"Alright Yarnspinner, I've been following you around the galaxy, and now that I have caught up to you, I want answers!"
"Sorry Pal, I don't have to answer any of your questions."
"I'll make it worth your while."
"I'll pay you a weeks worth of supplies."
"Wow! This must be important. I'm listening..."
"I'm from Thradlum. Have you heard of it?"
"Indeed I have, I have a story about that very planet."
"Excellent! I would like to hear it in a moment. Anyway, this Eagle Douglass fellow has made many trips to our fair world. He knows and follows our customs better than I do. Our leaders have given me the job to find out as much as I can about him. You seem to be the foremost expert on him. Thus, I can offer you much in the form of compensation if you give me as much information on Eagle as you can."
"All the information I have on Eagle is freely accessible at the various information outlets. You don't need me to interpret this data, and I won't put Eagle's life in jeopardy."
"It is not about that. As you may have heard, our civilization is very xenophobic. We do not particularly care for outsiders."
"You do have some odd customs, but no more so than any other member of the Galactic Commonwealth."
"That is kind of you to say, even if I don't particularly believe it. Eagle has several technologically advanced devices on board his ship. Perhaps he has access to even more advancements. It has come to our attention that access to other cultures could be quite beneficial to us in a technological way. Getting to know how Eagle obtains some of these technologies is our goal. We are very interested in pursuing this. We would also prefer that he not hear about our pursuits."
"Well Mr. Thradlumite, as I stated earlier, everything I know is publicly available. While your offer is quite tempting, and somewhat justified, I decline the offer. I will tell you my Thradlum story for the usual price, but I'm not going to do any more than that. I'm in the story telling business, and not the spy business."
"I'm sorry you feel that way. Tender, fix Mr. Yarnspinner up with his usual fee. I will hear your story."
Essdy begins his story:
Captain Nigel Caruthers was the commander on board the UNSS Connelly. They were navigating through the asteroid belt surrounding the planet called Thradlum. It was several days of tricky navigating, especially for the primitive Earth vessel. He did not want to do again anytime soon. However, these Earth people were gradually making contact with other members of the Galactic Community. The Galactic Commonwealth built gate GC12:25:65 into the Nimrov solar system. Systematically, these Earth dwellers were visiting the Commonwealth civilizations that centered on the far side of that gate. They were now going to visit Thradlum.
As was the custom of the humans, they studied the literature of the place during the long space travel times. They were gradually learning the Galactic Commonwealth's standard written language. Furthermore, these Earth people's gestural vocabulary was increasing rapidly with each trip. They believed they were ready for any incounter.
As was stated earlier, the Tradlumites have some somewhat peculiar customs. The Captain believed that they were completely prepared to be compliant with their strict code of conduct.
Upon finishing their first contact with the Thradlumite Captain Caruthers bid farewell to the leaders and return to his ship with his landing party. He was quite confident that the mission was a success. The UNSS Connelly was making its way out of the system towards hypergate GC12:25:65. After several days, they successfully navigated their way through the asteroids and were on their way home.
Among the members of the landing party was David Daniels. He was Captain Caruthers's first officer. He was operating the sensors when they picked up a distress call from a small craft. He determined that it was just 100 km off to their starboard and asked if they would respond to the call. 'Plot a course Mr. Daniels and letís make a difference,' responded Captain Caruthers.
From their sensor scans, they determined that it was a small single occupant craft with very low energy output. It looked like a small cargo ship. It was a somewhat standard Commonwealth design, and from the Connelly's sensor report, they guessed that it was running with life support only. It appeared to have some sort of plasma leak; if they did not hurry it may lose even life support at any time. They decided to dock with it as quickly as possible as it was simply drifting in space.
"Prepare docking ring," ordered the captain.
"Docking ring preparation, aye! Prepare Docking Ring," echoed the first officer. After a slight pause, he responded, "Docking ring ready sir."
"Close in at 10 kph," ordered Captain Caruthers.
"10 kph Aye! Slow to 10 kph," echoed Commander Daniels.
"Sir! Izanian vessel at 110 mark 60. 2500 km and closing fast," Lt Spahn shouted.
"How much longer until docking is complete Mr. Daniels?"
"2 minutes sir."
"We should have time, proceed with docking. Mr. Daniels please go to the docking ring, and take a security team with you."
"On my way sir. Ms. Lawson, you have the com."
Mr. Daniels left the bridge and gathered his security team. This group of security members made their way to the docking ring. With little difficulty, the UNSS Connelly docked with the disabled vessel and reported it to the bridge.
"Sir we have successfully docked," Lt Spahn told the Captain.
"Shields up!" shouted the captain.
"Shields up aye! Raise shields!" barked Commander Lawson.
"Sir! Some strange gas is being emitted from the craft..." came a call from Commander Daniels.
"Sir! The Izanian are firing."
"Evasive maneuvers! Down 30 degrees, 12 meter arc port!"
"Sir they are targeting the docked space craft!"
"Mr. Daniels! Can we release the craft?" asked the captain. "Mr. Daniels respond!"
"Sir, we cannot fully maneuver docked to that ship! We must release it!"
"You must give our men more time!"
"Sir it is a direct hit! The docking clamps are not holding! Sir we must release that ship or it will tear that section of the ship right off! The Izanian are preparing to make another pass!"
"Mr. Daniels! Get out of there NOW! Mr. Spahn, release that ship!"
"Aye sir! Release the docking clamps!"
"Sir! The Izanian have broken off their attack! They are firing upon that ship... It is destroyed... The Izanian are heading 115 mark 30, shall we pursue?"
They decided not to pursue. They were going to assess their own damages and cut their losses. Surprisingly, there was little damage to their ship. There was some stress on the docking ring, but no other damage was reported. However, the security team was knocked unconscious when the opened the craft. Commander Daniels was missing and presumed dead. They believed he was on the ship that the Izanian destroyed.
The Captain ordered a salvage team to examine the wreckage, but they could find no wreckage. The crew discovered several clues to what may have happened in the computer logs. It was determined that the destroyed ship could have been a Thradlum ship. The planet they had just left 5 days earlier. Captain Caruthers plotted a course back to the planet. They wanted to know about this ship and perhaps learn why the Izanians may want to destroy one of their ships. They wanted to determine if Commander Daniels died in vain or if they could at least give them more information. They had to undertake the arduous task of navigating the asteroid belt once again. They were not happy about it, but they determined that this was the wisest choice of actions.
Captain Caruthers ordered that his crew thoroughly study the logs to determine what could have been done that would have prevented Mr. Daniel's death. He wanted to know every detail of what went on. He did what he believed he had to do, but he wanted to be sure in his report to NASA. Another Earthling had been killed in space, and the high command were not going to be happy.
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