In the vastness of space...
(Known as the Nagunda Incident: Excerpt from Triquad History)
All that was missing was a small breeze. The trees where in full bloom,
the grass green, the sky blue with small wisps of high drifting clouds. The
scent of grass and earth could be smelled. The birds chirped and nothing
else interrupted this calm and peaceful scene. It was just the way
Benjamin Marenesi liked it as he floated above the illusionary ground,
supported by a slim metal bar curving his back and then curving toward
the floor where it was bolted.
Benjamin looked at the scene, enjoying the artificial sun that beat its rays upon
his face. He was a young man, round faced with light brown hair. His deep blue
eyes had a sparkle and his features pleasant. As a deep space astrophysicist, a
boyish curiosity seemed to flash from his face and for no reason, at the age of 17
he was the youngest in his field.
Lately, as he surveyed the star system O3-S9-3, he took a break from his work.
It was now 8 months he had spent in deep space as one of Old Earth's scientific
survey missions. His ship the Glitter now orbited the fifth planet of a solar system
he was examining and gathering data for future development, if colonisation ever
got this far.
Although he loved his work, John wondered how far would mankind go for its
own good? Since the invention of interstellar navigation, mans hope to find
extraterrestrial life was a failure and disappointing. Sure the universe was large
and the possibilities of life in other galaxies where high, but still man was left to
himself. Add to the fact that with so many newly found habitable planets,
humankind was busy enough with its growth and going further out into space
was becoming trivial. Humanity still had much to consider about itself and its
An electronic beep interrupted Benjamin's thoughts.
"What is it?" He asked out loud.
"We're receiving a distress signal from Starsearch 4." A calm female voice
"A distress call!" Benjamin exclaimed in surprise.
Eric Gurbitz, a friend of his, manned the Starsearch 4. Eric's current mission was
the installation of tracking systems in the great Nagunda asteroid field. The
billions of floating rocks needed to be kept under surveillance. It was well
known for its erratic behaviour, which posed a danger to ships. The Nagunda
was located in Dandurand's space.
Forgetting his whereabouts, Benjamin moved to get off his grip, but only floated
a little before his restraint kept him from drifting off.
"Gravity, please!" He ordered and the computer responded.
In a few short moments gravity returned and his feet touched the floor. Once
Benjamin was sure of his balance he quickly walked toward the trees.
"Scene off." He commanded and the computer turned off the pleasant scene to
be replaced by a blue walled room.
The door to the virtual screening room opened as Benjamin walked out and
took a corridor leading to the ship's bridge. His face grim with concern, he
wondered what he should do. He was the nearest ship without a doubt.
Research vessels were always assigned in pairs especially for deep space.
Authorities belonging to the family Dandurand would receive the signal within an
hour and their arrival would take even longer. He had little choice but to answer
"Hilda! Get the ship ready for immediate trip. We're going to help Eric."
"Yes, sir." The female voice of the main computer answered, her voice becoming
stern adjusting to the serious situation.
Benjamin passed through the bridge doors and threw himself in the command
chair. It instantly swung to face the ships instrument panels and the main screen
"Inform my father of my plans." Benjamin told his computer as he began turning
off his data retrieval systems and preparing to leave his field of work.
"Acknowledged." Was the response.
"Have you to tried to contact the Starsearch?"
"The emergency signal was short and broken. No other communication could be
established." The computer informed.
Broken! Benjamin became even the more troubled. Only a severe problem to
the ship could kill its communication systems. His heart pounding, Benjamin
worried for the worst.
"Let's go." He said and then gripped the sensanav's handles. Closing his eyes,
the biotech impulses pictured his navigation charts in his mind and Benjamin gave
his commands to the ship. Instantly it obeyed, as human mind and machine were
The Glitter swerved away from the alien planet and headed into deep space. In a
moment, its neutrino drive kicked in and the ship disappeared into the subatomic
Two and a half-hours passed as the Glitter approached the Nagunda. Benjamin
began his search for his friends ship and was alarmed not to find the ship in the
extremities of the field where it should have been.
"Where are you Eric?" He asked out loud as he reviewed the data.
The asteroid field covered almost a million miles of space. If Eric had changed
position, Benjamin knew the search would be difficult.
Then a thought struck him. "The sensors!" He told himself. "I could get his
position from the sensors!" He exclaimed and immediately began punching the
request for a connection. Within a minute Benjamin was disappointed with the
results. The sensors were not active in the last 34 hours. Eric may have turned
them off during his work, and yet, that would be considered an abnormal
procedure he thought. Nevertheless, Benjamin retrieved what he could get on
the ships last position and then moved his ship.
The Glitter glided far out of reach of the asteroids. It was an amazing sight.
Rock, ice and dust floating together as far as the human eye can see. Rock sizes
ranged from dust to small moons. A nearby sun gave some light to the
phenomena. Tiny flashes of light twinkled across its length as the suns rays
reflected off the chunks of ice. On occasion, one or more asteroids could be
found away from the nest and as they drifted out into space on an unknown
As Benjamin looked upon the Nagunda he remembered his earlier assignment to
the asteroid field. He was the first and only one to map its characteristics. It was
fun, and yet didnt think of it as being dangerous. Now it seemed to have
claimed its first victim.
As time passed with no sign of the Starsearch, Benjamin began to believe that
this would take days. In a short time, he would have to leave the rescue to the
authorities and leave his friend to whatever fate was given him.
A beep interrupted his thoughts and for a moment, reacted in a trivial manner,
until he realised it was the signal he was waiting for so dearly. The ships probing
had discovered something. Benjamin glanced at the data.
"Ya! Found you." He exclaimed in a burst of joy and relief. "Relay data as soon
as it comes, Hilda."
"Will do." She answered.
Benjamin switched to a visual position of the Starsearch. On the large main
screen, one part showed a technical position of the ship while another zoomed
its powerful cameras. Benjamin's smile instantly faded from his face at what
appeared. He stared, mouth open and could not believe what he saw.
"No." He sadly told himself.
On a very large rugged asteroid, lay the twisted wreckage of the Starsearch. Its
white and grey metallic body lay slumped along the surface as if moulded to the
It was obvious by the scene that Eric could not have survived the outcome,
Benjamin judged, but he wished he were wrong. Technical readouts told him
that the haul was breached over all the ship. Life support was gone and that
meant no chance of survival.
How could this have happened, Benjamin thought? What made Eric get so
close? Was it an accident or a daring move? Questions and scenarios raced
through his mind as he sought an explanation and yet he could only concede a
Then a thought came to his mind. A space suit! Eric could still survive in a space
"Hilda. Did you try personal communicators?" He asked but already knew the
"Yes. As per standard procedures. No communication was established." She
Disappointed, Benjamin slumped back in his chair.
Sadly he thought upon his friend. Remembering the times together made the
situation seem unreal and yet terrible. As Benjamin looked at the wreckage, he
decided that he should be the one to retrieve his friends body and not a
stranger. Although it posed some risk, he wanted to see his friend again.
"Widen the view." He ordered and the screen enlarged. Although the area
surrounding the wreckage contained floating dangers, they moved slow enough
to allow navigation.
"Hilda. I need radar trajectory analysis of moving objects entering the
Starsearch's area. I need to know if theres any danger - anything that might
cause me problems."
"I'm listing and calculating vectors. This will take a moment."
"Understandable. Prep the egg. Im going to the Starsearch." Benjamin said as
he swung his chair and exited the bridge.
"This will be dangerous, Ben." His computer warned.
"I know." He only answered.
As he contemplated his journey, he knew it was dangerous, but if he was careful
and the area was clear of any other collisions, he could at least retrieve his body.
Arriving at the shuttle ready room, he quickly put on a space suit. A window
showed the small hangar that kept the small egg shaped exploratory ship. It was
a white oval ship with jutting hardware and black jetports. Although manned by
one person, its rear compartment was large enough for cargo or equipment.
"Ben." Ships computer called out.
"What is it?" He asked as he picked a helmet.
"The area is clear for at least 48 minutes. Several floating objects will enter the
area." Hilda informed.
"Good." He answered and then punched the button to open his way to the ship.
The airlock door opened at both ends and Ben entered the ship.
Quickly he slid into the command chair and began punching his departure. The
door to the ship closed and lights flickered on. The ships large oval window
curved 180 degrees in front of him. Hangar lights then closed and small yellow
lights glowed around the external door. Not a moment passed as the doors split
As Ben connected support attachments to his suit, he watched the view opening
up to him. The Nagundas vast shadowy presence stood motionless before him.
Space was ready to swallow his little ship.
A beep told him that all was ready for his departure. Ben gripped his flight stick
and titled it forward. The ship moved on a track until it left the mother ship.
Calmly, Benjamin glided his ship downward. Examining the radar, he planned his
path through two large rocks and then toward the Starsearch.
The two rocks were larger than his ship. Although Ben understood the
non-existence of gravity in space, it always impressed him how these huge
asteroids just floated about. Drifting past them, Ben now drew closer to the
Starsearch. In seconds he stood above its wrecked body.
Examining the ship, Benjamin saw several torn openings in the structure. They
were large enough to give him access to the inside. Benjamin was relieved,
gaining access through mechanical doors would have proven very difficult and
Benjamin moved his ship to the closest hole that led to the bridge. Benjamin
judged it was the first place Eric would be found.
The egg-shaped shuttle drifted over the gap and then stopped.
"Be careful Ben. You have twenty-nine minutes remaining." Hilda said.
"Ok. Keep me informed." He answered as he left the console.
Ben grabbed an environmental unit and attached it to his suit. Switching it on, air
began hissing into his helmet. In a short moment, he was ready for space.
After decompressing the ships air, he opened the door and floated off into
space. Sending his thoughts to the suits guiding system, the jets moved him
downward straight into the gaping whole. Pushing aside some cables, Benjamin
entered one of the corridors.
Emergency lights were on in the ship and Benjamin was glad for them. He drifted
down the corridor and came to one bulkhead door. Pushing the open button
became more from reflex than ignorance, since Benjamin knew there was no
power available to open them.
Ben then opened a panel beside the door. Inside, a lever worked the secondary
door mechanism. Grabbing it from the top and pulling it down the first time, the
door was unlocked. By pushing it up and down even more, the door jerked
opened several inches wide with every pull.
With a large enough opening, Benjamin then moved into the next corridor.
Drifting along, Ben came to an intersection and stopped to take a look. All he
saw was some equipment floating around and nothing more. Going on, Benjamin
came to the last bulkhead door that led to the bridge. Again he opened the panel
to the door mechanism and then pulled down the lever. On the second pull, the
door jerked open and a blast of air struck him. The force of the air rushing out
into space threw Benjamin with a tremendous push. Spinning as he flew across
the corridor Benjamin then slammed against the wall. His helmet also hit the wall
hard, knocking his head and sending him into unconsciousness.
As Ben slowly drifted back to reality, he began hearing a voice calling out to
him. "Ben, please wake up. Ben youre in danger, please wake up."
Benjamin awakened. Dazed he opened his eyes and looked through his helmet
only to see a wall. He pushed himself away from it. Sending his thoughts to his
suit's guiding system, it moved him back in the middle of the corridor.
"Ben! Im happy to see youre well again. You only have five minutes." Hilda
Ben did not answer, as the thoughts of what happened filled his mind with
questions and worst, dread. Then it struck him; air! There was air in the ship!
With his heart pounding with fear, Benjamin quickly returned to the door. He
pumped the lever and opened the door wider. Quickly, he slipped through and
headed for the bridge. As he came to the bridges entrance door, he stopped
and so did his heart. The door was opened!
Calming his growing fears he slowly floated into the bridge. What he saw proved
his worst fear. Small articles floated about in the chamber, disturbed by the loss
of air, including a helmet. Erics body lay in the command chair, his arms floating
before him. His face looked toward the door, eyes wide in shock, mouth
opened for air that wasnt there anymore.
"No! Noooo!" Benjamin screamed.