THARGOID ENCOUNTER IN MEROPE
19 NOV 3304 Reed’s Rest (Merope)
I have been working without a rest, taking missions and improving the systems of my Sidewinder. It is a fine ship, nimble, hard and reliable, but its tiny cargo hold and short range has been limiting a lot my mission options. Despite some profitable black box rescue missions, all the job I can find are courier missions and petty transport assignments. I think it is time for a change. I want to go to Merope system as soon as possible and find out what happened to my father, so I have been thinking a lot in a new ship to invest my hard earned credits.
I was at Hillary Co-operative, a Coriolis Starport in system LHS 2925, doing some business when I heard a pair of hard seasoned looking pilots talking about how an Adder could be outfitted to be a proper explorer. I run to the shipyard and asked the dealer about the Adder performance. I was lucky, there were a couple of Adders in stock and I was able to see the interior of one and discuss its outfitting possibilities. The Adder has a proper crew compartment with all the necessary for a long trip, not the tiny bunk cabin of the Sidewinder, plus a more than generous cargo hold for its size. And what is most important, with the right configuration it can reach more than 20 light years range. It is not as nimble as my beloved Sidewinder, but it is what I need right now, so I bought the ship right there, painted it in orange, and call her the Hesperides. Being my mission to explore the Pleiades, I thought it was an appropriate name.
I took profit of the Adder’s cargo capacity and run some transport missions that were more profitable that the ones I was offered when piloting my Sidewinder. But soon I realized that if I wanted to equip my ship for the long trip to Merope, I would have to take riskier missions. A rated frame shift drives are not cheap. All my transport missions took place in the independent systems around Eranin, where there are also factions which allegiance rest within the Federation. I guess my reputation within the local factions rose a little because soon I was contacted by a representative of the i Bootis Democrats, a group of politicians connected with the Federation that offered me a security scan job that was much better payed than the transport missions I was doing. I started to work for them and took many surface security scan jobs that gained me a lot of credits and some bounties with the factions that wanted to keep their cover operations covered. I even got shoot several times by the hidden base’s defenses. I did not mind the risk or the shooting, all that I cared were the credits. I did not consider the reputation that doing these missions was getting me within the Alliance, and even celebrated when I was promoted to the rank of recruit by the Federation. All this missions also gained me the ranks of Surveyor in Exploration and Dealer in Trade. I was making myself a reputation within the Pilots Federation too. When I was ready, I outfitted my Adder, the Hesperides, with an A rated fuel scoop for the long trip to Merope and departed. I wanted to arrive to Merope as soon as possible and I was not planning to stop for fuel.
The Hesperides, behaved very good. It is a fine ship. Despite some minor heat damage took due to my lack of experience fuel scooping, the trip when smoothly and in about twenty jumps across several anarchy systems, I found myself facing the big blue-white star of Merope, with my Adder venting plasma struggling to dissipate the heat. I decided that I would start my search in Reed’s Rest, a big Orbis starport not too far from Merope’s star, so I headed there. I had made it. Finally, I was here. Four years after my father’s disappearance I was in Merope ready to find out what happened to him.
And then it happened. I was flying to Reed’s Rest when I saw the warning of an unidentified signal source. I locked it and soon the status of the signal changed to NON HUMAN. I have seen all the news about the Thargoids in the Pleiades and their attacks but I was not ready to find them so soon after my arrival. And then it happened again. Another non human signal appeared, and then another and another. The Merope system was crowded with Thargoids. I never imagined they could be so many. Four years ago, when my father was exploring the system, we did not even knew about the Thargoids and now the space was crowded with them. I knew it was not safe, but I could not resist myself. They said my father disappeared after discovering an unidentified signal source in this system. It had to be them. It had to be the Thargoids. I had to see them. I did not think twice. I headed one of the signals and decelerated.
I left supercruise and found myself in the middle of a green cloud with the remains of a fleet of Empire ships adrift. I thought they must be part of the Merope Expeditionary Fleet. And then I saw it. A huge flower shaped vessel spinning towards my tiny Adder. My sensors were getting crazy lighting like a Christmas tree struggling to identify to approaching vessel. I was frozen at my controls, not knowing what to do. I have heard that the Thargoids were super hard to defeat and resistant to common weaponry, and I was totally unprepared and unequipped for this. The Thargoid positioned itself just some meters in front of my ship and I could hear a deep horrible sound inside my head. Then some kind of waving rays came out towards my ship, like some kind of probe. All my panels went crazy. The Thargoid reacted showing several lights along his body and suddenly turned around and headed back to the derelict imperial ships. I was still in shock by the experience when I saw it. The Thargoid was syphoning some of the debris. I wanted to know what they found so interesting so I opened the contact panel to see what kind of debris it was absorbing. They were the scape pods. THE THARGOID WAS TAKING THE BODIES OF THE SURVIVORS.
14 NOV 3304 Azeban City (Eranin)
The trip to Azeban Orbital went good. It may be old and battered, but the Arche behaved herself quite properly on its way to Eranin. Once in Azeban Orbital, I collected the 10.000 credits promised and found myself before a whole galaxy of new possibilities and almost no cash in my pockets.
I decided to flight Azeban City. I thought that I will find more opportunities of getting my first mission in a big Coriolis station than in a tiny orbital post with no gravity. Once there I started to look for a job in the mission’s roster and found that, either my ship was not equipped for jumps longer than 6 LY, or my cargo bay did not allow for more than 2 tons of cargo, these limiting a lot my options. The system was also at war, so there were a lot combat missions offered that I was not ready/willing to take.
Damn! I need to find a way to earn money, but who is going to contract a pilot without experience in a ship with the minimum equipment. I was about to accept a data courier mission to a nearby system when I saw it, a scape pod recovery mission in the Styx system for the Eranin Federal Bridge, a dictatorship faction now at war with another minor faction. The thing that caught my eye was that they were offering more than 100.000 credits for the job. That’s more than the whole cost of my ship.
I quickly checked in the Nav Map that I could made it to Styx. It is a little bit tight, two jumps without refuelling and the trip back, but affordable, and my Sidewinder at least can jump these far, so I apply for the job. It is beneath my nule experience or rank, but this faction is at war, so they do not have ships to spare for a rescue. Their agent, Captain Roscoe Downs, do not like the idea of contracting such a green pilot, but I guess they are diverting all their resources to the combats. I do not like them either, but I took the job.
I jump to my Sidewinder and lock system Styx in the Nav Map. The Arche detach herself smoothly from the small landing pad and head to the mail box shaped entrance to Azeban City. The moment I am free from the mass lock of the station, I ignite the frame shift drive sequence. 3, 2, 1, engage… and in seconds I am in the I Bootis system facing its class G star. I fly around it in order to align with the system Styx and activate the frame shift drive again.
The first thing a thought upon my arrival was to disengage supercruise near the system nav bouy and scan it to look for any signal of the scape pod. But on my way I decided to give the basic discovery scanner I was equipped with a try. No chance to find any trace of the scape pod with its range. I heard a deep “honk” and, to my surprise, a planetoid appears on the nav screen and the cockpit voice assistant says – mission objectives updated-. I head in the direction of the signal and accelerate, it seems it is going to be a surface rescue. Luckily, the Arche came equipped with an SRV.
When I was closed to the planetoid the discovery scanner worked again and showed a name: Dustball. And it was indeed a dustball, a rocky body with almost no gravity. I tried to decelerate but I could not make it on time and missed the rock by far. A rookie mistake. I align my course again and this time I made the Arche approach slowly. Suddenly, a signal indicating an area of the surface where the scape pod could be located appeared and I adjusted my heading to a proper angle for entering in orbital cruise. These time I was totally focus and my approach took me straight to only 25 km of the signal before the speed adjusted to cruise speed.
The sun was inciding on this part of the planet and the visibility was perfect. Soon I found several containers in a debris field scattered over the surface. I landed the Arche and descended to the SRV bay. The gravity was very low, but I had driven SRVs many times before, when I was working as an engineer for the Asellus Primus Gold Legal Ind, and I adjusted fast to the lower gravity conditions. I quickly located the scape pod and loaded it. I was heading back to the ship when I decided to scan the containers around just in case I could find something interesting. After all, I could carry one container besides the scape pod. They were all pretty common stuff but one. A container full of gold. Unmarked, meaning the recovery was legal. Not a bad bonus for my efforts. It must be worth 7.000 credits at least. I took it and came back to the Arche.
A couple of minutes later I was flying straight away from the Dustball pointing at the black sky. I locked the Eranin system in my nav map and saw that the I Bootis system was right in front of me. No need to navigate around the planetoid. I activated frame shift drive. Two jumps later I was back at Eranin with just a 20 percent of fuel left, but enough to arrive to Azeban City.
I landed the Arche. I am starting to like this little ship. I run to the Eranin Federal Bridge quarters and collect my reward. I never knew who was the person I rescued and I do not care. I just want to make enough money to equip myself to a trip to the Merope system. It has been four years since my father’s Asp Explorer wreckage was found there with no signals of its scape pod. I have lost hope of finding him alive, but I have to try. I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.
Jav Marlo signing out.
13 NOV 3304 Baker’s Prospects (Asellus Primus)
Finally, it has happened. The Asellus Primus Academy for Novitiate Pilots has communicated me that I have qualified to be a Commander. I thought I was going to rot in Baker’s Prospects for all my life.
It has been 4 years since Dad disappeared. He was a commander exploring for the Alliance. Never took a fight unprovoked. His last communication was from the Pleiades region. He was going to explore an unidentified signal source in the Merope system. The wreckage of his ASP Explorer was found adrift, but no corpse or scape pod. He was declared death anyway. I promised myself that I would go to Merope one day and reopen the investigation.
They have given me a tiny Sidewinder and 1.000 credits. Not much of a ship, it was covered with marks from a hundred incidents, but it will suffice. I have painted her blue and call her the Arche, Greek muse of the origins. My first mission is to take the Arche to Azeban Orbital in Eranin System where I will be awarded with 10.000 credits to start my career. I am going to need to make a lot of money if I want to equip myself for exploring the galaxy.
I am a little bit worried about all these Thargoids stories and the conflict between the Federation and the Empire, but who said that the space was a safe place. Time to make my mark in the Galaxy. The void awaits me.
Jav Marlo signing out.