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Cliff Hanger

Official transcript of audio log, AES Newton, Third Oracle Expedition, 15 June 2225 09:53 UTC (adjusted):

Dr. Lana Crawford: “Come on, Bill. We didn’t come thirty light-years just to send out a bunch of robotic bugs. There are layers and layers of ruins in those cliffs, going back thousands – millions of years. It’ll be an easy climb with gecko pads and camo suits. In and out before the Quads even know we’re there.”

Captain William Tanner: “All right, fine. But you’re taking Joseph with you and you’re to abort the climb if you’re spotted. Is that clear?”

Crawford: “Clear. I don’t have any intention of getting hit by cannon or musket balls, either.”
And so began the worst day in the annals of the Atlantian Exploratory Service.

Before night fell on Oracle, half the crew of the Newton was lost. Lana Crawford and Joseph Makuza were pinned down by gunboat fire halfway down the cliffs. Randall Krieger and Carmella Vinish died trying to rescue them. Captain Tanner confirmed the latter two deaths, both in pods brought down by ground fire, but he couldn’t recover the bodies. Crawford and Makuza’s transponders stopped broadcasting shortly before local dusk; they were never found.

After returning to Atlantis, Tanner was relieved of command, more for failing to recover the dead than for any other reason. Oracle remained quarantined for the entire Confederation era, with only miniaturized robotic surveillance allowed on the surface.

In 2245 William Tanner was among the first colonists to settle on Kalmar, where he became a hydroponics farmer. He was killed during the opening M’kkiae bombardment of the Kalmar Campaign in 2258. His body was never recovered.

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