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The Fall of Pluton III – Part One

5th Jun 2024

Dan Mapleston



Humanity’s expansion into the stars has brought it into contact with countless threats. The Plague spreads like wildfire across the outer spheres. The Nameless continue their destructive efforts to expand the Mariana territory by aquaforming hapless planets. Meanwhile, the insidious Veer-myn continue to amass below the very noses of the GCPS, waiting for their moment to strike. However, no one could have imagined that one of the greatest threats to humanity – and the galaxy as a whole – would come from a different dimension entirely…


A DISTANT DREAM

Professor Hiraku Kaneko was, arguably, one of the greatest minds of the modern GCPS era. At kindergarten it’s claimed he was completing complex mathematical puzzles, before moving on to build working ion engines from scrap as a science project at high school. The Mazon Centre for Educational Excellence took notice and quickly enrolled him into their education programme. In exchange for paying for Hiraku to attend the First Sphere’s best schools, he would become a Mazon employee and any scientific or technological advancements made by Hiraku would become the intellectual property of Mazon Holdings.

Inner Sphere

For a time Hiraku disappeared into the background and his discoveries remained anonymous. It wasn’t until he unexpectedly appeared on the cover of New Science Today, proudly proclaiming that he was developing wormhole technology to improve the speed and efficiency of interstellar travel, that Hiraku Kaneko rose to fame. According to the well-crafted story released by Mazon Propulsion Systems (MPS) Hiraku was watching a DreadBall game between the Wu-Ling Warriors and Rallion Roses. The Wu-Ling Warriors’ Koris were able to create wormholes, seemingly at will using a closely guarded technology. Hiraku watched in amazement as the jacks of the Wu-Ling Warriors created shimmering portals that allowed them to travel instantaneously from one side of the arena to the other. The Koris would navigate these interdimensional tunnels at will but any player from the Rallion Roses that attempted to do the same would often emerge from the portals disorientated and vomiting. One player never re-appeared and emerged days later in the middle of an OverDrive match.

Although the crowd loved the spectacle of the portals, Hiraku saw greater potential in the wormhole technology: a replacement for the McKinley Drive. The Drive had allowed humanity to reach toward other stars but the technology wasn’t without its limitations. Although the gravitic emitter allowed a ship to travel beyond the speed of light, it still took time to travel to planets on the outer reaches of the spheres.

Hiraku hypothesised that advanced wormhole technology would allow almost instantaneous travel between two wormhole portals, no matter their distance. A ship could leave the First Sphere and arrive in the Third Sphere, or even further, in a matter of moments. It would revolutionise space travel, potentially making it safer, faster and more economical. For MPS it offered untold opportunities for profit. They would control the technology, they would control the portals and they would control which companies had access to it.

However, Hiraku’s early work was fraught with difficulties. Puncturing a hole between dimensions was far more challenging than creating an ion engine from scrap. Initially MPS paid an obscene amount to a former Koris jack with a notorious gambling problem to provide whatever insight she could. Unfortunately the Koris’ natural tendency to exaggerate or outright lie caused significant problems and project’s progress stalled. The Koris was sacked and left to gamble away whatever profits she had made. Meanwhile, Hiraku continued his work. Often he would manage to form one portal but couldn’t connect it to a sister portal elsewhere. The shimmering window into another dimension was simply a dead end.

Hiraku was reported to be frustrated by his lack of progress. Whispers were spreading that the so-called ‘greatest mind of the GCPS’ might not be such an intellectual wonder after all. Even worse, Trontek Logistics was reporting small successes in harnessing the teleportation technology of the teratons. Hiraku pushed himself and his team to make a breakthrough. Even by ignoring the safety warnings and pushing his team to work around the clock, Hiraku couldn’t get the wormholes to connect. That was until the fateful 47a test.


Transcribed Test Recording – Leaked Onto RebNet…

[RECORDING BEGINS]

This is Voltex Generator test number 47a. I am joined by Professor Mortimer Connolly, Alice Kaneko, COO Ruth Harding and, myself, Professor Hiraku Kaneko. Thank you Miss Harding for joining us today and I’m sure you will be pleased with our progress.

This experiment replaces the previously aborted test at the former site and this is our first demonstration of the Voltex Drive at the Mazon Propulsion Systems’ new facility here at Pluton III. Professor Connolly, if you would be so kind as to fire up the machinery.

Quantum gravity well is at full power. Entanglement vectors are stable. Negative energy shockwaves are stable. The wormhole is forming. The wormhole is stable.

[Sounds of clapping and cheering]

We’ve done it, Miss Harding! This is a rift in space between Pluton III and our sister facility on Pluton II. A new age of interstellar travel is upon us, with this

[Alice Kaneko: “Pluton II is reporting no connection”]

No connection? Did we accidentally connect to the lab on Pluton I?

[Alice Kaneko: “Negative, Hiraku”]

Where in the Spheres have we connected to?

[Mortimer Connolly: “Kaneko, there’s something moving in the rift…”]

What is that? That shouldn’t be possible…shut it down. Shut it down!

[RECORDING ENDS WITH STATIC]


THE PRICE OF PROGRESS

Concerns were initially raised after Hiraku’s facility on Pluton III went dark. There had been no contact in or out for weeks and MPS was concerned its technology could have been stolen by a rival corporation in an act of industrial espionage. The truth was much worse. A small security team broadcast live to MPS headquarters as they explored the facility. After entering the labs they found technicians with their tongues bitten off. Some had their eyes clawed out with blood caked under their fingernails. While others looked like they had been ripped open – sometimes by another member of staff, others by an unseen assailant. The lucky ones had simply turned knives or laser pistols on themselves, including Hiraku.

Eventually the security crew stumbled across something moving in the stuttering lights of the labs. Roughly the size of a teraton, the creature was naked apart from a filthy loin cloth splattered in blood. In one of its three arms it brandished what looked like a meat cleaver, while another arm ended in bloody tentacles that twisted and writhed toward the security guards. Its face was eyeless with huge jaws that gaped open, revealing a snake-like tongue. Back at MPS central, xeno-biologists desperately searched through databases to classify the monstrous beast. The searches proved fruitless. Meanwhile, the security team – already spooked by the terrors they had witnessed in the lab – opened fire before the creature had time to react.

Following that encounter, the security team spotted no other unidentified fauna and a clean-up crew was called in to remove all traces of Hiraku and his scientists. Xeno-bioligists were keen to lay their hands on the body of the creature they had seen but it rotted away rapidly to a black ooze that then dissipated before they could perform an autopsy. Meanwhile, lab techs pored over Hiraku’s data to discover the cause of the accident. The footage of test 47a was watched and re-watched to see what went wrong but there was no obvious problem. If anything, the data showed that 47a had worked. The entrance wormhole had formed correctly but no one could find where the exit had appeared.

While the lab techs analysed the data, they were persuaded to stay at the facility. During this time many reported disturbing nightmares of sightless monsters stalking them through shadowy forests or dank caves. A few even recounted dreams of these awful creatures fighting on chaotic battlefields against humans clad in armour. The techs began to whisper about so-called ‘nightstalkers’ that were plaguing their sleep. If only they had remained dreams.

The second incursion of the nightstalkers came a few days after the new crews had arrived. Security camera footage showed a portal materialising in the sleeping quarters of the lab techs that had been working on fixing the Voltex Generator. This time two of the hulking beasts lumbered out of the shimmering portal and started ripping through the sleeping inhabitants with rusty meat hooks and barbaric-looking cleavers. The screams of the workers woke the rest of the facility and the quarters were quickly locked down before the decision was made to incinerate the room and its inhabitants. Human or beast.

The final incident on Pluton III came the following night. Two portals opened in separate wings. What emerged was even more hideous than the previous monstrosities. Deformed dog-like animals with two heads stalked the corridors looking for their prey, more of the hulks stomped through the shimmering windows but this time were seen shooting strange balls of energy from gaping mouths at the end of their arms. Shambling, almost human-like figures shuffled down corridors swinging bloody sickles and scythes. Meanwhile, back at MPS headquarters, horrified MPS board members watched live footage with open mouths. The final straw came when a set of gigantic tentacles began to emerge through one of the portals and this time the senior execs at MPS took no chances – the facility’s self-destruct sequence was initiated.


To be Continued…

You can now go and find out how the story continues in Part Two HERE.

Fancy something more interactive? Then you can dig into the corporate secrets of Mazon Labs yourself, all over at mazonlabs.com!

It would appear that their lovely shiny corporate website has been hacked by rebellious forces…

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