Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Today's post is a fiction piece by Rob Baxter - it explains a little about how the outbreak in Alabaster Station took place.



Signal Station Zero Sierra Gamma

Priority Report: Solcom Science Division Oversight

Co-ordinates: [classified data encrypted for eyes only view]

Transcription of Outbreak event Adamant Hexagon Seven – Tightcast received 17 minutes ago
Alabaster SSD, Code Quietus.

Transmission sent by Senior Science Advisor Miolr Depetrus [Deceased]

[Transcription Begins]

This thing still recording? Good… air is getting stale in here. Okay, where the hell was I? Oh, yeah. Outbreak.
I had cautioned the med team against trying to revive the tissue sample. There had been something strange about it. Smart gels couldn’t stain it – we couldn’t retrieve anything out of the cellular wall aside from what appeared to be viral remnants and fungal spores. We argued for a simulation instead of messing with the actual cellular material. Director Chamf was all for trying to get vital replication off the remains.
Once he said go, you could see the med techs drooling at the prospect.
I could have warned them I think. I should have known. I had seen weaponized nanotech before. Utility mists, combat vectors, any number of smart toxins and metabolic Trojans. This, whatever it was, it was tenacious, and semi viral. I realize now that the tissue from the prime specimen wasn’t muscle or brain matter seeded with fungal spore. It was technology.
The med team thought the viral component on the cellular wall was a rogue protein. Some thought it was a prion. Definitely not a prion – this is some type of black magic precursor xeno-tech. Cunning, wily, every angstrom dense with information. It’s memory, a method of storing sensitive and vital information. Whatever was embedded in the cell walls of the specimen, when it interfaced with our med systems, it went haywire.
In picoseconds it had hijacked the assemblers and the medical splice routines.
The data bridge between the sample and the core systems should not have been that easy to compromise. We had a quantum encrypted data bridge, but data barriers had melted under some external code attack, inserted precisely at the moment of the test.
That’s when I knew we had a mole inside. I hope whoever they are, they got stuck out there, and they’re paying for it now.
Once through the data barriers up into the actual replicator interface, the stuff really started to sing. The sample started writing to the tech and reverse engineering systems, replicating with the medical nano handles.
Sheol, the biomed AI, couldn’t compensate and tried to flush the vat with containment protocols. No luck there. She screamed for about four seconds while her data boiled away under the pressure of the attack on the medical containment systems.
The sample had replicated using whatever nanotech we had in the tank. Once it hijacked the med system it converted the mass of sample tissue, the med container, replicator vat, and all of the bio-medium into a viable cloud of spore. Fifteen seconds after compromise it flowered out of the bio medium in an explosion of tissue and tendrils. I swear I could see a face looking at me, in the middle of that mass.
Desperate, I managed to get through the containment doors and out of the lab before the Director pressed the red button and scorched the room. Everyone in the lab dead – Friends, people I couldn’t stand, people I had just met. He knew I think, he was just too calm about it, like he had expected it. I think he had seen it before.
Still, it was too late. We’d already tried to scorch the thing. We probably could have contained the spore if he hadn’t given it fertile new ground to germinate in. There had been forty-five people in that section of the lab.
The nano-spore birthed the first necroform manifestation seven seconds after the Director plasma blasted the room. This medtech named Gillus, his face was mostly vaporized. The spore hijacked whatever viable cellular mechanisms he had left. Reanimate biomass convulsing under the puppet strings of an impromptu nervous system.
The scanners in the room recorded everything. It’s the only way I know how it works. Just sheer luck, but watching it go to work turning a former human into a necroform, it was impressive.
The others in the room, the ones with enough meat on their bones animate enough to shamble or move, reanimated. The rest, too messed up to be useful or motile, bio-converted into more spore. Utility mist like behavior, it moved – not flowed, not drifted, not wafted – but moved to digest the seals of the door.
Less than a minute after the introduction of the med systems to the tissue sample, and the outbreak was in full swing.
The nano-spore ate through the remaining containment systems voraciously. Force field and static containment failed almost immediately. The crew Director Chamf had scorched came for him through the lab bulkhead, tearing through the armored glass and metal in a frenzy. He screamed for what felt like hours when the Necroforms got him. I watch him every now and then on the security cameras. He’s been mutated into some sort of dog-thing; his med tag is still hanging from what’s left of his uniform. He deserves worse.
I worked quickly in getting most of the remaining techs and bioengineers out. But a lot of them had already been exposed to enough spore to become infected. Some of the security staff listened to me – we contained the outbreak temporarily with force barriers, negative air pressure, and a lot of luck. But eventually the spore reached intention density, and was able to make informed distributed decisions. This is not a rogue vector… it moves with purpose. Smart enough to figure out how to get through the cracks.
Infection in the facility was rampant less than 20 minutes after the outbreak event. New life forms were sprouting from the dead, dying, or infected shortly after that.
They’re prowling the halls now. Security is mostly gone although I hear the cannons from the automated security system fire every once in a while. Survivors? Who the hell knows?
I figure it’s only a matter of time before I’m either dead or one of the things out there.
I’m tight casting this data packet through the facility secure distress transponder. You’ll see that most of the information and telemetry has some very strong profiles on the creature’s capabilities. Hopefully someone will receive this distress call before the lifeform or nano-eco system or hive mind or whatever it is can get out of the facility.
Infection is reversible, but it requires some sturdy auto-doc systems. That’s how I’ve purged myself and the survivors I’ve gathered. Once the spore has started tissue conversion and manifesting biomechanical systems, there’s no way to reverse the conversion process. If you get converted, I think it overwrites whatever nervous system you have, and replaces any core persona with something different.
I can hear them through the security feeds. Some of them are obviously feral, animalistic. Roars, screams, hisses and whistles – Nonsense mostly. But the tall ones, the armored ones. They look an awful lot like the original specimen. Those ones…
They’re obviously communicating. Strategizing.
Figuring things out.

[Transcription ends]


Dai said...

Love it, really well written. This has me so stoked for November!

Tony said...

This is quality. Can't wait to