As the team moves aft, they lose contact with Agamemnon, but remain in contact with Cpl. Davis and Pvt. Spears in the Cheyenne – the skin of the Normandy appears to absorb emissions and no signal appears to be able to leave the craft.
Janks gets a flash of danger and stops the party, but not before Pvt. Page is sliced neatly in half by a mono-molecular tripwire stretched across the passage. After Hudson comes up with a strategy for sweeping the party’s path, and removing the dead marine’s remains to the dropship, they continue into a CIC area. Stella notices that there are small cabinets of eyeglasses scattered around the ship. When examined, they have a flashing “Offline” in the corner. They also appear to have a wide-angle sensor mounted in the bridge of each pair.
The party follows the blood trail through the CIC and into a small lounge, through a conference room and small lab, and into a large intelligence center, where they find a human skin stretched across a holographic map table covered with strange lettering, presumably written in blood.
Leaving Jack, Blake and Pvt. Stearnes to guard the retreat, the party files down a service shaft to the engineering deck. There, they find what they presume is a majority of the crew in a service space, all having been horribly, but carefully and ritually mutilated, including two of the green-skinned Clan warriors. They proceed into the engine room, where Janks chooses not to restore power to the ship, but the party discovers the following about the craft:
- The engine core is not a typical fusion drive, but a sphere that seems to pulse and glow. It’s made of the same silvery material found in the Alabama’s K-F field stabilizer. It is referred to as a “BigBang Drive” on the nearby controls, which fills the engineering-minded of the party with a certain amount of apprehension.
- Near the top of the reactor space appears to be a K-F drive coil wrapped around the perimeter of the chamber. Again, the engineering-minded of the party attempt to describe why a non-straight K-F filament is theoretically impossible, but can’t find the math.
- Near the bottom of the reactor space, Stella notices a device that looks much like the gravity-altering device found on Prinis Prime.
- Also near the bottom of the reactor space, the party notices a conspicuous absence of a device – there’s obviously a piece missing, but the team didn’t research further.
One of the hardest things is the waiting. There is nothing else I can do; they are on their own. It is, of course, always so, but more so now, when they are cut off from our communications.
It was, of course, too easy, at the beginning. The ship was just sitting there, no lifesigns, no movement, and apparently no defenses. Only a dead man by a container drifting in the middle of nowhere, and a silent, dead ship. Too easy.
Private Page was killed by a trap. We killed private Spears. He did not give us much of a choice. Something happened to him and corporal Davis; we lost their lifesign signals, and then, corporal Davis shot private Stearnes. The others returned fire, and then the Cheyenne tore away from the Normandy, ejecting corporal Davis and private Stearnes into space.
If I can, I want the bodies retrieved, though I very much doubt they’re alive. Both suits were compromised, and hopefully, they were both dead before they were spaced, though that would depend on how badly they were compromised. Still, they would most likely not last more than a couple of minutes.
Then private Spears tried to ram the Normandy. We took the Cheyenne out before she hit, but this operation has cost far more than it should. At least four dead so far, one Cheyenne gone, and I have another problem as well.
Whatever happened to private Spears and corporal Davis, I very much doubt they did what they did of their own free will. True, sometimes people snap, and my crew, especially the original Agamemnon crew, have been through a lot. But both at the same time? Not bloodly likely. Add to that the body we found at the crate, with the opened faceplate. Whatever affected Spears and Davis might well have killed him as well. I am afraid we found something on board the Normandy that caused those deaths, as well as the carnage on the Normandy.
So, what could it be? Probably not a gas or a virus, since they were all suited. The lifesigns went out pretty much simultaneously, and they did not sound an alarm, so it happened fast. But so far, it has affected two people who were isolated from the rest, although whatever it as, must have gotten past the guards they set further in.
It might have been too small for the guards to notice, or difficult to see; some sort of cloaking, maybe. But no matter what it was, it seems it is able to infect people without actually physically touching them, since it at least got to Spears and Davis. Considering what it probably did to the former crew of the Normandy, it must be sentient as well.
Which, in turn, means that it might be intelligent. Yes, there is a difference. But if it is intelligent, it might decide to wait for a better opportunity. And that is a major problem.
I need to find out what it was. If there is a way to tell if someone has been infected. Meaning I need someone to examine that corpse we found on the crate in detail. We have to find some way of identifying it. Because if we don’t, I cannot let the men back on the Agamemnon. Until I can be absolutely certain that whatever is on board the Normandy will pose no threat to the rest of the Agamemnon, I cannot let them return.
But even bringing the corpse to Agamemnon is a risk. It is likely, but not a certainty, that exposure to vacuum will have killed whatever it was. If it was even alive in the first place. But that still does not explain how it infected the marines. If it is some sort of mental control that does not require physical touch, it either has a very long range, as it tried to make private Spears ram the Normandy, or it went with him on the Cheyenne.
The next question is, are there more of them?
I am going to assume that it cannot survive direct exposure to vacuum, at least. Which means there must have been more than one. Hopefully, whatever made the dead man at the crate open his helmet seal is dead. But that would make no sense at all. If it is at all sentient, why would it kill itself? Or perhaps the man did it, but that would mean that the infection is not instantenous, or that he did retain some level of consciousness after he was affected.
Too many unknowns.
The _simple_ solution would be that it is airborn, maybe a micro-organism. That the marines on board the Cheyenne decided that since they were safe in the Cheyenne, they could crack their helmet seals, and whatever it was infected them that way.
I doubt that the simple reason is the right one. If nothing else, then because the universe has not been very helpful lately in making things easy for us. But I can hope. Because if that was the case, then we should be able to bring the men back.
And I want that ship. Not the least because of the technology on board. It is way beyond anything we’ve seen. From what I understand, it might actually be jump-capable. If we can find a way to neutralise whatever killed the former crew, and killed at least three of my people.