Lost Signal

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Though the Solomani of Suyar 3032 are scientifically interesting, there isn’t much else for the crew of the Deepnight Revelation to find here. So the decision is to leave the world after a few days and continue heading Rimward. At any rate, there were still the radio broadcasts coming from the system of Ghone Minor in the next sector over, which were obvious signs of a high tech civilisation. The crew were interested in visiting there and seeing what it was.

A couple of systems on, and they are beginning to pick up enough of the broadcasts to get an idea of their content. The civilisation seems to be spacefaring, and is insectoid in appearance, though from what can be gleaned from the signals, their behaviour is not insect like. At this range, the main problem is getting enough of an uncorrupted signal to be able to decode it into something useful. These are just random television broadcasts which have leaked into space, not deliberate messages.

During the jump to the system of Duheququan, two factions begin to grow aboard the ship. The first insist that the system should be pronounced Du-he-kwa-kan, the second that it is Du-he-ka-kwan. It was an unimportant distinction, but allowed for a friendly rivalry that kept the crew occupied.

At arrival at the system there still wasn’t a resolution to the question. But what did become rapidly apparent was that the radio broadcasts from the system of Ghone Minor had stopped. This was concerning, and the Deepnight stayed for longer at Duheququan in order to perform a long range scan to look for potential threats. The Deepnight had crossed some 13 light years in the last jump, and they were still about 20 light years from Ghone Minor. So sometime between 20 and 33 years ago, something had happened at Ghone Minor to shutdown its civilisation.

The Deepnight crossed into the next sector, named Brittia, and came out of jump at the system of Thahane at full alert. They didn’t want to take any chances that there was a multi-system threat in the area. It was also a good training exercise for the crew, and worked out so well that during preparations someone figured out how to get one of the failed particle barbettes online again.

There were no visible threats at Thahane though, so what was next was the three parsec jump to Ghone Minor. There were still no signals coming from that system, and no signs of exploration at this system.

As it happened, there was evidence of exploration here – but the Deepnight crew failed to spot it. A really good crew roll whilst coming out of jump was followed by a poor one for in-system scanning. The evidence here was just a little thing, but may have confused the situation until the crew had the full picture later on.

From a GM’s perspective, players not spotting clues due to a failed check can be derailing, but sometimes (as in this case) it’s just extra information that allow them to find out things early rather than prevent them from proceeding with a scenario. So I wasn’t concerned that they’d missed it.

With a three parsec jump to Ghone Minor, the Deepnight would have enough fuel to make an immediate second jump to a secondary system if there was a big threat that needed to be avoided.

System of Ghone Minor, showing jump shadows

They had detail on the planets in the system, and plotted a jump towards planet VI, which was a Saturnian world. This gave them a huge safety buffer between them and the second world where the civilisation had been detected. It was also clear of any jump shadows if they needed to jump a second time.

As in previous situations similar to this, a sweep stake was held aboard the ship on what would be found. Options ranged from self inflicted, to alien invasion or elaborate trap.

Coming out of jump, there were no immediate threats obvious, and they sent out scout ships to get a closer look at the main world. By this point, there were some weak radio signals coming from the world, so somebody was alive down there.

Further investigation showed high levels of radioactivity in the atmosphere, as well as pollutants from massive fires. There was debris in orbit, the remains of an elaborate communications network. As surface pictures started to improve in detail as the scouts got closer, it was obvious that the world had suffered a massive nuclear war.

It was decided that talking to the survivors was a requirement in order to settle the sweep stakes. The crew already had some idea of the language from previous broadcasts, so they made contact with one of the larger settlements. The locals weren’t that surprised to hear from space travellers. They even found someone who spoke a very corrupted version of Anglic.

As far as the world was concerned, they had suffered a massive nuclear war about 25 years ago. That had been bad enough, but then they had a second one between the survivors about 17 years ago. Since then, conflict has been low scale, but mostly they’ve been trying to rebuild their civilisation from the ruins. Over 90% of the population had been killed, going from a population of about 8.5 billion down to less than half a billion over the last 25 years.

They’d had contact with aliens before – the last time was about 50 years ago, but there were few alive who remembered that. Fortunately one of the people in the settlement had been a student of ‘Alien Studies’ before the hostilities broke out, so still spoke the language.

Previously the visitors had come in small ships, trading high tech goods but their main purpose seemed to be scouting. They had come from Rimward though, where there was (so the locals had been told) a couple of large empires, known as the “Commonwealth” and the “Grand Republic”. The language spoken was based on English from a place known as Old Arth. Some pictures showed them to be humans, and the ships were only a few hundred tons in size. Visitors came every 50 to 100 years, and the last ship was known as the Ship of Perseus.

With knowledge if this, the Deepnight begins scanning as far Rimward as it can. There are at least two other high tech civilisations in this sector (which were already known about), but in the sector beyond they start picking up signs of lots of activity. Not just signals from high tech civilisations, but evidence of jump activity which highly suggested large star ports.

Whatever was to Rimward was going to be interesting.

A couple of GM notes to make here. The evidence they missed was just the odd sign of discarded equipment and other things left behind by small scout ships that had been active in the region.

The second, is that evidence of the two polities isn’t meant to come until later in the adventure, but I decided it would be interesting to provide a head’s up that something is ahead. If the players decide they want to avoid it completely, they can. Though their route does take them right through the middle. At least they have a chance to be prepared.

They will start picking up more signs of things as they get further Rimward, but this is about the limits of the extent of any scouting done by humans in the area. The previous world where they found low tech Solomani had been the survivors of a miss-jumping scout ship in the region long ago.

Samuel Penn

2 Responses

  1. Great as always.

    Wouldn’t it be ‘Du-he-kwa-kwan’? Or perhaps I would just be in an unpopular third faction.