Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"   Posted by GM.Group: 0
GM
 GM, 2 posts
Sun 18 Jul 2021
at 10:40
Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"
Welcome to The End of the Line Bar and Grill, the finest (and only) eatery on Space Station Zircon. The station is a small but busy deep space outpost in the Far Reaches that serves as a way station between this system's space gate and the nearby frontier colonies. On the lower decks of the space station you'll find the docks where starships can load/ unload and refuel, but the top deck is The End of the Line.

The End of the Line Bar and Grill boasts a full feature menu including not one but two whole side dishes to choose from. Looking for a tasty beverage? The End of the Line serves warm beer on tap and a wide selection of not awesome liquor. They would also like to apologize for the fact that their ice cream machine is broken. Again. Or is it still? Anyways, please sit anywhere you like and enter your order on the terminal at your table. For bar service, please see the bartender.

The bartender in this case is a BAR-10-D model Drone with a dim animated screen for a face and a number of mixologically important gizmos sticking out of it. The bar is a circle in the centre of the place, with dark, quiet tables all the way around. Soft, scratchy music-- the stuff that was popular twenty years ago-- plays to lull the sparse patrons into complacency.

A tired shift manager wipes down tables in the restaurant as a stranger enters through the front doors.
Athena
 Player, 1 post
 AI Technician
Sun 18 Jul 2021
at 11:13
Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"
In reply to GM (msg # 1):

Athena enters the lacklustre establishment with her tool case slung over her shoulder. She honestly wouldn't look out of place here as a customer in her grubby orange overalls.

"Sit anywhere you like." The manager calls out.

"Actually, I'm supposed to fix the..." She double checks the work order on her space iPad. "ice cream machine?" The manager ushers her over behind the bar. "Get out of the way Bart." She instructs the drone bartender.

Athena thanks the manager and lays out her tools to begin work on the ice cream machine behind the bar. The inside of her tool case is a disorganized disaster where clearly (not clearly) everything has a place and nothing is out of place (that's not true. at all. it's a mess.)

The manager slams down a bucket of dirty dishes on the end of the bar. "You must be busy then hey, what with all these network outages?" She offloads the dishes to Bart the BAR-10-D bartender. "Uh. Yeah. We're keeping up I guess. Lots of calls for drones going offline unexpectedly. I know our warehouse is full right now with stuff we gotta repair and reset. Actually, it's super interesting, 'cause that's what I went to school for is AI. So I've sort of been enjoying being busy lately. gives me something to really apply my skills." Athena isn't used to people taking an interest, and can never tell if she's under sharing or over sharing.

The manager wanders off again, now shouting from a distance. "Just so long as my Bart here doesn't go down, you know? I don't know what I'd do here with out him. Do they have a fix for whatever keeps breaking them? Is it like a glitch or something?"

Athena pops out from behind the bar. "No idea. It's for sure weird. Like, whatever is taking these drones offline... It doesn't seem to be a hardware issue, and, I'm not seeing anything that should be causing that. Like now I'm worried the next thing we're going to hear is a bunch of starship nav computers are gonna switch off mid-jump or something, y'know?"

The manager gives Athena a very concerned stare. Maybe that was in the over sharing category? She ducks back behind the bar and cracks open the ice cream machine.
rae
 Player, 1 post
Wed 28 Jul 2021
at 05:41
Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"
This space station is a fucking dump. What's the point of hoarding all the money in the galaxy if you don't even bother investing in decent barstools that won't squeak every time someone shifts their sweaty ass on the seat? You'd think they would at least go in for some goddamn WD-40, or whatever they call it out here by the Core Worlds. These people love to invent fancy names for simple things just so outsiders can't figure out what the hell they're talking about.

All in all, Rae isn't impressed.

That is, until someone in grease-stained orange overalls comes in babbling about AI. She doesn't seem to care about eavesdroppers, given how loud she's talking.

Rae is happy to listen. They've got a ship system that needs some TLC, and roping a overenthusiastic engineer into helping out is a lot quicker than forging a request with the station's official maintenance crew.

The engineer says something about computers shutting off mid-jump, but Rae is this close to smacking the hulking beast of a man at the end of the bar. He's fidgeting like crazy, and all that squeaking is annoying. It's really, really annoying. But the guy looks like some kind of uniformed security guard, and Rae isn't keen on finding out what the inside of a space station brig looks like today.

The guard notices Rae glaring and snorts, "What are you lookin' at?"

Rae says nothing. They keep their eyes on their food after that and listen.

Someone should really tell this engineer that her hair doesn't match her outfit, but Rae suspects she either already knows and doesn't care, or she has no idea and wouldn't care anyway. Fuck-off confident or gullible - both attitudes Rae can work with.

When the bartender drone scoots out of the way and engineer disappears behind the bar, Rae makes their move.

They peek over the counter to find the engineer with her face dangerously close to some kind of machine that looks like it would give a gnarly nose job if she slipped up. Keen on not alienating a potential ally through surprise cosmetic surgery, Rae clears their throat.

The engineer doesn't even blink, so Rae taps on the counter.

"Hey, Overalls," they say. The engineer finally looks up, and Rae puts on their most charming smile. "Did I hear you say you're into AI?"
Athena
 Player, 2 posts
 AI Technician
 She/her
Fri 30 Jul 2021
at 16:15
Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"
Athena, elbow deep in the ice cream machine, lies on her side looking up at the mysterious traveler. Said mysterious traveler looks down at Athena like a cat about to pounce on it's prey. Excitement swells in Athena's soul as she becomes acutely aware of the Raxil Prime University of Artificial Intelligence shirt she's wearing under her overalls. Rae's question is like a golden ticket for Athena share her passion with a potential new friend.

Unfortunately, words are hard sometimes.

"Yea--su-- toooOoOAtally..."

All her excitement dies at once like a Hindenburg style spaceship going up in flames inside her own brain. She jerks her arm to remove it from the defective ice cream machine so she can meet Rae at the bar and try one more time to answer their question, but her arm has other plans.

Athena's bracelet is caught on something. With a stranger watching her, there's little she can do other than to roll with it, so she just leaves her wrist trapped in it's mechanical tomb while she fiddles with some tools in her free hand. The pressure of being trapped combined with the feeling of being on stage has Athena cornered.

She jerks hard on the bracelet and it snaps. The beads once intricately woven into the bracelet came from a meteorite that had smashed into her grandparents' colony. Athena's grandma had made killing on meteorite jewelry on the Etsy market. The Sol System pattern was a huge seller. Each bead represented Mercury, Venus, Raxil Prime, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. There was some discourse on whether or not Pluto belonged on the bracelet so Grandma sold one with, and one without.

Athena's bracelet though was once her dad's. He wore it when he was Athena's age and gave it to her when she was accepted into AI school. Now, Neptune is behind the compressor, Pluto fell into a tiny hole, and the ring that represents Raxil Prime is caught on a screw head. She picks up as many beads as she can find. Defeated by the stupid ice cream machine, she clumsily stands and meets Rae at the counter.

"Yeah, big AI nerd. Went to school for six years so I can fix ice cream machines in the middle of nowhere for minimum wage. How 'bout you?"

She stows the loose beads into a side picket on her tool bag.
Rae
 Player, 2 posts
Fri 30 Jul 2021
at 20:29
Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"
Yeah, so, this girl is a disaster. Definitely not the "fuck you, I do what I want type," if the extreme effort she's putting into seeming casual and collected is genuine. Most people can't turn their faces bright red on command.

Plenty of competent people come off as anxious, bumbling messes on a first impression, especially these techie types. In spite of it, she sounds like she knows what she's talking about, and Rae doesn't know enough to argue. They're inclined to trust this kind of energy - someone who can't hide when they're embarrassed usually isn't sneaky enough to get the drop on you when it counts.

(Trust is a strong word. Benefit of the doubt is more comfortable.)

"I'm no expert myself, so correct me if I'm wrong," Rae starts, "but doesn't fixing stuff usually involve a little less... you know, breaking stuff?"

The weird little smile the engineer flashes almost makes Rae feel bad for her. Almost.

"Look, I'm a very straightforward person," Rae lies. "So I'll cut right to it. I have an AI glitch on my ship. About a week ago, Valka powered on, and I haven't been able to shut her off since."

Having an AI that never sleeps on board your ship makes it very easy for the wrong people to keep tabs on you. Plus, it's really fucking annoying.

"Anyway, none of the station technicians can figure out what's wrong with it," because Rae hasn't asked for their help and won't let them anywhere near the ship. "Do you think you could take a look?"

The engineer looks around as if Rae might have started talking to someone else halfway through that sentence. She's not even playing hard to get, and that's the frustrating part. She's not convinced she's the person for the job.

Normally, Rae would finesse this sort of situation, but they're short on time for artistry in negotiation.

"I'll pay double your normal fee. Plus, I'll cover the cost of replacing that ice cream machine you might have just broken." Anyone with a little more guile would read that as a desperate play. Fortunately, the engineer only seems caught off guard.

Maybe being straightforward (mostly) has its perks once in a while.
Silva
 Player, 1 post
Sun 1 Aug 2021
at 20:34
Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"
Annoyed by the squeak of the bar stools, Silv spares some WD-40 that he carries around in his tiny little backpack in case of an emergency.

"Emergency" is what he calls his left arm, though it is the better one of his Biomech mods, it's still far from perfect. The joints squeak and get stuck from time to time, but the nerve response and fine motor response were above average, which when half your body is made out of scraps "above average" might as well be the difference between getting away safely or your leg disassembling in the middle of a daring escape from some fleet officers. It's a long story.

It’s been several body mods since he’s been anywhere near the core worlds, other than through a DNA scan, no one would recognize him. At least he hoped. Though life on the Far Reaches was more amiable for people like him, reaching his goal was gonna be harder.

It’s not that scavenging parts was all that hard, but finding something that was compatible with his “burrowed” neuro-link tech was like finding a date in an asteroid field. Still better than the half of his body that was made out of flesh, though. And so Silv finds himself here and now, looking to hitch a ride.

Have all of his plans been well thought out? No. Has he learned from that? Not really.

As he adjusted the dials on his respirator, which made hearing background noise a bit harder, his (still painfully human) ears caught just enough words to spark his interest. Primarily the words "AI" and "Ship"

Silv adjusted his blaster holster behind his back, payed for his "food" and sprayed a little WD-40 on his wrist for luck, as his right eye adjusted, focused and locked on to the vital signatures of his targets right by the ice cream machine (which he was sorely disappointed to find broken when he arrived).
Rae
 Player, 3 posts
 Smuggler
Wed 4 Aug 2021
at 22:31
Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"
Rae doesn't need fancy biotech mods to know they're being watched. They feel it, that prickling at the base of their skull, and they know.

Things aren't out of hand just yet. They've made much closer getaways before, and they're good at disappearing when they need to. Their long trench coat serves the dual purpose of making a striking fashion statement up close and then vanishing seamlessly into a crowd.

This engineer, though - orange overalls, pink hair, bright red blush - she's like a cartoonish portrait come to life. Rae doubts she could blend in at a circus. (They've never actually been to a circus, but they've heard stories. Sounds like a Core Worlds tradition that really wasn't worth preserving.)

The engineer hasn't given her answer yet, but Rae can't afford to stick around this bar while she makes up her mind. Time to push a little.

"I really should get back to my ship. Will you at least come check it out? If the work's not up your alley, I'll pay you for the consultation and never bother you again." Rae smiles, keeping their eyes on the engineer. If they start glancing around in a panic, it'll raise their heart rate, and any security guard worth a station salary will have the right tech to pick up on it.

Smiling reminds Rae that even in rapidly spiraling situations, they at least have total control over the 43 minuscule muscles in their face.

They throw a few credits on the counter - tipping far too generously, but there's no time to make change - and hope the engineer follows when they step towards the door.
Athena
 Player, 3 posts
 AI Technician
 She/her
Thu 5 Aug 2021
at 00:36
Chapter 1 - "Yeah, I guess the end is here"
Athena finished tidying up her work area while Rae spoke at her. Freelance work that pays well was hard to come by out here. All the frontier jobs Athena could find were either full time permanent work, or pay like trash. And Athena certainly couldn't take the first one.

She was due back at Raxil Prime in two months for the next launch of the Starship Kilimanjaro; an interstellar research and discovery cruiser bound for the edges of known space. Kilimanjaro was like a deep space university, and Athena was one of its junior AI technicians. Sadly, the ship was dry-docked at Raxil Prime, and Athena was here. That's why Rae's offer sounded perfect.

"I'm in. Of course I'm in. I'd be happy to help." Athena collects her gear and settles up with the bar's manager. The ice cream machine is a lost cause without new parts, so Athena will just have to return another time. Athena gathers her gear and follows Rae into the corridor. There was a distinct energy shift in Rae as they left the bar, but Athena was completely unaware of it.

"So what kind of ship are you flying? Cargo hauler? Passenger ship? Battle cruiser?" The last one was a joke. Athena was fairly confident that Rae was not the captain of a battle cruiser. Athena followed Rae through the crowded station halls to the elevator down to the hangar deck.