December 2nd 2015
The editors at Discovered spent days debating whether to publish the journals about the discovery of Oya system. Ultimately, it was decided that, regardless of how we felt about the context, it’s a valid transcript of what transpired.
During the height of Ivar Messer’s reign as the first Imperator of the UEE, Lieutenant Eli Price was a Naval Combat Pilot assigned to the UEES Virtue as part of a defensive line intended to guard against the nearby Xi’An Empire. The following excerpts were taken from his second tour.
Week three … I can’t believe it’s been that long … anyway, we just set out on the third patrol sweep. I think Forbes was flying my ship last shift. All the user settings are off just enough to be really annoying which, as everyone aboard the Virtue knows, are the key hallmarks of Forbes’ flying style. Took me ten extra minutes during pre-launch to get everything back to normal.
Anyway, first patrol point was clear. There’s still some scattered debris from the cargo hauler we lost yesterday. Still no sign of whoever’s been hitting our tradelanes. They gotta have some stones to pull something like that out here. Smart too, because they’re only hitting smaller single-pilot hauler chains. I tell you, that’s why we should just stick escorts with every ship. Now that Imperator Messer’s instituted mandatory service, we got plenty of bodies.
I tried suggesting to Aki that we plant some Marines on a hauler and hope it gets hit. I would pay money to see the look on their faces when they popped the airlock to come face to face with a bunch of those psychos.
Oh dammit, Forbes! You are the only person in history who inverts arrow keys on touchscreens.
Heading on to patrol point two.
Sneaky bastards got us again. A T-6 got cracked shortly after it entered the system. Pilot was out cold before she knew what hit her. Aki scrambled everybody out to seal off the jumps, but sure enough, there was no sign of them. Vanished again.
I found one of our crates on the drift in a vacant corner of space. I’m sure it was a message. They’re laughing at us.
I found them …
I can’t believe it.
Sorry. I’ll start over.
I got to thinking that maybe we were looking in the wrong places. Aki had us casing jump points and planets, hoping we’d stumble across a hideout or something.
I was thinking, what if that crate wasn’t left intentionally? If they were trying to get our attention, there are plenty of better spots to dump it.
So I went back to where I found it and waited. I watched that box tumble gently for hours. Nothing around for millions of kilometers. Until there was.
Suddenly a ship was there. It had its systems real low, making it barely perceptible among the usual noise of your scans. But I was looking and I happened to be quieter than they were. I hadn’t seen the thing approach. It was gone one second, there the next. Which could only mean one thing:
It came out of a jump point.
That’s how they managed to dodge us for so long, while we were racing to seal off the borders like idiots.
I watched the ship fasten the crate to its hold and begin to power up. I tracked its exact position as it turned and dropped back into the jump point.
Satisfied there weren’t any others coming through, I quietly flew over to its position. I thought about sending a comm for support, but I knew Aki would pull some ranking officer crap and claim the jump point discovery for himself.
Then it hit me what I was about to do. I’d read accounts of manually traversing jump points and yeah, I’d always thought it’d be awesome to try, but now, faced with the reality of actually doing it? It was scary as hell.
I matched the exact angle of approach, started the nav-recorder and kicked off the jump drive. I moved forward and nothing seemed to happen when the ship was yanked into interspace. I wish I could remember exactly what I did, but it was all blind terror and instinct. It felt like a moment and an eternity. Then it was over.
My scanners were unable to identify any points of interest. That’s when I knew it was a new system. Such an unbelievable feeling. I might even get to meet Ivar Messer for this. That wouldn’t be unheard of, right? I mean, come on, this is a new system. Who knows what kind of resources could be here? My mind raced through all the possibilities of what this could mean for Humanity before I remembered what led me here.
I headed towards the planet that was looming near the jump, and sure enough, found the outlaws staging there. I was able to keep my sig low enough to observe them. As I made exhaustive notes of their ship numbers, classes, armaments and defenses, something seemed off.
Tapping into their comms, I picked up that they had received a tip about another one of our convoys moving through the system. This one had a some juicy cargo with only a pair of fighter escorts. They debated about whether to hit it or not. One of the voices, I couldn’t tell if he sounded older or just weary, staunchly opposed the attack — not because of any tactical reason, but because he knew that combating the escort would lead to death, for one side or the other. He refused to “cross that line,” as he put it, regardless of how he felt about the “regime” (again, his words).
It was weird. They didn’t seem like the criminal syndicates we had clashed with in the past. These seemed like regular people. Thinking back on the haulers they hit, I guess they only took things that could be used for survival.
I don’t know. I’ll keep listening.
As I returned to the Virtue, needless to say, I was a little conflicted.
This was hardly the bloodthirsty, amoral outlaw group I had pictured in my head when we were trying to hunt them down. They were just trying to carve out a life for themselves in this unknown system, away from the rest of Humanity. But they are breaking the law and stealing. No matter their logic, why are they different from a criminal who steals for greed? These people are being self-serving too.
There are people who work for a living, who are working to make Messer’s vision of a better Humanity come to life. They don’t get to abandon their responsibilities and what is right, just because they disagree. No, they should be held to the same standard as me.
I marched up to the bridge and reported everything I had found.
Strike teams secured the system and were able to reclaim the stolen cargo. They also wiped out the inhabitants. Caught them as they tried to flee the system.
Captain Jessol just sent for me. He wants to congratulate me personally on neutralizing the outlaw threat and expanding the Human Empire.
I did the right thing … right?