IMPORTANT
A day shy of a week ago Robotech Master was out on his e-bike when an SUV struck him and drove off. According to the most recent news available, he passed away from his injuries at around 2:00 this morning. I have kept some news up on his user page and, at this point, ask that anyone wishing to leave messages or tributes do so on either his talk page or another page that can be used for such things. His account here and all of the stories he has gifted the Shifti community with will be preserved in memoriam, as we also did for Morgan.

User:Michael Bard/Of the Ylourgne Expanse

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Of the Ylourgne Expanse

Author: Michael Bard

To the traveler, the casual passenger, journeying amongst the stars is safe. Utterly safe. Or so the guilds, the companies, all tell you. But, if you find the right taverns, dark and ill lit, with only the flickering of dying fluorescents to cast sharp edged haunted shadows against the stained and rusted metal of the walls; if you find an old spacer, with haunted eyes that look right through you as though they see you as a tiny weak shell of flesh over bone and muscle with the insane glitter of innocence still in your eyes, then you might hear the haunting tales. First, though, you must ply them with liquors from a thousand worlds, dark fluids that roll and tumble in ways that seem to defy physical reality, stained with colours with no name, colours that pull at the soul and hide nightmares of utter darkness in their phosphorescent depths.

Then, then, he may begin to whisper in scratchy monotones of the things that only spacers know.

And, if you are particularly cursed, doomed to die in the stygian depths between the lying hope of the fusion furnaces, then they might tell you of the Ylourgne Expanse.

To those of us who trust in hard science, who believe what we're told, it's just a span between the glimmering fires of the stars, a vast nebula of black matter that roils and curdles around and around some gravitational point hidden in its centre, a spider lurking inside its lair. A place that would seem to be a primary route, but one that nobody uses.

Only the damned, or the insane, or the desperate.

From behind empty eyes, his skin pale and clammy, the sweat glistening on his forehead as his eyes wander aimless and lost, his voice quiet and whispered, he'll tell you of those who dared the expanse.

Of the Silver Dreamer that was ordered through with a novice crew and unsuspecting passengers who'd paid extra to arrive faster. Of how the vessel blinked out of jumpspace as what could only be a ship with the greatest of imaginings. A thing of twisted and bloated metal, aged, clawed, torn and shattered, and then glued back together with oozing liquids as though the building blocks of a dreaming madman.

Of the Debtor's Hole that carried a cargo of shining chrome machine parts and tried to shave a few hours off its trip for the bonus. It crawled back into realspace as shining and polished as though it'd come fresh out of the Lagrange yards. In a hypnotic tone, he will tell of the whispers as she drifted, silent. And of what they found aboard her before overloading her reactor in desperate suicide. Technic engines twisted into non-euclidean strands that glowed in colours that have no name, colours that pulled at the soul, twisting and dragging the entrapped gaze down ways that were just wrong, to where no-one ever wants to go.

And the crew. They found them. Both of them, young, fresh out of the academy, full of glowing dreams and hoping bodies. According to the tales they were twisted, bent, broken. And yet they lived, somehow. They breathed, somehow. Flesh and bone naked and glistening in the flickering lights. Organs that pulsed glowing ichor through veins that were too large, or too small, gurgling and bubbling as fluids man was never meant to scent clattered through them. Odours of sickly sweetness, spiciness that pulled horrors long forgotten from the soul and mind. Things that screamed and clambered, grasping, needing. Wanting to rub themselves into the depths of the brain, into the bowels of nightmares.

It is said that what was left of them whispered, syllables dribbling from their still human lips that echoed around in clasping need, sounds that should not be possible to speak, or hear, that clawed to get into the soul. Coarse clackles and sweet syllables of things that could be but never should.

Then he'll stand up, his body white and pale. Turning, he'll leave, the sane and normal credit chip to cover the bill clattering onto the table.