Relena and the others boarded the tramp freighter. There were a few other passengers, but they didn't speak. They were met onboard by the ship's Steward - a strange, hunched little man with a walleye. He ked them to their cabins and the ship departed for the short trip through hyperspace back to Vitar.
About halfway through the journey, Relena and Kelda were in the ship's common room. Relena was practicing throwing her knives at a crate while Kelda was stripping and cleaning her rifle. Unity and Noumalia were in their cabins.
Sudddenly there was a crash, and the lights went out.
Kelda quickly reassembled her rifle in the dark as they attempted to orient themselves. Noumalia and Unity came out of his cabin to see what had happened, but there was nothing to be seen at all.
Red emergency lights came on, and they orientated themselves. There was no sound - the ship's drives had shut down. They were drifting in deep space.
Noumalia reached out with her mind, to check on their fellow passengers. She touched one mind, but it suddenly winked out. Startled, she reported the experience to the others. They drew their weapons and Unity carefully opened the door.
It was hard to see in the emergency lighting exactly what was slowly dripping down the walls, but when Unity's foot encountered a warm and soft object on the floor, it was clear that the inhabitant of the cabin had been killed in a particularly gruesome manner.
Unity reported feeling a chill. Kelda thought she saw movement. But other than the remains, there was nothing in the room.
Suddenly there was a scream from one of the other staterooms. Noumalia quickly tried to make contact, but once again it winked out. They checked that room, and found the same situation.
Collectively they decided to head for the bridge, where they arrived without incident. However, the captain was dead in his chair. Unity's brief examination showed no obvious cause of death. There was no emergency lighting here - just a flickering strobe.
Suddenly a man burst through into the crew area. He identified himself as the ship's Chief Engineer and breathlessly told of an explosion on the reactor deck. The Engineer's junior assistant was killed instantly, and the remaining crew was unaccounted for. Unity judged him hysterical, and gave him a mild sedative.
They discussed their options, and came to the consensus that it would be best to locate the rest of the crew if possible. The Steward would be in the ship's wardroom, but to get there they needed to go through the cavernous cargo hold.
Proceeding through the hold, the Engineer started to become more agitated, claiming that something was "coming for him". He pointed into the middle of the hold, where a rivulet of blood was making a pool on the floor. It seemed to be emerging from empty space!
As it started to move towards them, they ran. The Engineer became hysterical again, and Unity gave him a mild sedative.
They closed and locked the door to the cargo hold, hoping that that would keep whatever-it-was confined.
In the wardroom they found the hunchbacked Steward and his assistant. They also found food, water, and medical supplies. There were still two crew unaccounted for - the ship's First Officer and the second assistant steward.
They further discussed the situation, and agreed that the first priority was to restore main power, and to get the ship back on course. This would require direct repairs on the Reactor deck, which was aft of the cargo bay. There was a corridor running the length of the ship, starboard of the cargo bay. This would lead direct to Engineering, from which the Reactor was easily accessible. The unlikely troupe - Relena, Kelda, Unity, Noumalia, the hysterical-but-sedated Engineer, the Steward and the Steward's lackey - set off down the corridor, sealing the iris valve behind them.
They arrived at the starboard side cargo lock, but it was dark. The Steward's lackey vanished here. One moment he was there, the next he was gone. The Engineer became hysterical again, and Unity gave him a mild sedative.
They ran. They made it to the final iris valve and entered Engineering. As they closed the valve, they saw the valve at the other end of the corridor hiss open for no apparent reason.
The reactor was one deck up, accessible via a ladder and hatch. The reactor deck was smoke-filled - the fire was still burning, but they were quickly able to put it out. Relena and the ship's Engineer (slightly hazy due to all the sedatives) started work on jury-rigging repairs so that the reactor could be restarted.
Unfortunately, the Engineer was attacked by some kind of alien being - many chitinous claws emerged from nowhere, grabbing him, and dragging him back into nowhere. Kelda tried to shoot it, but her laser blast hit nothing.
This concerned the remaining crew, who made sufficient repairs to restart the reactor posthaste.
Noumalia, Kelda and the ship's Engineer stayed to complete the repairs while Relena and Unity made their way to the Bridge up the port corridor. When they made it to the port cargo lock, they found what had happened to the steward's second lackey. He was all over the walls.
They were, however, able to return to the crew compartment without further incident. But as Relena opened the door, the alien creature reached out of its pocket dimension and tried to grab her. With lightning reflexes, she threw one of her knives, which appeared to strike the thing, and it withdrew.
Since it appeared once more to have vanished, Relena pushed the dead Captain out of his chair and set course for Vitar. The ship reentered hyperspace.
It was a few minutes before the alien struck again, grabbing Unity and sucking him into its pocket dimension.
It was a tense few minutes before Unity dropped out onto the floor again. He had contusions and lacerations all over his body, and his clothes were ripped. He wasn't breathing and he had no pulse.
Unity was dead. But he was clutching something in his left hand.
Quotes of the week
Sage: Can she sense nothing, or can she sense Nothing?
Sarah: It's about to start raining Lackey.