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The Lost Colony Part Two: Orders
Posted By: xitWOUND117<ChikenDevilR2@aol.com>
Date: 23 August 2003, 2:18 AM

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0856 Hours, August 19, 2525 (Military Calendar)/UNSC Command Facility, planet Reach

      All three of them had been called to Reach, Captain Paveroz, Captain Hugos, and Captain Veredi. Admiral Stanforth met them in the auditorium. The Captains sat in the bleachers while the Admiral stood on the stage. "Okay, you all have been called to Reach because of a...mysterious event," said Admiral Stanforth. "On February 3 at 1423 hours, the Harvest orbital platform acquired a long range radar contact with an unidentified object. Shortly afterward we lost all contact with Harvest. We sent the scout ship Argo to investigate. We received a transmission that it had arrived insystem on April 20, but lost contact with the Argo after that. Fleet Command has ordered that a battlegroup be assembled to investigate what's going on. Your ships, the Vostok, the Arabia, and the Heracles are that battlegroup. You will be leaving October 1 for Harvest. Any questions?"
      Captain Veredi spoke up. "Do you have any idea of what might have caused us to lose contact with a colony of three million?!" he asked. "No clue. There are endless possibilities, but you are going to find out what exactly has happened." Captain Paveroz asked next. "What if it is an alien contact, sir? Say, the aliens are blocking outgoing transmissions with this unidentified object?" "If it is an alien contact then go through the procedure. Try to make contact with it, etc." the Admiral answered. "Any more questions?" No one answered. "Very well. You and your crew have leave until your deployment."

1012 Hours, August 19, 2525 (Military Calender)/UNSC Vostok, docked with starport near planet Reach

      Captain Paveroz stood on the bridge of the Vostok looking at the main monitor, which displayed a view of vast space. Most of the crew and officers had departed for planet side leave, but a few stayed.
      The Captain heard someone walk up behind him. He turned around to see Lieutenant Baxter standing there. "Uh, Captain, can I ask you what was so urgent that we had to be called back to Reach?" he asked. "I believe you already have, son. But I guess you can be given an answer," replied the Captain. "Shortly after February 3 we lost contact with Harvest. A scout ship was sent to investigate, it disappeared April 20. We are going to go find out what happened," Captain Paveroz told Baxter. "Oh god. Not Harvest. I-we...my wife is on Harvest! What do you think happened, sir?!" asked the Lieutenant frantically. "Frankly, I have no idea. But we all have to get on with our lives, son. No matter what happened."
      That is the one lesson Captain Paveroz learned in his service with the Navy. You just had to keep going. He had lost a wife and two children due to a pirate raid on a passenger ship, the Hillari fifteen years ago. He had been crushed by that loss, but he kept moving. He never gave up. He still had not gotten over it, but he would do his duty, whatever the cost. The UNSC was the only reason major wars had not occurred for a long time. He was at least consoled by the fact that many other lives had been spared by his service. Frequently everyone gets too attached to their world, and when change happened, they collapsed. Captain Paveroz was not going to let that happen to him.
      "Couldn't this be just a communications error or something, I mean, they have to be alright. They have to!" cried Stephen Baxter. "Highly unlikely that happened. We will just have to find out ourselves, now won't we?" the Captain said. "Yeah, I guess so..." said the Lieutenant. Baxter walked off, trying to shake off his fear. But Eric Paveroz was convinced something bad had happened to Harvest. There was plenty of time for a ship from Harvest to reach a nearby colony. Something had stopped Harvest from communicating with the other colonies. Or rather, Paveroz suspected, a someone.

      In some form or another, almost all of the crew was connected to Harvest. It was one of the newer colonies, and many civilians had gone to the planet hoping for new opportunities. Everyone had a friend, a child, a loved one, or something on Harvest. But no one expected what had really happened to Harvest. No one ever dreamed what was about to begin, either.

0150 Hours, October 7, 2525 (Military Calendar)/UNSC Vostok, unknown location in Slipsteam space

      "Captain Paveroz, sit up. Breathe deep and cough, sir," a female voice said to the Captain. He opened his blurry eyes and sat up. He tumbled out of the cryotube and tried to breathe in. He was suddenly coughing hard until a long sting of clear fluid flowed out of his mouth. He stood up and took a deep breath. "Status, Mraul?" the Captain weakly asked the AI, which had been installed mid-August.
      A heavily cloaked figure appeared on a pedestal near the Captain. "Estimated one hour and five minutes to Harvest. All systems running normally," said the AI in it's low, powerful voice. "Good. Wake the rest of the crew and officers and get all weapons manned and ready. We don't know what happened to Harvest," ordered the Captain. "Yes, Captain." Paveroz left the cryobay to get dressed.

0250 Hours, October 7, 2525 (Military Calendar)/UNSC Vostok, unknown location in Slipsteam space

      Captain Paveroz stood at the bridge, his officers all at their stations. Lieutenant Baxter was unusually upright in his chair, sweating and staring intently at the main view screen, waiting for the first glimpse of Harvest once the would exit Slipstream space. Lieutenant Watiro was even more nervous than usual, having to wipe his brow every ten seconds. Lieutenant Imriak, however, was unchanged, which the Captain liked. No matter what the situation, John Imriak was business. Sarah Merenda was also staring at the main view screen, a look of determination in her eyes. She, too, expected something had happened to Harvest, and she was not going to let anyone get away with it.
      "Exiting Slipstream space now, Captain," said Mraul, standing on the armrest of the Captain's chair. Everyone felt the sudden deceleration of the ship as they entered normal space. The main view screen flickered and the ships Arabia and Heracles came into view. And looming before them was Harvest. But it did not look quite right. It was gray and black, not green, white, and blue, the signs of land, water, and atmosphere. And orbiting the planet was a strange looking ship. "Dear God!" cried the Captain.