Two Illustrative Playthroughs of “Alone in the Station Remnants”
This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.
These two pieces of short fiction are my attempts to play the solitaire RPG Alone in the Station Remnants.
The most interesting thing I found about the experience was the challenge it presented in holding two registers or prose voices in mind and being able to switch between the two, presenting a narrative from two very different and incompatible approaches.
Playthrough 1: Theron Station
Sector 1: 5 Events / Memories of the old team
– Event 1: J-H, 2: A good memory, personal log entry, former communal area
– Event 2: 8-S, 6: A troubling memory, status report, accessway
– Event 3: 9-C, 1: A good memory, status report, green space
– Event 4: 9-D, 1: A good memory, personal log entry, green space
– Event 5: 2-D, 5: A troubling memory, personal log entry, accessway
Sector 2: 3 Events / Parting
– Event 1: Q-C, 3: A bad memory, status report, dormitories
– Event 2: K-H, 4: A bad memory, personal log entry, forgotten place
– Event 3: 6-C, 3: A bad memory, status report, training ground
Sector 3: 4 Events / A Close Friend
– Event 1: Q-D, 4: A bad memory, personal log entry, dormitories
– Event 2: 2-S, 2: A good memory, status report, accessway
– Event 3: A-D, 3: A bad memory, personal log entry, perimeter wall
– Event 4: 7-C, 3: A bad memory, status report, academy
Entry 1/ Ready Room
I can’t believe the coffee machine survived. Of all the things in this place, there’s still a pile
of dusty, battered plastic cups and that indestructible old coffee machine. One of the few things they’d fix no matter what. Probably because it was cheap.
Most of the wall around it is smashed, but I can still see some of the message board there in the wreckage. I don’t want to touch the charred paper fragments in case they disintegrate, but I’ve got a good idea of what they might have been once. Scores for our darts tournament, old photographs, the leave rota.
We spent a lot of time in here. Sat on the awful sofas, drinking awful coffee because it was free and it was there, waiting to go out and do whatever we would need to do. It stopped feeling so dull after the first few times, about the time we got less self-conscious about being in the same room.
Entry 2/ The Memorial
I don’t remember when we decided to put the wall of honour in the courtyard, and it annoys me because it’s the sort of thing I shouldn’t forget. But I’m unbelievably glad it’s still there, because I’ve not forgotten the names on it. And there are flowers growing in the courtyard for me to lay there.
The fact there are so few names on it is testament to how good we were at looking out for each other, because we certainly didn’t stay idle.
So few names means, though, I can remember what happened to all of them. Most nights, actually.
Entry 3/ Last Time I Was Here…
It was because I had to do something I didn’t want to. There had been an argument, the sort of argument I couldn’t just let those involved deal with themselves. As a team leader I tried to avoid doing anything that would make an enemy of those beneath me, but this time…
The commander’s office was on this corridor. It overlooked the courtyard. Everyone could see me going there. Everyone who’d been in the ready room that morning would have known why I was going there.
Not long after that I left the base. I think they were probably glad I did.
Entry 4/ Quartermaster’s Stores
I couldn’t open the door.
Too many memories.
It’s where I saw some people doing some things I wasn’t meant to see. And they never looked at me the same way afterwards. They couldn’t.
Entry 5/ Ila’s Room
Ila took over command after I left. There wasn’t a proper handover. I left in a hurry. There’s still a lot of her papers here, detailing what happened after I left.
The retreat started not long after. Ila fought hard for the unit to stay and protect the civilians,
that much is clear. Even after command insisted the armours be moved out she still made sure that the base’s medical supplies, food and shelter were available to anyone still waiting for evacuation ships.
I think that might have been a mistake. There seem to be a lot of people dead.
Entry 6/ Wreck of the Shuttle HYPERION
The base gate is blocked by a burned-out shuttle. From the way the debris has fallen I can only assume it was shot down on takeoff.
There’s luggage, burned and trashed and rotten. Crates and a few remains of cases still recognisable.
And there’s something else. Smudged, ashen, wrenched out of shape there’s a white-and-blue arm embedded in the Hyperion’s side. And if you trace your eye across the trail of destruction you can pick out in the chaos of tangled metal a torso, and head.
Ila’s armour was white and blue.
If you’re the last one to die, nobody’s left to put your name on the memorial.
Report 1/ Accessway 5
Access to storage sections is blocked by collapsed corridor. Without power, it is impossible
to access the lifts to the storerooms. As I am currently unable to proceed further towards the kitchens and food stores, I am unable to determine if it will be possible to use them without repair.
There are several skeletons in the accessway, suggesting damage was extensive and initial casualties high. No signs of rescue attempts or debris clearing.
Report 2/ Garden
Damage to the courtyard garden is minimal. Plants continue to grow and there are vines in the accessways, suggesting that there is enough water and sunlight to drive their spread. The fact the garden has apparently thrived leads me to assume the facility’s water purification system is still working.
Personal note: The garden is also home to a small memorial built by members of the facility’s former staff. It has survived the damage to the complex. I would recommend, in the interests of respect for former personnel, it be preserved.
Report 3/ Personal Quarters of the Special Liaison
This room evaded much of the damage, but nevertheless remains in significant disrepair. The former occupant left several personal effects here, including personal journals containing large amounts of classified information, sensitive materials concerning living and deceased military personnel and other information that should not be made public.
There is a personal computer terminal in the room. I recommend it be surrendered to the Experimental Projects Unit for processing, should any data concerning this room’s former occupant remain on it.
Report 4/ Gymnasium
While this section of the residential sector could easily be restored to functionality, it is clear
the gymnasium was used at some point as a shelter during enemy action. There are numerous dead members of base staff here, including several members of the medical team. What is more, it appears at some point this sector was used as an emergency shelter for nearby civilians, likely close to the end of the war.
In the interests of respect I have taken any unrecovered dog-tags or personal identification cards and will submit them to the Ministry of Defence.
Report 5/ Observation Gallery
From the gallery it is apparent that the facility’s runways are still usable, once the wrecks of
evacuation ships and military vehicles are cleared. The perimeter wall is damaged in several places but it seems the final perimeter breach was localised to a small number of places.
However, the fuelling station and ammunition stores are completely destroyed; it is apparent from looking over the site that it endured sustained aerial and artillery bombardment intended to destroy any supplies there and prevent its use as a staging ground or evacuation point.
Report 6/ Strategic Planning Centre
This floor is unsalvageable. An Armour was shot down and impacted the upper floors of the SPC. While I am unable to gain access to inspect it closely, the insignia suggests it was a member of the XPU’s test team. I am sure the XPU will be interested to recover its flight recorder, if it survives.
Playthrough 2: VIRTU
1/ Closeness / Parting
1 – 5C/4 Unpleasant Memory – Research Lab – Status Report
2 – JC/3 Unpleasant Memory – Communal Area – Status Report
3 – AS/2 Pleasant Memory – Perimeter – Status Report
4 – 7S/2 Pleasant Memory – Academy – Status Report
5 – AH/1 Pleasant Memory – Perimeter – Personal Log
2/ Distance / Change
1 – 4C/3 Unpleasant Memory – Engineering – Status Report
2 – KD/4 Unpleasant Memory – A Forgotten Place – Personal Log
3 – 9S/4 Unpleasant Memory – The Greenhouse – Status Report
4 – 2H/1 Pleasant Memory – Accessway – Personal Log
3/ The End
1 – QS/5 Troubling Memory – Memorial – Status Report
2 – 4S/6 Troubling Memory – Engineering – Status Report
3 – 3S/4 Unpleasant Memory – Quarters – Status Report
Upper Levels – Laboratory 1
It’s all still here. Everything from the initial tests. I half expected the old research team to be there waiting for me. So you don’t have to worry, you can continue your work here. Only thing missing are the test subjects.
I found my old locker, too. There’s some unfiled debriefing papers you might want to look at, I’ll bring them back with me.
Upper Levels – Research Centre Courtyard
A lot of debris here but I suppose it’s better for you the pretty places got messed up than the labs themselves. The solar panels and wind turbines seem to still be working, there’s lights and power in most of the rooms.
Doesn’t look like the place was raided, just that there was a bit of an accident. Earthquake or something.
When they took this place they seem to have removed all the beauty from it and left all the useful parts. The observation deck used to be the place where we’d all go to unwind after a mission and watch the others land. It’s destroyed now.
Looks almost like something crashed into it actually. I can’t get close enough to find out whose it was.
Upper Levels – The Roof
I had to take a detour up here to get past the wreckage in the observation deck. I don’t know if you’re watching this live but it should bring back memories, right? You can see the whole valley from up here. On a bright day you could see the anti-orbital guns on the plains.
There’s… there’s a lot of wreckage out there, isn’t there? I’m guessing more of it’s theirs than it was ours.
Lower Levels – Repair Bay
This place has not changed. I’m fairly sure all the presses and the tools and the cranes would work just as soon as they were powered again. When they searched here they didn’t do anything with… with it.
Your prototype is still here, still as unfinished as it was when I left. It just needs the touch of its creator once again, and then it will fly.
Lower Levels – Greenhouse
Dead plants everywhere. Without the control systems, they grew too fast, too widely, and died. The place can probably be salvaged but I don’t envy whoever has to clear all the dead foliage. There’s a lot of notes here about the extraction process, I’m cataloguing them and hopefully they’ll be of use to you.
It’s getting very cold down here. I suspect there’s some kind of malfunction in the climate control.
Command Levels – Atrium
“None are Completely Wretched But Those Who Are Without Hope”
It’s still visible, written in gold on the marble floor of the atrium. Those were the words we swore would keep us going no matter how grim things got, would make us see this project through to the end.
The sentiment outlasted all of us.
Command Levels – Operations
I was never allowed in here. I was never even in the base when it was in use, after all. Here was where you would give me orders.
There’s so much information here. The computers still seem to work. Everything about the project, the prototypes, the weapons, it all still exists waiting for someone like you to come back.
My own file’s here. I can’t read it. I don’t have the security clearance to know myself.
Command Levels – Director’s Room
I’m in your room. Imagine that. We always joked that you couldn’t possibly permit this. After all, you only spent most of the day analysing me, watching me, making me do things. If I actually got to know you as a person it might make it too difficult.
I’m sorry. That should be removed from the record. Your office is still intact but they did manage to ransack it when the base fell. They might not have wiped the old computers, but they got all your personal stuff.
They really did take all the beauty and leave only what’s useful, huh.
A Quiet Place
Coming up onto the roof like this reminds me of having an afternoon off and sitting up here when it wasn’t too cold to watch the clouds. You could basically forget everything, because hardly anyone came up here.
Except- except you. When you weren’t too busy you’d come up and spend a bit of time with me where you didn’t need to act like the others wanted you to and where you didn’t need to do the things they asked you to do.
How could you do what you did? Do the things we used to see you do and then come and apologise and make it all feel like none of it was your fault? When I was in the labs I hated you but when you used to come and talk and just act normally… I didn’t hate you all that much.
You Found Me
Hiding one day when I didn’t want to do what everyone else wanted me to do. And again I hated you and I hated that they had to do what they did to make me help them, and I wasn’t allowed to go to the roof without supervision because they realised they’d made a mistake.
You asked why I ran away when things were going so well. When all the problems were so close to being solved, when everything I’d hoped for was going to come true.
And, even though it had been the worst day among awful days, I couldn’t hate you all that much.
I Found You
Run ragged by whoever was coming to inspect the project, smoking near an alarm you’d spiked so it wouldn’t give you away, and I felt a deep, intense, pleasure in seeing you feeling even a fraction of the constant stress and discomfort and humiliation I’d been going through.
But I never showed it, I just let you be, and said nothing when I was back in the lab for the next round of tests. I’d tried hating you before and it had never gone very well.