I was having a momentous day. New hairstyle, that is turning heads and amusing the masses. New clothes that is keeping me sharp and qualified.
But that didn’t devalue my skill in healing, weaving incantations to mend wounds or flay enemies. The Silver Lady guided us into realms on the edge of madness but we prevailed. I was certain of this, she smiled and brought cookies to commend our victory.
I woke with a start, breathing labored. I was trembling from the dream.. a dream where I was in a cave.. in a forest.. under.. underground?
The visions clung to me vividly and yet distant. Close enough to touch, the stench of decay and moist earth filled my nostrils. This was too vivid to be a dream, it must be a message. I must find this place, I must know what brings me here.
Following several months at drydock my chief engineer has confirmed the reconfigured warp nacelles are performing according to simulations.
Featuring a reduced profile enabling a streamlined shield configuration and improved maximum warp in slipstream.
Multi-mission pod enabling rapid reconfiguration to the task at hand, Quantum torpedo launcher and numerous phaser arrays making her a force to be reckoned with.
I allocated all crew and mission materials from Errant Song. She was a good home but now is destined for drydock while I continue operations in the Telesto. All hands accounted for, we completed the first of our initial readiness tests earlier today. Our second should happen later tonight or tomorrow where I’m certain we’ll pass with flying colours.
With the last mutterings of my incantation Carbuncle appeared from the air before me. Refreshed and renewed and ready for the day ahead he chirped his approval.
“What adventures shall we get up to today, my friend?”
I sensed an indifference in my companion and so I left it to myself to consider for a while. “We should hunt!” I shouted, after a moment.
Hours later, laden with snacks from the Lady of Silver, I crossed the waters into over the Fringes. The hunt-master in Rhalgr’s Reach was out but one of his assistants was very forthcoming with information on what beasts were most plentiful and causing the greatest turmoil. And so we flew over the hills and peaks looking for our elusive prey.
Nestled near along the ravine we found the first of our quarry.
An ornery mountain goat plundering grasses need by grazing livestock and foolishly harassing passing travelers on their way to Peering Stones. As I slew the third and last of my listed prey I noted a curious greyness enter the air. I wasn’t immediately suspicious but I picked up the pace and hoped to be back near a warm fire before an unpleasant chill settled in.
The man looked at me like I was half-insane. I looked up at him. Another midlander trying to peddle his wares to a world that didn’t need them but certainly picked them up like their lives depended on it.
“No really. Over there we have Black, Red and White mages. Over here we have Astrologians and Scholars and myself, I’m a Summoner. So what does ‘Blue’ do that these others do not?” I asked the man, a little lost in his sales pitch and getting frustrated at the misdirection involved.
He stammered a bit more about some Aetherical energies and finally offered me the contents of his sale for free, proof to satisfy my curiosity and advertise for him. Okay. He had me at free. I took it, I went on my way and quietly back at the Free Company house I opened the box. So much blue. Blue hat, blue boots. A soulstone, that was also blue, and a book bound in some kind of blue leather.
I packed this all away for later. I had important things to do first as I summoned Carbuncle to my side. “Come friend, adventures await us at Costa Del Sol!”
49.22 light years Djabara from Paresa where loyalists to Hadrian Duval are marshaling their forces. Too damned close.
I watched as the technicians replaced a cargo bay with the necessary SRV hangar for surface operations. Almost as an after thought I had them pull out another cargo bay for bulkhead reinforcement. Better to go heavy and prepared I thought.
Refitting the ‘Augur took longer than I expected and in those very short hours war erupted in Paresa. Whatever window I had was gone. Now I was going to have to dodge imperial patrols looking to catch fleeing stragglers. What worried me more that if this was a trap I’d be facing twitchy Imperial Security Forces and whatever surprise was waiting for me.
353 light-years later I was descending onto the dark side of Djabara 2’s 4th moon. The rocky surface pushed up at me as I dropped down closer to the planet, the Relentless Augur groaned unnaturally as I descended. The Python wasn’t ever intended for extensive operation in a gravity well. It handles better than some ships, sure but it’s no ballerina . I wasn’t far from my noted coordinates and within a few minutes I found the site in question.
A quick flyby of a mysterious structure showed me a number of docked ships and an excessive amount of defensive positions for anything I wanted to get mixed up in. My first guess said this was a pirate operation but some of the structures looked too robust for a fly-by-night smuggler’s den. No, this had secret government facility written all over it. I didn’t know what I would find here but I landed with the intent to find out.
Almost like it was laying there for me a fragment of message buoy lay on the ground. Waiting.
I pulled down what data I could and killed the lights. I wanted to keep as low a profile as possible. Not that it mattered. As soon as I approached what seemed to be a quiet vector, sentries lit up and started swarming my direction almost immediately.
I bugged out. This was beyond just me and I made a note to ask around before I came back. It was lucky I left when I did, my SRV shield buckled quickly and armor started flaking away as the sentries chased me beyond any typical patrol distance. Someone clearly wanted visitors kept at bay.
Djabara had been on my mind for days. I was out of the ‘bubble for almost a week, outside radio contact and isolated from anyone or anything familiar. I was hardly in the bubble for a day when the message came through encrypted channels without sender or subject. Djabara 2, it said, was important. And a series of coordinates that would guide me to a surface location.
This smelled like a trap. I jumped three systems just to distance myself from the point of reception before I stopped to consider the mission. Alix scanned the file seven times that I know of and probably a dozen more I didn’t. It wasn’t a honeypot. It wasn’t a trojan. The file was safe.
So that meant the coordinates were likely a trap. So I sat on the data while I considered what to do.
Meanwhile reports of Duval and Patreus posturing in the Empire started sounding more and more like civil war. Djabara was smack in the middle of Empire space. If I was going to go I had to go soon, before the shooting started.