Friday, October 11, 2013

The Reversal - Part 1

Fan Fiction Friday! Escape pod to a write up of last weekends community free-for-all for those not into fiction.

This started as an idea for a longer piece. However I struggled and in the end made it into a two-parter.

For those generally interested in Eve Fiction, Telegram Sam is running another fiction contest. Lots of PLEX to be won. Head over here to read all about it. I have an idea for my submission already and that will be going up on November 1st!

The Reversal - Part 1

Scientific Vessel - The Righteous Mission Log, Entry 1348
We have completed our survey of fourth planet in the system. This body is not suitable for terraforming even with current technology. This is the fourth survey that has duplicated those that were undertaken 92 years ago. I cannot see how this survey mission is worthwhile and will be sending a request to command that we be reassigned. We are moving on at 1930 ship time to the fifth planet. This was as far as the Terraforming Vessel the Shimu Sota got in her surveys nearly a century ago before she vanished without a trace. Some of the crew are uneasy, following in the footsteps of a ship that vanished never to be heard of again.

Scientific Vessel - The Righteous Mission Log, Entry 1349
We are currently conducting surveys on the fifth planet. No response from command on my request to have the ship reassigned. This is becoming a waste of time. We are surveying a plasma planet. How command thinks this is worthwhile I do not know. We are decades away from efficiently terraforming lava planets, plasma planets will take centuries of advancement in technology before they are viable candidates. This is were the Shimu Sota sent her final log entry from. I have read it again today. A routine report with nothing out of the ordinary and nothing to indicate why the vast ship would vanish without a trace. Tension on the ship is high.

Scientific Vessel - The Righteous Mission Log, Entry 1350
We had delayed our departure to the sixth planet by a day as we are having to rescan an area of the fifth planet. One of the scanning arrays appears to have suffered a malfunction. Maintenance are running diagnostics on the suspect array and we are using array number two to rescan sector 4B. Tensions have eased on the ship given we have been here a day with no incident. Starship crews are a superstitious lot. I don't know what they expected us to find here, but we found what I expected to find. A dead planet... and no dragons.

Scientific Vessel - The Righteous Mission Log, Entry 1351
An enigma. Array 2 has picked up the same anomaly as array 1. There must be a fault with our main computer or something on he ground in sector 4B giving false readings. The scanner logs show organic matter in a small area in the north eastern quadrant of that sector. There is a barren mountain range rich in metals there but nothing else. We are going to use the backup array to scan that area. The plasma storms on this planet are particularly extensive and violent. This is giving us issues with our scanning equipment and also means that the readings showing organic matter are false. Nothing can live down there. It is a dead planet hostile to all life.

Scientific Vessel - The Righteous Mission Log, Entry 1352
Three separate scanning arrays, three sets of identical results. I still refuse to believe these as it is impossible. However, we must understand what is giving these false readings. What is on the planet there that makes our scanners believe their is life on a plasma planet? We are currently setting up for a high atmospheric orbit. The helm are finalising a flight plan that will keep us high enough from the plasma storms not to risk the ship, but low enough so that we can fire a probe into the quadrant directly. From the current orbit the probe would just skip off the upper atmosphere. I must say, after nearly a year of boring planetary surveys I am looking forward to solving this puzzle.

Scientific Vessel - The Righteous Mission Log, Entry 1353

Scientific Vessel - The Righteous Mission Log, Entry 1354


The Captain slowly came too as he felt something wet touch his forehead. He remembered! He tried to quickly sit up but pain stabbed him all over his body. He winced and remained laying down. He slowly opened his eyes and saw his First Officer dabbing his forehead with a damp cloth. It was dark, the orange glow of the emergency lighting was casting long shadows around the ruined bridge. Smoke hung in the air and made his eyes water. His first officer was True Amarr like the rest of his crew. She had graduated top of her class in the academy and the captain had requested her personally after seeing her file.

"I take it we landed?" he groaned.

"Yes captain. However I'm not sure what we went though meets the proper definition of a landing."

The Captain struggled to sit up. He looked around, the bridge was almost empty. He could see there was no way the ship would be flying again. What remained of the bridge was a mess, sections of the false roof had caved in and cables were hanging down.

"What happened? Last thing I recall....." the Captain struggled to actually recall anything.

"We entered the atmosphere and lined up with the anomaly. We were just about to launch the probe when the ship dropped. Apparently the scanners didn't pick up the massive magnetic disturbances in the upper atmosphere. We were at full thrust keeping the ship up when the magnetic distortion yanked the nose-cone of the ship down. The magnetic pull, our engines and gravity conspired together. We dropped ten thousand metres in a second which put us on the edge of the plasma storm. The ship acted like a lightning rod. The plasma strike was so strong it burnt the shield emitters out instantly and caused feedback all the way to the reactor. The safety protocols stopped the reactor from blowing, but they also sent it into automatic shut-down mode. As you can imagine, a spacecraft in atmospheric flight which suffers a catastrophic power loss does not stay in flight long. You tried to get a warning by using the captains log recorder which has a seperate power source, but we don't think it will be received by anyone."

It started to come back to the Captain now.

"You don't think the transmission was received by anyone? Thats not very optimistic of you."

"Actually Captain, that was the optimistic outlook. The realistic outlook is it had very little chance of getting out as we were already below the plasma storm when you sent it. The pessimistic outlook is that it had no chance in hell."

"Lovely! And what is the situation here? And please, give me the rose tinted version, not sure I can cope with any more bad news."

The First Officer chuckled.

"Well we're just finishing the new health resort and spa on D deck. The new ballroom is almost complete and we're planning a party tonight. Black tie."

The captain groaned.

"When I asked for rose tinted it meant I wanted a mildy optimistic outlook to our situation."

The XO thought about it for a few seconds.

"Good news captain, you don't need to worry about your pension provision or saving for old age!"


An hour later the Captain was back on his feet and in a small data centre extracting memory cores from one of the back-up computer relays. Throughout the vast ship there were several of these data-centres that recorded information from the various ships systems. He was alone and worked by the emergency lighting. He'd finally worked out why his XO was being so flippant, their situation indeed appeared hopeless. The ship had come down on the edge of a mountain range. The crash had destroyed most of the ship. Only the front 25% still remained intact. The rest of the ship had been torn away and scatter over a debris field of several kilometres. The reactor, life support, communications array, all the critical systems were gone. The ship itself had hull breaches throughout. Thankfully the atmosphere wasn't poisonous. It wasn't breathable, but it was composed of heavier gases at a higher pressure meaning the ship wasn't losing air as fast as it should. They had about 12 hours of oxygen left. The Captain thought about the crew that hadn't made it. Over 250 were lost in the crash. He then thought how fast 250 crew would burn through their remaining oxygen and felt severely conflicted in his emotions.

Rescue was out of the question. The planets atmosphere was strange. At ground level it was more like a barren planet, however from 50km up the entire atmosphere was covered with a thick plasma storm. The plasma lighting was so constant that it was light on the surface like daylight. However there was practically no way any communications could penetrate the storm even if they had the whole ship. All they had left now was an emergency beacon that was running on battery power.

The captain didn't really know what he was looking for. Something in the scanner logs that might offer them a chance at life. The anomalous readings that had led them here cannot be life, but something caused those readings. He managed to get the core he needed active and linked his datapad. The ships scanners had indeed been active on the decent right up to the impact. He played them back, hoping that the logs showed something. He stopped the playback, rewound it and replayed it. It couldn't be!

To be continued.....

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