THE MYSTERY OF DAV’S HOPE
8 AUG 3305, Hyades Sector DR-V c2-23 A5.
I did not expect to find this. I knew that this was some sort of cursed place. But the register I have just heard gave me the creeps. (Sighs). I think I should record this.
Let’s commence for my reasons for being here. My recent diamond mining operation has allowed me to start thinking about scaling the range of my operations. There is always a conflict or a war in some system where the AEDC may be involved, and it is about time that I participate on these missions. But in order to do that I was going to need a new ship. A war ship. My Chieftain, the Cratos, is an incredible fighter, unmatched in single combat, but not fit to sustain a long battle. I have been thinking in building a shield tank with heavily engineered lasers. A ship able to spend long periods of time in a combat zone. But engineering requires materials, and high tier materials do not come easy. And that is how I got to know about this forsaken place.
I was in the planetary outpost of Webb Enterprise, in system Nabygold, Alliance Space, having a drink at the local bar when I overheard a heavily drunk woman whispering a local folk a tale about a mining settlement where she used to work that had to be evacuated in a hurry. The patron did not look interested on the story, but the part about the company leaving tons of valuable materials behind caught my attention. I approached her and introduced myself as a fellow miner and freelancer. I think she liked the first part, and offered to tell me the whole story in exchange for a drink. Her name was Lucy. She was middle-age, hardened by work, retained some beauty, but looked like she has aged very fast. I attributed it to alcohol. I paid her another ale and listened her incoherent narration full of babbles, sorrow and regret. The only thing that I got clear was that she felt guilt about something that happened there, the name of the system and, most important, the coordinates where this facility was. This were not fresh news though. I checked the GalNet and could see that the place Lucy was talking about was discovered abandoned a couple of years ago. And, besides, it seemed that poor Lucy used to tell her story to anyone willing to hear. When I asked the bar attender he told me that everybody around knew about that place, but few were willing to talk about it, and even less were willing to fly there, like if there was a pact of silence about what happened.
Well, I do not believe in ghosts and I cannot resist a mystery, so I decided it may be worth it to take a look to the place. I took my Diamondback Explorer, the Hyperion, and travelled to system Hyades Sector DR-V c2-23. The installation was easy to find right before the slope of a huge mountain. It was abandoned so hastily that the emergency beacon announcing the evacuation was still working. From above, it looked like one of the ancient settlements that thrived in the American west back in the nineteenth century. A small town with some buildings aligned along a central road. It even had an arched door with the name of the place: Dav’s Hope.
I left the Hyperion outside and ventured into the village on my SRV. An automated alert voice indicated through the comms system that the cause of the evacuation was a compromise of the mine structure. It was a scarce explanation, so I tried to dig more.
I found a personal data recorder that belonged to someone called Franklin James, a foreman of one of the mining teams. The last log said:
Team 6 to base, what the hell was that?! It felt like the whole planet was going to come down on top of us! Base do you read me? Base are you there? Guys, pack it up, we’re heading back to base! Something’s not right here, comms are down and with that last quake, I’m calling it. Follow me, we’ll head for shaft 48, there’s a wired comms station there, maybe we can find out what’s happening.
That quake was probably the cause of the compromise of the mine structure. Nothing really mysterious about that. Meters away there was a comms console from where I could extract the following exchange of messages:
Sent: 23 May 3286 15:19 UTC To: Nicholas Baker: Corporate Liaison Site Report Log: Sir, seismic activity has increased and we’re seeing cave-ins in sections 3, 4 and 6 now. I would like to request permission to pull all mining teams out until we can secure the site. Lucy Minneux: Site co-ordinator
Sent: 23 May 3286 15:30 UTC To: Lucy Minneux: Site co-ordinator Have you lost your senses? Do you know how much it will cost us to shut this place down while you “secure” the site? We’ll lose billions of credits every hour. I can’t authorise that. No, the miners keep on going, they know vhat they signed up for. Nicholas Baker: Corporate Liaison
Sent: 23 May 3286 15:32 UTC To: Nicholas Baker: Corporate Liaison But sir! With this level of activity it could bring the whole installation down, not just the mine shafts, we have to evacuate, the site is no longer viable. It’s just too dangerous. Lucy Minneux: Site co-ordinator
Sent: 23 May 3286 15:34 UTC To: Lucy Minneux: Site co-ordinator Who do you think you’re talking to Miss Minneux? What you need to do is do your job or we’ll have to renegotiate your contract. I trust I have made myself clear. Nicholas Baker: Corporate Liaison
Well, there you were Lucy. And you have a beautiful family name. So, you were co-ordinator here, a quake happened and the man from the corporation did not want to shut down the place. Typical. Always looking after the security of workers. According to the date, whatever happened here it happened nineteen years ago. And there are still tens of tons of valuable materials lying around. After so many years. Without being reclaimed by the corporation. There had to be more, and the answer was in a call log I found:
Shaft 48 Call Log: Team 6 to base, can you read us? What the hell is happening? We’re trying to evacuate section 4, but all access tunnels must have collapsed in that last quake. We’re stuck down here. Repeat, access has collapsed, team trapped in Shaft 48. When can we expect a rescue crew? Base are you reading us?.
One section tunnels collapsed and left some miners stuck. Damn greedy corporations. I looked for another comms console trying to find more information about the fate of the miners. I found another message from Lucy to the man of the corporation:
Sent: 23 May 3286 21:59 UTC To: Nicholas Baker: Corporate Liaison Sir, Team 6 did not report in at shift change and our survey team have reported that the cave-ins are more widespread than we first feared. There’s a very high possibility that they are trapped somewhere in section 4. I’m prepping the rescue team now. They should be ready to leave within the hour. Lucy Minneux: Site co-ordinator
It seemed that Lucy organized a rescue operation. But there was more. A corporate memo by the company man stated the following:
Corporate Memo: Sent: 26 May 3286 06:23 UTC Ref: Mining Operations no longer viable. Site shut down with immediate effect. All resources and confidential materials to be move to alpha site. Regarding ongoing situation: Mining Team 6 Missing, considered acceptable loss. No further action. Commence site shutdown immediately. Message ends
A mining team missing is considered an acceptable lost. I must confess that it does not surprise me. I had to knew what happened to the miners. The last piece of the puzzle was in another comms console:
Sent: 26 May 3286 15:30 UTC To: Lucy Minneux: Site co-ordinator It seems like corporate agree with you, Miss Minneux. This site is no longer viable and is now closed. Shut it down. Shut it all down now. Give the order to detonate the charges, collapse the site. Nicholas Baker: Corporate Liaison
Sent: 26 May 3286 15:35 UTC To: Nicholas Baker: Corporate Liaison You can’t do that, damn you. We have twenty people down here! You can’t just leave them to die like this. They have families, children. What are you going to tell them? Those charges are only meant to be used at the end of the operation. We have to do something to get our people out first! We can’t just leave them buried alive down there. We have a responsibility! Lucy Minneux: Site co-ordinator
Sent: 26 May 3286 15:35 UTC To: Lucy Minneux: Site co-ordinator My responsibility is to this corporation and its shareholders. There are plenty more miners to take their place, and yours for that matter. If you won’t follow orders, we’ll just find someone else that will. Now do it! Nicholas Baker: Corporate Liaison
THE DAMN BASTARDS. That is why nobody wants to talk about this place. THEY LEFT THE MINERS BURIED ALIVE. Poor Lucy. She never got over it. Not even after nineteen years.
After all this time, it amazes me that most systems of the settlement are still working. The place has clearly been sacked recently, but there are still lots of materials lying around. According to Cannon Research, Dav’s Hope was discovered two years ago. The company probably managed to bury the logs about what happened here along with the bodies of the miners. I understand now why pilots do not want to fly here, even knowing about the abandoned equipment. This place is a ghost town.
This is Jav Marlo, on board the Hyperion, landed at the abandoned mining settlement of Dav’s Hope, in system Hyades Sector DR-V c2-23.
4 AUG 3305, Hamilton Gateway, system Wolf 406 (Headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps)
This is Jav Marlo, on board the Plutus, landed at Hamilton Gateway, the headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, in system Wolf 406.
After the events of the Witch Head Nebula and the combat with the Thargoid Cyclops, I think I have developed a rapport with commander Zal Marlo, my alleged brother, so I thought it was time to check on his story and pay him a visit in his home base of Herbert Dock in Wolf 906.
I took the Cratos and flew to system Wolf 906, in Federation space. Upon my arrival I was received by Zal himself flying in a super engineered Sidewinder, the Orestes. I am still amazed by the fleet and the resources Zal owns.
Herbert Dock is a Coriolis Starport aligned with the Federation with a High Tech economy and a democracy government. Right now, it is ruled by the Values Party of Wolf 906. There is a planetary outpost within the system too, Rice Hub, and between the two of them they hold a population of over five million people. The place has all the amenities a commander may need and a reasonable security. A nice and cozy base of operations.
Zal had a nice surprise for me when I landed. It seems that he has been talking with the local Federation authorities about our rescue of the refugees from Beaufoy Terminal, and the Federal Navy was willing to grant me the rank of Chief Petty Officer for my efforts. It is true that they asked me to do some easy tasks in return, the kind of deliver this and that to some nearby outposts, but having a military rank with the Feds has its advantages, being the most important of them the permit to visit Sol system, birthplace of humanity and one of the systems with the tightest security in the Galaxy.
In the following two days Zal showed me the scope of his operations. He has quite a fleet at his disposal and is focused mostly in trading. He has managed to amass quite a fortune. It surprised me how eager he was to share the secret of his business with me. I truly think now that he is looking for a partner and wish to see me thrive. Apparently, he has specialised in Low Temperature Diamonds Mining, and has vast knowledge about the best planetary rings to find them and the best markets to sell them. He even gave me some hints to start my own diamonds mining operation myself.
Now I only needed a proper mining ship, and I took a look at the offer of the local shipyard. My recent rank with the Federation Navy gave me access to some military vessels and I set my eyes in the Federal Dropship, the navy’s workhorse. It was perfect for the task: fast, nimble with plenty of hardpoints for all the mining tools, capable of carrying a significant load and with a good armour in case of pirates come sniffing. Its only setback is its tiny jump range, but nothing that a visit to Felicity cannot fix. I bought one, painted it white, added the Alliance decal and named it Plutus after the Greek god of wealth. The final touch was adding big turreted burst laser in the spare hardpoint. There are many occasions when having a big laser may come handy, especially when traveling with a belly full of diamonds.
Now I needed to try my new toy, so I asked Zal for the nearest pristine ice ring and headed there. I had postponed a visit to Bill Turner for a long time, and I needed 50 tons of Bromelite in order for him to receive me. The Plutus behave exemplary swiftly navigating among the asteroids and in less than a working day I was able to collect the bromelite.
I headed to Alioth system, to Turner Metallics Inc, base of operations of the Engineer Bill Turner, son of the famous Mic Turner, hero and one of the founders of the Alliance. On my way there I could only think about the words professor Palin told me about him: “Mark my words. Do not believe everything that Bill Turner tells you, if he tells you anything at all. He is more than he seems”.
I landed and delivered the bromelite. For my disappointment, I was received by and android, and when I requested to see Bill Turner, it told me that in order to do that I had to develop a stable business relation with him. It seems that he only handles personally the top tier engineering modifications and that I still had no enough rapport with him to meet personally. Frustrated, I abandoned the base thinking about if any of my contacts in the AEDC could help me to circumvent these requirements.
I returned to Herbert Dock in Wolf 906 and took again my Cobra, the Electra. I trusted Zal now, but it is never bad to double check things, so I headed to Sol system, the political capital of the Federation. Upon my arrival, I could not help to indulge myself and did a fly by Earth. I had never contemplated it before, and I must admit it was beautiful. It was night over Europe and I could see perfectly the contour of the Mediterranean Sea. On its shores, several ancient civilizations thrived, probably stablishing the first trade and colonization routes of humanity. The cauldron where the first travellers sailed looking at the stars to not lose their aim. And now, thousands of years later, humanity has reached the other side of the galaxy. It made me feel so proud and so insignificant at the same time. I promised myself to visit the planet as soon as possible. But I had urgent matters to attend.
I landed at Mars High, an Orbis Starport above Mars. The station is crowded with businessmen and tourists looking for passage to the surface, so I posed like one of them and booked a passage in a shuttle to the capital city of Olympus Village. That is where Zal’s mother is, the second spouse of my father that he never told me about. But I did not want to visit her. Not on Zal’s back. So I headed to the Federal Congress, seeking to whatever information they may have on Cisco Marlo, my father.
The military record file of my father, Cisco Marlo, was public. According to it, he had been in the Federation Navy long before my birth. He had the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Mostly scout operations in deep space. All track of his whereabouts was lost one year before I was born. First I thought he might be a defector, but that could not be possible. He raised a family in Mars after that. Zal mentioned that he disappeared when conducting a cover operation in Merope. A cover operation. That could only mean the Federal Intelligence Agency. Maybe he was a double agent that infiltrated in the Alliance. I felt I was walking on thin ice, and my flamboyant Chief Petty Officer rank in the Federal Navy was not enough to access the confidential parts of the files, so I left it there, for the moment. At least Zal’s story concurs so far. I needed to find more about my father whereabouts in the Alliance in order to connect the dots.
I headed back to Herbert Dock and took the Plutus. It was time to enter in the Low Temperature Diamonds business. I flew to one of the hotspots usually exploited by Zal and expent the next hours mining the ice rocks. Sometimes a mining laser is needed to scratch the surface of the rock and cut the chunks of minerals. Other times the diamonds appear in clusters in the surface and I can cut them with an abrasion blaster. When I locate diamonds deposits inside I use sub-surface displacement missiles that are equipped with a drill and can dig into the asteroid before exploding. But the most satisfactory of all is to crack the whole rock using seismic charges when they have a low temperature diamond core.
The average price of a ton of Low Temperature Diamonds can rise over the million credits if one is willing to travel a little in order to sell them. Searching in Gal Net, like Zal has taught me, I found a planetary starport, Webb Enterprise in system Nagybold, very near to Wolf 406 and controlled by Wolf 406 Transport Co, that was paying a high price for diamonds. It was perfect. During the next three days I was able to sell them 300 tons of low temperature diamonds, earning more than 300 hundred million credits on the way. I never thought I could make money so fast in my life. My account almost rose again to the point it was when I returned from Distant Worlds 2. I had paid my last four ships with just three days of mining. It is true that I was attacked once by a pirate while I was mining, but I could manage him quite easily with my burst laser. Pirate ships never expect to find heavy resistance from a miner.
Well, thanks to Zal it seems that money will not be ever a problem again. I even got promoted to Tycoon by the Pilots Federation. That means bigger ships, better equipment and endless possibilities to scale my operations. This current Diamond Rush has provided me with a new beginning, a mystery still unsolved and a recent found brother to help me. Business is going well.
Jav Marlo signing out.
31 JUL 3305, Acropolis VR57 megaship, system Witch Head Sector LC-V c2-10 (Witch Head Nebula)
This is Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Cratos, in the Witch Head Nebula, during the Thargoid raid.
Soon after professor Palin’s megaship, Carson’s Spring, arrived safely to the Arche system, the Thargoids emerged in the Witch Head Nebula aggressively attacking the new human stations. I guess they wanted to defend the barnacle sites. A request to the independent pilots to help in the repel of the Thargoid menace was promptly issued. I finished the engineering works I was conducting in the Cratos, installed two large Ax multi-cannon turrets and a remote release flack launcher and headed to the Witch Head Nebula. It was time to fight back.
After the 1000 light years trip, my first stop was Jackrock Outpost, a tiny planetary outpost controlled by the Alliance that contains the only shipyard in the vicinity. From there, I checked the status of the systems raided by the Thargoids. They had already been repelled from Federation territory, but the Alliance system of Witch Head Sector HW-W c1-9 still had active combat zones.
The moment I jumped into the system I received the distress signal of Sherrill Orbital, an Ocellus Starport of the Alliance that had been attacked. I wanted to check if rescue operations were ongoing, so I headed there.
I could see a worrying flashing blue light visible in the rear of the station, and I approached to take a closer look. It was the power core. The power core of the station was exposed, launching vast amount of radiation to the space. All my ship systems blurred when I closed, and the temperature started to rise. The damage taken by the station was devastating.
Some rescue ships were coming and going from the station, but it was clear that the whole system was in chaos. There were non-human signals and combat aftermaths everywhere.
I decided to look for the nearest combat zone and join the fight. There were some Alliance forces there trying to repel the attack of a swarm of Thargoid scouts. I found the scouts to be very vulnerable to AX multi-cannon fire. They are very nimble but weak. Their major threat is the caustic damage and the acid clouds they leave on exploding that slowly eats through the ships systems. Decontamination limpets are mandatory.
We repelled wave after wave of scouts, but our numbers diminished too. I may have killed more than thirty scouts when the big ones came. The sensors detected a frame shift anomaly, and two Thargoid interceptors made their entrance. That was a totally different business. They quickly overwhelmed our forces and I was forced to flee with a Cyclops in pursuit. That is when Palin’s thruster modifications showed their value.
I came back to system Witch Head Sector LC-V c2-10 to lick my wounds. I was landed at the Acropolis VR57 megaship, still ashamed for my recent retreat, when I received a message from Zal Marlo. He had seen my beacon in the Witch Head Nebula and was travelling here. He wanted me to help him hunting a Thargoid Cyclops. It seems that he had a new ship that he wanted to test. He would arrive here in the next eight hours, so I waited for him.
I could see Zal approaching the megaship the moment he dropped out of supercruise. He was flying a huge Type 10, white and yellowed stripped, that he called the Dynastes. It carried four large AX multi-cannon turrets and had a huge armor. Damn, where does he gets his resources? Every time I see him he is flying a new ship. And that was an incredible expensive one.
Zal told me that he had avoided fighting the Thargoids all along the war because he was not ready, but now he had built an anti Thargoid ship and that he wanted to kill a Cyclops. I told him that I have seen some big Thargoids myself, but never actually killed one, besides scouts, and that they were very dangerous. He said that was the reason he was seeking my help. He looked pretty determined, so I decided to show him what a Thargoid can do to big ship like his.
I looked for the signal of a combat aftermath and soon found one. When we arrived, I saw the wreckage of many ships, a Type 9 cargo transport very similar to Zal`s ship among them, so we took a closer look.
The hull of the ill-fated vessel had the green marks of severe caustic damage. A big hole was visible underneath, still in fire, probably where a missile had penetrated the hull.
I asked Zal if he was going to risk losing his ship. Mine can outrun a Cyclops, but his Type 10 is too slow to run away if things get nasty. He said that he was determined to kill a Thargoid.
I proposed to kill some scouts before facing one Cyclops, in order practise our tactics, and Zal agreed, so I looked for a low threat signal. Zal found one before me and I followed his beacon to join him. When I dropped out of supercruise waiting to find some scouts I saw Zal confronting a huge Cyclops that was in the middle of the wreckage of several ships. Probably collecting bodies. We were in trouble. I scream to Zal not to provoke the Thargoid, but he was already spitting fire into the Cyclops. The big hunt had commenced.
For the next forty minutes we hold fight against the beast, suffering considerable damage to our vessels. The Thargons were the biggest threat. These little critters are incredible hard to avoid, and terribly difficult to shot down. The missiles took their toll too. But we persevered, destroying heart after heart of the Cyclops until it exploded in the middle of a big green and corrosive cloud. We had done it. Our ships were battered and covered in caustic substance, but we had survived.
I must admit that, after the first instants of euphoria, a sense of discomfort invaded me. The remains of the Thargoid looked more like the carcass of a huge animal than the wreckage of a vessel.
The marks of our weapons seemed like open wounds, and the petals looked like bone-broken wings. It was a very discomforting sight.
I mean, I have no regrets about what we did. We are at war with these aliens, and the fight has been ruthless. But I am used to fight pirates flying combat vessels. And… and that felt more like hunting and killing an animal. A huge, threatening and majestic animal.
We returned to the Acropolis VR57 megaship and celebrated our victory. We even were awarded a decal for our ships. I guess we are xeno-hunters now.
I guess our Thargoid blood thirst was satiated, because we said we both will be returning to the Bubble soon. It seems that there is an Alliance Festival of Cultures ongoing, professor Palin wrote me a message informing about his new base of operations in Arque and… and maybe I could do a long time postponed trip to Sol and learn more about my father’s business with the Federation.
Jav Marlo signing out.
QUID PRO QUO
27 JUL 3305, Hamilton Gateway, system Wolf 406 (Headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps)
Many things have happened in the last two weeks. I will try to tell the course of events since my last log.
I was working in the Cratos, trying different engineering modifications to increase its considerable tested combat power, when I heard the news. The Thargoids were withdrawing from the core systems. We had won the war. Mankind had defeated the aliens. They were retreating to the Pleiades. Everybody was exultant. Well, everybody but professor Palin.
I was about to head to a bar to celebrate the news properly when I received a message from Zal Marlo. He wanted my help. It seemed that Beaufoy Vision, a Coriolis Starport in the system Nauni was burning after a Thargoid Attack, and there were thousands of people in need of evac. Zal has some ties with the Sunflex Group Limited, a local anarchist faction, loyal to the Federation, almost criminal, but definitely against slavery. And they were desperate. Well, the first time we met, Zal really impressed me with his rescue of the people of Leclerc Terminal. It was pretty heroic. And I was not equipped for the task. On this occasion, I wanted to impress him.
I made a lot of money during Distant Worlds 2 and I thought I could invest some of these credits in a good cause. I went to the shipyard looking for big ships suitable to be converted into a flying barge, and I found the biggest of all. A Beluga Class Liner. The huge cruise liner manufactured by Saud Kruger. There was one in offer. I thought that I could convert the luxury ship into a flying hospital, so I bought it, equipped it with as many cabins I could, installed a tiny shield, powerful thrusters and a decent FSD, and painted it red. I thought that Asclepius, the Greek God of medicine would be an appropriate name.
I was amazed when I entered my new ship. I have seen Beluga Liners many times, but never been inside one. It was huge, with space for 180 passengers. It even has a small auditorium. And the captain quarters are incredible big and comfortable. I could live here instead of the room I have rented at the station. My enthusiasm changed when I saw the huge cockpit and I realized that I was going to pilot this ship without help and with no experience flying big ships. The biggest thing I have ever flied is a Keelback. The entrance of Hamilton Gateway looked so tiny from there. I ran to the hangars again and installed an automatic docking computer. I did not want to get stuck in the entrance to the base. Starport authorities are very serious about these things.
The assistant docking computer worked properly and I was able depart Hamilton Gateway with no problems. Used to much nimbler ships, I felt incredibly clumsy flying the Asclepius. Some jumps later I met Zal outside Beaufoy Vision. He was thrilled when he saw my new ship. I think I impressed him. He was flying his rescue Type 7.
Zal requested to join me through telepresence in the cockpit of the Asclepius in order to brief me about what to expect once inside. The temperature beyond the entrance is incredibly high and can melt the systems in minutes, heat sinks are mandatory. There is a lot of debris floating around to be avoided. And random explosions occur that can damage the ship and take it off course. I told Zal not worry since I had an automatic docking computer, and there came the surprise. Automatic guidance systems were not available during emergencies. I would have to do it all manually.
I got ready to die. At least it would be a heroic death, a stupid and heroic death I thought. Zal returned to his ship and aligned with me for the operation. He asked me to go first. I guess he realized how nervous I was. He would be after me guiding. I took a deep breath, accelerated to one quarter impulse, aligned with the station and approached slowly until… (sigh) until I got stuck in the entrance.
Temperature started to rise and I must confess that I panicked. Zal screamed me through the comms channel to release the landing gear and to launch a heat sink. Miraculous it worked. It seems that the fins in the top of the Beluga fold when the landing gear deploys and that unstuck the Asclepius. Zal Marlo clearly is familiarized with transport ships.
Once inside it did not get better. It was very difficult to maneuver through the debris with such a gigantic ship. As soon as I landed, station control took me to the interior of the hangar before I roast myself. There were, explosions, fire and sparks everywhere.
There were hundreds of refugees from all the local factions looking for passage to the nearby rescue megaship. I hastily loaded the Asclepius and readied for departure. I was not planning in getting stuck again, not with a ship fully loaded of people. I carefully headed to the entrance, avoided the debris, adjusted course after a huge explosion and aligned the ship. Then I hit the boosters and the Asclepius left the ill-fated station at full speed.
Satisfied, I delivered 180 refugees to the nearest rescue megaship, and there I received a message from AEDC command. It seemed that the three main powers, the Federation, the Empire and the Alliance, were striving to expand their presence to the Witch Head Nebula, where the new source systems for meta-alloys are, and there was some sort of rush for resources in order to build some stations there. The problem seemed to be that the parts for the Alliance station were being constructed in Judson Station, in Mizar, a starport that is 161,536 light seconds away from the entrance point of the system. A huge distance to be covered for the transport ships, putting the Alliance in great disadvantage with the other powers. All Alliance commander were being asked to help, and I was in the middle of a rescue operation and, again with not a proper ship for the task. I had to make a decision.
I made a deal with Zal. I would help him to finish the evacuation of Beaufoy Terminal and, in exchange, he would help me to transport the resources needed at Judson Station. In the next 24 hours we did more than ten rescues and I managed to save more than 2,000 refugees with the Asclepius. Grateful, Zal Marlo told me how to equip a Type 9 transport ship for heavy hauling and promised to meet me at Mizar the next day to help with the Alliance campaign. A really nice agreement of cooperation.
Back at Hamilton Gateway, I got to the shipyard and bought myself a Type 9. The ship dealer told me that I was becoming one of his best clients. Understandable after buying two incredibly expensive ships in less than 48 hours. And what can I say, the Beluga may be bigger and heavier, but a Type 9 is much bulkier. Or at least it seems to me.
This beast can carry more than 700 tons of merchandise and it has a cockpit with different levels that could accommodate my Diamondback Explorer, the Hyperion, inside. I painted it dark grey with some yellow strips and called it the Atlas. I guess the name is quite self-explanatory.
With some difficulty I flew the Atlas to the nearby HR 5451 system to load some superconductors and headed to the Mizar system. This ship takes ages to turn. Zal was waiting for me near the nav buoy, as promised, flying a huge Type 9 too himself that he calls the Megasoma filled with Palladium. It seems that Zal is quite fond of Entomology, and likes to name his ships on insects. Quite a curious hobby for a space trader.
Together, we did several transports runs to Judson station along the week. and contributed to the goals of the Alliance towards the expansion to the Witch Head Nebula. Zal is the hell of trader, knowing were to find every merchandise.
We were finishing one run, carrying Palladium, when we heard the news about the Thargoids returning to the Pleiades Nebula and the attack on Palin Research Centre. I told Zal that I needed to go there and check what was happening, and he said he was coming with me. I told him that I was taking the Electra, my Cobra, because a superfast ship was needed to survive this trip and offered him a seat. He told me not to worry about him and promised to meet in the next 12 hours in Maia.
When I arrived to Maia I detected Zal’s beacon in the signal of a listening post. He had made the trip faster than me. When I dropped out of supercruise there I found why. He was flying a heavy modified Imperial Courier. He said it was his personal transport. I had the chance to see his ship boosting and I must admit it is clearly faster than my Cobra. There was a message in loop transmitting. It said that Palin Research Centre had been evacuated.
We soon detected a distress beacon. It was from Palin’s personal megaship, Carson’s Spring. It was under attack. When we arrived at its position, we found that the megaship was devastated, floating adrift in a green mist cloud. But it was holding. There were no Thargoids around, but they would be probably preparing a second wave assault. Many independent pilots were arriving in order to defend Palin. Zal and I were not equipped for helping in the defence, nor for rescuing the megaship, so we decided to split and keep in touch.
I am back now at Hamilton Gateway finishing engineering the Cratos. I have decided to adapt it for fighting Thargoids. I want to take part on the fight. I am tired of running. Right before I started to record this log GalNet published the news that Palin’s megaship has reached Arche system. I am glad to hear that. The news said too that the Thargoids are raiding the Witch head Nebula. They probably want to stop the colonisation efforts. All Alliance commanders have been asked to help defend our new systems there. I must hurry up with the Cratos modifications.
Jav Marlo signing out.
07 JUL 3305, Hamilton Gateway, system Wolf 406 (Headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps)
This is Jav Marlo, on board the Cratos, landed at Hamilton Gateway, the headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, in system Wolf 406.
This has been a very strange week. I must confess that my trip to system Hoff and my encounter with Zal Marlo, my alleged brother, has affected me. Besides the fact of discovering that I might have a family after all, based on what Zal said, my father could be a Federal. How can this be? It is true that he was always absent, flying missions, but he was a high rank Alliance operative. That I know. Maybe he was not running missions but raising a family on Mars. Or maybe he was a cover agent. That would make him a traitor, instead of a hero of the Alliance. I needed to find answers so, right after leaving Zal at Oluwafemi Terminal, I headed towards Dublin Citadel, to the place where I grew up, seeking for answers.
Zal said that our father disappeared while conducting a cover operation in Alliance territory. That does not match with what they told me. According to the Alliance Defence Force, my father’s Asp Explorer was found adrift in Merope with no signs of him or his body. I did not think it was appropriate to tell Zal Marlo about this. I barely know him. I am going to need to learn more about him too. In the following days, I went again through all the files about my father services for the Alliance. Most of the information is classified, specially his mission logs. Nothing there. I tried in the past to contact the Alliance Council of Admirals looking for answers about my father disappearance with no success. It was my plan to get some notoriety among the Alliance factions in order to try again, but now I cannot do it. What would happen if I discover that he was a spy for the feds, that he was a traitor? That would put me in a very difficult position. I am a member of the AEDC militia now. I have met again with all my father’s contacts and friends here at Dublin Citadel. I cannot tell them about him maybe being a Fed, so I tried unfruitfully to get information from them while concealing my suspects. Another cul de sac. Professor Palin suggested me in my last trip to the Pleiades that maybe I should ask the notorious engineers Bill Turner and Lori Jameson about Alliance cover operations that my father might be involved in. He also warned me about Bill Turner. It does not matter now. Both engineers are still way out of my reach. The only thing that was clear for me was that I needed to discover who my father really was, if what Zal Marlo told me about him was true, before digging more on his disappearance in the Merope system.
After three days in Dublin Citadel, I was going mad. Many of the things I gave for settled were being questioned now. I felt like a foreigner in my own hometown. Not that I was never very attached to any place, but I grew up here, and now everything seemed a lie to me. I was getting paranoid. I even thought that I was under the eye of the Alliance Interpol. So, I decided that I had to leave. I had heard that Aegis Research had issued a statement about growing concerns that meta-alloy harvests in the Pleiades Nebula had slowed dramatically. And that they were asking pilots to hand exploration data to The Oracle in the Delphi system. I discovered many ammonia worlds on my way back from Beagle Point and I still got that data, so I headed for the Pleiades again. At least, this way, I could contribute a little bit to the war against the Thargoids.
The trip made me good. I remember that going to the Pleiades seemed like a huge adventure time ago. Now, after being in Beagle Point, it seemed like a turn around the block. Anyhow, I did not stay there for long. After cashing the remains of my exploration data, I headed back to system Wolf 406, to Hamilton Gateway, my new home. I needed to think what would be my next step. Maybe I should go to Mars and see if I could find information about my father there. But Sol is a permit locked system. You need to have a rank in the Federation Navy to be allowed to travel there. And, besides, with everything that is happening now, it seemed too dangerous.
While I was thinking on my next steps, I decided to concentrate in my role as part of the AEDC militia. I took some petty courier missions for Wolf 406 Transport & Co, and move around some systems in the surroundings. Doing that I started to take conscience that the scope of the AEDC operations is vast, and that most of these operations involve defending the Alliance territory and its factions from pirates and worst. If I wanted to really contribute, it was clear that I was going to need a bigger ship. One that would be capable of sustaining heavy combat. It was time to gear up.
I acquired my only experience in combat during my first trip to the Pleiades. I expended a week there helping the local security force fight the pirates that were attempting to take over an asteroid ring in several skirmishes. That got me a reputation among the local factions and the rank of Expert in combat. I flew a Viper Mark III that I called the Achilles and collected 481 bounty-vouchers on it. But, to be honest, the local forces did most of the job and I had never pull the trigger again after that. Now, with the credits I earned on Distant Worlds 2, I thought I could afford a bigger ship. And there was only one ship I could think of. The true war horse of the Alliance: The Chieftain.
According to Lakoon Spaceways, the Alliance Chieftain has been designed not only to dish out punishment, but to avoid it. The Chieftain is more manoeuvrable than ships of similar size and weight, and its combat profile means it can more than hold its own in a fight. I A-rated every system of the ship and mounted three multi-cannons and three small railguns. I installed some surface reactive composite armor and reinforced the hull along with the modules. I added some countermeasures too, a FSD interdictor and a fuel scoop. I wanted it to be difficult to spot in a fight, so I chose a dark paint, but added some green stripes. After all, I meant to use it for defending the Alliance space. The only thing left was to choose a proper name. And, being this a ship created with the only purpose of combat, I decided that Cratos, the personification of power, strength and dominium in Greek mythology, would be a proper name. Now it was time to try it.
That is the biggest ship I have owned. And the most expensive. Everything in the Chieftain is combat oriented. No room for luxuries. The crew quarters are Spartan but appropriate. Just equipped with the basics. They clearly were not thinking in long trips. The canopy is incredible spacious. Or it seemed to me, used to smaller ships. It holds space for a co-pilot and offer great views. I must confess that I love the thrill of testing a new ship.
I took the Cratos out for its first flight and confirmed that the Chieftain is incredible nimble for its size. They say it was designed to counteract the agility of the Thargoid interceptors. I wanted to get used to fly on it, so I decided to visit some of the engineers in the surroundings and see if they could tinker a little bit with its systems. And that is when the Chieftain proved that it was designed just for combat. Accustomed to the Hyperion and the Electra, the Cratos is a real pain to move around the Bubble. Even after Farseer increased its jump range, the tiny fuel tank makes necessary to fuel scoop at every star, and the overcharged power plant overheats easily, at least compared to a Diamondback Explorer.
I have engineered the Cratos to the limit that my resources allowed me. Modifications do not come cheap, but I must say that I put the Painite Zal Marlo gave me to a good use. The engineers are very demanding. It seems that I am going to need a lot of materials if I want squeeze the whole potential of this ship. But I am quite satisfied with the results so far. I guess this is a work in progress.
It was time for a real combat test. There is always a Compromised Navigation Beacon someplace in the Alliance space, where wanted vessels piloted by criminals have overcome the security forces and fly around harassing the disgraced pilots that arrive there. This places are ripe for bounties too. They are really dangerous combat grounds, with no backup and, usually, they should be avoided at all costs. The perfect set up for a ship like the Cratos. I found one and dropped to normal space. Seconds later a Krait Phantom approached and scanned me. On this occasion, instead of running, I deployed my hardpoints.
In the following days I fought every wanted ship I could. I challenged Kraits, Clippers, wings of Eagles, Cobras, Anacondas and even Type 10 Defenders. During the first encounters I had to retreat several times with my ego wounded and my ship scratched, but I went to Todd “The Blaster” Mc Quinn and overcharged my multi-cannons. After that, with their new incendiary rounds, they started to melt the enemy ships shields. Then I could snipe through their systems with my rail guns. I lost my shields many times, but the reinforces to the hull always managed to resist until the shields recover. After three days, I was able to defeat Elite Anacondas, Kraits and Type 10 Defenders. Most of the encounters with these incredible dangerous enemies left me bruised and battered and in need of patching at the nearest station. It seems that the Chieftain has a tendency to take all the strikes to its canopy. It did not matter to me. I took the scratches as a badge of honor. They were the marks that proved my progress as a combat pilot and, as I have said, this is a work in progress.
Jav Marlo signing out.
30 JUN 3305, Hamilton Gateway, system Wolf 406 (Headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps)
This is Jav Marlo, on board the Electra, landed at Hamilton Gateway, the headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, in system Wolf 406. Hours ago I received a very intriguing message sent by someone who says he is my brother. My father was Cisco Marlo, an explorer for the Alliance given for dead in 3300 while exploring an unidentified signal source in the Merope system. I never got to knew my mother, Cia. As far as I know I do not have any family. This alleged brother of mine, Zal Marlo, must be an impostor. He wants to talk to me. I need to know what is he up to. I have decided to keep a log of my inquiries in this matter. I must get to the bottom of it.
I have responded to the message of Zal Marlo:
This is Jav Marlo. Let’s talk.
And he has answered:
Not like this. Let’s meet at system Hoff. I will light a beacon.
He wants to meet in space. Where is this system Hoff?... It is Federation territory. And there is more. That system was recently attacked by the Thargoids. The whole place must be a mess. The local security force will be probably overwhelmed. It seems too risky.
Who this Zal Marlo might be? Let’s see if I can find anything in the GalNet. I cannot believe it. He has a public profile file at the Inara database. Zal Marlo: Trader and miner. Competent in combat. Elite in trade. A wealthy man with a vast number of ships in propriety, including some very dangerous ones. I do not like this.
Let’s find if I can trace the origin of his message. Good. That was easy. He is not concealing his signal. It clearly originates at Herbert Dock, a Coriolis starport in system Wolf 906. Federation Territory. He wanted me to find it, or he did not care. Or could it be a trap?
I am agreeing to his terms:
Ok. System Hoff then. In eight hours.
He replied immediately:
Roger that. Bring some limpets.
Limpets? What for? Ok. I will play your game, for the moment. I will take the Electra. Like this, I am sure I will be able to run away if things get nasty. Not many ships can outrun this beauty. That eight hours window gives me time to pay a visit to Herbert Dock. Let’s see if I can spot him before he sees me.
I have arrived to system Wolf 906 and I am outside Herbert Dock. Lights off. All non-essential systems switched off. I am keeping a reasonable distance to the starport entrance and I am scanning every ship that leaves the station looking for commander Zal Marlo. Despite my efforts to be discreet, the local authorities have scanned me and asked about my business four times in the last two hours.
Wait. Here is the man. Commander Zav Marlo is approaching the entrance. And he is flying… What! A Type 7 transport. And it is unarmed. I feel somehow disappointed. I was expecting something more… more threatening. The man has a Mamba and he is coming in that flying brick. I could outrun him in my Type 6.
He is charging his FSD. He has jumped. I better hurry to Hoff system. I think he poses no threat for me at the moment. But better keep my eyes open. He may have friends. This still could be a trap.
I have arrived to the Hoff system. I can see the beacon of Zal Marlo. Dropping to normal space. There he is. And he is alone. Approaching.
Here I am. What do you want from me?
I just wanted to meet you. I am your brother. Well, your half-brother.
You must be mistaken. I don’t have brothers. Neither half-brothers.
Your father was Cisco Marlo. He was my father too.
That’s not possible. How can this be?
I don’t know yet. But I’m sure we are family. I was hoping that you would help me to figure it out.
I don’t believe you.
I’ve brought you a present, brother. Consider it a good will token.
Don’t move. I’m getting closer. I want to see you.
You don’t have to worry brother. I’ll stay still.
If I see any movement, I’ll obliterate you. I mean it. And don’t call me brother again.
I know you’ll do. Keep calm.
I’ve never seen you in my life. I don’t know you. What do you want from me? Why did you bring me here?
I mean no harm to you. I already told you. I just wanted to know you, brother.
Stop calling me that.
Don’t you want to see what I brought to you? I hope you have some limpets in this Cobra of yours. Let me show you.
Don’t do anything. Don’t open your cargo hatch. What are you doing?
Relax. See what is in it.
Painite? You… you brought me Painite? Why?
I just want to help you. You’re going to need Painite. I am a miner. I had Painite, so I brought it to you.
For what do I need Painite?
You need Painite to get to Selene Jean. I know Selene. She is really good reinforcing hulls and armours. I know that she has invited you to her installations. And she charges 10 tons of Painite to access her services. Are you taking it or not? This is not easy to get.
Ok. I am deploying my limpets. If this is some kind of trap…
I know, I know, you’ll obliterate me.
So, what now? I take the Painite. What do you want in exchange for it? I have credits.
I have credits too. You can take the Painite. It’s free. I just would like you to accompany me to some place. Don’t worry. It’s within the system.
And what if I don’t want to. I could collect the Painite and leave. You cannot catch me in that ship. Yes, you could. But you wouldn’t know why this was for. Relax, please. I know this is odd, but I just want you to see something. You can run away in this superfast Cobra of yours whenever you want. I just want you to come with me… Are you taking the damn Painite or not?
Ok. Ok. But don’t do anything or…
I know, I know… just relax bro… I mean… sorry.
If I should buy this story of yours. How did you get to know about me? I have passed a lot of time in deep space.
I know. Distant Worlds 2. And I got to know about your existence because of that expedition. You may not know, but you were famous for a couple of days. You appeared on the news. It seems that you have discovered the hottest icy body of the galaxy. Imagine my surprise when I read that a commander by the name Jav Marlo was returning from Beagle Point and had discovered a superhot ice rock. Ours ain’t a common family name, did you know?
That was by chance. Totally unintended. I just explored that system because I detected three water worlds in it, and they are worth a lot of credits. I even didn’t know about that until I returned and saw that the Galactic Mapping Project database has awarded me with a badge for discovering a galactic record. Did that appear in the news? Are you serious? That is true. You can check it. While you were flying back, your telemetry data was received by the Galactic Mapping Project and they published the breaking of the record. Dryaa Byio SZ-X d1-32 7, the hottest icy body. You were famous, at least for a while. I am afraid someone broke your record soon after. I am sorry bro… ahem, I mean I am sorry.
I am done. I have the Painite. What happens now?
Now you decide if want to follow me.
Follow you where?
To Lecrerc Terminal. An Orbis starport just a few light seconds away.
Ok. You first. Jav Marlo signing out.
I do not buy this story, but I want to know where it leads. The Painite is good and it will become useful. And I have seen no threats yet. So, I am going to play Zal Marlo’s game just a little bit more. I am arriving to Leclerc Terminal. Disengaging Frame Shift Drive. What the...! This place is in flames. The Thargoids! It must have been them. Leclerc Terminal is burning.
Zal. What is this? This place is doomed. Did you know about this? Is this some kind of trick?
That’s what I wanted you to see. A lot has happened here in the Bubble since you departed on your sightseeing trip along the galaxy.
Ok. I know. Mankind is at war with an alien race. So what?
So mankind could use a little help. Maybe from someone with credits, resources and ships. Did you know that most of the opposition to the Thargoids is coming from independent pilots? Of course there is the Aegis initiative, but most of the fight is being held by pilots like you and me. And most of the rescue and repair efforts too.
And what do you want me to do?
Nothing. Just watch.
There is people still inside the station. Probably thousands.
They are going to die. How can this be?
The local security force is probably overwhelmed. They cannot do more.
But this people need evac. Now.
Exactly. That’s the point. This isn’t about Feds, Alliance or even the damn Empire, this is about survival. Allegiances apart, there is just people burning in a station that’s tearing apart. Are we going to let them burn? Are you?
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to help them. We must do something.
You’re right. The pilot’s Federation has sent to the system one of their rescue mega ships, the Oluwafemi Terminal, and are asking anyone with a ship to please help in the evacuation of Leclerc Terminal. Now watch me, but don’t attempt to follow me. You won’t survive inside.
What do you mean inside? What do you attempt to do?
Are you crazy? Don’t go inside. You'll roast. Don’t worry. I do this all the time. And don’t attempt to follow me. You aren't equipped for this task.
Zal. Zal. Don’t. Zal.
Damn! Communications have failed. I cannot see him inside. The whole place is a hell. I only see fire, smoke, explosions and a lot of debris floating around. How can anybody fly into that? The man is crazy. He is committing suicide. He is going to toast inside his ship. The whole station is a gigantic oven. Why did he wanted me to see this?
How much time have passed? Ten minutes? More?... WAIT! I can see him. That flying brick of him is coming to the entrance. He is going to make it. But how?
Thirty two refugees safe on board.
How did you survive there?
Heat sinks. Lots of heat sinks.
Please, come with me to Oluwafemi Terminal, the rescue megaship. We can talk further there.
I follow you.
There it is. Oluwafemi Terminal. A rescue mega ship commissioned by the Pilots Federation.
And there he is too. Commander Zal Marlo, on his flying brick, landed on the surface of the mega ship. Today’s hero. I am landing too.
That was very impressive. So, what now, you big damn hero?
I am glad you decided to come along. I just hope we could talk a little further.
I have an idea. There’s this new telepresence technology. I have never tried it before, but I think I could bring you to the cockpit of the Electra. What do you say?
Let’s try it.
Damn it! I mean… that was creepy. It… I mean… you look so real.
I am glad to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
So, I’ll ask one last time. What do you want from me? Nothing, I told you. I am sorry for all the mystery, and the rescue show. You know, about a month ago I knew about your existence through the news, as I’ve told you. I did some research and dig some information about you. I was shocked. Dad never told us about you. Us?
Mom and me. I’ve not talked her about you. Who could imagine that Dad had another family. In the Alliance, nothing less.
Where is she now? Does she live? She is fine, thanks. She lives in Mars.
And… our father? Do you know what happened to him?
He disappeared while conducting a cover operation in Alliance territory. At least, that’s what they told me. Right now, I don’t know what to think about that, but I loved him. And what about us?
That is up to you. I just was curious about what kind of man you are. See, this is a cutthroat galaxy. And it is becoming even more dangerous by the days. I am a man with resources. You are a man with resources. I just hoped that, maybe, we could watch each other backs from time to time. After all, we are family.
That’s all. You want me to watch your back? _ Little by little. I realize how weird this is. It is very strange for me too, believe me. Let’s consider this encounter a first step. _ A first step towards what?
We’ll see. Look, I have business to attend somewhere else, but I thank you for coming. This was important for me. I’ll try to keep in touch.
See you around, Zal.
See you around… BROTHER.
29 JUN 3305, Hamilton Gateway, system Wolf 406 (Headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps)
This is Jav Marlo, on board the Electra, landed at Hamilton Gateway, the headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, in system Wolf 406. I am recording this log to keep track of my new involvement in the activities of the AEDC and the scan data delivery missions I am flying for them.
I was expecting to have time to rest after crossing the galaxy both ways in the last six months, but the AEDC had other plans. Right after I put the Hyperion into storage, I walked with some difficulty, the time in deep space took its toll, towards the offices of the AEDC and reported my arrival. The android at the front desk just said that they were waiting for me and handed me some codes to access a private communication channel in GalNet. When I realized that no one was going to greet me and show me the installations, I left the offices and headed back to the much more comfortable low gravity hangar zone, where I have left the Electra, my beautiful Cobra MkIII, before departing on Distant Worlds 2. After so many months living in the spartan cabin of the Hyperion, the crew quarters of the Electra looked like a luxury passenger cabin of a Beluga in compare.
I switched on the comms panel and introduced all the security codes I have been handed until, for my surprise, I found I had a message from commander Pandrewno, the leader of the AEDC himself. He was asking me to visit six different locations on Alliance space to sell part of the scan data I was carrying. There was another message from commander Hook Echo, an AEDC veteran, with more details about how to perform the mission. And a final one from commander DND-Decay welcoming me back. It seemed I had a mission to perform. and a lot of credits in scan data to cash.
I wanted everything to run smoothly. I was going to carry a fortune in scan data across many inhabited systems; with their pirates, bounty hunters and opportunistic freelancers. And I did not want any surprises, so I used some of the components I have collected at the Stranded Snake Anaconda settlement along with the blueprints I got from Palin and Farseer, the engineers, and tinkered with the thrusters and frame shift drive of the Electra to improve them even further. Now she can boost up to 555 m/s and jump further than 30 light years. Feeling much safer, I transferred all the scan data I have collected in the last three months from the Hyperion databanks to the Electra computer. I was ready to start my first mission for the AEDC.
I am just a recruit not familiarized to the global strategy or the operations of the AEDC. But it is clear to me that in the last days I have been fundamentally helping to the expansion efforts of Wolf 406 Transport & Co, a faction with strong ties with the AEDC, led by the notorious merchantess Victoria Wolf VI, a very influential woman within the Alliance and beyond. So, I visited several outposts and stations controlled by them, as instructed, in systems Matres, 38 Viriginis, Sao 82442 and Shitici.
I visited too system Esien Ming, where I helped to boost the influence of the Prometheus Astro-logistics Corporation, a huge technological company that is in a coalition with the AEDC, and to system LHS 2541, where I sold some data to the LHS 2541 Alliance Combine, another faction supported by the AEDC. I was about to return to Hamilton Gateway when I got a message from commander Aricke asking me to deliver some scan data to the People’s Party of LTT 14271, a communist faction with allegiance to the Alliance he is trying to help. The moment I arrive to LTT 14271 I was interdicted by a Diamondback Scout of the Raiders of Patosata, but that is where the Electra proved its worthiness avoiding the interdiction effortlessly. I landed at Hutchinson Landing and accomplished the mission.
On the way back to Hamilton Gateway I was contacted again by commander Pandrewno and commander Mangal Oemie, and they delivered four more drop requests, so I switched course to Esien Ming and Cortes Dock again for another drop to the Prometheus Astro-logistics Corporation. From there I returned to Sao 82442 and delivered some data to one aristocrat faction based there. Commander Mangal Oemie wanted me to pass by system Ithaca and deliver some data to the people of the LHS 2541 Alliance Combine at Hume Depot. Finally, I came back to Shitici, landed at Neumann Enterprise planetary port and contacted the MCC 686 General Network faction. Neumann Enterprise is a vibrant city with all the services and amenities one could hope for. I would have liked to expend some time there.
I returned to Hamilton Gateway and found that I had two pending messages. The first one was from DNA-Decay asking me to help commander Multivex by dropping some data at system Chu Jona. It seems that there is a faction known as the Unicorn Commonwealth that he is trying to help. They say that the Unicorn Commonwealth is composed of cooperative like-minded citizens who follow the philosophy of Unicornism. This Philosophy promotes ideals of peace and cooperation to reach common goals and fundamentally teaches that no individual is superior to another inside of the philosophy.
The second one was from commander Hapac, asking me to help one group of anarchists under his protection, the Dagr Crocodiles. Catchy name! So, after resupplying the Electra I departed again. Before leaving, I bought one of the new super cruise assistant modules and installed it. It works as some short of auto pilot, something very helpful when flying from one station to another. It is quite relaxing to be able to drop the control stick for a while.
I visited some of the stations controlled by the Crocodiles and ended my tour at Oblivion station in Maweke. It is a Coriolis starport with all the services one commander can hope for, but its name is not very inviting. I wonder who might be the marketing advisor of this faction?
There I got one last message by commander Pandrewno asking me to pay a visit to Moore Installation, a planetary outpost in system LHS 2541 where Wolf 406 Transport & Co was having some problems with the elections.
I had helped in the expansion efforts of some factions supported by the AEDC. But there were many more factions in the Alliance, and I had more scan data in store so, after resting in Moore Installation, I started a tour around some of the most important Alliance systems: Lave, Diso, Leesti, Reorte, Zaonce, Tionisla and Alioth. I took the opportunity to move some merchandise too. In all these places I sold scan data and gained reputation with the Alliance controlling factions.
I was enjoying a really nice dinner at Aachen Town in Alioth, an amazing station full of green zones and fountains, when I received another message. This time it was the engineer Lei Cheung, from Laksak, inviting me to his installations. It seemed that my efforts were building me a reputation. It is known that the fee to access to Lei Cheung services is 200 tons of gold. Well, there is no space for that in my Cobra, so I flew back to Hamilton Gateway, retrieved my Type 6 transport, the Palas, and took it to Selous Orbital in Cupinook to load it with 100 tons of gold.
The plan was to take a flying brick full of gold across several systems full of pirates and land it in a high gravity planet. I guess I did not think it a lot. Several interdictions later and after a visit to Mullane Mines in LTT 7069 where I loaded another 2 tons of gold, I got to know Lei Cheung.
Lei Cheung grew up in a trade clan of tramp traders. He learned engineering on the job and discovered that he possessed an affinity for shield technology. Even though he receives regular offers, he won't leave his family. He is willing to help fellow traders though and has built a large operation over the years from this work, with other family members running a scrapping and rebuilding business on the same site.
I shared some of the scan data I still had, and Lei Cheung got me an interview with the engineer Ram Tah himself, the leading specialist in Guardian Technology.
Ram Tah’s toll to his services is 50 units of Classified Scan Databanks, which I already had, so I flew to Phoenix Base in Meene. Ram Tah has travelled as far as it is possible to go in the galaxy. Over the years he has collected many strange and unusual items, and he's always eager to acquire something new and unknown from the black. On his travels he learned the value of limpets and various defence mechanisms, and so spent many years perfecting his craft in improving them.
I told Ram Tah about my adventures in Distant Worlds 2 and showed him pictures of the Guardian Ruins I had visited. Then I sold him some scan data and he said that he might have work for me in the future. I told him that I would love to explore the Guardian Ruins and learn more about their technology.
Satisfied after finishing my diplomatic tour, I headed back to Hamilton Gateway. And here I am now. Back on board the Electra, recording this log. Now that I have access to the AEDC comms channel, I can see that they are involved in a lot of combat operations and conflicts all around the Alliance space. That looks serious business. I hope to be able to join them in combat in a near future. But there is still a lot I must learn before.
Jav Marlo signing… WAIT!
And this is very intriguing:
My name is Zal Marlo. I am your brother. We need to talk.
Brother? I do not have any brother. Is this some kind of joke? I need to find out what this is about.
BACK FROM DISTANT WORLDS 2
24 JUN 3305, Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, system GC 6188 Sector LC-V c2-28
Recording. Ok, let’s see if there is anybody home. I hope they remember me.
Hello. Ahem. This is Jav Marlo, on board the Hyperion, landed at Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, in system GC 6188 Sector LC-V c2-28, attempting to contact the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps Command. Can anybody hear me?
I was recruited months ago by commander Dna-Decay, but soon after departed the Bubble to participate in Distant Worlds 2 expedition. I have been in deep space for months… and I carry very valuable scan data. I thought it could be useful for the Alliance. I am requesting instructions about how should I proceed.
Hi there, commander Jav Marlo. Welcome back. What is your estimated time of arrival to Wolf 406?
Ahem. I hope to arrive to Hamilton Gateway in two or three days.
Good. We will talk when you arrive. Over.
Well. It seems I am back in business. This expedition is coming to its end.
25 JUN 3305, Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, system GC 6188 Sector LC-V c2-28
This is Jav Marlo, back in the cockpit of the Hyperion, getting ready to depart Morgan’s Rock. I would have liked to rest a little bit more, but I promised to arrive to Hamilton Gateway in two days. It is not far away, but I would hate to be late and, besides, Morgan’s Rock amenities are not very appealing. Anyhow, it was good to sleep in a room for a change, and to have a real shower, even at minimum gravity.
The hangar tech crews have checked the Hyperion. After so many jumps and repairs in deep space, all systems still work properly and only needed minor patching. These installations are not equipped for repainting the ship, but I do not mind. It feels like a badge of honour, the battered and scarred paint after thousands of fuel scoops around stars. I am very proud about how the Hyperion behave all along the way. Now, it is time to face the last stage. Let’s go.
Resuming log. I have arrived to system Blu Thua JS-J d9-1, also known as Tark. There are four Earth-like worlds and four Water worlds here, nothing less. One of the richest systems I have ever seen, and a firm candidate for colonization just two thousand light years away from the Bubble.
26 JUN 3305, system HR 5906.
Resuming log. I have arrived to system HR 5906. According to Distant Worlds 2 Fleet command, there is and abandoned settlement build around a stranded Anaconda here. I want to see it… Here we are… Approaching HR 5906 AB 2 A… Launching probes… That must be it. Unregistered derelict… It is on the edge of a canyon. I will try to land close.
Amazing! They built a base around the stranded Anaconda. It looks very well equipped from here, but no signs of activity.
No welcome committee. No attempts of communication. I can see some manufactured materials scattered around. And that data point seems active. I can see its green lights. Maybe I could be able to download the settlement comms log if I get close enough.
I have jumped into the SRV and I am closing to a comms uplink. Let’s see what it has to tell.
LOG 1: Hey Janey come check this out! Looks like we’ve struck the jackpot. I told you there was something out here. What is it? A ship. Looks like it’s been here a while. Someone must have crashed and used it as a shelter. Look, they’ve made buildings out of the wreckage. We’ve got to check this out. Who knows what salvage will be in there. I don’t like it, what if someone’s still in there? Relax. If there’s someone there, maybe we can trade with them. Come on let’s check it out.
Well, well. Who are these guys? Not the original crew of the Anaconda, of course. Probably scavengers.
Wait. There is more.
This place gives me the creeps. Can we go back to the SRV now? We’ve had a look around and no one’s home. Are you kidding me? That’s the best part, we can take anything we like. We need to get to the bridge to see if we can get this thing running again. The ship still has power, the emergency lights are still on and the doors work.
It gets more interesting. They ventured inside the ship. Maybe I should do the same.
Jav Marlo downloading the logs of the Stranded Snake Anaconda settlement (HR 5906)
And there is another piece of data.
Internal Sensor Array activated. Security systems coming online. Hey look, something’s happening. I told you this thing still had power. Now if I can just find the switch to… Maybe we could fix it up and have second ship. That would be so great, but you’re flying this one. It still gives me the creeps. Got it. Let me just see if I can override these security measures and we’ll be golden. Security breach detected removing threat. Wait a sec, what’s that? What did you do! Oh hell, shut it off! Shut it off! Shut it off! Shut it off!
I did not like that. Poor devils. Well, one thing is for sure, I am not coming into that ship to find out what happened. I am collecting all the equipment pieces that are lying around and getting the hell out of here.
Wait. What is that? Under the hull of the Anaconda. May it be?...
This must be the SRV the scavengers used. It has been shot. Destroyed by someone. And I am not staying here anymore to find by whom. It would be quite ironic to die here, merely four hundred light years away from home, after crossing the whole galaxy, with such a treasure in my databanks.
Here I am. Almost six months later. I am back, at Hamilton Gateway. Home.
Let’s try to make a smooth and fancy landing. After so many months I am feeling a little bit rusty. Why is the entrance spinning so fast? Was it always like that?
Done. Switching off systems. Securing the ship. Opening the hatch. Entering the hangar. That was a great trip.
I barely remember how to walk. I will have to stay in the low gravity zones of the station for a while. I am so weak. But it is good to be back. It feels really good to be back.
This is Jav Marlo. I have come back to the cockpit of the Hyperion to finish this log and to put the ship into storage. A well-deserved rest. After checking with the station authorities I had a drink, ate a good steak and checked my pending communications. It seems I have been awarded with a diploma for finishing Distant Worlds 2. That was a really nice surprise, but not the only one. I am now a Distant Worlds 2 veteran and have the right to use a special decay on my ship. I had to see how it looks on the Hyperion so I ordered the ship to be repainted and changed the Elite in exploration decay for the Distant Worlds 2 one. It fills me with pride. And the Hyperion looks brand new now. This tough little ship took me to the farthest corner of the galaxy and brought me back home in one piece. It performed incredibly well. For months it was my home and, despite the tiny quarters and the space madness, I am going to miss flying on it.
Well, I think I have a date with the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps Command. All this scan data is burning in my pockets.
Jav Marlo signing out.
23 JUN 3305, Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, system GC 6188 Sector LC-V c2-28.
I have travelled through twenty thousand light years in the last seven days crossing along the Norma Expanse, the Scutum-Sagittarii and the Conflux regions. In a couple of hours I will be in Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, hopefully. From there, only the Saggitarius Gap separates me now from home. Merely five thousand light years more. A walk in the park after travelling more than three hundred thousand light years in the last six months. And right now, about to came back to civilization, so close from home, anything I can think of is about eating a steak. A thick, warm, rare, steamy steak with baked potatos. A real one, of course, not that synth crap. I cannot stand the food rations of the ship anymore. A melted chees sandwich would be great too. Damn it! I could kill for a melted cheese sandwich right now.
Ok. Let’s get serious. This is commander Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Hyperion, somewhere in the Inner Orion Spur, about to arrive to Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, my first contact with civilization since I departed Explorer’s Anchorage four months ago.
After leaving the Phroea Ploe Nebula Cluster, the next milestone in the itinerary was the Shrogaee Nebula in system Shrogaae LB-C c14-1067. Explorers are very fond of nebulas. I guess it comes from the times they had to plot the routes manually. Nebulas are easy to spot in the void. They probably used them to keep track.
The Nebula was beautiful to behold and, hidden inside it, there were more surprises. Something I have never seen before. I detected two notable stellar phenomena and approached to pay a look. There I found something the computer identified as Chryseum Void Hearts. Shiny huge organic structures that can live for thousand of years. Amazing!
Very close to the Shrogaee Nebula there was the perfect spot for a night camp. The Brain Forest, in system Shrogaae KK-A d983. Brain Trees are a type of Fungal Life found on several rocky and ice worlds. They resemble Earth like trees with a brain-shaped organic object at the end of its branches. Their purpose is unknown, but they appear to be related to the Guardian Ruins sites.
And talking about Guardian Ruins. As espected, there were plenty of them within the nearby Teal Nebula in the Eorl Auwsy sector, and I took the time to visit one of them in system Eorl Auwsy SY-Z d13-3468. It is said that the engineer Ram Tah is the leading authority in the research of Guardian Technology, and that he is paying good money to independent pilots that run missions collecting data from the Guardian ruins for him. I would like to meet the man and collaborate with him. There is something fascinating about these places. I would like to know more.
The next stop was the Singularities Playgorund, in system Mynoaw AA-A h26. An astonishing system with four black holes as main stars, first discovered by commander Relooops. But the most incredible view of the system is its double ringed neutron star. A visit worthwhile a detour.
And from there I headed the impressive Isegrim Nebula, in system Greae Phoea QF-I c25-150, one of the nebulas of the Gallipolis sector.
There, in the Gallipolis sector, I made a nice discovery. An Earth-like world half the size of Earth. It always fills me with pride discovering one of those.
Right after that I flew for a couple of days straight all along the Norma Expanse. When I arrived to the Hollow Veil Sites, in system Blaa Hypai LZ-F b27-0, I was exhausted, so I decided to land in one of the Guardian Ruins to rest. I slept in the cockpit seat instead of the bunk in the cabin. They say that there are still active sentinels in the Guardian Ruins, and I did not want any nasty surprises during the night. The view of the ruins at sunset with the Hollow Veil Nebula in the background was mesmerizing and it increased my wishes of learning more about this old civilization.
I left the Norma Expanse behind me and headed for Angerona, in the Scutum-Sagittarii. In system Flyua Phio AM-J d10-51 I found an Earth-like world that was one hundred ninety two thousand light years away from the entry point. Anyhow, I had to map it.
Angerona, in system Plio Aihm ML-P d5-307, is a huge landable icy world with more than thirty two earth masses. It has a beautiful ring and is only thirty eight light-seconds away from the system’s main F star. This translates to a paradoxically high surface temperature for an icy body at 1029 K. The high temperature plus the gravity of 2.8G combine for an interesting challenge to commanders wanting to explore it surface features. Honestly, after so many months in deep space I felt that my body was not ready to endure such a test, so I sadly avoided the landing.
On the edge of the Saggitarii Scutum with the Conflux lies system V1033 Scorpii. According to the Galactic Mapping Project database, V1033 Scorpii is a binary system composed of a F-type star and black hole. This black hole is a so-called microquasar, a black hole sharing characteristics of black hole quasars at the center of galaxies. Microquasars pull matter from the companion star which forms an accretion disk around the black hole. This accretion disk may become so hot, due to friction, that it begins to emit X-rays. The disk also projects narrow streams or jets of subatomic particles at near-light speed, generating a strong radio wave emission. The black hole also can provide unique lensing effects on nearby nebula NGC 6357. I had to see it.
Amazing sight! Before leaving, I also paid a visit to the notable stellar phenomena in the system and I found Rubeum Metallic Crystals and Solid Metal Spheres, nothing I have not seen before.
And right there, in the middle of the Conflux, I found a system worth colonization in the future. Lysooh UT-R d4-51 has three landable bodies, plus three terraformable planets, plus an Earth-like world, plus a couple of ringed icy bodies with hotspots of void opals and low temperature diamonds, all of them orbiting a scoopable Blue-White Star. A very profitable finding that could be very valuable for a mining company willing to expand its business to the deep space.
And here I am now. Landed in system Cat's Paw Sector HR-W d1-31, also known as the Red Storm Geysers, because of its active fields of silicate vapour geysers and the views over the painted red skies caused by the Cat's Paw Nebula. I am exhausted. Hopefully, this will be my last camping night on this expedition, and I could not have hoped for a better setting. I pity I did not bring some marshmallows with me. I hope to arrive to Morgan’s Rock asteroid base tomorrow. I will finish this report then.
At last! I finally arrived. A space station. After so many months. I am going to be able to leave the Hyperion. I cannot believe it. Morgan’s Rock asteroid base is right in front of me. According to the Galactic Mapping Project database, Morgan's Rock is an asteroid base controlled by the Interstellar Mining Corporation, with 15,000 staff on site. The base is located inside the small NGC 6188 nebula. All services are available except for ship outfitting and a shipyard. The identity of 'Morgan' remains clouded in mystery.... I do not mind at all. I did not come here to meet Morgan. I just wish they serve steaks in the canteen. Jav Marlo requesting docking permission.
This is Jav Marlo back in the cockpit of the Hyperion. I am grateful this rock has minimum gravity. I think my muscles could not afford standard gravity right now. First thing I did after landing was running to the canteen. They did not have steaks, but they had real meat hamburgers at an exorbitant price. I did not mind. I am rich now. I ate a couple of them and a melted cheese sandwich as a dessert. The typical bad quality stuff you could expect to find in a forsaken place like this, but it tasted like heaven to me. Of course, they did not have Lavian Brandy, so I asked for a Cubeo Gold. I was enjoying my second glass, it feels nice to drink from a glass instead of sipping from a bag, when I thought about walking to the Universal Cartographics office and cash out my scan data. It must be worth hundreds of millions. But then I thought, such a treasure in exploration data could be worthwhile even more in the right hands. I know Sirius Corporation pays good credits for exploration data but, do I want to associate with them? Beyond the credits, information is power, and I am sure there are other factions that could take a lot of profit of the data I am carrying. I joined the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps soon before departing to Distant Worlds 2, and I never got really involved in their operations.
Maybe I should make them a call.
Jav Marlo signing out.
THE LONG VOYAGE HOME
17 JUN 3305 Somewhere in the Empyrean Straits.
This is commander Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Hyperion, crossing the Galactic Bar. Heading back to the Bubble. Heading back… home.
I might have overcome space madness. Crossing the Solitude Void and the Silentium regions proved to be hard, but I did it. Anyhow, I am thousands of light years far from home, and I must keep focus. I have developed a routine, with stablished periods of flying, resting and eating in a twenty four hours schedule. This has slowed down my path but helped my mental stability. I am also trying to reconnect with the issues of men reading about the news that I receive here from the Bubble.
The Voyager Trail, the path back home recommended by the Distant Worlds 2 fleet command, has far way less milestones than the route that took us to Beagle Point to break the monotony of the trip.
Arriving to system Hyiechou AI-J b36-0, also known as Sysipho’s Rock, was quite a relief. According to the Galactic Mapping Project database, the system contains a vulcanic active icy moon, while its parent body itself is a moon orbing a gas giant. A 2 c a is tidally locked to its parent body, allowing for a constant view of the moon A 2 c looming over the geyser site - just like the rock in the Sisypho’s myth, being a constant reminder of the futility of life in a seemingly endless universe but in the same vein offering a way to self-realize oneself in it, as the ancient philosopher Camus already put it over 1300 years ago. I could not agree more. I landed close to a geyser, under the shadow of the rock, and meditated about my place in the galaxy and my goal in life. I thought about my father and the quest I interrupted to participate in this expedition. I recalled that the worlds of men are being harassed at this very moment by an alien invasion, and that I am thousands of light years away from all that. It is time to come back.
Back on track I arrived to sector Chraiteau, where I found two Earth-like worlds in a row. The first one in system Chraiteau AK-E C13-0, an otherwise anodyne system with just a landable moon.
And the second one in system Chraiteau WW-C C0, which has much more to offer, including several landable planets and moons and a class I giant with a pristine ice ring.
I have developed the habit of searching for high mass systems when entering in a new sector and, if it does not suppose a big detour, pay a visit to these systems. It is always a source of pride to discover a black hole or a Wolf-Rayet. That is how I arrived to Dryignoe AA-A h70, which contains a Wolf-Rayet and two class O stars. That was the first Wolf-Rayet star I had seen in a while. But it seems that commander EtherealCereal found it first.
I headed for system Bleethuia FF-A e1, also known as Proximity Rock. The Galactic Mapping Project database says that it is located within visual range of the Flyai Flyuae AA-A H20 Nebula, and that the system presents an uncommon trinary formed between a Class M, a Neutron and a White Dwarf. However, that is not what makes the system really catch the eye, it is the first landable body, that is only a scant fifty one light years away from arrival, relatively close to the dancing trio. It allows for views of all celestial objects with fantastic fidelity. I found a place to land from where to behold the nebula and the star’s trio.
It seems that neutron stars are now less scarce than in the outer rim. That might speed up my pace, but I must be extra careful. I am carrying a fortune in scan data and I feel my focus and reflexes diminished after so many months travelling. Overcharging the frame shift drive in the jet cones of stars is always a dangerous business. Neutron stars can be treacherous and white dwarfs kill more commanders than Thargoids. That is why I replenished my Auto Field-Maintenance Unit when in Proximity Rock and repaired the main systems of the Hyperion. The battered painting has no solution right now.
Right after departing Proximity Rock I discovered two black holes. The first one was in system Tegneia EG-Y g0, and had two neutron stars orbiting it in the distance. The second one was isolated, in system Phreia Byoe BA-A g1. It had eight solar masses and was more than twelve thousand million light years old.
Now that I am close the galactic core, Wolf-Rayets are more common. I pass by them anytime I can but, alas, I have not been able to find any not already been discovered on this part of the trip.
In system Hypio Bli EN-C c5 I found an Earth-like world orbited by a water world tidally locked. There were no landable bodies in the system.
The next milestone in the itinerary was the Blue Peach Nebula, in system Lyaisai PS-U e2-160, a planetary nebula with two class F suns and a total of fifteen objects in orbit that orbits a small black hole in the southeast corner of Perseus Stem.
And very near it was system Rotheau SZ-O e6-895, or Rattla, a system comprising a neutron star aged twelve thousand million years which is orbited by an incredibly beautiful lonely ringed Earth-like world.
I was in the core regions. At last! I had crossed the Delta Quadrant. This last part of my trip proved the hardest since I left the Bubble six months ago. And it took its toll too, both physical and mentally.
With a renovated spirit, I headed for the Aether Nebula, in system Eorm Phyloi OY-Z d37, a medium sized nebula located over two thousand light years above the galactic plane. The Aether Nebula is named after one of the primordial deities of Greek mythology, being the personification of the pure upper air that the gods breathed - particularly apt for the nebula's position in the galaxy.
The Perseus Stem is ripe with stars and systems containing Earth-like worlds. I found one in Cleeqai YP-O d6-9547, a very rich system containing tens of landable bodies.
And then I found an amazing place. After visiting hundreds of barren systems in the outer rim, I jumped into Zuneae GD-A D14-2200, one of the richest systems I have ever found. It has forty three celestial bodies including an Earth-like world, three water worlds and an ammonia world orbiting its four scoopable stars that are one F white star, two red dwarfs and a K yellow-orange star. Seven of the bodies are landable and six of them are terraformable. The place also has a class I gas giant with a pristine ring with hotspots of platinum, rhodplumsite and serendibite. A system like this, with four bearable life planets, would be an ideal place for a colony, and a very contested system if it was in the Bubble. And it is just six thousand light years away from Sagittarius A and Explorer’s Anchorage, right after the eastern neutron fields.
I must report the discovery of system Zuneae GD-A D14-2200 to the Galactic Mapping Project as soon as I am able. But first, I must think of a name that suits the system. The place is so full of life that I have decided to call it Gaia, like in Greek mythology, the primal goddess and ancestral mother of all life.
I am recording this log somewhere in the Empyrean Straits, approaching system Phroea Ploe PD-B e2165 and the Phroea Ploe Nebula Cluster, just about twenty four thousand light years from the Bubble.
Just a couple of weeks more and I will be home.
Jav Marlo signing out.