Previously on Wastes of Space: Science officer Cox went rogue, sabotaging the moving base Loveless while the others slept, and fleeing to set up shop by himself in the distant mountains. After an initial panic, Commander Bee and Security Officer Crowley got the damage under control, and even got the base moving at last. After the inevitable flip onto its back, it got underway properly and set off on a mission of vengeance, only to be menaced by a sinister black aircraft...
INCOMING COMMS LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384360
INTERCEPTED COMMUNICATION: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384360
Matt: It’s all their fault, really. I mean, I warned them, didn’t I? I told them about their rightful place beneath me. Beneath the all-powerful, awe-inspiring boots of Science. I’m hardly to blame if their awe responses are broken. If all I get are trenches and put-downs and spiders and snark. I guess space can do that to people. Break them.
As my terrifying gigantic eagle spaceship looms over the insignificant blobs, my fingers caress the trigger. There’s no doubt they deserve it, but it would be so… boring to put them down so easily. Why end things now, when the fun only just got started? I turn my ship around. There’s still Science to be done.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384362
Alice Bee: Because he is clearly a rank coward, Science merely dramatically threatened us from a distance in his big eagle ship, like an emo girl at school insisting she totally is a witch and could blow you up with magic, but she just doesn't feel like doing it right now.
He zooms back off to what we presume is his base, up the distant peak which Sec has christened Bum Eggs Mountain (he did this by just calling it that, and finding the rest of us were too tired to object).
We set off in hot pursuit -- or at least lukewarm pursuit -- in the Loveless. ODD chooses to remind us that even if we're on a rampage of vengeance, we're still contractually obliged to send tons of gold into space, so we set our scanners to maximum as we roll along.
Side note: still no sign of Survey Officer Ligz, who would presumably be of help here. She's probably fine.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384364
Nate: She’s not fine. She’s still in her bunk, riddled with bullets and going a bit bad in the heat. But the Commander has a lot on her plate as it is, so I just whizz some air freshener around and elect not to mention it.
When we’re called to the day’s briefing in the Loveless’ ready room, we find that ODD has put up all kinds of fancy new info screens while we’ve been asleep - as well as the dinner menu, there’s power readouts, inventory tallies and systems damage monitors.
There’s also a (very long) to do list, and a mission status board displaying our current gold total… as well as the time remaining before we’re liquidated for failing to mine enough gold. It’s relaxing.
Still, the good news is, the bloody space spiders are gone, (no doubt scared off by the Loveless), as we learn in the day’s briefing from the ship’s computer:
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384369
Alice Bee: I jump in the pilot’s seat, pretty sure that we're not going to go arse over tit backwards off a cliff this time. Yes, I have the measure of our beast now. As I tap the control screen, the Loveless's jet engines roar to life. The eight red jewel eyes that are its headlights snap on. I imagine that, somewhere, an AC/DC song is playing.
Operation Sunday Drive (again, named because I couldn’t be arsed to contradict Sec) is a go. I gun the accelerator and we absolutely cane it over half a klickie, crest a hill...
...and we’re stuck fast. The hill has wedged us at an immovable angle. As ODD says, with eight legs, there's always one to get in the way of something.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384370
Nate: We’re not going anywhere for a while. The Commander is going to stick here and try to get the Loveless unjammed, while I go back to the old base and recover the Waffle to scout ahead - either for assets belonging to my traitor clone, or for ore.
But first, while Commander Bee is distracted, I go and have what I like to call a "security shit” in her private loo. Alas, ODD sees me on the CCTV and grasses me up.
I leave under something of a cloud, and jet to the old base. After a wistful look at the old dungeon, I seek out the Waffle. There it is, still in perfect condition - unlike its owner. Poor old Survey Officer Ligz: this car of hers was a fine thing. I’ll drive it carefully, in her memory.
I spang it right off a cliff. It lands on its back in a morass of rock spines, and since I don't have the heart for pistons, I begin drilling them out to allow it to slide downwards, like a depressed turtle being cajoled out of bed.
Really it isn’t Science that’s our enemy: it’s this rotten planet and its geography. Still, it is at least good to be free of those wretched spiders.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384372
Alice Bee: I am deep in my own mining purgatory. The angle of the hill we're on is tilting the Loveless to the port side, wedging the back starboard leg suspensions against the ground. To solve this problem I am grimly drilling a trench, by hand, to free the suspension and let us roll off the hill. The work is exhausting, requiring at once brute force and exactness, like a rhino making a mille-feuille out of bricks. For the first time I feel a strange kinship with Sec, and his subterranean obsessions.
ODD, tracking my progress, remarks that the topography is astonishing. It's almost like the hill was designed by a malevolent creator to foil the Loveless, specifically, he says. I laugh, hollowly. There's no way that Science could have built a hill. Is there?
Eventually, we roll the Loveless off the offending obstruction. I wipe the sweat from my eyes. This planet is driving us all to madness. Apart from ODD.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384374
Nate: I get the waffle going and push ahead, cresting a hill just in time to see the majestic sight of the Loveless just as it gets going again - it’s good to see the thing on the move. Finally away from the hills that have bedevilled us for so long, the base rolls onto a wide muddy plain, and gobbles up the distance to Bum Eggs Mountain.
I’m so excited by it all that I don’t notice a little rock ramp, and I flip the Waffle into yet another hole. Sod it. I’ll leave it here and board the Loveless on foot. In any case, ODD says we should build a flying scout craft, which sounds more fun than the Waffle anyway. I enthusiastically grab my tools, and get to work on the Loveless' abdominal launch pad.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384376
Alice Bee: We pause in our unstoppable rumble towards Mt. Bum Eggs and let Sec back on board. After he has been building his new gunboat for a while, ODD calls out that something has come in range of the scanners. It's some sort of outpost, with automated turrets. Sec and I are convinced that it's a forward base for Science. Whatever it is, it's getting raided for supplies like a 24 hour McDonalds. We still haven't found any gold.
In order to carry out the raid, however, we'll need something nippier than the Loveless. Wary of squandering his new aircraft, Sec suggests sending ODD on repeated robo-cide runs with a gun, but ODD says his programming precludes him from holding any weapons. He mutters something about Asimov to back this up. Security is wholly unconvinced. Nevertheless, says ODD.
There is a brief argument as Sec has one of his sudden Ideas - he wants to go on a one-man assault on the crest of Mt. Bum Eggs itself - but I soon remind him that we had decided to raid this outpost first, and he grumblingly acquiesces.
INTERCEPTED COMMUNICATION: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384377
Matt: I’ve hacked into ant communications. Disappointingly, Commander Pee seems to have dissuaded Security from “just fucking charging the maniacal ego bastard”. No matter.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384379
Nate: I guess if we're going to use it to take out this outpost, this aircraft me and ODD are building should be a right little rip-roarer. Nothing but the best will do - we spend ages getting eight big engines bolted to its tiny frame, along with a gatling gun, a turret, a missile launcher and an ore searcher thing.
I volunteer to fly it at the enemy base, like in Star Wars, and immediately slam into the sky with a laddish "wahey". It’s my first time airborne, and it’s a proper rush.
I scream towards the enemy base, gripping the steering wheel like a mad max chalk man… and then realise I completely forgot to pack any bullets. The outpost has not. I’m caught in a withering hail of fire, and have to retreat in panic with smoke pouring from my tail.
I then pull off the perfect landing:
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384385
Let’s see that again from my POV.
After Sec's shitted up bumblebee impression, I order ODD to accompany me on a more direct assault on the base. We park the Loveless just outside the range of the automated guns (about 900 metres, as ODD explains), and skim over on our personal jetpacks. I make ODD act as a decoy and draw fire, whilst spraying the base with my rifle. It has little effect. We return sheepishly to base and find Security lying, apparently comatose, on the floor.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384389
Nate: While attempting to follow my comrades into battle, I smashed into a tree and died so emphatically I woke up on the moon. As I inspect the bleak landscape around me, I realise it's not even the moon - just a moon, somewhere halfway across the solar system.
I can still hear the commander over the pipes, telling me I must be having a fever dream, but the situation remains highly unorthodox. Unsure of what to do, and more than a little freaked out, I spend a while doing sick jumps in the moon car, until it’s inevitably totalled in a crater.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384392
Alice Bee: We're wasting time, so we stop slapping Security around the face to rouse him from his space-hallucinations, and go back to the business at hand (whilst still yelling at him over comms). The assault on the automated forward base was a failure, but there's still this wide, flat plain just in front of Bum Eggs mountain. I drive in ever increasing circles around it until -- yes! Our sensors pick up some silver and cobalt! We might finally make it offworld!
We immediately hop to, and start building a drill connected to one side of the Loveless. It has a complicated network of connecting pipes, so we call it the trumpet drill.
The whole time we've been doing this, Science has been performing drive-bys in a lame attempt to get our attention. We went to action stations the first couple of times, but it became clear that he's too much of a space-chicken to get in range of our guns, so we just ignored him.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384394
Nate: I've now assessed all my options for getting off the moon and back to Horace's World, and have reached the conclusion that they will all take bloody forever. The swiftest route home... is through the veil of death. Summoning my grimmest self, I leap so high into the vacuum that I fall into a small orbit, then roar and tear off my space helmet.
It’s a strangely beautiful way to die. As my eyeballs freeze solid and the blood in my veins reaches the consistency of a slush puppy, I see a vision, shimmering among the expanding ice crystals on my cornea. A great beast with a pink snootle and huge, shovel-like hands. It is not an apparition from outer space, but from inner space: it is... my true self. Death comes.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384395
Alice Bee: “Hello commander” says Security, crouched in an alcove right next to me. I never heard him approach. “I’ve had the strangest dream,” he says, with a faraway voice. With an even weirder look in his eye than usual, he capers off, revving his drill, and begins to dig a long winding cobalt mine. Right in front of the loveless’ wheel.
MOLE LORD’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384397
Fossorius: We don’t need a trumpet drill, sillies! You have FOSSORIUS THE MOLE LORD, VETERAN OF THE MOON. I dig a wiggly windy hole, and find all sorts of blue treasure at the bottom. Cobalts!! Metal worms for the mole lord!! Treats left by Gak the Elder! I will bring it to my other burrowling friends, to build wings for our giant spider.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384399
Alice Bee: Completely ignoring the drastic erosion of his mental health, Security has done a good job. Unsophisticated though his approach was, I have to admit it did the job faster than our drill would have done.
ODD and I are just considering building lifters onto the Loveless (Security is writhing around belowdecks speaking “the language of the moles”), when a cold, cruel voice comes over the radio:
INTERCEPTED COMMUNICATION: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384401
Matt: That’s enough now, my merry little myrmecoleons. Take pleasure in the next few moments, for they are your last.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3384402
Alice Bee: Fucksake. Science smashes into us in his big stupid goth eagle. He doesn't do much damage to us as a whole, but seemingly by accident hits our solar panel array and reactor, so we're out of power. He also crippled our storage unit, so while we have all the resources needed to repair everything, we can't bloody access them. We’re buggered.
Ah, square one. My old friend.
Read on here for the THRILLING CONCLUSION of Wastes of Space, in which after a four month gap, half the plotlines you're expecting to conclude get thrown out the window, and something completely unexpected happens instead. If you're still expecting Bum Eggs Mountain to be assaulted, best not get your hopes up too much.