Crater Sea

The decision by the crew of the Sex Thing was to now head to the world of Sanpa IV, which had been hit by an asteroid some time ago, leaving behind a large crater sea. Zanobia was of the opinion that this was related to the Erline worlds which have been ‘rocked’ at some point in the past.

With Yip and Khadashi mostly recovered from their excitement during the last session, the crew are offered the help of the Tenipal geologist Dr Eima who can get them access to what they need.

Seven days later they are at the Sanpa system. The star is a small red dwarf star, and the four planets orbit well within its 100 diameter limit. The fourth world is a yellowy desert world, with a small amount of ocean cover and a thin atmosphere. On the southern hemisphere there is a round sea, known as Crater Sea. It has two small islands in the middle, with various fishing villages around the coastline.

Map of Sanpa IV

The world has an official population of about 15,000 Tenipal, though the actual population is quite higher. The third world in the system is also populated, and is a much more pleasant world, but the law level here is lower, and the locals enjoy the extra freedoms present on this world.

There is a small irregular moon, which the Travellers visit to make sure that it isn’t actually a starship. It isn’t. The next stop is the small geological research centre down by the shore of the sea. Dr Eima directs them to the landing area (‘pad’ would be overselling it), and arranges for some of the students to bring in hoses to allow the ship to refuel.

With one of the players losing their voice, this session was a lot more GM driven than player driven than I was expecting. Fortunately, Dr Eima had most of the information they were looking for, though the Travellers had means to interpret the information that the Tenipal lacked.

The research centre had plenty of rock samples, and Dr Eima got some out which the Tenipal considered unusual. They contained small nodules of iron, which were found in a layer all across the planet, dating to about 10,000 years ago. This matched up with the fall of the Erline civilisation.

Some of the iron nodules were unusual though – they had properties similar to crystaliron, which suggested a TL 10 civilisation had constructed whatever was now littered across the entire planet. Data from the geologist’s research also indicated that whatever had hit had come in at a much higher velocity than would normally be expected. Whatever it was had been possibly extra-solar.

The Travellers were shown some crude knives that the local fishermen were using. They were sharper than standard iron, and kept their edge really well – they were fragments of crystaliron. Apparently these had been obtained from a site about 3,000km away.

Once the Sex Thing was refuelled, it flew to the Grand Canyon where the site was located. It was a small cave in the side of the canyon, which showed signs of being artificially created, though large parts of it had collapsed since it was built. There was crystaliron here, though a careful examination of it concluded that it wasn’t good quality. Probably a proto-form of the material, indicating late TL 9 or early TL 10.

At the far end, there was the remains of a small blast door – barely tall enough for humans or Tenipal to walk through. Beyond that, the ceiling height dropped again, and crawling was required. However, this was a typical height for an Erline habitat.

There was writing on the walls, using the ancient Erline script that the Deepnight had discovered several months back. With access to the more modern Erline script and language, one of the linguists aboard the ship had worked out translations, which the Sex Thing crew had copies of. The wall signs indicated that this had been a bunker of some kind, so Khadashi, Trennance and Dr Eima followed the signs to the command centre.

It was here that they reached as far as any Tenipal had managed to get. There was another blast door, but this one was closed and the ceiling wasn’t entirely stable. The Tenipal didn’t have a safe way of getting through the door, so they had never bothered.

For the Sex Thing crew, it was a lot easier, so it didn’t take too long to make use of the ship’s tools to cut through the door. Khadashi was first through – and came face to face with a dead, desiccated Erline.

This had indeed been a command centre of some sort. There were half a dozen dead Erline here – presumably trapped after the earthquakes that shook the world immediately after the asteroid hit collapsed most of the bunker. There were computers here, and plenty of screens on the wall, but nothing was in great shape after ten thousand years. At least it had been dry and relatively undisturbed. The computers were using a type of crystal memory technology that is quite stable, so the crew grabbed what they could and took it back for investigation.

Dr Eima meanwhile called in support from his research station to seal the place off. Until the Tenipal government sent in people to help, he didn’t want news of this to reach the Erline.

Meanwhile…. It had been over a month since the Sex Thing had left the Deepnight Revelation, but they hadn’t been the only expedition to be sent out. One of the scout ships, the Out Of Options, had also been sent into Sovreigndom space. On the way, they would also take a look at the Erline homeworld.

My plan at this point was to switch back to this other expedition, and leave the Sex Thing crew hanging whilst we caught up. The crew of the Sex Thing will find out something about what had happened, but there is an opportunity for the crew of the Out Of Options to find things out as well, just in a different way.

So next session we’ll be switching to what has been happening on the Out Of Options.

Samuel Penn

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