Lost Contact - 2


Lost Contact - 2
 
written by Rob Bown

 

Booting personal log: 12/10/3045 [2149]

Personnel: Captain Thad Jannick

It’s gone, it’s fucking gone. The HMS Protector collided with Epsilon-12 earlier. I watched it, I watched the destruction, I watched the death. All those people, they didn’t stand a chance. No time for lifeboats, too little warning...no time...no...time.

 

Booting personal log: 13/10/3045 [1923]

Personnel: Engineer Hyacinth Rakley

We’re heading towards HQ. Epsilon-12 was destroyed and we got front row seats to the slaughter. We need to figure out what’s happening with the signal before more stations are lost. It’s not like the Protector could’ve done anything about it, they don’t have access to manual maneuvering, why would they?  They’re kitted out for combat, for trading blows with other battleships, not close maneuvers. I had friends on that station, quite a few of them. Nothing was getting out alive of that shit show though. *sniffles* I hope HQ and Earth are in a better state than we currently are, we have enough fuel to get us there but we need to take on more. Man, I hope Earth is OK, the signal still isn’t back up and running, which doesn’t bode well, maybe something happened to the radiation belt and it’s blocking it.

 lost contact

Booting personal log: 13/10/3045 [2200]

Personnel: Captain Thad Jannick

Fucking variables, there’s still too many. We don't have any signal still, Rakley can’t seem to get it online. She says the Cutty isn’t the problem, and to be honest I’m inclined to agree with her. She’s the best engineer i’ve ever served with, she can get extra power to those engines like no other. I need to speak to them all, Troy has been way too quiet for the last few days, I don’t blame him after what we saw over Europa, I’ve never seen death and destruction like that. Troy served with the armada during the independence conflict as well, so he's seen some things in his time. Still, such wanton carnage.

 

Booting ship visual log: 14/10/3045 [0753]

The intruder slams a fist on the command console. It is spitting sparks against the protected thermal suit the person is wearing. The sparks are inconsequential, and the first gets the feeds back up and running.

‘HMS Aegis, this is MNS Cutty, do you copy?  We are broadcasting a local radio signal on all frequencies. Do you read us?  We are no threat, do not fire there are souls on board. I repeat do not fire, there are souls on board.’  The internal feed showed the captain leaning heavily on the command console. His hands are spread either side of the comms panel, arms locked, head hanging. The external feeds show the ship in question, the HMS Aegis. It’s a light frigate, and it’s guns are locked in a firing position. ‘Get us out of here Troy, there’s either noone on board, or they can’t hear us. Either way it looks like they’re ready for a fight, and we certainly are not.’

‘Aye captain, but we are going to have to go past them to reach Earth,’

‘I know Troy,’ his shoulders slump, a visual sigh, ‘we need to get back to HQ before we run out of fuel, the only way is past them, so past them we go.’

The pilot nods and moves the control column into full forward, the ship lurches and begins to gather speed. As it gets closer small dots of yellow and purple develop at the tips of the guns of the Aegis. ‘Cap they’re charging weapons,’

                ‘I can see that Troy, full speed ahead, if they’re going to fire let's make sure we aren’t an easy target,’ the captain sinks down into his command chair, and grips the armrests. The tension is visible through his whole body, similarly all the crew are seated and strapped in. The initial shots miss the ship, the feeds showing long lances of light zipping past, ‘Troy, made it more difficult if you can, but be easy on the fuel.’  In response the ship dips to starboard and starts to spin, more lances miss the ship by narrow margins, ‘cap this won’t last long, it’s hammering our fuel, if we keep going we’re not making it to Earth.’ 

                ‘Hakley, your time to shine, in exactly thirty seconds I need all the power the Cutty has. I mean everything. Troy keep them busy as best you can, use short spurts of the directional thrusters to keep us spinning for now. Plot the course to HQ and get ready to hit at on my mark.’

The feeds continue to spin, the frigate getting closer and closer with every second. Their targeting solutions would be primed soon, and all it needed was one shot. The timer on the bottom of the internal feed counted down, 29...28...27, ‘do we have the route ready Troy,’

                ‘aye captain,’

                ‘Hakley please give me good news,’

                ‘I’ve managed to get another 30% for the rear engines captain. This isn’t going to be pretty on the Cutty though, she’s not designed to run this hot or this fast for such a period of time. Even with the extra power I’m not sure we will outrun the Aegis.’

                ‘Well let’s hope they aren’t in the chasing mood. Mark coming in 3...2...1,’ as the captain finishes the countdown the ship lurches, harder than before, even the crew strapped in the seats visibly moved backwards, as the acceleration kicked in. The external feeds shake as the ship moves through space, the rear feed cuts out as the engine discharge licks the bottom of the picture. The Aegis grows larger in the front and starboard feeds, then just a quickly begins to shrink as the ship makes it past. As it is reaching maximum range something causes the ship to jolt,

‘we’ve taken a hit captain, it’s the emergency life support, it’s not shot but it’s not in a good way.’

                ‘Can you fix it Hakley?’

                ‘Not right now cap, but I should be able to once we’re closer to HQ and can slow down.’

The Aegis fades into nothing on the starboard feed, the internal video shows the captain unstrap himself and let out a breath of relief, Troy knowingly pats the control console in front of him, like a cowboy thanking his horse for the days travelling.

 

Booting personal log: 13/10/3045 [1923]

Personnel: Engineer Hyacinth Rakley

We broke Earth space about an hour ago. The area around Earth is a graveyard. We’ve had bodies hitting the hull from as soon as we slowed to sublight speeds, hardly any of them have safety gear on, which means they were vented into space. I can’t think of anything worse than being vented, it’s such a hopeless way to go. The life support systems are mostly back up and running, so if we do take a hit we should be fine. We broke into the system using the darkside of the moon as cover, just in case there were any more battleships out there who didn’t like the fact we existed.

 lost contact

Booting ship visual log: 14/10/3045 [0900]

The external feeds flicker up. They are cluttered with bodies and debris from ships. The scene looks like the aftermath of a space battle, one where nothing has survived to tell the tale. As the ship draws around the side of the moon, the Earth gradually comes into shot. It is a ball of fire, the usual blues and greens gone, replaced by vibrant orange, red and grey as clouds of ash float through the atmosphere. One of the crew members faints, the starboard feed clears the shadow of the moon. Something fills the feed, backlit from the glow of the burning planet below it, it’s hide changes colour with each passing moment. How could such beautiful iridescence be married to a creature of such abject horror?  Limbs loop off its body in every direction, great hulking tentacles cling to Alpha-1, like a child with a toy car. The sheer immensity of the being dwarfs everything else around it. There is a body of sorts, but that shifts with ethereal power, lightning arcs off it onto Alpha-1 causing small explosions as the station is pulled towards its slavering maw. The crew all stand agape, the central viewing screen of the ship a panorama of destruction and death. The creature moves very little, there are eyes all over it, and several look over to the newcomers.

For a moment everything is still on the internal feeds then all hell breaks loose. The captain begins speaking, but not in a language anyone knows, his words echo round the ship. One of the crew members lurches towards the airlock, as though controlled by a puppeteer. Her limbs on ropes, she opens the hatch the depressurisation chamber, steps inside and hits the flush button. There is an alarm, it rings out twice then she is pulled out of the ship by the vacuum. Thad begins to hover, he looks like a child being picked up by their mother, arms wide, his eyes roll into the back of his head and he drops back to his feet. A weird twitch of neck and he spins to look at Troy and the other helmsman, he draws his pistol and kills the helmsman. The shot sprays up the forward viewing screen, a gory display of art. Troy spins in his chair, pistol aimed at the captain but he is too slow. He is riddled with shots as the captain walks towards him. As Troy’s head slumps onto his chest Thad grabs him by the hair and rams the pistol into his eye. Troy doesn’t cry out, he is dead already but the captain continues to force the barrel of the gun into his  eye socket, the bones gives way to a wet crunch and the gun disappears into Troy’s skull. Hakley screams, powerless, impotent rage. this gets the attention of Thad, who turns to her, ‘Rakley, help me,’

                ‘just put it down Cap,’

                ‘Rakley, I’m...I’m sorry, you haven’t seen what I’ve seen, there’s no way out of this one,’ his voice lowers and his eyes roll again, ‘Venit dies tuus, tempus ultimum nunc.’  When they centre back on Rakley there are tears of blood lining his face, his eyes show a powerless lack of control. He raises the pistol again, and fires twice at the front viewscreen, then he kills himself, his blood paints the command console.

Rakley jumps for her seat as the ship depressurises, she manages to strap in and activate her life support helmet. The two remaining crew members do the same, the one furthest from the viewscreen begins to panic, his life support helmet is not activating. The protective cocoon only reveals itself half way. He is left trying to claw it down over his face, grasping the helmet, gasping for air, for life. They say the last thing you notice if you are caught in a vacuum is the saliva on your tongue boiling. That's just before you pass out, the process takes around 13 seconds. Sometimes it's quicker, it can depend on how close you are to the breach. The crewman was the furthest away from the breach, it took him the whole 13 seconds to pass out, while Rakley and the third crew member could do nothing, he broke his fingernails on the glass, leaving red boiling streaks down the visor. Eventually his chin touches his chest, he stops fighting and soon his chest stops heaving. Then he is still, quiet, a grim reminder that the life support system was almost fixed. The ships nav systems remained intact, the course set for Alpha-1, all the crew could do was watch as they drifted towards the thing.

 lost contact 2

Booting personal log: 14/10/3045 [0943]

Personnel: Engineer Hyacinth Rakley

The fucking life support didn’t kick in properly. *sniffs*  I thought I had it fixed, but clearly not enough. This is the last log I’m going to be able to include, we’re fully depressurised now, there’s no oxygen left in the ship, the nav systems are set to take us to Alpha-1, but that...that thing is there. Earth appears to be done, I can’t see anything but fire and ash there, there’s no green, no blue, no life. What is that thing?  Where did it come from?  Why is it destroying everything?

 

The feed stutters and shuts down, after that there isn’t any more footage until the intruders step through the airlock and the automated systems kick in. The intruders are tall and thin, their knees fold backwards as they walk, and they’re four upper limbs dexterously keep them upright while they work in the drifting ship. The SMN Cutty has been dead for fifty years since the last recording. It is no longer near Earth, the massive damage to one side of the hull suggests it encountered a massive impact just after the last recording was placed.

The intruder presses a combination of keys on the command console, the machine ejects a small disk which is pocketed. It turns and hails the others, they leave the ship, but not before it glances down at the preserved corpse of one of the humans. The badge on it’s chest says ‘Rakley’ it doesn’t look like it suffered, but then again it won’t after so long. The intruder knows better however, this human suffocated, bereft of it’s life giving oxygen it died slowly, and painfully, unable to do a thing to arrest it’s descent towards the void. 

 

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