Chapter 4 - Season 1: Episode 4, Population III Conundrum

Population III Conundrum

Saturday 3 April 2021 – 1800hrs ~ 2100hrs GMT

Commander Kenneth Mikhael – Executive Officer

Lieutenant Commander Ezekiel “Zeke” Pride – Flight Controller

Lieutenant Elli-Navine – Chief Engineer

Lieutenant Alexander Artopolis – Chief Medical Officer

The Potemkin was cruising along, minding their own bees wax when they were struck by a power chroniton pulse. While not enough to damage the ship it did, and quite rightly, draw the attention of the crew. Making a course change they speed towards the source of the pulse. Their first stop brought them to an otherwise normal system, one that the chroniton pulse had passed through, the presence of a ravaged world. Deep scars torn into the world from what can only have been hundreds or thousands of pulsed had dug a deep trench. This system was not the source of the pulses but may have been the target.

Potemkin renters warp and is soon confronted by a massive star, so large it makes Earth’s sun look like a small planet. Sensor soon confirm that it is a population 3 star, an object that has rarely been witnessed and never this far from the galactic core. A population 3 star are theorised to have been the first generation of star in our galaxy. For one to be here, well it would have been a massive deal. It is just 50 million years in age, but the intrepid crew quickly realize something is strange, not only is there and artifice construct orbiting close to the star; a set of three aligned rings, but there is an M-Class planet orbiting out at the sun’s goldilocks zone. A planet that is around 4 billion years in age and should not be here!

A giant satellite dish was chosen as a landing zone for the away team, it was the most advanced bit of technology on the planet and seemed like the best place to start. Landing on what looks like a helicopter pad the away team quickly make their way down the four levels of the building, at each level searching for clues as to what has happened. While much of the power is off some computers held data in their flash drives, enough to put together a basic timeline. Contact was made, it is unclear who or what that contact was, but they seemingly gifted technology to this culture. The dish was upgraded using nanites, an EM launcher was built, and an advanced satellite was fired into orbit. The communications then became tachyon based. All this advancement happened in just 50 years from first contact.

In their search they discovered a maintenance robot, a kind of giant football with legs, or a giant ladybird… depending on your opinion. While clearly a robot it greeted the away team with obvious affection, a desire for company and comfort. It rushed to its charging station and gathered up its possessions, a small data storage device that had been worked into a pebble. Stored on the device were pictures of a little girl and family, some of them included the robot all of them showed a happy family. The away team, Elli mostly decided the Robot would go with them. They couldn’t leave the adorable little critter here alone.

Having found all to be found at the satellite dish Commander Pride took the away team in search of further evidence of what happened. The nearest settlement was the remains of a large city, a dead city. Nothing lived with in, no plants, animals, birds, or insect within the city boundaries. Clearly a mystery, and in true Starfleet fashion; one that they had to explore and explain. Discovering that the shuttles sensors were being jammed they made for the centre of the field, hoping to fathom a way to turn said interference off. Landing I the centre of a dead park just shy of an old but well-preserved band stand, being unsure as to what the cause of the dead space they decide to send out the drone to find the source.

Long seconds tick by, the drone searching seemingly with no luck. And then, there it was, a trapdoor in the stage of the band stand, below a small featureless cylinder. Again, not really trusting this suspicious placement the drone is tasked with lifting it out and placing it upon the stage. Lieutenant Artopolis a laser torch to the top edge and cracked that sucker open. With in was a jamming device and another higgs-boson generator, this one tiny in comparison to the other but still functioning.

Disconnecting the transceiver array from the generator immediately cleared the interference field, immediately they start detecting trace amounts of Muons. In high enough concentrations, Muons could disintegrate biological matter; but this meant that there was not anything to carbon date! They did work out where the Muons were emitted from, the orbital satellite, the only artificial one up there. With nothing else here, they decided to take to the skies again and search for another city, maybe others had survived and would hold more information.

200 miles was just a hop, skip and a jump for the type 11 shuttle craft. Minutes after take-off they approach another city. Tall, windowless windows buildings reaching hundreds of meters into the sky, just like the dead city; only all the buildings were covered in life, green and overtaken over and reclaimed the once large city. Scans showed what appeared to be a broadcasting building, its roof bristling with transmitters, Pride brought his shuttle down gently on a patch of grass that was once a road, even parking it on the side in a gap of the lines of cars that already lined said road.

All around then the sounds of life were clear, birds flocking around the tops of buildings, the hum and buzz of insects and the rustle of grass as small creatures ran and hopped away from the landing shuttle. These signs of life lifted the down spirits of the away team, that life was still very present could mean some of this world’s population had survived. Well, that hope lasted until they discovered several news programs in the server data. The sad news was that when the star was changed and started firing Chronotrons at some distance star the communications satellite in orbit rained down Munos, for weeks after weather systems spread these high energy, deadly particles around the planet, all but the hardiest of life survived upon the surface. Deep water life and those found within caves and under ground were also spared. They were also able to finally able to work out this world calendar and set a timeline. Three thousand years had passed since all intelligent life had been destroyed. With this understanding and knowledge, they once again took to the skies, while not the best outcome there was still more to do. That is when their sensors triggered proximity alarms, a large, fast… something was rapidly approaching them. Lieutenant Artopolis was at a lose of what to say, his read outs were telling him that it was… well it was a dragon! Clearly, they were wrong, dragons are not real! Well, this one was and this one clamped onto the shuttles shields like an eagle with a tortoise. The shields registered extreme pressure stress from each of the meter long talons that were still trying to crap the energy barrier.

Some quick thinking and the directional tractor beam emitters were reversed to push upon the creature right wing, maybe an over estimation of its strength the wing is throw back hard enough to have caused muscle stress; but it worked. The Dragon… sure we will admit Dragons are real… grudgingly, fell and crashed laned atop of a tall building. It tried to take off again but with a frustrated roar it fell back down. Instead, it breathed a jet of fire, narrowly missing the shuttle. This time, as its massive wings forced air down it lifted off the building, beating the leathery wings. The shuttle was too far and too fast to be caught though, the dragon broke off its pursuit and the shuttle reach orbital space without further harassment.

Lieutenant Navine wanted to have a peek at the satellite, so Commander Pride brought the shuttle close, instead of trying to beam her out of the shuttle themselves or depressurising the shuttle they called upon the Potemkin to perform a site-to-site transport. The bubbly engineer quickly deactivated the power systems and pulled the datacores, each containing a segment of the combined knowledge of this world former culture.

The time had come for them to backtrack and head to the target of the attack, the planet they had passed days ago. The damaged world!

This statement coincided with the verdict of the court marshal of four of the surviving senior staff. All have been found guilty of multiple counts of murder, conduct unbecoming an officer and mutiny. They will be sentenced later this week.

We have also just learned that almost all the junior staff of the Atlantis have been granted permission to return to active duty, after a two year long ‘catch up’ course at the academy. The Department of Temporal Investigations state that as they are from another universe their movement through time is more complicated than normal. They refused to expand upon that statement.

We will surely know more as time move on, but for now it seems as though most of the Atlantis’ crew will be given the chance to assimilate into our time.”

A planet in shambles, all but destroyed. A culture seemingly lost. An impossible moon, no larger than Luna yet with a thick atmosphere and a people, somewhere in the industrial age with strikingly similar architecture to the lost culture planetside. Clearly not advanced enough to have been a threat to a people who could move entire stars across universes, yet so obviously related to their target world. Strange indeed.

Moreover, across the system there were dozens of artificial objects, drones and satellites and an exceptionally large construct in the upper atmosphere of a large Jovian. Chief of Security McIntyre and Chief Elli-Navine plan to hack the construct to blind it to the presence of the Potemkin. The Federation starship approaches and begin their scans, it is discovered that the construct is a hydrogen scoop, using powerful magnetic fields to funnel the hydrogen into tanks.

While contemplating what to do with this information a large creature swam up from the depths of the Jovian, the creature looked like a blimp, with a whale like fluke. Two huge eyes, each the size of a small shuttlecraft swivelled to watch the Potemkin. The Creatures thick skin was covered in tubing large enough to walk through and connected metal hubs. The 2’000 meter long, 12’000 tonne creature moved to the hydrogen scoop.

Moments ticked by before the crew realize that they were not invisible to the creatures’ senses. After a transfer of hydrogen, it swam around in a wide arc and came directly at them, power spikes were sensed aboard the Potemkin. More power was being stored in each of the metal hubs than the Potemkin could produce in an hour. Both eyes were staring at them. They were being hailed!

Upon the screen the face of an alien appeared, a humanoid with a bony crest sweeping from the forehead back behind them, where a human’s nose and mouth would be were a collection of animated tentacles between 6 and 8 inches in length. As it spoke colour pulsed from top to bottom, the computer had a surprisingly easy time translating the alien language, which used a combination of verbal and visual input.

It didn’t take long for an understanding to be reached, the aliens called themselves protectors, they were protecting their less advanced ‘descendants’ who resided upon the moon. The protectors had spent 3’000 years hiding their advanced technology from a race they call the ‘Tenzim’.

The Potemkin’s crew manage to convince the Protectors that with their help they could end the Tenzim threat in this universe, they only needed to destroy the rings in orbit of the Population III star. No sooner said then more whale like vessels ascend through the clouds, buzzing around the giants were small, Nat like fighters. Using a form of hyperspace, the alien ships set course for the population III star.

Just a few hours pass until they all arrive, the Potemkin dropping to normal space. The sense that they alien ships could have outstripped the Potemkin was had by all. No sooner had they arrived did the whale ships attack; immensely powerful beams of phased energy laced gravity lanced out and struck the rings. At the meeting point sensors showed a sudden spike in gravity, more than a solar mass at each intersection point. The rings crumpled into balls no bigger than that of a golf ball. The beams briefly punched into the star; each beam whipped up a fast whirlpool that quickly degraded into a funnel spinning at hundreds of times a second.

From within the star, dark imposing ships appeared. Their hulls made from neutron-matter, each ship clocking in at more than the weight of the Earth, only being able to move thanks to higgs-boson relays. Should even one of the relays be knocked out the ship’s engines would be powerful to move it.

Wasting no time, the Tenzim ships move in formation, the lead ship opening fire. An anti-proton beam of such power that it seemed impossible shot from an angry looking ‘dot’ on the front plate stabbing into the nearest whale ship. Raking the flank like a fish being gutted. Even with the power of the alien weapon the Whale only took superficial damage and returned fire with a cherry red energy laced gravity beam.

The small fighters flew around the Tenzim ships, their own energy beams having little of no effect. Their other weapon, however punched easily through hyper dense neutron-matter hulls. The Point space time defects, blackhole gun was fired like a dumb fire missile. They strafed the much larger ships, dodging most of the return fire.

Seeing their chance, the Lieutenant McIntyre fired a trio of photon torpedoes, guiding them through one of the jagged rents in the hull, two of the three made it inside. Internal explosions lead to other sections of the hull being blown outwards like a blister.

Return fire pummelled their shields like a hammer to a bubble, they breached, and the beam sliced through the Potemkin’s hull like a blowtorch. Just a sample of the power they were facing, Commander Pride, anticipating his Captains orders swings the big ship around behind some of the larger asteroids in the field.

Meanwhile, a pair of whale ships combine their attacked, sending a squadron of fighters ahead to punch holes in the Tenzim ships hull they sweep in an open fire with dozens of cherry red beams, each one precisely targeted and sparing the pre-made hull breaches. While the Tenzim ship is being torn apart it manages a full broadside, hundreds of small cannons firing, ripping open a whale ships flank. Thick fluid flows from the wound, freezing in seconds; the animal dead, its crew unknown.

The battle rages for what seems like hours, it is mere minutes. The Potemkin manages to disable a Tenzim ship, it drifts further from the population III star. Then, in a blink of an eye. In what seems like a coincidence, timing with the end of some higher being’s time scale the star blinks away. Replaced with the star that ‘should’ have been there, the M-Class Planet has moved back to its normal orbit and the outer worlds reappear.

AFTERMATH:

Computer, Captains Log, supplemental.

A week later, the Potemkin has been repaired and has move on with their mission, the Venture will remain on station for the foreseeable future to study the system, The USS Nova, Intrepid and Thunderchild are already out in the system studying the other planet. We await a construction transport to arrive, at which point we will land an outpost on the M-Class world we are orbiting. We arrived too late to help the Potemkin in her original investigation, or the battle that followed but we can make the most of it now. The Thunderchild, carrying a battalion or Marines will start their investigation of the Tenzim ship that was disabled and left behind. So far no life signs or power readings have been detected and Captain Kelli reports that they are having to adjust their ‘orbit’ around the ship to account for the planet sized gravity well it produces.”