Jan 26 2011 6:10pm
The stars shone not as brightly as they once did and for the first time in many years, his head hurt...
Vladimir Sepid, once captain of the most important vessel in all of the Dragon fleets, sat with his back against a nondescript wall and gazed up at a similarly nondescript ceiling. His once proud Imperium naval uniform ripped in a number of places, shreds of it tied together and now hiding his mouth from view. His hands lay slumped at his sides, palms up, and his eyes remained unfocused as they continued to stare straight ahead.
His connection to the Web was gone, no longer in contact with the vast array of knowledge he had come to rely on. All at once he was stripped of everything he had come to know, in a prideful way, as the things that made him superior before all others. The Daemun crew seemed to vanish all in the same instant, collapsing through the ships floor as though they were turned to dust. He had seen many Daemun come and go from ship to ship in much the same manner to know this was not the case, but still it was disconcerting.
Then nobody came, nobody signaled and the Rosary was left to its own devices. The Flagship of The Universal Daemun Church and her Captain, floating through space on a course uncharted. Unable to signal for help, for aid or even information. His connection to the ship itself was as strained as his own mental faculties without the Web, it was as if the ship itself was dying but there was no way to tell why.
"From all evil, deliver us."
He repeated the prayer once again, for the countless time in however long he had been adrift in space. The grassy hills and trees that had once adorned his beautiful command deck had long since turned grey. He knew this to be odd, expecting that if they too were dying that they should be expected to turn some normal color. Browns would be appropriate, he thought, and found himself dwelling on this until he tried to consult with the Web and remembered with some sadness that it was no longer available to him.
"From all sin, deliver us."
The quality of the air had become stale, that was the second noticeable sign of the ships failing capacities. He had tried to shield himself from inhaling too much CO2, if that were to be a problem, but if the ship were to die then surely he would die along with it. He snorted lightly at that thought, as it came to him, at least he was going down with the ship. Unlike those of his crew who simply vanished... He wondered idly if they were actually a part of the ship and not real people like he had thought, only to be scrapped by the ship when it started to die. He decided not to think on this for too long.
"From Your wrath, deliver us."
His connection to the ships systems slowly declined as sub-system after sub-system became unresponsive. Nothing read as wrong, no damage was done to the ship, no unexplained celestial phenomenon to explain what might have caused the ships disconnect from the rest of the Imperium. No, every node in the Imperium would need to be taken out of operation for a blackout of this level. A situation beyond unfathomable, it was simply impossible. Yet, he was here and there was no one out there, a lone man in a bottle of night waiting for his time with his maker.
"From the snares of the wicked, from everlasting death, by Your glories deliver us."
The stars shone not as bright and his head hurt... the last flickering image he could get from the ships sensors, before they too died from his connection, was the looming form of a sun. It seemed to be getting closer...
"From all evil, deliver us..."
Jan 13 2012 7:24pm
He closed his eyes, resigned to never opening them again. He had never known exactly to what degree his Taj's technology had sustained his very existence, in the absence of it that became clear. He was fully dependent upon it for his very survival and without it... well, here he was. The flagship of The Imperium, its most advanced space borne achievement and the shining light of the Universal Daemun Church, idly drifting through space on a course that would apparently drift into the heart of a sun long after he had died. He had brought the word of God to Coruscant for the Taj's sake! Now what? Now what...
<b>"Sanctus ... Sanctus ... Sanctus ... Dominus Deus Sabaoth ... "</b>
Voices, as if an invisible choir were suddenly standing before him and singing their hymns, filled his ears. His eyes shot open to nothing but the blank grey that filled the ships innards as far as the eye could see. One long curving tube of shadows falling over shadows without a hint of movement in sight, yet he could hear those voices as real and as tangible as the very floor beneath him.
"He-," he coughed roughly for almost a full minute, his throat dry and hoarse from lack of water and the staleness of the air. "Hello? Is anyone out there?" After a long pause, he slumped back against the wall again. Other than the echoing return of his own voice nothing else stirred in the dead ships air. It had been a while since he had been nourished, it wasn't inconceivable that his mind might be playing tricks on him. He had witnessed Death Recruits lose their senses in deprivation exercises for exactly the same reason, it couldn't be unheard of.
<b>"Pleni sunt caeli et terra ... Gloria tua ... "</b>
No! There were defiantly voice's coming from somewhere... He reached out with his mind, trying to connect to anyone which may still be on the web and found it as eerily absent as before. Reaching back and planting a firm hand against the wall behind him, he slowly inched himself up to his feet and scanned the area around him. Whatever was going on was playing out like the stuff of childrens nightmares. While he was no longer a child, he was defiantly getting spooked by whatever was going on.
As he peered deeper into the distance, the haphazard lighting still emitted from the hull causing a crazy lattice work of shadow and light seemingly only achievable in haunted houses or horror movies, he began to catch movement out of the corner of his eye. Always gone by the time he tried to catch what it was, he could have sworn they were humanoid at least.
"Oxygen deprivation... must be finally setting in..." he murmured lowly to himself, starting to slink back down against the wall once more. Well, he was anyway, right up till the form of a man came shambling out of the darkness in some sort of stumbling gait and heading right towards him. The man wore the uniform of a Claw soldier, but it hung ragged and loose from his shoulders and even ripped in places. He looked human at first glance, but his face was sunken in all over, with blotches of discoloration showing like old unhealed bruises.
"Who are you? Are there..." He was about to ask a follow up question in the excitement and confusion of apparently encountering another living survivor on the ship when the man raised a hand into the air as if about to swipe down on him like an animal. His eyes tracked the hand out of fear at first, then some morbid fascination. The hand seemed to have become like the face that owned it, sunken and covered with blotches of some sort. The fingers had worn down at the ends and resembled claws more than anything, the tips of which were blackened with dark veins trailing back from them leading back under the sleeve of the Claw uniform.
Raising both arms in a cross pattern in front of him, he braced himself for the blow that simply never came. It wasn't that he was hallucinating, at least he discounted that theory for now, as the hand merely seemed to pass right through him like a hologram. Surprisingly the man merely looked down at the floor for a moment longer before his head snapped to the side as if responding to some unheard call and promptly ran off the ship. Sepid merely watched with fascination as the figure ran straight into the wall beside him and seemingly passed right through it.
<b>"Raktus in excelsis ... Benedictus qui venit ... in Nomine Domini ... "</b>
Taking a step further out, he began to notice that the shadows which filled the ship were themselves filled with similar looking creatures. Some wore the uniforms of various Imperium divisions, some looked like local planetary inhabitants that he was familiar with. Surprisingly, at least as an added level of surprise to that which he was already experiencing, some appeared to wear Coalition uniforms and even a few Imperial ones in the mix. All of them shared the same sunken feature and blotchy appearance, even the more alien ones, and also appeared to be in the midst of the same activity his first encounter had portrayed.
The longer he watched, the more the ship filled with these... <i>Images</i>... and the louder the Taj's Prayer seemed to fill his mind. Something was out there, something strongly Daemun and yet alien to everything he had known. Something was out there and it was trying to connect to him...
Jan 14 2012 6:57pm
<i>I was there at the start, when communications first went down. The Imperium had just gone quiet around us and we just waited for contact, isolated from even the other Farfaleen worlds. A product of dependence on alien technology I guess, but who would have known it would have come to this...</i>
"Keeping station?" I had asked the navigation officer, a slight breech in protocol but I was bored. The communications terminal was much less active since the majority of the fleet had been stationed at the Maw Installation. I was under orders to ignore most of the civy traffic from planet side.
"Yeah, not much else to do until the transports come back for another load. You know, I heard a couple of the Tech grunts were talking about making an expedition to one of the Dragons Nests, see whats going o..."
A sharp noise from behind the both of us told us to zip it. The commander was a by the book officer, he expected discipline on his bridge and for his bridge crew to be a shining example for everyone around them. You know the type, self important windbag that couldn't find his ass with a roll of toilet paper. He was the commander though and was to be obeyed, at least till the transport fleet came back.
That was something else High Command had decided. Since The Maw was such a high value piece of property and so easily defendable the decision had been made to move all high value assets there as soon as possible. It had caused quite a commotion amongst the civil populace below, fear that they would be left defenseless and all that. They were pretty much right though, our vessel was all that was left of the Hargeeva defense forces. More than enough to stop any local pirates that may have been left... more than enough to report back to Maw if something happened.
Regulated to a mere transport escort mission, the rest of the crew and I were itching for some excitement. Our eventual reprieve at Maw Base wouldn't even be the same as a shore leave. Sure, there were the sights or lack of them as it were, but for a ships crew like ours that would never have been enough. Of course, little did I know, we would be getting enough action to last us the rest of our lives.
"Commander, I've got an unidentified ship approaching the planet... Current distance .75 AU's and closing."
"What? How did they get so close without us noticing? Communications, anything?"
I checked my instrumentation and saw that they were broadcasting, it was just... Well, any trained communications officer can tell the difference between the background static of space on a faulty receiver and an actually bad transmission. I don't know what it was they were broadcasting but I do know that it wasn't language, it just sounded... wrong.
"Nothing sir, just noise. Might be trying to drown out local comms, but their signal isn't strong enough for that..."
"That ship is Daemun sir! I'm detecting emanations of strange matter that usually accompanies their fast travel system, additionally the outline matches that of a Barbary... sir, it looks heavily damaged..."
I heard the commander move from his position at the rear of the bridge, his foots rang an echo off the walls and the hushed silence of the room as he approached the sensor officers position. I wanted to turn around, to see what they were seeing... to just know what the hell was going on... I heard something just then. Closing my eyes and trying to concentrate I strained in case it happened again, but it didn't. I could have sworn it sounded like a dog chewing on a bone, something to that effect. Must have been an effect of the static...
"Just what the hell is going on out there..." I heard him say as he examined the sensors output.
"Sir! Shields are being drained, weapons systems are registering a power loss as well. Recommend immediate red alert and ship wide battle stations!"
"Agreed, Lt. Mitchell raise Hargeeva immediately and appraise them of our situation..."
He had started to issue orders to the rest of the bridge crew but I was already on point. Regardless of what frequency I turned to though, Hargeeva ground control refused to answer. All channels seemed to be filled with the static like noise I had heard before. Maybe they were drowning out communications, god knows what that technology of theirs could do. It only took me a moment to find out.
A burning pinprick of heat seemed to grow against the back of my neck, like being bitten by an insect with pincers, and then was gone just as quickly. I slapped the back of my neck and turned instinctively. I don't know what I was expecting to see, a mosquito maybe... no, that wouldn't have made sense either. Well, what I expected and what I did see were different things all together. The bridge crew, every single one of them lay slumped or sitting where they were. Men and women simply out of it against the ships controls like someone had slipped them a little too much something in their drink.
I was about to raise from my post to see what was going on when the bridge filled with a red light as the klaxons began to sound. The last thing I remember hearing was the automated computer voice sounding a collision alert.
Jan 15 2012 8:29pm
When I woke it was to the cold and darkness, I didn't know what had happened at first. Really, it was like I was in a daze. When I felt the drip of warmth from above me, working its way down my forehead and almost into my eyes that I really came to my senses. Bringing a hand up to wipe it away, I could see that it was blood. When I looked up I saw why... a single arm hung out of the wall, the uniform on it as shredded as the skin. I didn't want to imagine the other half of that particular image as I pressed myself up to my feet.
It was only then that I heard it, it was so faint at first but the harder I listened the louder it seemed to become. The faint whine of air, something in the room was leaking oxygen and considering the circumstance that could only be a bad thing. Getting a view around me, I tried to catch my bearings and identify where I was and maybe how exactly I had gotten here. I was currently pressed up against a solid bulkhead with a lack of bridge consoles around me, must have been what saved me... that and the way the ceiling had apparently just curled in on itself under the strain to have formed an almost protective seal around me.
"Hello?!" I shouted, almost on instinct, but could barely even hear myself. I don't know if it was just my imagination but the air leak was starting to sound like a strong breeze passing by a window. Looking back up I tried to get a closer look at the arm that hung above me, see if I could identify the person and thus identify the station I might be closest to, maybe. It was Jones, the navigator... I don't want to sound racist here, but... well... he was the only black man on the bridge crew. Not a judgment call or anything, you understand, just the easiest way to identify who's arm it was.
If I were to assume that whatever had caused this was unidirectional from Jones position and my own, then I must have been near the rear of the bridge. That was good news and bad news. Judging by my location I couldn't have been very far from an emergency hatch, that was the good news. The bad news was that the very ceiling cave-in which was currently keeping me alive was also preventing my escape. As I started to consider my options, I couldn't take my eyes off of Jones arm... for a moment I thought I might have been suffering the effects of hypoxia but I dismissed it as an unproductive thought.
Staring at the arm, I began to notice something... the blood was no longer dripping straight down. Instead it was forming these perfect little balls that simply hung in the air around the sliced veins. I softly kicked against the floor and noticed that I too was now floating in the air. Maybe I really was beginning to suffer from hypoxia to not have noticed, but at the same time it gave me an idea. If I could somehow get through this thin patch of ceiling Jones was blocking up, I could try to drift to a nearby bridge access hatch and get to safety.
My plan had some pretty glaring holes in it, even to me. First, I'd have a matter of fourteen seconds tops in order to reach it and pass through before I'd black out. More than likely less than that, I was in good shape but I wasn't the best of the best. Additionally, I didn't know what the condition was of the rest of the bridge, for all I knew it was a beehive of wreckage just like my little compartment was. Lastly, I was going to be doing this all blind. That whiz of air told me there was a breach which meant that the bridge was exposed to space, which meant protecting the eyes and mouth.
I began to huff and puff, blowing in and out of my lungs as fast as possible in an attempt to hyperventilate. I'd want my lungs as compressed as possible before this suicide action I was about to take, last thing I'd want was for my chest to implode or anything like that. Wasn't sure if that was a real thing, but I'd seen pictures and I wasn't going to let it happen to me. Reaching to my sidearm, I was relieved to find it was still there. If I found myself drifting off into space it would soon fulfill its primary purpose instead of this new one I had found for it.
Leaning backwards so that my back was aligned with the floor, I began laying fire into the wall just below Jones arm. Shot after shot of heated air made the metal start to glow a bright red, then white as it began to melt away. I quickly began to get sucked right into it as holes developed in the melting metal as droplets of the white hot ceiling were sucked out into the bridge area beyond. My feet impacted the ceiling first, leaving me in a crouching position as I maintained my fire. Eventually a gap opened up that allowed Jones body, the maker rest him, to slide away and left me enough room to move past.
The last thing I saw before letting the escaping air take me with it was the outer hull of the ship that had rammed us. It was gunmetal gray and covered with shards of our own hull, pierced by it would be more apt. The first thing I felt was the curve of the rest of the ceiling slamming me against the back of the head as I collided with it, if I hadn't already exhaled all the breath in my lungs I'm sure I would have done it there. The next thing I felt was the hull of the other ship as I was sucked right into it. Something I hadn't considered, I guess, was the power of the escaping air to pull me along with it into open space.
I reached out with my hand, dropping my side arm to go where it would, and tried to grip on to anything that would hold me. My palms burned as they wrapped around the length of tubing, evidently something that had been exposed to the rigors of space long before slamming into this ship. As I tried to pull myself back into the rushing air I found my new purchase falling back with me. That is, I felt it jerk twice against me. At the time I had no idea what was going on and it makes even less sense now. For a brief moment I felt like I was about to be sucked into space and wished to every god in the universe I hadn't let go of the gun so I wouldn't have to suffer this.
That is, until I felt the hand grip me by the wrist and pull me to safety...
Jan 16 2012 10:09pm
He had chosen to approach one figure that seemed more at rest than the others. It's hunched for still and unmoving where the rest seemed to be at work doing something he could not see. Slowly he made his way through the dark bowels of the ship, passed what had once been the sea of meditation and through a dark streamer of shadow. As he passed the more active ones, every so often, they would look right up at him and lunge. Each time they would pass through him and continue on... it was a most disconcerting thing to have happened and it gave him pause each time.
Were these the ghosts of his crew, coming back to haunt him for the rest of his days? Did Daemun have ghosts? Well that was a stupid thought, he knew that they did. He had worked with any given number of them on a regular basis. His inability to connect to the network and the current state of the ship, though, meant that were these those ghosts then something pretty foul was afoot in the Imperium. Perhaps an attack on the network? No... the Rosary had been out of contact with the network before and this had never happened...
As he approached the subject of his study, he noted immediately that it wore the uniform of a Claw officer although the stripes on his arm were those of civilian service. More than likely a veteran of the Tion anti-piracy campaign and barbary service officer. He was slightly taller that Sepid, though appeared a bit more lanky as well. The moment he got within arms reach, the mans face turned slowly and merely starred in his direction. Regarding his features, the man appeared to have late stage male pattern baldness working against him, otherwise was no more or less attractive than any other man Sepid had seen. What he did have were those mild discolorations marring the features of his face though.
Side stepping around him, the face seemed to track his motions. As a test, he waved his arm out in front of him. If it had any feelings about this, it did not react. Extending his arm farther, it passed directly though the man before him before he felt the need to jerk his arm back again. Something just did not feel right about any of this. Maybe he was the ghost? Absurd, that still did not account for the actions of all the people around him. Maybe he was in the net then, one of those mentally constructed worlds he had seen when he was first connected... No, only the Daemun ghosts lived there and there was no way he could have gotten there without a Daemun escort.
Reaching forwards again, he press his palm into the other mans chest. He felt a strong sensation telling him to pull back, it was not fear per se but more of a strong feeling of wrongness. He continued to press his hand into the image of the person and to his surprise the longer he held it there the more solid the image felt. Thank god none of those lungers had tried to hold on to him for very long, though he had no idea what that would have meant. The figure before him continued to stare, almost as if in confusion though the eyes seemed to have a madness behind them.
The lights flickered around them for a brief instant. His mouth opened and he felt the words coming out of his throat but the sounds he heard were not his own voice. The voice he heard was deeper and much more gravely, he suddenly found that his throat actually hurt to say anything.
"W-what is going on..."
Thats when he noticed that he was no longer aboard the Rosary, at least he really hoped not. Around him was the smashed remains of what could have once passed for a bridge. Flashing lights, some from silenced klaxons and others from smashed consoles, surrounded him. Whatever ship he was on was designed for a more Imperium crew, he could tell that much. While most of the area was sparse, no doubt hid MindDrive consoles in the walls, the presence of consoles at all meant a mostly non-ascended crew.
Gazing around himself, he noticed several bodies on the deck. Dark red stains across their uniforms told him that must have been a battle aboard, a lack of victors in the area meant it must have been a hit and run. He tried to take a step forwards and found that he was restrained in some manner, which confused him farther as he seemed to be able to move his arms and legs just fine. When he looked down, he almost gasped and then wondered how he would even have been able to do that.
The reason the figure had been still while the others were so mobile, the reason it must not have reacted to his approach back on the Rosary... He was impaled on bar of some type. Craning his head back as far as he could it seemed as though someone had done this to him rather than accident. Was he reliving someone elses death? Were these echoes of the Imperiums last few members? He struggled to press himself forwards but found that the bar had him stuck by several organs. He almost wretched at the sensation he had hoped never to have known.
The more he moved the more he began to notice the shredded uniforms on the floor were moving as well. Inch by inch he pried himself from the bar as the figures on the floor shuffled back and forth as if waiting for something. They were another unanswered question, but not the most pressing on his list of them. He first had to wonder why he could not feel any pain the whole time he was working the rod from his body. Sure, it felt uncomfortable but not exactly painful... One body in front of him rose to its feet and caught him off guard.
"Hey, are you..." Alright would have been the next word out of his mouth, but that seemed wildly inappropriate after the thing turned around. While it was still able to move it was also missing rather large sections of its face and torso. Like some sort of horror movie it slowly shambled from one side of the bridge to the other and got back down on the floor. He was trying to examine the uniform further to try to figure out which of these could have been the captain when a bone wrenching impact jarred his entire body and he found himself forcibly pulled from the bar and flying face first into the forward bulkhead of the ship.