[Starship Scarborough, Transmission 3]
This is Shawn Heart, reporting on behalf of the crew of the Starship Scarborough. [Heavy breathing.]
Correction. This is Shawn Heart, the last remaining member of the crew of the Starship Scarborough—the last remaining human on this godforsaken planet. [Crashing noises.]
I don't know how much longer I'll be alive, but I'm sure that doesn't matter to any of you listening to this broadcast, if you even are listening. I don't trust that you care enough for that.
By the time you receive this transmission, I know I'll be long dead.
This planet that you sent us to, although it might look barren and desolate from the sky, holds an infection deep within it. You couldn't possibly have known that when you sent us here, though. How could you have? You barely took the time to research this hellscape before shipping convicts off here to die.
But we're just convicts, right? Criminals. What do we matter?
But, despite the crimes we've committed, we're still human, and none of us deserved this fate you condemned us to. [Crashing noises.] Nobody does.
I met your friend, America Lee. [Rasping breaths.] I know all about the other missions you are planning. In fact, we even found one of the sister starships of Scarborough, abandoned here and covered in the cocoons of the infected creatures that haunt the heart of this planet.
That's right. I know this wasn't the first mission. I know there were others before us. We found them.
When the aliens infesting their starship attacked myself and five of my crew mates, they chased us into the caves beneath the ground. These monsters are abominations beyond what you can imagine, and I'm staring at dozens of them out the window of the pilot house now. They are larger than human beings. Some of them only by a little, but some of them are massive, five—ten times the size of me. They have wings to fly, tentacles to swim and grab, and the bodies of worms, allowing them to burrow deep beneath the ground—perfectly adapted to inhabit hell.
But that isn't the worst part. The worst is their teeth.
Within their mouths, infected maggots stew, spreading their disease with a single bite. One of our crew mates died that way. We watched him turn from a human being into a monster without any mind or soul. Just hunger. A living dead abomination.
And that was how we found the crew members of our sisters ship, too. Deep within the bowels of this planet, they hatched from their cocoons of hibernation, their skin rotting from their bones and their eyes black and blind. Zombies.
I managed to make it out. The three remaining crew mates I was traveling with, America Lee, Elias Young, and Jessica, weren't as lucky. Or, perhaps they were the lucky ones. They're dead now, at least.
I don't know exactly what happened to the rest of the crew—I wasn't at the starship when they were attacked. However, I can imagine. I found their bodies when I returned, mutilated and torn to shreds as parasites picked the meat from their bones.
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Down UnderScience Fiction
Shawn, a convicted criminal, never thought she'd see the sun again, let alone call another star system her home. When she's offered an out from her prison sentence, she embarks on a dangerous interstellar expedition along with 18 of Earth's most int...