What Came Before - part III

- A reflective commentary on the fall of the UBC and the furrow of destruction plowed through the field of the galaxy by the rampaging Armada. -
excerpt from the field journals of Arkady 'Sunlion' Crylic during the Bloodshed Uprising, a message from his fellow Bedouin Cartographer Nivekisrom. -

Location - Tangaqimaq System - Farlow Region

"What does it take to shatter a planet? Not just to shatter its body, but to fracture its spirit? Whatever it is, the Armada has it Sunlion.

I had to make the long, dark journey through realspace to the edge of the Tangaqimaq system because my jump fuel had run out half way between Alukimaq and there. I had been told that the fourth planet, Hahnuda, possessed resources and a jump-capable station that would allow me to resume my spiral toward the Galactic Core. But what I found was like nothing I had seen, or ever hope to see again, old friend...

As I approached the outer planets, I cursed the old man who gave me the information about the system. Either he lied, or he knew far less than he claimed about Tangaqimaq and her planets. He said I would find eight planets orbiting the star, but I only counted six. A large asteroid belt he failed to mention blanketed the region inside the orbit of the fifth planet.
It took me hours to navigate through the belt without getting dinged up. I approached the fourth planet and swore my luck was all bad. I ran through a systems check to re-calibrate the instruments. The ranging sensor was bouncing up and down like Hermilian hog-rabbitt. Even after the system check it was still wonky. It was as if the planet was wobbling on its axis or something. As I got closer my eyes began to agree with the sensors.

The planet was wobbling visibly, unstable on its axis of rotation. As I passed over the terminator, my cockpit was bathed in a hellish red glow. This side of the planet bore a gaping rent in its mantle, exposing the angry molten core. Great clouds of smoke and ash plumed upward from the surface, blotting out the rest of the hemisphere.
I cautiously descended to try to get beneath the layer of ash and dust. There was no bottom to it, and I nearly crashed into a mountain that suddenly reared up out of the ocean of dirty gray air.

I returned to a high orbit and scanned the vicinity of any detectable vessels. I got a signature from spinward and lower. I dropped down to find the remains of two vessels twisted together in a death dance. The smaller vessel was impaling the larger warship. It looked like a last desperate murder-suicide. The larger warship was emblazoned with a symbol in purple and black that sent chills down my spine. The badge of The Armada.

I spent the next two days flying over the visible surface, looking for anything that survived. Swaths of scorched earth, relieved only by piles of rubble that once were a civilisation. The oceans were fouled with ash and the corpses of sea creatures.
It would have been less horrific if The Armada had blown up this planet, as I realised they must have done to what used to be the fifth and sixth planets, that now formed the asteroid belt. Instead they had plundered and mortally wounded it. I understand now why you warned us to stay clear of the Great Beast.

There was no one and nothing left here to render assistance to. Death was all I found...

Stay safe old friend. I hope we see each other again, if this bloody conflict ever comes to an end!"

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