Lost Contact - 1


Lost Contact - 1
 written by Rob Bown

The icy crust breaks around the seal on the entry to the SMN Cutty - atmospheric venting. She’s a modest ship, outfitted for mining duties by the look of it. The first intruder steps through the threshold, their boots maglock to the inside of the hull. They glance left and right and head towards the command console, their headlamp cuts a swathe through the darkness. Dust meanders through the shaft of light, drifting with the change in air pressure. Two more follow, each looking left and right then heading in other directions. By the time the third one is through the airlock the first has the command console online.

                ‘Access all logs, I want to hear everything. Chronological order.’

Rebooting ships log…

Waiting…

Success.

Booting black box…

Waiting…

Success.

Accessing logs SMN Cutty...

Waiting…

Booting ship audio log: 12/10/3045 [1345]

‘What do you mean we’ve lost it? How is that even possible?’

‘Like I said Cap, we’ve lost the triangulator, it’s just disappeared.’

‘Troy turn us around, we’re going back to the station.’

‘Aye Captain, rerouting power to directional thrusters in 3...2...1’

‘Rakley, where is the triangulator?’

‘I dunno Cap, it’s weird, it hasn’t just been lost. It’s no longer broadcasting. Even our backup equipment is not picking up anything. It’s like Alpha-1 just shut down or somethin.’

‘Why would they shut down?  They know we all need them…Troy, how long until we reach Epsilon-12?’

‘Five hours and change Cap, I’ll run her as fast as she’ll go.’

                ‘Good, see to it that you do, whatever this is, I’ll feel a lot safer when I’m not out here on my own.’

                ‘Aye Captain.’

 

Booting personal log: 12/10/3045 [1527]

Personnel: Engineer Hyacinth Rakley

I don’t know what happened today with the triangulator but it’s bad. Whatever it is that’s caused this, it's knocked out all comms. I told the captain it was gone. Not just like we weren’t picking it up either, all my diagnostics proved our shit was working fine. No, we weren’t the problem, the source was the problem, it was either no longer broadcasting, or it no longer existed. I remember at the time that second idea gave me a shiver down my spine. We don’t have any competition at the moment, I know, just as well as everyone else does that there has to be others out there. Other beings, other lifeforms, and if that’s the case then they may have attacked HQ, they may have destroyed...

Static in the recording. It resumes after a few seconds.

Either way we’re headed to Epsilon-12 now. Hopefully we can dock there, man I can’t wait for a proper shower. Never know, we might also get some R&R time while we’re there. Especially if comms are down, we can manoeuvre fine, but the big cruisers and battleships that patrol the Epsilon-12 area will be blind. If they aren’t anchored, or didn’t fire their anchoring harpoons into one of the asteroids they’ve, well, they’ve fucked it.

 

Booting personal log: 12/10/3045 [1556]

Personnel: Captain Thad Jannick

Captains log, god I never get bored of saying that. Today we lost connection to the triangulator. Rakley tells me it’s not an issue with the Cutty, it’s an issue with the source. It’s not impossible, but there is so much redundancy built into Alpha-1 that there is no way the signal could just drop out. No way at all. Unless, shit, variables. I hate variables, messing things up, nudging events into new directions like overactive atoms. The variables are too much to consider for me now, I’ll need to look over everything when we reach Epsilon-12. For the moment, the mining job has been abandoned, we’re returning to Epsilon-12 for safety and to await further instructions from the corporation.

I hope the armada has their shit together, with no navigation they could be in a whole world of hurt right now.

 lost contact

Booting ship visual log: 12/10/3045 [1903]

A grainy image appears in front of the intruder. It has 6 panels of equal size that gradually expand to form a largish window. There are two internal and four external feeds pointing away at different angles from the hull.

The surroundings begin to slow down as the ship reaches the first contact point of Epsilon-12. The person watching tilts their head to align the field of view with the frontal feed. The objects around the camera gradually reduce from white streaks to solid forms. The view is one of carnage, but this doesn’t seem to deter the person watching. The space over Europa is on fire. The dark void is orange, red, yellow and white. The ship slows to a crawl and lists to the port side, the view sweeps around just as another ship explodes. It’s a massive troop carrier, easily housing a million souls. The central canal that connects the engine to the living and command decks crumples like a can. The engine tears itself free of its mooring and descends into the asteroid belt causing further explosions as it goes. The front section of the ship dips towards Europa, it gathers speed as it heads closer to the ice moon. Flashes all over the hull signal the deployment of lifeboats, with no signal they are effectively coffins, shooting the crew off in every direction, with little to no hope of rescue. Finally the ship hits the artificial atmosphere of Europa. It starts to burn up, these ships are not designed for re-entry, they are constructed completely in space and never touch the surface of a planet during their lifetime. This becomes more apparent as great chunks start peeling off the command module. Like a metal flower opening up the ship's layers are stripped back, until it is just a mass surrounded by fire, plummeting towards its icy grave.

lost contact 2

The feed pans to the port side camera, two of the escape pods collide, skewing off in opposite directions. One of the pods passes close to the Cutty, so close you can see the cracks in the glass screen, so close you can see the occupant gasping for air as the pod depressurises.

 

Booting personal log: 12/10/3045 [2008]

Personnel: Engineer Hyacinth Rakley

We have just arrived at Epsilon-12, it’s a shit show here. There’s no comms, ships trying to dock all over the place, no order at all. The whole way in the ship was pelted by lifeboats, they rained off the hull like asteroid debris. Each time one struck us, I couldn’t help but think about the person inside it. They have no chance, no chance at all.

 

Booting ship visual log: 12/10/3045 [Time unknown]

The external video feeds pop up for the intruder once more. This time the port camera is just a wall of static, the other three external feeds are filled by the looming mass of Epsilon-12 station.

The ship's momentum is suddenly arrested, and a docking clamp fires out with a show of displaced air. It rushes towards the docking bracket, and clamps down. All the feeds shake in unison. The internal feeds show the crew talking about something, everyone seems calm. It appears they are deciding who is going to go out into the station for supplies. The engineer puts her hand up and the captain also makes a show of having to go. As they are kitting up, the pilot shouts back towards the air lock, the captain stops changing, and heads back towards the front viewing port. He is seen craning his neck to get a viewing angle. Then his expression drops, he quickly straightens up and fires a command at the pilot and another technician. The pilot looks panicked and slams the control column down into a reverse thrust. As he does that the other technician disables the docking clamps, they let go of the ship and begin to drift, like a pieces of string in water.

The intruder leans closer to the external feeds, there isn’t a feed aimed at where the pilot and the captain seem to be looking, but something has definitely got them to act quickly. The undocking procedure was hazardous at best.

lost contact 3

As the ship backs away, more features of Epsilon-12 come into view. The station seems to have fires on several decks, and the surrounding debris field is only getting worse as more ships flock to the system to try to get answers. The other feeds are filled with specs of light, the engines of other ships clumped together like a firefly swarm. As the ship moves further from the station a capital ship comes into view. It’s a Glory class battleship, some of the biggest in the armada, and it seems to be heading straight towards Epsilon-12. The station itself is so big that, temporarily, the ship looks minute compared to it. The ship soon hits the point of no return, the captain can be seen on the internal feeds shouting at the pilot, probably a plea for more power. The engineer speeds off in the direction of the engine to oblige the captain's orders. The battleship starts to contact the station, the initial explosions are small and localised, but as it hammers its way through the external hull and first layers of shielding the station starts to bloom around it. It is a fantastic sight despite the loss of life occurring right in front of your eyes. It is no longer clear where the station starts and the battleship ends. It plows into the silvery mass, cleaving through the superstructure with ease. As it does the station gives out a last heave, the area where the ship hit is glowing with explosions. New ones ripple out from the ship, passing themselves on to the station. Eventually the centre engine block of the station collapses and explodes, all the feeds are washed white. Two of the feeds drop to static only while the third shows a spinning view of the Europa high orbit. The Cutty is buffeted by the force of the explosion, the captain is lurched upwards and hits the deck hard. A small pool of blood is spat out his mouth. He looks up, gives a command, the pilot nods and begins to plot a course. 

 

To be continue...

 

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