As before, I claim no ownership of the motion picture Event Horizon nor the Buffyverse. Said properties are the exclusive province of Paramount Pictures and Paul S. Anderson, and Joss Whedon, respectively.
A week passed before she was cleared by USAC Intelligence to be read on for Top Secret SCI, during which Admiral Bayfield himself had made no less than fifteen calls to the ISWC Slayer Directorate and the ISWC Director herself. In all cases, Captain Summers was recommended with the highest marks; at one point she was even given several glowing recommendations as their top operative, as well as being their top demonologist, top marksman, expert unarmed combat specialist…the list went on. They also confirmed the captain’s unnatural longevity, so all her accolades really came as no great surprise.
Eventually, the end of the week found Buffy about to step through the last of their most stringent security stations into the vault that held one of the last remaining secrets of the Event Horizon
. According to the log, this particular vault held nothing else, so the secret of the Horizon
must have been important indeed as well as disturbing. For the Slayer, though, such great and terrible secrets were par for the course, as it were, so she really expected nothing less than their most paranoid precautions to protect any knowledge of such a thing from ever getting out to the general public. Her palmprint, voiceprint and retinal ID were checked and rechecked for the umpteenth time before she finally was granted clearance to enter the vault at last. She passed through the first, second and third inner seals to the vault, where the Event Horizon
’s flight data recorder sat on a raised pedestal. Within, it was quiet save for the hum of electronic equipment that preserved the precious data stored on the device. It was a nondescript “black box” model that had remained unchanged for nearly a century, save for the nature of the storage media that contained the encoded data. It was also cold, unnaturally cold, as though whatever the Horizon
had brought back with it left a piece of itself in the black box, and the closer she got to the device, the more the ambient temperature seemed to drop, until the Slayer got to within arm’s reach of it. She tentatively reached out to touch it, and she nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt heat, even with the intense, bone-biting cold she felt all around her. A moment’s reflection, though, brought it to her attention that the device was neither hot nor cold, but warm to the touch, as though it was imploring her to listen to its tale. She reached out then with both hands and lifted the device off its pedestal, surprised at its lukewarm feel, and she took it to the far wall and the playback equipment that was made for the purpose of decrypting and playing back the copious files of mission data in audiovisual format. There were video files and still-frame shots in various spectra ranging from sonic echo to thermal and ultraviolet, electrical footprints and visual light spectra.
Buffy concerned herself firstly with the audiovisual data and the thermal imaging as well as the bioscanner readouts. She scanned forward to the moment when the Horizon
entered the wormhole and penetrated the fabric of space-time. She viewed the footage of Kilpack and crew before their fateful rendezvous with the unknown. Everything seemed so cheerful, so full of hope and bright expectation, the joyous declaration of a crew that faced their destiny far out among the stars, with hardly any thought that their mission might go sour in ways that nobody had even imagined could occur. Then, at the moment of penetration through the veil of the universe, everything went black, and then the horror of what they had encountered revealed itself to the Slayer at last. It was the first documented footage of a spacecraft and its crew entering a Hell dimension. The Slayer made a mental note to have the Council procure a copy of this data for research and archiving. The wealth of information would take a decade or more to catalog and sort out in a manner that would reveal all the supernatural aspects of the event to any Slayer teams that had a mind to enter this place and pursue their quarry.
After witnessing the horrific fate of Kilpack and his crew, she had surmised that the next seven years’ worth of footage would be the same throughout, so she skipped to the end of it and concerned herself with the Event Horizon
’s re-emergence into known space and reality in the orbit of Neptune. How had it happened, and what prompted the ship to suddenly return home after all this time spent in Hell, for lack of a better word? How did the ship acquire the so-called “life force” that had been detected by the bioscanners and touted by Starck as the explanation for the experiences of the crew of the Lewis and Clark
as they were investigating the return of the ship into the Solar System?
Did the Horizon
simply miss being home and want to return? And had the ship really and truly become evil
in the literal sense of the word? If so, then why?
She skipped ahead to the arrival of the Clark
in Neptune’s orbit and their encounter with the Horizon
. Seemingly from the very beginning after Captain Miller and his crew had boarded the ship, the signs of its transformation had been apparent, from the moment when Peters had encountered the “corpse-icle” to Ensign Justin’s disappearance into the black pool that had formed in the middle of the core of Horizon
’s gravity drive, the release of the gravitic wave that had damaged the Clark
, and Justin’s subsequent reappearance and coma. This was not the same ship that had departed on its supposed day-long journey to Proxima Centauri, not by any stretch of the imagination. Certainly the structure of the vessel remained the same up until the corridor had been blown by Miller, the identity of the vessel was the same, but the overall feel of the vessel, that quality that made a ship what it was since the days of the wind-powered sailing ships that floated across the Atlantic and before, was not there; in its place was something menacing, something powerful. It had the feel of a thing that every Slayer throughout human history had felt the compulsion to destroy. Had it not been destroyed by Miller when he sacrificed himself to save his crew from Hell, the Slayer would most certainly feel the same compulsion to destroy this thing that dared to call itself a space vessel.
As it stood, though, all she had to go on was information and records, something the Archives Watchers would take great pride and pleasure in collating and categorizing for future reference and study. The chance to study the data from the first space vessel to enter a Hell dimension would simply be too tempting to pass up. Buffy realized she was going to have to get Bayfield’s permission to distribute a copy of the flight recorder data to the ISWC Archives. She did not
look forward to that conversation with the good Admiral.
The United States Aerospace Command did not start out as a military organization. Its charter stated that USAC’s purpose was peaceful exploration of the Solar System and beyond to further their understanding of the mysteries of the universe. Much like the Star Fleet of Star Trek
fiction, though, for the purposes of organization USAC personnel followed something similar to a military command hierarchy, and over time, especially during the early days of colonization, the organization evolved into a military force charged with the defense of the sovereign territories of the Solar System. Like any military organization that prided itself on the success of its operations, said success was due in no small part to their protection of sensitive mission information, including ship-to-ship communication and encryption protocols. To arbitrarily release such sensitive information was anathema to any military command level officer, especially those of flag rank, and so Buffy regarded the conversation she was soon to require between Admiral Bayfield and the ISWC Director with no small measure of dread. Bayfield would consider it a gross breach of security tantamount to treason, whereas the Director of the International Slayers and Watchers Council would insist on awarding the Slayer with the Council’s greatest honor in the performance of her duty.
When she had finished viewing the mission log and flight recorder data, she came away with more questions than answers, and it occurred to her that a more personal inquiry was needed if she were to find answers to those questions…
She would have to talk to Lieutenant Starck and Cooper and get those answers from them…