Ghosts From The Past [October 3303]

Chronicle #23

The Children of Raxxla help uncover tracks to a long forgotten xenocide

In September 3303 leaked footage made it across a number of independent news outlets in which a ground crew in SRVs approached a planetary settlement. Had it been Dav’s Hope or any other expeditionary camp it wouldn’t have mattered much, but instead the sign over the entry portal read “INRA”: The Intergalactic Navy Reserve Arm.

That alone rattled some cages but the institution in question was thought to be long gone, having been dismantled after a scandal some fifty years ago.

But seeing a pair of ground vehicles only introduced in 3301 drive towards one of their mysterious installations started a flurry of speculations and activities. The veracity of the leaks was questioned of course, but with the recent exposure of the clandestine Project Dynasty and the still unsolved riddle of the permit-locked areas in the Orion sector, most people weren’t willing to shrug off these ‘tabloid press flycatchers’ anymore. It was clear by then some higher-ups had something to hide.

So within a number of mere days, independent pilots once again set out, most with only a picture printout and a general sense of direction, to find what was hidden. The Children of Raxxla (CoR) were among them, of course. The CoR Intel Team quickly assembled in person or by holopresence in HR 6421 and later met up with their friends from the OSIRIS group. OSIRIS had been an independent team of experts on history themselves who had been engaged on a good number of surveys over the last year and who often liaised with the CoR on important matters like these.

And with that the hunt was on once more. After some OSIRIS pilots had deduced enough puzzle pieces from that leaked footage and from space bar gossip, they were finally able to pinpoint the Hermitage system as a possible target. When they ran into a number of military convoys in that otherwise uninhabited brown dwarf system they were even more convinced they were on the right trail.

Fortunately, Hermitage only had a few planets suitable for planetary landing and most of them were smaller moons. OSIRIS then called in the CoR Intel Team and together they started searching. No strangers to ‘yoghurting’ planetary surfaces it was only a matter of time before they were successful.

The team found an abandoned installation, much like that in the leaked footage, but then again different. It was named Hollis Gateway and looked like a nexus for project coordination. Still, the name INRA and a number of matching logos were clearly patched on numerous buildings and sign. It was a big success and also the key to unlocking some of humanity’s darker secrets.

The teams found a set of audio logbooks of some scientist. They had survived the decades in near vacuum and it revealed that the base had indeed been supplied with Thargoid technology with the goal to unlock and understand it. The logs also revealed more INRA research projects.

It was at that time that another recon team landed at Hollis Gateway: They had found another site, an agricultural science lab named Stuart Retreat. It was located on the third planet of the HIP 15329 system. That base looked more like the one from the leaked footage and indeed the team had found a comms buoy with more whistleblowing on it. It came from a researcher from Hollis Gateway and he confessed his research on fungus based proteins had been seized by the INRA and sent to labs occupied with weapons research in the Hermitage and Alnath systems.

The rabbit hole just got way deeper. The take was that while researching on disease-resistant crops, discoveries were made to turn the results into a weapon against the Thargoids, whose technology was at least partially of biological nature. From what was known at that time, the Thargoids had pressed really hard against humanity’s borders and the military felt the need for drastic strategies to avoid being overrun — or so the story was told.

Having moved from Hermitage to Alnath together, the teams began to yoghurt the planetary surfaces again — and other planets after. The patterns turned out to be always the same and one by one a whole production chain of a mycoid based biological weapon was discovered across half a dozen systems. It also brought other experiments to light, some of them on Thargoid technology, some on living ‘samples’.

The scope of this was staggering and surely not always ethical. Although history books cautiously omitted what had really ended the first Thargoid war, snippets of gossip and vague theories had always circulated in independent scientific (and military) groups. A number of carefully worded rumors by Engineer Lori Jameson did the rest.

To some, it was more or less an open secret that a potent biological weapon had been used against the aliens, either to disable their partly biological hyperdrives or to eradicate the species altogether. All the discovered audio logs from different stages of that secret experiment would only confirm what was already seen as fact. Naturally, people in power didn’t like these topics to be discussed publicly. So OSIRIS and the CoR decided to hit them where it hurt: Making things public.

A few days later, GalNet reported the INRA base findings to the public. Some say, they did so grudgingly. It was more or less clear at that time that GalNet had been mainstreamed and brought in line with the top galactic policy makers. The somewhat laconic, dismissive tone of the news piece seems to support this. The news item was later archived.

Still, another piece of footage can still be accessed today, covering the discovery and download of the Hermitage log files.

The publication hit its mark. The ethical implications of this drastic measure more than fifty years ago were immediately questioned by a number of organisations. People also fumed over the fact that the INRA had apparently been willing to sacrifice (or blame) one of humanity’s greatest heroes of that time: John Jameson.

Audio logs from one of their bases named Taylor Keep revealed that Jameson’s ship had been tampered with, while they loaded it with the xenocide payload. While they lauded him with praise over his accomplishments when he arrived, they were ready to dump him after ‘hitting a button’ and make him disappear.

When sentiments began to boil over, GalNet released another article on October 19th, along with a number of statements from contemporary politicians. The reception of that article was …mixed.

A while later, several galactic leaders deigned themselves to weigh in on the matter, especially after Aegis, their newly formed multilateral initiative on countering the Thargoid threat, had suffered numerous comparisons with the INRA and their questionable practices.

All in all, the discovery of the INRA bases once again brought dubious political agendas blended with desperate military plans into the spotlight. 3303 had already seen Project Dynasty, the existence of a ‘Club’ of self-styled galactic overlords, a cover-up of a huge but clandestine industrial enterprise and the death of too many who tried to unravel it all. Was INRA now the proverbial oil into the fire? Or as Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval put it in her statement:

“Defending civilisation cannot come at the cost of our humanity.”

It just can’t, can it?


Out-of-game context:

The INRA bases were hinted at in a Frontier livestream on their Frontier Expo on October 7th, 2017. This was a big deal, because the organisation had only played a major part in the Frontier: First Encounters game of 1995 and was otherwise only mentioned in a number of Elite books.

At the time of the Expo, players were already very adapt at ‘yoghurting’ planetary surfaces and deducing planetary bodies from the stars in the skybox from their searches for the Project Dynasty sites. When the attendants of the show saw the INRA sign in that stream, they freaked out. Some even tried to drink Frontier staff under the table for more information but they turned out to be quite resilient to English beer.

So people already set off to work on possible locations during the Expo with tablets and smartphones, and when they came back, a number of player squadrons already had a good head start, the Children of Raxxla and their French friends of Project OSIRIS among them.

The original forum post with the discoveries can be found here:
https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/inra-base-discoveries.383412/