Chapter 2: Resurrection

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The Lazarus fired four drones from modified missile tubes. Technically, she was equipped with arcane weapons systems that could be used as such, but the ingenuity of generations of his family led to the truly unique inventory and structure of the ancient ship. There were holos and pictures of the Lazarus pulling Mark 1 Raptors out of the asteroid belt by Mars, a testament to her age. To some, the ship was brutally ugly, but to Terris, she was a thing of intricate beauty.

The gas giant, Jupiter, dominated the view on the entire port side of the ship. Lines of storms and gasses layered on the planet like a deadly, swirling chemical experiment. While it's size was roughly a tenth the size of Sol, it's gravitational well was only a few times stronger than Earths. Still, the tides pulled at his ship causing the Lazarus' superstructure to groan under the pressure.

He watched as the probes lanced into the inner rings of Jupiter. They were shielded well, tough old things, but the fast moving debris had taken out two of them as they approached the planet-sized moon of Ganymede and another as two asteroids collided and the resulting shower of rock and ice could not be compensated for by the probe's navigation systems.

He had eleven probes remaining with four already sweeping the rings and three lost. He was prepared to use the Lazarus' entire compliment if necessary. The coordinates were good. He had been certain of it before leaving Earth territory. His checks were detailed and thorough, with several nav programs verifying the accuracy. The Dawnhammer had drifted into Jupiter's orbit in the last hundred years. Somewhere inside those rings was a ghost ship. Based on the trajectories calculated, there was a very small chance that the ship could have been pulled into the gas giant's atmosphere. He ruled that out, though. On the drift, the ship would act like any other piece of flotsam. It was in the rings. Somewhere.

A flare of green light caught his attention in the forward viewport. His eyes snapped to it, but saw nothing. Glancing at the telemetry display to his far right, he saw that one of the probes was no longer communicating.

Green light. His brow furrowed in thought. Green light?

He launched another drone and set it's coordinates to the one that had stopped communicating. Probably destroyed like the others. The new one would pick up the preprogrammed search pattern.

Several minutes passed as Terris stared into the field. Oxygen. Nitrogen. Hydrogen. None of those produced green flame. Analysis of the field didn't show much copper and the odds of any mineral oxidizing to the point that it could produce a green light were slim. He cocked his head to the side. The drones were made of titanium. There was probably enough raw material of varying compounds that could produce a green flame, but not a burst of light at that magnitude and color. He leaned forward and his heart sped up a fraction. To the right, he entered a series of commands in the console and the arcmap blazed to life. Holographic rock and ice surrounded him in the cabin as the camera systems aboard the drone sent back a live feed. Almost as soon as he caught visual of the shiny debris of his drone, the live probe angled around a larger chunk of icy rock.

For a brief instant, Terris saw the silhouette of another ship. Two large wings angled upward off of the hull at a 30 degree angle, two smaller ones the same degree below. The fuselage was long and sleek and decorated with a thousand score marks from unknown attackers. And then it was gone. The arcmap powered down and an echo of ghostly green light faded in the distance.

Terris stared into the rings of Jupiter, his heart pounding in his chest. His arms felt weak and his stomach was uneasy. He blinked and replayed the vision in his mind.

Dawnhammer.

With a strangled yelp of excitement, he called the remaining drones back to the ship and pulled a detailed scan of the area. As soon as the command had been entered onto the console, communication with the drones simply ended. Terris looked at the blank telemetry readout and blinked twice.

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