This was a short attempt to tie in other elements to the SC universe, but after getting into it, it didn't feel like a good fit. I pulled it together while waiting on a delayed flight out of Ohar.
(You never know, might be a little better than root-canal work!)
Planet “VALAN” was one of those discoveries (like many), that was made quite by accident. About 30 years ago, a young pilgrim pilot (whose name happened to be “Valan”) decided he would try and make a quick name for himself. For Valan, having a privileged up bringing had taught him one very important fact; That “he” was destined for greatness! His parents had even bought him a ship worthy of their future expectations! Now - Standing before his shinny new Spacecraft, and looking up into the night sky, he swore to the Sky: “I’m going to make many great discoveries, worthy of the Family name!” He had recently been studying several unexplored sectors in space that all his piers had told him was undeserving of any attention. Mockingly, his classmates had all told him: “You’ll find nothing out there Valan, nothing but the Void”. But tonight he knew all the laughing would stop. He quickly ran through his pre-flight checks, and without another word to anyone, buckled himself in, blasting out into the night sky. He didn’t even bother filing a flight plan. He had forgotten that jump gates were patrolled. But, by using his graduation money, he was able to bride his way past the Patrols. Out here the border worlds were pretty sparse, and as flew pass all the known systems, the comm traffic quickly faded away. The farther he pushed himself into this dark region, the stronger his conviction grew that "HE" would make “The Discovery of the Ages!”
Running his engines full out the way he was, it was really only a matter of time before some one or something picked up his energy signature. The Alien craft sped pass his view screen and before Valan could react, the Ace pivoted around, delivering a single, deadly shot. It was enough to take out his power plant, and fry the communications array. Frozen with fear, Valan’s thoughts of Glory quickly faded as he waited for the “kill” shot that surely would come next. As the seconds turned into minutes, he realized his end would not be quick. Over the course of the long hours to come, he had plenty of time to wonder about that Pilot, was it pity or cruelty. He began drifting aimless, going ever deeper into this dark corner of the universe.
Eventually, he found himself surrounded by a tangle of Dark Matter clouds. They slowly filled his view screen like a giant black web. What he managed to get from his sensors told him the clouds not only stretched for several light years, but were also made up of high concentrations of anti-matter. Drifting into one of them would mean certain death, as he remembered reading how some Alien races actually used anti-matter weapons, taking advantage of the tremendous destructive properties.
Since all his thrusters were still inoperable, he figured that the end was just a matter of time. Valan was suddenly overwhelmed by the absolute calm one can only find in deep space. It was in that moment of mental clarity, he became a true Pilgrim like his ancestors. He felt more deeply connected to the Ship and his surrounds than ever before. It was then he noticed that the ship’s movements were reacting to this area of space. The Solar winds where generating currents around the dark clouds. He could feel the ship being pulled, but the pressure from the winds seemed to flow stronger thru the gaps. He was able to deploy a make-sift solar sail to help work with those tides. With a great deal of concentration, he was able to safely sail through the gaps. For now, there was hope and his confidence began to grow. The badly damaged ship continued to float ever deeper into this navigation nightmare. The stress was taking its toll.
With little or no sleep in several days; Valan finally came out into a relativity clear region of space. He caught his breath as he spotted what looked to be a small, class M planet. It shown in the dark like a beckon of hope and Glory! He’d done it! Once he reported his find to the UEE, those that had mocked him would be begging for his forgiveness. His reserves were all but gone now. With only 2 thrusters back online, he recklessly committed what fuel reserves were left to a degraded orbit. Valan found out too late that the gravity of this small world was far stronger than anything he could have imagined. The large Emerald green fields did little to soften his hard landing. “Perhaps I should have made a senor sweep first” he though… And, the old words of the old, withered Flight instructor began to ring over and over in his head: “Valan, you are not above the Rules – you must be disciplined like the other Pilots if you wish to survive!”
Actually, the ringing he heard was from the blood dripping from his ears. His internal injuries were too great, and Valan knew he did not have much time. Setting up the auto-emergency beacon with his good arm, he just lived long enough to transmit his coordinates. As long as the Sun’s rays fell on this world, the batteries would recharge, and his beacon could go on almost indefinitely. The seasons would need to change many times before our too young Pilot would be discovered.
A few years late, a ‘particularly’ careful Smuggler was quietly moving through the quadrant. He was looking for a route that would always guarantee his cargo, and be away from prying eyes. As luck would have it, he was picking up the faintest of signals with his “brand new scanner”. It was fortuitous indeed that this Smuggler just so happened to have “acquired” this prototype Military grade piece of Hardware. Being the upright citizen he was, and thinking that their may be a reward in it! He didn’t like getting so close to a UEE outpost, but the lure of a nice fat reward for finding someone famous was too much to resist. As soon as he made it back into the Border Worlds, he passed the precious information along. It was at this outpost that a young Ensign “Quentin Richards” received the information and brought it to the attention of his confederation superiors. (This act eventually leads to his salvation from this back-water space port, and saw him with a nice promotion. The Smuggler on the other hand was not so lucky!)
Valan’s family never actually knew what had happened the night he had run off. Over the years, they had used their considerable influence, but had hit nothing but dead ends. Now, with new hope, Valan’s family and fellow Pilgrims began to organize what they hoped would be a long over due rescue mission. Since the information had come by way of the Confed Military, the UEE deemed their presents would be of considerable help. While the manner of their “demands” were considered somewhat rude; Going off into uncharted Border World territory was nothing to take lightly. With the help of the senior Pilgrim navigator’s on board, they had no trouble following the currents thru this dangerous region.
Finding an Earth type plant out here was surprising indeed. The Family quickly started an intense search for Valan’s crash site. The Military on the other hand, actually were more interested in performing a full mineral planetary survey, and no assistance was even offered. The Survey identified the inter-core of this Planet as contained vast amounts of a metal that had never been seen. There were even large pockets of the material just laying on the Surface. This Metal looked to be stronger than anything they had ever seen, with tremendous heat dissipation properties. The Military decided they had to have it, and after forcing everyone to sign a “gag” order, they quickly expelled all non-military personnel from the Area.
The Valan system definitely had its challenges, and there was no way they could try to refine the metals in the heavy gravity. Normal mining techniques just could not be used. They decided an orbiting, refining space station was the best scenario, and construction began almost immediately. This part of space was far outside of any normal Military patrols. And even if it had been closer to the unaligned Boarder Worlds, it would have been far to tempting of a target for the numerous Pirates’ that haunted these regions. They decided that the area would remain Top Secret and only known to a very few Top ranking Officers. What proceeded was a campaign of misinformation, and subterfuge. They even forced their Freighter Captains to follow complex shipping routes, back tracking several times, and designed to confuse and make detection impossible. Hundreds of Civilian contractors were brought in with attractive wages, but only after having they sign nondisclosure contracts. Once they started going over the fine print, they were shocked to find they had actually been tricked into a lifetime of servitude. The facilities on the Plant were slow going, but the Refining Station was completed in just a few months. The now “very heavy” machinery was transferred to the Plant surface using unique Haulers. A BOOM Town of sorts suddenly appeared and many Engineers’, Miner’s and their families began harvesting the pockets of Ore down on the Planets surface. The heavy gravity made normal life difficult, but most of the Valan’s were no strangers to harsh conditions. Most were considered the bottom of the barrel, and they had seen this as their one chance. Happy to have been given the chance, Life quickly settled into a route. While none of them could leave their gravity beds for very long, there were “other” rewards for spending so much time off their feet!
Without any warning and in just a matter of a few minutes this new way of life seemed to turn upside down. The motion alarms at the Station began to blare! The Clouds of anti-matter surrounding the Space Station where shifting and the Station was in imminent danger of being destroyed. The short range Haulers rushed back to Plant side, filled with the refined Ore, while the large Freighter’s evacuated all the station personnel. We watched helplessly as the bright lights of the Stations ramparts were swallowed up!
Word was sent back to the Admiralty, and a political shit storm of finger-pointing ensued. It was decided that the Mining operations in Valan were too expensive and dangerous. The best solution was to abandon the area, and the suggestion was quickly seconded. We all figured that one of the Officials high up must have been financially vested else were, as for the last few months, we had been hearing talk of a “synthetic” substitute. Once again, all of Confed’s resources suddenly shifted gears, turning in that direction. Back on Valan, the military's presents simple seemed to evaporate over night. The Colonist had all been kept completely in the dark as to what had transpired back at Headquarters. They had all been lead to believe that a new station would be constructed, and Supplies were on their way. But, early one morning, all the military personnel backup. Orders where given that all the long range vessels would also need to leave. All the Men and Women of Valan were now completely marooned. Rumored started that the very existence of the Valan system had been erased, and any charts that might have remained, where buried away in some dark, musty Military Warehouse back on Tera.
It was actually not as big a chance in the beginning as you might have expected. Any hardships from the lack of replacement parts and imports took several months to sink in. Life on Valan had been self-sufficient from the beginning. With out the Military restrictions, it began to blossom in directions that had never been dreamed of. Life for the settlers was very restricted and tuft going, but for their children, now that was a completely different story!
It seems the heavy gravity had some unexpected side-effects on their Biology. One of which was their Wife’s conceiving large multiple births. The normal conception on the Planet seemed to hover around 9 to 12 children being born! (Thank goodness for modern technology.) The fear that enough gravity cribs could be manufactured from spare parts haunted the parents. But there were more surprises! It was found that the minerals that surrounded and permeated all things in Valan had somehow transferred some of their qualities to the Children. Their bones were much stronger, their physical strength far exceeded their Adults parent’s, and their mental acuity was far superior. Those that had been looked at by their peers as “Idiots” had in fact produced some of the smartest human children ever seen. By the time many had reached their teens, no physical or mental challenge seemed to be beyond their reach.
The heavy Gravity had always placed many limitations on the daily activities of the Settler’s. “Mining” had taken full priority, and had really left no time for exploration of their new world! Now, the town was quickly turning into a City. While birth controller was in force, it didn’t take too many happy accidents to cause the younger population to explain exponentially. Luckily, natural resources were in abundance. On average; The children where somewhat shorter in stature than their parents. But they were loved by all, and they in turn showed a deep compassion for their parents. Times were not easy, and everyone knew they had to pull together. Arguments were almost unheard of, and all the kids felt a strong desire to please their Parents who had given them so much. In fact, they did not ever call them Mom or Dad, but referred to them as the “elders” to show respect. It didn’t take long for the “Elders” to run out of projects for this energetic population of genius’s. They pull a couple of the kids on a project to start converting the old Hauler’s for Food collection. It was also decided that they needed to begin exploring. It was decided that the optimum size of the team should be 7 to 8. And, the key to saying safe would be that each party would include 2 first born. By “first born”, they were referring to those children that would now be close to 17 or 18 years of age. This would also help limit the total number of parties! One such team had been sent up north to search above the snow line. There was a range of mountains here that stretched as far as the eye could see East and West. If a pass could be found, it could open up additional lands that had never been explored. Resources for a one night excursion would be provided and then all findings would be brought back to the Elder’s for review. All the teams came back with wonderful news of new resources being found. The kids were so excited to begin cataloging and analyzing. One team had not yet returned and it was close to the night of the second day. It was odd to as that was the only team sent north! Just as they were deciding to send out a couple search parties to find them, they burst into the Meeting Hall. They were all so excited, and all talking at the same time. A couple seemed to be injured, their cloths half buried. “Tunnels” one of the youngest boys was yelling, another, “Fire, Fire” said another. The two first born simply stood silent, waiting for the elder’s to ask them for the facts. Their description of a creature possibly as ancient and mysterious as this world could offer raced through their minds as they quietly waited.
The Elder’s insisted that all injuries must be thoroughly treated before they would listen to anyone’s report. Burns were treated with locally made ointments and no real severe injuries where found. The two first born in the Team walked over to the raised center floor of the Meeting Hall. While the Hall had been build like a large arena, and could hold several hundred, one’s voice carry easily to all corners of the Hall. Naturally, for everyone to hear properly, only one person should speak at a time. They listened intently to what the young man said they had seen. Even though contact with the creature had only been for a few seconds, the actual eye-witness description of the creatures was exceptional precise. The “animal” actually seemed to be made up of the darker metals found at the deepest mining levels. Living Rock! The intrepid explorers found the entrance to the tunnels at approximately 11,719 feet. There was looked to be a natural slope to the tunnel floor and they quickly descended below the valley floor. At that point they entered a tunnel that veered 32 degrees NW. They had chosen this particular tunnel as the walls were some of the smoothest they had come across. Also, the walls looked translucent, allowing one to actually seen far into the surrounding rock. The floor of the tunnel was littered with rocks the size of one’s fist and larger. They actually did not even notice the creatures around them. The color of the Tunnel floor and the rock creatures laying there matched exactly. They all admitted at this point that their camouflage was extremely good. What caused the animals to break cover was the fact that one of their team seemed to have possibly stepped on a “Tail”. The resulting “Fury of Fireballs and Wings” necessitated a hasty retreat. At this point the hall was once again a torrent of young excited voices. Once the noise had settled down, they all agreed they had been very lucky. While these creatures were no more than 50 centimeters long, their Fire was incredibly intense. So hot in fact that the very rocks around them appeared to melt once hit. It was very luck that none had been hit by any of those fireballs, but even so, their proximity had resulted in some serious burns. As soon as their report came to an end; everyone in the Hall seemed to take a collective breath.
All the bright young faces in the room moved as one, to look, and see what the Elder’s would make of all this. These “Elders”, (or parents) where made up of a few tuft old Crew Chiefs and a couple of the original City planners. Most where in failing health, but felt strongly responsibly for the Health and well being of everyone of their child. This “Elder” role humbled them and the desire to make good choices for all weighted on them every bit as heavy as the Gravity they had to endure. It was their misfortune that the Heavy Gravity and challenges of building a new Nation which had aged them far too quickly. They proposed “Caution”, and assured all the young people that: “A more through investigation of this was warranted”. They would organize a “Team” to go back and investigate this fantastic fine.
For now, the Elder’s would go over all the reports, and in the morning they promised that proper preparations would be made.
“Eric” and “Juliana”, were the two first born in the team that sighted these “creatures”. With the meeting at an end, the children whose duty it was to assist each Elder quickly stepped forward, helping them to their feet. Eric suddenly blurted out: “We must get back to the Caves as soon as possible! Every minute we delay could risk never finding these creatures again!” “Please Elder’s; let a team of the first born show you what we can do?” Hearing his plea, several other young adults began stepping through the crowd in the hall. Juliana quickly added: “I was there too you know! And I agree with Eric that it would be far too easy for these animals to escape deeper into the maze of tunnels. It could be impossible to find them again!” One Elder stopped, turned and straightened up; it was Crew Chief “Jacob”. In his youth, he had spent as much time fighting in Bars as he had fighting to get the last ounce of energy from a Jump drive. He had a face that had turned many a young Ensign into a puddle of shivering sweat! And yet, he now spoke in a voice that every child in that room had heard so many times before. His tone, one that you never tired of hearing, but also meant you were done: He said: “You have all made us so very proud. Sleep well my children and know that you’re Parents love you with all our hearts.” His smile never left his face as he turned to leave. To watch this once powerful soul being half carried by a child so small could almost bring a tear to your eye. So this was the end of it, and they knew the Elder’s would not be swayed future tonight. “Eric” and “Juliana” would not be swayed ether; they were both still so excited from what they had seen. For them, there was only one logical course of action. Everyone began slowing moving out of the Hall. The evening sky still holding on to much of the soft light of a waning day. As Eric and Juliana moved along the wall to the door; they grabbed each other and quickly moved outside and away from the main group. Both seemed to already know what the other was going to say before it was said. Quickly they decided that one of them would go over to the Supplies Depot and the other would head over to the main Stores Facility. Each would collect the food & supplies they might need to make a trip back in the Caves. They would meet up behind the Engineering Hangers on the edge of Town. They should be able to get back to that Tunnel, capture one of these creatures, and be back in Town easily by mid-day. They would be greeted as Hero’s, and who knows; they might actually be appointed as “New Elder’s”. After all, they were two of the oldest 18 year old kids on the Planet. They had their reputations to uphold after all.
The night sky was just now being touched by the gray light of another day. Yet, the whole City was wide wake and buzzing with the latest news. The Elder’s had come across every loud speaker in town. The elder’s voices where filled with a kind of excitement most had never heard. That night, a couple of the children had been too excited after the previous day’s events to sleep. They happened to look out and had spotted it low in the night sky. The old Orbiting Space Station above Valan was once more clear of the Dark Antimatter clouds. In fact, looking up in the predawn Sky, one could just make out its blazing marker lights. The Elder’s had worked out some ruff calculations, and found that the Clouds appeared to be on a 500 year cycle. The “shift” which had initially engulfed the Station was not permanent. In fact it just looked to be a 20 year “phase”. Hopes were running high that If all when according to plan, the Station could be re-occupied and possibly moved to another position that should prevent any such “cloud” event from ever happening again. After hearing this news, all thoughts of team exploration when right out the window.
The questions now filling everyone’s minds were: – “Was the Station still fully operational?” – “Could they save their Parents by moving them up to the Station? To live long, healthier life’s once they could escape the Heavy Valan gravity that had so debilitated them all these years.”
– “Would contact to the rest of the Galaxy now be possible for Planet Valan?”
The Hanger Team that had earlier been sent to convert the old Hauler’s now had 4 sets of hands for ever job. Every Hauler still space worthy was being prepared and loaded with fuel for a trip they had not taken in 20 years. While only so many could actually fit in the hangers to work on the ships, others began reviewing the vast amount of Technical journals related to the Space Station. In the past, the information had just been used for some light reading. Now, the young crowed around the viewers, memorizing every page with lighting speed. All this to the delight, and amazement of their parents. For the Elder’s, this was a chance to have long, productive lives. And for their Children, this was the fulfillment of a Dream every single one of them had held deep within their Hearts. Never daring to even speak it aloud.
The Space Station was brought online and moved to a safer location. They decided to not only process, but also refined the metal. Not wanting to use the old EUU classification, they decided to call it: “IMPERIUM”. Since the few hauler’s where at risk from the anti-matter clouds, and from expected demand, they decided to focus on one main product. They would use most of their product for the manufacturing of Ship and Cargo Shielding. They found the paneling could handle Hugh amounts of punishment, dissipating heat and energy bursts quickly. It was also so light that it could be added on top of a Ship’s standard shielding or just use Imperium should increased speed be a driving factor for the buyer.
There had been only one Freighter left on the abandoned Space Station. It was left due to it being in the middle of repairs at the time. Their kids pushed it back into service, and limited volumes of product where sent out. The elder’s, worried for the safety of their children decided it was safest to only Trade with the Banu. It didn’t take long for the word to spread, and fear grew that EUU might actually come back into the System, demanding the return of their station or even possibly try to take it by force. Luckily, the Banu Traders knew a good deal when they saw one, and quickly started moving Ships and resources into Valan space. A hasty treaty was signed by the Elders, and within a week, a large contingency of Banu Hired Mercenaries were brought in to fly system security. A main part of the Treaty was that all Banu Trader’s received sizable discounts as a result of this alliance. The Elder’s are not happy with the hired Mercenary element in the system, but until a local militia can be trained, it will have to do. Finding Jump Gates would be their next endeavor.
Chapter#6 – The Ancients of Valan
There once was a ship from Nantucket...
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Fleet: SS MINOTAUR (Recl'r), SS BADGER, SS MYSTIC (Orion), SS NUTCRACKER (F7C/M), SS WARLOCK (C'ack), SS BULLET (Vgard), SS STARFLYER (MIS), SS ZODIAC, SS LUGNUT & SS WINGNUT
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