Building the Order - Enemy of my Enemy

November 2941
Banu Merchantman - 'Domus Commercia'
Kallis System

The makeshift headquarters for XSO sat docked to the old research facility of the former Ballistic Logistics. The circuitry and over 90% of the computing systems of the station were fried and beyond repair. This however, was the single best chance for information. With the Shadow Advocacy having waged war, most if not all of the other structures held by Ballistic Logistics had been destroyed.

Jason Frost, a newly hired technician, sat under the watchful eye of Saskia Linsen. "Damn!" Saskia knew that was bad news. "This storage unit's fried too. We won't get anything out of it either."

The frustration levels of the entire team were getting dangerously high as hours of prying apart burnt twisted metal boxes yielded nothing but ruined circuitry and dead storage devices.

"Wait a minute!" Frost yelled in anticipation. Tossing aside some boxes, he pulled out a fried cord with a dangling box. A bit archaic, but the external device was only partially burnt. Holding it like a mouse, Frost smiled with glee. "Looks like someone had an external storage device which was burnt but the coord was severed before extensive damage hit the storage box. I'll see what I can get off of her." He rushed off.

Saskia knew the storage device wasn't sanctioned by Ballistic Logistics policy and it wasn't likely from the Shadow Advocacy as Sundavold would have taken it with him. No matter, she thought. 'Whoever was spying on BLG isn't likely to receive that data now and it may be a blessing for us.'

Months later...

Caterpillar - 'Steadfast Ascension'
Tohil System

Matthius stood looking at the debris field. The third of which he'd visited in the past two weeks yielding nothing. So far their data on Ballistic Logistic fleet locations recovered from the Kallis station had yielded nothing. Looters, pirates and salvaging crews from around the verse were fast at work picking apart the remnants of the former Ballistic Logistics fleet. Time was a factor and not in his favor. The hope was that XSO could acquire remaining ships and technology possible to rebuild. Traveling the verse to Xi'an, Banu and even Krell space wasn't going to be easy and the XSO would need all the equipment it could muster.

"Preceptor! I got a hit on the radar." Novitiate Samualson exclaimed.

"What is it?" Matthius asked as he moved to a position just over Samualson's shoulder.

"It looks like a ship." Matthius double checked the readouts on the sensor suite.

"Indeed and it looks adrift." He replied. "Helm, position us in an approach pattern. Let's have a look."

The process of approaching and aligning the ship took longer than expected due to the debris field. Several approaches had to be halted due to potential giant chunks that could cause serious damage to the Caterpillar's hull.

"This ship sure was in the middle of the field. What in the world would have caused them to go so far into the maelstrom of metal?" Matthius wondered aloud.

Finally after two hours, the ship was on it's final approach from the rear due to the amount of debris. Now that the ships were aligned on the same plane, Matthius could see. It had no markings. The ghosted freelancer was set up for stealth and exploration. Not entirely something you expected on a salvage operation. Given the incompatibility of the docking clamps, this would have to be an EVA effort.

Twenty minutes later...

Matthius broke the seal on the freelancer. To his surprise, there was no push back or release of oxygen. Floating into the main cabin, he turned first towards the cockpit. A huge chunk of debris had penetrated the ship's cockpit view port and ripped both seats out to space almost as if a can opener had been used to peel away the front of the vessel.

Satisfied that he would get nothing from the cockpit, Matthius turned his attention towards the cargo bay. The door lay open and floating within it's chamber was a second body. This one in a full eva suit, a tether still attached.

Matthius moved cautiously towards the floating body. In it's right hand the body gripped a small box about the size of a toaster. The tether, which should have been much longer appeared to still be hanging outside the ship's hangar bay with the door closed. Cautiously, he pushed the body so he could see the face. The man's face and neck were covered with deep veins. Matthius could only guess that the older tether system also contained the man's oxygen and once the hangar door closed on it caused asphyxiation.

Seeing nothing else of value within the freelancer, Matthius secured the black box and made his way back to the caterpillar.