MOCIA 2, pt 62 . MOCpages longest running interactive time-travel adventure continues! Continuing from the last installment, we have... . ...not much.
This is one of several maintenance subdecks on the TFS Aquila, and layouts in them are a bit different. For one thing, they're cramped and heavily reinforced. For another, the airlocks are differently arranged. The microgravity/artificial gravity interface on subdeck airlocks is on the far door, rather than the outer door, as on a primary airlock. The reason for this is unimportant; infrequently adjusted grav plates tend to pull on an angle, among other delightful stunts, but the important bit is that if you're going to fall sideways when you float into the gravity field, it's best if you do it where there's nothing delicate to bump into. So yeah. The big "F" is so people don't accidentally cross the interface upside down. That would be uncomfortable.
That's a tertiary communications laser.
Armoured manual controls, because lolmeteorites.
Responding to our hero's commands, the array traverses.
It then proceeds to lock on to a small spacecraft at a range of about 250,000 kilometres. The craft in question is well designed to avoid detection; it's not "stealthy" as such, but unless someone knew it was there, it'd be impossible to detect. Said ship has been shadowing the Aquila since it set out on its journey, with the help of a certain hero, but that doesn't matter.
What matters is that when queried, a comm laser of its own replies.
"Contact is early, what is wrong?"
"Things have changed. The V.I.P.s have replaced the navigator with one of their own, and I will no longer be able to relay jump coordinates to you. I'm enacting Third Ladder.
Repeat, Third Ladder."
"Third Ladder confirmed."
A lengthy pause.
"Mantis One wants an entry point."
"You can get in through Xenobiology or Auxiliary Maintenance. I'd suggest Xenobiology, since its denizens are currently occupied hunting down their escaped pet."
"Third Ladder in effect. Mantis elements suiting up. Blacklight in seven hours, confirm?"
"Seven hours, confirmed."
We're.. con.. .sch... ...zhade."
"es, -ckle, ..kle uhr."
"You're breaking up. Say again, please."
"URKLE URKLE OOO!!"
So: before heading off to see what's what, will our hero do something absolutely dreadful to a certain suicidal rooster?