Starbound – Part two8 min read

Starbound – Part two8 min read

Part one can be found here.

“Fix, where am I right now?” She asked as the door refused to close behind her, uttering its last noises. Greasy and metallic.

“Deep sleep passenger quarters. Deck 4, North East ship sector.”

“Where is the nearest Atrium located? And does it have a utility room? Something where I can find equipment, power, computer terminals?”

“The nearest atrium is on this Deck, in the South East ship sector. Estimated to be 600 metres from our current location. There is no such room available in this atrium, but we cross a small crew station on our route. We can make a small detour to include it, should I arrange the route so?”

“Yes please.” Samantha looked at the display on her wrist again. A loading bar was rapidly progressing. Once it finished a small hologram was projected on her wrist, showing a local floorplan of her location and a red line showing her where to go to.

She dismissed the hologram for now as she needed to walk down a long, straight corridor. Instead, she reached for the shoulder of her Exo suit and pushed a small button on the back of it. The suit made a beeping noise, then her wristband did the same. A few seconds passed and they bleeped again in unison. Fix spoke out.

“Exo suit link complete. Full suit control acquired.”

“Turn on shoulder lights and lifeform scan.” Fix gave her two bleeps and small notifications on her display. Not that she needed those as the two lights on her shoulders revealed the corridor in front of her.

The corridor showed even more signs of ageing than her room. The floor was dusty and dirty and was littered with trash and scraps. Ceiling and wall panels had come loose or were ripped open here and there. Showing the machinery and cables that were hidden underneath. Dead and live cables hang in low circles from the open ceilings, creating even more dangers. The air was colder here than in the room as well, cold enough to allow Sam to her breath as she exhaled.

She walked slowly, taking care to not touch any of the cables and making sure not to stumble over the trash. Now and then she pulled one of the lights out of the shoulder fixture and aimed it at the floor, or a specific spot. To see what was there, mostly it was the same, old junk. Aged enough to be unidentifiable.

When she reached a T-junction she looked at the holographic map again and then turned right. Before she did she pointed her light straight ahead, but she couldn’t see anything there but the same junk.

The new corridor had no lights at all, dousing her in total darkness except for the bright cones of her shoulder mounted lights. The amount of junk and trash in the corridor increased. As did the amount of damage to the wall and ceiling panels. It almost looked like a storm went through the ship. After 200 metres or so, she stumbled upon the first body.

It was laying down in the middle of the corridor, on it’s back. Arms and legs spread out, the head jerked back a little. It was clear that the body was lifeless, half rotted away. Only skin and bones were left really. And parts of the standard issues sleep suit that all passengers got.

“Fix.. scan it. Who was this.” Sam said in a broken voice, repeating over and over in her head for it not to be Casper.

“According to the boarding log, this is passenger 237, Marie Velossi. She is confirmed dead, probable cause seems to be blunt trauma to the core resulting in internal bleeding.”

Sam moved her hand for her mouth, a single tear rolling over her cheek. She hadn’t known Marie, but she had seen her. she had boarded just before Casper and her. Along with her father and mother, she had been such a beautiful girl. And now she was death. Punched to death.

“Fix, can you tell me what happened here? What is all this thrash? What is all this damage to the ship?”

“Negative. Any transmissions I received before the main ship AI shut down talk about nothing that has to do with this. I have been scanning for nearby computing units all the time but nothing is online. The only active computing unit withing our range seems to be me.”

Sam groaned but straightened her back and walked on. Careful to evade the corpse of Marie Velossi. Saying a short prayer. She followed the rest of the route without much trouble. It became more cumbersome to evade all the cables and thrash, but she didn’t come across any more corpses. Until she arrived at the crew station.

The crew station was located to the side of the corridor, connected with a door and glass window. The door was half open, seemingly out of service. But it also showed signs of being forced open. In front of the door lay three more corpses. In such positions that it seemed that they were trying to run away from the door.

Sam carefully walked closer, her breathing becoming raspier. As she got closer she saw that the corpses looked horrible, showing signs of brute trauma and hinting at a terrible death.

“Fix… scan.. scan them..” she said as she tried to prevent herself from gagging.

“This presumably are Mark Vinks, Suzan Bell and Jeff Strom. Passengers 165, 166 and 322. They all died due to excessive bleeding and trauma.”

Sam was now standing just before the corpses. She felt the bile rise in her throat. The corpses almost had no limbs anymore, all seemingly torn off and thrown to the side. Old, dried up blood plastered the floor, walls, doorway and what was left of the corpses and their suits.

“What could have done this? Can a human have done this?”

“Not alone. But in a group or with tools it is possible.”

“Why?”

“I don’t have sufficient data to answer that. I am sorry.”

Sam swallowed and cleared her throat. Then she walked over the corpses and wedged her between the half-open door. If the outside of the crew station was purgatory, the inside was hell. Almost every surface of it was covered in dried up blood. The room was heavily damaged and filled with trash, wires and broken machinery. Most lockers and cabinets had been torn open and destroyed.

“Fix, scan the room. Tell me what happened here and if there is anything useful in here that you can detect.”

As Fix started its search, Sam started hers. She took a few hesitant steps into the room and then felt something break down under her boot. When she aimed one of her lights down she saw the remnants of what was once a corpse. Shredded. She fought back the bile again. Minutes passed by as she rummaged through the trash and destruction. There wasn’t anything left really. And just as she was about to get up and leave, her eye fell on something.

Under a broken and bent metal ceiling panel, she caught the glimpse of a locker that seemed still intact. With effort and the aid of her exo-suit, she was able to move it out of the way. The locker was indeed still intact but locked. And the code lock lost its power long ago seemingly. So there was no way for Fix to hack it. Instead, she grabbed a large, metal pole with a sharp end and used that to knock off the lock.

Once opened the locker contained nutrition tubes, water units, credits, a gun with some ammunition and a few data crystals. Most of them were a transparent white, but one was blue. Meaning it held data about something. She took them all.

“Scan completed.”

Sam almost shrieked as Fix suddenly spoke, startling her. “And?”

“The room is FUBAR. There is not sufficient data available to find out what happened. I have found the remains of at least 5 individuals, but it is impossible to tell who they were. I have also found the remains of one unidentified lifeform. There is also a weak electrical signal. Probably of a data crystal. I think there might be one left in the room’s Security unit.”

Sam’s mind was racing. “Lifeform? What do you mean? Unidentified? And where do I find this data crystal?”

“At the ceiling is a circular, black device. Open it and you should be able to locate the crystal. In the North East corner are trails of what I believe to be blood. However, it is not human blood and I can’t match it with any blood type that I know off. My assumption is that it is alien in nature.”

Sam started to breathe faster, heavier. She rushed to the corner and shined her lights down. She quickly found the alien blood. It looked nothing like human blood, even dried up. Where the human blood had a dark red, almost black colour, this was a bright blue-purple hue. She reached down and wanted to touch it but Fix stopped her.

“I advise against touching the alien matter. We do not know what it can do.”

Sam got back to her senses and stood up. She wanted to get away from here. From all of this. She wanted to find Casper and fall into his arms, caress his cheeks and rest her head on his chest. She wanted to go home. She took a moment to control her breathing and then grabbed the long metal pole and used it to break open the security unit on the ceiling. The data crystal was sitting in the middle of it, partly sticking out. It was easily reached and she quickly tucked it away and left the room.

Outside she walked on fast, almost ran until the massacre was behind her. Then she leant against a wall with her hands, breathing heavy. Sobbing. She threw up, bile burning her throat again. When she was done she took one of the water units she scavenged. She checked the seal, it was intact. It meant that the water should be still fresh. She broke the seal and drank from it. It had no taste but it was cold and refreshing, a welcome feeling in her throat.

She walked a bit further and then leant back against the wall. Letting her body slide down against it until she sat down. She grabbed the data crystal and looked at it. This one wasn’t blue, it was purple, meaning it held large data files. The kind that was used for 3D video recordings. She bit her lip, scared for what she would see, but she knew she had to. She wouldn’t be able to continue without looking at it.

So she put the crystal in Fix and told him to scan it.

“Security recordings found. Shall I play them?”

“yes.”