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    .            , 
        *       -o-               .         .          *        .
                     ,         *          -0====>
     / /                                                 '
    / /         ___              ___     //  ___      ___      ___    
   / /        //   ) ) ||  / / //___) ) // //   ) ) //   ) ) //___) ) 
  / /        //   / /  || / / //       // //   / / //       //        
 / /____/ / ((___/ /   ||/ / ((____   // ((___( ( ((____   ((____     

--------------------- [SB-129 Class Starship] ----------------------

	Earth Date:	2312-09-20T15:30:14Z
	System uptime:	51 days
	Location:	Mercatan Space

>logdate 23120919
>embed --start 0 --end 6 "Captain's Log"

Fetching Captain's Log excerpt...

Captain's log, Earth time 2312-09-19T20:19:36Z.
After much pestering by Xēcnes we are proceeding to a region of
space that could supposedly hold some answers regaring the
Lovelace's little stray tour.
Xec believes to have discovered some strange readings thereabouts
that show similarities to the alien technology on board.

>embed 2312-09-19sa.tscript

Fetching transcription file...

SYSTEM:		3 aliens vessels are approaching at high speed. 
		Appropriate personel please report to the bridge.
SYSTEM:		'Captain' Aanya, please report to the-
AANYA:		Yeah, yeah, I'm coming, I'm here.
SYSTEM:		3 alien vessels are going to intercept the Lovelace
		in 1 minute and 13 seconds.
AANYA:		Yeah, okay, got it. (yawn)
		Wait. What sort of ves-
ST-WEK:		What's all that noise.
XECNES:		Three alien vessels are-
ST-WEK:		Yes, I know, I gathered this from the very loud
		and very annoying alarm. I think we all heard it.
AANYA:		What sort of vessels?
SYSTEM:		Unknown.
XECNES:		Aanya, did you transmit all of the Haven's data into
		the System?
AANYA:		Would it recognize our old friends, you mean?
		Of course. This far out of their space I think the
		chance of meeting them is slim anyway.
		Still, whoever these guys are, I think we should
		avoid them either way.
ST-WEK:		Agreed.
XECNES:		But they might know something about the Lovelace's
		journey. I think we should talk to them.
(crashing sound)
SYSTEM:		1 of the ships has opened fire.
ST-WEK:		Thank M'Ghs we've got you or we would never have
XECNES:		The alien ship is attempting to communicate with us.
AANYA:		It's been doing plenty of communicating already.
		Ignore them, I'm getting us out of here.
(clicking and beeping)
AANYA:		Damn, they've got us cornered on all sides. 
AAYNA:		(sigh) Let's just see what they want.
UNKNOWN:	Alien vessel: You have illegally entered Mercatan
		Space. This justifies a fine of 400-
ST-WEK:		aanya, he's staring at you..
AANYA:		i've noticed, thanks.
(whispering between two people on the other ship)
AANYA:		might as well seize the chance to get us out of here
UNKNOWN:	Wait! I think we might have gotten off on the wrong
		claw here, heh.
		My name is Reniw, 3rd Captain of the Authority's 
		Space Fleet. You are cordinally invited to visit
		Mercat Prime. We apologize for any inconvenience
		we might have caused you, you know how it is with
		all these freeloaders nowadays, heh.
SYSTEM:		Matching designation "RENIW" to "UNKNOWN" entity.
RENIW:		What?
AANYA:		Don't mind our System, it's a bit.. chatty.
XECNES:		This is a pleasant turn of events. I have been 
		meaning to ask the inhabinants of your system-
RENIW:		The invitation has been extended primarily to the
		Lady Amentis.
ST-WEK:		who?
AANYA:		Could you give us a minute?
AANYA:		Time to make like a fly and say bye bye I should 
XECNES:		What? We are so close to uncovering a vital piece 
		in our search for truth!
ST-WEK:		Who is this 'we' you're always on about.
AANYA:		Look, we know this Earth thing is important to you.
		But you saw how this guy regarded you, to him 
		anyone other than me on this ship might as well be
		part of the furniture.
XECNES:		I do not mind.
AANYA:		Oh yeah, sure, and what happens when he finds out
		I'm not this Lady he thinks I am? No thank you.
ST-WEK:		Not worth it.
AANYA:		I am getting us out of here. Surely they would not fire
		on their precious Lady Mantis or whatever.
(clicking and beeping)
(sudden crashing)
XECNES:		They are requesting communication.
AANYA:		Granted!
RENIW:		Her Ladyship's presence has been requested by the
		Authority himself.
AANYA:		Look, I don't know who this chick is but I'm not
RENIW:		At this point that is irrelevant. If the Authority 
		wants you to visit you're going. Sorry ma'am, I 
		can't lose this job.
AANYA:		Oh, shut up!
AANYA:		So, it seems we're going on a field trip.

>embed --start 134 --end 156 "Personal Log: Xēcnes"

Fetching Personal Log excerpt...

Though it came about through less than optimal means, I was glad I
had the chance to explore the planet which might lead me to an answer
regarding the Lovelace's mysterious disappearance from human space.
Once we had been escorted to Mercat Prime, Aanya was granted a
mandatory audience with the Authority in Metropolis 17, while St'Wek
and I were shown to the outer region of the city. 

Once there we found there was no way for us to return to the city 
The planets infrastructure was not fit for flightless creatures
such as us, since its inhabitans were all winged and bore a 
striking resemblance to the "owls" on Earth.
Even if we had been able to fly we found that air travel was highly 
regulated and expensive.
The residents of Metropolis 17s outer ring were extraordinarily 
uninterested in us. When we approached them to inquire about their
world they either ignored us or told us not to address them during
work hours.
Quite some time passed before a young girl approached us and 
insisted only to speak within the privacy of her appartment.

>embed --start 25 "Captain's Log"

Fetching Captain's Log excerpt...

Metropolis 17. The sky was full of smoke, the buildings full of
people and my host was full of himself.
His "humble" estate covered about a third of the city. I had to walk
quite a bit to reach the room I should be welcomed in. Some of the
kind gentlemen who had forced me to attend had to carry me upwards,
as there were no stairs.
The Authority was a middle aged man dressed in an expensive looking
Before he could speak I demanded an explanation, demanded to know 
where my friends were, hurled a few insults at him and told him slowly
and clearly that I was not this Lady Amentis everyone was so randy

He simply laughed at me as he waved his underlings to leave the room.
Of course, he said, I was not Amentis. Amentis, he said, was an old
Mercatan legend: a spiky purple goddess who could bring wealth to the
nation. He himself did not believe in fairy tales, of course, he 
said, he only believed in the rock hard value of his money.
But the people, he said, had been getting unhappy lately, had been
close to acting up about this whole financial crisis or whatever, he
said (he said the words like it was an altogether curious and amusing
concept to him), so he thought it a nice turn of events to have one 
of those purple women walking right up to his door and wiping
her legendary purple feet on the welcome mat of pure gold.

I listened to his tale with all the patience you can expect of a girl,
noted how it was very interesting but I would rather like to leave 
with my friends now, thanks.
My reasonable host reasonably denied my request and reasonably 
reqiured me to walk about in the city and hold a little speach about
the things to come and maybe even about how great a leader The Autho-
rity was, before he would leave us all go, promise.
I was no fan of this idea but it seemed a small price to pay to 
finally get off of this awful planet.
Splendid, he said, we shall travel to outer ring in the morning. 

>embed --start 161 --end 171 "Personal Log: Xēcnes"

Fetching Personal Log excerpt...

Her appartment was a small room in one of the living blocks. She
shared it with two other Mercatans, who were not present at the time. 
At work, she explained. She herself worked the night shifts.
St'Wek and I had barely enough room to breathe at the table in the 
corner of the room that she had invited us to sit at. 
She introduced herself as Oliz and had many questions for us about 
the life in space. In this part of the outer ring most people worked
constructing parts for space ships. She had always dreamed of 
traveling. Before leaving the planet I had the chance to
aquire an excerpt of her personal journal regarding our meeting.

>embed "Other: Oliz' Diary"

Fetching file...

These travelers were the strangest creatures. I could tell instantly
that they were not from any Mercatan colony looking for work on our
prosperous planet. Those are usually uninterested in conversation,
more focused on doing the work they came to do, keeping to themselves.
Finally, I thought, some people that can tell me
what it's like to live among the stars, to explore the greater 
Mercatan regions and beyond.

The smaller one was very talkative, asked many questions about the
Authority and the nature of our society. I told it about the 
Authority's great services to Mercatkind, his Space Fleet and how I'd
love to join it one day. It wanted to know if we had seen any strange
alien objects in our region within the last 20 revolutions around 
our sun. Of course I had not been alive that long, said I.
They asked me to fly them to the city to see their friend. Hah!
Can you imagine? If I could afford flying to the inner city, I said,
I wouldn't be here anymore, would be joining the space program.

That was enough of their questions, I demanded some answers to mine.
The smaller creature, Xēcnes, told me some fascinating details about 
space, was surprised I didn't know these things, as interested as I 
was, it said, I had less than adequate knowledge of my own system. 
How rude! Education is expensive after all. Once I have enough money,
I said, I'll be moving to the inner city, joining the program,
learning much about space and going there myself.

The taller, wider one, who had been quietly sitting there and watching
us converse, scoffed at this. 
Xēcnes asked how much money I had left to save for the education after
paying for shelter and food. Truly, I was losing more money than I
made at the moment. Xēcnes made some comment to its companion about
a planet called earth and the devide of its people into classes and
castes. I quickly corrected this misrepresentation! "I may not have 
been born to as much money as the Authority", I said, "but I am just 
as able to earn my place in higher society as anyone else".
If I worked more hours, I informed them, I would have more money and
could eventually afford to move to the inner city. Impressed with my
dedication, someone should quickly give me a better job there and 
eventually I'd make my way to the Space Fleet. 
So, as they surely saw by then, their scepticism was only the result 
of propaganda and whatever this earth was doing had nothing in to do 
with Mercatan society.

Yet still they were unconvinced. 
"On my planet", said the small crabby creature, "there was no such
thing as money or paid education. I never had to work for basics like
food, shelter or knowledge. While I don't mean to disrespect your 
culture, I think you should know you're not being treated fairly."
I sneered. "I'd like to see this planet that manages to keep such
a system in place without ultimately collapsing under chaos and depleted
Xēcnes stared into space and mumbled. "Wouldn't that be nice."
"The easiest way to keep you living a life you don't want is to have
you believe that you have no choice", said the tall, silent man in
the corner.
Surprised that he had spoken at all and puzzled by the statement, I
was unable to think of anything to say.

>embed --start 172 "Personal Log: Xēcnes"

After our engaging but fruitless encounter with Oliz (as far as Earth
and the Lovelace were concerned), St'Wek and I had the slight problem
of having no place to stay for the night. Oliz explained that while
she would be happy to help, there were strict regulations on visitors
and that each person had to pay rent for a roof over their heads, 
even if it was just for the night. 
Wandering the streets during the night was met with guards
telling us not to loiter and to either go home or go to work.
During the day this had not ben a problem for us, since most activity
took place during the dark hours for these noctural locals.

Thus we had no choice but to work in one of the gigantic factories
around which the tall living complexes with their tiny appartments 
were built. Oliz showed us where we could work and we set about doing
so without any employment process beyond recieving a chip for 
clocking in and out. 

It was exhausting. Watching Oliz, who was bigger but much softer and 
younger than me, handle the heavy machinery and ship parts with
hectic hands made me truly appreciate my own upbringing.

St'Wek had much less problems with the physical aspects of this work
than me, but it did bring up unpleasant memories for him.
He said nothing throughout the whole night, which in itself was a 
sign of just how uncomfortable he felt, that he should not even
complain, a thing that he loved to do as much and as often
as he could. 

As we exited the complex the rising sun tinted the dark red night
sky bright purple. The gentle sun beams reflected off each metal 
building to bathe the grey outer ring in light, seeming to 
immediately place us within mid day. 
I was glad to finally get out of there, hoping never to return.

At the rim of the outer ring, towards the inner city, a stage had been
set up. Curious, St'Wek and I joined the crowd of owls that was 
gathering around the stage.

> logdate 23120920
> embed "Other: Oliz' Diary"

Fetching file...

I could scarcely believe my tired eyes as the image of the purple 
carriage became clear from the lighter horizon and I could recognize
the Autority himself standing on that stage, ready to address the 
inhabitants of the outer ring.
As I looked around I realized I wasn't the only one feeling a mix of 
confusion, wonder and pride at his presence. My new friends could 
feel only the former, unable to understand the great significance of 
this man. They felt much more interested in his alien companion.  

The Authority started his address and at once all the chaotic discourse 
between the workers seized and we gave him our undevided attention.

"As you know", said he, "I have been The Authority of our great empire
since the title was first instated. The youngest of you may not 
remember the days before this. When our progress, our economic 
success was limited by an elected government that listened to the word
of the cluess people and their bored scientists,
who loved making up new invisible things to be scared of.
Sooner or later our world had to realize the truth. That scientists 
rely on funding, having no economic sense of their own. That what 
truly decides the fate of all nations was the financial. And that 
that which feeds even the highest government employees is the 
simplest, most basic force of the universe: money. 
And after we finally realized that there is only one real Authority 
on our world, we realized too that it should not be the idle clawed, 
debating men that lead the progress of a nation but the person who 
understands the workings of the market the best. So we abandoned a 
system that relied on electing the one who had the prettiest words 
and accepted that system that puts the most logical choice in control 
of our success.

And a successful time it has been. Through intelligent management I 
have had the smartest scientist focus on actually working for the 
common good, inventing space travel from mere junk that fell out of 
the sky and stretching the unified planetary empire across known space.
More and more workers from colonized worlds are seizing the 
opportunity to take part in the future of our empire, here on Mercat Prime. 
Today we are proud to consider ourselves all as parts of the great 

I know the times have been hard for some of you. You might be 
losing hope, doubting your role in this empire. But have no more 
fears, Mercatians. You may not believe the truth from my beak, but who
would contradict the Lady Amentis herself? 
The ancient goddess of wealth and prosperity visits us today to strike 
all fear from your hearts and to signalize a great future for Mercat 
and its empire."

>embed "Captains Log"

After a night of pretending to listen to my hosts ramblings we finally
entered his dark carriage that would take us to the outer ring. The
journey wasn't long with this highly equipped if tastelessy decorated
ship. While I was trying to examine the construction of the ship, the
Authority was briefing me on my speech or at least he thought he was,
since that would've required me actually listening.
I chewed a handful of insects from a container on the table. 
At first I'd  been reluctant to take anything from my host but soon 
the hunger had won that battle. The point being that when we reached
our destination I was in such awe that my mouth stood wide open and
anything that hadn't been crunched already flew out of my mouth and
around the space ship.

I barely paid attention to what "The Authority" was saying. After 
hearing him speak all night I expect that his speach was largely
self-aggrandizing and meaningless.

When I arrived I had been happy to say whatever he wanted to 
finally get off the planet. But as I looked around the outer
ring that plan flew from my mind as the flies did from my mouth.
I couldn't tell what it was but as soon as I'd set foot in the
workers city something had felt.. sad. It wasn't that the buildings
and streets looked broken or dirty, in fact they were all so shiny
that the place seemed much brighter than it should at this early
hour. It was strange, it didn't feel like anyone should live here. 
The people were far below our stage and I couldn't really make out
any individuals. I saw a colourful crowd of people all dressed in
the same yellow uniform. Even from this distance I could see that
a shocking number of them were small children.

I didn't even notice when the Authority stopped speaking. But 
suddenly everything was silent and the attention of everyone 
was now focused on me. The Authority hissed at me to speak into
the microphone, reminding me of our deal. I don't remember exactly
what I said then but it went something like this:

"Uhm. Uh. Yeah. Lady Amentis." I took a deep breath.
"So look. I've only been here for a few hours. I don't really
understand most things about your society. Like why would a space
ship need feathers on it? That seems a bit extra. Did you take 
those feathers from a person? 
But that's not really the thing that bothers me. What I don't 
understand is this strange, almost religious obsession with money. 
Now, where I come from, of course we had money. I think most
civilisations have something like that going. And I don't claim
to be an economic scientist but to me it feels like the people
who actually make all your weird space ships have to live in tiny
shiny flats far away from the action while this guy over here"
I pointed toward The Authority, of course,
"lives in a villa that's so big that it took me an eternity to even
meet him in his own house. 
The Authority wants me to get up here in front of a bunch of strangers
and tell them it's all going to be okay.
But I don't know anything about markets and financial success.
What I do know a thing or two about though, is that when people get to
make all the calls because of how much power they have, those rules 
won't be for the good of the people making their ships. The people 
in power will only ever want more power until the bodies those 
they've hurt could build a staircase straight into the burning sun, 
where their flesh should be charred and rain from the skies to feed 
the starving people they have wronged.

I am no goddess. I'm.. I.. Well I'm someone with an expert opinion 
on what happens when power is given to people that have long lost 
touch with reality, people to whom the value of life isn't a constant 
fact but dependant on some artificial criteria. So no, I'm not here 
to tell you it's all gonna be okay. I don't know how it will be 
but I highly doubt anything will get better on its own, 
especially if this guy makes all the decisions."

My closing words bounced off each metal building, clearly audible 
through the shocked silence that followed. The Authority was so angry
that I almost imagined I could see steam rising from his head. 
After a few seconds the discussions of the people below began and a 
great chaos broke lose. The Authority spoke into his microphone but 
found it wasn't as easy as it had been to get the attention 
of the people.
Before he was to inevitably turn his attention to me, I thought 
to quickly get away through the chaos, mounting the awfully ugly 
carriage and taking off. 
Flying over the crowd it wasn't long until I spotted my crew and 
rescued them from the metal nightmare city. With the well equipped 
ship we easily outran any pursuers and returned, finally, to the 

Once on board we decided to strike Mercatan space off our route and 
get as far away from it as necessary. After taking a few scans of it, 
we dumped the Authority's ship in orbit of Mercat Prime.

>embed 2312-09-20sa.tscript

Fetching transcription file...

XECNES:		There, that is enough distance. Pursuit from
		here should prove too expensive to justify.
AANYA:		What a trash planet. 0/5 stars would not recommend
		for our next vacation.
		I'm sorry we couldn't find what you wanted Xēcnes.
XECNES:		Do not be sorry. I found everything I was looking for.
ST-WEK:		Oh? And when was that? I was with you the whole time.
XECNES:		In the chaos I had a few discussions of my own.
		I inquired about the mentioned 'junk that fell out of
		the sky'. One older man could tell me that this
		took place what converts to about 75 Earth years ago,
		the highly unusual event being accompanied by a
		bright light in the sky.
		That alone proves nothing of course, but after 
		examining our automatic scans of the ships that 
		intercepted us, as well as the more detailed scan of
		the Authority's vessel there is no doubt the Mercatan
		space ship technology is related to our Earth ship.
		I would appreciate your expert opinion on this, Aanya.
AANYA:		Uhm, oh wow okay let me have a look.
(beeping and clicking)
AANYA.		Mh it seems the so called trash was engine related, a
		backup engine probably. I didn't know we had a backup
ST-WEK:		We don't. Anymore.
AANYA:		So what, do you think they crashed here? But how did
		they end up here anyway? Their objective was to 
		transport a small group of people to "Phobos" and this
		ship is definetely not equiped for long deep space 
ST-WEK:		A wormhole?
XECNES:		Anything we could come up with would be speculation. 
		But at least now we have more to build upon. And to 
		search from here.
AANYA:		And all because I look like a goddess apparently. 
		What's up with that anyway?
XECNES:		Oh I inquired about this as well. Amentis is one of 
		many goddesses that Mercatians used to believe in. 
		I suppose with the importance of money increasing her 
		importance increased too. I was shown a picture of 
		her, you do resemble her a little bit. Well, you do 
		not have wings but the part about spikes on your head
		and purple skin match the description.
AANYA:		Purple?
XECNES:		Yes, the color was very common down there. From the
		natural morning sky to the Authority's display of 
		wealth and even the currency itself.
AANYA:		I don't understand, what's purple? Those were all just
		sort of grey to me.
XECNES:		So.. you cannot see the color purple?
AANYA:		Never even heard the word before.
XECNES:		I never knew that about you. Can you see my skin color?
AANYA:		Yeah, sure, you're red with some black horns about you.
ST-WEK:		I can't see color at all. Wasn't necessary for my job.
XECNES:		Hmm, I'll remember that from now on.
ST-WEK		What do you think will happen to Authority now?
		To his empire?
AANYA:		Honestly? I think nothing will happen to him for a
		long time. A world doesn't change because of one 
		pretty speach. All I can hope for is that people
		will think about the stuff I said, that they might
		find some point in it.
		No one really knows how to have the perfect society,
		where no horrors ever happen. Noticing that something
		is wrong is a big step for sure but what happens
		afterwards isn't guaranteed to be better just
		because the intentions are good.
		Worlds change all the time but they are never perfect.
		All they can do is try to have a better life now.