New Stars

Ground exploration

Tales of scary fungus

David 63's Kiwi-Washman exploration report, entry #2

Most of the same team went on another mission today. The team consisted of Erindassa our leader, David 63 for security, Kordell to pilot the dropship, To'do to keep it in flying condition, and a new team member, Ripley, a medic who could patch us up if we got into trouble.

Our task was to escort some scientists down to an archeological site in the Jungle on Brimbury. The first two scientists were Doctors Andan Breedez and Jana Colley, but we also picked up a Dralasite medic, Jiri Thrilloo who was added at the last minute and nearly missed our departure, since we weren't expecting them.

The destination site was deep in the jungle. The scientists who had first traveled there had landed out at the river delta and had a multi-day hike through the jungle to get to the ruins to be investigated. Rather than travel so far on the ground, we though we could make a landing site for ourselves closer to the destination using our drop-ship's railguns. It took a bit of doing from David on the gunnery controls, but we eventually managed to clear a space large enough to touch down.

As we anticipated the ground being soft, To'do had prepared some platforms that would help distribute the weight of the landing gear over a wider ground area, and keep things level. He and David rappelled down from the hovering ship and prepared the landing spot without incident. A sensor check shortly before landing made by somebody on the ship indicated a very unusual anomalous reading from the direction of the archeological site. Some sort of quantum fluctuation technobabble.

The team, with scientists in tow, then proceeded to the archeological site using the vehicles that came with our vessel. We had four off-road bikes and one light all-terrain vehicle. Though the scientists got bounced around a bit by Erindassa's mediocre driving, there was no lasting damage to anyone and we made very good time.

The scientists already at the site were happy to see us, and especially to see Jiri, as he was bringing them more doses of a steroid treatment for lung irritation caused by long-term exposure to the native fungi. One of the scientists was apparently having a bad time with it, though the others seemed fine. The site leader, Dr Langer, offered to show us and newly arrived scientists the actual archeological site which was just a few minutes walk away from the camp.

The site was in an area with many sinkholes. One of the sinkholes exposed an obviously artificial structure, with a doorway leading into it. This was where the archeologists were working. Dr Langer showed us the route in, and took us through a hallway into a room that looked like a large well. The walls had many carved decorations, appearing to depict humanoid figures without any facial features other than eyes. Throughout the whole building, the same a low-level quantum fluctuation we'd detected from our shuttle made most scanning impractical, and even what would normally be long distance communicators had greatly reduced effective ranges.

To'do piloted a small sensor drone part way down the well (which had water in it only far below our entry level). Some distance down the drone was able to see an inset ledge wide enough to stand on, and another hallway running from that ledge out of the well, directly underneath the one we'd come in though. The drone couldn't explore any more on its own because of the signal interference (and the water further down).

So we decided to explore a little bit ourselves, with Ripley being lowered down by rope and David following, carrying a light and power relay device the scientists had at hand. We set up one light on the ledge by the well and another one about 60 feet up the hallway, where the hall ended in a T intersection. The arms of the T seemed to curve back into what might be a circle centered on the well.

We had to cut short our exploration there. At the upper level of the well, the rest of the group were joined by Jiri and Dr Baily, the scientist he'd been treating back at camp. Erindassa noticed that Jiri's skin coloration had abruptly changed since we'd first met him, and asked if he was OK. While he initially assured everyone he was healthy, as he assessed himself some more that appeared not to be at all true. The team called for Ripley to hurry back up to see what was going on medically, as Jiri was starting to panic.

Ripley made excellent time climbing back up the rope, and diagnosed Jiri as suffering from a bad fungal infection that was breaking down his skin membranes. That's bad news for a gelatinous Dralasite, as they don't have any internal structure to their body, only their membranes and a bunch of liquid internals. Ripley administered some basic treatment that would delay the infection, but Jiri still needed urgent medical attention from Gallipoli station.

At this point, To'do recalled that the water in the bottom of the well had come up as completely fungus free in an earlier scan. He used the rope we'd run down the side to haul up a sample of the water, and scanned how it interacted with a little of Jiri's infected skin tissue. The water seemed to kill the infection without doing any harm. Ripley was able to integrate it into his treatment that had been based on the steroid treatment for fungal lung irritation in the human scientists. The improved treatment stabilized Jiri's medical situation for the time being, though getting him more thoroughly checked out on station would still be a good idea.

The team then prepared to medevac Jiri. We also got a load of raw research data from the archaeologists to carry back up to the station, as it was too much to send up over their a low-bandwidth and somewhat unreliable data stream. The drive back to the shuttle was mostly uneventful, though Erindassa again bounced the ATV around pretty badly.

The gear and medevac patient were all loaded on the ship, then Kordell lifted a few meters up, leaving To'do and David to gather up the landing pad sections. That happened without much difficulty, but David, as the last man on the ground, was sure he saw something out in the jungle watching them and moving around their small clearing. He fired one shot from his phaser rifle (set on stun), and the movement stopped. Nothing showed up on sensors however when Erindassa checked, so David got hauled up to the ship and we all left.

When the team arrived back at the station, we informed the authorities of the medical situation. Ripley went off to assist the station's medics giving Jiri treatment for what he had dubbed "Jiri's disease". The rest of the team had to remain in quarantine on the ship for a little while until the medical staff could be sure the infection was only a danger to Dralasites.

The the CDA covered the team's expenses for the mission and we were each paid an additional 1000 credits.



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