The former Marine laughed a touch bitterly, "Looks like this is our stop then."
Karen had had a feeling something like this might happen. She'd spent enough time being ferried around by Navy squids on ships she wasn't licensed to do anything on to recognize a temporary gig. The sheer amount of systems they weren't being access to meant that this ship, whoever had built it, was still following their orders, a glorified drone. Watching the atmosphere indicators in her suit go from green and promptly climb through orange into red, she shook her head and began heading in the direction of the airlock.
"I'd suggest we get what data we can in a hurry and relocate to the Polaris, Captain, just in case they are really serious about shoving us out the door."
"So, what music do you like, Carrie?" Karen offered to the medic helping her examine the alien super suit they'd taken as a prize. A Cap'n Ayato special in their bellies, the other woman had practically jumped at her suggestion of a joint examination of the piece of tech. Some pleasant chatter comparing toolkits (Ah, the Fluke 8080x really was a good piece piece of gear much as they'd practically had to murder an officer to order one in the Corps. Never had a better fusion of price and function been made...) and they had gotten to work, investigating ports and plugins and a dozen other blackbox wonders. But the best jam sessions hit lulls, and Karen wanted to get to know more about the other woman. Hence the question.
"Eastern European Synth Pop mostly. A little bit of everything actually long as it's not that trashy 'rock' coming out of Mars," came the answer back, prompting Karen to remind herself to quietly hide her collection of Barsoomorak if it ever got that far. And if her collection still existed. Smile straining at the edges, she was relieved as the scanner finished processing it's current task. Okay. Interesting. With these kinds of ergonomic sensors, she might even be able to get away with not using a contact suit...
Carrie prodded back, expression curious, "You?"
"Heh heh. Yeah... You know, anything loud with a beat you can exhaust yourself to. Never can sleep well unless I've burned through the day's energy first. I've set up a small exercise room on the Polaris if you're interested, two person space that the company hasn't assigned a defined purpose yet," she shot back, nakedly deflecting the question with a change of topic and a grin.
The medic leveling 'hmmmed' at her in a all-too-suspicious way as if she saw right through her, "I see. I'll see if I can make time. Got a few books I'm working on simultaneously. And I have a feeling none of us are going to have much time to relax with all this."
"You're probably right. Have much time off planet before this?" Karen volleyed back half on verbal autopilot as she set up the next test, plugging diagnostic tools into ominously compatable ports, grimacing inside as she hoped the question wasn't triggering.
If it was, Carrie was a better liar than the former marine was, shaking her head negatively. "Just a few orbital hops. You?"
"Enough. The number of people willing to pay to let me reup my operator's license updated once I got out of the service was basically the space industry, so space jockey I went without looking back. Say, look at this reading here. Do think..?"
Staying up way too late (carefully) prodding the alien suit after that amid banter that tended towards pleasant, muscle memory had Karen scrambling into her contact suit even before her brain cleared enough to understand what Ayato was ordering. What. The. Hell. A protective denial welled up in her throat before she choked it down, a bitter backwash feelings born of endless hours making sure every joint and every piece of hardware aboard the Polaris was *just so*... And for what? To retreat to the mysterious ship that had apparently ran off with them? Again? What. The. Hell.
She didn't trust her words right now, a litany of curses simmering on her tongue at a time when they might need every angel in earshot to come out of this whole.
"Aye aye, Sir," she permitted herself to answer, choking it all down beneath duty as she finished zipping up her contact suit and making her way down to her cargo bay to hop into her new suit, round up her tools, and see if the cleaver-like BFS she'd taken back with on her on a whim might do the job she was wishing she had a demolition expert on hand to do for her. Damn it.
Beneath all the wonder of these wonderful toys, it worried Karen that they were being granted so many advantages. In her experience with the Corps, you were only issued what the higher-ups thoughts you needed to do a job and, more often than not, that estimate tended to be below the mark actual required to solve the problem at hand. And since she got involved in spaceflight? That went double with every pound on it's way to orbit costing money from the precious bottom line.
Bigger gifts meant bigger problems, and Karen could only pray, and hope that someone was actively listening, at the back of her mind that they were up to the task this wonder ship promised was coming.
The fact they'd need to jury-rig an airlock was an anchor of familiarity, a sign the, what to call them, what to call them..? Ah, the Makers still had some restrictions in information and materials helped a lot. Soothed her nerves into problem solving mode. "Anyone over there not have experience wearing a spacesuit? Before I get lost seeing how deep this bag of tricks goes, rather go with the basic safety line soon as you position the airlock next to the entrance. Work on something more permanent next," she commented over the coms, grabbing a few units of good sturdy-looking cable and a wielder to do the job of spiderwebbing them together.
"Noooope," Karen answered with a smile on her lips and in her voice, "Still in my Mk II with my helmet seal in place. What it's sensing it's sensing through the best commercial power armor our esteemed employer provided me. Not that that probably matters a lot given the scale of tech we're looking at. Too smart by half to not be spooky."
She chuckled. If Carrie had enough time to marvel at the borrowed telemetry from presumably the new suit, things had to be at least stable on the ship. No time like the present to indulge their host's generosity. "I'm to do something stupid. If I don't come back online in three minutes, call the others to fish me out of this thing. I'm straight down the corridor from the bridge and six doors down on the left."
The former marine didn't give their new medic a chance to protest, turning off the channel and removing her helmet with a pop of depressurizing air. She didn't have her usual recharging harness, but she'd gotten out of suits in the field before. They were bottom heavy just for that contingency after all. Disengage shoulder locks and arm servos. Let the sudden deadweight in her arms help shuck her out of the chest piece as it swung downward and the back peeled away. Which just left her the inherently-undignified part of wriggling her hips up and out of the joint-locked lower-half.
"Ahhhh," she exhaled, stretching out the usual kinks, down to just her padded contact suit. Karen smirked and considered the piece of unknown hardware kneeling in front of her, chestplate agape like the tentacles of a sea anemone. All right. Show me what you got.
"Wait one," Karen replied, pausing in her once over of the strange suit as it shifted to fit her proportions in a way she wondered if it even needed a contact suit to function. She unmagnetized her helmet from it's resting place on her waist, clicking it into place over her head. There was the familiar absolute darkness as air pressurized and systems whirred up and blinked on. Once the digital reproduction of the outside world was splayed across her HUD along with some disturbingly detailed new streaming information from... Somewhere.
Right. The former marine keyed up the stream of visual information from her helmet to the ship, giving the bay full of suits a once over for Carrie's sake.
"Whole lot of serious toys including some big boys. Ship led me right here without prompting and opened up the one in front of me like an invitation," she continued, circling the suit in question with a critical eye, tapping it occasionally to try and get a guess at whatever super science materials it was made off, chuckling grimly, "If the people in charge of this situation wanted us dead, we'd be dead so many times over it wouldn't be funny. Not that I think they will. Long story short: AIs, aliens, or future humans, they've went to a lot of effort to get the Polaris here, including individualized perks. Willing to bet they have something for you and Barry, too. Picking up anything interesting? Any problems out there?"
Lure of a shiny suit before her that there was, she couldn't quite bury her concern for their little bubble of humanity out here. Once that was settled... Then maybe she'd take it up on it's invitation.
Karen glanced back at Ayato for a second and shrugged with a slight whir of her armored shoulders. Why not?
"Following up a lead, Cap'n. See if you can find out when we are while you're at it, please," she called over her shoulder before striding off down the corridor. She fiddled with her coms, bringing up the channel to the ship.
"Karen to Polaris. We've been exposed to an atmosphere that's chemically identical to Earth normal over here, but if Carrie can start analyzing my vitals while we work with the... Well, shit. There's a lot over here, but it'd be a nice start to quarantine. Over."
She continued down the corridor, eyes following the silver line as she listened for the faint crackle that presaged a reply coming back, smiling faintly as the medic in question answered, "...Received, Chief. I'll do what I can, but what the heck is going on over there?"
The former marine started an abridged recounting of the events so far, trailing off as she turned a corner, "And then he... Holy Crap."
Karen didn't quite have words, eyes drinking in the suit bay in front of her. large armored suits. not mech size but large enough that a human can easily fit in the torso with her arms and legs filling about two thirds of the length of the suits arms and legs and her head just below where the things neck would be if it had a neck. Well, they'd found their giants. Those meaty fingers could easily crush her skull and need the ridiculous-sized buttons they'd seen scattered around the ship. Whether or not humans were supposed to go inside them or not..? She'd have to take a closer look. Her lips compressed bloodlessly spotting the silver line leading through this bay of 18 walking tanks and into a second one filled with 50 more suits of a more human scale and proportion.
The worry in Carrie's voice broke her out of her swirling trance, "Chief? What's going on?"
"...Sorry. I'll get you some footage soon as I can. Our hosts are pandering to my professional and personal interests," she finally replied, following the silver line into the second bay and up to a specific suit in it's support shelf on the wall. The fact it started moving soon as she was in two meters, settling into a crouch and opening up, almost didn't surprise her given how hand in glove this whole scenario was shaping up. Almost. But not quite.
"Cap'n," Karen offered with a nod of her head, "I asked. Computer, blue lighting, please."
As before, the lights snapped to varying shades of soothing blue even before she finished talked, prompting a slightly bitter laugh and wave of her hand, "Behold. Further proof whoever or whatever was behind this intentionally wanted us. If you want to try to get over to that Captain's chair, I'll hook you up to reel you in just in case the whole system isn't perfect after who knows how long it's been resting out here. Best chance of finding if this ship can get us home or if there's still a home for us to get back to. In fact, now that you're here, might want to trying asking some questions."
The blonde sounded resigned, bare face tired in juxtaposition to her gently-whirring power armor.
"You could say that. Found the bridge. Or at least a room trying so hard to be the bridge it would be sad if that wasn't the case," Karen offered bluntly over the coms, "Human scale control panels to match the giant robot buttons atop a dozen floating platform. These people, whoever and whyever they picked us did not lack for presentation. We're looking at up to 25 watchstanders in here, so there's going to be a lot of bunks and one hell of a galley somewhere on this thing. Assuming they ate. Or slept. anything's possible at this point."
On a whim, she raised her voice and called into the echoing sphere, testing a theory if this thing was really programmed for them, "Computer? Red lighting, please."
Okay. This room was impressive. A big, big spherical bridge or control room straight out of the more fanciful shows. A dozen floating platforms with actual chairs, view screens, and human scale controls to accompany a matching set of goliath scale controls like seen outside. Going back to the floating though... There seemed no particular importance or markings to the plaforms though, except for the center one, massive and studded with a dozen more control stations. A holographic map of space floated in front of the primary chair that screamed 'Command Chair' to the former Marine.
She whistled and the sound echoed in the massive chamber, something a clicking in her brain.
A quick bit of mental math equated the sphere with the ominous green eye sticking out of the front of the, maybe, alien ship, prompting another whistle. Now she was certain this space screamed 'Bridge'. One, two, three... twenty-five stations worth of personnel..? That gave her at least an idea what to expect from this ship's full watch set up based on the Squids she'd spoken to. Part of her wanted to launch at the nearest platform to see what made it tick, but no. She'd hold her curiosity. "Fifth door on the left from where you are, guys. Found a chair that'd fit even Ayato's prerogative," Karen joked over the comms, whistling again to hear it echo.
Anyone who had trouble with energy production wouldn't have invested in a space this large. Made it clear how small they really were in this situation. Laugh or cry, didn't make a difference in the face of power like this.
Karen wasn't sure what theory she liked better: time-traveling post humans or time-traveling super aliens. Either was so far above the scales of what she was used to as to make 'A Wizard Did It' seem petty, downright Act of God level even.
The armored former marine shook her head, frowning as the notion everyone she had ever known and loved could very well be long dead and fossilized if not consumed by the aging sun snaked it's way through her thoughts. This could be bad, so so so bad it made her want to hit her punching bag and keep hitting it until all her muscles were sore and she passed out from sheer exhaustion. The sheer lack of knowledge isolating them from what might be and what actually was... It scared the blonde, and she doubled down on the stubborn to avoid thinking about it. Partially.
"Riiight," she drawled flatly, voice under iron-hard control, "Let's find some of these hypothetical supplies or some more clues. Or at least a map. That'd be nice."