Our audio log series delved into the life of Commander Alex Pieterson, and followed the exploits of the team aboard starship Thaddeus; a fantastic series written by Salvaged designer/writer Daniel Dowsing and performed by the brilliant Kate Davies.
The journey is over for now, but all of those audio logs have been stored on the data banks of starship Thadeus. You can listen to the complete series, but for the first time we have now made available the transcripts for Commander Alex Pieterson's audio diary.
Many thanks to Salvaged fan Thomas for requesting the transcripts; we're more than happy to oblige!
The Last Job
Audio Log #1 – The Job
Woke up with a sick hangover this morning. The payment for the Lombardi job came through so I gave the crew some shore leave. Orbital Tower Ivanta never fails to entertain. The neon glow of the Satin Lanes never sleeps; crowds and crowds of Workers mingle and drink and forget their dire lives for a few brief hours.
It’s tough being the bottom of the ladder in an O.T., tougher still if you can’t blow off steam once in a while. But I guess if it lets the Lifers sleep a little better, and there isn’t a riot coming their way, then it’s all good.
Thaddeus, if you’re checking this – and I hope you’re not - that’s not me inciting civil unrest so cool your CPU, buddy.
Figaro has been in touch again – the guy’s quite persistent for a fence. Usually they pass along a contract, you turn it down and they offer it to another salvager - end of story. To be honest the job is far out from my usual territory but he’s upped his offer for this new job and I’d be fool to say no. Can’t imagine why he’s so keen on my crew taking the job mind you. It’s a long way out in the Ocean System so need to start packing.
Briggs is back to her usual self again. Girl cuts up a dance floor like a hurricane. Thaddeus might be the voice of the ship but she’s the soul of the crew; it affects morale when she’s in one of her dark states. Glad to see her crack a smile again. Oh and she bumped into Krystuslast night so I gave her the morning off. He’s a nice guy but the bald head/ponytail combo is just not my thing. ‘Each to their own’ as they say.
We depart this evening.
Alex Pieterson out.
Audio Log #2 - Panopticon
We’re two days into the journey to the Ocean System. Figaro has been in touch with more info on the job. We’re heading to an abandoned space station called Roulette to pick up some research data. Can’t say I’ve heard of it but the Known Universe is littered with lost stations and starships. I’ve asked Thaddeus to search for any more information but at the moment he’s drawing a blank.
Might be time for a ship AI upgrade – that was a joke, Thaddeus. (I’m serious – you shouldn’t be checking these).
For all the info Figaro is spilling I can’t help sense he’s holding something back. The guy works for Panopticon and any salvager worth her salt knows they play everything close to the chest, but something isn’t sitting well with me. He’s being very precise about our entry point and route in. Can’t say I’m keen on this; I prefer working out the attack plan myself.
It’s odd being attached to a Panopticon job. They pay well for sure but working for them makes you feel like a cog in a much, much bigger machine. There’re stories amongst the salvagers about them. Give someone enough incentive, believe me vices are something we don’t lack, and soon even the most sensitive information begins to flow. ‘Sensitive’ being key here: starships vanishing, crews being silenced and not your usual salvage to pick up. Dealing with their DNA Memory requests are particularly difficult but lucrative. Organic material is worth its weight in sals. If rumours are true then Panopticon have cornered the market in ‘death trading’. Seems a life has more value in this universe once its been snuffed out. Tall tales always make for interesting banter in the Orbital Towers; but I can’t say I’ve experienced anything out of the ordinary.
Briggs came to see me today - I think her hangover from Ivanta has finally cleared. We caught up on things including her dad’s health but being Briggs she quickly changes the subject. Can’t say I blame her, we all have dark corners we don’t like shining a light on.
Alex Pieterson out.
Audio Log #3 – What is Roulette?
I’m feeling uncomfortable with the lack of recon for Roulette. Figaro keeps stonewalling me at every turn. What can we expect to encounter inside? Nothing. How deep are we heading in? Nothing. What is the salvage? Nothing. Information is the key to a successful job and I sure as hell won’t send my crew in blind. I’ve seen it before with other crews and all you get is blood on your hands.
I threatened to drop the job – we’re still two weeks out, if we quit now we won’t make much of a loss on our fuel cells. Seems I have an ace in the hole and Figaro is desperate to keep me on. I finally got something out of him: Roulette is an old science station from the Monkton-Drez Expedition. Can’t believe there’d be much left of it after all this time; a space station is a prime target for a salvaging crew.
If Panopticon are attached to it I guess they’ve managed to keep it secure. Makes you wonder why? Could be one of their mythical DNA stores… Anyway, according to Figaro, Roulette was set up as a research outpost that soon became redundant but some sensitive material was left behind. There’s that word again: sensitive.
I know Figaro well enough to know he’s not telling me everything and to be honest I don’t care. All I need is the right info for my crew; I’ve demanded a plan of Roulette and I’m sure he’ll give it to me. He can be a soft touch when he wants to be.
The crew are getting a bit restless. It’s just a bit of cabin fever but thankfully Briggs is keeping spirits up. We make a good team balancing discipline and free time. The cabin fever’ll pass soon enough.
I noticed the stars today. Been a starship commander for five years and only today was I struck by them; brilliant pin pricks of light in the ever-dark. Colossal in size yet dwarfed by the universe.
Alex Pieterson out.
Audio Log #4 – Trouble on the Thaddeus
Today we had an incident on board. A fight broke out between Briggs and a new guy called Jasper. He’s young but he’s got a good record with another commander I know. Not sure what went down but the two of them had to be separated. I had Jasper confined to the sleeping quarters and gave Briggs room to breathe – sounds mad but I know how she works. She’ll find her own place to cool off. If it happens again I’ll put them in stasis until we reach Roulette.
What I can glean from the others Jasper wasn’t taking well to our long-haul routine. Words were said, Briggs stepped in to confront him and, well, something happened because Briggs floored him. I know the guy is new but most salvagers can handle a long-haul job. Surprised Briggs was provoked into a fight though; known her for years and never seen her goaded into something so trivial.
I’ve taken everyone off duty; hopefully any lingering tension’ll dissipate soon. Got to nip this in the bud quickly. Tension is like a virus on a starship: contagious, deadly. I once worked a job on the Nova Hecate in the Genesis System. She had a good rep but we got caught in a gravity drift for six weeks. The Commander tried everything to keep tension down but in the end something had to give.
I don’t know how I survived. People you called friend found something dark and nasty deep inside and it sure as hell came spewing out. We became animals: nothing more, nothing less. The term ‘fight for survival’ never seemed more appropriate than during that job.
It’s why I sleep with a light on.
If this job is to be successful I need the crew relaxed and ready to go. I’ll be damned if I let the Thaddeus end up like the Hecate.
Audio Log #5 – Life of the Salvager
Briggs came to my cabin to apologise about the incident yesterday. She’s calmer but her body seemed taut. I asked her why she let herself be goaded into a fight and her reply was quite simple: I was angry. News from home says her father’s condition is worsening and when you’re a fighter like Briggs not being able to do anything must be hell. I know we’re friends and all but her dad is the only family she has. He raised her and only her: just the two of them in the slums of Mars. I can’t imagine that kind of existence; at least I have my parents and a brother. Well, had.
We do this job for different reasons. Briggs does it for the money to keep her dad comfortable. Jasper’s in it for the glory – some salvagers become heroes amongst the Workers. Me? I wanted to get out of the dirt and grime of the Worker slums. Life at the bottom of a Tower is like living in a great metal coffin. The air and sunlight is so artificial it makes your skin feel like plastic. On the rare chances we got to step outside I’d look up at the sky and wish for one thing: to grow wings and fly up past the clouds. I think at that age I didn’t know what was past the clouds but it didn’t matter to me. My lungs felt open and my skin could breathe.
Now don’t get me wrong it’s not an easy life. A starship is still pretty cramped (no offence, Thaddeus) but at least it has windows. The pay can be crap but the things we see are incredible. There’s danger in every corner of the universe waiting to rip you apart and push you to breaking point. Death is our commodity – wrecked ships, lost souls and things the universe has forgotten. It takes guts but you have to want to see what’s out there and dive right in. That’s who I am.
Briggs’ll relax soon enough. I’ve offered her stasis if she wants it but, between you and me, I think this’ll be her last gig.
Alex Pieterson out.
Audio Log #6 – The Kingdom & The Cavalry
Close call today, we had a run in with some Kingdom of Jupiter Cavalrymen. Why on earth they were this far out from the Kingdom is anyone’s guess. You usually get plenty of Kingdom traders in this part of the universe but Kingdom muscle is a different matter entirely.
Now usually I wouldn’t have a problem dealing with Cavalrymen. If you respect the Jovian territories and pay their taxes you don’t have anything to worry about. What you should worry about, however, is causing an ‘affront to the Kingdom’ as they’ll pompously tell you. Jovians dress like peacocks and talk like the 19th century.
We are undertaking a Panopticon-backed job and everyone knows where their allegiances lie. The Kingdom and the True Earth Council; they don’t call it the Awkward Peace for nothing. Those scars run deep and anyone carrying a Panopticon banner is in for a tough time.
They hailed us, demanding our purpose. Try as I might to explain that we weren’t in Jovian territory, I couldn’t get them to back down and the more I tried to palm them off the more hostile they got. I thought I could handle it until The Thaddeus sensed they were locking onto us. Cavalrymen pride themselves on rushing a suspect ship with random teleports. It’s terrifying to behold, causes confusion to sweep through a ship. Terror and confusion: a deadly combination. All the Jovians have to do is mop up the chaos.
I spotted a way out: the Europa System. Cavalrymen might be tough bastards but even they won’t risk running into Panopticon’s Defence Force. If we could break the territory line we’d be safe.
Breaking away from the Jovian’s we hurtled through an asteroid belt. Twisting, turning between the rocks. Hold on! I bellowed to the crew as the ship took knock after knock. Shields holding. The Jovians fired shots at us. Banking hard the mighty boulders exploded around us. Shields holding! The control stick was fighting me, Thaddeus was screaming in my ears. More shots from the Jovians. I barrelled up deeper into the field. Shields holding! A shockwave hit us, rammed us hard, as one of the Jovian ships collided with an asteroid. They might be faster but the Thaddeus is a way better mover.
Breaking through the asteroid field the remaining Jovian ship showed no sign of following as we crossed the territory line. Going to lie low in this Orbital Tower for a day or two and figure out our next move. If this job is as sensitive as Figaro is making out the last thing I want is the Kingdom breathing down my neck.
Alex Pieterson out.
Audio Log #7 – Lost in the Stars
I’ve never really spoken about my brother James. To be honest I don’t know how to talk about him. I’ve noticed how quickly we start using the past tense when we talk about the ones we’ve lost. Suddenly the one we love no longer ‘is’, they become ‘was’. But with James I don’t know whether he’s dead or alive.
He was already a man when I was a young girl, working his way up the crew of a salvage ship. From what I’ve been told he was one of the best salvagers around. Even the other commanders that tell stories of him don’t know which tense to use. Deep down it’s nice to think he’s keeping some of us bonded.
Naturally he rose to become a commander himself, taking the Hearthfire as his ship. Some people say he won it in a game of Iron Core. To be honest that might not be far from the truth; before he left he taught me a few card tricks though I think winning a starship is beyond my skill. I still have his playing cards in my locker.
When the call came from the True Earth Council for the Wide Sweep Expedition hundreds of commanders signed up. Who wouldn’t, right? Fame, glory, money – just keep dangling carrots and they’ll come. Humanity was about to step beyond the boundaries of the Known Universe into the Ultraverse and the darkness beyond. James jumped at the chance.
Behind the grandeur of it all there are countless theories. The Wide Sweep – for the glory of Humanity? Or to satiate Panopticon’s genetic stores? The human body no longer has value for what it can do but rather what it contains.
What happened no one truly knows. The first two years were a constant stream of contact and discovery. At least it felt like a constant stream, perhaps I’m choosing to remember it like that because suddenly the noise stopped. No reports, no stories, nothing. The True Earth Council kept pushing expedition updates via Panopticon’s news corps but we didn’t buy their fabrication. That was over ten years ago.
Perhaps this is what limbo feels like? A constant knot of doubt and weightlessness, like I’m caught between two realities where James is dead in one and alive in the other.
Being a salvager keeps me connected to him and maybe, just maybe, he’s still out here amongst the stars.
Audio Log #8 – A Ride Home
We have a new face on board: a Muraki called Yura. He’s one of the La’ban– a sword commando. Tough guy but he’s pleasant enough. OT Kristiana proved a good place to lie low following our encounter with the Cavalrymen. Gave the crew a chance to rest and purchase a fake ID for the Thaddeus. It cost a pretty penny but when this job is finally done it’ll be covered.
Anyway we spotted Yura in the docking port of the Kristiana. Muraki aren’t exactly a rare sight in this part of the universe but they’re still impressive to behold with their coloured manes and three eyes. We weren’t the only ones to spot him – some Mortalists did too. ‘Defenders of Humanity’ or so they claim. Hatemongers and nothing more if you ask me. Get a pack of them together and any poor alien sap caught on their own is in for a tough time. What a shame, however, Mortalists don’t know a La’ban when they see one. Better yet they don’t know not to pick a fight with one. Needless to say they didn’t last long.
Muraki have free travel under the True Earth Council but its not easy travel. The philosophy of the human divinity has grown in strength, its believers follow the dogma that humanity is the divine species in the Known Universe and all others are beneath them. Sad fools. As far as I’m concerned we aren’t defined by what we are but by who we are.
Yura has bartered passage with us back to the Pangea System, or Le’he System if you know the Murak dialect. He kept himself to himself for the first part of the journey until one night he joined me in the mess hall. We made small talk at first, I think the encounter with the Mortalists made him wary of any human, but soon enough he relaxed and I found a jovial soul under the stern exterior. It wasn’t until the conversation turned to our job that the atmosphere suddenly cooled.
Roulette. The Muraki have their own name for it: Ho’ba– the Pit.
Alex Pieterson out.
Audio Log #9 – Rumours
Ho’ba - The Pit. That’s what Yura called Roulette. It was hard getting information out of him but in the end he let something slip: ‘When you go to the Pit only the body dies.’ I didn’t understand his meaning and soon it came for him to leave us. Muraki are difficult to read at the best of times but when we parted ways something lingered in his farewell. An uncertain tone hung in the air.
I’ve pushed Figaro for more information but he’s refusing to budge. We’re too far into the job to quit now. He just keeps repeating over and over that it’s an old science outpost: nothing more, nothing less. Studying the plans of the station doesn’t help either. There’s nothing odd about its structure, no discrepancies in its design. Thaddeus is searching for any reference to Ho’ba or the Pit but so far coming up blank.
Yura is a La’ban, a Muraki commando. A common trait amongst the La’ban is their dedication to Muraki culture and they’re especially sensitive to Humanity’s encroachment on it. Could it be that Ho’ba is just a hang up from the first contact days and our aggressive expansion across the universe?
Briggs made an interesting point. When Yura said that ‘the body dies’ I thought he was confusing his words but what if he was being literal? When the body dies what’s left behind?
Alex Pieterson out.
Audio Log #10 – Arrival
We sighted Roulette today. It’s an unassuming structure far away from the main channel of the Ocean System. A flat disc designed to remain unseen and boring should any passer-by happen upon it. It offers no grandeur in its appearance and hints at nothing inside. It’s like one of those wild designs by Junji Amano come to life – apparently he only slept six hours a week…
Figaro explained that the station’s research was deemed top secret hence the drab design. They wanted this place off the map at all costs.
Figaro. He seemed almost giddy that we’d arrived. I can’t put my finger on it; like a child fit to burst with excitement.
The Thaddeus has locked into Roulette’s orbit and we’ll begin salvaging tomorrow. The plan is set and the crew are ready to breach but there’s something in the air – a nervousness I guess, and Briggs…she’s fallen into one of her dark moods.
I’ve allowed two days for salvaging. If we’re the first on this station it’ll be ripe for the taking. Panopticon get the pick up but we sell anything else we find. There’s the question: what will we find?
Until tomorrow then.
Audio Log #11 – Day One
Damn it. Damn it to hell. Briggs is dead. Fuck this. Fuck it all…
The job started fine. Entered through the upper airlocks as planned and began a descent into the station. Day one for me is about safe passage. All kinds of nasty things infest these old stations; one misstep and you lose your head – literally. But here’s the thing – the damn station was empty. No Crawlers, no nothing. Not even a defence AI to greet us.
… Should have got out then…
There might have been no threats but the interior was a mess. Collapsed corridors, blocked doorways you name it. In order to clear a path to the pick up I split the crew: a main route and an emergency route. Pretty standard really.
I put Briggs in charge of the second team. About two hours in Jasper radioed us. Briggs had vanished. Just dropped her weapons and … ‘poof’ … gone. It’s dark in there. Thick dark. Seems to suck the torchlight right into it.
We got to them as quick as we could and started searching. Couldn’t have been more than five minutes when he heard the first scream. Fuck it cut right through me. All the time I’ve worked with Briggs I’ve never heard that … that fear … in her voice.
Another scream. Louder. So sharp, so scared.
… Tracked her to a room off the main corridor. Well, what was left of her … Looked like a fucking automatic had riddled her body but we sure as shit didn’t hear any gunfire.
Her body’s in the cargo bay now.
Briggs… I just want to go home.
Audio Log #12 – Day Two
The show must go on. Unless the job is going to annihilate your crew the job has to be completed. That’s the way it is. That’s our living.
Morale has taken a beating but the crew pulled together. They know the life.
We broke through to the pick up after about four hours. I was expecting a DNA memory vial of the highest order. Panopticon love to hide their secrets genetically but I was wrong. It’s something else; a metal canister about two feet tall, six inches across. Nothing exciting except … it’s cold. Really cold. There’s a layer of frost forming over it yet the rest of the station is clean.
I checked on the room we found Briggs in before leaving. I had to. What the fuck happened in there? Her blood was still pooling on the floor but there was something else: crystal shards. They were … growing … out of her blood.
Figaro … the hell were you creating here?
It’s time to go home.
[SFX: Muffled sounds of a struggle outside the room]
[SFX: Sound of Alex walking away. A door opens and closes]
Audio Log #13 – [Untitled]
[SFX: Sounds of gunfire, screaming]
This is Alex Pieterson, commander of the salvage ship Thaddeus… If you’re hearing this…don’t go to Roulette. I repeat: do NOT go to Roulette.
[SFX: The sound of a door opening and closing]
There’s something on the ship… It’s a fucking Shard! A weapon! … The crew … they’re dead … all dead.
[SFX: The sound of pummelling against the door, something big and nasty, something screeching]
I’m opening all the airlocks. I’m going to suffocate it.
[SFX: Pummelling intensifies]
Thaddeus … override … 50-21 … open the airlocks!
[SFX: Alarms sound]
Figaro! … I know what you did you monster. I know what you created … If I survive this…
[SFX: The sound of doors opening, the sound of something dangerous approaching]
Shit … Briggs! NO!!!