They did ask you if you were claustrophobic when you applied to become a pilot but they didn't warn you about anything like this. Every muscle in your body unvoluntarily clenches and you begin to shiver.\n\n[[suddenly]]\n\n
That was 20 minutes ago.\n\nYour heart sinks as a huge cthuloid monstrosity takes a [[lunge]] towards your ship.
You feel your stomach come up to your throat and you almost black out as your body is quickly forced horizontally and [[shoved]] through a space [[smaller]] than you thought you could fit.\n
You realize that in the melee of everything you forgot to turn on you emergency distress signal becon.\n\nthe manual reads:\n\n"In case of emergency, your FREEDOM(tm) pod comes equipped with an emergency distress beacon. This device has a working life of 80 earth-years and should outlive even the most hardy of pilots. It is always activated unless the user performs a [[manual override]]"
At least they didn't eat your brain.\n\nWhen you come to it, you can hear the 3 meter escape [[pod]]'s puny thrusters kicking away at empty space.\n\nA chunk of your now-exploded ship collides with your pod which sends you careening wildly for a few moments before the pod's internal [[gyroscopes]] kick in and stop the rotation.\n
You press a few buttons, move your head right to left as required by the computer to make sure you really mean it and feel several large needles enter your major arteries.\n\nA disturbing cold fills your perceptions as a mask is forcibly fitted over your face.\n\nYou fade off into sleep.\n\n[[......]]
Your mission is to eradicate any and all alien forces from this sector and save the world.\n\n[[...]]
You gasp for air.\n\nYour hear runs at twice its normal rate.\n\nYour eyes burn. \n\nYou haven't taken a piss in weeks.\n\nYou're hungry.\n\nYou're alive.\n\n"Someone get this person a goddamned meal."\n\n[[END]]
Open space. A floating spacesuit with the top half of the helmet conspicuously missing floats by, its arms at unnatural angles.\n\nYou try to look away.\n\n[[change ship angle]]
You are a member of an elite fighting force, humanity's last hope of overcoming the alien scourge. Your general, unnkempt and distraught, frantically reviews the [[mission]].\n\n
You fiddle around with your ship's gyroscopically controlled angle positioner.\n\nYou quickly figure out that the pod locks on one of 8 choices, conveniently narrated for comfort in a zero gravity environment:\n\n[[UP]]\n[[DOWN]]\n[[LEFT]]\n[[RIGHT]]\n[[BACK]]\n[[FRONT]]\n\nback:\n[[gyroscopes]]
There is a smaller switch cover under the first one. It is labeled in large block letters:\n\nEJECT SWITCH COVER: please use your provided pilots key to remove the cover.\n\n[[find your key]] [[smash the cover]]
An attempt at a soothing androgynous voice speaks:\n"Your pod has approximately 10 minutes of cloaking left."\n\nYou hope this is long enough to get out of eating range of your friend Cthulu the brain-eater.\n\n[[shoved]]\n
You remember the ship's [[manual]] in your shirt pocket. In the tiny amount of elbow room allowed you flip to the index\n\nSection 6: FREEDOM(tm) Pod\n6-a : [[emergency life support]]\n...\n6-e : [[cloaking]]\n6-f : [[manual override]]\n...\n6-r : [[pod control]]\n6-s : [[emergency distress signal]]\n
You flip to 6-a, page 147.\n\nEmergency Life Support:\nYour ship's FREEDOM(tm) pod comes equipped with the resources to put its occupant into a state of cryogenic sleep for up to one earth-year's (360 standardized galactic days) time. The pod's internal fusion reactor will expire at that time and will require maintenance from a credentialed FREEDOM(tm) technician. If a FREEDOM(tm) technician is not available, cyanide capsules are provided in overhead compartment 20.\n\nIf the occupant does not wish to go into [[cryostasis]], a full life support system may be used for up to 240 earth-hours before complete system failure.\n\n[[gyroscopes]]
Heart racing and ship's structure groaning sickeningly, you [[fumble]] with the numerous safety features.
It looks hungry. Fuck.\n\n[[fumble]]
Worried that you might have to hide later, you figure it might be good to read how to turn some systems off and conserve power.\n\nmanual override:\nTo manually override your FREEDOM(tm) pod's automatic cloaking system, you must manually enter your personal 256-bit personal identifier code tattooed on your leg at the time of your becoming ship captain.\n\nIn this pod, you can't see your leg and you can't remember the damned thing anyway.\n\n[[gyroscopes]]
In a bizzare design choice, the standard issue spaceship is designed to be constrained to one 2d plane at any one time. This plane may be changed by the captain of each ship on the fly but it sometimes proves difficult for dodging incoming waves of enemy projectiles.\n\n[[BACK]]
You reach towards the drawer.\n\nTwo small pills sit in a foil packet encased in a protective and warning filled box. \n\nskull and crossbones on the cover.\n\nYou can't get the box open. It's one of those new uber-clamshell, theft/use-proof packages where they assume you have boltcutters, a monomolecular scalpel and the entire thermonuclear power of what was once the USSR behind your puny human hands.\n\nYou sigh and get on with what is left of your life.\n[[change ship angle]]\n\n
In the time it takes you to fish the key out of your pocket, the eye has decided to laser-cut a perfectly circular porthole into open space.\n\nAll the air is pulled out of your lungs and you feel your brain being forcibly removed from your skull.\n\nYou die.\n\n<<back>>
A meter-wide, quadruple pupiled [[eye]] appears outside your window.\n\n[[open switch]]
You come to it. As your vision unblurs, you feel a palpable surge of [[adrenaline]].
Another escape pod careens past your field of vision. This one has a half meter wide blackened hole through it. You don't think the pilot survived.\n\n[[change ship angle]]
Sparky.\n\nJust last week with his hydraulically enabled jaws he chewed through your front door and devoured the engine block of your neighbor's car.\n\nYou still sort of miss him.\n\n[[adrenaline]]
Story by Aaron Evan-Browning for Glorious Trainwrecks, 4:00pm EST - 6:01PM EST
Section 6-r:\n\nThe FREEDOM(tm) pod's angle in space may be controlled by shifting one's head on the provided ultra-foam headrest.\n\nYou figure it's worth a try. You don't have anything else you should be doing.\n[[change ship angle]]\n\n[[gyroscopes]]
A soothing voice asks:\n\nDo you, pilot 541 (said after a noticable pause), wish to enter cryostasis? If your FREEDOM(tm) pod is found, you will be revived and brought in for questioning by the trans-galactic safety commission for a required detailed user survey. If not, cyanide capsules are provided to ease one's pain and suffering and eventual demise.\n\n[[enter cryostasis]]\n\n[[cyanide]]\n\n[[change ship angle]]
The pod rotates suddenly.\n\nYou face a scene of incredible chaos silently and gracefully playing out before your eyes.\n\nA chunk of tentacle drifts slowly towards your view-port, charred from the energy weapons of your friends' [[ships]].\n\nThe utter silence of everything doesn't help your still-racing heart. Your friends look to be having a little bit of trouble right now.\n\nShit. That ship just exploded. I don't think that pilot hit their EJECT button in time. They must have tried the key method.\n\n[[change ship angle]]
You black out.\n\n[[wake up]]
What remains of the once great Fleet appears to be on the run. Apparently they're too busy saving their own asses to come and rescue you.\n\nThere's always [[cryostasis]].\n\n[[change ship angle]]
A tremendous tentacle has wrapped itself around your ship. \n\nYour instrument panel goes haywire.\nA red light flashes. \nElectronics fizzle and pop concerningly.\nThe hull of your ship begins to crumple.\nYour ears pop.\n\nThere is a large [[red button]] labeled EJECT.\n\nA [[picture]] of your robot dog and comes unstuck.\n\n
You don't have time for that shit.\n\nYou slam your fist down on the cover as hard as you can. In the same motion, your fist connects with the button and everything happens almost too [[suddenly]] for you to comprehend.
The stars are certainly beautiful up here.\n\nThis is your first time flying one of these ships for real. The rest of the time it was all flight simluators and stale coffee.\n\n[[change ship angle]]\n
You sleep a near dreamless sleep.\n\nYou have occasional nightmares of tentacles and disembodied eyes.\n\nYou think once or twice you actually wake up but it turns out you're still dreaming.\n\n[[.......]]\n
It's a book half the size of a postcard, printed on some exotic universe-proof flexible carbon composite. You tried to rip a piect off of a corner at one point but you only ended up giving yourself a deep cut on the unfinished edge. You guess the printers wanted to make sure that if someone found the manual centuries from now, they would still be able to read about zero-g cupholders and waste recycling.\n\n[[gyroscopes]]\n\n
You see your home planet, Earth 6,\n\n... or what used to be it.\n\nJust as you watch, the enemy mothership cuts a jagged line roughly through the equator. The planet begins to split apart, huge arms of molten rock and human cities erupt from the other side.\n\nThat's why it's called Earth 6. The Federation has at least six 5 other terraforming projects in the works now.\n\nPoor sparky.\n\n[[change ship angle]]
You turn to page 201, section 6-e\n\nCloaking:\nThe FREEDOM(tm) pod comes equipped with an adaptive optical cloak. This feature may be turned off at any time by a [[manual override]] (see section 6-f).\n\n[[gyroscopes]]