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“As you can see, Executive Commander, the pirates hit the colony hard.”
Urle took in the devastation of Presna colony grimly, the destruction so much worse than it had looked from orbit.
The damage was precise, almost surgical. Every major routing junction for the power grid had been hit, utterly breaking the system. It would take weeks to restore.
Other key equipment had been taken or destroyed that would set back even attempts to repair the power grid. Heavy lifting machines disabled by cutting or fusing critical components, even key tools had been taken, and the raw materials to fabricate more.
On the one hand it seemed like it was designed to hurt, but many of those things taken would be just as invaluable to a nomadic pirate fleet as they would be to the colonists.
And their critical damage would, under most circumstances, keep the colony from being able to call for help in a timely fashion. It had delayed the colonists, but a heroic effort by many of their own engineers had enabled them to cobble together enough equipment to make a distress call – likely sooner than the pirates expected.
That could prove critical, he thought, though the sheer level of technical skill shown in the attack worried him.
And nowhere did he see the sort of unprofessional acts of vandalism he’d expect from a buccaneer force. There was no graffiti, no breaking or theft of personal property, and – aside from the people kidnapped, no one had been assaulted in any way.
“Take me to see the bunker they broke into,” Urle said.
Chairwoman Addo nodded and led him on. “It’s a few blocks away, not far.”
As they strode through the colony, he saw Cutter leading his team of other Bicet engineers in helping the colonists in their work. Heavy loader drones trundled after them.
Everywhere, the colonists were working without complaint. It was cold here by human standards. He did not feel it, but even the Bicet had donned downy bodysuits.
The colonists had to be hungry, too. They’d been rationing their supplies, and only with the Craton‘s arrival would any be going to bed with a full stomach.
But none of the workers complained. Men and women sang as they worked, an old song.
It is we who built these towers
We will build them up again
No more will we cower
With the dawn sun flies the wren
Addo stopped. “I’ve got that full list of what was taken, if you’d like it now.”
“Yes, send it,” Urle said.
He began to peruse the file as they continued on.
A lot of foodstock chemicals – very specific ones, he noted. He marked that as important. Equipment, all of which seemed reasonable for pirates to take. Nothing too concerning there.
But then he saw the uranium ore and refining equipment.
“You mine uranium here?” he asked.
“Yes, it’s one of our more valuable resources,” Addo told him. “A large reason we decided to colonize this world. The geology of it is rather interesting and resulted in a larger amount being near the surface than one would expect.”
The geology behind it was interesting, yes, but right now he could only focus on the details.
Quite a lot of what had been taken was already heavily refined.
Despite fusion being the most widely-used form of power generation in space, there were still a lot of niche uses for heavy elements.
Not least of all weapons.
“This is the secure bunker,” Addo said, stopping and pointing.
Urle put the list away to take a look.
The entrance was sunken and reinforced, but it looked as if heavy drilling lasers had been used to cut through it.
“They burned through a few laser drills trying to get in,” Addo said. “Unfortunately, we did have to remove them, we didn’t want that kind of thing just laying around. But if you want to inspect them we can get them out.”
“Was there anything unique about them?” Urle asked, still looking at the bunker.
“No. They were all our equipment – and they left no DNA or anything behind on them, though even if they had left some traces the overheating would have destroyed it.”
“I’ll get Cutter to look at them later, it’s not a priority, then,” Urle said.
He stepped closer to the door, scanning with every sensor he had. He extended several mechanical arms containing even more sensors, and in his rear-view cameras he saw Addo retract slightly.
Looking into the logs, he saw that there was very little incidence of transhumanism on Presna. He did not know why, but it didn’t really matter.
“If my alterations disturb you, I assure you I won’t be here for long,” Urle told her, curious how she’d respond.
“I’m just not very used to them is all,” Addo replied, still seeming unnerved. “I mean no offense.”
“None taken,” Urle said, though he wasn’t sure if she meant it.
Stepping down into the bunker, he swept his scanners all over.
Biological traces were prevalent in here, but outside – nothing. Not even as much as there should be from dragging the inhabitants out. Hell, there should be something from just the other colonists stepping in.
Stepping back out, he scanned in new ranges, finding a residue.
“They cleaned up a lot,” he noted. “Even debrided the first few atoms of the surfaces here to remove any traces.”
He fell silent, and Addo finally spoke. “But why do that?”
“They didn’t want us to know who they were,” Urle said. “Trying to cover their tracks. Which suggests that some of the actual pirates were down here. If they’d left even a single skin flake or hair, we’d be able to sequence it . . .”
Withdrawing his sensors, he looked back up to Addo. “Let me see your computer systems. Maybe we can find something – anything left in there.”
2 thoughts on “Episode 10 – Star Hunters, part 7”
This seems like an inside job. One or more of the pirates probably joined the colony weeks before, scouted out their setup, infiltrated their computer systems and then called in the pirates. I guess they took hostages because the infiltrator was in that bunker.
I really wanted to see “star relic” shenanigans but this seems too neat and methodical for random alien mind warping technology.
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