1753: Whatever McGill Can Do I Will Do Better – Chapter 2

 

Title: Whatever McGill Can Do I Will Do Better
Author: Beowulf the Novelborn
Media: Video Game
Topic: Subnautica
Genre: Adventure/”Romance”
URL Chapter 2
Critiqued by Ghostcat

 

 

Hola, dear Patrons, and welcome to another chapter of Subnautica fic!

In the last chapter, which was full of asteroid-punching robots that were far less awesome than that sounds, we were introduced to Nero McGill, son of famed survivalist Craig McGill, who is himself a famous adventurer/explorer/survivalist/Stu. Nero, endangering the lives of everyone on the ship by interrupting an important asteroid-punching mission, saved Lt. Jane from possible death – but only after the aforementioned life-endangering interruption caused her to have an accident in the first place. Nero goes back to his room for some zero-G brooding set to eleventh century hymnal music, but is interrupted by Lt. Jane breaking into his room to give him a thank-you shagging.

Now that we’re sufficiently caught up, on to the fic!

Chapter 2: Brace for Impact

:grabs desk:

There better not be a Wall-o-Text heading my way, those things hurt like hell.

We were now nearly thirteen months into the trip, and we had only one last thing to do before we reached our destination.

Remember to tip the taxi driver so that they don’t lay an unavoidable curse upon your bloodline?

Evidently there were rumors leaked to the crew that we were taking a detour to slingshot around an unexplored world labeled Planet 4546B.

I’m not an astrodynamicist, but I don’t think it would be a very good idea to leave a planned course just to do a random slingshot around some planet for no apparent reason. In the game the slingshot is a planned part of the trip, but the way this is worded almost makes it sound like something they are doing on a whim.

It was entirely ocean save for some volcanic islands, according to the long range scans at least.

I don’t know if I would trust those scanners, seeing how little help they were during the asteroid event.

Why exactly this was part of the plan was beyond me.

You mean the captain didn’t consult you, the most recently hired and thus most junior crew member on board, before approving this course?!? How dare they!

This was the edge of explored space, and many small ships had been lost to the void beyond this point.

All the more reason not to take this detour and to just remain on the established course.

This was space’s equivalent to the Bermuda Triangle.

At this point, you’re making my argument for me.

I looked out the window to see a tiny blue twinkle that shone out among the stars, the planet in question.

I think the PCC must have installed this window in Nero’s room; it always shows exactly what the plot needs him to see when he needs to see it.

If the ship is that far away, then you are nowhere near ready to do a gravity slingshot – you have to be very close to a planet (and its gravity well) for that to happen.

It looked a lot like Earth, and given the conditions, it seemed to me that preexisting life on that planet was a little too likely.

That’s an awkward way of saying you think that the planet might be inhabited. I thought your field of study was “being good at not dying”, not xenobiology.

Federal space explorers have not once come across a planet with liquid water, an atmosphere, and such a strong magnetosphere that hasn’t housed some type of organism.

Those are all good indications of a planet capable of supporting life, and I like that the author doesn’t specify “oxygen-breathing organisms”. The first forms of life on Earth were obligate anaerobic organisms, most of whom were killed off during the Great Oxygen Catastrophe that occurred when newly evolved cyanobacteria began pumping our atmosphere full of highly toxic oxygen produced via photosynthesis. On another world, things may have gone differently.

Of course it just hit me, why 4546B?

Why not? It’s a perfectly fine name.

A rare oasis in the blackness of space that could serve as a home for humanity and they designate it with a serial number.

Didn’t you just get finished saying that this place was at the very edge of space and that ships keep disappearing into the void around here? That seems like a pretty compelling reason not to go near the death-planet.

Why not give it a name like the planets in Earth’s solar system?

Well, the planets in our solar system were given the names of gods because at one time they were believed to be those gods – or at least ruled by those gods. Exoplanets, those located outside the solar system, don’t have that kind of lore to draw on so they probably wouldn’t get colloquial names until an established colony gave them one.

More importantly, why hadn’t we already set up a colony or at least a lunar outpost? It certainly seemed like the ideal place to set one.

The planet maybe, but the moons as seen from the planet’s surface are vast pockmarked things that do not look very hospitable at all so they would probably only be colonized if they contained needed resources.

I can think of a number of reasons why a planet might be considered inhospitable – violent weather, incompatible atmosphere, hostile lifeforms, virulent diseases, etc. – but humans are excellent at adapting to, and even thriving in, conditions that should kill us, so those are all just logistical problems that could be overcome with the right planning and resources.

So why did I have this ominous feeling that we were being watched? Me specifically.

You’re the Stu; everyone is watching you all the time. ALL THE TIME.

Then again I was being watched.

See? I told you so.

Okay, so a lot had transpired in the last ten months that I should probably mention.

Because why bother showing the audience what happened when you can just tell them in a dry summary?

I’ll be honest, when I first met Jane Stalward, I was convinced that the lovely lieutenant was just trying to rope me into staying with Alterra, that this fling wouldn’t last for too long.

Are you implying that the only reason that anyone would sleep with you is so that they can manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do? That doesn’t paint you or them in a very favorable light.

I was suspicious at first.

But you still had sex with her, because wish-fulfillment fantasy.

But Jane stuck around, and after about a month of more jobs on the ship and Jane still hanging around, l began to see that she was looking for something more serious.

Or it’s a really frickin’ long trip and she’s unbelievably bored.

Perhaps she was grateful for me saving her life back in that asteroid encounter, very thankful.

Nobody’s that grateful.

And she hadn’t brought up me sticking with Alterra after this, so that might be something.

When is “this” exactly? We just skipped forward several months in the timeline.

So about a month and a half later, as though she knew I realized all of that, she starts showing up by my room wearing nothing but that skintight spacesuit, like the first time.

I’m confused. They presumably had sex after the window kiss, ten months went by when they just hung out together, then another month and a half zips past, and then she goes back to his room in her armored spacesuit for another hook-up?  They’re having sex about once a year; I don’t even know if that qualifies as a booty call.

She’d follow me around whenever she had the chance, and I have to admit that I warmed up to her.

Oddly enough, that’s Syl’s strategy with most of the men/women/assorted that she pursues – wear them down through sheer stubbornness and perseverance. Poor Booky-dono shakes like a purebred Chihuahua when anyone so much as mentions her name.

It was about two months (fifteen months into the mission)

If you find yourself using an Author’s Note to clarify the timeline, then you probably haven’t done a very good job establishing that timeline.

we had begun to hold hands in the hall and news of this pairing spread through the crew faster than wildfire.

The crew must be hard-up for gossip if holding hands does the trick.

From that point things continued on casually.

How do you get more casual than holding hands? Does he hold her parasol for her whilst they promenade down the boulevard?

We’d hang out, go on a few jobs together, and whatnot. Unlike the very start, we hadn’t taken the direct route and just had fun, and we both liked it.

I don’t have personal experience in the matter, but this sounds like a description of a sex friend; someone you are friends with, enjoy spending time with, and occasionally bone.

Then there was today.

If we are back to “today” does that mean we will be going back to the present tense any time soon?

It was nearly thirteen months into the mission, or ten months since we started dating.

I feel like there’s some time missing there since that Author’s Note said they were fifteen months into the mission, but I don’t really want to bother trying to figure it out.

After my last job on the hull of the Aurora,

No doubt punching more asteroids or wrestling a space kraken.

I had decided to return to my quarters and clean up.

Must have been the space kraken, then; those things get everywhere. We’ve got one in the lower levels somewhere; I keep sending interns down to remove it but thus far no luck.

But when I opened my door, someone had already beaten me to the decontamination shower.

He has a decontamination shower in his room? That seems kind of pointless; he would have had to walk through the ship, completely contaminated, in order to reach the decontamination shower. They should put those things near the airlocks where they would be more useful.

The bathroom door was deliberately left wide open with a familiar jumpsuit lazily tossed on the floor on the way to the door. I only saw for a split second what was inside.

If it’s a large slime-covered egg with an odd cross-shaped opening at the top, then you should run.

The glass shower box was fogged up so I couldn’t see clearly, but I definitely saw the curves of the lieutenant herself.

Ugh, more wish-fulfillment.

The water, suds, her hair, everything was in zero gravity in there in a spectacular display to say the…

Wait a second – the shower is in zero-G?

:headdesk:

Water, like any liquid, behaves differently in microgravity or no gravity;

The surface tension of water tends to cause it form blobs, and when those blobs touch something – like a person – they will then spread out along that thing’s surface. Lt. Jane is essentially floating in a skin of water that’s being bombarded with more globs and growing larger.

And then there’s zero-G hair care;

I can’t help but notice that she remained fully clothed the entire time, and it also kind of looked like she was a Super Saiyan. Sexy.

Wait a minute! I snapped myself out of that daze and tried to act like a gentleman, not a pervert.

:snorts:

So I tried to slip away and let her finish. I was terrible at starting this sort of thing anyway.

Probably because women keep throwing their bodies at you so you’ve never had to learn how to do this thing Earth women call ‘romance’.

“Welcome back, Gill”, Jane cooed, knowing full well that I could vaguely see her. No question, she deliberately set that up for me to see.

Don’t you mean “almost see” since you don’t have a clear view of her?

“You’re a little comfortable all of a sudden”, I tried to say calmly to play this out.

And you’re apparently okay with being in a relationship with someone who likes to break into your home while you’re away and use your stuff without your permission. I have just the girl for you!

I imagine that water would be a rationed resource on a spaceship, so she’s burning through some pretty expensive resources to give him an almost-peepshow. And who knows how long she’s been waiting for him to show up? He might not get a shower for months!

Attention: Increased heart rate detected-*” And sure enough, the AI connected to my suit blew my cover once again, just like that first encounter. I silenced it with a mad blush on my face, but again it was telling the truth.

I’m still curious as to how a chip implanted in his brain is announcing his physical status to the room? Does the sound come out of his ears? His mouth? Where?

So many questions ran through my mind. As far as we’ve been dating this sudden surprise was an alarming leap.

So how does she normally proposition you for sex?

In fact I still hadn’t seen her outside of that jumpsuit even once

:spit-take:

NANDATTE?!?

(Yeah that’s right. Go ahead and laugh, I dare you).

Don’t mind if I do!

Seriously, though, how have you been having all the sex without there being any nudity involved? Does the spacesuit have, like, a strategically placed valve, or something?

But it left me boggled nonetheless, and it left me wondering what on earth (or beyond earth for that matter) could have brought this out of absolutely nowhere. Why the hell wasn’t there a gradual lead up?

According to your rather rambling reminiscences, you two have been sort-of dating for almost a year at this point. Some people would have moved in together and might even be picking out a china pattern by now.

“Still nervous as before, lover boy”, she laughed happily, spinning herself into a slow backflip in zero g, again providing a stunning view.

That you aren’t going to enjoy because you’re not the kind of pervert who likes watching their naked and newly washed girlfriend do gymnastics. Weirdo.

“Well, yeah, who wouldn’t be with someone pulling a shower surprise”, I said trying unsuccessfully to hide those emotions,

Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

“This isn’t like you.”

Isn’t it? Lt. Jane has been in three scenes, two involving her propositioning Nero. Statistically speaking, this is all she does.

“So I take it you don’t want to join me then~?”

No, he doesn’t want to catch your icky girl cooties.

she giggled but sighed as a timer went off, which she snoozed,

I’m not sure that’s the right verb for this situation. I assume she hit the snooze button, but then that wouldn’t turn off the alarm and it would just go off in another five minutes.

“But you did catch me at the end of the shower.” She reached a hand out of the box to grab a small back beside her and pulled out some light clothes, and a cool blast of air dried her off and slowly cleared the fog.

She has to use cool air to dry off? Brrrr! Dude, pay your heating bills.

I looked away before it revealed anything (It’s called respect and self control boys. Time some people learned it).

That’s very admirable and everything, but your naked companion clearly wants you to look at her and actually went out of her way to insure you would see her. It’s a bit odd, since she apparently hasn’t taken her clothes off for almost a year, but I guess it just means she really needed that shower.

A few moments later, she stepped out of the bathroom.

While still in zero-G, which would make walking difficult.

All she wore was a pair of short skintight black pants a royal blue tank top of sorts that appeared to have trouble holding her assets in. Both were skintight like the jumpsuit, probably the same material too, and it left her stomach long legs, and a little cleavage exposed. And to top it off, that platinum blonde mane of hair was tied back in a ponytail.

Oh, but he’s too much of a gentleman to ogle her body. Right.

She could not have possibly been more casually dressed and it was the first time I had ever seen her with a that much skin exposed. Was today some special occasion or something?

When I think “special occasion”, I do not think of cropped leggings and a sports bra.

It took me a moment to realize that I was staring, and I politely looked her in the eyes instead of everywhere else.

Sure thing, Pinocchio.

“Come on Gill”, she leaned up against me, “You can look. I told you that a thousand times.”

Yes, but he how else can he prove how much of a gentleman he is for not staring at your body even though the narration is going out of its way to objectify you.

“I know, but this is a little overwhelming I looked down into her eyes and with a giggle, she tackled me to the bed with her on top.

Why did Nero suddenly start narrating their actions? And why does Nero have a bed in his bathroom?

“It’s been ten months”, she raised an eyebrow, “I mean you should have expected this at some point, lead up or not. It’s not like you Mr. Prepared for everything.”

I am really confused by this conversation they are almost having. Is the ten-month anniversary the “naked shower scene” anniversary or something? And I thought they had been dating for eleven and a half months?

Well, she has me there.

Does she? I haven’t seen any evidence of him being well-prepared, most of what has happened to him occurred due to sheer dumb luck or him doing something incredibly stupid.

“So then,” I asked, making myself comfortable, “what’s the occasion? No wait, it’s your birthday coming up soon, isn’t it?”

Yeah, for her birthday she decided to surprise you with naked-shower sex. Because that’s just the kind of person she is.

Surprisingly enough, her smile drooped a little at the mention of that. Not once during our time together had she even brought up her birthday, and my answer was a complete guess.

Seriously? You’ve been together for nearly a year and still have no idea when her birthday is? Are you even in a relationship? Because you are a terrible boyfriend.

“Yep, you guessed it”, she smiled again, rested her weight on me, and leaned in to nibble the side of my neck. Romantic yes, and that squish on my chest certainly left a good view, but there was something else in her actions that drew my attention away from the romantic bits.

… I’m beginning to wonder if you even like girls, dude.

For just a second before she smiled I swear I saw a sorrowful look in her eyes, masked again by that smile and her going for my neck instead of the lips where I could have seen it better.

Ewww! Do you kiss with your eyes open?!? Don’t do that, it’s gross!

But I saw it clearly, and it left me feeling worried. She was a Lieutenant, fearless in the face of danger and unshakable by any means.

I guess we’ll have to take your word for it since we haven’t seen much evidence of that.

So what could have shaken her so much that she’d be faltering now?

:shrugs:

I dunno; there’s been literally no information given about this woman other than she’s a lieutenant and she looks good naked.

Come to think of it, she might have tried to warm up to me in such a provocative manner because she needed comfort but didn’t want me to worry. I could have been completely reading it wrong, but perhaps this would be a good time to follow suit and play by that game. So in the meantime it ran my fingers through her hair and held her upper thigh. And only after that did she warm up into the kiss on the lips. Funny how time seems to stop in the middle of a kiss. It’s weird.

No, what’s weird as that you’ve somehow turned her seduction of you into something she’s doing for herself and you’re making this great personal sacrifice by succumbing to her wiles.

Looking back on everything, it makes me glad that I had that moment to savor for so seemingly long.

Someone’s going to die, aren’t they? I bet it’s Lt. Jane so Nero can have more Tragek Past to pass off as character traits.

After a few moments of snuggling, Jane’s expression drooped as her gaze fell on the planet we were approaching. It was much closer now, significantly closer. In fact I’m pretty sure we had entered orbit at this point.

The planet was a tiny point of light and somehow they’ve gotten to within orbiting distance in a matter of minutes? Damn, their ship must be moving fast as hell. The planet should look massive now if they are in orbit, but I’m not really sure why they would even enter orbit since the idea was to slingshot around the planet and not orbit around it since that would require slowing down when they are trying to speed up.

What the hell did the planet have to do with the sudden mood change?

Hell if I know, dude.

“Nero…”, she muttered. She never called me Nero nowadays, not since our first night together,

I don’t think she called you ‘Nero’ then, either. From what  I recall, she didn’t use your name at all.

“If it’s alright…could I ask you something?”

If you ask to touch my ears, I will frickin’ slap you.

Sorry, I’ve had a lot of people (usually total strangers) ask me that and it really creeps me out. It’s worse when they don’t ask and just poke me in the ear-hole. That’s just rude.

“Um, other than that question, sure”, I said holding her closer,

Smartass.

 trying to cheer her up, she grasped the hand that I ran through her hair and I could feel her hand trembling. Little red flags going up. Something was seriously wrong. This wasn’t just dread or sorrow, this was fear I was sensing from her.

Which are awesome things for your partner to be experiencing when you engage in foreplay. That’s really going to help set the mood.

 Her suit’s connected AI would have definitely pointed that out had she been wearing it.

What, you can’t remotely access her brain like she did to you that other time? That seems a little unfair.

“Since we first were informed on that planet, two days ago”, she asked calmly looking out the window, “You haven’t had any…strange dreams, have you? Voices in your head?”

Oh, shit. She’s having prophetic dreams of the ship crashing, isn’t she? She’s not going to turn out to be a Cassandra, is she?

What an odd question to ask. That wasn’t at all where I thought she was going.

Me neither, dude.

“No, should I?” I questioned,

You kind of do have a voice in your head since you have that HUD chip in your brain.

now very much intrigued, “What sort of dreams or voices?”

Yes, let’s stop whatever it was that we were doing so she can awkwardly try to insert some foreshadowing of her own death into the narration via a prophetic dream.

“I had a dream that I was drowning down there”, she motioned to that ocean a couple thousand miles beneath us, “It would last forever and I wouldn’t stay down, all the time hearing some woman’s voice begging ‘Turn back’, like her life depended on it. As a matter of fact I think I still hear it”, she shook her head, “Not sure if I’m going crazy or not.”

Yeah, I think hearing voices that aren’t experimental computer chips in your brain is a definite sign of mental unwellness.

That was a new one, but I knew how to cheer her up.

I bet it’s with the power of boners.

“To be fair, we’re all a little crazy. You were straight up crazy enough to surprise me in the shower and I was crazy enough to run a rescue mission without a Prawn suit ten months ago”, I pulled her leg closer by the upper thigh, “So it’s a nightmare. No biggy.”

So he equates her shower trick with his incredibly dangerous and stupid stunt that could have killed a lot of people?

He does realize that naked women can be a GOOD thing, right?

“It’s not that simple”, she smiled weakly, “I mean…do you know why we’re passing by this planet? I need to come clean on a few things…*!”

I never got the chance to reply.

Ooh, does the lieutenant know some deep, dark secret about why they are going to be passing by this particular planet, but won’t get a chance to reveal anything because reasons?

A green glow resonated somewhere out the window

Because everything in the frickin’ universe can been seen from this incredibly well-placed window.

and all of a sudden a thunderous BOOM! sounded throughout the entire ship. Jane screamed and held onto me, shivering in horror and I swear I could hear her mumbling “No, no, no, no!” under her breath.

If you were close enough to see the flash of the Precursor gun’s discharging, you should both be dead right now.

“What the hell?!” I looked around, now on red alert. I reached my HUD and ordered, “What happened?! Run diagnostics of Aurora structural integrity!”

Whatever you say, random crew member!

Calculating damage assessment“, the AI tapped into the aurora’s systems and pulled up a mental hologram for me.

He has plenty of room to display it inside that empty skull of his.

Why did the ship wait until Nero, who should be the most junior member of the crew, ordered a diagnostic to run one? Did no one else notice the giant flash of light, or is Nero’s room the only one with a plot-convenient view?

A massive hole the size of a six seated spacecraft had been punched a hole clean across the front side of the Aurora! “Cause: unknown. Massive damages, including 29 casualties detected. 35 casualties.”

The hole punched a hole through the ship? I don’t think that would be possible.

“An asteroid?! No, a meteor?!” I hissed, “It has to be!” And as soon as I said that, the sirens and alarms blared across the ship.

Yeah, a great big glowing green one that just happened to be coming from the surface of the planet. That’s certainly a thing that could happen.

“Attention all crew and passengers.” the same AI said across the speakers, “Hull integrity of the Aurora has been compromised. We advise all crew and passengers to take emergency measures and abandon ship via lifepod. Collision course with ocean planet, Designation: 4546B, imminent in T-minus 9 minutes. We advise lifepod ejection for optimal safe landing conditions in T-Minus 5 minutes. Repeat: All personnel prepare to abandon ship.”

Oh, no; now we don’t get to sit through an awkward sex scene between Nero and Lt. Jane that probably wouldn’t contain any sex since the author seems strangely reluctant to commit to any overt form of nudity or intimate physical interaction. The most physical they’ve gotten is kissing and a little cuddling.

And why is the ship’s AI referring to itself with the royal ‘we’?

Taking in all that information, I made a mental checklist of things do.

If step one isn’t “go to lifepod” then you should be dead very soon.

“Come on!” I said rolling Jane off of me and rushing for my duffel bag, “Get your suit on quick!”

Dude, you can dress later – just grab and go!

It took Jane a moment to process what was happening before she nodded and rushed to fit into her jumpsuit and seal it.

While wasting valuable time that you don’t have that would be better used in GOING TO A LIFEPOD.

I had already put on my makeshift radsuit. It was originally a dive suit, so the place we would be landing was rather convenient. Next was a metal, lightweight backpack, which contained some basic supplies that I may or may not have borrowed to build my suit.

I thought it was a makeshift spacesuit, but now it is a makeshift radiation suit? Or does he just sit around vandalizing Alterra equipment for fun? And I thought he was getting a duffel bag, not a metal backpack? Why does he need a backpack? This isn’t Astroneers.

“The window for optimal conditions for ejection will be unavailable in T-minus 3 minutes. Planetary atmosphere breached “, My suit’s AI alerted me.

You do realize that entering the atmosphere is one of the most dangerous parts, since the sudden compression of air creates fantastically high temperatures.

“Equip it all on the way there!” I barked and took Jane by the hand. The lifepods weren’t far off so we had the time.

Equip what? She was getting dressed like you told her to (even though evacuation training should be something she already has) and you were the one dicking around to find your man-bag.

Or so I thought.

I don’t like to say I told you, so, but I did.

Turns out that after we started off down the hall, the ship lurched and took a slightly steeper dive.

Gee, it’s almost like it was crashing.

Inside of the ship, the artificial gravity generators had their control wrenched from them as everyone in the ship began to go into free fall. It would likely take a moment for the generators to make up for that, but that left Jane and I floating down the hall for just a moment with little control.

Dude, you’ve spent, like, ninety percent of your time floating around in zero-gravity. You should be able to handle this, right?

“Damn it!” I grunted as I pulled a dive reel out from my back and shot the anchor onto the ladder we were supposed to take,

First off, ow. Why did he have a dive reel stuck in his back? And why use the frickin’ indestructible dive reels again? This is not how they are meant to be used. They are used to help a diver find their way back along a route they have taken, such as through a cave system. Why does Nero keep using them like they are Spider-Man’s web-shooters?

“Don’t let go!” I said to Jane, only to look down to see her apparent physical condition. She was still very shaken to say the least.

That’s a weird way to phrase things. You’re checking on your maybe-girlfriend, not performing triage.

“I…I…” she stuttered but never finished.

Is anyone in this fic ever going to be able to finish a thought ever again?

“Listen!”, I barked reeling her in, “I don’t know why you’re scared but you need to step it up like the officer you are!

Of course the “brave and fearless” Lt. Jane needs a little pep-talk from Nero before she loses her shit altogether.

You weren’t shaken when you were nearly lost to the void of space on our first job together!

She didn’t really have time to be shaken since she was rescued relatively quickly by some grandstanding asshole who caused the problem in the first place.

At least down there we have a chance of surviving if we’re stranded!” I handed her a dive reel, “Just trust me like you did when we first met.”

You mean when you wanted her to shoot you with her gun? You had just indirectly caused her to get struck by an asteroid and flung out into space – chances are she wanted to shoot you anyway.

She held the reel close to her heart, as though she were remembering something painful, but then she nodded as we glided down into the next hall. The ship lurched again and gravity returned, slamming both of us to the metal floor below.

It just occurred to me that both of you should have those overly complicated gravity-boots so this shouldn’t have affected you as strongly as it does.

I blacked out for a second, and when I regained consciousness there were fires about the chamber and another announcement was blaring.

You must have been blacked out for longer than a second if there’s fire everywhere now. And weren’t you in a hallway instead of a chamber?

Attention: atmospheric entry has delivered greater than estimated thermal damage to the Aurora’s hull and exposed interior. Life pod launch chambers have sustained critical damage. Recommending immediate launch before existing damages intensify.”

The lifepods are being damaged by atmospheric entry and the best solution is to launch them from the protection of Aurora out into the atmosphere so they can enter on their own? That seems counter-intuitive to me, but I guess if the launching mechanisms are being damaged then there’s a chance the pods could get stuck.

Our time limit was up.

Given that you passed out at some point, I’m surprised it hasn’t run out before now.

“Jane?” I asked getting up slowly. Jane had taken the fall at a different angle, and I think she may have hit the ladder hard on the way down. She was still alive, but was too weak to move herself.

Were they anywhere near the ladder? I remember he shot his reel at it :snerk: and then there was some other stuff, but I don’t think they had actually made it to the ladder yet.

At this section of the ship, only one life pod was left, Number 5, and the lauch chamber had been severely damaged. One more shock would likely send it tumbling out of the ship on its own. But it was our only way out.

The lifepod is going to fall out of the ship? Damn, but that is some shoddy workmanship.

“Don’t you die on me”, I muttered as I stumbled to pick her up and drag her over. She coughed up some blood before her eyes fluttered open behind the reinforced dive helmet.

When did she get a helmet? She certainly wasn’t wearing it while she was nibbling on his neck like a space vampire.

“Hey Gill”, she said with a weak smile.

“Don’t worry, I got you. We’re almost safe.” I whispered. Her smile disappeared as she looked behind me to a repeated metal clashing noise and we reached the pod.

Unless you’re being chased by a robot, I don’t think the noise matters – it’s probably just the ship getting torn apart.

“Hey…can you promise me something?” she asked trying to get closer, “Just…one last time?” her other hand was clumsily pushing something on her own suit’s AI command.

“Quit talking like that!”, I opened the hatch and moved to lift her in, time running down to a few seconds more.

She is so gonna die.

“If…you see him”, she weakly took one of my dive reels, hooked it to my suit and shot the other end into the escape pod, “Tell him I said hi…”

Him who? Why is she playing the pronoun game for dramatic emphasis now?

“Wait what? No!” I screamed reaching for her hand, but it was too late.

Quick, ask her who “him” is!

It turned out that in even shorter a time that it would have taken to even lift her up to the hatch, another explosion from inside of the room and the lifepod shook loose and flew out into the void outside of the ship, but the dive reel made sure that I went out with it.

That dive reel must be frickin’ magic, because he never attached it to the lifepod.

But that left Jane behind, and in that last split second, before she could attach her own line, I saw a smile on her face, one of mixed emotions. She seemed happy that I was safe, but I saw a look in her eyes, not a look of fear anymore. Rather, it was a look of acceptance, an acceptance of fate.

Let me get this straight – Lt. Jane is supposedly a badass but needs Nero to save her repeatedly, has prophetic dreams and hears voices so she can deliver foreshadowing to Nero, and now will calmly accept her death knowing that her Twu Luv will live on without her being a deadweight on his solo survival adventure while adding a note of tragedy that he can brood over instead of developing a personality.

I might be disappointed that this character is getting thrown away for such a stupid reason, but there’s been so little put into her development – most of it vacillating between “me aggressive independent woman, sex you long time!” and “save me, my masculine hero!” – that I really don’t care because she’s as much a cardboard cutout as Nero is.

 “JAAAAANE!” my voice cried out, unheard amidst the wind and the Aurora going down, “Dammit, no! Damn you!”

Milk that Giant Cow! Milk it, I say!

The reel automatically pulled me into my seat and it clicked around me as I fought hopelessly, thinking in my mind at the time that I could still save her somehow.

:headdesk:

It is a DIVE REEL, not a sentient seat belt or whatever the hell else you want it to be! Seriously, they aren’t even all that useful in the game unless you explore a lot of caves without the P.R.A.W.N. or Seamoth.

But it was just wishful thinking at this point.

Well, unless you know how to fly and are explosion-resistant.

The pod rocked, supplies flew everywhere, and the last thing I remember beyond the sudden grief was a metal interior plate smacking me in the face and knocking me out cold.

So far my favorite character is the metal plate.

And just like that, Jane was gone.

Yep. That’s just my luck.

And everyone else on the ship who just died, and of course you haven’t made it to the surface yet so your fate is as yet undetermined, but let’s take a moment to mourn your almost-girlfriend.

(End of Chapter 2)

Thanks, I couldn’t tell by the sudden lack of words.

Hello, everyone. Beowulf here.

:waves: 

How’s Grendel’s Mother doing these days? Still dead?

Everyone who heard of the game knew this was coming.

The ship explosion or the forced “romance”? Because the ship thing is canon.

Honestly it was kind of a shame to do this to Nero, especially considering that the love of his life was on board.

Did he even like her that much? Despite Lt. Jane’s flirtatious manner she didn’t seem very affectionate towards him, either.  He was skeptical of her motives when she “thanked” him but gradually allowed her to hold his hand in public and didn’t throw her out after she broke into his room to use his shower, so at best he tolerated her for her companionship.

But it seems that the McGill family’s unpredictable (mis)fortune has come back with a vengeance, and taken the Aurora with it. That apple fell a little too close to the tree.

Yeah, sure; it’s all about the McGill family. The Precursors built their disease research facility on that planet and equipped it with a massive gun because they knew some day Nero would wander past.

In the meantime, if you like what you see, blast that follow/favorite button harder than the Precursors blasted the Aurora!

Dude. Too soon.

This is Beowulf, Nero, and the OC Crew, signing out!

You know this is a chapter of a written work, not a YouTube vlog, so you don’t really need to do an outro, right?

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121 Comments on “1753: Whatever McGill Can Do I Will Do Better – Chapter 2”

  1. AdmiralSakai says:

    Evidently there were rumors leaked to the crew that we were taking a detour to slingshot around an unexplored world labeled Planet 4546B.

    The basic idea behind gravitational slingshots is that a spacecraft basically “steals” some of a large body’s speed in order to make itself faster, but going that far out of your way to do it is really only useful if you’re a very primitive spacecraft with extremely limited fuel that does not, in space terms, go very fast. I would imagine that these ships, which after all can travel to new systems in only 13 months, are neither*. (Interestingly, it’s also possible to use slingshotting to decelerate, but the same basic utility function applies.)

    Interestingly, modern space missions are planned so exactingly mostly because there is limited speed and propellant (also because the equipment involved is expensive and it’s really hard to unplug a malfunctioning component and plug it back in again from a few million kilometers away). The likelihood of making an impromptu slingshot is kind of inversely proportional to how useful it would actually be.

    *Unless those systems are extremely close together, that means the ship is traveling faster than light and we have no idea which of the regular rules even apply. If they’re not traveling faster than light, relativistic time dilation means we have to ask “13 months for the passengers, or observers at some arbitrary point outside?”, but for that difference to be significant you have to be traveling really goddamn fast anyway.

    • SC says:

      You mentioned that you can slingshot to decelerate, so my idea is that maybe, given that the planet is noted for potential to sustain human life, that the Aurora is slingshotting around it to get a good scan of the surface to send back to the folks at base?

      • GhostCat says:

        Or to search for signs of Degasi, which was Aurora‘s secondary objective.

      • SC says:

        Maybe a bit of column A, bit of column B? Since they’re supposed to build a phasegate (which I presume to mean like a space portal between two linked locations so that colonists would have a shorter transit time), they could be both studying the planet for life-sustaining potential, and also for signs of the Degasi, if they get a good read?

        • GhostCat says:

          From what I remember, the phasegate wasn’t going to be built anywhere near 4546B – the planet was just conveniently located for the slingshot and happened to be near where Degasi went missing.

      • SC says:

        I could be thinking in me-logic, then. Thanks to my time with Mass Effect, I have a nasty habit of stopping and scanning every damn planet in transit to my actual objective.

        • GhostCat says:

          There’s not really much known about Aurora‘s mission beyond a bare outline, because the player (probably) isn’t a high-ranked officer or anything so they wouldn’t know anything anyway and you don’t really need to know much about it in the context the game, so it is possible that they scan every likely planet they come across as a matter of course.

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Well, if they were detouring to search the planet… I guess that’s not technically a slingshot since the objective is not to affect their velocity, but I suppose it’d make sense to follow a slingshot-like trajectory to do that.

  2. AdmiralSakai says:

    Of course it just hit me, why 4546B?

    Why not? It’s a perfectly fine name.

    A rare oasis in the blackness of space that could serve as a home for humanity and they designate it with a serial number.

    Well, presumably they are waiting for it to actually be colonized, and then the colonists would name it. Or if there’s intelligent life there, it would be rude not to use the inhabitants’ name for it.

    • SC says:

      Considering how current day astronautical study names planets with potential to sustain human life, I’m inclined to believe that it might still hold true in the canon of Subnautica.

      • GhostCat says:

        Don’t forget that there’s more than one trans-galactic corporation in the canon universe, all competing for resources and probably all with different methods of classifying and cataloging worlds, so all we know is this particular planet is designated 4546B by Alterra; another corporation might call it “Butterfly” or “Gerald12” or something.

      • SC says:

        “We will name this planet… Bob.”

        “Why, sir?”

        “DID I JUST HEAR YOU QUESTIONING AN ORDER?!”

        “Naming the planet Bob, understood, sir.”

        • GhostCat says:

          “It’s just … You’ve named the last sixty planets ‘Bob’, sir.”

          “AND THE TREND WILL CONTINUE UNTIL EVERYWHERE IS BOB!”

  3. AdmiralSakai says:

    Why exactly this was part of the plan was beyond me.

    You mean the captain didn’t consult you, the most recently hired and thus most junior crew member on board, before approving this course?!? How dare they!

    This was the edge of explored space, and many small ships had been lost to the void beyond this point.

    All the more reason not to take this detour and to just remain on the established course.

    This was space’s equivalent to the Bermuda Triangle.

    At this point, you’re making my argument for me.

    This whole setup seems pretty damn suspect to me. If ships are disappearing at a specific location, that’s something you gotta investigate. And if you can’t investigate it because all the investigators disappear too, at the very least set up a quarantine.

    • GhostCat says:

      The area is not nearly the ship-killer the fic’s author makes it out to be. In the game’s back story there’s only one ship that’s “disappeared” – the Degasi – in the area and that was (I think) about a decade earlier. The Aurora did have a secondary objective to look for any signs of survivors or indications as to what might have happened to Degasi while doing the gravity slingshot, but their primary mission was to build a phasegate somewhere else entirely. It would be more like sending someone to the corner store for a bottle of milk and asking them “Oh, by the way, I dropped an earring on the sidewalk last week. Can you keep an eye out for it?” before they leave.

  4. AdmiralSakai says:

    It was about two months (fifteen months into the mission)

    Wasn’t the mission only supposed to be thirteen months total?

  5. AdmiralSakai says:

    I imagine that water would be a rationed resource on a spaceship, so she’s burning through some pretty expensive resources to give him an almost-peepshow. And who knows how long she’s been waiting for him to show up? He might not get a shower for months!

    Well, it’s not like she’s destroying it, she’s just going to run it through whatever recycling process they use an extra time. That probably takes some energy, but compared to the engines and stuff it wouldn’t be very much. The water might shut off after a while if she drains some sort of tank or reserve local to his quarters, but it would replenish.

    Really, considering that McStu has a picture window and a sound system and can turn the gravity on and off in his private quarters with a private bathroom, the ship looks like it’s built with an eye to creature comforts above and beyond the water system anyway.

    • GhostCat says:

      Yeah, but there’s a lot of crew that would need access to the water and they would only have finite storage space available so there’s only so much that the ship can carry – and a certain percentage of that would probably be making its way through the reclamation systems at any given time.

      The thing is, you can actually go through the crew quarters when you go onboard Aurora to fix the drive core leaks and they look more like utilitarian dorm rooms (with multiple beds per room and wall lockers and no en suite bathrooms) than this sort of palatial accommodations.

    • SC says:

      Really, considering that McStu has a picture window and a sound system and can turn the gravity on and off in his private quarters with a private bathroom, the ship looks like it’s built with an eye to creature comforts above and beyond the water system anyway.

      This author is making the Aurora sound like the megaship from Wall-E that houses humanity after the earth fell into toxic ruin.

  6. AdmiralSakai says:

    “Still nervous as before, lover boy”, she laughed happily, spinning herself into a slow backflip in zero g, again providing a stunning view.

    How large is this shower, anyway?

  7. AdmiralSakai says:

    Yes, but he how else can he prove how much of a gentleman he is for not staring at your body even though the narration is going out of its way to objectify you.

    *Reaches into the ‘fic.*

    *Pulls out a few scraps of suede and leather.*

    Hmm, better put those back in. They’re going to grow into a fine fedora some day.

  8. AdmiralSakai says:

    “Since we first were informed on that planet, two days ago”, she asked calmly looking out the window, “You haven’t had any…strange dreams, have you? Voices in your head?”

    Oh, shit. She’s having prophetic dreams of the ship crashing, isn’t she? She’s not going to turn out to be a Cassandra, is she?

    That, or the planet is inhabited by Great Old Ones.

  9. SC says:

    Remember to tip the taxi driver so that they don’t lay an unavoidable curse upon your bloodline?

    Scarlet: Ha ha, shit.

  10. SC says:

    Lt. Jane is essentially floating in a skin of water that’s being bombarded with more globs and growing larger.

    That sounds like a Spiderman villain origin story.

  11. SC says:

    Are you implying that the only reason that anyone would sleep with you is so that they can manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do?

    Glasses: This sounds like a sexy whodunnit story. You know, like, the suspect doesn’t want the police to come after them, so they cozy up to the one dirty cop in the investigation and have sex with them until they agree to ditch some vital pieces of evidence that would have linked them to the crime, all while carefully maintaining an image of an innocent person on the side-

    Shades: The more I hear you describe this scene, the twitchier it makes me.

    • GhostCat says:

      :shivers: It’s like when Syl calls me to discuss one of those “hypothetical” situations that typically ends with me having to do something like wire bail money to a jail in the Philippines.

      • SC says:

        Glasses: That was one time! And it was Panama!

        Shades: I’m starting to think that whodunnit you were talking about isn’t simply a figment of your imagination…

  12. SC says:

    So far my favorite character is the metal plate.

    Mine is the Sentient Dive Reel that keeps fucking Nero over.

  13. SC says:

    The ship lurched again and gravity returned, slamming both of us to the metal floor below.

    “And then it reversed polarity and slammed us into the ceiling. And then it reversed polarity again and slammed us into the floor. Then back into the ceiling. Then back into the floor. Then-”

    Booky, stop it.

    *Booky shakes his head defiantly and continues throwing the gravitational polarity lever*

  14. SC says:

    When did she get a helmet? She certainly wasn’t wearing it while she was nibbling on his neck like a space vampire.

    *Shades summons a shotgun*

    Shades: A what?

  15. SC says:

    All she wore was a pair of short skintight black pants a royal blue tank top of sorts that appeared to have trouble holding her assets in. Both were skintight like the jumpsuit, probably the same material too, and it left her stomach long legs, and a little cleavage exposed.

    Does the Aurora not have some manner of uniform standard? Either the ship captain or the XO needs to bust her for this. She’s a flippin’ LT, and she’s dressing like she’s going to some TGIF party. They’re on a mission, God damn it, not hanging out at a bar.

  16. SC says:

    I know that only two Subnautica authors have been riffed here so far, but it’s interesting to note the canons that they’re also fans of.

    In no particular order, we have:

    Dragonball Z, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, and RWBY, all well-known for their high octane ass-whoopings.

    Steven Universe, an unexpectedly deep and open-minded cartoon, which also contains high octane ass-whooping.

    Undertale, easily one of the most meta indie games ever made.

    Yandere Simulator, a game about being a psychotic, murderous stalker.

    Accel World, an action/romance/cyberpunk light novel series.

    And Destiny, a game about magical, gun-toting space zombies protecting what’s left of Futuristic-Medieval Earth and the Omnipotent Giant Baseball from The Darkness and its alien hordes.

    Subnautica, from what little I know thanks to these riffs, appears to be more geared towards exploration and bits of mystery.

    I’m perplexed.

    • GhostCat says:

      It is a very beautiful game, but it is also deceptively subtle in my opinion. It’s billed as an open – world survival/crafting game with strong emphasis on exploration, but there’s quite a lot of horror elements involved as well – especially now that the latest update took the Cyclops from an unkillable juggernaut and turned it into a fragile monster – beacon by adding a damage meter and instituting a “noise” mechanic that has you attracting creatures whenever you make too much noise. Driving has become a nerve-racking experience. (Once the bases get the same “noise” mechanic there’s not going to be any sanctuary anywhere left to retreat to at all.) Just about everything on the planet wants to kill you, right down to the bacteria in the water, and with the carar infection being so lethal there’s a great sense of urgency involved on top of everything else. You don’t know what’s really happening or why and only learn in bits and pieces, and I kind of prefer it that way since it let’s me try to fill in the blanks myself.

      • SC says:

        Oh, for sure, that’s what I mean when I say that it has an air of mystery around it – why does everything want to kill you? What caused the carar? What, or who were the Precursors? All that.

        It still confuses me how that draws the attention of action-junkies like these two authors, though. Like, did they think that Subnautica needed more umph, or something?

  17. DasCheesenBorgir says:

    I bet it’s Lt. Jane so Nero can have more Tragek Past to pass off as character traits.

    Perfect setup for sexual healing with local Asari squid-mermaids or some shit

  18. TacoMagic says:

    Of course it just hit me, why 4546B?

    Why not? It’s a perfectly fine name.

    I’d have gone with Bob.

  19. Swenia says:

    Or it’s a really frickin’ long trip and she’s unbelievably bored.

    And it’s been ten months, so Spring was probably in there somewhere. Plenty of bad life-decisions start in the Spring. This is why it’s a good policy to have an emergency support system to get you through.

  20. Swenia says:

    Wait a minute! I snapped myself out of that daze and tried to act like a gentleman, not a pervert.

    Dude, You can be all gentlemanly when you’re at dinner. Wish fulfillment or not, she’s lobbing herself at you like a grenade, so get in there and scratch that itch, you glorious pervert!

    And if you skip the foreplay, I’m going to shoot you in the face with a plasma cannon.

  21. Swenia says:

    In fact I still hadn’t seen her outside of that jumpsuit even once

    I can’t help but think that the both of you may have been doing it wrong. Or been doing it in the dark. Though, if the only option I had was a Stu, I’d want the lights off.

    *Marcus leans in and gives Swenia the finger*

    Oh get off it, we both know you don’t swing in my direction anyway.

  22. Swenia says:

    I looked away before it revealed anything (It’s called respect and self control boys. Time some people learned it).

    It’s not self control if your partner WAN-

    That’s very admirable and everything, but your naked companion clearly wants you to look at her and actually went out of her way to insure you would see her.

    Yes, that! Self control is not groping her unexpectedly while at the movies! Well, unless she likes public groping. Not that I’m into public groping or anything. I just want to be supportive and stuff. You know, of consensual groping.

  23. Swenia says:

    … I’m beginning to wonder if you even like girls, dude.

    *Markus steps into the room wearing a very smart tuxedo*

    Let me just stop you right there. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you’re too good for him. Maybe try some of the ninja raptors or something. Hell, even a Darkwraith would be a step up.

  24. TacoMagic says:

    This isn’t Astroneers.

    *Quickly hides his Steam library.*

  25. TacoMagic says:

    So far my favorite character is the metal plate.

    *Starts handing out “Team Metal Plate” shirts*

    By far my favorite character since Big Mama T.

  26. Or it’s a really frickin’ long trip and she’s unbelievably bored.

    Hey, sex is a really useful way to pass the time. Like napping, only much messier and far more exhausting. ;)

  27. The crew must be hard-up for gossip if holding hands does the trick.

    Hey, holding hands is incredibly lewd. Next they’ll be sitting next to each other at lunch. Scandalous!

  28. I had decided to return to my quarters and clean up.

    Yeah, those space kraken tentacles just tend to be so invasive when they’re coiling around your various extremities and wriggling all over you. Really makes you wet and sticky.

  29. And you’re apparently okay with being in a relationship with someone who likes to break into your home while you’re away and use your stuff without your permission. I have just the girl for you!

    As someone who makes her fanfiction career by writing believable, realistic romance (or so I’ve been told), I find this just painful. He timeskipped and summarized thirteen/fifteen months of their relationship, glossing over it all, so we have no idea how close they really are, how deep into the relationship they are, or if they’ve done anything similar to this.

    From what I know, it’s actually not uncommon for two people deep enough in a relationship to shower together, so this kinda implies they didn’t get all that close during their thirteen/fifteen months together. But for all I know, the writer has different standards when it comes to relationships so for him this is BIG.

    *flips table*

    • GhostCat says:

      And it is another one of those situations that’s treated as “romantic” but if the genders were reversed and it was a strapping young man breaking into a woman’s home to ambush her for sex then it would be considered all kinds of creepy.

      • Well, assuming he genuinely was my boyfriend, I’d honestly find a guy doing that sweet and romantic. But again, that’s assuming he’s my boyfriend and we’ve been dating long enough for being naked around each other to be okay.

        But since it seems that aside from clothes-on fooling around and some gossip-worthy hand-holding, these two haven’t really done much or gotten that close despite the huge time spent around each other in an enclosed and restrictive location, so yeah, this is something that wouldn’t be seen as okay with the genders reversed.

        “Hey babe! Last night we held hands in the cafeteria and made out on your bed, so here! Have my wet, floppy di-“

  30. I’m still curious as to how a chip implanted in his brain is announcing his physical status to the room? Does the sound come out of his ears? His mouth? Where?

    His ass? *shot*

  31. Ewww! Do you kiss with your eyes open?!? Don’t do that, it’s gross!

    …It is?

  32. Sorry, I’ve had a lot of people (usually total strangers) ask me that and it really creeps me out. It’s worse when they don’t ask and just poke me in the ear-hole. That’s just rude.

    That… actually IS really weird. No one’s ever asked to touch my ears. Or tried to touch my ears at all, for that matter. Why would they want to touch your ears, Ghostie?

    • GhostCat says:

      I have stretched ear piercings, often referred to (erroneously) as gauged ears. They’re currently at nine millimeters – large enough that you can clearly see through the lobe to the other side if I’m wearing eyelets, which some people seem to find fascinating enough to poke a total stranger.

      • Oh. Huh. Well, that’s certainly no reason to want to touch your ears. I mean, that’s just rude.

        Though this is just another reminder that it seems like I’m one of the few girls with no piercings. In fact, I’m the only girl in my family without piercings or ink. XD

        • GhostCat says:

          Public service announcement for everyone- if anyone ever decides to get a piercing go to a reputable piercer even if it’s ‘just the ears’. Do not go to one of those accessory stores where they use a gun. Not only is the jewelry dull AF, which can cause damage to the ear as the jewelry is being literally forced through the flesh, but those guns aren’t sterilized so the equipment used to jab that blunt piece of substandard metal into the ear has been in contact with the bodily fluids of gods only know how many people.

        • Wow. And the health boards allow this?

        • GhostCat says:

          Most accessory shops aren’t inspected by the health departments because in most jurisdictions the guns are exempt from the same regulations that govern piercing studios and tattoo parlors – which are required to undergo regular inspections of the shop and equipment as well as maintain certfications specifically dealing with bloodborne pathogens whereas the person using a piercing gun likely recieved minimal training and does little more than clean the outside of the gun with a wipe – which is another good reason why no one should get a piercing done with a gun. Anyone can buy one of those guns online and do whatever piercings they want, with no training at all.

          There’s a lot of people in the body modification community who try to educate others about the dangers, but there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to going to a tattoo parlor, even though a reputable tattoo parlor is as clean as a dentist’s office. Ironically, going to Claire’s at the mall seems safer even though the exact opposite is true.

        • Good to know. Thanks, Ghostie!

  33. He does realize that naked women can be a GOOD thing, right?

    True dat. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)


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