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RP: YSS Aeon [YSS Aeon] - Second Sorte

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Ruiko made his way to the front of the shuttle. He found a dead Nekovalkyrja at the controls. He was not a medic, but he was pretty certain that many of her injuries were not from the crash. “Hoshi, we have a body up here. Nekovalkyrja NH-17 I think.”

He then moved over to what looked like the pilots belongings. He lifted up a small backpack and searched for identification. “Usaga any registration number on the hull? And any idea what type of weapons were used against it.” “No registration other than the ship’s type that I can see at the moment. It’s a Ke-T2-1a series. I can not give you any real determination as to the weapon type with what I have on me. Back aboard the Aeon I could.” The engineer replied. “Ruiko to Ise-Taii, Would you bring the Aeon to our location?” “On my way.” The commander replied.
Katae notified the rest of the crew that they were lifting ship. She had the Aeon en-route in minutes. “Ruiko, do you have identification on that pilot?” She asked. “Her identification is Musha Kuro-Chui.” Ruiko replied. “Eternity do a query and see what you can learn about our mystery pilot.” She adjusted the course and prepared to bring the ship in near the crashed vessel. She positioned the ship so that the damaged shuttle could be brought into the cargo bay for inspection. “Katae, I can find no record of a Musha Kuro in any Star Army Records.” Eternity said through the speakers. “Well, that definitely does not bode well. Relay that to Ruiko, and advise them to proceed with caution.” She said leaving the bridge.

Hoshi was examining the body of the Valyrja in the shuttle. “Death was pretty much instantaneous Tso. There are several Zesuaium fragments that were driven into her heart and several more severed her spinal cord in multiple locations. That would appear to be the cause of death; I’ll be able to give you a better answer when I get the body to the medbay to perform a full autopsy.” “Okay, the ship will be here shortly. I’ll have Nami suit up to help you with the transfer.” Ruiko said as he exited the shuttle. Hoshi started towards the back when he noticed a small notebook on the floor. When he picked it up a small data card fell out of the binder. He picked it up and took it to Ruiko. “Tso, I found this perhaps it will have some useful data.” He said handing the data card to him.
Once aboard the Aeon Ruiko was able to access the data card. It contained a personnel ID code. When Eternity queried the Star Army records, she was able to identify that it belonged to a person assigned to Star Army Intelligence. According to the records she was listed as missing. Also on the data card was a series of numbers that he could not figure out right away. While on the shuttle he noticed that several of the panels had similar numbers as the series. Having never flown on a Kitty shuttle before he was unfamiliar with the numbers which is why he did not recognize it at first. After searching for another few minutes, he found the panel that had the matching number. But the panel was not one he could open by hand. “Ruri, come in here, I need you to open a panel.” He said loudly. Ruri came walking into the shuttle, armed with his toolkit. Ruiko pointed to the panel, and Ruri quickly went to work on it. After removing the securing hardware Ruri went to lift the panel. “Wait Ruri, don’t lift that panel just yet. She was SAINT, so she may have rigged it with some kind of trap.” He picked up one of Ruri’s inspection tools and used it to look carefully at each of the bolt holes. In the sixth one he saw a small switch; using a screwdriver he gently toggled the switch. Then slowly he lifted the panel. Sitting in the compartment were several items, along with a data module of a type he was not familiar with. He gave it to Ruri to check out.

Later the crew was gathered in the Aeon’s wardroom. The topic of discussion was the pilot of the shuttle. Katae was trying to decide what her crew should do next. According to Hoshi the data module had an ST backup of the agent. It was dated a few days prior to her untimely demise. The sensor data from the shuttle showed that while she was in orbit scanning the planet two ships appeared above her and opened fire without warning. The shuttle was no match for the firepower of the two ships, and it soon plummeted out of orbit. The pilot apparently managed to make enough repairs that she had some control and attempted to make a controlled crash, but as was obviously she was not successful. “Okay, Hoshi go ahead and work on reviving our guest. Ruiko see if you and Ruri can manage to salvage anymore data out of the shuttles computers. I want to know what she was doing, and I would like to know before we wake her.” A SAINT operative this far out in defintely does not bode well. she thought.
Ruiko and Ruri managed to get some of the shuttle systems operational, but whatever records she had were encrypted. They might have been able to break the encryption, but Katae told them not to. If she encrypted the files then they were most likely relative to a SAINT operation. Best to not mess with them. she thought. So Katae sat in the medbay with Hoshi waiting for the operative to be restored. “Katae she’s beginning to wake.” Hoshi said to her. She got up and walked over to the bed where the NH-17 was stirring. Katae waited until she sat up. “Good day Ryoushi-Shoi, welcome aboard. I am Ise Katae-Taii commander of the YSS Aeon.” Ryoushi took a moment to gather her thoughts. “Where are we?” “Currently we are exploring system UX-26, we found your shuttle crash landed and after some investigation we were able to revive you. By our estimates you were dead for some two years. I don’t suppose you would care to tell me what you are doing way out here?” “Two years well then it doesn’t really matter if I tell you or not. I was out here searching for gun runners. My informant told me that a group of dealers and buyers were going to meet here. Somehow I think he let them know I was coming if I died.” “According to my engineers your Kitty took quite a pounding, so I would say they definitely were expecting you. May I ask how you got out here a Kitty?” “I booked passage on a ship it took me to within range of the system, and was to return in two weeks.” “Well we are just about done exploring this system, I doubt you want to stay with us exploring star systems, so I will contact Logistics and make arrangements for a rendezvous. Meanwhile here are your personal effects and once your dressed I’ll lead you to the wardroom to eat.” “Thank you, that would be best.” Ryoushi walked over to the items and started getting dresses. “What kind of ship is the Aeon?” Katae smiled, “She’s a Plumeria-class Light Gunship. The class came out in YE 29 replacing the Sakura-class. The Aeon herself just came out a few months ago. We are currently in the first month of YE 31.” “I definitely have some catching up to do, two years of tech and intelligence data.” Ryoushi replied.
After the crew secured Ryoushi’s shuttle in the cargo bay they wrapped up their exploration of the system. While Keiko was docking with the OGS, Katae was contacting Logistics, to arrange a meeting point for Ryoushi to transfer. Gi completed the docking maneuver easily, enjoying the greater degree of control that her interface gave her. She picked up the intercom handset and punched in the Taii’s code. “Ise-Taii, docking is complete, preparing to head out of system to jump point.” “Proceed on course Keiko let me know when we reach the jump point.” Ise replied. Gi plotted the exit course easily. Within moments the Aeon was heading out towards the edge of UX-26. She’s a strange person that Ryoushi. She certainly doesn’t say much. Always watching and listening. Guess that goes with being in SAINT. Gi thought.

Usaga was attaching a patch to the front of the Ke-T2 shuttle. The Taii had limited her repair efforts to patching the hull. Despite the fact that it went against her nature to leave something broken, the Taii’s rather emphatic warning kept her outside the shuttle. Besides there is plenty of damage for me to patch. she thought. She also made notes about some of the various holes, depth, angle, and such for use in testing the SPIDR that she and Ruri were working on. While patching a rent near one of the wings, Usaga spotted something that did not belong to the shuttle. She carefully pried the object loose and took it to one of the work benches. After a few minutes of examining the circuitry, she said. “Eternity, please notify Ise-Taii and Ryoushi that I have found something that they need to see. I will meet them in the wardroom.” A few minutes later Usaga walked into the wardroom. She saw the Taii and Ryoushi sitting at one of the smaller tables. She walked over and bowed, “Ise Taii, Ryoushi” “Have a seat Usaga” the Taii said. She took a seat and put the device she removed from the shuttle on the table. “I believe this device explains how your attackers found you Ryoushi. It was attached on the underside of your shuttles wing, and appears to be a beacon.” “Well, that answers the how, and I know now who to go after. It was not on the shuttle when I put her aboard the ship for transport, so it had to be a person on that crew.”
Once the Aeon had passed the out limits of system UX-26, they engaged the hyperspace fold engine jumping to the rendezvous point. During the transition Katae finished consolidating her logs and the sensor data for the system. Once they returned to normal pace she had Eternity transmit the data package back to headquarters. The crew spent a day or so waiting for the Logistics ship to arrive. Katae and Ruiko used the time to conduct power armor drills. Once the ship arrived for their visitor; Ryoushi made short work of gathering her stuff and transferring her shuttle to the other vessel. She then thanked Katae and her crew and left. Katae sat on the bridge watching the other vessel depart. Okay, well let’s get back to exploration. she thought. She entered the coordinates for UX-27 and set the Aeon on course.

Ruiko was at his station working on his tactical subroutines. Still not happy with the performance he spent a good deal of his free time working on them. He was also watching the sensor readings as they were getting close enough to UX-27 to start preliminary scans. He was seeing a few anomalous readings, not with the system, but rather the space they were in. “Keiko-Juni, bring us to a stop. Eternity maximum sensitivity on all subspace sensors. He ran a series of checks against the readings and finally came to a conclusion. He reached for the handset and punched the Taii’s cabin. When she picked up he said, “Ma’am I think you need to come to the bridge. I have some information that you will want to see.” “On my way.” She responded. While he waited he put the data on the main screen. The door opened and Katae entered, “What’s up Ruiko?” “I was running some checks and found a disturbing pattern. There are numerous energy signatures heading in and out of UX-27.”
“Are there any vessels on sensors at the moment?” Ise asked. “No Taii, at present I’m not detecting any ships within sensor range. UX-27 is within range of the long range sensors and no sign of any ships or emissions at the moment.” Katae thought about their recent encounter with Ryoushi. I don’t like this one bit, she was attacked by smugglers, now we detect indications of ships travelling where no one is supposed to be. “Okay, we will proceed in, but keep the ship on a defensive posture. I want to bring the Aeon in on an oblique approach to the system. Once we enter the system proper, we will go into running silent mode and make a detailed scan before continuing our mission there.” Katae then crossed the bridge and took her place at her station. She deftly entered the new trajectory for the ship, and initiated the course change.
Ruri was going about her maintenance rounds. She contacted the bridge, “Request permission to inspect the main cannon Ise-Taii.” After a brief pause, the Taii responded, “Permission granted.” Ruri switched the manual shut off. The gun status light changed to Disabled in glowing green letters. She then proceeded to open the hatch and entered the access tunnel. This was easy work as the Aeon was still fairly new. After ensuring she had performed all the prerequisite checks and few extras, she made her way back out of the tunnel. Usaga please come to the main cannon junction.. On my way. her friend replied. Ruri put her tools away and waited. A few minutes later she saw Usaga come into the area. “Usaga please confirm that I am not in the junction.” She said with a grin. “Usaga to the bridge, I have visually confirmed that Ruri nor anyone else is in the main cannon junction. We are securing the conduit.” “Acknowledged.” Ruiko replied. Usaga secured the hatch, and watched as Ruri re-engaged the manual switch and the red light Enabled came on.

Yani was at the Science station on the bridge. She was conducting primary scans of the system. She made note of the classification of the star, and the composition of the system. She looked up as the Taii came onto the bridge. “What do we have Yani?” She turned around and stood while putting her data on the main screen. “Ma’am UX-27 so far appears quiet. The star is a spectral class A5 size V. There are seven planets, one asteroid belt. There are no gas giants present. There is something unusual with the fourth world.” “Unusual good or bad, Yani?” Katae asked as she walked towards the screen. “Good ma’am. The planet is in an orbit that is oblique to the rest of the system. Which most likely means it is a captured planet.” “A captured world that is interesting. Any sign of starships in the system?” Katae asked her. “None detected on passive scans, no neutrino emissions from a ships power plant. I would say we are alone here.” She watched the Taii walk over to the first officer. “Ruiko, what about those energy signatures you found?” “The subspace disturbances end shortly upon entering the system, which would indicate a transition from FTL to STL. Without doing an active sweep I can not give you more details at this time.” “Okay, Yani, start your scans of the planets. Ruiko, you have permission to conduct your active sweep. Meanwhile we stay on defensive posture. Gi hold position until further notice.” The Taii then turned and left the bridge and Yani resumed her scans of the system planets.
Mariko was on the bridge after relieving Yani. The scan of the innermost planets was already complete; the planets were all far to hot to be useful. Mariko and Yani assigned nicknames to the three innermost based on their characteristics; Fo-Ji, Kama, and Yomi. The fourth planet they rather unimaginatively designated Rogue since it was a captured planet. At present it was on the other side of the system from their current position. Scanning the fifth planet showed that the planet was very promising. She picked up the intercom handset and dialed the Taii’s cabin. “Ise-Taii, preliminary scans of the fifth planet show moderate temperature, and oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. There appears to be significant bodies of water. I recommend we proceed to the planet and move to the next stage of exploration.” “Mariko that sounds almost too good to be true. Have Shina lay in a course and get the Aeon in orbit.” Katae replied. Mariko turned from her station to Shina at the Operations station. “Shina-Hei, lay in a course to the fifth planet, standard approach vector for orbit.” “Aye ma’am” Shina replied her fingers dancing across the console. Mariko could feel the slight shift as the Aeon altered trajectory and accelerated towards the planet.

Usaga walked out of the fabrication area. She was carrying the first prototype of the SPIDR. The delicate probe looked more like a desk ornament than a diagnostic tool. She entered the engineering section and seeing Ruri called out to her. “I’ve got the prototype ready Ruri. Do you have the spider silk ready?” Smiling Ruri responded, “I created 5 meters of the control cables. So let’s see how it works.” Usaga came over and put the little spider like construct on the counter. “Since this was a movement test, I did not worry about coating it with the polymer.” She said to her partner. The two of them spent the next several minutes examining the work the other had done. Only when both were satisfied did they decide to proceed with the test. Usaga carefully connected the cable to the prototype while Ruri connected the other end to a modified Type 29 Communicator. Usaga stepped back from the counter while Ruri activated the program loaded into the communicator. At first nothing happened, the construct just stood there still. Usaga was about to curse when she noticed the front legs of the spider flexing. Come on you can do it. she thought. Then it slowly took its first step, or rather lurch. “It is working. It is moving.” Ruri smiled, “Yeah but just barely. But it is enough for me to work on the subroutines for walking and such.” “Okay, while you do that I will work on the next version of the device. Focusing on integrating the sensors we agreed to.” Usaga said slapping Ruri on the shoulder.
The Aeon entered orbit above the fifth planet. Katae sat on the bridge looking at the blue and green world that lay beneath them. She picked up the handset and punched in the Medbay, when Hoshi answered. “Hoshi, in light of Ruiko’s sensor scans, I want all hands to update or create a ST backup.” “Yes ma’am, I will get the equipment ready.” Katae punched in the ship wide code, “Attention all hands: Since we have detected signs of other vessels entering this system, and we do not know who they are, I want everyone to ST backup before we head down to the planet. Dai-Shoi is standing by in Medbay at this time.” “Ruiko, you have the bridge, I’m going down to update my ST.” She walked off the bridge. “Ise-Taii,” Eternity called, “we just received a message from Logistics.” “Go ahead and download it to me.”

To: Commander YSS Aeon
From: Star Army Logistics
Subject: Regarding report of contact with unknown vessel(s)

We dispatched a vessel to retrieve wreckage from the ships you engaged. The ship has arrived at the coordinates and reports that there is no debris at that location. Their sensors did register the residuals of weapon fire, but no physical evidence of the ships was found.

Star Army Logistics

“Unci” Katae swore, “How can the debris from two large ships and several fighters vanish? If it was anyone but Logistics I would say that someone was playing a joke on us. But everyone knows that Logistics has no sense of humor.” She then entered the medbay to make her ST update.
After completing her ST backup, Katae returned to the bridge. The OGS was deployed and initiating its planetary scan. As the planet moved beneath the Aeon, she watched the image on the main screen. Something about the image caught her attention and she easily punched in the commands to enhance the image. My goodness that’s a city it must be huge to be visible from orbit. Enhancing the image showed that despite the cities immense size, there was no sign of movement, and no energy generation that the ship’s sensors could detect. “Eternity what is the status of the crew ST backups?” “Nami is the last crew member she should be done in a few minutes.” Katae smiled, “Great, then we can make preparations for descent.” She punched in the ship wide code, “All hands, secure all gear and prepare for de-orbital maneuvers.” While she waited for the bridge crew to report, she selected the first place to put down. It was a strip of beach on the leading edge of the largest continent. “Keiko-Juni, take us down, your landing coordinates have been loaded.”

Gi looked at the specified landing site, “Making de-orbital transition, Taii.” She made the necessary adjustments to the Aeon’s velocity and trajectory using manual controls. Then once sure that the she had done that properly, she activated her SPINE interface. This is my first landing since transferring to this body. I want to see how it feels. The starship plunged into the atmosphere of the planet. She could feel the changes in the ship as it entered the denser levels; the CFS protected the ship from the effects of re-entry heat. “Keiko, let’s see how well you can handle her without the CFS, switch over to sublight engines.” Ise-Taii ordered. “Yes, ma’am. Switching from CFS propulsion to our auxiliary engines.” Immediately Keiko felt the Aeon shift trajectory and she started having to make constant corrections and updates. At first Keiko was a bit concerned about keeping up with the adjustments, but as she immersed herself further into the SPINE it became easier, it was no longer a case of thinking about what corrections to make, but just making them. She reveled in the feeling of being so connected to the ship. But all to soon the joyous event was to come to an end, she could see the target coordinates ahead and as she slowed the vessel she brought it to a gentle landing. Disengaging from the SPINE she turned to the Taii, her checks flush with the emotions she had experienced. “Good job Keiko-Juni.” Ise said to her.

Hoshi stood in the vehicle bay, suited up in his Mindy. After completing his armor systems check he signaled to the bridge. “Systems checks complete, I am ready to egress and check for biohazards.” “Don’t take too long enjoying the view their Hoshi, the rest of us are eager to see the ocean view.” Katae replied. “Not a problem ma’am, I’ll let you know how the water feels after I body surf in my Mindy.” He said with a chuckle. “Vehicle bay doors opening.” Eternity’s voice chimed in over the speakers. The bay lights dimmed and the doors began to open. He walked to the ramp and paused to admire the view. The pristine beach ran as far as he could see; the ocean waves crashing upon the shore were beautiful to watch. After a brief pause he thought, Enough sight seeing we’ll be here long enough to enjoy the beach, and perhaps a moonlit stroll with Maiko. Walking down to the sand, he pulled out the bio-sensors. “Commencing scan, atmosphere is clean.” He said when the unit showed a green light. He heard a cheer from several of the crew over the speakers. “Checking the ocean water now.” He said as he walked into the water. Taking a sample of the water he put it into the sensor. He watched the display as the unit processed it. “Scan shows no biological hazards in the water either.” He turned to look at the ship, the Aeon was an impressive site sitting on the shore far above the high water mark. The dense vegetation behind her contrasting with the shining hull as the sun reflected. “Ise-Taii, it is my recommendation that the environment is suitable for the crew to work without protective gear. Although I do not recommend anyone try any food items until Medical and Science has scanned them. I’m returning to the ship.” He resisted the urge to open his helmet; there would be time enough to smell the air when everyone who was coming off to work was gathered in the bay.
The Aeon crew spent the rest of their first day on the planet checking out the flora and fauna. After medical and science reported that the fruit and fish were safe for consumption, Katae assigned crew members to teams for foraging. This way the Aeon would have fresh provisions for their stay here. She also had all members carrying side arms since they did not know what creatures existed and how aggressive they might be. The data from the OGS was beyond what the captain could have hoped for. So far the platform had detected numerous significant ore deposits, making it a valuable resource for Yamatai. As the day drew to a close, she authorized Ruiko to put together a bonfire and had Nami work on a meal that could be eaten on the shore. There would be plenty of work for everyone while they were here. She wanted to let everyone enjoy a quiet evening on their first day. The following day they were going to head inland with the shuttles to investigate the city that they spotted from orbit.

Katae was at the controls of shuttle NG-X1-409-1, and Gi was in the other shuttle. Need to see about coming up names for the shuttles. I think when I get back to the ship I will put a bowl in the wardroom and let the crew drop in suggestions. she thought. The two shuttles were flying over the countryside, with dense forests below and the city on the horizon. As the shuttles approached they could start making out more details. This was not some primitive culture. Katae spotted to areas that looked like plazas, they would be ideal to set down the shuttles. “Gi set down in that first plaza, and you and your team can search that area. I’m going to set down in the next one. We can’t hope to explore this entire city; we would be here for years. So lets see how much we can learn from aerial recon and exploring some places up close.” “Okay Ise-Taii, Shuttle two setting down as ordered.” Katae circled until she saw shuttle two down safely. “See you down, heading to our landing zone.” She said over the radio. “Acknowledged, shuttle two is down and we’re exiting now.” Gi replied. Katae flew to the next plaza and brought the shuttle down without raising any dust. “Ise-Taii to Aeon both shuttles are in place and we are beginning our investigation.” “Acknowledge Taii, good luck.” Shina responded. Katae walked to the back of the shuttle, Hoshi, Ruri, and Nami were waiting. “Let’s go, no one goes anywhere alone. Ruri you’re with me, Nami you’re with Hoshi.” She pressed the switch and opened the hatch.
Ruri had explored two of the buildings near their shuttle. Her instruments did not turn up any hazards or explanation for where the makers were. So far they had not encountered any bodies. The thick translucent panels that allowed the sunlight to enter cast a enough light to see by, but not enough to make it bright. She saw numerous places on the walls where things had been removed. But there was no indication what they were beyond basic shape, size. “Ma’am, do you think the people abandoned this city? Perhaps they were evacuated?” She asked. There was a fair amount of dust over everything, even in the inner portions of the buildings, which belied that whatever happened here happened a very long time ago. As they crossed a concourse that spanned the center of the building on the fifth level, her sensor gave a beep. “Taii, I’m getting a residual reading ahead.” She said pointing the direction the sensor indicated. “It is approximately seventeen meters ahead.” “Proceed, Ruri.” Katae replied. She walked in the general direction of the reading, and it grew stronger. It took two tries before she found the right passage that would lead them to it. They were standing in front of a large thick metal door. A large hole had been melted through it. She scanned the melted metal, and calculated the decay. “Taii, if I am correct this door was melted approximately six months ago.” She stepped into the chamber beyond it and the Taii was right behind her. The room was about twenty meters in diameter with pedestals positioned at even intervals. “Well it is obvious that someone broke in here recently and cleaned the place out, and are most likely long gone. Let’s return to the shuttle.” Katae said.

As they exited the building Katae’s communicator chimed, “Aeon to Ise-Taii.” She flipped it open, “Ise here, what’s up Aeon?” “Ma’am, Eternity and I have been monitoring the OGS data, and it appears that there are other people north of your position.” Shina answered. “Acknowledged, we are returning to the ship.” Katae said, then telepathically sent the following message encrypted to the other exploring members, All personnel return to the Aeon immediately. Cease all exploration.. “Let’s go Ruri.” She said as she took off using her inertia controlling ability to return to the shuttle quickly. She landed and as she opened the door, Ruri landed followed shortly by Hoshi and Nami. “What’s up ma’am?” Hoshi asked. “Eternity and Shina have found indications that there are other people here, and Ruri and I found evidence that as recently as six months ago, someone broke into a vault. Strap in.” She answered making her way to the front of the shuttle.
A short while later, all of the crew was gathered in the Aeon’s wardroom. “Okay Eternity what did you and Shina discover?” Katae asked. “Ise-Taii, we have discovered two other locations where some sort of inhabitation is taking place. The first is approximately 120 kilometers from the city you were exploring located in the mountains. We only discovered it because the OGS had shifted to a new position that allowed it to see into the valley where it is hidden. While waiting for your return we also spotted some sort of habitation in the desert on smallest continent. We did not see it earlier because of an atmospheric event that was taking place. But since that cleared out, we spotted the structures, and high orbit images showed that this.” Eternity replied, and put a volumetric image up. “The first image you will see a series of small objects south of the town. In the next image you can see that those objects have moved, and in the third they are gone.” “Okay, definitely sounds like something worth checking out. What about the first one?” Ruiko asked. “We have not received any images, the cloud density is too high, but the OGS has detected energy emissions in a regular pattern. They do not conform to natural phenomena.” Shina answered. Katae looked at the data, “Ruiko take one of the shuttles and Mariko and Nami, you are on his team, if you go trans-oribtal you should be able to get there in nothing flat. Meanwhile I’m going to take Yani and Hoshi with me. We’ll suit up and use our Mindy’s to get up to the mountains undetected and observe. I want a better idea of what is going on at both places before we initiate contact protocols.”
Ruiko was suited in his Mindy and at the controls of shuttle one. He glanced over his shoulder to ensure that Mariko and Nami were strapped in. He completed his preflight, and called over the radio “Shuttle one ready for launch.” Eternity’s reply was immediate, “You are cleared for launch, the Taii says be careful.” He eased the shuttle out of the bay, and away from the Aeon, he already had the trajectory plotted. The trans-orbital approach would get them to the target in forty minutes verses the two hours flying atmospheric. “Hold on to your lunches.” He called out, as he angled the shuttle upwards and accelerated. The ground fell away as the shuttle streaked up and away. In a matter of minutes the shuttle passed into the upper atmosphere. Ruiko took a moment to admire the sight of one of the planet’s moons coming across the horizon. Pretty sight, one thing about this assignment, we should hopefully get some time to occasionally check out the sights. he thought. He then nosed the shuttle back down towards the planet, the atmosphere heating as the shuttles shields protected them from the assault. They passed the terminator into the night side of the planet. Doing a quick calculation he estimated they would have about two hours before sunrise. Ruiko slowed the shuttle and brought it down approximately 100 kilometers from the site. From here the team would travel by Mindy. He exited the shuttle and checked his navigation. Mariko and Nami had followed him and were completing their suit checks. When they have him the traditional thumbs up the leapt into the air, and flew closer to the objective. It was not that long before they started to see a glow ahead of them.

Katae stood watching as the shuttle blasted away from their location. Yani and Hoshi were standing nearby waiting for her order to depart. “Let’s go ladies. Time to pay the neighbors a visit.” She said leaping into the air. The three suited individuals flew a few hundred feet above the foliage. The landscape beneath them changed from rolling country side to foothills and then to mountains. They slowed their velocity as they made their way through the valleys. Keeping low was the best way to avoid being seen by whomever it was that lived in these mountains. “Okay, according to the satellite images, our objective is just beyond the next rise. We’ll land on the rise and proceed on foot.” “Smoke coming from the horizon Taii. It doesn’t appear to be from a fire, it is concentrated, perhaps some kind of industrial exhaust.” Hoshi chimed in. Katae landed and proceeded to move forward. “Engaging active camouflage.” The other two followed her example and they arrived at the point where they could look down. Katae looked down into the valley, instead of a flourishing settlement, or even an industrial complex. Below them was a ramshackle series of structures. “Hoshi, what do you make of the buildings on the far side where most of the smoke is rising from?” “It is definitely industrial. Between the ore around and the thermal readings from inside; my impression is some kind of ore processing.” “Taii, look down there to left. Those structures have a fence and guards… Ma’am there’s a Valyrja youngling in that fenced area.” Nami exclaimed. Katae turned from the processing center to look where Nami indicated. She spotted the youngling, and shortly saw several other people. There were a few humans present whether they were Yamataians or Nepleslians she could say. But their appearance and the clothes made it clear that they were prisoners. She spotted a armed person who approached the prisoners. He was accompanied by another and they herded the small group towards the mountain. As this group arrived at what appeared to be a mine, another group just as miserable looking, and staggering from exhaustion emerged. “Slavers… damn. Okay spread out gather as much visual data and return to this point in 15 minutes.” Katae said trying to contain her anger.
Ruiko and the others were finally in a position to see the source of the glow. From where they stood they could see some sort of town or perhaps city spread out before them. The entire place was illuminated and flickered like some kind of decoration. “It’s so beautiful sir,” Nami said beside him. “Sir, are we going to approach or just stay here and observe?” Mariko asked. Ruiko paused for a moment, “Well Ise-Taii prefers detailed reports, so I’m not comfortable with returning to the shuttle and having to tell her we came looked for a minute and left. Activate camouflage and move in for a closer look.”

A short while they approached one of the outer structures. He looked around, and while there were plenty of structures, there were no obvious signs of habitation. “Mariko, you come with me, Nami hold position here. I want to take a look in that one structure.” He ordered. Nami nodded her assent and took up a defensive position. Not bad for a new recruit. he thought. Together he and Mariko approached what appeared to be an entrance. Stepping the two of them surveyed the chamber. The room was divided by a series of half walls; a ramp circled the perimeter of the room and disappeared through an opening in the ceiling. Mariko check out one side of the room while he checked the other. “Sir, this makes no sense. Looking at this room, and the area surrounding the structure, it would appear that this place was abandoned. But if it was, why leave the energy active, and why is the inside of this place clean?” “Good questions Mariko, I just wish we could find the answer. Let’s check a few of the other structures and see if we find anything different.”

The two of them checked out two more structures, and while they had different layouts, they were just as empty. “Okay Mariko, get us a sample of the material in the walls. We’ll take it back to the Aeon for analysis.” “Aye sir.“ She said making her way towards the entrance. She took out a small tool and attempted to chip a piece free. “Tough material, guess I’ll try something a bit more aggressive. Taking her survival knife out and thrust it into the wall using the extra force of the Mindy to augment her strike. The blade sunk in about 6 centimeters. Then using leverage she forced the blade towards the opening of the structure. She heard a cracking sound, “I almost got a sample sir.” As she continued, the piece broke free and a series of cracks and fissures formed in the wall. The glow that had been present before faded out.

From outside a strange keening sound could be heard. “Tso-Chui, I’ve got a lot of movement out here.” Nami called over the comm..
Katae floated over the encampment, or perhaps internment camp would be a better term. Thermal imagery showed that in the place she designated the slave quarter, there were hundreds of life forms. She had noticed that one thing all the slaves had in common was some sort of a collar. She monitored the progress Hoshi and Yani made circling the camp. Occasionally Katae would pick up telepathic chatter. The bits that she intercepted seemed to come from the slave section. If only I could let them know that help is on the way. Plus it would be beneficial to be able to get first hand details from them. But I don’t dare to a general broadcast, for all I know the slavers may be telepathic. she thought.

Adjusting her position she continued collecting sensor data. There was one structure near the center that did not fit with the rest of the place. Where as most of the place looked cobbled together from scrap this structure was properly constructed, and sealed against the elements.

As she moved towards what looked like a communications array, a telepathic signal caught her attention. It was encrypted, and more importantly she recognized the encryption as one used by Star Army infantry. The communications seemed to be relating the status of one group of slaves to another. She sent a text message to Hoshi and Yani to return to the rendezvous point. Once she confirmed their location crossing her fingers, she transmitted in the same encryption: Infantry report ops status. After a moment, she received a reply. Nitô Juni, status operational, secure comm only. Hostiles monitoring unsecure come. Query ID. Katae transmitted via text to the others ordering no telepathic communications. Acknowledge comm status. Taii. Rescue planned. Require intel, size of hostile forces, capabilities. Seconds later, Uploading compressed data stream, await instructions to assist. Katae then received a stream of data, images, and other information. She let the information flow without reviewing it at the moment. What images she saw only served to fuel her anger. Once the transmission ended, she sent a quick acknowledgement and rejoined the others. “Let’s get back to the Aeon, we have a rescue operation to plan.” She said to the others, and lifted off heading back towards their ship.

Nami remained at her position; her Mindy picked up thermal activity from several places, with at least two of the readings heading towards Ruiko and Mariko. She spotted the source. “Sir, at least two creatures inbound to your location.” She called. “Got the sample sir.” She heard Mariko respond. “Okay, Nami, we are returning to your location. Do not engage unless attacked.” Ruiko signaled. She watched as her shipmates exited the structure. Another pair of the creatures appeared on top of the structure. “Sir, watch your six, you have two above you and two more approaching from the left. Creatures resemble mantises but are as large as we are.” Since they are camouflaged them should be able to just walk out of there. She thought as she watched Ruiko move forward and scan in the direction of the ones approaching from the ground.

As Mariko moved forward to a forward point, the two creatures on the structured leapt down and landed on her. The two creatures started slashing at her with their forward limbs. Unci so much for camouflage. She thought and then said, “Chui permission to fire? I have a clear shot.” “Negative, I’ll get Mariko clear.” Ruiko replied and he moved toward her. She could see Mariko fighting with the creatures trying to get one in her sights. Then the ground between Ruiko and Mariko exploded and more of the mantises pour out. Without waiting for orders, she started firing. Blasting the two attacking Mariko to so many bits of flying debris. She then fired her forearm weapons in a suppression pattern to drive the creatures back. Ruiko helped Mariko get to her feet, as he did one of the creatures leapt over her suppression towards the two. Mariko in a better position blasted the creature before it hit. “Nami, good work on the suppression fire, provide cover we’re coming to you.” Ruiko transmitted.

Nami jumped into the air to get a better position, she activated the Mindy’s Nodal Support Drones, and started strafing the ground around her crewmates. After what seemed like forever, she saw Mariko and Ruiko leap into the air and streak towards her. She fell in behind them watching the creatures. A few seconds later she saw them stop advancing. “Sir, they are not pursuing.” Together the three of them stopped and look back. The creatures had stopped and were actually turning back. She then took a look at Mariko’s suit. There were numerous slashes and gouges cut into the armor. “Are you okay Dai-Juni?” “I’ll be fine Nami, all systems are operational. The armor got a bit chewed up nothing vital damaged.” She replied. “Okay people let’s get back to the shuttle and I’ll report back to the Taii on our situation.
Shortly after clearing the mountains, Katae called the Aeon, “Eternity contact Ruiko and his team, inform them they are to return to the ship immediately.” “Actually Ise-Taii, we are in contact with Ruiko now. He reports that they were attacked by some creatures at the site. He reports no casualties. I have relayed your orders to him.” Eternity replied. “Thank you Eternity.” she answered. Upon arriving at the ship she quickly powered down and shucked the power armor. She went to her cabin, to transfer the data to the MEGAMI. Katae then added the readings from her armor as well as those from Hoshi and Yani. By the time that shuttle one had returned, she had the information arranged in a manner that satisfied her. She picked up the handset in her cabin and punched the ship wide intercom. “All hands report to the wardroom immediately.” She said into the receiver. Hanging up she made her way down to the wardroom.

She walked into the room and took a position down by the main table. “Effective immediately, our mission has changed. We are now on a rescue mission. The site that Hoshi, Yani and I explored turned out to be a forced labor camp. Our intelligence puts the prisoner count at more than five hundred people. The force holding them there is approximately fifty.” She put the overhead image on display. “Prisoners are confined in the structures highlighted. The only time they are out of that structure is when taken on work detail into the mine… Or when taken to the guard quarters.” “Ma’am, why haven’t the prisoners overthrown the slavers?” Ruiko asked. She put a new image on the screen, a close up of a Nekovalkyrja with the collar visible. “The answer is these collars. According to our informant, the collars have two functions. If a prisoner approaches within five meters of a guard, the collar delivers a painful shock sufficient to drop most prisoners. If a prisoner makes a threatening move against a guard, the guard can point the controlling device at the prisoner, and the collar will explode.” “Who is the informant?” Mariko asked. “A couple of the prisoners are former Star Army it was one of them who supplied the information by encrypted transmission. Of course we have to consider the possibility that the person may be compromised. But my gut says that’s not the case. We need to work out a plan of attack to liberate these people. We will need two teams. I will lead the first team. Team one's objective is to take out the overseer and the communications array. According to the intel the overseer has the ability to detonate every collar with the push of a single button. So that threat has to be neutralized, and then the array needs to be captured to deny the guards the ability to coordinate.” “Ruiko, you obviously will be leading team two. Your objective will be to neutralize the guards around the slave compound and secure the location. Once you have it secured team one will round up the rest of the guards. We will attack this evening after they bring the second shift back from the mine. Familiarize yourselves with the data.”

Katae took a seat and started running through the list of resources available for the operation. In addition to their Mindy’s she selected the Type 28 Nekovalkyrja Submachinegun, Ke-M4-W2901 Light Armor Service Rifle, and a Ke-M2-W2905 Shoulder-Fired 50mm Gauss Cannon for Ruiko and herself.
Katae and the rest of the members of the assault teams left the Aeon just before sunset locally. The plan was to arrive after dark and take up position on the same rise that she, Hoshi, and Yani had first observed the camp from. On the way to that staging point, Katae ran though the operation in her mind, doing her best to make sure they covered all contingencies. Additional personnel would have been nice, but the Adventure was en route to the rogue planet and would be incommunicado due to the star being between them. “Ruiko get your team in position. I’ll take my team to our starting point. We will hit the communications building in 30 minutes. Once we take out the communications you can your team can start neutralizing the guards by the prisoner quarters.” Katae moved to where she felt was the best place to move in from. Scanning the objective she spotted two figures in Demon M1 Power Armor. “There are the two guards, shouldn’t be much of a problem our Mindy’s easily outmatch them. Yani the one on the right is yours, I’ll take care of the one on the left. Ruri, you watch our six.” We take out the communications building, and we disable those collars. Then we can remove the guards without significant risk to the prisoners. she thought moving from roof to roof. Once in position, she nodded to Yani, as they dropped down they activated their Ke-M2-W2902 in sword mode slashing at the guards from behind and watching their severed bodies collapse onto the concrete. When all remained calm in the camp, she and Yani approached the door. Opening the doorway she slipped quietly into the room. A quick survey of the chamber showed nothing but functioning equipment. “Clear, Yani, disable the equipment. Ruri, move to our location.” Two minutes later, “Taii, the comlink to the collars has been disabled.” Yani said. Katae sent “Ruiko, you and your team have a go. Take out the guards.”

Ruiko sat with his team, waiting while the Taii and her team disabled the comlink that could detonate the collars. Once that was done, their orders were simple, move in eliminate the guards and hold the prisoner building from any hostiles. Once he got the message from Katae he signaled to the others, like silent shadows they moved forward. Ruiko came upon the first of the guards, who was wearing cloth armor and was sitting bored in the tower. Ruiko grabbed him in a chokehold until he went unconscious. From this vantage point he watched as the others on his team repeated the process. With all four guard towers taken out, they had complete control over the soon to be liberated prisoners. He signaled for them to bring their prisoners to the agreed upon location. Once there they bound their hands and feet with nylon straps that Ruri had fabricated earlier. Duct tape from the emergency repair kits made excellent gags. “Hoshi you keep an eye on our guests, make sure they behave. Mariko, Usaga, you take the east towers, anything that moves that’s not one of us, shoot to stun.” They nodded and quickly made their way to their stations.

At this hour most of the slavers would be in their barracks, so it was Ruiko’s task to corral them in the barracks. From the images gather earlier the crew had noticed a critical flaw that could be exploited for their purposes. The doors to the barracks opened outward, and there were no windows in the structure. So block the doors and you trap the occupants inside. Ruiko dashed down the crude road, and located two of the ore carts. Grabbing hold of them he used the Mindy’s propulsion to push the heavy cart to the desired position. As he repeated the process with the second cart to block the rear door, he saw Katae taking shots at anyone who chose to try and open the door. Once the door was blocked he made his way over. Well, so far everything is going according to plan.
“Taii, we have movement north of your position.” Usaga called. “I make it three Kylies. One is marked as the intelligence reported.”

Katae smiled, “Show time Ruiko, looks like the Overseer is coming to see what’s going on. Get to your position. I don’t care about his muscle, but I want the Overseer alive.” She switched on her camouflage, “Find a good vantage point.” According to the intelligence the Overseer’s armor was decorated with red stripes, supposedly from the blood of his victims. Katae pushed her emotions aside as they would not serve her now. There was only one objective, taking him down, but alive… if possible. As he swaggered down, Katae was busy trying to determine what status his armor was in. The Kylie was a good suit of armor, and Katae was all too familiar with its strengths and weaknesses since it was the first PA she trained in.

It was a Ke-M3-1c. A quick check showed that the other two armors were in pretty bad shape. As she charged toward the Kylie she opened up with a barrage with her right forearm weapon; the Ke-M2-W2902 firing a rapid series of pulses; while engaging the barrier shield on her left arm. Whirled around and fired another series at the back of the Kylie before slipping behind a building. Katae repeated this tactic twice more before leaping to a roof top. Her objective was simple, disorient the enemy, and keep him uncertain as to who is attacking him. From her vantage point she activated the Ke-M2-W2905. Resisting the urge to give in to her WarCat days, she shifted her aim from his helmet to her target. She squeezed off a single shot that sliced through the Kylie’s propulsion system, and sent the Overseer tumbling across the ground. While the cannon was retracting she leaped from the roof and charged him saber blazing. She sliced at him as she passed, intentionally only cutting slightly. The next pass he managed to connect with his forearm weapon. Katae rolled with the impact and returned fire. A quick glance at the HUD showed her that no vital systems were damaged. “Taii, the other two are down, do you require assistance.” Ruiko’s voice came over the helmet speaker. “Ruiko, yes, come on over and help me take out this piece of trash.” She continued to duck and dodge and pepper the Overseer with shots. One of his volleys caught her in the chest. The HUD updated status showing some internal damage, Time to finish this. she thought. Seeing Ruiko in position, she signaled and they both opened up, the Kylie caught between the two Mindys recoiled from the assault. The force of four Ke-M2-W2902 firing in rapid mode was enough to overwhelm the pilot, and the Kylie collapsed. Katae rushed forward and proceeded to finish disabling the armor, and remove the Overseer from it. “Ruiko, take this piece of trash into custody. Aeon this is Ise-Taii, installation is secure, bring the ship to the landing pad here. Mariko, Usaga, let the prisoners know that we are here to assist, and will provide medical attention upon the ship’s arrival.”
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