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Extraction Edit

Chapter 1: Worlds Apart Edit

“Sam? Honey, can you hear me? This signal’s terrible. Try moving around. That’s better.”

“Sorry, Lexine, I was next to the recharging station. Are you calling about tonight?”

“No, because then it wouldn’t be a surprise. I’m mad at you, Sam Caldwell.”

“Why?”

“Because you somehow forgot to tell me what you’re doing today.”

“It’s just a routine excavation…”

“Routine? You’re extracting a Marker! My supervisor Leon’s nuts with excitement! Did you know he’s a Unitologist? This is a big deal!”

“Leon’s always been nuts. Anyway, we don’t know if it’s a Marker or just a big rock. That’s why we’re doing this, so the boffins can study it.”

“Sam Caldwell, if you had an imagination, you’d be dangerous.”

“We’ll see ‘bout that tonight.”

“Oh, I look forward to it. Gotta go, honey, I love you.”

“Love you too. Later.”

“Sam, come on! Get suited up quick, or the only date you’ll have is with an overtime sheet.”

“Heh, heh. Say no more. Lexine’s already mad at me, she’d kill me if I bailed on her.”

“Well, everyone else is standing by. All we’re waiting for is you, so don’t expect me to make excuses if we’re still working tonight.”

“Come on, hurry up.”

“Alright, let’s get this done.”

“Sam, is your helmet secure?”

“Sterling, this is Cooper. We’re already at the site. Where the hell are you guys?”

“We’re on our way, boss. Be there in a minute.”

“You seen that vidlog of the Marker that’s going ‘round? Looks just like the one back on Earth.”

“Just like the one the Unitologists claim is back on Earth, you mean. And there’s one big difference. Earth is Earth. Whereas this beautiful place we call Aegis VII is nothing but a ball of space rock. I mean, come on. What are the odds? And there it is.”

“Whoa. It’s bigger than I imagined.”

“About time. Give Banks a hand fixing up the track and loader.”

“All three of us?”

“Damn straight. If this thing gets so much as scratched, Chief Barrow will have us all scrubbing air vents.”

“Hey, Banks, what do you need?”

“The wind’s blown out some of the track we laid. Rivet it back into place, and get it tight.”

“That thing’s gotta be manmade…”

“Hurry up, Cooper’s already pissed off that we’re late.”

“Copy that – I’m right behind you, Sterling.”

“Guess all that target practice paid off, huh?”

“Good job. Now get the loader’s arms in position. One of you TK it, the other two rivet the joints.”

“Egan – I’ll take these two…and watch your aim – I don’t wanna end up on crutches like Matthews.”

“Right in the hole. Nice job.”

“Nice work! Alright, Sterling, Egan – get the loader in position by the Marker. Caldwell, you finish the job.”

“On it, boss. Alright Egan, let’s get this thing on board. Lexine’s right… Leon would flip if he saw this…”

Whispering.

“Steady your hand there, Sam.”

“I got it – almost there…”

“Looking good. Counterbalance is stable, gyros online, ready for load.”

“Stand by. I’m starting a five-down. Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Mark!”

“What the hell just happened?”

“Agh… My ears are ringing.”

“Shit! Whatever it was, it blew out Gravity Tether 16! Caldwell, Sterling, Egan – get over there and stabilize it before we have a miniature black hole on our hands! Me, Banks and Bear will get the Marker inside.”

“16… Which one’s that?”

“The closest one, you idiot! Head down Megavent 24, you can’t miss it.”

“What the hell was that?”

“C’mon guys, we gotta get a move on!”

“Sterling to Central. I’m outside – can you tell me what that bang was? Shit! The flash must have knocked out comms, too.”

“Can’t see a thing without the lights.”

“There should be a box of glow worms in the airlock Storage Chamber. We can use them.”

Whispering.

“You were right. I found a glow worm. Look around – we should grab some supplies before we head down.”

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PERSONAL LOG

DR. KYNE, T. [CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER, ISHIMURA]

The artifact from the colony does indeed appear to be a genuine Marker, the first to be found in Unitology’s two hundred year history. I’m eager to get it on board the ship so I can study it properly.

The potential here is enormous. Not just for me personally, though it’s true I’ve dreamed of such a discovery for decades. But also to humanity, and the Church of Unitology in particular.

This Marker could herald the dawn of a new age for mankind, and I will do my part to ensure it comes to pass. I know the Church will be grateful, but the true recognition will come from all of humanity. On this day, we are blessed.

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“Airlocks are engaged. We should be fine now.”

“No! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!”

“Shit! Sounds like someone’s in trouble. Hold on!”

“Wait a second! We don’t know what’s going on in there.”

“What the fuck?”

“Zochenko! What in God’s name are you doing? Get off him! Zochenko, stop! I’ll – I’ll shoot you. You know these rivet guns pack a punch! Shit! Help me! He’s out of his mind!”

“Sterling!”

“Oh, man. I can’t… I can’t believe this…”

“Sam, get that Rock Saw – we may need it. Jesus Christ, we just killed someone!”

“We don’t have time to think about that! If we don’t fix that tether fast, we’ll all be dead. Move! Look out! More of them!”

“They’ve all gone fucking crazy!”

“OK guys, let’s go. Tether 16’s a few levels down. Up ahead – you guys see that?”

“It’s blocked. Looks like they had problems down here before.”

“This is a bad idea. We shouldn’t have come this way.”

“Sam…calm down! Cut that security line. Use that Rock Saw you picked up.”

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WHO’S TAKING TEAM B’s EQUIPMENT?

FROM: BEAUX, EDWARD M.

OK guys, this isn’t funny anymore. All Megavent lockers in Sector B belong to Team B. Not Team A, not Team C… B! As in you guys are bastards for breaking in and stealing our shit! How’d you like to pull a 12 hour shift in total darkness cause someone stole your glow worm, huh? And where the hell are all the damn rivet bolts? I swear to Altman, the next guy I see poking around Team B’s lockers is gonna get a boot up his ass!

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“Coming through!”

“Turn back, Sam! Don’t go any further!”

“Lexine?”

“They must have put this here to stop people coming up.”

“Can’t believe we’re doing this.”

“Heh, heh.”

“Stop!”

“Heh, heh, heh.”

“Don’t do this!”

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ah, ha. Ah, ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha! Ugh! Ah, ha, ha, ha…”

“What the fuck…?”

Gurgle.

“…something’s coming…all die…”

“We’re halfway home with the Marker already, but I don’t see that tether online yet.”

“We’re on it, boss. Just… Just give us some time.”

“Hang in there, Egan. We’re almost there…”

“There it is, over there.”

“It’s coming, man… It’s calling us…”

“Oh, God…”

“Quiet! You hear that?”

“It’s coming… There’s nowhere to hide… God help us all…”

“Someone’s trapped in there.”

“Is anybody there?”

“I’ll check it out and meet you in the Gravity Tether room. Go!”

“It’s death, Sam… Can’t you see it? It needs our help…”

“Egan, what the hell are you talking about? Get a grip!”

“But Zochenko… We killed him!”

“I know! But you saw what happened in there! It’s – it’s like it wasn’t really him!”

“We should take that Plasma Cutter too… Listen to us… This is all wrong…”

“C’mon Egan – I don’t wanna waste any more time down here.”

“Shit – no! Dammit, my Rivet Gun!”

“Ugh! Ah! Get offa me! Christ, what the fuck’s going on?! Egan! You OK?”

“Needs us… Needs us to…to make it whole…”

“Quit babbling! Let’s just do this and get out of here.”

“Look out! There’s more!”

“Shit! Get behind me!”

“Egan’s crazy… Everyone’s gone crazy…”

“You don’t understand… It’s not right! We have to end it!”

“Shit! Egan, stop! What are you doing?”

“You can’t stop it! You can’t fight it!”

“Don’t – don’t make me shoot you! Egan, please! Oh, God, Egan… I’m sorry.”

“I was just trying to help… It needs our help, Sam…”

“Caldwell, this is Cooper. I can’t reach Sterling or Egan. How are you guys doing?”

“Something bad’s happened. Egan, he went crazy and… Everyone down here, they’re trying to kill us… Egan’s gone…”

“You’re breaking up. I can barely hear you. Just get on that tether before it starts a feedback loop and takes everything down with it!”

“Don’t trust them. Don’t trust anyone.”

“What’s going on? Back off! Are you OK? C’mon! Don’t make me do this! I’m trying to save you!”

“Help me, Sam… I’m scared…”

“Jesus, hold it together… Dammit…”

“Central to Caldwell; stasis modules are standard equipment for all Megavent personnel. I know you haven’t been trained in it, but if you find one, it could come in handy.”

“There, perfect. OK… Just need to stasis it at the right moment… OK, I can do this…”

“Caldwell! Hope you can hear this, because comms are screwed out here. Good job on the tether, systems are stable again. We’re en route to storage with the Marker. Meet us there, OK?”

“Copy that. Caldwell out.”

“They all have to die. You know that, don’t you?”

“Get out of my head…”

Whispering.

“Sam! Are you OK?”

“Lexine! God, it’s good to hear you. Things are pretty bad right now.”

“No! I mean, did you hear? Some Unitologists just killed themselves in Union Square! There are pictures, it’s horrible… Leon was there…”

“People are flipping out all over the colony. We’ve been attacked, and then Egan went crazy… I killed him, Lex!”

“Y- Sam… Say that again.”

“I killed Egan! I had no choice, he tried to kill me!”

“I’m scared… Somebody just told me some sectors are losing oxygen, too.”

“Hold on, that could be from the blast… The Life Support Power room isn’t far from here.”

“You think that’s what’s wrong with the oxygen?”

“Just hold tight, baby. I’ll fix it, I promise. No… Stay away from me!”

“You’re going the wrong way… Death is the answer, Sam… It’s so obvious…”

“Life Support…is through here.”

“Now entering zero gravity.”

“Warning: colony life support systems offline.”

“There it is. Hope the anti-grav still works. There… Almost got it…”

“Colony life support systems now online.”

“Hey, Nickolls! Unless you want CEC to slap you with another fine, I suggest you get these Megavent fans fixed!”

“Don’t tell Lexine! Don’t tell her anything!”

“Now leaving zero gravity.”

“They damn near knocked Lee off his workstation today, and all the debris that's kicking up isn't helping either!”

“Sam, you did it! The air’s cycling again. When are you getting back?”

“I’m on my way, baby, don’t worry. I can’t…can’t seem to focus… No, please, not me, dammit… Not me!”

“Why did you kill me? I’m not a monster.”

“Sam? Sam, what’s the matter?!”

“Nothing… It’s alright. Just stay out of sight, OK?”

“Be careful. I love you.”

“I love you… It loves you…”

“What the hell?”

“Did you hear that? Why aren’t you listening?”

“Why did you let me go alone, Sam? Why?”

“Hello? Who’s there?”

“Death…is the answer, Sam… You’ll see… You can’t…stop it…”

“Sterling? Oh, God, I thought you were… I’ve got to get out of here. Back to Lexine… We have to stop it! Is this even real? No, they’re not real!”

“We’re all going to die down here!”

“We’re not going to die!”

“Look out! They’re all around you!”

“You’ve got a job to do…and you know what it is…”

“No… No! Leave me alone! I have to get to Lexine, do you hear me? She needs my help! Ugh! Ah! No… Lexine… Help me… What? You’re… You’re not…”

“Hostile is down, repeat, hostile is down! Good shot, sir.”

“Shooting one of your own is never good. He’s not even packing a gun.”

“You’re shitting me. This is the guy who slaughtered his entire crew?”

“Why’d you do it, son? All these people never did anything to hurt you.”

“L-Lex…”

“He’s gone. Call Commander James, and get Doc Sciarello down here. He’s going to have a busy day.”

“Sam… I love you.”

Chapter 2: Another Day at the Office Edit

Sam Caldwell: Deceased

Searching

Known Contacts

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Shit.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Found:

Lexine Murdoch

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Detective Nathan McNeill.”

“Well, I’ll be damned. Gabe Weller. When I requested help from the Ishimura, I didn’t realize they had you on board.”

“Transferred six months ago. It’s been a long time, Nate.”

“It’s good to see you. You know, it’s been hell down here, some extra hands will come in useful.”

“Sorry, no cop duty. We have an errand.”

“An errand? Gabe, we’ve got assaults, murder, suicides… Almost sixty dead and dozens injured. Nobody here’s ever seen anything like it. We just can’t cope.”

“Cope? Wasn’t it you who pulled me out of a three-way firefight on Scorpio 6, then went back in to plant limpets? And now some crazy miners have got you losing sleep?”

“It’s not that simple. So what’s this errand anyway?”

“Baines! Hutchins!”

“Hey. You too, rookie.”

“We need to get to the morgue. Think you can “cope” with giving us direction?”

“I’ll take you. I have to drop this off at Evidence, anyhow. What do you want with the morgue?”

“The Captain sent us to retrieve the bodies from the Union Square suicide before they pop the cork on the planet. But keep it quiet, OK?”

“Oh, sure. Your crew’s really inconspicuous. You going to introduce us? Baines and Hutchins, two of my best.”

“Detective.”

“A pleasure.”

“And Karklins here is my rookie.”

“It’s an honor, sir. Sergeant Weller speaks highly of you.”

“Jeez. Don’t let him fill your head with his macho tales, son.”

“Baines, Hutchins, go prep the shuttle and wait for us.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Alright, follow me.”

“So you’re the rookie, huh? Must be why you got the shitty transport job.”

“Actually, I’m here because Sergeant Weller doesn’t want to handle corpses.”

“I guess some things never change.”

“Laugh it up, partner.”

“McCabe to McNeill. Nate, you there?”

“McNeill here. What’s up?”

“Multiple assault in the mess hall in your sector. Sounds like a riot down there. Are you up?”

“Not right now. Higgins should be good for it, though.”

“Alright, thanks. McCabe out.”

“I told you things were crazy down here.”

“You sure this is the right morgue?”

“We only have one. I was here just yesterday, it-it was a full house.”

“Not anymore. I’ll need to see a manifest. The Captain won’t like this.”

“Sir, there’s a toe tag here… Abbott, D.”

“Ring any bells, McNeill?”

“That’s the crazy son of a bitch who led the mass suicide. Hold on, I’ll pull him up.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ZONE 0209 Manifest

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“He’s on file, but’s there no record of a transfer. He should be right here.”

“You! What are you doing here? Get out!”

“Doc? You alright?”

“Holy shit, he’s lost it! Help!”

“I got your back!”

Whispering.

“He’s down. What do you reckon? He stashed the bodies somewhere?”

“Maybe. Let’s go check.”

“The hell?”

“Is that normal?”

“Not really, no… Hold on, I’ve got a glow worm. Shit, whatever it was must have knocked out the elevator, too.”

“Great. No lights, no elevator, no bodies, and a colony full of crazy people.”

“Sir? What’s going on?”

“Keep it together, Private. Sergeant Weller to Ishimura. Come in, Ishimura. Dammit!”

“We can get up through the Medical Hall instead. Let’s go. That look in his eyes… Reminded me of a kid that went crazy last week. Just an engineer, but something in him snapped.”

“You mean like these guys?”

“Yeah, kind of! I don’t get it. This is the same shit that’s been happening all over the colony; it’s like it’s spreading. What the hell is going on up there?”

“Another riot?”

“It’s calling to us. To death, and – and beyond…”

“What did you say?”

“Uh – sorry, nothing, sir.”

“This is the only way through. Be ready for anything, Karklins.”

“Shut up! I’m trying to think!”

“P-Sec! What’s going on here?”

“Stay out of this, cop! It’s none of your business!”

“Just tell me what the problem is, son. You don’t want to hurt anyone, do you?”

“No! No! You’re – You’re trying to trick me… I can feel my head’s gonna burst…”

“I’ll get one of the docs to look at it, OK? Just walk to me. Nice and easy. That’s better. Now take it easy -”

“No! Get out of my head!”

“Don’t take another step! I warned you! Jesus… Weller, you go on ahead to P-Sec. Head through the lobby, then turn off the plaza. I’ll stay here and deal with these guys.”

“Do you want me to stay and help, sir?”

“No.”

“Come on, rookie. See you back at your office, McNeill.”

“Oh, shit. Not you, too… Back off, all of you! Shit. I have to warn Weller and Karklins…”

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SITUATION REPORT

SGT. SIZZLE, J. (PRECINCT 12)

Responded to civic disturbance call in Union Square; HQ advised of numerous reports of harassment, weapons possession, vandalism; reported to scene with Officer Shey; no…disturbance in progress; called in new sit-rep to HQ; multiple possible homicides and/or suicides; mass suicide suspected; most victims exhibited signs of blunt force trauma or jugular evisceration; several victims had apparent gunshot wounds; trace residue of colony blue observed on one victim’s mouth and nose, although narcotics are not suspected as a motive at this time.

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“Ugh!”

Whispering.

“If anyone’s out there, come out – identify yourself! I warned you! Don’t take another step! Ugh!”

Whispering.

“Argh!”

“Aaah!”

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SCIENCE LOG

FROM: DR. KYNE, T. (CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER)

ATTN: CAPTAIN MATHIUS, B.

Further to our previous conversation, I ask that you delay bringing the Marker up from the planet for a day or two. You know I’m as keen as anyone to study it in detail, and I understand your sense of urgency given the events on the colony, but that’s why I ask – what’s happening down there is just too unique, too unprecedented, to cut it short without proper time to study the effects.

In light of a conversation I had with Dr. Mercer, I’d like to meet with Drs. Welland and Sciarello planetside to get the observations.

-Terrence

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“Argh!” Gurgle.

“Jesus… The whole colony’s gone to hell…”

“Ah!”

“Hell, it just doesn’t stop…”

“Argh! Argh! Ugh…”

“P-Sec! Stand down, now!”

“McNeill! Over here!”

“We have to stop this…”

“Whew… Am I glad to see you. Was it like this when you got here?”

“Worse. We had to fight our way through.”

“Sounds like your rookie’s losing it.”

“Yeah. Reckon whatever’s gotten to everyone else down here is getting to him, too.”

“Shouldn’t you take his firearm?”

“Pff. If he cracks, I’ll deal with it. The day I can’t put down a rookie is the day I hang up my boots-”

“Whoa!”

“Ugh…”

“Thanks for the help, Weller. Your rookie lost his mind and tried to kill me.”

“He sucker-punched me. Can’t believe Karklins did that.”

“Neither of us is getting any younger.”

“Shit! Where did these guys come from?”

“The hell with this, get inside P-Sec! We can barricade ourselves in!”

“Sounds like a damn good idea to me!”

“Argh!”

“I can’t lock it!”

“Hold it closed! I’ll seal it myself!”

“I can’t hold this door forever, McNeill! They’re still coming! Hurry up!”

“It’s done. They won’t get through that.”

“Then let’s get to your office so I can call the Ishimura. See if Chief Vincent’s got any answers. Gunfire. Where’s it coming from?”

“Upstairs, I think. Shit, maybe somebody got inside before us.”

“Well, we just locked ourselves in. Whatever it is, it’s our problem now.”

“This is Jones, open call to all P-Sec officers! Listen up! Body shots don’t put these things down! Aim for the limbs, take out the joints to immobilize them!”

“What “things”? What’s he talking about?”

“Don’t know. He can’t mean the colonists… Is there something else in here?”

“Either that, or he’s flipped like everyone else around here.”

Whispering.

“Weller, look out!”

“Jesus.”

“So aliens do exist.”

“And they’re trying to kill us. Isn’t life dandy…”

Sobbing.

“Thanks for the help! Who the hell are you?”

“Easy, Weller. She’s not P-Sec. I’m McNeill. What’s your name?”

“L-Lexine… Lexine Murdoch.”

“Well, Lexine, you’re a lucky girl.”

“Lucky?! My boyfriend was killed last week… My father’s gone missing, and now this?!”

“Wait a second… I recognize you. You’re Sam Caldwell’s emergency contact.”

“Sam was my boyfriend.”

“Listen, I’m sorry about what happened. What are you doing here?”

“My father’s missing. He disappeared at the same time all those Unitologists killed themselves… I came to see if there was any news. But then those…things came in and started killing everyone… What’s happening?”

“I’m not sure. But it’s not good for anyone.”

“Ishimura! The colony is under attack from unknown hostiles! Come in, goddammit!”

“Orbital comms must have gone down with the rest of the electrics. We’re on our own.”

“Wait… You’re from the ship?”

“Yes… Special Security Taskforce.”

“Then why don’t we just go there? You must have a shuttle, right?”

“She’s right. Baines and Hutchins will be waiting for us. Come on, McNeill.”

“Wait, what about me?”

“Go home, lock yourself up and sit tight.”

“Home? Are you crazy? I’ve lost everyone!”

“Sorry, sweetheart, but you can’t come with us.”

“You know, P-Sec’s pretty decimated. We can’t handle another missing person’s case…”

“What are you talking about?”

“…which is why you should come with us. Right, Sergeant?”

“She’s your responsibility.”

“Fine. Let’s go.”

“Are you from the ship too?”

“No, I’m a P-Sec detective. Nate McNeill.”

“Well, thank you, Nate McNeill.”

“Just doing my job. Pulse Rifles… You got enough firepower, Weller?”

“Enough? No such thing…”

“Holy shit.”

“Oh, my god…”

“No way they did this to each other. They probably thought they’d be safe inside P-Sec.”

“And we kept them out.”

“They were trying to kill us. Remember that.”

“Kind of quiet, all of a sudden.”

“I feel like I’m being watched.”

“Because we probably are. Keep it tight. McNeill! You see that?”

“What the hell is it doing?”

“Shit! Look out!”

“Oh, god. They’re not aliens… They’re people.”

““Were” people. Whatever they are now, it isn’t human.”

“Let’s just get to the shuttle. Mission Square – let’s go. What do you make of that?”

“Somebody was trying to keep the bad guys out. We’ll have to clear it. Incoming!”

“Keep going! I’ll hold them off!”

“I can see through! Go!”

“Nate! Come on! Look out!”

“McNeill, get out of there! It’s going to collapse! At least we don’t need to rebuild the barricade.”

“And I thought I was the optimist here.”

“Mission Square’s right up ahead. We should keep moving.”

“I remember this area. The Shuttle Bay’s just off the square, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Good. Baines! Hutchins! Give me a sitrep!”

“In the shuttle and standing by, Sarge. It’s bloody chaos down here, though. I had to break a few noses to stop people piling in with us. Everyone’s looking for a way out.”

“Look! There’s one taking off now!”

“There’s a sight for sore eyes.”

“Wait, something’s wrong…”

“She’s gonna crash! Get down!”

“Ah! Oh no… Look at them… All those people, dead…”

“Every shuttle in the bay, destroyed…”

“Dammit! Baines and Hutchins were in there! God damn this fucking place!”

“Wait!”

“Lucky man. What’s your name?”

“Warren – Warren Eckhardt. Executive Director of Colonial Mining Operations.”

“Quite a mouthful. You’re lucky to even be alive after that.”

“The shuttles…”

“They’re all gone. We’re stuck here.”

“Not necessarily. There’s a surveying shuttle in the Sector 8 Maintenance Bay.”

“Are you sure?”

“Quite sure. I hitched a ride on it yesterday, from the Ishimura.”

“You’re from the ship? What are you doing here?”

“CEC business. And none of yours, Sergeant.”

“Who cares? Let’s just find the shuttle and go!”

“For all we know, those things are all the way across the colony. Are you ready to fight your way through them?”

“We may not have to. Megavent 12 runs underneath the colony, and I’m sure there’s an exit into the Maintenance Bay.”

“So how do we get into this “Megavent”?”

“There’s an equipment lift ahead. It should take us straight down.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

“We can’t get in!”

“Damn. McNeill, clear that debris! Go, go! Get in!”

“With pleasure!”

“What’s wrong? Why’s it stopped?”

“The power’s down! There must be a broken connection!”

“I’ll fix it! Everybody in? Alright, going down!”

Chapter 3: Return to the Megavents Edit

“So is it safe now?”

“Shh!”

“There’s a service hatch down there. We can seal it to keep them out.”

“Hold it right there!”

“Don’t shoot, I’m on your side! I’m just hiding from those…things!”

“Not for long. They’re on our tail.”

“What?! Then keep it down – they’ll hear us…”

“Wait, you mean they’re down here?!”

“We have to keep them out. Grab that sheet and plug it over the hatch! Move! Now hold it steady while I fix it into place!”

“It won’t hold like this. McNeill, rivet another bolt in there!”

“Here, we can use this piece to reinforce it!”

“They’re still coming!”

“Hurry up, McNeill!”

“That should hold for a while. We need to get to the Sector 8 Maintenance Bay. There’s a shuttle there.”

“Seriously? Right this way, man. Follow me!”

“Please tell me those are just bats I hear…”

“Can’t be – there’s no ecosystem on this planet.”

MAINTENANCE LOG

DENVERS, Q. (MV24)

Re: Organic growth in Megavents

The unidentified growth seen in other parts of the colony has now reached the Megavents. I don’t know what the hell this stuff is – looks like someone threw up their guts all over the walls – but it’s spreading faster than we can cut it up, which is pretty disgusting in itself.

It’s already in the ventilation spoke. And if we can’t find a way to stop it soon, it’ll hit the filtration chamber by the day after tomorrow. I hope the boffins are looking into it, because it’s way beyond me.

“What the hell is this stuff? Smells like vomit – how long has it been like this?”

“We found a little last week. Didn’t think much of it. Today? This.”

“Get down!”

“Look, up there…”

“Yeah, I see it too.”

“Sarge, this is Baines. Are you there?”

“Baines! Jesus, I thought I’d lost you!”

“If we hadn’t been inside the shuttle, we’d be toast. It’s a wreck, though; we won’t be flying anywhere in it. Where are you?”

“We’re in a Megavent, heading to the Sector 8 Maintenance Bay – there’s a shuttle we can use. But we sealed off the entrance here. Can you find another route?”

“We’ll do our best, Sarge. See you there.”

“My God, what happened here?”

“I don’t know… Man, that’s a lot of bodies.”

“But none of them are human.”

“Wait, what’s this?”

“This is Amanda Castle, a surveyor on Aegis VII. I’m concerned about the dementia people here are suffering. After we brought the artifact inside – the “Marker” as the Unitologists are calling it – the extraction team all went crazy. The brass says it’s coincidence, but that’s bullshit. Now, half the miners are suffering from some weird dementia, but nobody dares suggest it’s because of the artifact! Well, I will. And I don’t like where this is going.”

“Dementia? Interesting.”

“Why? We’ve all seen what she was talking about.”

“Indeed. So why aren’t we going crazy too?”

“He’s right. None of us have been affected.”

“I guess. Unless I’m crazy, and you’re all figments of my imagination.”

“You don’t have that much imagination, Weller.”

“Can we hurry up and find this shuttle? You can all play shrink once we’re in orbit.”

“He’s right, no use standing around here. Move out.”

“How are we going to get across that?”

“Carefully.”

“What was that?”

“It’s a freight tram, for moving equipment.”

“I just saw one of the flying creatures down there. Get moving.”

“Lexine, are you OK? You’ve been quiet ever since you found that audiolog.”

“Yeah, I’m fine, just… just thinking about my dad. He worked here, in the vents.”

“Hey, it’s a little early for the past tense. He could be on one of the shuttles that already left. We’ll look for him when we get to the ship.”

“Everyone’s looking for someone.”

“What was that?”

“Uh, nothing. Just mumbling, ignore me.”

“You guys stay there. I’m gonna check it out.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UNITED WE…ASCEND? (PART 1)

Is Unitology a new hope, or just another scam?

By Carrie Von Ottken

If you’ve been living on Mars for the past 200 years, you might have missed the fastest growing religious movement in history.

Unitology boasts a following of millions, counts powerful CEOs and officials in its ranks, claims $78 billion dollars in stock in multiglobal companies, and owns two of Earth’s largest financial institutions (GPSG Financial and Unitas Energy Investments). From its beginnings as a cult of personality, Unitology has become a respected, established religion. (Cont’d)

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“What did you find?”

“It’s clear…”

“Another tram?”

“Yeah. They run 24 hours.”

“Officer Hutchins to Sergeant Weller. Come in, sir.”

“Weller here. What’s your twenty, Hutchins?”

“We’re in the hub corridors. There’s some kind of foreign substance all over… It’s like…like meat growing out of the walls.”

“We’ve got the same down here, but it seems to be inert. You getting any trouble up there?”

“Negative, sir. We’ve hardly encountered anything. I think we’re being watched, but that’s all.”

“Let’s hope it stays that way. Weller out.”

“Maybe we should catch a ride on one of these trams; there’s enough of them coming through.”

“If that’s a tram…where is it?”

“That doesn’t sound normal…”

“Holy shit!”

“Ahhh! Help me! Do something! Shoot it! Nate! Help me!”

“Drop her!”

“Let go of me! Let go, please! It’ll kill us both!”

“Shit, he’s not letting go – McNeill, you’ll have to shoot him!”

“Let go!”

“Jesus, thanks for the help, guys. Where were you?!”

“Right here, dealing with our own shit! What do you want, a medal?”

“Would you two stop arguing, for God’s sakes?”

“Lexine’s right. There’s no point in fighting those things if we’re just going to fight amongst ourselves, too.”

“Shh, listen.”

“Oh God, how are we supposed to stay safe if those things can fly?”

“Just stay between me and Weller. We’ll protect you.”

“God, I hate those things… Heads up. They’ve got the high ground.”

“Over there!”

“Stay sharp!”

“Keep moving! If we stop, we’re dead!”

“Ah!”

“Ugh! Shit…!”

“Hold on!”

“Jesus… I’m too old for this…”

“You’re doing fine, soldier. I’ve got your back. Dammit, this place is a wreck!”

“Now what? We can’t go back…”

“What about the air vents? They go all over the colony.”

“Are you mad? The aliens would be in the vents, too!”

“Sarge, this is Baines.”

“Weller here. What’s your twenty?”

“Pretty close to the Maintenance Bay, but things are getting serious. There’s a gang of hostiles up ahead, and no alternate route. We’ll have to go through them.”

“Be careful. I want to see you both alive when we get there.”

“No worries, Sarge. Baines out.”

“Alright, that settles it. How do we get into the air vents?”

“There’s an access panel over there, but I don’t know if I have enough clearance to unlock it…”

“The hell with clearance. I’ll get it.”

“Hurry up! I can hear them coming!”

“I thought you didn’t want to go through the vents?”

“Go, go! Get in there!”

“I don’t want to be out here at feeding time, either!”

“Just encountered a new type of creature – really fast, hard to kill. Used my stasis module to slow it down.”

“Get a move on, McNeill.”

“Going as fast as I can.”

“Quiet! Listen!”

“Oh no, Eckhardt was right… They’re in here with us.”

“Jeez!”

“We’re surrounded! Move your ass, quick! McNeill, make up your damn mind!”

“Quickly, Nate! They’re coming!”

“What the hell is this stuff?”

“No idea. It’s not like the other shit we saw. Smells just as bad, though.”

“Whoa!”

“McNeill! Grab hold of something!”

“I can’t! Come on. We can’t be far, now. Just watch your step.”

“The hell was that?”

“I can’t see anything!”

“There’s something coming… Look out!”

“Ah!”

“Gone… Come on, move!”

“What on earth is that smell? It’s disgusting.”

“Oh… Whoa, crap…!”

“This room’s right next to the Maintenance Bay! This is it!”

“We made it!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CEC: ABOUT US

The CEC is the largest solar mining and extraction company in the Earth colonies. It is also the fifth largest company in terms of market capital. It has become a powerhouse of industrial might and an influential political force. With a generous budget allocated to election spending, CEC has always been able to maintain and improve its market position.

The CEC owns over 400 deep space vehicles including five Planet Crackers, with the famous USG Ishimura as its flagship. The CEC was the first to develop deep space mining, asteroid catchers, and was the first to implement shockpoint drives for commercial use. We are the largest supplier of precious metals.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“There’s the shuttle!”

“Thank God. We’re safe!”

“Not so fast. Stay back. We’re not out of this yet; it’s crawling with those fuckers.”

“There’s your men.”

“Baines, this is Weller. We’re right behind you.”

“I see you, Sarge. Heh. Hit a spot of bother when we got here!”

“Sir, the shuttle’s locked. We can’t get inside!”

“My access code will open it.”

“Then let’s go for it. Everybody ready to run?”

“We’ll meet you halfway!”

“I’ll take point. Eckhardt, stay close.”

“Go!”

“We’re coming!”

“Behind those crates! Follow me!”

“Motherfucker!”

“What the hell is that?!”

“Eckhardt, with me! Run!”

“It’s not working! They must’ve changed the code!”

“Shit! Stand back; I’ll hack it!”

“Hurry up! We’ll cover you!”

“Got it! Everybody, get inside, now!”

“Hurry! Eckhardt!”

“Don’t just stand there, Sergeant! Come on!”

“Good work, soldier.”

“This is bigger than we thought.”

“Relax, it’s dead. Eckhardt, get up here and second me. I can fly, but I don’t know survey craft.”

“Thank you, Nate. Without you, we wouldn’t have got this far.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“Ah!”

“What was that?”

“It’s not dead! Go, get her up!”

“Close that damn door! Hold on to something! Heads up, they’ve got the high ground.”

“Faster, dammit! It’s still coming!”

Chapter 4: Rendezvous with Fate Edit

Ishimura, this is the survey shuttle Vestri. Come in, Ishimura. Dammit.”

“Forget it and hang on; we’re heading into the debris field!”

“Be careful! This shuttle’s worth a fortune!”

“Not if we crash! McNeill, make yourself useful and man the cannon!”

“Damn, has this thing ever been used?”

“I can’t say I’ve had much call to!”

“Stop yakking, and start shooting! You need glasses, partner? Get your head in the game! Damn, McNeill, how long it’s been since you fired a cannon? There’s the Ishimura! They’re hailing us.”

USG Ishimura to all shuttles. You are violating a direct no-fly order. Return to planetside immediately.”

“This is Shuttle CSO4. The colony’s overrun! We can’t go back!”

“Now listen here, I am Warren Eckhardt, Executive Director of Colonial Mining Operations -”

“I repeat, clearance to land is denied. Any approach will be considered hostile.”

““Hostile?” Is he insane?”

“Fuck that! We’re coming in!”

“Holy shit!”

“No!”

“Oh, my God…”

“It’s coming right at us!”

“Hold on to something! Main thrusters are fried!”

“We’re gonna die!”

“I’ve landed in worse shape than this! McNeill, intercept that cannon fire! I’m setting her down on the Ishimura’s hull! Brace yourselves!”

“We’re too fast!”

“Mind those blasts!”

“Jesus! God! Damn!”

“Watch our!”

“Here we go!”

“No!”

“Hold on, people!”

“Shit!”

“Brace yourselves!”

“Help!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Ugh… Oh… Wuraghh!”

“Eckhardt? You okay?”

“I’m…ok. Thank you, Gabe.”

“Hull integrity 18%. Oxygen depletion imminent. Abandon ship.”

“We’ve got to move. Eckhardt, does this thing carry any suits?”

“Four, for surveying.”

“Good enough. Everybody suit up.”

“Weller, you know the Ishimura. Is there another way on board?”

“Yeah, should be a maintenance airlock about 200 meters fore. Taking your time, McNeill?”

“Why do they have to make them so damn tight?”

“Punctures. Survey teams don’t like their guys getting popped in zero G.”

“Everyone ready?”

“Yeah.”

“God, I hate space walks.”

“Yeah, well I hate dying more. Let’s do this.”

“Now entering zero gravity.”

“Follow me. Dammit! Security code’s no good.”

“Let me try. I have executive clearance… Oh.”

“Shit. Lexine, what about you?”

“If it won’t open for me, it won’t open for a bloody waitress.”

“I’m a Grade 2 surveyor!”

“That’s enough. McNeill, there should be an override in there.”

“Lexine! Lexine! Are you alright?”

“Nate… What happened? There was a flash…”

“The airlock blew. Come on, let’s get you inside.”

“Thank you…for not leaving me… You’re not like Weller…”

“Heh. Amen to that.”

“You’re alive…”

“Yeah, we’re OK. Eckhardt, close the airlock.”

“Exiting zero gravity.”

“Where are we?”

“Crew deck. Should be a comms room around here, so let’s see who’s home.”

“We fled the Rec room – left in a hurry. Had to leave behind some supplies on the second floor.”

“Where did everybody go?”

“Hard to believe this is the same ship.”

“Huh. Locked down.”

“Stand aside, Sergeant. See? Executive clearance.”

“Why would they lock the door if there’s nobody in here?”

“I’m sure they’ve got their reasons. Bridge, this is Sergeant Weller, Security. I just got back from the colony. Bridge, come in.”

“Oh no… No… It’s happening here, too. Those things are on board!”

“Hey, calm down. For all we know, that feed could be from the colony.”

“You don’t really believe that.”

“I think I hear something… Open the door!”

“Hold your fire!”

“Who are you?”

“Weller, security. What happened here?”

“Something… Those freaks…killed them all… Oh, God…”

“Easy now. Stick with us; we’ll protect you.”

“Sure you will. Have you seen those things?”

“Yeah, and killed a few, too. McNeill, what do you think? Bridge?”

“Will the bridge be safe?”

“Safer than down here. Let’s go.”

“I’ve never seen it so quiet.”

“Wait -”

“Move! Get away from the door!”

“Is the whole ship like this?”

“We must get off the Ishimura somehow.”

“Hang in there, Eckhardt. You too, Lex. If we’re smart, we’ll figure this out. Shit! Booby trap!”

“Get back! Out of the way!”

“Stay right there! McNeill, you can defuse that, right?”

“Who did this? I don’t get it.”

“Security, perhaps? Trying to secure the area?”

“There’s 800 miners on board. Any one of them could have set this.”

“Shut up and let the man concentrate.”

“Nate, have you ever seen anything like this?”

“I barely recognize this deck, and I work here.”

“Oh! Shit!”

“I’ve got your back! Get up!”

“We’re no safer here than we were on the colony!”

“We’ve got to keep moving. McNeill, get the door.”

“Over there… Something moved.”

“Shhhh! Just take it slow and quiet.”

“For the love of God, what is happening here?”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CAPTAIN’S LOG

INITIAL INFECTION VECTORS

It’s been less than an hour, but they’ve spread fast. Flight deck was the first to go, after the shuttle crashed. Now almost entirely overrun. We’ve lost at least half the Medical deck, and about a quarter of Engineering. No information yet from Cargo or Planet Ops, which suggests bad news. This is not what I expected.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Somebody please wake me up. This can’t be happening!”

“Where’s security? Why isn’t anyone helping?”

“Everybody calm down. Panicking won’t help.”

“Pick it up, soldier.”

“Oh, God. I think I’m gonna be sick.”

“Keep it together, sweetheart. Hold your nose or something.”

“Shit, this gets worse by the minute!”

“Don’t even look. Just keep going.”

“We’re not gonna make it out, are we?”

“McNeill, can you fix that elevator? We need to get off this deck.”

“You seriously think the bridge is still safe?”

“Only one way to find out.”

“Help! Help me!”

“Get back! Into the elevator, go, go! This is the only way through! Get your head straight and stay focused!”

“I… I don’t feel so good…”

“Lexine, your nose is bleeding. Nathan, she’s very pale! Can we stop for a moment?”

“No time. Man up, sweetheart. McNeill, take point. I’ll cover you! Man, they took this place apart.”

“Look at these marks…”

“Wait a minute, where are we going? We should be heading for a shuttle, not a mess hall!”

“This is the only way through! Get your head straight and stay focused!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UNITED WE…ASCEND? (PART 2)

By Carrie Van Ottken

Most people know the basics. Two hundred years ago Michael Altman, a professor of anthropology, blew the whistle on what he claimed was the biggest cover-up ever instituted by Earth Government – the discovery of an alien artifact, or “Marker”, which proved beyond any doubt there is alien life in the Universe. The Government labeled Altman a kook, but his claims struck a chord with some, and his mysterious death soon afterwards fueled that interest. (Cont’d)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“More of them! Take cover! Something big went down here. What a mess.”

“They’re all dead… Everyone’s dead…”

“Somebody help me!”

“Fall back! Over there! That was the last. Let’s move!”

“Are you sure? We thought that before.”

“I-I don’t feel anything… Ah!”

“Everybody freeze!”

“Drop your weapons!”

“Hold your fire! I’m Sergeant Weller, ship security-”

“I said drop it! On your knees!”

“Wait, you don’t understand…”

“Agh!”

Chapter 5: Emergency Care Edit

“Your readings are very unusual. BP is very high, brain activity is off the charts… Let’s get you out of there. I’m going to wake your friends up, too, so you should get dressed. With you in a moment, Detective. I’m Nicole Brennan, by the way. Senior Medical Officer.”

“How are you feeling, Nate?”

“Fine… A little dizzy. What happened? Is this Medical?”

“Quarantine, actually. Security said they found you in the infected area and wanted you checked out.”

“Infected? Is that what you’re calling it?”

“Don’t worry. You’re all clean, and the dizzy spells will pass.”

“Eckhardt, do you need anything?”

“I-I’m fine. Just give me a minute…”

“Mr. Eckhardt! Are you alright? Here, let me help you…”

“Shit!”

“Relax, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have left the Sergeant’s tube – we lock everything down if procedure is not followed precisely. We’ll just have to wait.”

“Wait? For how long?”

“A couple of hours, maybe. Or until an engineer overrides the lockdown from outside.”

“We don’t have a few hours, doctor, and nobody is going to come help! The “infection” here is the same as on the colony, and that means nowhere is safe!”

“But it’s just a small infection on the crew deck…”

“Small? Doctor, bodies are piled up down there!”

“What about that vent? Is that a way out?”

“Theoretically, yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it. We’re on the outer edge of the ship here. One wrong turn and you could be floating out into space.”

“It’s worth the risk. I’ll go outside and override the lockdown.”

“No, you’re still too weak.”

“You’re a doctor; can’t you give him something?!”

“Alright… Here you go. If you start to feel weak, or your vision goes, this should restore your vitals.”

“You should wear a suit, too. In case you take one of those wrong turns.”

“There’s a console outside this room, but I doubt the vents lead straight there. So when you find it, radio me.”

“Eckhardt, give me a leg up.”

“So, Doctor… Lexine’s healthy, despite the results you found?”

“I wouldn’t let her leave quarantine if I didn’t think she’d be OK. I would like to run more tests, though.”

“I’m fine. Even my headache’s feeling better, now. Don’t worry about me.”

“When you get this, tell Captain Mathius that we’re leaving. No one is safe here anymore – me and Vikram are headed for the escape pods now. I’m sorry to abandon you like this, but we don’t have any other choice…”

Whispering.

“Whoa!”

“Now entering zero gravity.”

“Detective, this is Nicole. Where are you?”

“Zero-G therapy.”

“Hurry. Weller’s still stuck in his tube. He’s not happy.”

“Now leaving zero gravity.”

“Nate! You made it!”

“Good to hear you’re safe. There should be a console there that you can use to override the lockdown.”

“Whoa! Whoa! Ah! Agh!”

“Detective, are you OK? We heard a crash.”

“Yeah, something hit the ship. I’m alright, but the hull’s breached. The console’s still OK. I’ll try to override the lockdown…”

“That’s it; you got it!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WELCOME TO THE ISHIMURA (PART 1)

Resource management on Earth and on the colonies was not always as streamlined as it is today. There was a time when needs could barely be met by the now-extinct resources of Earth and the dwindling supplies of the colonies. Looking to the stars for additional resources is nothing new, but at the time only smaller ships were shockpoint-able and they were insufficient at keeping up with demand.

Enter the Ishimura. (Cont’d)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“My oxygen’s low. I’ll have to take a different route back.”

“We’ll wait for you.”

“Ugh!”

Whispering.

“Are you lost, Detective? You’ve been gone awhile.”

“You know, I think I am. I’ll call when I get some place I recognize.”

“Alert: Launch sequence for escape pod procedures initiated. All personnel must proceed to emergency shuttles immediately.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UNITED WE…ASCEND? (PART 3)

By Carrie Van Ottken

Unitologists believe the Marker contained a code, the key to eternal life, through rebirth and ascension to heaven. (The kicker is you have to die first.) They say the Government is hiding the Marker somewhere, keeping its secrets for themselves. Across all of human space, Unitologists praise Altman’s martyrdom and await the day God comes to take them to their new life beyond death. It all sounds pretty harmless. But, like any cult, there’s a dark side. (Cont’d)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“…Death is the beginning…”

“This is McNeill.”

“About damn time. What’s your twenty?”

“I’m fine, Weller, thanks for asking. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m in a damn morgue.”

“That’s not far. Wait there; we’ll come to you.”

Whispering.

“Whoa! Whoa! Agh! Ah! Uh…”

“Nate! Thank God you’re alright!”

“We must stop meeting like this.”

“Believe me, another morgue is the last place I want to be. By the way… You still want to talk to the Captain?”

“Ah, shit.”

“He’s dead? Oh, my God. How did this happen?”

“No idea. What happened with the escape pods?”

“They all launched empty. No idea why.”

“Can we please move on, and discuss this elsewhere?”

“Mr. Eckhardt is right. Let’s go through to ER. Perry, you’re still here? When was the last time you slept?”

“Coming up to twenty-four hours, I think. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t just leave everyone alone.”

“Lot of people here.”

“Lot of accidents on a ship this size. And we’ve had our share of fights the past week, too.”

“That’s odd. I stabilized him an hour ago…”

“You thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Sounds like it’s gone…”

“We have more patients in the hallway. I’m going to check on them.”

“Sure. I’ll be here.”

“Ah! Look out!”

“Ah!”

“Agh!”

“Aaah! Get it off me!”

“McNeill, look out!”

“No!”

“Lexine, stay with me!”

“Over there!”

“Let’s get out of here!”

“Wait! I have more patients in the hallway; we can’t leave them. And there are supplies there, too. It’s that way! Oh my God… At least the supplies are still here… Where did they all go? Hello?”

“Nicole, keep it down!”

“Oh God, they’re in the vents!”

“We’re too late! Open fire!”

“We’ll be safer in the ER!”

“Take that!”

“Lexine, stay close to me! Take the power cell out of the door! It’ll seal the area!”

“Let’s move. There’s a security station that way. Go!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

IT’S TIME

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THIS

THIS

THIS

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“What was that?”

“I don’t want to find out!”

“Get to the security station! We’ll barricade ourselves in!”

“Thank God you’re here!”

“You’re not gonna taze me again, are you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Quit gabbing and close that door!”

“It’s jammed, sir!”

“So un-jam it! The rest of you, grab anything that isn’t nailed down and finish that barricade! McNeill, get over here and start riveting!”

“Whoa!”

“Ah!”

“Sir, we have to get to Engineering. Our team is responding to an emergency call there.”

“I’ll stay. If things are this bad everywhere, then people will be coming here for help.

“In that case, you stay with her and keep that barricade secure. Me and McNeill will go to Engineering and back up your team.”

“Good idea. Lexine and I will stay here, too.”

“What? No! The Captain’s dead, and the ship is full of those things! I am not just gonna sit here and wait to die! I’m coming with you.”

“Then I suppose I’m coming too.

“Must be nice to finally grow a pair, Eckhardt. Let’s go catch a tram.”

“Where’s the tram?”

“They’re on an automatic schedule. It should be here.”

“Not according to this. Look.”

“Attention all personnel. Tram service has been suspended on all decks. Service will resume in approximately 30 minutes.”

“Great. What are we supposed to do until then?”

“We walk. Engineering’s not that far.”

“In the pitch dark, are you serious?”

“C’mon Eckhardt.”

“Unbelievable.”

“Shit…”

“Do you think Nicole will be safe with those guards?”

“The way this day’s going, Eckhardt, I wouldn’t put my money on anyone being “safe”.”

“It’s not just today. This all happened after we found that damn Marker.”

“You can’t seriously think the Marker’s responsible for this.”

“Hey, you weren’t on the colony this past month. I’ve never seen anything like it. What are you, a Marker-head?”

“A Unitologist? Certainly not! I’m just saying, it doesn’t seem likely.”

“My ass! If we hadn’t found that thing we wouldn’t even be in this situation. Whoa! Whoa!”

Chapter 6: Nowhere to Hide Edit

“Is everyone OK?!”

“Eckhardt, hold onto me!”

“OK!”

“Whoa!”

“Ah!”

“Oof!”

“Ah!”

“Everybody alright?”

“1, 2, 3… All present and correct.”

“God, as if we weren’t all feeling terrible enough already. It’s freezing in here!”

“Hopefully, it won’t be for long. We’ll be out of here soon.”

“Just keep moving. Who knows what the hell’s down here?”

“Growing up, I always wanted to visit the Ishimura. But this is not what I had in mind…”

“Lexine… Where were you born?”

“Earth. Why?”

“Just curious.”

“Looks like those creatures are having a time of it down here, too.”

“What the hell?”

“They’re adapting.”

“What?”

“Adapting. To their environment.”

“Great.”

“There’s something over there… My head is aching again. Nate, I really don’t like it down here.”

“Yeah, me neither, Lexine. Stay close, I’ll protect you.”

“See that? The exits are locked down. Looks like we’re stuck here with those things.”

“We haven’t got all day…”

“Look out!”

“So is it safe now?”

“I feel like I’m being watched.”

“Shh! Shit! Look out!”

“I can hear something ahead…”

“Sounds like a waterfall. We might be near the water treatment facility.”

“There’s gotta be access from there to the rest of the ship. Let’s go.”

“There’s a ladder.”

“See, Eckhardt? Back on solid ground in no time.”

“Ah! Ah! Ah! Ugh! Ah! Ugh! Ugh! Ah! Ah! No! No! Agh!”

“What the hell is that? Sounds like something’s gonna blow.”

“Look out!”

“Ah!”

“Lexine!”

“Ah! Ah!”

“Don’t shoot; you’ll hit Lexine! No! Get her out of there! Come on! Where is she? Where did she go? You were supposed to be protecting her!”

“Just shut up and find her!”

“Hey! Hey! She’s gone!”

“But where? Where does this pool drain out?”

“Forget it! We have to keep moving!”

“Oh, God… Oh, bloody hell.”

“Weller’s right… We can’t do anything if we just stay here.”

Whispering.

“We should have made her stay with Nicole.”

“It was her choice. We all knew it’d be dangerous.”

“She could still be alive, you know. At least, I hope so. I never had a chance to tell her about her boyfriend. Poor kid.”

“You told her what she needed to know. Man up, both of you. We’re not out of this yet.”

“You hear that?”

“No, what?”

“That. You can’t hear it? Someone’s crying.”

“Is it Lex? I don’t hear anything.”

“Well, I do! Someone’s crying, dammit! Don’t tell me I can’t hear it!”

“Easy, Gabe! I didn’t say that! Just calm down. Lex is down here somewhere – we’ll find her. Whoa!”

“This is absurd. Do we even know where we are?”

“Keep it together, Eckhardt.”

“It’s your fault we’re in this mess! We’re good as dead – it just hasn’t got through your thick military skull yet!”

“Quit it, Eckhardt. We’re bound to hit a few dead ends. Just keep looking for an open hatch…”

“Son of a bitch!”

“Finally, some higher ground…”

“Well, get up there. I’m freezing.”

“See there, where the pipes go? We’ll have to go single file.”

“Through there? You must be joking.”

“Suck in those guts, gentlemen.”

Cough. Cough. “Jesus!”

Cough. Cough. “The extraction fan’s broken!”

Cough. “I’ll get it.”

“Pick it up, McNeill! I’m choking here! Finally. Felt like I was gonna pass out.”

“God, that stuff’s everywhere. Like it’s taking over…”

“And it smells like shit. Let’s go.”

“I didn’t want to risk the open deck, so I came down through the filtration systems. I’m on my way to the Water Treatment room. Bring anyone else who got out with you, and meet me there. See you soon.”

“Ah!”

“McNeill, hold your fire! We need to conserve ammo.”

“But I… Huh, it’s gone.”

“You’re going the wrong way…”

“Lexine was right. Something’s watching us.”

“There!”

“Where?”

“No, it’s gone. Damn.”

“Stop it… Stop it! Be quiet!”

“Whoa! Stop what?”

“Somebody’s humming!”

“I’m not humming. You humming?”

“No. Don’t crack on me, Eckhardt. We’re not out of this yet.”

“Hello?”

“We’re not done yet – look out.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WELCOME TO THE ISHIMURA (PART 2)

The USG Ishimura, named after Astro Physicist Hideski Ishimura (inventor of the shockpoint drive), was the first of the massive Planet Cracker ships. Built 62 years ago, she has a long and storied career. The Ishimura was the first vessel of her size to utilize the shockpoint drive for large-scale, commercial, deep-space expeditions.

At the time of her inception, the Ishimura was hailed as the savior of the Earth colonies. She was created to mine and melt down entire small planets and moons. She was also the first ship capable of the “scan and catch” technique for harvesting mineral-rich asteroids. Using huge gravity tethers, the Ishimura can lock onto asteroids and pull them inside the ship’s massive collection bays for smelting. (Cont’d)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UNITED WE…ASCEND? (PART 4)

By Carrie Van Ottken

Unitologists are “ranked” in the Church. Nobody ever talks about it, but most of its critics believe there are at least three ranks above the average believer, or “initiate”. With each new rank, more of the Church’s inner workings and research is revealed to a follower. And these ranks are achieved by one simple criteria – giving money and power to the Church. (Cont’d)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“God, that smell…!”

“There’s a thousand crew on this ship. Waste water has to go somewhere.”

“Hello there!”

“Freeze!”

“I’m not going anywhere. And there’s no need to point that thing at me.”

“Who are you?”

“Doctor Howell, Agricultural Engineer. And relax, that isn’t grey water. We’re below Hydroponics. What you smell is nutrient effluence. Who are you?”

“Sergeant Weller, ship security. What are you doing here?”

“There was some kind of fight in Hydroponics, and I heard on the radio about an attack through the vents. I decided to wait down here ‘til security gave the all-clear. Is that why you’re here?”

“Not exactly, Doctor…”

“Why don’t you get up here and tell me what’s going on? Come and dry off, you must be wet through.”

“Best bloody idea I’ve heard in a long time.”

“Ah!”

“Aaah!”

“Where are you going? Don’t leave us!”

“There’s nothing I can do! I’m sorry!”

“McNeill, get your gun ready! There – on the hand! Shoot it! This way!”

“It may be safe in there!”

“No good; it’s blocked!”

“McNeill, get out of there!”

“McNeill – use your stasis and get in there!”

“Jesus, not again.”

“McNeill – TK one of those canisters. We’re not done yet – look out!”

“Is it dead?”

“How about we don’t hang around to find out?”

“Oh, fuck you, Weller! It was a simple bloody question, “yes” or “no” would have sufficed!”

“Hey, that’s enough! Look, there’s a hatch in the roof. The Doc said Hydroponics was above us, right?”

“Assuming she was telling the truth!”

“You wanna stay here? You go right ahead! I’m getting out!”

Chapter 7: Life & Death Edit

SECURITY

VIDLOG

REC

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“This is Doctor Karen Howell, Agricultural Engineer. Even the water facilities aren’t safe anymore. And the creature I saw down there was huge, and the poor souls I met there are surely dead by now. As is almost everyone else. I haven’t found a single living survivor since I’ve left Hydroponics. And what I’ve seen of the creatures indicates that they have an ecology, a culture. They hunt in packs; they harvest their prey… They’re not monsters; they’re animals. Deadly animals. There is nothing to do but run. I’m going to take a tram to the shuttle bay. Maybe I’ll find some other survivors there. But I doubt it. Ah!” Gasp. “And now I’m seeing things. God help me…”

“Somebody help… Don’t leave me here…”

“Is anyone there? Help! For God’s sake, somebody help!”

“Don’t leave us here! Don’t leave us to die!”

“Behind you! Look out!”

“Get away from me! Hello? Can anybody hear me?”

“…all die…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WELCOME TO THE ISHIMURA (PART 3)

At 62 years old, the Ishimura is still in remarkable shape. Much of the equipment has been upgraded over the years. Many spaces have been retrofitted to take advantage of modern advances in technology. Despite the years of service, she is still the pride of the fleet and remains the largest Planet Cracker in the fleet. Whenever an important deep space mining project comes up and the Ishimura is available, she’s the first ship to be called.

It’s ships like the Ishimura – and the dedication of the men and women who crew her – that have helped make Concordance Extraction Company the trusted, dependable workhorse that it is today.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“There’s no way out…”

“Help! Help me!”

“I know they’re still out there!”

“They’re all dead… You should join them…”

“Uh! Ah!”

“They’re in the walls!”

“Is it over? At last?”

“What are you, a coward?”

“You shouldn’t have run… You shouldn’t have left them…”

“Is there anybody left out there? Please, somebody respond!”

“Open fire!”

“Over here! Quickly!”

“It’s all a lie… It’s all a game…”

“You don’t know anything… It’s sacred…”

“You should have listened to me. Why won’t you listen?”

“You’re a scientist, for God’s sake! Think rationally!”

“We have to stop it… We have to make it whole…”

“It’s coming…”

“…what have you done…?”

“Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha!”

Gasp. “My God…”

“Is there someone there…?”

“Yes, dear. How badly are you hurt?”

“I-I’m not sure… I feel really sick… Are you a doctor?”

“Yes, my name’s Karen Howell. There’s a medical room just around the corner. Can you walk?”

“I think so…”

“Be careful! The creatures are still out there.”

“I’m sorry…”

“Never mind. Let’s fix you up.”

“My head… I think I need to lie down…”

“It would be better if you stayed awake. Can you do that for me? Now, let’s take a look at you. I’m going to work up an antibiotic that will give your system a kick start and clear your head. There. Now, what’s your name? How did you get here?”

“I’m Lexine. I came here…from the colony…with some friends. But we got split up…in the water tunnels.”

“Dear God… I saw them.”

“They’re here? Where?”

“Lexine, I’m sorry. They were attacked. I don’t think they survived.”

“What? No! You don’t know Nate! He wouldn’t let them die! We have to go back to the tunnels and find them!”

“Alright. If that’s what you want. But then we have to look for a way off the ship, OK?”

“OK. Let’s go.”

“Lexine! I told you, we must be quiet!”

“It’s not me!”

“Then what is it? Where’s it coming from?”

Gasp. “Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!”

“Don’t come any closer! Take that! Got you!”

“It’s dead! You did it!”

“My God… Come on, we must get out of here! Quickly, this way!”

“Where are you going? The water tunnels…are this way.”

“…will be crawling with those things! I’m sorry, but your friends are dead! There’s no way they could survive down there, and neither can we! We must get to the tram station! What were you and your friends doing onboard the Ishimura? I thought there was a no-fly order.”

“Don’t you know? This is all happening on the colony, too.”

“Oh, dear.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UNITED WE…ASCEND? (PART 5)

By Carrie Von Ottken

Think taking all your money’s bad? The Church also requires members to donate their bodies after death. Why? What do they do with them? Nobody will say, and attempts to infiltrate the inner circle have failed. With their emphasis on “transformation and rebirth”, maybe we wouldn’t like the answer even if they told us.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Oh, no. That sound…”

Gasp.

“Get in the elevator!”

“Where are we going?”

“Atmosphere Control. It’s the fastest route to the tram station from here.”

“There’s something coming…”

“I can’t remember anymore… Their faces – they’re not who they used to be. And the things they do – to the bodies – to themselves – this must be hell.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MINING LOG

DALLAS, A. (SUPERVISOR, 2nd ENGINEER)

Planetcrack went smoothly from this end, although there do seem to have been problems planetside, and we’ve temporarily lost contact with the colony.

Results have exceeded even optimistic initial estimates. Normal recovery is around 35% mineral, 5% fossil, 60% waste, but material from the first ball was 65% mineral (and 0% fossil, in line with expectations). That’s 6.5 tons of ore from a 10-ton ball. Assuming it’s not an anomaly, we’ve hit a mother lode.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gasp.

“Holy shit. Lexine!”

“Weller! Eckhardt! Nate!”

“Lexine, thank God!”

“I told you they were still alive!”

“We’re alive, no thanks to you, doctor.”

“That’s enough, Eckhardt. You’d have run too if you had the chance. I’m happy we didn’t lose you.”

“Thanks to Doctor Howell. She saved my life.”

“A cop, a grunt and a suit. Quite the team.”

“Don’t get me started.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monitor Air Quality Control

DANGER

DANGER

DANGER

AIR PURITY LEVEL

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“What are you doing there?”

“Trying to trap those creatures in the water tunnels, but I can’t work out how to shut down the water flow systems.”

“Then allow me. Hydroponics is my domain, remember?”

“Great. Get on it.”

“Is he in charge?”

“He likes to think so.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Atmosphere Flow Controls

Reroute Pressure Distribution

AUX-1

AUX-2

AUX-3

AUX-4

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“We were headed for the tram station, to get to the shuttle bay.”

“Funny, so were we. McNeill, with me. We can scout the route while the doc does her thing.”

“I’m coming too.”

“Sure.”

“Eckhardt, stay here and keep the doc safe.”

“Of course.”

“You take good care of her, OK? If it weren’t for Doctor Howell, I wouldn’t be here.”

“I’m not a miracle worker, dear. Your injuries still need time to heal. Take care of yourself. Lexine said you were an executive. She didn’t say your name was Eckhardt. Warren Eckhardt, isn’t it?”

“That’s right. Executive Director –”

“– of Colonial Mining Operations, I know. You transferred to the Ishimura just a few weeks ago.”

“Heh. Worst bloody career move of my life. Nice to know my reputation precedes me.”

“Sure it does. You’re the one who switched all the personnel after they found the Marker. One day I had an assistant who’d been with me three years. The next, I found myself working with a grad student who spent her lunch hour praying to the Marker.”

“Staff rotation is standard policy, doctor. Resource distribution is my responsibility.”

“And what about seeding Unitologists into every corner of the ship? Is that your responsibility, too?”

“I fail to see what difference someone’s faith makes, doctor!”

“Look around, you stupid Marker-head! This awful mess is what difference it makes! If you think it doesn’t – Ah! Shoot it! For God’s sake!”

“No, doctor. My god has very different plans.”

“Agh! Dammit! Aaah!”

Chapter 8: In the Hearts of Men Edit

SCIENCE PROVIDES BOUNTY

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“What’s taking them so long?”

“Maybe we should go back and check on them.”

“Give them another minute. We made it down here without a scratch; I reckon this area’s secure.”

“Don’t shoot! It’s Eckhardt!”

“Run! They’re everywhere!”

“I don’t see anything.”

“They were…right behind me…following the lift…”

“Don’t worry; you’re safe now.”

“Where’s the doc? What happened?”

“We were attacked, and she – Howell locked herself in with them to buy us some time, told me to go on…”

“She’s dead?! You were supposed to protect her!”

“She locked the door! There was nothing I could do! Frankly, she probably saved all of us!”

“Are you sure? You thought I was dead before, but –”

“Quite sure. I’m sorry, Lexine, but she’s gone.”

“And the time she bought us just ran out.”

“Move! Get in the tram!”

“Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh, God!”

“We have to split up to find a shuttle.”

“Is that really a good idea?”

“The longer we stick around, the more chance of winding up like every other dead bastard on board. You and Lexine check out the Flight Deck.”

“What about you?”

“Me and Eckhardt can take the Maintenance Deck. We might get lucky and find a repair job. And this is us. Come on, Eckhardt.”

“Good luck.”

“Why me?”

“Didn’t want to split the lovebirds up.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LET YOUR TOOLS DO THE TALKING!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Whispering.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RECOVERED FILE

FROM DR. EANDO DUKAJ

TO: GENERAL AMBROSE CAIDEN

More confounding results from our research: Today, as we moved what we’re now calling the Red Marker, we had to pass by the cellular lab area. The scientists working at the time complained about interruptions in the necrotic flesh experiments. As it turns out, the field generated by the Marker creates a “dead space” around itself that forces the recombination effect into dormancy.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“God, I’m exhausted. I can hardly believe I’m still upright.”

“Adrenaline. Do me a favor, and keep it together awhile longer. This thing isn’t over.”

“Yes, well, I wish it was. We’re not all soldiers like you.”

“Just focus on keeping yourself in one piece. You seem pretty good at that.”

“Look up there, in the vents. Some of that fleshy substance.”

“Yeah. Somehow I knew this wasn’t gonna be easy. Keep it tight.”

“This wouldn’t be as awful if it wasn’t so bloody dark…”

“Just stay close.”

“It’s so dark in here… I’m scared…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RECOVERED FILE

Personal log: Dr. G. Abernathy, automated transcript

The spattering on the glass is making observation difficult. It appears that Dr. Hogan’s legs are elongating, somehow flaying themselves and now twisting with a mixture of his own internal organs into a single appendage, like some sort of tail.

His face is contorted, his jaw clenching and unclinching… Several jaw-like appendages are emerging from his ever-widening mouth. His mouth no longer appears able to accommodate the change. His head is splitting, seams bursting…

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“We shouldn’t have left Lexine. We shouldn’t have split up. Who even knows if there’s a shuttle down here?!”

“Eckhardt, shut up! Or your big mouth will get us both killed.”

“…stop…stop…they must all die…”

“Eckhardt, stay behind me! OK Eckhardt, keep moving… A shuttle! See Eckhardt? Still in one piece…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

USG FUJIN

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“The escape pods are gone; they’re all fucking gone! System shows they launched empty. Please – get ahold of Vincent, and tell her we’re headed for the Flight Deck. We’re gonna prep a shuttle and get off this bloody ship.”

“You! Open this door!”

“No, sir! My Lieutenant’s orders were not to let anyone in here. You’ll have to wait ‘til he gets back.”

“Your Lieutenant’s probably dead! I’m ordering you to unlock this door!”

“Look out!”

“Soldier, get out here and cover me! Dammit, soldier! I’m only going to say this one more time. Open the door!”

“Sorry, sir, I-I can’t risk them getting in here.”

“You just watched us kill them all!”

“Jesus… Poor bastard didn’t even see it coming. Shit, the console’s wrecked. Someone’s got to go down there and flip the launch hatch by hand.”

“Someone? I wouldn’t even know what it looks like.”

“Weller! There isn’t a single shuttle on the Flight Deck. Every craft is either gone or wrecked.”

“Figures. Don’t worry, there’s one here. It needs a manual launch, but it should be OK. We’re in Bay 47; get here on the double. Weller out. I’ll open the hatch. Eckhardt, sit tight and wait for me.”

“My pleasure.”

“Now entering zero gravity.”

“There – the power cores…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

01

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“…can’t stop it…must all die…”

“One down.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

O2

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Halfway there.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

03

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Why did you leave me with him…? Why didn’t you protect me?!”

“What?! …C’mon, Gabe, keep it together just a little while longer… OK, just one more to go…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

04

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Hatch is opening. Eckhardt, how are you doing? …Eckhardt, come in! …Dammit!”

“Now leaving zero gravity.”

“McNeill – we’re ready to launch down here. Bay 47 – hurry!”

“We’re on the tram now, McNeill out.”

“I believe it is vital that Lexine undergoes further examination on Earth. Altman be praised. End of message.”

“What the hell is going on here?”

“Weller! This is confidential CEC business, and none of your concern! How dare you!”

“CEC? Sounded more like the Church to me. But I guess there isn’t much difference anymore, is there?”

“You’re in no position to question my authority, Sergeant!”

“Don’t talk to me about authority! Now let’s hear that again…”

“This is Overseer Eckhardt, codeword “Oracle”, with a message for Enigma Lange. Events on Aegis VII, and the Ishimura, are extraordinary. The Marker is genuine, although its effects are disturbing, and I am blessed to have survived. I have found the subject you were looking for – Lexine Murdoch, a surveyor. She appears immune to the Marker’s effects, as you predicted. Nobody knows but me. There was a botanist here who suspected my mission, but I’ve taken care of her.”

“You son of a bitch…”

“I’m afraid so. Sorry, Sergeant. But I can’t let you stop me. I must save Lexine…so that she can save all of us.”

“McNeill…was right about you…”

“So were you, actually. But I can’t allow your ignorance to jeopardize Unitology’s mission.”

“Why…Lexine?”

“She fits the profile. I didn’t even realize it until we all got on board, but it all adds up. The church sent me to find her – and you just made my job easier. But nobody except the church can know about her. Not even Lexine herself. Not that she would understand. How could she? She’s never even experienced this…this madness that the rest of us succumb to so easily!”

“You must be…pretty pleased with yourself…”

“Please, Sergeant. I’m not an arrogant man, merely devout. My reward will be – Aaaaah!”

“Sorry, Eckhardt. You really were an arsehole…but I guess nobody deserves to die like that… Not even…me.”

Chapter 9: Escape the Ishimura Edit

“I still can’t believe Dr. Howell’s gone. I just wish we could get even one person off, you know?”

“I know. But there’s us four. We’ve done OK so far. Wait, first we should find out what floor Bay 47’s on. Weller’s probably pissed that we weren’t there fifteen minutes ago.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Searching…

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“You seem to care about him a lot more than he deserves.”

“It’s complicated. Honestly, I think he’s enjoying this just because it’s something he knows how to do. Hold on, there’s an outgoing transmission in progress.”

“More survivors?”

“Could be… It’s from Medical.”

“Oh my God, Nicole!”

“I loved you.”

“Nicole! It’s McNeill! Listen, we’ve found a shuttle! We –”

“I always loved you.”

“Shit, it’s one-way. She can’t hear us.”

“What’s she doing? What… What’s…? Oh, no, Nicole, no!”

“No! Dammit, Nicole!”

“No!” Sobbing.

“I’m sorry. We should go. Let’s get out of here.”

“Nicole, Dr. Howell…even my dad, and Sam. What am I, some kind of curse?”

“Hey, I’m still here. You can’t get rid of me that easily.”

“I guess not.”

“OK Lexine, stay close.”

“Got it. Something’s not right. Weller should have contacted…”

“Watch out!”

“Oh God… If those creatures are in here, Weller and Eckhardt…”

“They’re OK, Lex. Trust me.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BAY 47

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Weller?”

“Is this the right bay?”

“Definitely. Weller!”

“Nate!”

“…they must all die…”

“Shit!”

“He’s still breathing! Sergeant! Wake up!”

“Lex…?”

“What happened? Eckhardt’s dead!”

“Goddamn traitor…killed the doc. And you were right…he was a Unitologist… He-He was going to take the shuttle for himself… This isn’t a stab wound… Son of a bitch shot me.”

“Why? Who cares if he’s a Marker-head; why would he do that?”

“I…don’t know. I think he finally went crazy…like the others.”

“The shuttle… It can fly, right? We can get out of here?”

“Yeah. I opened the hatch. The computer just needs to be configured for a manual launch. Ugh. But there is one problem.”

“I was afraid you’d say that.”

“The ADS cannon. Remember the fireworks show we got on the way here?”

“Shit.”

“It’s OK; I can do it myself…”

“Like hell. You stay here; I’ll go. Where are the controls?”

“Captain’s Nest. Off the bridge.”

“I’m coming with you.”

“No, you’re not. Not this time. Stay with Weller and prep the shuttle.”

“But –”

“This is non-negotiable, Lexine. I’m going, and you’re staying. Got it?”

“…OK.”

“Hey, McNeill. Good luck.”

“…stop…they will die…all die…death is the key…is coming…”

“It’s not true, of course. Weller’s insane.”

“Eckhardt?”

“…death is the answer…”

“I feel so empty…so hollow…”

“OK, Captain’s Nest… Off the bridge… Huh… Ah! I’m trapped! Fuck it… Ugh!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RECOVERED FILE

FROM DR. EANDO DUKAJ

TO: GENERAL AMBROSE CAIDEN

The organic mass continues to spread and take over the complex. The recombinated nightmares now move freely through the corridors. My remaining crew is hastily constructing a transmitter for the Marker in an attempt to broaden the signal it is emanating.

Dr. Foster said the idea came to him in a vision. Our hope is to use the signal to keep the unchecked infection from spreading to the landing area. There is little time remaining! You must send help as quickly as possible! Our lives are in your hands.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Only one way to the bridge now…”

Static.

“Lexine?”

“– how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.”

“Hello?”

“When the blazing sun is gone, when the nothing shines upon, then you show your little light. Twinkle, twinkle, all the night. Then the traveler in the dark thanks you for your little spark. He could not see which way to go if you did not twinkle so. So you never shut your eyes ‘til the sun is in the sky. Though I know not what you are, twinkle, twinkle, little star.”

“Whoa! Aaah! Ah! Aagh! Oh! If I don’t stasis it, I’ll be chopped to pieces… Shit! Ohhh! Ah!”

“McNeill! Over here!”

“What?”

“Nate, please hurry. I think I hear something coming.”

“Stay in the control room; you’ll be safer there. Use Weller’s pistol if you have to.”

“What’s that? There! No, there!”

“…make it stop…they must all die…death…can never go…can never go back…”

“It’s coming, McNeill. You can’t escape it.”

“No. I can do this…”

“The Marker – I’ve seen it, here, on the ship. It’s – beautiful. Exactly as the Overseers described it. It’s perfect. We must bring it to Earth. We have to make it whole…”

“They’re dead, Nate. I held them off.”

“Good job. I’m still in the vents – there’s some in here too.”

“Be careful. I’ll see you when you get back.”

“Whoa. Laser tripwire… ADS shell. Somebody sure didn’t want those things coming down here…”

“…all die…make me…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

214

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“No tram, so this’ll have to do…”

“…they must all die…”

“Weller, I need some help. Looks like a bunch of guys tried to make a last stand, and welded shut the door to the Security Hall. How do I get through?”

“Nate, he can hardly talk. It’s all I can do to keep him awake. You’ll have to find another way.”

“Dammit. Alright, McNeill out.”

“…death is the key…we will die…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RECOVERED FILE

FROM DR. EANDO DUKAJ

TO: GENERAL AMBROSE CAIDEN

The device, when activated, began to emit a highly complicated rhythmic pattern across a wide band of frequencies – from actual sound waves through the electromagnetic spectrum to alpha, delta, and theta brain waves. It seems mostly inert and harmless aside from some slight interference with communications equipment.

We are proceeding with the final construction.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ATTENTION!

The bridge of the USG Ishimura is a SECURED location. All personnel must pass a security bioscan before entering. Please proceed to the right and wait for instructions from the officer.

Thanks for your cooperation!

-   The Ishimura Security Team

Be a team player!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Nate, how are you doing?”

“Fine. I’m on the Bridge Deck – the Captain’s Nest is just below my location.”

“Thank God. Hurry, Weller’s lost a lot of blood. Lexine out.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PLANET CRACKER STARSHIP ISHIMURA

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“I can feel them…all around…”

“Back off! Captain’s Nest is this way… Engines… Life support… There. Hmm. There, that should do it. What’s going on? Lex, I need to talk to Weller. How’s he doing?”

“Hang on.”

“McNeill, some of the cannons are still online.”

“The shutdown process got aborted halfway.”

“Figures. If one cannon malfunctions, the rest can’t be disabled. Must be the…trench cannon – we crash landed near its power array.”

“Can I disable it from there?”

“Weller’s nodding his head. Yes.”

“OK Lex, I’m on my way now. McNeill out.”

“You better hurry! Or Weller’s gonna kick your ass!”

“Ooph. Ugh.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WARNING…WARNING…WARNING…WARNING…

Ishimura Crew Members:

Your ship is full of FRAGILE equipment. Please take care around Emergency Door Locks and other sensitive devices!

In case of damage, contact CEC Facilities Director on comm freq 79220.

CONCORDANCE EXTRACTION CORPORATION

THINK WORK SAFETY

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RECOVERED FILE

FROM DR. EANDO DUKAJ

TO: GENERAL AMBROSE CAIDEN

We’ve run into a disturbing but fascinating find. In recreating the DNA instructions gleaned from the Black Marker, we’ve managed to create a recombinant microbial life form. It seemed dormant at first, even when placed in a bath of rich nutrients. Were it not for Dr. Clifton’s poor hygiene, we might have deemed the attempt a failure.

Fortunately for us, he had not fully decontaminated himself before working with the sample and managed to contaminate it with some dead skin cells. Suddenly, the microbes jumped into action! Recombination happened almost instantly, and the sample began self-replicationg and mutating before our eyes.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Lexine?”

“Nate… Help me, please…”

“Nate, Weller’s out cold. He’s breathing, but I can’t wake him up!”

“See if you can find a medkit in the Control Room. I’ll be back soon, I promise.”

“Entering vacuum. Entering zero gravity.”

“Nate, don’t leave me…”

“You’re going to kill us all, soldier. We’re going to die, and it will all be your fault!”

“Exiting zero gravity. Exiting vacuum.”

“There it is… Got it!”

“Entering vacuum. Entering zero gravity.”

“Nate, are you there yet?”

“It’s disabled. I’m on my way back.”

“Please hurry. Weller’s in really bad shape, and I can’t find any pain killers…”

“I said I’m coming! Just… Just hold on. I’m going as fast as I can.”

“Oh God, help! Help me!”

“Get me out of here! Help!”

“Ahhh! What the fuck?! God! Ah! Agh! Agh! Argh! Ugh! Oh! Uh! Ah!”

“What are you waiting for, Nate? You know what you have to do…”

“Agh! Argh! Gah! Ah! Ah! Argh! Motherfucker! Gah! Argh! Ah! Argh! Agh! Ah… Ugh…”

Chapter 10: Secrets & Salvation Edit

“Hey there. I finally found some painkillers. They should work pretty fast.”

“You’re not kidding. The cannon’s stopped. Where’s McNeill?”

“He said he was on his way back. That was a while ago, though…”

“Give him a call. We should be ready to go when he arrives.”

“Nate? Nate, this is Lexine. Nate? Come in! …McNeill! Oh God, he’s not…”

“No, keep trying.”

“Nate, where are you? Nate! Come in!”

“Lex! What the hell-?”

“That’s it. We’re getting out of here. Nate, Dr. Howell, Nicole… I won’t let them have died for nothing.”

“Shit…”

“Move! Into the shuttle!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

EYES ONLY – PRIORITY BLACK

FROM: CHIEF OF STAFF, EARTH DEFENSE

ATTN: COMMANDER CADIGAN, F.

CEC vessel USG Ishimura in breach of government order. They are believed to have recovered Marker 3A. Special Ops has confirmed the system, but has been unable to provide the planet location. Special Ops advises caution. If Marker 3A has been recovered, infection by a lethal organism is a credible threat. Shockpoint to Aegis system, move to position out of local scope range and await signal from Ishimura to confirm location.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Weller, behind you!”

“Run! Lex, watch my back! Jesus!”

“Hurry!”

“The control panel – hit it!”

“That won’t stop them for very long.”

“C’mon…”

“How’re you holding up?”

“I’ll be alright – keep moving!”

“We picked up the USM Valor on deep-space scan, but they’re out of comms range! We need to launch a distress beacon and get their attention; they’re the only ones who can save us!”

“Weller, you deal with them; I’ll prep the shuttle!”

“I didn’t know you could fly.”

“I can’t, but I can figure out how to fire an engine! And you’re a better shot than me!”

“Where the hell are you, McNeill? They’re still coming! How you doing?”

“Getting there! Just hold them off. And keep a look out for McNeill!”

“They’re still coming!”

“Hang on, test-firing the thrusters now!”

“Lexine! We have to go!”

“But Nate!”

“He’s gone! And if we don’t leave right now, so are we!”

“What was that?”

“A Contact Beam! Shit, if one of those crazies has got their hands on firepower like that… McNeill!”

“Nate!”

“Shit, your hand…!”

“I’ll be fine! Just close the goddamn door!”

“Oh my God, Nate…”

“Later. Right now we need to launch. Move over. Hold onto something!”

“It’s over – we made it.”

“Yeah, we did. Here, take over. We’re on course for the Sprawl; you just need to monitor the autopilot.”

“There’ll be a medkit in the galley.”

“I’m alright. It can wait ‘til we get home.”

“Never thought I’d be so happy about seeing the Sprawl. Who’d’ve guessed we had one last mission in us, eh?”

“Not just “one” last – “the” last. As of right now, I am officially retired.”

“Heh. Alright, wake me up when we reach the Sprawl…”

USG Ishimura. This is the emergency maintenance team of the USG Kellion responding to your distress call. Come in, Ishimura.”

“Hey! This is Ishimura Shuttle 23! Kellion, don’t go in there! Do you hear me? Dammit, respond! Come in, Kellion! This is… This is Ishimura Shuttle 23. Don’t go in there! I am warning you. This is a warning, please… Do not go in there! Please, come in!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“It’s calling to us… Don’t you see?”

“Death is not the end…”

“Now, maybe you’ll understand…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Ah! Aaah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Aaah!”

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