This article originally appeared in Jump Point 7.5.
Jacinto turned back first. When Captain Iggy Decarlo heard the first distress call he didn’t hesitate; he immediately ordered a course be set for Amidon Island. The command stunned his crew. Jacinto currently led the Tohil Regatta and abandoning the course would cripple their chance at winning the 2847 Courier Cup. Yet, as a native of Tohil, Captain Decarlo’s allegiance to the system he loved outweighed his ambition to win the race to which he had dedicated his life.
Jacinto abandoned the course, exited Tohil III’s atmosphere, and spooled its quantum drive. Moments later, the ship entered atmosphere on the other side of the planet and sped toward Amidon Island, the world’s most populous and developed landing zone. Having flown this approach countless times, Captain Decarlo quickly recognized that something was seriously wrong. Half of Amidon Island had sunk into the ocean.
It was a surreal sight for Captain Decarlo. Buildings that formerly formed a picturesque skyline were now partially underwater and vanishing fast. Massive smoke plumes rose from the water where fires had broken out, hampering visibility. People clung to the buildings still above the waterline and desperately waved flags, bed sheets, or whatever they could get their hands on to attract the attention of rescue ships.
Captain Decarlo immediately commed competitors in the Tohil Regatta to request assistance. Most of them had heard the initial distress calls, but either assumed it was a hoax meant to disrupt the race or an issue the locals could handle. Decarlo’s comm made it clear that the situation was catastrophic and in desperate need of their help.
Simply, there weren’t enough ships to save everyone on Amidon Island. Most locals could not afford the exorbitant hangar costs on an island where space was at a premium. Making matters worse, it was also the height of tourist season and the island was filled with people enjoying its unique ecology while in system for the regatta. Many of these visitors arrived on world via commercial transports and had no way off the slowly sinking island.
Amidon Island becoming submerged was shocking, but not completely unexpected. For years, people abstained from settling on Tohil III. While this ocean world lacked land masses, it did contain something close yet completely unique; massive floating botanical clusters. Legend claims that a damaged smuggling ship first landed on one out of sheer desperation. Surprised at their sturdiness, smugglers secretly used the floating biomasses dotting the world as hideouts and dead drops. Word slowly spread about this extraordinary flora, attracting scientists, ecotourists, and business looking to capitalize on the influx of credits.
Amidon Island quickly became the planet’s primary landing zone thanks to its relatively large size and central location near the equator. Development remained minimal for years only to expand as more people visited the system. Hardline environmentalists argued against larger settlements, but interest in the planet outweighed concerns for it. The ability of these floating islands to withstand the increased weight without any obvious negative side effects only encouraged further development.
In 2803, Darla Ibori, a local historian and ship enthusiast, organized a small event that traveled many of the old smuggler routes. It proved extremely popular, attracting twice as many ships as expected. Ibori spun this success into an annual event called the Tohil Regatta, which included a multi-day race that involved ships ferrying marked crates between old hideouts and dead drops. The fastest ship to complete the course was awarded the Courier Cup.
The Tohil Regatta quickly gained a reputation for attracting ship enthusiasts of all ilk. Between legs of the race, veteran haulers flying aged Constellations drank and swapped stories with ultra-wealthy Origin owners. The usual class divides evaporated quickly, and all that mattered was one’s passion for the race.
Growing up on Amidon Island, Iggy Decarlo looked forward to the Tohil Regatta every year. He worked at a luxury ship repair shop and diligently saved credits to buy his own vessel. He first entered the regatta in 2826 and became a race fixture by entering it every year after. Despite his knowledge of the planet and the location of its biomasses, he always seemed to lose to those with a newer ship or the latest and greatest components. In 2844, Captain Decarlo purchased a used Origin 600, which prior to the line’s recent luxury revamp was considered a mid-sized transport ship, and strategically modified the minted Jacinto with upgraded components. His dedication and attention to detail paid off. Prior to the 2847 regatta, Captain Decarlo had never held a lead this late in the regatta. Thus, his crew, competitors, and spectators were equally shocked and surprised when he voluntarily relinquished the position to respond to the distress comms coming from Amidon Island.
Once Captain Decarlo reported the severity of the situation, other regatta competitors and observers promptly followed Jacinto’s lead. Amidst the chaos, organizers suspended the regatta to aid the rescue effort. Soon ships swarmed the sky above Amidon Island. The sight below shocked and stunned regatta pilots. Amidst the chaos and confusion, Captain Decarlo became the driving force behind the rescue effort. Once Jacinto was at capacity with evacuees, he directed other ships to buildings about to be submerged, and designated flight paths for ships approaching the island and those leaving it. His familiarity with Amidon Island and its buildings proved invaluable to the rescue effort.
The disaster of Amidon Island would have been worse if not for the actions of Captain Decarlo and the ships from the regatta. The tragedy led to increased building regulations on Tohil III, and in an unfortunate twist of fate, also effectively ended the Tohil Regatta, as organizers worried its success was partly responsible for the overdevelopment of Amidon Island.
Ship enthusiasts may lament that the Tohil Regatta no longer officially exists, but many still visit the system to informally fly the route. Regatta fans have even organized an ongoing movement to restore the tradition, so future generations can experience it for themselves. Whether that plan ever comes to fruition or not, the Tohil Regatta will forever be remembered as a truly unique event. One where its participants valiantly came to the planet’s aid when needed the most.