2947-07-29 - Editor's Loudspeaker: Observations from the Committee Hearings

The week's hearings ended today (early this morning in Cosmic Background time), and I have finished reviewing the recordings. As I promised on Wednesday, here are some highlights, which were not highlighted by the media staffers working for committee chairwoman Sylja Nisi-Bonn. Delegate Nisi-Bonn's datasphere hub has a list of other highlights which is far more comprehensive - my objective here is to point to an item from each day of hearings which I think is not receiving sufficient coverage already. I will clearly delineate my own thoughts with the marking [D.C.] where applicable. I probably don't need to remind you, but any opinions presented alongside these markings are my own, not necessarily those of Cosmic Background.

There are also other details about these hearings which probably deserve more coverage than they're getting; I encourage those in the audience with the time to do so to view the recordings in their entirety.

  • 2947-07-25: While the recorded interviews with survivors was what the datasphere focused on from Tuesday's hearings, The recorded testimony of the New Rheims orbital port stationmaster proved far more interesting. He asserted that ships which broadcast Naval Survey Auxiliary IFF codes had been performing some sort of maneuvers at the fringes of the system several days before the disaster, and that the Arrowhawk patrol group had arrived in-system shortly after the NSA flotilla departed. The station, being outside the planet's atmosphere, was presumably unaffected by the ecological collapse, but according to the Naval representative who provided the recordings, this official too had been evacuated.
    • [D.C.] The NSA ships were not reported in relation to this incident until this testimony. I did a cursory search, and could find no evidence of this activity elsewhere. NSA certainly does training exercises in safe, well-patrolled systems, but they are usually very public about these maneuvers and the ships involved. After all, the Survey Auxiliary is not a true military operation, and in theory it has no need for secrecy.
    • [D.C.] What happened to that spaceport station? None of the Delegates on the committee seemed to pick up on this detail.

  • 2947-07-26: Admiral Godfrey, representing the Admiralty Council, sat before the committee for nearly three hours. Early in his testimony, he admitted that Naval Intelligence issued Article 54(f) takedown notices for orbital images of the disaster which made it into the Core Worlds datasphere, and that they continue to regard these images and others like them as military secrets. Article 54(f) is the section of the Mandates which gives the Navy the right to censor data related to imminent threats to the security of the Confederated Worlds. When asked thirty-four minutes later in the same session whether there were any imminent threats to Confederated security, he replied that there were none.
    • [D.C.] Based on her reaction, I suspect that Ms. Nisi-Bonn recognized the contradiction, but this issue has not yet been raised in the questioning of later witnesses.

  • 2947-07-27: Climatologist Najma Wright provided only brief testimony which largely went unnoticed by the datasphere news-feeds. Among the things she reported was that New Rheims was among the most ecologically stable planets outside the Core Worlds. When asked whether the situation as she understood it was consistent with a "Carthage Order" scenario, she said that she did not have enough data to say, but that nothing she had been provided  as of her appearance ruled out the possibility.
    • [D.C.] No Navy crew would knowingly execute a Carthage order on a Confederated world during peace-time. Despite tensions between the Confederacy and the Hegemony, I don't think any Hegemony military crew would execute a Carthage order on any human-inhabited planet either. A Navy representative (I don't recall which) later confirmed that no Carthage order has been issued by the Confederated Navy, and I suspect this is accurate - but it doesn't rule out the possibility that the planet was attacked by a warship. If it was, and the ship wasn't a Navy ship, why would they cover it up?

  • 2947-07-28: While he is still in the field with his command, Captain Samuel Bosch of Arrowhawk recorded testimony for the committee several days in advance. Bosch's comments are already receiving a lot of media coverage, but what isn't is that there are several cut-jumps in his pre-recorded testimony. The editing job done on the recording was of high quality.
    • [D.C.] Given how many signs of cover-up there already are in this matter, I am skeptical. It's possible that Bosch will not see the hearings for several weeks or months; if the Navy chose to omit sections of his account, it will be some time before the omissions are corrected - if they ever are. Perhaps I am too suspicious; it's also possible the editing was the work of Bosch himself before he sent the file along.

  • 2947-07-29: Three officials from Naval Intelligence took the stand and their evasive answers have been exhaustively covered by the dedicated news sources. What went almost unnoticed, however, was their admission that none of them were involved in the decision to censor all images and data of the disaster recorded from orbit around New Rheims. This was surprising because they had been enrolled into the schedule of testimony as the officials responsible for invoking Article 54(f).
    • [D.C.] Perhaps this was a staff oversight - it would hardly be the first time - but the Delegates seemed fairly angry when they found out. I rather suspect the Navy lied about their relation to the decision, and sent up three of its most evasive smooth-talkers to delay the investigation. This probably didn't get a lot of attention from Delegate Nisi-Bonn's office because it indicates the Navy got the better of her; we can only hope she's learned her lesson.

While this studio is still not a news operation, we have decided to continue to follow this story; our audience feedback in relation to it has been tremendous.

2946-07-31 - Tales from the Inbox: The Rosetta Halo

This entry was submitted by Jozefina U., who has already been featured in a Feedback Loop episode of the vidcast. Jozefina is currently the mayor of a town of about 1,500 settlers on the frontier world of Botterhill, which is primarily known in the Core Worlds for the discovery of the so-called Rosetta Halo, a functional artifact likely built by the so-called Xenarchs. Jozefina and her two associates sold the artifact to a consortium of Core Worlds research universities for an unbelievable fortune in 2931, and it has allowed xenoarchaeologists to construct a partial translation of the Xenarchs' written language.

In this submission, Jozefina discussed the situation in which she discovered the Rosetta Halo. This story is probably household knowledge on Botterhill, but here in the Core Worlds, the haphazard and accidental nature of the find may come as a surprise to many of our audience.

Jozefina was the first to rappel into the grotto. Proper explorers would have brought a gravitc lifter or even a sled, but her little band was anything but, and had to rely on cable and tie-down spikes hammered into rock the old-fashioned way. It was all their lighter’s fabricator had been able to churn out on short notice.

“What’s it look like?” Anita called down, her head silhouetted against the tiny oval of sky at the top of the shaft.

Jozefina saw nothing but damp, dripping darkness in every direction, so she activated the lights secured to her wrists and swept them around in a circle. The cave was just that – a cave. It was damp, but fortunately the floor was not underwater – thin runnels of moisture trickled along the floor into a crack near one wall. “It’s big, but there’s not much to it.” She called up. Some of the rocks reflected the light oddly, but that was because they were damp and covered in delicate traceries of flowstone. The cavern wasn’t unpleasant, but compared to some of the larger cave networks around the settlement, it was fairly uninspiring. The region’s largest web of caves had made travel media all the way back in the Core Worlds for its size and grandeur; this one would not even warrant a footnote.

“Damn.” Walter muttered, his quiet voice echoing down. Jozefina knew that to Walter, every cave was a potential motherlode of alien artifacts or palace-like cascade of ancient stalagmites that would bring in endless tourism. He set his hopes high, and they were always dashed.

“We’ll, give it a good once-over look anyway.” Anita replied. “I’m sending Walter down.”

The rope jerked as the man hooked his harness into it and began to rappel down after Jozefina. She stepped away to give him a place to land, wandering down the cave’s long axis. Her attention fell on egg-shaped boulder roughly the size of their lighter’s cabin, which sat on a pile of smaller rocks. It was smooth across half its surface and marked with flowstone across the other half. The flowstone seemed to embrace the boulder, as if cradling it. Jozefina deployed the camera unit attached to her helmet and lined up for a few photos. The climb would at least not be a total loss; a few close-ups of the odd formation would be perfect fodder for her datasphere media feed.

As she moved from one interesting perspective to another, Jozefina stepped on something that snapped underfoot. Bending down, she found a long, straight stick of the local wood-analogue, its end sharpened into a point. “Odd.” She said. The wood was damp and probably worm-eaten, but that didn’t explain the sharpened point.

“What was that?” Anita called down.

Jozefina stood, still holding the stick, but she never got around to answering her associate's curiosity. The cavern was suddenly illuminated with a warm yellow-orange light. Confused, the amateur explorer looked up and saw a ring of bright motes slowly orbiting the egg-shaped boulder. There was an almost hypnotic pattern to the lights – and as they moved, they sharpened and grew more numerous, becoming symbols. Alien symbols.

“Woah!” Walter exclaimed. Jozefina turned around to see him disconnecting from the line, gazing up at the symbols. “Jackpot.”

“What?” Anita called again. “Did you use a flare, Joz?”

The flowstone flaked off the rounded bolder in great, brittle sheets, and Jozefina saw intricate carvings below. In the seams of the carvings, she saw the gleam of bright metal. “No.” She called up distractedly. “Found something.” She stepped forward, arm outstretched.

“I wouldn’t touch it.” Walter warned.

Jozefina touched it anyway. Nothing happened; the symbols did not change or vanish. The artifact – for that was certainly what it was – was warm to the touch, and vibrating faintly.

“What do you think it is?” Anita asked.

“Hell if I know.” Jozefina replied. “Get a claim marker from the lighter. This is ours now.” 

2946-08-07 - Tales from the Inbox: Last of the Silent

Today's entry comes to us from Lukas R., a freelance explorer contracting to support the Naval Survey Auxiliary. Lukas returned from one of his trips with an unexpected passenger. Mira Silent, as this passenger became known, is now a fairly prominent musician and entertainer at Mirabel. Lukas assures us he secured her permission to send in the story. Evidently, she never talks about the sort of people that populated her world; I suspect she didn't know herself. Either she was the last child of a small remnant group that survived whatever disaster befell the city, or she was a child brought along on a group expedition to recover or plunder the site, and her elders met a grisly fate. Either way, she never knew the dreary ruin Lukas describes when it was full of life.

While I have no proof of any of this, I can find no obvious reason to doubt his account. Mira's datasphere hub neither contradicts nor corroborates Lukas's tale.

Lukas stared into the fog, waiting for his survey drones to return. No sound broke the oppressive stillness of the dead city, not even wind hissing through the open windows of the corroded prefabricated buildings. The only motion in view was the gentle fluttering of scraps of torn cloth hanging from some of the windows.  

Though Frontier legends spoke of the existence of the Silent Planet, Lukas hadn’t known what “silent” would mean until he found the place. Even a flock of bird-like creatures soaring in close formation through the misty sky made no noise as they passed over the dead towers. Each time he shifted his footing on the roof from which he’d deployed his drones, the groaning of the pitted sheet metal seemed a roaring intrusion. 

Finding the Silent Planet had been an accident, just as it was in all the stories. The world didn’t appear on any navigation chart, and he’d stumbled upon it in a nameless system while performing an asteroid-mining survey. Most likely the builders of the four and five story towers of prefab modules had intended their colony to be hidden. Perhaps they had been Penderites or practitioners of some other isolationist philosophy, seeking to cut off all contact with the Core Worlds. Perhaps the town had been a hideout for pirates and their families, or perhaps a damaged colony ship had limped into the system, stranding a few unfortunate settlers in its enduring, oppressive silence. 

Though there was no way of knowing how long it had been since the builders had left or died out, Lukas saw nothing to indicate human habitation within the nameless town in his own lifetime. Neither had he seen any human remains – the inhabitants had vanished without a trace, leaving him to guess at their fate. Even decayed and moldering, the ruins hinted at a colorful, vibrant community, at a life interrupted. It was as if a city of thousands had simply walked out into the mist, never to return. 

The hum of the returning drones deafened Lukas, though the machines were considered quiet and unobtrusive anywhere else. After each of the three fist-sized machines circled its owner and docked to the charging ports on his pack, Lukas turned around and clambered down the way he had come. The pack's computer would soon spit out a map of the ruins, hopefully pointing the way to any easily-salvaged valuables the lost inhabitants had abandoned. The timetable on his contract prevented him from staying planetside long enough to perform a full search of the ghost town. 

In fact, as Lukas stepped over the ruins of some sort of polymer-printed furniture, he wondered why even people with something to hide might have come to such a dreary place. There were dozens of genuinely pleasant worlds on the Frontier just as secluded as this one, without its dreadful, dead aspect. Despite this, thousands of people had lived, worked and loved – and apparently died – in the shifting mists and constant stillness of the Silent Planet. He couldn’t imagine anyone, even religious ascetics, choosing such a life if they had any other choice. 

As Lukas returned to the crumbling pavement of street level, he spotted movement in the corner of his eye, in the shadows of a yawning doorway. Grabbing at the carbine slung under his arm, he leveled the weapon at the disturbance and brought the lights on his suit to full power. The harsh blue-white beams found nothing within but the far wall and a few rotted heaps that might once have been furnishings. 

Shaking his head, Lukas brought up the map his survey computer had rendered to orient himself, heading toward the location determined to be the highest likelihood of portable valuables. The silence was getting to his nerves, but there was a simple explanation for it: the world had a fairly standard biosphere, save that none of the wildlife had ever learned to use human-audible sound. 

Lukas had only moved a few meters down the weed-choked thoroughfare before he spotted motion again. Something withdrew around a corner ahead of him as he approached. Carbine ready, the explorer activated his helmet recorder and followed the disturbance. Despite his uneasiness, Lukas knew good data on the planet's wildlife might be as valuable as any salvage. Whatever it was seemed skittish, so he probably wasn’t in any danger. 

"Let’s have a look at you." 

Immediately Lukas regretted voicing the thought; even a whisper under his breath echoed thunderously off the weathered walls looming on all sides. In an instant, the dreary, damp atmosphere became forbidding, even hostile. Lukas wondered if it would be wiser to abandon his hopes of easy profit and head back to his landing craft. After all, the legends said the Silent Planet was cursed; even if he didn’t personally put much stock in such mysticism, the legend might have arisen from very real danger. 

Turning around to head back to the edge of the settlement where he’d landed his spacecraft, Lukas found himself face to face with a tattered black cowl. He yelped in surprise and fell backwards, dropping his carbine to the moss-covered pavement. 

The figure didn’t react to Lukas’s alarm except to beckon with one shrouded arm. Lukas followed its gesture and saw something slither into a shadowed alley. He didn't get a good look at it, but he sensed he didn’t want to – the hooded being might have saved his life. Lukas nodded silently, trying unsuccessfully to see the figure's shadowed face. 

Satisfied, the figure dropped its arm and, leaning heavily on a walking-stick made out of a bent piece of piping, hobbled away down the lane. Not even the foot of its cane made any noise on the crumbling pavement. Forcing himself to be quiet, got back to his feet and hurried to follow. 

After a few turns through the labyrinthine ruins, the figure ducked through a tattered cloth curtain covering a doorway, and Lukas, not without reservation, followed. Inside, behind a neat stack of ancient-looking plastic canisters, he found the embers of a small fire glowing in a scavenged metal bowl, their heat keeping the dampness at bay. Soot-stains on the ceiling above suggested the place saw regular use as a shelter, and a pile of cloth near the fire probably served as bedding. 

 The cowled figure dropped stiffly into a seated position near the fire-bowl and cast back its hood. In the red glow of the embers, Lukas saw his rescuer’s face – a woman's, angular and painfully thin, her mouth twisted into a permanent scowl by a wide scar across her lips and left cheek. Lukas guessed based on her limping gait that the scar was only the beginning of her ailments, even though she didn't look a day older than thirty. 

Lukas approached the fire cautiously. The woman had no obvious weapons, but that didn’t mean she was harmless. "Who are you?" 

The woman took a few seconds to remember her voice before she answered in a smooth, melodic voice softer than the most careful whisper, and totally at odds with her battered appearance. "I am... Mira." The name seemed to be something dredged up from a vast distance. "I am the last." 

“I’m Lukas.” Lukas sat down opposite Mira, setting his weapon aside. “What happened here?” 

The woman only shrugged – whether out of ignorance or apathy, Lukas couldn’t say. “This world ever hungers. Do not feed it. Even the mists sometimes devour.” 

Lukas shuddered, remembering the unmentionable thing he’d glimpsed slithering into the shadows. There might be treasure in abundance on the Silent Planet, but he didn’t fancy tangling with whatever had shredded Mira’s flesh. “I don’t plan on it.” 

Mira laughed quietly, though her mouth could not form a smile to accompany the sound. “Others like you have come. Loud, awkward, confident. They rarely leave.” 

“Then why are there no spacecraft?” Lukas held up his wrist unit, activating its screen to show the map his drones had created. Even the pads of the colony’s crumbling spaceport lay empty save for a few hulks picked clean of parts long before the colony’s end. If Mira was telling the truth, there should have been dozens of abandoned ships around the dead city. 

Mira leaned forward to scrutinize the map, grasping Lukas’s wrist with one painfully thin, long-boned hand. Despite the poverty of her situation, the folding screen on the wrist of his suit didn’t seem to surprise her. 

After a few moments, she let go and returned to her previous position. “I cannot say. Perhaps in time even machines become food.” 

Lukas looked at the map himself, looking for structures that might be plant-choked spacecraft which his drones had misidentified. After a few moments, though, he decided such analysis would have to wait until he was safely back in orbit. If the planet’s ecology did eat spacecraft, he was operating on borrowed time. “Thank you for your warning, Mira. I think I’ll leave, and you’re welcome to join me.” 

As Lukas stood, Mira stood also, taking up her bent walking-stick once more. “Join you?” 

“Yes. I can take you off this world.” He tapped the location of his ship on the map. “Can we get here?” 

Once again, the woman scrutinized the map. “I can help you reach your ship, but why would I leave?” 

Lukas shook his head, incredulous. "Why would you want to stay?” 

“Because I am the last.” From the look on her face, Mira seemed to find this question as ridiculous as he had found hers. 

“You’ll still be the last when you leave.” 

Strangely, this answer seemed to satisfy the crippled survivor. “Perhaps that is so.” She raised a hand to her face, running her fingers along the scar marring her otherwise noble visage. “Or perhaps there will be another to take my place.” 

Lukas suddenly felt uneasy at the idea of having Mira aboard his ship. What if she wasn’t what she seemed? What if she was as broken mentally as she was physically? Still, he had offered, and couldn’t bring himself to take it back. 

In Lukas’s hesitation, the last inhabitant of the Silent Planet made her decision. “I will go with you, spacer Lukas.” As she spoke, she seemed to stand up straighter than before, as if remembering that she was a human, not a mere scurrying prey animal for the planet’s skulking terrors.  

Lukas nodded, shouldering his carbine. He kept his reservations to himself; he had offered her an escape, and he could not now recall his words. 

“Follow. Be absolutely quiet.” Raising her hood once more, the scarred woman hobbled toward the curtain-covered doorway and back out to the misty street. 

2946-08-14 - Tales From the Inbox - First Contact on Makaharwa

Raukrhan watched the Great Old One silently. There was no mistaking what it was; the song-stories said that the Old Ones would come haloed in fire and gleaming to surpass the finery of all the cladelords, and so it had come to pass. Now, the creature hovered lightly over the Razor Plains, the great blasts of its breath flattening even the stiff blade-bushes below it. Dozens of glowing eyes watched in all directions, and not one of them had blinked since Raukrhan had begun watching. 

The Great Old Ones had not come to Makaharwa in at least fifteen generations, but it had been said in all that time that their return was imminent. The story-singers knew that the fickle, changing will of the Highmost Of All Worlds would someday cast its baleful eye on Raukrhan’s people once more, and He would send his servants, the Great Old Ones, to treat, to grant boons, or to destroy, as He had in ages past. In those days, some of Raukrhan’s ancestors had been taken to live among the stars, and it was said that those who had gone were singing still in the heavenly City of Worlds, entertaining the Highmost and his glittering court. 

Raukrhan hoped that, in the craggy vantage he had selected, even the multitudinous eyes of a Great Old One would be unable to spy him. He kept his plumage dulled to match the rocky spire onto which he clung, certain that as long as he was still, nothing in the world could see him. The Old Ones were not of the world, of course; this one might spy him out all the same. It was a risk, but a necessary one, and Raukrhan had volunteered quickly, before lots had been cast. As the rest of the clade had fled into the safety of the sacred grottoes, he had come out alone, carrying nothing except a bag with three days’ food for his vigil. Everyone knew that weapons and totems were no proof against the Old Ones. 

After a long while, the Great Old One effortlessly seared for itself a blackened hole in the Razor Plains and came to a ponderous rest. Even from a distance, Raukrhan could smell the sour stench of burning and desolation carried on the wind, along with the bitter, venomous smell of the Old One itself.

Any hope that the vast being had come only to take ease in a pleasant place was soon dashed; the creature disgorged a number of tiny things, some of which circled in tandem up into the air, while others tottered about on the scorched ground around their parent. The ground-bound things moved with deliberate caution as they fanned out into the Plains in small groups, while the fliers circled restlessly above their sinister parent.  

These fliers, the obvious threat to Raukrhan and his clan, were of a kind with the Old One’s glittering, sinister element. Their odd jerking motion in the air, and their total lack of wings or plumage with which to ride the wind, unsettled him, as did the speed with which they performed their precise aerial dance.  

One by one, these tiny subordinates flew off in all directions. This, the song-stories did not prepare Raukrhan for; the Great Old Ones described by the tale-singers never needed to search for what they wanted. When they came, they simply proceeded toward the object of their desire, erasing all obstacles as if they had never been. Perhaps, in all their ages of service to the Highmost, even Old Ones had become forgetful. 

Almost too late, Raukrhan noticed one of the flitting minions meandering toward him. He hugged the rock closely, watching it go by, buzzing like a gorged rubyfly and bobbing like a piece of foamwood in a rapid stream. It was not much bigger than himself, and seemed to hang in the air upside down, with its swiveling head hanging below its round body and stubby, fruit-shaped bulbs which seemed a disdainful mockery of wings. Such a thing, he knew, should not fly, and yet it soared jerkily through the air. 

Just as it seemed the creature passed Raukrhan’s hiding place without taking notice, it came to a sudden halt, spinning its body in place until it faced him.  Hoping still to avoid notice, the sentry froze and held his breath, even as its hot, acrid breath washed over him. 

The creature barked something unintelligible, its voice tinny and hollow. Raukrhan could no longer hope that he had not been noticed. After he spent a few seconds in silent deliberation, it repeated its noises, dipping lower, until its many-eyed head was suspended directly in front of his own eyes. Seeing that it lacked teeth or claws of any kind, Raukrhan hoped to spook this thrall from the stars – he threw up his feather-crest and cast his wings wide, shifting his plumage from the dull gray-brown color of the rocks to a vibrant pattern of violet and yellow.  

Most of Makaharwa’s more dangerous predators found such a display at least surprising, but this subordinate to the Old One merely backed away slowly, making no move to suggest that it was alarmed. Shifting his colors once more, Raukrhan threw himself at it, clawing at its hardened head with his climbing talons. 

To his relief, the shining creature broke off and gained altitude, though he doubted he’d done any damage. Before it could recover, he leapt off his perch over and sped away into a cliff-hugging dive, hoping to hide among the crags and evade the gleaming horror.  

Evading an Old One, however, proved as impossible as the song-stories claimed. As soon as Raukrhan had leveled off at the bottom of the cliff, the bobbing abomination dropped down in front of him. It had sprouted a new limb since he turned away; the spindly, talon-like appendage joined its round body just above the hanging head. This limb flailed against the air, but not randomly – Raukrhan decided that it was gesturing, a crude mimicry of how Raukrhan’s people might gesture with their clawed wing-digits. The meaning of the gesture was clear - it was pointing at its prey, as if claiming him as its own. 

Raukrhan, imagining the things it might intend to do with someone so claimed, turned and abruptly and dove into the canopy of a narrow, wooded gulch, crashing through the recoiling tendrils of a waterfall tree and taking refuge among its distended roots. 

Still, the questing servant of the Old One followed, slowly lowering itself between the trees. It found Raukrhan easily, and pointed at him once more. This time, he realized, it was not quite pointing at him – it was pointing at his little bag of provisions, dangling from its carry-strap.

Raukrhan hissed at it, looking for another way to escape. He didn’t want to part with the food, but he would gladly trade it for his life. Perhaps the Great Old One had merely come to the world to fill its cavernous belly? If so, it had chosen its location well – the hills around the Razor Plains were fertile foraging ground, and even the perilous plains themselves could be made to yield up a great bounty. Carefully, he lifted the leather loop off his neck and tossed the bag to the horror, hoping that this would satisfy its desires. Perhaps while it investigated the contents, he might make his escape. 

The shining creature barked again, equally unintelligibly. Its single talon picked up the bag, then held it out, as if to give it back. Raukrhan hissed at it, not understanding the otherworldly creature’s ways, and not wanting to try. The Old Ones were beyond the comprehension of all but the Highmost, and only madness could be the reward of such curiosity.

The servant of the Old One persisted, pointing with its single claw to itself, to Raukrhan, then into the distance, where its sire lay in a circle of devastation. It offered the bag, then again. Raukrhan, despite his best efforts, began to see the edges of its purpose; it wanted him to return with it, and was offering him something if he obeyed. He had no choice; the Old One’s thralls could certainly hunt him to the ends of the world, and if he did by miraculous fortune evade them, they would just as likely search out his clade-mates, since the sacred grotto was only a day’s flight away. Whatever its purpose, he was the sentry, the one who had accepted the risk; it was his responsibility to suffer whatever the Old One willed, in the hope that it would spare the others. 

Fear twisting his insides, Raukrhan snatched the bag back. The silvery creature rose past the treetops, and Raukrhan clambered up after it and took to the air, following the bobbing, shining servant back to its titanic master.

He wanted to flee once more, but he saw it was no use; more of the flying servants watched from a distance on all sides, and the tottering groundlings had gathered to watch his approach as well. As it went in the stories, the will of the Highmost, enacted by the Great Old Ones, could not be thwarted.

Today's entry is a rare treat - Raukrhan's account is the only case I've ever known of a first contact event for which both the explorers' and the natives' perspectives are recorded. The highly sensationalized exploration of Makaharwa, the so-called Chromatic Planet, is likely well known to this audience; Raukrhan is to date the only one of the planet's native inhabitants to agree to leave the world and return to the Core Worlds. Raukrhan's tour of the Core Worlds was far less sensationalized than the explorers' efforts to catalog the planet's diverse and beautiful ecosystem, likely for security reasons.

All the information I can find says that this account was likely dictated to a human assistant some time in mid-2943, shortly before Raukrhan returned to Makaharwa with a second research expedition. His impression of human arrival matches neatly with the impressions of several other pre-technological sapients encountered on the Coreward Frontier, and it is curious how nearly identical these legends are iacross wide areas of space. Perhaps in some long-forgotten era, the people of Makaharwa and the other inhabited worlds of the Frontier had dealings with the Xenarchs? I can find no research conclusively showing this to be the case, but a quick datasphere search shows that I am hardly the first person to speculate along these lines.

If there are any among the audience with additional light to shed on why these legends might be so similar, by all means send it along - I would be happy to present that sort of content on this feed.