The Firewall team scrambled to receive boarders, looking to find good hold-out positions for when the scavengers arrive. They quickly move to check and cover the nearby exits from near the bridge, ensuring Dr. Il’Voras is set up safely in Medbay in case of emergencies.
The first exit from the bridge hallway is opened by Hank, and appears to be a storeroom – dark and empty. Stepping inside to give the room a once-over, he looks up to discover a broken-limbed female corpse lashed to the roof with cargo ties, panics, and in his frantic motions to flee manages to get the faceplate of his helmet covered with blood. The confined space, blood, and nightmarish surroundings bring back repressed memories, and Hank lapses into semi-catatonic weeping.
Mei and Ilan clean the blood from his helmet and leave him in the hallway as they head through another door, which turns out to lead to a massively overgrown ‘greenhouse’. Bamboos and grasses fill the entire area, and Redman’s keen senses discover another of the bizzare em-emitting tendrils erupting from the floor. Mei blasts it with a hollowpoint round and Ilan collects the severed chunk of its dense, fibrous material as a sample. Further exploration of the room reveals masses of the tendrils covering various air vents leading out of the greenhouse.
In the meantime, Jay and Walker are still in the bridge when they notice a camera watching them from inside a nearby vent. Incensed at being spied upon, Walker launches himself into the vent system to chase the camera drone, with Jay following on foot. Both Jay and Walker wind up in a small cabin with a now-destroyed camera drone and what looks like the captain’s AR personal device; a laptop of sorts with gatecrashing videos and logs from Eric Quinn. These are added to a series of other logs discovered across the vessel.
Clarke’s Crew Logs
Hank moves to the last door, which is fairly damaged and locked down. He instructs his muse to hack the door’s lockdown in order to bypass it and open it manually, still thinking fuzzily and not realizing that this was likely locked for a reason. Dickens manages to crack the door open, and unfortunately it opens into space. Hank barely makes it back into the command centre as the doors all around him slam shut and seal.
Jay and Walker proceed from the cabin into an adjoining room which has the ship’s central AR matrices. The array appears to have a user video queued, but the power is too low for it to be able to playback. Before messing with it any more, Jay discovers that it’s been jury-rigged to a handmade explosive device, disarms it, and reroutes power to play the video.
Pandora Gate Primer Video
Once pressure returns to the main corridor, the group reconvenes, ready to head to the aft of the ship. Hank has removed his helmet in order to dose himself with some sedatives, while the rest of the team remains sealed in case of contaminants. Cautiously they head towards the aft of the ship, when a pair of stealth-cloak wearing scavengers round the corner and are swiftly gunned down by Mei, Hank, and Ilan. They’re fairly well-equipped for scavengers, apparently part of some kind of paramilitary organization – but without any identifying features.
Coming to a badly scratched and damaged door, Hank, Mei, Walker, and Ilan all enter. This triggers the security system to repel intruders by sending a superheated cutting laser down the hall. After several close calls, and a burst of fire from Hank’s pistol failing to hit the laser emitter and instead winging Mei, Jay manages to cut the power from outside the room, allowing the team access to the research lab beyond.
The room is trashed, wiring hanging from the ceiling, a mess of furniture, and a wasp-waisted assistant servitor hanging from a track on the roof. An eerie level of arrangement is apparent in how the furniture has been placed.
The team elects not to mess with the threatening-looking ‘bot and heads to the elevators to the ship’s cargo pods. They’ve been damaged – possibly from an explosion – and Mei hears something coming from below. Jay opens the shaft and gives it a once-over for traps, then Mei takes point. The team emerges into a cavernous cargo pod and after several minutes of searching discovers a gap in the otherwise ordered crating concealing a hidden room made of cargo-crate walls. There are 3 bodies strapped to the walls, again with cargo ties, and a 10-metre high zero scrawled on the wall in blood.
Investigating the bodies, it becomes apparent that these murders were done days ago. Two of the bodies have matching tattoos, and they are obviously crew members; it looks like at least one of them was killed by the method by which they were posed, which involved the packing cords being drawn so tight as to crush bone. After Walker notices that the packing tape has been cut irregularly, a massive tearing noise heralds the arrival of a horrible nightmare.
A nova crab morph bursts through the ceiling, tearing a scavenger merc in half as it enters the pod. The firewall team immediately catch it in a four-way crossfire, pumping as much ammo into it as possible. It’s eventually finished off by Hank emptying his entire weapon into its braincase.
At this point the scavenger ship takes off, allowing Freamon and the Jupiter’s Pride to return, and the team manages to bring the derelict Clarke’s Endeavour into parking orbit around Metternick. The mission has raised more questions than it has answered by far, however.