VARD - Following weeks of complaints about an odor described as "increasingly putrid" by local residents and business owners in certain districts of Vard III's Six Kin Development Production Plant, today authorities confirmed a maintenance crew had located a large fedo colony and the corpses of over a dozen partially-eaten people hidden in the bowels of the station.
"The stench just seemed to come from everywhere," said Varn Ofarter, lead on the crew that made the grisly discovery. He described how his men hunted unsuccessfully in sewage reprocessing lines, storage areas, ventilation ducts, and beneath deck plating while trying to find the source of the smell. "Even the hounds were no help. We were running out of ideas of where to look so we decided to open the leg space."
'Leg space' refers to station compartments which are built, or left unfinished, solely to take the brunt of any damage resulting from exterior assaults or interior incidents.
"We weren't prepared for what we found," Varn added.
After breaking through several reinforced panels, the maintenance crew discovered a chamber full of fedos feeding on human remains. Medical personnel later counted eighteen distinct bodies all in various states of decay and consumption. Additional human remains were also present but too degraded to retain any immediately distinguishable features.
Preliminary reports estimate the humans originally numbered at least fifty persons, based on the size of the fedo population including the husks of numerous deceased creatures. Items and supplies found at the scene suggest the people had been living in the compartment for some time already and were prepared to remain there for at least several more months despite having no access to fresh water or sanitation. The group's cause of death was not immediately apparent to investigators.
"I'm glad it's over," said one station resident. "I haven't had a decent night's rest since the smell came, it was so bad. Put me off food, too. Though knowing what they found down there...not sure I'll be hungry for a while again yet."
Although leg space is generally not monitored and only accessed by essential station personnel when needed, Six Kin Development is consulting with local architects and security firms in an attempt to determine how so many people could have sealed themselves inside the buffer zone unnoticed.
Identification of the bodies will be delayed while hazmat teams work to clear the compartment of biological waste. The human remains will be tested for viable DNA samples to cross-reference against missing persons reports filed over the last half-year.