Last time on Wastes of Space: While the rest of their crew languished indoors with moon mumps, Matt and Nate built cars and had a big silly race. They even tried to become friends, but it all got a bit toxically masculine and led to seething resentment. In any case, Matt won, and was awarded the rights to design the colonists’ new mobile base...
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383312
Nate: Still sulking a bit over Matt’s silly clown car winning the race. Mind you, I’m cheered up when I open my space laptop and see that Brent has promoted me to the rank of Level Two Space Engineer! (click to expand)
Still, there’s no time to gloat. We’re running out of time to get that gold into orbit, and the robot ODD says we’re going to need a moving base to do that. He says it’ll need to be able to fly, which’ll mean we’ll need cobalt to build rockets. And to get the base to the cobalt, we’re going to need to build it on wheels. So yeah... today’s gonna be a big day. Still, there’s good news: while Officer Ligz continues to slip further into the dismal sump of chronic moon mumps, our beloved Commander is back to lead us to victory!
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383315
Alice: I have thankfully recovered from my squalid bout of les mumps, only to learn from ODD that Science has won the right to have our mobile base built to the same design as his car. I, however, see beauty in both the vehicles which raced. The symmetry and fine design of Science’s racer, and the sheer size, flashing red lights, and general fuck-off-itude of Sec’s Gigantor. Yes: our moving base shall be inspired by both.
And so, obviously, I order the crew to begin construction of a giant metal spider, like the one off of Wild Wild West. It shall be called the Loveless. This necessitates explaining the film Wild Wild West to Science, who has not seen it.
SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383323
Matt: The commander, in her infinite wisdom, has decided the new base needs to resemble a massive spider from an ancient, shit film. Alas. She bats aside the charts I show her illustrating just how many raw materials the beast will require, and tells me it’s my job to figure out such details. So be it. With a sigh, I hop into the Eiffel 69 and get to mining.
With a longer, more heartfelt sigh, I immediately plunge into one of a certain officer’s infamous ‘Security Trenches’. It’s the one he kindly dug for me at the start of yesterday’s race. Of course Crowley denies all knowledge, but ‘denying all knowledge’ is becoming a bit of a theme with him by now. Weren't we supposed to be friends?
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383331
Nate: Heh, Science went in the hole. Meanwhile, the Commander says I can help her with the building work! It’s really exciting to see the Loveless take shape. I feel like it expresses something primal in our collective subconscious - a big angry spider. And just like a spider, it’ll have a cephalothorax (a combined head and chest), and then a gigantic abdomen (a bum) full of engineering stuff and a hangar bay for smaller vehicles. As the Commander says, “the bum is where the action is”. Also like a spider, the Loveless will have eight titanic monster truck wheels. It will crush mountains.
SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383339
Matt: Once again, I’m stuck in the purgatorial misery of slowly prising a car out of a hole. To distract myself from piston agony, therefore, I try to spice things up with the slightly lesser agony of chatting with our pet robot, ODD. Has he ever seen any vehicles larger than our (now intimidatingly vast) Loveless, I ask? “Oh sure”, he bleeps, casually. It’s then that we learn about the massive “reclamation sharks” operated by Royal Planetary Services, to reclaim all company assets in the event a colony doesn’t mine enough gold. Once again, we are reassured that this was all “in the contract”. I do not feel relaxed.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383341
Nate: Chuckling mirthfully to myself, I zoom around in the sky with my jetpack and welding torch, making the Loveless bigger and mightier. I’m building the face at the moment, and I’m giving it a really forbidding, Shadow-of-the-Colossus sort of look, with eight enormous red searchlights for eyes. Since I’m the Security Officer, I decide it should have a gun too, so I weld a massive artillery turret to the top of its head. It’s exhilarating stuff. At one point while jetting back to the ground, I end up being dragged down a hill, my vision flashing red, hearing growling noises. I fear a tiger has seized me. However, it turns out the tiger is only my old foe gravity, and the growls were merely my own grunts of pain as I tumbled down the mountain. Phew.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383346
Alice: While Sec is ably engaged in constructing the terrifying face of the Loveless, I am deep in the bum, constructing a large, multipurpose staging ground for further construction work. Odd helps me build new fabricators and extractors, with everything connected to a large storage unit, and we move the life support unit from the Treehouse to our new arachnid home.
I have by now figured out that if Sec is quiet for too long, it is because he is thinking, which is infinitely more dangerous than any number of hallucinatory space tigers. And he has now been quiet for some time. After some minutes of studied silence from his comms, he speaks. “Commander, look!” he says, pointing to the front of the vessel. “I’ve made a Captain’s chair!”
Oh! Well, that’s not too bad, is it?
Sec then immediately sits in the chair himself. I feel this is an ill omen. For the moment, however, he is still obeying a liquid 50% of my orders. He flies off to saw up the old base for resources, as instructed, but refuses to dismantle his dungeon. I explain we will be leaving the dungeon behind, but he wants to keep it as a monument. Possibly to himself? Meanwhile, all we can hear from Science is a stream of cries of alarm, deep sighing, and occasional expletives. I have no idea what he’s doing, to be honest.
SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383352
Matt: I see my colleagues up there, buzzing away at their compensatorily large spider bum. But they are still ants. This gargantuan folly is but an ode to their inferiority: a monument to the hubris that I’ve been tasked with stemming.
Sadly, the Eiffel 69 remains resolutely upended, albeit less underground. After a full night of pistoning, Sec and Commander Bee have the cheek to tell me I should give up. I explain, as patiently as I can, that the sunk cost fallacy doesn’t really apply to situations where the alternative to ‘more bloody pistoning’ is to painstakingly build or re-equip an existing vehicle. Besides, most of the other vehicles are stuck in security trenches of their own. No: this one must be freed from the cold embrace of Horace’s World.
I delve further into piston hell.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383358
Nate: The base is nearly dismantled, and everything is almost loaded on to the Loveless - I’m flying to and fro from the dregs of the Treehouse, arms full of salvage, to fill the titan’s tummy. The only things the mobile base still needs are wheels, and living quarters for the crew, so that we don’t technically die at the end of each day (it’s complicated).
But just as I’m about to start fashioning monster truck wheels, ODD pipes up with a warning. There’s something moving underground.
At first, I fear the Dungeon has become sapient - but the situation is even worse. It’s spiders. Gibbering, horse-sized space spiders. Whether summoned by our vast effigy, drawn from the deeps by our clanging and banging, or coalesced from our dreaming minds, who can tell? I can’t be sure the other crew are even gifted with the faculties necessary to see them. But whatever they are, they’re erupting from the ground in their dozens, limbs flailing, and swarming over everything. It is not ideal.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383362
Alice: Two spiders get in a fight and one dies, so when the dust settles, we jetpack over to have a butcher’s at the dead one. I snap a picture of Security posing by the corpse with his drill, looking all heroic like the child of a right wing politician on an exotic hunting safari, and we all agree that we’ll write in our diaries that he killed it.
There’s no time to luxuriate in the moment, though, as more spiders are exploding from the ground like in that scene from the movie Wild Wild West where some spiders explode from a cake. We are forced to retreat aboard the Loveless, and continue its construction out of reach of the ground. To add a frisson of danger, the only remaining source of jetpack fuel is also on the Loveless, so each run to the ground risks stranding us there in a mess of bitey gits. Luckily the spiders cannot scale the sheer legs of their vast cousin.
Sec is unfazed by all of this, obviously. In fact, he won’t stop asking ODD if the spiders “have meat in them”. I grow more concerned about him with every passing moment.
SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383365
Matt: On the plus side, the Eiffel 69 is now horizontal. On the very very minus side, it is also swarming in alien spiders. I fly away from it - we can pick it up later, and there are other vehicles to rescue. As piston king, I take it upon myself to head over to the corpse of the Waffle, the survey vehicle belonging to the long-moon-mump suffering Officer Ligz, in order to recover it. I’m somewhat crestfallen, therefore, when I arrive to find ODD has already built a horrendously impressive rescue vehicle, complete with a crane. A proper, swivelly crane. With a magnet.
It doesn’t work.
SECURITY OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383374
Nate: Today only grows more and more exciting. The eruption of the spiders has made the need for a bedroom all the more pressing, and so I’m having to build one on the underside of the Loveless’ abdomen, while jetpacking, with nothing but fresh air between me and the swarm below. Still, somehow, I manage it without dying: the bedroom is furnished with four beds, its own oxygen system, and a thick airlock to seal it off from the madness of the world outside. As I rivet the last armour plates into position, I can’t help but think what a good Dungeon it will make some day.
Just as I’m about to congratulate myself, however, the meteor alarm goes off, signalling that the area is about to be bombarded.
SCIENCE OFFICER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383380
Matt: With every vehicle uprighted (we got there in the end with the crane), and the spiders two steps behind me, I at last turn my attention to the Loveless. It’s admittedly an impressive construct, but it’s not as impressive as the inbound meteor storm now threatening to utterly destroy it.
Before I can say anything appropriately caustic, however, the MASSIVE TURRET my colleagues have secretly built on top of their too-big spider swivels to life, and blasts rocks out of the sky like an overenthusiastic toddler with an air rifle. It’s beautiful, albeit in the crudest sense of the word.
COMMANDER’S LOG: SPACE TIME 10438494-3383386
Alice: Although under attack by spiders from below, and meteors from above, we are safe for now. Soon I shall have to tell the crew that the turret is almost out of ammo, and that we can’t make more without magnesium. Soon I’ll have to confess that we’re almost out of steel, and worse, that the precious ice we process into air is all but spent. Soon, night will fall, and the spider onslaught will become worse. And if we survive all that, we’ve only got five space days to get a metric ton of gold into orbit before we get eaten by something called a reclamation shark.
And yet, as I snuggle into a bed in the egg sack of our giant arachnid base, I am so proud of my team. What dreams may come?
Read on here for Wastes of Space part 6, in which the crew go rollin', rollin', rollin'.
Thanks as ever to @ginbrogueshats, our mentor and mascot as the Robot ODD. This week, he kept accidentally putting his voice through the autotune filter, rather than the robovoice one. It was ace.