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Tapestries and Trepidation

Posted on Mon Jan 30th, 2023 @ 9:55pm by Crewman Jayden Booth & Lieutenant Commander Emni t'Nai & Lieutenant Margarar & Lieutenant JG Gwenwyn Marwol & Ensign Mei Ratthi

Mission: Predators and Prey
Location: Abandoned Complex, Shaddam IVa
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1050

[Abandoned Complex]
[Shaddam IVa]
[MD 1: 1050 Hours]

The team -- led by Commander t'Nai -- had set out from Base Camp about twenty minutes prior, heading for the location of the abandoned complex detected by the Sojourner from orbit.

As the team traversed the dusty plain with its abundance of scrub brush and rocks, the complex soon came into view in the distance. It was large and no doubt contained multiple rooms, though as the team got closer, they could tell that the complex had been abandoned for quite some time: possibly hundreds of years even. With various broken windows, rusted rooftops, and dilapidated doors, the building definitely showed its age.

Stepping closer to the entrance, the smell of decay permeated. Plants had grown over the walls -- the same harsh variety found on the plains -- but if the harsh smell could be worked through, the building no doubt contained clues about who built it and why. Who lived here? And why did they leave? There were many questions that demanded answers: questions that could only be clarified by exploring the complex and uncovering its secrets. But would the building prove safe for exploration? The only way to tell was to go inside.

Emni could feel the trepidation from those around her. It was understandable given the condition of the building they were now looking at. But mixed with the hesitancy was also a focused determination to get the job done; a feeling that matched her own mettle. "Alright, nothing to it now but to go in. Crewmen, let's make sure it's safe to do so. Take point, please," she said, gesturing the rest of the group to round up behind the security officer.

Crewman Booth nodded, holding his phaser rifle at the ready, eyes scanning the outside of the structure for threats. Seeing none, he activated the torch on his rifle and entered the building carefully, sweeping the immense first room with his eyes and weapon, on the lookout for for any potential sources of harm, be they animal, person, or otherwise. Seeing nothing of note, he poked his head back out and said, "Clear." It was a perfunctory assent to enter but he wasn't exactly in a talkative mood. It was time to focus on the business at hand.

Emni had entered after Booth, eyes and torchlight splaying across the room. It was a huge space for sure. As the security officer began sweeping the perimeter of the room for threats, she turned to usher the rest of the team inside.

"Watch your step," Mei called back to the others as she gingerly stepped through the door. Though the floorboards creaked underfoot they held her weight without bending or cracking and seemed to hold up under the others' weight as they entered behind her. "Keep an eye out for shifting boards or debris, and also for any artifacts that might have ended up on the floor. It looks like whatever weather this place has gotten inside and blown things around a bit. Hopefully, it hasn't ruined everything."

Gwenwyn followed behind everyone, he was easily identifiable with the medkit strung over his jacket with the upper teal to it. Standing in the centre, looking up and around he couldn't help but his environment reminded him of churches, ransacked and left to crumble under Henry VIII's orders. It left his mind pondering questions "Did the ruler of a bygone era form a sub-religion?" Pushing stones and rubles away with his boot to make a near-sterile environment for medical emergencies if it was needed. Whipping out his tricorder, he pressed it up against the stone-cold walls. "You can always tell something by what its skeleton was." His Science instructor in the academy said... Or whatever it was.

Mei turned on a light on her suit and pulled out her tricorder. The suit's light didn't penetrate terribly far into the room's gloomy half-light, but it did illuminate the edge of a wide table and a handful of chairs that looked like they'd been carelessly tossed aside by their last occupants. A few more steps revealed more of the table-- a long and formal affair carved from what must have been beautiful wood once upon a time, but was now cracked and crumbling at the edges. A pile of sand was growing near its center, aided by the thin trickle of sand falling from a hole in the collapsing ceiling. The grains glimmered as they fell, strangely beautiful amidst the decay around them.

Mei shook herself out of her reverie and looked back at her tricorder. This room was large, about twenty meters wide by thirty long, and about seven meters tall. As far as she could tell there was no basement below, so if the floor did give way they wouldn't have far to fall, though that didn't mean they couldn't break a bone or rip open a leg in the process. "Proceed with caution," she muttered as she continued, stepping lightly across the boards toward the wall where her tricorder assured her more organic materials were.

"Could someone bring more light over here? It's pretty shadowy, and I think . . . " Mei trailed off and gasped, her eyes widening in wonder as she reached the wall and directed her light onto it. Among the plant tendrils clinging to the cracks were a series of moldering tapestries and murals whose images, while fading from time and decay, were still visible, though hard to pick out in the gloom. "We definitely need more light over here," Mei said as she looked over her shoulder, grinning. "If we're very lucky, whoever made these tapestries might have woven images of themselves into them, and we'll get an idea of who lived here and if they might still be living in a system nearby." She paused long enough to slip her respirator over her nose and mouth before stepping within arm's reach of the wall. The plants registered as benign, but the same might not be true for whatever mold, lichen, bacteria, or who-knew-what kind of life was slowly devouring the tapestries-- to say nothing of what might in the droppings of the birds who fluttered about in the darkness above.

Booth watched as Ratthi and the others continued their explorations. So far at least, this central room had not presented any threats beyond the ravages of time to the contents within. But from what he could tell, there were other rooms to the left and right of this one. Having not yet explored them, he took turns eyeing the egresses to both of those rooms and the entrance they'd used a few minutes prior. "Careful, everyone," he cautioned. "I know you're all excited to explore but we don't know what's in these other rooms yet. Just take it slow, ok?"

Emni nodded to Booth and then moved towards Mei, moving her wrist-mounted flashlight to double the amount of light where the young scientist was looking. The tapestries were clearly quite old and time and exposure to the elements had faded them quite a bit. Even so, figures seemed to be depicted on the wall hangings, though it was hard to make out any kind of detail about them. The only thing that caught her eye about the figures were what seemed to be rather large masses of hair atop their heads, amassed in twisted and matted heaps. Something about that niggled at the back of her brain, as if she should be remembering something important, but for now, she deferred to the scientist. "Thoughts?" she asked.

Gwenwyn acknowledged Booth following behind the party leader towards Mei, in his experience "assistance" always turned into injuries. But tapestries caught his eye, "In Medieval Earth, these were paintings, paintings of religious events than later historical events... Perhaps there was a preserved historical and cultural site or maybe it was medieval times for the natives..." Gwenwyn stated. His brother was an archaeologist who only talked about his work and history, if Afal was here then this would be a dream to him.

"My professors always told us not to assume a parallel development between human culture and other societies in the galaxy, so I'm reluctant to label it 'Medieval' or anything like that until we have more information. We can't assume a particular level of societal development from an old table and chairs and some tapestries and murals," Mei said almost absent-mindedly, her gaze flicking between the artworks on the walls and her tricorder. "Well my tricorder, at least, doesn't recognize the type of plant fiber the tapestries are woven with but the murals were painted with a kind of oil paint. There are traces of lead, cadmium, and cobalt among other things. Even a little arsenic here and there. I'll want to scan these if we have time, so we can take images back to the ship and enhance them. Maybe we'll find a match for these people in the database."

Mei glanced back at Marwol and grinned. "You're right about this being an important place, though. People don't tend to decorate ordinary warehouses with expensive art and fancy furniture. What, exactly, they used this place for is a good question." With the extra light shining on the tapestries, they could see the people depicted were engaging in social activities; they seemed to be talking, gesturing to each other with wide motions, and even embracing each other. "If I had to guess, I'd say this was a meeting place of some kind. For cultural or religious gatherings, rather than governmental just going by the subject of the artwork. But I can't say anything for sure without knowing more of the broader cultural context."

Emni's eyes scanned the tapestry, narrowing again on the people depicted. That same niggling familiarity struck, but she still couldn't quite place why. "The people look..." she frowned, brow creasing, "... familiar. But I can't say why. Just... I have an inkling that I've seen them before. Maybe a known race here in the Delta Quadrant or the ancestors of one?" The comment was made nearly as absently as Ensign Ratthi's commentary on drawing parallels between human development and that of the race whose remnants they explored. Falling quiet a moment longer Emni shifted her light a bit further along the tapestries, looking for some sign of ceremony or ritual. If this were a religious space perhaps an indicator like that would shake something loose about the people being depicted.

Creeping up from behind in her suit was the Antican Engineer. Going to Starfleet meant learning about other cultures and there seemed to be some reverence for whatever the Arthurian times were but that was something that was not practical and was not within her wheelhouse. She commented, "I do not see how any of this might be helpful. I am more curious about how rust developed in this weak atmosphere." For Margarar's part, she was more interested in the technology and started scoping about to see where that ended. She called back to the others, "Perhaps we should focus on the technology in here. That will tell us a great deal. I need someone to come with me down the East passage."

Mei bit her lip, took a breath, and smiled. "There's a lot we can learn about a society from their art, but I get that there are a lot more questions about this place than artistic movements. I'd love to get optical scans of this room so we can do a more in-depth analysis back on the ship, so if a couple of us can stay here and do that, it'd be great." She looked up at Commander t'Nai with a hopeful look. "But if you think checking out the east passage as a group would be a better use of our time, then I'm sure there's plenty we can learn from their computers and machinery."

"Not so sure that splitting up's a good idea, Commander," Booth chimed in mid-sweep, looking over at t'Nai. "I know there's probably a lot of interesting stuff in here," even if a bunch of murals and broken furniture were not his idea of a good time, "but there's only one of me. I can't protect two teams in different rooms...though being able to split myself in two would be pretty handy," he chuckled. "Maybe just take what scans we can for now, check out the other rooms, and then figure out where to focus our energies?"

Booth and Ratthi both had valid points, and Emni considered a moment before nodding to Mei. "Ensign Ratthi and I will stay behind. Crewman Booth can go on ahead into the east passage with Dr. Marwol and Lieutenant Margarar. She held up a hand before Booth could protest her choice. "I'll remain near this end of the east passage. If there's something you need us for we'll stop what we're doing and come, but time is as much of the essence here as caution. I'm capable of defending Ensign Ratthi and myself."

Behind her respirator, Mei's face lit up like a sunrise. "Thank you, Commander! I'll get this scanned as quickly as possible so we can rejoin the rest of the group." She immediately pulled her pack around her body, opened it, and quickly dug through its contents, coming up with her camera with a flourish. She clipped her tricorder on her belt, fine-tuned the camera's settings, and set it to scanning. "Just let me know if something comes up, and I'll stop " she said, though with the concentration she turned on her task, it seemed she might miss a casual warning sent her way.

Much happier, Margarar started heading down the East passage. She called back, "Thank you Commander. We will let you know what you find. Do you want us to keep our audio open or just tap when we find something?"

A directive was given to tap when needed, then Booth, Margarar, and Marwol were given purchase to head off into the next room. Meanwhile, t'Nai and Ratthi would stay to continue scanning and making sense of the various tapestries and murals.

To be continued...

=/\= A joint-post by... =/\=

Crewman Jayden Booth
Security Officer

Commander Emni t'Nai
Executive Officer

Lieutenant Margarar
Chief Engineer

Lieutenant JG Gwenwyn Marwol
Assistant Chief Medical Officer

Ensign Mei Ratthi
Science Officer


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