I want to point out a few things before I tell about the events:
1- Photos are all original and have not been messed with or enhanced.
2- I will not reveal the civilian identities of the other people involved in this experience. They will all be referred to by pseudonyms.
3- I will NOT reveal the location of the cave to ANYONE for ANY REASON! I will refer to the cave as the mystery cave. That is NOT its real name.
If you think these events sound far-fetched, I agree. I would come to the same conclusion had I not experienced them.
It was a pleasant evening under a beautiful, not-quite-full strawberry moon, and the fleet launched a tad late after taking a few moments to dwell upon the responsibilities of the navigator and how to conduct oneself with class. Skunk beseeched us to look for inspiration to the indomitable WalTor, who was, in Skunk’s words, “born to navigate.” We were briefed on the goal of the mission: perform recon and successfully reach our target location, a cave somewhere in a neighboring starsystem. Pilots were confused at first, never having heard of any such oddity within reach. Nevertheless, we prepared for launch and equipped ourselves for caving.
On this auspicious occasion we were led by Wombat and Sidekick aboard the spacious bomber Star Hustler, and the mission began as normal - wending our way through each of the main constellations in the Cambridge system in turn, eliciting cheers from adoring civilian crowds. Just as the fleet was nearing the brink of hunger, we alighted in Kendall to procure unsavory snacks.
From there we set our navigational systems pointing towards Medford, and passed without incident through an ST station that had been lulled into a diabetic coma through contact with too many grenades. Shortly after, we suffered two minor mechanicals, as Snow experienced plasma failure and dogi broke a retro conduit. We pressed on, as the lights of the Medford system grew dimmer and we increasingly lost sight of the ordinary trappings of civilized space.
It was here that the gwells began; on the steepest climb, Sidekick cut her foot on Starhustler, conveniently opposite a galactic infirmary. We stopped to administer aid and she rallied heroically, and several other pilots spacewalked until we were assembled at the apex of the gwell.
One by one, the fleet extinguished our lasers and achieved stealth protocol as we crept into deep space and began to search for the entrance to the mystery cave. In silence save for the crunching of gravel and twigs underfoot, the fleet spacewalked forwards, following the directive of the Fleet Admiral as we searched for the opening. Eventually, we sent a scouting party, who determined that we had overshot our target by some metres. We doubled back and then came to a small clearing, where rising forebodingly in front of us lay a strange rocky outcropping.
We secured our ships and turned on our headlamps. Threespeed was particularly well kitted out with a genuine carbide lamp, for which he later received a medal of chic. It was discovered that the way inside was through a small hole, which opened up into a wider chamber with a smaller sub-chamber, and with an auxiliary entrance off to one side that was easier to access. Pilots gleefully clambered up the escarpment until we reached the top, where Skunk illuminated the area with the knightsaber, and Sewer discovered a teepee that he considered bunking down in for the night.
Slowly, however, a sinister feeling began creeping over the fleet. One by one, pilots experienced flashes of unexplained pain, with some being more affected than others. What was happening? It appeared to be some sort of space sickness. Was it connected to the cave? Were there paranormal forces at work in this mysterious place? Soon pilots noticed the appearance of angry red welts on their legs and arms, and a feeling of panic began to rise.
We hastily gathered our things and began our exodus from deep space, rattled by what we had experienced, but unable to give our feelings a name. When we broke from cover of darkness and relaunched, a gentle breeze was rising; it was as if a spell had been broken.
It would seem to me that patrolling the galaxy in augmented spaceships is an unnatural and dangerous thing. Much like crawling through a tight passage into the darkness is an unnatural thing. We do these things to satisfy our hunger for adventure. If anyone from the outside is reading this, I say, do not worry. I vow to return to the mystery cave and reveal its supernatural secrets. I no longer feel that I have a choice. I MUST return. And when I do, I will bring insect repellent.