Icarus: Epilogue – August 9th, 2143 Subjective/August 9th, 2145 Objective

August 9th, 2143 Subjective/August 9th, 2145 Objective

AFTER ACTION REPORT #452
SYSTEM REPORTING: ALPHA CENTAURI; PRIMARY ALPHA
COMMAND: CSS PERSHING, 4TH FLEET
CO: 06 CPT KILLIAN, JAMES

The wreck discovered orbiting Alpha Centauri’s dwarf planet EISIN B is confirmed to be the North American Expeditionary Science Vessel Icarus. Presumed lost over fifty years ago, rediscovering the wreck will shed some light on the NAEF’s Time-Vortex technology. Following the Collapse, much of it was lost.

It appears that the ship collided with an asteroid approximately the size of a human fist at roughly one-third the speed of light. A good chunk of the forward hull was ripped away by the force of the collision. My tech officer also reports that the ship was outfitted with a type of ablative armor, though most of it seems to have been burned away.

Three crew members were recovered from the wreck, all three remarkably well preserved. They all appeared to have died of exposure, though tests will be run once we return to Earth. We simply do not have the facilities aboard the Pershing to examine them here. In the meantime they’ll be put in cryo freeze for the return trip.

We also recovered a portable computer terminal. It was found on one of the less preserved bodies and exposure has all but destroyed it. Perhaps something will be recoverable, though the technology is rather ancient. Our IT department will have a field day with it I’m sure.

For now the Pershing will be returning to Earth immediately. Once she hears about this, we’ll be made to come straight home anyway. I hope they can discover what made the Icarus operation such a failure. From what I hear, they fell off the grid the moment they went into the Vortex. Poor bastards.

Well, at least now their families might get some closure after all these years. Most have forgotten perhaps but if I know Sarah… well she won’t. Fifty years and she finally convinced the Council to send a ship here.

I’d love to hear her story some day. Seventy and can still boss around a Confed Council, no wonder she never married.

THE END

Icarus – May 1st, 2099

May 1st, 2099

How do you say goodbye to life? As it turns out, you do it as quickly as possible. My computer’s power is all but gone and I have just enough to seal away one last entry. It will be encoded and preserved as best I can, though it won’t matter. This is for me, for both of us for there are two of us: the man I was and the creature I will be.

I am hours away from the radiation kill zone around Alpha Centauri’s primary star. There is a technical name for it but I don’t remember what it is. Once the Icarus crosses that line, I will die. The ablative armor on the ship’s hull will burn away like paper thrust into a bonfire. There is the possibility of being struck by a meteorite, there’s a couple million out there, circling the planets. I didn’t aim the ship to avoid them.

Five minutes. Jesus this isn’t even going to be read. Mom, dad, you won’t even know what happened to me. Sarah? Christ you haven’t talked to me in years, a decade. It’s been a decade since I left Earth, it just doesn’t feel that way.

I came out here to get away from everything, to leave all my pain and my regrets behind. They were beasts, raging at the doors of my sanity. Out here, I thought I’d change. I was too afraid to be happy, to be the man I wanted to be so desperately. Sarah wanted me to be that man, helped and urged me to change but I wouldn’t listen.

I hear her voice, calling me. Finally. I’ve waited so long to come back. It’s the madness, the creature inside me that’s talking but I don’t care. I see a door ahead of me and it leads back to our old apartment. Inside, she’s waiting for me, looking young and beautiful. She’s beckoning and sunlight is turning her short hair to gold and white. Oh, God, if you could only see what I see.

Icarus – April 30th, 2099

April 30th, 2099

What have I done? Sarah will not come to me! She stands on the other side of the sealed doors and turns her back on me! Sarah, oh Sarah, why? I… what have I done to the controls? Why are they broken? What have I done?

The colors are all wrong in here. I must write it down, that’s it. If I write it down, it will be right again. It must be why there are so many locked entries before this. Why are they locked? Why can’t I read my own entries?

She’s looking at me, frowning, pointing. Why? What is she so upset? No! No… please, no…

Icarus – April 29th, 2099

April 29th, 2099

There is nothing brave about me. You need only look back at my previous entries to understand that, but there is something inside me besides fear. These past few days I’ve been living in a dream, following Sarah down this rabbit hole to my destruction. I loved her, more than I ever knew. She urged me to leave my desk job behind, to follow my dream and write my book. I was too scared then.

But now, in this I’ve found a kind of a strength. Here, at the end of everything, beyond the reach of mankind, I’ve found the courage to do one last thing. Sarah showed me how to steer the ship, to turn it toward the Time-Vortex Tunnel. She wants me to come home, but I’m following another dream.

All of the infected bodies and all of my crewmates are still aboard, waiting for me. They will wait until I come out and join them. Together we are poised to return to Earth and spread. I won’t allow that to happen.

We’re going to visit Alpha Centauri’s primary star. I’ve set it to hard burn and locked myself out, destroyed the panels with a wrench. It’s too late to be scared or feel sorry for myself. We’re all going to burn, flying so close to the star that we incinerate into flecks of dust.

Now I can close my eyes and let her come to me and I will accept her with open arms.

Icarus – April 26th (approximate), 2099

April 26th (approximate), 2099

Oh Jesus. Oh my God, what have I done? I let them in while they were asleep and then I… I just left. Went to the engine rooms and sealed myself in. Why am I not dead? Why did the others leave me alone?

I can’t get that song out of my head. It’s louder, pounding inside like a migraine. I hear it in the walls, feel it through the floor and it comes with each beat of my pulse. Is that blood? I’m bleeding from somewhere, my fingernails, my ears… where is it all coming from?

They’re banging on the door, screaming my name. Is that my name? Is that how it sounds? Sarah, you never called me that. You always called me Will, not traitor. Is that what I am? Did I do this? I can’t hear myself think anymore, all I hear is that song. One of the words makes sense to me now.

Brother.

Icarus – April 25th (approximate), 2099

April 25th (approximate), 2099

It’s been fourteen hours since they left. That is a very long time to be gone. The sounds have gotten louder, more insistent. I can’t sleep. How long has it been since I slept? I’m too afraid to close my eyes, too afraid to keep them open too. What is that? No one else seems to hear it? Some kind of… song.

It’s very faint, like a note carried on a breeze. If I turn to hear it better, it’s gone. I hear it clearly when I try not to think and shut the world away. There are no words, just a consistent low melody. Is it an instrument or is someone humming? I can almost make it out. It seems so familiar.

I’ve asked Bree and Rich but they don’t hear it. How can they not hear that? There it is again. The same notes. It’s a song, I know it is. Who’s playing it? Has Kate and Alex gotten cut off? Is this how they’re trying to communicate?

We need to do something. They’ve been gone too long. The others are banging on the walls now, screeching so loud I can hardly hear myself think. There’s something else too, a kind of rattling in the floor. Are they coming through? Oh God, what is that sound?

It’s that song, playing loud and clear.

Icarus – April 24th (approximate), 2099

April 24th (approximate), 2099   

Sarah comes to me constantly now, trying to reach me and bring me back. I long to touch her, but she is always just out of reach as if insubstantial. She is a phantasm, nothing but mist upon my fingers. I find myself calling out to her, crawling after her but hands drag me back. They are frantic hands and they are real.

Alex is real and so are the other three. Rich sits silent against the wall and stares for hours at nothing. Kate talks to us about how to get to the bridge and send for help. We can use the laser system to route power and serve as an antenna, but Rich won’t respond. She shakes him and he just stares.

He lost his partner, everyone has but Alex and Bree. They sit together, holding one another. When I am not seeing Sarah, I watch them. Is that what it should look like? Is that how love, how life, is supposed to be? I watch but avoid thinking of Jennie, of how we sat together and never touched.

#

I slept for a few hours and feel more lucid. There is something stale about the air I didn’t notice before. It’s got a fetid smell in it as well, like blood left to pool too long. The others, the ones beyond the door, have been quiet lately. Kate thinks it’s time to try her plan.

She and Alex are going to climb through the maintenance tunnels. Without gravity they shouldn’t have too much trouble, but I can’t shake this feeling of anxiety that grows with every passing second. Only writing seems to keep me calm.

Now as I sit with Rich and Bree, we wait and pray.

Icarus – April 20th, 2099

April 20th, 2099

It’s been three days since I’ve slept. It’s so quiet. The ship is so very, very quiet now. Except for the screaming of course. I can still hear it, far away down the pressure tube, back in Recreation. Oh God, Jennie. I’m sorry. You weren’t turned yet but I saw the black marks, the tumors that were growing. I’m sorry. We had to seal it off.

Didn’t we?

I don’t know what we could have done. Anne turned quickly, and then Evan wasn’t long after. The door wasn’t going to hold, we needed to seal off the deck. You were infected by it. You were. Those were tumors, Alex said so. Weren’t the eyes blackening?

Your eyes were always so dark, almost black to begin with. The whites were darkening though, they had to be. You would have been one of them, you would have I know it. It was only right, we had to save the ship, save the rest of us. You were gone, Jennie. Gone. Forgive me okay? I’m sorry.

Engineering is a dark place full of little blinking lights and so very little sound. We should go further back, to the engine rooms just so I can hear them hum. Block out the sound of your screaming.

What are we going to do now? Kate thinks she has a plan but what chance do we have against you, all of you? It’s all wrong, so very wrong. This isn’t what they said it would be. It was supposed to be an adventure. I was supposed to find myself, become something stronger.

Am I going to die out here instead?

Icarus – April 18th, 2099

~>ICARUS COMMSAT INTERFACE INITIALIZED 04.18.2099

~>INPUT PROTOCOL

>input.secure.protocol 99157B98

~>CHANNEL OPEN

>Evacuation needed# Engines disabled# Bridge disabled# 5 dead# Coordinates-1A.B+23.C+5#

>Passcode: ********

~>SENDING…

~>UPLINK FAILED::ERROR RESPONSE FROM ANTENNAE 1 2 3

~>SHUTTING DOWN

Icarus – April 17th, 2099

April 17th, 2099

Anne is dead but we don’t know how long she’ll stay dead. I don’t know what to say, I can’t think straight. Nothing I write will make this whole thing make sense. She just went crazy and attacked her, biting and clawing at her.

After, we watched the whole thing on the cameras. When it happened, Anne was just there with Kira’s body in Medical, talking to her like she was still alive. I felt for her, it was the saddest thing I’ve seen in a while.

When it happened, there was no warning. Kira’s body jerked and suddenly she was up and screaming, biting at Anne’s face and shoulders, her fingers flailing, tearing. The worst of it was the blood, but it wasn’t Anne’s. It came from Kira’s mouth or eyes, we couldn’t tell.

Evan and Jennie both went in when they heard the Anne’s screams. They couldn’t have known what they were walking into. They managed to get Kira away from her but she turned on them too. Jennie has a good gash on her cheek and Evan was bitten so bad we almost lost him right then. Kate shot her, right in the head.

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but she didn’t die. We thought it was over, the damn flechettes took half her face off. They’re wood, made to splinter against the Icarus’s hull rather than punch a whole through, but at that range it should have killed her. It didn’t and Kate just managed to pull Evan and Jennie out before she was up and screaming again. Kate locked and sealed Medical from the outside and we set up the same thing we’d done with Kate’s room. She’s still in there, banging on the door and wailing like a damn banshee. I can’t shut it out.

Jennie and Evan are in Quarantine and Alex is doing what he can for them but Kira and Anne were the medical people. They’re both restrained too, in case what happened to Kira happens to them.

We need to get out of here.