I’d be sat in the bar right now, but instead I’m in the cabin aboard my new ship collecting my thoughts. Plus, it appears that it’s dangerous for me to be seen out at the moment.
I found my uncle, or rather I found his ghost. I had hoped that I’d find some closure out here, something final so I could put the nail in the coffin of this nagging doubt and leave my old life behind for good. It would be a depressing end but an end none the less. True to Uncle Hendry’s nature though, he always swam against the narrative current of life.
I reached his last known location in the Temple Sector and began searching for any sign of him or his ship. I wasn’t hopeful though, it had been years so an explosion in space would have scattered the debris far and wide by now. I had to hope for a whole wreck and hope it wasn’t buried in a crater somewhere. To be honest it seemed like a lost cause and after three days of constant searching I was questioning my own sanity in continuing. But it was only a few hours later that I discovered the comms beacon.
I was supercuising through the latest system on my grid search when my scanner chimed. I’d set it to ping degraded ship emissions and materials above a certain size but it took me so by surprise that I glanced around the cockpit for the source of the noise like a sleeper rudely awoken by an alarm. When I realised what the noise meant my chest tightened. I had to tell myself that it could just be another ship, space is big and there’s millions of explorers in it, why would it be Hendry’s ship. But as I tracked the signal to the rings of a gas giant that dominated that part of the system all my hopes and fears were confirmed in one fell swoop.
Hendry’s Anaconda the Paradies Verloren span lazily in amongst the asteroids. A large rend in the right side alluded to a heavy impact. Scorch marks and fire damage blackened the rear of the ship and the craft was clearly long dead in the water. I circled for a few minutes recording the damage the likely cause. As far as I could see it looked like a thruster failure had resulted in a loss of control and a terminal impact with an asteroid. It put me in mind of a half remembered story from Earth’s history of a ship that sank after hitting an iceberg.
Backup power allowed for a weak connection to the ships last data transmissions and I downloaded them as carefully as I could. I poured over them, having to read them three times before I was sure I understood them properly.
It seems that sabotage was the down fall of his ship, but rather than be angry about it Hendry seemed to be frustrated. He was chasing something and considered this setback an annoyance only. He was happy for my father to think he was dead. He’d stabilized the ship long enough to launch his heavily modified fighter from the bay. Usually this would be nothing more than a armed escape pod this far from the bubble but Uncle Hendry had built this one from scratch and had to sacrifice over half of his cargo space on the Paradies Verloren to fit it in. It had a fairly decent FSD on it for it’s size and could easily make it back to bubble given a carefully planned route. But he didn’t head straight there. The log indicated he was heading to s small nebula on the coreward side of the Temple sector and then there was nothing more.
I left immediately, plotting the route as fast as possible and using as many neutron stars as I could and headed for the planet he’d indicated. When I got there I followed his coordinates to an ice moon 250,000 LS from the star, reclessly diving towards a small comms signal on the surface and suicide burning at the last second. The hydraulics protested as I hit the ice and I stumbled in a mad hurry to my SRV.
At the bottom of a small crater about 500m from the Jessica was a hole 20m wide blasted and melted into the ice. The hole was empty but a small comms beacon blinked in the drifting snow a few meters away. Attempts to establish contact with it only produced the message “The Dark Wheel turns, leading me ever closer to Raxxla“, the rest was heavily encrypted. I scooped it up and took it with me.
God damn Raxxla and The Dark Wheel. Hendry used to tell us stories as kids but I’d figured that they were just that, stories. I’d dismiss them as that too but no sooner had I reached the bubble than 4 ships tried to interdict me, 2 demanding the comms beacon and 2 running silent, possibly from my family. This thing is dangerous and I’m a marked man on multiple fronts it seems, but I will find out what it contains. For now it’s in the shielded hold for my new ship. I had to mothball the Jessica for a while, she’s obviously too recognisable as Hendry’s old ship and with no weapons I can’t put up much of a fight in an ambush so an old fried from my old squadron is keeping an eye on her. I earnt about 250M from all my cartographics data so I put it into a heavily engineered Krait MKII, the Jaeger Scwartz. It packs a beasty punch, the last ship that tried anything went down in seconds so my family and the Dark Wheel will have to think twice now.
Now I have to find someone or some way to decode this beacon. I know the Dark Wheel wants it now, and they don’t seem too open to new members. I’d hoped to start over but Uncle Hendry is still out there and I will find him, I’ll chase him to Raxxla if I have to.