Killgrace and the Alien Threat

With a glance each way to make sure the officer had left, she peered through the door into the crew area. The same red display was visible by every door in the corridor. The crew had been locked in. A trapped crew, a dead officer and aliens. She had heard enough to be curious.

A quiet beep from the console interrupted the officer’s argument and Jayan walked across to check it. She bent down with a look of concern, flipping the switches quickly as she slid into the seat.

"Yemec, we just lost surveillance."


"All over." Her hands danced across the keys, as she shook her head. "It’s a major malfunction. I can’t get anything to respond."

"Isolate life support." Yemec ordered and she nodded.

"Done. Should I jettison the crew compartment?"

"No. In this storm, they’ll never make it to the collection point. Can you locate the cause of the malfunction?"

"Working on it. There’s nothing in the manual about this."

"What about the logs?"

"No logs either."

"Did either of you meet the team before us?" Yemec asked, looking round. There were two perplexed gazes.

"You’re an officer, didn’t they – " Megah was cut off by a sharp shake of Yemec’s head.

"No. I thought the Captain did."

"That makes no sense. The first team here should have handed over to someone surely. Something odd happened." The security officer stirred nervously, glancing towards the outside. "Jayan, was the malfunction’s cause external?"

"Don’t know," she said, tapping a final button and staring at the console biting her lip, "but I think I’ve isolated it in the security systems."

There was silence for a moment as they both looked at Yemec. He looked at them, considering requesting emergency evacuation, but the storm prevented it. If he triggered the crew jettison there was a good chance they would all die, but if they stayed here…the joys of command he thought dryly and took his second command decision of the last hour.

"Jayan, we need to know what happened. I am authorising you to access the records. Break the passwords if you have to." He pulled an identity badge out of his pocket and held it out to her. "Here, it’s the Captain’s."


Completing its assessment of mining resources, Cet extended two manipulators from its shell and began the delicate task of harvesting samples. The Capsule was satisfactorily secured against interference and there was no need for it to return to the vehicle with any haste. A secondary check on the hull showed that the pressure readings were within tolerances. Designed to sustain far weaker lifeforms, the environment posed no significant threat to the alien itself.

It was convenient that the lifesigns were confined elsewhere. There was no need to endure contact with inferiors when transporting minerals. It noted, with some annoyance, that its partner had immediately sought out these beings for no apparent reason. When it was time to leave there was a high possibility retrieval would involve contact.


"Hacking, cracking, hacking," Jayan sang under her breath as she tapped at the keys. "Did the Captain have any pets?"

"No," Yemec said, and she sucked air in through her teeth and started typing.

"Ah. Not his holiday, or hobbies. How about his first command…and I am in." The log entries and records scrolled down the screen. "Nothing found. I’ll try the comms. Hold on…this looks promising, but it’s partly deleted." Pulling up the file she hit a key and speech started, faintly garbled from the poor quality of the recording.

"-tain, your predecessor filed several disturbing reports about disturbances." Megah scrambled across to join them, and the three crew stared at the console in silence as the transmission continued. "We sent a response team down, but when they arrived at the base, the crew was dead. One of the airlocks had been opened, and the pressure equalised instantly. The base survived. The crew did not."

"So they just hauled it up, hosed the walls down and stuck new people in?" Yemec said, appalled.

"Bases are expensive, you know. We aren’t," Megah replied.

"Shut up," Jayan said, waving them silent as the recording continued.

"-the escape pods?" their Captain’s voice asked.

"Yes. It arrived intact but when it was opened they were dead, bleeding from nose, ears, and mouth."

"The aliens got them on the way up," Megah said, as the crew stared at each other aghast. "We’re trapped."


Susan stepped outside into the main area, and turned back quickly as the corridor door clicked locked behind her. Unless she could find another route she was cut off from the Capsule. Contacting the Cull was unwise – it would probably just cut a hole through the base in the direction it wanted to go, which was hardly a good way to make contact with the residents. She reflected uneasily that the crew behind her were locked in, both in their rooms and in the section. Something was not right. Still, she was learning nothing standing here. She would just have to explore, and find her own way back.

There were three pale yellow signs on the wall facing the door, each with black symbols engraved, but she could not read the script. The arrow symbols at the ends were an almostuniversal sign for ‘this way’ however. Two pointed left, one right. She considered her options, and then on the edge of hearing she heard people talking, and raised voices. Susan shrugged and went right, towards them. As she approached, the words became clearer.

"Then we have to signal the main base." It was a higher-toned voice.

"We can’t, Jayan, the comms are cut off by the storm."

"But the aliens – "

"We don’t know if there are any aliens!" A man’s voice, at the end of his patience.

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