We get into the skiff along with Bryan, one of the Xenobiologists, and drop unto the planet. Ensign Edmonds sends Bill to scout the domes. The Domes are 180 feet in diameter and 80 feet high at the peak. There are connecting pathways between them, but two of them have collapsed. When he finished his report Edmonds sends Kensington forward to assist him.
Kensington and Bill are to secure a safe and defensible position and once established the rest of the party will join them. Kensignton and Bill will then continue to push forward, securing safe zones for the rest of the party as available. As each safe zone is secured the rest of the party will move forward.
As Bill and Kensington push forward they work their way through a Dome that is nearly intact finding a biosphere that is similar to the one we found on the derelict spaceship. As they push deeper into the biosphere they encounter small rodents and birds. Most intriguing, they find living specimens of the 6-limbed monkeys. Sadly it appears they have devolved into a far more primitive state.
As Kensington and Bill make their way back to the airlock, the monkeys notice them and surround them before they can get back. Bill puts down his rifle and attempts to negotiate with them using non-verbal gestures. This works to some degree, but the creatures make a few mock charges.
When one of the creatures makes a spear charge Bill and Kensington begin falling back to the airlock. Edmonds, Bryan, and O’Malley who were on the other side of the airlock open it and go to their rescue.
Things begin to get out of hand and the crew of the CSS Sheffield are just about to draw weapons when Bryan finally manages to communicate with them. More of the monkeys arrive and Bryan begins to get a picture of what is happening.
This clan calls themselves “The People” and they are warring with “The Friends” who live in the nearby “home”. They are waiting for the ancestors to return and get them. It was the ancestors who brought them to this home and they will return before the dark comes back.
Bryan convinces them to show us their “home”, which is located in the center of the dome and various alcoves under it. Some of the rooms still have power, but most of the rooms are overgrown with vines and trunks. Very disturbing we find that at the bottom of the stairs we are walking on bones – too late we discover that they plan to eat us.
It gets Bloody
More monkeys begin to drop from the trees as our guides attack us. Kensington and Bryan both fire warning shots, while Edmonds and Bill each kill an attacker. The leader of the monkeys draws a totem pistol and fire it, but it explodes in his face. When that happens the remaining monkeys retreat.
Ensign Edmonds calls “check fire” before Bill kills more of them. We take two of the monkeys prisoners and hustle back to the ship. Once on board the ship Bryan convinces O’Malley to sent a team back down to search the dead domes to uncover the technology used while minimizing further contact. Sarah will accompany us in his place.
So Ensign Edmonds, Bill, Kensington, and Sarah drop on the planet and begin investigating the dark domes. We find some evidence that an explosion destroyed one of the central domes. There is also signs that the monkeys in the other domes barricaded themselves in and did not allow those from the destroyed dome into their dome for safety.
Given the time span that this was not maintained the monkeys clearly had progressed to fairly advanced material sciences. Most of automated systems are still maintaining the live systems and we have seen them work that they have done to bring broken systems back online.
After several days of digging through their technology and forgotten past we return to the ship with our full findings. Upon arriving back Bryan gives us his report. These beings are a family unit defending their land against all comers. They have done so for generations, so much that they do not really understand what is around them.
It is decided to investigate the remaining domes, the remaining planets, and then leave this system with the two monkeys that we have captured.
Inside the last destroyed domes we find bodies that have been clearly laid out in a respectful manner. In addition someone has come by this area and salvaged it for spare parts. This leads us to believe that some level of higher intelligence might be found here.
We travel to the outer airlock of the other dome with power. While Bryan and Edmonds wait outside, Bill and Kensington go bang on the airlock door. A monkey looks out the window and eventually opens the airlock for them to come inside. His equipment has been patched, but appears functional.
Our initial observation is that this dome is better maintained that the other dome. There are monkeys doing regular work to keep the dome up and running. These monkeys have sidearms that appear functional. By the time Bryan and Edmonds get inside three monkeys who appear to be in charge approach us.
They tell us that they are the gate masters and will lead us to the dome master. During the trip we notice that the dome is maintained, but there are signs that that decay is setting in. The dome master tells us about the “ancestors” and they live on the second planet, which is an Earth like planet.
It is decided that this was a good contact with them and that we need to investigate the second planet to see if this was the origin of this species. We say good-bye to the less mutated monkeys and return to the ship.
The In-Between Time
Kensington spends his time getting his hands on some better quality hooch that his friends traded with the terrraformers. More importantly, he manages to wiggle his way closer to Sarah – especially into her room to help her with computer problems. While helping her she is summoned to the captains’ room for a meeting with department heads.
She left her computer open so Kensington pokes around and discovers that she has files on the ship, its company, and the general workings of the Concord military. He believes that Sarah is also a spy working for her system government.
As we reach the planet and begin to orbit Technician Adolfsson’s scanners pick up a space elevator attached at the planet’s equator. Ensign Edmonds calls the captain to the bridge as he orders a full sensor sweep of the orbiting object.
The sensor sweep detects massive ice sheets on the planet covering nearly 60% of the planet. The only object in stationary orbit (18,000) is connected to the planet by a long tether. The tether extends farther from the planet (40,000 miles), but is not attached to anything.
We detect no civilization remaining on the planet. We find several instances of massive building projects, but they appear to be long abandoned. Bryan and O’Malley insist that we dock with the station so that we can board it.
EVA techs and the shuttle pilots manage to secure an airlocked tunnel between our ship and space station. Ensign Edmonds and his team go across and are the first to enter the space station. We know the station is warm, but little other information.
With Bill leading we manage to breach the airlock and make our way inside. The inside still has lights and a breathable atmosphere; however, the grav boots are not functioning properly.
We press deeper into the station working our way to the core where we expect to find the command facilities. The platform was clearly designed for use by the monkeys in a zero gee environment.
The outer hull has been damaged by asteroids, but it has not compromised the integrity. We do find no plants or other facilities that indicate long-term living. There is a strange lack of dust and failed components indicating complete abandonment.
We have deduced that this station is actually a space dock and it possibly was used to make multiple generational ships – it is just that we have only found one so far.
The captain tells us that an elevator is coming up from the planet and will be here in a few hours. On the off chance there are monkeys in it we go to the receiving station to meet them. We are required to get into our dress uniforms.
When the elevator docks several monkeys come out into the service area. When they finally notice us there is a buzz of activity and attempts at communication. They appear to be a maintenance crew. They take us on a tour of the station and tell us about their history.
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