The Scarlet Hawk was docked at bay 7 just as the receptionist at the administrative office had said
. I promptly began my preflight inspection. I only had an hour to disembark. All systems had seemed to be in order. The charred ship I saw in bay 41 wasn't mine then. What kind of weaponry could do such a thing?
I finished all system checks just minutes before a Beluga was scheduled to dock at 1600. I pulled the Scarlet Hawk outside the station and idled as I pondered my next move.
I can't get over this bad feeling I've been having since that bang on my door. I had been to Nyeajaae NL-J b14-9 before. That wasn't a dream. EDSM had confirmed it. To find out what happened, I needed to go back. I submitted a flight plan that took the Scarlet Hawk along the Colonia Connection Highway back to the bubble, but my real destination was Nyeajaae NL-J b14-9. An inconspicuous star system 232.95 Ly from Rohini.
Logged Flight Plan:
- Vihara Gate, Kashyapa
- Caravanserai, Gandharvi
- Sacaqawea Space Port, Saudi CH-B D14-34
- Eudaemon Anchorage, Rohini
- Omega Mining Operation, Omega Sector VE-Q b5-15
- Hillary Depot, Blu Thua AI-A c14-10
Each waypoint was about fifty jumps apart. Kashyapa bustled with religious pilgrims, traders and explorers. Vihara Gate starport was adorned with statues of golden calfs and other religious idols. I avoided staying any port longer than I needed to to avoid any unwanted attention. Once I got to Rohini, I scheduled an extended stay at Eudaemon Anchorage for maintenance. I planned to charter a ship to take me the rest of the way to Nyeajaae NL-J b14-9. It would allow me to avoid any logs tracing back to the Scarlet Hawk.
I convinced a pilot from Archers' Honest Trading Co. to fly me out for a million credits. His name was Hale. He was a former combat pilot and looked forward to an easy job with good pay. I had explained I was looking to collect some exploration data from a nearby system to complete a scientific study. The pilot had quickly agreed to my terms. We were to survey the system and make landfall on one of the planets for soil samples. Part of me worried about trusting another pilot. What if we find something spectacular? We would have to share the find. What if we find something terrifying?
I decided the second option was better with company.
I arrived at the dock to find a whethered Anaconda looking back at me. The Long Haul
. A fitting name I thought. Once we had taken off Hale told me more of his story. He was once an Imperial soldier. He retired on his army pension a decade ago and flew tourists back and fourth from Colonia for a couple years. Eventually he realized the colonies along the way were always in need of supplies and decided to trade up and down the Colonia Connection Highway. He had recently upgraded to the Anaconda and enjoyed the range advantage it had over nearly everything else.
When he told me we were about to arrive at our destination I visibly tensed up. Are you nervous? I've never seen a scientist so excited for disappointment.
His response puzzled me, What do you mean?
Hale's quizzical tone turned matter of fact, I pulled the System Data before we left. A CMDR Bauer had visited the system a couple of days ago. There's just a couple of inhospitable planets orbiting a Type M star. We'll arrive in about an hour and you'll see for yourself.
We arrived in about forty five minutes. Hale pulled The Long Haul toward the star then motioned to me. I'm just going to scoop a bit of fuel, then we'll perform surface scans of every planet in system. Jump on the FSS if you want to get a head start
. The FSS revealed what CMDR Hale had already foretold. Every planet in the system had already been mapped. We pulled toward the first planet and launched our probes. Surface scan matches existing record.
We pulled toward the second, then the third. Each time the same message appeared. Hale stopped suddenly and pointed at the radar. Wait a minute, that's new.
As we orbited the third planet a small moon peeked over the horizon. That wasn't on the record before.
Bring us in for a landing. I'll get the SRV ready.