Friday, August 5, 2011

Starlight Chapter Seven

By J.D. FarnWorth

(080511) All rights belong to that of Joss Whedon, Fox and whoever else would lay claim to the Firefly and Serenity Verse. Don't copy or use this material without the permission of myself AND someone holding the Gorram copyright. It is for entertainment use only.

Starlight station, Module one, Deck 3, July 12th, 2504, 20:17

Gabe sat in front of the monitors watching everyone ready themselves. He laughed as Judy ran up and down the corridor, blocking the image on the monitor each time she moved in front of the camera. When the main monitor focused on Judy’s actions, Gabe yelled out the hatch, “Okay, you got their attention. I hope this works.”
Each time she moved down the corridor, someone from the Caf-Deck moved from the table and headed into a cabin, in sight of the camera and the people in the control room.
Marty and Zack walked into Gabe’s cabin and sat down. What the image didn’t show was that each time she moved in front of the camera, one of the Starlight’s crew moved from their cabin back into the Caf-Deck. They stood against the wall and out of view of the camera. To the observer they all seemed to be going to bed except the large woman running up and down the corridor.
“Okay, Marty keep an eye on the monitors, I am going for it,” said Gabe moving into the corridor, he was having trouble not hiding his excitement about his part of the plan.
On the monitor, he walked from his cabin into the corridor; to the observer he looked as if he were talking to the jogger. He then motioned her into the storage room.
Marty and Zack watched as his two crewmates kissed and moved into the hatchway. As predicted the camera in the Caf-Deck, which to the observer looked empty, switched to the two lovebirds in the storage room.
“Go for it,” shouted Marty.
The escape plan was set in motion.
Zack lifted Marty up to the air vent.  The captain, Adam, and Jenny crawled around the counter into the kitchen. They pried off the access panel and slipped into the crawl space.
“We’re in!” yelled the captain.
“The Space Dwarf is away!” yelled Zack.
Marty climbed into the vent and disappeared into the small space. He had spent many hours in the Starlight’s air vents. He could fix anything and was half the upkeep of a robot. He loved his job, now if the dust wouldn’t make him sneeze so much, “Achoo.”
The captain crawled ahead and as they passed the storage room, he banged on the floor to let them know they could progress to the third part of the plan.
Judy and Gabe moved from the storage compartment to his cabin. From the point of the view of the observer he was about to get lucky.
They sat on the bunk and watched the main monitor move from a view of the storage room, back to the Caf-deck.  
“Okay, you can stop that now,” he said, pushing her away, but she moved back closer stroking his hair.
“Oh, come on,” complained Zack as he walked out of the room and down the corridor taking his seat next to the welded door to wait for Marty.
“What if I don’t want to,” Judy purred, unable to control her excitement.
He smiled and responded by kissing her. “We have time,” he whispered, moving closer.
She laughed pulling his jumpsuit off his shoulders exposing his hairy back.
The left monitor switched over to the control room, where Dr. Ryan stood. “The program is ready.”
Judy and Gabe sat up in the bunk to watch the next test.
 “Okay, everyone we are about to start another test. Be careful that they don’t hurt you.”
Black glanced from his monitor over to Dr. Ryan who had taken position in front of the small console. “Doctor my people are well trained and they will be fine.” Mr. Black cleared his throat and waited for a ready signal from everyone.
The Walkers seem to wake up from a trance as the Starlight’s Gaming computer system took charge. The guardsman readied their weapons and the orders were given to stand their ground.
The Walkers took two steps forward and to the surprise of everyone turned, and ran away.
“What the in the hell!?” exclaimed Black turning from the monitor to face the doctor. “What the hell did you do to them?”
Judy slid over behind Gabe as he typed out commands on the EC unit. “Did… did you just tell them to run away?”
“No, the AI program is still controlling them. I just informed the gaming computer that the card pits are taking heavy losses.”
“What will that do?” asked Judy, sliding her hand down the front of his chest.
“If the computer is being told that the casino is taking heavy loses,”
“It will tighten the odds!” she exclaimed, as she grabbed his nipple between her finger and thumb.
“Crap!” he yelled.
“Don’t you mean Craps?” she laughed playfully. “Look, the soldiers are giving chase.”
The guardsman ran from the arena and by the time they reached the casino floor, the Walkers had armed themselves with the brooms left there from the earlier test.
“Interesting,” announced Dr. Ryan.  
“What? Are they going to start cleaning again?” asked Black, his face was red, and beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
Dr. Ryan wore contempt upon his face. “No, that is a different program.”
“Then what are they doing!”
“Wait just a minute. They have armed themselves,” answered Dr. Ryan, he could hardly contain his excitement, his joy, as his Walkers formed a phalanx.
Mr. Black turned and watched the Walkers pause, waiting for the guardsmen. As his men approached the Walkers ran once again for the exit to the crew section and Module One.
“What are they doing now?” asked Mr. Black.
“I have no idea; the Starlight’s computer makes too many decisions. It is checking and rechecking the odds of success.” Dr. Ryan keyed some quick equations into his hand held.
The Walkers stopped at the opening to the crew section and waited for the guardsman. They held their brooms out in front in another phalanx defense, bottle necking the guardsmen from entering the crew area.
“It's cheating,” said Dr. Ryan.
“Who is cheating? Ryan, you start making some sort of sense, before I end you.”
“The Gaming computer, it decides who wins and who loses, it was designed that way, if the casino loses credits, it makes it up somewhere else,” answered Dr. Ryan, again looking at his EC unit.
“So?” squeaked Mr. Black, who had began to loose his voice.
“Well, in a casino the house always wins, even if the computer has to tighten the odds.”
“SO! Why is it tightening the odds now?”
“I have no clue, but the computer is going to win no matter what.”
“Shut it down!” demanded Black, watching the group of Walkers push out their brooms holding the guardsmen to a stalemate.
“Denied!” exclaimed Dr. Ryan.
“What did you say to me?” Black’s eyes widen and his hand slipped to his pistol.
“The computer just denied me access to the simulation,” answered Dr. Ryan.
“Look!” yelled the petty officer, pointing to the main monitor. “The Walkers have left seven at the bottle neck and the rest are on the move.”
“Where are they going? Somebody explain to me what in the hell is going on with my project!” yelled Mr. Black, he resorted to pounded the console to get everyone’s attention.
The group ran passed a sign labeled Caf-Deck hallway.
“They are coming here. We taught the program to fight by defending and taking out the leadership. Just like it tried to do with the master chief,” announced Dr. Ryan, who seemed rather shocked at what he was witnessing.
“Lock the hatch!” ordered Black, pointing at the open exit.
“Aye, aye,” answered Petty Officer Blue, as he jumped to his feet and ran to the hatch.
Just as the hatch closed the Walkers reached the entrance each grabbing the handle. The petty officer held the end and stopped the entry by placing his stun stick in between the handle and the door.
“Look!” Ryan pointed at the monitors.
The prowler system activated and was searching the casino, the arena, the hallways, and everywhere there was a camera. All cameras were activating and deactivating, causing a strobe effect across the control room and on the faces of the command staff.
The monitors each stopped on different angles of one man, the Master Chief. He had recovered and moved from the arena to the bottleneck in the casino.
“Why is the computer watching him?”
All three monitors followed the Master Chief as he pulled his automatic and pointed it in the direction of the Walkers.
“No!” screamed Dr. Ryan, “Stop him!”
“Why?” asked Mr. Black.
Just then the gun went off and the back of the head of the first Walker exploded outward and the settler fell limp on to the deck.
“Gorram-it.” Dr. Ryan, fell into his seat, as he watched another test subject fall.
“What’s wrong? They’ll have this mess cleaned up in a few minutes now.”
“He just taught the gaming computer how to win,” answered Dr. Ryan, he reached over to his EC unit and then just flung it away. “I told them that I needed more time to run tests, I need more control. But, hell, no.” Looking up at Mr. Black and pointed to the main monitor.
The monitors had broken up into the 10 by 10 images of different cameras, all searching for something. The center monitor stopped on the automatic in the hand of the Master Chief, the next on the Petty Office that stood next to Mr. Black. The last monitor stopped at the ready room just off the docking bay near Black’s ship. In one corner of the image was a shotgun leaning against the wall.
“What is that?” asked Mr. Black, moving from the hatchway to the left monitor.
“That is where all the weapons are that we took off the Starlight’s crew; it is just some shotguns and a few pistols.”
“Someone, tell me why they are there and not stored on the ship?” asked Mr. Black.
“The men just dropped them on the dock. I wasn’t sure you would want anything from the Starlight on the ship.”
“Okay, so, where are the guardsman’s rifles.”
“On the ship,” answered the petty officer.
“I told them to go easy and I was afraid they would kill the Walkers.”
“You are right doctor, we have lost,” said Mr. Black, plopping into the oversized chair next to Ryan. He looked up to the main monitor and watched as the Master Chief began firing into the faces of the Walkers that remained at the bottleneck. In turn, each settler fell to the floor.
After seven shots, the guardsmen started up the ramp and into the crew area passing the entrance to the Caf-Deck and an opened vent hatch.
* * *
Judy and Gabe looked on in horror, sitting arm in arm. “Oh, my, how are we going to tell the captain about what has happened?”
“We ain’t,” answered Gabe, pulling his ships suit back over his shoulders.
They had watched the running battle, but there was no way to tell the captain what had been going on, Gabe knew it, and so did Judy.
The dozen or so confused zombies mulled around the docking bay. The soldiers ran up the ramp and over the bodies of the settlers. Mr. Black and Dr. Ryan sat in front of the control console watching the same images. One of the cameras focused on the zombie holding a shotgun.   
“They look like they can’t use the weapons,” said Judy.
“The computer doesn’t know how to use weapons,” said Gabe, watching as the Master Chief moved in close. Without mercy he began shooting the Walkers down stopping to reload on the third shot.
Judy began to cry, turning her head into Gabe’s neck.
Giving Gabe, an idea how to help his team, saying, “Oh, but they do,” he said, pulling Judy from his neck. He keyed in a statement into the log on the EC unit. All screens on the prowler system read the words.
The men know how to use the weapons release them.
The Walkers stopped and screamed in a rage. “How do you like it?!” The settlers awoke from their trance and fired the shotguns into the unarmed soldiers and orderlies that had just joined them. By the looks on the settler’s faces the computer had released the real monsters, the ones that had been taken from their ships and forced to do these experiments.
Judy screamed and ran out of the hatched into the corridor.
“Stop!” yelled Gabe.
It was to late the gaming computer had already locked on to her. The three screens locked on one camera of Marty, one on Judy and one on command staff in the control room.
Marty was working to open the doors and Judy ran into the kitchen and disappeared behind the counter.
The computer took control of the settlers and in a few seconds they were upon Marty. He stood his ground but in the end the Walkers showed no mercy. He fell limp under the arms crashing down upon him.
Gabe sat on the bunk rocking back and forth, holding Adam’s EC unit with both hands. “This is the evidence of what’s happening.”
The Walkers started to pull at the hatch weakened from Marty’s torch.
Gabe could hear Judy screaming into the crawl space. The center screen shifted to the engineering room, where Adam and the others had slipped out of the other end.
Mr. Black was on the move also running for his life leaving the control deck and heading to his ship.
Gabe dropped the EC unit into his lap and opened up a screen. The center console showed his employee photo as soon as he opened the communications app.
“So, I got your attention now,” he said aloud, keying an intercom connection between him and engineering. “Adam, most of the Alliance people are dead.”
He could see Adam pause.
“You need to get us out of here, I think Marty is dead too.”
“How did they die?” asked the captain.
“The gaming computer out thought them and the zombies killed them with weapons they took off of us.”
Gabe watched the captain come into view. On the other monitor was the hatch of Black's ship. The Gaming computer had no access to their ship.
“Gabe we will get to you somehow. Won’t we?” asked Jenny.
“Of course, we will need a new plan,” said the captain as if he were trying to convince himself.
“Okay,” responded Gabe, who started to rock once again.
“We will just have to figure out how to get passed the zombies,” said Jenny, turning to the shelved crates against the back wall.
“Can you try to launch that protocol that slows the computer down again?” asked Adam.
Gabe lowered his head and started typing.  “Yeah, I will work on it.”
The banging got louder then and sounds of tools against the door.
“Gabe, how many are left?” asked Adam.
“Eight or nine, I am not sure.”
He pulled the EC unit loose from the monitors and the screens went black. “If they are going to die I don’t want to see it.”
The banging stopped as Gabe rushed from his cabin into the corridor passing Zack as they met the on coming horde first. Gabe moved into the Caf-deck to the awaiting Judy.
“Adam, we are in the Caf-Deck. Hatch isn't going to hold them for long.”
* * *  
In the background, Adam could here the sounds of the remains of the Caf-deck door breaking apart.
The channel went out with a “FIZZ” sound and Adam looked over to the captain, who shook his head.