Casual Play Astrogation

Epsilon Caledon Becerra 7d (Lycaeus)

A simple signal, regular and unremarkable. You catch it in the wash of electromagnetic noise that comes as between-space parts, use the senses of your ship to track it back to a source– a world, rocky and cold, fourth planet out from a pale yellow star.

The signal isn't anything more than a simple beacon, a transponder code repeating an endless sequence of blips. 2-3-5-7-11-13-17. The frequency range is consistent with early colonial human, but the planet is a long, long way from the interstellar backyard that humanity first strode so boldly into. Curious, you drop a mote-probe into the clear, oxygen-ammonia atmosphere, pull data off the sensor feeds as it navigates its way toward the surface, drops past heavy clouds that are as much mist as they are brittle ice.

The freezing temperatures, the utter lack of wind– you feel it all as the mote-probe descends, take it in. When the last edge of cloud passes, you find yourself over a mass of silvery, silted land streaked by cold, dark rivers. No life, no vegetation– it's a virgin world, untouched, almost habitable, almost worth colonizing.

And then the source of the signal rises up suddenly on the far side of a gritty slope that seems more dune than hill. The eyes of your mote-probe focus in on it, pick out identifying marks. It's a ship, human, definitely early colonial, and from a mission that was marked as lost, missing in action, status unknown. More scans turn up more data, a complete dossier on the three-man crew, status of the ship's systems. The onboard reactor is still stable, silently providing just enough power to keep three crew freezers and the transponder going for centuries. Simple queries reveal the status of the ancient astronauts– all alive, all healthy, hardly aged at all in all the time that has passed.

Briefly, you consider setting their ship's systems to wake them up, but a few more seconds perusing the data contained in the ship's flight recorder reveals why they're still dreaming after all this time. The ship itself is damaged, wasn't intended to be the seed of a colony. It's a survey ship, one that got lost somehow, ended up an impossible number of light years away from where it was supposed to be. Whatever happened, whatever carried it here to Epsilon Caledon Becerra 7d hit it suddenly, damaged it so severely that the crew was unable to do more than coast to a landing and wait for rescue. Waking them now wouldn't do any good– you don't have the equipment or the resources necessary to save them or get them off the planet. Better to wait, to place a note in the network and leave the ship and crew's recovery to a salvage and rescue team experienced in acclimating the ice men and women of the past to the century they've dreamed their way into.

A few more passes, a few more scans of the land around the ship and you call the mote-probe back, upload notes on the world to the network. Almost immediately, a rescue ship pings you, announces their plan to divert their course toward Epsilon Caledon Becerra 7d.

The crew of the colonial survey vessel won't be dreaming much longer. A few days, maybe. Curious, you almost consider staying to meet them, observe them, but they aren't the first early colonials you've met and you doubt that watching them wake and try to wrap their heads around the changes that have rippled through humanity in the centuries that they've been asleep would hold your interest for long. Better to continue on. Better to seek out new things. With one last glance at the cold, quiet little world beneath you, you turn your ship back toward the stars, trigger the phasedrive with a thought, then slide into between-space, leaving the Epsilon Caledon Becerra system far behind.


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