Plutonium – how very antiquated it seemed to the condescending engineer. “What am I supposed to do with this?”
Vaxx, assisted by the good doctor’s knowledge of Klingon linguistics, spent several hours studying the meandering mess that was the installation’s main power reactor until at last he cried, “Yup, I can get it going.”
Steam hissed and rumbled through long frozen pipes, as incredulously the ancient machinery powered up. Miracles of engineering aside, the group moved to their next task: “Is there anything left here that we have not explored?”
“We should go and check out the entrance again,” replied Larian as the facility’s lighting systems energized, “and see if there is anything we missed along the way.” Prophetic words indeed, as the party passed by the second launch bay and looked up, only to see enormous spiderwebs covering the ceiling. Frosted over into a near solid mass, it was the contents of the webs that seemed most interesting…as the missing worker bees were clearly evident.
“Well isn’t this great. How are we supposed to get them down?”
Ixlain, rather too enthusiastically, suggested they shoot them down. With no good alternative, she was granted free reign with stipulation that she not damage the worker bees. Much easier said than done, Ixlain lined up her disruptor and fired. Chunks of ice and rock came raining down, larger worker bees along with them. Momentary horror glanced through everyone’s mind as they realized the worker bees were going to land on the munitions pallets.
There was no explosion; no giant flash of light to sear the party to a crisp. Instead, what was left was a mess of pods in different states of disrepair lying on the ground. Vaxx proceeded to inspect the units, salvaging a few more energy cells, but sadly none were energized although that was to be expected after more than a thousand years of disuse. Hoisting their recovered energy-depleted cells into their red truck, the crew began the slow drive towards the entrance of the facility.
Driving over the bones of ancient battles, the truck lumbered along up the long sloping path for the better part of two hours until at last the team found themselves at the true entrance of the facility. Another monstrous door sat closed before them, and to the side of the cavernous chamber was resting a moderately sized administration office. Inside was what had obviously been supply stores at one point, until the ravages of time had laid waste to any worth they possessed. But amongst the dross, lay a treasure of treasures, as mounted on the wall was an energy cell charging station.
The station was functioning poorly, and no energy cells would see the flow of power from its ports at a rate much better than a trickle. Vaxx began looking if anything could be salvaged or if repairs were possible. In a manner that boggled the scientific minds of Jahus or Larian, Vaxx fashioned a bypass with little more than a few scraps in his toolbox. Red lights flickered when the first energy cell socketed in and rapidly accepted charge. The party was elated.
Dragging the first charged cell behind them, the team hoofed it back to the first-encountered worker bee unit and waited with bated breath as Larian, the only person who had any experience operating those machines, worked her way through the start-up sequence. Moments passed before the antigravity systems engaged and the pod lifted from the ground.
The next series of events transpired swiftly. Using the grapple arms of the now-operational worker bee, Larian carried several of the less damaged pods up through the facility to the main entrance, which was to become the team’s new staging ground. The engineer there patched and hawed as he readied the small vehicles for use. Around that time, while the other pods were energized and activated, it was discovered that controlling the worker bees was a lot harder than Larian made it look: Jahus drove into the wall… Eventually however, eight little worker bee pods sat lined up beside the red truck at the entrance to the facility.
It was time to figure things out. The worker pods in theory were capable of lifting into orbit, but with poor visibility and sensors offering little in the way of resolution, sticking closer to the ground seemed the more advisable choice. Debates as usual raged on, with Larian a proponent of careful and systematic exploration while Ixlain and Ragnaar fans of a more aggressive investigation at speed. Some thought was given to finding their original crash site to see if anything could be salvaged from, but this idea didn’t appear to have much support. In the end, the first action taken with the team’s newfound mobility was a basic grid search of the area. It would be nice to know where the facility was.
Exploration was halted when on opening the giant facility entrance door, everyone was greeted by a green-gold aurora in the black and dark sky. The team gazed in wonder until they saw great bolts of lightning touch down in the distance. “Um, what is the atmospheric concentration of methane?”
A bright flash was spotted in the darkness, and a wall of flame rocketed outward from the ignition point. It was with fear that the crew watched the great doors slowly creep back closed just in time for their flame-averse personages to avoid getting seared. The ground shook as if by earthquake, and tricorders indicated a massive rise in atmospheric temperature outside, noting that outside a firestorm was raging. “Let’s keep an eye on those methane levels shall we?”
Things settled, and Larian ventured outside piloting a worker bee. Her survey indicated that temperatures were again dropping to their usual levels, while methane levels began rising again, likely due to melting ice. Flying a grid, it wasn’t long before she found the escape pod they had so narrowly managed to escape from, followed shortly by an encounter with one of the warp nacelles from the Miranda, melted into an almost unrecognized mass. The worst however was yet to come.
The Enterprise saucer section was found crashed into the icy desert, pitched vertically like a tombstone into the sky. Larian, with her obsession for all things Picard, was shattered. The hull was broken, with numerous gaping holes. After consulting her colleagues via pod communicators, she attempted to investigate the crash, only to find that nearly all of worth inside that ship had long been stripped and removed. Climbing into what was once a nursery, Larian was able to see into the area intended to house the main computer core – evidence aplenty that entire sections of the ship’s interior had been cut out by forces unknown.
Consensus was reached that nothing of worth would be found in the Enterprise and Larian returned to the base despondent. Jahus pointed out the report retrieved from the Federation computer indicated an expected warp core delivery in the far desert, and that it may be worthwhile to head that way, but first other members of the party should be trained to operate the worker bees lest further unintended impacts with walls occur. Several hours of practice later, the entire party, in three worker bee pods, lifted off and hovered their way into the night.