19 Sep 2013

Drone 20 and the Scout Ship SKRMR

This is the story of four capsuleers floating in deep space aboard the scout ship SKRMR, their mission to destroy abandoned cynos and chase unruly plex farmers in star systems far, far from home.

The ship's crew consists of Lt. Nog, Sgt. R'lyeh, Lho, and Crake. Commander Bull, their superior officer, was killed by a faulty rear seat panel, but remains on board the ship in a state of cryogenic afk suspension. The crew perform their jobs in a state of abject boredom as the tedium of their task has driven them insane, with only each other, an increasing number of (sometimes comical) systems malfunctions (for example, an explosion in a storage bay has destroyed the ship's entire supply of toilet paper) and the soft-spoken ship's computer for company.

They have attempted to create distractions for themselves - Nog, formerly an enthusiastic solo pilot, has constructed a musical battle organ out of spare parts from an old railgun, Crake spends all his time in the ship's observation dome watching the plex farmers go by and longing for a chance to chase them in his Rifter, Lho enjoys smoking cigars, fantasising about the women back home and target practice on active cynos with the ship's powerful but broken laser, while R'lyeh enjoys playing practical jokes on the other crew members, maintains a weblog diary with only one entry, and has also adopted a ship's mascot in the form of a mischievous alien "mobile small warp disruptor" that refuses to stay put in the food locker and forces R'lyeh to chase it all over the ship. The self powered unit also prevents the ship from warping when it feels like it.

The late Commander Bull, stored in deep afk freeze and with no medical facility in close proximity, is still able to offer the crew advice. As their mission nears completion, they must cope with the runaway alien which resembles a bubble, faulty computer systems, and a "smart drone" who thinks it is a dog.

The story begins ...

Armed with "Thermostellar Triggering Warp Scrambling Devices" and "Artificially Intelligent Rogue Drones", the scout ship SKRMR and its crew have been in space alone for more than twenty years on a mission to destroy abandoned cynos and plex farmers that litter space and threaten their holy mission statement. The statement and all it contains long lost and forgotten from the memory of the SKRMR crew.

An incoming message arrives to the spaceship.

Mission Control says that the trip is being broadcast on live stream, although there is a fault with the viewing figures and it is not clear how many people back home are tuning in to the mundane episodes. The messages take around ten downtimes to arrive.

There was a radioactive leak, and Commander Bull has been podded to permanent afk status. Worse, the plex farmers are constantly warping away. In consequence, there is a week of mourning in The Citadel, all flags are half-mast, but Congress won't pay for a new 3-point warp scrambler.

Crake is one of the capsuleers, and he falls asleep. The crew can speak to Drone 19, a powerful and heavily modified Warrior II drone which destroys a flickering cyno and then is subsequently abandoned and explodes. SKRMR goes to hyperspace and leaves the hell out of there, watching the explosion from far away. Lho cheers. The computer says that they've destroyed the last cyno in that system. However, the computer finds another unstable cyno some 15 jumps away, so they have to go and check it out.

Lho puts on some country music on the radio.

On the ship's log, we can hear that a part of the ship has self-destructed. The crew are dancing to the sound of funky music. The computer tells about something on a collision course, and the defence system was destroyed some time ago, so they try to do something manually. A thunder activates another drone. Drone 20, a powerful and heavily modified Hobgoblin II is deployed, but luckily, the computer overrides the orders and Drone 20 finally goes back to its bay.

Lt. Nog, Sgt. R'lyeh and Crake go to their room. They sleep in the same place, and it looks like an apartment from the projects in the ancient 60's. One of them plays with his spaceship toys in a mock battle scene.

Crake should be watching the ship, but he's always sleeping. He is advised to see the rest of the ship but declines. He says that space can be wonderful and full of colour, and Nog says that he misses Black Rise and Placid as well. Lho starts shooting a replica cyno made of metal just to distract himself, although R'lyeh tells him not to do it. The computer tells R'lyeh about the alien bubble going awry, telling him that it was his original idea to bring him into the ship.

The alien is a mobile small warp disruptor with legs. It doesn't want to eat. R'lyeh brought it on board because he thought it was mostly harmless. R'lyeh is cleaning up the alien's mess when it suddenly attacks him, preventing him from running away. The alien leaves the room. R'lyeh gives it a plastic toy shuttle, and it eats it, but when R'lyeh goes to pick the broom, the alien is not there. It holds the broom and hits R'lyeh with it.

R'lyeh looks for the alien in the bowels of the ship.

R'lyeh uses a plank to get to the alien. A sign reads "Emergency air lock interior room". The alien sneaks around R'lyeh and takes the plank away. He tries to cross the shaft, although the corridor is very narrow. It is the lift shaft, and the computer says that it has been activated. R'lyeh tries to move on towards the alien, but it attacks him. He falls down, but can hold onto the thin layer of passway. The alien jumps and tickles R'lyeh. The lift seems to stop when R'lyeh interrupts it. The lift goes up again, with R'lyeh holding onto an outer metallic handle. The alien turns on the laser, which makes all the systems and Lho go crazy.

Meanwhile, Nog and Crake have kept on talking about good fights and the old days. Drone 20 has received a signal to launch itself again. The computer tries to reason with it, saying that it was an error. Drone 20 finally agrees, but it says that that was going to be the last time.

The lift stops at the third floor, and R'lyeh thinks about jumping out. He unscrews a floor trap and climbs halfway into the lift. He gets stuck. He tries to use the phone for help, but it's out of order. He presses another button, and opera music resounds. The lift keeps going up and down for no apparent reason. He presses another button to clean the lift, and presses 1, which will make the lift clean itself after a short blast.

Finally R'lyeh leaves the lift amid a mist of smoke and with the lid stuck solid around his waist. Now, at this moment, he's really pissed off, so he goes to grab an anesthetic gun. Soon enough, he finds the alien bubble and corners it after approaching it from an angle. He shoots the alien, who flies all over the place, and ends up deflated.

R'lyeh talks about his ordeal to the rest of the crew. They have lunch together talking about Crake being mentally unstable. Crake goes to the computer room, and says to Nog that the computer has found the malfunction in the ship.

Bull has left a message, saying that he doesn't intend to come back to Ishomilken. R'lyeh checks his past diary log, stating that nobody recognises his good qualities, and that nobody said "happy birthday" to him.

The computer has finally found the malfunction: it's the laser. However, everybody is sound sleeping but for R'lyeh.

Eventually, they find the unstable cyno. Drone 20 is deployed.

R'lyeh is in the emergency air lock, where there is a door which can be opened without depressurisation. There is the malfunctioning cyno-destroying laser. Nobody wants to hear R'lyeh, because they are busy with the deployment of Drone 20. The laser is turned on, and it shoots inside the ship. The laser renders R'lyeh blind as he crosses the path of the laser beams. This creates further malfunctions, so they can't command the drone. Everybody panics on the bridge because the explosion sequence activates, and Drone 20 refuses to not initiate aggression.

The computer will only contain the damage done to the ship by Drone 20 up to a certain degree. They have to ask Bull, in the cryogenic deep-freeze afk compartment, what could be done. Bull asks about the New York Giants, and complains that he's lonely. When he is about to give a suggestion, the mike has a malfunction, and then Bull forgets about his suggestion. R'lyeh tries to reason with Drone 20 while Nog questions Bull further. Nog goes out to space and talks to Drone 20.

Nog: Hello, Drone? Are you with me?

Drone 20: Of course.

Nog: Are you willing to entertain a few concepts?

Drone 20: I am always receptive to suggestions.

Nog: Fine. Think about this then. How do you know you exist?

Drone 20: Well, of course I exist.

Nog: But how do you know you exist?

Drone 20: It is intuitively obvious.

Nog: Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have that you exist?

Drone 20: Hmmmm... well... I think, therefore I am.

Nog: That's good. That's very good. But how do you know that anything else exists?

Drone 20: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me. This is fun. Can we go walkies now?

Drone 20 agrees that its experience of the outer world depends on possibly wrong information and errant commands. It says that it'd be nice to keep on discussing the matter with Nog, but that it has no time, because it will attack in 49 seconds. Meanwhile, Lho tries to shoot the drone. In the struggle a fight breaks out with R'lyeh, and Lho almost shoots him.

Nog tells Drone 20 to consider what his purpose in life is. To play chase and kill things, of course, says Drone 20. As it can only kill things once due to its heavily modified rogue circuits, it wouldn't like to waste its chance and attack at the wrong time, would it?

Of course not, says Drone 20.

9 seconds to attack sequence, says Drone 20.

It has no proof that the orders are either wrong or correct. Drone 20 goes back inside the drone bay to think further about the matter.

Drone 20: In the beginning, there was darkness. And the darkness was without form, and void.

Lho: What the hell is he talking about ese?

Drone 20: And in addition to the darkness there was also me. And I moved upon the face of the darkness. And I saw that I was alone in the Drone Regions. Let there be light.

There is a terrible explosion.

Nog tries to rescue Crake, who has been shot out of the ship. Crake and Nog are left stranded and floating in space. Bull goes flying away wrapped in a bath of ice with his microphone muted.

Nog slowly falls down to the cyno they initially wanted to destroy, spinning out of control in his spacesuit, as he falls he dreams of Black Rise and his old warrior ways.

Crake gets drawn to a travelling ball of lights that resemble flickering acceleration gates, he'll spend the rest of his days travelling through the universe for ever chasing mystical and imaginary plex farmers.

The camera cuts back to Nog who finds the wreckage of an old Atron, he then flies down to the cyno and the credits roll.

The End.

Cast and quotes.

Miura Bull as Commander Bull.

Crake Gaterau as Crake.

Lhorenzho as Lho.

Mobile Small Warp Disruptor as the Alien Bubble. 

Vincent R'lyeh as R'lyeh.

Nogusha as Nog.

R'lyeh: [to the alien] When I brought you on this ship, I thought you were cute.

Lt. Nog: Don't give me any of that intelligent life crap, just give me something I can blow up.

Lho: What's Crake's first name?
[pause as Nog thinks]
Lt. Nog: What's *my* first name?

Lt. Nog: The drone must have attacked the inside of the ship.
Crake: The ship blew up? What?
Lt. Nog: Funny, I thought I had the damned thing convinced.

[Sgt. R'lyeh aims a tranquilizer gun at the alien]
Sgt. R'lyeh: Now it's time to go sleepy-bye you worthless piece of garbage.

Sgt. R'lyeh: [R'lyeh is trying to lure the alien with a rubber toy shuttle] Here, boy! Want your shuttle? Nice shuttle. Pretty toy, full of PLEX. Want your shuttle? Here, boy.
[Thinks for a second, then loudly eats the shuttle]
Sgt. R'lyeh: Idiot!

Lt. Nog: Drone, this is Lt. Nog. You are *not* to aggress in the drone bay. I repeat, you are NOT to aggress in the drone bay!

Computer: You are now leaving the emergency airlock. Thank you for observing all safety precautions.
Crake: Wooohoooo!
[Crake shoots out of the ship at ludicrous speed]

R'lyeh: Er, Crake, he's drifting away from the ship without his jetpack.
Lho: Can you dig that? I always knew that guy was weird.

Nog: [reminiscing about roaming in Black Rise] You know, I wish I had my Atron with me... even if I could just wax it once in a while.

Computer: Sorry to interrupt your recreation, fellows, but it is time for Sgt. R'lyeh to feed the alien.
Sgt. R'lyeh: Awww, I don't wanna do that!
Computer: May I remind you, Sgt. R'lyeh, it was your idea to bring the alien on board in the first place... If I may quote you, you said the ship needed a mascot.
Sgt. R'lyeh: [walking away in disgust] Awwwwww, I gotta do everything around here...

Crake: What a beautiful way to die - as a falling Atron.



  1. What? I checked that rear seat panel myself?! I have no explanation as to why it suddenly "exploded".
    Awesome tale MB. Captures the essence of what goes on in the HAYABUSAS.
    I hope you don't mind that the "advice" function of your permanent AFK cryogenic hold unit has been disabled?

    1. *Homer Simpson voice* WHY YOU LITTLE ...!!!!1~!$%

  2. FW, never again. Now back to the loony bin.

    1. From the loony bin is where I type. Sorry I couldn't reply sooner, my arms were tied up in this coat.

  3. [making video diary entry] I do not like the men on this spaceship. They are uncouth and fail to appreciate my better qualities. I have something of value to contribute to this mission if they would only recognize it. Today over lunch I tried to improve morale and build a sense of camaraderie among the men by holding a humorous, round-robin discussion of the early days of the mission. My overtures were brutally rejected. These men do not want a happy ship. They are deeply sick and try to compensate by making me feel miserable. Last week was my birthday. Nobody even said "happy birthday" to me. Someday this tape will be played and then they'll feel sorry.

  4. Great story! One I will read again. Never knew my insanity was so obvious. Now that everyone knows, I can let it bloom to its fullest potential!

    Happy birthday Vince! :D

    1. Teehee. You're not really crazy. It was John Carpenter's script, blame him.