2947-04-02 - Tales from the Inbox: Sagittarian Snippets
Those of you who follow other components of the Cosmic Background media suite have heard of the odd reports coming back from the other side of the Gap in far greater detail than this space can provide, but Ning’s account (backed up by shipboard data streams which the Navy has analyzed) is not the only run-in with the odd, cruiser-scale warships which have been combing the far shore of the Gap. Because of where they are being encountered, the name “Sagittarians” appears to have become datasphere canon.
Though quick-moving and aggressively curious about human vessels in the region, the unknown sapients operating these vessels have not yet been involved in any confirmed hostilities with our explorers. That is not to say that they are not deadly; both Survey and private exploration efforts have reported that a large number of their crews are overdue and potentially missing. It’s an unavoidable possibility that these mystery vessels have captured or killed at least one crew.
These incidents have been going on since at least October. Keep in mind that it takes a minimum of five weeks and usually more than seven for a vessel to cross the Gap, and that until the Navy’s Hypercast relay chain across the Gap is complete, we only have what reports vessels which are returning from half-year and year-long tours can carry back.
I have been inundated with requests to provide accounts of these seemingly hostile vessels, and also with obliging spacers’ accounts, credible and otherwise. Rather than dribble them out over several weeks’ Tales from the Inbox entries, I’ve chosen to list the five most credible in brief, in one post. These are not presented in order of when I received them rather than chronological order.
Tutankhamun E. reports seeing a squadron of four of the “Sagittarian” warships operating with a much larger vessel which his instruments suggested was a hauler at the edge of an unnamed star system. This five-vessel flotilla appeared outside the star’s grav shadow and began moving at a fairly slow (for the Sagittarians, anyway) pace toward the life-bearing second planet, which Tut’s crew was surveying. His commander wisely fled with all speed, and the Sagittarians stuck close to their larger charge, suggesting it was of high value.
Lurking at the edge of the system, the survey crew was able to capture a wealth of data broadcast by their planetary orbiter drones before the Sagittarians found and disabled them. This data, later shared with the Confederated Navy, provided clear images of the large hauler-type starship, which, next to the sleek, elegant warships, appears crude and ungainly. It is Tut’s hypothesis that this less advanced vessel was the work of yet another culture working in concert with the Sagittarians – perhaps they, like our own spacers, are the products of a conglomerated society.
Mikkal T., second-in-command of a small Naval Survey Auxiliary vessel, describes seeing the shattered hulk of a Sagittarian warship drifting in a debris field in orbit around a cloud-wreathed planet. His crew moved in to investigate, but an automated orbiter started broadcasting a garbled, unintelligible message. Whether it was a warning or a greeting, the spooked Survey crew fled to the edge of the grav shadow and moved on to the next system. The location of the wreck was handed over to Survey and the Navy, but it has been kept from the public for obvious reasons.
The Sagittarians may have allies, but they also appear to have enemies who can hurt them.
Wilfreda E. counts herself lucky that she went to Sagittarius with a fast ship (a custom-built long-range surveyor). When entering a system to investigate a life-bearing planet, her crew was horrified to see the drive signature of a Sagittarian warship appear in orbit around the system’s outer gas giant behind them. Fortunately, the explorers were able to accelerate into a stellar slingshot maneuver back to the edge of the grav shadow before the pursuing ship got close.
Wilfreda is convinced that the ship was lying in wait, hoping a human exploration vessel would drive in-system to examine a new life-bearing world. Only the high emergency acceleration of the ship saved her crew from this apparent trap.
Sabree I. is the captain of a small ship which, like Ning’s, was forced to ground by the sudden appearance of a much faster Sagittarian warship. Hidden in the tangled rings of a bloated gas giant, his ship would have eventually been found, had the Sagittarians stayed as long as they had in Ning’s case. Fortunately for him, the cruiser hunted for less than ten shifts before it mysteriously left and burned its way to the edge of the grav shadow at a very high rate of acceleration.
Sabree (who only learned of Ning’s encounter after his ship’s return to the near side of the Gap) speculates that, being vessels of a well-organized military (as we must assume they are, given the size and standardization of their vessels), the Sagittarians abandoned their search for him simply because they had orders they couldn’t abandon to chase a curious interloper.
Mari A., a lone-wolf independent explorer, hailed a Sagittarian warship with the standard first-contact program, not having heard any stories of their aggressive behavior before making the Gap crossing. Unlike in other encounters, the big ship made no attempt to pursue her; it continued on its course, sending a garbled reply which seemed to contain a few snatches of audio recording. Most of these were grinding or roaring noises, and are being analyzed as potential sources of xenolinguistic data.
In one of these seconds-long audio segments, one can clearly hear a human-like voice speaking, though its words are marred by static – the most common interpretation of the most intelligible section is that the voice is saying, “now, in the appointed time” but there are other theories as well. The voice has a distinctly pastoral tone, and Mari told me she thinks this is an indication that at least one of the eccentric religious groups which moved whole-sale across the Gap made an impression on the Sagittarians.
I found five well-reported examples of such a migration with a quick datasphere search. This is an optimistic interpretation to be sure, but I have no other explanation for the recording, or for the nonaggressive behavior of this particular Sagittarian vessel.