October 15th 2014
First day off. Set out through Orion and checked in with Yezzel on Armitage for his latest Vanduul movements. He was about to head out on a scrap run himself so he felt pretty confident. That might have been the booze talking though.
Though I have performed several expeditions into Tiber, Orion and Virgil, this marked the first venture into Vanguard. With equal parts exhilaration and abject fear, I set towards my first jump into new territory.
Upon exiting the jump point, I quickly found a quiet and dark place and sent out a drone for a scouting sweep. It eventually came back with an all clear and some interesting images. One of the planets showed signs of Vanduul harvesting. Even from orbit you could see the deep scars on the surface. Every time I see a planet being slowly consumed by the Vanduul, it gives me pause.
What are they using all these resources for? The incredible thing is how indiscriminate it appears their harvesting tech is. From my research, it doesn’t appear like they are isolating and extracting specific elements or ore, they simply scrape entire sections of the planet off.
If the system stays quiet, I will try to take a closer look.
Found a spot to power down. I’ve been losing efficiency on one of the cooling systems, so I spent the past few hours digging through the guts of the ship. The culprit turned out to be a switcher cable. I thought I just replaced that. I think I’ll be okay until I get back.
I’m about to crack open some foodstuffs and put the ship on watch.
I’ve been staring at the screen for about an hour, trying to calm myself down enough to start recording this. I got up after about six hours of sleep and did a quick check of the scans, seemed the system was pretty quiet the whole time. I went through my morning regimen (food, exercise, pills) before working out a course through the system. I was going to try and land on Vanguard III to get some samples of the Vanduul harvesting, so I flashed up the engines and set out. Such a stupid, stupid move.
I’ve been spending too much time in Banu and Xi’An space. I’ve forgotten what life is like out here and particularly rule number one: you always sweep before you move. That chilling realization lanced through my spine the second I accelerated. Then, almost on cue, I picked up a contact.
I cut off everything and went dark.
It was a Kingship. Whole sections of the massive capship’s skeletal frame were bare and exposed, indicating … actually, I want to be clear that all of this insight was in retrospect, so you don’t think I was being calm. When it was happening, the only thought ricocheting around my head was “please, please, please don’t see me.”
But based on the level of construction to their flagship, I think they must have been a relatively new Clan. The ‘younger’ ones (if that’s an accurate way to put it) use their initial raids to build onto their Kingship, “fleshing it out” as I once heard a bounty hunter call it.
I watched the Clan’s trajectory, ready to take off if they shifted a degree toward me. I was so focused on their path that I wasn’t paying attention to my own. I had cut the engines off so quick that I was still moving forward, right towards an asteroid about the size of a small space dock. With my systems down, there was no proximity alarm to warn me. The impact nearly cracked the hull.
Then the Vanduul Clan stopped. They set themselves in orbit of the harvested planet, sending down their own machinery to start processing.
Eight hours later they finally pulled their harvesters and Scythes back to move on. Finally the Clan disappeared into the jump point back to Orion. Hope Yezzel’s already back and under cover.
I spent the rest of the day patching up the ship and cursing my stupidity.
I sent out a few probes to make sure I was alone and slowly approached Vanguard III. I wasn’t going to risk getting too close to the planet, but I managed to position my ship for a good look down on the planet surface. Made me so glad I sold off my house for that new scan array.
Not all the Vanduul had gone. It was an encampment.
I had no idea that Vanduul ever stayed in one place long enough to have encampments.
I think if I post up on the opposite side of the planet (after yesterday, I’m not going to take any chances), I could sneak a short-range down for a closer look. This is unbelievable.