Shortly after leaving Red Sun, on their way to look for information about Sergei Chesnekov in Georgia, the crew hears about massive Alliance fleet movements throughout the the Prairie. News and personal messages warn that checkpoints have been established and the normal out-of-the-way shortcuts have been blockaded in order to combat Independent supply shipments. Blackbird’s crew, comprised of mostly “unlawful” citizens carrying unregistered cargo, realizes that they can’t simply go through the checkpoints without serious repercussions. Jackie and Kazuto — being the most legit of the crew — offer to take the ship’s shuttle through the checkpoint to see what they’re up against.
Annadale, Tarsh, Bobby, Daisy and Oliver stay on the ship, lingering on the outskirts of the Prairie. To avoid having to explain themselves (should they encounter a patrol ship), Bobby follows in the wake tail of the Oracle comet.
For two days without word from Jackie or Kazuto, boredom sets in. Finally, on the afternoon of the third day, Bobby notices a blip on the scanners. A cursury sweep of the area reveals the source to be a ship. It looks to be running on standby power and possibly adrift, which they can’t verify because of the distance. The crew takes a chance and leaves the Oracle’s wake and heads closer.
Once they reach a better scanning range Tarsh picks up on the ship’s navigational transponder. Based on the call signal, Tarsh figures out that the ship is the IAV Ankara — a Serephim Class Utility Cruiser registered with the Alliance Military. He also learns that the ship’s been missing since April 9th of this year. Immediately, the crew’s curiosity (read: casual greed) is piqued. They decide to investigate the ship, take a quick look around, and afterward place an anonymous tip with the Alliance.
Daisy and Annadale stand ready at the cargo bay doors, in case of a trap. Bobby flies the ship closer, as Tarsh continues to scan the black. Suddenly, the scanners pick up an object directly in their path. Bobby makes a quick course correction to avoid the object, which appears to be a floating mine. Sure enough, it is. Readjusting the scanners, Tarsh discovers more mines floating between them Ankara.
Oliver decides to take a closer look and crawls out onto the dorsal hull. Hoping to “fly” over to the Serephim, the plan is halted as Bobby slowly maneuvers Blackbird through the mine field. Oliver crawls back into the launch bay, but keeps his EV Suit on… ready to board.
Bobby and Tarsh discover that the mine field is actually a trail leading to the starboard side of Ankara. With this in mind, Bobby docks Blackbird on the port side. The Crew meets up in the cargo bay and readies to board the vessel. Tarsh uses Blackbird’s systems to communicate with _Ankara_’s airlock, allowing them to step aboard.
The airlock is relatively small, lined with several lockers, with an inner door leading to the rest of the ship. The air here smells of slight decay. The Crew takes several EV suits from the lockers before trying the inner door. It’s locked. No, they easily see that the door’s seam has been fused together. Oliver uses a cutting torch to break the bond.
Air pressure breezes through the doorway as it opens to a hallway on Ankara’s Science Deck. The smell of decay is stronger here. To the right is a small elevator and a staircase heading both up and down. To the left is a doorway. Through a port in the door the Crew sees it leads to what looks like a medical bay. Inside they find a woman’s body, attached to a diagnosis computer. The body looks like it was dissected by a pack of wild animals. Annadale looks over the former patient’s medical charts and sees that she was brought to the medical bay for what appeared to be a respiratory infection; it’s clear that the infection isn’t what killed her. Annadale and Tarsh discover the medicine vault’s been opened, but only common medicines have been taken — gauze, antibiotics, minor pain relievers, etc.
While others search the medbay, Oliver continues down the hallway and discovers the ship’s gymnasium. He takes seven pairs of athletic shoes, tying the laces together and tossing the shoes over Mersa’s back.
Eventually, the crew finds its way to the cockpit. All controls and ship systems are locked, likely by the missing crew.