Posts tagged ‘space exploration’

RoF S2E2 – Explorer – Orion

“IFF identifies the craft as the Orion.” Louis Walsh, first officer to the Explorer, sat back in his chair. “Can you give us an image?” Admiral Franziska Hardwick too relaxed in her seat. Only moments earlier had the Orion nuked a potentially hostile Harpy vessel.
A few button presses later the main screen in the command centre displayed a smudge like object. “Extrapolation of sensor data and visual coming up.” Louis pressed a few more buttons on his touchscreen console.
A ship with a long cylindrical body, and the typical dish shaped back was displayed. “They are sending a transmission.”
“This is the USS Orion, calling the unidentified vessel. If your intentions are not hostile, we pose no threat. Please respond if you can understand our language.” Stunned silence filled the command centre. “Turn on IFF.” Franziska sighed, an IFF had been implemented, but wasn’t turned on after the existence of the Harpies was made known.
“This is the Explorer. We read you Orion, and assure you that we are anything but hostile.” Franziska spoke calmly after waiting a short while with the IFF on. She had been assured that the outgoing transmission had been altered sufficiently to be received by the Orion. “Are you human?”
“Indeed we are, we are surprised, to say the least, to find another ship out here.” Confused Franziska maintained a friendly tone, but looked inquistive to Louis, who shook his head. An initial search of the database had revealed nothing about the Orion, other than hypothetical work.
“We thought that we were the last ones, safe for radioactive mutants struggling for survival. Let me just say that we too are very pleased to know that we aren’t the last ones.” Radioactive Mutants? Just forming the words in silence Franziska kept her gaze at Louis. Again he shook his head, shrugging.
“The pod from the Ark1 has docked, cryogenic chambers have been secured.” Communications officer Harald Rüttli stated from the communiques reaching him. Franziska dismissd the information with a nod. “What do you make of it?” She whispered to Louis.
“The readings conclude that this thing is old. Dare I say, ancient for technological standards. If I had to guess, I’d say this thing was built back in the cold war.”
Uncertain Franziska looked around. “Could it have been out here all that time? No resupplying? Generation after Generation?”
Again her first officer shrugged. “Orion!” Franziska looked at the big screen, an extrapolation of the Orions course was displayed. “Where are you headed if I may ask?”
“I’m afraid that I’m not authorised to reveal that information.” Feeling a bit insecure whether she was talking to the ships commanding officer or just a communications officer Franziska kept staring at the displayed information. “Barnards star.” She blurted out. Silence on the radio. “As I said, I’m not authorised to reveal our destination. Although commanding the Orion, I too have superior officers. Or at least standing orders.”

The screen in the briefing room displayed a list of names.The rescued survivors from Ark1. “There are a lot more over there, but after the Harpy attacked Allister, we got out.” Sylvie closed her report. Already she had given the known details of Allisters encounter with the Harpy to the assembled. For a rare occasion the governors of the civilian rings were present in person, instead of just phoning in like usual.
Glad to be back on a ship with a functioning defense against attacks, asteroids and cosmic radiation she tried to forget the pockmarked ship she just had left behind.
“Thank you. Dismissed.” Saluting Sylvie turned and left the room. Behind her the attachés to the Governors also left the room, leaving only the Admiral, the first officer and the governors inside.

“Gentlemen, we have encountered another ship out there.” Franziska displayed the image of the Orion as she first had seen it. “It is from earth’s past. The USS Orion. Data searches, including previously top secret data, have returned only theoretical work. But this thing actually exists, we have spoken with the commanding officer.”
Her second sight on the Orion replaced the smudge, displaying the cylindrical ship. “If the Orion started its journey back when the research suggests it is ancient, we’re talking mid 20th century here.” Various sketches and early developmental drawings plastered the screen surrounding the clearer image of the Orion.
Before the meeting had started the Orion’s commander had revealed that they had, had encounters with what he called the bird aliens. Armed with nuclear warheads to spare they soon taught them to avoid the Orion. Occasionally a Harpy ship did engage them, but got nuked, or was driven off.
Sensor readings suggested that the Orion had made at least one stop, their forward dish showed signs of bombardment to decelerate.
“So they have the capacity and brain power to build more nukes, but are still stuck with old technology?” Governor Lydia Rostova broke the silence in the briefing room. “Analysis of their radio transmission hints at that, yes.”
Carefully Franziska studied the faces of the governors in the room. “I have a proposal.” With her words the screen changed, showing the calculated course of the Orion, overlayed on the further course of the Explorer. “By now this ship and its crew have become experts in landings at these speeds. Orions course intersects ours, we could send a team in a pod to upgrade some of their systems, teach them how to use it, at least to the point of calling up a manual, and then return that team to the Explorer.”
Still studying the people at the table with her, Franziska feared her idea would be rejected. In the case of Ark1, a rescue operation, or the Harpy ship, a military decision, she had reign supreme. But upgrading the Orion was not a humanitarian mission, not a military decision or rescue operation.
She needed their approval. Their cooperation.
“Based on the readings you took, what is your estimate concerning crew complement?”
Helpless Franziska looked to Louis who had been sitting idly by her side. “Hard to say,” he got up, enlarging the picture of the Orion. “somewhere between one and five hundred.” He turned to the screen, his back to the room. “It could be a few dozen though. Back in the day female members of the force were few, unless they had prepared for such an eventuality.”
Franziska knew he was now more thinking out aloud than reporting to the governors. “May I ask why that question arose?” He jerked around.
“Pure interest.” Dean Stone from alpha smiled. “You have my support.” Addressing the Admiral. Gamma ring’s Governor Lydia Rostova also gave her support, leaving just Ophelia Mbuntu from beta ring. “Alright,” she sighed driving her thin fingers through the thick, yet short curly hear on her head. A habit she picked up during her time studying, “I’m outvoted anyway.”

After the resolution had been made to help the Orion with new equipment, Ophelia stayed behind after the other governors. “Do you atill have any questions?”
“Various, but none that you could answer.” Worry in her eyes she got up, slowly wandered to the Admiral. “I’m surprised Governor Rostova didn’t voice any concerns. But then again, she is disconnected from her ancestral nationality, I however am not from my ancestral race.”
With a gesture to the door controls on her glasses, Franziska closed the door. “Where are you going with this?”
“I noticed various dates on the concepts of project Orion. Do you know the situation for black people in the US back in those days? I must say, I have doubts that the crew of that ship, that top secret ship, was very diversely mixed in race for them to truly shed racism.” Shaking her head she put her right hand on Franziska’s shoulder. “But I’m willing to suspend those doubts. I’m willing to believe in humanity. We have accomplished so much after all, as have the brave men and women on that ship.” With those words she too left the briefing room, leaving Franziska in a somewhat troubled state of mind.

Over the ship wide news feed, the report of the Orion spread in an instant. And with it came a flood of suggestions from military and civilian sources. Apparently Ophelia’s concern was shared by several others.
Only reading a few of these messages gave Franziska a headache. “Enough of this.” She turned them off, rose from her seat, back in the briefing room. Leading officers were in it instead of governors. Staring at the tablet, as his eyes had strained from reading on his glasses, Gregory Illchiev moved his lips in silence. “I see no indication of deflection, or counter measures.” Still staring at the readouts from sensors. “Their hull must have more resemblance with a sponge than a protective shielding against the harshness of space.”
Interested in the telemetry, and after the somewhat successful mission to Ark1, Jason and Daria too attended the meeting. “Upgrading their communication is the easiest part of the job, it has better performance, and is less of a power hog.” Explorer’s communications officer concurred with Darias conclusion. “Getting them to learn the new systems will be harder.”
Same conclusions were made by Jason concerning an upgrade for their computer systems. “Alright. Prepare comprehensive manuals, learning instructions and tutorials. If need be, they have to be autodidactive.” Leaning her face against one hand the Admiral wished she never had gotten the idea.
I have a feeling I won’t like the outcome of this. Swallowing his doubts and concerns, Jason turned his attention back to the information in front of his eyes.
Already he felt the thrust of the pod rocking his entire body, he was going to be assigned to the team installing the new gear on the Orion.

“Aren’t you used to this by now?” Daria sounded amused, just as a few days prior on the round trip to the Ark1 her face was invisible inside a spacesuit’s helmet. “Nope. Never will be. After we get home, there are no more pod missions for me!” Hoping his voice didn’t sound as distressed as he felt, Jason held on to the armpieces with a fierce grasp.
How did they iron out an agreement for a visit that fast? Perhaps the crew of the Orion was curious to see some new faces? As the acceleration kicked in, he had to chase the thoughts away. “Hold on tight, that was just the breakaway. There is more to come!” Sylvie van Froon had the helm, her co pilot Jorge D’Silva at her side.
More thrust pressed him into his seat once the pod had sufficient distance to Explorer, small charges detonated behind them, pushing them onward.
“We have our cruising speed, in about an hour we’ll dock with Orion.” None of the people left their seats. Unlike the pilots and two military officers, no one had, had sufficient training in zero G. Hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse at the faces of the other technicians inside their dark helmets Jason looked around.
Achmed Kurt, the guy who was assigned to install the computers with him, just sat there. As if he was frozen, or petrified. Doctor Sven Lederlappen, assigned to explain modern medical equipment to the crew of Orion, too was a petrified figure. “Why are you guys all sitting there like modern clay statues in an emperors tomb?”
Jason had to chuckle at the doctors remark. “Because the suits don’t allow for much movement? I’m looking around and see the same thing!”
Laughter from all around filled the radio. Even the six technicians Jason didn’t know by name yet, laughed. They had taken seats in another room, an ill fated one if the reports from Ericsson were to be believed.

After gliding alongside the Orion for a few minutes of deceleration the pod made contact with the docking hatch. Located on top of the pod that meant the crew had to climb up a ladder, that was obviously not constructed for use with a clunky space suit.
Sylvie had her exterior microphone on, heard a satisfyingly short hiss when the difference in pressure between the airlocks was evened out.
“Stop right there.” A female voice commanded. Slowly Sylvie turned to her, opening her helmet. The woman had dark blond hair, pale skin and wore a uniform in khaki colors. In her hand she held a shiny black revolver. “You know that thing can punch a hole in your hull and kill you along with me?”
Reluctantly the woman lowered the gun. But there was relief in her eyes. “So it is true, you’re human.” She tucked the gun away.
Behind Sylvie the others began to emerge from the airlock. “Did you expect something else?”
“The feathered midgets. Who knows what they are up to?” Jason too opened his helmet, he felt a little claustrophobic in the suit. After Ark1 he never wanted to don one again. He noticed that the woman was pleasantly surprised to see him.
Before departing, the Admiral had briefed the entire crew of the away mission on the reservations voiced by governor Mbuntu, but he saw no lingering disdain towards his skin color, but genuine pleasant surprise. He would include a message to the governor that her concerns were unwarranted.
“I am private Danielle Clarkson. Welcome aboard the USS Orion.” The blond woman saluted before Sylvie. Saluting herself Sylvie introduced herself and the other members of her team.
After the introduction Private Clarkson led the visitors to a large room, it was empty and dusty, obviously in disuse.
“My superiors will be here shortly.” As she spoke a door on the other side of the room opened and a group of six women entered. They too looked at Jason and the other men with delighted surprise. “Welcome, I’m lieutenant Fran Scherzer.” Saluting too before Sylvie.
“Thank you. We would like to begin work immediately. Our time here is limited.”
“Of course.” The lieutenant smiled. “Private Clarkson will show the communication team the way, private Lee the medical team and I shall show you the computer deck.”

Behind the door an endless hallway stretched out before Jason and Julio Fernández, the technician assisting him. It had no regular walls, but clicking and clacking top to bottom computers, occasionally a magnetic tape, one spool the size of a man’s chest. “Wow.” Fernández exhaled utter disbelief. “When we were launched, this was state of the art.” Proudly lieutenant Scherzer pointed down the hall. “I think my glasses have more computing power.” Jason had to admit, more to himself than to the astonishment of their host.
“Sounds about right.” Julio concurred.
After a few meters they realised the heat in the room. Water coolant pipes ran through the complex, but with little efficiency. “Well, where should we set up the equipment?”
With a lingering gaze the Lieutenant mustered the two men before her. “We have cleared a space back here, a faulty unit had to be removed anyways.”
After a few more intersections she turned to the right and led them down an even narrower hall.
After walking past so many orderly placed, closet sized computers the missing equipment was an obvious gaping hole, somewhat painful to see, even for Jason and Julio.

Daria and her two assisting technicians worked on the bridge, while two other technicians set up the wireless repeaters and routers for both network and communication. They would leave the existing infrastructure alone, as a sort of backup if wireless should ever happen to fail.
After leaving the airlock they had ditched the suits, left them with two of the military personnel from Explorer inside the airlock. “May I ask you a question?” Danielle cowered next to the working team. “Of course, that’s why we’re here.” Daria smiled slightly in her direction.
“It is not work related.” The Private added. Taking a look at her work, judging that she had come far eneough to take a short break, Daria sat up.
“Shoot.”
Shyly Danielle looked over to the center of the room. A chair stood there, bolted to the ground. It was empty. “There are two hundred and fifty women aboard. But only twenty five men. Our ancestors had worked out a complicated plan to avoid inbreeding, but it has turned out to be problematic. Every generation produced more girls than boys. Some have attributed it to the feathered midgets, others say it is a natural phenomenon.” Seemingly nervous Danielle shifted around.
“There is almost a fifty-fifty gender distribution aboard the Explorer.” Again smiling, out of sympathy for the nervous woman before her, Daria put her hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Perhaps we can help.”

Work on the new systems had taken up the greater part of the day, exhausted and stretching his arms to appreciate the open room outside the computer deck Jason was glad he was done for the day. He still had to tutor a few people on maintaining and working the new equipment.
But not on that day.
“Daria, honey, today was a new level of,” he stopped mid sentence. The tiny quarters he and Daria had on the pod was more crowded then he expected.
“I would like to introduce you to Danielle Clarkson, again.” The fact that both were in their underwear made him feel uncomfortable. “Uhm. Yes? Jason Charles PHD.”
Staring at Daria in an intense manner he nodded to the hallway. “Would you excuse us? Just for a moment.”
Silently the door slid close behind them. “What’s going on?”
A playful smirk appeared on Daria’s lips. “Isn’t it obvious? Me and another woman wait for you, half naked” intentionally leaving the sentence unfinished she hugged him. “Isn’t that the dream of every man?”
“It is arousing, yes, but why is she doing it? I mean, we don’t know her, she doesn’t know us.” With a sigh Daria let go of him.
“Well, she is one of two hundred fifty women, they have twenty five men. There are close to no male babies born, and that’s where you come in. Pardon the pun.”
Stunned into silence Jason stared at her. Unable to deny to himself the intriguing situation waiting behind the door, he also couldn’t help but think of the implant in his hand. Rendering his sperm inactive.
“If you’re worrying about the implant, we could hack it. Tonight is just to try and see if we,” musing for the right word she paused, “harmonise.”
“Hacking it is against regulations!” He hissed, low enough for her to hear, but no one else in the adjacent quarters. “We’ll reactivate it. No one ever needs to know.” She leaned in close to kiss him. “Come on in.” Breathing her words barely loud enough for him to hear and understand she opened the door, pulling him inside with her.

“I tell you,” Julio was running a few tests on other installed equipment linked with the newly installed computer, “these women here are hard to say no to. They just keep on hitting on you.”
“Did you?” Jason prepared the tutorials on one of the tablet computers they would leave aboard the Orion.
“I was thinking about it. I mean, it isn’t like my wife is ever going to find out. But then again, I don’t know the Lieutenant well enough.” Just shrugging the words off Jason continued with the tutorials.
After a few moments he stopped. “Is your implant active?” Grinding to a halt Julio looked over his shoulder to Jason, who sat in the middle of the narrow corridor between the old computer closets. “No, my wife and I applied for a second child and got approval. Why? Do you think they?” Nodding Jason glanced down to his tablets. “Keep that in mind once you get to know the Lieutenant.”

All the while, while explaining the new systems, Jason felt the crew of the Orion pay more attention to him, than to the subject. It felt strange, and it was creeping him out a bit, although at the same time he felt flattered.
Lunch was a difficult test of his nerves, but he learned a bit of Orion’s history from the five or so women swarming him.

In the decades after they left earth and the solar system, everything was normal, if that ever was the case on a ship like the Orion. They headed out to Barnards star. A red dwarf, the closest to the sun. To the surprise of the crew they found a tidal locked planet, that was habitable. At least in the day-night transition zone.
A colony was established, but the Harpies found them too. At first they were cautious of each other, but an all too trigger happy leader aboard the Orion shot at them. Sparking the hostilities between Humans and Harpies.
They then left the colony, to fend off another harpy ship in the system, which in it’s flight from the onslaught had inadvertently dragged them with it to some far off region in space. The Orion was on its way back since then.

Able to catch his breath Jason reclined on the bunk in the quarters. Another two days of the Orion crew, and their relentless pursuit of him, or rather his loins, were ahead of him.
There was a small nightstand built into a niche. An injector was resting there. A head filled with thought and worry he picked it up. It was the kind of injector used for the implants, perhaps Daria also had a hack for the implants to highten the wearers fertility? “Hi there.” Blushing private Danielle Clarkson stood in the now open door. “Forgive my intrusion, I’ll leave if you want, but Daria said to meet her here.”
Putting the injector back where he had found it, Jason got up. “No, no intrusion at all. Make yourself comfortable.” Danielle sat down on the end of the bunk. She still was blushing. “Relax, I can call Daria if you like?”
“No, you don’t need to, it’s just, well, a bit embarrassing. We both know why I’m here, and it is,” stammering she stared at the wall opposite the bunk. “Embarrassing?”
She nodded shyly. “Yeah, a bit.” He concurred.
“We could start, if you want to?” Her hands began fumbling with the buttons to her blouse. “I don’t think Daria would appreciate that.” He put his hands over hers.
The sound of the door caused them to look in that direction. “But I told her you could start without me.” Another playful smirk from the lips of his girlfriend excited Jason more then he cared to admit.

A knowing smile on her lips Daria looked the Lieutenant in the eyes across the lunch table. She had seen her enter Julio’s quarters, but the Lieutenant didn’t take notice at that time. “What are you smiling at?”
“Nothing.” Daria returned to the present. “How is your tutoring going?” Also returned to the present the Lieutenant displayed an expression of uncertainty. “It is going well.” She lied, in actuality she had not been paying much attention to the subject matters, more to the technician.
“Your ship’s commander is learning fast. Almost as if he wanted to get rid of me fast.” A sly smirk appeared on Fran’s lips. “Yeah, our men are like that. Imagine that ten or more men are always after you. You’d see to it that you have to spend as little time as possible with them, wouldn’t you?”
Nodding Daria had to admit the validity of that claim. “So your men are hiding from you?”
“In a certain way. They have the bridge to themselves mostly, we give them that. Their leisure time they can spend with each other. But come bedtime,” she winked.
“How is you tutoring our female staff going?”
“Good, they aren’t distracted by my gender.” She handed the Lieutenant a tablet. “I’m not really authorised to suggest this, but are you interested in a technology that would ensure a male to female birth ratio of 50-50?”
Fran looked around, no one in hearing range. “Officially, I am appalled by your offer. Off the records however,” she took the tablet, “I am very much interested in it.”

“You look exhausted. Everything alright?” His sing-sang tone gave Julio away as a fornicator, at least to Jason, who had gotten to know him over the past two and a half days. “Everything.” Jason winked.
A broad grin from Julio was the reply. “Does you girlfriend know? You share quarters” he stopped mid sentence, his grin broadening, “you dog! A threesome? Congrats!”
“You know of nothing, understood? And thanks.” Jason felt embarrassed. And morally he felt facing a dilemma.
It didn’t feel right to keep Julio’s affair with the Lieutenant a secret. It also didn’t feel right what he and Daria were doing with Danielle. Aren’t we taking advantage of her? Feeling sick he reclined in his seat.
“I need some fresh air.” Jason stormed off, he had seen the map of the Orion, had scanned it. Soon he was standing in front of a door with a keypad. Figures.
With disdain he turned away, looking to get back to the computer deck. “Hey!” A hiss came from the doors intercom. “Come on in, pal.” A male voice!
Ever since his arrival he had seen only one man of the Orion crew, and he was surrounded by women. Slowly the door opened and three men greeted him behind it.
“Davids, Foster and I’m Young. You must be one of our visitors?” “Yes, Jason Charles. Are you hiding in here?”
“Sort of.” Young waved him to follow. There was a beaten track instead of a cared for path, between fruit bearing shrubberies and trees. The canopy above was dense, and only occasionally did artificial light break through to the ground. “The women know we’re here, but they leave us pretty much alone.” Davids explained.
“Unless we fail to show up in our beds that is.” Added Foster. “You see, we don’t have a lot of freedom concerning the women here. We each have our group, and they are demanding!” Jason stopped listening. Too many thoughts were colliding in his head. “If you want, you could take some of them with you.” Laughing Young marched on. “We have a small rest area over here.” They stopped at a hut constructed out of scrap metal, some benches and a table.
The more he listened to the three the less he felt guilty for what he and Daria had indulged in. As he was being showed back to the entrance by Young, the Orion crewman thanked him. “For what? Listening to you guys pouring your hearts out?”
“No, the implant. Took a lot of pressure off my mind.” The doors opened, a woman waited there. She was out of uniform, and looking intensely at the two of them. “Neil in there?” She was talking about Davids, both men nodded. “Get him please, and be sure to go to your quarters too.” She winked. With a sigh Young waved Jason good bye, returning back to the garden.
Feigning a smile, Jason nodded a greeting to the woman, and hurried off.

Listening to the message Daria had sent him, Jason stood outside his quarters staring into his glasses like an idiot. Leaning against the wall opposite of his door he had to repeat the message a fourth time. “I will be late, but don’t worry honey. There is plenty for you to do on this, our last night aboard the Orion. Have fun.” He could hear her smirk. A dirty smirk, like when she first brought Danielle in.
Somewhat reluctant, and afraid, what he’d find on the other side of the door, he played the message a fifth time.
“Trouble Doctor Charles?” Sylvie marched through the corridor. Immediately Jason assumed a more respectful stance. “No. Not at all. What gave you that idea?”
Shaking her head Sylvie stopped. “Just a lot of noise from these parts of the ship last night. I hope none of the team have forgotten their manners. And regulations prohibiting intimate relations with the crew from Orion.” She looked at the door to her right.
Jason’s door. “But you and miss Fulton are in a relationship, and none of you is native to Orion, so I see no problems up you alley.” She smiled and continued her rounds.
Julio, you better not. Turning the glasses off, he pushed off of the wall and opened the door, once Sylvie was out of sight.
Danielle sat on the bed, immediately looking at him. Although she blushed slightly, she also seemed happy to see him. “Good evening.” Tweeting she got off the bunk. From the other bunk another woman, emerged. “Good evening.”
Gulping Jason felt the door in his back. Reassuring, cold, stable. Have fun. Daria’s words echoed inside his head.

Carefully Daria closed the lid on the brick sized object. With a purr the cooling started together with the other systems inside. “There, all set up.” She smiled to Danielle, who was in a less joyful mood, after Jason had left his quarters without a word immediately after he had met her and her friend. “Don’t worry. It will turn out alright.” Daria put her hand on Danielle’s knee as she cowered next to her. “Trust me.”
“He hasn’t talked to you either, has he?” Slowly the friendly and open smile on Daria’s lips melted away. “No. He hasn’t.”
Mere hours from departure both women had hoped to be able to talk to Jason again, but he had disappeared.

“Your systems are all working within parameters, your crew has been tutored in the new systems.” Sylvie saluted before Christian O’Hare, current commander of the Orion. It was a rare sight, the men of the Orion had gathered and saw the away team from Explorer off. Jason, already in his suit, like the others, nodded to Young, who returned the subtle greeting with a benign expression.
“We wish you a safe journey to your home, we have programmed the coordinates of RV-p296 into your computers. Our descendants might be happy to see yours join them there.” Sylvie greeted the commanding officer. If there are any, and you haven’t died off.

Ruttling the pod accelerated to match Explorer’s velocity when they rendezvoused. Jason didn’t feel the ruttling. He had his eyes closed and was glad to have switched seats with Julio. After Danielle had shown up with the other woman, and Daria’s message, he wasn’t sure whether he truly knew her.
A private message popped up on his glasses. Without looking he knew it was from her.
He ignored it.
Closing his eyes again he only listened to the chatter on the radio. “…EM signal. It reads like one in the warning list.” Suddenly called back to an alert state Jason opened his eyes, realising he had dozed off for an hour or more, the rendezvous with Explorer was already in progress. “That is the frequency of the linkers!” Rüttli in Explorer’s command centre exclaimed.
Slowly Jason turned his head to look at Daria’s seat, opening the message. “We are sorry.”

Advertisements

RoF S2E1 – Explorer – Ark1 pt.2

image

Warning signals beeped across the control centre panels of the Explorer. Suddenly called to an alert state of mind the Admiral and her officers scrambled. “It is a warning of an antimatter signature, travelling on a trajectory parallel to our own, dead ahead.” Louis Walsh reported from his station, as first officer it was his duty to report everything to the Admiral. “Is it the Harpys?” Admiral Franziska Hardwick clenched the armrests of her chair. Ever since the Horizon had first contact with the Harpys the leadership of the Explorer had dreaded that they might turn up in their wake.

“Negative.” Louis seemed puzzled for a moment. “According to the computer the signature resembles that of the Ark1.” 
Approximate sensor readings of the object told the crew it was not all of Ark1 that was speeding through space, but only a remnant. Reclined in the chair of the briefing room Franziska studied the sensor readings, governors had been briefed and in a few moments a meeting was scheduled for the matter. 

“Sensors indicate that the engine core and antimatter storage facilities had been blown off.” Gregory Illchiev, chief engineer for the past five years and antimatter propulsion enthusiast, reported. “Those parts flew off in irregular patterns, drawing a signature past it, this part only has the remaining radiation signature on it, but contains neither antimatter, nor engine parts.” 

“Thank you.” Clearly noticing the disappointment in his voice, Franziska dismissed him. “According to the preliminary readings there is a slight possibility of survivors?” Alpha ring’s Governer Dean Stone interjected before the topic could be driven on. 

“That is correct.” Franziska switched the displayed image with a wink, all present wore their glasses, observed the displayed data. “As you can see, preliminary sensor readings suggest that a large portion of cryogenic capsules, which were aboard the Ark1, are still where the original blueprints suggest. As I see it, this is a humanitarian rescue. Data also suggests that the remnant is slower than we are, estimated power reserves might last another fifty years, perhaps less, in no way can they reach RV-p296 alive though.” 

Looking at Doctor Jason Charles who had spoken up, the round took a moments pause. It was his mother who had hatched the idea for a landing party on the rogue planet of Ericsson. Some forty years on she was still regarded as a genius for it, by most. Select few who had lost their family members and friends due to that mission hated her for it. 

“So what exactly is it you are suggesting?” Governor Stone sighed, turning his glasses off, they gave him eye strain. 

“We must dock it onto the Explorer if feasible. If not, dock a small craft with it and extract survivors.” Doctor Charles knew that parallels to his mother’s plan with Ericsson would be drawn. 

On the displays of the glasses and tablets approximate maneuvers were displayed, along with the note that further readings of the Ark1 remnant would determine feasibility of all the plans. 

“How long do we have to make the decision?” Andrea Yeoh, beta ring’s Governor too showed concern. “Limited forward sensor range means that the wreck is relatively close, it is suggested that the wreck is decelerating.” Gregory, although disappointed that no antimatter technology was supposed to be found, still was eager to board the ship and examine it. “While it is true that their momentum will carry them all the way to RV-p296, the speed of that journey can’t be maintained at ours. We too have to fire our drive every now and then to counteract friction. They can’t, even if someone is alive and kicking there.” He took a deep breath. “I’d say we have about a week until it is in range, it’ll be our companion for a time, until falling behind us.” 
Sitting under his father’s favorite apple tree Jason was working on the feasibility studies for the Ark1 boarding, based on telemetry streamed to his glasses hourly. “Do you ever just sit down and enjoy the gardens?” 

“Yes mom. But not now.” He smiled vaguely in her direction. Noticing her sad smile following his reply he turned the glasses off and took them from his face. “Yes, I enjoy them. From time to time there is a lot of work that needs my attention. I’m sure you can relate.” 

Nye came towards him and leaned against the tree. “Your father would be disappointed if he knew you sat in his spot and didn’t enjoy the garden. If I were to tell him that is.” She winked. Jason rolled his eyes. “He knows, he was here an hour ago, using the same argument as you. He also asked me to tell you, that he will be home in time for dinner.” Although food was eaten at the dining halls, Jacob and Nye often met at home to go to their dining hall together. Somehow Jason admired that sort of romanticism in his parents. Most people, even in their generation, met in the dining halls for family dinner. Fathers and mothers flocked from their respective work, children from schools, or their work. “He also asked me to join, but I’m afraid I’ll be working.” Again Nye displayed a displeased smile.

“I shall try to open up the evening.” Jason added, turning his mother saddened smile into a satisfied one. Emotionally held hostage, by my own mother! A buzzing sound from his glasses drew his attention. “Telemetry of the Ark1 remnant!” He exclaimed, putting them on faster than Nye had ever seen anyone putting them on. “The Ark1?” Worried she let herself sink lower, sitting down next to him. For anyone who was old enough when the Explorer last had contact woth the Ark1, the mere mentioning of that ship’s name was a synonym for failure on a dangerous level. 

I knew this day would come, fourty years ago when the Magellan probe first detected the radiation spike behind itself. 

Nye sat down more comfortably. 

“News isn’t out yet, but we have made sensor contact with a large remnant of the ship, supposedly no antimatter or propulsion technology is left, but we’re hoping to find survivors in cryogenic chambers. I proposed to dock with it, if necessary by using a small ship.” Memories of her proposal for landing on Ericsson rose in Nye.

Not all good. 

“New telemetry suggests that the midsection of the Ark1 is a compressed mess of metal, aft section is blown off completely.” He commented on the readouts streamed to his glasses, more for thinking them over, than to inform his mother. “Forward section is damaged, but presumably intact, but it’s too early to tell.” He peered through his glasses, over to his mother. 

Nodding with an understanding and regretting expression he took the glasses off. “Let’s go.” He sighed, tucking the glasses away before helping Nye to her feet.
Dinner went on as usual for Jason, his father Jacob spoke of the gardens he had worked on, his mother commented on their beauty as far as she knew them, since some were newly created in selected locations that had opened up upon restacking some storage rooms. Joan Charles, Jason’s little sister of nineteen, spoke of her day in school. 

Feeling he had already spilled too much information about the Ark1 to his mother, Jason remained quiet. “How’s Daria?” 

Almost choking on his food Jason looked at his father. “Fine. She’s fine.” Reaching for his cup, he breathed. 

“Are you two still seeing each other?” Resenting his dinner participation, Jason nodded slowly as reply to his father’s inquiry, still sipping water he hoped to avoid further questions. He was thirty five years old, he didn’t feel comfortable talking about women to his parents. “Good.” Jacob exhaled, giving his son reason to put the cup down. 

“You’re very quiet this evening.” Stating the obvious Joan leaned back in her seat. “Are you all right?” 

“Fine. Just,” he paused looking around. Too many people were in the mess hall. “preoccupied from work. That’s all.” Casually he glanced at the time, displayed on a large analogue clock above the doors of the mess hall. “Speaking of Daria,” he wiped his mouth, took another sip of water, “I’m supposed to meet her in ten minutes, if you’ll excuse me.” Giving him a permissive wave of dismissal Jacob watched his son get up from the table and leave.  

“I sometimes doubt he’ll ever give us grandchildren.” Shuddering after hearing her father’s words, Joan also left after being allowed to.
In a quiet small garden, recently opened to the public, Jacob found Daria on a bench, looking at the simulated night sky. As in other parts of the ship the current starry display around the ship was displayed. Over time it changed, constellations would emerge and disappear. Over large amounts of time that change was observable. 

“I can’t really find a difference.” Immediately she leaned against him as he sat down. Looking at the sky he replied that he couldn’t either. Obviously to him she referred to the sky they had looked upon at their first date, five years prior, in a mess hall where the night sky display first had been tried out. “Only the location in the ship has changed.” Her arms wrapped around him. 

Both knew they were far away from the location they had been in space back then, but objectively only their relative position in the ship had changed.

“It seems so.” He sighed, thoughts about the Ark1 still occupied his mind, but the presence of Daria was more inviting. “How was your day?” 

With a shrug of her shoulders Daria dismissed the question. “Come to think of it, a planet is not much more than a space ship. Going round and round, around a star, which in turn moves through space.” Feeling philosophical, are we? “Come to think of it, all the lunatics who believed in a hollow earth, and how our ancestors lived on the inside of the planet, wouldn’t be so totally wrong right here and now.” Daria turned towards him, he too faced her. For a moment they stared at each other, before breaking out into laughter.

“I love you, Jay.” She purred, in full confidence that she was the only one to call him by that nickname. “I love you too.” He kissd her lips. 

“How was your day?” Uncertain what to tell her about the Ark1, or whether to tell her at all Jason too shrugged his shoulders. 
Silently the horribly disfigured body floated through the coridor of twisted metal. Boils of radiation caused burns were frozen in place along with everything else. Bulged eyes and dried bodily fluids that had boiled inside, evaporated out of every pore and then freeze dried covered the skin, a horrid silent scream was forever shock frosted into the face.

Letting out a scream of his own Jason sat up in bed. 

Almost immediately a gentle hand reached for him from his side. “You alright?” Clearly sleep drunk and confused Daria sat up too. “Just a nightmare.” Taking a deep breath Jason sank back into the sheets. “It’s the Ark1. We found it, and I’m doing a feasibility study for docking with it.” 

Suddenly wide awake Daria turned on the lights in her quarters. “Why didn’t you tell me before?” 

“Didn’t want to worry you. There is radiation residue, but nothing we can’t handle.” A moment of silence passed between them. 

“I doubt that a communications technician could be of help, but maybe you need a little outside insight?” 

Tired but grateful to be able to talk about his work he took his tablet computer and opened the latest sensor readings. “We wanted to tether it to Explorer, but the recent telemetry suggests that would be close to impossible without tearing it apart. So we’ll send a pod. It is very likely that the crew, or part of it, survived in cryogenic chambers.”

“So this is a rescue operation?” Daria studied the sensor readings carefully. “Why don’t you send unmanned probes first to determine whether there are people in need of rescue? A powerful field for back and forth communication could ensure continued communication with the probes.” A broad smile decorated her lips, certain that the others who were tasked with the Ark1 hadn’t thought of that possibility.  

“That communication field might interact with the electronics of the cryogenic chambers, too much data needs transferring. Autonomous probes might do the trick, but those that we have aren’t built to heave the chambers, and there’s no time to build new ones.” 

Nodding without needing frequency diagrams for her proposed idea and why it might not work Daria looked at the presented data. “It looks like you’re going to have to do a docking with a pod.” She enlarged the details of bottleneck between the compressed bit and the forward section,which was relatively unharmed. “This looks promising. But the Ark1’s rotation might disrupt communication.” She typed a few commands into the computer, the image zoomed out, displaying a crude representation of Explorer alongside the Ark1, a narrow beam shot towards the bottleneck. “High energy communication, just like my proposed idea, only it is concentrated here at the docking site, internally communication can be ensured using tranmitters.” 

She handed him the tablet. It detailed that communication would only seize to be permanent from the moment cryo chambers were brought into the field. Thusly no remote controlled drones.

Awestruck Jason stared at her idea. “This might work. We need you on the team.” He smiled, laying the tablet down on the nightstand. 

“Gladly. Talk to your boss.” She winked, pulling him down to the pillow.
This is not what I had in mind. Shaking, both from nervousness and adrenaline, as well as the grinding movement of the pod, Jason stared at the display in front of him. It detailed the distance to the Ark1, as it shrank. Some pilot sat at the helm, a copilot next to her. From his side he noticed a waving hand.

Daria.

Barely recognisable in the spacesuit. A large figure with a black blob for a face. Were they close to a star, or later to radiation, shielding in the visor would turn that black blob into a blob of silver-metallic nature. 

Her graceful slim hand was now a gloved paw, that she put on his paw like glove. 

Still the pod was shaking, as the pilot maneuvered into a docking position, even more vibrations shook the pod as the drills engaged, to cut open an entrance. 

“We’re in.” Simultaneous with the pilot’s calm voiced announcement, the vibration stopped. “Please remain seated, until we have successfully tested the entrance.” Her copilot got up from his seat, working in zero G was not new to these military types, Jason noticed. With ease the man flew from his seat in the cockpit to the back of the pod. In advance they had pumped the atmosphere into tanks, so they wouldn’t vent it into space or a dead ship. Silence filled the area outside his helmet. All Jason was hearing came over the radio, vibrations in the ship that translated through his seat and suit to him, and his own breath and heartbeat. 

It was distressing. 

“Alright, we can enter.” With a few swift moves the pilot locked her station, also flew from her seat. Two days. Two bloody days of training in the tubes. Not enough, at all. Fidgeting with his seat belt, Jason cussed low enough as not to trigger the voice activated radio. A helping paw came from his side, undid his belt, moments later he and Daria floated off, following the pilots. 

Two anonymous technicians met them at the airlock. 

Pilot Sylvie van Froon, copilot Jorge D’silva waited just outside the pod for the technicians Theodore Allister and Emilia Bernsteen. 

“Radiation levels are tolerable.” Jason read from his scanner. It was a glorified tablet, rebuilt to detect radiation, much like a geigercounter. But it also was detecting other forms of radiation than only gama radiation. 

Behind the technicians came Daria with a suitcase like object. She too floated past the airlock into the Ark1.

The large corridor they had drilled into was largely intact, debris, cables and wall panels floated about, some of which came from the drilling, not the initial catastrophe. “We’re in a connection tunnel, sort of like our tube network. Forward section is this way.” Sylvie directed them along, to which Jason took a reading from the direction she pointed in. With a wave of his hand he gave the go ahead. 
After passing a siphon structure like the ones on Explorer and her sister ships, the group followed down a maintenance shaft, as the large tunnel seemed unsafe. 

More damaged corridors opened up behind an access lock, and more torn off wall panels and dirt greeted them. “Be careful with that stuff.” Jason’s tablet gave off a warning signal over the radio. After a moment of continued scans, he felt sick to his stomach. “Why what is it?” Still not used to her radio distorted voice Jason didn’t recognise Daria immediately. “Contaminated human residue.” When the Ark1 dropped out of its warp, the inertia had killed all that weren’t in a cryogenic chamber.

“Mashed rich people?” Technician Allister, chewing on something, probably gum. “Just don’t touch it.” Sylvie commeted, pressing on. Their pod had the capacity for decontamination, but it was a hassle she wanted to avoid. 

“Aren’t the people in the cryo chambers pueree too?” Allister asked, ignoring the tone of his commanding officer, compelling him to shut up without actually saying it. “Built in inertial dampeners.” His colleague replied shortly, hoping he’d be quiet now. “And they’re shielded, so there aren’t heavily radiated mutants either.” She added, sensing the next question. 

Navigating through the corridors was made hard by the contaminated organic residue, doors led to rooms filled with more contaminated residue of crew members and debris. 

“Is Explorer still reading this?” Second in command of the mission Jorge was concerned, at least his voice sounded concerned. “Loud and clear, thanks to Miss Fulton’s relay device.” Came the Admiral over the Radio. She and her command centre crew sat glued to their seats on Explorer. 

Proudly Daria lifted her suitcase device, which had gotten emptier. One relay she had positioned in the tunnel, another she’ll dropp at the site of the cryogenic chambers. 
Lights flashed, blinking they came to life. Utterly soundless in the vacuum of the broken walls of the Ark1, they revealed an elongated room, the walls curved outward, to provide more surface room. Every part of it, devoted to the hatch of a cryogenic chamber. 

A central contol panel stood lonely in the center of the room, fixed to the ground. “Secure that.” Sylvie pointed at the control panel, immediately her copilot took off to do just that. “Aren’t there just frozen civilians here? Why does he need to secure it?” 

“Allister!” Even his colleague felt fed up with him. “What? They’re acting as if some zombie might be popping up somewhere, we’re not in a bad SciFi movie, more like a long ass, boring space soap.”

With a sigh Emilia shook her head, unnoticed due to helmet and voice activated microphone. 

Daria returned to the group after she had set up the communication relay beacon at the entrance. 

Jason meanwhile scanned the chambers. “Reading a hundred and fifty chambers, thirty two of which are broken, inhabitants are dead. Non of them are contaminated.” 

“I can confirm.” Jorge typed on the panel. “Batteries are in relative good state. If we cut power to the failed ones we might be able to light this place a bit better.” 

A few moments after Sylvie gave him the command to do just that, the lights grew brighter. A noise in the com line to Explorer drew the attention of the six. The door to the hallway had snapped shut. 

“Reading an atmosphere. Low pressure. Not safe for breathing yet, but it’s building.” Constantly taking reading Jason cursed the day he had taken on the assignment. But even more the lack of time he had to connect the tablet with his glasses, so he would have a HUD, and his hands would be free. 

As well as his eyes.

“No reanimation process has started yet.” Jorge sounded concerned, as he clearly struggled with the control panel. “One chamber is however starting a thawing process.” 

Rushing to the panel too Jason and Sylvie almost bumped into one another. “Abort it!” She urged staring at the panel, underneath his helmet Jorge too stared desperate at the display beneath his gloved fingers.

Noticing a lack of action from Jorge, Jason pushed him away, his fingers moved hastily over the buttons. “It can’t be aborted. But we can slow it down.” He looked around the large room. One of the chamber doors was now accompanied by a blinking orange light, instead of the smaller green one. 

Detaching his tablet from the velcro patch on his hip he gave the device to Jorge. “Contamination?” Still somewhat helpless the copilot looked around on the tablet, uttering sounds of his helplessness. 

Impatient Sylvie took the device from his hand. “Only a little. Why?” 

“Safety reasons.” Jason grinned underneath his helmet. Unheard by them a sharp hissing noise filled the room, as the thin air the ship was building up was vented again. All the floating bits in the room moved slowly, but with increasing speed to a small port in the ground, where it disappeared. 

After he had cleared the contamination from the room as good as he could, Jason closed the port and allowed the air pressure to rise again. Meanwhile Daria and the technicians had moved to the chamber in question. “He’s still asleep, but already moving.” Not replying, Jason kept monitoring the panel, he knew that the crewman was on the verge of waking up. 

From the bottom of the panel he detached a medikit, pushing off to float to the chamber. “Keep me up to date on the air!” He barked into the radio. 

“Why? What is your plan?” 

“The chamber opens automatically as soon as it reads a safe environment, we then have to act quickly, or our patient dies.” Jason reached the chamber, Allister took the kit from him. “I’m a trained field-medic.” 

“Good.” Glad not to have to help the man wake up all by himself, Jason turned to the hatch of the chamber. An increase in the frequency of the blinkingnb light alarmed him to the chamber soon opening. 

“Atmosphere is breathable.” Sylvie alerted him, almost at the same time that the chamber opened. As the barge pushed outward Allister administered one of the prepared shots to the man’s IV. 

A hiss deafened Jason’s ears as he opened his helmet. “Charles, what do you think you’re doing?” Sylvie barked at him. “Making his waking process a little less threatening.”

Fluttering his eyelids the man woke up, all of him shaking violently. “Relax. We’re from the Explorer.” Immediately Jason put his hand on the mans shoulder. 

“Wh…why?” 

“Your engines blew off because of unstable reactions in your antimatter drive.” Allister too had his helmet open. Shaking or nodding, the man seemed to understand. “Crew?” He stammered between his convulsions. 

“Except for those in cryogenic sleep, no survivors.” Again there was no distinction to be made between shaking or nodding. 

After some thirty minutes the technician, by the name of Gerry Dermoth had recuperated from his long cryogenic suspension. In that time Jason and Allister had slowly prepared him for the ugly truth that lurked outside the doors of the cryo room. 

“It seems we have a problem with your plan to evacuate these chambers.” He was huddled into a fetal position, a heat blanket from the kit covered him. “They’re hardwired into the ship. Can’t be extracted like the ones on your vessels.” 

Still no one had found the time to tell him that several decades had passed since the incident. “Will the Ark2 be here soon?”

Jason and Allister exchanged a glance. The rest of the team was examining the other chambers. “It was a long time, and the Ark2 had been refit to the same mode of transport as the Orion ships.” A sad expression moved across Gerry’s face, like a cloud that passed over a field. “Figures.” He sighed, pinching the base of his nose. 

“Alright.” Slowly Sylvie lowered the tablet she still had from Jason. “Three people won’t survive the thawing process, their chambers obviously didn’t work properly.” 

Gerry didn’t react to the dire news, but stared at the doors to the hallway outside. Another dark shadow moved over his expression. “Outside is hard vacuum?” Confirming Jason and Allister too looked at the door. “Why aren’t the inner doors engaging? This room was supposed to have an airlock in case of a catastrophic incident.” Only after being told that there ought to be inner doors for an airlock, did it become obvious that there were none. 

“Emilia, check it out please.” Sylvie commanded her subordinate who was next to the supposed door.

Gerry slowly stretched. He would have appreciated some gravity, the weightlessness was nauseating, especially after being thawed.

“I had a weird dream in there.” Jason, again in possession of his tablet, checking readings of the surroundings, just nodded and asked what Gerry had dreamed about. “Some weird creature, thigh tall, and feathered, in a space suit. They poked me out of the chamber and examied me, without harming me. But since there aren’t any around, it was just a dream.” Had there been gravity Jason’s tablet would’ve fallen to the ground. Still smiling over his silly dream Gerry didn’t understand why everyone around him seemed to freeze. “Alright, grab your sidearms, get that door to work, I want the way back secured.” Sylvie closed her helmet, with a glare that spoke volumes she gazed at Jason and Gerry. “What’s happening?”

“No time, can you be returned to the chamber without engaging the cryogenic process?” For a moment Gerry pondered, then nodded. “In that case, prepare yourself.” Jason and Allister looked around. Was this the death sentence for the survivors of the Ark1? 
“Ma’am?” Louis approached Franziska in the command centre of Explorer. Still able to hear every word uttered by the away team on Ark1 the crew too had become more alert. Louis had worked the whisker drones since Gerry had revealed his cryogenic nightmare. “There was an unidentified shadow in our wake, right smack dab outside reliable sensor range, in our blind spot from the propulsion dish.” 

With a hand gesture in range of his glasses he transfered data to hers. “It vanished, for a minute moment there was magnetic spike, much like the one Horizon reported in the incident with the cloaked ship.” Corresponding data showed on her glasses. 

“All hands!” Franziska nodded to her first officer with a thankful glance. “Prepare for encounters with the Harpies. It appears that the threat finally caught up to us.” To Louis she said that the away team didn’t need to be alarmed, after all the ship could be in a simple recon mission.
Satisfaction mirrored on Emilias face as the inner doors to the cryo room closed. Unnoticed relief on Gerry’s face, as the entire away team was scrambled, and looking for potential Harpy technology. 

“Tunneling!” Exclaiming in a Eureka moment Daria turned to the rest of her comrades. “Like the communication, we could use the Ark1’s blast doors, emergency foams and planes to create an tunnelm for the cryo chamber inhabitants to go to our Pod.” Pausing for a moment Sylvie pondered the suggestion. “Jorge, Allister, Bernsteen. Secure those hallways and try to close those leaks off like she suggested.” 

Meanwhile Gerry had made his way to the panel in the center of the room. “There might be another way, at least for,” he studied the data returned to him, “that side of the room.” He pointed to the Ark1’s backbord side. The one facing Exporer. “And that is?” Sylvie’s voice was distorted through the small speaker on the exterior of her helmet. 

“We jettison them. You see, they can be shot off into space as life pods. That cuts them off from the power supply, but for a limited amount of time they can survive.” Gerry had to admit to himself that this design flaw should’ve been corrected before take off, instead of postponing it until later on their journey.  

Before she had to give him the order, Jason had joined Gerry at the console. “They can be directed towards specific coordinates! Explorer just needs to catch them.”

“With what?” Allister rushed to the console too. “A bloody giant net?”

“We could open the ports on the sub alpha, and guide them in with magnetic fields.” Gregory Illchiev radioed in, he too had joined the command staff in the command centre. As preparations were being made, Gerry informed them that the chambers would leave the room exposed to open space, another design flaw they wanted to correct while on route. 
Sealing off the hallways and transport tunnel was well underway, a few dozen crewmembers had already been thawed. “We need to halt.” Jason kept his eyes on his tablet and the panel, at that moment on the former, as he approached Sylvie. “Oxygen can’t be replenished fast enough for all of them at once.” 

Understanding the ramifications Sylvie opened her mouth to reply, when her Radio broke the silence. “We’ve got movement out here.”

“You and and your girlfriend will have to take care of things in here.” Already her helmet closed she rushed to the airlock. Reluctantly Daria too closed her helmet. It scared the survivors a bit, but in case of an atmospheric leak from any potential combat, she wouldn’t die of exposure. 
Immediately after exiting the airlock to the cryogenics department, Sylvie felt a heavy knot in her stomach, her arms and knees grew weak as the adrenaline rushed through her veins. “Talk to me people, where was the movement?” 

“Main tube, behind the bloody sheets we’ve just put up.” Probably Allister was spooked by some movement of the material. “There isn’t any pressure here yet, so I can rule out wind like causes.” As if he read my mind. “Coming to your position.”

The plan to fill the tunnel with an atmosphere hinged on it starting from the pod, as it alone could provide enough of it. For the rather shot trip back to Explorer the reserve would carry them through. 

Welded shut doors, and cracks, marked the progress. In some places repair foam had been sprayed, as soon as it left the can it hardened, even without any atmospheric chemicals to react with. 

Work torches were strewn along the way, still giving off their eerie, cold light, they gave Sylvie goosebumps. “Contact!” Allister screamed into his radio, a series of swear words followed as he cursed his gun, and his inability to take it out of the holster. 

Then came silence. “Allister? Talk to me!” The narrow corridor she had been floating in provided more than enough opportunity to grab onto something and push forward, but now entering the large tunnel she had to make her pushs and pulls count more. “He’s dead.” Emilia’s voice sliced through the silence like a siren blaring into Sylvie’s ears. “Keep alert, the thing might be,”

“It’s also dead. That crazy son of bitch got shot, and instead of just dying he grabbed onto the thing and smashed its helmet in with his fist.” A short lived hint of relief overcame Sylvie.

“Captain van Froon? This is a secure line.” Admiral Hardwick had lowered her voice, although only Sylvie could hear her. 
Jason was shocked when the airlock doors opened with a hiss, a draft sucked a little air out, but then the draft stopped. Sylvie floated through the open doors, the outter doors behind her open too. “Hurry!” She barked, pushing people towards the door. “Get everyone out, as fast as you can.” 

“I heard what hapoened,” 

“No, you didn’t. There is a fucking Harpy ship around here somewhere and the one that killed Allister might have been from that ship. So get your ass to the pod. Now!” She kept yelling, looking over the wall with the chambers that couldn’t be ejected, and were still unopened. “There is still time, we’ll return for them, but for now we have to go.” Her voice and tone had calmed. Sounding displeased and still bothered by the after effects of the cryogenic sleep, the survivors slowly made progress out of the room and down the hallways. Lead by Daria, following the path of floating cold lights.

“It decloaked!” Louis voice on the radio was uttering words Sylvie never wanted to hear. “The last ones are out.” Having his helmet closed Jason waited at the airlock door, closing the outter one. As if it had been a command Sylvie punched a button in the console. Both felt the sudden depressurisation pull on them, but as the chambers simultaneously left the room was quickly voided of any atmosphere.

“It’s moving off. Fast.” There was relief in the voice of Explorers first officer. “Hurry!” Sylvie and Jason entered the airlock, closed the doors to the room, and hasted down the hallway, soon reaching the last people of the Ark1 on their way to the pod. “Jorge, fire it up, I’m afraid we might be coming in hot.”
Sylvie’s fear of more encounters with the Harpys was luckily unfulfilled. “Advising you folks to hurry up. We are reading a new vessel out there, in the direction the harpys had moved off.” 

Jason felt the fear clutching his heart, the blood in his veins froze. From the corner of his eyes he saw that Sylvie must’ve felt the same, even in the thick paw-gloves the shakiness of her hands was visible as she reached for the helm controls. 

Again Daria reached for his hand, less to calm him, but to calm herself. “I love you.” She whispered loud enough for the radio to turn on. “I love you too.”
A great flash of light filled space, originating from the region the harpys had flewn to. “Something blew up our Harpies!” Louis turned to Franziska. “And it is transmitting an IFF.”

Rings of Fate S2xE10 – Destiny – Screech (pt.5)

image

Immediately his heart began to race again, after the encounter with Screech, real or not, he felt incapable of taking much more. 

“Guys, this ain’t funny. First the fake Screech in the lavatory, now you hiding. Seriously, not funny!” Anger flushed his cheeks with fire. 

“What?” Killian popped his head out from behind a tree. “What fake Screech?” Fiona too appeared from the darkness as well, next to her, Irma emerged from the night. 

Feeling his heart beat increase again Shane pointed in the direction of the lavatory. “Perhaps it was my mind playing tricks on” he was interrupted by a scream.

It came from the pond at the foot of the hill, where the creek lead. It was a scream of someone who was in terror. Killian and Shane grabbed a piece of the camp light respectively, and hurrired in the direction the scream had come from. 

Closely behind them were Fiona and Irma, who each had grabbed a light too. On the waters edge they found disturbed soil. A girl their age screamed a little to the right, they followed it, and found her standing waist deep in the water. She held a stick out in front of her. Killian shone his light in the direction it was pointed.

He too let out a terrified scream, dropped the light. 

Screech!

As he was described in the stories. Now the monstrosity turned towards him and let out his signature cry. A light flew past Killians head and hit Screech. 

“Hey, remember me? We had that little chat earlier?” Shane yelled to keep Screech’s attention. The small inset eyes of Screech fixed on Shane now. 

“Forgive my sudden departure, but your screams are,” Shane helped his buddy Killian stand up again, “terrifying.” A rustling noise came from Screech, his mouth opened and closed.

“Go, and get help.” Shane hissed to Killian. Neither had to check their glasses to know there was no network connection.

Apparently Screech had overheard Shane’s words. He rose to his full height, stretched out the thin arms of his. Screaming intensely he bowed back as much as his deformed body allowed. They followed his gaze into the distance. As far as they could see the lights around all the entrances to the garden had went out. Only one place remained invisible to them, behind the central spine of the ship, but they were certain that Screech had locked that one as well. 

“What does he want Shane?” Killian couldn’t help but claw his best friend’s arm. “Company. A link. His people. I’m not an expert on this thing!” 

With something resembling a grin Screech lookee down to the youths before him, when suddenly he cried out, the girl in the pond had thrust her stick in his side, and fled through the shallow waters.

Brushing off the stick as if it was nothing Screech pursued her. 

“Log!” Irma moaned heaving a thick branch from the ground, gratefully Shane accepted the new weapon. He and Killian followed Screech, while Irma and Fiona ran in the other direction, in hopes of finding an exit, or a spot where they could call for help. 
Not far from the shore the girl stumbled, her knees were shaking and she sobbed, Screech stopped over her, his inset eyes locked on his prey. Panicked she wanted to scream, but managed only a whimper, when suddenly she heard an unusual sound. 

A crack.

Screech stumbled to one side, then to the other, trying to shake off the blow to the head he just had received, when Shane brought the branch down on Screech’s head a second time. Something moist and warm sprinkled in his face, for once he was glad that the night had not been deactivated yet.

Slowly, swaying to all sides Screech turned. Killian had sneaked past the creature, was helping the girl get to her feet again. 

Once more Shane beat Screech with the branch, when the crack changed. The branch broke in two, but to his relief, Screech was sinking to the ground. 

A mere ten meters from their position a light suddenly came to life, revealing the exit. “This is Killian Fitzgerald, calling urgently to the closest security team. We need assistance!” Distant, almost as if in a dream, Shane heard his friend calling for help, as the network came back together with the lights. 
“And that is how Screech was defeated two years ago.” Lucille grinned over the campfire simulating lights. “But it is said, that the transporter platform beneath this very hill, has his signature stored in its buffer, and could at any moment materialise a new Screech.”

Rings of Fate S2xE10 – Destiny – Screech (pt.4)

image

“Really?” Fiona bore an expression of disbelief. “It escaped?” 

Killian tucked at her arm, winking, “It wouldn’t be as scary if it had been caught. What should we be frightened of in this nightly garden if it had been caught, or killed?” 

Fiona giggled at his remark. Shane had to snicker too. 

“A thorough investigation followed, the video remained classified, Celine was rehabilitated, but opted to be hospitalised. Nothing was found of Screech, as Celine then called the thing.” Irma went on. “Until a month ago, they found it. It was stalkimg security officers, and got killed.” Disappointment showed on the faces of her peers as she spoke those words. 

But a devilish grin appeared on her lips. “Upon autopsy however, they discovered something odd about the creature. It had a linker chip, but also it had Bobby’s chip.” She pointed at the back of her hand where the chips usually sat. “Of course, Screech ate him!” Kilkian blurted out.

“The creature they had killed was smaller than what the video indicated, eye wittness reports also made it bigger. But that was attributed to the bad quality of the footage, and the adrenaline rush the guards and Celine were on. However, Screech had also Bobby’s DNA.” 

Silence followed her words as the group tried to grasp what she was saying. “Bobby was Screech the whole time?” Fiona wrinkled her forehead, to which Irma slowly shook her head. 

“Screech tried to assimilate Bobby, he couldn’t bear the loneliness any longer. Through their link, and the mutilations Screech had given Bobby, they also exchanged genetic information. They had gotten Bobby, or what had become of him, the real Screech is still out there. Official reports, although classified too, however say that they had gotten Screech. DNA and the chip were present inside him because he ate Bobby.” 

Although they had relaxed a bit after Irma had told of Screech’s alleged end, the others felt tension rise again. 

“Good story.” Shane found his voice again. It was a good story, nothing more. Still he had to shake off the nagging doubt, he had felt a bit odd as he arrived.

“How do you know of all this stuff?” Fiona too had found her voice again. For a moment Irma remained silent. “My mum works in security. She and my dad discuss stuff over the dinner table when I’m supposedly in bed.” 

A cold chill ran down Shane’s spine. “Wait, this is a story, I’ve heard it in school!” Killian sounded startled. 

They didn’t need for her to reply, a look at her stern expression was enough. Every of these stories had some grain of truth to them, Shane thought. Regardless he felt something that he had ignored for the better part of the last hour, so he could hear the rest of Irma’s story.

“It’s just a story.” He said with a certainty he didn’t feel deep down, while getting up. “I’ll be back in a moment.” 

He felt the eyes of his friends in his back, staring in disbelief that he dared to venture out into the night alone, with Screech potentially being real, and around. But Shane had concluded that even if Screech was real, the Admiral, the Governor and various others wouldn’t have opened Beta gardens to them and the public in general if there really could be a monster roaming it. 

Beta Gardens would be locked, and combed through by security teams, dug over and perhaps even bombarded with toxins or radiation. 

Since they were open, there was no Screech. 
Lavatories were dimly lit small buildings, strewn around the gardens. During day time, it was a welcome change to the simulated daylight, during night it was a warm reminer that humans were light dwelling creatures. Shane opened a stall, recoiled from the stench of an unflushed toilet. Pondering what kind of mentally challenged idiot the previous user is, he moved to the next stall over. 

Putting up the toilet seat he still had the lingering stench in his nose and hoped that whoever did that, was found and forced to clean it up. 

“Hey!” He yelled as he heard the door to the facilities open. “Don’t use the first stall, some colossal asshole didn’t learn how to flush in kindergarten.” 

No reply, only the sound of footsteps. 

Naked footsteps. “Very funny, Killian, but your prank is your own undoing if you step in that disgusting,” Shane stepped outside the stall. 

Immediately he felt all color fade from his face, his throat was instantly dry. Instead of Killian, or any of his friends he saw a tall thing. A big body, a lump of a head, spindly arms and legs. 

It let out a screech like a tortured cat and rusty metal being torn apart. 

Although his heart beat through his chest, and every fiber of his being urged him to scream or run out the other exit, Shane didn’t move.

It had to be some kind of trick the others were playing on him. A costume, an illusion. 

“Heard you were lonely.” He croaked with a dry throat. “Why not talk to people, instead of killing them?” Realising how silly he sounded, and how much his voice trembled, Shane still fought the urge to bolt out the other exit. Again Screech screamed, causing Shane’s instincts to take over. 

Faster than he ever thought possible he ran out the door, stumbled through the tall grass, tore his clothes at a bush. Suddenly the hill seemed much steeper, and higher, the reassuring camp light was so far away. 

Panicked he glanced over his shoulder. 

Nothing.

As he stood there, on his hands and knees, with nothing following him, or anywhere around him, he figured that either his tired mind had played a trick on him, or his friends had. For a few moments he calmed his nerves and breathing. In these moments he heard nothing from behind. 

After he was calmed enough he climbed the hill, now that he wasn’t in a panic the steepness was soft again, and approached the camp site. 

There was no one there.

Rings of Fate S2xE10 – Destiny – Screech (pt.3)

image

Shane swallowed hard. “That, is how you tell these.” He said in a raspy voice, not having realised how dry his throat had become. 

With another swallowing he glanced to Killian, and saw that he too had been taken in by Irma’s version of the story. 

“It ain’t over.” Irma snickered maniacally. “Of course Celine reported the incident, filed the picture she had taken. But when security arrived the ground was just a dirty patch of soil. No grass, no blood.” 

Reassuring, but as secretive as possible, Shane felt for the grass. It was there. 

“Other than Bobby missing, nothing was awry. Security logs on the entrances showed no tampering with locks or lights, and so the investigation into his disappearance focused on Celine. After all, she had a sexual relationship with an underage patient, and was married. It seemed only natural that she had killed him. Investigators assumed that he wanted to make the relationship publicly known, and in a fit she had murdered him, and then fabricated that insane story. She was put in the brig as a mentally unstable, and possibly criminal insane person, as she kept insisting on her version of events, always brought up the picture of the bloody grass as evidence of her innocence.” Interested, but in no way spooked the others listened to her. 

“Until, some months ago, a bunch of cat bones had been unearthed in preparation for another terraforming project here in the gardens. They showed marks. Teeth marks. Of human teeth, someone, or dare I say, something had gnawed off the flesh of these cats. The bones showed no way of heating, so they must’ve been eaten raw.” Goosebumps crawled over Shanes arms. 
“Do you hate animals, Mrs. Fennington?” Celine glared at the counsellor assigned to work with her. “No.” She replied truthfully. “What makes you think that I would?” 

“Well,” he produced a series of images on the table, which had a built in display, showing bones with teeth marks. “these were found in the garden, where you have murdered your lover.” She had grown accustomed to the fact that she was held responsible for Roberts disappearance. Even her husband and daughter thought so. 

But cat bones? Gnawed off, cat bones on top of that? “Take a print of my teeth, or check my dental records. They won’t match the marks on these bones. I believe Bobby’s dental records are on file, just to make sure it wasn’t some sick love game we played.” She intensified her gaze. Did they really think that of her?

“True,” admitted the counsellor, “but they are in a bad state. They were found near a small pond, during preparation for another creek.” 

Celine reclined in her seat, this conversation should be lead by an interrogator, not a counsellor. Then again, he was a working with the criminally insane, so he probably was both. “So? You want to pin these on me too? Saying I either faked the marks, or they don’t match due to deterioration in wet soil?” There was a twitch in the man’s face. 

“Listen, I’ll gladly retell the events yet another time, but you don’t believe me, so I see no point. Just continue with your investigation.” 

“Please,” folding his hands the images on the table disappeared, John Hopkins leaned on it, “tell me again what had happened?” 

Celine raised an eyebrow, was he being serious? “I went to the gardens to meet with Robert, as I entered the doors locked and the lights went out, despite what the records tell. After looking for him, I was infuriated and wanted to leave when I heard that cry. It sounded like a tortured cat, with something metallic to it. Then I discoveed the blood, took a picture of it and left as the lights around the exit came back, and I figured it was unlocked. I hadn’t called for help prior to that, because there was no connection.” 

Although she made it sound simple, her heart beat to her throat, and she felt the terror beneath her calm exterior. 

Was it in John’s eyes, or his glasses that she saw that he believed she was lying? Uncertain she sighed, it didn’t matter. “The implant tells me you’re quite agitated, this is closer to PTSD than a lie on the detector.” He mused. Although he had worked with her before, apparently he never had bothered to monitor her biosigns. “Now you’re either calling this a fabrication so my conscious mind won’t have to deal with what I did, or you are toying with me and in secret you keep believing that I did it. Don’t forget Mister Hopkins, I am a counsellor too.” She winked. 

“No,” he unfolded his hands again, “I actually believe that you witnessed something, but also that you murdered your lover.” The door opened and two armed security guards entered. “Come.” He rose to his feet. 

Again she felt her blood run cold as ice. 

Without him saying anything she knew he was going to take her to the gardens. A place she hoped to never see again.


Already the programmed dimming was setting in, to simulate a sundown. Celine’s intestines formed a tight knot as she laid eyes on the gardens. 

Especially the hill.

“Soon it will be dark, I thought it would be a good therapeutic way to show you the gardens.” Swallowing her heartbeat Cekine took a deep breath, and small step forward. Beneath the soles of her shoes she felt the soft ground give way to her weight, unlike any surface she walked on outside the gardens. “Of course you did. It is in our nature as counsellors to think these things, but you know what?” She turned to him in a swift motion, causing the guards to reach for their guns. “We are wrong! Now get me out of here!” She found herself incapable of maintaining her cool exterior, panic now reached the exterior, boiled over like water in a pot.

She threw herself in the direction of the exit, but was caught by the guards. “Celine! We need to do this. You need to. The sooner you realise that you killed,” John Hopkins words caught in his throat as the sound echoed over from the hill. 

A noise as if a cat cries, mixed with something metallic. 

In panic, additionally fuelled by Celine’s story of the events, he bolted to the exit, the guards rushed behind him. 

With a glad sigh he leaned agains the reassuring cold wall plating in the corridor after the door had closed, it was only then that he noticed Celine was missing.


Petrified Celine stood two steps from the door, something inside her was screaming for her to make a run for it. But she barely noticed that it closed behind John and his guards. Let alone her inner voice urging her to leave.

That sound again. 

That cry again. 

Unable to move a single muscle Celine stood there in silence. 

An unusual sound came from behind her. It was a thump. A knocking of sorts. Trembling Celine forced herself to turn, what she saw made her wish she had a gun, a crowbar or explosives.

The door wasn’t lit. Presumably it was locked, the knocking came from the other side of the door. Still trembling Celine turned to the hill.

Tears shot to her eyes, she was thinking of Bobby.

Gingerly she placed one foot in front of the other, stopped as she felt something beneath her foot. 

John Hopkins’ glasses, he must’ve lost them in his flight. Uncertain whether he had locked them or not she picked them up with cuffed hands, put them on.

Accessible! 

“I…I am recording this in the event that the mysterious thing that killed Bobby strikes again, to prove my innocence, and perhaps show my murderer.” There was absolutely no network connection, so she had to use internal memory, for that to last, she had lowered the quality of the recording.

Just like the last time she had been in the garden, she used the flash as headlight, as she slowly moved up the hill. Again the eerie cry sounded, Celine’s heart lumped in her throat. 

There it was. 

About as tall as her shoulder, patches of hair on its head that was just a lump on top of a bulky body. Spindly arms and legs, the creature, the man, she noticed, stood naked before her. The skin was rosy and raw, as if inflamed. 

“Fuck.” She hissed. Her hands were cuffed, even if she had something to defend herself with, how would she strike at the thing? 

Another metallic noise filled the air. It was the door! John’s guarsa had cut through it with their guns, the hole they had cut out had fallen to the ground. 

The two men jumped through, looked around and saw her, and the creature. Immediately they opened fire.

A screech of agony rose from the man as the first darts hit him, but it moved with incredible speed towards the guards, so they switched to the lasers.

Wounded, and crying in pain the thing retreated into the onsetting night. 

Rings of Fate S2xE10 – Destiny – Screech (pt.2)

image

“Well,” Irma shook her head, she didn’t have the spooky lighting in her lap, but still her face was lit in a dark manner. “Bobby didn’t come here alone.” 

Turning his face to Irma, Shane wore an expression saying “you too, Brute?” but remained silent. “His true name wasn’t Bobby, but Robert. His friends called him Bob, or Bobby. That night he wanted to meet with the woman he had a thing with. Although in his teens like us, he had a relationship with a thirty year old counsellor. The mandatory sessions for all aboard the ship had brought them together. When she entered the gardens, it was already two in the morning, but as soon as she entered, the entrance went black and locked.” 
Figuring that Robert had hacked into the systems for a romantic, and undisturbed night, Celine blushed in the darkness. “Bobby?” She whispered, hoping not to disturb anyone else, as their relationship was a secret. “Quit hiding.” She snickered glancing behind bushes around the entrance.

Slowly she advanced towards the hill, faintly the gargling creek echoed through the simulated night. The two had planned to meet at the spring of the creek, so she climbed the hill, slowly, as it was dark. Far off, almost on the other side of the gardens she could make out the glow of a camp light. That gave her reassurance, as she felt odd, and a little uneasy.

“Bobby?” No reply, no sound but the water being pumped up and flowing down hill. Celine felt her hairs stand on end at the silence. “This isn’t funny.” She said in the voice of a counsellor reeling in the weird fantasies of an adolescent boy. 

Sometimes in bed she and Bobby did the counsellor-patient routine, but mostly in their secret relationship the two had a feeling of mutuality. 

“Hello?” She asked after she heard footsteps somewhere beneath her. Shortly after she asked ,she heard it. The scream of something that sounded like a cat in pain, at first she figured that two cats had gotten in a fight, but the scream also had something metallic to it. “Hello? Bobby?” Her voice trembled, her knees were weak, she glanced down the way she had come, but still the exit was dark.

Hastily she turned and with a feeling of sheer terror she realised that the other entrance that normally was visible from atop the hill was dark too. Out of her fear she found anger inside her. “This is not fun, Robert, you had your fun, now stop this. If you think you and I will go to bed tonight, you’re gravely mistaken!” She stomped off in the direction of the other exit. 

Halfway down the hill she heard the metallic scream again, followed by a panicked and agonised cry from an adolescent mouth.

Celine’s blood seemed to freeze. 

Bobby!


Running around the hill, towards the area where she had heard the screams, Celine still felt the anger from before. Anger that this might be a sick joke from Bobby, but also worried. He was picked on a lot by his peers. 

Seeing as he was anything else than athletic, more weakly, he was easy prey to the bullies. One of the things he had talked about a lot in counselling sessions before they had started dating. 

Perhaps his bullies had gotten behind their secret, or just him dating someone at late night in the gardens, and had set up the situation?

When she reached the other side of the hill, she found nothing. Looking around she found more of the same. 

Her hands shook as she took out her glasses. They were offline, as she didn’t want to leave a traceable trail in the ship’s records, but she didn’t care at that point. 

As soon as she had them on her head she turned on the headlight function, derived from a small LED flashlight for the camera, and activated the network. 

There was blood in the green grass. 

To her horror, she also noticed that the network wouldn’t connect. Looking around Celine felt her heart beat in her throat. 

“Is there anyone?” Her voice trembled, close to whimpering. It felt as if the entire ship had gone, and all that was left of Destiny’s crew was her, alone in the garden of the beta ring. 

She as a whole began shaking in fear, her headlight trembled, causing the shadows it threw to dance silently and eerily. 

Flickering lights behind her in the distance startled her, she let out a terrified scream. 

Clutching her hands in front of her chest she turned to find the lights of the exit had returned. Tempted to make a run for it she looked around once again, took a snap of the bloodstains and hurried off. Hoping to find a message waiting for her, as soon as the network was available again, telling her that Bobby had been kept by someone or something. 

Rings of Fate S2xE10 – Destiny – Screech (pt.1)

image

Shane Grimes walked through the nightly garden on the beta ring of Destiny. Somewhere off in the distance his friends had a small camp. During the holidays students were allowed to camp in parts of the beta garden, unless they were caught making fire. 

Although he knew that there was nothing to be scared of, the most menacing creatures aboard the Destiny were house cats in order to keep the rats in check, he still felt odd. 

“Shane!” He heard his name being yelled by one of his peers in the distance, followed by a small flickering light. A small orange-red lamp, used to simulate a camp fire, and subsequently a torch. He walked towards the light, stopped as he encountered a small body of water in the way. 
Terraformers had been let lose on the beta gardens after the Linkers had left more than two years before, lakes and one creek were available. Shane’s grandmother enjoyed the creek a lot, the sixteen year old recalled as he circumnavigated the small lake. “Just like on earth” She used to tear up when sitting next to it, “and like it will be on RV-p296, you just wait and see.”

Not far away he heard the gargles of the creek, and his sense of direction picked up where exactly he was. 

Surefooted he climbed the artificial hill that was necessary for the creek to run. It was neither steep nor tall. Too much mass in one single spot would create an unround motion of the ring, and wear out the suspension. 
“Shane, I started to get worried.” Irma smiled as he arrived. “Over what? If I hadn’t shown up you could always call, or write. If I had been kept, I would’ve called.”

His friend Killian snickered at the fake campfire. “You couldn’t have called.” He took one of the lamps as torch and lit his face from beneath. “If screech caught you.” 

Intrigued, but also feeling slightly uneasy Shane greeted Irma with a hug, and the other three with a wave. “Who is screech?” 

“Not who,” a girl next to Killian said, her voice lowered to only a nuance more than a whisper, “but what.” By the way she sat close to Killian, Shane deduced that it was his girlfriend. “Alright,” Shane sat down between Killian and Irma, gratefully taking a lab produced sausage. “what is screech?” He decided to play along. 

The tradition of telling scary stories around the campfire was kept alive, even though the campfires were fake. “It is said that he is a failed experiment of the linkers. During the siege they attempted to bring their people out, even if that meant to try new and insane stuff. One was beaming!” Also with a lowered voice Killian smiled, his expressions a mask of insanity with the eerie lighting of the torch beneath his face. 

“Beaming? Really? We’re going into that territory?” Shane raised his eyebrows. Everybody knew that beaming was wishful thinking, that couldn’t work unless the object that should be beamed was cooled down to absolute zero, for all subatomic motion to stop, so it all could be measured, destroyed, transmitted to a receiving end, and recreated. 

“I know, it sounds crazy, but the linkers are crazy!” Fiona, Killians girlfriend, grinned insanely.  

“Of course, we all know that beaming is impossible, but the linkers had to try, in order to get out. They wanted so badly to join their brethren on the Ark1, that they resorted to this insane idea.” Killian took a bite of his own sausage, in the center of the pile of torches was small heater designed to roast the stem cell sausages. Holding his food in there Shane gestured them to continue. “So, they started to cool down one of their own, with success. Testing the transporter, they beamed him here, into the gardens where a receiver had been constructed. But something went terribly wrong at the reassembly. Deformed the creature stumbled off the platform. They couldn’t bear the agony their comrade was in, so they severed its connection with the link, and left the creature. They figured it would die soon enough and abandoned the site.” A fiendish grin on his lips Killian watched Shane get uneasy. “It is said that the Admiral ordered the device they left destroyed, but engineers and scientists were so intrigued by it, that instead they burried it. Can you guess where the site is?” 

Regaining his posture at the elaborate point of the tale Shane raised an eyebrow. “Here?” His voice was filled with a bored undertone, up to that point the story had been good. “That’s right. Here. But they didn’t know about Screech, he survived, feeding off of cats and mice, plants and at least one teenage boy. Last year, after they had finished the hill and opened it for summer vacation students, one guy got lost here.” Shane asked himself how anybody could get lost in the gardens. There was a lit exit every now and then, from the top of the hill one could see two in opposing directions. No one could get lost in this enclosed environment. 

Clearly to him, it was a badly composed story, obviously lifted from one of the message boards, forums or what not. Maybe even an adaptation of a creepypasta found in the archives of earths internet.

“Being a left over linker Screech had the knowledge to infiltrate ship systems, he locked the entrance ways and turned off the lights, for poor Bobby to get lost.” Bobby? It had to be a name like Bobby? Shane nodded.

“After he was lost he wandered around the hill to get his bearings down, but that’s when he heard the eerie cry of Screech. A mixture between a cat in pain and rusty metal being torn apart.”

“Wait a minute,” Shane ahook his head, “how do you know this stuff? Were there any eye or ear witnesses around? If Screech took Bobby, how do you know he heard him? Did he write a mail? Did he call his mom?” In an instant Killian’s fiendish smile turned to an annoyed face. “Way to ruin the mood, man.”

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be a creepy story.” Fiona too was annoyed. 

“Then tell it convincingly, without plotholes the size of a fusion reactor!”