Ship Designation: L.P.E.V. Columbus, Commission year: 4101. Vessel found: 4127.
Lumen, Inc. Ship Record File # 4126-2387519
Crew at time of last transmission: 6.
1 recording of crew salvaged from wreckage.
Record time: 6 minutes.
1. Captain Miranda Zemekis.
2. Engineer Bassem Badwi.
3. Crew Member Nadia Yagi
4. First Officer Connor Talmadge.
5. Crew Member Willem Eldermund
6. Senior Crew Member/Medic Bonnie Gutu
Recording transcript as follows.
“It’s all my fault. I take full responsibility for the loss of this ship, along with her crew. The cap’n’s dead, first officer too. They wiped the logs and other ship’s records before they died. They were covering their asses to the last. No clue where the engineer is. Whatever’s out there must have gotten him and the others. I’m the only one left, but hopefully not for long. This record is being left just in case, so people can know something dangerous is here with us.
“We were on a deep exploration mission to the Praesepe Cluster, sent to map and bring back cartographic analysis of the planetary systems. I don’t remember which star it was now – the cap’n made sure of that – but I do remember that we were getting organic molecule signatures from a moon orbiting an outer gas giant. Other deep exploration missions have gotten these before without finding anything more than maybe some methane. Still, we see organics and the captain changes course for a closer look.
“Everything went normal at first. Our cartography and radar satellites got sent out to map the atmosphere and geographic features, followed by survey satellites to go and find out where the organic compounds were coming from. I got surprised when I found the moon was covered in liquid water that was about as warm as equatorial water on Earth. Soon after, I found that the ocean bottom was hot from tidal friction that the gas giant caused. But, since there was something organic down there, and there was liquid water, the cap’n ordered Nadia to hop down in a shuttle.
“I just want to say that I did protest sending Nadia so quickly. The survey satellites couldn’t pinpoint the organic material or even what it was. For all we knew, that moon was swimming with alien life. So Nadia goes off, taking her craft down to about a kilometer above the water’s surface. She sends back telemetry, and suddenly she says she wants to take a closer look. I tell the cap’n it’s a bad idea, but the first officer thinks nothing could go wrong with just getting a water sample.
“That was a bad idea. The winds on the surface kicked up to about a hundred klicks an hour on average. I’m pretty sure Nadia was intentionally not mentioning that. She always bragged about how good a pilot she was. But no, the cap’n and first officer want to brag about finding life somewhere in the galaxy, so it’s suddenly an acceptable risk. Nadia takes the craft down, fighting wave surges and wind gusts the whole way.
“About twenty meters or so off the surface, she extends a pod out to collect a sample. Pod goes in, and then all hell breaks loose. Nadia’s screaming about losing control of the craft, and the cap’n’s screaming for her to get out of there. A few seconds later, Nadia’s got the shuttle on a full burn out of the atmosphere right for us. I ask for her to do a flyby past the bridge window for an inspection, but the first officer says no. Just head to the airlock, and he’ll do an inspection.
“Talmadge hauls ass off the bridge, headed right into something he has no idea about. A minute later, he’s got on the communications back to the bridge, telling us about this thing that attached itself to the shuttle. The thing was black and rubbery, with muscled tentacles gripped firmly around the circumference of the shuttle. It was cold as ice, frozen in the vacuum between the moon and the ship. As Talmadge goes through the inspection, the thing just falls off the ship and breaks apart into icy chunks. The only thing Talmadge could identify was a single, foggy eye, which he swore turned and focused on him.”
[Unidentifiable sounds enter recording. Speaker’s breathing becomes labored and panicked.]
“I have to be quick. It knows what I’m doing. Cap’n thinks she’s going to get all kinds of bonuses for this, and she starts telling the crew the same. ‘Get the thing bagged up and analyzed,’ she tells Bonnie. I want the shuttle and that thing thrown out the airlock. Nobody listens to me.
“Bonnie takes the corpse down to medical, where she begins an autopsy. She ends up discovering the creature is like a cephalopod, with an unknown number of tentacled appendages. After further inspection, she found a sphincter the creature must have used as a mouth. Since the creature was dead, the muscle closing the sphincter had relaxed, revealing a bulbous tongue with many different barbs on it. On that tongue were pieces of the shuttle’s hull.
“The whole process took several hours. In the meantime, I begged the cap’n to release the shuttle. She refused, saying it was an unnecessary precaution. Since I couldn’t bring her to see reason, I went down to the bay to talk to Nadia. She was supposed to be fixing the shuttle. What I found when I arrived was much different. Nadia had not told anyone that she successfully retrieved a sample of the water from that infernal moon. The container was right there in the bay, its lid opened, and the most foul-smelling water sloshed around it. I called out for the pilot, but she was nowhere to be found.”
[More sounds enter recording. Speaker screaming. A loud crash.]
“Please! No! It’s coming nearer! You have to believe me! I didn’t know what it was! None of us could have known! The second Nadia came back it was too late for us all!
“The dead creature wasn’t the only thing that came back! When people didn’t report back, we all grew suspicious. The cap’n tried to secure the residential quarters, but it had already found Nadia! The thing had used her to sabotage the engines! We had no choice but to split up and try to take back control!”
[More noises enter recording, most likely the sounds of metal bulkheads being ripped apart.]
“As soon as we exited, it picked us off one by one. I heard the screams of the cap’n as she struggled to fight off the beast, and then all I heard was this unnatural sucking sound, followed minutes later by sloshing. Nearing the end of my wits, I went back to the shuttle, and there I beheld a sight which I wish no one would ever see! The first officer and Nadia were there, holding the captain’s head in the viscous alien water. She flailed about, but then her captors let her go.
“I moved to a better vantage, and from there I saw what they’d done. Nadia and Talmadge had brined the captain in the alien water. On the backs of their heads were attached two of the black, rubbery creatures, their alien bodies glistening in the light. But when my former crewmates opened their mouths, only the grievous proboscises of the creatures came forth. After they had finished with their eating, they discarded the remnants of the cap’n’s body on a pile of others, a horrific monument to a terrifying feast.
“But that wasn’t enough! The tongues of my three former crew members had been completely devoured by the creatures, replaced with their own proboscis. Each drank deep from the liquid, and then they turned and left.
“My course was clear! I fled to the bridge, where I disengaged the ship’s safety protocols! I plotted a course into the nearest asteroid! My only hope is that they do not get to me before the ship strikes the asteroid! You don’t know what they do! If you find this-”
[Screeching and wet sucking noises can be heard, followed by more sounds of destruction.]
“NO! NO!! PLEASE! PLEASE GOD N-”
[End of Recording.]