Reports indicate that the Niven was destroyed during a battle with an unknown hostile ship or force. The shipboard 'blackboxes' were not recoverable.
The Niven and McCaffrey were wrapping up a two-month survey effort of the Outworld system of Lagos when communications abruptly ceased. No distress call was received by anyone in the Lagos system. The ships kept in contact with the Lagos IV colony at regular intervals prior to that.
"At first we presumed they had gotten busy with some sort of wierd survey finding," said Trinidad Voss, commander of the Lagos IV space station, "but when after three comm periods came and went without hearing from them, we attempted to contact them directly. All we heard was static, as if they weren't there."
"The ships were due to dock here at the station prior to departing for UNSC space two days after we last heard from them," reported Sabrina Williams, the station's traffic control officer, "The station commander sent an inquiry to the UNSC representative's office about the situation, as a matter of course, but the UNSC guy didn't know anything about what was going on, either."
Josef Dennison, the local UNSC administrator, was unavailable for comment.
The two survey cruisers were packed with state-of-the-art scientific surveying equipment, but also had the capability of defending themselves against hostile aggression. That the McCaffrey simply vanished and the Niven completely destroyed with such short notice is indicative of a massed fleet attack, not pirates. However, the SpaceNet sensors of the Lagos system detected no evidence of fleet-sized jumpspace emergence or disappearances.
The UNSC cruiser Heitman arrived four days ago and began an exhaustive search for evidence of the missing cruisers. Three days ago it found a debris field of manmade materials and objects. Investigation by the Heitmans crew revealed the debris to be the remains of the Niven. No bodies were found in the debris field.
No traces of the McCaffrey have been located.
"We're kinda scared out here," admitted Voss, "To be alone, knowing that some fleet could just pop in, whack off two UNSC cruisers, and leave? Short of anti- piracy defenses, this station does not have any military capability. We need to have some sort of protection here, or we'll be overrun by the ESU or worse!"
The ESU, and other nations, deny any involvement in the destruction of the Niven.
The UNSC promises to send a destroyer flotilla to safeguard Lagos IV in the meantime. Until then, the Heitman will remain in the system, continuing recovery efforts of the Niven.