HMMS Broadside

The Lost Journal Series

In the late Twenty Second century the Royal Navy dispatched a fleet of four Corsair class destroyers to track down those responsible for a catalogue of atrocities on the outlying colonies of Seela Vi and Carathune. HMMS Hood and Exeter were lost during the voyage across the near Galaxy whilst HMMS Penrose and Broadside were separated during the same ambush. All were thought lost without trace, until by chance one hundred and twenty standard sol years later. The aptly named deep space research station Dog Two at the edge of the Dog Star constellation recovered the first of what appears to be the final journals of HMMS Broadside.

[ Footnote – It is standard naval practice to heavily encrypt and eject important documentary information in the event of a catastrophic ship-wide failure or imminent security breach and capture]

Broadside current status assumed – retired

Part of the Near Galaxy Saga

Broadside

Data package recovered Procyon – Canis Minor [ Tracking beacon active ]

Journals 001 – 311 ….. corrupt data [unrecoverable partition information]  re-construction in progress


Day 312


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

We are still on track toward the Silos 3 beacon as far as I or the Ai’s can tell me. Although the relationship between Bonnie and Clyde is becoming progressively more fractious. The neural roboticist of coarse insist on duality to ensure that all calculations are double checked and authenticated. But what the pencil pushers didn’t count on was that these Ai’s are programmed with real personality bios to enable full cognitive assessment of any given situation. Correspondingly all they seem to do is bicker and argue. It’s like having two delinquent teenage twins on the bridge. However, the upside is that it makes time pass a little quicker and helps to ease the growing tensions in the crew.

Broadside2


Day 313


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Today was far improved as the Ai Bonnie decided to sulk and remain quiet. This allowed Clyde to get on with navigating and the crew to get on with their duties.
As per standard operating procedure there are two Firestorm fighters out on patrol at all times and today they earned their keep. As they located the carcass of the missing fleet carrier RMS Penrose. She was last recorded heading outward toward the Dog Star Cassiopeia at flank speed. No SOS or distress call was received, but its clear from what remains of her 12000 tons that she was subject to viscous and sustained attack. All her compartments are open to space and all six hundred and forty crew are missing. For confirmation, missing means not a single soul alive or dead has been recovered and no viable records or data remains. I have no knowledge what race would have the will or firepower to take down a renowned class carrier and consequently like everything else on this mission it has been classified command crew only.

Broadside3


Day 314 …… corrupt data


Day 315 …… corrupt data


Day 316


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

As well as yesterday’s discovery of the USS Penrose, it now appears that the intermittent communication issues with the Earth Bridge have worsened. With little or no contact for the last five cycles it has been confirmed that the carrier wave is dead. Which, for a multi array military bridge is both un heard of and technically impossible? The only other person on this ship that is party to this information is the Engineering Chief Hux Mayhew, who also doubles as my coms op and has and has been officially warned to keep it classified. Unofficially I have also told him that mentioning it to anyone will get him pushed out of the airlock in his under clothes. It’s a thin line I am walking between honesty and need to know, as some of the crew are barely hanging on from the horror that we all bore witness to on Tellasion minor [ Refer Log 244]. Personally, I am fighting the nightmares of what was there and have taken to a healthy measure of Carrisi Rum before turning in. This helps me sleep but doesn’t always keep the monsters away.

Broadside4


Day 317


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Today was quiet, still no coms from the Earth Bridge and every other ship board band is quite Which either means they are locked down under combat conditions and radio silence or we are in fact truly alone out here on the edge. I am not sure which is worse and I although I have resisted the temptation to raise the ship status to amber as per the regulations for nil contact I am very aware of our vulnerability out here. It’s true we are the fastest and most deadly in the fleet, but I have a feeling that means little to those that took down the Penrose or instigated the horror on Tellasion. Hux. has been good though, as have all the other officers, I just wish we would get sight of what we came out here for. Inaction is often worse than combat, as it gives room for the fear to take hold. Bring on the fisticuffs, a good fight is often the best motivator.

Broadside5


Day 318


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Night Shift. Of course, night shifts in deep space are simply a comfortable way of keeping the day-night construct. But, even so it still feels like the middle of a real night and what’s worse the spurious sensory spikes being detected by the watch have my Ghost hunting instinct humming like a taught wire in the wind. It’s odd that the crew have no idea what they are seeing out there in the void, but I know we are close. I know the Ghosts, the ones that took my family and the other setters of Seela Vi. The Ghosts who left a defenceless child to bear witness to their horrific acts. Atrocities that burnt into the innocence of a child like a branding iron. They branded me alright, only they also left me with a sense of them that has been guiding us and ticks away like a beacon in my mind, getting louder and louder the closer we come. Mistake or strategy on their part I will find out why they have stolen so many lives. There is the possibility though that they are leading us into a trap and they could be responsible for the Penrose. It would seem to fit their MO. Conquer, destroy and abduct.

Broadside8


Day 319


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Contact. In all my time as a deck officer I have noticed, that if there is going to be trouble it comes when you feel least able to handle it. It should have been no surprise then, when exhausted at the end of a long shift, my eyes just closing in the comfort of my bunk I was awoken by the duty officer calling general quarters. Within minutes the bridge crew were recounting the series of events that led to a Ghost splashing its way across all our sensory circuits then blinking out of existence. On analysis the information we captured was consistent with what we know of the Ghosts to date. The odd thing though, was that I hadn’t  seen it coming. As even half my senses to far had been pretty darn consistent at knowing when a ghost would appear. Still it just didn’t feel right, and perhaps it was experience or maybe the paranoia of finding the gutted hulk of the Penrose that I insisted that the repulsion fields remain in place regardless of the strain on our twin fusion cores and that auto weapons control remain tuned to their finest trigger point. In retrospect it was this that saved us from ending up like so many other derelict vessels drifting at outer rim of the galaxy

Broadside9


Day 320


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

They came in fast, in fact so fast that the first indication that we were under attack was the thud and whine of the repulsers re charging after taking a hit. The auto cannons barely had time to respond, for their most part hitting only empty space and vapour trails. Surprisingly though, the aft cannons were set to respond to thermal not radar imaging and hit something. The darkness of deep space, momentarily driven back by an explosion so incandescent. That it left white tracks across my eyes and that of the bridge crew. The Broadsides sensor array also took a virtual hit and saturated, overloaded by a neutron wave that could have only come from the attacking crafts imploding star drive. Reacting on pure instinct, with the gut knowledge that what we had just suffered felt like a preliminary strafing pass designed to test our metal. I screamed orders at the Nav Ai’s.

“Helm hard over, engines to full.”

Broadside lurched, her engines thundering to life as the bridge crew clung onto the Grav straps. In another time G straps for short had other far more welcoming connotations than fighting for your life. “Dam the long months in space” I had been away from a normal life too long.

The manoeuvre should in theory have put us beam onto our enemy, displaying the smallest profile whilst ensuring our big guns had the opportunity to do their work. In the moments of live combat, seconds turn into minutes and minutes feel like hours. Consequently, the enemies next move seemed like days. Providing almost the exact psychological period of time for the crew to lose their Adrenalin high. This in itself added to my growing belief that we weren’t fighting Ghosts but something else far more aware of strength and weakness of the human frame.

Ghosts just didn’t care. Eventually though our enemy returned.

Broadside8


Day 320 – continued


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

As our enemies returned, their approach was covered by a preceding storm of blue lightening that flashed from craft to craft rendering our auto targeting systems and defense drones useless. Fortunately, the crew of the Broadside were no longer the fresh-faced gaggle of rookie cadets they had been eighteen months ago. The brutal trip across the Near Galaxy, that had seen the loss of our three sister ships had seen to that. Consequently, as the auto systems failed the gunners threw off their VR headsets and switched to manual fire. This caught our enemy off guard, suggesting that they may be an automated or mechanised fleet more used to dealing with Ai and Sims as opposed to the un-logical agility of a bio mind.

The words of my Father, possibly one of the greatest military strategists of the Echelon came to mind, “As Wars are won by the coalition of victories battles. Battles themselves are won by the coalition of small victories”. Whatever edge you have in battle, use it and make every victory Our manual targeting tore down the first wave of attacking craft, white brilliance bathing the black, it’s invisible neutron partner still trying to fry our sensors. Only this time we were better prepared. The heavy polarising screens over the view ports saving our sight, whilst energy burst filters were ramped to maximum across the sensor array.

Then it became apparent, that this was not just a small auto skirmishing force, as behind the disintegrating flash of fighters a large ghostly shape began to emerge from the darkness. The ships mass and size coalesced to solidity as the shroud of ion mist generated from its transit through a black hole singularity started to dissipate. The scale of the craft then became obvious. This was no small corvette or cruiser, it was a Battleship the size of which dwarfed the Broadside twenty-fold.

spaceshiplarge


Day 320 – continued

Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Even though we had been attacked without warning, I followed protocol and instructed Lar Shei to hail the vessel. Waiting for a reply we watched as the massive bulk of Battleship slowly brought herself beam on to us, an array of cannons and what I assumed were torpedo tubes pointed directly toward us. This in concert with the silence coming from com’s was answer enough. If I could have looked in on the scene from the outside it would have made an interesting picture, the first thought was David and Goliath. Only then reality kicked in and it felt more akin to a Sabre tooth tiger licking its lips as it stared down at a fluffy buck rabbit.

It was a fact, that for a buck rabbit the Broadside had unusually large teeth. But not big enough to even put a scratch on this beast. This was not a fight we could possibly win.

Then a very un-captain set of thoughts flashed across my mind that mostly consisted of “Run, flee and get the fuck out of here. Oh, and quickly before the monster in front of us opened fire”

Like all fighting ships in the Terran Navy, the Broadside had pre-modelled and programmed strategic and tactical manoeuvres plotted into the core of the Nav Ai’s. These covered every eventuality including the “Get us the fuck out of here” manoeuvre. So surprisingly, calmly I instructed Bonnie and Clyde the Nav Ai’s to expedite that exact scenario.

Deep blue space


Day 320 – continued


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

The instant load change on the twin fusion cores rattled the ship infrastructure as the singularity drive powered up. In a thousandth of micro second the space directly around the Broadside opened into a single but very powerful black hole singularity and we were instantly pulled through into a Galaxy quadrant approximately five light years from our previous location. Normally this is a perfect avenue of escape, as singularity’s or black holes cause such a strong inward vortex that tracking their exit space is virtually impossible. Well, that’s the theory unless something or someone jumps into your space and travels with you before the singularity closes. Seconds after our arrival the detectors went off the chart indicating multiple objects arriving in near space. We had been followed.

With the singularity drive still warm the Ai’s jumped to another theoretically random location, this time the lag was greater, but our pursuers found us again. The mass of objects appearing in local space off our port bow. Then the penny dropped and how could I have been so stupid.

The first strafing run had been a cleverly calculated ruse, its aim was to mark us for the Battleship that would have little trouble in dispatching us to the void.

We could run, but only for a limited time as the laws of physics and the critical power consumption required to create strong enough singularities are complex. In short, if you can’t provide enough power to the singularity drive it will still attempt to do its job. Only the black hole singularity it creates will be weaker. So, less power available, weaker singularity got it so far?  This was how it was described to me by the scientists that make this shit up for breakfast and apparently, it’s not a good scenario. Because as you cross the lip between the two locations, or Event Horizon to be precise the gravitational pull starts to balance in both directions which means in simple terms everything starts to get stretched. Now quantum machinery and star ships don’t like being messed with any more than the bio life forms that command them and by the chiefs reckoning the Broadside could safely jump seven times before the reactors maxed out and needed time to recover. So, the bottom line was we had five jumps to find the marker or markers that were giving our location away every time we jumped. Either that or face the wrath of the Battleship. Or, there was the other option of course. Get stretched out of existence across the Event Horizon

198915139789_Cosmos_BonusPackage05_BlackHoleAndTheEventHorizon_H264_e_1920x1080_213615171568


Day 320 – continued


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

The challenge then, was to find the flea on the elephant. Assuming, we were tagged during the strafing run it meant that in all likelihood the tag was on the exterior hull of the Broadside. As opposed to being either inside, or worse still in the form of a living breathing traitor. The problem though was the Broadsides massive surface area. Searching it manually would take weeks, we had hours. Or more accurately 121 minutes to be precise before we exhausted our reactors ability to power the Singularity Drive.

Standing, I did what I always did when faced with an impossibility and that was ask the crew. It may not be officer school training or Political correctness but pride has no place in the captain’s chair and eight hundred and thirty-three brilliant minds are far more likely to come up with something than my lonesome. Flicking on the ship wide coms I cleared my throat.

“All, we have a problem that needs our urgent attention”. I gave it to them straight, as something else they don’t teach you is that death and dying is a good motivator. It took, approximately forty-five seconds for the first answers to appear. I tasked some of Bonnies spare CPU run time to collate the replies as apparently, she only needed fifty six percent to navigate time and space. Clyde was pissed though, but I wanted at least one of them paying full attention to the complex navigation calculations needed to keep us ahead of our enemy. Within ten minutes, we had the best options lined up and the plans to execute them underway. Plan number one was to try and fry the sucker, or suckers. This took little time to organise as Broadside like all deep space vessels had the ability to charge her hull plates. It was common enough practice to remove the space leaches and slimer’s that were attracted to the power ducts running under the surface skin of the ship. A good jolt usually sent them into a complete state of ecstasy, during which they failed to hold on and were lost to the vessels wake. Only this Jolt would need to be far greater to detach the tags that were giving away our destination every time we shifted space. Which in turn meant we would have lower power reserves that would directly impact the number of times we could use the Singularity Drive to shift space. The day just got better and better.

images

 


Day 320 – continued


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Finding the flea on the elephant.

Or more accurately locate the tracking tag on the Broadside that was giving our position away every time we Shifted Space. The problem though, was the Broadsides massive surface area. Searching it manually would take weeks, we had hours. Or more accurately 121 minutes to be precise before we exhausted our reactors ability to power the Singularity Drive.

Standing and reaching for the coms mic, I did what I always did when faced with an impossibility and that was share the love with the crew. It may not be in the Cadet School training manual or regarded as Political correctness, but pride has no place in the Captain’s chair and eight hundred and thirty-three brilliant minds are far more likely to come up with something than my lonesome. Flicking on the ship wide coms I cleared my throat.

“All, we have a problem”. I gave it to them straight, as something else they don’t teach you in Cadet School is that death and dying is a REALLY good motivator if you want something done. It took, approximately forty-five seconds for the first answers to appear. I tasked some of Bonnies spare CPU run time to collate the replies, as apparently, she only needed fifty six percent to navigate time and space. Clyde was pissed though as he wanted to join in, but I wanted at least one of them paying full attention to the Nav comps. Within ten minutes, we had the best options lined up and the plans to execute them underway. Plan number one, and our best option was to try and fry the sucker or suckers that were giving our position away. This was quick to organise, as the Broadside like all deep space vessels had the ability to charge her hull plates and get rid of the organic flotsam and jetsam that had multiplied in the deep cold of space ever since we started to dump our waste out of the window, so to speak. Apparently, at some evolutionary point this waste had become sentient and started to feed off the power ducts that ran just under the surface skin of most star ships. Yes, I know, sentient shit. Anyway, a good jolt usually sent it into a complete state of ecstasy, during which it forgot to hold on and was swept away in the vessels wake. Only thing was this particular jolt was going to need to be a big one to detach the tags. Which in turn meant we would have lower power reserves, which then meant we could only use the Singularity Drive four more times as opposed to five to shift space. Fuck, we just shifted space. Make that three more times.

elephant


Day 321


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

As before, we shifted space and were quickly pursued by our new best friend. Whilst watching them appear like Ghosts on our sensor screens I was informed of another factor in this quickly worsening encounter. That simply put, our enemy were getting smarter and reducing the time taken from shifting space to attaining a firing solution. As it was, the bridge crew were timing it to the last nanosecond. Even so our time between singularities was getting shorter.

A slightly flushed Hux Mayhew appeared at my side and informed me that the cleansing charge was set to go. Seconds later after giving my authorisation, the internal lighting flickered and through the external view screens a halo of orange light flashed about the exterior of the ship as twenty gigawatts of power flooded through the external hull plates. As I watched the halo dissipate it occurred to me, that how even in times of extreme stress the crew still stuck to the strict procedures around command authorisation and ensuring there was a clear evidential audit trail to someone in authority. It wasn’t like in the movies when people just got on with it regardless. No. we still had to have someone to blame or congratulate regardless. Bring on Star Trek and the good old federation, that’s what I say.

I watched as the bulk of the Battleship brought herself to bear on us and instantly heard the whine of the reactors and the singularity drives as they span up to maximum output in preparation for the next Shift. I, like many others on the bridge noted the tone the way a good mechanic does and recognised the strain as the final reserves were being consumed, the Broadside didn’t have much left. This needed to work.

Seconds later were in clear space and as time slowed to a crawl we watched waited and listened to see if our plan had worked. For once the silence was a blessing that spoke volumes as the near space proximity sensors remained quiet. I am pretty sure the entire crew of eight hundred and thirty-three slowly exhaled the same captured breath they had collectively been holding onto.

Breaking the moment, I asked for a status update, although to be honest I pretty much knew the answer. Or so I thought.

images


Day 321


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

As the duty officer Caram Sheck began to run through my requested update, the chirp of the near space detector cut through the first brief moment of peace that we had known in thirty hours. Only this time the chirp wasn’t announcing the mass of our friendly battleship but something far smaller. Moments later the sensors flagged the contact as something similar in design to a mark IV torpedo, the only difference being was that it kept disappearing and re- appearing on our sensors. In different but progressively closer co-ordinates to the Broadside. Bonnie and Clyde were working at full capacity in their millisecond world of behavioral analysis and tactical response, only they weren’t coming up with any answers. Then just as I was about to take manual control, the ship lurched port-side as the engines came up in response to whatever solution our Nav Ai’s had just initiated.

Next as per protocol the auto cannons came on line, with their massive firepower they could easily take out a small cruiser and this alien tech should be simple enough. Only the guns were silent as the torpedo had the perfect defense. One moment it was there and the next it was gone, phased out of our time and space and without a target lock the guns would not fire. Next in the Broadsides arsenal of defense mech the Ai’s launched the hollo-drones that projected multiple images of the physical and electronic signature of the Broadside in differing locations to our own. Only the torpedo didn’t even twitch, it just kept on coming the dashed line on the sensor screens now intersecting our own signature. Finally, with our defenses effectively breached and the repulsers still down after the last singularity, many things happened at once.

On que the impact alarm blasted throughout the ship and with nothing more to be done. I calmly watched and committed to memory the strained faces of my bridge crew cast in the red glow of the ships alert status, strapping themselves in and whispering whatever prayer found their lips. For some, I knew it might be the last memory.

In concert the Broadside was also preparing herself. Air tight fields and bulkheads were auto sealing and slamming into place whilst other systems were dampening the reactors and routing non-essential power to the battery deck in case we lost the cores. Even the bio farms were going into hibernation in preparation for a hull breach.

Then silence, the frozen moment of time imploding and exploding all around and the realisation that hell had just broken loose aboard the Broadside and her eight hundred and thirty-four crew.

[ Additional foot note – Baby Isaiah Jones was born this morning. Mother and child are doing well, and it looks like I am a God Mother again]

torpedo

 


Day 322


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

In a detached moment, I thought of the first earthquake I had ever experienced. I was six years old and living on the eastern seaboard of the America’s with my Aunt when a level Seven-point eight hit. This felt the same. The same wrenching, grinding G force pain that literally wants to break you in half. Then the reverse backlash that turns everything to red static as the breath of consciousness is literally driven from your body.

As my senses falteringly rebooted I became aware of blood in my mouth, the warm iron taste threatening to make me gag. There was also something else, a warm wet sensation running down my left arm. A mild panic of alarm registered somewhere as I realised I was staring at a blood-soaked part of my own anatomy. Then searing sensation pierced the mush and forced a gasp of pain as the realisation hit me, that my arm and the side of my face had been assaulted by a metal stool that had broken free of its fixing and was now embedded in the starboard view plate. Finally returning to a cognitive level of consciousness I found it difficult at first to recognise the Bridge of the Broadside. On first glance it looked like the intestines of some giant animal as electrical cables swung and sparked in the vitreous fluid of the Bio Computing artery’s and just about everything looked broken. The crew were by and large moving, and some were trying to get systems back on line. Although many like myself had sustained injury and some unfortunate souls were silent. Cam Sheck being the most obvious, his face upturned, eyes staring at nothing. His body broken backwards over the science terminal he loved so much.

In the following confusion someone bandaged the gash in my arm and applied a flexible splint to support what I assumed was a fracture. As for the injury to my head. Even in the twenty second century all that could be done was mop to me up and shoot me full of Autonomous Micropaire that would reduce the pain and start to repair any areas of damage. AM was clever stuff but uncomfortable as hell as it knitted and re-arranged your innards back to its optimum gene pattern.

In line with my returning capability the Broadside also brought herself back online and a grim picture began to emerge regarding her status. It’s safe to say that unlike earlier vessels the Broadside and her sister cohorts were a long way removed from the bolted together components of the previous era. She was, as far as possible a fully integrated vessel and classified as a living sentient organism housed in slick exo shell of amour engines and weaponry. Myself and the crew were a symbiotic part of this organism and although not as deeply integrated as say the Nav Ai’s each crew member to some extent felt and experienced what the Broadside was feeling. So, alongside the fact that each of us had been physically impacted by the torpedo we were also very aware of the Broadsides pain.

damage


Day 323


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

 

Pushing my own and Broadsides pain to one side it became apparent that what had hit us was far more complex than the simple tactical nukes used in our own Mark IV’s. The alien device had somehow utilised the same phasing mechanism that had made our auto defences useless and bypassing the ships heavy grade armour plates it detonated ten metres within the Broadsides air shell. It was the old textbook example of the explosive cap in the closed hand, as opposed to an open palm that we had been schooled in as junior officers. In the closed hand the potential for damage is one hundred-fold that of simply sitting a charge on the surface and without the emergency last minute manoeuvre by Bonnie and Clyde the torpedo would have phased into existence inside the starboard fusion core, and that would have been that. As it was the torpedo had detonated on the starboard plane ripping into crew accommodation and one of the hydroponic decks. Surprisingly first accounts were estimating a fatality quotient of only fifteen percent as unbelievably the next shift were en-route away from accommodation to relieve those at their posts. Even so fifteen percent, that was roughly one hundred and twenty souls, and those left in accommodation mostly consisted of young children and parents.

Alien Bastards, I felt the heat of anger rise and feed off the adrenalin already in my system. Closing my eyes to control the rage, I made one of those indisputable internal promises and filed it away for a more appropriate time. We would have our revenge, no one touches my crew family and gets away with it. Deep breath, calm, bastards, bastards, bastards.

The repair drones were already welding and reforming the gaping hole in the exterior of the starboard plane as I headed away from the bridge down the Zero Grav shaft toward what was left of the starboard accommodation plane. As I stepped out of the shaft the waft of burnt metal and diffused bio fluid assaulted my nostrils. Turning the corner, I stopped dead as where there should have been a small friendly concourse leading into the crew’s accommodation there was nothing. I mean nothing except empty space and stars visible through the slightly warped lenses of the bulkhead field that the Broadside had deployed to save the air shell.

As I stood and stared at the scene for what must have been some minutes. I became aware of someone softly coming up behind me. The husky Trans Venusian accent of Mar Skyla the Emergency Operations Chief quietly said what I was thinking.

“At least death came quickly, the impact explosion would have seen to that” I nodded looking at the orange skinned Venusian officer. For most spacers, the thought of slow suffocation was always the monster in the room and an instant death was some consolation at least.

Dirt streaked Mars’s face and what looked like dried blood matted her hair, the sleeves of her jacket were ripped and rolled up to reveal more oil dirt and grease that stained her arms and hands. I didn’t want to think what horrors those hands had dealt with in the hours since the attack. I watched as the young officer swayed slightly clearly fighting physical and emotional exhaustion. Her, eyes briefly closed, and I prepared to catch her. Then she steadied herself and her voice dropped to a whisper as tears cast rivers down the dirt on her face.

“I was just returning to see my daughter Carra when the Impact Alarm sounded”. Her words broke and halted, but by some incredible inner strength she finished the sentence,

“Then the bulkheads came down and I couldn’t get through”. In weak frustration she pounded the invisible bulk head that stood between us and empty space sending jelly like quivers along its length. Collapsing as a tide of grief and sorrow exploded out of her, I caught her and pulled her close. In between the gasps of pain, she just kept asking why, why are so many little ones gone?

I had no answers yet, but I would fucking well get some.

tears2

Day 323

Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

 

Yesterday was a horror that I will never forget, nor will I forget the vow I made to those murdered in their beds. But today, right at his moment we have to focus on survival.

The status reports have begun to come in from every section of this living organism we loosely call a ship and it’s abundantly clear how close we came to total destruction at our enemies first pass. The final death toll has been established at one hundred and thirty souls with the majority of deaths occurring in the starboard accommodation plain. There were other fatalities across the ship due to impact trauma and some life altering injuries that even our Sim and Mechoide doctors will struggle to fix. Regarding the Broadside herself, she has lost 30% of her hydroponic farms which will directly impact our food supplies and more importantly our oxygen re-gen. Although the reduction in crew will mitigate these problems we will still be close to the wire with little or no safety margin and a little-known fact is that in deep space more crews have died of starvation than suffocation. Cheery thought. As seriously many of the starboard plane power and bio – compution arteries have been severed or destroyed which effectively means that even when the fusion cores are back up to power the Broadside will not be able to form a stable singularity. As without the computation required to plot quantum space we go nowhere.

One bonus is that the bridge has been nice and quite due to the fact that Bonnie and Clyde dropped themselves into hyper sleep when their blood supply was compromised. The Broadside Central Nexus, or what amounts to the AI of Ai’s says they are ok and just taking the opportunity to rest. Alright for some.

The chief estimated a repair widow of approximately six standard SOL days. Naturally I informed him that wasn’t acceptable and that he and the spanners had two days at the most. He did his usual eye rolling and sucking air through his teeth thing and finally conceded that he may just be able to get the job done quicker. Still, the lack of our singularity drive carries the highest risk by far, as I am in no doubt that the Alien Battleship will pulsing the deep to try and find us and come finish the job. With that in mind we have fighters running surveillance and sweep at their greatest safe distance from the Broadside that at least should give us some warning if we have visitors.

[Strictest eyes only]

The other thing that concerns me is that I do not believe the Alien Battleship and the Ghosts are one and the same. My senses have given me nothing in the last few days, even when they we were within one hundred nautical miles off our bow. That means that our enemies to date far outweigh any friends or ally’s we have out here in the deep black.

images

Day 324

Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Frying Pan and Fire

From experience there is often ‘A perfect moment of still’ before the heat of combat, conversely though the same is true when the fighting ceases. Admittedly these moments lack the nervous fire of battle and are more of a reflective silence as hearts and hands attempt to consolidate and come to terms with loss. Even so they are part of the healing process and no less poignant.

Collectively the Broadside had entered this quite moment and bit by bit as a family we were coming to terms with our loss whilst rebuilding the ship. Only, our moment of silence was cut short as it became apparent that our enemy hadn’t finished with us yet.

It began innocently enough with a spate of random thermal alerts and energy spikes coming from the sensors in the damaged section of the starboard plain. The external cameras and the repair drones picked up nothing so, the events were put down to the extensive damage the Broadside had suffered. But then in the quite hours of the following night construct there were two air shell breaches on the Starboard Plain. They were brief and the force shields that maintained our atmosphere quickly auto sealed the breaches, but with no viable explanation the ship board Marines posted a couple of patrols to keep a weather eye on the situation. In retrospect it was probably this caution that saved our lives as quickly following the air shell breaches the lighting began to fail and other main systems including the security sensors in the area went down.

At 3.32 AM I was woken by the Sargent at Arms and informed that he had as a of 3.30 AM invoked The Silent Quarantine Protocol on decks 12 – 1 Starboard Plain. This protocol was only ever invoked for one reason, and that was in response to a potential boarding by hostile or unknown perpetrators. It was a silent protocol as opposed to a general alarm to allow the Marines to quarantine the suspected area without alerting the intruder or intruders. Throwing on some clothes, buckling on my phase pistol and thrusting a long-bladed commando knife down into my boot, I headed down from the officer’s ready room where I had been camped out since the attack. Running at speed I jumped into the zero Grav shaft where I was joined by the bridge coms officer Lar Shei and the reptile skinned Taren Black who had taken Cam Sheck’s position as science consult. Like me, they looked like hadn’t slept in thirty-six hours, nor had time to change their clothes or take a shower. Lar Shei, was a slender reed of a woman with white cropped hair, a titanium backbone and possibly the quickest reaction times I had ever seen. She had a short-bladed Katana strapped across her back and unlike Taren wore a personal shield generator on a webbed utility belt. As for Taren well, he just had Taren. As being a Leistarja, which was effectively a walking lizard his disposition came with its own inbuilt armory of teeth claws and tough scaled exoskeleton. I looked at my lowly phase pistol and knife in my boot and felt decidedly under dressed.

spacemarine


Day 324


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Approaching the starboard plain, I understood the Sargent at Arms concern. As one moment we were in a fully lit corridor, the next as we turned into what should have been the reception area of the wrecked crew accommodation. We were faced with a black wall of darkness.

Staring into the darkness I could just make out the faint flicker of what I assumed to be the emergency lights. Only, for some reason each powerful electro arc did little more than throw out a hands breadth of weak light. Almost like the darkness was an opposing physical force working against them. It was also noticeably colder as we neared the darkness, not the normal freeze of deep space. But a cold that had no regard for insulation or clothing and went straight to your core.

The three of us stood for some moments, at edge of the dark horizon. Mist fell from our lips on each exhalation and the desire to move back toward the light felt overpowering as each of us in turn received the same primal message from our thinking selves and that was to simply to run.

Straining to hear or see anything more in the darkness, I finally remembered my combat training and in complete rebellion to my adrenalin fuelled senses, forced myself to close my eyes and relax. It is a well-known fact that removing a sense exponentially increases the remaining senses, so taking the opportunity whilst waiting for my eyes to accustom to the dark I reached out and listened. For a few seconds there was nothing then I heard a sound that was completely alien to the Broadside. It was rasping wet slap, drag, slap of something moving in the dark. Opening my eye’s, I could now see a number of soft dark unmoving shapes on the corridor floor ahead of us and by deductive association quickly reasoned that the smell I mistakenly thought to be bio mass convertors backing up. Now deepened into what I recognised as the unmistakable smell of death.

Beside me, I heard the soft whisper of the Katana being drawn and was aware that Taren was now down on all fours, a low growl rumbling coming from his throat as he sniffed the air, his true predator self, having taken control. Moving cautiously, we stepped across the horizon and felt what could only be described as a physical change from the relative light density of the Broadsides environment to something far denser. Surprisingly it was still possible to breath and then as we were immersed in the black that the shapes we noted earlier coalesced into the bodies of what remained of what must have been a security patrol. At a guess I would say we amongst the scattered pieces of four Space Marines, when the tone of Taren’s growl leapt to a snarl.

womandark


Day 325


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

The source of the sound I had heard earlier, slowly materialised before us. It was a creature the size of a bear with a cruel avian shaped beak above which, two sets of glowing red malevolent eyes leapt out of the darkness. I now recognised the sound as a combination of the creature’s claws, its tail and what appeared to be something being dragged behind it. I could sense no tension in the creature as it slowly halted its progress toward us and proceeded to appraise each of us in turn. As its two set of eyes passed over me, I recognised with a chill the same odd combination of patient interest and ravenous hunger that I had seen on many worlds. It was the cool mechanical gaze of a predator at the top of its food chain, with absolutely no conception of fear regarding its position of superiority.To drive this home, I caught site of the lifeless half devoured corpse of the Sargant who had raised the alarm in the instant before his broken remains were casually tossed into the space between us.

Time stretched out, each moment becoming crystalline as adrenalin fuelled rage and horror saturated and accelerated my senses in relation to the linear passage of time. I was already moving when my eyes were drawn to a mesmerising movement of the creature’s large talon tipped hands as they weaved a series of complex patterns in the air.

In microseconds my mind repeated my internal dialogue. “In the air”

Then it occurred to me, the dark dense atmosphere in which we were standing although allowing us to breath, was anything but normal air.

Not knowing the exact nature of what the creature was doing but taking into account the dead around us. I barked a shout of warning to the others. Only no sound came out of my mouth, it was almost like my vocal chords had no power of resonance and I watched helplessly as my companions leapt forward. Unaware that something was about to be unleashed toward them. Doing the only thing left to me, I set my phase pistol to its highest setting and released a bolt aimed directly the creatures mid-section. In a vacuum light and thus energy travels at approximately 186000 miles per second. I had no reason to expect anything different until I watched in shock as the energy plume of my phase pistol bolt slowly tripped out of the barrel of the pistol on its journey toward the creature. The light from the bolt although dimmed by the darkness still drew everyone’s attention, as collectively we watched it cross the empty space toward the creature. Moving easily to one side, the creature watched in what I assumed was satisfaction as the bolt impacted the far corridor wall and slowly burnt the titanium alloy to slag before expending its energy. Turning its beaked torso back toward us, the creature raised its head and let out a clicking staccato cry like the retort of an automatic weapon as its claws resumed their odd weaving movement. Knowledge, in a fight is pretty much as important as having the biggest gun and having seen the effect this darkness had on what we all regarded as universal laws of physics and human anatomy gave us a small but none the less significant advantage. And one that I assumed the security patrols never had time to assimilate before they were ripped to pieces.

Taren and Lar Shei, like myself now understood how this darkness skewed every advantage toward the creature and that in reality we had unknowingly walked into its killing ground. By rights, we were now pawns in a pre- planned show the finale of which was no doubt our gruesome death. But in the darkness, just able to acknowledge each other, we all instinctively did something completely irrational as fire started to dance from the creature’s claws. We soundlessly screamed and rushed the creature

nemsis final


Day 325


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting GhostsSFalk
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

On all fours Taren closed the distance in a heartbeat but Lar Shei her form blurring even in the density of the darkness reached the creature first. Still intent on its weaving and the building matrix of fire trailing from its hands, confident in the security of its position as apex predator the creature never foresaw the attack that sped toward it. In a perfect arc Lar Shei’s Katana slipped through the darkness it’s edge turning to fire as the atmosphere resisted its travel and struck one of the creatures clawed mandibles. Lightening exploded outward engulfing Lar Shei and the creature, the force of which threw Lar Shei outward toward the horizon of the darkness where she lay still and broken. In the same instant the lightening hit the creature making it stagger backward, a guttural scream of pain coming from its serrated beak as the cauterized stump of it’s severed mandible oozed black blood.

Still dazed by the explosion, the creature was just recovering its balance. When moving like an armoured rhinoceros Taren hit it square on and raked the metal tipped claws that I had so often wondered about down the exposed trunk of the creature leaving dark openings in the creature’s flesh.

Now in a full retreat the creature moved with surprising agility as it parried Taren’s next strike and catching him in the side with a cruel blow sent Taren skittering out across the floor. Holstering my useless phase pistol, I pulled the long blade from my boot and pushed what little advantage my companions had just paid for. And leaping in silence I aimed the blade at the creature’s eyes.

Only now, aware that we actually posed a threat, the creature was alert and deftly caught my wrist in its other mandible, sending the blade clattering to the floor. The creature’s strength was immense as it bodily lifted me off the floor, letting me hang by my wrist as its red eyes mercilessly captured every nuance of excruciating pain as it slowly but surely crushed my wrist. In an ecstasy of enraged pleasure at my agony the creature pulled me close to its serrated beak. As the clicking sound that we had heard earlier welled up from its throat, I watched in horror as its cruel serrated beak began to open and move toward my captured arm.

That was until I shot the creature in the chest.

At distance my phases pistol had proven useless, but as the creature blinded by rage brought me close, I pressed stub barrel against the dark red skin of the creature and pulled the trigger.

Still working in slow motion, I watched as the charge leave the barrel of the pistol and burn into the creature with agonising slowness. The flesh boiled and burnt, the smell overpowering as the charge burrowed further into the creature destroying sinew, flesh and organs as it went.

Then all the laws of physics were broken at once as the creature howling toppled backward still mercilessly holding onto my crushed wrist.


Day 325


Personal Journal Serene Falk:

Captain HMMS BroadsideSFalk

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

As we fell locked together, I landed across the creatures chest and heard the broken rasp of its wrecked lungs where the charge of my pistol had taken its toll. Feeling the grip of the mandible loosen slightly around my wrist and with the aid of my own blood as a lubricant I gradually got myself free. Throwing myself away from the creature I could already feel the pressure of power building about me. It was like the darkness and the creature were symbiont and as life and control ebbed from the creature so the stability of the very atmosphere around me was starting to change. The darkness that had invaded this part of the ship was pulsing, and veins of electricity flashed and arced before grounding themselves against the ship structure. One finger of power tore toward me and with what little strength I had left I barely managed to role to one side. I felt the magma heat flash as it passed by my face and watched as it poured itself into the creature. The creature screamed and unbelievably got to its knees before another tendril of power ran it through from behind illuminating it in a strange transparency. For a moment there was silence then falling forward the lifeless corpse of the creature thudded against the floor, whilst in the same instance I felt myself caught in a hurricane as the darkness rushed back into the creature. Then what I can only describe as an implosion of force began to crush the dead form of the creature compressing it into an ever-reducing point of darkness.
Then there was nothing, the creature had gone. For some moments I lay there stunned by what had just taken place and realised that instead of being surrounded by thick darkness I was now lying in a perfectly lit corridor. Behind me I could hear Tarren groaning, so dutifully obeying the first laws of patient triage I ignored him and pulled myself across to where the still silent body of Lar Shei lay. Immediately I could see the obtuse rag dog angle of her limbs and a thin stream of blood from her mouth and nostrils that had pooled like a halo around her head. With my one good hand I gently felt for a pulse, but I already knew the answer as I touched the cold of her flesh.


Day 325 Amended


Personal Journal Serene Falk:
Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes onlySFalk

Amended Log – Authorisation S Falk Captain Broadside 2203203

I am adding this amendment to ensure that whoever finds these journals will understand the Broadsides actions from this point. All actions from the 3rd of March 2203 are on my Authority and are categorically my responsibility. No responsibility will be borne by the crew and that as my subordinates they were under my orders alone.

It was difficult to estimate how long myself and Tarren had lain there before the support crews found us. But before conscious left me I remember cradling Lar Shei’s dead body, like some sort of protective wolf mother and refusing to let go. Looking back now it’s clear, that there on the corridor floor something finally broke in me. It would have been reasonable to accept that the isolation and destruction of our fellow ships combined with the weight of horror we had all witnessed and endured was sufficient cause. But I had suffered hardship and loss before and in a sense, it was what I had been trained for. No, what actually broke through the shield of my training and discipline was what I saw in those final moments when I was close enough to look deep into the blood red eyes of that dark alien creature.

If you are reading this, I could describe this experience but what you would miss is the context and a common frame of reference. Context is pretty easy and from the logs you can probably get the gist of what we have been going through out here but as for a frame of reference. I can only come at it from that of an evolved mind that falls under the constant tension of good and evil. Which in itself forms a point of balance. As mankind we have seen the tension of balance repeated in every civilization we have so far encountered, it is a common ground and one that has led us to pursue peace and enlightenment across most of the Near Galaxy.

But as I stared into those eyes I realised that there was no tension of balance between good and evil and the moral spiritual compass that frames our civilisations common understanding was altogether missing. All that existed there was just a singular evil and a wanton need to destroy everything that didn’t reflect its state of complete darkness. There was no light in that soul, and it was this pure revelation combined with the weight of horror we had born witness to. That burrowed deep into my heart and soul and broke the last fragments of restraint that I possessed. I would like to say that I fought and resisted the wave of anger and hatred that exploded out of me but no, instead I relished the heat and let it run through me like wild fire. I rode the madness and let it fuel me because then, as now I have no doubt that should that creature’s world ever collide with ours. Mankind and the Near Galaxy would suffer a massacre on a catastrophic scale that could well signal the end for all of us.


Day 326


Personal Journal Serene Falk:
Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting GhostsSFalk
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

Lost Innocence. Much to the ship’s surgeons dismay I made my first attempt at checking myself out of the infirmary more or less as soon as I came around from the heavy sedation I had been placed under when they found me cradling the dead body of Lar Shei. It was difficult to judge how long I had been out but clearly not long enough for the sore bones and as I unsteadily made my way toward the bulkhead door trailing IV lines and monitor wires in my wake. I felt a pin prick at the top of my buttock that was carelessly exposing itself through the back opening of flimsy hospital gown. Then a sense of falling and blessed darkness.

Waking again it was evident that some sort of alarm must have been placed on my cot because as soon as my eyes cracked open, I found myself staring into the beautiful violet eyes of Ca Boras the ships surgeon. Through the fur of a sleep filled mouth I finally managed to get my words together.

“Doc, Ca I need to get up. It important they will kill us all”

Struggling to raise myself, I felt the pressure of Ca’s hand burning through my gown as she gently pushed me back down into the cot.

“No Captain, you are under my orders here and I will tell you when you can get up. Your arm and wrist are near reconstruction and I am guessing you will want that to complete judging from what you have been saying in your sleep. Don’t worry you will be the first to know when I think you are fit for service” I felt the heat of her hand on my brow this time and fell back into a deep sleep as the Autonomous Micropaire, or mini surgeons as I called them repaired and rebuilt my body. AM was clever stuff but uncomfortable as hell as it knitted and re-arranged your innards back to its optimum gene pattern, so maybe sleep was not such a bad idea.

When I finally awoke the third time, all the grogginess and weakness that I had experienced before was gone and I actually felt more rested and refreshed than I had in a long time. As I sat examining my wrist and hand and trying to work out which bits were new. I noticed Ca Boras smiling quizzically at me in the way Venusians do when they consider Earthers.

“I wouldn’t bother Captain we had to regrow your arm from the elbow down, it really was in a poor state and not worth saving”.

Still testing it out to see if my new additions worked as they should Ca slid across the white pristine surface of the infirmary room on her grav chair and gently bumped the edge of my cot. Beaming quizzically and pointing to my new limbs. She seemed very proud of her work.

“I am artist, am I not, but of course bones and flesh are relatively easy to repair”

Cutting my testing and prodding short I looked up. As a rule, I had a lot of time for Venusians as in their favour they were honest, extremely intelligent and loyal to the bone. Only they were also empowered with far more than their fair share of empathic abilities. Thus, when Ca looked at me with those violet eyes, I knew she was seeing not only seeing my flesh and blood but taking a tour around my soul. Which made lying pretty much impossible.

“Honestly Ca, what I witnessed earlier scared the life out of me”

Regarding me passively Ca tilted her head waiting for me to continue

“OK, it wasn’t just the carnage and death in the corridor, that thing got into my head. It was evil Ca, not a morsel of light or goodness anywhere and whatever we do I am going to make sure we destroy it and warn the Near Galaxy of what we have found. Those creatures and their kind cannot and must not cross into civilized space.

Sitting back Ca regarded me for some moments, then lent forward

“Evil begets evil Captain as does killing, are you certain this is the course we wish to take?”

 

 


Day 328


Personal Journal Serene Falk:SFalk

Captain HMMS Broadside

  • Mission parameter – Hunting Ghosts
  • Classification Secret – Captains eyes only

It took a further eleven hours for my newly grown limbs to settle, as although flesh and bone were relatively easy to grow. The rest of my system had to catch up and form the neural synapses and connections that ensured I could use these new additions. During that time, I took the opportunity to look in on Taren and to my relief found him sitting up in his sick bay cot scrolling through what looked like old deep space journals.

Looking at me through the precise three-dimensional holopage that hung just in front of him, he cracked a smile.

“Good to see you got your arm back Captain”

I was about to respond with a suitable quip and tell him that I thought he was milking the entire sick bay visit and that he should be back on the bridge. When without warning our eyes connected and the shared horror of what we experienced in the corridor and the pain of Lar Shei’s death washed over both of us like an emotional tsunami Bowing our heads in respect we allowed the silence to honor her passing, then like her fleeting spirit the moment passed and like every soldier in every war ever fought, we pushed aside our grief and allowed the pain of loss to propel us forward toward whatever end was before us.

Taren’s vertical eyelids parted and wiping his eyes, he cleared his throat.

“Captain as I have been lying here, it occurred to me to scan the historical records to see if there has been any contact this far out in the void. And I found this”

The holopage shifted focus to an article written forty-three years ago by the chief officer on board a merchant sloop that inadvertently strayed into what was then uncharted space after its NavCom glitched. According to the article Chief officer Ernst Abram swears he caught a glimpse of a massive battleship submerging into what looked like some sort of inter dimensional gateway. At the time his report was filed under “Void Induced Psychosis”, or what is more commonly known in spacer speak as scared shitless out on the edge of the nothing.

“But the thing is Captain the coordinates of this sighting are approximately three light years from where we first made contact with the battleship”.

Grasping the holo image in my hand, I called up Bonnie and Clyde the Nav Ai’s and threw the image at them.

“Plot me a course and no bullshit”

Bonnie was as always, the first to respond.

“Coordinates laid in Captain” then Clyde her paranoid balancing twin piped up

“Captain what Bonnie has failed to tell you is that this location is close to the subspace fissure Exon Agis 33. For information Captain and without appearing rude, this subspace fissure does not exit into another location like others but is purely is a Star crusher of the highest magnitude.

“Thank you, Clyde your warning is duly noted, however please set the course as requested”

“Yes Captain”

Only nothing happened.

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