by Max Barry

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Region: The Milky Way Galaxy

The intersystem alliance

The I.A.S.S. Eratosthenes
Entering the Heliopause of the Cybele System

The cramped square shaped halls seemed to grow tighter as the majority of the Eratosthenes' science and security crews moved as one from crew quarters to the bridge. A few of the light panels above flickered as they walked past, the orange and yellow striping running parallel to the grey metal panel floors in desperate need of a new paint job. Despite the President's and the Office of the Interior's requests, the illustrious Fleet Admiral Harper of the Home Fleet gave the Cybele Expedition the 'legendary' explorer ship Eratosthenes instead of the practically brand new Magellan. In truth, while the Erat had served in the Navy for 87 years and surveyed 39 star systems during the Golden Age, the ship was barely holding together. Patch jobs and partial system overhauls were the only thing keeping the expedition crew members from cold abyss of space. It's not that the Magellan was unavailable or even attached to a service cycle. The ship had been sitting in Drydock #397 on Luna. No, this was a matter of politics, an ancient institution that never failed to rear it's ugly head within the Human civilization. It was a matter of party lines and whose hand to shake while stabbing another in the back. While the Intersystem Alliance Armed Forces answered to the President, having close friends within the senatorial opposition put Fleet Admiral Harper in a bad position. Instead of focusing on helping the Alliance as a whole by working together, he chose to hold strong to his own policies that aligned sharply with his party, showing his hatred for President Walker by waving around a sword of bureaucracy capable of keeping the Expedition on hold for at least three months. President Walker backed down, and so the Mission received the legendary Eratosthenes.

The teams arrived on the bridge to see the titanium plate shutters open up across the array of windows. They gazed at the faint dot of yellow-white light, not all that different from Sol when viewed from the same distance back in the Sol System.

"So this is it? The Cybele system. Home sweet home." Stated Staff Sergeant Henry Hayes, servicemember of the Intersystem Alliance Marine Corps and chief of security of the Expedition. All eight members of the science team and eight members of the security team were present as Captain Trevon Corpier entered the bridge from the elevator leading to his cabin. An older man, Captain Corpier served aboard six different vessels before retiring in his late 40s. By age 46, he was back in, first on reserve duties, then returned to full time service with the rank of Captain, a full three ranks higher than what he was when he retired. Instead of giving him command of his own Atlantis or even a Dagger, he gets the Erat. Despite a posting to an old ship, he acted proud of it. Proud of an old ship like this that's lived past it's expiration date.

As the teams got caught up on their objectives, the ship's crew was dealing with an alternate set of problems. Such as why their system-wide scanners were picking up artificial signals from orbit of Harvest.