This Incident Report covers a Loss of Material event on Northern Galactic League Vessel NGL-1071 due to an unexplained Ship Equipment Failure on S.D. 24103.
BACKGROUND: NGL-1071 has been tasked to investigate the physical, chemical, and biological environment of the planet Galeb(3). The planet is the only one in the system with life form potential above Yenshik Stage 2. NGL-1071 has been on station in non-orbital atmospheric postures for 153 orbits of the planet. When not performing large area surveys, NGL-1071 has adopted a High Altitude/Velocity Nominal (HA/VN) position to enable long-term observations of indigenous life. The altitudes taken, while enabling adequate observational opportunities, have been sufficient to ensure no substantive risk of counter-observation from the ground with the technologies available to the indigenous population.
OBSERVATIONAL TASKING: Mission operations include observation of activities and civilizational progress of the Highest Up-Mobile Native Species (HUMNS). On Galeb(3) this is a land-dwelling, featherless biped with an internal skeleton (see Initial Field Report: Galeb(3) Major Biota, S.D. 23779). The HUMNS population has a group-based social and economic structure. Most of the HUMNS on Galeb(3) remain nomadic, moving seasonally as the availability of forage or food animals dictate. Only a few have constructed fixed settlements. Groups with large fixed settlements have usually established regional dominance over other groups, which become subordinate. Evidence indicates that force is used to maintain the dominance. Observational efforts during the time frame of the incident were in a region dominated by a group designated Indigenous Geostationary Population Two (IGPT).
IGPT is a Level 3 civilization, capable of performing extensive administrative functions and supporting a standing military. Major civil construction projects have been undertaken in the form of irrigation canals and pyramidal structures. The latter are associated with religious rituals. Engineering of the pyramids is clearly beyond HUMNS capabilities, given the state of the species’ knowledge of engineering, materials, and mathematics. It looks like the Geloidi were here before us, pulling their usual stunts. They apparently don’t care that their pranks distort the development of juvenile species. These jokes simply aren’t funny any more and need to be stopped.
RECENT MISSION OBSERVATIONS: The region had recently experienced a clustered series of adverse environmental events, including meteorological, hydrological, and biological occurrences. Although events similar to each of these events had been observed in this location and others, a sequence of events of such severity in so short a time period had not been previously observed. No precipitating cause for the sequence had been detected.
Each of the occurrences is believed to have presented significant socio-economic stress on the IGPT ruler. The combined effects of these events were considered sufficient to present high hazard to the IGPT social and governmental structures. Mission sociologists took significant interest in the social and administrative responses of to the situation. Subsequently, this region became a primary focus of observational resources.
Religious practices have been observed to provide a central organizational structure to many of the HUMNS groups (see Supplementary Report 0993). Most of the subordinate groups held by the IGPTs adapted their religious practices to conform to those of the dominant IGPT forms. Such behavior has been observed in other dominant/subordinate cultures.
One of the subordinate groups held in thrall by the IGPTs did not conform to this pattern and had maintained separate religious practices and rituals. Although this pattern of non-conformance had been observed previously in other societies, it was almost universally associated with groups small enough that the deviation from the local norm presented no threat to the practices of the dominant culture. The non-conforming group in this case was substantial, and so was designated as an Independent Socio-Religious Entity (Large) (ISREL). This group was able to use the adverse environmental events noted above to escape confinement. The ISREL group had not been previously regarded as a primary observational focus due to its subordinate status. It was later moved to higher priority due to events observed during the transit of the ISRELs away from the IGPT area.
Following the initial escape, the ISRELs travelled east and transited across a large body of water in a manner that is not understood. The HUMNS species is not fundamentally aquatic and, except for short distances, require floating craft to cross water boundaries. Substantial bodies of water present significant hazard to the HUMNS and form effective political/military boundaries.
The watercraft available to assist in transit of the water barrier would have been able to transport no more than a small number of individuals in the time available to effect the crossing. The group size was far too large for floating craft to be used effectively unless an extended time period was available. An IGPT military contingent had been dispatched in pursuit of the ISRELs, presumably to recapture the group and return it to IGPT control, making time a critical parameter for ISRELs.
The manner in which the water crossing was achieved is the subject of extensive speculation by the physics team. As the ISRELs approached the water, a dry path appeared in front of them, with water on both sides. The group traversed the region without hindrance. Guesses for the cause of the path formation have been made involving tides, tectonic shifts, volcanoes, changes in wind patterns, and rapid sedimentation. None have proven satisfactory. The climatologists have developed a model, but it doesn’t match the data and no one likes it.
The IGPT military attempted the water transit following the ISRELs. However, after the ISRELs completed the crossing, the water barrier returned to the original configuration, destroying the IGPT contingent. Evidence strongly suggests that the fatalities were induced by extended water submergence of the IGPT cohort, resulting in loss of respiratory function. This is consistent with our understanding of the aquatic capabilities of the species.
No evidence exists that the ISREL group engaged with the IGPT militarily, or suffered any loss of individuals in the transit. The ability of ISRELs to successfully cross the water and destroy the IGPTs, during flight, and despite having been held in IGPT without violent rebellion for an extended time, drove a reprioritization of data collection on the group. The behavior is both remarkable and inexplicable.
The ISRELs were tracked in the subsequent period. Movement of the group showed no preferred direction or indication of progress towards a specific destination. The group remained in arid and semi-arid environments. The motivation for this may have been concerns regarding further pursuit by the IGPTs, although no additional forces were dispatched following the destruction of the initial contingent. The ISREL group may have also been returning to a nomadic life pattern that preceded the period it had been held by the IGPT. However, the period of subordination under IGPT extended over multiple HUMNS lifespans, so knowledge of the nomadic life could only have been transmitted by lore. Poor navigational skills or defects in leadership were also considered, but regarded as low probability given the circumstances of the successful escape.
LOSS OF MATERIAL EVENT: While on station, NGL-1071 hold 7 experienced a failure in the external hatch closure mechanism. This resulted in a sudden opening of the Hatch Orifice/Resupply Node (HO/RN). Hold 7 was at full atmosphere at the time of the event, which caused the ejection of the entire contents of the hold.
Seals on the interior access hatches remained intact, so no additional loss of pressure was experienced, and no threat to ship safety was presented. No personnel were in hold 7 at the time of the incident, no crew casualties were recorded.
Following the loss of hold 7 contents, the HO/RN was re-sealed and the latch re-engaged.
Examination of the latch mechanism indicated no prior damage that would explain the release. The sudden release did not cause any damage to the mechanism. The latch mechanism now functions properly and holds under full interior pressure.
Logs show that no commands were issued to the hold 7 hatch release mechanisms since the conclusion of the resupply evolution. This incident remains under investigation.
IMPACT: Food supplies were stored in holds 2, 4, and 7. Hold 7 contained all of the Multi-Nutritional Needs Adjunct (MNNA) stores. The loss creates a critical under-supply. Early resupply is required to address the situation. As a supplement to this request, it is noted that MNNA, while fully nutritious and having excellent long shelf life characteristics, lacks variety on long duration observational missions. The provision of alternative food supplies on the next re-provisioning would be appreciated by the entire NGL-1071 crew.
SUPPLEMENTARY MISSION OBSERVATION: The Loss of Material event occurred while NGL-1071 was in the HA/VN observational position above the ISRELs. Initial concerns were that members of the group could be injured by ground impact of the MNNA. No losses among the ISRELs were observed. The acoustic signal created by atmosphere blowing through the HO/RN may have alerted the ISRELs to the impending fall of MNNA from the sky.
Due to the extended period in the arid/semi-arid region, the group was believed to have a significant nutritional deficit. The MNNA was consumed by the group with no observable negative effects. This has been noted in the biological characterization of the HUMNS, and will be included in the next update to the report on Major Biota.

Check out the next honorable mention in this contest, Blue and Green by Fred Tribuzzo!
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