The Unanswered Cry
In a universe that is infinitely large, reality is but a thin veil of infinite possibilities ready to be ripped apart as we stumble upon the unbelievable, the strange and the bizarre. New shocking stories emerge every day, forcing us to mend our understanding of what is and isn’t possible, to redefine the very nature of existence itself. These are the universe’s Untold Tales.
On today’s program, we hear of a search and rescue operation that was anything but normal, in “The Tale of the Unanswered Cry.”
The Odin system. Beating at its heart are the dangerous remains of a long ago destroyed planet, known only as the Coil. Mysterious energy storms course through its depths, making navigating the tangled brier of dust and asteroids a hazard for all but the most experienced pilots. However, with the promise of possible credits, miners, traders and treasure hunters find themselves too often lost in its web. Enter the private search and rescue team, Mulligan’s ERS, who specialize in operating in the sector.
DOTTIE MULLIGAN: I started working the Coil way back in the day as part of the medical team for a munitions corporation that was trying to set up shop. That company didn’t last, but my time in the area showed me that there was definitely a need for a decent S&R crew. If it wasn’t the storms chewing up ships and leaving people in the lurch, there were plenty of gangs around eager enough to do the work themselves. So, plenty of rescue contracts to be had. The only hard part was finding them.
Astronomy theorist Tad Yai explains.
TAD YAI: While the mechanics behind the Coil’s so-called “electrical storms” are still debated among scientists, one thing that we do know for sure is its effects on communications and scans. The massive amounts of energy building up and discharging play havoc on most basic comm systems — creating static and interference at the best of times, and at worst, disrupting transmissions altogether.
DOTTIE MULLIGAN: You pretty much need to actually be flying through the Coil itself in order to pick up anything. That means doing regular sweeps and patrols to listen out for anyone who might need help. Completely different from a normal job where there are plenty of distress calls coming and the only reason you’re flying around is just so you’re the closest responder. No, here if you want to get a rescue call, you have to go and find it. For better or worse, we’re one of the few S&R crews crazy enough to do it.
It was on one such patrol through the Coil that Mulligan and her crew picked up a distress beacon from the ship Jasmine Bloom.
DOTTIE MULLIGAN: Started out a normal enough shift. A couple hours of quiet and then, right as we were heating up some food for mid-shift, the comm springs to life with a hisser. A ship’s AEB had triggered from an atmo leak and was putting out a help call. We knew we needed to hurry.
In an atmosphere leak, the difference between life and death can be a slim margin separated by mere minutes. Medical expert, Dr. Rodney Biggs, explains.
DR. RODNEY BIGGS: Lack of oxygen, or hypoxia, leads to sluggishness, sweating, shortness of breath, confusion. This is what can make an atmosphere leak so dangerous. It can very quickly affect a Human’s cognitive abilities and as such, their ability to protect themselves. If the problem persists for long enough the victim will eventually black out. Quickly thereafter, without oxygen, your brain, liver and other organs can be permanently damaged just minutes after the first symptoms start.
DOTTIE MULLIGAN: Sometimes you get lucky and the crew was wearing suits or made it to their pods, but you also see enough cases where the poor bastards have blacked out fumbling at a latch or trying to put on a helmet. And even if they do get sealed off, most ships only carry so much reserve atmo before everyone’ll be left sucking on vacuum. Basically, when it comes to leaks, the sooner you can get there the better.
Yet no matter how fast Mulligan and crew raced to the rescue, they were doomed to arrive too late … decades too late as Colin Fistern, brother of the Jasmine Bloom’s captain, explains.
COLIN FISTERN: She had been sick of working in an office, and after losing her third job in so many months, Jasmine had bought a hauler on spec. Figured she could do better on her own. I had tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn’t listen. She got some contracts here and there, but her back payments kept piling up whether she had shipments to do or not. The way I remember it was that she was getting pretty desperate. Jasmine was only a few weeks from having to sell the thing when she learns just how many credits you could make if you were willing to haul out in Odin. She said she didn’t care about how dangerous it was. Jasmine was like that. She headed out to Odin and that was the last I had ever heard from her. Going on about 30 years ago this March.
DOTTIE MULLIGAN: The ship, if you could call it that still, looked like it had been floating there for decades. What was left of the hull had been severely burned by the Coil, inside and out. Yet the datestamp on the distress beacon showed that it had triggered only 45 minutes prior. We all just looked at each other. It didn’t make sense. What the hell was going on?
When we come back, we learn what tragic fate befell the crew of the Jasmine Bloom —
DOTTIE MULLIGAN: I cut through the bulkhead to the cabin doors and there she was, her hand still touching the console …
And discover an escape pod holding a dark family secret —
COLIN FISTERN: It was a betrayal, pure and simple. How could she do that to us?
All that and more, when Untold Tales returns.