First Contact

Published by Celestial Recursion, a -30- Press Imprint

Copyright, 2022 © Kristopher J. Patten, C.J Manor , Ashley Franz Holzmann, V.R. Walker

All Rights Reserved

Arbitration Chamber, Envoy-Wing, Homestead

AD 2668

“Captain Galaton.”


“Captain Galaton.”


“Captain – Fresia – Galaton.”


Galaton blinked, her eyes coming back into focus on the same dusty spot on the banister that had slowly bled from clarity as she listened to the droning of the proceedings.


“Yes, I apologize,” said Galaton emptily.


“Do you or do you not concede that the Stargazer was under the mission directive of the Astraeus Initiative and, by proxy, the Humanity Council?” Councilman Buringer asked.


“I have never contested that fact, Councilman, but that is hardly the point.”


“I fail to see why we continue with this charade of a proceeding,” Councilman Buringer continued, turning to face the panel of Envoys and councilmen. “The good Captain doesn’t even deny it! The Stargazer is clearly under the jurisdiction of the Humanity Council, of which Chairman Klaidciri is the only member this side of the anomaly! By simple succession, the Stargazer and all of its components fall under the rightful control of Chairman Kladçiri.”


Galaton took a second to arch her back and take a deep breath before allowing herself to glance over to where Chairman Aquataine was seated near the edge of the chamber.


He nodded and made a small circular motion with his hand, just as they had rehearsed.


“Councilman Buringer. The question is not whether the Humanity Council has jurisdiction over the Stagazer but whether the Humanity Council has any authority over anything on this side of the anomaly given the lack of communication. It is a matter of basic civics that the Humanity Council is designed to balance the interests of the corporate collective with the directive of CASC and PRIME,” Galaton stated, projecting her most diplomatic voice to the arrayed council members and audience.


“It appears that, without contact with CASC and the inability to even utilize a local CogNet, let alone interface with PRIME, the authority of the Humanity Council in Homestead is tenuous at best.”


The gathered Envoys began to murmur as she concluded her rebuttal.

Galatong glanced back at Aquantaine and observed the faintest movement at the corner of his mouth.




“Chairman Buringer,” Aquitaine began, “I believe we have not yet heard the deliberations from the joint Envoy-Defender Committee on Homestead Law. I move that we hear from the committee on the status of the Humanity Council’s Authority according to the Homestead Charter.”


“Enough, Leon!” said a voice from the entrance.


Klaidçiri walked in towards the center of the chamber, passing Galaton in the testimony stand.


“I believe that I can finally put a close to this lengthy proceeding and let Captain Galaton get back to the important business of helping her crew integrate into Homestead culture,” Klaidçiri said, a humorless smile curling his top lip over his perfectly white teeth.


Galaton quickly willed her face back into the placid mask she had crafted over the last few weeks as it had twisted into revulsion at Klaidçiri’s entrance.


“Chairman Klaidciri, thank you for coming!” said Beringer.


“Of course; I’m sorry it took so long. Rohalunge business, I’m afraid.” Klaidciri nodded.


Klaidçiri was dressed in sharp contrast to the other council members. Instead of the more comfortable tunics that had become standard dress in Homestead, Kalidçiri wore a sleek, black nano-fabric suit that was cut to compliment his thin, athletic frame. On the right collar, a blue circle sectioned into fourths by three dashes indicated the rank of a CASC Councilman.


Odd. Something off about that uniform, Galaton thought.


Aquitaine stood, his hand tracing a graceful arc toward the crowd. “Councilman Beringer, I would like to object to this. It is not in good order to allow Kladçiri to interrupt the flow of the proceedings. I move that we hear from the committee as scheduled and recognize,” Aquitaine inclined his head toward Klaidçiri, “other parties in due time.”


“Ahh, but I have not ceded my time yet, Leon,” said Beringer, leaning back in his chair and drumming his finger tips together. “I had more questions for Captain Galaton but I will cede that line of interrogation to the honorable Bright Star Governor. Chairman,” Beringer waved Klaidçiri forward, “please.”

“Thank you, Merik,” Klaidçiri said as he mounted the stand across from Galaton and sat down.


As Klaidçiri was situating himself, a very faint “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” echoed across the chamber.


Galaton glared utter violence at Meli who sat at the back of the group of Envoys.


Evelynth smacked him, hard.


Meli turned red and sunk down into his seat.


A couple of Envoys tried poorly to hide giggles, clearing their throats.


This is getting nowhere fast.


“Captain Galaton, please allow me to ask you one more question,” Kalaidciri said, appearing not to have heard Meli’s impropriety.


Galaton nodded.

“When you took command of the Stargazer, you did a full inspection of the ship, did you not?”


“I did.”


“Including the engine?”


“Yes, including the engine.”


“Tell me, what is the corporate control stamp marked on that engine?”


“Rohalunge Corporation Controlled Technology,” Galaton said with a sinking feeling.


“Ahh, thank you Captain Galaton,” Klaidciri said, looking very content with himself.


“Valued Envoys of Homestead,” he addressed the crowd, “it is true that I am the ranking member of the Humanity Council and that alone should allow me rights to decide how we use this precious resource of the Stargazer, lost for 15 years.


“But not only do I have that claim, I am also the only ranking member of the Rohalunge Corporation within the anomaly. Rohalunge was assigned to build the impulse drive for Agamemnon by CASC; it is common practice in the Cygnus Arm to allow corporations to retain exclusive control of any experimental technology developed in pursuit of a CASC initiative. NoEtic built the Stargazer, yes. However, they used a Rohalunge engine prototype.”


“The technology that powers the Stargazer was still under Rohalunge control when it was lost to the anomaly and when Gilgamesh succumbed to space madness. Effectively cutting us off from the Cygnus Arm. With no other options for us to gain access to this technology except the Stargazer, we claim Rohalunge rights to access our own technology which, unfortunately, means that we must continue to impound the Stargazer.”


So that’s his play, Galaton thought, taking in a sharp breath to calm her racing pulse.


Kladçiri continued, “This is in all of our interests, as this unique technology could both allow us to explore deeper into the anomaly or even reconnect with the Cygnus Arm–” Klaidçiri paused, looking directly at Galaton “ –in a way, fulfilling the Stargazer’s mission to support exploring the anomaly.”


Galaton could feel her mind alternating between complete exhaustion and a deepset anger that drove her to maintain her crisp, attentive posture.


Galaton closed her eyes, clenching her fist tightly as she prepared to respond.


At least Ladipo will be back soon and he can talk about the engine, just need to wait for the next hearing. There’s always another hearing.

Before Galaton could speak, two Homestead Regulators ran into the chamber directly to Chairman Aquitaine. The first Regulator bent over and whispered in his ear.


Aquitaine looked sharply at the Regulators and punched something into his holotablet before standing up and leaving the chamber in a rush.


The council members in the room all looked down at the holotablets on their wrists, alerts silently vibrating through arms.


“This session will have to adjourn,” said Beringer looking at the message on his holotablet. “There is a more pressing matter.”


What could be so important?




Anomaly Zone A1


“Don’t move,” Crewman Wei said. Voice quivering with the tenor of fear.


Ladipo was frozen in place, kneeling over the excavation of the helmet. A primal instinct told him to run.

To escape.


To live.


Don’t even breathe.


The creature moved closer. Now only three human strides away.


We’ve been in this cave for hours, how had it just appeared like that?


“Hold on, Ladipo. On my mark, ok?” said Crewman Wei.


Ladipo slowly nodded. His thighs burned from the lunge he had held for several minutes.




Ladipo sprang forward, the shaking in his legs gone as adrenaline launched him towards the exit of the cave.

Crewman Wei fired a small coilgun into the stone above the creature, sending shards of gray rock flying and filling the cave with thick dust.


Ladipo ran through the opening of the cave, Wei backed out, keeping his coilgun trained where the creature had been.


“What the hell–” Ladipo said, chest heaving “ –was that??”


“I don’t know, man, I don’t know!” Said Wei still scanning the dust for signs of movement.


“Did you kill it?”


“I don’t think so; I aimed at the rock above it, not it.”


“I– phwew– told you we weren’t the first.” Ladipo was now fighting the shaking of his legs and the urge to vomit from the adrenaline.


“You said humans. This hardly counts. I’ll keep posted here, you need to call the Regulators!” Wei said, glancing back at Ladipo.

“Got it.” Ladipo grabbed his holotablet off his wrist and began to transmit. “Homestead Control, this is NL-001. Emergency code Sigma, Niner, Epsilon. I say again, Sigma, Niner, Epsilon.”


“Verified, NL-001. Regulators are enroute, locked to your locator beacon.”


“They’re coming, Wei, let’s get ba–” Ladipo started. Looking up from his tablet.


A blink of lavender across his vision.


Wei was gone.


In his place, the creature. Unmoving.


The creature was tall.


No, not tall.




The creature was a dull brown color, its lithe body extending out into empty space from two short but powerful looking legs.


It didn’t have arms, nor did it have claws or tentacles. Rather, it had five thin, flexible appendages that terminated in a digitless, tear-drop shaped lump of brown flesh.


Its head was mostly sunk into the top of its torso; the only anatomy exposed were purple, shimmering eyes deep beneath the ridge that blended in with the rest of its hexagonally scaled body.


Ladipo weighed whether to run.


His body decided for him.


He sprinted, willing the jets in his suit to propel him forwards, gaining speed.


Got to get to the shuttle.


He looked back. He did not see the creature.


Then he tripped.

His boot caught on a protruding rock, sending his body skittering across the surface of Shuriken_001.


Ladipo lay there, stunned.


He staggered upright, thighs burning.


Run containment diagnostic. Ladipo willed.




Run containment diagnostic. He willed again.


Still nothing.


I’m in range of the shuttle, why isn’t this working?


He looked towards where the shuttle should have been.


The only thing there was the creature.







Ladipo stared, unblinking. It was then he noticed that the world was shifting in color. Fading to black.


He chanced a look down at his wrist, his holotablet was damaged. Scuffs and dents ran across the band which housed the nuclear diamond battery.


Visual filter must have turned on.


His eyes returned to the creature.


Is this thing glowing???



Captain Galaton’s Quarters, Homestead.

“I’m not sure I understand. Why does he have such a hard on for the Stargazer? It’s not like he’s sentimental,” Meli said, trying, unsuccessfully, to cover the tea he had just spilled on Galaton’s couch.


“I don’t know what specifically he needs in there, but he seems to be emphasizing the engine. Technician Ito, thoughts as to why this might be?” Galaton asked.


“It is likely that Chairman Marko Kladçiri has some sort of economic motive for his actions,” said It.0. “Rohalunge Corporation suffered greatly after the disaster of the Agamemnon. I don’t know what we– I mean–, PRIME, would have directed resource allocation to when CASC lost contact with the Stargazer but I’m sure that two apparent disasters in less than a year would have caused Klaidçiri’s expulsion from Rohalunge leadership.”


“That little weasel probably came here on Gilgamesh to avoid embarrassment,” Rad said.


Rad was standing in the entryway, which had the widest space between furniture. Even though he attempted to space himself out, he came dangerously close to knocking over tables, chairs, and drinks.


Galaton sighed. “Yes. I tend to agree, but he is here and he managed to hold on to sway and influence. What we need to do is discredit him.”

“Captain Fresia Galaton, if we can prove that he was disciplined or removed from the Humanity Council before entry to the anomaly, we can discredit his authority claims, at least in the Homestead court,” It.0 said.


“I agree with Kazumi,” said Meli. “These courts are emulating the structure we had in the Milky Way, but all of that was augmented by local CogNets, data from people’s nexus implants, and, of course, PRIME. Without these components, it’s kind of just a gross approximation of how we think justice was served pre-war. Which gives us an advantage. All we need is one decisive piece of evidence.”


“Navigator Arra Ladipo was the only one to venture into the wreckage of the Gilgamesh. He was quarantined, then decided to stay out in the void exploring. Of the 6 months we’ve been here, he’s been on homestead less than 5 days. Which means it won’t be odd for him to remain away from Homestead I” said It.0. “I recommend contacting him and seeing if he can pull more information about Councilman Klaidçiri from the wreckage.”


“Possibly,” Galaton said, pursing her lips. “He hasn’t exactly been known for his compliance of late. I don’t want him doing anything rash.”


“I can go!” Rad exclaimed, rattling the end-table.


“I need you here, plus it will be very obvious if you’re gone,” said Galaton.“Speaking of Navigator Ladipo, has anyone heard from him?”


“Negatory on my end,” said Meli, now leaning his whole arm over the spreading tea stain.


“No, I haven’t,” said Rad.


“Hmm. Rad, go to Homestead Control. If you can reach Ladipo, tell him that he is to leave his dig site and contact me on this channel.” Galaton passed the crypto to Rad.

She stared at him, tapping a finger lightly against her front tooth. She sighed. “If you cannot reach him, make a very loud proclamation that you are going to go find him. Act like you think he is one of our missing, and then take a shuttle with Kazumi and recover data from the Gilgamesh, anything related to Klaidçiri and Rohalunge.”


“Yes, Captain,” said Rad, grinning.


“Captain Fresia Galaton,” It.0 said, “it is likely that material from the Gilgamesh relating to Klaidçiri has been migrated, damaged, or possibly destroyed. I would recommend looking on Bright Star, at Klaidçiri’s estate.”


Galaton’s forehead crinkled. “Good point. Very well. Go to Bright Star, and do not get caught. Kazumi, you’re our other ace in the sleeve; no one knows who you are and you’re not a member of the crew according to the manifest. Rent a transport. Rad, you’re cargo. Stay stowed as much as you can. If you’re spotted off-station, I worry that could compromise our case.” Galaton nodded to Rad and It.0 before turning to Meli.


“Technician Jankowicz, you and I have another problem to solve.”