century or more.'

'That is in no way relaxing.'

'I've got a route to the power core, heading there now. Should be two secure doors in the way. Spool me out two-fifty metres of cable. I'm sending Wheeler back for it.' She blinked an 'RTB' command to the robot, and it sped away back to the crawler.

She shook her head at the AI's apparent enthusiasm. 'Funny little thing.'

It didn't take long to find the first door, and a helpful sign confirmed that the power controls were behind it. The powerful motors of her exo-frame made short work of the locking mechanism, after which she pulled the whole door out of its housing and propped it up against the wall.

The control room within was empty, and she idly tapped her fingers on the lifeless computer display, leaving tracks in the dust. The terminal was a solid-state device, and would be served from the main complex, so there was no way to fire it up without restarting the whole system. She muttered a few mild oaths, and set about demolishing the next door.

This one was also intended as shielding in case something went drastically wrong with the battery, so it was much thicker and heavier than the other. She considered using some of the small explosives in her pack, but decided against it. She might destabilise the ceiling, and explosions were precisely what the door was designed to stop. Instead, she worked around the door frame methodically, attacking the weak spots to reveal more and more of the mechanism.

Mostly-done, her attention wandered a little, and she took another look around the control room. One of the dust-covered units was a storage rack for weapons. She hadn't recognised it at first because it was empty; somebody had taken the two firearms from within and not bothered to close the shutter afterward.

She mused on possible scenarios for this: some kind of attack, possibly, or just taking everything away as they decommissioned the place and shut down for the last time?

'Ehhn, long time ago, either way.' She set back to the door with renewed vigour, pulling the last few clamps apart so it was free to move aside. It didn't move smoothly, but she was able to cram it into the housing and jam it in place by bending the frame inwards.

'I'm through the second door,' she reported. 'How's that cable coming?'

'Wheeler's spooling it out now. Five minutes.'

She pulled up a map on her visor, and Wheeler's position was a marked by a bright flashing icon making its way toward the power room. Commercially-available power plants were a standardised design, so she asked the crawler for tech specs on the most common designs, and scanned through the likely matches. Before long she had something that resembled the industrial battery rig before her, which allowed her to track down the maintenance compartment. She raised an eyebrow at the security lock, before tearing it away with a servo-powered claw. The lid tore away easily, and she got her first good look at the feed terminals, marked with the appropriate input/output ratings and frequencies.

She sent the specification to Ernst, and turned around as Wheeler finally arrived with the cable spool. The thickly-armoured cable was heavy, dragged behind the robot on a wheeled cart as it unrolled. She unhooked the cart and shook out the terminal connectors. They were a modular design, intended to retro-fit onto pretty much anything they'd run across, so it was a matter of moments to get them attached to the battery's charging ports.

'Ready to go live,' she smiled. 'Hit the juice, and we'll see what we've got here.'
The curious tale of Colin Campbell
Part One - How did it come to this?, Chapter 1, Earlier that day
Chapter 2, Earlier still
Chapter 3, Making a withdrawal
Chapter 4, August 18th, 2362
Chapter 5, Angel of Death
Chapter 6, Welcome to 2016.
Chapter 7, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 8, After the crash
Chapter 9, Music of the Spheres
Chapter 10, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 11, Harbinger FM
Chapter 12, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 13, Excuses and lies
Part Two - So here we are, Chapter 14
Chapter 15, Quite a ride
Chapter 16, Talking the talk
Chapter 17, Leisurely pursuit
Chapter 18, Dinner Date with Destiny
Chapter 19, Chips with everything
Chapter 20, Harbinger
Chapter 21, Time to leave
Chapter 22, Manchester
Chapter 23, Colin's House
Chapter 24, On the road
Chapter 25, Chateau Harbinger
Chapter 26, Showdown
Epilogue, Debriefing
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