It has been more than a month since Lilly and Imogen were last on Antiga Prime, and they have heard no news of the planet since leaving Lt. Spearmint and Jefferson Grom to work out the details of rebuilding it. As they come into orbit, the computer picks up some weird readings on an uncommon frequency. Since the planet is bereft of tech, Lilly ignores it and turns on the music instead. She takes them down through the atmosphere, heading to the same part of the planet they explored before, where they know some bengalaases live.
“Ach! We should’ve bought some sedative!” Imogen suddenly exclaims. With how busy they were on Mar Sara, they forgot to properly prepare for their business venture here on Antiga Prime. Perhaps her Umojan stun-gun will be sufficient, but chemical backup would be wise. “Well, this is a science vessel, isn’t it?” she encourages herself, stepping up to the lab counter to look through what chemicals they happen to have in the cabinets. She whips up an appropriate concoction and loads it into a syringe since it will need to be injected by hand into the subject.
Imogen is just finishing that up when an explosion goes off in the airspace beside Saffron, suddenly rocking the vessel. Lilly looks over the sensors, trying to figure out what is going on, and sees that they are being tailed by a cloaked wraith. The air superiority fighter would be invisible to them were it not for the science vessel’s advanced sensor suite. Responding quickly, Lilly launches an EMP at the craft. If Saffron is close enough for the wraith’s Gemini missile to strike nearby, then their own EMP missile can certainly reach the attacker. The wraith tries to evade but is not fast enough to get outside the blast radius. The EMP takes out its cloak and weapon systems, though not its flying capabilities; Lilly was just looking to disable, not destroy. Imogen steps up to the comms to contact the other vessel but Lilly shakes her head; the EMP will have disabled the wraith’s radio. “If you want me to get closer so you can flip ‘em off or something…” Lilly suggests with a grin.
“I don’t want to antagonize them. I wanted to communicate with them!” Imogen replies. “We don’t know why they were shooting at us or who they are. They might not understand we fired the EMP in self-defense. If talking’s not an option, then we should fly away.”
That sounds fine to Lilly. Adrenaline courses through her system as the wraith gives chase. The other vehicle is faster, but Saffron has a much smaller turn radius, allowing Lilly to make sudden changes of direction that cause the wraith to overshoot the science vessel. She ducks them down into a series of canyons, then backtracks before the wraith can make contact with them again. Once they have lost it completely, Lilly stretches, cracking her knuckles in satisfaction. “That was weird,” she declares, now that the excitement of the engagement is over.
They run a general sensor sweep, looking for signs of any other potential enemy craft. There is still that strange energy spike from earlier which they do not understand. Of more importance, though, is the detection of electromagnetic activity emanating from an island south of their current position. That is definitely more than the complete silence from the planet when they were last here. Imogen sends out an announcement on all hailing frequencies. “We’re an innocent science vessel. Whoever you are, please stop sending fighters after us.”
“Despite our round and lumpy appearance, we are not, in fact, a sleek fighter jet,” Lilly adds.
A reply comes back on a non-standard channel. “Science vessel, you’re broadcasting on an inappropriate frequency. Please use the prescribed frequency bands and respond to requests for hails.”
“What is this, Umoja? We’re polluting the airwaves again?” Imogen grumbles under her breath.
“You have flown through flight space without a flight plan,” the voice continues to admonish them, “disregarding protocol. You need to file your flight plan and check in with the fire base.”
Imogen transmits back on the channel the tower is using, requesting clear instructions on how to proceed, given the irregularities that are already in play. The speaker on the other end is feisty, citing the rare research opportunity afforded by the quiet electromagnetic spectrum on Antiga Prime. “Did you come to this planet without checking the Dominion Communication Records?” he demands.
Imogen has no idea what he is talking about. “I was on this planet six weeks ago, and there was nothing here at all. No, I didn’t check any logs before coming back!” she snaps. A lot has changed in that time, based on the continued diatribe from the other end. Grom LLC has Dominion jurisdiction on the planet now, making the company formally in charge of airwaves, among other things.
“Oh! You’re with Grom!” Imogen exclaims. In response to the tower’s question on whether they are the vessel that fired on their security fighter, she clarifies that they disabled the fighter, who had fired on them first. She agrees to come down and clear all this up, if they promise not to shoot at Saffron anymore. The conversation continues antagonistically for a while, with one side demanding proper procedures be followed and the other demanding for said procedures to be clearly spelled out. Finally, with coordinates in hand and permission to fly to that location, Lilly heads to Grom’s new starport.