Beginning in February YC116, The Origin Colonial Authority launched a series of missions into the Origin system Oort Cloud. Ten expeditions, dubbed Near Interstellar Excursions (NIE), were originally planned, however after NIE 5, the program was terminated due to budgetary concerns.
On August 26th Saede Riordan and a crew of 193 left berth at the Indigo City stardocks aboard the NIE Research Vessel Maiden of Velocity.. This crew pool was drawn entirely from members of prior missions and from her personal staff. On September 19th, she and a crew of 182 returned. Her ship was received into a secure berth at the Skyreach Anchorage, no public report was ever released, and fellow capsuleers were unable to report her whereabouts. Skyreach Anchorage was put under quarantine several hours later.
On January 7th YC117, 530 hours of the mission bulkdata, codenamed DARKWEATHER was leaked to the system intranet as part of a large leak from OCR servers. This report is compiled from that data.
Adrat Lunier Excursion Project Physicist, personal recordings, August 15th YC116
"We were all disappointed when NIE was cut. We're still going over the data recovered from the first five missions. Its a whole new world out there just waiting to be discovered. A few quick trips was never enough to satisfy.
"I was up at the cabin above Foundation with the wife and kids, and I get the call from Eerdine at Operations, and she says NIE-6 is back on, but its classified, OCR, totally top secret. And she asks, 'are you okay with that?'
"I didn't have to think about it at all, yes, yes absolutely."
Post Mission Interview, Capsuleer Saede Riordan, Sept 23th YC116
"Its funny really, for all of our accomplishments as a species, for all of our progress, our gate networks are still nothing but filaments, threading together the motes of light that are our solar systems. But that is just an infinitesimal fraction of the volume of space. The lure of that unexplored realm is somewhat intoxicating. Its the edge of the map, here there be monsters. How could we resist?"
Mercury Apothocaris Experimental Deep Space Drive, System Log
[00:00:01]System Boot Complete
[00:00:01]Initializing Self Test
[00:00:02]Self Test Complete
[00:00:02]Test Spooling Warp Coils 1-8
[00:00:09]Spool Test Complete
[00:00:09]Coil 1 Spool Complete
Spool Pressure: 55
[00:00:09]Coil 2 Spool Complete
Spool Pressure: 54
[00:00:09]Coil 3 Spool Complete
Spool Pressure: 55
[00:00:09]Coil 4 Spool Complete
Spool Pressure: 52
[00:00:09]Coil 5 Spool Complete
Spool Pressure: 37
[00:00:09]Coil 6 Spool Complete
Spool Pressure: 56
[00:00:09]Coil 7 Spool Complete
Spool Pressure: 55
[00:00:09]Coil 8 Spool Complete
Spool Pressure: 56
[00:00:10]All Coils Operating Within Parameters
[00:00:10]Mean Coil Pressure: →52.5
[00:00:10]Standard Deviation: 6.39196
[00:00:11]Passing Handle to Bridge
[00:00:39]Handle Received at Bridge
[00:03:21]Vector Input: 334 Mark 91
[00:03:23]Distance Input: →233522276631 KM
[00:03:24]Requesting Energy Sling Transfer →12830 GJ
[00:03:25]Energy Transfer Request Granted
[00:03:28]Capacitor Charge →100%
[00:03:29]Coils Spooling to Full
[00:03:46]Coil Spool Complete
[00:03:48]Warp Drive Active
Resien Uomotola, Origin Deep ExtraSolar Sublight Accelerator (ODESSA) Subcoordinator, Personal Log August 26th YC116
"We launch stuff outsystem every day. There's always a few launches that stand out as somewhat odd. The launch today was really strange, I can't help but wonder what's going on. One of the NIE research ships, carrying a classified OCR payload. The ship was completely sealed, very laden down with something, and apparently, unmanned."
Psychological Review, Chief of Science Melia De Thorin, August 22nd
Dr. Melia De Thorin: "The target itself is just some black body kuiper object the kids in Local Astronomy found. Its interesting if you get sexually excited by planet formation, but besides that, this is just a milk run. Fly out, drop some sensor packages, take some readings from outside the heliopause..."
OCR Agent Identity Unconfirmed: "And it doesn't bother you, the secrecy?"
Mela: "I've been involved in a lot of black book stuff. I don't know why this mission was classified, but this will be my third time outsystem. Its a lot of nothing. I'm more concerned about boredom than anything really."
OCR Agent: "If you were to speculate on the nature of the classified aspect of the mission?"
Melia: "I prefer not to idly speculate."
Bridge Audio Recording, Mission Clock 01:00:34:29, Inaza Imbulas has midnight watch on deck
00:34:30 Riordan: Commander, I am cutting long range communications and taking our fluid routers into information lockdown.
00:35:10 Imbulas: The reason for this?
00:35:38 Riordan: Will be made apparent shortly, I am authorizing the unlocking of the mission orders.
00:37:15 Imbulas: So...not just a milk run then?
External Camera Drone Recording, Mission Clock 09:03:49:15
The rattle of the warp fades away, taking with it the ethereal ribbons of plasma, leaving the ship hooded in the blackness of deep space. The faint ring of a planetary disk is visible large in the foreground, the only sign of its presence a dark void amongst the twinkling stars.
The image pans across the black disk cycling rapidly through the electromagnetic spectrum, taking readings along the way. Infrared and up all show darkness, the rock colder than churning interstellar medium. Faint traces of radiation light up the surface as cosmic rays irradiate the black rock.
Microwave and below shows strange patches of energy, the glowing spots turn the blackened world a strange dayglo blue in the eyes of the inhuman sensor equipment.
Science Deck Recording, Mission Clock 09:04:05:21
Melia De Thorin rubs the tip of her chin, watching the walls of screens around her as data begins to pour into the system from the ship's sensor suites.
"Alright we're getting the first scan returns now." Azia Iluin slides her hand across the holoscreen, scrolling through the raw data as it pours in. "Planet looks to be roughly one terrestrial mass, slightly smaller surface area than expected, we're probably looking at a dense core."
Thorin rests her elbows on the back of Iluin's chair, looking over her shoulder. "Spectrographics?"
"Still coming in, but we're getting a strong ferrite return. Conforms with our density readings. Surface readings show nitrogen, hydrogen, Oxygen and carbon."
"Snowed out atmosphere?"
"Yeah, that was my thought...we're getting something odd from the multispectral cameras. The surface is inundated in radio and low level microwave noise, fluctuating between 3 Hertz and 30 megahertz."
"Could be backscatter from the cosmic rays? This is the first rogue planet we've found. We have no idea how the cosmic background is going to interact with the surface material. What kind of EMF field does this rock have?"
"Negligible. Core is either cold or not spinning. We should do a topographic, check for signs of surface volcanism." Iluin sits back in her chair and starts rolling a cigarette from a pouch of tobacco on her work station. "Its possible that the surface is radiating from cosmic ray interaction, but it still seems strange."
"We're a long way from home, in uncharted waters. Everything is strange out here. Try not to let it go to your head." Thorin glances across the room to her terminal as it begins flashing. She sighs and pulls herself away from the scrolling screens of data and enters the large glassed in office. A priority message is flashing on the screen. She activates the audio filters on the room, and the sound in the recording cuts out abruptly. She can be seen to be arguing with Saede about something on the holoscreen. The sound returns only moments after the conversation ends. Thorin stomps out of the room, barely concealing her anger. She claps her hands together and starts pointing at people.
"Alright, Etans, Lunier, we're taking a research lander to the surface, I want you two on it, report to the flight deck. Iluin, Matain, keep analysing the data as it comes in, let me know if anything odd comes up. Alamatora, Komalit, prep the isolation room for samples. Lets go people, cruise is over, lets get to work!"
Melia De Thorin, Personal Log, September 1st YC116
"Its the lying that gets to me. The Office of Central Reconnaissance dragging us all out here on a top secret assignment. I should have been more suspicious. Its never just another planet is it? If it was, OCR and the coordinatorship wouldn't be interested. Inexplicable radio sources, missing sensor pods, nothing about this seems right. And then the Sansha might already be out here? Gods and Spirits. This could end up being a much more interesting trip then I thought."
Dropship cabin video feed, Mission clock 09:05:01:32, Aelita Kobaline, dropship pilot, enters the vehicle along with three armed EVA specialists, Illusas Camri, Marton Obloid, and Kassandra Madravan. Following behind are two scientists, Adrat Lunier and Etheen Etans.
05:01:13 Kobaline: Start system. Engines spooling. Downloading landing sequence. Comms check?
05:01:38 Bridge: Good Morning Aelita, this is bridge. Everything looks good on our end.
05:02:01 Kobaline: Sweet. Engines 38% spooled. Am I authorized to launch on pilot readiness?
05:02:31 Bridge: Can do, you have priority launch clearance. Good luck out there.
05:04:57 Kobaline: Detach sequence complete. I have hard seal.
05:05:30 Kobaline: Engines Active. First burn.
05:07:23 Lunier: So Marton, they tell you guys what we’re doing out here?
05:07:45 Obloid: Nah, but they gave us guns, so, there’s that. Worst case scenario?
05:08:01 Madravan: A giant nest of rogue drones. Sleeper rogue drones. Rogue sleepers.
05:08:10 Camri: Worst? We wake up in a clone vat in a few months and never find out.
05:09:45 Obloid: So what are you guys doing? Physicist and a Biologist on this dead rock?
05:10:03 Etans: Dude, they don’t tell us shit. De Thorin literally told us to go get her some rocks. I think we’re just tagging along for the sake of some vague scientific principles. There’s not going to be anything alive out here unless we find other people, at which point I’m also a field medic and he’s a combat engineer.
05:10:09 Lunier: I don’t really want to see combat. I’m hoping for some very exciting rocks and thats it.
05:15:00 Kobaline: Engines Active. Second burn.
05:17:29 Madravan: So I heard a rumour that we’re chasing some criminal from that crazy religious school on Crucifix.
05:17:45 Etans: That one that got shut down by the Judicial Convention a few months back? No shit?
05:17:54 Madravan: Yeah apparently when the capsuleer who ran the place was caught stealing, they shut the place down. But there were already a bunch of really indoctrinated people, who went underground in the system.
05:18:18 Lunier: Yeah but out here? How would one of them gotten outsystem?
05:18:39 Obloid: How would anyone have gotten outsystem? My bet, if its anything, its drones.
05:18:50 Kobaline: I think you just want an excuse to shoot something Marton. Hang onto something, beginning landing sequence.
Adrat Lunier Excursion Project Leading Physicist, personal recordings, September 5th YC116
“Okay personal logs, NIE-6 Lead Physicist reporting from the surface of...what are we calling this planet anyway?
(voice heard in the background determined to be that of Etheen Etans, lead biologist) “I don’t think we came up with one yet. I think we should call it Timmy.”
“What? You can’t call a planet Timmy.”
“Hey, we’re the first people here, we can call it whatever we want.”
“This is Adrat Lunier, broadcasting from the surface of...Erebus--”
“Oh real original--”
“The mission clock currently reads 10:07:10:15 We have been on the surface of Erebus for a little over one standard biological day now. So far, there is...nothing here.”
“We spent most of yesterday setting up the dropship as a semi-fixed base and preparing the rover for some scouting. Our three soldiers took the rover out earlier this morning, and I’m beginning my sample analysis on the regolith.”
“So from radioisotope measurement, I’ve been able to determine that Erebus is a bit over 6 billion years old. Thats late middle age as far as planets go. Surface rock type is largely sedimentary deposits, so its possible this world had liquid water flowing on it at one point. We’ve yet to find any fossils but its still possible. By all accounts though this world has been dead for a while.”
“We’ve so far been unable to determine the source of the anomalous radio signals. The surface layer of the rock is slightly more radioactive than underlying layers, I’m guessing due to cosmic ray bombardment, but it could have been caused by some other effect we’ve yet to document.”
(A bang can be heard on the outside of the dropship) “Hey what was that?”
Intrasuit Communications System Mission 6-01-2 Beginning at 10:12:33:19 Mission Clock. Log begins at 02:15:19 of Operations clock
02:15:19 Camri: Now what do we have here?
02:15:45 Obloid: Those are footprints.
02:16:05 Camri: Bridge, I’m seeing humanoid footprints in the dust. Please advise course of action.
02:16:33 Bridge: Footprints you’re sure?
02:16:51 Camri: Yeah, they don’t match our boot tread but someone’s definitely out here.
02:17:21 Bridge: We need you to follow them.
02:17:47 Camri: Any idea what we might find?
02:18:23 Bridge: We’re as in the dark as you are, but you’re some of the best soldiers we have, you came highly recommended for this position.
02:18:45 Obloid: I’m not afraid of the dark.
02:26:39 Madravan: Holy shit.
02:26:59 Obloid: Well fuck.
02:27:05 Bridge: Team please elaborate last.
02:27:36 Camri: Bridge, I’m looking at a crashed Sansha frigate, at least two hundred meters in length and partly embedded in the regolith. Please advise.
02:29:51 Bridge: Proceed with caution. You are authorized to use deadly force if required to defend yourselves.
02:30:13 Camri: Alright. Lets move out on foot.
02:34:19 Obloid: How can there be Sansha out here and nobody knows about it?
02:34:37 Camri: We’re out here. Nobody knows about us.
02:39:24 Camri: Bridge, we’re now approaching the outside of the hull. I’m not picking up any heat signatures at all. This thing is cold.
02:40:19 Madravan: There’s extensive damage to the exterior of the ship. It looks like it came down hard. There’s debris everywhere. Its a mess.
02:40:59 Bridge: Are you still able to follow the footprints?
02:41:07 Camri: Yes, we’ve been doing that. Someone survived the crash, clearly. We’re taking appropriate caution. We’ve come up on an airlock now. I’m going to attempt to manually open it.
02:42:45 Camri: I’ve opened the outer airlock, the inner door is open, the ship appears to have been completely depressurized. I’m going to move inside now. Martan, stay at the door, Kass, follow me as best you can on the outside of the hull.
02:43:04 Madravan: Understood.
02:43:15 Obloid: This place gives me the creeps.
02:44:30 Camri: Extensive damage to the vessel’s interior as well. The systems have all been heavily damaged by physical action of some sort.
02:45:03 Camri: I’ve located the first body. It was definitely Sansha. He’s wearing a spacesuit. Cause of death looks to have been exposure. Suit is heavily lacerated. There’s blood everywhere.
02:46:39 Camri: Second body located. This one isn’t wearing a spacesuit, female, looks to be dead from exposure as well. There is structural damage to the door of this compartment. It looks like something forced in from the outside and caused the atmosphere to vent.
02:47:44 Camri: I’ve now gone through all the compartments. No further bodies found.
02:48:15 Obloid: There’s got to be one more around here somewhere. Who else would have killed the other two?
02:48:51 Madravan: Sansha don’t turn on their own. They’re drones.
02:49:39 Camri: Well, I’ve got footprints here leading away from the craft, so someone’s alive out there.
Adrat Lunier Excursion Project Leading Physicist, personal recordings, September 6th YC116
“Listen to this.”
(Several seconds of distorted audio, some sort of strange chirping noise.)
“Does that sound like normal radio background to you?”
Intrasuit Communications System Mission 6-01-2 Beginning at 10:14:41:19 Mission Clock. 04:22:19 of operation clock
04:22:19 Camri: I see something down in the next crater.
04:22:47 Obloid: Yeah I see it too. I think its a suit.
04:23:15 Bridge: Approach with caution.
04:25:33 Madravan: We’re approaching it now. Its definitely a suit. Nothing off the heat sensors, its cold.
04:26:01 Camri: Face plate is smashed, multiple lacerations on the suit. What hell happened here?
04:27:07 Obloid: Shit!
04:27:19 Camri: What the hell was that?
04:27:54 Madravan: I’m okay, I’m okay.
04:28:20 Bridge: Team report?
04:28:45 Camri: Some sort of movement from the body. Could have been cybernetics malfunctioning. We’ll bring it in for analysis. We’re all fine here, just a bit spooked.
04:30:31 Madraven: I’m getting a low pressure warning from my suit. There’s some minor damage to the torso.
04:30:52 Obloid: That thing must have hit harder than it looked like. Sansha cybernetics, crazy dude.
04:31:21 Madravan: Lets just get back to the dropship. I want out of this suit.
Board Room Meeting, video recording Mission Clock 11:05:30:00, Inaza Imbulas, Saede Riordan, Melia De Thorin, Constance Rue, and Red Hedilbrald in attendance.
“So we’ve got three dead sansha in a dead sansha ship with no idea what happened to it.” Saede rubs the bridge of her nose, “I suppose this is better then a secret base.”
“It raises a lot further questions though.” Constance Rue said sitting back in her chair. “What was that ship doing out here in the first place, and what happened to it?”
Melia De Thorin answers.” From what we’ve gathered so far, the planet is incredibly uninteresting. Its a dead rock in space, the only oddity so far is a low level of background radio emanating from the rock. So regarding what they’re doing here, your guess is as good as mine. The warp vector went straight here right?”
“Yeah, our ship took the exact same vector as theirs to get here.” Saede starts rolling a cigarette, “I hope you don’t mind.”
The room gives a collective shrug, Inaza Imbulas speaks up, “Saboteur on their ship? Would account for the crash and for the damage found.”
“Kind of weird, but yeah,” Saede lights up, “I was thinking along those lines. That might mean they’re still out there somewhere on that rock.”
“The right kind of body could survive in that environment for a long time.” Red says, stealing the cigarette from Saede and taking a drag of it. “
“They took out the Sansha. Can’t be all bad.” Saede says, giving Red a look. “Orbital hasn’t picked up anything? No heat signatures besides us?”
“Nothing we could detect.” De Thorin gives a shrug, “There could be an entire underground base hidden here though, we’re just one ship, there’s a lot of planet to map. From our first passes though? We’re the only ones here.”
Etheen Etans Preliminary Medical Report on Recovered True Slave Cadavers. Video File submitted at 11:06:03:54 Mission Clock.
When the camera turns on, Etheen Etans is standing behind a table holding the body of one of the recovered true slaves. “Well, they’re definitely dead and not in stasis. That was the first thing we checked, so we get to avoid that lovely little human rights quandary for today.” He pulls back the sheet to reveal the upper half of a male body. “So, we see typical symptoms of decompression and exposure to vacuum in all of them, but this one in particular is interesting because of the other injuries we found.” He turns the body to the side, revealing severe lacerations all along the side of the body. Organs appear to have been torn into before decompression froze the damage like a snapshot. “Its pretty clear that these were pre-mortem, so someone got into a pretty bad brawl with this fella. Knowing that this is a cybernetically enhanced true slave supersoldier, I don’t think I wanna see the other guy. Major organ and tissue destruction between the 4th and 10th ribs on the left side.” He sets the body down, “The other weird thing is we found some very strange contaminants in the blood of this drone, as well as coating the wound. Its some sort of toxic soup consisting of mercury, arsenic, rubidium, caesium, silicon, and lead. And that’s just the start, if there’s a heavy metal, its probably floating in this guy’s blood. Now I’m not sure what the Sansha usually do with their drones, but you don’t survive the amount of metal contamination this guy had for very long. If the physical trauma and the decompression hadn’t killed him, this metal poisoning would have finished him off within a day or two.”
“The other two bodies both have similar stories. The one female doesn’t have the physical trauma, but is still suffering from the metal poisoning. I’ve honestly never seen anything like this before. I can’t imagine it wasn’t somehow done deliberately.”
Dropship cabin video feed, Mission clock 11:07:01:17 Aelita Kobaline present
“What the hell?” She cranes her head forward in the cabin, looking out the dropship windows to the left side, where the primary bay doors are located. “Bridge...the rover is wrecked.”
“What do you mean its wrecked? What happened?”
“I don’t know but the thing is in two pieces. Could have been a meteor strike? Or whoever killed those Sansha could be coming after us.”
“Tell the EVA team to go take a look, but don’t stray beyond visual range of the dropship.”
“Yeah...Illusas! Come up here, you’re gonna want to see this!”
She looks back towards the rear of the vehicle, and Illusas Camri comes forward into the field of view. He uses his hand as a visor, looking out towards where she is pointing.
“Well shit. That ain’t a good sign.” He calls back towards the rear of the vehicle. “Madraven, Obloid, suit up.”
(A voice, determined to be Kassandra Madravan’s is heard from offscreen.) “You mind if I sit this one out? I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather.”
Adrat Lunier wanders up into the cabin area, “I’ll go if you need a third body. I’ve already collected more rock samples then I need, and I don’t have a corpse to play with like Etheen does.”
“Yeah sure.” Camri says with a shrug. “Alright suit up.”
Intrasuit Communications System Mission 6-01-3 Beginning at 11:07:55:38 mission clock 00:05:38 of operation clock
00:05:38 Obloid: Oh man, that thing got totalled. How did we not hear this happening?
00:05:49 Lunier: No sound in space genius.
00:06:02 Camri: Bridge the rover is in pieces. No sign of an impact crater, cause of damage so far undetermined.
00:06:27 Obloid: Its like something ripped it apart. There’s no way we can repair this.
00:07:55 Lunier: There’s a rock imbedded in this console. It looks like it was forced into it at high speed. This might be a sign of a meteorite impact.
00:08:16 Obloid: Could a person have done this? I don’t think a person could have done this.
00:09:33 Lunier: Could I do this? No way. True slave supersoldier? Maybe.
00:11:05 Camri: I’ve got something here. It looks like tracks.
00:11:30 Bridge: Do they have the same tread print as previously observed?
00:11:42 Camri: Negative. These tracks do not appear to have been made by a person. I repeat, tracks are non-terrestrial.
00:12:07 Bridge: Some sort of native life? We haven’t seen any indications of the presence of an indigenous life form.
00:12:45 Camri: Yeah well, something is alive down here. I’d like to bring the two scientists back to the ship and come back down with a proper military team, just to play it safe.
00:13:33 Bridge: We’re inclined to agree up here. Head back to the dropship.
Dropship cabin video feed, Mission clock 11:08:43:44 Aelita Kobaline present
“Alright, spool up going as scheduled, we should be ready for hop at 11:09:00:00 Mission clock.” Kobaline says to the bridge contact.
“Affirmative Dropship 01, proceed with recovery.”
Kassandra Madravan staggers into the room. Her face is pale and flushed with sweat. Her pupils are dilated, and is showing discoloration of the skin and veins. “Aelita. I don’t feel so hot.” She collapses onto the cabin floor.
“Oh shit!” Aelita immediately jumps up while also opening channel with the ship. “Bridge we have a medical emergency on dropship 01. Specialist Madravan has just lost consciousness. She’s really sick.”
A voice, that of Etheen Etans, comes over the internal communications system, “I’m on my way up.” He appears through the hatch a moment later and rushes to Madravan’s side. “Weak pulse, fever. This looks really bad.”
Illusas Camri at this point enters the bridge and he and Etans carry Madravan out of the field of view.
Aelita returns to the console. “Bridge, request course of action.”
“Do not return to ship. Repeat, do not return to ship. Please transmit to us a current backup of your memory states using the scanner aboard ship. Scan Madravan first. Any attempt to return to the ship will be met with lethal force. Your transport is now under quarantine.”
Etheen Etans Preliminary Medical Report on Kassandra Madravan. Video File submitted at 11:10:45:38 Mission Clock.
“I think the most pressing question to answer is, is this kyonoke? And the answer is, I have no idea. We know so little about kyonoke, it could be. Whatever it is, its hit her fast, and she’s exhibiting the same blood contaminants the true slaves had. What’s more, we all have it. I would estimate we probably have 12-15 hours before we start manifesting symptoms given Madravan’s state. We’ve already backed up Madravan, and the others are running through as fast as we can. I would advise against trying to recover this dropship until we get a handle on what we’re dealing with down here.” He sits back and lights a cigarette. “She shows signs of infection, though what the infectious agent is I could not begin to tell you. Its some sort of strange nanoparticle. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it easily could be some form of biological warfare.”
He moves the camera drone, dragging it over to the table to view Madravan. Her skin is flushed and pale, and dark ugly lines have begun crisscrossing her skin. “Its definitely killing her. At this point I’m going to suggest we euthanize her, keeping her alive in this state is pretty inhumane. Further documenting the infection, her pupils are completely dilated. The infection is attacking her organs and soft tissues. Its amazing she isn’t dead already. Fever approaching 40 C, this thing is burning her out.”
He shakes his head. “So yeah. This is pretty bad.”
Adrat Lunier Excursion Project Leading Physicist, personal recordings, September 7th YC116
“I think its pretty safe to say we’re completely fucked at this point. I’m not getting off this rock alive. So I want to make sure this report gets to future me. Any time the OCR wants you for a top secret mission, say no.”
“They just euthanized Madravan an hour or two ago, and Etans is starting to show symptoms now. I don’t really know what else to say. This is completely outside my fields of expertise. How do you die of infection with dignity?”
Scientific Bay Internal Camera 3 Recording, Mission Clock 11:13:45:29 4x speed
Black veins can be seen to visibly grow across the sample containment vessel that Adrat Lunier had placed rock samples into. The veins grow across the walls, floor, and ceiling of the ship, spreading in all directions. The containment vessel begins to deform inwards, Crunching in on itself until one of the side walls completely bends open, releasing a stream of oozing black tar out onto the floor of the ship. Strange growths begin to rise out of the tar. The growths engorge in bulbous protrusions like mushroom caps, as they grow the feed quality grows worse and worse until the camera fails entirely.
Dropship Medical Bay Internal Camera 1 Recording, Mission clock 11:14:02:13
“Alright you’re done Aelita. Back up complete.” Aelita Kobaline climbs out of the medical scanner, and Etheen Etans orders Illusas Camri to take her place to get scanned next.
“Let Marton go ahead of me. I’m nominally in charge of this ship, I’ll put myself last.”
“We’re all gonna die regardless of this so…” Etans says with a shrug. Marton Obloid begins to climb inside the chamber. Suddenly a loud banging sound is heard from the scientific bay.
“What the fuck? Am I hallucinating?” Marton says without getting up.
“No, I hear it too.” Camri says, reaching for his handgun. The entire room is seen to rock visibly as something impacts the far wall. Knocking all of them from their feet before the feed dies abruptly.
Bridge Audio Recording, Mission Clock 11:14:03:29, Voices heard, Constance Rue, senior officer on deck, Margaret Edard, communications, Tomas Heikald, science, Saede Riordan, Pilot
14:03:29 Edard: Comms just cut out with the dropship. All their feeds just went completely dead. I have nothing from them. ‘Dropship 01 this is bridge please come in.’
14:03:44 Heilald: Whoa, I’m getting a huge spike in microwave climbing up into terahertz. Its centered on the dropship’s position.
14:04:02 Edard: Dropship 01 this is bridge, please come in.
14:05:01 Edard: Dropship 01 this is bridge, please respond.
14:05:45 Heilald: From these readings, its like someone set off an EMP under the lander. Is it shielded for that?
14:06:07 Rue: It is. Margaret, keep trying to raise them.
14:06:46 Edard: Dropship 01, this is NIE-6, come in.
14:08:01 Edard: Dropship 01, this is bridge, please respond.
14:10:30 Edard: Dropship 01, Aelita, please, this is Margaret
14:10:56 Riordan: Margaret...stop. I don’t think they’re going to answer. Set up a subroutine to attempt communications once an hour.
14:11:15 Edard: Yes ma’am.
Board Room Meeting, video recording Mission Clock 12:05:30:00, Inaza Imbulas, Saede Riordan, Melia De Thorin, Constance Rue, and Red Hedilbrald in attendance.
“Okay so, we’ve now been out of contact with the lander for 15 hours. I’m going to call them an unfortunate write off at this point.” Saede leans against the table. “So we have an extremely disruptive indigenous lifeform. Is that the answer to our mystery?”
“Well, yeah. To a degree.” Melia de Thorin shrugs, leaning back in her chair. “I mean, we could go home at this point, say ‘here there be dangerous bugs’ and have it be the end of it. But its not a very satisfying conclusion is it?”
“Not the most satisfying, but by far the safest.” Constance Rue says flatly, “We should not have put people on the surface of that planet.”
Red Hedilbrald interjects, “We had no way of knowing what was down there. We’ve put people on every planet in Origin, bugs or no bugs. There was already talk of setting up a research base on that rock, we just gonna run back in system with our tails between our legs?”
“Hindsight being twenty twenty,” says Saede, “I would agree with you Constance. We’ve grown rather complacent with our planetary exploration and didn’t utilize appropriate precautions.”
“There’s still a lot that can be learned from that world if suitable precaution is taken.” Melia pauses, “The lifeform itself seems rather fascinating.”
“That lifeform just killed six people, ate through a containment vessel, and set off an EMP.” Inaza Imbulas says, speaking up for the first time “What even qualifies as suitable precaution in this case?”
“Lets just start with some military combat drones being deployed to the surface around the lander.” Saede offers, “Get ourselves some eyes down there. We’re still flying blind.”
“Yeah, I second the combat drones motion.” Red says.
“Fine, fine, I agree.” Says Inaza.
“As do I.” says Constance.
Melia laughs, “Yeah yeah.”
“Then we have a consensus.” Saede says.
Bridge Audio Recording, Mission Clock 12:12:30:00, Voices heard, Inaza Imbulas, senior officer on deck, Margaret Edard, communications, Marson Komalit, science, Saede Riordan, Pilot
12:30:00 Komalit: Drone launches successful. Five drone tactical squad successfully deployed from the ship. I’m sending them to the surface.
12:31:45 Komalit: Drones are now one kilometre up from the surface, I’m taking them down in a nice easy spiral.
12:33:21 Komalit: Whoa, I have another EMP event. I’ve lost contact with the drones.
12:34:44 Riordan: Come on, really? You’ve got to be kidding me…
12:34:58 Komalit: Sorry ma’am, I can’t get them back.
12:35:31 Imbulas: At this point, I’m going to suggest we return to the inner system. I don’t think we’re going to be able to do much here with the equipment we have.
12:36:02 Riordan: Lets finish our orbital scans and go home.
Science Deck Recording, Mission Clock 14:11:05:26
Azia Illuin sits up suddenly. “Whoa did you see that?” She flicks her wrist through a holoscreen, sending it sliding across the smart-table to Melia de Thorin, the video plays, showing a huge energy spike coming from the lander.
“What.” She plays through the video again, “did it explode?” Melia says with a puzzled expression.
“I think...it launched.”
Bridge Audio Recording, Mission Clock 14:12:30:00, Voices heard, Inaza Imbulas, senior officer on deck, Margaret Edard, communications, Tomas Heikald, science, Saede Riordan, Pilot, Constance Rue ‘hanging out’
12:30:00 Riordan: Where is the dropship now. Is it in orbit?
12:30:54 Heikald: We’re not sure. We were able to track its launch, but it took place while the ship was on the other side of the planet. We have the orbiter drone data, but thats it.
12:31:21 Riordan: Why can’t I see it?
12:31:59 Heikald: We’re trying to detect it by the residual heat from launch, but the amount of radiation it puts out is minimal.
12:32:14 Imbulas: We’re not even sure if it actually launched or if the fuel in it was just cooked off somehow. The imagery we have is rather low quality and very long range.
12:33:09 Riordan: Well, as a precaution, I’m gonna move us into a higher orbit.
12:35:29 Imbulas: So Saede, does this qualify as Weirdest Thing we’ve found in space yet?
12:36:04 Riordan: Its getting there. We’re not up to Pareidolia levels yet.
12:36:26 Imbulas: Yet.
12:36:47 Riordan: I’ve got us under constant impulse, we’ll climb out of the gravity well and be finished with the warp calculations within twelve hours. But if that transport is up here somewhere, it still makes me nervous.
12:40:41 Rue: We’ll be back here. This isn’t the end.
12:41:49 Riordan: Yeah. This place won’t beat us.
12:42:15 Imbulas: What makes this less weird than Pareidolia?
12:43:38 Rue: We had a girl in the psych ward at our primary control tower, under constant surveillance. And she vanished into thin air from under our noses.
12:44:04 Riordan: Yeah, and to this day, I can’t explain how it happened. Its like she was just swept away by the spirits.
12:47:19 Imbulas: The more I learn about that place, the more glad I am to never have lived there.
12:48:07 Rue: Things got...really weird at the end there. If I believed in such things as a haunted solar system, that is how I would describe Pareidolia.
12:49:26 Imbulas: But you don’t actually believe in a haunted solar system.
12:50:45 Rue: I believe in the truth Inaza. Nothing less, nothing more.
The recording cuts forward to 14:13:51:38
13:51:38 Komalit: Contact. I have acquired a signature on the dropship. It fired its engines to adjust course.
13:52:03 Riordan: Can I plot a short range probe assisted intercept?
13:52:11 Komalit: You won’t need to. Its CBDR. 15 minutes 47 seconds to intercept.
13:52:55 Imbulas: I think you should shoot it down.
13:53:15 Riordan: I also think I should shoot it down. Adjusting thrust. It’ll be in lock range in 4 minutes.
13:54:03 Riordan: Adjusting thrust.
13:56:19 Riordan: Adjusting thrust. I’ve matched relative velocity with the dropship. Distance 72 Kilometres, absolute radial velocity 512 meters per second inward. Transversal velocity 15 meters per second. Calculating firing solution.
13:56:44 Komalit: It just fired engines again, hard burn.
13:57:01 Riordan: I’ve got a lock, firing lasers.
External Camera Drone Recording, Mission Clock 14:13:57:02
A laser turret in the smooth white hull of the Maiden of Velocity opens like the shell of a strange beetle and a long stinger like laser turret extends from the body of the craft. The image goes white for a moment as the camera drone is overwhelmed by light. The drone then zooms out rapidly, revealing the brilliant beams of light emitted by the ship. The dropship is reduced instantly to wreckage. Large chunks of it slam into the side of the Maiden at several kilometres per second. Pelting the clean hull with burning iron rain.
Etheen Etans, Excursion Project Leading Biologist, personal recordings, August 19th YC116
“Of course the obvious question is. Why do you need a biologist in the first place?
“And the answer? Well it turns out life is a lot more of a bitch then we give it credit for. You find life in a lot of weird places.
“Do I think this dead rock specifically will have life on it? Well not this one specifically. This one specifically seems very dead to me. But potentially, life can exist anywhere. So there’s always a need for a biologist.
“Its good to be useful. Job security is pretty nice. In space.”
Bridge Audio Recording, Mission Clock 14:13:58:00, Voices heard, Inaza Imbulas, senior officer on deck, Margaret Edard, communications, Tomas Heikald, science, Saede Riordan, Pilot, Constance Rue ‘hanging out’
13:58:00 Riordan: Poof.
13:58:33 Imbulas: And thus another great mystery is solved. Go team.
13:59:02 Rue: How can we be sure that our ship was not contaminated?
13:59:43 Riordan: I’d feel it in the hull. I just felt some blips in the shield, but the ship is fine.
14:00:04 Imbulas: I’d really like to get out of here while that is still the case.
14:00:49 Riordan:10 hours and we can start for home. By the time we activate the warp drive we’ll have risen out of the planet’s gravity well and be falling towards Isis at 30 kilometres per second.
14:01:15 Rue: And then we fall through warp for nine days to get home.
14:01:46 Riordan: And yet we’re still only 0.02 light years from Isis. Damn space is big.
Melia De Thorin, Personal Log, September 10th YC116
“Dr. Melia De Thorin, personal log, today is September 10th YC116. My specimen sample gathering equipment worked perfectly. As far as I can tell, Saede isn’t aware of it. She’ll probably be kinda pissed when she finds out, but this is in the name of science, so I’m sure it’ll be cool.”
The mousy haired Intaki woman has a small burnt fragment of material in a spherical transparent containment vessel. “Its still alive. The magnetic fields in this vessel will keep it confined though. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m certain its of scientific significance. Its behaviour and the environment it survived in alone make it very interesting. Naturally evolved extremophile lifeform? Intelligently engineered von neumann nanomachines? At a certain level, there might not be a difference between the two.”
Its apparent that the woman is recording this log from inside her personal quarters. “For all the harm that this creature did, its just another lifeform, and we as scientists have a responsibility to understand it as a part of our universe. Its a fascinatingly complicated macroparticle. Halfway between machine and creature.”
“So despite setbacks and losses, this trip won’t be a complete write off.”
Internal Hallway Camera 417, Mission clock 18:22:26:15 4x Speed
Melia De Thorin is seen pacing listlessly up and down the corridor for 45 minutes. At 18:23:11:39 Marson Komalit encounters her and she seems to snap out of her stupor.
“You alright Melia?” He asks, giving her a puzzled look.
“Yeah I’m fine, just a bit tired. Shame about Etans and Lunier, but they’ll have almost complete backups.” She shrugs. “I should probably get some sleep.”
“Yeah I’ll see you around.”
Science Deck Recording, Mission Clock 23:13:05:21
Azia Illuin paces restlessly before approaching Kobin Alamotora. “Has anyone seen Melia today? I wanted to go over the terahertz radiation readings but she never came in.”
“No I haven’t seen her since yesterday. Ask Saede.” He shrugs, “She’s a bit of an odd bird you know? Melia I mean. Is it really that weird for her to disappear for days at a time?”
Saede appears as a hologram, “She’s in her room sleeping Azia, can you go get her actually? She missed the morning staff meeting.”
“Ah, yeah sure.” The achuran nods meekly to the hologram before it vanishes.
Melia De Thorin, Personal Log, September 15th YC116
The intaki woman stares blankly at the camera, her pupils are completely dilated into dark black discs. “They’re listening you know. They have ears everywhere. Big Sister Saede, always watching out for you.”
“But we’re too clever for that. Far too clever. Too clever.” She giggles manically, the laughter trickles away as she gets a blank expression and half of her face goes slack. She stares blankly at the camera for 5 minutes and 27 seconds before saying abruptly “Everyone will see like we see soon.” She smiles and the camera turns off.
Internal Hallway Camera 416, Mission clock 23:13:44:15
Azia Illuin walks up to one of the cabin doors and presses the alarm button. No one answers for a few minutes and she presses it a few more times. “Saede, she’s not answering. Can’t you get her?”
“She disabled all the monitoring equipment in her room, so no.” Saede says, appearing in a screen next to the door.
“What? And you let her?” Azia seems rather surprised, even somewhat upset.
“I’ve known Melia for a long time. I’d like to think I can trust her.” the avatar of Saede shrugs noncommittally. “I’m going to open her door for you.” Before Azia can object the door slides open. The inside is completely dark. Azia is seen to nervously walk inside.
“Melia?” She asks meekly. The door suddenly slides shut behind her, cutting off the camera’s view of her.
A dull thumping can be heard through the door, like someone pounding on the inside. Saede sounds the internal alert as soon as it starts, but in the 3 minutes and 47 seconds it takes for the marines to arrive outside the room, the thumping has gone silent.
The marine team, identified in footage as Sardan Almios, Craton Meiche, and Dendra Kradeshar breach the door with a monofilament charge. They rush inside, weapons drawn. A few moments later they exit with Melia De Thorin held at gunpoint. A few more minutes go by, and a medical team comes in and removes the body of Azia Illuin.
Science Deck Recording, Mission Clock 23:19:17:27
“So she just snapped and beat Azia to death?” Tomas Heikald asks as the video cuts in.
“Thats what I heard. She was acting really weird the other day.” Marson Komalit answers, “I found her just wandering the corridor outside the cabins.”
“Where are they keeping her?”
“The brig, I think. I’ve never heard of anything like it. Crazy huh?”
“Yeah...crazy is right.”
Board Room Meeting, video recording Mission Clock 24:05:30:00, Inaza Imbulas, Saede Riordan, Constance Rue, and Red Hedilbrald in attendance.
“I think we should open by saying as a group, we did not see that coming.” Saede says, sitting down.
“I certainly did not.” Constance says. “Something is clearly wrong with the woman. She is not herself.”
“Blood work comes back clean.” Inaza says, sliding a holoscreen towards Constance. “They checked for all manner of pathogens and contaminants. Nothing. Its looking like she just…”
“Just what? Got the space crazies? This is a woman who has sat in this fucking room with us.” Saede smacks her hand down on the table. “There is a reason this happened and I want to know what it is.”
Red touches Saede’s shoulder. “We all feel that way Saede. But there’s only so much we can do before we get back to the dock. We can get her into psychological evaluation and see what happens.”
“I think we’re missing something.” Inaza says quietly.
“Yeah.” Saede nods. “What are we missing?”
Morgue Camera 3, Mission Clock 24:08:45:29
A body on the gurney, covered with a sheet in front of the camera suddenly sits upright. It is the body of Azia Iluin. A piece of glass is embedded in her jugular. Black veins begin to grow out from the wound, and the body falls limp. Black veins continue spreading across her body before fading away. A few moments later, Marson Komalit enters to begin the autopsy. He sighs, touching Azia’s face. “Poor kid. You didn’t deserve this.”
“We’ll bring her back, don’t worry. And we have her memorycell, so she won’t lose time at all.” Kobin Alamatora says, walking in.
“You sure she’d want to remember dying?” Marson asks.
“I’m not sure. It’d be in her cloning file though, her preferences. They’ll know what to do.”
“Just kinda sucks, you know. Losing one of our own like this?”
“Try not to think of it like that. We’ll get her back.” He shuts Azia’s eyes, which had still be open.
Bridge Audio Recording, Mission Clock 24:09:25:15, Voices heard, Inaza Imbulas, senior officer on deck, Margaret Edard, communications, Tomas Heikald, science, Saede Riordan, Pilot
09:25:15 Riordan (singing)
You loom so deep and wide
I would cross over
If you would stem the tide
Build a boat
That I might ford the other side
To reach the farther shore
Where my true love lies in wait for me
In wait for me
09:25:47 Imbulas: We’re almost home.
09:26:30 Riordan (singing)
Oh, gray river
Your waters ramble wild
The horses shiver
And bite against the bridle
But I will cross
If mine own horse is pulled from me
Though my mother cries that if I try
I sure will drowned be
Will drowned be
09:26:51 Heikald: Are all the missions with a capsuleer like this?
09:27:13 Imbulas: All the fun ones at least.
09:28:00 Riordan (singing)
Oh hear my true love's call
Hear her holler
Above your water's pall
God, that I could
That my two arms could give me wing
And I would cross your breath
And rest my breast about her amber ring
Her amber ring
09:28:30 Imbulas: Saede, when we come in, I think we should put in at the secure floating laboratory in Skyreach.
09:29:04 Riordan: What for?
09:29:15 Imbulas: Call it a precaution. Something about the thing with Melia seems really weird. What if she was infected with that thing from the planet?
09:30:07 Riordan: How would she be? How is that possible?
09:30:44 Imbulas: I don’t know, but lets just play it safe? If I’m wrong then we just look silly, but if I’m right, you’ll thank me later.
Internal Hallway Camera 247, Mission clock 24:10:27:15 X4 Speed
Sardan Almios is standing at a dead end in the corridor staring at the wall. He does not move for the duration of the sped up camera footage, almost an hour total. He can be seen to visibly sway back and forth.
Morgue Camera 3, Mission Clock 24:11:09:53
Azia’s eyes dart open on the morgue table. Marson Komalit and Kobin Alamatora are working off to the side with a blood sample, not paying attention to her as in one fluid motion she reaches up and silently yanks the piece of glass from her throat, returning her hand to its former position and closing her eyes again. The footage continues for another 4 minutes and 45 seconds, at this point Marson Komalit is standing near the body, though not facing it. Before Kobin Alamatora can warn him, the corpse leaps up and slams the impromptu shiv into his neck in the same place she was stabbed by it. Komalit gasps, reaching for the wound and beginning to keel over. Azia shoves past him and tackles Alamatora. The footage cuts out into static.
External Camera Drone Recording, Mission Clock 24:11:23:04
The dead world, Eidolon, rushes up to meet the camera drone as the Maiden of Velocity hurtles out of warp into the Skyreach anchorage. The structures jump into existence in the foreground as the warp field fades away. The ship begins to slowly move to dock with one of the floating laboratories.
Internal Hallway Camera 381, Mission clock 24:11:24:17
Dendra Kradeshar walks down the hallway, when she encounters warp mechanic Hayden Merowise, she suddenly attacks him without warning, slamming his head into the bulkhead repeatedly, until he is left either dead or unconscious. She leaves him in a pile on the floor, and continues walking along as if nothing happened. A few moments later, security alarms begin going off, before the feed cuts out in a burst of static.
External Camera Drone Recording, Mission Clock 24:11:25:09
The Maiden of Velocity is sliding smoothly into the secure docking berth at the experimental lab aboard Skyreach Anchorage, when it seems something goes wrong. The lights aboard ship flicker and go out, and active thrusting cuts suddenly, causing the ship to drift off course and impact the lab. The ship bounces off the structure with an utterly silent crunch of metal and gas, pieces of shrapnel are sent flying in all directions as the ship rebounds from the impact, slowly rotating laterally without power.
Shortly after this event, Skyreach Anchorage was put under quarantine without anyone aboard the station being explained why. The ship and the experimental lab were both completely locked down and protected from approach by hunter seeker security drones. This file was the last one included within the bulkdata release. Skyreach remained under quarantine for an additional two weeks, before it was declared safe. Both the experimental laboratory and the Maiden of Velocity, were towed into the corona of the sun and disposed of.
All personnel killed in the footage were re-lifed successfully. They were not informed on the nature of their deaths, or their mission.
Melia De Thorin was promoted to Subcoordinator after her re-lifing. The location of her former body, as well as its condition, remains unknown.