Hope for another lead on the killer satellite.
The place was fantastically beautiful. Waves lapped gently against the shore. A warm breeze brushed my cheeks. I sat at a small lake on the planet Hurston and enjoyed the solitude. My thoughts circled around the events of the last days. Our circumstantial evidence indicated that Hurston Dynamics was secretly developing a killer satellite equipped with a bioweapon. The satellite was equipped with weaponized MTX-1 chips from Microtech. But were our suspicions correct? We needed proof. The trail from the cave was cold. We were getting nowhere there. To distract myself, I turned on Radio Infinity.
Brubacker recently started working for a radio station. Unbelievable. As if he wasn’t already overburdened with his previous editorial work. I picked up a small rock and threw it into the water. The ripples from the impact spread out in concentric circles. Was the bioweapon related to Enos? And did the E agent in the Stanton system spread out like the waves in the lake? And why would Hurston Dynamics secretly build a killer satellite? A secret military mission? Illegal business? I heard my own voice. On the radio came the interview Brubacker had done with me. We had recorded the conversation some time ago. I was ranting quite a bit – about the UEE and the big corporations. Rightly so, more and more dark machinations were emerging.
The wind had freshened up in the meantime. First grains of sand pattered in my face. The air became dusty and breathing became more difficult. The planet Hurston showed its true face. I went back into the Star Runner. On board, I stumbled over pieces of my armor. I had simply thrown it on the floor after the mission in the cave. It was time to clean up a bit. As I was stowing the armor in the closet, I found something in the pockets. It was the mobiglass I had taken from the miner in the cave. Curious, I opened the application and looked at the entries. I had not expected what I found. Astonished, I sat down on the bed. I continued to scroll through the entries. A glimmer of hope sprouted in me.
A few hours later I met Sam at the orbital station ‘Everus Harbor’. Sam was part of the activist network. I gave him the mobiglass and told him about the events at the wreck and the cave. While I was telling, Sam looked at the entries in the Mobiglass.
“Where did you get the Mobiglas”, asked Sam, visibly surprised.
“I took it off a dead man in the cave. Looks like he was part of the activist network.”
“Yeah, we’ve been missing him for a while. He was on to something.” The voice of Sam sounded sad.
“What kind of a thing”, I pecked.
“We’re staking out a Hurston Dynamics facility where they’re probably working on classified projects. So far we have nothing solid. He wanted to trace the supply chains for the facility.”
I thought for a moment and pointed to the mobiglass.
“One of the entries says that a ship had taken special cargo containers away from the cave. These are exactly the cargo containers I’m looking for. The ship’s destination and registration number are also in the entry.”
Sam looked at the entry. Thoughtfully, he said
“The ship’s destination is the facility we’ve been watching. But no ship with the registration number arrived there. It probably did fly somewhere else….”
“….Or crashed”, I interrupted him. “Wouldn’t be the first ship.”
“Wait a minute….” Sam checked something in his mobiglass.
I looked out the large panoramic window of the space station. An 890 Jump flew by close enough that I could make out the ship’s name. ‘Renaissance’ was written on the side of the luxury yacht.
“Here it is”, Sam said. “Our network picked up a crash. It’s about on the route between the cave and the facility we’re watching. Maybe you’re right. You should check it out.”
I made my way to the hangar and had only walked two steps when I heard Sam call out.
“Zero.” I stopped and looked back over my shoulder at Sam. “Just scouting. Don’t go into the wreckage alone.”
I grinned and walked on without another word.
The crash site was on a plain on the moon Aberdeen. There were hardly any elevations and no cover. To remain undetected, I approached at low altitude. The dense yellow atmosphere of Aberdeen had the visibility of a potato soup. Trees and rocks suddenly appeared in front of me and flew past the cockpit. I was only a few kilometers away from the wreck when suddenly a loud bang was heard. The whole ship trembled. The Star Runner’s lights changed from white to red. Alarm condition. I checked the instruments. The ship’s condition indicator showed severe hull damage. I had underestimated the thick belly of the Star Runner and had scraped over several trees and rocks.
A little less than a kilometer from the crash site, I extended the landing gear and landed in a depression. I didn’t have much cover, but it was better than nothing. I didn’t want to get a surprise like I did in the cave, so I approached the wreckage on foot. The temperatures were over 200 degrees Celsius. Despite the heat protection suit, the march was sweaty. After long minutes, I reached some rocks that offered me cover and a good view of the wreck. The fragments of the broken Constellation lay scattered across the plain. Through the scope, I watched the crash site and tried to make out something. The moon Aberdeen put a yellow haze over the scenery. I had no clear view. Just scouting, Sam had said. To do that, I had to get closer. I left my cover.
At a run I approached the wreck. My heart was racing faster than my legs. I gasped. Even if no one saw me coming, I was sure to be heard. Finally, I reached the first piece of debris and slipped into the shadows of the broken middle section. Kneeling, I gasped for air. Then I noticed a body next to me. A lifeless body. I found more dead bodies and the log book. Disappointment spread through me as I read the log. The Constellation had been attacked by pirates and had nothing to do with the killer satellite or the bioweapon. The hope for a new lead burst like a soap bubble.
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