The plane transporting the moon ore sample labelled #106 fails to arrive at its destination. The last anyone hears from the plane is just before it crosses the Continental Divide.
Why did the pilot crash the plane?
This is a standard light plane with a pilot, copilot in the front seat, and two guards in the back with the sample. The plane is en route from a secret landing site near the North American Continental Divide (an old Great War test range) to a private Midwest laboratory.
Enrique, the copilot
Ricardo, the junior of the guards in the back
Reveal of Thoughts
Enrique, the copilot is nervous. He has a pager in his pocket which will signal him when he is supposed to act. He is being paid a LOT of money to see to it that the rocks get dropped out the back, and that there are no inconvenient witnesses.
Ricardo, junior guard, knows there isn’t anything to do until the plane lands. He wants to rest — they had him running all over the landing site last night, and he only got a few hours of sleep filled with odd, horrid, nightmares — but, he has never been able to sleep on a plane. The “bonus” is burning a hole in his bank account — provided he can outdraw the senior guard across from him.
Enrique tugs at the strap of his parachute. These things are never comfortable, but orders are orders — military mission; military precautions. Plus, it fits in with what he has to do. But the box doesn’t have a parachute attached, yet. There is one there for it, of course… This isn’t going to work. He’d said so from the start; this isn’t going to work. But they’d just added another zero to the payment, and he’d pushed his concerns aside. But this isn’t going to work.
Ricardo finds the bouncing of the plane to be strangely relaxing. He shakes himself awake a few times before the ore’s light seeps out through the lid’s seal. The light oozes over the floor of the plane. And like in his nightmares, it pools about his feet. Voices snap and pop over a distant radio. Then the light crawls up his boots and his pants; it burns his hands. He jerks awake with yet another scream.
Darcy, the senior guard, looks up from his book at Ricardo. “Hey — wake up. This is no time for a nap. We can sleep when we get there, and hand over this damned box and be done with it.”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.”
Ricardo checks his hands to verify they are still intact. He shivers against the all too vivid memory of the dreams.
“It’s ok. It’s been a long day.” Darcy returns to his book. The words start to swarm on the page; he blinks his eyes to steady them again. Ricardo wasn’t alone in being sleepy… After reading the same sentence 5 times in a row, Darcy notices there is light coming from the cracks in the box — a strange, opalescent light that pulses in time with his heartbeat. And as the pulsing slows down, so does his heart. He tries to scream, but cannot; clutching his chest, he falls over.
“Sir! Darcy!” Ricardo struggles with the belt and then manages to get free. He rushes over to his fallen mate. He shakes the man, who fails to respond. Ricardo knew something was wrong — very wrong. Alarms are blaring from the cockpit, yet they seem so far away. The latch on the steel box is so close. It calls to him. It should be free. His hand seems attracted to the latch like steel to a magnet. He tries to jerk it back and succeeds in yanking open the latch.
Up front, Enrique had finally receives his signal. Steeling his courage, he quietly unplugs the radio, then jabs the pilot with the syringe he had been given.
“Don’t worry, Sir. It’s just a harmless anesthetic; you won’t feel a thing.”
The pilot tries to say something, but slumps over the controls before he could get it out. He inadvertently (?) pushes the mayday alarm as he does.
The glowing ore in crate clung to the skin of Ricardo. It twisted his fingers, hands, and arms. Hair explodes through his skin. A madness comes over him as it twists his chest, back, and pelvis. His jaw elongates and his teeth sharpened as they grow. The world loses its color even as his newly shaped ears heard the thunder of heartbeats not his own. The wonderful scent of fear fills his nostrils — prey. He turns. His fur glowing with the ore dust spread across his body — filling him with a need for fresh, hot blood.
Enrique pulls the pilot off the controls, cancels the alarm, and turns the radio back on. His hands are sweating as he hits the button to open the rear hatch of the plane (meant to allow paratroopers to jump out, but obviously breaking the airtight seal of the plane — the point here), pulls his oxygen mask into place, and puts the plane into a steep climb. His new employers had assured him the door to the cabin was strong enough to hold out until the guards lost consciousness, but he didn’t like it. Those guns were BIG. He saw them. BIG.
The beast, which was Ricardo, scrabbles to find purchase on the slick metal floor. His twisted, clawed hand grabs the crate. His prey is up. He gathers himself atop the crate and jumps for the barrier between him and his prey. He finds a way to brace himself against the narrow lip there. Then, he claws at the metal barrier. His claws make a horrible rending sound as they pierce the metal of the door.
Enrique looks over his shoulder to the source of the sound, and sees a claw pierce through the thick metal door.
“Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit…”
He tries to put the plane into a steeper climb, but it is already at the limits of its engine.
The plane stalls and starts falling from the sky. Slowly it tumbles to be nose down. As it tumbles, the beast desperately scratches at the barrier to maintain its place within the metal plane. Its claws slice through the hinges, not as a plan but as part of its wild flaying. The door gives way as the plane pitches forward — carry the door and the beast into the cockpit and against the front glass.
Enrique is desperately trying to right the plane again. The plane pitching forward is a measure of his success — he has regained control. He loses it again as the door flies into the cockpit and clips his shoulder, knocking his head into the dashboard. He is out cold for the count.