Crossfire Short Stories Part XVII: New discoveries in the Sol system?

  • New discoveries in the Sol_ system?

    By Balefire

    Note: This article contains in-game spoiler!


    Sometimes it is hard to distinguish bad luck from good.

    On his way to a new assignment in Sol System, very junior Order Lieutenant Nico Slate had flown his brand-new Horizon from Liberty space through Bretonia without serious incident. A few encounters along the way had resulted in criminal pilots either retreating after a brief exchange of gunfire or sheering off before engaging. Lt. Slate suspected that his sleek very heavy fighter, bristling with weapons, was just too intimidating to present a desirable target for them. Being young, however, he told himself that his piloting skills were the source of his successes. Pleased with both his new ship and with his good luck—no, skill—he was smiling and humming a cheerful tune right up through the Hyperion System and nearly to the Warp Anomaly. It was there that both his ship and his luck went awry.

    Forewarned, he had avoided the weapon platform orbiting Sylvin, and was making his final approach to the Warp Anomaly when a wing of Xenos fighters swooped down on him, unleashing a barrage of gunfire and missiles, overwhelming his shields, setting off hull and equipment damage alarms across his console. Wise despite his youth, Lt. Slate chose discretion over valor. At the best speed he could coax from his power plant, struggling to control his damaged ship, he entered the Warp Anomaly.

    He arrived in Sol System somewhat rattled, and although his on-board repair systems and shield batteries sufficed to make his ship flyable, his guidance, communications, and maneuvering systems were well below optimum levels. Several times in his long journey he was forced to reorient his ship from unusual vectors, realigning himself and calculating better trajectories. During one of these stops in Sol asteroid belt, his long-range scanner_ registered an anomaly, but it soon disappeared. He saw it, or one very like it, again later at extreme range, but once again it disappeared. It was a puzzle, but Lt. Slate had no time to investigate puzzles: he was intent on surviving the rigors of a long journey through Sol System, including the debris of many battles and the obstacles presented by the asteroid belt.

    When he finally arrived safely at Order Military HQ and reported for duty, the “possible anomaly sighting, possibly unstable” was recorded in the records of his debriefing. His superiors decided against immediate investigation; resources were spread thinly as it was, the lieutenant's ship had damaged and unreliable systems, and nobody else had reported any unknown anomalies, unstable or otherwise. Perhaps someday when conditions were more settled and more ships and pilots were available, a search could be mounted. Meanwhile there were many more urgent priorities with which to deal, and the report was essentially forgotten.

    Lt. Slate helped to deal with those more urgent issues, in his subsequent career flying many patrols and engaging in many successful sorties. He had neither the time nor the inclination to look for the anomaly or anomalies, although he mentioned the sightings whenever he told his story to appreciative bartenders or squadron mates. It was a good story, with both good and bad luck, fraught with danger and hardship, but with a happy ending. The phantom_anomaly sighting was merely a mysterious detail, much like a tale of undiscovered treasure, and like many such tales it became a persistent rumor.

    Sometimes, investigating rumors results in surprising and even lucrative discoveries. Whether one or more uncharted anomalies exist in Sol System, and where they might lead, has yet to be determined by some intrepid_ explorer.

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