Characters in this post
View character profile for: Cassandra Jones
View character profile for: Jay Chrysler
View character profile for: Dr Jade Black
View character profile for: Jamie Eastlick
View character profile for: Dr. Artemis K. Pritchard VI
View character profile for: Jason Tanaka
View character profile for: Thomas Plisken
View character profile for: Fergus O'Malley
View character profile for: Pickman
Not so dead
Cass gazed silently out at the massed ranks of stasis pods and frowned.
Were there enough to hold the population of a small planet?
She had her doubts.
They could only see about a hundred metres by torchlight and while their suits scanners extended the effective range of their senses, it was impossible to say that there were that many pods in the cavernous space.
As for them all being empty, that was merely Plisken’s assumption.
That the pods all seemed to be powered was concerning, though. The initial scans back on the white giant had all indicated that this ship was entirely dead; and yet here they were, watching the personal log of a long dead alien captain and getting weird readings from the hologram projectors.
Something wasn’t right here.
“C’mon, people” Jay interrupted her thoughts “We should move. That fuel system isn’t going to salvage itself”
“Give me a minute” Cass said “We need a map. This might be the only functioning terminal we find”
Elbowing Artemis out of the way, she paused and frowned down at the alien alphabet traced on the screen. Her suit’s HUD helpfully overlaid a translation over the top, correctly identifying the text as an old dialect of Askari - whoever the hell they were.
Navigating the menus by instinct, Cass succeeded in pulling up a set of public schematics, which swirled into focus, the hologram of the ship almost filling the little room they were in.
“Just look at the size of the thing” Jamie murmured in disbelief “It must be ten klicks long”
“Not far off” Cass said “Nine point six, if this is translating right”
“This doesn’t show the damaged areas” Jay pointed “Can you pull them up and superimpose them?”
“No” Cass said, after a moment of trying “It doesn’t look like this terminal has access to restricted data like that”
“Fair enough, we’ll keep an eye out for one that does” Jay shrugged “In the meantime, we’ll just have to take our chances and hope we get lucky. Take a copy and let’s move out”
”Oh, yes, Sir” Cass sneered, but tapped the control pad on her suit’s forearm and engaged the psi scanner to record the hologram.
“Yeah. Out of that door, first right and then about two hundred metres down the corridor to a set of stairs”
“You heard the lady” Jay waved everyone forward “Let’s move it out”
As the others fell into line and started following him out of the room, Cass turned back to the terminal and on impulse, pulled up the largest data file that she could find and dumped the contents to screen.
Queueing the suit’s scanner to record again, she hit play and ramped the speed up as fast as it would go, causing the room around her to blaze with light as the holodisplay flickered with text and images.
“Jesus, Cass” Jade re-entered the room, shielding her eyes from the glare “You’d better not have PSE. What are you doing?”
“Copying an encyclopedia... I hope”
“Yeah, well, the others are waiting”
“I’ll be done in a minute”
Jade folded her arms and pursed her lips, but said nothing.
“There” Cass said after a moment “Done”
“Wow” Jade frowned at the holoprojector, displaying the last entry in the datafile “What the hell is that?”
Their suit HUDs caught up a couple of seconds later and helpfully provided a translation of the text, floating next to the writhing tentacular mass.
“It’s a Quitzail” Cass read aloud “A haunter of dreams”
“Some sort of demon, maybe?”
“Superstitious hokum” Cass sneered “I wouldn’t-”
“TRAPPED!” the Quitzail convulsed before the holoproector and the lights all simultaneously went off, plunging the room into darkness.
“Oh, man” Jade chuckled, shining her torch on Cass “Your face...”
“What the fuck just happened?”
“I dunno, but you look like you’ve just seen a ghost”
“What happened to the lights?”
“You must have burned the circuit out”
Cass checked her psi scanner and shook her head “No. Everything’s dead but completely intact - There’s not even a joule of residual energy in any of these systems”
“Tell me about it”
“Jade? Cass?” Jay’s voice crackled over on the comms “Are you guys okay? We’ve got a bit of a situation here...”
“We’re on the way”
As the two women hurried to join the others, they noticed that their way was dimly lit by tiny motes of light, drifting in the cold corridors. These became more and more numerous the closer they got to their compatriots, until by the time they rounded the corner at the top of the stairs, the motes had coalesced into a three metre high representation of one of the dead crew.
The alien gazed down at them as it swept out an arm, trailing motes of light, and pointed down the stairs.
“I think it wants us to go down there” Plisken ventured.
Tanaka shook his little chickens head “I say that’s a terrible idea” he said, fighting back the urge to cluck.
“What is that thing?” Cass asked as she and Jade approached.
“Not sure” Jamie said “It’s not even registering on the psi scanners” he twisted to show her the readout.
“A calibration issue?”
“Not on all our scanners”
“Is it a hologram?” Jade asked as the alien figure moved and pointed down the stairs again.
“Nope - They show up on scanners”
“Some sort of collective hallucination then?”
“Psionics?” Cass suggested
“Well, this is all well and good” Plisken interrupted “but are we going down these stairs or not?”
Jay shrugged “What’s the worst that could happen?”
The ship doesn’t seem to be as dead as it initially looked, so what actually is the worst that could happen?
Why does this strange, silent alien want us to go downstairs?
What is the meaning of "Trapped"?
Also: Hope nobody minds, but I made the ship alien because humans are very rare here and it gives us a bit more scope for odd things to happen :)