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Tunnels Are Always A Good Sign

Posted on Thu Oct 1, 2020 @ 2:53am by Ensign Theo Ayar & Lieutenant Vex Dawnrider & Lieutenant Niobe Barton & Lieutenant JG Khylin Cooper
Edited on on Sat Oct 3, 2020 @ 1:59am

Mission: Episode 1: The Milk Run
Location: The Mysterious Preserver Pyramid, Derecho
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 1300

By the time all of the sensors had been set up and various preliminary scans started, the sun was high in the sky and it was hitting midday by ship's time as well. With a little time needed while the computers crunched some numbers and the team waited for results from the requested orbital sensor sweeps, it seemed like as good a time as any to settle down under some shade trees and get some chow.



Khylin grabbed a ration pack out of his backpack and settled against the trunk of the tree. Truth be told, he hadn't had a lot of experience with the rations and after the first bite, was very thankful for that. He tried to keep the unimpressed look off his face, although by the way that everyone looked at him, he was sure that he hadn't pulled that off.



"Not used to rations?" Vex asked.



"There's probably worse things we could be eating," Niobe said. "Although not by much."



"Just be glad you never had to have the monk's cooking," Vex added before taking another bite of his ration bar. "Their stuff is even blander than this."



"I find that hard to believe," Niobe added. "I'm convinced they still use the same replicators from a decade ago to produce rations."



At Theo's side, his tricorder chirped. He opened it up and studied the screen. "Lieutenant Cooper? The computer sent the scan results. There's definitely some sort of jamming field, and maybe a wide-area signal... and the ground-penetrating sonic shows some kind of void in the ground near the base on one side. Maybe a cave?"



"Or maybe more of the structure buried underground," Khylin said. "I wonder if the civilian team knows about this?"



"I doubt it. They're working from the top down, and I don't think their sensors could have cut through the jamming unless they were right next to it."



Khylin grabbed his own tricorder and logged into the interface so that he could see what Theo's was seeing. What was more puzzling was the jamming field, for which they still didn't have a source or explaination. 



"I wonder if there is a way to access it?" Khylin asked.



"You mean aside from us blasing it with a phaser?" Vex asked.



"If there was an entrance, it may have been buried by a landslide as the dirt and rock built up," Theo ventured. "A phaser might be our best bet, if you set the beam strength high enough to disintergrate the stone but not explode them."



Khylin nodded in agreement. "It's worth a shot, although I'm a little worried about what we'll find down there, considering our scans have been practically useless."



"I guess our other option is to... slowly dig our own tunnel from a different direction?" Theo said. "We've got the equipment on the ship, although it may take a few days."



"We'll be fine," Vex said, as he got to his feet. "Where is your sense of adventure? Aren't we supposed to boldly go?"



"I didn't know archaeology is supposed to be adventerous, sir."



"Check out an ancient earth movie called Indiana Jones, makes you look at archaeology in a whole different light," Vex replied, with a grin.



Niobe rolled her eyes. "Pretty sure all that is highly exaggerated."



"What's a movie?" Theo asked.



"Think 2D holo-novel," Vex said, getting to his feet. "But with less interaction. I think I have a program stored somewhere, I'll take you sometime."



"It's laugable really," Niobe said. "But an entertaining destraction. Are we going to tell our newfound friends about this latest discovery?"



"They probably wouldn't want us to use phasers," Theo said. "And we'd probably end up stuck outside all day."



"Um, so then we don't tell them?" Khylin asked, looking back and forth between the officers.



"Tell them what?" Vex asked. "As far as they are concerned we are just poking around, looking at the local fauan and flora and if we happen to come across something interesting then we'll investigate. Also, being the only security officer present, I'm going to say the area needs secured first before any civilian wanders into it."



"There could be some of those venomous wolves in the tunnel," Theo offered. "Seismic sensors wouldn't detect them."



"Right," Khylin said, growing more confident by the moment. "And that certainly wouldn't look good if we let said civilians get eaten."



Niobe rolled her eyes and secured her pack before looking at the other officers.



"Then let's stop talking about it and get going. Daylight's wasting."



"The spot with the least rock to remove would be right over here," Theo said, lifting up his tricorder and leading the way down the hill a bit. He eventually came a spot that looked marginally more lumpy than the rest. "Right here, there's about four, maybe five meters of debris, at about a fifteen degree angle down."



Khylin took out his tricorder and glanced nervously around. "Setting 11 should do it, right Lt. Dawnrider?"



"Try and not vaporize yourselves," Niobe said, taking a step back. 



"Pretty sure I can manage that," Vex said, with a grin. He looked down at the phaser and then back at the chief engineer. "Which way do I point it again?"



Theo stretched out his foot to scuff an X into the dirt, then hastily withdrew several meters.



Khylin took a deep breath. "On three?"



When Vex fired, the beam carved through the thin soil and into the rock below, which glowed and evaporated away, quickly exposing the rocky tunnel below. After allowing a few seconds for the rock to cool, the team could climb down with relative ease. At first it appeared to be a natural cave, but a few dozen meters down it squared off and turned into a clearly artificial path through otherwise solid rock. After a minute of walking they reached a wall that looked just like the exposed pyramid above, a strange metallic stone. The tunnel contined in a few more meters until it reached a flat verticle surface. On the left wall was some writing, while on the other was a grid of a few dozen symbols, possibly some sort of control panel.



"I think we've got previous Preserver writing and entry codes loaded on our tricorders," Theo offered.



"That would probably be more effective than me blasting it," Vex said.



"Let's try that first," Khylin said, taking out his tricorder. "Besides, I'm not sure that we could force our way in if we wanted too."



The tricorder, unable to communicate with the ship's computer due to the jamming field, could only give a general suggestion that the writing was something about protection and danger - fairly standard from previous examples, although with a number of unknown words and phrases. It also provided a number of suggestions for what to push on the grid to open up the entrance.



"I'm reading a small amount of chroniton radiation," Niobe said, looking down at her tricorder. "Odd we couldn't detect it earlier."



When the keys were pressed, a previously invisible door slid inward and then out to the sides, revealing a further passage in. The ceiling seemed to glow to light their way, brightening as they moved further in and then dimming again as they passed. Eventually, near the center of the building, they came to a tall room that like the pyramid was a square shape, about thirty meters on a side, with no other obvious entrances or exits. At the center was a table of sorts, with controls along the edges and what looked like some kind of map of the surface.



More noticeable were the pictograms on all four walls, which while somewhat stylized, seemed to show humanoid figures in various states of dismay or panic, fleeing from something, and being ripped into tiny pieces or burnt. Some seemed fairly generic but it was also possible to pick out others that were more identifiable due to more noticable features, such as Andorian antennea or the large eyes of Saurians. There was also a lot more writing over or between different scenes.



Niobe whistled. "Sure wish we had a Rosetta Stone."



"Could this be what's causing the interference?" Vex asked. 



"There's definitely a subspace field being generated, but I can't tell from where," Theo said, scanning as well. He pointed at some particularly large writing directly opposite the entrance. "This says something like... This is not a location of pride. No good things are remembered here. There is no wealth to find. This was hidden on purpose because of bad things. You should run away very fast. Leave this building alone or you will all die. Um, plus a lot of other words that aren't known, so I'm paraphrasing and also just a little bit worried."



"Which means we could be walking into a death trap," Khylin said. He glanced at several pictures. "Well, we know standing right here is safe, we could alert our civilan counterparts and then head back to the ship. Our tricorders have gathered a sizeable amount of data. Hopefully, they aren't stupid enough to go poking past this chamber without some serious work."



"This definitely looks like a job for the ship's archaeologists and not me," Theo agreed. "At least until they find some cool tech to examine."



OFF:

 

 

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