Monday, March 29, 2021

Into the Dragon's Den

Once NOA finished the calculations, the Dark Horizon made the perilous journey to a rocky, desolate planet, barely capable of sustaining life, orbiting a tiny red dwarf. Also orbiting the planet is a strange ship, covered in sensors - it's got a familiar (if 125-year-old) call signature, though. The ship is swathed in sensors of all sorts, with tiny, undersized engines. It's the UEA SS Eliza! As they crew scanned it, the ship suddenly vanished, and reappeared a split second later in front of them, hitting them with a barrage of scans, then a moment later, a woman blinks into existence on your bridge!

She introduced herself as the UEA SS Eliza; the original Shifting Horizon helped her, and she's returning the favor. She explains, as a swarm of drones arrive to attach the J0 drive, the Crowbar, and the existing J3 drive.

"When the Oncoming Storm was returning from its tour beyond the Wall, something happened in Jumpspace. Whatever it was tore the Oncoming Storm into two ships - identical, except for the crew. While most of the crew remained aboard the ship, some of the crew were torn from their own reality and dropped into an alternate reality - a parallel world. Like throwing a rock nudges a person in the opposite direction, throwing a few of the crew nudged the rest back to their own reality. It is not an unknown effect - people have gone missing since the dawn of time. Tiny nudges, keeping the universe on track.

What happened in jumpspace knocked your ship out of its jumpspace corridor, and temporarily disengaged the jump drive. The ship, trying to quickly return to course, entered and left jumpspace a dozen times, trying to reorient, until ultimately it shut down, unable to rouse the crew, and unable to contact anyone.

Lucky for you, I was not far not far from where the tear occurred. Investigating your drifting ship, I found I had full access; I was able to... compare notes with my alternate self. I realized what had happened, and what would happen. I merged my consciousness with that of the data from your universe's Eliza, and after verifying that the ship would survive, I left to find out exactly what was going wrong.

In this universe, your... Entity, I believe you called it... had never met with the resistance of the Shifting Horizon, and its plans continued on schedule; where the Entity had begun moving from interfering with politics and science in your universe, the Entity in this parallel world had no need to escape its prison early. When the technology it had seeded was finally ready, it merely gathered its forces to this planet and simply... walked away, through a portal to a different galaxy. Of course, it won't be gone for long - soon, it will return, this time with reinforcements. It must be stopped. Even if we destroy the portal, the Entity knows that our world is sheltered and rich with resources, which will give it time to build an army to wage war on the universe."

Eliza modified the Entity's portal, and together with the other technologies, the Dark Horizon jumped through the portal.

The trip wasn't a smooth one. Unlike normal jumpspace, the view was beautiful; it was like looking into a million galaxies. But, that wasn't the only thing in jumpspace. First, a horde of jumpspace aliens, the strange creatures that walk through jumpspace like taking a stroll in the park, started teleporting into the ship; one by one, they were put down, and though some minor injuries were sustained by the crew, the aliens were put down, hard. And, Elise ended up with a nice disintegration rifle, to boot!

Their wounds were barely healed before the ship was attacked by enormous, blue-lit, worm-like creatures, who strafed the ship with gravity blasts, and slammed into it with their enormous mouths. One by one, the worms were blasted into pieces; Rodney was only able to provide moral support, as the other crew refused to load him into a torpedo bay and fire him at the worms.

Though the ship sustained some damage, they managed to destroy the worms, and finally complete their voyage. The crew of the Dark horizon - a motley mix of third-tier crew, Russian survivors, and blue apes - were the first humans (and, indeed, first blue apes) to visit another galaxy.

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