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Unknown Dusk Moon
The ship lurched quickly to one side and everything in the room went flying. Gideon’s head was spinning from the sudden change of position, like flying fast with a sudden stop. He felt his bones creaking, his side was just shy of buckling and his right wrist cracked against the console. The wind was knocked out of him and the gasp of pain cut short. He felt agony in his body, his vision filled with black spots. Baxter let out a howling shriek of his own. Gideon received realtime medical updates from his QSD.
Muscle tear detected
Spinal stress detected
Minor rib fractures detected
Bone stress detected
Multiple right wrist bone fractures detected
Seek medical attention
Gideon felt the painkiller take effect almost immediately. He still couldn’t believe it was all due to a pepper. A pepper that could send someone into screaming fits of agony being used for pain medication. Gideon was stunned from the crash, the feeling of disassociation was leaving as he returned back to the moment. There was no follow up movement or rumbling. The dishes and food were settling over the ship, with the crate thankfully missing both of the crew. Baxter was slumped in his seat, motionless. Gideon simply sat and waited. His breath coming out in a rush, his body covered in sweat. The pain was numb, but everything still felt broken.
“Baxter… You dead?” Gideon asked with a strained cough.
“Yes,” Baxter responded softly. There was a whine on the coms.
“Ok good… Me too.” Gideon slumped in his chair. If Baxter was speaking, his chances were good.
Gideon kept waiting for movement, but it was silent as space. He tried wiggling his fingers on the broken arm, but couldn’t. He would need to look at it soon, and hopefully, it wouldn’t swell badly enough to get stuck in the glove. The suit assisted with that, but it could happen. Gideon decided to risk it and undid the harness, causing the harness to shoot up and sink into the back of the seating. He felt his breath coming out in wheezes, the ribs cracking. He got up with a stumble and sat back down. A thought occurred to him. He noticed there was no strobing of the Rumbler walking away. It might have stopped above them. He wasn’t sure as he had blacked out for a brief second the Rumbler struck above them.
His legs felt weak.
All of him felt weak.
He had wine so stims would have to wait. He was thankful capsaiphine was one of two painkillers not affected by alcohol. He wasn’t making that mistake again.
Focus. Get to Baxter.
Even with painkillers, his body felt stiff and twisted. He shuffled to Baxter, avoiding loose plates and slippery food. The tilted room didn’t help. He leaned on the chair and opened Baxter’s helmet. His tongue was loling out and his eyes were closed.
“Go away. I am dead.” Baxter coughed.
Gideon ignored that and gathered medical data from Baxter’s QSD.
That’s just unfair.
He regretted the thought immediately as it was good that Baxter was uninjured. The stress of the flight, the escape, then the Rumbler must have tuckered the guy out.
Better let him sleep.
He sent a gnat to check up above, seeing the rumbler was absent. The horizon was filled with three other Rumblers. The one that had almost crushed them was absent.
Did it rush off to the other side of the moon? Where the hell is it?
He found no signs of the fourth Rumbler. How it moved so quickly was beyond him. He could see the footprints which were more akin to massive mining shafts in the ash soil. Even then, the ash began to slowly sift down the chasm.
Gideon got an alert that was as good as the armory inventory from Baxter.
AI repair complete for: Shindow
Gideon gave a slight thought and called to her. She responded, appearing in a ball of orange pixelated light. She was the same as before, her tiny round arm adjusting her glasses as she looked around the ship. She had a vacant smile as she surveyed the damage and turned to Gideon. She floated over to him and looked him in the eyes. Gideon was glad to have her back again.
“What the hell happened!” Shindow shouted, her smile gone, her adorable eyes filled with anger. She gestured throughout the room.
“Hi Shin.” Was all Gideon could manage to say with a cough.
“Don’t you play pity fleet with me! What is this?!”
She seemed mad.
Gideon tried to make his way back to the captain’s chair but fell due to the imbalance, swearing in the process. Shindow floated over to him and ran medical, seeing his status.
“Oh, oh… Oh no! You aren’t acting,” Shindow said, her voice distraught.
“Yeah we survived… I think,” Gideon said with a groan. He didn’t move..
“Let me update….” Gideon did a mental transfer of what happened the past four hours, the Dusk satellites, the grey moon and atmosphere, the makeup of the planet, the escape on the Ferrum, and the run-in with a ‘’Rumbler’. He also showed her their ‘party’ they had before the destruction.
“Well, that was bad timing. What was that thing?” Shindow stated. She did a pirouette and raised her arm, a pulse of orange light showing for a brief second. Thirty-two Gnats answered the call and formed in a blizzard of orange light.
“Ok kids, clean your room,” Shindow ordered.
All thirty-two Gnats lined up and saluted with one of their half-circle hands.
“Itadakimasu!” They all shouted, droning off and cleaning up the mess with dark orange rays of light. Most of the items would go into Gideon’s junk category and inventory announcement was silence for that. The crate with its new crushed corner was dematerialized, the ship had broke the crate on impact, receiving only some black buffing in kind. The crate could be turned into steel scrap or for welding material.
“Gideon, why do we have an armory?” Shindow asked with a confused look.
“Ask Baxter. He took it.”
“Wait, he was the one that took the supplies, not the Empire of Dusk?”
“Yeah, gave the quartermaster the good ol’ razzle-dazzle to get in and he absconded the items.”
“B-but they were all encrypted! He shouldn’t have been able to do that.” Shindow stammered which was a rarity for AI.
“What,” Gideon gave a brilliant retort.
He sat up and shuffled his way to the captain’s chair, making it there this time. They both looked at Baxter who was sound asleep in his chair. Shindow checked his privilege.
Privilege Access: Baxter is the best doggy
“What.” Shindow and Gideon said in unison.
“How did he get that? What is that?” Gideon asked.
“I don’t even know what I’m looking at. I don’t know what level of access to compare it to.” Shindow gestured the last words with her tiny arms.
“Well, wouldn’t it be super-admin at least? I know I can dematerialize encrypted items.”
“At least,” Shindow accepted the argument.
“And just to compare, don’t we have a certain item I can’t touch?” Gideon asked while cocking an eyebrow.
Shindow mimicked that gesture and thought. Her eyes went wide and she stared at Baxter.
“Maybe. Father couldn’t access it either. This is a comet-shoot,” Gideon stated.
Gideon materialized a small piece of steak and made his way carefully over to Baxter. Much of the mess was cleaned by the Gnats, but there was still a lot of work to be done. He placed it in front of Baxter’s nose, tempting him. Baxter’s nose began twitching and he slowly licked up and ate the steak. He snorted awake to the taste and smell of steak. He sniffed at Gideon’s hand and began to lick it.
“Good morning, Baxter. How are you?” Gideon asked.
Baxter looked at Gideon none too pleased, even with the bribery. Gideon knew what he had done.
“Hey look, I’m sorry for getting angry. We should have been going on vacation by now. I should’ve been more patient to the fact that none of us were prepared for what happened.” Gideon said, thinking of how his father handled situations like this.
Baxter’s temperament softened.
“I am… I am sorry for blaming you for this bad time.” Baxter whined softly.
“And for the shoe.”
There was blue pixelated light around his muzzle, and a shoe appeared. Baxter was holding it softly in his mouth. Apart from some slobber, it was in good condition.
“I di’ no’ ea’ i’ -mlom-.” Baxter said with his mouth full. He dropped the shoe into Gideon’s hand.
“Keep it, Amelia has the other one. I got pillaged by pranksters,” Gideon laughed.
They were only shoes. There were more important things right now. Baxter grabbed the shoe, shook it, then stored it.
“Shindow, is there anything we can do about the ship? This angle is killing me.”
“Leave it to me!” She announced.
The ship began to vibrate and shift. The bridge floor began to level as the Ferrum re-ran the burrow protocol and righted itself. The Gnats were still cleaning the ship, chasing after the items that were vibrated out of place with a wide-eyed, open mouth scurry. Gideon heard them giving out errors as the items vibrated out of their beams.
“Baka Baka Baka!”
“Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka Baka!”
It was a ridiculous scene, seeing Gnats chase dancing items like birds after jumping worms. The vibration and righting of the ship ceased as the ship became leveled once more.
“OK, Gideon ship is level now. I am keeping scans going to check for those Rumblers.”
“Baxter, we need you,” Gideon signaled to Baxter as he sat down in his chair with a groan.
Baxter’s straps undid themselves and sealed inside the chair. He hopped out of the chair and ran to Gideon, jumping up and leaning on the captain’s chair.
“Oh! Shindow you are back. I hope you are just OK,” Baxter said with a chuff.
How he didn’t notice Shindow until now was a mystery. She giggled at that.
“I’m fine. The Dusk satellite did a real algorithm on me with security counter-attacks. It pulled no punches. I’m glad your father, Gideon, put in his new safety addon or I’d be binary dust now,” She floated down to Baxter and tried poking his nose as she continued; Baxter sneezing in response.
“Baxter. You have very strange access privileges for your QSD. How did you get that?” Shindow showed him his current privileges.
“I begged,” He said matter of factly.
“Wait, how did you convince my father to give you an unknown and unorthodox level of access?!”
“I begged nicely” He updated his answer.
Shindow sat down on Baxter’s head in between his ears.
“We’re going in circles here. Baxter, can you do us an experiment?” Shindow asked.
“Is it on the flavor of steak?”
“O-of course…” Shindow hesitantly said with a giggle, raising her brows at that.
“And also to see what you can do about the item in Gideon’s inventory.”
Gideon gave an invite of inventory access to Baxter, who accepted. Gideon could feel Baxter poking around his inventory clumsily. After a while of Baxter’s shenanigans, he made it to the directory containing the black cube.
“Uh, Gid, this is very strange. All of the questions are gone for me.”
“What? That’s it!” Gideon shouted.
“What does it say?” Shindow asked, looking down off of Baxter’s head into his eyes.
“Uh, yes. Hold, please. It is… Like this… and here.”
Baxter didn’t understand many things about QSD.
“Here you go,” Baxter announced finally.
Shindow and Gideon were floored by the new information.
Deliver to the Lo IX system. To the Watchers.
Size: 1.2 DOMs (33% space used)
“Jesus Christ, what the hell is that?” Gideon exclaimed.
“Can I have steak now?” Asked Baxter, to the amusement of the group.
>>> Not a Chapter: Author’s Notes
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