Starbound – part four12 min read

Starbound – part four12 min read

Sam was breathing heavy as she tried to keep back the tears. Sobbing and panting. “There are more recordings but they seem to have been decrypted. I can try to decrypt them by assigning some of my processing power to the task. But it will take a while. ”

“There are more recordings but they seem to have been decrypted. I can try to decrypt them by assigning some of my processing power to the task. But it will take a while. ” Fix spoke out.

“Yes, that’s okay..” Sam’s voice was broken.

“However I have found text files as well on the data crystal. This is not common and I suspect that somebody put them on there on purpose. Do you want to read the files?”

“Yes! Show them!” She said quickly, rubbing her palms over her cheeks to clean off the tears. No matter how bad she felt about it all, part of her still wanted to know what happened. No matter what cost it would have on her mental health.

The hologram flickered and the video made way for a text file. Sam sobbed as she started to read it

 

Year 631, Day 44, Agent Krev, special research team 5.

Reporting about Operation Seed.

 

The mission has failed. Agent Hanson has been compromised. Agent Stevens has lost his mental capabilities. I, agent Krev, am unable to salvage the mission.

Agent Stevens has lost his mind. He forced me to help him and turn on agent Hanson. Agent Hanson had discussed with us that the mission was over, that we needed to abort and clean up. However, agent Stevens was unable to distance himself from the mission and feverishly hold onto the research. He forced me to help him and incapacitate agent Hanson.

What we have done to agent Hanson is … unforgivable. We might have learned a lot, but can we truly say that it is worth what we paid? What agent Hanson paid? I think it is not. But that is not what I want to talk about right now. As I said. The mission has failed, is over. Is lost. After I write this down I will go do whatever I can to erase our presence here, to try and save us all. But should I fail, and should you find this document, then I need you to do what I could not. And for that, you need to know what happened. So here is the full story. ,

Our original mission was to use the ship to near two objectives and do some research on them. The first stage was to sabotage the ship’s AI so we could override it and make two stops. At most, this would take us 3 to 4 years. A big gap in arrival date, but we would still be able to write it down as an anomaly or miscalculation. Our sabotage was successful and we went into cryosleep like everybody else. As planned, agents Stevens, Hanson and myself were woken up by the AI when we neared objective one. We started up the subsystems that we would need and planned the first-course deviation. A small engine output was needed to send us on a course that would end with us in orbit around a planet near objective 1. However, five days after our intervention the ship AI started to malfunction.

First, it started to shut down at random intervals. When it was online it would be unresponsive and take long periods of time over our requests. And eventually, it came to a point where we couldn’t interact with it anymore. We were only able to read the logs of what it was doing. All of its processing power seemed to go to fixing a certain problem in its code. We never were able to confirm this, but I think this was a direct effect of our tampering with it.

For the next two years, we prepared our research by observing the objective from afar. We had started up all the subsystems that we needed and were able to hack any others when we needed those. After approximately one year and 250 days, we reached orbit. 37 more days and we first had visual contact with the objective. Those two years were long. The initial plan had us entering cryosleep again until we arrived. But with the AI shutting down, this was impossible as there was no subsystem for the cryo chambers. We had some idea’s to hack into them but were reluctant. As a small mistake could easily wake up the entire ship. So we endured, but spending so much time on an empty ship with only two others took a toll on all of us. Perhaps one of the things that lead to Stevens mental health issues.

After those two years, we discussed our situation, and we talked about cancelling the mission. But we had faith still that the AI would be able to fix itself. After all, they are build to be able to do that. So we started to work on our mission instead. Normally we would have the ship to near objective 1 more, but we could start doing our work from this distance as well. Hanson had hacked into the subsystem of the engineering bay and the flight bay. So we had full access to machines and EVA machines. As planned, Hanson and I started to work on adjusting the EVA machines so that they could do what we needed them to do. Meanwhile, Stevens started to observe and analyse via optics. Hanson and I discovered that something went wrong back on Earth, as two out of the five cargo containers we had shipped were missing. This left us without some crucial tools. But we managed to make do by scrapping some of the rooms and decks on the ship that we did not use.

Time went by quickly in these days. We rewired the bridge subsystems so we could control it from other locations as well, allowing us to keep an eye on the AI’s logs and all of the radar data. We set op several warning systems for comms and incoming objects. But both of those systems went offline soon after. We worked hard and focussed on the mission. Trying to ignore that the AI was dying all around us. Systems failing in the ship. In hindsight, we were idiots. It took another two years before we discussed our situation again. We had done fifteen EVA missions by now and probed objective 1 dozens of times more. We had done all of the research that we could basically and even more. According to the mission plan, we should have moved to objective two a long time ago. But we couldn’t, so we improvised and did more research on objective 1. And we made two mistakes with it.

Our first mistake was pulling the objective closer to the ship in its orbit. We managed to do this with two manned EVA machines and five remote controlled EVA machines. Almost made it crash into the ship as well. Our second mistake was starting to do the deep drill experiments to extract more samples from it. We drilled deeper and deeper as time passed on. Until we couldn’t go any deeper as we ran out of bore segments. To this day I firmly believe that our drilling into it is what caused it to become active.

When we had our second meeting to discuss our situation, suddenly the ship was hit by a sort of shockwave. It shook the entire ship. When we went to investigate, we noticed that objective 1 had undergone a sort of eruption. The explosion from the eruption had hit the ship and damaged the hull on subdecks four and five. With the AI unresponsive we had to fix it ourselves by overriding several subsystems. However, that was not the only damage. Aside from the explosion, the eruption also send another wave through us, and that wave activated all the samples that we took. They blow up our labs and left nothing behind aside of one, small sample. Of course, Stevens was the first to come across it and instead of incarnating it like Hanson or I would have done. He quarantined it.

We were shaken from it all but Stevens took the lead and we started new experiments. This new sample was amazing and we were learning so much. This was groundbreaking research and we were too busy with deciphering all the secrets that we never thought about whether or not it was the smart thing to do. But science doesn’t come without its risks.

After a few days, it was clear to Hanson and me though that whatever we had found here was beyond our grasp or control. We were playing with fire and soon we would burn ourselves. I agreed with Hanson to talk to Stevens about it and to stop our experiments. But when we did, it all went wrong. And it is my fault for a big part. I had always been the most insecure one of us. And when Hanson confronted Stevens, Stevens started to talk to me. He manipulated me as easily as he would have done to a five-year-old kid with some candy. He swayed me over and soon I saw the things from his side. And I helped him to… to turn Hanson into a new experiment.

It hadn’t been intentional. A small fight broke out. And Hanson wanted to fireblast the quarantine room. In the scuffle, we accidentally pushed Hanson in the airlock. Nothing was lost yet but as I wanted to let him out again, Stevens opened the airlock to the room. We all knew Hanson had to stay in there from that moment on, and that he was done for. We had seen what it had done to the monkeys, and we knew it wouldn’t be much different for humans. For days I was lost. Mentally broken. Stevens experimented on Hanson while I cried and got myself drunk.

When I returned to the lab some days later I was perplexed. Hanson was… unrecognisable. He was deformed, mutated. We already had classified Objective 1 as highly dangerous but this… this was beyond anything we could have thought off. And Stevens was looking like a child on Christmas eve, opening his presents. I tried to kill Hanson. It would have been mercy, but Stevens stopped me. Called me mad, that I would throw away all of our work for something as silly as mercy and pain. Hanson was dead, he said, and it didn’t matter anymore what we did to this thing that he had left behind. But I didn’t believe him. I knew Hanson was still inside of that thing somewhere. it’s … eyes were intelligent. They knew, they recognised. And when I walked away, I could swear that I saw desperation in them.

And it was that what made me spur to action. I finally made my mind up and did what I should have done much sooner. I woke up the rest of the special crew. They were only supposed to be woken up when one of us was incapacitated or when we reached objective 2. I briefed them and explained the situation to them. But as we prepared to meet Stevens, he walked in on us. And he lost it. He absolutely lost it. He pulled his gun and started shooting at us. McQin and Eflis died by his hand. Chaos erupted and some of us followed Stevens, firing our own guns. We weren’t able to kill him and decided to tend to our wounded and dead. But as we did that, Stevens woke up more people. I did not know about a second backup crew, but I wasn’t the senior officer. Soon the ship turned into a battlefield. Where both sides tried to gain terrain and access to various sub levels. Many areas were destroyed and as we both got more desperate to destroy the other, we started to deliver permanent damage to the ship.

After almost a year of constant battle, we had lost half of the crew and destroyed various sub-levels of the ship. Whatever Stevens was doing to Hanson had gotten worse, as we regularly heard Hanson, it, scream. The screams would go through the ship. So we decided to do something desperate. We woke up various non-member people. We told them that something was going wrong and that we needed help. We ‘recruited’ those we thought would be the most able to fight. We now outnumbered Stevens 12 to 1 and we attacked.

During the attack, all of Stevens crew was busy defending or dying. And during the two-hour long battle, Stevens was unable to monitor his Hanson project. Just as we were about to kill the last of them, an explosion occurred in their labs. Stevens fell to his knees as he watched it happen. I thought it was about the loss of his work at first, but as soon as the smoke started to clear, I knew it was because he knew his life was void now. All of our lives. In the smoke and fire stood Hanson. Or at least what once was Hanson. It had green, grey skin. Four large, bulbous eyes and a gigantic maw, much alike the one of a crocodile. Rows after rows of jagged teeth. Four arms ending in paws with long, sharp, barbed talons and six legs ending the same way. A long tail that ended in a knot of barbs and spikes.

We both lost that day. The Hanson creature was furious, filled with rage. Which I can understand. It charged us. We all shot at it, with plasma and pulse bolts, thermic lances and even laser pulse rifles. it just absorbed the shocks and ripped through our lines. In the first charge of the beast alone twenty died already. We scattered and ran, leaving many behind. Their fate was sealed, ripped to shreds by the beast. We set up traps and armed ourselves, hiding away in a few small outposts. Without communication at first, but after a silent time, we sought each outer. We started linking up comms and patrolling the hallways between our outposts. But soon the beast attacked again, we were able to hurt it this time, but it didn’t seem to stop it. We lost another twelve.

We started to wake up more people and arming them. Setting up a secure perimeter between the cryo docks and the docks where the beast roamed. We created a great wall, guarded by hundreds. After a while, we needed to start waking up less able people to fight. They never knew the whole truth, they just knew there was a monster out there. And they helped us fight it. Over the course of three more charges, the beast killed almost forty of us. But the sixth charge was different. It did not kill many of us, instead, it took two with it, alive.

Two weeks later, the beast returned, with two companions. The slaughter was huge, sixty five died. We knew we had to overpower it, as soon as possible. We started to massively recruit new people, waking them up and arming them. Giving them a very short, basic briefing. It was like a factory line. Some were not woken up, by special request of their loved ones, or because they would be of no use at all. Mostly women and children protected by their fathers and husbands. Soon we had a small army ranking in the thousand. And we fought the beasts. We managed to kill one, but it cost us over a hundred. We killed the second one by sacrificing another hundred and fifty, but the Hanson beast had taken more of us. And weeks later we were attacked again. We started to develop weapons especially for the beasts and soon the whole ship was thrown into a war. Subsystems died out, whole decks were destroyed. Eventually, I noticed that the ship AI officially died. No power signature anymore. The situation is hopeless.

As I write this, a lot has happened. The Hanson beast made plenty more of his kind, but we got better at killing them. Many lives have been lost, but the Hanson beast was killed. It cost us almost 400 soldiers, in a gigantic battle against more than fifty of the beasts. And even though they can’t make any more of themselves seemingly, they keep roaming the ship. We have lost access to the cryo decks, and all of our outposts have been destroyed. The last bastion of hope is in the Atrium on Deck Six. It also guards the entrance to the ship’s bridge where the AI resides.

If you are reading this, and you came to rescue us. Leave. There is nothing to find here anymore. Except for horror.

If you are reading this and you just woke up, if you are one of the survivors in the Cryo decks. Then may the gods be with you. If I would be in your place, I would kill myself. What waits for you here is only horror and terror. And even if you survive them, the ship is dead. You can’t leave.

You are stranded here. In the middle of space.  In a dead ship. Filled with dead and horrors.