Romanelle Podhigar takes command of the USS Swiftsure
Back from Merid,
Commodore Chapman Stark and Lt Colonel Aloysius Stark learn that her maternity
leave is being extended officially -- while flag personnel in Outer Perseus
is being unofficially reassed by Headquarters. Captain Romannelle Podhigar,
an old hand of deep space exploration, is brought through the wormhole
to take temporary command of the USS Swiftsure.
mission of exploration
Within a few weeks of departing from Starbase Perseus, the USS Swiftsure
encounters a derelict ship of feeble FTL capability. The ship holds aboard
29 aliens in cryogeny, most of which cannot be reanimated without heavy
risks. After some pondering on the potential consequences, three healty
crewmembers are revived to the bewildering sight of sentient aliens!
The Berukans represent the first effort of their planet to explore the
galaxy. Three expeditions were sent to likely solar systems in hopes that
they could settle there. The crew is awed to learn that, given the intermittent
capacity of their now defunct FTL drive, the Tituk wasn't expected to
arrive to destination before a couple centuries, a fact defeating even
the extensive lifespan of its crew.
The very bad news
for the Berukans is that their target solar system was none other than
Belina, which was seen destroyed on the Swiftsure's first mission in Outer
Perseus ("Nova" mission). With their ship heavily damaged, most
of the crew surviving only thanks to cryogeny and no place to go, what
will happen to Geldur, Vendiver and Raler?
Taking the only
move available, the USS Swiftsure sets course for Beruka. More bad news
await there when the planet is found mostly bereft of a civilisation and
no Berukan can be located. Furthermore, the crew realizes that relativity
came into play over the difficult course of the Tituk: while 127 years
went by for them, 700 went by on their planet.
The hard explanation finally comes from a written statement dug up from
the debris of a space station that crashed near the South Pole. Following
a genetic experiment gone wrong some 6 centuries prior, the Beruka population
fell prey to a plague rewriting their genome. Watching the whole species
being turned into what they believed to be animals, one Berukan saw no
alternative to the horror but to destroy his entire civilization as a
gesture of mercy. The space station was intentionally crashed near the
pole, effectively killing millions as a result.
Meanwhile, a second
away team investigating some curious creatures that closely resemble the
Berukas discovers that the Brown constitute the new, primitive species
created by the plauge, with a potential to develop their own civilisation
Welcome to the
The USS Swiftsure
leaves Beruka to its fate and attempts to locate the Second and Third
expeditions. The Second one, finding that its target system didn't contain
a planet apt to sustain a colony, joined the Third to set up what is now
a thriving colony - just about to develop subspace communications in an
attempt to contact their homeworld.
First contact is
made in low key fashion. With Doctor Paulsen using a controlled version
of the genetic plague to heal the 26 Berukans still in cryogeny, 29 Berukans
are delivered to what is left of their civilization.