As the probe left and over the next hour nothing much else happened other then the comet to come closer to the planet’s orbit in the next few hours more, the launched probe soon dropped from warp and began its survey as programmed of the nearby system. The system was quite small all things considered. Two planets were in evidence, one a small planetoid without any atmosphere not much more then a tiny 700 meter round hunk of rock mostly made up of low quality nickel, copper, and iron. The second further out planet was not much different coming in about 900 meters or so around. Again an airless dead planetoid consisting of mid-quality iron, nickel, copper and traces of uranium.
So it seemed at first glance nothing was amiss in the system, until rounding the far side of the G type star opposite in orbit from where both planetoids were they got their next surprise! A large dark grey toned alien structure held position about 10.8 km just barely outside the stars corona. It seemed like it was somehow siphoning off hydrogen, helium, and similar gases from the star using it as some kind of giant power source. The structure from base to its highest point was about 8km high and about 6 or so km wide. It was like a giant funnel with the pointed most end facing the G type star where swirls of gases entered, then rounded up to the top in a half dome. Which glowed a massive orange-red-blue colored patterned swirl. In a way it was like looking at the universe largest known ice cream cone made out of metal. The entire surface was almost entirely smooth, only a few small colored points like a the top indicating energy traversing up and down the structure. The energy levels were more or less off the charts for the probe to analyze. However, one thing its gravity sensors and subspace arrays could tell was the top of the massive structure seemed to form a small tunnel into subspace, and residual eddies in the system showed fading levels of gravitational effects like those they picked up just before the comet arrived. Looking at the age on the structure the probe’s analysis of the metals indicated somewhere around the 2-4 thousand years mark. Said metal was mostly made up of heavy titanium, duranium and high mixes of both and tritanium alloys. The last of which was only now slowly being worked into usable forms with Federation construction due to the difficulty of manufacture. Given the levels of radiation present near the star the probe was unable to tell if there was life on board the station.
Dariusz had been doing some calculations of his own while he waited for the probe to reach the far side of the system. A typical comet, like the one they could see, is about 10 km in size, but it is an odd shape rather than spherical. Assuming a density of 1 gm/cc, typical for water ice, then this comet would have a total mass of 5 Tonnes. In order to warp space-time, and to drive a comet faster than light, would require some enormous power. The terraforming of Mars, which Cara had just mentioned, was carried out by diverting comets already within the Sol System, rather than bringing them from other systems. Warp drive in starships required the annihilation of matter and antimatter in a fusion reaction mediated by Dilithium crystals. So, the energy readings that they were now receiving from the probe, that were ‘off the charts’ made sense, and the structure must be some kind of engine for creating this necessary power. A 2-4 thousand year-old structure, still in working order was very unusual, and whether or not there was any life aboard, it most likely was self-repairing to have continued working for that long. His mind was deep in calculations and numbers.
Cara, on the other hand, was simply held in awe of this ancient industrial artifact, and her mind instead reflected on the people and the society that might have built it, and what their purpose in doing so might have been. This was the very reason she had believed joining the crew of the USS Merrimack was the right career move. This was a new site that didn’t yet appear on the United Federation of Planets Committee for Industrial and Technical Archaeological Heritage Register. Cara could write scholarly articles on this site, and it could even gain her a position on the Committee itself. If she were to achieve a long academic career, then this is where it would begin.
Dariusz attempted to slingshot the probe to come back again and observe the artifact from the opposite direction.
- Dariusz and Cara
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