Updated: Oct 19, 2022
The void of space stretched out in front of me. The view from Deception Station’s main viewing deck was comforting, and I spent a lot of time standing there staring out the massive window. The yellow glow of Drythan, the sector's only star, flooded my vision as the station rotated on its slightly askew axis. The sight was dazzling, both in its sheer brightness and its beauty. I might be a monster hunter on the fringes of Terminus Space, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the beauty of the Forge.
Lost in my reverie, I missed the approaching footsteps. Years of hunting had steeled my nerves and kept me still now as someone spoke near my right shoulder. I rested my hand on my sidearm before turning around.
"Valkyrie, right?" A young man with close cropped black hair asked as he stepped beside me.
"Depends who's askin'."
"Call me Mainframe. Message Corp. I was sent to deliver this."
He handed me the cubed message pack, turned on his heel, and marched away. I didn't receive messages often, so I knew before I ever loaded it that the message could only be from one person.
"Talia, it's me, Omega. Listen, I know we didn't part on great terms last time you were on Demeter, but I need your help. I was bitten by one of these wiggling creatures, and the docs here say their antivenom isn't effective. I need you to go to some place called Shiningstar. The doctors say the antivenom they need to save me is manufactured there. Please Talia, I'm begging."
Creed Omega was an old contact. I owed him my start in the solo monster hunting business, and he did seem rather off. The pale blue glow of the holographic transmitter washed out most details, but his cheeks were hollow and his eyes sunken, even in the oversaturated light.
I hurried to my ship, the Sparrowhawk, and replayed the message. I'd heard of this Shiningstar before, only briefly. I was pretty sure it was somewhere in the sector.
"Tanner!" I called to my utility bot, T3NR, as I entered the ship's cockpit. "I need you to find me whatever you can on a place called Shiningstar."
Gather Information: 9 (+4 Bot) vs…
The little bot beeped shrilly, and a string of information and images scrolled rapidly across the ship’s vidscreen. The silver letters were impossible to read as the bluish holographic screen flickered with each new page. Once Tanner had downloaded all of the data it could find, I took a few minutes to scroll through it.
"About a month ago, every healer sent out from Shiningstar was recalled abruptly. The last cargo ship didn't return. That was last week. They're also said to be working on extending the human lifespan." I paused after finishing the last paragraph. "I have a bad feeling about this, Tanner. Work on getting as much data on the route to Shiningstar while I send Omega a vid-message back."
The little spherical robot chirped at me as I left the cockpit of the Sparrowhawk and trotted out of the hangar bay and into Deception's brightly lit eighth level. At this time of the colony's rotation, everyone was out and about either shopping, shipping off, or working. I wasn't much for crowds, but after six months of working out of Deception, I'd gotten used to the hustle and bustle.
Gather Information: 9 (+4 Bot) vs 7 | 7 = strong hit with match (+path is clear, +2 momentum)
Information Table Roll (3x): 60 - settlement has gone radio silent for a while; 45 - Shiningstar sends out healers; 92 - rumored they are working on top secret project. Information from Match: Working on extending human lifespan. Rumor has it there was a breakthrough.
Momentum = +4/10
The Messenger Corps "Beacon Tower" was only two blocks south of the Sparrowhawk's berth and wasn’t much of a tower. The squat storefront looked like all the others except for the chipped black paint and the Corps insignia emblazoned on either side of the door. Despite the mid-rotation crowds, the walk from the hangar to the Beacon Tower was quick.
Once inside I paid for a one minute use and rapid delivery, and entered the recording booth. These booths were ancient. The message cube dock was almost too small, made for the older models. I struggled for a solid thirty seconds before finally getting a connection. By the time the machine was ready to record my message, I had less than fifteen seconds left in my session. When the green recording light flashed on, I lifted the black iron shard that always hung around my neck and held it up where Omega could see it.
"Not much time here, Omega. I received your message and swear on the remnant of my ancestors' ship that I will go to Shiningstar and do what I can to get you the medicine."
Swear an Iron Vow
Swear an Iron Vow: 7 (+2 heart, +1 connection) vs 4 | 10 = weak hit (+1 momentum)
Momentum = +5/10
The Messenger tech took the cube and deposited it in a large metal box. I knew from previous experience that this was a safety box, locked by a variable code to keep messages safe from theft. The box was also resistant to electronic hacking and imaging. I chuckled to myself as I realized it was the newest piece of tech here.
On my way out of the Beacon Tower, I overheard two of the messengers discussing something in hushed tones near the door. The mention of my destination caught my attention. I listened as well as I could, but only caught a little piece of the conversation: Shiningstar was just declared off limits by the Founding Clans.
It wasn't the first time I'd had to sneak into a place I wasn't supposed to be, but it was surprising that the Founding Clans would be so concerned with a small outpost. Unless rumors of that top secret project were true.
I hurried back to the Sparrowhawk and prepared to launch while Tanner filled me in on what information he'd been able to discover.
To add to the difficulty of getting into the station, Tanner's investigation had revealed that no charts were available on the public interface for the exact location of the station. Tanner's information suggested it was somewhere near the northeast boundary of Flint's Edge but that was a large expanse of space.
There was nothing to be done for it. I had already sworn the vow to Omega. The hunt for Shiningstar had begun.
What hazards will Talia and T3NR encounter as they brave the less-explored Northeast region of Flint's Edge? Will Omega survive? What exactly is going on at Shiningstar? Come back next week to find out on Ship's Log 2: Eidolon Currents!
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