Star Guardian
Chapter 14: Baglogi

Copyright© 2018 by Duncan7

“This is strange. Where is everyone?” said Jem.

“I can not detect any vessels or signs of life in the system. No signals on any frequency. Continuing to scan,” said Ship.

“That’s not right. Where are the system defence patrols? We should have been challenged for ID by now,” said Jem. She went over to a console and pressed buttons to zoom in the tactical display on various areas of the system. I sensed this was not what she had expected.

“Perhaps the question is how long have you been away Ship?” asked Koluna. There followed a pause as Ship was considering an answer.

“Ship, please answer Koluna’s question,” said Jem.

“I left the Baglogi system approximately two thousand Ori standard years ago. The initial crew was large enough to provide a viable gene pool for generations. Unfortunately, each successive generation had less viable options. Some crew were lost to attrition. Over time, it got harder to sustain crew numbers until it was just two and then one,” said Ship. Jem looked at me, it was not clear what was on her mind. It seemed the programming of Ship saw the organic crew as something necessary for the mission. We might have to make adjustments to Ship’s programming soon.

“So Ship, during the last two millennia, something has happened to this system,” I said.

“Based upon initial scan results it would appear so.”

“Ship, why did you not return to the Baglogi system before now?” I asked.

“A return directive was not within the mission parameters. No crew ever ordered me to return before now. Beyond that I have no information,” said Ship.

“You might have returned sooner, before you ran out of crew, but if you did, you and your crew might have suffered the same fate as whatever happened here,” I said.

“Ship, please continue to scan for life signs and vessels. Also expand your search to include wreckage, and on planets check for ruins,” said Jem.

“Confirmed,” said Ship.

We drifted further on into the system, our eyes glued to the tactical display for anything. Eventually Ship spoke up.

“If I might make a suggestion?” asked Ship.

“Go ahead Ship,” said Jem.

“All attempts to communicate within the system have failed to yield results. It seems the interplanetary network of satellites is no longer in existence. I suggest that I create replacements to restore a network infrastructure. It may help us in our search of the system,” offered Ship.

“I agree with your suggestion. Please fabricate and deploy replacement satellites. Keep me updated to your progress,” said Jem. “Meanwhile, Brian and I will take a shuttle to the former Baglogi home world. Brian, please find some good locations for us to explore. Koluna, you will remain aboard Ship as our backup. Monitor for trouble both within and out of the system. Alert us of trouble and be ready to rescue us if need be.”

We each had our orders. I pulled up scans of the fourth planet and looked for sites to examine. We were still some distance out, and the details were limited. It was not yet close enough to launch the shuttle, and I could only see the side of the planet that faced us. From what I could see there was no signs of artificial light, no communication signals and this side was facing away from the Baglogi star, so it was dark. I checked out the shuttle and the equipment we would need.

It did not take me long to check out the shuttle. We already had things tidy to prepare for the return home to a welcome by Jem’s people. I returned to the main bridge. Jem was sitting in a chair by the tactical display. Koluna was elsewhere.

“Captain, the shuttle is prepared for departure. As yet, I have identified no sites of interest on Baglogi-4. We need to get closer and perhaps move to the side facing the star before we can see enough details to identify locations of interest,” I said. I felt she was disturbed by the lack of a welcome, and I fell back on a more formal interaction until I knew better how to respond.

“What happened??” said Jem. I didn’t know the answer, so I kept quiet. I stood to one side, waiting for her. A few minutes passed, then Jem stood and hugged me tightly. I hugged her back and waited.

“I didn’t know what we would find here, but I had hoped for something more than this,” she said.

“We will figure it out. Maybe they moved on somewhere, and we need to find out where,” I weakly suggested.

A while later Ship announced we were within range of Baglogi-4 for shuttle launch. Jem and I boarded the shuttle and left to explore the planet. Ship continued on, to deploy satellites throughout the system. We would rendezvous later after we had each done our respective tasks.

I piloted our shuttle into a low orbit of the planet, so we could get better scans of the surface. Soon we had crossed over from night into day, and we could see better the surface below us. There were signs of ruined cities, but no recent activity. We decided on two possible places to land and explore, and I took us into a descent to the first location. The atmosphere was mild and posed no threat. Within an hour we were landed on the surface at our first location.

The sensors aboard the shuttle indicated the air was breathable, and the weather warm and clear. I also ran a detailed bio scan, in case it was a virus that had wiped out the former inhabitants. Once we had the all-clear, we exited through the airlock and we were standing out in the open on the planet surface. This planet that was once the original home world of her species. As we stood there, I speculated that Jem was possibly the first Baglogi to visit this planet in centuries.

Our first location was in the centre of what was once a large city. It was in ruins, long ago destroyed. I found no animal tracks, but there was vegetation. There was a lot of dust and rubble. Whoever did this was thorough. And it was clear it was done a long time ago.

The only tracks were our own, so at least there were likely no animals or predators to deal with. This place seemed long dead.

Jem took the lead, and I followed close behind. We wandered around, looking for clues as to what had happened. I recorded some images, scans and collected samples for later analysis. There was no structure over one story in height, and no doors intact. The dust made it clear no beings had been here for a long time.

And it was so quiet. It was disturbingly quiet. There was not much wind, so the only disturbance was us. We walked along what could have been some kind of main street, leaving a trail of footprints in the dust. I guess backtracking to the shuttle would be easy. Throughout this all, Jem had hardly made any noise. We would normally have some kind of banter going back and forth, but we were subdued, like if we were in a temple.

A lot of the ruins were rock or some kind of concrete. Anything else must have either rusted away or deteriorated until it was dust. The weather over time had done a good job of wiping away evidence that there was once a great space-faring civilization here. I took more samples and packed them away in containers. Perhaps Ship can help do an analysis of these samples, it is certainly not my area of speciality.

We spent a few hours at this location, walking around the remains of streets, examining what little remained of once-great structures. As we got tired, we worked our way back to our shuttle. No words had been spoken. We re-entered the airlock into the shuttle and collapsed into our seats.

“That was so depressing. Something bad happened here, but it happened so long ago, there is nothing I can do about it now. I feel so helpless. This was once a thriving society. Now all that is left is ruins and dust. No one has been here in a very long time,” said Jem. After all the silence outside, it was strange that within our shuttle we were back to talking.

“Perhaps we will find something at the next location,” I offered. Although I wasn’t too convinced.

After we rested, I pulled out a bio scanner, and checked Jem and I. We were clear. I was concerned that it could have been a bio weapon or disaster that took out her home world, and I did not want it to get us too.

We had refreshments, and I piloted the shuttle to fly to the second location on our list for today. The flight was uneventful, and we encountered nothing different at the second location. It was long since dead. By the time we were done walking around dusty ruins, running scans and collecting samples, it was time to rendezvous with Ship.

Ship had assumed a high orbit over the equator of Baglogi-4, so our rendezvous was simple enough. Once we docked with Ship, we went through a thorough decontamination. After that, Koluna was there with hugs for both of us.

“I missed you two. I am so glad you made it back safely,” said Koluna.

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