This article is part of the That Insidious Beast series.
|OPERATOR 1||OPERATOR 2||OPERATOR 3||OPERATOR 4||CONTROL|
|** Getting some hydraulic stick. Gimme one sec for a fluid flush.||** Reading some background radiation. You got that, Carmichael?||** Got some rads. We lose a broadcast pylon?||** Alright ladies, up and at 'em. Let's see if we can find out what happened to our friend Donahue.|
|** Lot of icing. I'm going to continue the sweep of the ship graveyard. Some motion. Ambient audio is...creepy. Like somebody forgot to close a dozen rusty gates.||** I am approaching a three floor structure. Looks to be some sort of civic building. Shell damage...no windows...getting some movement. Might just be wind or animals. We got any eaters in the area?||** Radar contact, 800 meters. No visual yet. That you, Jensen?||** Negative on the pylons. Zone is intact, 5x5 on all channels, so if anything is throwing sparks it had to walk in. Might just be some atmospherics kicked up from Heihe. Go ahead and adjust sensitivity down 50 rads for mission duration.|
|** Military tug, something Valiky, looks clear down to the waterline. I think I'll take a pass on a bath. There's an overturned barge and then a large fishing trawler I might be able to get inside.||** There's a double door on the southern face of the building. I should be able to enter there without much fuss. Still picking up movement inside. I can see some papers and trash blowing around in there. Dopers squatting here maybe. Dried blood by the door, looks like something dragged a kill into the structure. Something pretty big by the amount of blood.||** Alright, Jensen, can see you now coming around the southeast corner of the structure. Watch for- whoa, got two movers coming out of the single-story to the northwest. Looks like...yeah...couple scavs. One male, one female. Look at them go. They don't want anything to do with us.||** Very evocative, Pulaski. I'll be sure to put that in your performance review. Jensen, I see you moving up to the structure. Take the long way and give me a 360 on the building. We've had Chinese eaters and Russian scavs in the area. Nothing worse than that.|
|** Barge is clear. Bunch of rotten grain. Lightly radioactive. Not much else. Moving on to the trawler.||** I'm moving inside the structure. Looks like a school or academy of some sort. Overturned desks, chairs. Russian schoolbooks from '83 or .'84. Lots of shell casings too. Something is crunching underfoot. Cockroaches. No, bones. Hundreds of little bones. Finger bones.||** Covering the building for you, Jensen. The scavs are moving off my scope and I've got nothing else but the wind.||** Donahue here, I'm hearing maintenance pings. Might not be anything, but I'll keep an eye on it and let you know if she starts up.||** Confirm that, Tillman. You are weapons hold on scavs unless they shoot first.|
|** Something about this trawler. It's eating my active sensors alive. Maybe the hull is lead-lined or something. It looks like there's a breach above the waterline, but the ship is sitting at a pretty steep angle. I'm going to make a circuit around it before I try my luck going inside.||** The rads have dropped off, but I'm getting some weird distortion on the video feed. I'm switching to FLIR. Better. Better. Okay, now I'm seeing trace heat from a fire, looks like someone made a camp here in the last 24.||** Movement. Something fast. North, northeast. Structures are blocking my view. Control, can you get eyes on it?||** Sounds like some scavs or dopers got caught on the wrong side of eaters. Stay frosty, Jensen, but don't freak out on me. Unless there are hundreds of them you will be fine. Look for a maintenance room or basement access. Donahue described a utility area as his last position.|
|** Lots of dead birds.Seagulls. They're arranged in almost a perfect semi-circle around a large tear in the hull of the ship. Radiation levels are elevated, but do not explain the dead birds.||** Dozens of photographs arranged on the floor. Family pictures from the 1970s and 1980s. Pictures of Moscow and an airshow. Some of the photos are smudged with blood. There is Cyrillic writing on the floor, also in blood. Long dried. HE-L-P. It repeats over and over.||** Spinning up! It's moving faster than I can track the gun! Damn it! I can't get my guns on this thing. Man height, but it's moving so fast it's a blur. Definitely not an eater. It's getting closer!||** Startup sequence just went yellow. I'm getting pressure and electric. I think she's coming to life!||** THREE, YOU ARE WEAPONS FREE. REPEAT, WEAPONS FREE. I do not know what that thing is but it's moving fast. Spin up that goddamn gun.|
Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic follow up to "Baby Got Back" has serious unintended consequences.
"Really, Holmes!" I dropped into my seat, shocked. "You are remarkably tall! What are you, six foot six? Six foot eight?"
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