1.04: The Artifacts of Aaris
DS Day 25-29
The Farstar was recalculating to Brolsam when a message came in.
“Emergency. Emergency. This is Imperial science team MS-133 on Aaris III. We are under siege. Please, anybody respond. The enemy has destroyed our shuttle, and we have no way of leaving. Our groups is down to six personnel, with unknown forces picking us off one by one. Mayday! Can anyone hear us.”
With the communication originating from near Aaris III, Thyte was able to triangulate estimated jump points to get them in the Aaris system. The trip was going to take a few days, and so all the command crew could do was hope that some one would still be there when they got there, and hope that Loffryyn kept the ship together. Unless it was a trap. They didn’t respond to the message just in case it was.
They dropped out of hyperspace into a system with 5 planets and an asteroid belt. The first 2 planets they encountered were gas giants with amazing gravimetric and hyper-spatial disturbances. Navigation around these two planets was a challenge, but once they were past these worlds, they were able to navigate an orbital pattern around Aaris III.
Upon entering the system, Dervious began to feel ill, almost nauseous. Something in his head was ringing rhythmically. When he was able to get it under control, he realized it was a transmission of some kind, and something in his head was receiving it. The transmission was an ancient Mandalorian code.
The rescue team was formed by Kla’al and Gorak, sending down a sufficient team of military and medical personnel. Samarion was chosen as second in command. Samarion was feeling a little odd about this part of space. His sensitivity to hyperspace was ringing like an orchestra but he figured it could have been the hyper-spatial storms between the outer two gas giants, although his sense had never been this vague. He helped form the rest of the team, including Loh’Khar and his scavenging team, the field medic and the field scientist, as well as Jessa Dajus because she could be recognized as an Imperial, and cool the situation down a bit. The group went heavily armed, trying hard not to underestimate the enemy force.
They set down near where sensors picked up some kind of encampment. The planet was wild and untouched for millennia. Loh’Khar felt somewhat uneasy about the planet, because of all the rumors of hauntings and lost ships in this system. The planets surface was littered with ruins of alien design. Upon setting up camp in a set of ruins, they found that some of the ruins had glyphs and writings on them. Samarion discovered an interesting item about the glyphs. They depicted a race not too dissimilar from Dervious’s race raging a war; a war that apparently caused the destruction of the inhabitance of this planet. Samarion immediately transmitted a recommendation to not allow Dervious to come to the planet.
However, it was already too late. Dervious was assigned to another mission to go to the other side of the planet. Apparently, as soon as the Farstar dropped into of orbit, they picked up a transmission beacon for an Imperial supply depot. Supplies were running low, so the captain ordered an away team to be formed. The odd thing was that the transmission was faint, almost as if the beacon was damaged, which explains why Sarne had missed it. However, Dajus and a few other familiar with Imperial procedures, knew that beacons like these are usually activated when it sensed any kind of Imperial transmission. The Farstar doesn’t have anything like that…. Does it? Another problem is that it’s so faint that an exact location couldn’t be found, only a general area. Bifzik the Verpine Tech, along with Dervious, Gorak, the droid tech, weapons specialist and a few others, packed into the Muvon and set out to find the beacon.
On planet, the rescue team set out the next morning to find the Imperial science team. They found a small encampment set it a knoll at the bottom of a hill deep in some large Kashyykk-size trees. Samarion stealthed his way around the rear of the encampment ready for whatever enemy was attacking. The odd thing was, all through the night and through their march to the encampment, there was no sign of any enemy. The encampment did show signs of battle, and the majority of it was ransacked. There was a small dirt and rubble fortification set up in the middle, where a single figure stood on a makeshift tower, manning an E-Web blaster pointed in their direction.
The Imperial science team took some time to negotiate with, and Samarion waited in hiding patiently, hoping diplomacy would win out so he wouldn’t have to take more stern measures. The Field Medic with the droid, Slave, as backup, chose not to reveal right away that they were New Republic, for it was apparent they were unaware of Sarne’s current status, and had been on this planet a very long time.
They were able to talk the Imperials out of the fortification, and medical aid was immediately supplied. It turns out that there were only two left, for the third in their group lay dead inside the fortification, with a severe blaster wound to the chest. The two scientists, Dr. Lancer Brunou, and Dr. Solla Deremot, told a story of mysterious attackers that attacked at night, and took them out one by one. They could not describe their assailants, but only say that they had some knowledge of modern weaponry because they were able to steal the weapons from the bodies of the Imperial troops they killed, and use them.
Samarion and Kla’al both remained in in hiding, aware of everything and on the watch for an enemy they had yet to see any solid evidence of. Samarion did make a note of the odd rock formations that littered the ruins; they all seemed almost too organic and all roughly the same size. But they were rocks… he had more to worry about…
The Depot group had launched, and was circling the area they had to search. Scanners had picked up an odd structure in the northern quadrant of the area they had to search, and classified it as a non-indigenous structure. They decided to land in that area. Upon landing, Gorak ordered Dervious and another scout out on Speeder bikes to get some sensor readings to get a more precise location of the Imperial Depot Beacon.
During his trip with Firdaaz the Scout, Dervious found similar evidence to what Samarion had found, but he also was able to determine the other side to the battle; a four-armed humanoid race not too dissimilar from a Kalvessan Starwolf. The war that wiped out this planet was apparently between a group of Mandalorians and a groups of Kalvessan, a long time ago.
What they found at the landing was an ominous alien structure, immense in size, and extremely old. It looked severely damaged, but it must have been at one time an alien “stargate” at one time. Bifzik, fascinated by it, decided to do a little climbing, and see what made it tick. He found more than he bargained for.
When the humming began, Gorak took the wise strategy and moved the landing site back. As the vibrations started, he moved them back further, and ordered Bifzik to stop what he was doing and get away from the relic. Of course, still fascinated, Bifzik ignored the order. Then a bright light formed within the circumference of the gate, as Bifzik started feeling a gravimetric pull towards the gate. Anything lose was pulled in towards an apparent quantum singularity. Sparks and flame leaped from the sides of the gate structure. That was enough for Bifzik. He struggled to fight the gravity well, but he wasn’t making any progress. The best he could do was hold onto a tree. Gorak had ordered an immediate evacuation of the area, and left Bifzik to his just rewards.
The explosion that followed was enough to be seen from orbit, and took out a side of a mountain. Farstar’s sensors went wild with EM interference. The Muvon, in flight, was hit by the shock wave, and damaged. Bifzik miraculously survived by landing in a mountain lake a few kilometers away. He was in critical condition, but alive. Through some amazing medical work by a Firdazz (apparently learned on Socorro), Bifzik was brought back to reasonable functional condition. The Muvon had to return to the Farstar for repairs, and left Gorak to recover the team.
Back at the Ruins, the Farstar crew there were still busy assessing the situation in and around the scientific encampments. Most of the equipment and supplies were unsalvageable, but the field scientist, Dr. Hasslock, and Loh’Khar were both able to piece together most of the situation. The science team had been there for years, excavating sites all around this hemisphere, leaving this particular site to last because it looked most lucrative. They were apparently sent by Sarne as part of his search for more information about Darkstryder technology. They found signs of an ancient civilization that was wiped out in the aftermath of a great alien war. They established a secondary encampment in the heart of the area ruins to the north, where they found the Place of Kastays, and some artifacts. One particular artifact, Ingot of Kastays, showed signs of an energy source, and needed further study. When they discovered the Place of Kastays is when the attacks started. There were cries of an ancient curse, and that ghosts of the Kastays Temple priests had arisen to exact revenge, but there was no evidence of attackers in any of the information the two found.
The investigation into the second encampment site would wait until the following day. Meanwhile, the two surviving scientists were brought on board the Farstar. They insisted on gathering some items to bring up with them, including the Ingot of Kastays. It was quite apparent they were not returning. They seemed to take the news about Sarne’s ousting well, and were more than willing to join a New Republic crew…. As long as they could get off this haunted planet.
Loh’Khar, along with Genna Seedar, went up with the scientists on board the assault shuttle, hoping to find more answers to the mystery once they got the two in medical bay. Loh’khar also had plans on retrieving some artifacts from Aaris for himself, and put together a few individuals to go to the planet when the shuttle returned. They would acquire some trading items from among the ruins. Needless to say, his three Turazza, along with the Squibs went along with that team.
The Depot groups was somewhat shaken from their ordeal, but not injured too badly. The Verpine had to be transported on the SRV-1 vehicle while he recovered, but the other injuries sustained were minor. The team moved onward, acting on the few readings they had gotten before the EMP blast killed their scanners. Dervious reported odd reading to the southwest, and said he spotted a ship in the distance. When they got their, they found Dervious unconscious and his partner in a tree, injured badly. They also found a very hi-tech trap that involved four ball-like emitters that sustained a repulsor-shock field about a meter off the ground, and 100 meters in diameter. This effectively created a shock-trampoline field, bouncing whatever was on it into unconsciousness, and keeping it that way until the field was shut down. Very hi-tech, and very slick… Almost as slick as something Bifzik would jury-rig. Bifzik thought this looked all too familiar. It looked like some of Kyli Ned’Lx’s work. But I left him back on Kel’Shebbol. I didn’t take his threats of revenge seriously. And what interest would Ned’Lx have on such a backwater world?
Once the field was shut down, and Dervious and Firdaaz were treated for their injuries, the next step was the determine what were the odd readings Dervious picked up. Over a small ridge came their answer. Across a deep revine sat a Ghotroc Freighter; Ned’Lx’s freighter as Bifzik recognized. There was a small group of beings, and they were all boarding a small caravan of repulsor vehicles. They left, leaving two guards. All too easy for Gorak’s tastes. He called in the X-wings on patrol to land and seize the ship, then ordered his team to move out. He left the Ghotroc and company to the X-Wings. They reported back that the ship was a hologram, and it was all an elaborate illusion. Why would someone bother to set up an elaborate hoax, unless they wanted the delay Gorak’s team while they went on for some other purpose. And Bifzik was holding something back… he knew something, but wasn’t telling. With Dervious on point, they trekked ahead through the night.
On the other side of the planet, the other group was waking to a new day, and a new place to investigate. They sought the answer to the burning question…who attacked and killed more than 30 Imperial personnel? They found the Temple as well as the place were the Imperial shuttle was destroyed. Evidence of a struggle was all over the place, but blaster fire seemed to only come from one direction. It was becoming very apparent that the Imperial team suffered from some kind of delusional paranoia. Proof of this was even now manifesting on the Farstar.
Aboard the Farstar, things were not fairing well. Even on the planet, Samarion could feel that the hyperwave-anomaly had intensified, and this was making things difficult on engineering as well as communications. Random fights then started occurring all over the forward section. Security and power systems suddenly dropped out of the Science Labs. Communications suddenly dropped all over the ship. Security teams were reporting an alien lifeform crawling among the air-ducts of the forward section, heading towards the water tanks. The Captain was showing signs of severe fatigue and possible paranoia. She ordered all bulk heads sealed, under protest from security and Thyte. Thyte was centimeters from taking command, when the Captain eased up on her restrictions, allowing the security teams to investigate the problems. Communications was sabotaged, by an apparently delusional crew member. The lab had been ransacked, and all test animals were slaughtered except for one, which was missing. There was some kind of creature in the air-ducts that had killed two security officers already. What the Dr. Hasslock found out from the remains of the lab put a final piece to the puzzle, but also determined that they were still missing a piece…
The Ingot was a kind of resonance-wave device that manipulate brain chemistry and DNA of organic material. All the slaughtered lab animals seemed to be in some severe stage of mutation that can only be described as partial evolution/devolution. The one animal that escaped was apparently lose onboard the ship. The dillusionary effects are a by-product of the process, but the Imperial scientists only showed signs of light exposure, where as the creatures and the effected crew were showing much stronger exposure to the Ingot’s effects. The Ingot must have intensified some how since they arrived. Further analysis revealed that the Ingot also acted a long range hyper-wave receiver, which in turn intensified the effect. IT was currently receiving the specific signal while he was examining it… the hyperwave anomaly Samarion detected. The question still remained… who or what would be emitting the precise hyperwave resonance that would activate this device? …unless it was the creator or someone who knew as much as the creator? Wasn’t there a Verpine other than Bifzik with extended knowledge in technology that applied to be a part of this crew? He was rejected for being too maverick with his tech…
The Depot team on the dark side of the planet was still struggling with more Ned’Lx booby traps, and it was slowing the progress significantly. However, Ned’Lx made his second mistake (his first was trusting Jarell raiders as his thugs). His greed for alien tech split his group, one to a set of ruins to the east and the other to the depot. Gorak sent Dervious, Firdaaz, and Unda to take care of the the group at the alien ruins, while he and the others moved ahead to the depot.
Dervious and the others ambushed the group at the ruins, but found that they were a little overwhelmed. Apparently, Ned’Lx had built small hopping droid-drones, which spoiled Dervious’s party. They left the area in full retreat, heading towards the depot, while causing as much damage as possible as they escaped on the speeder bikes.
Dervious and his group met up with Gorak as they were surveying the situation around the Imperial Supply Depot. A small but intimidating group of Jarell raiders were moving assorted equipment and storage cases onto a large repulsor-lift transport. The Depot itself was lightly fortified, and there were Jarell manning gun towers. Any attack would have to be timed, and depend on surprise. They knew they were expected, but they could tell the Jarell didn’t know their number or when exactly they were arriving. They may have put too much confidence in Ned’Lx’s booby traps.
Gorak and his team set up a simple two front ambush, and attacked swiftly. The Jarell didn’t know what hit them. However, like a slick mynock, Ned’Lx slipped away before he could be captured. There was some collateral damage, but most of the supplies were recoverable.
On the other side of the planet, the first team was making progress searching the second site. They found the Place of Kastays, and it surrounding ruins. Samarion noted that there were more of those same oddly shaped rocks littering the area, but still no evidence of the mysterious enemy. When the Farstar didn’t respond, the group got worried. When the strange rock formations began to disappear, Samarion knew it was time to leave. The mad rush back to the shuttle turned into a battle for their lives. The rock formations were actually the backs of immense creatures that looked faintly like a genetic mix of Kalvessan, Mandalorian, and the original race of Aaris III. They were savage, insanely viscous, and there were thousands. The fight to defend their position degraded into a holding action while people loaded onto the shuttle.
Onboard the Farstar, oblivious to the two struggles on planet and deep in it’s own struggle, the remaining crew was busy with more and more members falling into paranoid frenzies, as well as a strange creature roaming the decks. Thyte and Slave were dispatched to take care of the creature. Dr. Hasslock and Dr. Seenar reported their theories to the Captain, who ordered the Ingot ejected from the ship. BuG removed the Ingot from the science lab, and placed it in an airlock. It made an odd flash across the horizon as it re-entered the planet’s atmosphere.
As the Muvon left the ruins with Kla’al, Samarion and the others on board, they watched as the sea of Aarisian creatures seethed and churned. However, their actions seem to slow and a calm seem to wash over the thousands as this strange flash came from over the horizon.
The field scientist’s theories about the hyperwave resonance was right, and his suspicions of Ned’Lx were also proven true. When Ned’Lx’s ship was detected leaving the system, the hyperwave resonance died out. Apparently Ned’Lx had some advance knowledge of what was on Aaris. Maybe he was looking for the Ingot specifically, and was using the hyperwave resonance to locate it. Perhaps he knows more about Darkstryder.
On the other side of the planet, the supplies were being sorted through, and the essentials were being separated from the non-essentials. While stumbling through one of the storage containers, Gorak found someone surprising; an old acquaintance. A female Rodian rolled out from one container, apparently a captive of the raiders. The first thing out of her mouth was “This is my stuff…” She looked like she was going to be hard to negotiate with. Her name was Analia, and she was an arms dealer. She wasn’t going to leave the crew of the Farstar alone until she got proper compensation for the supplies. Her story was not unlike many other that came to this sector during Sarne’s reign, but what was unclear was her allegiances. Who side, besides her own, was she own, and could they use her help?