Aljek looked toward the replay button. The sensor recognized his intent and began the transmission from the beginning. A lone man stood there, in a worn environment suit. His head was shaved, in the fashion of Jericho officers, revealing an extensive array of implants. He had clearly seen some recent action, his face bruised and his lip split. Behind him could be seen the rose-tinted matte white walls typical of Jericho captains’ quarters. A bookcase made of real wood loomed above his left shoulder, packed with real books.
“This is Sherm Vostrot, Captain of the Winter Breath. We encountered the disruptive signal, and sustained some damage to our propulsion systems in the ensuing chaos. We have encountered light resistance from unknown attackers but have easily repelled the assaults. Not only have we found success in combat, we have even managed to take some of these aggressors mostly intact for examination. I demand immediate reinforcements in the Tangamine Sector, Delta quadrant. My exact coordinates are embedded. I cannot stress the import of my cargo. Send as many as you can to retrieve us. Bartle watch over me.”
The transmission ended there. Aljek began it again. He had been watching it repeatedly for two hours now. Being a comms officer, he had been one of the first to see it, though no doubt the message would be decrypted and seen not only by his own superiors, but also by Federation and Empire Intelligence. No doubt they would all be eager to lay their hands on that cargo. He strongly suspected that there would be more than one expedition sent immediately to the Tangamine Sector.
Terrifyingly, his suspicions were nothing compared to what he knew. He replayed the video again, staring at the face of Captain Sherm Vostrot, his father. The man who had brought him from his rebellious youth into the glorious arms of the Jericho faith and Bartle’s Truth. The man who had taught him to pilot racing yachts in their far too infrequent leaves. He watched the video, a vista of madness and horror. The man he stared at bore his father’s face. Aljek could see that his father’s eyes were dead, like glass beads. His father was no more. Whatever had taken his father was not yet content. Whatever had taken him hungered for more. He would be unable to stop any of the many armed ships being sent to doom and whatever malefic conversion had been visited upon his own father and Bartle knew how many others.