The Moonbase of Rabrosia
Bletherin, Grrr, and an Alex drone were in plain clothes on the moonbase of Rabrosia, which was very nice as the planet was developing interstellar tourism. The station was primarily humans and carrions, who were the inhabitants of another planet in the system. The carrions did not like water, and had developed a relationship with humans to develop the water world of Rabrosia.
They went to the office level, which was dominated by tourism, realtors, and construction companies, and trafficked by real estate speculators. They found the office of Starlooker, the company that had surveyed New Lutrea. The receptionist asked them to return in a hour and suggested some places for lunch.
Thinking that they were being set up for further scrutiny, Grrr suggested that they not go to one of the suggested locations. They bypassed the Carrion street food restaurant and went to a sandwich shop that catered to humans.
On the Ship
Meanwhile, repairs were being made on the Alex Murphy. The minor damage had been repaired, but the drive spines were taking longer. Novak and Grendel were on board supervising the work
Message for the Captain
A communication was received from the Collective base informing them of an FTL message looking for Captain Bletherin.
The message was relayed to Blethering on planet. It was from his old friend on New Lutrea asking for assistance.
“Could use your help. May have something for you.I
The message did not convey any urgency or signs that there was an emergency.
Looking for Space Nessie
Novak trolled the pilot boards looking for information about the hyperspace creature that had made contact with the Alex Murphy. She learned that her sighting was the furthest out from the galactic core that had been recorded. Novak hypothesized that Space Nessie had a territory that the Collective was impinging upon.
The Collective was located in the Orion Spur of the Milky Way of the galaxy. It was unknown whether travel between neighboring arms was possible with current technology. It was possible that the creature might be able to cross that gap as it lived in hyperspace.
Novak checked the G’frar star maps that they had recovered and noted that the G’frar had a region of space just coreward of Earth that was marked as an area to be avoided. The G’frar chart did identify passages from the Orion Spur to the Perseus Arm and the Scutum-Centaurus Arm of the galaxy.
Upon returning to the Starlooker offices, Bletherin and Grrr was taken to Mr. Peter Okerake, the largest human either of them had ever seen, who was wrapped in an enormous Hawaiian shirt. Bletherin made smalltalk and ingratiated himself with Mr. Okerake.
Bletherin informed Okerake that he was looking for more detailed information on the New Lutrean system that might not have been publicly released. Okerake said that his firm generally did not withhold information.
He did mention that New Lutrea 1 was being settled. However, New Lutrea 2 was of interest to the carrion. Also, the moon of New Lutrea 2 was a large moon that was covered with ice, and there was the possibility of biologicals beneath it. Probably single or multi-cellular lifeforms.
Okerake said that his firm was negotiating with the New Lutreans to conduct the survey of the moon.
Bletherin could tell that he was telling the truth, and also that he was anxious about talking about the subject. He thanked the human for assistance and they took their leave.
Building Local Credibility
Bletherin released the crew for shore leave pending the completion of repairs. Grendel sought out a collection of Hawaiian shirts. Some of the security people came back with an enormous fish. The galley acquired a fishy smell for some time afterward.
Grrr went looking for trouble on the planet. He found a nice beachfront bar on a tropical island frequented primarily by humans. Alex joined a sand structure building contest.
Grrr was warned against going to a particular bar known for carrion hook ups. He went to check it out. It was located further off the beach. The place was full of carrion drinking mixed drinks and shots. And it catered to carrion appetites and smelled so.
Grrr noted twosomes and threesomes walking off together. Some were wearing robes, others human clothing, and some had been wearing Hawaiian shirts. Grrr made his reaction to the smell apparent. He ordered a drink that would cover up the stench of the place.
Grrr was provided with a Manhattan type cocktail that was tasty and actually helped. He ordered a stout as a follow-up along with some cooked meat. He lit up one of his BBQ smelling cigars and a carrion asked where he got them. Grrr offered a cigar to the local and struck up a conversation with him.
Others seemed to like it, and Grrr considered a sideline importing the smokes. They discussed establishing a commercial enterprise importing the cigars. His confidant referred Grrr to a public-private partnership for establishing trade to New Lutrea 2.
Grrr noted a carrion female showing interest in him. He noticed some carrion males eying her as well. He invited her to join them, and one of them provoked him. Grrr struck the attacker and he flew across the room into a table, that collapsed. Other females started laughing at the fallen local.
The attacker attempted to grab Grrr by the fur. Grrr evaded the attack, but some hair was pulled out. He attempted the kick the carrion, but missed. The local pulled Grrr into a clinch. Grrr hit him repeatedly in the body, but his opponent dodged the blows and threw Grrr out of the bar.
Grrr returned to the bar and gave his foe one of his cigars. The female told him that the local always started bar fights to show off for the females. They struck up a conversation. She was a line cook at a restaurant. They talked about food. And they exchanged contact information.
Return to the Exodus Planet
When the ship was fully repaired, Bletherin ordered the Alex Murphy back to New Lutrea. At the first jump point, the dark star, the science shift was still conducting their experiments. There was no sign of the hyperspace beast on the jump.
The second jump brought them to old Lutrea. Alex checked the secret message drop and discovered one that just said “We’re coming.” There was no way to determine when or from where it had been sent. They sent the message along to its intended recipients, who were on a ship that would receive it when it returned to the system.
There had been another attempt on the prince, but the attackers did not survive the attempt. The unfunded radio rabble-rouser was still broadcasting, but getting little attention.
The crew took on more refugees for the flight New Lutrea. They were a monastic order who were excited about a site to rebuild their sanctuary on the new world. They were accompanied by students as they were a teaching order. They were annoyed about having to leave their homeworld, but were resigned to the relocation.
On to New Lutrea
The first jump was exemplary and they arrived in the Ventari system without incident. Continuing on, Kovak noted that the unusual calmness of hyperspace she had experienced previously was gone.
The G’frar ship was in orbit of New Lutrea when the Alex Murphy arrived. There was no sign of the freighter captained by Bletherin’s friend. Grendel checked the public information boards. Most revolved around people reuniting on arrival in the system.
There was also a message for Bletherin.
“Something nasty has come up. Second planet.“
The monks provided the coordinates to be dropped off at, and they were off-loaded there before the Alex Murphy pursued the message. There was a lot of construction work in progress, but a large percentage were living in tents.
On Planet Two
The second planet was very large and outside the life zone. The planet would eventually be prime real estate. The moon that orbited it was also very large and covered with frozen water.
A Starlooker survey satellite was orbiting the moon. Alex downloaded the survey data and discovered that it had been monitoring tectonic and tidal activity and mapping the thickness of the ice. No obvious signs of ancient civilizations had been uncovered.
There were no ships orbiting the moon or the planet. Alex sent out stealth probes and discovered that the freighter had landed in a crater on the planet. There was a heavy deposit of metals in the crater that was not the freighter itself.
Bletherin bypassed the site. Alex parked the ship in geostationary orbit just outside the view from the crater. Then he and the away team approached in a shuttle with environment suits. They landed outside of the crater and looked in from the rim. The surface was very windy, and the gravity was 1.5 times normal. There were no signs of life.
Inside the crater, the freighter was visible, but there were no signs of life or apparent damage. The metallic material might have been the wreckage of a ship of some kind. Whatever it was was not in the survey data, so it had probably not been there when the survey was made.
They climbed down the side of the crater. Grendel slipped, but Grrr rescued him before he injured he obtained any serious injuries. From the inside of the crater, it was evident that something had crashed badly in the crater.
Alex attempted to approach the freighter, and then a head popped out of a hatch. It was the captain, who was wearing a helmet. She gestured for the crew to come on board, and they complied.
After they had entered and removed their helmets, the captain informed them that there was the remains of a Collective survey ship in the crater, and that there was something alive in the wreckage that was not bothered by the environment.
The captain said that she had considered destroying the ship, but thought it wise to have someone take a look at it first.
Kovak asked why she thought it was inhabited. The captain replied that they saw a black, oozing thing inside the wreck that was either some kind of biological or nanotech. It was toward the aft near the engineering spaces.
Grendel asked how long she thought that the ship had been there. The captain replied that she did not think it had been that long as there was little corrosion. The initial survey had been about a Terran year previously.
Alex searched for missing survey ships. He found several records in the general area, but they were older than the survey of the moon, and there were no mentions of that moon. There was one with a “do not come here warning” but it applied to a system coreward of New Lutrea.
Alex took the shuttle and scanned the wreckage. Alex dropped a communications probe to attempt interfacing with the crashed ship, but the wreckage had no power. The ship had crashed nose down and struck the moon at speed. It was either deliberately crashed or had been unable to decelerate.
The captain admitted that her employers were unhappy with her. They thought that she knew where their missing people, who had been shooting at the G’frar. It was some kind of political thing. She had been paid indirectly through an anonymous drop in the old Lutrean system. It was the same account that the Alex Murphy crew had circumvented.
She had been told that the whole Lutrean resettlement had been a conspiracy to acquire old Lutrean resources. Shehad since seen for herself that the planet was going to be rendered uninhabitable and she did not endorse genocide. She was willing to provide evidence against the conspiracy in exchange for protection.
The missing people were the conspirators that the Alex Murphy had arrested. The captain did not know what Plan B was and had not been directly in any criminal activity.
Alex sent a drone into the wreckage to attempt to power the internal systems.