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5 Oberon II

 Ivan and Mazur wore state of the art spacesuits that has an isolated internal environment that would protect them from all local microorganisms and viruses. It also had a personal energy shield that would defend against physical and chemical attacks of most organisms up to those that were mid-sized. It was also easy to move in like wearing a suit, but of course each attack defended against would drain a corresponding amount of energy from the reserve.

A hatch at the base of the Poseidon opened and formed a ramp to the cargo hold. A land based hovercraft dangerously shot out of the opening, the two massive cages attached to the back barely missing the edge of the opening on the other side before the craft shot down to the ground.

The earth of the planet was a reddish brown color, and it was rich in vegetation. This vegetation however had orange to dark red leaves and formed a forest of sunset colors. This wasn't an autumn seasonal thing, but the appearance year round. The ground was hard and cracked in places due to the tenacious trees and plants forcing their way through.

Most creatures on this planet were small and just as tenacious as the plants around them, many forming exoskeletons as hard as rock, while others used pincer grips to catch and crack open their prey. There were no intelligent creatures on this planet and no man made constructions, so it was a mostly pure nature throughout this planet. The only remnants left behind that indicated humans had ever been here were the occasional wreckage of mechanoids or spaceships from conflicts between pirates poaching the valuable species here and the Galactic Fleet determined to protect them from extinction.

"This is the southern Orion Continenent. Symbion Orions inhabit this land and like to graze on the shrubs! You were from earth, they're somewhat like an armored tortoise!" Mazur shouted over the wind and displayed an image of them on the tablet he brought with him.

Ivan glanced at the picture and briefly nodded, but most of his attention was focused on holding his stomach down. Mazur drove the hovercraft like a madman, swerving left and right around trees and bouncing over small hills. Ivan kept a straight face, but within his spacesuit, his hands were gripping onto the seat so tight the knuckles were white.

"There's one over there!" Ivan shouted after seven hours of driving around.

Mazur abruptly stopped the hovercraft and pulled out a pair of electronic binoculars to scout in the indicated direction. Ivan took the opportunity to climb off the vehicle and let his stomach settle down before he threw up in his suit.

"Take th- actually, never mind," Mazur was about to give Ivan a stun gun to capture the Symbion Orion, but reconsidered after calculating his weak physique.

"I can do it!" Ivan disgruntledly said while snatching the stun gun from him.

The Symbion Orion slowly grazed without a care in the world. It was almost as big as a car and didn't appear to have any natural predators in the nearby forest, but Ivan assumed it's slow and carefree movements were the main reason it was hunted to near extinction. They are also slow to populate and apparently only lay eggs once every hundred years.

Ivan raised the hunting rifle like gun and supported it against his shoulder. He waited for the right moment when the beast turned its head and fired a tranquilizer at it's stretch neck. The dart entered smoothly without any resistance and the beast quickly dropped to the ground unconscious.

"Bring the hovercraft over," Ivan said calmly, keeping an eye on the surroundings for any creatures who think of his catch as a free meal.

He moved over to the massive beast and grabbed on of its legs. He tried dragging the tortoise by the leg but the beast was so heavy it may have grown roots and embedded itself with the ground.

"I told you you're too weak," Mazur reminded Ivan as he returned with the hovercraft. "Have a look around the area, when there is one, there's bound to be at least a few more."

Mazur parked the hovercraft next to the tortoise and lowered it till it was resting against the ground. He yanked open one of the cages and with an inhuman strength, pushed the giant beast into it before locking the door again.

Ivan took the idea and stealthily scouted the area. It didn't take long before he found a small ground of another three Symbion Orions. They appeared to be a family of three with two parents and a child.

As the tortoises move slow, Ivan had no lack of confidence in taking care of them. He checked the tranquilizer gun and ensured it had enough darts loaded before aiming it at the largest of the pack, which should be the father. Holding his breath and stabilizing the aim, he calmly pulled the trigger.

The dark calmly took down the larger male of the group just like the first one. At the same time, the mother and child saw this and became enraged. The large female Symbion Orion let out an ear piercing screech and charged at Ivan like a speeding car.

Ivan felt his adrenaline start pumping through his heart and jumped to the side. Unfortunately the female tortoise showed and agility just as surprising as it's sudden burst in speed, altering it's course and ramming Ivan as he was still mid-air.

Ivan felt like a sledgehammer hit him, even through the personal energy shield of the spacesuit. He flew away like a rubber ball, crashing through two trees along the way. Struggling for breath, he hastily climbed up and searched for the tranquilizer gun which he dropped after being hit by the beast, but it seemed to have been lost.

The visor on Ivan's suit showed him he only had sixty percent energy left in his shield at the moment, meaning forty percent had been used to offset the massive physical force and protect his body.

The female Symbion Orion let out another screech as it charged at him again. Ivan was slightly more prepared this time as he made a feint to the left before dodging right at the last second. The beast fell for the trick and barged through a tree but Ivan got off without a scratch.

The beast was about to charge again when the scream of the smaller child Symbion Orion sounded out from nearby. The mother turned around instantly with bloodlust but froze in it's footsteps.

There were three of the tortoises locked up in a steel cage, two of them unconscious while the third, the child, cried out in fear. Beside the cage was Mazur, aiming a PP3 Plasma Rifle at the child's head. Mazur pointed at the mother then toward the second empty cage. When the mother made threatening sounds, he made threatening motions that he was about to kill the child.

The mother quickly surrendered and lowered its head. It walked slowly and climbed into the empty cage while giving Mazur and Ivan a hate filled glare.

"The females are the most aggressive ones. Also, they are highly intelligent. Not enough to understand words, but enough to get a message across. Still feeling so confident?" Mazur asked slyly.

"Of course not, I feel like several bones are cracked."

Ivan painfully climbed onto the hovercraft and forced himself to ignore the pain on his chest. The Poseidon has a full medical facility on board, so he will have Mazur check on his body once they get back.

"Four of them should do, as long as we can keep them alive, we could even breed them. Most poachers can't even find one on this planet," Mazur said astride with pride as he checked the locks on the cages and started the hovercraft back up.

The Symbion Orions in the cages at the back had all awakened from the tranquilizer, but were now remaining quiet either out of fear, or merely awaiting their chance to escape.

"Are there many intelligent species?" Ivan asked Mazur on the way back.

"Hmm, are your implanted memories flawed?" Mazur asked curiously, inspecting Ivan's head in a way that made a cold shiver run down his spine. "It depends on you're definition of intelligence. Every creature has an intelligence level of some stage, but restricting that down the species that are capable of communication of animals, there are countless. Some planets even have multiple species of such intelligence. Most are restricted to communication with just body language, but some are capable of learning the human language and vice versa. There are even other human species that evolve on their own, not like those that branched out from Earth."

"There are other human species?!" Ivan asked, dumbfounded.

"Of course. Carbon based life is the most common in the universe and the human form is just one permutation of it, so it is bound to recur time and time again. Of course, these species have their own unique physiology and usually differ from us considerably in number and makeup of chromosomes, but the outward appearance is the same. Most simply become a unique specie of the human race, but those that are underdeveloped are protected by federation laws and interaction is strictly forbidden."

Ivan considered this and dryly stated, "I have a feeling they still receive alien visitors."

"Naturally, they make such perfect candidates for miners and soldiers. For the more developed civilizations, a simple blueprint of some junk technologies and textbook on physics principles is enough for them to give you an entire army."

Ivan nodded his head in admiration as it was a method very familiar to him. He had done actions somewhat similar in the past during his initial corporation on Earth. Mazur happily chatted about several topics related to the universe and species inhabiting it. Ivan noted that he was so jovial about the fact he captured the Symbion Orions which would allow him to prolong his life, unfettering some of his inner concerns.

The days on Oberon II were extremely long at 47 hours, so it was only late afternoon by the time Ivan and Mazur returned to the Poseidon. The Symbion Orions rioted once in an attempt to escape, but after tranquilizing the younger child, the others quietened down. What interested Ivan though was that the first one he captured was secluded from the other three and could only sit in the corner of the cage by itself. It also had already succumbed to its fate and didn't riot with the other three.

"We need local vegetation to keep them fed, take one of the heavy cargo haulers and drag back some trees or something, then we'll get out of here as soon as possible," Mazur told Ivan and went inside the ship to run some tests on the captured beasts.

Ivan grumbled about his cracked ribs but still moved quickly to drag a few trees back into the cargo hold to feed the Symbion Orions, or Symbions as Ivan had begun to call them.

Mazur was inside his laboratory when Ivan finished loading up dozens of trees and large swarths of grass weighing almost 500 tonnes in total. Mazur had tranquilized the mother Symbion to draw two gallons of blood and was in the process of extracting the IR-44 hormone.

Ivan took this chance to lie down on a medical bed and had the ship run a scan on his body, discovering three cracked ribs but no serious internal damage. Mazur pulled out a paste for Ivan to rub on his skin which would be absorbed and rapidly increase the speed of bone recovery. Using this paste twice a day would lead to a full recovery in less than a week.

"We are taking off now, if that Captain Argentear runs a scan across the planet on the side we are on, he will definitely be pissed off," Ivan stated after rubbing some cream on his chest and enjoying the cool feeling it brought.

Back in the bridge, Ivan ran a quick check on the ships navigational and anti-gravity systems before initiating the take off departure. Mazur also reluctantly left his experiment with IR-44 to aid with inputting navigational data.

"Artificial gravity is operational and external gravity neutralisers are within safe parameters. Primary impulse engines operating at minimal thrust. The Poseidon is maintaining an ascension angle of seventy degrees."

Ivan calmly watched the monitors and felt the faint vibration in the ship as it quickly ascended into the sky and broke through the atmosphere.

Just outside the gravitational pull of Oberon II, Ivan saw on the monitor the Galactic Fleet battleship. His gut had a sinking feeling when alarms started ringing out in succession in the bridge along with a communication request.

The Poseidon had an automatic system for evading incoming rounds and shook violently as it swerved to the port side to avoid the incoming 155mm armor piercing rounds aimed at the impulse engines.

"Fuck! Give me manual control over the ship! Mazur, keep an eye on the radars! These bastards are trying to neutralize our ship!"

Ivan accepted the communication line and saw Captain Argentear, brooding in anger as he glared at Ivan.

"You dare lie and impersonate a Caption of the Galactic Fleet?!" Argentear glared across the screen. "We received a report back from LHQ that Captain Lazerul Ons was killed in action."

Captain Argentear swiped his hand across and a photo of the original Lazerul being kidnapped by Mazur was shown.

"Pirate, LHQ has also forwarded orders, if you inform us on the location of the criminal Mazur Ral Vendick, and as long as you have no serious criminal history, the Galactic Fleet will give you favourable treatment in the trial of trespassing and poaching in a protected reserve."