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Prelude - A Haunted Frigate

“Eheu, Captain-Entity! Diatnins at The Skylark of the Iojiyos are delighted to form convergence with your beautiful fleet. Please pay no mind to the fauna-entity onboard. Diatnins permits pet-entities to accompany distant journeys.”

I carefully stepped around a small bipedal, armless creature with almost nothing but skin and bones, who gave me a curious sniff. My guts told me this was no ordinary industrial frigate, despite the potential silliness. It dragged massive storage space behind the bridge, spanning tall and wide, with control panels across two floors. It was made to carry loads of mineral resources. It was probably made to be a pain to repair in the future as well, but as far as my first industrial frigate hire, I couldn’t complain too much.

“Good to have you with us, Diatnins.” I said as I walked around the frigate, inspecting it with Diatnins. “I assume you are ready for your first mission whenever?”

“Yes, Captain-Entity. Send Diatnins away, Diatnins will bring prosperity to Captain-Entity convergence!”

We made a loop around the frigate before stopping at the communication terminal at the centre. From the terminal, I dialed for my navigator.

“Captain-Friend! How may I help you?” There came the Gek voice completely different from that of a Korvax.

“Yobritely, do you have any industrial mission on the agenda today?”

There was a mixture of long, dragged on “ah, um, hm” from the terminal, until the navigator spoke.

“Captain-Friend, I’m afraid I don’t have any industrial mission on my scouting results today, but I have a mixed-discipline mission if you are interested? There is an opportunity to chart the system of Yanemouti. You might run into all sorts of things - riches, pirates, and more riches! How does that sound?”

I turned to Diatnins. “Well looks like it’s the only mission suitable for you right now. You are free to make the most out of your skill sets from what you found on the way. Does that sound good with you?”

“Diatnins is delighted to proceed with new mission! Diatnins will begin by consulting local entities for the best course to complete this journey.”

“Wait, why not just use your radar? It’s going to take a lot longer trying to socialise with local lifeforms for information, only to go somewhere.”

“Radar bad! Radar is haunted. Inaccurate information has been presented in the past. Diatnins does not trust the radar.”

If I had a face I’d frown, but with a lightbulb for a head, I reacted by moving straight towards the Skylark’s radar. “Captain-Entity! Captain-Entity! Please do not proceed with radar!” Diatnins chased behind me, but I kept moving until I was at the currently inactive radar, and I activated it.

The radar screen made a few green sweeps in circles. We were in the middle of a peaceful system with nothing but our fleet and a space station behind us. There was nothing out of the ordinary from the radar display. All seemed accurate.

“Do not trust the radar! Sometimes it works, sometimes it is incorrect!” Diatnins insisted. Just when I was about to say something, the radar beeped.

16 // 16 // 16 // 16

The numbers repeated in red as one line across the screen. Not a display format this radar was programmed for, surely. And definitely not a display that should happen to a frigate. None other than myself…

“See? Diatnins urge Captain-Entity to abandon radar. Allow Diatnins more time to complete this mission via alternative means.”

I placed a hand on my lightbulb head’s frame in front of me.

“Fine, Diatnins. You can have more time. I’ll also send my combat frigate to accompany you, in case there is any problem.”

Diatnins seemed as jolly as the happiest Korvax could possibly be. They ran to the control panels with their bipedal, skeletal pet to get ready. Meanwhile, as soon as I returned to my starship and sat down, Navigator Yobritely contacted me.

“Captain-Friend, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but are you sure about sending the Skylark on this mission? It appeared to be an industrial specialist for a good reason…”

“I’m totally expecting to have to repair it the first few times. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. Look at our explorer Rabira - it has never returned unbroken so far.”

“Captain-Friend, I still don’t understand why you haven’t scrapped them at this point. Out of 22 missions that you have sent the Rabira on, they broke on all 22 times!”

“Give them a chance, Yobritely. If everyone believes the Rabira should be scrapped then they will never get to improve. Plus the commander really loves that ship, for some reason. And they are good people.”

“And very unprofitable, but I see your point, Captain-Friend.” That was their last remark before communication was terminated.

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