The only whole and complete part of the wreckage that could be found, the voice recorder was nonetheless damaged and many entries were entirely corrupted. Fortunately, numerous seemingly sequential entries were in fairly good condition, with only minor breaks in quality of recording, although some have argued that many of these are not clusters of corrupt data, but the strange and bewildering responses from the person who had made every single log, as far as voice-pattern recognition was able to determine.
Of course, some of the ramblings of the obviously unstable individual who had been entrusted with the missing ship were easily pointed out and objectified as a pure and singular madness, but even today arguments are hoisted against each other by varied scholars as to the true meanings behind some of the somewhat more lucid moments caught for posterity in the small, durable little capsule which has found its way into the hands of those who could not know, and would never understand-- those who experience only through the history texts about the ancient and horrible menace of the Dalbis Empire.
To take the most salient points from the histories, the Dalbi Empire was the end result of an experiment in weapons of mass destruction, when humans from the 26th century tried to engineer a semi-biological, semi-technological lifeform with the sole purpose of destruction. Through the carelessness of those earlier scientists, they made little of the facts that the Dalbi entities developed an advanced degree of intelligence, their capability to make logical decisions and distinctions, and most surprising of all, what seemed to be a system of complex emotional reactions. The Dalbi were, in their active form, deemed much too dangerous to keep around permanently, were placed in a primitive and experimental from of suspended animation until such a time that they would be called upon to defend their creators. The entire collective Dalbi entities were secured inside a large artificial planetoid, and slept there undisturbed for nearly 20 years.
History remains unsure on the specifics of how the Dalbi were reactivated-- error and sabotage being the most likely causes-- but the end result was that without any enemies at which to be directed, the Dalbi immediately defaulted to the only near source of life: Humanity. They quickly managed to rampage through the nearby planetary systems, leaving human forces devastated wherever they went. After an intensive battle plan was devised and initiated to force the Dalbi to retreat slowly back to their artificial home, they were all forced within by a ferocious, battering assault, and a second form of dangerous and experimental technology-- a prototype portal weapon, now banned in all lawful parts of the galaxy-- was used to warp the entire planetoid, and all its bizarre, furious inhabitants, into what was assumed to be another dimension.
However, if this new discovery can be trusted, our ancestors had made one more mistake through their actions. Of course, it is impossible to say just which parts of the audio logs can be trusted as fact, and which are the fiction of a severely addled mind; but if one ignores the later ramblings of pure nonsense, one can draw certain conclusions of the even more ancient past, and of both the true nature of the Dalbi, and the truth of what happened to them after being exiled from the 26th century.
No conclusions will be forced upon you: you are being allowed to experience every second of dialogue which has any relevance at all to the mysterious events of the strange pilot who was forced to face the horror of the Dalbi on his own. But be certain, some things become almost frighteningly clear... if you can separate that which might be truth from that which can only be hoped to be a frightening collection of fiction.
bEntry title: Pre-flight check/b
iHmm... looks like this thing is working too... Hello?
This is Nathanial Gilman of the Model-C ship XR-9, United Earthspace Confederation; January 28, UEC 2192. It's just gonna be me here for a little while... at least, before I hit the ruins of...
Uh, well, anyway, most of the squadron calls me Nate, so whoever winds up listening to this, that's what you can call me if I'm not... alive.
And oh yeah, before I forget to mention it, just so that we've got our terms straight, eh? This hot little number I'm riding, it was such a pity that they gave it a barcode for a name, but the engineers let me in on a little secret-- they've been calling this baby the Rubicon ever since they got the final designs on the table, and that's as good a name as any, if you ask me. I, myself, like to call her Ruby, but, eheh... the name never caught on... I guess it doesn't help having this dead grey paintjob...
Ahem But, here I am, all the same. This is a log whose purpose, first and foremost, is to maintain a brief explanation of this mission, in the eventuality that no records will survive the coming war. Heavens know, I have my doubts about this whole thing myself... but then, I'm the one piloting Ruby, so what do I have to worry about, right?
Three months ago, a long-range exploration vessel on its way out of the system encountered a fragment of energy-emitting organic material drifting through space just at the edge of our solar system. The discovery itself was made public, but the later findings of the official government investigation were deemed too dangerous for the public to know about. Hell, I only found out about it two days ago, because they couldn't afford to have me flapping my big lips around about it... of course, now that I'm already out here with Ruby, chances are that by the time we get back, there'll be no need to hide it-- or there'll be no one to hide it from.
Man, I've got to stop thinking like that.
I couldn't really understand the specifics of the final report, because hey, I'm just a pilot! But they made things nice and easy to understand: the object that was found out there in deep space is biomechanical, a fusion of organic material and technological marvels which are apparently beyond what we're capable of. Sounds hard to believe, but... what's more, the energy it had been transmitting-- the reason we were able to find it in the first place-- was being directed in a very specific direction... out into the depths of space beyond the solar system. Of all the possibilities, the worst-case scenario was that something is out there... something more technically advanced than us.
That theory was proven to everyone when the things attacked the Jupiter Orbital MAC cannons...
Shit... here they come./i
bEnd log entry/b
bEntry title: The Dalbi/b
iI don't understand it!
These things, these... monstrosities... they adapt to new environments, change them, make them their own, and end up as completely different organisms-- things you couldn't even begin to imagine, not even in your nightmares, grotesque mockeries of nature...
No! I won't accept it!
They turned the Mars arcologies into so much rubble, then transformed the entire planet back into a desert in the span of six days. Six days! After a hundred years of terraforming work trying to create a livable surface on that blasted planet, these hellish things have reduced it all into nothing!
And the lead scientists have given me an update, although for the life of me, I'll never know why: they've named the creatures, somehow, the Dalbi... and beyond that, they've discovered something that frankly, frightens the bejeesus out of me. These aliens, these Dalbi... their genetic structure is almost unfathomable, but one thing has been proven beyond doubt-- these creepy bastards have a double helix structure.
Identical to ours.
Yeah, well, I'll believe it when one of them doesn't try to blow me 'n Ruby up, and tries actually communicating. Until then, these Dalbi are just a bunch of scum-sucking aliens, as far as my trigger finger is concerned./i
bEnd log entry/b
bEntry title: Battleship Raid/b
iThere isn't much time-- the Dalbi have penetrated the Earth's defensive grid, and are conducting a mass assault on Earth City... the last refuge.
The last home we have.
As far as I know, I'm the only force of resistance left that can reliably eliminate the aliens, and I'll be hitting the combat zone in two minutes. I was able to scrounge up some upgrades for Ruby at the old wrecked government facility, but I have no idea whether this thing under the hood is experimental, or if it will even make a difference to my firepower... I can only hope.
My god... there it is... it's huge...
Can I really do this by myself...?/i
bEnd log entry/b
bEntry title: none/b
I have seen sights today... that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
With Earth safe-- for now-- I've taken the fight out into space... out to the Dalbi...
Can you imagine what it is like flying into a planet? A giant, flying planet spewing out creatures bent on killing you by any means necessary? A giant, flying, mechanical planet which looks like it's about to devour the entire solar system...
But this, this isn't a planet... it's artificial, in every way. Hell, it's more of a factory than anything. No... maybe...
Those who have seen the Dalbi up-close, believe that these things are monsters from a far away galaxy. If only I could explain to them... if only there were still someone I could contact... I don't even know who's left...
This gigantic laboratory... it's making them. In all shapes and sizes, for what could be any dozen different kinds of uses... the Dalbi are being maufactured-- mass-produced at a rate which we could not ever conceivably compete. I've done what I can in this area, but I don't dare try to take out the rest of the place... the Dalbi seem to be getting better at anticipating my tactics, at exploiting my weaknesses... they even destroyed my main offensive weaponry in a fluke sneak attack, and I had to jury-rig the bio-weapons from some corpses I'd left behind to even stand a chance. It's strange, the material, it's fused to Ruby, and is now fully integrated with the control output... I can't understand it, and I don't want to think about it any more than I have to.
There is... some kind of... portal. Here, in the core of this monstrous planet. I'm looking at it right now. My sensors can't pass through it... they keep bouncing off, and the signals I get back are distorted in ways I didn't think were possible. To me it just looks like a wall of opaque yellow fluid, but there must be something on the other side... there has to be.
I have to go as far as I can. I have to stop them./i
bEnd log entry/b
bEntry title: 01n45v0aw/b
iThis... is wrong...
The$$$$(8 nfe123n't be possible, but somehow, I5weo)(orward in time... Th36-98(#::re ships from a more advanc()(JMNra, from what contact I've been able to make, they're from the 26th century... and hEEEEE130497!)&ssible, I dare not speculate.
They tried to destroy me, when they f!50b out where I come from... but the Dalbi... they interfered... c9680R&WRd)( faaef97nce to escape...
One thing is clear, now. They-- we-- tr14(# n389-nd them away, to a dimension where they could not r035367-36-98HFEP KKETch us... but they made a mistake... they sent them back to the 22nd century...
The D#69-8 EYre our own creation... if I cannot find a way to des)& them... we have no future...
We have no past.../i
bEnd log entry/b
bNotice: This entry's data has been corrupted for unknown reasons. A maintenance check should be performed to ensure further malfunctions./b
bEntry title: Lost/b
iI'm space sick again... I'm dead tired... this place... it can't be healthy for my head...
I don't even know how I got here, wherever this is... there are... colours... everywhere... yellows, browns, reds... it's beautiful...
The Dalbi are here, too... they seem different... somehow... there is a pattern to their movement... they seem to come and go in waves, almost like the tide... almost like nature intended...
I can't keep fighting... something strange is happening to my Ruby... she's changing... responding... reacting... I think the cockpit configuration changed, but I'm just not sure... anymore...
Whatever happens, I just hope... that I can make it back... unchanged.../i
bEnd log entry/b
bEntry title: Infinityyyyyy$#'/b
iThe drrriftingggg666 sp3333cks of light...,
Soothe ehthehthe darknesss7 of my heart.
... Enough to forget my nightmares.
Evenn90& another dimennnnsion, they retain 7431$ terrifying ability to adapt...
are a man-m4446de nightmare... and I I I I
Cannot wake up...
Familiar places... but--
bWarning: This log entry could not be terminated in the correct manner because of a complete FU exception in the RTF kernel. Please conduct a maintena/b
I swim through a sea of stars...
Without looking back to shore...
001011010010100 101010101010110 010110000101001 010100111010101
Faster than light... bending time...
W h e n e v e r/i
boreh sselraef a saw eh ecnogodhctaw tserof a wonereh dehsael mih speek live tahw?/b
As you can see, there was a certain amount of confusion with the final entries-- such anomalies seem impossible, yet there are nonetheless things presented here which cannot be explained by conventional, or even rational, means.
We are currently requesting more time to analyse the more heavily corrupted logs in an attempt to further explain what may have happened.
bEnd report: rank-o-l-l classified/b