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07 November 2010 @ 02:19 pm
[fanfic] Strange New Worlds: Episode I  
Title: Strange New Worlds
Artist: extraonions
Author: tiptoe39
Pairing(if applicable): Gen
Rating: PG-13 for violence and some crude humor
Warnings/Spoilers: None

Master art post | Master fic post



Episode I: The Wreck of the Perdition



“Dean!”

A gummy bear floated by.

“Dean, are you listening?”

A popcorn ball that had to be two weeks old. Dean grabbed it and popped it in his mouth.

Sam hid his head in his hands. “You’re hopelessly disgusting.”

“You’re the one who turned the gravity off,” Dean noted as he merrily backstroked across the main cabin. There was barely room for him to go a few feet, but somehow he still managed to look like he was swimming in an Olympic-sized pool. Sam watched him with peeved amusement for a few minutes and then abruptly hit the switch. Gummy bears, popcorn balls, dust bunnies and Dean Winchester all hit the floor with a series of interesting clatters.

“Why’d you do that?” Dean said, grabbing at the gummy bear like a starving man.

“The point was to show you how messy this place has become,” Sam said, placing a boot firmly on his hand. “Not to help you find extra snacks.”

“Well. Bonus, then,” Dean said. His jaw worked overtime around the stale piece of candy. “So where we headed?”

Sam looked down at him a moment in combined amusement and disgust. Dean played up the space-cowboy vibe, and he looked good doing it, but some things were just beyond the bounds of hygiene. It wasn’t as if Sam had no vices, though. So for the most part he tended to just sit and suffer in silence. Every so often he got the urge to try and show Dean the error of his ways, though, and this was just another lesson in how damn well that tended to work out.

He slipped into his seat in the cockpit and drew up a screen of information. “The SS Perdition,” he said. “Hasn’t been seen since it left the Wisconsin spaceport three months ago. Last transmission came in a week back, something about the Yellow Eyes Nebula. Since that, nothing.”

“Wisconsin and Yellow Eyes.” Dean got to his feet, grumbling. “Never a good combination.”

They’d worked some jobs on Wisconsin before. It was a cold planet, and the creatures that stalked it were hardy and ornery, much like the people. As for the Yellow Eyes Nebula, there was a legend that just looking at the thing for too long could drive you insane. The golden stardust and gases that made it up were toxic and corrosive, doing damage to ships that passed too close. It was a dangerous environment for even the most resourceful of crews. Sam and Dean had tangled with it before, and it wasn’t the sort of place you tended to look forward to vacationing.

But a job was a job, and for all the Wisconsin government bitched, it paid good money. Plus, if Sam and Dean had one weakness, it was saving people. If there was a chance the crew of the Perdition was alive, they were going, one way or another, to bring them home.




They found the ship floating like a dead fish in an orbit around the nebula, swinging what Sam calculated was a figure-eight pattern around the two exploded stars that made up the dust clouds. For better or for worse, Yellow Eyes hadn’t corroded its exterior, but based on the irregular orbit, this hadn’t been the Perdition’s destination. Talk about a wrong turn gone bad.

Their ship, a sleek black cruiser with several years and light years on it but a steady frame, docked with the Perdition, and Sam and Dean pulled on their gear and crossed over through the main hatch into the ship. The ship’s gravity was weak, and it was warped, turning the wall into the floor and giving the ship the feel of lying on its side. They propelled themselves through the sideways halls, searching for a sign of life, movement, anything. The place was deserted.

“It’s like nobody was ever here to begin with.”

“Not necessarily.” Sam had pushed into one of the side rooms. “There’s clothes here, food. Food that’s been sitting here for a week,” he said, wrinkling his nose. “Someone was here. But where’d they all go?”

“Sam. Down here.”

Dean was beckoning to him from the end of the hallway. Sam followed, the gravity helping him float downward to what felt like the bottom of a long, narrow pit.

Double doors, metallic and solid, had once stood there. But now, beneath the glow of their spotlights, only a few warped shreds of metal remained. Dean drew his finger along the edge. “It’s like it was melted clean through. What could do that?”

"Dean. Look down.” Sam grabbed his arm. He was trembling. “What the hell is this place?"

Dean's eyes widened in horror. "I think you just answered your own question, Sammy."

He was staring down at the remains of the upended bridge,. The chairs and computer consoles clung to the side walls; at the bottom of the pit lay a heap of charcoal and ash and bone, bodies burned through in a moment. The skulls' jaws were hanging open in forever-frozen horror.

Dean wasn't afraid of dead bodies, or horrified expressions, or even the charred remains of flesh and fabric. But something about the scene stirred an uneasiness in him that he couldn't name. "We should get out of here."

"Dean, we can't. We have to figure out what happened to these people." Sam navigated his way downward, trying to get in front of one of the computers and spark it to life. The data pack on his hand interfaced easily with the computer's port, and screens blinked with confused, dim light. His hands clacked easily across the keys, and he frowned. "This is weird. 'Wormwood has failed us, so now we're locked in here, just waiting to die.' Who the hell is Wormwood?"

"One of these poor suckers, most likely." Dean had dropped to the bottom of the pit and was now searching for any remains that might tell him a story. He picked up a bone, but it crumbled to dust in his hands. "Crap. Can't even touch them." He hovered just above the pile, feet pointed up toward the open doorway, and did his best to just examine without disrupting the fragile skeletons.

Sam looked over at him. "Something was loose on their ship," he said. "They said it was made of fire -- they called it a hellhound. Whatever it was, they were scared to death of it."

"They were somethinged to death," Dean muttered. "You downloading the logs?" Sam nodded. "No way we can pull this ship with us. We'll just have to chart the location and they can send out towships. If they even care enough to come out this far." He gave a derisive noise. "Cheapskates."

A clanking sounded above them. Without thinking, Dean pulled his gun from its holster.

"Dean." Sam had heard it too. "You think?"

"Probably not. We probably just dislodged something on the way here. But just in case..." He floated up toward the doorway, giving Sam cover to complete the download and remove the memory pack from the computer. The ship creaked ominously, and for a second Dean thought he felt a blaze of heat go through the room. He shouted over his shoulder, "You got everything?"

"Just a sec..." Sam fiddled at the console a minute. "Got it."

"Good. Let's--"

And Dean was knocked against the wall.

The claws felt solid, but Dean could barely make out their shape in a cloud of blazing-hot flame and smoke. At first he thought the creature was on fire. But trying to swipe his hand through the flames and never touching solid flesh, he realized it was fire - an animal made not of flesh but of ignited gases. Sam pulled out his gun and shot, holding fast to the computer desk to avoid being propelled backward. But the bullet went right through the creature, and its only reaction was to turn to look at Sam with eyes bright and fierce as tiny stars.

"Sammy, run!" The words ripped from Dean's throat. Sam shot again, downward, giving his body the propulsion it needed to zip past the creature and up into the fractured hallway. The creature took off after him, and Dean was thrown down, his body thumping against the jagged edges of chairs and consoles on what was once the floor of the bridge. He fought for equilibrium, paddled upstream like a dog in a river for a moment, and then took a shot at the bottom of the room to give himself some momentum. A skull shattered; the pile of bones rattled; Dean took off through the doorway.

The whole ship was creaking now, shifting in its awkward position from the sudden activity within. Dean fell against one wall; looking up, disoriented, he tried to catch sight of Sam and the hellhound, but it felt like the whole hallway had changed shape. "Sammy?" he hollered, not caring if that meant the creature would attack him. He could hear the static whine of Sam's jetpacks, which was a good sign he was still alive, but his comm was sadly silent, and the hall kept seeming to expand and contract. He wasn’t sure his senses were working right.

What the hell was that thing made of, anyway? And why was it still here? It didn't make sense. How had it made it on board, and in search of what? If it was looking for food, it would have starved to death already, right? Or just sunk its teeth into Dean the moment it saw him. But there was enough ash on the floor of that bridge to make Dean believe it hadn't eaten any of those people, just torched them and been done with it. In which case what the hell was it still doing here?

And then it occurred to him.

"Sam," he muttered into his comm, "Sam, get to the airlock. Get it to follow you to the airlock. You copy?"

A moment of silence, and then Sam's voice came in. "Dean, where the hell are you?"

"Never mind where I am. Get it to the airlock. That thing can't survive outside. That's why it's still in here, even though there's nothing it wants. Go."

"And what will you do?" Dean could hear Sam's heavy breathing; he was sweating bullets with fear and exertion inside his suit.

"I'm gonna find the controls and open it up. You just concentrate on getting it there."

Sam's lack of response meant he heard. Dean dove in the other direction, looking for the airlock control, but the computers had already died into silence and there was no sign. Abruptly, Sam's voice broke through the static. "Dean--" A growl sounded through the comm, and Sam made a noise of pain. "There are manual controls up here near the lock. Has to be--" static, and another grunt. "--from the inside."

"I'll be right up."

He fought his way upward through gloomy hallways, followed the scent of singed metal that meant the hellhound had been there. Dean thought he'd see that creature in his nightmares. All bright blaze and sharp claws, tearing him to shreds over and over. What kind of creature was it? He'd never seen something like this, and he'd seen plenty weird and unexplainable. But a creature made of gas, like a constant-burning flame... how could that even exist? Dean was no physicist, but it didn't seem like such a creature was possible.

Possible or not, it was after Sam, and that meant Dean had to boogie.

He came to the airlock just in time to see the creature slamming Sam into the wall of the hatch. Sam gave a cry and locked eyes with Dean. "Down there," he managed through a tense jaw, pointing down toward the manual controls. Dean grabbed the lever. It was rusty from disuse and lack of moving air, and it groaned and shuddered beneath Dean's grasp, but eventually, with a creak from the machinery and a groan from Dean, it gave, and a sheet of glass sealed off the hallway from the hatch, separating Dean from Sam and the monster.

Sam's eyes were wide with panic. "Hurry!" The creature drew a cry of agony with a sweep of those impossible claws.

The lever seemed to get heavy in his hand, and every second dragged. He pulled. The hatch stuck.

"Dean!" Sam's helmet was starting to weep with the heat.

One final burst of strength, and the lever fell to the other pole. The hatch groaned and opened wide, and Sam was ripped from the hellhound's grasp. He hurtled out and caught a grip on the hull of the cruiser. The creature turned to snarl at the vacuum pulling Sam out, but its claws dug deep into the metal of the hatch, melting it instantly. It stayed put. And it didn't die.

"What the hell?" Dean could barely get the words out before the creature's eyes turned toward him.

Clinging hard to the hull of their ship, Sam watched, useless and horrified as the creature, defying every law of physics that Sam knew of, turned and shattered the glass separating the airlock from the rest of the ship. He shouted, Dean's answering shout of fear echoing in his comm, and reached out with one useless hand toward his brother. Then the hellhound was on him and Sam could see nothing but blazing light and hear nothing but an agonized shout, going to static in his ear.

Then it happened. Like a meteorite blazing across the night sky, a flash of something silver grazed Sam as it dove past. Thoroughly turned around, his eyes blurring with tears inside the helmet, Sam could only catch the barest glimpse of it. What he saw, illuminated by the nebula's odd yellow light, looked almost human as it dove into the ship.

For an instant all was black and silent.

Then it rose, slower this time, burdened by the figure of Dean, unconscious, lagging behind him. It was clearly human-shaped now; Sam could see one silver-tinted hand, fingers just a little longer and more nimble than human fingers, gripping Dean by the arm just below the shoulder. The silver thing turned, pointed his other arm, and the hellhound burst from the Perdition and galloped off, as though on solid ground, into the depths of the nebula.

Sam scrambled for the hatch of his own ship. He was shaking as he opened it and the humanlike thing soared easily inside. Under the dim light of the hatch, Sam got a closer look. It was dressed in the simplest of garb, no gear protecting it from the vacuum of space. Its face was the stern face of a man, and the tinting of its skin suggested the metallic sheen of an android. But Sam had never seen any machine quite this lifelike. His eyes scanned the thing's body, looking for a maker's mark or other clue as to its origin. The only indication he could find was a series of letters etched into its belt: CAS/T/L.



*to be continued*