July 20th 2022
We live in an era where scientific understanding and innovations have led to us reversing death itself, yet despite these amazing advances, there is still much in this universe we do not understand. Every day, new stories of unexplained phenomena confound the senses and make us question the very fabric of reality itself. These are the universe’s Untold Tales.
Deep beneath the icy surface on the dark side of Sol VI’s moon, Iapetus, lies an unexpected monument to Humanity’s quest for understanding… and an all-too-Human tragedy that has come to light after centuries of total darkness.
In 2944, the scanning vessel Tintern Abbey logged an unusual sensor reading during a routine outer-planets survey assignment in the Sol system. Deep sensor scans of the dark side of Iapetus revealed an unidentified object several meters below the moon’s surface. While Iapetus’ dark side is uninhabited, the region had been used in previous decades for heavy weapons testing and the immediate belief was that the anomaly represented a large, unexploded munition. A UEEN survey and cleanup crew was assigned to examine the site. Equipped with excavators and more detailed surface scanners, the team was shocked by what they discovered buried beneath the layers of rocky ice: a largely intact spacecraft.
As the excavation continued, it quickly became apparent that the ship trapped on the moon was a preserved treasure plucked from the annals of history itself in the form of a Roberts Space Industries Zeus. Unveiled over eight hundred years ago as the first civilian-owned spacecraft ever mass produced, the Zeus helped popularize private space travel. Today, the Zeus is seen by historians as the singular ancestor of the modern personal spacecraft, the great grandfather of RSI’s ubiquitous Aurora and Constellation ships.
Once the historical importance of their find was learned, the Navy quickly dispatched an archaeological team to the wreckage. It was soon discovered that the tail designation ‘C-6’ was visible through the ice, which allowed for a fast identification. Historical records provided by RSI say that C-6 disappeared on August 10, 2255, during the test flight of a new type of deep-space communications system capable of transmitting in known dead regions of space. The craft was last tracked by an automated station on Iapetus’ light side before disappearing as planned behind the moon. These final scans indicated that the ship was in the correct elliptical orbit, which would have kept it far from the surface. At 12:00 SET when the first test communication was supposed to activate, the awaiting teams back on the light side of the moon were instead greeted by silence. The C-6 and her crew would never be heard from again.
Rescue crews of the time attempted to conduct a seemingly thorough search of the area but were stymied by recent severe avalanches and were unable to find any indication of wreckage. A week passed before the C-6’s crew of three were pronounced dead: Mission Commander Brooke Cloverly, Engineer K. Scott Bashara, and Test Pilot Eve Price Murray. Cloverly was the youngest commander in the program at the time and contemporary press reports note that her loss was a particular blow to Roberts Space Industries’ test program. Bashara had almost forty years of experience as an engineer for the company. Less information survives on Murray, who had joined the company just weeks before the disappearance. Even after seven centuries, a Roberts Space Industries’ spokesperson confirmed that all three crew names are still memorialized on the company’s ‘wall of honor’ located at its headquarters on Earth.
After the layers of ice were carefully removed, the ship was found to be in remarkably good condition for a seven-hundred-year-old wreckage. One of the Zeus’ engines was clearly damaged on impact, dislodged from its casings and covered in intense scorching, and the bow armor was crumpled from where the ship hit the surface. Otherwise, most of the superstructure remained in excellent condition and the interior of the ship had remained sealed. Investigators theorized that the C-6 had most likely soft-landed but became trapped when an ice avalanche buried it below the surface. However, it was what was inside the ill-fated ship (or rather was not inside) that would prove a more troublesome mystery.
When historians accessed the ship’s interior, they were shocked to find that there were no Human remains to be found. The Zeus’ blackbox had been removed, as had all three space suits, one survival tent, and seemingly any limited supplies (estimated to be food, water, and carbon filters capable of sustaining three people for five days). Investigators discussed the idea that grave robbers might have discovered the site in the ensuing centuries but generally rejected the possibility as the ship itself remained full of valuable components and there was no evidence anyone had searched the cabin. The further discovery of used bandages and several empty ration packages in the ship’s trash further suggested the crew had been conscious after the impact and that one or more may have been injured.
Two weeks later, a comprehensive archaeological survey of the crash site had failed to turn up any additional information on what had happened to the crew of C-6. It was at this point that a decision was made to transport the wrecked Zeus from its crash site to Roberts Space Industries’ Earth laboratory for detailed analysis. New and more confounding details emerged as the smallest details of the ship were studied. The cutting-edge communication module the ship had been equipped with was in perfect working order. Later test flights after the C-6’s disappearance would prove that the system worked so, in theory, the crew should have been able to use it to summon a rescue and it remains unknown why they did not. Additionally, while the removal of the blackbox means that the details of C-6’s last flight remain unknown, records salvaged from the ship’s aging computer systems show that, shortly upon entering the dark side of the moon, ship authority was transferred from Commander Cloverly to Pilot Murray. Perhaps one of the biggest remaining mysteries is that with all the supplies that were taken from the ship, why did the crew decide to leave behind the ship’s only emergency flare gun?
After three years had passed since the discovery of C-6, another piece of the puzzle surfaced that only raised more questions. A survey crew operating deep in the dark side to help establish a water mining system was digging exploratory boreholes when they unearthed an empty RSI space suit bearing a C-6 patch. Its location? Almost three hundred miles from the C-6 crash site… three hundred miles in the wrong direction from civilization. One must wonder, how did this brave explorer find themself so far off course? Or perhaps, was there something they were trying to escape from? Tracing a path from the suit to the crash suit only revealed one more piece of evidence, ten unopened ration packets buried within the ice.
In the end, we can only speculate as to what caused the loss of RSI Zeus C-6 and what the true story of her crew’s final hours may have been. The missing blackbox has not been recovered, though historians are hopeful that should it ever be found more details of the event may yet be revealed. For now, this is one Untold Tale that will continue to haunt all those who seek to know the truth behind the Zeus’ tragic end.