Artefacts of Old

Episode 24: Project Black Wing

Monsters! Teaming up with Raven Squad, led by Commander Halen Finn, Our Heroes find themselves searching a station plagued by the undead. Desperate to ensure the disease does not escape containment again, our heroes help the Republic in there mission, being partly responsible for this information coming to light…

A few minutes passed and they’d passed down several corridors when they heard another loud Shriek coming from behind them.
“How many do you think there are?” said Bruck, raising his rifle as the others were alerted to the halt in movement.
“More than one,” said Lan.
“Did they come back?” asked Rebeka.
“We double tapped them, triple tapped them in some cases.” Said Rak.
“Remind me again how many people were on this station?” asked Halen of Sarin.
The wavering in her voice was apparent, even behind her helmet. “There was over two thousand registered crew aboard this station.”
“And how many are we expecting to come back as Ravenous Demons?” asked Rak.
“All of them.” Said Jace.
“right,” agreed Halen.
The sounds got louder and dozens of bodies Ran out of the corridors, heading straight to them.
“The end of the corridor, get the blast door closed! Move it!” barked Halen.
Jace Hurried to the end of the corridor, drawing his grenade launcher “Come on!” he yelled.
The horde was ruuning fast, shrieking at them as they pelted down the corridor. Rak followed after Jace, pelting it down the corridor. Lanyef held on until Rebeka started running, Rebeka grabbed him by the hand, pulling him after her. Ioca followed after them, assisting Jace in securing the corridor, the rest of Raven Squad followed close behind, laying down covering fire. As the horde closed the gap, Jace sent a grenade hurtling down the corridor, blowing up several of the creatures and causing the lines behind to clamber over them. Rak hopped into the corridor momentarily, letting off a volley at the new front line, but didn’t seem to strike anything important. Rebeka readied next to the blast door console along with Lanyef as Raven squad reached the end of the corridor. The horde followed them, Dozer laying down heavy fire that shredded seven of them and Jace blowing another chunk in the hordes lines. Rebeka shouted for them to hurry, as Raven squad reached the doors edge. Another grenade blew several up behind the front lines. Rak blasted a couple of the creatures, missing one and blasting another. Rebeka assisted, firing a shot in the horde as Lanyef readied at the panel as Halen and Dozer crossed the threshold.
“Close the blast door!” yelled Halen, firing into the slobbering shrieking masses. Lanyef activated the door and it begun closing. Jace kicked one of them in the face as it tried to grab at him. The others grabbed at dozer, several arms pulling Dozer back through the door. Rebeka and Rak blasted the arms holding him, but there grip was like iron. The door should have shut by now, but the fluctuating power was causing trouble. Lanyef tried rerouting power, but there was no way to do so really from this area. Halen grabbed Dozer and pulled him back while the rest of Raven squad laid down fire. Jace cut at the limbs and Dozer was slowly pulled back. The horde seemed determined though, and as the opening got smaller thy pulled on dozer again pulling his left arm and head back through the opening. Rak Blasted another zombie as Rebeka tried to slow the doors progress with her own strength but it was too late, Dozer’s last screams were cut off as the door crushed him, severing him from beneath his left arm to his right shoulder. The whole group was stunned into silence, the only sound was the scrabbling of fingernails on the other side of the blast door. The members of Raven squad seemed to deal with this in there own ways. No’laa and Sarin shed a few tears, Bruck remained silent out of Respect, and even Halen punched the blast door in a fit of anger.
He shook his head and picked up the rotary carbine, taking his grenades but keeping one. “Come on, we still have a job to do.” He muttered, gesturing the way to go. The troopers suppressed there personal mournings and returned to a more professional standing, the Dawnstar crew followed glumly after them. Once they were a safe distance, he pulled a pin on the grenade on his body and let the explosion do the work, then he followed after them.

They reached the laboratories soon after, the number of bodies had decreased and everything seemed more sterile, despite the stations current upkeep.
“We should seal the blast doors behind us, make it harder for those things to follow us.” Suggested jace as they passed another section.
“A sound tactic,” said Bruck.
“Agreed, do it.” Said Halen, and Bruck started sealing off the door.
“But what happens if they come the other way, we’re sealing off our only escape route.” Said Ioca.
“Shut up.” Said Halen.
If it’s a choice between two sets of creatures, or one set of creatures and a door, I’ll take my chances.” Said Jace.
They passed a hall and heard sounds up ahead. Halen called a halt and everyone quietly waited as a large T1b loader droid marched down the corridor, carrying a box and talking to itself. “[Ignore them, Keep loading.]” it said continuously as it marched down the corridor carrying it’s box. They passed it and moved down several corridors until they reached what seemed to be designated as Main Lab 1.
“This is one of the main labs, there are two on the station, if you’re datacron’s here, and as important as you believe, it’ll be in one of them.”
Ioca opened the door to the lab and beyond was everything you would expect to see in a laboratory. Experiment workbenches and computers surrounded the room. As well as a set of three containment tubes on one side of the lab. On the far wall was the remains of an emergency gun locker, and a door which looked like it led to a smaller office. Rebeka, Rak, Ioca and No’laa went to investigate the tubes while the others checked out the room. They were horrified to discover that each tube contained a set of lungs, a couple of which were at least human or near human, breathing to themselves while various tubes seemed to sustain them, carrying the black blood in and out of them. The desks were littered with samples of organic matter it was probably best not to think about.
“Lungs aren’t supposed to breathe outside of the body.” Said No’laa.
“You don’t say.” Said Rebeka, still fascinated by the horror before her. Then out of nowhere the lungs took a large intake of breath and screeched. The same horrendous sound they’d heard from the corpses they encountered. No’laa was shaken by the sound, Rebeka Rak and Ioca were less fortunate as they found themselves involuntarily vomiting at the hideous sound, everyone else heard it, but were apparently not close enough to feel the effects. Everyone backed off, Rebeka sitting down and holding her head as it pounded.
“It must be some sort of defence mechanism,”said No’laa staggering away.
“Does anyone have any water?” said Rebeka groaning. After taking a swig and spitting some out onto the floor Ioca handed her his canteen, she offered him a lollipop in return, to take the taste away, but he didn’t, Rak however did after taking a drink himself. Jace recovered a few chemicals in the cupboards he could use in his bomb making. Lanyef checked the office and found a workstation as well as a Safe, however the safe had been emptied. The workstation had records of what experiments the sith had managed to do, as well as details on what this was intended to be. According to the logs the Sickness was an attempt by an ancient sith lord to create immortality for himself. However his efforts created the disease instead and was responsible for wiping out an entire Sith academy. His work stopped there until now, the lead scientists believing they could alter what went wrong. Rebeka told Lan to put it on a datacard for Terrn. As Rebeka returned to the main room, she and Rak heard a metallic pop coming from the vents above them in the room. Everyone got into position, covering the vent grills for any sign as to what was making the noise. They moved back to let whatever it was fall out the vent. They did so, corpses burst through the grills, landing awkwardly on the ground and breaking bones and necks, but still driven by the Sickness in there body. The room filled with flailing corpses as they opened fire on the creatures standing up. Jace kicked one in the head with a brutal strike. Rak blasted it, dropping the corpse where it tried to stand. Lanyef blasted the one outside the door of the office, but shot wide while Rebeka blasted another down. Halen fired furiously, blasting two, shredding chunks from them as Ioca terminated one scrabbling on the floor. Bruck and Sarin blasted one as Jace moved over the desk, blasting another corpse down. “Make your way to the door!” he yelled as there was a horrific crack and one of the inanimate corpses reanimated and lunged for No’laa, who blasted it down again. The corpses lunged at the nearest, Lanyef being scratched up by fingernails as they came at him. Rak blasted one down as Lanyef fought for his life blasting another as Rebeka peppered them with blaster fire, another two falling and clearing the way.
“Lan run!” she called as Sarin slid over a desk on her backside, Ioca, No’laa and Halen moving slowly towards the door, providing fire support for Bruck.
“Come on!” yelled Halen to the beleaguered Bruck, Jace blasting three down, clearing the way. Rak followed after them as Lanyef came out of the room, one of the corpses playing possum grabbed at him but only suffered a scratch for his trouble. Rebeka blasted it as she followed him, but her shot went wide as she was concentrating on escaping. The others hurried out the door Rebeka trying a cool jump up and over the desks, but ended up missing and sliding towards Halen on her knees. The commander grabbed her by the waist to stop her falling off the edge and she gave an apologetic nod as the rest of them made it out of the room, shutting the door behind them. Lan Locked it, then Halen went one better and blasted the panel, fusing the door shut.

They bypassed the loader droid again, apparently he was moving the same box again, a clear sign that it’s droid mind couldn’t handle what had occurred on station. As they bypassed a few more corridors, they came across a droid that had been torn apart amongst the remains of more scientists
Bruck examined the debris, and collected a few parts.
“Looks like one of the Hunter Killer models, Sir.” He said.
“It’s dead right.” Said Halen, looking at it’s wrecked torso.
“It appears inactive, if we can find it’s head we may be able to discern more of what happened here.”
“Everyone look for a HK droids head.” Said Halen. They searched the area, Lanyef finding the droids head under the remains of a scientist.
“oh, it looks like cut up.” Said Rebeka, realisation dawning.
“Any of you able to fix droids?” asked Halen.
Rebeka gave a wide grin, took the head off of Lanyef and lowered her goggles.
“Then get to work, quickly and quietly.” He ordered, setting up a perimeter with his squad. They expected it would take an hour, and were surprised when it took Rebeka five minutes to reattach the head and reconnect the damaged connections. The droids eyes glowed as it returned to activity.
“Declaration: Assassination Protocols Activated.” Then the droid looked at Rebeka. “Greetings, Master. How may I be of service?”
“Are you functional? Are your memories okay?”
“Assessment: My Long Term and Short Term memory units are active, My previous master had no such desire to have me perform memory blocks should I become inactive. However, inactivity has led to some corruption of certain memories.”
“Perfect, this gentleman has some questions.” Said Rebeka, gesturing to Halen. The commander came over and spoke down to it.
“What happened here?” he said.
“Explanation: It was a marvel to behold, the Organics the good doctor denoted as ‘slaves’ turned against there former masters in a bloody carnage which lasted several minutes. I caught a glimpse of my former master in the clutches of several of these slaves, right before I was deactivated, I am saddened to report I did not get to see them tear him apart like a piece of thinly pressed organic wafer commonly used for writing.”
“ahahaha,” said Rebeka, unable to hide the regret of fixing the droid.
She picked up the droid in her arms, and was thankful it didn’t have anything to grab her with.
“Query: Master, would it not be advisable to reattach my arms and legs, I can hardly snap your opponents neck without some sort of appendage. I’m also concerned you will drop me, causing more damage to the servos you have neglected to fix.”
“given how much you seem to want your previous master dead, I don’t really want to give you arms and legs just yet.”
“Amused Declaration: Oh Master, it’s not that I ENJOY my masters getting horribly eviscerated, it’s merely one of my affectations as an Assassin droid, I enjoy all deaths, some more than others.”
“Still I like my limbs and insides where they are.”
“Confused Query: really? All that liquid sloshing around in your flesh, it doesn’t drive you insane?”
“we don’t here any sloshing-“
“If we could get back on topic, please.” Said Halen. “What memories do you have?”
The Droid rattled off several dates, which Sarin collated into a list. “… While my master did not have a use for my assassination protocols as I would have liked. He used me for more administrative tasks.”
“Play the first log.” Said Sarin.
The droid made a noise very much like a sigh “Recitation:” it said, and it’s voice altered to that of his former masters they assumed.
“The datacron outlines the disease perfectly, it should be easy to replicate the original strain, however unlike the sith lord who originally created it, I will not unleash it on an unsuspecting academy of apprentices, more control is needed for a disease we do not fully understand. Lord Taivus wishes me to work to his timetable, but being rash will only lead to another outbreak…”
“Unfortunately the remnants of this recording have corrupted.” Said the droid.
“So the datacron contains information on this disease.” Said Jace.
“I can see why it would be a good idea to keep it out of Sith hands,” added Rak.
“and The initial test log?” Said Sarin.
“Recitation: “Initial tests proved that the disease does grant a measure of immortality. Unlike the Entechment Project, which causes the subject impossible levels of pain and turns the subject into a power source for droids, the disease kills rapidly with complete disregard for species, and then revives them. Both also seem to eliminate free will entirely in the subject, something Taivus doesn’t wish for himself I’m sure…”
“The New Findings log?”
“Recitation: “Of the 300 slaves infected by the disease, only 15 survived initial test, for some reason these slaves have a natural immunity to the sickness, though it’s not certain what it is that causes this. With the first initial test complete I’ve authorised an autopsy of three of the subjects, including one of the surviving slaves. The rest will be ejected into the sun…”
“The Autopsy log?”
“Recitation: “Initial infection seems to begin in the lungs, suggesting the disease is airborne. The Lungs begin to turn a grey colour, and the sickness begins replacing the oxygen in the blood. Notice the discolouration in the blood-“
“Oh my- how is this possible?”
“I don’t know, for the benefit of the recording, the subject has begun Respiration once more, all his organs are beginning to function-“
The droid suddenly emitted a high pitched shriek, similar to that emitted by the lungs and the corpses.
“Shut up!” commanded Halen and the droid ended the recording.
“Explanation: that is all I have of that record.”
“That’s fine, thank you.” Said Rebeka, everyone checked for sounds of the horde, but there was no response thankfully.
“Play the last recording.”
“Recitation: “I don’t understand how this could happen. There was no mention of this in the datacron. 70% of the stations crew are displaying symptoms of the disease, even though all quarantine procedures have been in effect.”
“Conclusion: perhaps the disease is intelligent enough to bypass your quarantine.”
“enough you! What have I told you about…“ and then it fizzled out.
“Explanation: the doctor continued to berate me despite my own personal conclusion being correct. The disease is intelligent, it learns.”
“Yeah it does,” said Halen, “first thing it learned was how to bypass respirators, by the time we found the star of Coruscant, some of the dead were even beginning to learn to operate blasters again.
“Declaration: My final record was unfortunately damaged when I was deactivated. A pity, I did so want to hear the agonised screams of my master one more time.”
“Was he really bad to you?” said Rebeka.
“Objection: of course not master, I harbour no ill will to the good doctor.”
“Enough, shut him off.” Said Halen.
“protest: I advise against turning me on and off like a common appliance-“ it managed before Rebeka switched him off.
“We should take the head, he might be able to tell us more about what his master was doing prior to this.” Suggested Jace. Rebeka agreed, and put the HK droids head in her pack, and they continued on to the next Main Lab.
“You’d do well not to turn that thing back on.” Said Halen. “Most Hunter Killers are nothing but trouble to there owners. And are usually inevitably responsible for there owners death anyway.”
“Oh well, It would be a nice change if something else was responsible for my death.” Rebeka joked.

They arrived outside the second Main Lab, readying there blasters as they went in. The layout was not dissimilar to the other lab, and they begun searching for the datacron immediately.They found on the desk in the small office, along with a couple of datapads that had reports of the Entechment process on Kohlma. They copied the records for Terrn and Jace took the Datacron.
“Is that it?” said Halen.
“Yep,” said Rebeka.
“Good, then you can help us with the final phase, I’m done with this place.” Said Halen, ordering his squad to move out.
“Sir, what’s the plan once the charges are in place, do we split up?” asked Sarin.
“No, splitting up now would be asking for trouble.” He replied.
“You can come on our ship?” said Rebeka.
Halen considered this, “…Alright, then we make our way to the starboard docking bay.”

They arrived at the power generator, a technology nobody had seen in there lives. Rebeka checked the consoles in a fascination to see how it worked.
“The generator is using the suns own reactions to power the station. That’s incredible!”
“Like the Star Forge.” Said Bruck, “This technology must be very experimental. It’s also against galactic law due to the damage it does to stars.”
“So how do we blow this up.” Asked Jace.
Halen nodded to Bruck and he started handing charges to the respective team members, they were one man down and had one more charge to set. Halen looked at Jace.
“Know anything about demolitions.”
“A fair bit.”
“We need a man to place this charge on the relay up there.” Gestured Halen. Jace took the charge and planted it on the relay, using his jetpack to ascend quickly. They continued to place charges until they were all set in the appropriate spots, then gathered around Halen who went through the final briefing.
“Now the charges are set, we’ll need to blow them immediately to ensure they go off.”
“What do I need to know as a pilot,” asked Rebeka.
“Fly like hell. I’m dealing with unknown tech here, so I don’t know whether the station will simply burn up in the sun or cause a blackhole. The drawback in our escape plan is we’re going to have to open all the blast doors from here to the docking bay to ensure a direct route. But of course this means letting them out as well.”
“What do we do if someone gets caught?” asked Rebeka though guessed she knew the answer.
“We can’t go after anyone, we’ll run out of time if we get distracted.” Said Rak.
“Agreed, No heroics, once the charges go, your only objective is to get to that ship we’ll have literally minutes to get there.”
“Good luck then, I guess.” Said Rebeka nervously.
“Move out.” Said Halen, ordering them all to start running for the nearest Lab. They all reached the Lab and Bruck began hacking a console to access all the doors.
“Everyone else stay in the corridor, I’ll open the doors and give you a head start.” He said.
They did so, Halen ready with the detonator as Bruck finished off, then gave him a nod.
“Cook you bastards.” He muttered and hit the detonator. The station rocked with the explosion, Halen losing his footing as everyone else braced themselves and started running. He and Bruck followed behind Halen shouting for everyone to move it.
The station whined in protest as the power begun to overload, sparks and glass showered down from overpowered lighting. Sarin led the way down the corridors as the inertial dampners begun to fail, everyone suddenly feeling lighter on there feet. Sarin made a quick turn as a horde of corpses came up the corridor managing to grab at Rebeka and Ioca as they passed by, tripping Rebeka. Halen grabbed her by the waistline of her trousers as he came upon her, practically throwing her to her feet, yelling at her to keep moving.
They ran down several more corridors, again being diverted by the horde, which No’laa tossed a couple of grenades at, blowing them up enough to delay them as the others ran by. The station began to tilt causing everyone to slide towards the walls, and end up hopping and leaping past automatic doors as they opened. The Station realigned momentarily and they returned to the floor, Jace hit the ground awkwardly and slid a fair way, scrabbling to his feet after the others. Halen did the same, Jace going to help him but receiving verbal abuse that amounted to him telling Jace to keep moving. They reached the final Corridor, Rebeka calling Jurl to get him to open the ramp, which he mentioned already was. Sarin saw the horde coming down at them, and she tossed two grenades at the front line as she reached the hangar bay door to buy them more time. She fired with her pistol as No’laa darted into the hangar, Ioca tapping Sarin on the shoulder as he arrived, blasting everything he could to slow the horde down while she darted in. Rak and Bruck were next, Bruck supporting Ioca in his delaying effort as Lan, Rebeka and Jace arrived, then Halen. Ioca hurried in as Jace waited to blast the door, Bruck was less fortunate and was grabbed and pulled into the Horde, and Jace had no choice, closing the door and blasting the panel, then running after the rest of them as more corpses flooded out of the opposite door towards the Dawnstar. Rebeka, Lan, No’laa and Sarin were already preparing the ship for launch when Jace used his jet pack to reach the Ramp where Halen, Ioca and Rak were defending. They got aboard and the ramp closed as Rebeka begun taking off, the corpses leaping at the ship to grab on, but it was too high. A few managed to grab the ramp, one grabbing hold of Halen and dragging him towards the exit. Rak tried to pull him away as Halen booted the corpse several times in the face. His boot it was holding onto came off and it screeched as it’s body was crushed between the ramp. Jace helped Halen off the ramp, sealing the airlock and spacing the corpse to be sure as the Dawnstar escaped the station and plunged into the sun, burning up furiously. Rebeka plotted a course for Meera, determined to leave the nightmare behind, and ensure they were a safe distance away from any sort of blast zone.

Once in hyperspace No’laa set in motion the procedure for quarantine and disinfection, cleansing the ships air supply while everyone wore there suits. After a couple of hours the ship was clear of the sickness and they could finally put the horrors of Black Wing Station behind them.

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