[Taocow PBEM] [Alex and Vesper] Book 3 - Chapter XVIII
mightymartianca at gmail.com
Wed Oct 5 20:24:29 UTC 2016
Getting below decks is a bit tricky as the ship is listing quite
heavily. Elevators are not in service, and it is a big enough ship that
getting to the machine shop is a bit of a hike, or more like climbing a
The shop itself is well provisioned; portable welders and other tools.
There's also a map of the ship showing where spare hull plating is kept.
This is clearly a ship that was meant for long voyages where a ship
might have to fend for itself for long periods of time.
As they work their way to the machine shop, and indeed scour the shop
itself for the necessary tools, it becomes increasingly clear that this
ship was vacated in a hurry. No life jackets or life boats were taken,
and in the machine shop there are the remnants of someone's breakfast;
coffee, toast and fruit, lying on the floor where it landed when the
ship began to list. There is no sign of any bodies, however, and no sign
of any kind of struggle or firefight. It just seems the crew disappeared.
Closer to the hold now, the creaking and groaning of metal can be heard
much more clearly. The ice is slowly but surely working to crush the
ship, and most certainly when the breach in the hull gets big enough,
the ship will go down.
Vesper finds a number of "hover trolleys", small hover vehicles narrow
enough to move through small corridors, and meant to hold welders,
torches, and other tools, and even come with several E-clips for an
independent energy supply. There is also several canisters of something
labeled "Hull Sealer" with warnings "Highly toxic, use respirator or
environmental suit. Do not bring into contact with skin. Expanding
megadamage foam, caution filling enclosed spaces."
The two companions are just loading up the trolley when they smell the
faintest whiff of sulfur, and a very faint crackling sound, as if
something is on fire. But it disappears quickly, and a quick search
around the machine shop shows nothing burning, and no smell of sulfur.
Moving on to the damaged part of the hull means going through the hull.
Most of the freight is in shipping containers, which remain upright even
with the ship's list. However, there is less well packed cargo, and
dozens of overturned crates block their way. It takes some doing to get
around those crates, and tests the ability of the hover trolleys to go
As they approach the crack in the hull, they find a thin skim of water
on the deck. It is no more than an inch deep, but as they get closer, it
gets to be about four inches deep.
Finally they reach the area where the worst break in the hull has
occurred. Water is bubbling up through the deck plating in a steady
stream, and in one spot that deck has been bent up. Fixing this is going
to mean cutting that piece of decking out, likely using the Hull Sealer
foam in the canisters, and then welding a new piece of hull plating.
Alex suspects the sealer foam's real purpose isn't so much to plug the
leak but to restore some structural integrity.
According to the map they saw in the machine shop, there is replacement
plates of steel for the hull about fifty feet to their left, beyond
several stacks of shipping containers. The plates are quite large, about
ten feet by ten feet square, and very heavy, requiring the use of the
hover trolley to move.
While they're loading the steel on to the trolley, they notice that one
of the shipping containers appears to have been cut open. A closer
examination reveals something much odder, almost as if the container was
cut open by something very hot *from the inside*. Once again there's a
faint smell of sulfur, and a strange crackling, and then nothing.
mightymartianca at gmail.com
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