Nov 27, 2020 7:08 PM
A Starfleet vessel stumbles across an unintentional visitor.
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"Yes, we also included our standards for secure wireless communication. If you have a compatible subspace communicator installed, we can also take this opportunity to calibrate it to work with our systems as well."

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"I'm afraid I don't know what a subspace communicator is." I say as I plug into the computer and start downloading the data. "The UHS uses quantum entanglement networks for ftl communication. As do all other known space fairing civilizations that are capable of it in my reality. If you could give me full specifications on it though as well as any material needed to make a subspace communicator I could produce one that is integrated into my systems."

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"You are welcome to look at our schematics, but if your world does not use the same system as us, we do not have a design which you could easily integrate. Our smallest designs are not small enough to be embedded. I will be happy to review your alternative, as perhaps that will be easier to duplicate."

Commander Toasty and Captain Lugh spend a while working out the integration of their technology and history. The divergence appears to occur sometime within the early space age, though it's hard to say for sure exactly when. The commander also explains the function of the replicator, and shows Drake to his room.

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The next few days pass peacefully. The crew of the Palmer is friendly but nervous around their warbot guest, and Drake has had plenty of time to himself.

The ship spends a while near Zeta Orionis, taking some extra scans of the unique trinary star system. After leaving instructions for the locals to keep an eye on the area of space where Drake appeared, the Palmer heads out for a tip on a nearby star where some archeologists have gone missing. The planet is quiet and empty, the natives having vanished a couple dozen millennia ago.

With good weather and beautiful plant life, Captain Zarikk grants shore leave for a significant portion of the crew. A small team will be investigating the archeological site, which is too heavily shielded to permit scanning for life signs from orbit. Drake has the option to visit the surface, if he would like.

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"With your permission Captain, I would like to join the away team on this mission. I feel my unique capabilities might aid in the search for the missing archeologists. As well as provide the team with additional security."

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"Oh, I'm not sure it's as dramatic as all that. Researchers are passionate people, I'm sure they've just been distracted from their reports by the excitement of the ruins! Feel free to join the team, though. Always helpful to have another set of eyes."

The team leaves about an hour after the shore leave party is situated on the surface, once they have had a chance to confirm they cannot detect the archeologists above ground. Joining Drake will be Lt. Commander Wells, a medical officer called Lt. Commander Va'reth, and two non-commissioned crewmen.

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As we begin to move into the ruins I switch my combat systems to standby. The Captain seems to think we won't run into any trouble but in my experience it's better to be over prepared than to run into a problem you're not ready for. As an afterthought I double check my subspace communicator's connection to the Palmer. It had taken almost the entire time since my arrival in this universe but Toasty and I finally figured out how to make a subspace transceiver small enough to fit in my communication array. A significant amount of signal strength was sacrificed to achieve this, bringing the effective range down to about a lightyear, but both Toasty and I felt that was an acceptable cost to allow me to maintain long-range communication capabilities without the quantum entanglement networks I had relied on for so long.

As we continue to walk I turn to Wells. "So, do you guys have anything handheld that can detect life signs? I can keep an eye on the infrared and turn up my audio gain but it'd be nice to have something more precise than that."

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"Our tricorders should be able to detect them, but it's hard to say what the range will be in here. These walls aren't normal stone. I think I have good readings on all the adjacent chambers."

The first chamber is buried halfway into a hill, and seems to have been where the archeologists set up camp. Some sleeping bags and boxes of rations are set in the corner, as well as a radio box used to link to the orbital subspace relay.

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"Tricorders huh." I ping a query to the Palmer's computer and download the resulting tricorder design I found. Glancing it over I'm pretty sure I can replicate some or all of the device's functions given enough time to bridge the technology differences. Though given how ubiquitous they seem to be I doubt I'd ever need to. "So do we know what exactly the walls are made of then?" I ask as I look through the supplies, trying to discern whether the archeologists took the time to grab supplies for an extra long trip into the ruins or if they left in a hurry.

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While some less portable camp equipment is sitting around, it looks like the archeologists brought their packs with them. They don't appear to have left in enough of a hurry for it to be noticeable.

The medical officer points his tricorder around the room and takes some more detailed scans.

"Well, looks like the rock is normal, just limestone, but all these decorations are made of charged kelbonite. Kelbonite interferes with everything, including subspace transmissions, and especially when charged.

The dense green inlays on the walls and ceiling do seem to react strangely with Drake's own scans. They seem to distort radiation that passes near them, giving the surfaces a wavy and uncomfortable appearance.

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"Huh, it's almost like being in some kinda weird faraday cage. Actually, do we know anything about what the species that made this place were doing here? This interference reminds me of some research labs I've been in."

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"The culture of the natives isn't well-understood yet, but the hypothesis of the researchers we're looking for was that it was a vault for storing religious relics. The construction is sturdy enough it may have been intended to withstand attack, and while the shielding may have been incidental to the aesthetics, it might not be a coincidence that it renders the structure all but immune to phaser fire."

The interior of the structure is closely laid out, with only a few rooms per level. The second level has a small auditorium and what look like they may once have been storage rooms. On the third level down, the tricorders pick up life signs. Several humanoids can be faintly detected through the floor, on the level below.

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"Alright, now we're getting somewhere. Stay behind me when we go in, just in case." I say to the others. Bringing my combat systems to standby as we make our way to the next level.

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Drake carefully leads the group down the next set of stairs, where they find a hallway with a couple of office-like rooms on either side, and at the end, a closed door.

The door is a slab of the same stone and metal as the rest of the complex, and appears to be quite firmly seated in place. The tricorders continue to show faint life signs on the other side.

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Mentioning to the others to stay back, I go to the door and put my hand against it to try and catch what sound I can from the other side.

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While the walls are quite thick, they are solid enough that sound is not trapped within them. Drake can hear a couple of voices on the other side, speaking in mildly aggressive and angry tones of voice.

"Yet symbol 08 still fits closer to a Vulcan reshek than any other plausible source!"

"Vulcan is not a plausible source! No language with evidence of Vulcan influence has ever adopted only secondary alphabet components!"

"Which is why this was an exciting enough discovery to be worth a manned expedition!"

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Motioning the others forward I poke around the door, looking for a way to open it. Not seeing any way to open the door without damaging it I use my nanites to form a surface transducer speaker on the palm of my hand. Pressing my hand flat against the door I call out to the Archeologists. "Attention, this is the crew of the Federation ship USS Palmer. Are you in need of assistance?"

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The archeologists jump.

"Ah! Starfleet? Yes, help please! We're sort of stuck, we seem to have triggered some sort of security mechanism. Things started glowing and then the door slammed shut. We're all safe, but it's getting pretty boring in here!"

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"Could you amplify what their response? Also, I can't see any way to open this door manually. The kelbonite might need to receive some specific signal."

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"Ah right, sorry." I quickly copy the output I'm hearing to one of my speakers as well as run my normal audio senses through the surface transducer, essentially acting as a go between so everyone can hear everyone. "Well if need be I can cut them out of there but I'm worried there might be a secondary security measure in place to prevent that. Do you have any ideas Lt. Commanders?"

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"If we were able to construct some sort of power sink to drain the kelbonite of its charge, it might be possible to beam them out. We could also boost the transmission signal, if we drilled a small hole to give them a beacon. On the other hand, if aside from the kelbonite these walls are just limestone, it wouldn't be too hard to restore them after cutting through."

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"Well if you've got a beacon we can give them then cutting a hole seems like the best option. For just drilling a hole though it would probably be faster if you can set a phaser for it than what I've got."

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"Yes, I can cut through with a phaser. Let's take some closer scans and ask the archeologists to do the same, and then stand back, please."

Lt. Commander Wells does a careful scan of the detail work on the wall, waits for the researchers to be well back from the door, and levels a phaser at it.

The blast cuts through the stone quite quickly, but the walls react just as quickly. The kelbonite inlays flare with power and the whole structure rumbles, then lifts into the air. With a slam, the floor falls downwards, dropping the group into a small channel. A moment later, the four archeologists join them just as suddenly, and the group is thrown down the channel by a sudden torrent of wind, straight out the side of the building just as it ascends above ground level. Drake will need to anchor himself to the walls if he doesn't want to be thrown along with them. The shaking structure continues to rise even higher.

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Bringing my combat systems to full with a thought I launch two piton cables into the walls at an angle that swings me back to the floor. Sinking my talons into the floor I retract the pitons, extend claws, and lower myself to the ground as much as possible to reduce drag.

As I begin crawling back to where we were dropped on all fours to avoid the wind, I push as much power into my communications array as I can without blowing it out. "Palmer, this is Drake. Ruins are on the move, some kinda defense mechanism. The crew and civvies got blown out onto the surface, current condition unknown. What are you seeing on your end? Over."

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The response is filled with static, barely interpretable.

"TOO MUCH STA..."

"...EAM OUT"

"...NDING SHUTTLE"

The newly grown tower swings out several sections, producing four "arms" that begin flailing in the air. The interior walls start ramping up magnetic force, attempting to launch Drake out like a railgun.

Out on the surface, Wells grabs an archeologist and bodily throws him away from the structure, shouting at the group to get moving. She fires several blasts of her phaser at a section that appears to be rapidly turning into a head.

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