Chapter 4. Incident Report

Journal Entry 18:04:27 – 12.17.2185

Like every other ship in the International Deep-Space Administration Fleet, the Shinkai Maru 5 comes with a Living Modified Organism that cares for basic on-board operations. On the SM5, it is a Transgenic Fish/Humanoid known as Spegg. These LMOs are hatchery grown and they are given basic training and instruction as part of an implanted intelligence. Outside of basic duty instruction and training, they are kept fairly ignorant. These LMOs are bred to be tough and resilient, capable but not particularly strong, intelligent enough to do the job but not clever. Some anti-LMO groups have called them “dangerously unintelligent.”

Maxim Akihiko Broussad, Personal Journal Entry

[Communication sent: 17DEC2185 Shinkai Maru 5]    Send article as PDF   

Journal Entry 07:22:35 – 12.18.2185

Although society has grown to accept all naturally-born life as having full rights and equalities, LMOs are grown like plants with organic parts and don’t fall into that privileged category. LMOs have been entirely docile and subservient in the past but a few cases of violent dissociative identity disorder (DID) events have very recently surfaced. Some say that these recent DID events have been caused by new behavior modification treatments, in which the LMOs are given subtle, placating memories. In a very public battle against the practices of the Deep-Space Administration, in regard to LMOs, one researcher with an anti-LMO group stated that these memory implants are causing unexplainable phobias, sudden anger without a justified cause, frequent panic/anxiety attacks, distortion or loss of identity. Personally, I’m not sure what I believe. But at the moment, I don’t much care for them.

Maxim Akihiko Broussad, Personal Journal Entry

[Communication sent: 18DEC2185 Shinkai Maru 5]    Send article as PDF   

Journal Entry 18:07:06 – 12.18.2185

When you get a chance to test your courage and your skill and earn a place in the promotions queue at JAXA, you don’t turn it down. That is, unless, you have no courage or skill to speak of. In October, I accepted a mission to sort out an unacceptable amount of wave interference between the Hyperdrive Assist Station and Tanegashima COMS. Part of the thrill in a job like this came from six weeks of training to navigate the SM5 to the Hyperdrive Assist Station by myself. The SM5 is an extraordinary vessel, one of the newest ships in the International Deep-Space Administration’s fleet. The other thrill in the mission, if you could call it that, was in over-spooling an energy source powerful enough to punch a hole in the fabric of space. That was eighteen days ago. Courage and skill were the order of the day then, for what it was worth. At 1300 hours, Spegg and I docked the SM5 at Hyperdrive Assist Station, set all the ship functions to a warm-inactive status, set the safeties on the SM5’s hyperdrive controls, and began setting up signal and interference monitoring equipment in the SM5’s communications tech center. I can easily say that I was anxious. If only I knew then… what I know now.

[Communication sent: 18DEC2185 Shinkai Maru 5]

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Journal Entry 16:41:24 – 12.21.2185

A Transgenic Fish/Humanoid is half-human and half-fish, with a gigantic mouth and large, round, black eyes [image attached]. They look moist and they smell artificial. They have very little hair. You could call their skin tone “greenish-gray” and you would be fairly correct. The absence of a pronounced nose makes their facial structure all the more bizarre. Although they are normally an extremely quiet and docile asset, working with LMOs on a ship of any size can be a challenge. As part of their ship integration, they are given basic training and instruction. Some recent integrations, especially on deep-space explorers, come with an amount of implanted memories in the form of simple chemical caps at the DNA level. Normally, these memories never surface enough to create emotional responses, but you begin to wonder what’s going on in their heads when a Living Modified Organism asks you about the dangerous nature of your mission. Most individuals assigned to a project with an LMO would at least obscure the truth a bit.

I don’t much care for LMOs, so when Spegg asked me about over-spooling the Hyperdrive Assist Station and the potential for a massive explosion, I simply told him the truth. I also told him that without a pre-set exit vector, we could find ourselves in any point in space imaginable. This is where Spegg’s line of questioning became very strange indeed.

[Communication sent: 21DEC2185 Shinkai Maru 5]


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Journal Entry 19:44:02 – 12.22.2185

The Hyperdrive Assist Station is a vacant and lifeless structure. It operates only when a ship is docked, locked and cleared for passage. During the spool-up and jump procedure, all controls can be operated either manually or from the Tanegashima COMS center. Most all ships that pass through the Hyperdrive Assist Station are manned by twelve or more crew persons and one Living Modified Organism.

On the day that Spegg and I were to sort out the wave interference problem with communications, we were alone on the ship and cut off from Tanegashima. To put an explanation to what may have gone wrong that day, it bears mentioning in advance that an LMO like Spegg has no family, no history, and no home. Unlike humans and higher-functioning animals, most LMOs have no concept of life, death or otherwise interest in the subject matter. During my mission brief, I told Spegg that some part of the HD Assist drive “spool up” process is causing interference with the guest-ship communications arrays and that we were instructed to over-spool the drive and record data that would lead to the development of a signal conditioner to fix any future interference. Spegg became visibly nervous. Until that time, I had never seen an LMO exhibit any emotional response to any sort of situation. This change in behavior should have been my signal that something bad was about to happen. But when a massive deep-space Hyperdrive is rapidly spooling up to maximum levels, you focus on the task at hand.

This was my mistake.

[Communication sent: 22DEC2185 Shinkai Maru 5]    Send article as PDF   

Journal Entry 09:38:13 – 12.23.2185

Everything was about to come apart.

We had to work the problem with speed and caution. Although Living Modified Organisms supposedly have no concept of life or death, Spegg became exceedingly nervous and distracted after I informed him about the dangers involved in over-spooling a Hyperdrive Assist Station. As the Drive Assist neared maximum levels, the noise and vibration became considerable. This was a time to work quickly and with great attention to detail. Most of the monitoring equipment was in place and we would soon have data pouring in from the communications feed splice. Shivering uncontrollably and babbling on about something I couldn’t hear over the din, Spegg began to have serious difficulty in helping me set up the last of the equipment and making the final adjustments. At one point, I shouted at Spegg and commanded him to pay attention. Undeterred, Spegg was relentless in asking me about the jump procedure and where an open event might send us without a programmed exit vector. Under pressure, I scolded him viciously. It was at that time that Spegg asked me the one question that should have stopped me in my tracks. Spegg simply asked “Could an unplanned jump possibly take us to my home system… where my people come from?”

In reply – without thinking – I gave him the answer he was looking for and condemned us both.

[Communication sent: 23DEC2185 Shinkai Maru 5]    Send article as PDF   

Journal Entry 09:51:14 – 12.25.2185

Spegg was noticeably nervous and confused, shaking uncontrollably and clumsily dropping pieces of equipment. Spegg asked me if an unplanned jump with no programmed exit vector could possibly take the ship to whatever system his home planet and his people came from. As a Living Modified Organism, grown in a tank, Spegg has no home. Spegg’s earliest origins are in a lab, a cell culture dish. Frustrated with his incessant questioning and his lack of concentration, I carelessly replied “If we pop free at this point, we could appear anywhere and everywhere in the Universe. At these energy levels, anything is possible, Spegg.”

If Spegg had any kind of reaction to this statement, I didn’t notice. The Hyperdrive Assist had now passed max levels. The data from the communications feed splice began to pour in and I steadied my attention on the monitoring equipment. Over all the noise and confusion, Spegg babbled on about his people. I heard him say that they were out there somewhere. Consumed by this fantasy of his, Spegg wasn’t even looking at the equipment or the controls anymore. I shouted at him over all the noise. Oblivious, Spegg continued to flail around the equipment in the control room.

At this level, the Hyperdrive Assist generates a dangerous amount of energy to hold for even a short period. We had little time to finish our work and then reduce power levels to a safe volume. To be honest, I was indifferent to Spegg’s situation. As the interference data began to register with the monitoring equipment, I turned my back on Spegg and focused my attention on tuning the signal conditioner. When I looked back, Spegg was hunched over the hyperdrive, switching off the safeties and struggling to unlock the jump drive release lever. At first, I was stunned, frozen. I then shouted and lurched at Spegg. In a rage, Spegg rushed at me and drove both of his fists into my chest, knocking me backwards against the bulkhead.

In a daze, I saw Spegg throw the lever. The noise was terrible. I covered my ears, screaming. The Hyperdrive Assist Station exploded around the SM5. In an instant, we were gone. The experience is a lot like having your mind spun into a swirling sea of nothingness and then the blackness consumes you. When I recovered, I was alone on the ship. Spegg had done his damages, loaded the survival pod and left.

Let this serve as the Official Incident Report regarding the sabotage and subsequent marooning of the Shinkai Maru 5 in unknown space on 12.01.2185 by the Living Modified Organism, Transgenic Fish/Humanoid known as Spegg. Incident report by Acting Captain Maxim Akihiko Broussad, Communications Satellite Continuance Managing Project Officer L2, JAXA Japan.

[Communication sent: 25DEC2185 Shinkai Maru 5]

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Next Chapter: 5. Catch and Release

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transmission details:

A communications specialist in the year 2185 is abandoned in deep space by a deranged Living Modified Organism, setting up a series of events that lead him back in time to a ruined home world ruled by a wealthy eccentric, a scientist playing God, and the very creature that first stranded him in space.