19 months after the the destruction of Aegis VII, Church of Unitology Missionary Vessel, Paladin, was dispached to the Uroburos System. Hours after shocking into Uroburos space, contact with the Paladin was lost. Her last known communication was discovered in the form of a repeating message, being broadcast from the wreckage of one of her escape pods: "Heretics." Analysis would eventually reveal that both the voice on the recording and DNA sampled from the wreckage belonged to the Paladin's captain: Francis Mercer.
Uroburos is a binary star system, in which two stars are of nearly equal mass and luminosity orbit each other in a figure 8 pattern. The planets of this system consist of massive gas giants, most of which have moons. This system is unique in that a a massive field of dust, sand, ice, and stone envelops its entire plane; as if Saturn's rings surrounded every object in the our solar system. All of the larger moons, except for one, have long since been cracked. Coupled with the odd gravitational patterns, this lead to the development of intensly thick clouds of debris flowing through the system. Rather than abandoning the system after all of the easy pickings were gone, a pioneering group of setttlers established the Uroburos Colony, and constructed Persephone Station to serve as its hub. Although the commercial value of Uroboros was played out, the settlers found that abundant precious materials were still present in the clouds, and that the flow of these clouds could be used to efficiently harvest these materials. Some called the endevor "Ring Panning," as the process involved filtering materials from the flow of the rings (like pannning gold from a river). This process was slow and not nearly as profitable as planet cracking, but the colonists of Uroburos were not concerned with massive profits. Most of them were political dissidents and displaced poor; victims and veterans of the Resource Wars.
The primary focus of colony's founding was the long term endeavor to terraform the last Earth-like body in the system: a moon called Tethys. Tethys was saved from being cracked in part because of its relatively low mineral wealth. Its potential for terraforming was also extremly high; over two thirds the mass of the Earth, similar gravity and light conditions, abundant carbon. Water was scarce, and the carbon dioxide rich atmosphere was hot and getting hotter, but ring panning was providing for the needed changes. Persephone Station hangs in orbit of Tethys. Persephone is constructed in the fashion of spider's web, with residendial areas set at the outer edge, and the main reactors at the center. The strands of this spider web serve as a massive transport system for everything on the station. The areas between the transport lines are filled with huge canopy made from specialized gels, which capture materials and energy from space. The whole station behaves as a coral reef, filtering every usable material from the flow of the rings, while at the same time shading Tethys from its twin suns. Terraforming Tethys would take over 50 years to complete, and would require massive amounts of resources. Terraforming was a standard and routine operation, but without The CEC or EarthGov's help, such a project was bound to be slow and arduous. Still, the promise of a new world to call home; one apart from EarthGov, CEC, and the Church; has brought many independant minded people to live and work there.
Nearly 7000 colonists inhabit Persephone Station, with another 3 to 6 thousand living out of ships and on small stations throughout the system. On one such outlying station, Circe, a neurophysiologist named Abigale Weir is researching the properties of certain organic coumpounds produced in the unique gravity and light of Uroburos. She employs 57 people as crew for her station. One of them is her younger brother Morgan, a veteran of the Resource Wars. Morgan's primary occupation is the operation and maintenance of the Circe's hydroponics and zero-g aeroponics facilities. Like many of the inhabitants of Uroburos (especialy those that live outside of Persephone), he does a little bit of everything to make ends meet. One month before the Paladin entered the Uroburos system, Morgan Weir and 7 others from Circe's crew were prospecting for crystal deposits. Our story begins with this group approaching an area where scans have revealed evidence of a massive geode.
Morgan: Hey new guy, gimme your name again.
Watts: Jason Watts
Morgan: Right, Watts. I'm Morgan Weir, in case you forgot.
Watts: I remember your name, your sister owns the station. She said you moslty run the grow facilities.
Morgan: If she told you that earns me some kind of special privilege around here, she's full of shit.
Watts: She just said you were lazy.
Morgan: She just needs to get laid. How long you been at Circe.
Watts: I got there yesterday. I spent most of the day being briefed by Dr Weir.
Morgan: Her name's Abby, and briefed on what?
Watts: She was looking for a geologist specializing in zero-g formations, which is my precise field. I arrived at Persephone from the Sprawl 4 days ago, and was lucky enough to hear abou the job.
Morgan: Oh! You're the rock guy. Guess I should pay more attention to Abby's memos. Anyway, crazy luck: you finding a job like this...
A violent impact rattles the shuttle's hull. Morgan opens a channel to the pilot.
Morgan: Kris, what the fuck was that.
Kris: Gimme a fucking break! It was your idea to take this tank out into the shooting gallery. It was just a little fucking comet. Probably no bigger than a hair off my crotch, and now we know the armor still holds.
Morgan: Alright, next time we get hit by a comet I won't say shit. Morgan out.
Watts: Does she just need to get laid too?
Morgan: Actually, I have no idea what that woman's problem is.
Watts: I was curious abou this shuttle though. I've never seen this model before, but it looks fairly old.
Kris: Yup, thats because Morgan takes good care of it, and its really really old.
Morgan: I said out! This shuttle is a an old Testudo Class armored transport; used mainly by marines for landing and boarding actions, back during the wars. I served as a marine for a few years, and a while back I got a great deal from an old shipmate who ended up on the EDF armaments board. They were recycling all the old shit that didn't get sold to private collectors; ships, weapons, suits, everything. I got a load of old guns and equipment along with this boat. I sold most of it to help get Circe up and running.
Watts: Do you still have any old guns.
Morgan: yeah... a few.
The shuttle slows to a drift, a few hundred meters from a large asteroid.
Kris: This is almost certainly it.
Morgan: Anything of interest on the surface?
Kris: Quartz bearing gold and molybdenum, and several species of tourmaline.
Morgan: Sound good, let get pickin. Watts, I want you to just cruise around, observe, and scan. We need to crack it open to be certain its worth towing back. The rest of us will pick off the delicate stuff while you do that.
Watts: I'll try to find the safest area to insert a vent.
Kristol Alexander and her co-pilot monitered the mission from the flight deck of the shuttle. The others moved about the asteroid in teams of two, each with their own utility module. These modules consist of simple frames, to which are afixed small thrusters, O2 tanks, sensors, heavy tools, and storage compartments. While the other teams went to work extracing smaller bits of crystal, Watts scanned for the least volitile entry point. Such giant floating geodes contained pressurized gases, which could rip a shuttle apart (along with its crew) if vented improperly.