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A note from Mirikon

Yes, I am back, after my post-DragonCon recovery! Let the fun continue!

According to the reports I was getting from players, the quarantine of Jagloth was being enforced with ‘extreme prejudice’. Meaning that any ship entering the system that didn’t promptly respond to hails was destroyed, and any craft leaving the surface was destroyed, and the site it was launched from blasted from orbit.

 

So we came out of hyperspace a day’s flight outside the system, and went on a ballistic track to Jagloth. That meant we would spend the better part of a week just in realspace, but with the Raven’s stats, we were very stealthy, as long as we weren’t pushing out tons of heat thanks to the engines. Our best bet was to follow the submariner’s motto, “Run silent, run deep.”

 

That left a lot of time on our hands, naturally. Fortunately, I had a ship full of ladies who were (except for Kiki) at my beck and call. Or more like I was at theirs. It was a give and take, but keeping the girls happy made my life easier, and made them more enthusiastic in their work.

 

Oh sure, there were the kind of blowups you might expect from having so many people in close quarters for days at a time, but everyone had space they could go for some private time if they needed it, and if that didn’t work, there was the training area, where they could put simulated rounds down range, or practice sparring. And I’d loaded up a lot of entertainment options, so we had movies, books, and games to distract us.

 

At any rate, that week of travel was enough for Raven to get some good data from her sensors. We could see patrol ships focused around Jagloth, with a few others stationed as patrols along the most likely warp routes as a picket to warn off potential traders or others who may be looking to break the blockade. Fortunately, we’d come in on a nonstandard track which let us escape notice for now.

 

One of the interesting things is that we could tap into the local civilian datanet. Large parts of the planet and two of the orbital stations were partitioned off, with no data in or out. What we found out from the local datanet, however, was enough to make our blood run cold.

 

Jagloth was indeed under a quarantine, but it wasn’t due to any typical disease. They were calling it the Legion Virus. No one knew how it started, or exactly how it worked, but it was known that it came from the main continent. Those who came in contact with the Infected would be… changed, somehow. For some it took minutes, other hours or even days, but the end result was always the same. Once you were infected, you would be inexorably turned into one of the Legion.

 

The Legion itself appeared to be a kind of hivemind, but not in the communal sense. It was more like the same mind copied over and over again, all subservient to the singular original. How it suddenly started, no one had a clue. But whatever it was, it seemed to work best on people with low Mental Psy resistance and more augmentations. Worse, it didn’t even seem to stop at people, since animals and even at least one ship (a shuttle, but still) had been taken over.

 

To say that the people of Jagloth were panicking would be something of an understatement. But at least they had the right idea on how to deal with the threat: kill it with fire. Seriously, they were burning the hell out of anyplace that was infected, and had already used nukes on two undersea habitats that had gotten infected. As we watched, the Confed Navy finally gave up on the two Infected orbitals, and reduced them to so much expanding gas with their main weapons, before nuking the remains just to make sure nothing survived.

 

That last bit was what gave Raven the information she needed to piece together what we were facing. Naturally, they didn’t put that kind of info on the civilian nets, and we didn’t see the need to go risking hacking into the military nets at this time, so it took a bit of work to put together what we were facing. Which is why we were now in the lounge area, watching Raven as she reported on the planet we were still a day away from.

 

I sighed. “Are you sure about this?”

 

Raven nodded. “Within 85%, Captain. Someone has taken a sample of the Hundeherstellar Nanites, and altered their programming. I cannot be sure of the exact nature of the changes, but self-replication abilities of some kind are obvious, as is this hivemind feature. If I were to guess, I’d say someone used their own mind as a template, and then copied it into the nanites, giving himself complete control over the ‘legion’.”

 

Sheila frowned. “That seems an unusual choice for one with those nanites. Don’t they usually go for basically turning women into pets who have no knowledge of their lives before?”

 

“That is true for 89.4% of Hundeherstellar users, according to unofficial records. There is some variation, but nothing to this degree.”

 

Kiki leaned forward. “Chances of this being a ‘natural’ mutation of the nanites?”

 

“The probability approaches Nil. Nothing in known databases suggests that the nanite code could naturally mutate in this way.”

 

I frowned. “So, what then, we’re looking at either a deliberate attack on a global scale, a local or targeted strike that spread out of control due to some unforeseen influence, or the equivalent of a lab accident gone horribly wrong?”

 

“That is simplistic, but correct. Due to the extremely virulent nature of the nanites, and the fact that no groups have stepped forward to claim responsibility, in addition to the lack of any identifiable end game, I would put the probability of a deliberate attack designed for global spread to be approximately 9.8%. A targeted strike designed to take over a specific target or group has a 39.2% likelihood. Probability that this is a lab accident from either weapons or some other means of research into the nanites is 49%.”

 

Sana decided to contribute then, with a “Mrow?”

 

“The remaining two percent would be the chance that this was an attempt to reverse Hundeherstellar conditioning and return the subject to their original mental state, but things went wrong somehow.”

 

Well, that was just a wonderful pile of bad news all the way around. Especially since we had jobs that needed doing in this system.

 

Spice Run to Jagloth

 

Ten crates of angeMel spice (valued at 6.8 million credits) needs to get to the planet Jagloth, currently under blockade by Confederate forces due to a local matter. Run the blockade, and get the Spice to Katar Greynore at the Spriteshack Industries headquarters in Jagloth City.

Rank

A

Success

Deliver the Spice.

Failure

Fail to deliver the Spice. (Will result default payment of 50% of the value of the Spice. If done willfully, will also result in a bounty equal to the value of the shipment placed on your head, and all criminal organizations in Confederation space will see you as unreliable, and refuse to work with you without holding one of your slaves as collateral.)

Payment

5 million credits

Increased Reputation with criminals in Confederate space

20% lifetime discount from Spriteshack Industries for goods and services.

 

Courier Run to Jagloth

 

The kisArra Legitimate Businessmen’s Association needs someone to deliver packages to their associates on Jagloth. The naval blockade of the planet makes this a difficult task, but the pay reflects the difficulty.

Rank

A

Success

Transport 4 standard sized crates marked ‘Machine Parts’ to Alok Paxisys in Jagloth City.

Failure

Fail to deliver the crates.

Open the crates.

Payment

2 million Credits

 

Arms Shipment to Jagloth

 

The Talsora Syndicate has recovered salvage from the three Imperial frigates that were destroyed during the Gateway Incursion. The contents of the armory on one of the frigates was recovered, and would be of great use to those on Jagloth combating the blockade.

Rank

A

Success

Deliver 10 cases of Imperial Arms to the representative of the Freedom Fighters on Jagloth Station.

Failure

Fail to deliver the cases.

Payment

3 million Credits.

 

The biggest problem we had is that Jagloth Station was one of the two orbitals that had just been taken down, and Jagloth City was on the main continent, which was almost completely overrun. No way we could make deliveries there. Fortunately, as we got closer to the planet, we got updates to the missions.

 

It seemed that Katar Greynore had relocated to Spriteshack’s secondary headquarters on the Southern Continent, while Alok Paxisys was now on Charybdis Station. Unsurprisingly, the ‘Freedom Fighters’ were no longer in existence. They probably never existed, and were just puppets of the Legion looking to break through the quarantine. That left me with ten cases of Imperial weapons to unload somewhere, in a system full of Confed Navy and people who were getting taken over by nanites.

 

I needed a drink. Or ten.

 

I sighed, and said, “All right, we’re going to do this as quiet as we can. Raven, are there any ships moving between stations? Or between the stations and the places on the ground that are free of Infection?”

 

“In-system shuttles only. Freighters have been locked down pretty tight. Anything that can jump to hyperspace, and has a range to get out of the solar system, has been grounded unless it is Confed Navy.”

 

“That true all over the system, or just by Jagloth?”

 

“I am detecting a few freighters moving between settlements on a few moons and in an asteroid belt, but they aren’t approaching the planet.”

 

I sighed. “Well, there has to be a smuggler haven in this system, right?”

 

“Records ‘borrowed’ from the Smugglers on kisArra say that there are two main smuggler bases in system. The first one appears to be one of the polar bases that has been sanitized quite thoroughly by orbital bombardment. The second is a refueling depot around the gas giant that is the fifth planet out from the system primary, known as Charybdis Station.”

 

“That’s where Paxisys went, huh? Well, we’ll make that our first stop. Nyna, alter course as quietly as you can, and let’s get to Charybdis. Metrion’s Favor can dock at the refueling station while some of us take the shuttle and make the delivery on the surface. The local criminals will probably have a way for us to slip through, at least to the uninfected areas.”

 

Nyna nodded, and headed off to the cockpit to start making calculations for the course change. Jaynie frowned, looking at me. “And if they don’t have a route in?”

 

I shrugged, and said, “Then we’ll make our own way in. We can get the shuttle from Charybdis to the planet easily enough. It is getting them off the planet and back to the ship that is my concern. Especially if anything goes south. The situation on the ground isn’t good, and it is likely to get worse.”

 

“Think they’ll be glassing the planet, then?”

 

“Let’s just say I’m pretty sure that the only reason they haven’t is that they’re still hoping something can be done to save the people who haven’t been Infected. I’d bet someone is trying to get some colony ships or other big people-movers together to get as much of the population as they can off.”

 

Shearah sighed. “We aren’t going to find much work here, are we?”

 

I considered that. “Well, we can probably get some small work moving people around the system, but the real money will be in loading up the cargo bay with as many people as our life support can handle, and then getting them to the nearest safe port. There are also still a couple Nomads in the system, who might have a way in, or be willing to pay for a way off the planet.”

 

The knelfi blanched as she looked at me, “But what if they are Infected?”

 

I grinned, “That is why you’re going to get with Raven, and design me some way to scan for the Infected, or even just scanning for nanites in someone’s body. We’ll just make it a full ban on all nanites. Anyone who might be Infected won’t step foot on this ship.”

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A note from Mirikon

Be sure to read my published works!

 

Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):

Frozen Soul https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B071R125QT

Tales of the Void Traveler https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B06ZZ52G37

 

Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):

Volume 1 - Tutorial https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B071VPRNDB

Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B071VR7M41

Volume 3 - Wyrmwood https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B072QKVBYV

Volume 4 - To the Deeps https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B073QSD9S4

Volume 5 - Power Base https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B074KGVN5T

 

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):

Book I - Game Start https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B071LT5WGL

Book II - Choson Ring https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B071X3LL9D

Book III - Alpha Centauri https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B073X8J9GF

Book IV - Aquarian Desert https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B0756V1VX5

 

The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story): https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B0739V6R6T

 

 

LitRPG facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/LitRPGGroup/


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Mirikon

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