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From a Small Moon

Yep, another airless world with an abandoned tower.  This system looked pretty lifeless.   There were only five planets of note:  a rock ball, a Venusian hellhole and three gas giants.  The singleship survey noted a distinct metallic anomaly around a small irregular moon of the inner gas giant, so the pilot did an overflight and caught the shadow of an artificial structure on camera.  Then she jumped off to the next destination in her circuit. 

It was five years before the system came to the top of the follow-up list.  We jumped in system, noticed nothing had changed since the initial fly-by, and headed for the little moon.   

As far as we can determine with a full battery of scans and drones, this is the only structure of any note in the system.  Sure, there's a Founder's survey marker on the north pole of the gas giant's biggest moon, but we've gotten used to finding those.  No big deal. 

The tower was intact.  More than intact, in fact.  There's a residual power reading -- just a trickle from an old HeDe fusion plant on standby.  Based on the radioactivity from the slagged outcropping at the base of the tower, the whole thing is at least two hundred thousand years old.  But HeDe is pretty low tech.  Nothing you could cross the stars on, not even by ramscoop.  So we figure this extremely well preserved old facility must be local.

Saunders thinks the hellworld is a recent runaway greenhouse.  He's dispatched a drone for a detailed look.  Maybe there are old cities buried in the magma, crisped ruins of a dead race.  Kirov wonders why they'd pick this little moon for their only surviving outpost, but I have a theory there. 

The moon is inclined to the planet's equator.  The rings, just thin lines and wide shadows to the regular moons, are more glorious on this little rock, showing their full beauty as the tiny moonlet circles wildly around the giant.  Those dead people, whoever they are, they just wanted a great view.

--Lena Bach, Flight Engineer, CES Umbra, 4 August 2293

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