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The murder of Jones the Cat; the Hostage
(map:cogmap1. Some events and dialogue is paraphrased due to my not having a perfect memory. Please let me know in discord dms if you were there and have screenshots/would like to be credited for a certain action/were misgendered, as I can't remember everything)

Today, Bichael Chain, the Captain, arrived at his station slightly late. Glancing around, he hastily exited the arrivals shuttle and muttered a good morning to everyone via the general radio frequency. Little did he know that there were sinister plots afoot, from humanity's most ancient enemy...

After a few words and drinks exchanged with the bartender (one Deckard Lichen who serves a most excellent glass of Autumn Sour), Bichael made his way down to the bridge to get dressed properly. On the way, he happened to see Mavis Moovenheimer, the chaplain, waiting patiently at the head of personnel's desk. Mavis briefly explained that they'd like to become a doctor, to help deal with the lack of medical personnel, and Bichael cheerfully hands over a new job role mixing the two roles together: Healer. After a few more words, they part ways, and Bike takes a cheeky shortcut through the HoP's room to get to his own room quicker.

Bichael made it to his room and started putting his affairs in order. Swapping out his bulky armour for a sweeping coat, he makes sure to pet Jones, his beloved pet cat. He puts down his ceramic boar (circa 6th century BC) onto the table and decides that today, he will walk around with Jones in a pet carrier while on patrol. This way, all can see and marvel at Jonesy the cat. This would prove to be a mistake, later on...

After quickly checking in on medbay (and Mavis), Bichael's ears catch wind of a security officer in need of aid fighting off a clown that had broken in. He quickly bustled up the main corridor, before consideringly looking at the pet carrier in his hand. Jones looked back up at him.
'This is no situation for a cat,' thought Bike. 'Jones could get hurt!'
Spotting the pod bay, Bike whispered an apology while throwing Jones into the pod bay. Out loud, he said "Now, stay here."
He winced as he heard Jones' yowl of pain as the it slammed into the pet carrier doors. He continued up into security.

He didn't know that it would be the last time he would see Jones alive.

Unknown to Bichael, one engineer, Radine Drummond, was breaking into his office while he investigated the clown issue in security. Hacking into the doors and leaving wires dangling, Radine smashed open the locker and pilfered the headset and the sunglasses for later criming. Giggling to themself, they left and headed southward down the main corridor, when a meowing caught their attention. They couldn't believe it. Jones the cat, missing from the office, was right there in the pod bay, just waiting to be picked up. What a stroke of luck!

Bichael headed back to the pod bay to pick up Jones. Running back and forth around the table like that was hard work, and he was considering drafting a formal email of complaint to Central Command to request clowns be removed from the roster, and replaced with something more useful like mimes. He turned into the pod bay and swept the room for the pet carrier. His eyes bulged out of his head. Where was Jones? He'd left him right here...

A message crackled over the radio. It was Radine. Bike clutched a hand to his headset.

At the faint signal out in the debris field, Radine looked Jones dead in the eyes and spoke into the radio headset: "I have Jones. If you want to see it alive again, follow my demands."
The radio general chatter frequency erupted into a sea of noise. A noise of pure anguish arose from Bichael's diaphragm. Following further blustering and threatening over the radio, Radine smirked to themself and spoke once again into the radio.
"Pick a crew member, any crew member."
Foolishly, one Viviante Corpse decided to say "oooh pick me!", most likely oblivious to the stakes at play. Taking the easy choice, Bichael easily and without hesistation volunteered Viv to Radine's schemes. Bichael spied in on Radine asking Viv where they were, and quickly asked the security team, now with Arwen the HoS on crew, to meet at the ranch and confront the cat-napper. Unknown to them, Radine had no intention of showing up. They made it back to the station and stashed the cat in a safe spot, before heading off to enact their nefarious plan.

Meanwhile, in engineering, the chief engineer, roxy day, had just finished setting up the nuclear engine, and wiped off her brow, standing back to marvel at it. She took the time to angrily PDA message Radine, asking where the hell they were and why hadn't they clocked in yet. A white hole took this moment to start uncollapsing right in the doorway of the medbay. Roxy sighed and headed over to wall it off.

The squad waited patiently in the ranch for radine to show, but Bichael quickly spotted a white gas spreading throughout botany with his empowered xray vision. "GAS, GAS" cried Bike, as he ran from the problem.

Roxy day looked up from where she had just finished walling off an emergent plasma fire from the white hole, and sighed a sigh of bone deep weariness. She started shouting into the engineering channel frequency for her fellow engineer to show up and actually help, oblivious to the crimes being perpetrated by their person.

Radine entered the catering pod bay, carefully evading fire from a really cool looking pod with a blue paintjob and tasers. The HoS called for a ceasefire, and talks were engaged. Radine carefully threatened the death of Jones the cat, and asked for a party to meet at the mining outpost in 5 minutes to exchange Jones for 9000 credits. "After all," said Radine, "if the captain can splurge on decked out pod parts, they can spend some on their precious pet.
Bichael's brow furrowed as he tried to figure out what they were talking about. Behind him, a security member (the the owner of the pod) coughed and scratched the back of their head.

Talks concluded, and Bichael happily agreed to pay the aforementioned sum. He then subsequently stood in the security pod bay for 7 minutes waiting for someone to pick him up. He had failed his piloting license 8 times previously.

Unknown to the security squad, the meeting was simply a ruse. While the team was gearing up to head over to the mining outpost, radine had quite happily thrown jones straight into the disposals crusher, and carried on comitting crimes, the entire thing simply a distraction.

After finally getting into a pod and accidentally being handed the controls, Bike ended up smashing the pod straight into the pod bay doors, scratching the custom paint job, much to the owner's consternation. A few more impacts later, they made it to the mining outpost and spilled out into the structure. Bichael peered around at the grimy walls of the outpost and waited for the criminal to show up.

"You've gone back on your end of the deal," said Radine, over the radio. Bichael gasped in outrage, as he was quite literally at the mining outpost with 9000 credits cash, ready to parley. "So i've gone back on mine. You want Jonesy?"

"Check the crusher."

It was as if he had been punched in the chest. Bichael dropped to his knees, clutching his chest in sheer agony as a sob tore out of his throat. The other security officer tried their best to console Bichael, asking the important question: "Don't you want to see Jones avenged? It's killer, to face justice?"
Bichael wiped off his eyes and gritted his teeth, taking off his hat and putting it back on. "Radine will pay for this," he muttered, storming back to the pod.

A short while later, they met Radine in the bridge again. The whole of security, while demoralised at the loss, was fueled with rage and faced down the murderer, who smirked behind their respirator and hot rod welding mask.

"Now now, let's not be hasty. Let's not be rude," said Radine.
"YOU" shouted Bichael. "You killed my cat. You ground them into pure blood. You have no grounds. Except the ground remains of my cat."
A sob left Bichael's lips involuntarily.

Bichael pulled out his energy gun from his tool belt. "You will pay for that." He said. He twirled the gun.

While the gun twirled, it accidentally went off and shot him straight in the face. Both the security team and radine paused, and stared incredulously at the captain, face down on the floor and twitching.
"What the..."
"Who twirls a gun? That's inherently unsafe..."
"Did he mean to do that..?"
Bichael popped back up onto his feet, slurring his words.
"Uh, no cap," said Arwen, "you shot yourself."
"You'll pay for that," said Bike, repeating himself. He shot Radine once in the head, and they backed up, twitching from the stun but not going down.
"Woah woah, you shot yourself, calm down," muttered another secoff.
"That, was a warning shot." said Bike. "Come quietly."
"Quietly?" spat Radine. They barked out a laugh. "I think not." They were finding it a little difficult to hear over the angry shouting of the CE on the engineering channel, and tried to keep a straight face.
Bichael quickly lost what little patience he still had remaining. He pulled out a flashbang that he'd found in a table in security earlier, primed it, and threw it straight at Radine. It went off, making everyone twitch. In a flurry of action, everyone shot forward.
Skidding to the side, Radine whipped out a hand teleporter pilfered from the captain's office earlier, and opened up a portal before diving in. With cries of "GET EM", the security team and the captain piled into the portal. Emerging into the teleporter room, they noticed that the room was empty, but that the portal was wide open. Bichael threw himself through another portal, hurtling through space and time, and emerging in a dark corridor out in the radio station. With his empowered xray vision, he gasped to see the first secoff to come through the portal down on the ground in the toilet, eyes spinning, and Radine sucking blood straight out of their neck.
"COME QUICK" shouted Bichael into the radio, "VAMPIRE IN RADIO STATION"


Bichael burst into the room, slamming bodily into Radine, and they grappled down on the floor. Bichael managed to get one good suplex in, but Radine contorted their body, bones cracking as they got back up and swung a leg right under Bike, knocking them down. More security came through, and it devolved into a scuffle, the vampire's glare not working on the security's sunglasses, and while the team tried to use their stun guns and flashes at first, they eventually resorted to simply grabbing and throwing radine into the vending machines over and over, as well as climbing up onto chairs and body slamming them. Bike took the opportunity to whip out his megaphone and blare straight into Radine's ears: "The time for talking is over. It is time for violence."

The crowded corridor parted as Arwen showed up and stood over radine's battered and handcuffed body. "These will do the trick," she muttered, holding out some HALO darts. A medical doctor showed up and started treating the injured, while they interrogated the Vamp.

To Bichael's great surprise, radine had eventually been sitting down long enough to break straight out of the cuffs, and threw all of the secoffs aside while making a beeline for the singular pod. Cries of "STOP THEM" echoed through the corridor. Arwen skidded into the corridor, lined up with the airlock, and aimed at Radine, who was climbing into the pod.

She aimed the riot launcher at the pod. Squinted one eye, and pulled the trigger. Right as the trigger was pulled, she saw on the side of the packaging that the loaded shot wasn't baton rounds, but was a pod seeking round.
Her eyes widened.
Radine, who had only just gotten into the pod, was just in time to see a pod seeking grenade launch straight at their face, through the glass.

The pod seeking grenade hit the miniputt.

A massive bang shook the entire ship, blowing out windows and blasting everyone back.
Arwen was thrown back by the force of the pretty much point blank blast, and laid wheezing on the tiled floor, struggling to hear over the ringing and trying to catch her breath.

Bichael's jaw dropped. The jaw of Chips Denton also dropped open, dropping a cigarette to the ground. He hastily stepped on it.
Bichael went over to the ratty couch and sat down, putting his head in his hands. His clothes whipped around as air rushed out the breach.

Out in space, Radine was crying "SHIT SHIT SHIT" as the flaming pod careened through space. They crash landed into some kind of abandoned station, and crawled out of the pod, hissing as Typhon's solar rays burnt their skin. They crawled inside and laid on their back, wheezing and trying to catch their breath. They rolled over onto their side.
On the wall, hidden amongst the grime, there was a symbol on the wall. A symbol of pathology. As well as a notice right next to it, declaring the facility closed due to unexpected outbreak.
Radine's brow furrowed as them struggled to catch her breath, staring at the notice. A groan emanated from behind them
They rolled over and looked straight into the eyes of a half rotted zombie. They sighed and closed their eyes.
The zombie lunged.

Back on the ship, the team patched up their injuries and made it onto the shuttle. They kept a wary eye out for the vampire, but were confused when the criminal never appeared. They left to head to Central Command back on Earth, vanishing into the channel around quadriga, peering into the swirling wormhole as they pondered what had happened to Radine after that fateful shot.

Bichael wearily strapped himself into the pilot's seat, and left one last announcement, threatening Radine with strong retribution if they were ever to appear again. Hitting send, he leant back into his seat, haed hitting the soft headrest. He quietly thought about Jones.

The ship carried onward, back to Earth.
Beautiful story wonderfully written and I'm sure the CE did a great job fixing everything that got broken


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