Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ghostwalkers on Xelhiem

I am First Division Commander Meh'an Hab, of the First Zemex Space Fleet. I am reporting on our mission to Xelhiem to discover the fate of the two archeological teams sent to investigate a possible intact Anshani artifact.

Fleet Commander Shulea Fen had just arrested a group of Dirters that had set fire to the new hotel complex under construction near the Zemex Spaceport and illegally mind controlled a citizen, upon whom they committed fraud. They wouldn't have seen the light of day for a long time, if we didn't have a better use for them.

They were given the choice of prison or performing a mission for us. We explained the political situation on Xelhiem and its three colonial settlements. We suspected the Ghostwalkers, a rogue political group that was trying to force the colonists off that world, were responsible for the missing archeological teams. The Ghostwalkers were thought to have perpetrated various haunting incidents, where the colonists at night would see movement out of the corner of their eyes, but when you looked in the direction of the movement, nothing was to be seen. After the two team had vanished, the number of "hauntings" went up. We wanted to use their ship, primarily because that model of Space Tug had camouflage and stealth capabilities. They would be able to arrive on the planet with no one the wiser. As the ship was chipped to them, only they could pilot it.

The captain of the Ardanna Nuu, a scruffy, smelly Dirter named "The Mighty Quinn" made jokes about meddling children and that another Dirter, his First Officer, Stan Mann, said that they would have to paint the Ardanna Nuu various colors. It was suspicious to me that the color scheme that they chose would have worked well with Xelhiem plant life.

It was discovered that the crew of the Ardanna Nuu was thoroughly incapable of flying their ship, and had done so only by luck and guessing. Gods! What imbeciles... Sorry. We ran them through the fast track course on how to fly an Anshani ship, the one we give to new recruits so that they had at least a basic understanding, not the complete course, of course.

They recolored their ship and christened it the "Magical Mystery Bus". The Ardanna Nuu didn't seem to care for it and the ship's registry retained the original name. During the training period, the crew gained access to the Captain's cabin, the lock on the door finally released. The new captain checked it out and exited with a entertainment android in the shape of a Wumcal. We were told that its name was "Sally" and it would entertain the crew with songs and stories. Odd, very odd.

Along with my self and my second in command, Shoulo Tran, we were assigned to accompany the crew of the "Magical Mystery Bus" nee Ardanna Nuu, The trip to Xelhiem was quick and uneventful. I suspected that the XO and the one named Claire were planning some sort of conspiracy, but if they were hatching one, it didn't come to fruition. We arrived at Xelhiem and Captain Quinn ordered the Ardanna Nuu to turn on the "cloak" and to land at the spaceport. I had wanted to land between two of the settlements, so that we could investigate the Ghostwalkers. In retrospect, the decision to land at the spaceport was the better of the two, even though it was fraught with danger.

From overhead, you could see the landing pads for spacecraft and that was my first worry. Instead of the typical perfect circles of a Anshani landing pad, these were oblong, oval in shape. We landed on the closest pad to the hangar. We had seen from overhead that there were burns where the archeology team flyers had landed. Then they assembled what the XO called, "the away team". Away to what?

In any case, Quinn, Mann, Claire, and Lister, along with Tran and myself, left the Ardanna Nuu. Two of the Dirters, Yuri and Sergei were put in charge of cutting fodder for the ship's hoppers. Quinn is a remarkable commander. Outwardly he appears to be a drell-sho addict, but in many ways he wise in the ways of subterfuge and guile. One wonders where he learned these skills?

It was late afternoon, so we were armed with light sources, what the Dirters called "flashlights" though they never flashed once. We entered the hangar, after Claire investigated the foliage. It was purple, pink and white in color. Then she examined the landing areas and determined that the flyers were flown away. Along the way to the hangar, I felt that we were not alone. I kept seeing things from the corner of my eye, but my superior training kept me from acknowledging my fears.

Inside the hangar was a large ship, beetle in shape, approximately 30 to 40 standard units long. It didn't look to be in the best of shape. There were large mushrooms growing inside the hangar, in the dark and moist air. We spread out and soon we all were seeing things at the edge of vision. That's when Quinn ordered us to retreat. Tran and I faced the door, while the Dirters covered our back. Claire used a pocket mirror and said "It's a giant bug with a bow and arrows!"

While I didn't worry about any arrows while I wore my body armor, the Dirters were in ship's uniforms, no armor whatsoever. We moved at a quick march and noticed that Yuri and Sergei were not outside the ship and their cutting tools were lying on the ground. At that we were worried that the crew on the ship could have been overwhelmed by the insects. Tran and I had a different worry. If the giant insects were native to this world... Well the agreements we signed with our neighbors and the Costopnor Code would force us to remove our colonies. This was bad. We already had invested hundreds of millions of credits into this venture.

Claire brought up the viewscreen and switched to infrared view. The field outside lit up with warm bodies. Quinn turned on the speakers and said "Peace bug dudes! We are not here to harsh your mellow man. What do you want?"

I am perplexed by how one could harsh a mellow, or if that is even possible. Predictable there was no response. He then said, "Like, c'mon bug dudes! If you don't talk to us, we'll obliterate you!" That got a response and the heat signatures moved away from the ship. Quinn kept at it, "Bug dudes, send us someone to talk to!"

After waiting for a while, a different heat signature appeared and Claire brought the ship close to it. It was chief archeologist Garma Hu! After using the med kit on him, he told us that there were thousands of the Nye, the name of the natives on this world, descendants of those who had built this starport.

But more importantly, Cade was leading them!

Callarado Cade was the once the governor of the colony. Some say he went crazy, others say he went native. It look as though both were correct. The Dirters were talking about some sort of entertainment, a vid play called "Apocalypse Now!", a play that nearly mirrored what was happening here on Xelhiem. A human colonel went native and crowned himself god of some natives. It seems that Cade had done the same thing.

Quinn decided to capture a native and question it. Like a geero herding yu-yu, they separated one, used the stun field and then scooped him up into a cargo bay. The creature had a body coloration that matched the foliage outside perfectly. That explained how they could disappear so readily, they simply blended in.

Then Mann and Lister interrogated the prisoner. I watched their technique and took some notes. They were good at playing good law enforcement officer/bad law enforcement officer, and soon had the Nye eating out of their hands. His name was "Ree-ha-ya!" and Quinn introduced him to the odd herbal mixture that he smoked. Quinn even made a decent lager from the foodaracacycle on the Ardanna Nuu. I copied his programming, he must have been a biological chemist on Dirt.

The Nye told us that when the moons were right, they would bathe in the blood of their enemies and become invulnerable to all weapons fire and then they would attack. Cade proved that it would work by bathing a cadre of his most loyal followers in the blood of two archeologists and had arrows shot at them. The arrows couldn't hit them, no matter what they tried. The crew then attacked him world view, which ended when Claire used a disintegrating pistol on an object, then put a field around the Nye and shot at him. The beam dissipated before it touched the Nye.

We decided on a plan, the Nye on the back of a grav cycle driven by Lister, would lead the Ardanna Nuu to the Nye village, where we would confront Cade and his followers. I imagine that if the Nye wasn't smoking that herbal mixture made by Quinn, I think he would have been screaming in terror on the back of that grave cycle.

We soon came up on the village and I thought that Lister would return to the ship, but instead he gunned it and headed for where Cade was standing with his cadre of blood red warriors. They were on a stone dais and were armed with modern weaponry.

Mann fired the ship's cutting laser and melted the dais to a puddle.

But, with a Ahz as my witness, Cade and his guardian Nye were unaffected. Claire couldn't tell if there was a field around them, but instead encapsulated Lister and the stoned Nye in a protective field. Lister drove at them, they all fired, their shots deflected. Then Lister, the Nye and the field bubble hit Cade at 50 units a standard hour. He should have been turned to pate, but instead he was embedded into the field bubble. That told me that he had a similar field protecting him.

When we stopped, he asked who dared attack the Mighty Cade. That's when Quinn had Cade tractored and bounced on the ground a couple of times. "I am the Mighty Quinn! You got that dude?" said Captain Quinn with the volume turned up to 11.

Cade removed his weapons and a field generator he had under his cape. I then put him into restraints and arrested him. We went back to the village, rescued the surviving archeological team members and then Quinn talked to the Nye.

"Listen up bug dudes, I am the Mighty Quinn. I have defeated Cade, He was harshing your mellow. Well, now listen to me. One, don't hurt each other. Two, don't hurt others or harsh their mellow. Four, did I say not hurt other folks? Yeah, OK, then live and love together man. Also, I want to you learn a new song, a song to sing in praise of me!"

He then taught him a nonsensical song, but chorus I'll remember to my end of days, "You'll not see nothin' like the Mighty Quinn!" Truth be told, I can honestly agree with that statement. He also convinced me that we can subjugate the native by making more of his herbal mixture or something close to it. The tame Nye was sent out with a couple of bales of "Maui Gold" as Quinn called it. He gave me the programming for it. To be honest, it has a kick, from the small amount I tried.

We returned to Zemex and turned over Cade and the information. We gave the crew a reward, though Quinn requested that the Wumcal android be given a free-will package as his reward. More power to him, like the universe needs more autonomous androids. We also gave them the starcharts for our region of the galaxy. One of the Dirters on board, was named Walter Walters, a native of New Roanoake. It was only thirty stellar units away from Zemex. Perhaps they will go there next, who knows.

This is the end of my report, now I must go program the Barana Nuuk's Foodaracacycle with some new recipes...