The Problem of the Missing Hope
Dispatched to Earth, anno domini 2159
Cover Identity: Member of the Wardens, a law enforcement/troubleshooting group deployed to protect humanity from existential threats encountered as it expands into space. Brief training in a facility in the Himalayan Mountains before being sent to Warden Prime (an orbiting space station) to begin assignments.
Commanding officer: Cmdr Dearborn.
Freighter Pandora’s Hope has gone silent (17 days ago) before reaching its destination at 2060 Chiron mining colony. Colony has also gone silent. No communication in some time. Last port of call was Mars for supplies prior to the 88-day cruise to Chiron. Cargo was mining equipment, supplies for life support eqiupment, consumables. Captain: Lee Quartararo. First Officer: Carl Roslin. Chief Engineer: Nathan Adar. Approximately two dozen crew, total.
First stop: Mars. Met with a Dockmaster Higgins, retrieved manifest for Pandora’s Hope. Nothing out of the ordinary. Point of origin for food supplies is a corporation on Venus. Captain and Chief Engineer never left the ship — stayed focused on getting cargo transfer completed. First Officer and half the crew took shore leave to the Deimos Hotel. Medical staff took a trip out to a remote colony to provide basic medical services.
Roslin spent the bulk of his time at a club called the Cosmic Lounge (located on Rue d’Auseil). He held court there, dispensing pay to the rest of the shore leave crew and meeting with local businessmen…suspected shady dealings. Security video evidence of him leaving in the company of a “rat-faced” character. No additional information on the individual could be obtained.
Opted to move on with the investigation. Trip to Chiron will take more than 80 days, most of it will be spent in stasis. Warden Command advises that backup will be 32 days out in the event of serious trouble.
Awakened prematurely by ship alarm. Debris field on approach to Chiron. Pandora’s Hope docked at mining station, no energy readings from either. Freighter is heavily damaged, multiple hull breaches. Radiation leaking from ship. Colony is also damaged, hull breaches on the outer rings, no power to any sector.
Ship landed us at station. Limited atmosphere. No casualties or visible damage in receiving area. Once inside the station proper, mass casualties. Evidence of sudden decompression. Some died in midst of attempt to suit up. Others had slit throats and suit punctures — jagged cuts and tears indicate makeshift weaponry.
Aboard the ship, total catastrophe. Surviving crew kiling and eating each other. No “patient zero” obvious. Control panels on the bridge completely destroyed. Conduit ripped ree (possible source of improvised weaponry). We were ambushed by three crew with pipes and jagged bits of metal, but made quick work of them. After this attack, spider-like creatures came swarming at us…signs that they had been feeding on the ship’s structure itself. Fled the ship and left the “infected” crew to the spider things.
Located a small group of survivors holed up in a commissary. Hatched a plan to set the colony’s reactor to overload, destroying the infection and the spider things. Radioed the ship with the plan and worked out logistics to escort survivors out once the deed was done. More spiders had to be dealt with as we descended to the reactor.
Final analysis: Inconclusive. Crew behavior suggests some sort of pathological agent, but no obvious vector for its introduction to the crew. Possible lead with First Mate, who returned to the ship with “extra medicine” for the crew according to logs.