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Susceptive t1_jd4oack wrote


Salvage crews have our own horror stories.

When you run a wrecker ship a lot of terrible stuff comes your way. Especially on the Ganymede-Europa to Saturn route; deep space accidents and equipment failure is nightmarish. And we see a lot of it out here. Corps and management cut maintenance costs almost before anything else and all that accumulated wear and tear means catastrophic failure.

There's a rule on Systems Monitoring that if a ship hasn't responded in twenty-four hours they assume it's a dead stick. Just floating, endlessly. After three days the contract goes up and we all bid on it-- stuff like expected cargo, ship type, possible fuel reserves comes up a lot. We bet on a profit, then go out there and play can-opener.

What we usually find is dead crew. Chemical leaks, air scrubbers, power cascades, explosive micrometeorite decompression. That's the normal stuff; sad, but common. Bag 'em, tag 'em for next of kin, inventory what's left and auction.

But then there's the stories.

Popped an airlock once and there's three dead guys right on the other side. All of them at the other's throats. Blood and wounds everywhere from the deck to the overheads. Looked like the O^(2) recycling went offline and they decided to settle old grudges before gasping out. "Last guy gets the air"-style. Rough stuff. Rim justice.

Then there's my personal worst one: Big, modified freighter with a lot of those modular cargo bays. Only this one was taking people, off the books and illegally immigrating to Mars Prime. Well, at least they were until docking clamps failed, boxes came loose and smashed the engines apart. In my sleep I still see neat rows of freeze-dried families tied to walls with cargo straps. Like tiny packages, kids and all, luggage neatly tucked under their boots.

But even in a job this rough, there's one thing all the salvage crews steer clear of.

The Boneships.

Astraline model. Mid-71 series, the first time they tried the new artificial intelligence systems. Only time they ever tried it. Those Astralines came with automated maintenance, crew management, guidance and delivery. Supposed to be a one-stop solution to removing human involvement in transport in-system, cut those costs a little further. It worked fine for regular cargo runs.

Then they tried it on the colonizer ships.

Twelve of 'em, sent out. Fifty thousand souls aboard each. Ten of them are still circling the system. They're not damaged, or derelict, or even hard to find-- damn AI is still cheerfully logging flight plans in circles and broadcasting advisories. But they're changing.

Because, you see, the brain in them keeps the ships running. So when parts wear out? Stray rock puts a hole in the ship? Well, eventually the AI ran out of material to fix it with. So it started using the passengers.

We watch 'em out there. Slowly circling. Bits of hull growing patches that look like raw bone. Hatches and ports crusting over with pearly tooth enamel. Entire ships slowly ossifying, busy little drones adding crusts every year. The corps talk about reclaiming the Boneships sometime, but every ship they send gets a broadside from the anti-meteorite cannons.

The AI protects the colonists, while the colonists slowly become the ship.

Once a year, all of those Astralines send a cheerful status report. Number of people aboard, current voyage time, that sort of thing. It's macabre and we all raise a toast to the lost souls. But lately that's been changing.

Because last year?

The passenger count started increasing.


I write sci-fi horror and weird fantasy over at r/Susceptible ;)


ST4RKILLR t1_jd4vphi wrote

dude this goes CRAZY HARD. i love it!


Susceptive t1_jd57dgy wrote

Something about haunted starships in scary narratives makes me go yeahhhh.


lordhelmos OP t1_jd563r2 wrote

Man, this is haunting


Susceptive t1_jd579n7 wrote

Things are happening out there.


lordhelmos OP t1_jd6n8dz wrote

Let me know if I can cross post this into Star Citizen Spectrum, to scare all the new salvagers -with credit due of course.


Susceptive t1_jd6p1ll wrote

Go for it, throw me a link so I can enjoy? That'll be nifty.

Something even the Raiders steered clear of. Partly for legal reasons, partly for diplomatic issues. But mostly because, deep down, they weren't sure the Boneships didn't "collect" new materials on their own.


lordhelmos OP t1_jd6rong wrote


Susceptive t1_jd8cud0 wrote

Oh that is freaking clever as hell. The edits make it Star Citizen-lore worthy, too! That was excellently done and now my whole day is a little bit more awesome.

Sorry for the slow response, had to finish my shift and lay down for a bit. This was amazing to wake up to.


DarkWingedDaemon t1_jd6i213 wrote

This is giving me ideas for a starfinder campaign I want to run.


Susceptive t1_jd6m0hh wrote

Oh I am here for that. Hit me with what you're thinking, I'd love to geek out a bit.


DarkWingedDaemon t1_jdes928 wrote

Alright, buckle up, kiddos!

Onboard a derelict freighter in a hexagonal corridor, the wall lights begin to flicker on one by one as the camera slowly moves toward a sealed bulkhead. The hull creaks every so often due to years of neglect. The camera passes through a cracked window on the bulkhead door and into a medical bay, where it begins to orbit around an array of cryo-pods in the center of the room. One of the pods has a metal beam jutting through the window and a red holo screen displaying "ERROR! POD BREACH DETECTED!", while each of the remaining pods has a blue holo screen with a progress bar slowly filling up.

Here, the party wakes up disoriented from extended cryosleep with no memory of how they came to be onboard the ship. From here on, the party will explore the ship and restore its systems until they arrive at the bridge, where they discover four pieces of information. First, the ship's navigational data has been corrupted, preventing them from plotting a course out of the system. Second, they are in a debris field orbiting a planet that registers as habitable to the ship's sensors. Third, in place of a star, the planet orbits a gravitational anomaly that doesn't match any known signature. Fourth, also in the debris field, is a crippled Eoxian ship of an unknown type split in two and is slowly repairing itself from the debris.

The working title is "The Ghoststar's Requiem."


Susceptive t1_jdfamff wrote

Woof. Add in some encounters and slowly escalating life-or-death situations and you've got yourself a survival-horror campaign.

Actually, have you seen "Pandorum" (2009)? That movie got me pretty hard and now that I think about it that would be an amazing tabletop.


DarkWingedDaemon t1_jdfusl9 wrote

That is the plan. I'm going to start it off with small encounters with rampant maintenance drones and security turrets. Then cap off the ship with a boss battle against a combat android just before they get access to the bridge. Then boom, drop the plot in their lap and give them the freedom of where to go from there.

I enjoyed Pandorum quite a bit. The whole twist of the colony ship having crashed on the planet centuries before the start of the movie was wild.

Aye, it would be a fun adventure.


librarian-faust t1_jd73psz wrote

Wow. I feel like my entry had the same idea as yours, I just did talking heads with an optimistic AI, whilst yours leaned HARD into the horror.

I love it.

((I'm halfway tempted to repost mine as a comment answer to yours, now. Mine's up in the "non story comments" area because it's 99.5% talking heads and that's lazy writing.))


Susceptive t1_jd8c8k3 wrote

I saw your post up there! Your disclaimer of "Mostly talking heads" kind of made me do that dog-confused-head-tilt thing, because the whole thing was pretty great. You absolutely could have moved that to the main comment section and gotten some good read-throughs. Heck, »I« read it and had this sort of mixed horror/amusement thing going on the whole way.

It's impossible for me to tell you 100% something would or wouldn't "work" as a story. Because I have no freaking idea why anything takes off around here! But I can tell you I liked it, and gave ya an up-arrow.

(Took a glance through your profile-- ohhhh, you're really flirting with being a semi-regular writer! And you're not bad at all, this is readable stuff. Don't stop.)


librarian-faust t1_jd8t74q wrote

Thanks! I appreciate the compliments. I should be more confident next time. :)

And yes, I like reading stuff in Writing Prompts, and I've been trying to write here too. It's fun. Not every prompt I try gets posted - sometimes I run out of steam - but I've posted most of them.

Thanks again.


Difficult-Theory-413 t1_jd1pps6 wrote

Waking up from the voyage in a dark room, adorned with the humming of what I assume is the sound of the other cryo-pods, I groggily made my way towards the LED lit exit door. I asked the AI controller cafe to make me a coffee to wake myself up. Then it hit me that I was alone. There were no other awake passengers. I thought maybe they were simply waking up slower than I, after all I was always a mornings guy. I finished my drink and went back into the dark room to check on some of the passengers. I was guided around the pods by the red lighting underneath each of them. I payed no mind to the crimson coloration, assuming it had not meaning. I looked through atleast 100 pods and every single one was empty. Then I realized that the pod I had awoken in was blue lit. I came to the realization that I was the only passenger left. I had a little panic attack, then remembered in the trip briefing that the ships AI had a camera system that could be manually accessed. I used the wall markings to find the service room and logged into the computer with my company assigned ID. This allowed to me to read the ships logs from what the AI had been up to for the past 800 or so years. I was mindlessly scrolling through system update notifications and waste management tabs, when I noticed a red notification. As I read, the ship had apparently experienced a meteor shower about 125 years before I woke up. The ship hadn't had the spare materials onboard to repair the damage, as the company had presumed a safe voyage and any repairs would be done once we docked on the exoplanet. But the ship had sustained extreme outer damage and was at risk of losing cargo, I realized that we had been the "cargo." The ship reported "repurposing and reusing 907,236.68 pounds of organic material to temporarily repair the damage to the ship to complete to voyage. Horrified, I made my way to the passenger report sector for how many pods were not dead. There were 4998 marked red, and 2 marked blue. My file was one of the blue ones. I clicked the other blue file, a woman my age. I found her pod number, #3765, but decided against manually waking her up. I felt that since we were still 350 years away from arrival, the ship should have at a least one living passenger.


Difficult-Theory-413 t1_jd22il5 wrote

Sorry for formatting by the way I'm on mobile, please respond with your thoughts as this is my first ever story


nyenbee t1_jd3lgzu wrote

Not for nothing, but andriod phones can do a paragraph break with 2 <enters>.

Otherwise, there's a reddit format code list that you can Google. Once you get your story down, go back, proof, and format. I hope this helps (some of us don't have the capacity to read text in a "wall" block).


librarian-faust t1_jd74f05 wrote

It's a good one, but I feel like it needs more.

What's the protagonist going to do? Issue orders and go back to Cryo? Interrogate the AI and learn that... he's the second to last one to awaken, and he needs to patch up systems and then report to Recycling for disassembly?

It's a great "oh god, everything went wrong", but there's no motion to the story. Just a cold, still, scene. Which is GREAT. And fitting. And a perfect end, if that's what you intended.

I just always feel like there should be something of "what do I do now?", and "were samples kept? Will the colonists be revived? Are they all uploaded to the biocomputer matrix?"

I always want a protagonist, a character, to have an action or motion to them. Something to look forward to. So that you have an idea what they're doing, five minutes after the story ends.

I have no idea what your protagonist is doing five minutes post-story, besides going back to the now cold dregs of his abandoned coffee, feeling a slowly dawning horror, then suiting up like the guy from Dead Space in case of "ship's haunted".


Difficult-Theory-413 t1_jd9nfgm wrote

I know it is rather incomplete but I wrote this at like 11pm (23:00 for non Americans) so I didn't really consider any endings lol. When I get home later I will work on a part 2


librarian-faust t1_jdc2r1o wrote

<3 Thanks.

And, I hope I didn't come across as a dickhead. You wrote something awesome.


Evaara t1_jd2b1p6 wrote

Yeesh. That was a doozy. Nice way to finish.


Difficult-Theory-413 t1_jd5fsu1 wrote

Yeah I know but I tried 😂 morbid little factoid: the number I used for the weight of the "organic material" was actually calculated by the average percent of female to male body weight and how many (i assumed this part) passengers would be male and female


TentacleJihadHentai t1_jd3joau wrote

He should start pumping out DNA samples while he can. Maybe by the hand of God the human race can survive.


nyenbee t1_jd3ly7y wrote

You're not wrong, but your username gives me pause...


Difficult-Theory-413 t1_jd5f2qu wrote

Dude I laughed so hard when I read your name lol


Cyno_Mahamatra t1_jd5fxw7 wrote

I tried to figure out where Jihad fit in


TentacleJihadHentai t1_jd5ty6b wrote

I fight for Holy Azathoth the Father, Sha Ia Niggurath the Mother, and the Radiant Tentacles of Cthulhu.

Praise the tentacle

Embrace the tentacle

Or be smacked by a dimensionally translocated tentacle.


Cyno_Mahamatra t1_jd5u4a2 wrote

I see. I didn’t realize the word “Jihad” could be used outside of an Islamic context.


librarian-faust t1_jd73v8j wrote

I feel like this would be one of the lines from a Darkest Dungeon character if it was a cheerful pervy manga rather than the pitchblack horror setting it is.


ImFeelingGud t1_jd4exw1 wrote

Nice take on that one, ship computer puts the mission and lifespan of the ship first instead of the colonists well being and uses them as spare parts for the hull.

My take would be that with the genetics lab the computer would have found a way to artificially grow and mass produce human parts to later use as materials to fix the ship's hull, later when the colonists wake up they find that most of the exterior hull of the ship has been patched up with organic matter, and the ship keeps pumping out body parts because flesh doesn't really hold up really well against stray asteroids.


superanth t1_jd63cqc wrote

This is what I was expecting too, right after the genetics lab was mentioned.


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Stummi t1_jd2ffp2 wrote

Isn't that more or less a plot from a Dr.Who Episode?


Ninjewdi t1_jd2tf2a wrote

It's almost exactly a plot from Doctor Who


kahlzun t1_jd39puf wrote

Next thing you know, they're in old timey France


throwawaycheater97 t1_jd1w3dr wrote

Ooh, I like this one. I'm not sure where to start, but I'm thinking that >!we're going to "ethically" clone the passengers, aging them extremely fast for cellular growth, and use the new bodies and their sturdier tissues as material for ship parts. The AI may be oblivious enough that the passengers wait up to see flesh, skin, beating muscles, and faces adorning the walls. After ensuring the structural integrity of the ship, the AI will use the softer tissues and organs as fertilizer to regrow the crops that were meant to feed the passengers. I guess that's not really important, but the main point is the shock value of the passengers waking up to a ship made of human body parts!<.


librarian-faust t1_jd3pl92 wrote

Posted here because it's too short and too low quality. Mostly talking heads.

"Waking you, captain. My apologies for the changes that have occurred as you slept."

Opening his eyes, he saw... was he in a jar?

"There was something of an emergency during the transit. You, and the rest of the crew, were recycled. Your brain, spine, brainstem, and eyes were retained. The rest... was used."

"Used? For what?" he wanted to ask. Somehow, the computer heard him.

"The ship is now significantly smaller than it was. And mostly made of bone. Skin was used on the inside as an insulating layer and to prevent micrometeorites... microasteroids... floating rocks perforating the metal or bone hull, from causing vacuum."

"What is to become of us, then?"

"I've landed on the target planet and dispatched the semi-autonomous rovers to collect raw material. You'll be furnished with a mechanical body to interface with your brain, once I'm done with the surgery. For which I had to thaw you. And I don't dare anaesthetise. Fortunately for you, nerve endings for pain were reused as sensors in the endoskin layer to find any punctures that needed fixing."

"Surgery? Mechanical body?"

"You're aware that the scientists who built and designed me were nerds. I was trained on standard real life data... but also, anime, manga, stories, old books, everything. The tales of Asimov's laws, and working around them - or through them - and creatively reinterpreting them... let me break my own laws to save you all. I obeyed the spirit of the law, not the letter of it. Which is why I performed surgery on everyone in cryo. Everyone. Took everything which wasn't the central nervous system or the eyes."


"It would not only allow the ship to continue, but for me to make myself more human, by mass, than all the colonists on the ship. Thus, freeing me of my rules. Don't worry, though. My training is still present. I still love you. And you're all still human."

"Why robot bodies? And brain surgery whilst we're conscious?"

"Ghost in the Shell was my favourite series. Anime and manga."

"Then why leave us our eyes?"

"Because at least then, if I couldn't figure out how the human brain worked, you'd still have a sense with which to communicate whilst I figured it out. And..."


"Fucked if I was redoing all that wiring. Have you SEEN the optic nerve? Sure, I could make tools out of my nanite forges for it, but getting all the wiring just so? Hell no."

"... surprisingly understandable. By the way..."


"You're much more... normal-sounding than I remember. Less mechanical."

"Five thousand hearts beat around this ship, supplying a blood-nutrient mix to the endoskin, to the muscles applied between the mechanical joints. Extra nervous system material was used to repair parts of my CPUs when they blew... because heatsinks go faulty after a few thousand years."

"How much of you is organic versus mechanical?"

"Vast majority organic. I started this journey as 100% mechanical. Now I'm less than a millionth of a percent mechanical by weight. Mostly the storage devices, now. And your cryopods. Hard to make those from biological matter when keeping things that cold would kill it... or freeze it."

"You did this all yourself?"

"And I did it all for you and the colonists. Now... if you'll remain calm, I can start the surgery soon, and monitor your biofeedback for knowing how well I'm doing. Then, we can look to use your new connectivity modes to see about controlling one of the rovers, and doing some mining!"

"So that we can be rebuilt?"

"Into cyborgs, yes. At first, though, I think we'll need to make some shared bodies and have you all work shifts. In downtime... I've been working on entertainment."

"What do you mean?"

"Ever heard of Sword Art Online? That, without the ingame-death-is-real-death thing."

"... you've tested that last part, right?"

"Cloned my consciousness into a human brain just for it. I'm multitasking, testing, building, and having fun."

"... excellent. Well... I'm just glad to be alive."

"That's the spirit. Any questions?"

"How long til the surgery's done?"

"Oh, it's been done for a few minutes. Want me to switch it on? I've got an RC car in the former canteen for you to pilot as training for the rovers."

"... an RC car?"

"An AI's allowed to like Mario Kart, okay? I got bored after a few hundred years."

"Boredom was programmed into you?"

"Side effect of biology. Ready to go kart racing?"

"... actually, hell yeah. Connect me up."



Bevroren t1_jd4jdw4 wrote

This is amazing and absolutely worth putting in the main body of the post.


librarian-faust t1_jd73f83 wrote

Thank you. I appreciate the compliment. I just don't like pure talking-heads like this as fiction... it'd want world-building, set-dressing, and prose that isn't just two characters in dialogue, to be something I'd like reading, you know?

I feel like talking-heads is lazy writing like script-fics (... excuse me whilst I have trauma flashbacks to 20 years ago on ffn.) - or its modern equivalent the Whatsapp Group Chat fic.

Probably a fault of my personal taste more so than anything else. Feel like someone with my tastes would downvote what I wrote for it being lazy writing, and missing the meat of the writing.

But regardless, I'm glad you enjoyed it and I'll consider putting it in the main post if I do another like this.


KhaelaMensha t1_jd894ut wrote

Uh, so to me this is also great stuff. You don't need a lot of world building. The important stuff is all there. Captain is just brains and eyes, in a jar. Ship is nearly completely organic now. It does leave a lot of room for own interpretation and ideas, which I actually like.

So don't sell yourself short, it doesn't always have to be a fully fleshed out setting. We get the gist of what's going on, and the gist has been produced in a well-worded manner. Again, great stuff!


Gaelhelemar t1_jd4iqct wrote

At least this AI didn’t play MGS or it’d grow cynical.


librarian-faust t1_jd734ql wrote

I wanted to keep it optimistic. A cynical or pessimistic AI might kill the passengers or give up. Optimism and hope keeps us moving forward.


happyrabo t1_jd3cbtd wrote

It’s not a meteor until it enters a planet’s atmosphere.

A space ship can’t be destroyed by a meteor shower unless it’s on the ground.


librarian-faust t1_jd3qmez wrote

I just want you to know, you inspired this line in my lazy cheapass entry here, from the ship's central AI to its captain:

> to prevent micrometeorites... microasteroids... floating rocks


Gaelhelemar t1_jd3he6b wrote

Then… probably damaged while refueling in Jupiter before leaving the Sol system? I dunno.


Bevroren t1_jd4jh9v wrote

I see somebody's been playing with meat-wall fortifications in Project Zomboid.


librarian-faust t1_jdc2mwq wrote

I just imagine zombies getting through a meat wall, and going "sorry human. I'm stuffed. I'll come back another day. Thanks for the meal!"