A wreck, a dark threat and another data packet I had to recover.
It smelled musty, I heard the relaxing, even sound of water drops falling on a metal plate. The facial expression of the activist sitting in front of me at his terminal was anything but relaxed. He had located the distress signal of a crashed Freelancer and determined the crash site. But he had also located something else. An unidentified Hammerhead, masking its identification. Whether the Hammerhead had anything to do with the crash, we didn’t know. But it was very likely.
The data I took to Levski was incomplete. The activists had hired someone else to get the rest of the data. But the courier never arrived in Levski. He last checked in when he reached orbit around Delamar with his Freelancer. After that, the connection broke down. Now we knew he would never arrive at Levski.
A short time later I flew low over the wasteland of Delamar. My mission was to salvage the data from the wreckage of the Freelancer. I tried to fly as low as possible to avoid being detected. Should the Hammerhead still be out here, I would have a bad time. A Cutlass alone against a Hammerhead was hopeless.
Without incident I reached the wreck. The Freelancer lay on her side and was broken into several pieces. The grey of the hull merged with the grey of the surroundings. She was difficult to see from a distance. Sparks spurted like a beacon from the engine. The last breath of life left the broken ship.
I stood on the ramp of my Cutlass and looked at the scenery. On impact the Freelancer had torn a deep furrow in the ground. The cockpit lay a bit away from the rest of the ship. Worried, I looked up to the sky. Was the Hammerhead nearby? I was a sitting duck. It did not feel good.
I started looking in the cockpit. All I saw was naked, cold metal and dead glances from black screens. Sporadically sparks flew like fireflies past the broken window. I found no clues to the data or the cause of the crash.
I continued to search the whole wreckage. Cargo was scattered all around the place. Crates, gas tanks, packages. Then it occurred to me that the data I had recovered on Gundo was hidden in a box. I began frantically examining all the boxes. I opened one crate after the other. With each crate my hope vanished and the worry grew that the black shadow of a Hammerhead would come over me.And then I finally found what I had been looking for.
After I dropped the box off at Levski, the activists set about analyzing the data. I borrowed a Dragonfly and flew to the mountains surrounding Levski. I looked down at the old mining station. The hangar doors and the drill hole were at my feet. Then I saw something big moving in the shadow of the mountains. A Hammerhead rose, released itself from the darkness and slowly rose into the sky.