3.01: Into the Rift – Harm’s Way

DS Day 246-261

Where: Q’Maere

The New Republic fleet had finally arrived to mop up what the Farstar had started. Danoor was in dire need of guidance, and the New Republic was more than happy to set up a provisional government for them. Meanwhile, after handing over the Saran Dijara Sullustan over the NR officials, the Farstar crew prepped for another Nuniok Dak ride, this time into the Rift.

The Rift beckons.

Thyte was New Republic Command was kind enough to return the Captain Adrimetrum to duty, much to Thyte’s relief. He had enough to handle as Bridge Officer. He would get his command soon enough, he always thought. This command is not one he wanted for any long term engagement.

On their way to the Rift, they picked up the asteroid team who were on their way back. Sensor were about to render a simulated visual of the asteroid and the dark matter around it. The explosion was brilliant, but definitely larger than what the Night Terrors had explosives. Adrimetrum and Thyte looked forward to that tale. However, it would be soon enough for reports. The Farstar was ready to enter the Rift. All listened over the ship-wide comlink.

“OK, if you are ready… I will be entering the code sequence to open the pod.” Dr Akenseh was in med-bay with several of his aids, and the ship’s top security. Samarion, because if his last reaction to the Nuniok Dak Sullustan, was in stasis himself, stored in furthest point away from the activity in med-bay.

The Doctor had studied the data retrieved from the Uukaablis facility, and determined what it would take to “engage” the Sullustan’s ability. It looked like it was a one-shot deal, how ever. It modified with Starwolf physiology, but its brain could not handle the strain. Other jumps could be possible, but the Sullustan would slowly be driven insane. Akenseh was sure that Sarne wasn’t worried about that. They were also only capable of jumping to one pre-determined spot in the Rift. This particular one was to take them to a point called Q’Maere.

“Alright, he his stable. Vital signs are good… as far as I can tell…considering. I am going to inject the trigger into the brain now. Hang on to your hats, people.”

The Rift welcomes…

****

The ship lurched, awakening Uta from her sleep…was it sleep? She certainly didn’t feel rested. She then realized she was on the bridge. The droids! That was her job. Get them up and running.

The other members of the crew were awakening from their unconsciousness. Alarms were sounding all over their consoles, in an other quiet bridge. Noises started to pick up as commands were given and people scrambled to get their systems back on-line.

Thyte rolled over on the floor, next to Slave. Slave lay near Gorak, who was given minimal duty after his display of no self control. Uta rushed over to power Slave back up again.

“The Nuniok Dak jump had the same effect. Most systems are down. Many circuits are burned out. Ship is running on Auxiliary power…. you know the drill…” Uta said as Slave came back to life. “Welcome back to the land of the living…”

“On this ship, not for very long.” Slave grumbled as he ran a quick diagnostic.

It took a while, but ship systems were back, up and running with little damage reported. However, Dr. Akenseh had some disconcerting news. The food supply was contaminated with a very strange and highly aggressive bacteria. It could only be attributed to the Rift and it’s strange nature. If there didn’t get food soon, they would starve in the Rift. He promised to work on an antidote, but it probably would take longer than they have.

Chronos recorded the Farstar had been in the Rift for 12 days, but everyone only felt like it had been a few hours. When everyone regained their senses, word started circulating that some people even had seen visions or had very realistic dreams. Dr. Akenseh looked quite disturbed by his dream, as did Gunthar. The Captain was so concerned, not knowing the true nature of the Rift, that she asked for everyone to report the dreams to her. Many seemed almost too prophetic to be coincidence.

When long range sensors were up, they picked up a planet nearby. The jump had deposited them in what can only be described as an “oasis” in the Rift; a hole in the Rift. This was Q’Maere. The world was a gaseous rock, with very few redeeming qualities. Even before the full scan had come in, Gunthar, Kl’aal, and Gorak were planning a hunting party. However, when the scan reports came in, they were sadly disappointed.

The world had a thick haze of an atmosphere, composed mostly of sulfuric acid gas. It had very little land, its surface mostly covered in ammonia oceans. However, the sensor scan did pick two noteworthy items; signs of a working facility on the surface, and ruins located around an energy fluctuation.

In the tactics meeting, Dajus and B’Dorbeck revealed that they had knowledge of this world called Q’Maere. B’Dorbeck said that he knew the people that established this facility, from a university he use to teach at. This facility was to study the Rift anomaly, but he was certain they built the facility outside the Rift, not inside. This, he pointed out, could be evidence that the Rift is expanding. He also remembered that the scientists that headed up this mission were some what maverick in their theories. They combined too many mystical theories in with scientific theories, making it something close to a religion.

Dajus had a different story. This was Sarne’s personal prison camp for some of his worst enemies; a re-education camp for those he could not kill. It was also known as the psycho-sculpting facility. She knew of the people that ran the facility and she would be surprised if they all were still here. Whatever this facility was before, it’s no research facility now.

“We’re going to find out soon enough. We hope to be out of the Rift interference soon to put a call in.”

The Xeenarch reported on her opinion of the ruins. “Those have to be the ruins I have been looking for. The Waystation for the alien ferryboat… We have to send a mission down to the surface…” She was very passionate and impatient. Adrimetrum agreed and assigned her and Hasslock to take two long-range ENVI-suits, and several days worth of supplies to do a full study of the ruins. The Xeenarch looked elated.

On the bridge, across the comlink speakers, a voice came through severe static. “The Q’Maere Research Facility is a planetology research outpost funded by the University of Sanbra. All scouts investigating the Rift are welcome to land at the Facility to trade and relax. Inquires should be transmitted ahead. We regret that our facilities do not allow for capital ship landing.” It was the standard METOSP message.

Following that was a comm direct to the Farstar. “New Republic vessel Farstar, this is Doctor Langstyn Kraay, chief administrator of the Facility. Welcome to Q’Maere.”

They seemed cordial , and open to the New Republic presence. They also claimed to have the cure for the bacteria, which apparently was common in the Rift. The Captain formed up an away team. The Muvon would be their way down.

Dervious, Samarion, and Kl’aal were included, as well as Gorak, Jessa Dajus, Brophar, and B’Dorbeck. Meanwhile, Hasslock, Dansun, and a few Night Terrors formed up a team to check out the Ruins. They all armed themselves with either firearms or specially treated blasters, because of the reports that blasters acted strange while in the Rift.

*****

The landing wasn’t bad, considering the atmosphere. Brophar grumbled that he would have to spend a week in ENVI-Suit cleaning out the outer ion-intakes because of the acid gas. Within the station’s landing area, they spotted a dilapidated YT-1300 series freighter. It was so mangled, it was hard to tell what model. The Muvon settled next to the hulk.

The team was greeted by 4 guards and the supposed facility administrator. He greeted them warmly and immediately started on a impromptu tour of the facility “We will get to your problems in due time. In the mean time, we have plenty of food for you here.” The guards seemed to chuckle about that.

They were walked through several domes of the facility. As they did, Samarion noticed that the guards were multiplying. They group of armed guards escorting them had grown from 4 to 8. There were also several surveillance droids following them. HE caught a glimpse of a moving moving behind them. Kl’aal had easily slipped away before the trouble started.

The guards pulled their weapons on the Farstar crew, surrounding them. Gorak and the rest had no time to react. “If you please, would you drop your weapons… all of them, so that my men can gather them. You are guests now of this facility. Permanently. I will be taking your ship shortly.”

They were escorted to a holding cell, and left among several other prisoners. It seemed that Dajus was right. This was a prison and re-education facility. Many of the prisoners were Imperial dissidents. To their surprise, however, some were recognized. One was Cobb Unser’s sister, who approached the group asking about her brother. The other was a shock to them all. Captain Ciro lay in a corner, almost in a vegetable state.

Dajus was struggling to avoid, several prisoners, but the spotted her not longs afterwards. They were enraged when they did. “You are the one!! You put me here!!” “That’s the bitch that did it!!! That’s Sarne’s whore!!”

They were crowding around her, but Loh’Khar and Gorak fended them off, defending her position. “She serves the New Republic now!” They walked away disgruntled, vowing revenge at some point. They seemed to calm down too quickly, however, and Loh’Khar peered at the ex-Imperial almost knowingly. Dajus smiled back, liking her new abilities.

The prison population consisted of emotionally scared, traumatized cases. All had gone through Kraay’s brand of personality sculpturing, and torture. The Farstar crewers had a hard time keeping their own sanity while trying to put together a plan to escape and get back to their ship.

The prison society had a few leaders, but the one they most rallied around was a man named _________. He and Samarion worked together to to put together an escape plan. The facility was surprisingly under-staffed, with only a total of 18 personnel, most Imperial rejects themselves. A few droids patrolled the halls. It was about a 5 to 1 odds in favor of the prisoners. The prisoners were being kept at bay by drug-laced food, delivered by a pair of orderlies twice a day. The prisoner domes were also rigged to explode as a last resort. Kraay was a megalomaniac, but not a stupid one. They would have to get to him quick, however, if they were going to stop him for triggering the explosives.

It was one of the food runs that gave them their chance.

*****

Kl’aal hung back in the many shadows, watching the orderlies go about their business. He had to come up with a plan. He followed a “doctor” to a turbolift, watched as he typed in a code to call the lift, and watched as he got in. He waited long enough for the lift to drop off its cargo, then called it himself, made sure no one was on when it got there, then boarded. He then arrived in the command area of the station, where he expected to find Kraay.

Still hidden in the shadows, he was able to work his way to a work station area which seemed like the central control room. There were external monitors, a few working internal monitors, and several controls, all loosely guarded my a handful of doctors and technicians. One monitor had the Farstar on screen. The ship had an odd aura around it, as if it was under some kind of tractor beam. As time went on, he was able to listen in on their conversations, and gather intelligence. The Farstar was under some kind of mind-warping beam, much like the weapons used by Sarne. It was definitely Darkstryder. Kl’aal knew that there was no depending on the Farstar until that beam was shutdown.

Also among the controls was a switch to detonate explosives through out the domed prisoner areas. Only Kraay had the control and detonator codes. His arrogance and inability to trust his faculty would be his undoing, Kl’aal predicted. It was almost too easy. He waited for his moment.

*****

The orderlies were suddenly real friendly after Dajus talked with them. Gorak had to double-checked. Yep, all she did was talk with them. But they seemed very responsive to her commands, almost as they had no will of their own. Maybe the rumors were true and that little experience on Shantuun did teach her something. She did appear out of no-where afterwards. Still, anything could have happened, and Gorak was not willing to put it up to some old superstition yet.

They gained control of the areas around the prisoner areas, finding little resistance. Bifzik was handy in subduing the droids, in the end taking control of them and using them to their advantage. Moyato headed up the mission to take control of the rest of the facility while Dajus, Thanis and a few others circled around to take Ciro back to the ship. The able-bodied prisoners followed Moyato.

The remaining personnel fell to the overwhelming odds before they could report it to Kraay. Dajus and her group encountered light resistance getting to the Muvon, but soon were in and prepping the ship to leave. The team reached the command center swiftly, and found Kl’aal standing over the bloodied body of Kraay, along with a few other doctors and technicians.

“He was going to blow you up. I had to stop him.”

“Good call, wraith-boy.” Moyato said.

The facility was secure.

*****

The Farstar was freed from the mind-warping tractor beam, and the prisoners were set free. Some wanted to volunteer for duty on the Farstar, most of which were former Rebel, New Republic, and Imperial soldiers. The others were too damaged by Kraay’s processes to go along. Akenseh saw this as his opportunity to make amends. The Captain was surprised to receive his resignation, however, after the long private conversation about Akenseh’s past, Adrimetrum agreed to it. The Doctor handed off his duties of Genna Seedar, and took over as chief medical officer on Q’Maere, to try and heal all those that needed it. He figured at some point, the derelict freighter could be repaired, and used to get them out, using routes out of the Rift supplied by Makezh. The Farstar had lost a good sentient, but to a good cause.

Hasslock’s team returned not long afterwards, telling a long tail of what he could only describe as an alien “dungeon crawl”, through a labyrinth of caverns, over underground oceans of acid and ammonia, to an underground island where a spire sat. There is where the Xeenarch went to work, and was able, in the process of almost killing them, send the call to the ferryboat… or at least she thought so.

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