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Part of USS Daedalus: Mission 2 – The Edge of Hope and Despair and USS Mackenzie: Mackenzie Squadron : The Edge of Hope and Despair

DEHD 013 – The Mystery Continues

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“The signal stopped transmitting about six hours ago.”  Sadie Fowler pointed out the details on her screens as Captain Helena Dread looked on.  “It was weak and inconsistent, but it was there.  Usually, if a signal continues to fade, it’s a battery or power issue.  This one just…stopped.”  She scrolled through the history of the signal, “It never amplified beyond the original signal strength…but it also never lost power.”

Dread shook her head, “Whatever happened, it got cut off.  Theories?”  She had come to trust Fowler’s intuition in the short time she had been her chief science officer on Daedalus.  While young, she’d worked at studying her craft to make up for her lack of experience.

Sadie replied, “We confirmed it was an old colony class ship.  There have been some documented encounters where colonists went far and wide – and were found years later surviving and living off the shells of the ships.”  She tapped at the console, schematics of the Erewon class vessel fading in, “They were built well and meant to sustain life as long as possible in as many ways as possible.  Chief Greer asked to be on the team that gets sent down.”

Helena chuckled dryly, “Knowing Chief Greer, it was more begging and excitement about this discovery. Was there ever a database on these ships?”  She had to appreciate the design of the ships. They were made to last and keep people alive—wherever they landed.

Fowler brought up a report on the screen: “There was—but many were sold, traded, or even built without proper logging. Even if I can get serial numbers and registry IDs… it won’t do us much good.”

“Keep looking.  Whatever’s happened on this planet needs an answer.”

 

“Radio waves?”  Dread turned in her chair to face Fowler, both with amused looks on their faces.  “That is…ancient technology…what is it doing out here?”  Helena was mystified.  They had arrived in the system and were approaching the planet.

“Not sure, captain.  We have approximately fifty life sign readings in a valley in one of the more temperate climate zones.”  Fowler continued to run both passive and active scans, “Buildings in the colony are mostly wood, some rudimentary alloy construction scattered throughout.”  She shook her head, “If we were running this by the book, my initial report would be we’ve located a pre-warp society.”

Helena scoffed, “That would be impossible, especially out here.  Can you get a rough estimate on the species makeup?”  She stared at the planet on the screen in shock.  How had this happened?  And what was the truth?

Sadie replied, “Without samples and closer examination, the computer is 75% sure they’re humans—Earth-based humans, specifically.”

Dread wasn’t sure what to make of it all.  She was aware of first-contact rules, requirements, and processes.  Was this the case?  The signal from the long-lost colony ship was in the middle of this mystery.  “Atega, hail Mackenzie – priority one.”

Presley turned to her console.  She wondered what they had stumbled onto and what it meant for them.  First-contact missions were incredibly important, and her training on them had been more recent than most of the crew.  The sensor readings were confusing at best and unsettling at worst.  What had happened out here in the far reaches of the Demilitarized Zone?  Her console beeped, “I have Captain Walton, sir.”  Dread waved in acknowledgment.

The face of Captain Wren Walton flickered on the screen, her eyes curious, “Captain Dread, priority one and all.”  

Helena reported all they’d found and finished with, “We’re not sure what to do – there’s evidence to suggest we’re not dealing with first contact in the traditional sense.”

Walton was looking at the incoming sensor reports, “You think this might be some kind of delayed colonial failure?”

Dread shrugged, “If this group came here in 2300 or a little later – it’s entirely possible without proper medical care and nutrition…the original colonists could have died off, leaving a generation or more to forget how they got there.” She watched as her squadron commander considered the various options.

Walton grumbled, “We’ve got limited time – if anybody else picked up that signal, there’s a chance they’ll get visitors anyway.  Did you get a lock on where the signal was coming from?”

Fowler turned in her chair, “I’ve got a rough location – it’s a hill region with an area of about twenty square acres.”  She allowed, “If I can focus scans there and dispatch a crew to do some on-the-ground work – I’d have a chance at locking into it.”

“Then you are so ordered, Lieutenant Fowler.  Take every precaution.  Captain Dread – put a team together to go down and see what they can see from a distance.  Whatever word is stronger than precaution and careful – use that.”

The channel closed, and Dread echoed the grimace of Walton, “Let’s get to work.”