The sirocco grinds through the desert shifting metric tons of loose sand and dust scouring exposed stone and shredding everything else. After hours in the excavation tunnels the crew and researchers feel air movement from deeper in the excavation tunnels, almost like a cork had been removed from further below. On further investigation a previously blocked passage appears to have been cleared from the savage storm. It now leads to the base of the stone outcropping onto what appears to be a hard pan salt flat. Across this new valley appears to be a previously unknown structure also revealed by the storm. The crew decide to return to the Oranos and fly out to the ancient structure instead of chancing a hike across the now exposed desert floor.
Sand Gets Everywhere
The crew and research personnel emerge from the lower tunnels to discover the elevator blocked by piles of sand and dust that precipitated down the main shaft. After hours of clearing, they all emerge from the tunnels to witness what havoc was wrought on the research facility. Everything appears freshly sand blasted and covered in layers or piles of choaking dust and clogging sand. The Oranos managed to cling to the landing pad thanks to the reinforced security clamps. It takes another hour to clear engines and run system checks. The facility personnel start cleaning up and assessing the damage.
Lifting off, the crew gets a better look at the new landscape. The hard pan flats stretch between the usual stone outcroppings making the arid planet appear even more desolate. Landing just outside the exposed structure the crew approaches the only apparent entry.
Temple of Doom
The crew approaches the uncovered structure cautiously. Winds whipping dust and sand all around and the primary is glaring down as if to burn them off the face of the planet.
They enter a large structure lined with columns that presents a single archway leading deeper into the ancient structure.
The crew proceeds through the archway to discover a large chamber with four statues depicting strange, alien creatures and large stone doors leading further into the structure. Murals and carvings cover the walls depicting a dense jungle planet full of life.
The doors appear to have been sealed from the outside as if to contain something within. After breaking the seal and opening the large doors a large, heavy portcullis slams down blocking the exit archway. Archaic but effective.
The crew moves into a long dark hallway. The hallway smells faintly damp and of rotting vegetation. After about 750 feet they arrive at another double door, this one with strange creatures inlayed on the doors like they’re guarding the doors. these doors are also sealed from this side. The crew managed to crack the doors and enter the next chamber. The smell of stagnant, damp air floods from the next room almost choking with the heavy smell of rot.
The crew enters a large rectangular room. Dim green lights at the top of strange looking columns slowly begin to illuminate the room. Two arches lead left and right while a simple open passage continues out of the room ahead. The entire room is covered in strange growth. Some spongy, some hard like stone. The floor is littered with bones. Gideon moves to investigate the nearest glow globe. It appears to be some sort of bioluminescent fungus.
While he is distracted the rest of the crew notice movement from different areas of the room converging on the unaware Gideon. They’re humanoid skeletons covered in a strange, dark ooze. They move silently and quickly.
Since everyone but Gideon spotted the skeletons the rest of the crew opens fire distracting two of the six from their intended target. Four move to strike Gideon while two move to intercept the rest of the crew. After a few tense exchanges the crew manages to destroy the ooze skeletons. One made contact with Gideon and numbed his senses as to effectively deafen and blind him. Luckily, this condition faded quickly. Whatever the ooze was it seemed to be animating the skeletons. Once they fell the ooze evaporated leaving only a pile of bones.
Among the bones the crew find four staff weapons that apparently use some sort of harmonic crystals to fire different types of damage. After some analysis they have two electrical, one flame and one sonic.
Danger neutralized, the crew decide to move through the right archway and continue deeper into the complex.
They enter a room cluttered with strange equipment and furniture. It appears to be a workshop of some sort. There’s a large shape covered in a light tarp in the middle of the room. Gideon peeks under the tarp against the better judgement of his companions. The large shape appears to be a mechanical construct of some type. As he is trying to get a better look, it whirrs into motion and begins to attack.
Glack and Kallie’Dar both hear telepathic messages in a strange language. Kallie’Dar understand the words, they seem to be telemetry from the machine as if it were on a battlefield, seeking targets and reporting to a command-and-control center.
Strig finds an alien console and begins trying to decipher the controls in an attempt to shut the machine down. Gideon, Bosho and Drax try to keep the fully alert machine from killing anyone. A few tense exchanges give Strig time to finally find a shutdown trigger in the console.
After searching the room, the crew discovers augments that could be used or sold.
Welcome to Our Lair
Moving deeper into the complex they enter a strange room full of consoles and blinking lights. An archway opens to another room opposite their entrance. Before the crew can begin their investigation two figures emerge from the dark corners of the room. They appear to be the creatures depicted by the statues at the entrance. Insect-like with four legs, two arms wings and no discernable face, only a group of glowing lights.
Glack and Kallie’Dar hear their telepathic message, “Welcome subjects, we will dissect you and reuse your parts in our projects.” The creatures open fire with strange rifles covering targets with subzero ice. After a tense exchange the crew manages to dispatch the aliens just as two more emerge from the second door. Another frigid exchange and the two creatures fall. Glack investigates the alien bodies while the rest of the crew search the two rooms.
The creatures are an unknown species. From his scans Glack can determine they are actually sentient fungi similar to Mycenoids he has encountered in another sector. The first room appears to be a monitoring station much like a security control room. The instrumentation is built for the aliens to interface, but Strig manages to translate their basic purpose.
Heart of the Darkness
An iris door leads to the next hall that opens into a large room. Dimly lit with the same glowing fungus this room appears to be a much more elaborate control room. In the center of the room is a circular console focused on a shifting ‘cloud’ of darkness that seems to be manipulating controls. As the crew enters the shadow focuses on them and in all their heads, they each hear, in their native language, “You fools have no idea what is coming. The Dominion will devour everything.” They all get flashes of a strange fleet of black ships drifting through the nebula and feel an overwhelming sense of impending danger from the scene.
The shadow initiates an alarm setting off klaxons throughout the facility and moves to engage the crew. The crew decide to keep the creature at a distance and strategically retreat back to the rooms they previously cleared. While retreating the crew hammers the creature. It reaches out with waves of sonic energy to varying effectiveness.
The crew throw all their combat tactics and capabilities at the creature, and it falls evaporating into nothing. An echoing laughter fading in each of their minds.
Injured, exhausted and resources depleted the crew finds the control silencing the klaxons and decides to hold up in the control room while they recuperate and try to determine their next move.