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Journal from Sigma Eden

by Nathaniel Hazel

This journal belongs to Dr. Jerome Grant and was found in the abandoned colony of Sigma Eden. Dr. Grant was the chief biologist on the Sigma Eden expedition, and this is the only surviving chronicle of what happened to the colony.

May 29, 4573 — Today is a remarkable day! I have been selected to be the chief biologist for the first extragalactic colonization. We as humans have come a long way since the planet Earth. It’s funny that we still claim Earth as our home when we have developed colonies throughout our galaxy. Generations of humans colonizing planets in every system, yet we can still trace it all the way back to Earth.

That’s all beside the point, because our journey will take us out of the Milky Way. My parents will be proud; they, too, were on an expedition to colonize a planet. I’ve already sent them a datacom. I don’t know who else will be accompanying me on the expedition, but I’m sure that information will come shortly. This is exciting!

June 7, 4573 — The expedition is set to kick off in less than a month. I have learned who will be the chief administrators for our journey. Starting with the captain of the Golden Sun, the ship that will be carrying us out of the galaxy and onward. Captain Brian Trill.

Fellow doctors in the scientific fields include Dr. Frederic Heart; he is our chief science officer. He is in charge of the entire science division. The twins, doctors Diane and Lance Halver, are our space and time specialists. They came up with the formula for extragalactic travel together using the light drive to create a warp rift; the warp rift allows for travelling through the galaxy faster than the speed of light. The scientific community often jokes that two Halvers make a hole. Our chief medical officer is Dr. Kelly Fuller, a great woman who helped contain the Nexus virus and even found a cure. She’s also very easy on the eyes.

Unfortunately, the science team isn’t the only people on the expedition. The United Galactic Command has assigned General Vincent Hammond as our “supreme leader.” I don’t understand why a military presence should accompany a colonization expedition. It will just get in the way.

July 19, 4573 — Our journey starts today. The crew consists of six hundred individuals. The trip will take roughly sixteen years to reach the next galaxy. The engineering crew will take five-year shifts in order to keep maintenance on the ship while the rest are in hypersleep.

Fortunately, we have Dr. Fuller if any of us contract hypersickness. I’m not too fond of the hyperpods, but I’d rather be sleeping than taking the long trip awake.

I was pleased to meet all my fellow scientists, but as soon as General Hammond stepped on board, everything was fire and brimstone. He is taking his new command very seriously, and I doubt that this trip will be as enjoyable as it would be without him.

The crew has been instructed to make ready for departure, so that means the pods. Hopefully, I’ll have sweet dreams. I wouldn’t mind if they were about Dr. Fuller.

October 12, 4589 — Sixteen years. Jesus. Only two hundred people were infected with hypersickness, and Dr. Fuller is working around the clock to help them. My first meal in sixteen years tasted amazing, even if it was dehydrated. We couldn’t risk eating from the organic greenhouse on the ship; we’ll need the produce when we start agriculture on the new planet.

Speaking of which, Captain Trill says that the planet we are currently orbiting is called Sigma Eden. I believe that to be a fitting name, as we are creating a fresh start for humanity in a new galaxy. I have done a preliminary scan of the planet, and it has a high concentration of hydrogen in its atmosphere. If we are to terraform the planet, we will need a lot of nitrogen and oxygen.

The surface is devoid of life because of the hydrogen, and a series of fiery storms often crisscross the surface. I have named these phenomena “ignition storms,” because something is causing the hydrogen to ignite. Landing on the planet will prove difficult with these storms.

I have also noted many cave entrances. At first I thought they were simple craters, but they seem to go deep into the planet. I can’t get thorough readings from space. I will share my findings with Captain Trill and the General. The General will probably ask how many soldiers it will take to secure the caves.

October 14, 4589 — I have gone to the Captain with my findings, and he still wants to go forward with the landing process. I tried to argue about the ignition storms, but General Hammond told me I was being insubordinate and to know my place. The hardheaded prick doesn’t know anything.

We start the landing in an hour. I pray that we will survive the process. On a positive note, those who were infected with hypersickness are making a full recovery. Excellent work from Dr. Fuller, she is amazing. Hopefully, it wasn’t all for naught.

October 15, 4589 — Well, for all intents and purposes, we landed. However, it didn’t come without a price. Our descent triggered an ignition storm, and it damaged many systems on the ship, including our galactic comm arrays and our engines.

Dr. Heart told us that the engines have been completely fried, so we are going to be colonizing on Sigma Eden because we can’t leave. I hate saying I told you so, but I’ll make an exception when it comes to General Hammond. Stupid asshole.

The worst news is that we can’t stay on the ship. We need to start the terraforming, but we can’t stay on the ship to do it. We need to set up the colony. The General has finally come in handy; his men have gone to scout out the caves from my analysis from orbit. Hopefully some good news will come from his reconnaissance.

October 16, 4589 — Good news at last! The caves are habitable. Interestingly enough, they have oxygen and water. This is so intriguing! The surface is completely uninhabitable, but the innards create the perfect conditions for life. I can’t wait to get there and take samples. I’ve even heard there was vegetation in the caves and a lake! Despite the dire situation, I am very excited about this new turn of events! We plan on migrating to the caves as soon as possible; we will turn on the terraforming device before moving to the caves.

November 13, 4589 — The move into the caves has taken nearly a month; however, we have retrofitted the ship as a nice colony inside the cave. It’s amazing! The lake is pristine and the oxygen isn’t the same mixture as what our terraforming will artificially create, but it is still refreshing to take in deep breaths underground.

The agriculture is coming along nicely and have taken to the soil. The natural vegetation is a mossy substance. It covers all surfaces of the cave and it is the reason why the oxygen levels are high in the caves. Dr. Fuller — that is, Kelly — has taken particular interest in the moss for its medicinal purposes. I said I would run further tests. General Hammond is still on edge, sending his troops deep into the cave systems. It’s a waste of resources.

November 20, 4589 — One of the patrols went missing yesterday. General Hammond is fuming. He’s initiated total lockdown until he figures out what happened. It was probably an accident deep in the caves. There is no reason for this type of alarm.

Kelly and I have taken advantage of the lockdown to further our research on the moss. She’s really been a great help, and she thinks the moss has a specific medicinal property, if synthesized, could completely eradicate hypersickness entirely. At least we are making progress.

December 2, 4589 — The lockdown ended after five days, but the trouble didn’t end there. Someone sabotaged our oxygen containers. Captain Trill and General Hammond are furious. The General is set on the death penalty if he finds out who was responsible. Everyone is now suspicious of each other. Simple conversations turn hostile. The General’s troops have now become the only policing force to restore some sort of normality. With hostilities rising, I am worried what might happen next.

December 25, 4589 — Today the troops found a dead body amongst the crops. The Captain hasn’t said a word since the body was discovered. I believe that Captain Trill thinks he is responsible.

The General was convinced one of the colonists was to blame, but Kelly showed me the autopsy report. The young man was killed by a large puncture wound to the chest. It was four inches in diameter and went completely through his entire body. The strangest thing was a large amount of neurotoxin in his blood. It was similar to a spider’s venom. No way in hell it was one of the colonists. Perhaps the military presence was necessary after all.

January 2, 4590 — After the first strange death, more isolated deaths have occurred. Unfortunately, both of the Halvers were victims. I have been comforting Kelly over their deaths. Diane was a dear friend of hers. The Halvers’ bodies were found by the lake, same as the young man; both with large puncture wounds in their chests. However, this time the cause of the puncture was apparent: a large spike was sticking through Lance Halvers.

I’ve studied the spike, and it isn’t a spike at all. It’s a mandible. The same venom that was inside the dead bodies was extracted from the mandible. I’ve given this information to General Hammond. He thinks I’m crazy, but he has no other alternatives. For once, I am glad that we have a military presence. We aren’t alone inside Sigma Eden.

January 10, 4590 — Captain Trill is dead. His body was found just like the others, but this time he managed to injure his attacker. We were able to get blood samples and the most interesting piece, a long slender jointed chitin.

I’ve run DNA tests on the blood. It has many similar characteristics of arthropods, and the chitin leg is large, nearly four feet in length. If these creatures are similar to our arthropods, then the higher concentration of oxygen in the caves has made them extremely large. With the mandible that was found in Lance Halver, we are dealing with arthropod-like creatures roughly the size of men. It would also explain why the attacks are isolated. They can easily sneak up on their prey and dispatch them.

I can surmise that we are dealing with more than one of these arthropods. We have had forty deaths since the first incident. General Hammond is on high alert and wants to take the fight to the creatures. I voiced my opinion, but all I got was a reprimand for questioning authority. That hasn’t stopped him from using all the data that I’ve collected on the matter. If we have to depend on General Hammond to survive, we won’t last another night.

January 30, 4590 — The creatures are becoming bolder. We can hear a loud clicking echo throughout the caves. I can only guess it is their mandibles clicking together. No one leaves the colony now that we know they are out there.

Kelly has withdrawn entirely, focusing entirely on her work. I’ve tried several times to get her to talk to me, but nothing I do elicits a response.

As I feared, General Hammond is rallying his troops. He plans on going full force to stop the creatures. The General wants to march as soon as possible. The colony seems convinced that the troops will be able to deal with this alien threat, but we are fighting in the creatures’ element. We will not survive.

February 1, 4590 — General Hammond and his troops have marched. Kelly came to my research lab as we listened to the fighting outside the colony. For hours we listened to the screeching and clicking of the creatures and the gunfire and screams of our men. She held on to me as the battle raged on. Then it was silent.

General Hammond hasn’t re-entered the colony. The remainder of the colonists have been on edge, waiting for any sound or indication of survivors outside. No one dares exit the colony. We just have to sit and wait. However, I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that I won’t like what we are waiting for.

February 2, 4590 — This will be my last entry. We finally heard from outside the colony, but what we heard wasn’t welcoming. All around the colony we can hear the clicking of the arthropod mandibles. They have us surrounded. We can’t leave and we can’t fight. I don’t know how long it will be until the arthropods gain entrance to the colony. When they do, I don’t think they will leave any survivors.

Copyright © 2014 by Nathaniel Hazel

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