Larian kept her gloved hand on the stick that guided the ugly hulk of welded bulkhead panels through the icy night towards a set of coordinates that had been indicated by the tower’s sensors. An object had been detected on a parabolic trajectory with the appearance of a shuttle coming in for a crash landing. The majority of the party members began feeling mildly ill as Larian flung the beleaguered craft over the lip of dunes, coming down with an empty jerk in the pit of the stomach before careening sideways up the next dune face. The Vulcan was having the worst of it.
Arriving at the coordinates, everyone disembarked to investigate a smouldering, red-glowing, crater with clouds of steam billowing from a hole at the bottom of it. Jahus was rather reluctant to venture into the crater, making fair point as to why this was a bad idea to his colleagues, who overrode his protests and were about to proceed when suddenly the entire crater vanished. Vaxx huffed in annoyance, “Temporal shenanigans.”
High in the night above them, the sky lit up with a bright orange flair arcing down towards them only to again vanish. “We really should get out of here. This isn’t going to end well,” noted an increasingly concerned Jahus. Larian was still intent on investigating the crater and craft however, stooping over to see into the hole when it reappeared in the sand beside them. A moment later the crater vanished yet again, and Vaxx suddenly realized what was about to happen. Charging into a body tackle that narrowly pushed his commanding officer out of the path of the crashing shuttle, Vaxx congratulated himself for avoiding the incoming shuttle himself, except the shuttle disappeared and lit up the darkness once again.
“Let’s get out of here. This is useless.”
In agreement, the party was about to return to their makeshift vehicle when Ragnaar heard people talking, their conversation of much interest given that they were discussing the team’s progress and questioning how long it would take until they died again. Ragnaar’s excellent canine hearing and instincts enabled him to immediately pinpoint those speaking and he narrowed his eyes at their shadowy silhouettes, revealed just barely at roughly 50 metres distance with Antican night vision. With a low growl Ragnaar dropped to all fours and thrust himself into a sprint to rival an Olympian, pounding sand and ice until he rammed bodily into the group of three men holding clipboards and dressed in black. Ragnaar wanted answers!
The rest of the part heard the scuffle and screams not very far away and hurried over while Ragnaar raged with tooth and claw at the three humanoids he had engaged. Like a creature possessed, Ragnaar ensured cloth and skin parted amidst cries of, “Get him off me! Get him off me,” spoken in panicked tones while one voice requested an emergency beam out. Moments later all three of the men in black beamed out in a rapid blur of bright blue particles as the remainder of the team came panting and demanding answers. Ragnaar tersely explained what had transpired as he noted the presence of several shreds of clothing on the ground, which he gingerly picked up and sniffed.
With the scent of his adversaries firmly tucked in the back of his mind, Ragnaar plucked a communications badge from one of the cloth pieces and handed it to Vaxx before placing the cloth pieces into an empty water bottle for safe-keeping. The badge was of obvious Federation design, but no one in the party recognized the style. Decision was made to return to the tower and analyse the piece of technology and see if any clue could be found as to the identity of the men in black.
Upon entering the tower, the team was nonplussed as to the lack of analysis tools and asked the computer if there was a science station anywhere in the facility, becoming very surprised when the computer responded that such a station was located in the mess hall. Having not found a mess hall in the facility, the next question was, “Computer, where is the mess hall.” The monotone and dispassionate voice only replied, “Level two.”
“There is an entire level that we missed,” decreed Jahus. Unsure of what they would find, the soldiers were the first to enter the elevator and request level two, stepping out into an empty mess hall that had been the site of a firefight at one point. Tables and chairs were deployed like barricades to provide defensive cover, however no indication was given of the parties involved as no bodies or skeletons remained. The team’s consensus was that the station must have disposed of them. A quick search of the mess hall found that the hall was arrayed in a ring around a cooking station and what must have passed for the facility’s command bridge with consoles and readouts still flickering and operational.
While Ragnaar delighted in finding an intact and operational Starfleet phaser compression rifle, Larian, Jahus, Vaxx, and Radda brushed off the communications and science consoles and went to work on the communications badge. Vaxx successfully managed to interface the wildly differing technology, Jahus identified that the badge was operating using temporal mechanics, and Radda penetrated the data stream the communicator was tied to. What they heard on the other end of the communicator was electrifying: What sounded like the crew of a ship!
Listening intently, the team heard mention of the USS Relativity, errant time streams, and someone named Captain Braxton, who was referred to by some as, “The Old Man.” Unfortunately the open connection was quickly discovered, and the comm badge was beamed away. Now somewhat more certain of those manipulating them, the party decided to quickly find out if there was anything more to the facility before continuing on their way.
Ragnaar and Radda took the elevator to level three, opening the door to find a tiny room filled with sensors consoles. Radda was about to step inside when Ragnaar got the idea to check for any booby traps as something about the room didn’t seem right. Ragnaar’s tool of choice for this check was a bottle containing his urine which he deftly tossed into the room.
The bottle promptly exploded for unexplained reasons, spraying everything in urine. Ragnaar, half expecting such a result, pressed himself safely against the elevator wall, while Radda was thoroughly soaked and glaring at the smug Antican. Deciding it wasn’t worth the risk, the party headed back down where Jahus demanded Radda wash up.
Tower adventures put aside, the crew loaded up their vehicle with all manner of energy cells, synthetic foodstuffs, and water before hopping in and driving off once more into the night.