2530 - The Galaxy Gets Bigger
It was like the Gold Rush, planetary prospectors were desperate to stake their claim on ‘unformed’ worlds. Most followed the Federal protocols, others don’t.
Gaia Planet Services attempted to terraform a planet without authorization. Turns out the planet wasn’t uninhabited. A new race, later discovered to be the Xi’An Empire, showed up while the terraformers were building the equipment. Needless to say, they were a little perturbed. The Xi’An captured the entire crew and kept them under guard. They released one, the foreman Charles Baxter, as a gesture of good faith.
Back on Earth, High-Secretary Cho, High-General Volder, and High-Advocate Machado along with a select sub-committee of Senators gathered to get a clear assessment of what happened from Baxter and what to do about the Xi’An.
HIGH-SECRETARY CHO: If everyone’s set, Mr. Baxter, please begin. Tell us about the events of that day. BAXTER: I’ve been advised by the Company’s attorney-
HIGH-ADVOCATE MACHADO: Mr. Baxter, this is not a criminal hearing. We are simply trying to get a clear picture of what happened. There are still two hundred seventy-five of your colleagues held by an alien civilization. Any help you provide us today will be taken into account when this crisis is resolved.
Baxter confers with Attorney
BAXTER: We were surveying, looking for plant-points to set up the equipment. There were three transports scheduled to land so we were expecting to hear ships. I was up on a ridge when the first one came into view. I knew immediately it wasn’t ours. Human, I mean. It didn’t look like any Banu ship I’d ever seen, but you know how they are…
HIGH-SECRETARY CHO: Please stay on topic.
BAXTER: Well, next thing we knew, they were all over us. Ships coming from all sorts of directions.
HIGH-GENERAL VOLDER: Didn’t you run scans before landing?
BAXTER: Not really. I mean, I don’t think so.
HIGH-GENERAL VOLDER: Don’t you think it would be wise before attempting to terraform a planet?
BAXTER: You don’t know what it’s like out there. You wait around too long, some other Corp will swoop in and process that rock faster than you can blink.
HIGH-GENERAL VOLDER: While we appreciate your sociological insight, Mr. Baxter, we need facts, not hyperbole if we’re going to free the hostages.
HIGH-SECRETARY CHO: General, we have not concluded that a military action is necessary.
HIGH-GENERAL VOLDER: I understand but we need to have a plan on the table to enact should the diplomatic solutions go sour.
HIGH-SECRETARY CHO: Agreed. Please continue, Mr. Baxter. . . .END EXCERPT
UPE Military forces maintained a perimeter at the jump-point entrance. It took fifteen days to work out a communication system to speak with the Xi’An. That started a tense negotiation period. The Xi’An were meticulous with their demands.
By the time the hostages were released, over fifty-seven days had passed. Though the UPE had managed to avoid war, relations with the Xi’An were tense.
// END TRANSMISSION