A salvage order was given to me in mysterious circumstances. It seemed that it was a good thing. But I was not sure.
The sun was just setting. The clouds of the gas giant Crusader glowed a deep intense pink. The view of the cloud city of Orison from the platform of the spaceport was breathtaking. Scattered among the pink clouds floated the various platforms with residential buildings, shipyards and industrial facilities. Transporters and shuttles flew in between. After some time, I was able to detach myself from the captivating sight and opened the message on my mobi glass.
Dear Zero Sense,
I am addressing you with an urgent request. I need your help for a rescue. Please come to Orison as soon as possible. There I have reserved a room for you where you will find all further information.
I know this all sounds very dubious. But you will understand when you learn the background.
It was not the first message I had received from the unknown X. With the last message I had also been in Orison. He had thanked me for my efforts in solving the killer satellite plot. I had no idea who this X was. But he seemed to have influence.
The defensecon of Drake Interplanetary just took place in Orison. Before I moved into my room I wanted to pay a visit to the fair. So much time had to be.
The room at the Green CIrcle was typical of Orison. Pleasant, comfortable, with lots of wood and warm light. It exuded a calm and balance not found anywhere else in the Stanton system. X’s message was on the kitchen counter.
We have sent a shipment of special computer boards to people who normally do not have access to this technology but desperately need it. Unfortunately, there are unfriendly elements who want to prevent this shipment and use the technology for their own purposes. We have launched several transport ships, in some of which we have hidden the computer boards. Some ships did not reach their destination.
I would like to ask you to fly to the wrecks and recover the computer boards before they fall into the wrong hands.
In the hangar there is a ship ready for you with everything you need for the recovery. In the cartography system you will find clues to the crash sites of the wrecks.
Please excuse the strange circumstances. But for security reasons I do not want to use communication channels to send you the information. The risk of the unfriendly elements listening in is too great.
Thank you for your help and please be careful.
It was all very dubious indeed. It almost sounded like X was helping people who were disadvantaged. I couldn’t help but think of my help for the workers in Lorville. Could it be that there were parallels to my actions? But then who were the unfriendly elements? The UEE? That would mean X was just like me someone who stood up for the just cause. But a cause that was not just in the eye of the UEE. No, that could not be. I could not imagine that. The messeges from X sounded more like someone who was successful and influential. Who was educated and well off in society. Such a person did not start illegal actions.
Lost in thought, I looked out the window. The lights of the city sparkled in the darkness of the night. Looking into the distance did not give me clarity. It could not sort out my thoughts. I needed some fresh air.
Outside the main entrance to Green Circle, I took a deep breath. A little ways away was the statue of the Space Whale, Orison’s landmark. Directly across from the entrance was an info point. Curious I looked what information was there.
On a board I could read background information about August Dunlow, the founder of Crusader Industries. Fascinated, I read the information a second and third time.
It said that August Dunlow was an anti-Messer activist, advocating for civil rights. He founded Crusader Industries on the principle that a business truly thrived when it gave back to society. His vision was that a company could be both financially profitable and a force for good.
Was that possible? The founder of a mega-corporation had been an anti-Messer activist and was a force for good? How did that fit together? Mega success and still against the regime?
“The Messer era is over”, I heard Brubacker’s admonishing voice inside me.
Still, I couldn’t get it together in my head. In my time in Levski, I had experienced what the Messer regime had done to people. Refugees from the Messer era initially settled in Levski. Political activists lived there until today. But unlike Crusader, Levski did not flourish. People there were not really successful and lived in very simple conditions.
Anyway. Maybe Brubacker could solve this mystery. I had a salvage mission ahead of me. Before I flew off, however, I wanted to get a really good and comfortable night’s sleep.
After only a few hours of restless sleep, I was in the hangar to start my mission. Still a little sleepy, I came out of the elevator. After a few steps I stopped with my mouth open. In front of me stood an Origin 400i in a metallic paint scheme. Confused, I checked if I was really in the right hangar. No doubt, this was the ship that X had provided for me. I had not expected so much luxury. On board was a Tumbril Cyclone ground vehicle, various spacesuits for different climatic conditions, salvage equipment, medical equipment and rations for a longer self-sufficient stay. The ship had two decks. Below was the technical area with the cargo hold. Above was the cockpit and the living area with quarters. One room for the captain and one for two crew members. In the rear of the upper deck was a kitchenette with a sitting area and a large holo table with a map. The whole area was surrounded with a panoramic window that gave a view to the outside. The materials on board were classy with lots of wood and marble.
One thing was for sure. The stay on board would not be unpleasant. On the map I found indications where the wrecks were to be found. There were a total of 12 crash sites on different moons in the Stanton system. However, there were no exact coordinates. Only rough information about distance and direction starting from certain outposts. Nevertheless, this information should be sufficient, I hoped.
In the cockpit I took a seat in the pilot’s seat. It was centered in front of a panoramic window that offered a 180 degree panoramic view. Only the view down and up was limited. Left and right behind the pilot seat were two support seats.
After I had obtained the takeoff clearance, the hangar doors opened. Elegantly, the 400i flew out into the night sky of Crusader. My recovery mission began. A mission that seemed fair. But I could not be sure. There were too many unknowns, too many inconsistencies. I decided to be cautious and not ask too many questions.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)