One panicked, static-filled word just flooded the comms. We pick up signals like this all the time, but as we’re nothing more than a shipment vessel, there’s not much we can do about them. It’s always the much larger military ships that get attacked anyway. The problem is that we’re currently docked at V Prime, awaiting shipment confirmations, where several military vessels are also docked.
“Jkat? Kete? Here?” Aatiyuy, my fellow Tech, gives me a funny look. I glance around the storage room we’re in, keeping an eye on the proxies shifting crates around.
“I hope not!” Taitok, another crewman, shudders as he checks on a console. “I have heard stories.”
“What stories?” Yiptetjopt, who has been fiddling with the program on a nearby proxy, immediately asks. Yiptetjopt is the new guy, fresh on the ship, he’s only been working for a few weeks.
Taitok shakes his head. “Horrible ones…”
I shrug, not sure how to respond.
The terrified scream echoes through the comms again, but this time they are comms coming from inside our ship. The word bounces around the main halls and corridors for a bit, then suddenly fizzles out. An alarm starts to blare, making us all reach for our weapons. The proxies go on full alert and start patrolling. None of us are feeling too great, but hopefully this is a false alarm. Or at the very least, this is just a drill or something.
Then, all of a sudden, the lights dim. A whooshing sound is heard. Life support has been turned off. The four of us put our headgear on and switch our suits to emergency mode. As long as we’re careful, we have about 24 hours worth of oxygen within the support backs on our backs, enough to at least make it to the much more secure Generator areas or maybe even the Atpi-Eyyake Chambers.
Aatiyuy and I lead the way, using our shield generators to give us some light, while Taitok keeps an eye on our rear and Yiptetjopt keeps the handful of proxies we have on track. Knowing that the cargo areas always get purged first, we make our way towards the Yky Vaults. While the Yky Vaults are also considered valuable targets, they are more heavily defended and would give us some safety and some backup.
But as we approach Yky Vault B, we realise things are far, far worse than we’d anticipated.
There are corpses everywhere. No. Not corpses. Scraps. Lumps and chunks. Blood soaks the walls. It is almost as if a… a tornado of blades had come through here. Only some of the parts are recognizable as, well, body parts. The whole room stinks of death, with a faint underlying scent of urine. Everything is utterly silent though, aside from our breathing and the ticking of our proxies.
“Uh… what do we do now?” Yiptetjopt whispers, his voice ruffled by static. Are the comms systems dying as well?
“Kipe…” Aatiyuy grunts, loading his weapon. “We can’t fight them…”
“If we run, we lose our jobs!” Yiptetjopt squeaked.
“Better our jobs than our lives…” I grunt. “Let’s just go straight to the Atpi-Eyyake. That is where everyone else is going anyway.”
Aatiyuy leads the way again. We silently march down corridor after corridor, hearing nothing but seeing everything. Blood, blood and more blood. Occasionally a lockdown would occur, suggesting broken space panels in other areas, but none of them lasted very long and were quickly shut down. Whatever was doing this knew their way better around this ship than we did.
Finally, thankfully, we make it to the Atpi-Eyyake. Something is wrong though. There is decidedly less blood around here and… the escape ship is… still here? As are most of the escape pods? The lights are flickering on and off, but everything seems to be working.
Were we the first people to arrive? Clearly not, as a battalion of crewmen appear behind us, all firing wildly at…
None of us have any idea what it is. Yiptetjopt screams. The rest of us panic and aim our guns down the hallway as a colossal mass of steel and flesh pulverizes its way through the battalion, aiming straight for a Nully in the middle of the group. In a matter of seconds, the Nully is nothing more than a heap of gore.
With the battalion’s leader essentially disintegrated, the horrible monster turns to us, roaring triumphantly, its skin turning into pure, shimmering gold. Everyone is running now, just trying to get out of its way. In the panic, I lose track of my fellow crew mates, but I think I see Yiptetjopt climb into an escape pod.
Trying to save my own skin, I try to do the same, rushing over to a console. The creature impales someone, then snorts, blood that obviously isn’t its own dripping down what I assume is its face. A thin door slides open, but before I enter, time… grinds to a halt.
For a moment, nothing happens.
Suddenly, everything bursts back into life. I tumble backwards into the escape pod, the doors slamming shut just as something thuds against the pod’s armoured walls. I don’t know what else happens because I’ve passed out.
I wake up and it’s cold. Very cold. I’m alive at least. Above me are familiar Venusian clouds, as well as a funnel of thick, black smoke. Also standing above me is an indebted worker, probably a rig jockey, their many robotic upgrades hiding their true features.
“Ya lost?” the worker asks. “You just kinda fell outta the sky!”
I nod, trying to orientate myself. The worker tuts, then goes to the remains of my escape pod, ripping out any useful parts.
“I know some folk who’d need this stuff, ya don’t mind if I take it, do ya?”
After finally finding my feet, I stand up and observe my surroundings. I appear to be standing outside the entrance to a large debt-internment colony, or at least the massive elevator to go down towards one. The heavy steel doors creak open, revealing…
“A Jatttase…” I mutter under my breath, my heart racing once more.
The vaguely humanoid being, with bright yellow steel-skin and blue and black Orokin-like metallic trims, stares at me briefly. By its side is a horrific, scaly feline being with a mouth full of teeth. The rig jockey jumps excitedly and waves at them.
“Don’t worry, mate, this one’s with me!”
The Jatttase waves back, then wanders off, taking its hideous pet with it.
With a massive grin on her digitalized face, the rig jockey puts an arm around my shoulder and leads me into the elevator.
“Come on, mate, let’s get you something strong to drink. Don’t want them tinsuits to think you’re one of the Corpus now, do ya?”