Chapter 51 - Season 4: Episode 4 “Signals”

USS Susquehanna was dispatched from Nerada Station to investigate a recurring signature from the shackleton expanse. It sent a runabout in and it was lost. Potemkin called up to check in with the shuttle.

Koolie does a sensor sweep. We’re able to pick up the warp signature. Trail is badly degraded, but gives us a bearing that also aligns with the recurring signal we’re detecting. Only one system on that course, the Secu VI system. (Spend 1 momentum for more info) We discover the system is cloaked by a lot of electromagnetic interference, not naturally occurring. Secu VI has a G type star, a dozen planets, typical types as our solar system- rocky ones inside, gassy ones in the middle. Pax orders us into the expanse. An hour later they arrive in system and detect pings of the away team members comm badges on the 4th planet in the system. Move into orbit. Extensive electromagnetic interference in orbit of the world. Ship and crew should be fine, it’s affecting the transporters and sensors.

We can see four signals in one group, and two signals in another. Not responding to attempts to hail. Planet is “earth-like”, with a hot equator where our lost friends’ comm badge signals are. Crew decides to get sunscreen and water and head on down via shuttle. Basin flies us.

On our way to the surface, our shuttle “The Midnight Hunt” is attacked by a Romulan shuttle! But before we can react to that, a powerful EM pulse from our intended landing direction hits both us and the Romulans. Basin is able to restart the back up systems and manage the fall. Shuttle hits hurd and drags a hundred metres through the desert.

Most systems and power is out. Any device that was running got EM pulsed. Elli, Basin, and Meme climb a rise and get a look. Below is a big, ancient crater and within the crater is a mining operation. There is smoke rising from the far side of the crater. It looks like the Romulans may have come down harder than we did. In the other direction, behind us, 100-200 meters back towards the shuttle and beyond are the 2 comm badge readings. Can’t find life signs.

While Koolie repairs some communications/ Commbadges, We go check out the 2 comm badge signals. When we run over to them we find two puddles of goo. The doctor scans the bio remains and determines it was a result of a transporter malfunction about 2 months ago. DNA narrows it down to the team leader and one of the scientists.

The other 4 signals are in the middle of the mining operation. Basin wants to know if we can get a lock on the Romulan attackers. But we can’t. Meanwhile Koolie gets our commbadges back on line, short range- within a couple of miles, but we can’t contact the ship. We hike down to the mining facility and are greeted with suspicion at the facility. They’re human looking, ToS cheap makeup jobs, Rugged leader named Ero Drallen introduces himself- interested to know what we’re doing here. Seems a little shifty. Doc Artopolis says “We’re here on vacation!” but that doesn’t fly. Elli asks if there’s been any other visitors. They say no, so Elli asks if they’ve picked up any commbadges like their own. They deny ever seeing any. Elli asks for permission to look around and they allow it. But “Be careful. Accidents happen all the time.”

Mining operation is a big central tower. Big cable-pulley system. Prefab quarters dotted around. Habitation, mess hall, storage. A few hover vehicles. It’s dank. Covered in dirt, weathered.

Koolie localises the comm badge signals to a building, and Elli sends Basin to knock on the door. One of the miners thinks we look silly knocking on a storage facility. Basin asks what’s inside- machine parts. Basin opens it up, and we look around in a climate controlled parts crib. Drill heads on anti grav carts etc. Comm badge signal is actually coming from in here. Some boxes are sitting around open. Elli looks through and finds four commbadges. No evidence of goo on them, though seems they’ve been polished.

Basin confronts the Foreman about it. He says he got them in a trade. Interrogates the Foreman about who traded them to him. Some people looking for food swapped for them. Elli wants to give him something valuable in return for taking these back, but seeing her rifle through her bag, he asks instead for help with a strange underground discovery that has been messing with their equipment. We all get in a rickety elevator with the foreman and go a couple of hundred meters down. It takes a few minutes. On arrival, see tunnels lined with wood. Clearly a high tech operation. He leads us down a series of tunnels to a large cavern. It’s been created by blasting. At the far end there is a large machine with a circular drill head, pulled back, on the other side is a circular hole leading to another artificial cavern. But this one has artificially smooth walls in a cylindrical room with a stone pillar in the center. It’s a monolith- a tall skinny obelisk.

Koolie examines it with his archeological background and with Doc’s help. There’s script on it. It looks like the obelisk that was discovered in the Bajoran system- text on all four faces, but it’s a single line from top to bottom and characters appear to be aligned. Each letter a meter high. Writing is very alien, but Koolie has a memory from academy or some journals. Text appears to be a dialect of Tilikaal an ancient race, first encountered in the 2200’s. Since then many tilacou sites have been discovered and many key incidents are connected to them. Super novas, rifts and energy ribbon (nexus) and other suspected connections. Tilikaal were incredibly advanced and are believed to have gone extinct.

Koolie and Elli conclude that the stone is actually a Tilikaal device. Some of their tech appears to be stone but are very advanced devices. Basically the obelisk was a defense mechanism. Elli asks when the EM pulsing started. Began as soon as they hit the cavern. Elli asks Koolie to ascertain if the defense setting can be turned off and Basin assists with tactical.

Sub atomic computing in the subatomic level or transdimensional computing- Protectorate FTL computer is uncertain how it works, but gives an interface with some basic readouts. There is a count down, running down a couple weeks from now. When the countdown runs out we intuit the entire system will be destroyed. There is a spacial anomaly signature being formed somewhere- seems it’s being generated by the obelisk and is in place of a power source. The interface seems to provide a stop button…. Do we press it?

We debate. Because the button could mean something unpleasant too.

But the destruction count down doesn’t seem like the primary function of the obelisk that was just meant to EM pulse protect the site from looting. We think we detect radiation from the other side of the anomaly. Where is the anomaly? Everywhere and nowhere.

Elli doesn’t want to press the button and risk an unintended consequence. So she tries to prepare a message that the folks or entity trying to message from the other side of the anomaly to set of the obelisk, telling them that there are people here, very sorry about disturbing your site, please don’t kill us all. But as they do this, Elli becomes possessed and says “Fine, I’ll do it myself” and presses the button (thanks double 20s!) and then faints. Doc scans her to find her neural pathways had a strange energy pattern that is dissipating. As she comes to, she seems to have one idea still impressed on her… “Displaced. The Displaced”.

The anomaly disappears, and interference lifts and we connect with Pax. Romulans had contact with the Potemkin while we were out of contact. Pax seems to understand the Tilikaal reference and orders us back immediately. 4 survivors are recovered and or shuttle has to be put in for some work on the undercarriage…