Meet the Beetles

The Deepnight Revelation was getting to the fringes of the three technological civilisations that it had first detected several months back. I wanted to give the players a chance to find out a little about them before actually meeting them. The situation could get quite complicated, so providing some foreshadowing about what they were going to meet I felt was quite important.

They had reached the system of Shosify, the main world of which was inhabited by a bronze age humanoid culture, but there were signs of a more advanced culture having been here at some point. Whilst the mission team explored the main planet, Khadashi and Zanobia took a few people to explore the base that had been discovered on the planet’s moon.

The base consisted of several domed buildings built into the surface, with a couple of landing pads as well as what looked like missile silos. They took the Sex Thing in low to avoid any potential missile defences, and the Travellers crossed the last few hundred metres on foot.

There was an airlock in the dome next to a landing pad, but it was small – about a metre and a half wide and a little over a metre tall. Possibly Dryone? There was some writing here, which was thin and spidery, a fanciful style which they hadn’t come across before.

There was no power, so the airlock had to be manually opened. The inside was no larger, but there were some closets one of which had what looked like a vacc suit. Whatever it had been designed for was some sort of ten limbed beetle – six main legs plus four smaller manipulating arms at the front.

The base was no longer airtight, and the interior had been opened to vacuum for some time. The first room beyond the airlock was filled with long dead screens and complex keyboards and controls. It looked like they were remote piloting stations. Whoever had lived here at invented Velcro, since there were notepads stuck to some of the walls.

This room was also low – only about a metre high, so Khadashi and Zanobia had to pretty much crawl through it. Further on there were living quarters, where there were some nest-like arrangements presumably for sleeping. There was a faded picture of several creatures stuck to a wall. The beings in it were ten limbed, blue scaled creatures that did indeed look like beetles.

Whatever they were, they were about half a metre tall, and seemed really good at fine manipulation given the tools that were found. One room was directly below the silos, but seemed to contain what looked like remote drones rather than weapon systems.

There was also medical and bio labs, which contained some skeletons and well preserved corpses of the humanoids down on the planet. There also seemed to be plenty of other biological samples, but most had evaporated or decayed in the time since the place had been deserted.

The best estimate that the science team were able to give was that the place had last been inhabited somewhere between a few thousand and twenty thousand years ago. It looked like it had been left with plenty of time for preparation. What tools there were had been carefully packed away, and there was no sign of a rushed exit. The computers were completely non-functional, but there was evidence of contra-grav technology, which estimated the technology here as TL 9.

Shosowify III

In the meantime, down on the planet, the humanoids had some form of cargo cult religion. They wore symbols with carvings on them that looked a little bit like designs on electronic circuit boards. The temples had sheets of glass with faux writing etched into it, lit from behind by lamps, giving the appearance of glowing computer screens. There were no signs of the technological culture that was present on the moon though.

The Deepnight meanwhile had been scanning ahead. It had detected unusual signs of dust in the atmosphere of the nearby world of Aseyna II. So their next stop was there.

It was only a two parsec jump, to a system where there was a gas giant to refuel from. The main world had possibly been a pleasant garden world at some point, but now it was wrecked. The world had suffered several massive asteroid impacts about ten thousand years ago, which had impacted both the land and the seas. There were some large craters, massive basalt flats and evidence of a world wide burning event. The seas had been heated by the activity, and most sea life had been killed off along with the land life. There were little more than microbes here now.

Aseyna II

There was a moon here also, which showed signs of multiple impacts. Here, it was clear that the bodies that had impacted had been icy rather than rocky. There was a kuiper belt in the system, about 30 AU further out. It was highly unlikely that multiple icy bodies had come into the inner system and hit the world and its moon within a short space of time naturally.

DNA from the microbes didn’t match the DNA found in the base at Shosowify, so this probably wasn’t the home of the blue beetles. There was evidence of metals and plastics in the seas. Enough for a small colony, but not a major civilisation.

From here, it was only a four parsec jump to the system at Last Prospect/2910. Scanning was picking up signs of a class E starport here, with a TL of at least 5. There was at least one habitable world in the system, but the crew didn’t want to go directly there just yet.

Map of local systems

From Aseyna, they would head to Rybuluva and then Gamma Thopin. This would put them within 2 parsecs of two inhabited worlds, from where they could then decide what to do. First though the Captain wanted to spend a few days performing more detailed long range scans to try and get a better idea of what they were getting into.

Whatever happened, it was going to be a first contact situation with a large number of worlds at least some of which were TL 10. It was very possible that they could be a threat to the Deepnight Revelation, and the Captain wanted as much information up front as possible. This was something that the players were in agreement with, plus they wanted more drills and practise in case of conflict.

Samuel Penn