The new admiral in charge of the Frontier Fleet, Admiral Xin Yatoss, had new orders for the USS Pathfinder: go to the planet designated IX-23942 to find out why a team of scientists (led by a Human archaeologist, Professor Woodman) investigating some ancient ruins, and the Vulcan ship that was sent to check up on them, had failed to report back.
When the Pathfinder arrived at the planet, the fate of the Vulcan ships was quickly determined: the VSI Suurok was destroyed, its debris in orbit above the planet, and the other ship, the VSI D'kyr, had crashed on the surface, not far from the scientists' base camp. Interference from the planet might be masking the life signs of any potential survivors.
An attempt to study the wreckage in orbit before any evidence would be lost from the debris burning up in the planet's atmosphere was cut short when an alien spacecraft, obscured within the debris field, suddenly powered up and attacked the Pathfinder. The craft was easily destroyed, but two more craft appeared, attacking the ship as well, forcing the Pathfinder to retreat to a safe distance with a short jump to warp.
It was decided to send an away team, led by Commander Montgomery, using a shuttlecraft to warp as close to the planet as safely possible before making a steep dive into the atmosphere in order to not attract attention from the alien vessels. The Pathfinder also launched several probes toward the debris field as a potential distraction, but also to gather more data.
The Gamma Flyer Forge's trip to the planet went without problem, though when they were approaching the site of the missing scientists's basecamp, a sand storm was looming at the horizon. This resulted in a somewhat bumpy landing near the basecamp, which after a short investigation turned out to be deserted. At the same time in orbit, the Pathfinder found herself under attack again.
The away team commandeered an abandoned ground vehicle to return to their landing site. As the storm started to fade, the team found out that someone, or something, had taken the Forge. Tracking the Forge's comm signal, the away team took the hovercraft into the desert, and was led to a set of pyramids, a site that had also been of interest to the archaeology team.
The away team found their way inside of the pyramid, where they were presented with an ancient computer terminal inviting them to participate in a 'Test of Admission,' and they also discovered the charred remains of a pair of Vulcan scientists. After a heated moment, Commander Montgomery felt forced to accept the test, sending the away team down into the depths of the pyramid.
The Pathfinder found herself under an increasingly more difficult series of attack runs by the alien spacecraft. Another problem presented itself when the ship's computer seemed to have been compromised, when an alien signal that had been embedded in one of the away team's last communications was found causing havoc within the ship's data network.
The away team was also subjected to an increasingly more difficult series of challenges, but ultimately they gained access to a control room and it was discovered that the alien structure was an ancient space ship. They also encountered the two only survivors from the Vulcan science mission: Professor Woodman and a Vulcan scientist T'Ven. After repairing some damage, they launched the ship and once in orbit, the ship sent a shut-down signal to the alien drones that were attacking the Pathfinder.
The next day, while teams from the Pathfinder were investigating the alien ship and recovering remains from some of the Vulcan crew, the alien ship finished its own repairs and before the Starfleet personnel had a chance to leave, the ship opened up a transwarp conduit.
The USS Pathfinder followed the alien vessel, and approximately 14 hours later (at about 0400), they reached the end of the transwarp conduit and the ships arrived in orbit of a seemingly uninhabited planet, covered in ruins overgrown by forests.
After several days of surveying the planet, the crew could only conclude that dozens of ships had returned 'home' over the course of centuries, but nobody had been there waiting for them. At least some of the other alien vessels had led others to this world, like it had Pathfinder, but whether those had found out more was only something the crew could speculate about.
On the morning of 2400.11.21, USS Pathfinder set course for Federation space, a trip that would take about ten days using their own transwarp engines. The alien's transwarp conduit was deemed too unstable for a safe journey.
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