The Last Flight of the Sparrow

From tgchan

The Last Flight of the Sparrow by Starit
Last Flight Title.png

Something something spess murder mystery, and you're an antman.


Spoiler.gif This article contains spoilers! You were warned.

(Seriously, it's a murder mystery quest. Even the table of contents is a spoiler. This is reference stuff for if you've already read the quest.)


Characters

Crew

Tiak.png

Head of Security Tiak Belint

Our valiant protagonist. Handy with a screwdriver, providing what you want is something swiftly broken into its component parts.

Like most of the crew and passengers, a Maurian (spess ant). Assigned to the ship from the Security Post in Orbital Interception 46f.[ref] Kind of clumsy.[ref] (And bungling. And awkward.)


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Captain Kiodo Beredime

Fat, angry boss.

Argued with Zeno about not allowing murders on his ship, but was told he effectively wasn't in charge any more.[ref] Zira claims she heard the Captain telling someone to "keep it together" because that are all "too deep in this shit to get clean out of it".[ref] In debt with A.S.C.E., who have coerced him to perform an "undercover mission".[ref]


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Physician Kivo Labras

The mysterious doctor, who's crew file is missing the biographical information.[ref]

Held part of a report on the Alpha Creature, and was "the man that made [its use] possible"; see green goo, below.

Death

Labras went for the heavy plasma cutter when confronted about the resurrection machine, and Tiak eventually managed to shoot him.[ref]


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Engineer's Assistant Habresian "Mongro" Solav

Large, four-armed, irritable bugwolf.

A Sinarri, which are a race that kind of bare a grudge after the Maurians enslaved them and strip-mined their homeplanets.[ref] Had been using the Sparrow to smuggle a shipment of rifles for fighting against this.

Death

Died horribly when Tiak stabbed him with a screwdriver coated in Extract of Perticanto in self-defence. Perhaps didn't have time to appreciate the irony he'd sabotaged Tiak's less-lethal stungun himself.[ref] Tiak finished him off with a shot to the head and found a wound that probably means he was the hazmat suit assailant.[ref]


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Bartender Mok Corrainte

War veteran with a prosthetic left arm.

Not too keen on the Ziraneé.[ref] Lost friends, family, and planet in the war with them.[ref] History with Dan, below. Considered Tiak "one of the few honest people" interested in what happened.[ref] Sympathetic toward Mikos.[ref]

Mok listed the people he had suspicions about in a note found in his cabin. He considered Dan and Zira possible murderers, and the Captain, Dan, Zira, the Ziraneé, and possibly the Doctor involved in transporting a secret cargo for the Ziraneé.[ref][ref]

Mok triggered the bombs.

Death

Mok was shot by the Colonel during the standoff on the bridge,[ref] and ended up unconscious, sedated, and hooked up to the serum machine in the infirmary.[ref] Nobody moved him to be evacuated before the Sparrow's destruction.[ref]


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Navigation Officer Dan Coister

Kind of jittery.

Has some history with Mok. They had a fight in the bar over allegations of treason from Mok.[ref] Fought together in the war,[ref] where Dan was close to some third Maurian.[ref]

Mok believes him to be involved in some kind of smuggling deal benefiting the Ziraneé.[ref] Dan hated Mikos.[ref] Mok implies that it was to do with a dead friend.[ref]

Held part of a report on the Alpha Creature; see green goo, below.


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Janitor Mat Nouki

Off his meds, even when on his meds.

Murder

Tiak found Mat's body sat up on his bed, headless, while sneaking around after escaping.[ref] The wound was comparable to Trake's, but there was no other injury. Mat had been holding a glass of something with no smell, possibly just water.


Trake.png

Head Engineer Trake Voniggan

Fat, irritable, but helpful engineer.

Murder

Trake was headed to the Zero Deck to look for computer parts on the suspicion that someone had been down there; he left a note in his cabin that the parts had been scattered by someone wanting to utterly disable it, but in a reversible manner.[ref] Tiak found his headless body while exploring.[ref] It had been shot twice in the torso, once in the shoulder, and then had the head severed by some kind of energy cutting tool—not the H.E.R.. He was clutching some Extract of Perticanto, and had written out the room number with his broken PDA in (103) in his own blood.[ref] The PDA contained an audio log of Trake realizing he was being followed, finding the powder, being shot, trying to sneak away, and then being shot again.[ref]

Conjecture: The murder weapon might be the heavy plasma cutter that was stolen from Tiak's crypod by Dr. Labras[ref] after he stole it from Supplies.


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Head of Security Atuk Bounent

Listed in the crew files as Head of Security,[ref] despite that role being given to Tiak.

Death

Tiak found Atuk's body down in the engine chamber while hunting for active bombs.[ref][ref] He had a loaded stun gun on him, his security keycard, and the conspiracy magazine from 'unoccupied' crew cabin D.


Passengers

Ordered by room number.


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Yery Tcaru

Chemistry student.[ref]

Death

Shot by Zira after remarkably little incitement from Tiak.[ref]


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Zira Niadar

Short and mysterious.

An ambassador[ref] working at the embassy of Torluca.[ref] Political adversary of Mikos and his anti-technological advancement stance and advocacy of returning to war with the Ziraneé. Claims the photo of her found in Mikos' luggage was probably taken at the Intersection, before boarding.[ref]


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Keranos Drai

"The Colonel", given his military uniform.

Knew about the unsecured Zero Deck elevator without being told.[ref] Claims to be aboard as a passenger, moving to his homeworld.[ref]

Disappearance

Keranos wasn't found in any of the escape pods after the Sparrow's destruction, or seen in the hours beforehand.[ref]


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Reto Mikos

Mayor of Port Augira, a respectable city in Tinosa II, one of the most influential and wealthy planets in the Maurian Republic, and the Sparrow's intended destination.[ref][ref]

Murder

There was blood in the lift the first time Tiak entered it; presumably his.[ref] A fat body that had had the head blown off by a heavy energy rifle (something only safe to do in that specific location, assuming you know and care about wall thickness) was found on the lower deck—the first murder discovered. It had been redressed with the jacket inside-out and had been dragged over the blood. Mikos' ID card was in a pocket.[ref]

According to the doctor, the blood testing confirmed the body as Mikos'.[ref] Mat witnessed what was assumed to be Mikos arguing another man, who killed him, and later shot the body again.[ref] The biohazard container in the cargo bay was splattered with Mikos' blood, but the angle of the shots was awkward for a kneeling head shot, and although it would for a torso shot the rest of Mikos' body was unharmed.[ref] The account Mat recounted to Zeno disagrees with the Doc's autopsy in that Mikos was shot in the gut.[ref]

Mikos was planning to use "star powder", which is probably the #Extract of Perticanto; his murderer took it.[ref] According to Zira, Mikos's cargo manifest listed a couple of barrels labelled "supplies"; the extract is in two barrels.[ref]

Mok believed that the motive was because Mikos found out about a smuggling operation on the Sparrow to the benefit of the Ziraneé, and planned to stop it using the poison.[ref]


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Zeno V'yrian

A Ziraneé (spess snakes).

Nayria's mate, and the jealous and violent type.[ref] Has a bionic eye.[ref]

There is a Heavy Energy Rifle of the type possibly used to remove Mikos' head under his bed.[ref] Knows several routes to the Zero Deck.[ref]


Nayria V'yrian.png

Nayria V'yrian

Matriarch of the Yrian house—one of five Ziraneé Queens.[ref]

Slept with Tiak. He found it "pretty pleasant", even if can't remember the details.[ref]


Other


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Stowaway mercenary

Didn't say much. In fact, didn't say a damn thing.[ref]

Death

Blown in half by Tiak's nonlethal stungun when Mongro's upgrade to it "malfunctioned".[ref] His bleeding body was then executed by a single laser shot from something quiet and metallic.[ref]


Places

The Sparrow 12 is an old, old ship due to a War Economy policy. It was originally a Colonization Ship, used to transport hundreds of colonists to new worlds. The three main decks of the ship are actually pretty small in comparison to the entire Zero Deck, now closed and sealed. It used to be where the colonists lived during the years of hyperjump travel. That's why 4/5 parts of the ship are actually hollow and empty.[ref]

No lethal weaponry is allowed on board the ship.[ref]

[TODO: upload maps; so far we've only had the mid-deck, early on]

Upper deck

Bridge, infirmary, captain's office.

Middle deck

Security office, bar, passenger cabins.

Lower deck

Environmental, Mat's room, toilets, crew quarters.

Engineering

Houses atmospheric control, the mainframe, a lift to the zero deck with a chainsaw Walker mech on it,[ref] and the engines on a sub-level. Going near the engines without a hazard suit would be lethal, and is tiring with one. There's a large, sealed door down there.[ref] Mongro claimed the walker was a hundred years old and lacking fuel, so useless.[ref] A key is needed to open the cockpit.[ref]

Cargo bay

Container with bullet holes which the goo might have escaped from. See Mikos' murder.

Zero deck

Busted and obsolete section of the ship that's not supposed to be used. Only the Captain is supposed to have a copy of the key to let the lift go down there.[ref]

Medical bay

Entrace is blocked with debris, which is too heavy for Tiak to move or cut. But there's a small gap. Contains two barrels of extract of perticanto.[ref] (The appearance of three later is an art error.) The Colonel appeared to come out of the Medical Bay where it's stored after Tiak observed that the door was blocked.[ref] See #Green Goo below for what's in there.

Cargo bay

Full of smuggled rifles.

Evacuation pods

Can be reached via doors on the middle and upper decks, but they only opens when the emergency protocol is activated.[ref] This must be done by the captain.[ref] The pods are effectively useless while the mainframe is broken since they can't be used during hyperspace and require ship communications to emit a distress call.[ref]

Conspiracies


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Green Goo

First spotted in a vent up on the upper deck, although Tiak missed it.[ref] There is a huge mass of it trying to get through a new-ish looking door down in the Zero Deck Medical Bay.[ref]

Whispers to Tiak in a mumbling fashion about being whole and separated.[ref] Eats through metal,[ref], but not through plastic,[ref], and in small drops may not be corrosive at all.[ref] Is motile, and small parts sometimes seem quite agitated, presumably seeking the larger mass.[ref]

There is a container in the lower deck cargo hold reading "Biological Hazard" from which the goo was leaking through a couple of holes, also splattered with Mikos' blood.[ref]

The doctor's crew cabin contained a note about "Alpha Creature"—presumably the goo—being "restrained and stored in biological compartment XESE. Waiting for orbital transport in evac point. Once in the ship, preliminary studies and experiments will take place."[ref]

Dan also had part of the Alpha Creature report in his cabin.[ref] According to the report, it is unknown if the creature is sentient; it makes psionic and ultrasonic links with its environment but just seems to mimic nearby emotions. It seems to only crave reuniting if separated, but it's unknown if it's a hive mind. It also has a "fascinating quality" which is not in this part of the report.

The Zero Deck contains a huge machine—the result of an A.S.C.E.-funded collaboration between Maurian and Ziraneé scientists—which makes use of the goo to bring people back to life, given at least 32% of their intact brain.[ref]

Crescent Keys

Nayria wants us to fetch the other two of three keys for her in exchange for "vital information" about Mikos' murder. The keys may vary in size but all have the same shape. The other keyholders are expected to be trying to achieve the same.[ref]

The doctor left his lying around in the open before we knew what it was.[ref]

The captain kept his in a safe in his bedroom.[ref]

The keys have something to do with the green goo, given the note Yery had about watching them.[ref] That something is to open the huge door down on the Zero Deck the goo was trying to get through.[ref]

Extract of Perticanto

Mikos probably got it aboard and intended to use it (see his murder). Mat mentioned it in relation to "the man who had to die twice": likely Mikos.[ref] Trake found barrels of it in the Zero Deck Medical Bay.[ref] Yery was able to identify it and inform Tiak of its effects.[ref]

  • Paralyses the body and kills in a matter of minutes. Very painful.
  • No antidote.
  • Kills almost any alien race.
  • Only effective if ingested or gets into the blood.

Weapons Smuggling

Mongro. It's all in his PDA.[ref]

Bombs

Metal crate presumably full of them was in Mikos' bathroom; Tiak sabotaged the one he found.[ref] One of the same design blew up his office.[ref] The Repeater Multi-cannon explosive warhead-based bomb was found in atmospheric control.[ref] Mok triggered the countdown at least some of them remotely after being shot by the Colonel.[ref] Tiak was able to defuse them; some using a tiny keycard found in Mok's quarters.[ref]

Timeline

Course of the Sparrow 12[ref]
Note that times in the quest are presented in DD:HH:MM until arrival, so count down

The hyperjump trip is supposed to take three days, during which most people should be in hypersleep.[ref]

Noboria 3 Mongro embarks, along with the mercenary and the shipment of rifles.[ref]
Inter. 46F Trake and Atuk (according to the crew records) embark.
Inter. 36F Tiak, Captain Beredime, Doc Labras, Mok, Dan, and Mat embark. Mongro records activity on the Zero Deck and people loading something into the (normal?) cargo bay. He plans to remove and hide mainframe parts.
02:23:30 Tiak gets dressed and notices he's been awoken about 15–20 minutes later than he should have been (which should have been ten minutes into the jump), during which time someone has sabotaged the mainframe.[ref]
02:23:20 Tiak is knocked out by the hazmat suit attacker shortly after examining the wiring panel.[ref]
02:23:00 Zira claims to have been awoken by her pod.[ref]
02:22:50 Tiak regains consciousness.[ref]
02:22:10 Tiak and Zira discover Mikos' body outside the lifts on the lower deck.[ref]
02:21:10 Tiak returns to engineering; last timestamp before he wounds and knocks out the hazmat suit attacker, but is himself knocked out in the process.[ref]
02:18:30 Tiak wakes up in the infirmary.[ref]
02:17:30 Some point before this, Tiak checks Atmospherics and there is no bomb.
02:15:52 Zira allegedly receives a note under her door asking her to meet in Tiak's office to discuss something important related to Mikos' death. Tiak is downstairs chasing down Mat.[ref]
02:15:02 Zira arrives at Tiak's office.
02:14:52 Tiak arrives at Tiak's office.
02:14:47 Zira leaves Tiak's office.
02:14:30 The bomb in Tiak's office detonates.
02:13:15 Zira checks atmospheric control and declares it empty.[ref]
02:13:00 Tiak is due to meet in Engineering, based on the anonymous note.[ref]
02:10:50 Tiak leads Zira to her room at the end of the first day.
02:10:39 Tiak is shot at by the camera drone in Engineering.
02:10:02 Tiak falls asleep with Nayria.
(unknown) Mongro breaks up a fight between Mok and Dan. Dr. Labras removes the Heavy Plasma Cutter from Tiak's Cryopod.
02:03:54 Tiak wakes up, panics, and gets dressed.
02:02:02 A bomb has been planted in atmospheric control by this point.[ref]
02:00:05 Tiak finds Trake's corpse.
02:00:03 Someone flees the scene of Trake's corpse.
01:23:40 Someone fires at Tiak while he is climbing up ladders from Trake's corpse.[ref]
01:20:30 Tiak is apprehended by the Colonel.
(unknown) Tiak escapes captivity, and finds Mat's corpse.
01:17:50 Tiak finally reclaims his PDA. First sighting of A.S.C.E. drone.[ref]
01:17:33 The Colonel and Mongro fight over the latter hiding things, according to Yery.[ref] Tiak arrives in the Zero Deck where he will find the sentry droid trap.
01:16:42 Metallic something prowls around Zero Deck, where it shortly shoots the half-mercenary and departs again.[ref]
01:15:41 Tiak falls asleep in the brig.
01:08:06 Zira sees Dan running scared from the elevator to the canteen.[ref]
01:08:03 Tiak wakes up.
01:07:48 Mok triggers at least some of the bomb countdowns.
01:07:15 Tiak finds what turns out to be Atuk's body in the engines.
01:07:01 Mok's bombs are due to detonate (none do due to Tiak's efforts).[ref]
01:02:48 By Dan's estimate, Atmospherics will burn up and everyone on the Sparrow will have minutes to live.[ref]

Summary

(By which I mean "something you can skim through more easily than the threads". A lot happens, and a lot of details matter, so it's not exactly short.)

Prologue

2 days 23:30 until arrival

Tiak wakes up laer than expected and finds himself trapped in his room with the mainframe nonfunctional. The camera he sends through the wiring panel alongside the door sees a blur and then suddenly stops transmitting. As he corrects the wiring, a person in a hazmat suit appears on the other side and grab-slams Tiak's face into the wall, knocking him unconscious.

Chapter 1

2 days, 22:50 until arrival

Forty minutes later, Tiak regains consciousness, to find his ID card and gloves missing, and a Sinarri cutting tool locked in the brig—which he can't open without his card. He also retrieves a key labelled "H.S." in the corridor outside. The bar proves empty, to Tiak gets himself a drink and pockets the balloon released by pressing the hidden party button.

Taking the lift to the engineering deck, Tiak discovers blood on the floor, as if someone bleeding profusely had been dragged in and out. The secondary lift doors, which lead only to the Zero deck, are still warm from being welded shut. Poking into engineering he finds the lights out and a figure trying to break into the filing cabinet, who identifiers herself as Zira when cornered and starts lying immediately.

Stepping back outside into the engineering hallway, Zira and Tiak discover an overweight, headless, Maurian corpse. Examining the body—apparently Mikos'—the janitor appears and promptly flees. While looking for him in the toilets, Trake discovers the body, and irritatedly lends Tiak his ID card to reach the upper deck and report to the Captain, dropping off Zira at her cabin on the way. The Captain is less than pleased and points out that without the mainframe the ship has no communications and will continue to its set course; he also tells Tiak of the two Ziraneé diplomat passengers. Tiak gets a reluctant Dr. Labras to start blood-testing the corpse. Demonstrating his usual lack of tact, he also manages to get the doctor to let slip that Zira is an ambassador, then wrangles a scalpel as an improvised weapon.

Tiak returns to engineering, where Trake has fixed the lights and made Tiak a new all-access security card. Tiak returns Trake's card and tells him of the intruder fiddling with the cabinet, to which Trake points out that only he and the Captain have the passwords, although Trake wrote his down on a piece of paper then lost it. Tiak continues to explore the lower deck; the male lavatory is now unlocked, and the card slot for door E in the crew quarters is jammed with pieces of broken plastic. Fetching a pair of pliers from a now deserted engineering, he sees Dr. Labras scanning the murder victim.

Inside the cabin is a lockbox cut open with an energy tool, which has damaged the contents; all Tiak can make out is the remains of a note: "...Important... as Engineer...suspect...Security... stored in the Zero Deck...must be safe... ". His servo-camera picks up a bulky person approaching down the corridor, past the doctor who does not react. Tiak attempts to ambush the hammer-wielding hazmat suit attacker as they enter the room, and lands a blow with the scalpel breaking in the wound, but gets his right leg broken. The attacker mumbles that the attack is not personal before Tiak manages to stun them, but their body falls on him, leaving both unconscious.

Chapter 2

2 days, 18:30 until arrival

Tiak wakes up in the infirmary, the doctor assuming that Tiak broke his own leg and tazed himself. The doctor had looked for Mongro to move Mikos' body once finished (the blood apparently matched), but couldn't find him; half-an-hour later Mongro showed up at the infirmary with an unconscious Tiak. Tiak tells the doctor to be on the look out for someone with half a scalpel jammed in their shoulder, then goes to bother the captain, whose shoulder is fine, but has nothing to say.

Noticing that his camera is showing nothing but darkness, Tiak returns to the lower deck to find that Mikos' body and the janitor's cart have been removed. The janitor's door, however, is wedged shut. Seeking some help from engineering, Tiak wanders into atmospheric control and encounters the goo, some of which he traps in the balloon.

Tiak goes to the infirmary to see if the doctor can identify the goo, but he is out, so Tiak steals a syringe. He returns to the brig to fetch the cutter now he has a card to deactivate the forcefield, and cuts open the locked cupboard to find a computer part. In the canteen, Tiak finds a note about gambling debts, and refuses to hand it over to Mok, who likewise "forgets" who he had been talking to while Tiak was in security.

Going to enter Mikos' cabin (4), Tiak is observed from the one opposite (6), so knocks and has a remarkably unhelpful conversation. Mikos' cabin is a mess, and his case contains an unexpectedly large knife, and a picture with Zira highlighted and a note on the rear: "Confirmed to be in the Sparrow's list of passengers. Very dangerous, extreme caution advised. Contact Security. Avoid unescorted actions." In the bathroom is a huge metal crate, with a solitary, unactivated bomb in one corner, which Tiak vandalizes and takes.

Tiak decides to bother Zira, but she doesn't answer her door and the room is dark, meaning the lights are broken. She jumps Tiak with a knife. Making his excuses, Tiak wanders back to the canteen to overhear Dan talking with Mok about about Dan's grudge with Mikos and volunteering to be on this flight. The conversation dries up when Tiak approaches, other than the navigator confirming that the course cannot be changed with the mainframe down.

Tiak follows Dan to the elevator, who is heading back to the upper deck, hearing snippets of voices. It stops moving with a shudder and loud noise. Dan gives him a boost to get up on top of the lift through the hatch, where he discovers a huge mass of the goo engulfing the engines, making a sizzling noise as it melts them. It awkwardly says "...Whole... hief...ours...eparated". Tiak empties out his trapped sample, which bounces off the top of the lift and down the shaft, and the mass follows it. As the lift jolts back into life, the hatch slams closed, and Dan can't reach it, leaving Tiak trapped on top of the car. He dives through a rusted hole in the shaft into darkness.

The vents lead eventually to somewhere over the middle deck, where Tiak stops to eavesdrop. He hears Zeno and Nayria discussing his apparent death, and some other quiet matters, before Nayria reveals that she can hear Tiak and invites him in—by cutting a hole with a plasma pistol. She describes him as a wild card, not supposed to be aboard, and hence dangerous, and asks which he values most: peace, honour, or truth. Choosing Truth, Tiak is instructed to find the other keys of a trio of which Nayria was given one as part of an agreement upon which she claims the other parties have reneged.

Tiak sneaks down to the lower deck and decides to make good use of his assumed-dead status by immediately talking to the first person he sees, Mat the janitor, who panics and babbles about people who die twice and spiders before running off to his room. So Tiak shoots him in the back and puts his unconscious body on the bed in the janitorial room. Searching, Tiak steals some of Mat's medication and finds that the cabinet is full of all kinds of paperwork, mostly old. When the now-restrained janitor reawakens, he talks about people arguing and one of them killing the other, then later killing him again. Mat's lucidity comes to and end and Tiak asks to take his cart, loaded with papers, back to his office to read.

On the way, he is accosted by Zeno while departing the lift, who notes that we might even manage to survive the flight. He finds Zira lurking in his room, and asks her to keep his survival a secret, assuming that news of him being alive will spread more slowly than news of his death. She apparently received a note asking her to meet with someone there to discuss important information related to Mikos' death. Tiak notices that the bomb is missing from his inventory, and Zira makes her excuses to leave. He starts sifting through the paperwork, finding a printed message from the Maurian Security Forces about a scan showing multiple unauthorized weapons and an unknown life form aboard as the ship departed the intersection, and ordering it to stop. He also finally finds a bomb behind his cryopod, with ten seconds on the clock. He throws it into the brig and dives out of the office with he paperwork, which is regardless destroyed by the fire and subsequent fire suppression.

Mok notes that Tiak isn't dead, and Tiak notes that the brig forcefield is now stuck on because the card slot was broken by the blast. He heads to the infirmary, where Labras had also heard that he was dead, and treats him for the burns before leaving to fetch Tiak a replacement uniform. Tiak leaves a servo-camera behind so that he'll be able to tell later when the Doc is absent so he can claim the crescent key. Mongro appears with a replacement uniform, claims to have not seen anything unusual in the past hours, and leaves when Tiak demonstrates his usual tact and offends him about having four arms. The Doctor also calls Tiak on stealing the syringe, which he returns. Labras them locks him out.

The canteen is unmanned, so Tiak helps himself to something to eat, and while doing so notices a note left the pocket of his new uniform is an anonymous invitation to meet in Engineering in an hour for unspecified help. He fetches Zira, who reluctantly admits to fiddling with the file cabinet, and heads down there twenty minutes early. Zira checks atmospherics, and Tiak continues deeper into engineering, finding the door to the back room open, and Mongro there. He strikes a deal to fetch the Zero Deck key for Mongro if he makes copies, and Mongro offers to also then upgrade his stungun and help with identifying and disarming any future bombs. Mongro returns to the mainframe room and Tiak promptly tells Zira everything.

Leaving engineering, Zira finally confesses that she also found Trake's password—"Tricorco"—and was trying to look up Mikos' file when she was interrupted. The password no longer works. The pair go to the upper deck, although Zira soon retreats, where Tiak overhears the captain and Zeno in his office talking about Ziraneé honour, affronts to it, and the elimination of "dissident individuals", but fails to press the matter. He gets the Zero Deck key off the captain, along with orders to get a report from Trake, and look for him in his cabin (E). Trake is not in his cabin, but left himself a note that he was headed to the Zero Deck. Tiak heads down there, but it is too dark to see.

Returning to the middle deck, he meets Zira, who claims to have seen someone using a flashlight in engineering. They return there, and the lights are out again. Tiak finds scraps of light plastic cluttering the place, and backtracks to unseal the second lift, where he finds a computer part in the shaft, which he retrieves with Zira's help. Afraid of the dark, he checks out cargo instead, and finds a blood-splattered container from which the goo appears to have leaked. Abandoning his camera plan, Tiak has Zira hide to pilfer the key while Tiak leads the Doctor away from his office and down to cargo to study the mess; the blood is Mikos', and the Doctor takes away some goo for analysis. Tiak raids the supply closet for glowsticks, and a heavy plasma cutter that can "slice off limbs like butter" but is too bulky to conceal, and in the elevator Zira hands over the key and his camera. He hides the cutter in his cryopod, in front of Zira, who recounts that she heard the Captain telling some unknown party to "keep it together" because all of them are "too deep in this shit to get clean out of it".

Zira returns to her cabin, and Tiak to engineering. He follows the trail of broken plastic, eventually to the fusebox where the hazmat suit attacker's hammer is lodged. As he approaches, there is a hail of badly-aimed laser fire and he takes cover behind a metal crate, which he then uses as an improvised shield. He gets shot in the arm mucking about with cameras and glowsticks before striking his assailant with the hammer—his lost security camera, modified with a laser gun, now very broken.

Not willing to head to the infirmary with the stolen key in his possession, Tiak heads to Nayria's room. He hands over the key, and she heals his wounds, which involves falling asleep together naked.

Chapter 3

2 days, 03:54 until arrival

Tiak wakes up, manages to avoid freaking out, and pumps the queen for information while showering, for which he gets little except that Nayria knows Zira as a peace activist, and expresses surprise at her being aboard. She casually informs Tiak that he best keep the night a secret, as Zeno is not only her bodyguard but also her mate, and a violently jealous lover.

The Heavy Plama Cutter is gone from his cryopod. Seeking breakfast, he meets Yery in the canteen, and finds another debt-related note in the kitchen at the back: "we don't care about your stupid sense of loyalty or patriotism, the ship needs to get to Tinosa II, with its cargo intact".[ref] He uses a screwdriver taken from back then to try to separate gun from servo-camera, and it falls apart into tiny pieces.

Heading back to the lift, Tiak is accosted by an angry Mongro, who had to break up a fight between Mok and Dan because Tiak wasn't around. Mongro claims to have checked in Engineering, and also Tiak's room. Tiak hands over the Zero Deck key, mainframe parts, the broken camera wreckage for Mongro to throw away since it's past repair, and his gun, and Mongro vanishes into the elevator.

Tiak checks the bridge for bombs and notices the navigation console spewing errors he doesn't understand, and catches a glimpse of someone watching him, but they get away leaving behind only a note reading "Ac=7187". Tiak heads for the lower deck and encounters Mat, who is more lucid about the murder, and mentions "star powder". While fiddling with the cabinet and finding that the note is not the password, he hears Mat recount the same tale to Zeno, who tells Mat not to tell anyone else; although Mat lets slip that he knows who shot Mikos, Zeno doesn't follow this up.

Tiak dons a hazard suit and explores the area around the hyperjump engines, but it is a maze down there and walking in the suit, heat, light and noise is too exhausting for a thorough search. He heads to the mainframe, bristling with red lights, and encounters Mongro, who hands over the Zero Deck key and upgraded stungun. Tiak finds another bomb with an antenna and blank touchscreen in atmospheric control, which Mongro identifies as spaceship cannon ammo with a detonator on it, and can't be disarmed. Tiak puts it in the brig and tries to weld the doors back in place, closed.

Zeno and Mok are winding each-other up in the Canteen, and Tiak intervenes to avert a fight. Mok claims the fight with Dan was over him being involved with smuggling something to assist the Ziraneé, and to check Zeno's room, 5. Getting no answer, Tiak enters and finds a Heavy Energy Rifle under the bed, which he puts back.

After a detour to recharge his PDA, Tiak checks out the Zero Deck. Following some footprints from a pool of oil, he finds the Quarters, where a room lit by a dying torch contains Trake's corpse. Someone flees past the door and up the ladder while he's examining the corpse, but Tiak spends too long throwing glowsticks about and they get away. Instead he follows a lead Trake had written in his own blood to find Trake's broken PDA, but is interrupted by someone shooting at him while climbing. He scrambles into the room, which smells of blood, and the shooting stops; after making sure, Tiak grabs the PDA and backtracks, finding a cargo lift which turns out to have the Walker on and lead up to Engineering.

Tiak rummages in Mongro's room behind the mainframe and finds spare fuses with which he fixes the Engineering lights, and a cutter-proof armoured suitcase which opens with the H.S. key, and contains a RMT 21 Laser Sub-rifle which he leaves in the case and carries away and a security card which he takes out. He also loots the fire cabinet, notes that one of the suffocation bombs (they rapidly chemically consume oxygen) is missing, so takes another, leaving one.

Tiak returns to Mikos' room to listen to the notes on Trake's PDA in peace after recharging it and the flashlight. They are garbled but reveal Trake's last movements, finding barrels of the powder and being shot. Yery catches Tiak getting into her room and he gets her to identify the powder as Extract of Perticanto. Back in the Zero Deck, Tiak finds a recent wreck of heavy, unmovable, uncuttable metal blocking the entrance to the old Medical Bay, inside which his camera sees a couple of barrels. Trying another direction, Tiak finds another computer part dangling out of reach, and hears a noise behind him—quick footsteps away from the barricaded Medical Bay. Tiak drops the sub-rifle suitcase to give chase but is tripped and interrogated by a Maurian in a high-rank Maurian Security Forces uniform, identifying himself as the Colonel.

The Colonel leads Tiak to the Captain, who vouches for his identity but demands an explanation. Tiak promptly infodumps everything he knows at he Captain and buries as many knives in backs as he can—Nayria's search for crescent keys and that she has the Doctor's; Trake's murder; the location he moved the bomb to; that Zira is apparently a trained assassin but someone tried to kill her (no evidence for either); that Mok is being coerced into treason; that Mongro has a Zero Deck key, is armed, and is probably an attacker; the goo; the Perticanto; and Zeno hiding the H.E.R.. An unamused Captain asks how he found out about the crescent keys, how Mongro got Zero Deck access, and who healed his wounds given the doctor didn't. Tiak switches to being obtuse and the Captain chews him out, hands responsibility of the investigations over to the Colonel, and reclaims the Zero Deck key. He orders to Colonel to have Mongro seal the Walker elevator and then bring him up, and sends Tiak out.

Tiak immediately rushes for the suitcase, via the Walker elevator, but it's gone. He hurries back out, but sees neither the Colonel nor Mongro at any point. He heads to the canteen and talks with Zira right in front of Mok about paperwork Mat had cleaned from Mikos' room about him having barrels and crates smuggled aboard, and about her role as a peace activist and ambassador. After Zira leaves, Mok speaks up that he hopes Tiak will continue investigating, discusses his support of Mikos, and that Zeno was seeking Tiak.

Tiak finds Zeno in Nayria's room, where he nags Tiak about retrieving the third key and putting the Queen's clue about the filing cabinet clue to use. Tiak manages to wrangle Zeno's assistance in distracting the captain long enough to get the password if Tiak makes him a cocktail, the recipe for which Tiak gets from a previously-sleeping and disgruntled Mok in his cabin (F).

On the upper deck, Tiak hides his camera in the floor vent and waits in the bridge, where he's spotted by Dan, who doesn't want to discuss the fight in any detail. The Captain flees his office, being shot at through the floor, and Tiak goes to "investigate". He can't open the back door, but moves the Captain's lockbox to the floor vent and his camera to the vent in the Captain's office, and cuts the locked draw open. Inside is the password and a bunch of paperwork which he claims and burns a blank remnant of to try to feign failure. With the elevator rising with the Colonel inside, Tiak dives into medical, so that Labras can witness him too, and claims the situation is under control. Labras reports his crescent key missing, Tiak plays dumb, and Labras calls him on this since the Captain had told the doc that Tiak knew about the keys, and sends him back out. As Tiak enters the elevator, he hears footsteps after him.

Tiak reads the paperwork he seized in the lower deck restrooms, which reveal that the Captain is in debt and being co-erced into an "undercover mission", then hides them amongst Mat's piles. He moves for the file cabinet and gets in. There are no passenger details beyond the list, but Tiak copies the crew roster to his PDA. Unfortunately, the Colonel apprehends him before he can read any of it.

Chapter 4

1 day, 20:00 until arrival

Tiak is interrogated by the Colonel and basically tells the truth about getting Zeno to cause a distraction to get the password, and everything he knows about Mikos. After pleading his innocence, Tiak is left locked in the Colonel's cabin and told to stay put until Mongro fixes the brig, so he can stand trial on arrival. Tiak promptly escapes into the vents and spectates the Colonel watching a delayed Mongro start fixing the brig. He takes an exciting tour around the vents until an exasperated Colonel discovers his escape and starts searching the rooms, at which point Tiak fakes an exit to the lift but actually backtracks and watches Mongro reclaim the blue keycard and one other object from Tiaks' confiscated possessions.

When the Colonel and Mongro leave the deck, Tiak crawls out and breaks the forcefield again with a couple of nails and a hammer that Mongro left behind. He finds Zira in the canteen kitchen and tells her about the Colonel, and she offers her help. Tiak gets her to arrange a meeting with Mongro to get another Zero Deck key, swipes the bar lockbox, and re-enters the vents, finding a route into the brig. Continuing onward, he finds a vial of green goo, and tries it on the lockbox lock back in the brig. It doesn't attack the metal, but does try to move through the forcefield.

Tiak heads for the lower deck and finds that a drop of his goo races for the floor vent. He hears voices in engineering, and while searching for a suitable vent to lurk in notices that the janitor's door is held open with a mop bucket. Inside, he finds Mat's headless corpse. He takes his ID card, then retreats to the safety of the vents. The conversation in engineering has finished, but Tiak sees Mongro in his room rummaging with his cabinet and hiding something under his pillow. Unable to follow him when he leaves, Tiak searches the room and re-steals the blue keycard, discovering a welded panel in the cabinet, and the rifle suitcase under the bed, now empty.

Tiak takes the vents to near the crew quarters, although he can't get into the rooms themselves from there. The goo doesn't move much here. He tries the unlabelled blue card in all the doors and, thinking for a moment, then the janitor's one, which works. Room A contains Dan, who hides a note and picture he was looking at and shoves Tiak out when he tries to get a glance. Tiak retreats back to the elevators, where Zira finally finds him and tells him to meet Mongro in ten minutes. He spends them finding that the password has been changed on the file cabinet and vacillating over returning the stolen keycard.

With Zira watching from the vents, Tiak meets Mongro in the cargo bay, who is less than pleased about Tiak telling the Captain about the Zero Deck keys and implicating him in the sabotage and attacks. Tiak just about manages to placate him by telling him that Tiak considers him innocent, and that finding the real murderer will clear them from suspicion. Tiak then promptly annoys Mongro again by showing him the blue keycard and demanding to know what its for. Mongro reclaims the card and tells Tiak that he doesn't know what it's for, that he found the suitcase on the Zero Deck both closed and open-and-empty and has been stashing it out of the way, and that the door to the Walker elevator is sealed even if the elevator still works. He doesn't know of any bomb in the brig. Mongro wants the canteen lockbox, unopened, in exchange for swiping Tiak's things back for him; which Tiak hands over immediately because he already stole it.

With twenty minutes to kill until Mongro has Tiak's things ready, Tiak grabs another couple of lightsticks from Supplies and asks Zira to watch Mongro. He tries crew cabin B, and finds a computer part behind the bed, but it is otherwise empty. C appears to be the doctor's room, and contains a note about a creature in biological storage. D contained a sensationalist news magazine and a packet of day-old snacks. Trake's cabin, E, is unchanged except that Trake's body is now in his cryopod. Tiak hears metallic sounds in F, Mok's cabin, so leaves him in peace.

Tiak returns to engineering and after a peek in Atmospherics Mongro hands over most of Tiak's possessions. As Mongro is handing them over Tiak catches a fleeting glimpse of a red camera drone in the vents, but it escapes; his own is still watching the Captain. Mongro leaves, and Tiak finds Zira by the Janitor's room, where she reports that she wasn't able to see what was in the lockbox other than Mongro put it in his pocket, and that he cuts keys using a PDA attachment. She heard a buzzing in the vents and occasionally caught a glimpse of red. Tiak asks her to return a computer part to Mongro, and she departs in need of a drink and sleep.

Tiak clambers into the vents and jams the cover in sideways, reading the crew files on his PDA.[ref] The Doctor's record is missing its notes, and the Head of Security is listed as Atuk, not Tiak. He flips through the route and passenger data, noting that Mongro has been aboard the longest, before noticing the buzzing of the drone on the other side of the cover, which has the initials A.S.C.E. on it. It gets away before Tiak can shoot it.

He returns to the Zero Deck, and ventures to the V.I.P. quarters. It's full of cryopods; Tiak finds the intact one and starts smashing the jammed cover on it. When he realizes it contains a blinking red light he dives out of the way just in time to only get his arm cut up by a sentry droid within firing out sharp metal blades—a trap which would work much better on non-Maurians. He finds a tiny computer part inside. He also returns to the previously unreachable computer part before being ambushed by the Colonel, and hooks it up with the valiant sacrifice of the unfolded coathanger.

Tiak finds an antechamber in the Cargo area of the Zero Deck with a newly-installed heavy door and card reader. The janitor's keycard is ineffective. Heading back up to Engineering to look for Mongro, Tiak finds a note on his door that he's sleeping. Returning, he sees the Colonel heading up from this level, but upon checking the janitor's room is undisturbed. As Tiak returns to the lift again this time he encounters a preoccupied and worried-looking Yery. She saw the Colonel and Mongro fighting a half-hour ago and Mongro dropping a device which she was unsure about returning, so hands over to Tiak. He thanks her, promising to return it to Mongro, and she leaves. With a little experimentation in a vent, Tiak concludes that it's a card programmer, and copies the janitor's card to previously-empty slot 3. He returns to the new door in Zero Deck, and while the profile in slot 1 doesn't work, slot 2 writes a card that opens the door.

Inside is a silent stranger, who sits for a while before throwing Tiak off-guard with a flicked cigarette. Tiak's stun pistol doesn't work against his armoured vest, so Tiak tries Mongro's laser upgrade. All it does it produce heat when Tiak pulls the trigger, keeps on doing so once Tiak stops, and won't fire even switched back to stun mode. He throws it away, toward the assailant, where it explodes. Once the smoke clears, the other half of the assailant falls down. The body has no ID, and his weapon was blown up along with Tiak's. After making a mess of him with the cutting tool, Tiak tries to drag the bleeding wreck toward the lift and infirmary, but is interrupted by a faint metallic sound. Hiding back in the room, he hears a single laser shot.

The cargo bay is lit and stacked with crates; there is also a bag packed with a large sum of Sinarri and Ziraneé cash, and a note: "Easy job and a lot of money. You just gotta be in the Hangar 6841-A. Planet: NB 3. Look for the Sp-12.", along with instructions to watch the boxes and shoot anyone other than "your client" who wanders in. One of the crates is open and packed with unloaded laser rifles. Tiak takes one and retreats into the darkness of the crates as Mongro walks in and calls for him, also claiming to have found something useful. Tiak hides deeper amongst the crates and Mongro claims to give up, although doesn't appear to leave.

Tiak is distracted by a door and starts trying to bash it down when he is lit up by the reassembled gun-camera drone that fired at him earlier. He dodges and the laser finishes off the door where he was standing. Tiak gives the drone the runaround until he can get back to Mongro, but the Sinarri is armed with the sub-rifle as well as the PDA controlling the drone. Lacking a working weapon or physical superiority, Tiak laces the screwdriver with the Extract of Perticanto and stabs Mongro as the latter turns to notice him, receiving a punch to the face for hanging around. Tiak heads for cover and Mongro fires, but the poison soon takes effect and he collapses. Tiak claims the camera, PDA, money, and gun and finishes him off with a shot to the head. Checking Mongro's shoulder reveals a small wound poorly patched, making him likely the hazmat suit assailant. The room at the back is found to be access to a cargo bay crane.

Mongro's PDA contained an important diagram which Tiak couldn't understand, and a diary confirming that he was smuggling rifles to oppressed Sinarri. There was other activity regarding the Zero Deck at Intersection 36F, and the Captain changed the lock. He planned to use Tiak to get a replacement key, but had to switch to killing people who found out about the rifles. It was also Mongro who sabotaged the mainframe, to prevent a change of course or calling for help if anything was suspected.

Returning from reading the PDA up in the crane cabin, Tiak finds the Colonel standing over Mongro's corpse and demanding an explanation. Tiak gives one and shows Mongro's PDA; the Colonel is not surprised and claims to have witnessed the events with the screwdriver from hiding in the doorway. The Colonel instructs Tiak to leave the money and he complies. Tiak asks questions about the Captain's debts, the Doctor's record, Atuk, the brig bomb, the goo, and the crescent keys; the Colonel denies knowing anything about all of them, and defends A.S.C.E. as a legitimate organization. He then leaves deeper into the cargo bay to continue "investigating".

As he leaves, Tiak meets the A.S.C.E. camera hovering in the antechamber, possibly watching the conversation with the Colonel. He leaves it alone and it speeds away. He sends his servo-camera into the Zero Deck Medical Bay again, this time further past the barrels of Extract of Perticanto, revealing a huge mass of goo furiously bubbling and squirming against a large door. Releasing a couple of drops of goo confirm that they head for the mass trying to get through the door, and not away from the extract. Tiak's new weaponry still proves ineffective against the rubble to get in there, however.

Tiak returns to Mongro's room and checks out the panel in the cabinet, where he retrieves the warhead bomb. Looking at the mainframe, it appears nothing like the diagram in Mongro's PDA, and Tiak has no idea how to replace the components. Tired, he heads to the canteen for a drink and encounters Dan, who is drunk. Dan lets slip that someone is finally dead but, other than the head exploding, Tiak's attempts to get anything further out of him are futile. Tiak instead heads for Dan's room to study the picture from earlier, noting on the way that the Captain has been away from his desk for some time. It's of Mok, Dan, and an unknown third Maurian. Tiak checks that Mok is still OK in his cabin, hearing metallic sounds again, and then heads to the lower deck cargo bay for the last fresh uniform after comments on all the blood from the mercenary. He finally crawls back to the brig, hides the bomb in the cryopod, and sleeps.

Chapter 5

1 day, 08:03 until arrival

After a nightmare about the A.C.S.E. drone, Tiak wakes in the brig, being yelled at by Zira that people are going to shoot each-other upstairs. She saw Dan running scared into the canteen, and believes Mok has run to the upper deck to shoot the captain, having already killed the Colonel.

When Tiak reaches the upper deck, he hears a ruckus in the bridge. The Colonel is collapsed with a torso wound, and Mok is holding the Captain at gunpoint. Tiak refuses Mok's demands for him to leave. Mok demands that the Captain destroy the secret cargo he is transporting for the Ziraneé, but the Captain repeatedly claims ignorance. Meanwhile the Colonel fumbles in his pocket, and Tiak decides not to warn Mok. When the Colonel draws on Mok, Tiak fires to disarm Mok, and the Colonel shoots him through the chest then puts his second pistol back in his pocket. Tiak calls for the doctor, who arrives, but Mok pulls out and presses a bomb trigger before falling unconscious from blood loss. Tiak asks the Captain to initialize the emergency protocol, but it can't be done while the ship is in hyperspace, without communications. Tiak must find the bombs.

With the Captain searching the upper deck, Tiak moves down to the middle, where he is accosted by Zeno. The Ziraneé is less interested in the bombs than in Tiak's activities with Naryia and is only prevented from killing him due to the queen's objection that Tiak is still useful for "official matters". Naryia isn't willing to be talkative, reminding Tiak that he still needs to retrieve the key for her, but does respond to Tiak's bomb warning that while her cabin is clear, Zeno's might not be.

Tiak finds a bomb with a tiny card slot in Zeno's room but can't carry it, so returns to the brig to stash some stuff, finding that Zira is not answering her door on the way. The bomb he left in his crypod is active, but is defused using the Ac=7187 note. He collects the bombs he's found so far and heads to Mok's room, where he finds a tiny keycard that disarms the other bomb and a note listing Mok's suspects.

Dan's room being empty apart for another piece of report about the Alpha Creature, Tiak tries engineering. He ditches a bunch of surplus weapons into the garbage disposal unit, and notices dried blood on the hatch. The hazard suit has moved, so he explores the engine bay, finding the other suit empty and discarded, showing the shoulder wound from his attacker. He also finds a body which he doesn't have time to examine and, backtracking and taking other routes, a large bomb with a countdown timer showing a little under thirteen minutes, which thankfully is disarmed with the card.

Tiak checks on the mainframe and manages to recover and disarm a bomb planted near the top by climbing up and hooking it with his cutting tool, but shatters the plaster over his broken leg. He tries to rouse the passengers from their cabins to move everyone to a safe area, but nobody answers. The lift opens as he hobbles back to it and reveals another bomb, which Tiak disarms with the card just in time. Nothing blows up.

The Doctor fixes up Tiak's leg in the infirmary again, and Tiak asks him a few questions. The Colonel's wounds were light enough that he was able to walk out and leave after being patched up. Mok, however, is in a severe condition and isn't going to wake up soon, and will be facing treason charges when he does. The Doc doesn't want to discuss anything else, though, and is surprised at the idea his presence on the ship is 'covered'. He also hands Tiak Mok's detonator before leaving to sleep. Tiak has to sit around for an hour to let the plaster set, so cracks the detonator apart, finds he can't wake Mok, and reads the report he found in Dan's quarters. It's about the Alpha Creature and how it seems to mimic emotions around it and tries to form into large blobs; it is cut short before noting the creature's "most fascinating property". Tiak tries emoting at the goo sample he's holding but doesn't get a reaction.

His leg fixed, Tiak drags up the corpse from engineering and finds it is wearing an MSF uniform; it is probably Atuk. The discovery does at least provide Tiak with a replacement, loaded stungun, and a security keycard. There is also a conspiracy magazine on the body; the same type as previously found in cabin D. Tiak hides the bombs in the irradiated zone and garbage disposes the detonator before stashing Atuk's body in the cryopod there.

Tiak checks his PDA and hears someone talking to the captain in a low voice, but can't tell who, so heads up there. Yery is standing outside the captain's office, and tells Tiak she was talking to the captain about a feeling of being watched from the vents in her room, and occasional buzzing and glimpses of red. She wants to convince the Captain to go look for himself, but he insists the vents are clear. Tiak confirms her suspicions in the elevator and goes to get Zira to help; she and Yery look at each-other with a flicker of a "weird expression". Zira asks Tiak as an aside if he's doing this to get into the Captain's office, and he admits it; she doesn't claim to know Yery.

The ruse works and Tiak gets into the captain's office, where he opens up the wall cabinet with the button, finding an empty space for a IK2 plasma gun with batteries, plus a small green key and a dated graduation photo of a much younger Captain. Atuk's keycard opens the back bedroom, and the green key opens a safe there. Beyond that is a codelock which is opened with the date from the photo. Inside all that is a crescent key and a small, remote-control, controlled explosive. Tiak also pockets a note unread from the bedside table. He leaves the conspiracy magazine and green key then hides in the infirmary until the Captain returns.

As the lift opens on the middle deck, Yery holds Tiak at gunpoint and demands the crescent key. Zira provides a distraction and kick from the roof hatch, and Tiak manages to taze her. Zira says she'd previously seen Yery sneaking into rooms and fiddling with a remote controller, but Tiak only finds her card and another note on her body. He drags her into the brig via the vents. Zira claims Yery's gun for self-defence and refuses to hand it over; Tiak gives her the Colonel's in trade.

Before heading to the queen to hand over the key, Tiak reads the notes he's found. The captain's is a heavily handled pep-talk reminder that he is "taking part in the greatest mission ever commanded by a Maurian officer"; that "It's all for the greater good. It will bring peace and prosperity. Just deliver it to Tinosa II. Don't get caught and everything will be fine. "Remember that you aren't alone. It's a coordinated achievement between Ziranée and Maurian scientists. We just can't let the politicians to take control of it. At any cost." Yery's note is a brief, unsigned one to keep an eye on the keys because parties will try to "keep them for themselves. We can't allow it. It's our investment. It's our money. Alpha belongs to us."

Naryia asks Tiak again if he's still in it for the truth, and he agrees. The queen then says that she isn't going to tell Tiak a thing, and instead hands him the keys to find out what's hidden on the Zero Deck for himself, and a passcode (06879). She tells Tiak to beware separating parts of the creature, but that it should be otherwise harmless. He checks Yery's room on the way to the Zero Deck, and finds the remote for what is presumably the A.S.C.E. drone, but its battery is flat.

The Zero Deck has gained fresh holes and now reeks of old fossil fuels. Down one of the holes Tiak can see hundreds of old, leaky barrels of fuel. There is a loud crash as he places the small explosive to clear the way into medical, but Tiak can't see what caused it other than a new hole appeared near the elevators. He blows the charge and turns the resorting hole in the floor into a crude pit trap with some debris, and enters the medical room with loud metallic clanging approaching. He releases his goo sample to the waiting mass, grabs the plasma welder in the room—although not the fire extinguisher—and hides as the walker steps into the trap and becomes unbalanced.

Tiak's assault rifle is ineffectual against the walker, which attacks him with a chainsaw. He resorts to lighting up a trail of fuel leaking from its tanks with the plasma welder, and gets slashed in the process, his cut holster strap dropping the rifle and stunner. It blocks the exit and continues to advance, so Tiak retreats into the mass of goo (which seems indifferent to the whole situation) and uses the crescent keys to get through the huge door, which holds the walker back.

Inside is a huge glowing machine. Tiak gets an experiment report from an adjacent computer that explains its purpose as a resurrection device using the goo, from an A.S.C.E.-funded project with the help of "Dr. L". Tiak grabs the blueprints on a data cylinder, although the computer reports this to whoever is the administrator. Naryia's code works on a keypad at the back of the room to open a hidden door with a long ladder, which leads up and up and forks off to the office of the captain, who is absent. The mysterious cabinet in there is the other end of the passage, and upon closer inspection has a hidden latch at the bottom. Tiak backtracks for his guns, but the (now-empty) walker has ignited the whole deck, and the wounds from the fight are starting to get to him. He avoids the other fork in the passage, assuming it leads to Labras, and takes the long route back to Naryia for "healing".

An hour later, he bothers her with questions about the machine. Naryia considers anyone having the power of the machine to be a bad thing, and the poorly-secured transport of it deliberate. She also comments that the plans are incomplete without Dr Labras' knowledge, and that Tiak still has murders to solve, before shooing him out. He wanders into the empty canteen as the ship's speaker system starts working, and the Captain and Dan call him to the bridge for an emergency. He checks on Yery, who is still captive in Security, and temporarily powers the A.S.C.E. remote to see into the bridge with the drone, which had been left in the vent between Yery and Zira's rooms. Dan and the Captain are unarmed, so Tiak leaves to make his way there. Zeno stops him in the corridor, but only to dispense advice: "I know that one of your pastimes during the flight has been sprouting any bit of vital information to the most inconvenient people, with hilarious results. Maybe now it's the right time for that kind of action."

On the bridge, Dan shows Tiak a diagram of the ship. The Zero Deck on fire, and with the mainframe down it'll spread through the lower deck and knock out atmospherics, killing everyone, within about fifty minutes. Tiak needs to repair the mainframe enough to send the distress signal that means they can evacuate. He smells the air for fuel, leaves and reclaims his camera from the Captain's office, and visits Labras, who stinks of it. Tiak holds the doctor at gunpoint and eventually stops talking long enough to fire, but the doctor is wearing a personal shield and finishes retrieving the heavy plasma cutter from a cupboard. Tiak flees far enough to fire at the doctor's face and throw his camera at the visor, delaying him long enough to beat him with the hammer and rip off the energy shield. The Doctor stabs Tiak deep in the chest with a scalpel, and Tiak shoots him.

Tiak's wounds are enough to actually stop Naryia smiling, and she can't really fix the wound entirely. He enlists Zira's help in retrieving the mainframe parts from the brig, where Yery is being obstinate about being released in exchange for not breaking them. Zira shoots her instead.

They make their way to the mainframe, Tiak's condition worsening, and Zira still refusing to reveal her angle. Tiak says "open" to the room as the Captain informed him back on the bridge, and a hidden hatch opens to the actual workings of the computer, below. Zira goes down, installs the parts, and thumps the big red Emergency Protocol button. The ship phases out of hyperjump. Tiak asks her to broadcast the plans, but she claims the system doesn't seem to be working and she doesn't know how.

Tiak passes out near the lower deck lifts on the way back to the escape pods. He drifts into a consciousness a couple more times to find himself in the pod, and Zira removing the data capsule with the plans from him "for all the universe's good".

Epilogue

The pods, and the wreck of the Sparrow 12, were found by the Condor 23. On Tiak's evidence, Labras was found guilty of treason, conspiracy, and murder, but the events covered up. The alpha creature and machine were lost. Other than Yery, who was erased entirely, the survivors and dead were written up as heroes. Maurian-Ziraneé relations improved as a result, and Naryia became one of the most influential individuals in the galaxy and a symbol of peace and prosperity. Zira was found to have stolen the identity of the real Zira Niadar, an old woman, but escaped on disembarkation on Tinosa II. Tiak was publicly used as a scapegoat and expelled from the Maurian Security Forces, but privately rewarded, and invited to spend all the time he wanted in Naryia's palace.

ITQ

Appearances by the cast Inside the Quest.

ITQ: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Gallery

Spoilerth tiny.png This quest has (fan) artwork that is not safe for work. See the NSFW gallery.

Fanart

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Tiak kind of went from cute...LinkToBoard.gif
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Mitzi x Tiak; Theme: ShinigamiLinkToBoard.gif


Quests by Starit

Sparrowverse: The Last Flight of the Sparrow | Passage

Other: Tales from Meigara