July 5th, 10AF, 1911 LST
Command Deck (Formerly Mess Hall) of the Escalating Application.
There are still scorch marks on walls and ceiling of the mess hall, and even vaguely humanoid silhouettes where plasma fire scorched away an infested miner. That’s how they all were, really – only vaguely humanoid. The computing hardware had entirely been scrapped, and hunter-killer teams had mapped the entire complex. Still, only a fraction of the beehive was marked as safe for general habitation, sterilized down to the last atom. The mess hall had been turned into a ‘command room’, complete with holoprojectors and AR controllers. If they wished, anyone could turn the room into a sunny forest vista, or somber, efficient-looking military headquarters, rather than the ad-hoc, blemished mess that it actually was.
The holoprojector filled the room with the outlined image of the Ten Star Hotel. A torus, with an inner diameter of 250 meters with a 100 meter docking spar, all shot to hell by both deliberate attack and a decades worth of microdebris. Senator Alexander waved his finger at the image. “We don’t have a lot of time. If we are on to something, they’ll-”
“They’ll be expecting it, dear.” A stitched-together pod, still trailing vat goo smilled wryly. One of “Mother’s” many little puppets.
“They’ll be expecting more drones, heavier drones. Not for us to go all in.”
The pod sighed. “Of course they’ll expect you to go all in, because they’ll expect you to expect them to not be expecting it.”
A dozen razor-thin wire-hands traced over the image. Nengyi focused on the damaged section, that had been scouted out by the probe. “I’m sorry, but who, exactly, are we worried about there? Are we worried about…them?”
The pod shrugged. “Can’t say we’re not. Can say we are. But…” The holoprojector zoomed out, projecting a display of low-earth orbit, shimmering with thousands of objects – debris, and killsats. Then the number of lights decreased, in favor of an interlocking series of ever-shifting cones and spheres. “…but we think we’ve found a way down. And that hotel could be the key. We need to gather supplies, yes, but we need the station itself, in its current orbit, if we’re going to be able to use it as a launching point. Assuming, of course, they aren’t there. Or the PC doesn’t decide to blow the station, just to be safe.”