SeerK here with a special Halloween Installment of "Fluff Friday". This time I am doing something different. A story from a Terran perspective. Enjoy and Have a joyous Samhain and a Happy Halloween form all of us at The WayGate.
The air was still musty and stale. Despite the deep cleaning the air was still musty. It was a peculiar quirk of old vessels like this. Being in mothballs for so long stained the air. It would stay that way too. Even after a crew came on board and lived in the ship the air would still be musty. Gregory realized he was lost in thought again. It was easy for the mind to wander being alone in the dimly lit halls of a ship. He shook off his reverie and continued with his task. He had to get the communications console upgraded before the ship left dry dock. The ship had not seen action in over 170 years. It was a veteran of the first succession war. She was old and scarred. She had sent dozens of rebel ships to their deaths. Although there were many Razorthorn class Battleships still in service, none of them were as old as the Ixion.
The comm bud in his ear buzzed with static as a voice broke him once more from his thoughts.
“Have you got that panel in yet crewman Voight?”
It was Gregory's boss Chief Farnes. He had been riding Gregory all day. Apparently the Ixions new commanding officer was due to arrive at 0900 tomorrow morning. The Chief was hell bent on having the ship completely done for the inspection. Never mind they still had another week while they primed the reactors and brought the fold space drive online.
“No sir, but I am almost done. There is some feedback in the system that is causing some interference, I am still trying to track down.”
“Get it done ASAP crewman, we still have to get the port shield array re aligned. If you can't find the source in the next hour put it on the “gremlin” list and get down to the port array”
“Yes sir” Gregory sighed. The Gremlin list was getting big. This ship was very stubborn. It was like it was resisting their efforts to resurrect her for duty. Gregory pondered this for a few moments as he closed the access panel he had been working in and turned the communication console on. The channel was silent for a moment, then the static came back. It was different this time though. Gregory could swear he could hear something in the static.
“.......o surrend.............no..........tryann........renzi forever.......” It seemed to be repeating. Gregory switched channels and messed with the settings, but it seemed to be on every channel. He ducked under the console and opened another access panel.
“ I tried to reason with them......”
Gregory jumped and hit his head on the console. He cursed as he stood rubbing the back of his head.
“Dammit don't sneak up on people.....”Gregory froze as he saw Admirals bars on the mans uniform. He stood to attention and saluted. The Admiral was sitting in the commanders chair at the center of the bridge. He was cast in shadow and the dim light reflected off of the medals and pins on his uniform.
“ I tried to reason with him. I didn't want to do it.......”
“Sir are you ok?” Gregory relaxed and took a step towards the man in the chair. He seemed to be sobbing as he spoke.
“They didn't deserve it. They deserved to be brought to justice and brought to heel. I told the president it would not make them surrender. It would only harden their resolve”
“Sir I don't understand, are you ill? Do I need to summon a medic?” The man continued to ramble as Gregory got closer. He was about 3 paces away from the man and still could not make out his face. He seemed to be cradling his head in his hands. Sobbing as he spoke.
“The Dindrenzi people didn’t deserve that kind of sanction.”
“With all due respect sir the Dindrenzi are savages that only understand one thing, Violence.”
the man began to laugh. It was a cold and seemed to penetrate Gregory to his core. Gregory noticed his breath in the air. It was cold, really cold. Were the atmosphere processors in the fritz again?
The man began to raise his head and sit back in the chair.
“Thats what my first officer always said....”
Gregory saw the man clearly for the first time. He was pale, and he features were drawn. He wore the uniform of an NTSC Admiral, but it looked like the ones he had seen in a museum. His eyes were sunken and there seemed to be scorch marks on his left temple. Gregory realized it was a gunshot wound. The man reached for Gregory laughing. A sense of terror overtook Gregory and he turned to run. He tripped as he turned and fell. He hit his head hard on the deck. The last thing he saw before blacking out was the man standing over him.
Gregory woke suddenly and began to scramble across the bridge. Hands reached for him.
“Crap Crewman calm down” Gregory stopped and turned. He squinted and looked clearly at his assailant. It was the Chief.
“Sir? Is that you?”
“Who else would it be Voight?” The Chief looked genuinely confused.
“There is an intruder on board sir, he attacked me!”
“Voight there is nobody here except you and I, beta team left 2 hours ago.”
“You must have seen the guy he was wearing an admirals uniform Admiral, he was injured.....badly!”
“Crewman you aren't making an ounce of sense, Nobody is here except us. I found you by the console out cold”
Gregory looked over towards the console. A smattering of blood was on the deck plate. His head began to ache as reality seemed to come crashing down upon him.
“I saw him plain as day Chief, he was crying and sobbing about trying to prevent something. He looked like hell and it looked like he had been shot.”
The Chief rolled his eyes. “Not you too, I swear.......” he trailed off as he went for the first aide kit by the entrance to the bridge. Gregory tried to stand but felt dizzy as he did. The Chief motioned for him to stay down.
“What do you mean not me too?”
“Well some of the others have seen some weird stuff while we have been refitting the ship, I didn’t want to say anything to spook the rest of the teams that hadn’t seen anything. You were the last person I would expect to see anything. I just chocked it up to gamma team hitting the bottle on duty” The Chief walked back over to Gregory with a bottle of antiseptic and some gauze.
“I don’t understand sir? Are you saying some other people have seen this guy?”
“No Voight nobody has seen a crying Admiral, that ones new. I am guessing you whacked your head hard enough to get a concussion.” The Chief dressed Gregory's head wound. The antiseptic stung when he applied it to his head. “I am taking you to the infirmary once you feel confident enough to stand.”
After a few minutes Gregory stood with some help form the Chief. He was feeling dizzy still, but not quit as bad. They made their way down the corridors to the main port air lock. A thought occurred to Gregory as they silently made their way to their destination.
“Sir, this vessel is really old right? Did something bad happen on it?”
“Don't start Crewman, I know where this is going, no its not haunted and no nothing bad happened.”
“Oh...” Gregory was not one to believe in ghosts, but he had heard stories form some of the old yard workers. Old ships have seen a lot in their travels. Lots of good folks lived and died in their cold metal arms. They arrived at the airlock and made their way to the station. The umbilicus was always cold despite the heaters. The trip from the airlock to the infirmary was short. The Doc was in his office reading a book.
“Got an Injured man Doc” The Chief helped Gregory to the exam table. He sat down and thanked the Chief. The Chief conferred with the Doc before exiting.
“Hit your head did you, lets take a look” The Doc unwrapped Gregory's head and probed and prodded him a bit. He shined a light in his eyes and seemed to be doing some sort of test.
“Well looks like you have a minor Concussion, so I am going to need you off the next duty shift. I will let the Chief know. Loos like this cut on your head is also going to need closing.”
“Oh thats going to make the Chief happy, the Commander of that old girl is due here tomorrow”
“Well he will have to make due without you for one shift.”
“Doc can I ask you a question?, it may sound weird but bear with me.”
“Ok Crewman go ahead”. The doc began cleaning Gregory's wound and started to apply the dermal re-generator.
“Rumor has it you are a man that knows something about history, namely about ships.”
“Yes I am a history buff crewman and I would be a liar if I didn't call in a lot of favors to get this posting. There is a lot of history in this yard, The Storm Fleet has seen a lot of action.”
“Thats very true Doc, So this old girl out here, whats her story?”
“The Ixion? That vessel was once the flagship of one of Terra's greatest fleets. It fired the nuke that destroyed the capital city on Dramos.”
“That was Admiral Gravanivitch's Vessel? I thought his ship was the Dreadnought Fist of Terra?”
“Well it was once he was actually an Admiral. He was technically the first officer of the Ixion until he was field promoted by the President”
“He was field Promoted?” The Doctor Shook his head in acknowledgment. Another voice added to the conversation
“Well thats the nice way of saying he executed that coward Admiral Cross for disobeying the bombardment order and for being a rebel sympathizer.” The man in the door was imposing. He was tall and squarely built. His accent was thick. He sounded like he was from the Russian Federation region of Terra. His close cropped red hair and beard was illuminated by the bright flame of the lighter he was using to light a dark cigar.
The Doctor and Gregory were startled, but both managed a weak salute when they saw the rank pins on his uniform.
“Gentleman I am looking for the engineer in charge, I want to see my ship.”
“ I will signal the duty Chief sir, I didn't think you were arriving until tomorrow?”
“Sir may I ask a question?” Gregory felt very nervous, this man disturbed him. The way he looked at Gregory was almost Predatory.”
“How do I know these little facts?” The man responded with a wry grin.
“My Great Grandfather told me about it when I was child, He liked to fill in gaps in story about Dramos.”
Gregory’s blood ran cold. This was Admiral Alexei Gravanivitch. The Commander of the “Rad Hounds” The Great Grandson of the man who destroyed Dramos.
“Its an honor to meet you sir!” The Admiral took a long draw on his Cigar
“Of course it is” He smirked and turned to exit, Gregory could hear the Chief stammering outside.
That is why the ship was being difficult. That is why people had been seeing things. The ghosts of the past were being driven out. Purged from its halls as it was awoken form its long slumber. The memories of the past were soon to be replaced by the reality of the present. The war against the Dindrenzi was at a tipping point. The ship was a killer. Its new master had finally arrived. The one man who would take her into the stars for her intended purpose.
to hunt the Dindrenzi once again..........