Relocating the Refugees
The Alex Murphy shuttled several loads of refugees to the G’frar ship. Having returned successfully, others lost their reluctance to shuttle to the reclusive alien vessel.
The refugees were awed by space flight, most of them had never seen a spaceship before, let alone travelled in one.
A relatively primitive ship entered the system from a new Collective member, as the G’frar ship initiated their two-jump journey to New Lutrea. The Alex Murphy was tasked to escort them.
The jumps went off without incident, after waiting for the larger G’frar vessel to recharge.
On arrival at the New Lutrea system, the G’frar ship sent a warning of a large number of small ships heading toward the G’frar ship. They were determined to be overcharged civilian craft. They had materialized in the path of a race course!
The Alex Murphy interposed between the G’frar ship and the incoming ships, but there was no effect. They broadcast that the large vessel was full of refugees. Again no response. Alex determined that the ships were remote controlled.
The G’frar destroyed two of the ships, and they exploded violently. They were loaded with explosives! Alex captured one of the ships and noted that they were controlled by basic Collective off-the-shelf software. He hacked into the control system. He sent the command to detonate immediately. And the ships exploded.
Bletherin ordered the captured ship to be examined to identify where they came from down to DNA for species identification.
The G’frar advised that they had been attacked in that manner before, and noted that they were Collective ships. They were resigned that there were Collective citizens who did not like them. They beleived the Alex Murphy would be better able to identify them.
Bletherin noted that there were many other ships in system unloading refugees onto New Lutrea. Someone knew that the G’frar ship would be coming to the system and had amassed the attack fleet for when they arrived. They had been in the Lutrea system for a few weeks, but that was still a short time to prepare for the attack. The ships had to have been transported into the system.
Alex detected movement from the sixth planet that might be the controllers of the ships. Bletherin ordered the ship into stealth mode to investigate. It was a large freighter, powered down to minimum requirements, pretending to be one of the five moons.
The Alex Murphy attempted to sneak in, but they were detected. The freighter attempted to run, but Alex caught up, and Grrr shot and disabled their engines. Then they sent Grrr and Kovak with a 5 security personnel to the vessel.
Alex hacked the docking bay and opened the hatch, but the crew of the vessel were prepared to repel borders and opened up with small arms fire. One of the security offers and one of the opponents was hit. Grrr shot one as well, and Kovak stunned the last one.
Kovak took Alex and two security officers and subdued the beings trying to repair the jump drive. They captured three humans. There was a dead Harth there as well.
Grrr’s team headed for the bridge. One of the security officers pushed Grrr out of the way and attempted to open it. Instead he set off the shipboard alarm. The other one tried and failed as well. Then they blew the door. Grrr’s team stormed the bridge and Grrr disabled the lone human in the pilot seat.
Subsequent interrogation of the pilot revealed that they were a cell of the Cultural Preservation Movement, a group bent of allowing nature to proceed without interference, even if it means the extinction of a species. It had nothing to do with the G’frar.
Rooting Out the Insurgency
Having returned to Lutrea, the Alex Murphy discovered that only perhaps 10% of the population had been relocated. The local authorities identified an indigenous insurgent who was inciting grass-roots resistance to the leaving the planet.
Research indicated that the insurgent was not using religion as the basis but rather denial of the impending catastrophy. They determined that he was being financed by an on-world foundation who donations were coming in anonymously.
Further investigation identified the sources of some of these donations were not backed up by local currency, as if someone was hacking the banking system to create funds to finance their movement. Alex set up a tap and rerouted the funds to aid New Lutrea.
Bletherin then provided local media on Lutrea with stories about a local terrorist group attacking refugees aboard the G’frar ship. The story went out across the Lutrean internet, along with footage from the actual attack.
One newscaster debunked the space battle footage as special effects, and attempted to debunk the financial angle. There were also stories of passive resistance to prevent ships for taking off, brawls between those leaving and those set on preventing it, etc., but no more actual terrorism.
The revenue generating code appeared to be running intermittently, and Alex determined that the execution of the procedures had to be performed by someone actually on the planet. Alex quickly uncovered that the hacker was located near a refugee debarkation site.
Pursuing the Hacker
The Alex Murphy landed at the indicated debarkation point and infiltrated the local library to catch the culprit in the act. Alex scanned the library system logs to identify what terminal was used to send the transmissions.
Kovak scanned the social media and gathered that most Lutreans were in favor of evacuation, and the humans in general were ugly, but not as bad as Antarans.
Grrr followed the trail and determined that the terminal had been reserved by a young teenager who had already been relocated to the new planet with his family. But his father, who was the local headman, was still on-planet setting a good example.
Grrr and Kovak questioned the headman at his office. The headman told them that his son was always misplacing his library card. He looked really tired and was wracking his brain to be helpful, but coming up empty.
Kovak guided the headman through the events of that day. They learned the the boy was had been skipping school and that his father had been lax on disciplne. The event occured shortly before his departure.
What was noteworthy was that the boy had his own computer, so there was no need to use the ones at the library. The headman suggested speaking to his teachers who were still on-planet.
Grrr and Kovak pursued a list of local malcontents at the local constabulary. The bored desk sergeant was thrilled to have alien to bring some excitement. Grrr informed her that they were searching for someone who had stolen a child’s library card to hack into the planetary financial system.
The sergeant told them that there had been some aliens in the town, including a what sounded like a Thinker-class Harth anthropologist with lighter fur than Grrr’s.
Alex searched the traffic cameras to locate the individual in question. There was an elderly female Harth knocking on doors. There were also a pair of humans coming out of the bar around the time of the hack. They spoke to a Lutrean, who then went into the library.
Alex identified the humans as those captured on the freighter. He passed the image of the Lutrean to the authorities on both the old and new worlds. The Lutrean was known the the local police as a troublemaker.
Blethering reported in to command that the funding of the insurgency had been stopped. He inquired as to whether to locate who the insurgents were working with from off-world. His orders were to return to New Lutrea, interrogate the prisoners there, and then transport them to more appropriate holding facilities.
The Alex Murphy reloaded with a new batch of refugees and jumped to the new world in record time. Kovak noted a rippling in hyperspace, but it was most likely the wake of the G’frar ship. The reserve pilot managed the second jump with less finesse.
On arrival at the New Lutrea system, a hyperspace liner was directly in their path. Hailing them returned only status and distress signals. There were several broken drive spines and some damage to the in-system drives and communications. It appeared to have been attacked by the hyperspace creature.
The ship and passengers appeared to be intact aside from the drive and communications damage, and the Alex Murphy docked with it using visual signalling.
The liner was operational, but unable to move. It had already dropped off its cargo of refugees. The electronics had been fried. The engines were operational, but the controls were not.
Kovak questioned the pilot who had performed the jump was not coherent. The other pilot informed her that they saw the monster and got too close. He didn’t know if the creature had seen them or not seen them. He believed that the impact was accidental.