Having detected a flash of light from the smaller moon of Alcron’s World with the ruins of an ancient colony. Alex scanned the surface and determined that it had been a laser flare, indicating a light transmission into space, which was used for secure communication between planets. The flare did not come from the archaeological expedition. It came from the ruins of a domed city.
On the surface, the crew found a hatch in the ground from which a group of four armed Antar emerged. They demanded to know what the crew was doing on planet. Bletherin said that they were with the research colony. The Antar were fooled by the ruse.
While chatting, Grendel noted a large laser cannon and communications gear inside the subterranean space. The cannon was military grade, but the other equipment was commercially available.
Bletherin noted that the Antar spokesman was more nervous of whatever was below the surface than the newcomers. Bletherin questioned the Antar equipment. The response was that it had been left behind by the previous expedition, an obvious falsehood.
Grendel attempted to map the subterranean base, but was distracted by the giant laser cannon. And there was too much interference specific beings. Kovak entered the base and examined the weapon. One of the Antar pointed its weapon at her, but was admonished.
The Antar leaked that they needed help with something. They found something on the next planet that scared them. A derelict ship under the ice.
Meanwhile, Alex detected a ship hiding behind the next further planet. He approached the planet stealthily from the further side. On the way, Alex detected a Collective mayday alert from the planet. He alerted the crew and headed for the distress call.
Bletherin informed the Antar of the distress call and demanded that they come clean. The Antar told him that they had found an ancient ship under the ice that looked like it belonged to the extinct species that had inhabited the planets. The Antar added that they had left some of their group there while the rest explored the find.
Kovak asked for and received the Antar data. It included scans and maps of the ship in the ice. Grendel forwarded a copy to the Collective research colony. It looked like a small passenger transport.
Bletherin asked why they had sent the signal. The Antar said it was just a routine check in with their colleagues. Bletherin excused the team and they took the shuttle to intercept the Alex Murphy.
Alex contacted the other ship, which was now orbiting above the site of the distress call. The Antar replied that they had a team on the planet who sent the distress call. The last communications from them was “it’s awake.”
Alex accompanied an away team to investigate the distress signal. One of the two shuttles landed on an unstable surface. The other landed fine. The Antar shuttle was frozen shut, but still sending out the signal.
They attempted communication inside, but got no response. Alex and two crew members entered the external airlock. They cycled the airlock and the inner door opened. Beyond, there was a collapsed figure in the control seat. It was alive, passed out, and uninjured.
Alex determined that the shuttle was operational. He checked the logs and determined that the last message was sent by that person. The full message was “it’s awake. Don’t come down here.” The latter portion did not arrive.
The medic revived the Antar. Its first reaction was that they should be have come. It did not know where the rest of the crew were. They did not come back.
The command crew was still twenty minutes away, so Alex and the away team started exploring the alien ship. Slightly more than half of the ship was exposed. The rest of it was under the ice. It was clear that it was not designed to land.
The away team split into two groups at the main junction. One went aft, while Alex and the other group went fore. Communications were faulty, so Alex deployed repeaters. When contact was reestablished with the aft group, they were shaken.
Inside, Alex detected communications and determined that there was something alive in the ship speaking an unidentifiable language. He assessed that the protocols and language were vaguely Garlan-like.
The command crew arrived with a picture-perfect landing from Kovak. They questioned the Antar but they were still incoherent. The command crew joined Alex to search the ship.
Alex succeeded in hacking into the computer system. The crew appeared to be very Garlan-like. Since the ship predated Garlan recorded history, it was unclear if they travelers were Garlan or something similar.
Grendel located two Antar explorers who claimed that the ship locked them in a closet. Alex unlocked all the internal doors. Grendel eventually found the other two on the upper deck. One was dead. The other did not want to leave the body of the first.