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Choose Your Own Adventure – Derelict Spaceship

This is an interactive story which I'm making up as I go along! I'm keeping it all to this (mostly unlisted) thread, so feel free to follow it here if you want, or mute it now if you'd rather not see any of it. I'll add CWs if they become appropriate.

I have no plans for how this is going to work, so let's see where it goes. Feel free to join in or step out as and when you like!

Artwork: Igor Vitkovskiy

Introduction – welcome to the derelict 

Dim, golden lights illuminate the edges of this long disused room. The search lights on your space suit contrast sharply, casting harsh, bluish light on the walls and leaving long, dark shadows, as you look around. You step forward cautiously, the magnetic locks on your boots keeping you from drifting aimlessly in the weightlessness. Behind you, an outer door closes, sealing off your scout ship behind you.

The interior of this ship is just as strange as the exterior. In 10 years working salvage, you've never seen anything quite like it. But then, you've never seen anything deserted, in orbit around a long dead star, either. You sweep your lights across the tarnished, dusty surfaces in front of you. Somehow, it feels as if this spaceship knows you're here, but you brush the thought aside. Right now, you need to check this place is safe.

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You appear to be in a large airlock. What do you do first?

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You look carefully around the airlock. You realise the surfaces aren't tarnished or dusty. They're damaged by vacuum ablation. This chamber hasn't seen air for a very long time.

Next to an inner door with a small window are a small panel with some controls, presumably to operate the door, and a small sign which appears to have writing on it. On the wall near is is some kind of access panel. You should probably try to open the airlock to access the ship.

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airlock sign 

The sign is written in two languages. One of them you don't recognise. The other looks to be written in Sirian, but you don't recognise the dialect. Much of it is barely readable due to vacuum ablation, and the parts you can read seem like generic safety instructions.

One part at the bottom catches your eye:

Experimental research vessel Moros Oranthi
Commission date JD 4613903

An old date format? You tap it into your suit computer to convert it and are startled to realise that this ship was constructed almost 2000 Sol years ago. No wonder you don't recognise the dialect.

Is this ship, the Moros Oranthi, really is a old Sirian research ship, there could still be things worth salvaging on board. A lot of Sirian technology and data was lost after the old Sirian republic fell about 450 years ago.

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You turn your attention to the door control panel. It appears to have power from whatever energy source this ship is still using. Probably some kind of passive energy collection from the neutron star the ship is orbiting.

There are four buttons on the panel:
β€’ A large red button marked "equalise"
β€’ A green button marked "decontaminate"
β€’ A black button marked "emergency eject"
β€’ A blue button with writing too damaged by vacuum to read

You press:

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opening the airlock 

You press the equalise button and it illuminates brightly. Lights surrounding the inner airlock door bathe it in golden light. You hear a faint hissing sound coming from outside your helmet, and it gradually becomes louder as the airlock gains enough pressure to carry sound waves.

With a loud clank, the inner airlock door pulls apart and opens. You hear servos whine as the door slowly reveals an inner corridor. Then a sharp grinding noise, a loud crack, and silence. The airlock door seems to have jammed, but it's open enough for you to step through. Cautiously, you step into an inner corridor. It's bathed in green light from circular algae pods set into the walls, each illuminated from within. Part of the ship's internal biosphere. A few of the pods are dead and brown, but most are still green and healthy.

You're surprised they're still functioning. But if the algae pods are still working, then the ship's life support systems are probably still operating.

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You look around the corridor, first left then right. It curves out of view in both directions after some metres, with a high arched ceiling. Between the algae pods, the walls are decorated with colourful mosaics. The old Sirians, it seems, were fond of grand architecture.

What do you do?

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spaceship mosaics 

The mosaics are made from coloured, marbled glass, set in some kind of polymer resin. Most of them are in quite good condition, though several of the glass pieces have fallen away. You're cautious about stepping too close, in case vibrations from your footsteps cause the ancient resin to crumble further.

Looking around, you realise many of them tell stories. One represents the Expansion Era and shows numerous spacecraft leaving Sol and heading to other stars. Another shows the stars Sirius A and B, surrounded by 6 diamonds, for each of the 6 Sirian garden cities. You marvel at the careful work the artisans put into crafting each one.

One mosaic catches your eye. Next to a damaged algae pod, leaking green algae across the wall like a spreading ink blot in the weightlessness. You recognise this mosaic as a map of the interior of this spacecraft!

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The mosaic is highly stylised, but you think you can tell what some of the images represent. Though you can't be entirely sure. You decide to head to one of the locations depicted.

Where do you go?

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spaceship laboratory 

You decide a laboratory would be a good place to check, to see what this ship's purpose was. Taking a photo of the map with your suit camera, you head off down the corridor.

You pass from the corridor to a large antechamber with a domed roof, decorated with more of the colourful glass, in swirling patterns of gold and deep red. Fountains and water channels line the edges of the chamber, though they've clearly been dry for some time. Idly, you wonder what it might have been like when the simulated gravity was still working. It might still be possible to switch the ship's rotation back on.

Crossing through the antechamber, you enter a large, circular laboratory space. Desks and benches are arranged symmetrically. Many appear to have been in the middle of some kind of work. This place was abandoned suddenly, for some reason. You feel your eyebrows crease as you wonder what could have made them abandon their work like this.

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This is a large chamber. You're not certain where to look first. Searching the place exhaustively would take a very long time. Looking around, you see a few places which you think look promising.

First, you investigate the:

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spaceship lab – coordinator's desk 

A circular desk in the centre of the laboratory appears to be where the research here was organised. Various papers and notes are scattered across it. Many are faded with age and no longer readable. Others are in that language you can't recognise.

One spot on the desk is noticeably tidier than the rest. Whatever was being worked on here must have been important enough to keep well organised.

Your eye is caught by some kind of chart with handwriting in old Sirian, and what look like biological illustrations of some kind. Nearby is a notebook. On the cover is written Intaris Kaltya, presumably the name of its former owner. The book sits in front of a holoscreen computer terminal. A small blue light at the base of the terminal suggests it still has power.

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There's probably some clue in one of these things about what was going on here. A feeling like a cold, heavy stone in the pit of your stomach tells you it might be related to why this place was abandoned.

You investigate:

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Intaris Kaltya's holoscreen computer 

The holoscreen emitter has no buttons. You guess it probably works by gestures like modern Sirian tech. Waving a hand in the air, causes it to activate. A holographic screen appears in the air above the emitter. Several objects appear, all labelled in the same unknown language as before. The scientists here clearly worked in it, but you find yourself getting frustrated at your inability to understand it. You tap at one of the holographic objects.

"Ikraltha olius i ranna lu. Olka yn araklo." The computer terminal's neutral voice only seems to frustate you more.

You tap one of the holographic objects.

"Olka yn araklo."

You sigh and try tapping another.

"Olka yn araklo."

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You shake your head in irritation at the holoscreen. There must be some way to use this computer, but you're not sure what it is.

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Intaris Kaltya's holoscreen computer 

You take a deep breath. You think this should work, though you're not certain.

"I need to access to your records," you say out loud.

"Yulakri olius. Tralyi nelka."

"Please?" you ask, hopefully.

"Tralyi vorolis." The blue light on the emitter base flickers. You raise an eyebrow at it, wondering if that's a good response or not. After several seconds of silence, the computer speaks again. "Language extrapolation finality. Aldebarani detected. Dialect unknown. Translate reliability 74 per hundred."

74%? Close enough. You hadn't intended to speak in your native language. Hopefully, it should work.

"Please report your status?" you ask.

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The blue light on the holoscreen emitter flickers briefly. "Current status unknown. Last time of access JD 4864459. Log file available."

A log file might be helpful. Or you could check to see what else is available.

You ask:

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Intaris Kaltya's final log entry β€’ mild horror 

"Replay log file of Intaris Kaltya," the computer says, "time JD 4864459.442. Location Izanami system."

A woman's face appears on the holographic display. The image looks real enough that you could almost forget it's a hologram. She looks exhausted, with bloodshot eyes and disheveled hair. She rubs the dark skin of her forehead with one hand for a moment before speaking. Thankfully, she speaks in Sirian.

"It's just me now," she speaks each syllable with weight and purpose. "Everyone else has evacuated. I've just arrived at Izanami and now I– I just need toβ€”" Her voice cracks, and she chokes back a sob. "If I fail. If someone finds this recording, please... What's on this ship. You need to destroy it. You can't allow it toβ€”" She looks up and her eyes widen with fear. "No! Oh, please NO–" The recording cuts off abruptly.

"Log file ends." The computer's neutral voice feels unsettlingly out of place.

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You stagger backwards from the holoscreen, your skin prickling, shocked at what you just saw. You look around the laboratory sharply. Did that happen... here? Where you're standing? Your thoughts reel as your stomach twists in knots. You should never have come here.

What do you do?

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@InvaderXan As an aside, the ship creation rules in the old Rogue Trader RPG might be worth a look... Especially if you like your spacecraft to be so Gothic, it's drinking snakebite, and have its personality.

@InvaderXan neutron star - not a friendly neighbourhood!

@anne Certainly not the kind of place I'd choose to park my research vessel, I must say.

@InvaderXan well, two thousand years, maybe it wasn't a neutron star yet when they parked it there...

@InvaderXan and, y'know, *I*'d love to have a research ship in orbit around a neutron star

@InvaderXan is discussion kosher, or do we all just go for it?

@RedFuture Oh, you're welcome to discuss. If you want to figure something out, or want some kind of hint.

@InvaderXan Already voted equalise, we're in our vac suit anyway and can decontam on the way out if needed. How much do we know about the Sirian republic? Why did they fall? Have we heard anything about what might be on a ship like this?

Also, how extra-legal is what we're doing?

backstory 

@RedFuture Sirius became one of the largest civilisations outside Sol not long after humans arrived at other stars. The Sirian Republic lasted for almost two millennia and was one of the most advanced human civilisations, before splintering due to political disputes. In the ensuing chaos, a lot of knowledge was lost. No one knows what Sirian technology was really like anymore.

This star system and everything in it is in Ethari Federation space. Under Ethari law, any abandoned vessel may be freely salvaged, though all scavengers do so at their own risk.

@InvaderXan We're liking this so far. Really neat story, and really engaging.

@InvaderXan just want to say, this is good fun. And you have quite a talent for scene setting

@GwenfarsGarden Oh, thank you! I wanted to flex my creative muscles a bit πŸ™‚

@InvaderXan Clarification - does Council Chamber include the ship controls and whatnot?

@RedFuture Most likely. According to the stories, Sirian ships like this one were run by elected councils who made decisions on navigation, destinations, and ship management. It would be a good place to look for logs and records too.

@InvaderXan Let's get an idea of what we're dealing with! To the democracy bridge!

@InvaderXan Also this is pretty damn good, I'm enjoying it a lot. Thank you!

@InvaderXan We probably shouldn't explore this place face-first, let's check the desk and see what they were working on.

@InvaderXan Bearing in mind not only will notes be valuable in and of themselves and warn of danger, but they may point us to cool shit we may otherwise miss

@InvaderXan From what we know, would voice-activated computers be common/reasonable to expect, or is talking to it a shot in the dark?

@RedFuture Modern Sirian tech doesn't work with voice commands. They're currently only used in Rigellian Union systems. But you have no way of knowing what might have been used when this ship was still crewed.

@RedFuture @InvaderXan We were thinking the same thing, tbh. Just gotta give it a few basic phrases to work with and help it form the language, and soon, it'll be speaking the modern language. It'll be especially easy with a dual linguistic ship with the old Sirian language to use as a base.

And even if it doesn't end up a perfect translation, it's still better than nothing.

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Intaris Kaltya's holoscreen computer 

@InvaderXan I'm not well versed in my science fiction knowledge. Is this in the Star Wars universe or something you're inventing? Or Star Trek?

@InvaderXan lol. Good to know that by a slim margin, most people here go directly for the horror movie outcomes.

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