Another attempt @ a shared story concept...
Shift Stalkers - Shadow Slayer Group Alpha
For a very long time... (Ha! TIME... there is no such thing anymore... there is only The Dark...) mankind had thought the key to galactic exploration was achieving velocities equal to or exceeding the speed of light.
But it was the discovery & understanding of Dark Matter, and the subsequent development of methods & techniques, that enabled mankind to manipulate The Dark - making inter-stellar travel a reality.
You see... light takes "time" to reach a point in "space"... The Dark is already there... constant, instant. Light radiates, bends & reflects - The Dark penetrates, floods & is unyeilding. The Dark exists even in light - the longest shadows are cast when the sun is on the horizon. In The Dark - light does not exist... but there are other things that do.
Humans had been using The Dark for over 60 years & had managed to colonize 12 other worlds in 10 star systems in that short period. Then they opened a Void (a conduit for Dark Shift) to the Idrian system. Idria 4 is an Earth-like planet & is populated by the only other sentient beings Humans have fostered an alliance with thus far. They are a bi-pedal, reptilian, humanoid species & Voids occur naturally on Idria 4.
Idrians have a long history with The Dark & the Jah'Duu that dwell within The Dark. Naturally occuring Voids are common on Idria 4 & the Jah'Duu use these conduits to feed on any Idrian, or Human for that matter, unfortunate enough to find themselves in complete darkness.
When Humans opened a Void to Idria 4 it also provided the Jah'Duu a gateway to Earth's Voidnet Darklanes. Humans call the Jah'Duu - Shadows, because that's exactly what they appear to be in daylight.
Shadows have threatened Earth's fledgling colonies for 8 years now... the Department of Dark Matter Affairs, along with the Idrian High Council, have assembled an elite group of commandos called Shift Stalkers - assigned with the task of ridding both species of this increasing menace.
Normal Dark Shift travel happens in an instant & Humans tolerate it well. Idrians are better adapted to sustained exposure in The Dark... very few Humans can withstand this disorientation for extended periods. Gideon Standridge is the exception, along with his Idrian partner, Mex'ull Veg'lek - they make up the Shift Stalker unit - designation Shadow Slayer Group Alpha. They are the only Stalkers to survive more than 3 missions & are the only team to return with the "plasmoid" corpse of a slain Jah'Duu. Their service records lists 22 successful missions & a combined kill count of 37.
Gideon & Mex'ull are preparing to open a Void... entering The Dark for a 23rd mission... their most dangerous yet... they're planning an assault on a small Jah'Duu nest.
Viper6 entry :
The massive craft shook and shuddered as it streamed through a watery corridor of distorted dark matter
"Temperature climbing....Power levels are fluctuating wildy Sir..."
The young lieutenant informed her superior officer who was stalking the bridge. he darted from station to station involving himself intimately in the operation to jump his ship to a precise a location in enemy space and deliver the elite forces on board to target. He flashed an annoyed look at the engineer.
"well stabalize them then, else we're going to have some serious issues arent we lieutenenat?"
"Affirmative Sir...im attempting to reroute and recalibrate the main systems now; be advised...we are going to lose gravity and primary power"
"Just keep the engines stable Fianna!" the Captain scowled as he fixated on the holographic display; the main drive was cycling through a meltdown and the corridor was collpasing...he had acepted they were all likely going to die.
"Captain!" the navigator exclaimed "we are approaching objective zero zero one seven zulu alpha one Sir; two minutes to target, we need to hold present course and speed if we're going to make the jump!"
"damn it...belay that last order lieutentant...prepare to fire all heat sinks when once we jump to the objective"
"Roger Sir..." the young officer quickly initiated the program via her holo pad, but she was skeptical she would live to see it through.
"Captain?" the operations officer interrupted "if we burn all our sinks on cooling the core from this jump... we arent going to be able to take the ship planet side, sir."
"noted... but if we dont ,we are all going to end up fused in an unrecognizable mass of molten scrap drifting in deep spoace...track'n?"
"one minute to target, sir" the navigator stated gravely.
the ship was vibrating at an alarming rate, the red console lights were flashing and the automated systems were declaring an alert in a calm crisis management tone that really did little for anyones nerves.
"Sir...Jump Drive is critical"! the lieutentant said in a panic
"45 seconds sir" the navigator provided the critical count
"Hold us together lieutenant."
"Sir I need to fire all sinks now or disengage the drive ....we have exceeded critical!!!"
"Ensign? time to target?" the captain demanded
"35 seconds sir"
Fianna slashed at the spectral icon with a sigh of relief, instanteniously a series of small explosions errupted in the engine bay and coolant cannisters released their life saving contents altering the critical chemical combustion in the core. the ship slowed in response and the vibrations settled considerably.
the navicomputer flashed and the displays fluttered as new courses and calculations were processed amidst the now collapsing corridor. the ship slowed to a crawl in deep space.
"SITREP" the captain growled
all stations reported in...and there was little good news to go around.
BL4CK5H33P entry :
[The Nest... Location : Dark Point 72XX-418B... Sector 13]
Somewhere in the viscous, infinite blackness of the The Dark, the life cycle of the Jah'Duu was continuing... as it had since the Universe had spewed forth life over & over again. Tens of thousands of embryos were squirming & twitching within their cocoons... Scores of Jah'Duu nursing drones drifted from one pod group to the next, delivering sustainence to the unborn.
Many Earthtime weeks still lie ahead before the first hatchlings would emerge from their gelatenous exo-wombs & those hatchlings, like all Jah'Duu newborns, would take their 1st "breath" of life & then begin to feed... many will not even survive the initial moments of life outside their cocoons... being devoured by their nestmates... that is the way of The Dark.
None of these plasmoid tadpoles have any consiousness that new predators, a new type of killers would be seeking their extermination... an entirely alien pair of hunters was coming for them... & bringing light to their murky environment.
Viper6 entry :
"we're short our jump point sir ....at current speed, navicomputer calculates 12 hours 37 minutes and 47.66 seconds to desired alignment" Namora shook his head as he briefed the Captain, who nodded and set his jaw in anger.
"Corridor has fully collapsed sir..." another deck officer informed him from her console. She deftly manipulated a holographic display of the star system, "we are here, traveling in true space in the vicinity of Zymartis-prime"
"gods of the deep dark..." the captain grumbled "Zymartis prime? thats a...
"Rogue system sir?, yes, and restricted space; our presence her violates several command directives and..."
Lieutenant Fianna interrupted, rolling her eyes at lieutent Kelsa's dissertation in protocal "Sir, drive cylinders one, three, seven and ten are cooked, offline, and irreprable; engineering reports cylinders two and four are not currently cycling but expect full repair and restoration within three to four hours"
"Fraaaak" the captain sank into his chair and spun around to contemplate their misfortune, the vast dark blackness, seemd to stare back it him he often thought the very universe itself had a life and an intelligence all its own, and that surely it must be plotting against him.
Namora leaned close to Lieutenant kelsa and inquired "So Zymarti-Prime? what were you saying about all that, should we even be here?!"
"in short..." Kelsa said in little more than a whisper "this whole system thumbed their collective noses at the federation, and explored certain technolgies that DID NOT meet with the policies of SIERA, ya know the Space Science and Industry Ethics and Regulations Administration or whatever? ...so the fraked up sh*t is this, they developed some crazy weapons and what not that ensured their autonomy cause after about a dozen or so efforts to reclaim these colonies, efforts that cost the federation just unspeakable loses...hmmmf, they just up and let it go. yup, badap...branded...rogue system."
"wha..what kind of weapons?" Namora kringed, his curiousity piqued
"Did yall cover this in tech ethics? interstellar relations? federation politics? any of them courses at academy cause im pretty sure you ought to know this sh*t Namora?"
"Stow it!" the captain bellowed as he stood and fixed his gaze on Kelsa and Namora for effect. his dark eyes were commanding, confident, and in this moment ...a bit psychotic
"This is a priority announcement" he spoke into the ships intercom "this is not a drill; all hands be advised we are under duress and in restricted space, an alpha alert is effect immediately...further announcements will follow."
"reeerh, reeeerh, reeerh"....the yellow lights flashed as the alarm initiated the alert throughout the craft in response to the order.
staring off into the stars the captain prayed their crippled craft was not already attracting the attention of the Zymarti-Prime fleet. he couldnt risk a jump with his ship's drive so thoroughly fucked and they were in no shape nor were the adequately equiped to fight it out.........and even if, the star hammer stood no chance against even the most modest Zymartian craft.