Day Zero - Vignette 1 - In The Moments Before Disaster

The prison ship Dreams of Abyss was making good time towards its destination, bobbing and weaving through hyperspace like a boxer. Its mission was simple, in theory: the delivery of half a dozen traitors and criminals of war to their final destination, the penal colony world of Falling Lake - where they were to be executed. Being an unarmed ship complicated matters slightly - its crew had to pay careful attention to its course, lest it drift into one of many areas of hyperspace now caught alight in the flame of the most recent war to end all wars.

At the helm of the Abyss was Rene Oliver, a young soldier with a long history. He'd joined the army to escape life on the planet Brecilia, whose culture would be characterized most accurately through the same words one uses to describe a life-altering injury - that is to say, it was loathsome and miserable to live with, and it had come about as the result of a regrettable, avoidable tragedy.

The military was a way to escape Brecilia, and for the most part Rene enjoyed it compared to the alternative. He liked being aboard the Abyss a little less than his prior duty on the ground - his service on this vessel had begun as punishment for a man too skilled to remove from service entirely, but in too deep to be left unpunished. Though he'd spent years aboard the ship climbing up the ranks and re-establishing himself as a talented captain, being on the Abyss still serves as a reminder of his gravest error. An error that, if he thought too hard about it, would remind him far too much of the greatest tragedy in Brecilia's history. If he thought too hard about it, Rene may come to some upsetting conclusions about his involvement in the war.

Thankfully, the climate of an understaffed prison transport vessel provided him with little downtime to ruminate on that. In his few moments of spare time he busied himself through short, jocular conversations with his crewmates, favoring a short, green-skinned man called Zephyr. Rene knew little of Zephyr's past save that he was a part of an all-male clone species, the Vyrolikar. The Vyrolikar preferred to keep to themselves on their ancient homeworld of Su-Kalus, so of course part of Rene's fascination with Zephyr came from the novelty of having a Vyrolikar aboard his ship. But mostly Rene had a genuine love for Zephyr, evident in the casual tones of their conversations.

Zephyr and Rene had plenty of conversations on the Abyss's final day of flight. Everything was normal that day. The two men, and all the ship's crew, retired to their quarters at the ship's preprogrammed nightfall, and the autopilot took over for a while. Rene and Zephyr slept like babies in the ship's final hours. What, exactly, happened while they slept is unknown, for not a single witness survived. The only fact known for sure is that the ship somehow managed to crash-land within a cave, and that all four of the survivors - Rene, Zephyr, and two of the prisoners - kept detailed journals of the events that followed this crash.