Jack Yorke woke up on an operating table. Confused and disoriented, he wildly looks around the room to try and get his bearings.
"Tumulus Memorial Hospital on Bliss," a familiar voice says next to him.
"Lloyd. What the hell..?"
"Your last two missions took you to places that had some... issues... with slip-space," his employer says, walking into his line of vision, "You and your crew were having some sanity issues. So I knocked you out and used my abilities to perform noninvasive neurosurgery." Lloyd punctuates his sentence by shape-shifting his hands into a pair of scalpels. "You've lost a good month or so."
"And what have we been doing that past month?"
"Raiding a Terra Prima base to get the clear Key, which you got, and then raiding another Terra Prima base to capture Imran Banks, the current leader of the faction."
"Were we successful?"
"Aye. You found him. Stefan was pretty pissed and shot his dick off. Understandable, since the report states you walked in on him bangin' Cassi. Best not to mention this to the rest of the crew."
"... yeah. That's one memory I think Stefan could do without."
"Moving on... much as I'd like to give you a recovery period, something's come up."
"As it always does. Don't you have other crews?"
"While my throwing you back in danger is usually just me being an ass, I've also added some resilience to Slip-Space in you and your crew. And you're going to need it for this one."
"What's the job?"
"The Star Horizon has reappeared. Right about here," Lloyd replies, pointing at a map of the galaxy.
"The Star Horizon was lost in Slip-Space, though. How'd it get back and why is it inside the Galactic Void?"
"That's what I'm sending you to find out. The rest of your crew should wake up in a few hours; I suggest you leave within the day. If this is what I think it is, I need to know as soon as possible."
A dull voice went through her head as her eyes cracked open revealing a black figure standing above her. In her moment of shock, she tried forcing her arm to grip the figure only to feel it stop short before her hearing came back fully.
"Woah, calm down there, Hulk!" It was Yorke's voice as the figure was forcing her arm down before the color and exact features of the male started to come into place. "Jesus, Lloyd should have warned me not to try and wake any of you up."
Putting one of her palms on her forehead, Oeh-Wje lifted herself up and looked at her captain, "Where are we? And more importantly why aren't we getting the key?"
Yorke took a moment to explain the situation, the mission, the month-long coma and the bit about Stefan trying to make sure she fully understood the circumstances. Before moving onto the mission and how they were going to be dealing with a couple of insane former BCA employees.
"And you woke up everyone else too? Can't think about leaving them all behind, we could do without some, but they might make a decent defense for the ship while we venture off into that spacer's trap."
"You were the only one left that I had to get. Stood here for a few minutes just waiting in that chair before you tried to crush my skull."
"You should know better than trying to wake up a sleeping alien that can break your tiny bones. Not even taking into account the last thing I remember."
"No bad there, but you were less bad than Basta. I think I had to stay there for a solid 30 minutes before I went off to get the others. When I found her she was still knocked out for about another solid 15 minutes, kept mumbling in her sleep the whole time before she woke up. Was still freaked out that she was captured."
Oeh-Wje chuckled, "Yeah, she's a nervous one. Any idea on how we're going to be splitting up for the mission?"
"Me, you, Roar-Ree and Har-Bak are heading off into the Star Horizon. BOB, Basta and Stefan will be back on the ship making sure none of them get past us and try to hijack our ship while we're gone, can't afford to have a couple of slip spacers running off to the nearest port."
Oeh-Wje nodded as Yorke lifted himself up and began to leave the room.
Dawn Voyager SectionEdit
Stefan stretched a bit and walked to grab his weapons. "Aghh, my head still aches a bit." He touches his forehead and slings his MK around him.
"Well it couldn't have been worse Doc," replied BOB from a nearby monitor. "I mean, least you didn't end up in a body bag."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, BOB," said Stefan.
"Don' mention it."
"Still it's a nice change of pace, could use some R&R."
"Want me to make some drinks?" asked Basta as she sat down.
"Nah not really-on second thought, yeah I could go for a drink or two," said Stefan. "Hey BOB keep us posted on what's going out there."
"Yeah, yeah I will Doc."
"Lead the way to the bar Basta."
The two walked out of the room and started making their way through the hallway.
"Okay, really?" Basta says, looking through the liquor cabinet, "Who the fuck stocked us with Anat'Ara and nothing else?"
"That would be Lloyd," BOB-5 says, "His idea of a joke, I guess."
"In poor bloody taste, then. I still have nightmares about the last time I drank this stuff."
Stefan stares at the bottles for a couple seconds.
"I might have an idea... Basta, mind grabbing a few of those bottles and taking them down to the med bay? I might be able to figure out what the hallucinogen is and why it defaults to nightmare fuel."
"Medical curiosity, for one. And to help Roar-Ree make new weapons, for two. He's been complaining about not having enough power for a while."
"Well, as long as I'm not your guinea pig..."
"Nah don't worry Basta," replied Stefan. "I won't."
"Bahhh don listen to him," replied BOB. "he probably will. So you better watch your back!"
Basta looks at Stefan, giving him a bit of an awkward and possibly pissed off expression.
"Don't listen to BOB, Basta. We've been through how much already? C'mon you know me! As for you BOB-!"
"Oh what are you going to do Doc? Throw some needles, shoot at me? Bahahahahaha!"
"Ughh, I really want a drink now...."
The two continue to make their way to the medbay as BOB continues to chuckle over them.
Stefan is the first to enter the Medbay and starts setting up equipment on a table. "Okay, Basta hand me a bottle."
She grabs the bottle and gives weary looks to both the ship and to the doctor, "And how do you plan to do that doc? I thought you were an army doctor, not a chemist." She eyed the equipment as she approached the other end of the table, sliding it to him, which he managed to catch.
"I'm with the cat," BOB said through the speakers, "What you gonna do if you figure it out? Make a killing as a drug lord hallucnigen?"
Stefan poped the top of the bottle and poured some into a measuring flask, "If I can isolate the nightmare fuel chemical, maybe we can stick it in gas grenades and make the enemies off themselves."
Basta was about to counter, but stopped, "That- actually wouldn't be half bad...as long as I'm out of the range. I do not want to get even a whiff of that stuff."
"I could shut the ventilation off, record the reactions for the doc." BOB joked, shutting the doors of the med bay.
Basta made a rude Altarian gesture towards the security camera, "Knowing my chances, Lloyd would love it too." She went over to one of the medical beds and sat on the end of it crossing her legs as she watched, "Seriously though Stef, that a major jump from 'combat doctor' to 'biochemist'. I used to serve drink to people who thought they knew it all only to come back missing an arm or eye."
The AI gave a chuckle, "Sounds like you prefer tending that bar, Cat. We could always drop you off if you want."
"God, only way I'd return to..." She paused and thought for a bit, but failing to finish her sentence "Damn...I can't remember the name of that dive. I guess when you tend forget the boring stuff when you have people shooting at you."
Stefan didn't look up from his equipment as he worked with the Anat'ara, "Welcome to the life of a soldier Basta, it's only going to get worse. Now, the wonderful thing about working with the BCA is that our lab has a full toxicology suite. I can just toss this inside and it'll separate things into its base components and tell me what it is and if it's known to do anything," he says, "I'm not a biochemist, but I don't need to be with this stuff."
"And how will you know what chemical or blend of them causes the hallucinations?" Basta asks, "If it was known what did it, wouldn't someone have made this into a weapon already?"
"Another perk of working with the BCA. I can give this to Lloyd, tell him what I'm looking for, and hope he doesn't use it for anything evil."
BOB-5's laughter resounds through the intercom speakers. "Stefan, Lloyd doesn't have the same concept of good and evil as you do. Or as any of us do."
"... Would he use it for stuff we would consider evil?"
"In a heartbeat, if he thought it was justified. Doesn't change the fact that asking him is the quickest way to get your curiosity satisfied."
"And since I've already started running the tests, he'll probably have that data anyway."
"Doc, Cat, you there?" Har-Bak's voice comes in through the com.
"I'll take that," Basta says, and walks out of the room.
"Har-Bak, this is Basta, what's happening out there?" asked Basta.
"Cat, get the Voyager ready to go!" Har-Bak yelled over the sound of gunfire.
"Why what's-" the comm got disconnected. "Dammit!"
Basta quickly runs back into the medbay. "Stefan, stop what you're doing! We need to get the Voyager prepped to launch!"
Stefan cautiously puts down a vile on the table. "Who called back?" as he quickly grabbed his MK rifle. The two started running out into the hallway.
"Har-Bak, seems like they have a lot of heat on them."
"Did he say anything else?"
"No, the call got disconnected before he said anything else."
"Alright then. BOB start prepping the engines and get more of the Voyager's defenses up and running," ordered Stefan.
"Way ahead of you Doc," replied BOB from the comms.
The engines of the Voyager started giving off a low hum as they began to power up.
As Oeh-Wje walked into the cargo hold with the rest of the crew, she looked to see Har-Bak examining her weapon.
"It's a nice piece of hardware- not even BOB could worm out some info on it."
"Not for lack of trying!" The droid voiced over the ship's loudspeaker.
"Damn shame, too- I think I'd like to have one myself."
Oeh-Wje laughed- not out of humor, more so of contempt. "When I'm in the pine box, you'll get it in the will."
The two Eurypts chuckled as Yorke and Roar-Ree finished prepping their gear. Yorke holstered his revolvers, and yelled in no particular direction.
"You gonna keep an eye of the place, BOB?"
"Can't same the for the fleshies, but I'll make sure no Spacers gonna be boarding...well, me." BOB said with a chuckle.
"Alright then. Stefan, Basta, wish us luck."
Roar-Ree smirked. "I don't need luck, I've got ammo."
Oeh-Wje chuckled as the squad left the ship. "Well, history says otherwise."
The four entered the ship, looking around. The walls had patches of an oily, black substance on them. Curious, Roar-Ree reaches out towards it.
"Don't touch that," Lloyd's voice comes through their comms, "It'll do worse than kill you."
Roar Ree snatches his had away.
"You know what that is?" Yorke says.
"I have a hunch, and I sure as hell hope I'm wrong."
"And if you're right?"
"Then you're fucked."
"Shh..." Oeh-Wje says.
"Huh?" Har-Bak says, only to be waved to silence. After about thirty seconds, he speaks up again. "I don't hear anything."
"That's the problem. Even if the entire crew were somehow transported off the ship, there'd still be some noise. The lights are on; the ship's running. But there's nothing." To demonstrate, Oeh-Wje stomps on the ground. "Not even this makes a sound."
"I didn't design the Star Horizon that way," Lloyd says. "For now, keep searching."
Roar-Ree sniffed the air and turned to look at Yorke. "I'm not smelling them, Yorke. Like, there's no scent of any of them. I don't like this, for the record."
Yorke gave a wary glance around as the crew kept moving through the ship. "Neither do I, so let's get this done."
Har-Bak chuckled,"You'd think that after some of the missions we've pulled off, you'd stop complaining."
The crew continued walking, with Roar-Ree taking special effort to avoid touching any walls. "So, uh, you guys also wondering what Stefan and Basta are up to?"
Oeh-Wje scoffed. "Stay focused, Mutt."
Roar-Ree put his hands up defensively. "Uh, yeah. Cool. Good idea."
The group walks through the deserted, soundless corridor, trying and failing to make small talk to relieve tension. They then turn a corner and stop short.
"Okay, really?" Oeh-Wje says, "This is the most cliche horror trope there is." The hallway splits into four branches ahead of them; one heading up, one down, one left, and one right. "Please tell me you're not thinking of sending us alone down each branch, Yorke." Oeh-Wje turns to her commander, who is checking the floor plan on his tablet.
"So here's how it's set up. Going up will take us to the cockpit, down will take us to the engines, left to the mess hall, and right to the crew quarters."
"Well, we're going to need to check the whole ship eventually," Har-Bak says, "So how are we going to do this, boss?"
"Well, we are not going to run the risk of spilting up here. Seen enough incidents like this before to even toy with that thought." Yorke said as he began looking towards crew quarters, "We're going to head down there first, God willing, we'll find some survivors."
"Or what's left of them." Har-Bak quipped as he lifted his weapon and began to follow Yorke who lead the group and held his Peacekeeper forward. "And even if any of them did survive the initial onslaught, then we might be able to find some audio logs. Did Lloyd even say what their mission was?"
"Can't remember anything that sticks out about these guys, minus the crew leader. Met him on day I was hired. Just some average guy looking to make a buck as far as I knew, but considering he caught Lloyd's eye, I'm going with the idea that he was skilled enough to get into BCA." Yorke continued along the hall way till he noticed several drops of what appeared to be the black liquid, a couple paces away from each other until a massive blotch of the liquid ended the trail. "Too bad he didn't last very long. May have been a good ally."
Looking up to his right, Yorke noticed one of the rooms, the door still closed, "Roar, think you can open this one?" Before putting a revolver on the frame and giving it a quick knock with the weapon, waiting for any response on the inside.
"This? This is child's play, Yorke. I could hack most of the door frames back on the Voyager, no problem."
"Oeh-Wje, Har-Bak. Keep us monitored on both sides, me and Roar-Ree are going in, I need you to two stay out here while we scan the room for anything. Got it?"
Both nodded and took up positions, opposite sides of Yorke and looked off into the distance. Then a small ping noise was created as the doors began to slide open, revealing a semi-dark room as light flooded into and Roar-Ree hit the lights.
"Looks like everything went to hell before they even finished unpacking."
The crew peered around inside, seeing nothing but strewn items and the odd black liquid on the walls and items in the room. As they step inside, the door slides shut. Roar-Ree hacks the lock on the second door, which opens to reveal a bathroom in a pristine state. Relieved to see an area without the black liquid, he starts to head inside but is stopped short by Har-Bak, who snags his clothes with his stinger and pulls him back.
"The doorway. Look carefully."
Roar-Ree did as instructed and saw a thin, oily film stretching across the doorway, almost like someone was trying to blow bubbles. "Is that what I think it is?"
"Probably. A trap."
"Which means that whoever did this anticipated someone would come along."
"Yorke, Mutt, Corpse - over here." Oeh-Wje says, pointing at a desk. "Looks like this was Harre's room. Captain's log."
"Let's take a look then," Yorke says. Oeh-Wje presses a couple buttons, and a message pops up on the screen.
0930 GMT: My first entry in the Captain's Log. My first mission is to negotiate an arms deal with some gangster guys on MegaPlex. Our competitors are some guys called Freelance. I looked at their dossiers; if it comes to force, my crew could probably take them. - WH
Yorke snorts in derision, prompting curious looks from the rest of the crew. "I know the Freelance guys. We would have a hard time with them, so either Harre found some crazy ex-NGLA black ops guys or he's underestimating them.
0945 GMT: Heano and Mila charted out a course for us. No clue how the Chlorin converts coordinates and routes from Slip-Space to Real-Space. Going to check on Hendiaz, Kanthi, and Micra.
1012 GMT: Hendiaz still hasn't finished unloading his ammunition in the cargo bay. There has to be a limit to how much that brute can carry. Kanthi's mesmerized by the engine. Compartment's fully submerged in water as a cooling agent; she probably feels at home. Micra performed a checkup to test the equipment. She was quite vigorous.
1030 GMT: Ship stopped? The hell?
Mila said the slip-space tunnel collapsed. Something got in.
What the hell is out there
I hear screams
The screams won’t stop
What the hell is happening?
What is out there?
Why is it here?
I can't hear them anymore. Five minutes and I'll go back out. I need to report this to Lloyd. He needs to know that something's alive in Slip-Space.
The crew was silent for a few minutes, the utter lack of noise on the ship making it seem deeper and longer.
They heard footsteps outside the door, heading past them and down the corridor.
"The fuck?" Har-Bak whispers, "If that log is correct, there shouldn't be anyone alive."
"And why did we hear that?" Oeh-Wje asks, also in a whisper, "All our other footsteps have been silent. It moved back the way we came. Something's not right here."
"Shit, this isn't good."
Yorke scoffed, hiding his own growing nervous edge. "Would you imagine anything else, Roar-Ree?"
The two Eurypts chuckled, but it seemed a little too forced either way. Har-Bak briefly glanced at his rifle- prepped, and ready to unload at a moment's notice.
"Should we go figure it out, Cap?"
Yorke shook his head. "Not yet- we stick according to plan. Oeh-Wje, you and I should secure the doorway. We'll make sure nothing gets in."
"What about us?"
"Har-Bak, you and Roar-Ree ensure that the ship is still secure."
As Yorke and Oeh-Wje stepped around the bunks and set up a perimeter facing the door, the duo quickly set up a comm link.
"Cat, Doc- you guys alright?"
BOB's cockney accent greeted them. "All's alright here, Scorp. The cat and Stefan are busy pretending it isn't awkward between 'em, but otherwise are fine and dandy."
Roar-Ree gave Yorke a thumbs up as Har-Bak disconnected. Yorke quickly holstered his revolvers and equipped his rifle.
"Proceed with the plan, guys. Next, the engines."
The crew returns to the fork, on high alert. They turn towards the stairs leading down to the engine, when Roar-Ree freezes.
"Anyone else hear that?" He whispers, pointing his submachine gun at the leftmost hallway. The rest of the crew strains their ears, and picks out the same wet, sticky footsteps they had heard in Wayne Harre's room.
"What the shit..."
"It's coming this way," Roar-Ree says.
"Down to the engines, quick," Yorke says, and the crew hurries down the stairs.
The crew entered the engine room, with Roar-Ree closing the door behind him. "I stopped hearing footsteps. I think we're in the clear." In spite of himself, the hairs on the back of his next were standing up. He really didn't like it when Yorke dragged him into creepy bullshit.
"Alright, Mutt." Oeh-Wje said and turned to look at Yorke. "So. What's the rest of the plan?"
"Well..." Yorke says, gesticulating with his rifle, "Roar-Ree, I'd like a status on the engines. Try not to touch them or take them apart, though. We don't know if this stuff's gotten inside."
"That's a tall order."
"I don't need a full report. The diagnostic console on that wall seems to be untouched; use that and give me the basics. Har-Bak -"
"Yorke! Your rifle!" Oeh-Wje suddenly shouts, pointing at the firearm. Yorke looks at it, noticing that the black substance had gotten onto the barrel. Despite the rifle pointing at the floor, the substance begins to slither up the gun, making its way towards Yorke's hand. He hurriedly tosses the gun across the room, and it lands amongst what appears to be several crates covered in the substance.
"That was close," Yorke says, taking a deep breath. "Har-Bak, contact Stefan and Basta again. Tell them to have BOB-5 close the airlock door and not to open it until I say so. Don't want whatever's out there getting in."
"Oeh-Wje... help me strategize. We're in here. Something's here with us."
"Yeah. There are three things I'm noticing that are off," Oeh-Wje says, "One is that we can hear those footsteps. Ours are silent, and there's no other noise. Two is related to this room. According to the log, this is supposed to be submerged, but I can't see any traces of water or drainage. Three... that last log entry. It was written in an entirely separate language."
"Wait... run that last by me again."
"The last log entry. The rest of you have corneal translation implants, so you probably didn't notice. I don't, and that one was written in what looked like an archaic form of the Saar language."
"Doc and Cat, you there?" Har-Bak went on the communicator, pacing around the room while waiting on a response. There was a bit of static before communications returned.
"Kind of in the middle of a delicate procedure here, but I got time. What is this all abot Har-Bak? And did you drop your communicator? The quality is a bit not all there."
"That's irrelevant. I need you to make sure Bob closes the airlock and does not open it until he gets an all clear from us. Got it?"
"Sure, stat safe out there. Also, I got a cool looking surprise for you all when you come back. That is if we don't end up screaming before the end of it. Fingers crossed."
Har-Bak cut off his communications as he went over to Roar-Ree still typing away at the console, "Anything to share with the boss man, Wolfy? Anything that doesn't remind me how horrible it is to be down here with a monstrous pile of goo?"
"Not sure what I'll find in the system. The systems are a bit scrambled and are not giving me much feedback. I could try mess around with it for a bit and get some more info, but I'd likely get more if we weren't dealing with the monster breathing down our backs."
Roar-Ree paused for a moment before his eyes lit up, "And we have bingo. I'll have a full diagnosis up in a jiff soon, Yorke."
Responding with a thumbs up, Yorke continued to listen and question Oeh-Wje on the newly acquired knowledge. "Wait a minute did you say Saar? As in the ancient race that went extinct?"
"Yep. Supposedly the rumors go around that Saar were among the first to build slip space drives. And in an attempt to hide from some extinction yet, purposefully tampered with them to enter a reality that would prevent their race from dying out." Oeh-Wje replied as Har-Bak took note and said something.
"So that thing we're locked in with, you thinking it could've typed the a little message for us. If black mass could even have fingers to type with."
"Its a possibility, but we didn't get a clear look at the creature to even determine how it looks like. Plus, I doubt the monster after being locked up in that place for who knows how long is going to be intent on practicing typing. Unless, it was trying to apply some sort of skill it observed."
Yorke piqued up as a realization hit him, "We haven't seen any bodies, right?" Waiting on response as the others came to the conclusion as well, "Yeah, my point exactly. The commander was holed up in his room yet there was no sign of a body, just black goo. You think its trying to feed or absorbing them?"
A thick silence continued with the only noise in the background being Roar-Ree's typing as he finished up his work on the console, as Yorke continued once more, "It seems intent on atleast capturing if not consuming prey," turning towards the black mass of goo that lied in the corner, "The thing tried taking me down by using my gun. And I liked that thing."
"Yorke, look behind Har-Bak. Please tell me you're seeing this, too."
Yorke follows Oeh-Wje's gaze, and spots what appears to be a Niso emerging from the goo in the wall behind Har-Bak. It opens its eyes, and the black goo starts oozing from each of its joints.
"Har-Bak! Roar-Ree! Run!" Yorke shouts, drawing his revolver and shooting the Niso in the face. It merely turns towards him, the left side of its face gone, and lets out an ear-piercing shriek. A chorus of the same resounds through the ship as the four crewmembers flee the engine room.
"I think we have enough goddamn data, Yorke. We need to get back to the Dawn Voyager stat," Har-Bak says, "I don't want those things to catch me."
"Cat, get the Voyager ready to go!" Har-Bak yelled over the sound of gunfire.
Har-Bak had already disconnected, spraying his machine gun into the chest of one of those things. It recoiled slightly before charging once more. He chucked a mine in front of him, and retreated with Oeh-Wje.
Roar-Ree and Yorke had already returned to the fork of the hallway, before shooting down another hallway. The two Eurypt soldiers joined them, seeing a creature advancing down both the engine room and the mess hall.
"Runt, get the door closed!"
The Lupinus shook his head. "To hell with that, we gotta go!"
Yorke nodded, chucking a Needler grenade towards the mess hall group.
"Just go, go!"
Two blasts simultaneously resounded as the grenade and mine blew up. Much to his horror, Har-Bak witnessed the creature crawl forward. The black ooze of its body started to reform its blown up leg.
"...Yeah, let's go."