of the End (Part 2)
A System Shock 2 Story
By Chris Foncannon
(Tell me what you
think by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)
For a short eternity, there wasn't a single light or power source active
anywhere onboard the Von Braun. The entire ship was deathly silent, even
the hybrids (and worse things) were aware of their situation, so they
stopped whatever they were doing and waited in silence to see what was
going to happen next. Connor and the rest of his team also waited in the
pitch-black engineering corridor. As suddenly as the lights went out,
they came back on at about half the intensity. Then the voice of XERXES
rang throughout the ship.
"Warning, main power has been taken offline in order to prevent a
core overload. Emergency power reserves online, The Many apologizes for
any inconvenience that this has caused."
"Now we're in trouble," Weihua muttered.
"At least power came back up," replied another tech. Connor
knew what to do.
"Alright, we're going to split into two groups. Chief, choose one
of your best people, we're going to see if we can get main power online.
Weihua, you take the rest and secure the shuttle bay and shuttle control."
"Okay, We'll take care of it." Amy chose one of the techs, whose
name floated back to Connor as being Mike. Mike was a short Asian with
spiky black hair, no surprise since he and Weihua were best friends. The
two groups split and headed into two different directions.
"So what exactly can we do about the power chief?" asked Connor.
She replied, "First, we need to bypass the damaged conduit and purge
the coolant tubes. We can do that if we get to Fluidics control. After
that, we can make our way back to engineering and manually restart both
nacelles and the core." The trio made their way down the dark corridors
of the engineering deck, now feeling very alone. They walked through a
large set of double doors and once through, took a look around. The two
grav chutes and the hole in the ceiling immediately gave the room away
as the one below fluidics control. Connor stepped in the chute and was
lifted to the next level by the invisible force of the antigravity generators
that lined the wall of the chute. As he stepped out onto the upper level,
he saw that something had indeed happened there. The walls and ceiling
were riddled with bullet holes from a shotgun, which he found laying on
the floor next to a pile of spent shells. Amy and the tech sprang from
the grav chute and joined Connor in his inspection.
"Well, there's no blood. That could be a good sign," Mike said
hopefully. Connor pushed the button to open the door to fluidics control
and was dismayed to learn that it was locked.
"Chief, what's the code to this door?" he inquired. The chief
gave him a puzzled look and said
"There shouldn't be a code, this door is to remain unlocked in case
"Well, this door isn't opening without a code," Connor replied.
He took another look around and found a log entry chip lying on the ground,
which he promptly played back. The entry was from a female tech with blond
hair. Shouting to drown out the sounds of gun discharges in the background,
she explained that she locked the door to keep the invaders from messing
things up and that she was going to Cargo Bay B to take refuge from the
attack. "I have the feeling that we're about to go on a little wild
"It looks that way," the chief replied. Connor dropped the log
entry on the floor and the trio made their way down the chutes and on
to the cargo bays. They crept down the dimly lit corridor with their various
guns out and ready. When they reached the crossroad junction, they heard
gunfire coming from the hulking double door that led to Cargo Bay A. Connor
signaled for Mike and Amy to get into covering positions as he pressed
himself up against the wall next to the door.
Now!" he yelled. He hit the door
button and door sprang open. The three of them searched the area in front
of them for targets. They saw the remnants of the rest of the engineering
crew fleeing for their lives from hybrids and even TriOptimum robots.
They were running towards Connor and his trio while blindly firing shots
behind them. Connor, Amy and Mike immediately started firing at anything
they considered hostile at that moment. As the crew got closer, they were
being taken down one-by-one by the pellets from the hybrid's shotguns.
The first of the crew made it to the door and ran through to the "safety"
of the engineering corridor. When about three fourths of the remaining
personnel made it through the door, Mike suddenly lost his cool and started
"We can't stop them!" he shouted. "We have do something!"
"Stay down and keep firing!" Connor yelled back. However, that's
not what Mike did. Instead, Mike pulled out a grenade that only God knows
where he got it and stood up to throw it.
"Get down!" Connor screamed as he leap over to bring Mike down.
Everything slowed down and Connor realized it was too late. Mike was about
halfway through his swing when a tight grouping of pellets from a hybrid's
shotgun hit him right in the chest. His scream of agony filled the corridor
as he fell to the floor. Connor was more worried about the grenade however,
because Mike's interrupted throw had sent the grenade crashing into the
access corridor joining the engineering corridor to the cargo bay, the
very one the rest of the crew was running through to escape the invaders.
The grenade clanked around the corridor and stopped right smack in the
"MOVE!" Conner shouted as he dove around the corner. Everyone
scrambled to get out of the area.
Although the grenade
didn't create a relatively large explosion, it sent out a cloud of shrapnel.
The three remaining crewmembers running through the corridor were immediately
ripped to bloody shreds. If any of them survived, it didn't matter because
the air ducts running along the ceiling of the corridor came crashing
down on the bodies. However, Mike's sacrifice was effective. He had stopped
the hybrids from surging into the corridor. Just as the survivors were
breathing a sigh of relief, they heard the low growling of a group of
hybrids, the chirping of monkeys, and the friendly greetings of TriOptimum
droids. The sounds were coming from down the very corridor they were in.
"WHAT DO WE DO?" someone yelled.
"They're blocking they only way out!" another survivor screamed.
"Calm down," Connor replied, "Chief, any ideas?"
"There's a shuttlebay down this way," she pointed down the corridor
opposite from the sounds, "but there are no shuttles in it right
now. However, shuttle control is just above the bay. If we can barricade
ourselves up there, we might stand a chance. At least, our chances would
be a hell of a lot better than staying here. " Connor sighed. This
isn't very encouraging.
"Ok, let's do it," he said, trying really hard to sound confident
even though inside he wanted to find the closest hole to hide in. Connor
took a quick headcount. Only nine people left, including himself. "Everyone,
follow me!" he yelled and took off sprinting down the corridor towards
the shuttlebay. The nine of them only had a few dozen yards to go to reach
the shuttlebay but their pursuers were right behind them and closing fast.
Right as they burst through the double doors, they realized their plan
was not going to work. The moment they entered the room, they heard growling
coming from the very control room that they were going to hide in. Apparently,
they had disturbed the hybrids and other things in whatever it was that
they were doing. Connor looked around for something, anything that could
be used to their advantage.
"Connor, what should we do?" screamed Amy. But Connor was for
once out of ideas. There was no possible way they could hold their own
against the aliens they could see advancing towards them through the corridor
and the ones stirring about in the control room above them. Common, think.
Think Connor damn it, think! There's got to be something we can do. But
there was nothing; no cover, no place to run, nothing they could use to
"I don't know," he yelled back. His admission of defeat quite
obviously showed to everyone, for they all immediately lost what little
morale they had left. Connor looked down the corridor; the group of aliens
was only a few dozen yards away. Connor closed his eyes and hoped his
death wouldn't be extremely painful.
Connor heard a loud
noise fly over his head and he saw a blinding orange light through his
eyelids. He opened his eyes just in time to see a missile fly over his
head and down the corridor. It impacted with the leading front of the
group of advancing aliens and exploded in a blindingly bright explosion.
The shock wave knocked everyone off of their feet. Most of the invaders
were blown apart by the explosion. The few that remained were killed by
the resulting shrapnel. Connor whirled around to see a UNN combat shuttle
fly through the atmospheric force field and into the bay. The combat shuttle
was basically the same thing as the TriOptimum passenger shuttle except
for one big difference: the combat shuttle had a full complement of missiles
for offensive/defensive purposes. The crew scattered to give the shuttle
room to land. By now the aliens in the control room were really pissed
off and they started coming down the grav chute
"Open fire!" Connor yelled and he started picking off aliens
with his shotgun. Everyone started firing and the bay was suddenly turned
into a battleground. The shuttle's landing thrusters fired and the landing
gear came down. The moment the shuttle touched down the hatch opened.
From it came none other than Corporal Derek Underhill, a tall young guy
with brown hair and a serious emotional need to be the best at everything.
Derek was carrying an assault rifle, which he immediately used. The sounds
of semiautomatic pistol and shotgun discharges were suddenly accompanied
by the sound of automatic gunfire. The humans now had the upper hand and
soon were victorious. Derek surveyed the bay with satisfaction as if he
was almost enjoying himself. Connor really didn't care; he just wanted
to get out of there. Apparently the rest of his crew felt the same way
for before he even gave the order, they were all piling into the shuttle.
Connor leapt in and got into the pilot's seat.
"Come on Derek!" he called. Derek didn't have to be ordered
twice. He bolted through the hatch and sealed it. Once Derek was strapped
in, Connor lifted off and expertly piloted the shuttle out the door into
"Will someone care to enlighten me as to what's going on?" Derek
demanded. "I'm out on a recon mission to survey the rest of the Tau
Ceti System when I receive a distress signal from the Von Braun saying
it's under attack. When I get there, I see no signs of attack but the
ship has stopped responding to my hails. So I decide to land in the only
shuttlebay with room. When I get there I see one soldier and a bunch of
civilians watching a group of nasty looking things coming at them. You
know the rest of the story."
"Yes," replied Connor, then he quickly filled Derek in on what
happened to him since he was in the coolant tubes.
"I see," was all Derek said in return.
"Now that we're out of there, what do we do?" Amy asked.
"Well we can't make it back to Earth in this thing, it's just a short
range shuttle," Derek replied.
"Besides, we can't just leave everyone else back on the Von Braun
to die. We have to save them." Weihua added.
"I agree, even if we didn't want go back, we have to because we sure
as hell aren't going anywhere in this thing." Connor said.
"Wait a minute!" Amy exclaimed, "Before you showed up in
Engineering, I interfaced with the computer to find out what was going
on the upper decks. For the most part I was locked out but one of the
things I did manage to find out was that XERXES jettisoned all the escape
pods. At the time I had no idea why he did that but now I realize that
it was to prevent the crew from escaping. Anyways, since the pods were
unmanned, they should be drifting around here nearby."
"That's right!" Derek replied, "If we can find and recover
the pods, we can use them to get all the way back to Earth!"
"Okay, that will be the final plan. First we'll recover the pods,
then we'll go back to the ship to look for survivors. Once we get as many
people as we can out of there, we'll set charges to blow up the ship and
return to Earth in the escape pods. Corporal, start a sweep of the system
for the pods." Connor commanded.
"Yes sir," Derek responded. After a moment of Derek typing things
into his panel, he called out, "Sir, I've detected one of the pods
about 3,000 miles from here. Laying in a course." The shuttle started
moving, sailing seamlessly through space. A few minutes later, a long
arrowhead shaped object appeared in the front window. It was an escape
"It appears to be intact," Amy said.
"Beginning docking sequence," Derek rang out. The shuttle rotated
until the docking port on the shuttle lined up with that of the escape
pod. The two ships became one as the shuttle docked and latched onto the
pod with a series of clicks and hisses.
"All right," Connor barked out, "for the moment, we're
going to assume that there are aliens on the pod. Therefore, we're going
to act accordingly. Wei, Derek, Amy, get your weapons ready, we're going
over to secure the pod." The four of them readied their shotguns
and Connor opened the hatch. He then opened the escape pod hatch. He crept
slowly inside. Since no one was inside, the power was off and the air
was stale. Connor signaled for Amy, Derek, and Weihua to come in. While
they covered him, he walked over to the power box. Connor flipped the
switch and they were suddenly bathed in a bright light. They all looked
around wildly to see
nothing. They all breathed a sigh of relief.
Connor surveyed the pod. There were four cryogenic stasis chambers for
long-term travel (like going back to Earth) and a pilot's panel and seat.
In the back of the pod there was a row of seats. Even though each pod
was designed for a dozen people, they were really capable of holding twice
that many. Since the Von Braun was the first faster-than-light starship,
the pods it carried were modified versions of the generic TriOptimum pods.
All this really meant was that in each pod, four cryo chambers were installed.
Since the pods were meant for three times that many people, it was obvious
that the modifications to the pods were there just to meet some requirement;
no one ever really expected them to be used. After making sure the pod
was completely clear of aliens, Connor and the team returned to the shuttle.
"It's all clear," Connor informed everyone, "Now we have
to make another decision. Everyone who wants to volunteer go back to rescue
survivors stay on this shuttle. Everyone who doesn't will board the pod
and try to locate the other pods. You will then board and secure those
pods. The more pods we have the better. Alright, now it's time to decide."
Derek, Amy, and Weihua stayed on the shuttle and everyone else went through
the hatch to the pod. "Good luck," Connor said to the crew of
the pod. He punched the button and the hatches clanged shut. "Let's
go," Connor told Derek, who separated the shuttle from the pod. The
two ships went opposite directions; the pod out further into the system
and the shuttle back towards the looming hulk of the Von Braun.
"It looks so peaceful out here," Amy said, "Almost as if
nothing is wrong".
"So where do you want to dock?" Derek asked Connor. Connor thought
for a moment.
"Deck 2." He replied. "There we can get medical supplies,
spare parts for the cryo tubes, and food from the crews mess on that deck."
"Sounds good," Derek said. "Setting course for the Deck
2 airlock". The shuttle came to within 20 yards of the hull of the
Von Braun and started moving along it. They passed view ports, antenna
clusters, radar dishes, and all kinds of other unidentifiable protrusions.
As they passed one particular veiwport, something caught Connor's eye.
"Hold on," he said. Derek stopped the shuttle and they all looked
through the viewport. They saw an unarmed civilian huddling in the corner
of a room. The door of the room opened and a new alien came out. Though
this one had the torso of a woman and the legs of a machine. The man screamed
and the thing advanced towards him. He started talking to it very rapidly,
no doubt begging for his life. The creature had no mercy and what happened
next sickened them. "There's nothing we can do for him anymore,"
Connor said in a low tone. "Let's move on". They continued along
the hull until it came to a docking port labeled "Deck 2: Medical
/ Science". Derek pulled up next to it and docked.
"Docking sequence completed," Derek said.
"Lock and load everybody," Connor ordered. Every one started
picking up weapons and loading them. Connor picked up an assault rifle
from the shuttle's weapon locker and loaded it. Then he put his pistol
and his wrench on his belt. Once everyone was ready, he hit the door button
and the hatch slide open. "Derek, stay here and keep the shuttle
secure. Amy, Wei, after you." He gestured to the hatch. The three
of them stepped through into the dark unknown.
To Be Continued