Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: south of Gundagai
Whole lotta loss
Deepspace Rescue sn501493: Corellispace
Location: 3-N-51 Colonial
Sitting at the navicomputer Tarna confirmed the distress signal received and flipped some switches, cracking a nail on one in the process.
"Damn it," she cursed, engaging the ships intercom,
"-Coming up on that signal, Captain. Slowing to point two, sublight in fifteen minutes."
Erzon Mallian warily looked over his sabacc hand as the scoutship's engines altered tone with the loss of speed. The cards were useless and he tossed them up on the table.
"Lost again, Captain?!" the smart alec copilot, Vandas joked as he scooped his winnings.
Erzon stood, grazing a knee at the table edge and losing his cool, sending a splashing tumbler across the main hold with the back of his hand. Stumbling towards the cockpit he lost his footing and careened into the wall of its access bulkhead, a minute or two later he finally made it to the pilot's seat and promptly dumped himself into it with a sigh.
"You're looking pretty tragic," Tarna, still sitting at the navigator station mentioned blandly.
Erzon eyed her miniskirt, low cut blouse and knee high boots, before turning his attention back to the viewport.
"And you're looking pretty slutty."
He didn't have much self respect, so he figured he may as well lose that too.
"Well it's what got me into your bunk, isn't it?" she countered with a raised eyebrow, and a moment's fantasy related to sharp implements and a certain appendage of the Captain's. Although they often talked to each other this way, she lost her virginity to this guy and didn't like being referred to like a blow up doll.
Vandas entered and took his seat, not an easy feat since it was designed for traditional humanoids. He sensed the thick air between the other two.
"What'd I miss?" the Gorlack bellowed cheerily.
"Just the loss of humanity," Tarna replied through gritted teeth.
"You've lost me," he bantered.
"Alright," Erzon interrupted, "Kicking in sublights in ten seconds, standby."
Vandas started filling out an insurance policy.
"Three-two-one, sublights on," the Captain narrated.
The hyperspace tunnel outside the viewport shifted to elongated streaks of light for a second, before they settled to the familiar pin points of stars. Tarna routinely began checking their position against the navicomputer charts.
"Where are we?" Vandas inquired.
"Where's that signal source?" Erzon added.
"Hold on a minute," Tarna answered, still in a short mood.
"Don't tell me we're lost," the copilot jibed.
"Okay you two are about to lose a lot more than your way if you don't...hang on...oh there it is. Three arc-seconds off the port bow, five thousand metres."
Erzon entered the coordinates into his consol and adjusted a relief gate that poured energy into the ion-drive. The vessel lurched forward and altered course.
"Not much on sensors," mentioned Vandas, turning some dials, "Two-hundred metre keel, four storey, thirty metre beam, ports and bulkheads open, no other readings."
"Dead in space?" Erzon pressed.
"Total power loss," replied the copilot as he turned to face the Captain, "Well, except for the distress signal. There's nothing alive in there."
"Pressurised?" Tarna asked.
The cruiser quickly drew into visual range at the main viewport, a distant sun lighting one face of its greyed and tarnished hull.
"There's atmosphere in several sections, don't know what kind," answered the Gorlack.
"Alright, prepare for docking," Erzon declared, "We might as well do a salvage since we're here."
The creature existed in subspace, not entirely within any physical dimension. Its very nature was loss, coldness, the dark. It was a vacuum, a doorway to another place no living being could sustain contact with. It was entropy, the antithesis of nuclear fusion, it was what inhabited those regions of time before the galaxies were created. It was sentience, but nothing like sapients had ever seen. It was symbiotic and parasitic, all-knowing and occasionally liked to wander. It rarely left the wildspace regions and was what crazy old spacers made ridiculous claims about in drunken canteenas. It was death given form, a walking, talking antiparticle.
Erzon clipped a rebreather hose to his belt and checked the energy pack of his blaster carbine as he stepped through the airlock. He used a tongue operated mike built into his mask to communicate with his crew in the cockpit. A portable mediscan on his utility belt sent a readout of his vital signs.
He entered the ghost ship.
"How's it looking in there?" Tarna asked.
"Gimme a break, I just walked through the door."
He made a visual scan of the inner airlock, cautiously making his way into the vessel's interior. Vacuum suits untouched, medical kits laying unused on their shelves. Some repair tools were missing from their racks, the short-armoury was empty (but that wasn't unusual in practise, ships weapons were typically kept in the locked armoury either in the Captains cabin or a closed section of the main hold).
"Everything looks normal so far. I'm entering the access hall," he advised, continuing his way toward a blast door exit. He pressed the side consol and it opened.
There was a lot of condensation in the air and some sort of vapour. It was cold, clammy and difficult to see, and lighting was by bioluminescant emergency panels only. Shadowy areas abounded, doorways, alcoves and various access hatches down the length of the hall.
Erzon retrieved a glowstick from his belt and activated the direct beam, holding it under the barrel of his carbine, along his line of sight. He stepped forward.
There was a crackle in his comlink earpiece, something in the atmosphere was causing interference.
"Your heartrate's up Captain, what do you see?" asked Tarna, genuinely worried.
"Nothing. Emergency lighting is pretty sparse. Can't see much."
He continued slowly down the hall, sweeping the beam laden barrel of his carbine side to side as he went.
"I'm going to try to find an access consol for the main grid, see if I can't pull up some blueprints on this baby."
"I still don't get why you didn't at least let me come with you," Vandas scorned.
"Because I'm the Captain. And I don't need any dragging feet in case we need to leave in a hurry."
There was also the fact he was the only member of the crew with military grade combat training.
The creature sensed the intrusion, was aware another starship had docked. Could feel the lifeforce of a lone explorer within the cruiser. It entered a maintenance shaft and began to follow the sensation towards its source.
Erzon soon found a monitoring station, next to the central turbolift bank. Locating a consol, he pulled a datapad off his utility belt and plugged it in, using the small device's own energy cell to power it. Such an improvisation wouldn't last long, it was an old commando technique that could give you a few minutes of mainframe access before draining the datapad. Assuming you could bypass any security encryptions.
"Okay, downloading a floorplan now. Looks like the main crew sections have been sealed off. That's strange. I might have to gain access through the maintenance shafts, see if I can figure out what happened here."
There was a lot of static on his receiver.
"...Captain...make sure.... in touch," was the garbled reply.
Damn this atmosphere, he muttered under his breath, looking around for maintenance hatches. It wasn't like he was too concerned, any life readings would've been picked up by Vandas' initial sensor scan on approach.
With no luck finding access hatches in this room he exited back to the hall and continued along it.
The creature reached the central turbolift bank and moved down its shafts to the main deck, sensing the room beyond presently empty. There was however a psychic imprint, a sapient had recently been here, a human. The creature was able to detect a handful of residual memories, two companions were associated with the intruder, who enjoyed an intimate relationship with one of them, the intruder was a murderer but not unkind, and he was headed towards the recreation deck.
Erzon found a maintenance hatch at the other end of the hall and checked the blueprints on his datapad. The crawlspace behind it led to the recreation deck above, and he entered.
The creature was already there, waiting. It had taken an appropriate human form, a simple illusory matter and was sitting on a sofa, in the dark when Captain Mallian entered. Unaware, he gave the room a cursory scan with his lightbeam and noted the ship's bar to one side, all manner of liqueurs and condiments adorning its shelving.
Excellent, he said to himself. Time for a drink. He'd already planned it as he approached, he'd pour a shot or two, and simply hold his breath, remove the rebreather and toss them down. Then replace the mask. No problem.
Halfway there he noticed a movement in some shadows to his left, instinctively bringing the barrel of his carbine to bear and illuminating an incredible looking woman in the torchlight. She was seated on a couch, wearing a glittering evening gown.
"Hello Captain," she said simply. Her voice was husky and it seemed he could feel it in the pit of his stomach, echoing through the corners of his mind.
His finger tightened on the trigger and she gently raised a hand, motioning for him to lower his weapon.
"I'd really prefer you didn't do that," she soothed.
All his military training screamed at him to squeeze off a few, but he did as she asked and pointed the blaster a few centimetres to one side. He had thermal clothing and breathing apparatus to survive walking around in here and she was barely wearing a dress, he didn't think she was a ship's waitress or crew survivor.
Plus there was a tingling at the rear of his scalp he definitely didn't like, the simple fact was there were telepaths in the galaxy and strict military protocol was to shoot first, figure it out later...but it was a fact he was no longer in the military. And some parts of that life didn't sit well with him.
There was a crackle over his receiver, and he stepped closer to an exterior viewport for a better reception, waving the barrel of his carbine in the seated woman's general direction.
"Come in Tarna," he transmitted, tapping the earpiece, "I can't read you."
He'd taken his eyes off her for barely an instant, but she was gone.
Erzon immediately panicked, leaping the few steps to the sofa and sweeping the beam ridden blaster throughout the surrounding entertainment deck. Not a sign of the mysterious woman.
Sith eyes! he cursed at himself. It took a few seconds to put it together as he stood there wondering about his next course of action, adrenalin pumping. A non-human telepath that doesn't give off life readings just said hi to him in an evening dress, read his mind and disappeared. It was headed to his ship, which it was probably going to turn into another ghost ship.
Erzon hit the maintenance hatch he'd entered by at a sprint. He cut his hands and legs on the internal wires and tubing negotiating it at a fast paced slide, and almost broke his ankle landing heavily back in the central corridor. All the while he tried desperately to raise the cockpit of his scoutship. There was no reply.
He covered the length of that hallway in record time, a little blood splattering his torn trousers as he went. One of his hands had been cut deeply but it bothered him not in the slightest, he couldn't even feel it over his own heartbeat. He started to gain reception on the comlink as he reached the inner airlock and took the corner at a run, blaster pointed ahead of him.
He saw nothing but heard a muffled scream over the receiver.
Face reddening, Erzon hit the access panel to his ship, someone had already entered the code and the hull door retracted open on a single entry key. His security access had been one of the things gleaned by the telepath.
Entering the scoutship he slowed to a cautious pace, pointing his way with the blaster and heading directly for the cockpit. Then thinking twice, he paused outside its bulkhead door and accessed a wall mounted maintenance consol. He flipped a few switches, entered an override code and resumed his course into the cockpit.
The two bodies no longer resembled his companions. These were freeze dried husks, seemingly drained of their very lifeforce, wrinkled, decrepid and barely skin hanging over bones. The blood drained from Erzon's extremities, his eyes welled with tears, his arms and legs shaking. He turned to face the shadowy rear of the cockpit and the figure he knew was standing there. Mallian levelled the barrel of his carbine. He was going to say something when his finger simply pressed down on the trigger.
There was no response. He tried again and again. Still nothing. Tilting it to its side he saw the power pack was drained.
"It won't do much good," the woman told him, "I am what I am."
She stepped forward and smiled, a beautiful visage and he could see elongated canines under the light of the consols, jet black eyes. The two things which betrayed her secret, the darkness within, the predator without, she was a vampire.
"Were you human once?" he asked, barely capable of retaining any semblence of calm.
"Several times," the woman answered, as if she were already bored by the conversation.
"So what now, are you going to drain me too?"
"That could be problematic," she confided, "Does this vessel have a backup hyperdrive?"
He knew she could read his mind anyway, Erzon answered truthfully. There would be little point in telling lies which could bring painful repercussions...she obviously wanted something of him.
"Good. The central reactor will overload its circuits before too long under my presence, but for some reason chemical capacitors seem to last much longer."
"And the backup runs off the ship's biometric power cells. That cruiser didn't have a backup, huh?"
She shrugged with a frown, "Civilian vessel."
"So you activated the distress signal in the hope of attracting a military grade rescue vessel."
The vampire smiled again, Erzon couldn't help continually noting she was attractive. After all her mannerisms were guided by telepathic accord, and similarly her selection of forms to inhabit were intuitive to say the least.
"You're going to take me to a colonial system," she informed him, "It's lonely out in space."
Erzon took a seat, eyeing his chronometer and looking up at her.
"Well I can understand why. But it's not exactly going to happen."
"I can make you," she said.
"I'm sure you can, but I've already set the ship's self destruct."
Captain Mallian had timed his revelation well. The vessel exploded in the next moment. Thermonuclear, both ships and all within vapourised. Incredibly his mind was still conscious even as the explosion happened, even as the atoms of his body were ripped apart he was still a saddened observer, noting all which was happening around him. It was rather strange he thought, but he was aware of something else. Somewhere nearby was Tarna, calling out to him. Somewhere in the space surrounding him. He reached out for her...
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