Day two. It’s good to be back in the black.

The familiar routine of long-haul interstellar travel quickly lulled me into the state of tranquil concentration it always does. Jump, whoosh, boom, and another star roars towards you.


The Lord of Kobol is good at this. I’ve powered down all non-essential ship systems (of which there are a lot), so the heat she generates is minimal. This means I can arc her mighty prow so close to a star’s burning atmosphere that I can soar beneath the loop of solar flares.


 Their angry light bathes the bridge.


Within a few hours a collection of stars began to catch my attention. At first little more than a bright smudge, they took shape as I drew closer, into a nearly-perfect line.


I checked them against other landmarks in my navigational computer – the NGC 7822 nebula stellar cradle.


 Away to my starboard side they grew larger with each jump.


My destination lay in front of me. The deep, angry red of the Soul Nebula and the wispy, pink clouds of the Heart Nebula.


 My map put them at something like 5,500 light years from Achenar.


I can cover one thousand light years in about thirty three jumps, so that’s… a lot of jumps.


The heat vents on the rear of the ship are easily as long as nearly every other ship I’ve flown.


This is undeniably more comfortable though. The Bridge is a thoroughly pleasant place to be, although the echo reminds me how alone I am. The typical Faulcon DeLacy style pervades the ship; reminding me, everywhere I look, that bright orange was fashionable once. I love it. It reminds me of the Mule… if the Mule was the size of a town.

Each new star system I land is is subjected to a cursory deep-system scan, to log the astronomical bodies present. Mostly there’s nothing there – a few knobbly rocks, perhaps. Some hold surprises though, like this quaternary planet cluster.


Most don’t. A quick glance at the scan results as I surf the corosphere, and then I charge the frame shift drive to move on.


My mind drifts back to the mission.

Now that Serrano has been appointed as the Octopus’ Vice President, it’s freed her up to worry about the bigger picture. We’re all busy these days, it seems. I’ve been sent to investigate the mystery of the barnacles, along with Al. She’s got Ronnie on some new job – something to do with our victories in the ‘Sticks, but he won’t talk about it. And she’s sent bloody Vex off back into the Federation to do something violent.

So since the war ended I’ve been digging.

I’ve questioned the Canonn, of course – the leading research group when it comes to the Barnacles. But there have been other leads. Peculiar tales that didn’t make much sense, from old spacefarers who should know better, and some of the more crackpot of the interstellar news networks. A name kept coming up: the ‘Children of Raxxla’, whatever Raxxla is. I don’t know whether they’ll give me any answers, but I got in touch with them anyway. 

They’re an odd bunch – conspiracy theorists, perhaps, but mostly explorers like me. Introducing myself as an Agent of the Imperial Private Expeditionary Company didn’t go down well – they’re seemingly allergic to any affiliation with the great powers. But, they seem to know things that others don’t, and I think they’re privy to information that others aren’t. They’re guided by some mystery woman that few have ever seen and may or not be a myth – much like us, I suppose. And they’re interested as hell in the Formidine Rift.

So, for better or worse, that’s where I’m going.

Frame shift drive charging…

Souvarine out.






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