Red Moon Rising [Karax Incident; Closed]

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Red Moon Rising [Karax Incident; Closed]

Postby Thrashia » Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:50 pm

OOC Note: Events here will be tied in with others happening in a main, central thread formed by Lady Scylla.

Jio XI System | Sub-Sector Kelbar | Morgren Sector
Classification: Frontier Colony
Population: 1,230,571, (census adjustment pending)
Capital: Jiod City
Governor: -Pending-
Military Status: Tertiary

The Anslaus was, to put it mildly, antiquated. The dreadnought-class cruiser had been overhauled three times in its fifty-three years of service and had only been kept from being scrapped entirely because the Empire had needed every hull that it could get its hands on when it had made the transgalatic migration. That was ten years past and yet it was still in service. At least we didn't run out of spare repair kits the last time we hit a meteor shower, Lieutenant Forrn mentally grumbled. Forrn was sitting in the bridge command chair, balancing a cup of recaf on his knee while holding a datapad in one hand and a wax paper wrapped bantha bun in the other.

The grey of his hair was enough to show just how long he'd been in service. Combine that with a quick glance at his rank bar and it was enough of a story to be told. Most of the crew of the Anslaus were new recruits that were being shipped through non-active frontier duty posts for extra training. They were suppose to be gaining valuable experience and mentorships from veteran crews that had already seen active duty and were on "lighter duties". Even though it was a border sector, Morgren was fairly quiet and sub-sector Kelbar even more so. There were no great hubs within the sub-sector and its only grace that enabled it to be classified as a sub-sector, instead of as a tangential territory, was the mass of agricultural worlds that shipped out billions of tons of foodstuffs each month. There had been some pirate activity in the early days, when colonies were first being settled, but the Anslaus and its sister ships had been more than adequate for that period.

Lieutenant Forrn had been stuck in his position for thirty-seven years because, bluntly, he was not a smart being. Adequate for slipping through the statistical gaps of Imperial Officer Candidate School, but not well enough connected nor politically astute enough to oil the gears to gain a better promotion. His superiors had always marked down in his bi-annual officer review that he was "unmotivated" and at best "forgetful of standard Imperial Naval Procedures". As if those bigwig bastards were so much better? Forrn hated them, but all the same he had a cushy job. He could get away with being himself here on the frontier. Few officer review boards cared to remind themselves that there existed a recalcitrant and incompetent officer such as one Lieutenant Forrn out on the ass-end of a frontier that was not even under any major threat. He was three years out from retirement anyway. His pension would be adequate to buy him a decent home on a frontier colony and to live a semi-luxurious retired life.

Forrn burped loudly and took another bite out of his bantha bun. The two junior officers that were manning the helm and sensor suite glanced at each other with identical looks of disgust before quickly turning back to their stations.

The datapad's HoloNet connection was acting wonky. "Damn useless techs!" he cursed, taking a slurp of recaf. He smacked the datapad onto the ruined upholstery of his chair's arm. The screen fizzed for a moment and he eye'd the conncetion wavelength. It read that he had a clear connection.

"Deck Officer Luuin," Forrn glanced up at the sensor station. "Run a sensor sweep of the system's edge HoloNet transceiver. I believe we may be experiencing some 'technical difficulties' with it."

"Of course, sir," replied Luuin, her voice tight as she held back her disgust. Just one more month before my transfer. Just one more month before my transfer. Just one more...; her mantra ran through her mind a she worked the Anslaus' sensors. She expected that there was another meteor shower that might have disrupted the HoloNet transceiver. The one that the Jio XI colony had been able to purchase had been off the secondhand market. It was an older model transceiver and one more likely to be affected by astro phenomenon.

The sensor pinged.

Luuin frowned.

"Sir? We're not picking up anything wrong from the transceiver -- but I just got a hard return off a small ship at the edge of the system. ComScan is detecting a slight signal ping."

Forrn chewed for a moment and then spoke around a chunk of bantha meat. "Any record of it?"

"Nothing in our databanks match the profile. However, based on analysis, I suspect it's an SOS code of some kind. It's on a repetitive loop."

Forrn sighed mentally and polished off the last of his bantha bun. He licked his fingers to get the last of the grease off, wadded up the wax wrapper, and then threw the wrapper toward the trash bin in the corner. He missed, of course, but a small cleaning droid shuffled forward to pick it up and throw it away properly.

"Helm," Forrn turned, "Bring us about onto an intercept course. Alert all stations to a Blue Alert and tell Medical to come to full. We might have some sort of accident on our hands."

"Yes, sir," replied Helmsman Vhork, his Rodian eyes widening in an approximation of surprise. He was surprised that Forrn was actually following procedure but kept his face forward so that the Lieutenant didn't notice.

* * * * *

Edge of the Jio XI System | Three Hours Later

"It appears to be some kind of shuttle," commented Deck Officer Luuin. "The make and model are not on file, but the marking on the side seem familiar."

"Familiar how, Deck Officer Luuin?" asked Forrn. He was sitting in his command chair, hunched forward and resting his cheek against his fist. He didn't like it when his routine was disturbed, but at least this time it might be interesting.

"Well, sir, I went through the Imperial Academy on Jormunt, in the Jubilim Sector," she began. Luuin was always happy to state this fact, as the Jormunt Academy was gaining a reputation for turning out excellent cadres of Imperial Officers to all branches of the Imperial military. The fact that she hailed from a rich industrial world that her family owned at least half of everything somehow always went unmentioned. "We were studying, during out Foreign Policy classes, the various governments that existed in the Solarian Reaches. I can't remember the name exactly off the top of my head, but that emblem there seems to match something -- the one on the side of the shuttle."

Forrn rolled his eyes. "That's all very nice, Deck Officer Luuin, but that doesn't help us in this current situation. I want a full sweep of the shuttle."

"Done, sir." Luuin rolled through the data returns, picking out any details of note. "Nothing structurally wrong with the vessel and no signs of external damage. It seems to have simply run out of fuel. No sign of life readings, although I am picking up a possible biological return. There must be foodstuffs or organic matter stored on board. The fact that the shuttle is sending out an SOS may be an automated response."

"Automated to go off if it were to, for example, run out of fuel?" hazarded Helmsman Vhork.

Luuin smiled at Vhork. "That's right. It's fairly standard on most shuttles and civilian ships, at least within the Empire."

"Welp, since there's no sign of life there's no immediate need to get aboard her," said Forrn. "Have a tractor beam lock her to us and then set a course back to Piraeus. Once we dock with the station, then they can figure out what to do next."

"Aye, sir," replied Vhork and Luuin.

Forrn began tapping out a Captain's Log entry. It was the one bit of paperwork that he was required to do and, so long as he did so, avoid attention from higher ups. He included the data packet from the ComScan of both the initial detection and the sensor sweep of the shuttle. Any further reports could be done by the officers and commanders of Piraeus Station.

* * * * *

Piraeus Station

The Piraeus Station was a bit of a mixed beast. It was set in geosynchronous orbit not of the planet it was above, but rather of the moon that was above the planet. It was large enough of a station to be able to support the Anslaus and several dozen bulk freighters at once, but never truly received that amount of traffic -- ever. As the Dreadnought-class cruiser came into its docking position, it rather indelicately handed off tractor control of the mysterious, salvaged shuttle. The crewers aboard the Piraeus were civilian contractors mostly, so when they accidentally dragged the bottom hull of the shuttle across the deck of the hangar bay that had been selected for its berthing, Captain Naveen was not surprised. Naveen was a strange officer to be in command of a station, seeing as he was in fact an Engineering Officer and not a Station Officer, as Imperial Navy nomenclature went. But the necessity of having a strong engineering presence in the frontier sectors had necessitated that dozens of engineering officers wear an extra hat or two, as it were.

Naveen swore under his breath as he stepped into the airlock and pulled on a re-breather mask and bio-chem suit. Two other techs were with him and suited up.

"Fucking embarrassing," growled Naveen.

"I agree, sir."

"Every fracking time!"

"Indeed, sir."

"I should shove those bastard inbred, morons out an airlock!"

"Fast clean up that would be, sir."

Naveen's number one best repair tech's face was hidden due to the re-breather mask, but he could easily enough picture the deadpan expression that he always saw on there. "That'll do, Marro. That'll do." He said it in his warning tone, the one that all crew aboard the Piraeus knew.

"Aye, sir. Of course, sir. Make no mention of it again. Sir." Marro was from a frontier planet on the fair side of the Empire and had an accent that elongated his vowels and bit off consonants. It was a brogue that was, for most, hard to follow. Only ten years of familiarity had allowed Naveen to really get a hang of it.

Naveen raised an unseen eyebrow but said nothing else. They stepped into the sealed hangar and looked at the damage. The under hull of the shuttle had been shorn slightly, bit and pieces of material lying about from the edge of the blue-fuzzed shield that kept the vacuum of outer space at bay all the way to where it rested presently in the center of the hangar. A red smear was on the deck, likely some kind of fluid from the shuttle's engines or something.

"Damn it," Naveen swore again. "Marro, I want you to get this checked out as quick as you can. Borte, I know you're due for leave in a few hours, so help Marro out just a bit and then get back to your family. You're overdue for a bit of leave."

"You're awfully kind to remember, sir," replied the other technician, Borte. "I'll do what I can."

"Get to it. Meanwhile, I'm going to go talk to the numskulls that can't operate a tractor beam."

Naveen turned and left the hangar.

Marro and Borte looked at each other and shrugged. They stepped over to the shuttle and took out their belt-tethered instruments. Marro took a scan on the port side and Borte the starboard. “It keeps giving me a funny reading on here, Borte me’lad. Is it coming out strange for you too?”

“Big ten-four that, Marro,” replied Borte. He looked at his HUD chrono and sighed. “You don’t mind if I shuck off early do you Marro?”

“Trouble with the Missus again, eh?”

“You know how it goes, Marro.”

“Only too well,” Marro grimaced. “Take off and I’ll deal with this.”

“Thanks, old buddy.” Borte slapped the side of the shuttle and walked out.

Marro stepped over to the hull of the shuttle and frowned. He pressed his thumb to the side and ran it along. A small, near undetectable film of red…muck was on it. “That is strange.”

After about twenty minutes of fiddling with an industrial cutter, he was able to open the rear hatch of the shuttle. When it fell down a giant cloud of red dust or soot-like material scattered about and nearly covered Marro from head to foot. He was glad that he was wearing a vacuum-sealed suit.

He glanced into the interior and frowned. “What the Sith-spawn is all that crap?”

* * * * *

Borte made it through the crowd at the landing site, where many families loitered while waiting for their loved ones to come back from orbital work. Borte saw his wife waiting for him. She did not look happy.

He sneezed and suddenly felt a wave of nausea come over him.

Just great. Catch a cold from some miner and prepare to catch hell from the wife all in one day.
Last edited by Thrashia on Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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