Nightrealms

Plot an Intercept Course

The Distress Signal

You are all part of the 151st Expeditionary Force and are stationed on the HMSS Labyrinth Dawn – a frigate flying the colours of the Three World Empire. There are over 200 people on board, though only about 100 or so are front-line soldiers (marines and officers). You are part of a 5 man squad under command of Corporal Charles Larkins. (He’s a bit of a prick.)

You are currently en route to check out a distress signal from the USCSS Montero, which itself was checking out a distress signal sent by the USCSS Cronus, a science exploration ship that has been missing for three quarters of a century. The journey is a relatively short one – about 21 days in hypersleep for the trip.

Awakening

The team was awakened to a dark and chilly ship. There was no sign of activity, and as they worked out the kinks of wakening from hypersleep, they noticed the pod for Corporal Larkins had been breached by micrometeorites. The team quickly discovered that they were alone on the ship; all escape pods and drop ships were long gone, and their squad had been clearly abandoned.

Even worse, the short hypersleep had turned into over 10 months of stasis and travel. They did appear to be on a parallel course with the two ships they had been sent to investigate – the Montero and the Cronos were tethered by a docking umbilical, and were about 1/4 km off the starboard bow. All ships were travelling around .14c based on current readings.

They were in no danger of collision, as all three ships were headed to deep space, so the crew started to assess the situation. MU/TH/UR was unresponsive, so they headed to the core and discovered that the mainframe had been sucked into space, likely due to the meteorite strike.

!!!COLLISION WARNING!!!

Somehow the Labyrinth had veered off course and was now heading towards the Montero. Luckily, the team had a pilot (“Bugnuts”) who was able to use manual thrusters to gently easy the ships back into parallel running.

They decided to check out the Montero. Like their ship, it was deserted. More peculiarly, the ship appeared to have never been used, even though it’s records show it was commissioned 10 years prior. The mainframes logs and history were clean – new in fact. MU/TH/UR was unable to reconcile this fact and addressed the team as the only crew it had ever had. Some serious trouble shooting was needed, but first they crew headed to the Cronus to check it out also.

It was cold and the air was fouled, so they split up to focus on getting the mainframe and power back online as well as changing out the air scrubbers. A few hours work and the ship was up and running, and they found a few survivors coming out of hypersleep. They were hugely disoriented, as they had been in stasis for over 75 years.

At this point, someone discovered that their ship was gone. It had apparently veered away and was nowhere to be seen in the immediate vicinity of the ships. Which made no sense unless the ship was under power? If so, then it would definitely show on the infrared scanners, but there was nothing.

Then things got worse.

DISPLACEMENT DRIVE MALFUNCTION!” droned MU/TH/UR on the Montero. “CASCADE FAILURE IMMINENT. FISSION REACTOR OVERLOAD IN T MINUS TEN MINUTES."

Brooks, the roughneck, headed over to the military frigate and attempted to shut down the core, but was stymied by the computer, who intoned “I can’t do that Brooks.” Something had overridden it’s command core.

The rest of the crew watched in horror as they cut the tether and maneuvered away from the doomed vessel. The blinding explosion came shortly thereafter, vaporizing the Montero and Brooks.

Shortly thereafter there came a fan failure in the air scrubber shaft. Bugnuts went to fix it and discovered a gun jammed in it. He cut the power and removed the blockage, but somehow the power came back on and the blades severed his right hand at the wrist. Crooks, one of the Marines, was able to retrieve him and took him to the sickbay. He soon had a bed companion, as one of the Cronus scientists was having a terrible migraine. Or so he thought.

Because it wasn’t a migraine.

Bloodburster

Bugnuts was awakened by the commotion.

Blood seeped out of Cooper’s nose and ears. Bloody eyes rolled over white as the scientist convulsed and writhed against the wall. In the depths of a seizure now, Cooper flailed about at everything.

With a sickening pop and a bloody splash, his eyeball launched from his face and mashes into Bugnuts before bouncing across the floor and rolling under a cryotube. He paused, trying to process exactly what he was seeing.

A slender, gore-covered arm pushed its way out of Cooper’s empty eye socket, reached around, and tugged at his distended mouth. As spindly white fingers yanked his teeth back, Cooper did not scream—it was clear that he wasn’t in his own head anymore. Something else was, and it wanted out.

Flesh tore and tendons snapped as the thing inside his splintering skull pulls his face open right at the jawline. Finally, a thick gurgling sound welled up inside Cooper as his head was ripped from his body, his neck gushing as whatever was inside him plopped to the floor in a burst of blood. The translucent-white thing on the floor sloughed off its placenta, struggling to stand on all four wobbly, fawn-like legs. Shaking brain matter from its spiky hide, the creature turned its bulbous, eyeless head towards Bugnuts and attacked.

The pilot grabbed a heavy metal tray and lunged forwards, smashing the already ruined face of Cooper but missing the creature. It responded in kind, and latched onto the pilots face. Teeth and claws tore his face open as the creature burrowed into his skull. The rest of his team arrived to find his body thrashing in agony as the monstrous thing finished him off. Crooks pulled his service pistol and blasted the creature into bits, but Bugnuts was as dead as Cooper at this point.

The crew tried to make sense of what was happening, and had been joined by Dunn and Big Willy, a roughneck and pilot from the Cronus. They were still coming out of their long sleep and their memories were off, but they were otherwise functioning normally. Disturbingly, their appearance superficially resembled Brooks and Bugnuts. It was as if they were older versions of those men, but they clearly were not related to them, being over 125 years old at this point, counting their stasis time.

Then everyone heard the commotion coming from the mess hall. It sounded like a fight, so the team hustled over to see what was happening now…

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