'AURORA FALLS' - A Subnautica story.



  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    The_Shark wrote: »
    Stakhanov wrote: »
    But... fission reactors cannot cause nuclear explosions...

    Apparently, you haven't heard of these things.
    Stakhanov wrote: »
    Plus the Aurora's exploding core failed to kill any of those reapers in the first place. Well, there's no corpses of them floating around, at least.

    And if there was a nuclear accident of the scale in the game, then there wouldn't be any corpses. They'd be too busy having been vaporized.
    Plus, it wasn't a nuclear core. It was dark matter, and I dunno how that stuff works.

    There was an 'energetic disassembly via prompt excursion event' (a.k.a 'nuclear explosion') when the superconducting magnets failed.
    It's reasonable (for the purposes of this story, at least) to assume that when the Dark Matter containment field collapsed, it liberated a huge amount of residual heat energy and unknown particle radiation that interacted with fuel assemblies in one of the Aurora's auxiliary fission reactors. The fuel rods melt down and re-solidify to form a supercritical mass, which is in turn boosted by a massive injection of unknown particle by-products created by Dark Matter reactions.

    Highly probable result in this case: One nuclear explosion, approximately scaled to a Hiroshima-sized yield.

    P.S: Under highly adverse failure conditions, a fast-breeder type reactor might conceivably generate a HUGE nuclear explosion.
    They're damned nasty things. Cooled with liquid sodium.

  • SPIRIN1224SPIRIN1224 Moon Join Date: 2015-04-15 Member: 203469Members
    You need a website and or a BOOK, a whole PDF collection of the series, crap UnkownWorlds should hire you or at least take in account your awesome work and perhaps make a connection.

    Good Job :)
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    SPIRIN1224 wrote: »
    You need a website and or a BOOK, a whole PDF collection of the series, crap UnkownWorlds should hire you or at least take in account your awesome work and perhaps make a connection.

    Good Job :)

    Thank you!

    There's plenty more to come. Glad you're enjoying it! :)
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    I conjured a stealthy approach would work best. Just prior to leaving the habitat, I fabricated two extra SCUBA tanks, a fresh batch of batteries for the Stasis Rifle and a second survival knife. As the Stalkers appeared to favour staying close to the bottom, it made good sense to survey the most likely search areas from the surface before committing to a dive. My overall intention was to keep well clear of any Stalkers wherever possible, and entirely avoid entering the dense Creepvine thickets at all costs. That was where I would surely encounter Bleeders. I listened intently for their tell-tale shrieks, half expecting a horde of them to materialise around me as I swam slowly down to the seabed. Keeping as low as possible, I began searching the sandy bottom for Stalker teeth.

    The pickings were extremely good. I was able to completely fill my inventory after only ten minutes of relatively effortless work. It seemed like this location was a favourite place for Stalkers to shed their blunted teeth in. What few large rocks there were in the area bore obvious signs that Stalkers had deliberately gnawed their surfaces to dislodge any loose, decayed or blunted teeth. In general, Stalker canine teeth reached 200 mm in length before being automatically shed, although some showed signs of breakage, presumably as a result of poor formation, species in-fighting or dietary deficiencies. Even so, most of the teeth were still remarkably strong, sharp and dense. In a far more primitive survival situation, these teeth would serve admirably well as either knives, arrowheads or spear points when skilfully worked.

    I noticed a Stalker had emerged from the Creepvine about twenty metres away. It swam slowly, apparently unaware of my presence. Carefully, I edged closer to the creature, using whatever sparse cover the terrain could offer. At ten metres I stopped, not wanting to approach any closer. I was able to observe the Stalker with relative impunity, as I had positioned myself over a purple brain coral. Its periodic exhalations masked both my outline and the SCUBA demand valve's exhaust perfectly. With the added bonus of constant replenishment of my air supply, this location made an ideal watcher's hide for observing Stalker behaviour.

    Unfortunately, this posed something of a major problem. As long as I remained concealed by the brain coral's exhaust bubbles, I was relatively safe from attack. I also had a pressing need to return to the habitat with my loot at some stage. I waited until the Stalker turned away from me, spooled up the Stasis Rifle to full charge and fired. After a few seconds, the Stalker was enveloped in a 20-metre wide shimmering stasis bubble, caught in mid-stroke and suspended helplessly before me. I quickly swam over to the creature, intending to make a closer examination before the stasis field collapsed. This gave me roughly 15 to 20 seconds of quality face-time before things became more than a mite uncomfortable.

    Viewed in comparative safety, the Stalker is actually quite an impressive and handsome beast. Well camouflaged to suit its preferred environment, highly streamlined and biologically efficient on the whole; with just the right amount of visual menace to make it a truly businesslike concern. I shuddered briefly, remembering what it was like to be pinioned by those crocodile jaws, seeing that pair of elongated lower teeth jutting out like a wild boar's tushes. That image might stay with me for quite a while yet, and the nearest available Psych's office is 175 light-years away. Tough break.

    It occurred to me that a swift application of cold titanium alloy might even the account between us.
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    Since JUNO's link with the Aurora mainframe was effectively severed (and quite possibly corrupted) by the time the Lifepod had ejected, there was very little accessible data remaining from any time prior to that incident. I have tried every trick in the book to recover even the barest scraps of systems information, planetary scans or landing beacon telemetry gathered prior to Aurora's crash.

    I found absolutely nothing.

    My trip to the eastern sector was rather interesting. I found a forest of gigantic coralline mushrooms, a couple of new and excitingly predatory species and eventually, some extremely useful goodies. The Propulsion Cannon tech fragment was the ultimate bonus gained from this trip, although I daresay the Workbench fragment comes a very close second. The staggering amount of lithium that I gathered with minimal effort almost seemed like an afterthought. Once back at the habitat, I wasted no time in fabricating all the necessary materials for constructing the Cyclops while the new tech fragments were in the oven. I made a few more largely uneventful salvage runs before nightfall, picking up a Cyclops Pressure Compensator fragment to sweeten the deal. Shiny!

    I think I may have discovered something fundamental about long-term survival on this planet. If you can see or hear a large predator nearby, the safest thing to do is simply avoid it. Unless you happen to be in the Cyclops, it's a safe bet that you might need to avail yourself of the Valkyrie Field at some stage. Most of the aggressive species on Manannán appear to be highly territorial, so anyone blindly entering their patch of turf is just asking for trouble. More to the point, you're even more likely to be attacked by something smaller while you're busy keeping your eyes peeled for the big biters. I discovered that this axiom particularly applies to Biter Fish and Bleeders. They're small enough to be entirely disregarded if you're not familiar with their behaviour, and it's only when they attack in any significant numbers that you realise how much of a threat they actually pose.

    While I'm on the subject; I found a couple of creatures in the shallow reef area that basically defy description, but I'm going to give it my best shot anyway. During one of the Mushroom Forest runs, I found some strange rock formations that appeared to be pock-marked with almost-perfect spherical indentations. It didn't take long to find out exactly how they were made. As I drew close to one apparently shallow cave system, I noticed a few black rocks dotted about its interior. Thinking they were resource nodes (oh, Magnetite, wherefore art thou?), I swam closer. Now, I don't know what old 2D movies you might have watched recently, but I froze instantly. When something that looks like an ordinary rock suddenly springs open, it's usually high time to get the Hell out of there...

    Just as well that I did. There was a sort of high-pitched, gurgling noise. It grew louder and angrier, even though I was backing away. Suddenly, a red, stubby fish with one central eye launched itself out of the rock-like pod, barrelling straight for me. Still swimming backwards, I angled for the surface, but the damn thing kept coming on like a heat-seeking missile. It closed to about two metres, and promptly exploded. Apart from having the breath knocked out of me by the concussion and possibly sustaining a cracked rib or two, I was basically okay. 'Crash' seems like an appropriate name for this nasty little devil.
    That species has definitely earned a place on the Naughty Chair.

    Word to the wise: Use your ears, as well as your eyes.

    Oh, incidentally... Jelly Rays only sound 'scary'. Bone Sharks actually are.
  • hugothesilverdragonhugothesilverdragon canad Join Date: 2015-11-30 Member: 209620Members
    omg cant whit till he meats the reaper lu vithan also pliz contuniu
  • hugothesilverdragonhugothesilverdragon canad Join Date: 2015-11-30 Member: 209620Members
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    By taking constant readings from JUNO, I was able to plot a course that skirted the worst of Aurora's irradiated zones. Even though the Rad suit and Cyclops' hull provided ample protection, I saw little sense in blundering through heavily contaminated waters on the way to making an extended dive into a nuclear hell-hole. This job was something I'd gladly prefer to postpone just a little while longer. I estimated the Cyclops was about 250 metres away from Aurora's stern section when I encountered the main debris field. A huge tangle of girders, fragmented hull plates and mangled machinery littered the bottom of a broad expanse of bare sand, scooped out by Aurora as she slid to her final resting place. Even though it was tempting to submerge and investigate the larger pieces of debris closely, it was far safer to remain on the surface and avoid becoming hopelessly entangled in the wreckage. The Cyclops swung wide to avoid a heavily contaminated zone behind the main engines, then turned into a course parallel with Aurora's hull at a distance on 50 metres.

    I got my first clear look at the probable cause of Aurora's demise.

    There was a gaping, almost perfectly circular hole about 10 metres in diameter, just forward of Starboard One drive nacelle. At first, I suspected it might have been caused by a highly focused secondary explosion originating in some piece of equipment that malfunctioned deep inside the hull. As I drew closer, I noticed that the hull surfaces immediately surrounding the hole weren't peeled back, pushed outward by the force of the explosion.

    They were melted. Sweet mercy...

    Aurora's outer hull sheathing was constructed of an advanced composite ceramic material, capable of withstanding not only the heat of atmospheric re-entry, but also the tremendous forces of sub-atomic particle erosion at superluminal warp velocities. Energy-based shielding alone provides insufficient protection when the Alcubierre Warp Drive is operating. Hitting even a single hydrogen molecule while travelling at super-light speeds would have catastrophic results. Fortunately, the warp field generally tends to shunt most of these particles harmlessly aside, or occasionally collects them in a sort of a bow-wave that forms ahead of a ship's direction of travel. This latter effect is cause for some serious and well-founded concerns, particularly when a ship equipped with a Dark Matter drive enters a populated solar system. Approach trajectories have to be carefully calculated well in advance, since that bow-wave of charged particles has the potential to surge ahead of the ship as soon as the warp field shuts down. This is where the real problems arise.

    Those charged particles previously held captive in the warp field's bow-wave are still travelling many times faster than the speed of light. From this point onward, everything depends on the density of that particle field, the relative velocity of the particles and their current mass. The mass of an object travelling near light speed approaches infinity, and if just one of those particles strikes solid matter, let's say... A planet, there will be a devastating release of energy. A total matter-to-energy conversion.

    Imagine a nuclear weapon designed to convert all of its fissile material and all of its component materials with 100 per cent efficiency.
    (Does E = mc² ring any alarm bells at this point?)
    Even a low megaton-range device would be more than sufficient to turn an entire continent into a drifting cloud of vapour. In light of certain historical events, Terra essentially owes its continued existence to little more than good luck and sloppy engineering, although I digress... Even if the bow-wave surge had lost most of its velocity before striking, the effect on the receiving end would be like being hit with a blast from a capital warship's heaviest particle beam cannon, which is effectively what would happen in this particular hypothetical situation.

    Isn't high-energy particle physics fun?
  • EpicIan60142EpicIan60142 Illinois Join Date: 2015-08-18 Member: 207263Members
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    @ EpicIan60142: Thank you! :)

    I'm very happy that you folks are enjoying the story so far. I'm actually enjoying the experience of writing it, too.

    Here's another couple of pages. Enjoy! :)
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    Then again, I could be clutching at straws here. I 'took the Queen's shilling' with Alterra Corp fifteen years ago. Yes, I actually started out as just another one of those clueless, wide-eyed Gremlins who clean the nozzles of the ship's chicken soup dispensers. You might say I've learned a few things since then. In fact, I was supposed to be fronting a career review panel immediately after this mission had been finalised. Second Engineer's pay was something approaching a pretty decent standard of living, and I was rather looking forward to lording it over next year's intake of Gremlins, as well as gaining a Head Spanner's god-given ability to walk on water.

    Just kidding. I'd never give a Gremlin a hard trot... Unless they were a complete and utter 'Thickie'.

    One of my earliest take-home lessons was: "Never ignore the details." This is why that hole caught my attention immediately. It didn't belong there in the first place, and looked totally 'wrong' when compared with its surroundings. However, any further investigation would have to wait until I could lock down those radiation leaks.

    The Cyclops had to swing extremely wide upon reaching what little remained of Aurora's bow section. Even though the drive explosion had effectively scoured the area clean of almost all remaining fragments of the bow, there were still twisted remnants of hull plates and structural girders protruding from the wreck at every conceivable angle. My greatest concern was ending up hopelessly fouled on one of the girders, and since I had no means of towing the Cyclops off or even cutting her loose, the only option left would be to abandon her and make my escape in the Seamoth.

    After having traversed roughly two-thirds of the way across Aurora's beam, I rotated the Cyclops to line up for a final approach. Globules of burning titanium fell from somewhere high above me, erupting into huge gouts of steam as they hit the water. As the Cyclops closed in on its destination, my ears were buffeted by the constant booming and rumbling of Aurora's final agonies. The helm bucked violently in my hands during the approach run, as wave upon wave of powerful underwater concussions struck the sub's control surfaces. Eventually, it became far too hazardous to proceed any further in the Cyclops. There was nothing for it but to press ahead in the Seamoth.

    As I stepped away from the pilot's station, I gazed sadly at the cavernous inferno that lay before me. This was no proper way for any ship to die. Perhaps, after a long and illustrious career, the ailing Aurora might be towed into an orbital deconstruction facility. There would be speeches, flags, a brass band and handshakes. Perhaps, there would be glasses charged with the finest Champagne and proudly raised to toast her many achievements. Old Spacers would boast of spending their golden years aboard her, of their daring exploits, of new discoveries, of lifelong friendships forged within her protective, nurturing shell. And when all was finally said and done, her lights would darken one last time. The primal forces that fashioned Aurora would be summoned once more, and quietly return her to the stardust from which she came.

    I gave Aurora the only thing I could freely offer.

  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    I was eventually able to manoeuvre the Seamoth within five metres of a sharply-canted section of decking that ran straight into the water, affording me a reasonably safe entry and exit point. I trod water for a few minutes after leaving the Seamoth, apprehensively surveying the devastation that lay beyond. Most of the explosive force had been directly channelled through particularly open sections in Aurora's hull, with Broadway bearing most of the full fury of the blast. Not surprisingly, there were many small areas that still looked as clean and intact as the day they were fabricated, while others had simply disintegrated in a stream of superheated plasma. Even so, it should still be possible to penetrate some of Aurora's remaining internal spaces, although I had no illusions that this would be an easy undertaking.

    As soon as I stood painfully upright, seawater draining off the outer layers of my suit flashed instantly into steam. The noise levels were beyond belief. I had an immediate impression of what it felt to be a damned stoker, eternally tasked with charging Hell's main furnaces. If it wasn't for the excellent thermal protection provided by the Rad suit, bare skin would have charred straight to the bone within seconds. Even so, I had absolutely no idea how long its structure could withstand this level of radiant heat energy and still remain impervious to ionising radiation. I made my way forward cautiously, avoiding occasional driblets of molten metal. Presently, I came to a relatively clear patch of deck. Apart from a slight slope and a few scattered pieces of wreckage, it seemed like an ideal location to get a better look at the path ahead. Through the wildly dancing flames and palls of swirling black smoke, I thought that I saw movement.

    The thing resembled a metallic crab. It squeaked and skittered about on four spindly legs, their pointed ends constantly tip-tapping on the metal deck plates. Intrigued, I drew closer. Its flattened, disc-shaped body had a single large eye, mounted dead centre on top of its upper carapace. This suggested the creature might adopt a head-down posture, while clinging to an overhead surface and waiting for its prey to pass by. I scanned the deck-head above me anxiously. Although small, its mouth parts seemed equally as sharp and businesslike as a parrotfish's coral-smashing beak, so I wisely decided to give this one the widest possible berth.

    I found several equipment stowage lockers scattered about in this area. I eagerly opened each one hoping to find something new and highly useful, such as a laser cutter, although they only held small quantities of mundane and relatively plentiful items already held in storage lockers back in the habitat. Even so, I managed to scavenge a few batteries, nutrient bars and bottles of water. These items were still sealed in their outer packages and could be completely decontaminated by rinsing them in clean water. Waste not, want not.

    Mercifully, there were no bodies to be found in this area. I wasn't expecting to see any at all, considering that any human remains would have been instantly turned to ash and swept away in a howling maelstrom of nuclear fire. I was remorsefully grateful for that sure and certain knowledge. The less horror I was forced to confront while working onboard the Aurora, the happier I would be upon knowing that this one task at least has been successfully completed. Depending on the outcome of this mission, I may or may not decide to pick over Aurora's bones one final time, never to return. Unless there is anything more to be gained from knowing precisely how and why she died, I shall be utterly content in granting Aurora and her crew the dignity of their final rest.
  • The_SharkThe_Shark USA Join Date: 2015-08-24 Member: 207433Members
    As always, this is phenomenal. Honestly, I think UWE should sponsor you for this.
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    The safe path had narrowed considerably. On one side, an interior wall still blazed furiously. The other side held the uncertain peril of streams of molten metal, dripping sporadically from far above. There was a safe gap roughly half a metre wide, although even that narrow space was in contest. At any time, the prevailing ocean breeze might cause those thin, irregular drizzles of white-hot alloy to stray a few centimetres from their normal path. One inescapable truth stood out: The Rad suit would not protect me against that. In the end, it all came down to a matter of timing. I could plainly see where flaming metal had already spattered and lay cooling on the deck, and to my dismay, discovered that there was little chance of making it through entirely unscathed.

    Count the seconds between each fall. Work the whole problem through. You can do this.

    The interval between falls varied wildly. Sometimes it was five, sometimes it was fifteen seconds. My only real hope was to nip through this patch immediately after a drop, hoping to avoid the worst of it. This meant I had to get as close as possible to the area before starting my run. I counted another three falls in quick succession, then made my move. As I dashed across the gap, I could feel the intense heat of barely-solidified metal beginning to gather in the soles of my feet, even through the suit's multiple layers of insulation. I kept running well past the danger zone, only slowing down when another obstacle had presented itself. I rested for a short while, clutching my aching ribs. Reckon I'll need to lay up for a fair while after this little escapade is over.

    A long, thin curved segment of hull plating rested precariously across a twenty metre-wide gap in the deck plates. Although not an inherently dangerous crossing in itself, any missed step would result in a long, slow fall into the waters below. The potential risk of impalement on a submerged object or the certainty of having to run that fiery gauntlet again provided an excellent incentive to pass over this obstacle with all the sure-footed skill of a mountain goat.

    The constant booming and rumbling around me had diminished slightly. After mentally filtering out most of that pervasive background noise, I thought I could hear faint chittering and tapping sounds coming from the shadows ahead. Sure enough, I saw one of those crab-things scuttle into a pile of wreckage off to one side. Another emerged from an unseen hiding place, crouched down and angled its central eye in my direction. I moved slowly and carefully, not wanting to appear even remotely threatening to these creatures.

    There was no way of telling how many of them were lurking nearby, and if my previous encounters with the local wildlife were anything to go by, a massed attack was rather more than a distinct possibility. I readied the Stasis Rifle, just in case. I switched on the dive torch and aimed its beam at the deck-head. There were at least half a dozen of them clustered in the darkest corner of the room, presumably waiting for me to pass underneath. One of the previously-seen crabs emerged briefly from its hiding place then retreated quickly again, almost as if it was trying to lure me closer.

    Sorry, Sonny-Jim... I'm not awful keen on buying what you're trying to sell me. On yer bike, Pally!

  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    I gauged the distance between me and the crabs, spooled up the Stasis Rifle and fired. With luck, the field would also catch and hold the two others hiding on the ground somewhere nearby. As soon as the field formed, I sprinted forwards. A third one leapt out of its hiding place at face-level, only to become helplessly trapped in the stasis bubble. I was away and well gone by the time they would be able to move again. The path turned a corner, becoming a narrow, downward-sloping companionway. This corridor looked like it would eventually lead into one of the upper sections of Aurora's amidships engineering spaces. A partially scorched wall panel bore the legend 'Core Control Assemblies: Authorized Engineering Personnel ONLY Beyond This Point'. Definitely on the right track.

    It became progressively darker as the corridor angled downwards. Small spot fires provided what little usable light remained down there. Ahead, I could see where a section of deck grating panels had collapsed into a small pool of water, so I assumed that this area was precisely at sea-level. That meant that all of the neutron flux control silos would be submerged. This was extremely bad news from a contamination control viewpoint, although it would speed the repair process appreciably. Normally, gravity lift platforms were used to inspect and service these silos. On the positive side, being able to swim to each one of the leak sites would reduce the amount of physical exertion required to complete this task. For that one small kindness at least, I was grateful. The pain radiating from my rib cage spiked horribly whenever I set my foot down just the slightest bit too hard, so I had to adopt a kind of short, sliding gait along the smooth connecting ribs joining the expanded mesh deck plates. Progress slowed accordingly, but it was far less painful.

    Like all other Alterra Corp off-world employees, my body carried a MicroMed implant. A few thousand cell-sized nanites cruise tirelessly through my circulatory system; repairing any damaged tissue, organs and bones they encounter, seeking out and destroying all pathogenic bacteria, viruses and all other foreign organisms as well. These nanites effectively super-charge my natural immune system and have the capability to heal nearly any injury I might acquire, although they do have definite limits to the wonders they can work.

    Since these clever pseudo-organic machines are relatively few in number and their functions are performed at the cellular level, they do need a reasonable amount of time to accomplish each task. It also helps significantly to have the patient resting completely as the nanites do their work. As these nanites are powered by a combination of bio-electricity and chemical energy obtained from consuming organic matter such as bacteria, viruses, macro-organisms and dead cells, they will only ever continue to function in a living human being. For obvious reasons, that 'kill-switch' function is an integral part their core design.

    Don't worry. I'm not going to be Manannán's one and only resident zombie when I finally cash out.

    However, I was slightly worried that the MicroMed implant's nanites might have been deactivated by the EMP surge generated by Aurora's explosion. Right now, my immune system could be consuming these little wonders, since they would be completely inert and therefore unable to produce the required marker proteins that marked them as 'Friendlies' whenever they encountered one of my own home-grown lymphocytes. I'll definitely have to confirm this suspicion with JUNO when I return to the habitat.
  • CryperCowCrafterCryperCowCrafter U.S. Join Date: 2015-11-07 Member: 209069Members
    Noice story, makes sense (even though I have no idea what the explinations mean), and the character seems like an actual human being.
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    Noice story, makes sense (even though I have no idea what the explinations mean), and the character seems like an actual human being.

    You've raised a very important point there.

    There is always some degree of techno-babble present in stories of this type. It's not strictly a science-fiction thing, either.

    I admit that I've had to lean pretty heavily on 'Black Box Science' in places, although I've also tried to make it sound vaguely believable wherever possible. Explaining things like the planet's weird orbit, Dark Matter drive, the Valkyrie Field, matter fabrication and other WTF? subjects can be tricky, since there's usually no real-world point of comparison for most of this.

    I have been doing a fair bit of research while I've been writing 'Aurora Falls', so there is at least some measure of factual basis behind most of these techno plot-points. You can be sure of that. It may have been okay to throw in a few 'scientific' words and simply hope for the best during the early years (around 1930-1950s) of popular science-fiction, but many readers simply won't buy into the line of B.S the writer is slinging at them. I'm trying to do the right thing by my readers. Sometimes, it isn't easy. :)

    I'm also walking a bit of a tight-rope here. I need to balance the fact that although The Survivor is able to use all of this amazing technology, he is still only one man against an entire planet. There is always that sneaky temptation to turn him into some kind of square-jawed superhero, able to sucker punch Reapers into orbit. I already know that this approach wouldn't work with modern readers.

    The Survivor has to be afraid. He/she has to feel pain. Has to suffer depression, loneliness, grief and self-doubt.

    The Survivor has to be Human.

    Thanks for the input, @CryperCowCrafter . Hope that you all continue to enjoy the story!

    (Here's another page!)
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    I edged forward cautiously, waiting for the cannon's emitters to lock onto the Bleeder's mass. When all four emitter prongs finally converged, I activated the gravity snare. A snaking white tendril of energy leapt from the cannon, capturing the creature. I watched it writhe helplessly for a second or two, then snarled in triumph and reversed the field. There was a heavy concussion as the gravity wave instantly displaced a large mass of water in front of the cannon, catapulting the Bleeder straight into the nearest wall. It disintegrated on impact. Only a small cloud of blood and shredded tissue remained. I made a final, hurried sweep of the area. Finding no further threats, I swam over to Silo Three to begin sealing the remaining breaches.

    Five more to go.

    There were a few nasty moments when I thought that I could hear more Bleeders somewhere behind me, although I ignored any temptation to keep looking for them and just concentrated on the task at hand. The sooner it was done, the sooner I could leave this hell-hole. Besides, there wasn't much I could do about Bleeders until I could actually see one. That water was as murky as a Gremlin's first attempt at bootleg beer, and probably just as healthy for a human body.

    "All breaches are now sealed, Captain". JUNO announced. "Radioactive contaminant outflow has been contained and all residual radiation will dissipate within seventy-two hours, estimated time. Mission successful."

    The Crawlers were waiting for me as I emerged from the control room. More to the point, I was waiting for them.
    The Stasis Rifle spun up and fired, catching at least four where they crouched. Switching over to the Propulsion Cannon, I picked up each one in turn and quickly slammed it into the nearest solid surface. They had definitely picked the wrong time to get stroppy with me. Frankly, I couldn't give a wet slap about what vital ecological niche those buggers occupied right now.

    Here are the salient facts explaining my somewhat... short-tempered response to this situation:

    (a) The Crawlers were blocking my way. (b) They had already demonstrated unfriendly behaviour, and they were obviously aiming to duff me up a treat.

    Two more Crawlers skittered into the stasis field and froze. They were snatched up and punted straight to Oblivion. My ribcage ached as if it had been done over with a cricket bat. I was breathing heavily, wondering when I would start coughing up blood. That would have been fatal right from the get-go. I couldn't remove the Rad suit's helmet without exposing myself to lethal radiation levels, and the SCUBA demand valve could become clogged with coagulated blood. One Hell of a pickle.
    I could see daylight ahead and increased my pace.

    If there were any remaining Crawlers left in this area, they must have been pretty well hidden. I made it safely across the gap, hesitated barely long enough to allow a stream of molten metal to hit the deck and dove straight into the water as soon as I reached the Seamoth's position. Once I was inside the pilot's bubble, I finally felt that I could spare a short sigh of relief.

    Man, that hurt. Gorram it.
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    Somehow, I finally made it to the pilot's station aboard Cyclops. The Seamoth sat cradled in its docking clamp, the sub-bay's outer hull doors now fully closed. Rather than plot a new return course to the habitat, I decided to follow my original approach path. I knew that way was already relatively clear of any large pieces of wreckage, so it seemed like the best option to take. The very last thing I wanted was having to pilot the Cyclops through unfamiliar waters, particularly in my current condition. I felt completely drained, both physically and mentally. All I really needed was something to eat, a long, cool drink of water and roughly two centuries worth of induced coma in a MediPod.
    I have never been so utterly exhausted as I felt after completing this mission.

    Dusk was approaching as the Habitat's familiar shape loomed in Cyclops' forward observation dome. Just a few more minutes, and I would be back in the relative safety of the base. Only the small matter of patching up a Bleeder bite, having a full-body scan for residual radioactive contamination, getting a decent meal into me and a making a quick check on the MicroMed nanites stood between me and a blissful night of sweet repose. Before doing anything else, I stripped off the Rad suit and requested JUNO to commence scanning.

    "Please stand perfectly still, Captain." JUNO said. "Whole body absorption dosage of 12 millisieverts received, localised at site of puncture wounds on left arm. Red cell count and total blood volume are currently five per cent below optimal levels. White cell count is slightly elevated, but still within normal tolerances. Mild superficial damage to plantar surfaces on left and right feet, consistent with exposure to elevated temperatures. Hairline fractures detected in fourth and fifth rib pairs, anterior aspect. Injuries sustained in the thoracic region are consistent with a hydrostatic over-pressure transient event. Additional information: Over-pressure transient reported as being caused by the detonation of an indigenous marine life-form, type unknown. Nutrition and hydration levels are currently below optimal levels. Nutrition level, 28 per cent. Hydration value, 22 per cent. No pathogenic organisms of Terran or xeno-biological origin detected. MicroMed nanite systems are currently active and all units are functioning within nominal tolerances."

    "So, I'm basically okay?" I asked.

    "Negative, Captain. Your body is currently functioning at 40 per cent of its total capacity. Recommend prompt disinfection and surgical dressing of all penetrating wounds sustained. Nutrient and hydration levels will need to be restored to levels most conducive to your comfort. Your body urgently requires rest. Please attend to your physical injuries and other needs as soon as possible, Captain."

    "Thank you JUNO." I said meekly.

    So... Basically okay.

    I spent the next week resting up and healing, for the most part. Being practically idle during this time, I had plenty of opportunity to start making some long-term plans. No false modesty here; only two weeks into my unplanned shore leave, and I already have a decent base, two submersible vehicles, ample food and water, plus a well-stocked inventory of tools and raw materials for use in future projects. All things considered, that wasn't too bad an effort. I've even put some thought into refining support systems that cater for the more... basic requirements of the human body.
  • zeusdemigod131zeusdemigod131 Illinois Join Date: 2015-11-01 Member: 208897Members
    He's gonna build a robot arm isn't he?
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
  • zeusdemigod131zeusdemigod131 Illinois Join Date: 2015-11-01 Member: 208897Members
    edited December 2015
    Oh my glob. A full robot?!
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    As much as I'd like to go full Pacific Rim on Reaper Leviathans and the larger nasties, it would be far too easy a solution to almost all the problems The Survivor may encounter. I'm trying to stick to Subnautica's 'canon' storyline and its technology level as closely as possible. The ExoSuit may or may not make an appearance at some stage, but I'm fairly certain it would be involved in some thrilling heroics of some kind.

    No giant robot planned for this chapter, unfortunately.

    Something rather more mundane and infinitely more useful, in fact. ;)
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members
    edited December 2015
    Since poor old Pod 5 won't be going anywhere in the foreseeable future, I've reluctantly turned it into a floating outhouse. And not for modesty's sake, either. Think about it... You're probably at your most vulnerable when your pants are around your ankles. Wetsuit pants, doubly so. The very last thing you'd need is a Bleeder or Stalker latching onto your bum cheeks while you're taking your ease. It also flushes, more or less, thanks to the Current Generator module I've positioned nearby. All up, not a bad substitute for a proper privy. As long as you remember to grab a handful of fresh Creepvine leaves each time nature calls and always bring a Welder, you're basically sorted.

    One idea that constantly surfaced during my lay-up was returning to Aurora with a definite intention of salvaging a crew-member's own PDA, in preference to the official Alterra-issued devices. Company policy dictated that all Alterra PDAs shall only contain officially sanctioned applications and user data at all times. Personal data management systems were exempt from this rule, which meant that you could load anything you wanted onto your own PDA, and as long as you didn't turn your Alterra-issue PDA into an unholy mare's nest of pirate warez and similar dodgy data, Alterra's 'Suits' were perfectly okay with that. I had well over 325 petabytes of old movies, vid shows, music tracks and antique computer games stored on mine, and even the faintest possibility of retrieving my own entertainment deck became something of a mild obsession during the week I spent in 'dry dock'.

    In the long term, this would boost my morale considerably. There were times when I would have given anything to hear the sound of another human voice, and a handful of early 20th Century movies would have been worth more than their weight in gold. Speaking of gold, there's a ridiculous amount of that stuff just laying around down there.
    Still no magnetite, though.

    I also tinkered with JUNO's human user interface, just a little bit. My original intention was to make conversations with her slightly less formal, without messing with any of her higher functions. The first attempt was disastrous. JUNO appeared to be functioning normally after the first few small tweaks I'd made, and it wasn't until I climbed into the Seamoth some days later that I noticed an unusual status update had crept into her standard repertoire of vocal responses.

    Awkward silence ensues...

    I'd rather not go into any details regarding that particular episode. Not exactly my finest hour.

    However, the cause of this problem was easily tracked down and corrected. In the end, I was able to increase JUNO's user-friendliness without significantly altering her basic personality. She even managed to convey a passable sense of humour at times. I had introduced a check-phrase intended to verify her system integrity, and it would also trigger a random comment drawn from a large selection of 'spontaneous' conversational openings. Yes, I was that desperate to hear the sound of another voice, and it didn't matter whether it was human or synthetic.

    By the end of Day Five, I was practically climbing the habitat's walls with boredom. I had finally decided on setting several major projects as long-term goals. My return visit to Aurora could be postponed for a fair while at least, mainly to give some of the more energetic radioactive by-products a chance to decay harmlessly. The Aurora Memorial project seemed to be the one thing I truly needed right now. Lots of nervous energy to spare, a frustrated desire to get out there to do something creative and worthwhile, plus a deep-seated need to gain some sense of emotional closure.
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