Amber Nebula Campaign Log

3. Artefacts and Piracy


4 May, 2775. 07:50 UTC. Field Log entry by Ogier.

The others are walking around the magnificent chamber we have discovered on a floor about 28 metres above the ground level. A single opening in the north wall of the shaft led to this toroidal chamber which wraps around the shaft. The floor is flat, but the ceiling is a vaulted semicircle, about 12 metres high, completely covered with what looks like heiroglyphic paintings. The symbolism is definitely alien, but the style bears a vague resemblance to ancient Mayan carvings from South America on Earth. Melissa is taking extensive video for later analysis by Prof. Smythe and other xenoarchaeologists.

08:35 UTC. Field Log entry by Serron.

We have climbed up another 64 metres to another floor, accessed by two openings from the shaft, one on each of the east and west sides. Each appears to lead into a single corridor extending towards the edge of the tower. In order to speed up our exploration we are splitting into two groups. I am accompanying Prof. Smythe, Melissa, and Sam down the western corridor, while Ogier, Iki Piki, and Spanners try the eastern corridor.

08:38 UTC. Radio Communication Log.

Serron: How's it going down that side guys? We've found a 4-way branching and several other passageways turning off those. We're just deciding which way to go.

Ogier: Yeah, we're a bit lost too.

Serron: Lost?!

Ogier: Too many turns and junctions... we're trying to backtrack now.

Melissa: Professor! Where have you gone?!

Prof. Smythe: I just came down one of... er...

Sam: Wait there Prof. We'll find you!

Iki Piki: I think we should just keep going. We can't get too lost.

Serron: This is not very good...

Spanners: [in Chatka] We've found a chamber. It looks empty.

[Crunch]

Ogier: There's glass on the floor!

Prof. Smythe Glass? Are you sure?

Iki Piki: Looks like small fragments of clear glass. All over the floor.

Prof. Smythe: I must see this!

Sam: No, wait! Where are you?!

Ogier: We're just over here.

Melissa: What the...? It's another chamber. There's a hole in the floor like on the ground level. About 20 centimetres across.

Iki Piki: We're trying to find you now...

Serron: Well we're trying to find you...

Melissa: The rangefinder can't get a depth reading on this hole either.

Prof. Smythe: Fascinating. Oh, there you are!

Ogier: We've found the Professor. Where's everyone else?

Serron: Are you near the main shaft? I think we're just north of it.

Spanners: Wait. I can hear Serron's voice. This way.

Sam: Aha! I hear them.

Serron: Finally. Well let's start drawing up a map, and I suggest we don't separate again.

09:24 UTC. Field Log entry by Spanners

After mapping out the second level, we have ascended up to a third level of corridors and rooms about 115 metres above ground level. This level is not as convoluted as the previous one. A set of three equi-spaced corridors around the shaft led to a series of circular rooms, all empty, and one rectangular room.

Lying on a small, low platform on the floor of the rectangular room were three spheres, about the size of tennis balls, metallic gold in colour. We entered to examine and retrieve these artefacts, at which point a door to the room slid closed and the ceiling light switched off. Fortunately, we have some light laser cutting equipment with us, and Sam is now at work cutting the door open for us.

The spheres are very heavy, and from all evidence appear to be solid gold. Obviously further examination is necessary once we return with them to Legacy.

11:02 UTC. Field Log entry by Iki Piki

We are now some 160 metres above ground level, exploring a fourth level of rooms. Five corridors lead off the main shaft to an interconnected group of five rooms. One is empty and two are small rooms containing further narrow shafts leading straight down in the centre of the floor, similar to those seen on the ground and second levels. We are quite certain now that these particular shafts at least cannot lead straight down more than a few tens of metres, since they are directly over corridors we have explored further down the tower, but the rangefinder stubbornly refuses to give a depth for them.

The other two rooms contain fascinating artefacts. One contains a large cubic metal structure, about 2 metres on a side, inside what seems to be a sealed transparent shell, leaving a metre or so of space between the sides and top of the cube, which sits on the floor. The transparent material is some sort of crystal structure, definitely much stiffer and harder than any glass - we have been unable to make and impression on it with sampling tools. The cube inside appears to have two rows of coloured lights along one side, and some further lights plus a square screen, or discolouration of the metal, on another. Since we cannot move it, Melissa is taking plenty of video.


The final room contains a set of thin cylinders extending vertically down from the ceiling to various heights. They are about 5 centimetres in diameter, and made of some polished metal.

Almost before Melissa could record their pristine state on video, Serron leapt forward and began pushing one rod up into the ceiling. It moved smoothly and silently. Prof. Smythe urged him to pull it back into its original position, but no effort by any of us could retract it again. Fortunately, this change in the configuration seems to have had no effect on anything.

12:49 UTC. Field Log entry by Ogier

We have decided to explore all the way up the main shaft and tackle the remaining levels from the top down. Going up we have found three more levels, at about 270, 340, and 375 metres above ground level. The levels are accessed by six, seven, and eight corridors leading from the shaft, respectively. We are beginning to think there may be a level with four entrances that we have missed - we will have to check that possibility later.

13:00 UTC. Field log entry by Serron

The top level was a bit of a mistake. Some sort of weird fungus growing in all the corridors sprayed us with spores or something as we tried to start exploring. We didn't inhale any, since we have breathing masks on, and it doesn't seem to have affected our skin, but we don't want to take any chances, so are moving back to the next level down and will return to this level tomorrow with sealed suits.

14:24 UTC. Field Log entry by Spanners

This level has in some sense been the most astonishing yet. The seven equally-spaced corridors leading from the central shaft led to several interesting rooms.

The most interactive was one that appeared to be some sort of control room, with instrument panels and screens, though no chairs. Two automated weapons of some sort were mounted on the ceiling and fired intense blaster-like beams as we tried to enter. Serron and Prof. Smythe were hit before we managed to beat a retreat. We are now descending the main shaft to return to Legacy and rest before exploring more after some sleep.

But also on that level were two rooms with fascinating artefacts. One contained a bench with two discoloured metal plates set into it. When we tried placing various objects onto these plates, one made them hot and the other made them cold. It seems this room is the equivalent of a kitchen, with cooking facilities and refrigeration. How these effects are achieved we have not yet determined.

The final room was perhaps the most astounding. We discovered a simple tube set into the wall, pointing downwards at an angle to a metallic structure on the floor, with one face perpendicular to the axis of the tube and aligned facing it. The angle of the tube is such that it points to the south celestial pole of Chikrel. We postulate that this structure is some sort of astronomical observation instrument.

16:40 UTC. Log entry by Iki Piki

Now back on board Legacy, we have done some research on the astronomical alignment of Chikrel. It appears that no star is currently a southern polar star but, because of the precession of Chikrel's rotational axis, Earth's own star Sol lies almost directly above the south pole for a few hundred years once approximately every 73,000 years. The last time this was the case was around 2700 BC, which was during the reign of Cheops, builder of the Great Pyramid in ancient Egypt...

5 May, 2775. 05:12 UTC. Log entry by Ogier

After a refreshing sleep we are preparing to set out for another few hours of exploring before the sun finally sets and the 53-hour night begins. Today we are taking sealed environment suits to allow us to explore the top level of the tower.

6 May, 2775. 06:39 UTC. Ship's intercom log.

Serron: Hey! What the hell's going on?! Let us out of here!

Melissa: Shut up!

06:43 UTC. Computer activity log: Queries by Spanners.

Ship status report.

Ship is in hyperspace, en-route to Deux-Sevres. All systems normal except for hardware locking of doors to rear cabins.

How long have we been in hyperspace? Who is piloting the ship?

Hyperspace skew occurred 7 hours and 48 minutes ago. Professor Smythe issued last orders to ship controls.

Show video of bridge... Lower oxygen content of air outside rear cabins to 12 percent and increase carbon dioxide concentration to 1.4 percent. Replay internal security video of period 8 hours ago... Rewind... Play... Speed times 5...

06:56 UTC. Ship's intercom log.

Serron: Hey guys, this is really boooorrrring... Shall I sing for you? Somewheeeere... Over the rainboooowwwww!!!!...

Melissa: Will you shut up!!!!

07:02 UTC. Computer activity log: Queries by Spanners.

Note: Internal intercom system disabled.

Warning: Carbon dioxide outside rear cabins approaching hazardous levels for humans. Suggest cancelling order to increase carbon dioxide level.

Warning: Carbon dioxide outside rear cabins now at level sufficient to cause loss of consciousness in humans. Suggest cancelling order to increase carbon dioxide level.

Return air composition to normal. Override door locks on rear cabins.

Unable to override hardware locks on cabin doors.

07:19 UTC. Log entry by Iki Piki.

We have regained control of the ship after Spanners knocked out Prof. Smythe, Sam and Melissa with high CO2 levels and then fiddled with the door controls to alow us to escape from the cabins. It appears that when we returned to the ship, those three somehow drugged us and locked us in the cabins, then skewed into hyperspace after navigating a course to the planet Deux-Sevres, which is some 15.172 parsecs away.

We have sedated our treacherous trio and confined them to a cabin. Our choices now are either to continue on to Deux-Sevres, which places us a considerable distance from our money on Lyrane, or to initiate skewback into realspace now and risk a serious spatial displacement. Ogier is of the opinion that random skewback in this region of space is likely to place us within range of at least one inhabited planet, and probably several.

Consensus seems to be that we take the risk and skew now. If we had been out in the more sparsely populated regions of human-space, we may not have had such a choice.

07:25 UTC. Log entry by Ogier.

Skewback has placed us at coordinates (5.664, -0.813, 0.143), some 8.394 parsecs from Lyrane. Since this is within our current range, I am setting up astrogation to return us there. What we do with Prof. Smythe and his assistants once we get there is now the critical question of concern.

Serron has already expressed his desire to "space them all", but the inevitable legal complications back on Lyrane make that a less than desirable option.

12 May, 2775. 16:24 UTC. Log entry by Serron.

Now a day out of Lyrane, we have decided to turn our captives over to the proper authorities and make sure we receive full reparations for the inconveniences caused by their criminal activities. They remain isolated in the rear starboard cabin, where we have been taking them food and water.

13 May, 2775. 20:03 UTC. Computer activity log: Queries by Spanners.

Time.

20:03:47 UTC.

Date.

13 May, 2775.

Ship status, plus summary of activity since 12 May, 20:00.

DANGER: Atmospheric re-entry beginning. Approach angle 71 degrees too steep for controlled re-entry. Suggest levelling approach vector to avoid catastrophic burn up....

20:04 UTC. Ship's intercom log.

Serron: Ogier! Get your ass to the bridge!!

20:04 UTC. Computer activity log: Queries by Spanners.

...Activity since 12 May, 2775, 20:00:
12 May, 20:43 UTC: Foreign chemical substance detected in ship's atmosphere.
20:58: Locked door to rear starboard cabin forced open.
13 May, 07:56: Hyperspace skewback. On course to Lyrane with 7.4 hours approach time remaining.
15:22: Atmospheric re-entry.
16:06: Landing on Lyrane at latitude 61 degrees, 34 minutes south, longitude 131 degrees, 54 minutes east.
16:09: Programming of autopilot for hyperspace skew followed by immediate skewback, then direct course for nearest planet.
16:12: Opening of cargo ramp.
17:33: Closing of cargo ramp.
17:39: Hyperspace skew. Hyperspace skewback. Sensors locked on to Lyrane and engines engaged for direct approach course.
20:03: Atmospheric re-entry.

21:16 UTC. Sunrise - 1:07 Lyrane time. Log entry by Iki Piki.

We have landed safely at Sennier spaceport in the country of Yandis on Lyrane. It seems that our passengers had prepared for the possibility that we might confine them to a cabin by setting up canisters of knock out gas in the ship's ventilation system. We were overcome just two hours before the skewback from hyperspace. We are not sure how they remained conscious, but evidently they did so.

While we were unconscious, Prof. Smythe landed the ship on a stretch of sheet ice at the edge of the southern ice cap, near the town of Gallorob in the country of Lyratia. He and his companions drove off in the hovercraft, taking all the expedition gear plus the alien artefacts we recovered on Chikrel. Then they set the Legacy on a crash course designed to kill us on re-entry, presumably to look like an accident.

Lyrane aerospace control radioed our ship on approach, but Prof. Smythe never deigned to answer. By selecting an inhospitable landing site in the semi-totalitarian state of Lyratia, which is ill-disposed to cooperation with Yandis, he has effectively cut off our options to pursue him, unless we want to try to penetrate that hostile territory.

So we are back on Lyrane, with no payment for this trip, no artefacts or any other record of our discoveries to show, and Earth$1163.59 in accumulated interest payments owing. Offsetting that slightly, we made $845.61 in the short term money market with our investment, and we do have more antimatter fuel now than when we first arrived here.

All in all, not the most profitable trip.

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