Armada Log: Eustace
Log: 501 Spanish Space
Alright, I know the doctors read these and evaluate our heads while we’re stuck in these crammed warships floating through space. I also know that the commanders have total access to these things too, I know. You could at least up the heat around here. The fake sun just doesn’t cut it. Heating plates... seriously... they're not even expensive. The only health risk they do cause was when sailors tried to cook eggs on one. They got food poisoning then the plates were removed.
These fake suns are just several steps backwards. The tall people on deck need to wear hats or lose hair, and some of us are a little short, meaning: we stay cold.
I can’t handle getting my vitamin d without a little heat, or at least humidity. Getting warm out here in space is tough, staying warm is even harder. Getting burned out here is easy though, oxygen is high and things go boom on deck.
Anyways the captain got his orders and told us we'll take the passage of pearls. Of course he still calls it that.
The decision was questionable before he told us we would have valuable cargo and it got even worse when he told us we would be an escort for merchant vessels. Alright, so he doesn't want to sail our cargo past other vessels from the spanish space fleets because the captains make fun of him, he won't go around for fear of boarders from the English, during peace time. And now he says the passage of pearls is a short cut anyways. Now I’m not some prophet or even one for superstition like most folks. But I can see things long before they happen. It's just reasoning skill. I acquired that skill over the years under this captain in particular.
There are a select few who enjoy the passage of pearls. They are the most arrogant men and women in space, the most reckless and the most incredibly stupid. Of course, our most beloved... and humble captain has good intentions.
Or... Oh hell, I voice a formal complaint! Demote me again if you have too.
You go into the Haunted trench. Thats what they call it right? You might come out alive and other times no one does. Not just pirates or battleships. No, ships go in with ten vessels and come out with ten vessels but five crews.
The Passage of Pearls is not even the real name. The captains like it because it sounds rich and elegant. It goes by dozens of loony titles. If you want to move with speed, that is the fastest rout to any area of the Spanish and the English regions.
Log: 502 Spanish Space Border
I’ve heard it called the Dragon’s Lair: Home of the English Wyvern. The Abyssal Mist, where the ships enter and the ships leave but the bodies are never found. Soul’s Forfeit: where the Banshee howl and the blood runs cold. I blame that last one on the fake sun though. It's a real issue.
The Shrieking Fog, The Seeping Whisper, The Hag's Canyon, No Man's Land, The Snake, Hell's Gate, The Devil's Butt Crack, a lot more follow and I just mentioned the creative one's. I know two ships that just called it The Shadow of Death.
You see this naming thing was getting annoying between all the inventive people in the fleet so we ended up agreeing on a phrase and we made an agreement at the docks over a couple months.
The Haunted Trench, done!
It lies within a region of radioactive clouds. Of course our hulls are prepared for radiation so that's not a danger, but the clouds screw with our navigation. You need to have a route prepared before you go in, because if you need to maneuver you will not be able to get back on course if you make it up as you go.
My job was preparing that route and I’ve never led my crew astray yet. But with the demotion from first to second mate, we have given the navigation to Virginia Dare. And she can't leave the control panel alone for a minute. In training she consistently makes micro adjustments. She hesitates and is indecisive. This also wastes fuel.
You're better off suborn, rash, and competent than jittery, naive and compulsive. If she has to adjust our course one more time, we're never going to get out once we go in. And heaven forbid she try anything with the speed.
Log:503 TITLE OVERRIDE: The Haunted Trench
Space faring is an incredibly safe venture. Unless you carry cargo or escort merchant ships. Even then an armored escort leaves you fairly protected with intimidation to boot.
But the Haunted Trench is one of those areas where a space venture becomes a game of dice. Even professional navies don’t go into those areas unless they had a very good reason. And never during war time. No captain has ever ventured into the Haunted Trench without short range torpedoes, flak interceptors, a fully powered shield, and lots of guns.
Boarding actions were some of the nastiest fighting. I once was called from B deck after boarding ships docked and when I came back they handed me a fragrance sprayer to get rid of the smell of incinerated corpses.
Anything less than a full garrison, shields, thick armor, and proper equipment meant death. This place is a ghost ship factory. Ships go in with crew, ships drift out lifeless.
As to these radioactive clouds that bath the ship, they were completely harmless. Although, they were not without deception.
Something or someone treacherous has been using the radioactive clouds. A master of the static clouds and the radioactive storms can lay in wait, virtually invisible. It could easily reveal bait to entice passing ships, ambush poorly defended vessels, or creep through the clouds like a lynx.
I’d best relate it to a blind man lurking though caves known all his life to stab another blind man who is unfamiliar.
As always, should a ship pass through the region, their communications are flooded with the wail of a million souls screaming out for the end. But only once.
Captains and officers say its just the radiation, but radiation can’t pierce the shields or reach the receivers. The crew say its a signal that is unaffected by the radiation. It arrives at a single device. You never here it twice on the same voyage. You will click a button and the screams will try to tear your soul from your body.
On my first voyage, I was below deck and a man received a call from the commander. His ears spurted blood and he was rushed to the medical ward. The commander denied ever sending him a message, and more than a dozen witnesses confirmed that.
On my second trip my commander answered a hailing sequence through our bridge systems. He shot himself in the head afterwards.Claimed he heard his dead wife calling out to him.
On my third I heard it myself. The emergency systems blasted it through the whole ship. Several men took ill and coughed up lunch as well as a bit more but no one died.
I hear the sound differently than the others. They hear the wail of the dead but that’s good news to my ears.
What’s more vile? The sound of foreign spirit moaning out, shrieking, whimpering your name. Or the silence where a banshee should be?
Whatever wants to peel the flesh from my bones is already sated I imagine. In a way, we’re lucky the guard dog of the underworld has all three of his heads full with someone else.
Many enter the dark and treacherous region of this space and wait by the signal master and silence creeps in and strangles every throat. Until an applause of good fortune and protective omens are absorbed into the crew as not a sound leaks into the systems.
Those fools. The beast is always quiet when it hunts.
Only once did the call reach our ship in that manor. I was second mate, first day, first week. First of the new year.
Our sister ship and fellow merchant escort hailed us.
Captain answered with camaraderie and good cheer and to speak back in benevolence came nothing. Where two ships drew off the solar winds, now stood one. And before we returned to cruise speed I saw escape pods.
No one believed me. We passed them too fast.
I saw red eyes crawling over the metal containers that were jettisoned off of the vessel. The tendrils reached in and pulled out men screaming the only air in their lungs, never to breath again. Their forms freezing as their blood became ice and their bodies shattered into red shards. Pieces of frozen faces drifted in the dark, forever lost to space. Forever captured in torment. Forever cold and unable to shiver, terrified and never comforted, anguished and lost.
I was thought to be insane and demoted for cowardice, signs of weakness, and madness.
When we arrived at port the maintenance crew spotted the captain of the sister vessel impaled on the mast of our solar sails. An entire sarcophagus of scrap embedded him atop our craft.
The dragon lurked in the murk. She swiftly shifted, her serpentine scales sensually, shadowed, shrouded, silent, skeletal, and scarlet.
I still dream of laser fire. Pilots cooked within their attack craft. They go quickly.
A red flash and your ship is covered in pools of plasma as hot as the sun, or hit with a magnification so intense you can see the flesh leave your bones. Sand seeping through your fingers.
It happened and they believe me now. Captain Antonio sent a report in regards to potential piracy but that was all we could do.
But I have one more question. Why was I demoted?
- Captain Eustace Kid