The Creep

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Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
The Creep
[i]I don't care if it hurts[/i] [i]I want to have control[/i] [i]I want a perfect body[/i] [i]I want a perfect soul[/i] [i]I want you to notice when I'm not around[/i] [i]You're so fucking special[/i] [i]I wish I was special[/i] [i]But I'm a creep[/i] [i]I'm a weirdo[/i] [i]What the hell am I doing here?[/i] [i]I don't belong here[/i] -Creep, Radiohead [b]Nocnitsa[/b] Nocnitsa was never a world where anyone would expect to raise a family, but, then, people would say the same thing about Scum barges or even Mars, depending on whom you asked. Initially discovered via the Eris Gate, Nocnitsa was one of several worlds colonized by the exhumans who held the gate before being wiped out (or forced to retreat) by Go-Nin. It has since been reached via the Martian and Venusian gates. Stepping onto Nocnitsa is like stepping into a nightmare. Black skies, fire, mud, and worms are what greet all travellers, as travellers emerge on an island by an ashen shoreline, near two almost perpetually active volcanoes. Beyond this unwelcoming exterior, however, the planet is a scientific goldmine. Its conditions are fairly similar to that of early Earth, and its temperature is acceptable to transhumans, even if its atmosphere is toxic (large concentrations of methane and particulate materials mean that even enhanced morphs need some form of breather filter to function for long). Life has even begun to spring up on the world, though its highest achievements thus far are annelid analogs and similarly primitive invertebrates (though primitive does not mean small; the planet does have some impressively large jellyfish). Almost as intriguing scientifically as a geologically active, warm world that harbours simple life is the discovery of an apparently abandoned exhuman research station on the planet. No inhabitants were found and only simple AIs were in its servers, essentially allowing explorers to claim any discoveries they made as their own. [b]Bogeymen in the dark[/b] Cauchemar is the only settlement on Nocnitsa, largely inhabited by a mix of hypercorp scientists, argonauts, and indentures (both current and former). What began as a research outpost, created largely for PR purposes, was given so little oversight that the inevitable happened: Families formed. Whether by office romance, natural family development, or people renewing their indenture contracts to have their families resleeved from dead storage on Nocnitsa, the population of Cauchemar ballooned from an original staff and crew of just under 1,000 to almost 3,500 by the present day. And, where there are families, there are children, and where there are children, there are monsters. Victim 1, only called Andrea for privacy reasons in mesh feeds, was found dead in an air filtration vent, mangled by a fan, apparently an accident. Nearby, a small air tube was found, filled with lanterns, toys, and a wide array of candy. She was found to have suffered from severe malnutrition and had to be reinstanced from a back-up, as her cortical stack instance was found to have suffered mental trauma too great to repair. Victim 2, dubbed The Boy Who Cried Wolf by the local news, was found torn in half in his bedroom. The boy had complained of a monster living in the vents, but his parents had dismissed it as usual childhood fears. While the killer was never found, the mention of a monster in the air vents caused the media to begin to ask more seriously about such a possibility. Victims 3 through 8 were also all minors, between the ages of 8 and 13. Causes of death were all different (including at least one confirmed suicide), the children were not related by any obvious means, and any records of what led to their deaths all pointed to either an obvious implication or a simple lack of facts, but, by that point, the media frenzy and the deaths of so many children had led to a natural backlash. It wasn't long before the killer, dubbed The Creep by the media, became a household name. [b]The Creep[/b] What is The Creep, exactly? There's a number of distinct possibilities... 1. The Creep is an exhuman child, created as an experiment and abandoned by the exhumans who used to live there (use the predatory archetype as a basis for its capabilities). Trained by AIs, the creature is alone and isolated. Its mental patterns are too alien to relate to most transhumans except on a superficial level, but it still retains a curiosity and desire for companionship that is recognizably human. The Creep lives in the air vents, stalking children and kidnapping them to play with, and they either die in the escape or are killed when they frighten it; sad accidents, but hardly murders. 2. The Creep is an exhuman experiment, possibly dealing with the Exsurgent virus, that only affects certain individuals, inducing extremely potent nightmares that, with time, become full-blown waking hallucinations. While asyncs and those who take psi-activating drugs all feel the effects, they are mature enough to understand and deal with it appropriately, while the children affected have been affected far more directly. 3. The Creep is the result of a local parasite, which infects transhumans and uses them as hosts. Its primary target is the fat-rich cells of the brain, the consumption of which causes all kinds of neural defects, before the parasite migrates to the gut and emerges violently. Amongst the mental defects induced are hallucinations, paranoia, depression, and similar effects. Because transhuman adults tend to have stronger immune systems, and because not all families can afford top-of-the-line medichines for their children, it is not surprising that a few cases slip in now and then. 4. The Creep is an Exsurgent. Use your imagination for this one. 5. The Creep is an alien, who is studying transhuman children to try and understand transhumanity as a whole. Despite its ability to use the Pandora Gates, the alien is not able to understand transhuman language or social norms directly, and so engages in experiments to try and extract information. 6. Nocnitsa is a TITAN experiment; a whole world rapid-terraformed to mimic ancient Earth. The Creep is a security system, trying to frighten transhumanity away by claiming that which is most precious to it. 7. The Creep is a transhuman; a serial killer whose favourite target is children. There is no grand mystery here, just a terrifying truth. Which of these possibilities is true and which aren't (they're not mutually exclusive) is up to you. The Creep need not be isolated to an exoplanet either; it could have come through the gate at some point, hidden in a shipment, and escaped detection long enough to get to a settlement. It's one thing for a handful of children to die on an exoplanet, far distant from transhumanity. Far more alarming is it when hundreds die or go missing from the streets of Mars's most prosperous cities.