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Wreck of the Gherman Stepanovich Titov

A decade had passed since anyone had come out to Jupiter. It was just a four month run now, out from the Oasis station. But after the War, there was just too much else that needed our attention: keeping the Mars and Asteroid bases alive, for instance. Exploration was a luxury we still needed to justify, measuring it against the billions still displaced on Earth.

The Brown was the last of the Astronomer class ships, and I took her right out of the yard, off to Jupiter for a shakedown. This expedition is just a resurvey of the old camps on the big moons. Not much science on our agenda. But though it took a bit of doing, I managed to get the mission directors to approve one extra landing: a search for the wreck of the Gherman Stepanovich Titov.

The Titov wasnít ever designed to go to Jupiter. It was built for the Mars run, diverted to Asteroid duty in the late Forties, and then drafted in to the war effort in í52. I donít know whose bright idea it was to start commerce raiding into the Belt - there werenít much more than a dozen ships in the entire region in í52 - but the Russians and Easterners started it and the Alliance had to respond.

The Titov was braking into Jupiter orbit, headed for Asgard Camp on Callisto, when one long-range drone pelted her with shot. Only a half a dozen tiny pellets penetrated the hull, but at those velocities, they crippled her. Somehow Captain Nakhimov managed to keep her together. The last radar track we had of the Titov showed her making for Europa on one engine. Then we lost her. That was ten years ago, almost to the day.

But from Europa orbit, she was easy to find. Nakhimov got her down in basically one piece. The man was brilliant. I went down with my landing team, protocol be damned.

Only Nakhimov and Leonova had survived the landing. The ship was beyond salvage. The thin hull and their thinner suits were never designed to hold up against the sustained radiation at Europa. Somehow they managed to eject their one working reactor, haul it over the ice, and rig it to melt through the surface. I canít image what went though their minds when they made that choice, braving the reactor to escape something worse.

We managed to salvage a bit of Nakhimovís suit log. It looks like they held out for almost two weeks, waiting for a miracle rescue that never came. The nearest ship was over thirty million klicks away and headed in the other direction. I should know. I commanded that ship. I gave the order to fire the drone that took out the Gherman Stepanovich Titov.

- Captain Robert Daniel Mortimer, CSEA Brown August 14, 2062

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