Jaren waited, as he usually did at this disagreeable time of morning, at the sensor console for the first freighters of the day to come in. Laden with valuable gases and condensates, the low orbit station that the rugged man and his compatriots called home for one-hundred-and-twenty days a cycle groaned against the gravitic lift cables holding it in geosynchronous orbit with the collector platform several hundred kilometres below. Jaren rubbed his hand along the railing out of instinct, as if comforting a labouring wife.
Sensors detected the approaching mass several minutes before it came into visual range, as it descended into the atmosphere of Khastagar from space. No transponder echo came with it, raising Jaren’s suspicions. He thumbed a communications panel, directing the projectors toward the oncoming vessel.
“Incoming freighter, switch your transponder to green and drop your boom lights, over.”
The mass on the sensors did not reply in any form. Rather, it grew. What had appeared to be several dozen metres in length had grown to several dozen kilometres in bulk, and increasing. Jaren would have sent an alert to the rest of the station and to its mother facility further out had the power not cut out after the mass had grown to over 60 kilometres in the scopes.
Scrabbling for the emergency power, Jaren found no response. Alone in the dark, and cut off from the other crew members he was left in the reflected light of Khastagar’s gaseous surface as the thing came into view. No pirate ship was this, come to prey on the lonely station. Pitted and cratered, the hull of this ship seemed more of a hide, its propulsion system nought to speak of as its bulk filled the observation dome’s view. Great sail like appendages folded into fins and began the thing’s descent into the clouds - a descent that led it through the cables of the station.
As the thing impacted and the station broke apart, the last Jaren saw of the mortal world was a trio of baleful and bottomless eyes.
When an ancient starfaring Acaean creature descends into the atmosphere of a profitable gas giant wheels of intrigue and commerce are set into motion. The feral behemoth has encroached on the profit margins of one of the sector’s most ruthless Veru’nas outcasts and his cabal of mercenaries and privateers and in so doing inadvertently made itself his property. Losses must be recouped and a prize such as this would fetch a tidy sum from the highest bidder.
Pirate beast-tamers ply their trade towards the world of Khastagar to parley with its master for the chance of breaking such a creature but they are not alone in their pursuit. Zealots of the H’Kal Patriarchate offer blessings and offerings to the beast, a sure reincarnation of their dead God, and the envoy of Nervash Hive, the claimed creators of the starfarer, protests their right of ownership but slyly offers rewards to the Master in return for the beast. Among these titans of the galaxy walks a man of little repute but cunning insight - whose skills at negotiation are also open for sale.
The empires and ancient orders descend upon Khastagar station to lobby their claim on the beast and the unknown child it carries, but who among them will be triumphant in their bid for the beast in the black?