“Keder M’ell” was the name chosen by the mixed group of gordoks, feshen, and humans who fled the Kesterev System to the star designated 4477 Ravati. Proponents of a splinter cult from the Church of the Universe Manifest, they had reportedly begun experimenting with certain mind-altering drugs in an attempt to communicate directly with “The Universe.” Several of these drugs were banned by all three of the Kesterev governments, due to extremely dangerous—often lethal—side effects. This led to clashes between the cultists and all three governments, leading to an eventual split in the cult between insurgents and those who desired simply to leave to conduct their experiments elsewhere. The insurgents stayed. The more “peaceable” fraction boarded starships and fled to the red dwarf designated 4477 Ravati.
They could not have picked a more unlikely system to attempt to colonize. Red dwarf stars are notoriously unstable. Of two planetary bodies orbiting 4477 Ravati, one was a red giant of sufficient mass to almost be classified as a brown dwarf. The other, a terrestrial planet of 0.6 Earth masses which the cultists named Keder M’ell, was tidally locked to the red dwarf. Its atmosphere was mostly sulfur dioxide, lethally poisonous to all three races. But it was precisely that inhospitability that the cultists apparently found appealing.
For the first generation, Keder M’ell remained utterly unknown to anyone but the colonists, who huddled in their buried habs and attempted to find new ways to commune with the Universe. At least half of them died in the first ten thousand hours, both from drug poisoning and from accidents. None of them had truly been prepared for the rigors and dangers of their new home, and they paid the price for it.
They would all have died, unknown and unmourned, had the Ekess not entered the system, some 45,000 hours after the colony’s founding. The Ekess was a survey vessel working contracts for several deep-space trading companies around the Jakeshan Ring, a formation of nearly a hundred systems packed into a volume of less than fifty parsecs radius, mostly inhabited by the weshan. The Ekess detected some artificial transmissions—prayers from the cult, mostly directed toward the star itself—and investigated.
The crew was horrified by what they found. The cultists’ life support was less than 4000 hours from complete failure, they were surviving on algae cultures grown by an automated emergency farming unit, and of the survivors, at least two thirds were so far gone from the drugs that they were either comatose or functionally insane. Most of the rest were barely keeping things running, living in fear of their gibbering fellow colonists.
To make matters worse, the Ekess’ crew discovered that the star appeared to be entering a new phase of instability. Red dwarfs put off massive flares, and 4477 Ravati’s were getting bigger and bigger. The crew estimated that they had at most another 3000 hours before a truly massive flare utterly sterilized Keder M’ell. The depth the colonists had buried their habs would not be enough to save them. An evacuation was the only hope they had.
The Ekess was a light freighter and survey ship; she could not hope to carry a fraction of the colonists, even given the extent to which they had dwindled. There were still nearly twenty thousand people living on Keder M’ell. Assuring the colonists that they would be back, unsure if they had even been understood, the Ekess departed for their home port, praying they could muster enough ships in time.
The response they received, back in the Domon Dhor system, was astounding. Three of the Confraternity of the Starship and Sword’s ships were in the system at the time, and all three immediately offered their assistance. The Cardinal Archbishop of the system called upon all Christendom in Domon Dhor to aid their neighbors. As there was a convent of the Daughters of St. Caban on Domon Dhor itself, the Daughters immediately set about organizing the rescue effort. They committed thousands of their trained nurses and medical professionals while they convinced dozens of starship crews to carry them to 4477 Ravati. They sent messengers by courier starship to other systems nearby, on the edge of the Ring.
Eventually, nearly four hundred ships from three different systems arrived in the 4477 Ravati system. The Confraternity took charge on the ground, having to remove some of the most severely impaired colonists by force. The entire evacuation, from first landing to final lift, ended up taking only one hundred five hours.
The predicted flare came early, and bombarded the surface of Keder M’ell with enough radiation and high-energy particles that it actually partially liquified some of the crust at the center of the star-locked hemisphere. The starships were already on their way out of the system by then, the daughters hard at work treating the colonists for drug-related and other maladies.
It was one of the largest, and fastest, humanitarian actions in recorded galactic history. It cemented the reputation of the Daughters of St. Caban, already formidable, for their willingness to face any risk and hardship in the pursuit of their mission.
The Daughters never publicized the names of any of those who participated. It was not fitting for a Daughter to be known outside the Order. When asked, representatives of the Daughters of St. Caban only replied with, “Non nobis, Domine.”