for Long March Called Off
Legendary xeno survey vessel still
missing, presumed lost
- High Guard officials today announced the indefinite suspension
of their search for the missing Xeno survey vessel Long
March, which failed to return from an extended mission
and is now presumed lost with all hands.
is with a heavy heart that I have recalled our search ships
to their ports and patrol routes," said Chief of Staff Constanza
Stark during an emotional news conference at High Guard
headquarters on Tarn-Vedra. "The Long March was much
more than a ship of exploration. It was a visible symbol
of the Commonwealth's commitment to push the frontiers of
our knowledge while protecting the vulnerable from civilization's
darker impulses. Members of the Long March team will
be mourned by all whose lives they touched."
Assigned to explore and survey the Luwian Cluster, catalogue
new species and search for any signs of unauthorized settlement
or resource exploitation, the Long March was two
months overdue in returning when High Guard officials at
the ship's home port on Arzawa II commenced search operations.
An intensive, month-long search effort that employed over
100 High Guard, Home Guard and civilian vessels failed to
turn up any trace of the missing ship or crew.
tried retracing their steps, looking for debris, inquiring
on every inhabited world nearby - nothing," said one frustrated
member of the search effort, who asked not to be identified.
"It's as if they were never there in the first place."
Some observers and families of Long March crew questioned
the seeming delay in launching the search.
Luwian Cluster was too close to Magog territory to send
that ship there alone in the first place, and then they
take two months to even start checking up on them?" said
Carlos Garcia, father of botanist and Long March
mission specialist Lourdes Garcia. "Do they think our children
But High Guard officials defended the conduct of the search,
which they maintain was begun as soon as the Long March's
tardiness exceeded normal parameters.
not unusual for long range survey missions to run days or
even weeks longer than expected," explained High Guard Search
and Rescue coordinator Ahhiyawa nax Priamu. "They can find
unexpected species, get sidetracked by natural phenomena,
or simply decide to stay longer. And if Slipstream navigation
to the region of space proves tricky - as it is to the Luwian
Cluster - there's no reliable way to send a message back
to Commonwealth space that explains the situation."
Under the command of longtime captain, Astyanax Shepherd,
the Long March became famous to Commonwealth citizens
for an unparalleled record of exploration and discovery.
Nine sentient races that are now members of the Commonwealth
were first discovered and contacted by the Long March,
which explored over 8,000 star systems and catalogued new
species of flora and fauna. The Long March also played
an important role in protecting undeveloped worlds and pre-industrial
cultures from exploitation by pirates, rogue miners, and
Due to the ship's famous exploits, the Long March's
crew members were popular speakers at schools and environmental
groups, helping educate Commonwealth citizens on the need
to protect indigenous cultures and undeveloped worlds from
exploitation. Since the announcement of their apparent loss,
messages of condolences have poured in from numerous individuals
and organizations from across known space.
Twice awarded the Shield of the Empress for valor and devotion
to duty, Captain Shepherd leaves a wife, co-husband, and
three children on Skaian Gates. A memorial service for the
Long March and crew will be held tomorrow on Arzawa,
which the public is invited to attend.
The High Guard Information Network and our correspondent
on Arzawa II contributed to this report.