Three fourths of the Imperial Intelligence Agency's Delta squad trudged through the heavy snow of Iapra.
Claire: "Why does Arthur keep sending us to all these cold places?"
Dino: "It wouldn't have been so bad if we had just landed next to the outpost as planned..."
William: "Well our ship crashed."
Dino: "You mean you crashed it?"
William: "It's not my fault..."
Claire: "But you were flying."
William: "Victor's the better pilot, he should've been here."
Dino: "I would honestly rather have his Zanthium infection than be here right now."
William: "Well we have a job to do. There's a reason that GI outpost sent out a distress signal. So let's move it."
Soon the three of them reached the outpost. But something felt wrong. William couldn't quite place or explain it but a slight feeling of dread was beginning to grow within him. When they entered the base, this feeling grew even more.
Claire: "Brr, I thought it would be warmer in here. And where is everyone?" she asked curious why they hadn't seen any personnel yet.
Dino: "We're not too late are we?"
William: "What, you think they're all dead?"
Dino: "They sent a distress call. Obviously they were in trouble."
William: "This is a research facility, not a military installation. I doubt they'd get attacked."
Claire: "Not even on a planet full of marauders?" she asked trying to poke holes in William's logic.
William: "No one comes out this far. Now, come on let's look around, try to find someone."
They walked through the facility hoping to find out why they were called here. As they ventured deeper inside the more it seemed the base was completely empty. The whole base was very dimly lit with many of the overhead lights off or flickering. It only added to the eerie atmosphere.
Claire: "This place seems really creepy..."
William: "I'll hold your hand if you're scared," he said teasingly.
Claire: "I'm not scared! But you feel it, right? Dino?"
Dino: "Yeah something is definitely wrong. I don't think there's anyone here."
William: "I'm not seeing any bodies," he said.
Dino: "I see one..." he said nervously after spotting a figure slumped against a wall.
The three of them cautiously moved towards it. William knelt down next to the corpse, avoiding the pool of blood around it, to examine it.
Claire: "Didn't you say marauders don't come out this far?"
William: "I'm not sure this was marauders. Someone or... Something tore this guy to shreds," he spoke as he observed the numerous claw marks.
Looking up he saw another similar scene a short distance away.
William: "There's another one."
Dino: "You think it's still here?" Dino asked lowering his voice in case there was something listening.
William: "I don't know but stay alert. Let's keep looking around."
After walking a bit further, they arrived at the door to a communications room.
William: "Let's go in here."
The communications room was medium sized with several monitors, consoles and chairs all around the walls.
William: "This is where they would've sent the transmission from."
Dino: "I'll run a bio scan of the base," he said moving towards a console.
Claire looked around the room.
Claire: "So what exactly were they researching here?"
William: "I think some animals. Maybe that's what happened, an animal got loose."
William then noticed a data pad on a table close to him. He picked it up and activated it.
William: "Oh, someone put journal entries on here," he said showing Claire the screen of the device.
Claire: "Maybe it'll tell us what happened."
William was already ahead of her. He began playing the audio log entries. They listened closely as the voice of a man gave details of what events occurred in and around the base.
Log: "Entry one. November 11, 2095. The base has finally finished construction and everyone is beginning to move in. Hopefully we'll be able to start our research soo-"
William skipped through the entries to find something more useful.
Log: "July 8, 2097. Research on Iapra's fauna continues. Frankly it's getting a little boring even for us scientists. Can't help but think about Earth. It'd be summer now in America, nice and warm. But here it's always just col-"
Log: "February 13, 2098. We found something interesting out in the snow, today. Some sort of robot or android."
When William heard "android" he scrunched his brow and became very attentive. He had a strong feeling the scientists had stumbled onto Iapra's Corsair probe. Perhaps it had something to do with the distress call or the bodies.
Log: "It was just lying there, it's circuits completely frozen. It looked really old and it was covered in white armor plating, though most of it had broken off. Even though it's not what we're here for, some of the others are working on repairing its data banks, in case there's anything interesting on there."
Claire: "That has to be the Corsair probe."
William: "Yeah that's what I'm thinking. There's a couple more entries, let's see what happened next."
Log: " Uh, February... 15... There... There was an attack today. W-we came across an Ugnark. It is odd because the species was believed to be extinct. This seems to be the last of its kind. We wished to study it, but it became hostile and started attacking us. There were fifteen of us here when we arrived... The Ugnark killed seven. It ran off after we were able to wound it slightly. I don't understand, the Ugnarks were peaceful creatures. What could have caused this one to become so violent? Regardless of what it has done, we intend to keep studying it. Four others have taken our only shuttle to another nearby outpost to get some help. We wish to capture the creature alive for further research."
Claire: "That sounds really bad... But it only killed seven of them, right? Where are the rest?"
William played the next log entry without replying.
William: "This is the last one."
Log: "Everyone's dead. It came back and it killed them all. There's been no word from the shuttle crew so either they just left or something happened to them as well. So it's just me now. The distress beacon has been active for days with no response. This will be the last log. I'm not sure what will happen first, my thermo pack dying or the creature returning. Either way I don't have long. But I've made peace with that..."
Claire: "That's terrible," she said sadly when the recording ended.
Before William could say anything, Dino spoke up.
Dino: "Guys, I ran that bio scan..."
Dino: "If all of the personnel are dead, there should only be three blips on the screen, ours."
William: "Oh please don't say it..."
Dino: "But there's a fourth one. And it's moving towards us. Fast..."
The three agents looked at one another with slightly terrified expressions. Then they looked at the entrance to the room.
The red blip on the screen was getting closer and closer to their location. They all clutched their guns in their hands.
William: "Get ready."
It was closer now and had almost reached them. They could hear the footsteps outside.
The door slid open and the agents took their aim.
Only to find themselves looking at a horrified scientist.
Scientist: "Don't shoot!" he said with a shaky and fearful voice.
The agents lowered their weapons with confused looks on their faces.
William: "Who are you?"
Gelder: "Dr. Lan Gelder."
Claire: "He's the one who made the log entries," she said recognizing the voice.
Gelder: "Are you the rescue party?"
William: "Yes, I'm Agent Nantucket and these are Agents Modena and McMadden."
Gelder: "Well you're too late. Everyone else has already been killed. I sent that distress signal three days ago."
Dino: "That's not possible, we got your message just this morning and came right away."
William: "Why didn't you contact the other nearby outpost?"
Gelder: "We did. They didn't respond. And considering you only just now got the transmission, perhaps there's a problem with the communications array... No matter. At least you're here now so you can get me the hell out of here."
William: "Unfortunately our ship crashed in the snow."
Claire: "You must have other transports here. It's a pretty big base."
Gelder: "There's a single speeder that seats one. Our only shuttle was taken by the others who never returned."
Dino: "So we're stuck here?"
William: "Not if I can help it. Dino, you work on bringing back communications so we can call someone for help. Dr. Gelder, are there any more thermo packs?"
Gelder: "I'm afraid the creature destroyed most of our supplies. Mine will last for just a few more hours."
William pulled out a small rectangular pad and handed it to the doctor. The device kept the user's body warm in extremely cold climates such as those of Iapra.
William: "Here's an extra."
Gelder: "Thank you," he said as he attached the pad to a slot on the back of his uniform.
William: "Now tell me about this Ugnark."
The scientist led William and Claire through the base and explained the mysterious creature while Dino worked on repairing the communications array.
Gelder: "You listened to my audio logs, correct?"
William: "Some of them."
Gelder: "The Ugnark is the last of its kind. I've no idea where it came from, it just appeared at the base one day. I don't understand what caused it to attack us. According to Iapra's biologists, it was once a peaceful race. Nomadic, they would wander in herds across the snow covered hemisphere."
Claire: "Why didn't you kill it if it was attacking you?"
Gelder: "For one, none of us had any sort of combat training. Or weapons for that matter. But also, we could not possibly have killed it. It is the last one. It's a great opportunity for scientific study."
William: "Even when it was killing you, you wanted to study it?"
Gelder: "You don't understand. Not only is this Ugnark the last one, the entire species is said to have unique regenerative or healing properties. If we were to find out how they work and use them, it could lead to several breakthroughs in medical science."
Claire: "So what happens if we find it?"
Gelder: "It could return at any second to finish us off. But please... Don't kill it. You must capture it."
William thought about it for a second. Killing it would probably be easier than capture. But if Gelder was right about the potential it held for medicine, William would have a hard choice to make, were they to see it again.
However, this creature was not the only strange thing here.
Claire: "So what's the deal with that robot you found?"
William smiled when she asked exactly what he was thinking about.
Gelder: "Oh... Yes, well it's just junk. It gave some of the others something to mess around with. We were here to study animal life but there's hardly anything that survives here, other than that Ugnark."
William: "I'd like to see it."
Gelder: "Um... Well I suppose since we will be here awhile, you can have a look. But as I said, it's just junk."
William: "I've got a feeling it might be something more, Doctor."
Gelder showed them the room where they kept the robot. It was laid out on a table and connected by wires to a few different systems.
William recognized it immediately and his suspicions were confirmed. It was another Corsair probe. However this one was considerably more damaged than the other he had seen. It also sported some blue markings unlike the other ones that were all white.
Claire: "Is it the probe?"
Gelder: "Sorry, did you say probe?"
William: "Over a hundred years ago, androids like this one were put on every planet in this System by a corporation. They were supposed to collect data but instead they all became violent towards non-machines because of bugs in their software. Looks like you guys found Iapra's android."
Claire: "Didn't Iapra have two, one for each hemisphere?"
William: "You're right. This must be the one for the snowy side."
Gelder: "That's very interesting what you're saying but I don't see how it's relevant at the moment."
Claire: "Will's sort of made it his personal mission to destroy all of them."
Gelder: "Well I don't think you'll need to bother with this one."
William: "Guess not... Let's see how Dino's doing."
William took out his communicator to contact his friend but had a hard time getting his device to work.
Gelder: "Your communicators won't work without the array fixed."
William: "We have to walk all the way back there?"
Gelder: "No, just use the intercom," he said showing them a small unit on the wall.
William went towards it and pressed the button to activate it.
William: "Dino Modena please report to the principal's office for immediate disciplinary action."
Dino: "What is it, Will?" he asked from the other end.
William: "Come get your spanking, big boy."
Dr. Gelder looked at Claire with a confused look.
Gelder: "Are they always this... Professional?"
Claire: "Unfortunately, yes."
William: "How are the repairs going? I'm trying to get out of here soon."
Dino: "Not so good to be honest. I can't get into the system. It's almost like... Something's hacking it."
William threw a suspicious glance at the android on the table. It was deactivated, it couldn't be possible. Could it? He then looked back at the intercom, keeping his finger on the button.
William: "You said something's hacking it?"
Dino: "I don't know what or who but I think so. And not just the comms, a lot of the base's systems went down because of it, including the heating."
William: "Could it be the android?"
Dino: "You found it?"
William: "Yeah but it looks destroyed."
Dino: "There might be some parts still working inside it, a processor still running or something. It could be doing this."
William: "Alright, come back here and we'll figure it out."
Gelder stared at William with a frustrated look.
Gelder: "You're wasting time with that android when the Ugnark could be back at any second. We need to figure out a way to either capture the creature or get out of here."
William: I don't see the Ugnark here or a way to leave, so I'm dealing with this thing which is also a very dangerous problem. If it's hacking your base, Doctor, it means it's not completely destroyed."
Soon Dino entered the room and immediately noticed the others standing around the android.
Dino: "Hey, guys. Is that it?"
William: "Yeah. I don't know how it's still working."
William lifted up the android's head unit and twisted it around a little. The slight touch seemed to have activated something else. The android started emitting a very faint but still unpleasant sound.
Claire: "What is that?" she asked cringing from the noise.
William: "I don't know how to turn it off," he said continuing to try and move different parts on the robot.
Dino went towards the consoles it was hooked up to and pulled a few different levers and pressed a few different switches. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually the sound stopped, however.
William: "How'd you get it to stop?" William asked Dino.
Dino: "I don't think I did anything..."
Gelder: "I've heard that sound before. Every time the android made that sound, the creature came..."
They all looked at each other worriedly.
A couple of miles away the Ugnark rested in its cave made of ice. Around it were some remains of the outpost scientists it had taken. As soon as it heard the noise it clapped its hands over its ears to block it out. The noise was causing a great deal of pain to the creature. It let out a deafening roar before it barreled out of the cave and ran. Towards the outpost.
Gelder: "It's coming. The creature."
Claire: "How do you know?"
Gelder: "Both times the creature attacked, the android made that sound. It can't be a coincidence. I believe the frequency hurts the Ugnark's ears."
William: "Is that why it went berserk?"
Gelder: "A most logical conclusion."
Dino: "What do we do?"
Gelder: "It must be captured alive."
William: "It's dangerous, Doctor."
Gelder: "But it's useful! Think of the medicine it could help make. The medicine that could save countless lives!"
Dino: "How do we even capture it?"
Gelder: "Please, you must try. It's the last of its kind! It doesn't mean to be hostile, it's the android's noise that provokes it."
Capture or kill? Neither would be easy tasks but it was a decision they'd have to make soon if the creature was indeed on its way.
William looked at his girlfriend for help.
Claire: "It's not its fault. It's the noise."
Dino: "What would we even do if we managed to capture it, huh? We're stuck here ourselves. We couldn't even take it somewhere."
Dino's statement made sense to William. Their current goal was to survive. They were more or less stranded here after all. It wasn't the time to worry about the capture of a creature.
William: "We have to survive. I don't see any way we can save that creature and ourselves. I'm sorry, Doctor."
He then looked at Claire with apologetic eyes. He could tell she too was somewhat disappointed albeit not as much as the Doctor.
Gelder: "No! You would cause the extinction of a unique species."
William: "It's another thing I'll have to live with..."
The four of them went to the main entrance of the base. The large doors leading inside had already been torn down by the creature from its previous attacks, but were now being held up from a meager attempt at repairs.
Everyone crouched behind some crates they had positioned for defense. The agents aimed their guns at the door, waiting for the Ugnark. Dr. Gelder stood close to them, not quite sure what to do.
Chills ran down William's spine. He had to put both hands on his gun to stop it from shaking. Even with his thermo pack set to the highest setting, it was freezing. Another challenge.
Minutes passed in absolute silence.
And then it came hurtling through the blast doors with incredible speed.
It was so fast, it was able to avoid most of the agents' bullets. The creature was smaller than William had expected, about eight or nine feet in height with blue and white fur. Still it was intimidating enough.
The Ugnark swatted Dino into a wall with great strength before moving towards Doctor Gelder. A bullet from Claire's gun grazed the creature's shoulder which caused it to turn around in anger.
In an attempt to keep it away from her, William fired off several rounds at it. A few bullets pierced the creature's skin but didn't seem to do much damage. It was obviously very resilient. It whacked him across the face making him fall to the ground and let go of his gun.
The Ugnark went again towards the scientist who cowered in fear against a wall. It raised its arm and thrust its claws into Dr. Gelder's abdomen. The scientist let out a painful shriek before collapsing. He was dead.
As Dino tried to pick himself up, the creature kicked him back down. It then lifted up Claire and slammed her into the wall. She kicked and screamed against it but it merely growled in her face.
William got up and looked at Claire in trouble. It was up to him to save his friends. He pulled out a second gun which was rather oddly shaped and pointed it at the Ugnark. A very large bullet rocketed out and shot through the air before hitting the creature. It dropped Claire and fell down, dying.
William moved to the creature and sat down beside it. It made some helpless purring sounds as it stared at William with sad eyes.
William: "I'm sorry," he said softly as he put his hand on its head.
Something made him feel the creature was relieved its time was ending. It was the last one and it was alone, so alone.
The Ugnark closed its eyes for the last time. William had just killed off a once great species. It was not entirely the creature's fault, the destruction it had caused. The android's noise had caused it to go crazy. It was a scared and confused animal.
William sighed. They were not able to save any of the base's crew. They may not be able to save even themselves now.
Claire: "What now?"
William: "Let's see what's in the hangar."
They entered the small hangar on the other side of the base. Their faces fell after they saw what was inside.
Dino: "One speeder, just like Gelder said."
William: "One of us can use it to get to the other outpost and then bring a ship back for who stayed."
Claire: "So who's gonna go?"
William: "It'll take just under an hour to reach the base. What are your thermo pack levels?
Dino: "I have forty-three minutes."
Claire: "I have thirty."
William: "Thirty-five. Dino, you should go since you have the most time."
Dino: "What about you guys?"
William: "We'll be fine. If you hurry."
Dino gave a soft smile before getting on the speeder.
Dino: "Good luck," he said turning to the couple.
William: "You too."
William and Claire stood in the middle of the empty hangar after Dino sped off.
Claire: "Whoo! It is freezing," she said shivering and rubbing her arms.
William: "Yeah the hangar doors let in a slight draft... Plus our packs are dying. Let's try to find some blankets."
After retrieving all the blankets they could find, they huddled together in a corner in the hangar waiting for their friend to return with help. Even though they were indoors, the temperature was far too low. The outpost's lack of heating as well as the torn down walls from the Ugnark's attacks, only made matters worse. Dino would need to hurry.
William: "Are you okay?"
Claire: "Yeah, just cold. Are you okay?"
William: "I'm always okay."
Claire: "You had to kill it. There was no way to save it."
William: "I know. I'm no stranger to murder, Claire."
Claire: "Yeah but this was the last one... The whole species is gone now. And all that medical potential is gone too..."
William: "Yeah, that's not really helping."
Claire: "Right. S-sorry," she said shivering very hard now.
William: "Dino will come back soon, just hang in there."
Claire: "I l-lied about still having time. My thermo pack b-broke during the fight..."
William: "What? So all this time you-"
He stopped as she smiled sheepishly. His next decision was not hard to make. He reached for his own pack on his back and took it out.
Claire: "What are you doing? Stop!"
She tried to move away but William wasn't having it. He pulled her closer to him and snapped the pack into her slot.
He smiled while she looked a little upset.
Claire: "Now you're gonna be cold."
William: "Oh, I guess you're right," he said pretending to not have realized.
Claire: "Go get another pack."
William: "There aren't anymore."
Claire: "That was honestly pointless."
William: "Claire, I love you. And I would do anything for you."
Claire: "I love you too," she said smiling.
Meanwhile Dino was trying his best to get to the other outpost. He gunned the speeder over the icy terrain but even at max speed, it was taking too long to get there. A while ago he had passed the shuttle that had left Gelder's outpost, crashed in the snow with the scientists frozen outside. He hoped his fate would not be the same as theirs.
Back in the base, the other two continued to wait. Claire rested her head on William's shoulder. Their patience was wearing thin. Every passing minute felt longer than normal. It was especially worse for William without a thermo pack. But there was nothing else they could do.
Suddenly they began hearing noises from a nearby section of the base. It sounded like metal hitting against metal.
William: "You hear that? Sounds like footsteps..."
Claire: "The android?"
William: "It can't be. Besides its processor, nothing else works."
Claire: "But something's coming, the footsteps are getting louder... Do you have your gun?"
William: "I have this," he said showing her his second oddly shaped pistol. "Birthday present from Q to use against androids. It shoots explosive, armor piercing rounds. He calls it the Dragon Blaster. Only holds two rounds, though, and I already used one."
Claire: "Better than nothing."
The two waited nervously for whatever was coming. William held on tightly to the Dragon Blaster under their blankets. The situation of waiting for what was coming was too familiar today. But considering the agents' weakened state, hopefully it was not something they couldn't handle.
A door to the hangar slid open revealing the android, now in much better condition. But this wasn't the same android as before. The first one had blue markings on it, this one had orange ones.
The agents stayed on the ground too tired and too cold to make any moves. Claire looked at William.
Claire: "This one looks different."
William: "It's from the desert."
Claire: "What do we do?"
William: "Just wait for it to come closer."
The android detected the two life forms and began moving towards them slowly. It then stood still in front of them, not making any moves. William read the designation on its chest plate. "Cissoid of Diocles"
Cissoid: "Scanning... Scanning... Vital signs dropping..."
William: "Why have you come here?"
Cissoid: "Distress signal was received from companion unit."
Claire: "The noise that the other one was making," she whispered in realization.
William: "Do you know who I am?" he asked out of curiosity.
Cissoid: "Accessing Cloud network... Identity confirmed. You are William Nantucket, Bringer of Salvation."
William: "You know the prophecy?"
Cissoid: "I know many prophecies. All data collected from other planetary probe units is uploaded to the Cloud. The Scourge is one example."
William: "What is The S-Scourge.."
Cissoid: "The Scourge is a being that will come from the depths of space to a civilized system and lay waste to everything in its path. It will break a thousand hearts to heal its own."
William: "Sounds s-scary..."
Cissoid: "It is coming. When lightning strikes twice."
William: "Very scary."
Claire: "Honestly just shoot it already."
William wanted to see how long he could keep this going. So far the android was showing no hostility but that could change at any second.
William: "T-tell me, Mr. Cissoid, what's your primary objective?"
Cissoid: "Primary objective is disposal of sentient beings refusing to evolve from primitive states. This includes Humans, Aquaggens, Cylians, Wolfen, Val-"
William: "Okay, good talk," he said as he raised the Dragon Blaster slightly and pulled the trigger.
It launched its last bullet right at the android's head unit and exploded on impact. The android fell on its back, destroyed.
William let out a groan, dropped the gun, and fell on his side.
I think this episode could've been a lot better if I didn't have to show the android stuff but this was kind of my only opportunity to show the Iapra androids.
I thought of a couple different ways to do this story including having more characters that would get picked off by the creature or even having the creature be a hallucination of Gelder who had gone crazy after years of being alone... But this was what kept it somewhat shorter, fit the androids in, and also showed a "tough choice". Again I could've made that touch choice better as well but it had to go in this episode so......
Yeah, this is a great episode indeed! Loved the 'Alien' vibe you had going on, and the Iapra probes were pretty neat as well. I've got to agree with R.K. though, I feel a few more people could've been picked off, and the rescue drawn out a little bit more than it was, but still a solid episode. Good stuff mate!
Good one! I think that the way you merged the creature story and the android stories together worked quite well! Some elements felt a little rushed and I felt like there should have been more people who got picked off, but overall, very nice! Your points have been added!