We've just been collected by a huge alien artifact as we attempt to fulfill our diplomatic mission. No way out at this point except to explore the artifact and try to figure out its purpose. But before that, I can gather some supplies from the ship.
|We're well-stocked on medical supplies.|
The hypo is interesting, as it's apparently an automatic hypodermic needle preloaded with medicines. I'll look more at that later if (when) I need it. (Chekhov's hypo here, guys - someone's going to get injured and need an injection of something!) The autodoc is an automatic blood pressure cuff and diagnostic tool. If I wear it, my pulse is 80, my temperature is "98.6F (NORMAL)" and my blood pressure is 128/69. Sounds like I'm healthy!. Finally, the vial contains alcohol with C2 disinfectant. We're all set to be a nurse, apparently.
|This bulkhead construction on the Artifact...|
|...looks a lot like this construction on Gateway.|
|Creepiest dentist’s chair ever.|
|Mechanical spider weapon! Run away!|
The northeast corridor leads to another blue bulkhead, but this one is locked with a keypad bearing the same Heechee numbers as in the Gateway ships. I don't know the combination, though. The east corridor leads to a "Terminal Room" that's much more angular than the half-organic looking blue corridors. It's some kind of control room with displays and consoles. There's also an access panel that I can open  to reveal an empty receptor. The screens are dark, so probably the receptor needs some kind of power source to make things work. The main console has twelve buttons, but none do anything yet.
I see several puzzles and curiosities, but no solutions yet. The last direction is up, and in this storage room high above the cargo bay I find the most interesting thing of all: someone to talk to!
|What's another human doing here? I thought I was supposed to be the first?|
First, of course, we put the autodoc on her. Pulse is rapid, temperature indicates high fever, blood pressure is high, and it also detects an unknown toxin or venom as well as high white blood cell counts indicating infection, as I thought. She's in bad shape, but we can probably help her with the medikit supplies.
I can put the bandage on her leg, but that won't do anything for the toxin or the infection. We need to use the hypo to give her appropriate medicine. Its blue dial can be used to set which medicine to inject, from these choices: insulin, adrenalin, antiviral, antibiotic, antitoxin, tissue regenerator, and sedative. We'll probably want to give her antibiotic, antitoxin, and possibly tissue regenerator. The next question is how much: the green dial sets the dosage. Well, she's in bad shape, so I'll just give her the maximum dose and see what happens. (I am not a doctor - please do not use this section of the game for medical advice of any sort beyond standard common sense!)
|Finishing Diana's treatment.|
Immediately a cutscene begins in which Diana tells me her story, how she got there and how she got so injured.
Diana shakes her head and slowly gets on her feet. As she stands up, you see a green crystal cube on the deck that [had] been previously covered by her body. Diana notices you for the first time and looks at you blankly for a second. Then her eyes widen. "My God! You're human!"
You smile at her and nod.
She stares at you and shakes her head sadly. "I'm glad to see you, but I also feel sorry for you. You're just another fly caught in the web. And believe me, the analogy is a good one."
"I assume you're from Gateway - that's where Jack and I came from. I'm afraid you won't get to meet Jack. He was my partner, but now he's dead."
"Jack and I crewed a prospecting ship from Gateway. Our ship came out of Tau Space next to this enormous artifact, and Jack and I had the same reaction: We're rich, rich, rich. We kept thinking that as the tractor beam locked on and pulled us in. We were deliriously, gloriously happy until we realized the controls on our ships had gone dead and that there was no way out of this thing."
"Oh, there's plenty of food and water. A dispenser down one of the corridors spits out CHON food, er, Carbon-Hydrogen-Oxygen-Nitrogen blocks. Tasteless, but quite nutritious. Survival wouldn't be a problem if this ship - or whatever it is - weren't haunted by the spider. 'Along came a spider, and sat down beside her'. It's horrible. I think it's some kind of robot or waldo unit. I know it isn't organic."
|Diana knows all about the spider robot.|
"The spider robot lives in the central corridors of the ship, the corridors that link the forward section of the vessel with the part we are in now. The spider only appears where there are sensor eyes hanging from the roof. I think the spider itself is blind, but it somehow uses those external sensors to see. Jack and I spent a number of months on board this ship and we avoided the spider and stayed alive. Then we got a little cocky and our luck ran out."
"I saw the spider get Jack. We were exploring the front of the ship, and we got trapped. The spider came. It attacked him first. It... cut the top of his head off. Then, while he was still alive, it stuck these probe things into his open skull, almost like it was drinking. When it finished and started after me, I ran away. God, it was awful."
"Anyway, now you're caught in the web, too. I can fill you in on the tricks of surviving here and tell you as much as I know about this place." Diana smiles gently and touches your sleeve. "And thank you for bringing me back. I think I was pretty close to dying."
|Imagine the research that could be done using the resources of this ship.|
I can bring up a second menu of questions as well. Diana thinks that the zoos indicate that the artifact is intentionally collecting specimens of life from various star systems it visits. It must have some really good artificial intelligence running it, if she hasn't found any actual aliens on board in all the time she's been here. She also tells me about a red crystal rod she has in a box that's the key to getting into the zoos. In theory, I could get there either by the north corridor, guarded by the spider robot, or by the northeast corridor, which is blocked by that locked door. She doesn't know the combination either. Tricky. Also, she doesn't know what the green cube is for, but thinks some other prospector might have brought it and then died. I have some ideas though.
|Collecting more items.|
I take a closer look at the green cube, which seems a lot like a power connector with three metal prongs. I go back to the terminal room and try putting it into that receptor in the access panel. Bingo. Everything lights up. .
The three pins on the back of the cube fit neatly into the plug receptor on the crystal matrix. The instant that the cube is seated, bright pulses of green light flow along the crystal pathways of the matrix. They flow from the sides to the middle, converging on the cube. They all arrive simultaneously, and the cube shimmers and glows as vibrant green light dances inside it.
A few seconds later you hear a whir and a series of clicks. All of the secondary display screens arrayed around you come to life with flickering green patterns. The lights set into the ceiling begin to glow softly.
Then the main display screen on the console comes to life with a swirling pattern of hexagonal shapes. They are soon replaced by an animated graphic of two intertwined spinning hoops. The computer, if that is what this thing is, seems ready for business.
|Everything is now lit up and working.|
It occurs to me that if that's what the robot usually does, then perhaps we can also talk to Jack, Diana's partner. First, we can ask Miki some more questions. She tells me that the robot serves the Oldest One, the intelligence living in the central computer and running the ship. As I thought, there had to be a strong AI to run such a complex operation.
More importantly, Miki has a plan for helping get us all out of here. She wants me to defeat the AI, reach the bridge of the ship, and put a course code for Earth into the navigation system. She knows the navigational systems are in the forward part of the ship, past the science area in the middle, which is probably what Diana was calling the zoos. Miki thinks I'll need to pull all of the green cores out of the computer system to disable the AI. Plus she outright gives me the code to the locked bulkhead door to the northeast. Apparently there are zoos on both sides of the ship, but the ones to the northwest are from planets with poisonous or unbreathable atmospheres, so there's no point trying to go that way.
|This guy might have a useful tip.|
One man from Louisiana, Roland, encountered another woman, Bridgitte, and they survived for a while on the ship. Bridgitte even guessed the combination to the zoos and they managed to get into one of the areas; Roland was astounded at seeming to be on another planet inside the ship. But Bridgitte also tried going into the toxic side and got too much exposure to the toxic atmosphere, which made her crazy and reckless. She ran afoul of the robot spider and Roland also died trying to get her away.
|We get the story from Roland...|
|...and later find Bridgitte also.|
|Yes, we've seen Diana. Why can't we tell her about him?|
There's been a lot more plot and dialogue in this section than I had expected. We've really gotten ourselves into a sticky situation here, but with the information from all the people that arrived before, maybe we can find a way out. Too bad nobody has ever escaped before. Gateway never knew that one of their codes actually went straight to the Artifact.
Next time we'll go use Miki's code and explore the zoo. Will we find familiar animals or alien ones?
|Failing to avoid the robot results in surgical torture. (#9)|
|Injecting myself twice with insulin when I'm not a diabetic causes hypoglycemic shock. (#10)|
|Injecting myself twice with adrenalin overloads and stops my heart. (#11)|
Inventory: metal bowl, crystal rod, vial, hypo unit, white badge, tuning fork, slip of paper
Session Time: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
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