Chapter 14: We got there first, for whatever that is worth

Featuring ...
Approximately 2 standard hours before the arrival of USS Hiroshima in system…
With an estimated day, if not more, before the lloann’na could get a starship around Imperial Rihannsu space, erei’arrain Lannar i-Baratan t’Vora figured he had about that long to determine what had brought them here. The most jaded conspiracy theories pointed to yet another doomsday weapon that would eradicate all of the Rihannsu and deliver the remnants into the hands of the hated klivam. In his mind, that was extreme, as he’d never known the Federation to be anything of the sort. Yes, they were sanctimonious and meddlesome, yet it never appeared to be hostile at its core. To the contrary, they clung to a naive philosophy that saw a hostile universe full of future friends, and that the only barriers were based in miscommunications. “Despite evidence to the contrary,” he muttered, before shrugging his shoulders. Regardless, if their main flaw was a string of excessive optimism, he figured there were far less agreeable traits to be found in the Quadrant.
“It is as you suspected, erei’arrain,” a technician reported. “They are focused energy scars, yet not from any known disrupter or phasor configuration in use by known powers.” She tried to make the last words sound ominous, as Khaire t’Sae believed that this was a future weapons technology test gone bad, and its proximity to Rihannsu space only strengthened her opinion of the matter.
Nodding, Lannar noted the oxidation. “They occurred within the atmosphere,” he pointed out. “And some of the scarring is internal.” It was almost as if something opened fire on the stricken ship, here on the planet. Whatever they’d found had opened up more lines of inquiry than it had closed, which reduced the probability of a quickly assembled, and filed, report. On his comm, he ordered, “Team, be on the alert. We may possibly have hostiles on ground.”
“There are no life signs,” t’Sae countered. “That has remained unchanged.”
“Agreed.” Even a Dominion-style shroud could not defeat the current technologies in the field, but that did not mean that some party hadn’t found a way around that. Turning his head to scan the dilapidated remains of what seemed to have once been a space port of some kind, Lannar did not overlook the fact that there were many places for an adversary to lie in wait. “Yet someone, or something, opened fire on the vessel’s carcass…” Why, however, was a question that escaped him, as there were no remains. It was almost as if an automated system had-
With hiss and mechanical whine, drones of an unidentified nature sprang from the shadows, spraying bolts of purple lightning. Lannar saw one hit a technician, vaporizing her on impact. That might have explained the absence of organic matter, yet he had a much more pressing concern: the safety of the team. “This way,” he barked, racing between stricken hull pieces and hoping t’Sae was one of the rare techs that actually paid attention to her physical acumen.
“Drones?” It was the only thing that t’Sae could gasp, as they were running and weaving, all with the occasional hurdle, toward one of the more intact nearby structures. If so, then she’d found what the lloann’na were testing, and it was terrifying.
Lannar tried to communicate with the ship in orbit, IRW Lioraennhe’le {Luminescence}, to no avail. If he could have looked, he would also have noticed that their scanning equipment was completely dead. The drone attack had come, replete with an impressive array of jamming, a data point that he would put together in the near future.
Bolting around a fallen obelisk, t’Sae saw something that looked more or less intact. “In… there,” she gasped.
“Yes,” Lannar agreed. Darting through the opening, he then counted the remaining members of the team as they, too, arrived. They had been thirteen in number, but now were merely seven. His first independent fact-finding mission, and he’d lost half of the team without learning much. “fvadt,” he cursed, before suddenly noticing that nothing was happening. “The drones…” Whatever it was, they were not attacking this space.
“A… It appears to be a security station,” another of the techs pointed out.
Sound at the door caused Lannar to twist, disruptor at the ready. Two more of his techs came in, the first bleeding at the knee and being helped by the other. Lowering his weapon, Lannar muttered, “Thank the Elements.” He wished four more would come in, yet was convinced that they had been reduced to vapor by the assailant. “What do we know about the assault drones?”
“Nothing. Our scans went silent,” another tech answered. Now that things had settled down, they could try to determine how the jamming worked, and, from there (with more than a little assistance from the Elements) divine a way past the interference. Otherwise, they were stuck until the field lifted and they could, again, communicate with the ship.