Laughter in the dark - A megagame report on Event Horizon (Part 1)
Seumas Bates played Event Horizon hosted by Horizon Megagames and designed by Johan Olofsson in London, UK recently. The first part of his in-character megagame report sees Seumas slightly losing the plot. What will he do? Read on to find out…
Item No: 276424436423762561596236338562598365264
Object Description: Diary pages belonging to Blackwater One crewmember and Event Horizon architect [REDACTED] (codename ‘Crimson Water’).
Recovered from the wreck of the Event Horizon in the aftermath of the rescue mission of 14/09/2047.
For the past six years they’ve had me on ‘Gardening Leave’ which is corporate wank-speak for ‘you’re a fucking liability but we still hold your leash’. Blackwater bastards. It’s probably justified though let’s be honest, working on that damned ship took its toll on me. It should’ve been the high-point to my career, my crowning fucking glory but what can I remember of the plans? A few broad strokes of room and corridor layout? Nothing! That’s what! WHY can’t I remember anything though?! It’s like a wall in my mind where the memories should be! As if someone has reached into my consciousness and placed a veil over that part of my life.
But what if it wasn’t someONE, but someTHING? What if…WHAT IF the Event Horizon really DID make it to Alpha Centauri like we’d planned? What if something alien was waiting there for it? Something not of our world? I’d always wondered at the possibility of alien life, ever since I was a boy, but when the Horizon vanished a certainty formed in my mind that we humans were not alone, and were not all that we could be. That only by reaching out and touching the great beyond could we ever TRULY advance ourselves and fulfil our destiny.
Ironically enough I did spend most of my ‘Gardening Leave’ in my shed beyond the tangle of weeds that threatens to engulf my small house. Just before they revoked my security clearance, I’d managed to convince a buddy of mine to help me hack into the BlackWater xeno-research department and download every scrap of data and theory they had on extra-terrestrials. After setting up a laboratory at the bottom of my garden I’d managed, after years of feverish work, to synthesize three tiny, unearthly life-forms. I suppose a philistine might call them ‘parasites’, but to me they are the beautiful, perfect angels that would herald the next step on the path of human ascendancy.
Just as my research was completed, vindication arrived! The Event Horizon had mysteriously re-appeared! Surely this could not be a coincidence! When the call from Blackwater came sending me on the mission to investigate the ship I gladly agreed, and with me I took three vials containing a clear, water-like substance, and the vision for a new human being, a new human soul.
We’ve been travelling with the rescue fleet for long enough for me to feel comfortable putting my plan to my fellow Blackwater shipmates, the other lead architect of the Event Horizon among them. Blackwater had instructed us to recover all proprietary information from the ship and bring it home, so my suggestion was that we tell the other crews that a space-born virus had been detected on board, one that only we were equipped to the deal with. The captain seemed to approve of this deception, and suggested we claim that the alien virus has somehow infected the ships data cores rendering them highly contagious.
It’s been agreed that we will divide into two teams of an architect and an engineer each, with one team taking our USSF Broadsword’s mercenary escort to secure the data banks, while the other (my task) was to infiltrate the African Union’s expert search and rescue team aboard the ARMC Mawu and locate and contain any survivors.
Of course, for me this is all so much static noise. The main appeal with attaching myself to a group of well-meaning humanitarians rather than some hyper-violent and well-trained soldiers should be obvious to anyone who has tried to advance human consciousness by secretly infecting people with lethal parasites while investigating a mysteriously derelict spaceship.
Although it did take a little back-and-forth the XO of the Mawu and their scientific team appeared to lap-up my nonsense sob-story about ‘purely being here to support the fleet’ and that I was ‘simply anxious to rescue as many survivors as possible and undo any damage Blackwater might have caused’. They were no match for my singular, unique intellect and it helps that good people are usually total suckers. Crucially they also appeared to believe the horseshit I was spreading about the highly contagious virus to be found on the ship, and they seemed pleased to have me along, given how much I seemed to know about it. Getting TO the Mawu once we’d docked on the Horizon was going to be tricky however and would require a lengthy EVA by myself and the engineer to get to them.
The docking clamps engaged, we suited up, and we began our lengthy glide across the surface of the Horizon, with the ship’s dark hull glistening beside me, like some glorious, titanic midnight serpent. The stars ‘above’ the ship ‘below’ and the vast, silent nothingness all around, called to me. I decided to call back and started singing David Bowie’s ‘Rocket Man’ as loud as I could into our open comm-system. I think my engineering buddy really liked it because he kept shouting something at me, but I was too engrossed in the experience to notice. Finally, after several loops of the song and numerous improvised verses we reached the African Union vessel and took our first steps aboard the Event Horizon.
Over the next several hours Blackwater and the Mawu crew worked very closely together restoring power to this section of the front of the ship, locating survivors, and evacuating them to (relative) safety. My personal plan was to slowly build trust with our new ‘friends’ to such an extent that they saw me as part of their team.
Finally, at what I hoped was an opportune moment I offered their XO one of the three ‘vaccines’ I was carrying to protect him from exposure to the virus I had lied about earlier. He was fairly sceptical at first, but after much deliberation and several long conversations with his scientists he declared that he really wanted to like me, and hoped I was someone he could trust. WHAT AN IDIOT! He took into his hand one of my vials of clear water-like liquid and drank the contents in one swig.
SUCCESS! One of my parasites had found a host! Even if I could not find a willing subject for my others this one trusting fool would suffice as a test laboratory. Just at that moment however, a Chinese engineer came running out of the darkness and approached me looking to exchange intel. In short order I explained about the dangers of this fictional virus and offered him one of my vaccines. Quite bewilderingly, he accepted and drank it without a second thought! Why had I been wasting my time with the African Union?! Clearly the crew of the Zirong were MUCH more malleable! One lives and learns, but the main thing is that TWO parasites have now found hosts.
As we began to extract another survivor a haggard and gravely injured UN Security Officer staggered into our section of the ship, bleeding and gasping. He explained to the shocked Mawu crew that his team had been attacked by clawed creatures, that one of his comrades had been infected by a parasite of some sort (WHAT?! Not one of mine!) and he begged us to return with him to save them.
The XO stepped forward jaw clenched and pose heroic. He ordered the majority of his crew to stay and complete rescue operations in the front of the ship while himself and one of the Mawu’s scientists would accompany the UN Officer to rescue his friend. Unwilling to let my primary test subject out of my sight I also declared my altruistic motivations for helping the UN and volunteered too. I didn’t for one moment believe such a grizzled and broken specimen would have had the majesty of the cosmos revealed to them with a GENUINE first contact with alien life, but I was still curious to discover the truth.
So, we set off – the Fighter leading the Paladin, the Cleric, and myself: the supreme hero and future glorious architect of the new human race. These companions of mine would one day tell their grandchildren they walked in my presence. Well, two of them will, I’m fairly certain the XO will soon be dead.
The middle section of the ship was the part that I had designed, and it was currently empty of other crews. The four of us crept forward through the darkness keeping a close watch for these supposed shadowy creatures who had attacked the UN veteran.
The farther we moved into the dark, metallic centre of the ship, the more the isolation and silence crushed down upon us, the more I felt at home. I sense something here. In the silence. In the darkness. In the metal. Something is trying to reach out to me, something just beyond my hearing. Something alien.
We entered a new corridor and stopped short. The UN Officer was shining his torch across a section of the wall and bulkhead but looking back at us. I stepped forward but I could already see clearly multiple gash marks and slashes taken straight across the metal. As if claws of incredible power had rent through steal like it was paper. He moved his torch and beyond the claws we could see crimson arcs of years-old dried blood splashed across the walls and ceiling, while spent bullet casings covered the floor. A battle had taken place here.
The Mawu XO’s voice shook slightly as he demanded more information. The UN Officer, a veteran of a dozen wars, had seen several such sights since entering the Horizon, and admitted his own terror as he had been chased this way by shrieking, giggling phantasmagoria. Alone in the darkness he had been caught, just as the Horizon’s original crew had been, and mauled by grotesque, half-seen horrors with wicked claws at the end of twisted, mottled arms. But these malformed limbs were attached to the perverted bodies of half-transparent humans wearing the Event Horizon’s crew uniform.
The three of them seemed to huddle together as this story was relayed and peered out into the blackness beyond the reach of our torches; like the children they were. I on the other hand barely managed to contain my glee, and only a rapid mute of our comm-channel prevented them hearing my excited giggling. THIS was why I was here! My destiny unfurled before me, and no cost was too great, no river of blood too wide for me to reach it. I would locate the source of this mystery, no matter what. Nearly instinctively I closed my eyes and reached out my mind, focussing on the blueprints for this section of the ship, on this corridor…
AND I SAW IT! I SAW IT ALL! The battle that had taken place here! The crew of the Event Horizon crying out in terror as the monsters swarmed towards them! As a few brave souls stood and unloaded round after round from their rifles into the chittering horrors that then overwhelmed and tore them to pieces! And beyond all of this, a hardly perceptible grinning malevolence, felt rather than seen, that paused in its observance of the slaughter long enough to notice me across space and time, and its grin widened. As I snapped awake, sweating and gasping, the blood vessels in my right eye burst in agony and my vision was momentarily blurred. The pain was intense, but faded, and signalled to me that I was on the correct path.
It wasn’t yet time for action, so I stayed with the other three as they continued on towards where the stranded UN crewmember was supposed to be, but as we approached the stasis chamber in which they had hid themselves, it was open, and completely empty.
What had happened to the crew member was obviously largely irrelevant to me, but I would have been curious to examine their mangled corpse. Some truly bad luck struck a moment later, when the Mawu’s XO suddenly doubled over in pain and horror claiming they felt something moving inside them! I had rather hoped my lovely parasite would have taken a little longer before revealing herself but before I could dwell the XO rounded on me, and violently slammed me against a bulkhead demanding to know what had been in the vial I had given him. Such a brute! How dare he lay hand upon me!
I professed my total ignorance of course, and although I could see that all the trust we had built was shattered there was JUST enough doubt in his mind to prevent a good and just man like him from beating my head in with a pipe there and then. As I said above, there’s no fool like a moral fool.
Frustratingly, I hadn’t anticipated the moment of my little angel’s revelation happening nearby highly trained medical personnel, which is exactly what the other Mawu officer was. Quickly and efficiently she hustled her XO into a nearby medbay and loaded his body with a near (but sadly not quite) lethal dosage of nanites from the Horizon’s supply. Just as she had anticipated, the XO’s body reacted instinctively to the sudden invasion and a simultaneous massive voiding of his bowels and projectile vomiting purged his system of all foreign bodies, my beloved parasite included. So much for an officer’s dignity.
As he cleaned himself up as best he could we suddenly heard rapidly running feet echoing through our section of the ship that just as suddenly ceased. And then, from nowhere, from everywhere the hushed sound of laughter. This was enough for my comrades, and they immediately set off back towards the relative safety of the front of the ship. The UN Officer dashing on ahead, anxious to discover the fate of his crew mate, the two Mawu crew members in the centre deep in conversation on their private com-channel, and myself bringing up the rear, watching them.
It was time.
As the volume of this inhuman laughter slowly increased in my mind, I drifted further back from the others, separating myself from these fools who were no longer of use to me. I could see now clearly for the first time, who and what I was. I was the chosen one. I had been selected from the multitudes! ME! ME ALONE! Something alien, something truly alien was calling out to me from the darkness and nothing mattered now but to find it, and touch it, and embrace it.
I stopped in the corridor, feeling the flow of the universe swirl around me, hearing the unnatural laughter in my mind, and I unhooked my emergency safety cable, tossing it aside with a metallic clank as it landed on the deck beside me. My helmet was next, there was just enough air left in the ship for me to breath, and I suspected I wouldn’t need it for much longer, one way or another. The cruel laughter in my mind changed, taking on a mocking, insulting tone. I smiled to myself: I was being watched.
Time for me to PROPERLY introduce myself. I took out my final vial of liquid, with the last of my angels inside and I upended it not into my mouth, but onto my open right eye, the one that was now bloodshot and sore from my earlier vision. Immediately a biting, stinging pain shot through me head as the parasite took hold behind my eyeball; and blood, SO MUCH BLOOD began to pour from my eye and down my face and space suit and onto the floor. For just a moment the phantom laughter stopped, then returned louder than before and no longer mocking. Instead, it sounded impressed.
I looked up smiling broadly, noticing that barely 20 metres from me stood the two African Union officers staring at me in open mouthed horror, their eyes darting between my face and the discarding vial. I smiled at them and waved but they only recoiled from me slightly, eyes wide with fear. No matter though, they were nothing. I turned around and set off alone down the corridor away from them and back toward the middle of the ship, walking with a spring in my step and whistling a jaunty tune into the deep, metallic darkness of the Event Horizon. I will never walk upon the surface of the Earth again; no matter what, this ship and its mysteries are all that matters now, and I feel true peace for the first time in my existence.