Back to Black

Chapter Two

Mostly Harmless

As the brave crew of the still unnamed Javelin moved closer to the blue star and its innermost planets, their sensors picked up a strange anomaly: surrounding the third planet was a cloud of ice particles and other gasses. As they carefully approached the cloud, they discovered traces of radiation mixed in the gasses and chunks of frozen water.

Moving through the cloud with great care, they glimpsed the planet. At first they were impressed by the green land masses and three oceans. The atmosphere, however, was painfully thin. The oceans showed signs that their water levels had greatly receded recently and the breathable air collected only in the deeper valleys near sea level.

One of these valleys contained the remains of an alien colony. Scouting the area, they realized that a massive blast wiped out the settlement, but the survivors seemed to have enough time to bury their dead, collect their belongings and evacuate. They also discovered that the colony was made up of Aesh and Human citizens… unusual, as Aesh have never been known to live on land.

Two other, smaller, colonies were found on other land masses, as well as a domed facility near the magnetic pole. These too showed signs of a massive explosion. These colonies however did not evacuate, and the dead littered the streets.

In one of these settlements they discovered a sealed fallout shelter. Upon opening it, they discovered a working generator inside with surveillance cameras and what seemed to be a laptop computer. Using the dates of several video logs made by the three would-be survivors who starved to death in the vault, they were able to call up the video feeds from the attack.

There was no warning. All the camera witnessed was a bright white light followed by the flesh of a nearby citizen boiling off. When the camera was able to focus properly, the sky had changed from a bright blue to a hazy and thin blue streaked with a permanent and stunning aurora.

The magnetic pole dome was shattered and the machinery within melted beyond hope of functioning again. With some brilliant detective work though, the crew was able to determine that it was a terraforming plant worth researching once the Fleet arrived.

Marking the planet as one of high interest, they launched their final communication probe back to the Fleet and went in search of a signal they somehow overlooked as they were so focused on the cloud-shrouded planet.

Some days later, they arrived at the source of the broadcast: the sight of an old space battle, complete with wreckage from an Aesh Patrol Ship, a mysterious black spacecraft carrier and it’s ruined escort ship, as well as the debris of dozens of point defense fighters from each side.

Investigating the Aesh vessel first, they were greeted by the ship’s on-board AI once they reached the bridge. It informed them that the battle occurred 33 Earth years ago and the Aesh had been ambushed by a race they referred to as Naso.

Unable to guess access codes for any further information, they disabled the AI and began searching other vessels. One crewman boarded the carrier alone… he was attacked by a robot, though managed to defeat it. From that point on, he avoided further encounters by ducking into doorways as other automated defenses were activated and began searching for him.



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