The ruins known as Venator's Necropolis seem to be the remains of an ancient space battle between two heretofore unknown factions. Initial dating puts the technology roughly contemporaneously with the oldest space-faring races, but is inconsistent with any any of the oldest records. The site lies in the orbit of a relatively small gas planet on the fringes of settled space, locked between the gravitation of the planet and one of its larger moons. Scattered throughout this area is an array of artifact debris, the largest portions believed to be the remains of an ancient orbital station. Since its discovery, it has attracted a number of scavengers and xenoarchaeologists, and briefly hosted a research station, but persistent rumors of it being "cursed" have kept all but the most daring from frequenting the place.
Deep space scans first detected the Necropolis a century ago, the high density of exotic metals rousing the attention of asteroid miners and scavengers. While a number of crews and companies planned reconnaissance, the famed entrepreneur Phaeton Venator led the first arriving expedition on his personal yacht the Helion with a small crew. Venator became obsessed with what he found.
We came expecting a broken moon or wayward asteroids, but this... I don't think anyone's seen anything of its like. There's an astounding amount of material here. We're looking in the records, trying to match some of the artifacts, but there's nothing like it. I don't know what most of this shit does, but my God is it complex. We're looking at, at least, what, two decades of potential salvage, maybe more, then the cartography of the local moon for more. We're definitely here to stay.
- Phaeton Venator, recovered personal log
He reported the findings back to the shareholders of DynaPro Enterprizes to approve funding for a research and salvage station. Buoyed by their CEO's past successful ventures, funding was quickly granted and a small research outpost was established on the moon. Designated DERS-543S (just "Sigma" to its employees), the station became a cornerstone of public relations for the corporation, a "treasure trove of potential in xenotechnological research," as DynaPro Enterprizes' marketing put it.
Initial progress was slow-starting, but with a handful of impressive advances that kept shareholders interested. Computing components were analyzed and eventually found to possess cold quanta data storage that retained durability even with power loss, a long theorized concept that now had proof-positive evidence (though it was found to be unreplicable, and the data too alien to interpret). Other tidbits interested xenoarchaeologists, such as a FTL drive fragments and bizarre symbology. However, research gradually stagnated as much of the material collected was either irreproducible or unusable. The station also experienced recurring and unexplained problems: intermittent power loss, randomly transposing data, transmitter beacons that seemed to move out of place at will. Rumors began to spread on the station, attributing the occurrences to pirates, aliens, or other figures of superstition. Corporate shareholders began to grumble and, in spite of CEO Venator's promises, voted to reduce funds to the station. Phaeton Venator was recalled to company headquarters, and crew on the research station was reduced from 50 to a mere 15.
Still believing in the potential of his discovery, Phaeton Venator made frequent trips to the station, encouraging the research crew and personally directing several expeditions. Following his hunches, several significant finds were made, including a piece of technology buried in the moon's surface and a portion of the ancient station's ruins that appeared to still have active power. These successes were short lived, however. In an expedition to scout the upper atmosphere of the gas planet the Necropolis orbits, the Helion disappeared, along with Venator and the 10 crew members on board. Scans from the station revealed nothing, the Helion had simply vanished in low orbit. DynaPro quickly pulled out of the system and abandoned the outpost. News of the disaster was buried by their marketing department, and the mystery of Venator's Necropolis has become a spacer's tale of ancient ghosts and artifacts.
Despite its shaded past, the ruins of Venator's Necropolis continue to entice visitors. Xenoarchaeologists have attempted to discern the origin of the debris, hoping to reveal the true origins of FTL technology. Scavengers make occasional salvage runs, either to sell off bits as souveniers or unlock ancient knowledge. But even these are rare folk, and the abandoned station is frequented by pirates and smugglers as a hidden base.
Below are a handful of particular features of the site:
When Dynamix pulled its investment from the base, its crew fled hastily, leaving the research station largely intact. The base is designed to house 50 crewmen in barracks-style dormitory, with a small hydroponics facility (now overgrown from lack of maintenance) and an emergency medical center with twenty beds. The bulk of the station is dedicated to research, and DynaPro spared no expense in outfitting its investment. The labs on the base can be used for anything from xenobiology to nanoparticle analysis, and most things in between. While some valuable pieces of equipment were carted off by the fleeing crew or scavengers, much of it is intact and functional. The whole station is powered by low-decay batteries and a photovoltic array. The most heavily damaged portion of the station is the docking bay, which was struck by a meteorite that ignited oxygen housing. To enter the station requires landing on the moon and going EVA to enter one of the emergency access airlock. The airlock is protected by a daily randomly-generated password (a Dynamix standard); hacking the door is tedious, but not difficult. Once inside, all of the station save the docking bay is environmentally controlled with recycled air and temperature control. Gravitational arrays were never installed, so the moon's weak gravity (.4G) must suffice.
Survivor - One of the crewmember who vanished from the Helion is found in the medical center, in cryostasis but apparently no worse for the wear. If awoken, she is revealed to have no memory of anything after the Helion left the station.
Marauders - A group of space pirates has set up camp in Sigma, and your crew has been ordered to clear them out. Perhaps they're doing more than hiding out here: unlocking ancient alien technology and ready to use it against anyone who steps in their way.
Artifact 147-B834, "The Shard"
This is the largest remaining fragment of what was once some sort of alien station or vessel. Its approximate dimensions are 5.3 kilometers in length, 4.1 km wide, and .5 km deep, and is slightly curved on its outer edge. The curvature suggests that the original station was very large, at least 40 km in diameter. The Shard has been extensively studied by Dynamix scientists; although much of the equipment is too alien to understand, it's believed to have been part of a command center based on the quantity of information conduits concentrated in one portion of the shard. Most of what was salvageable has already ended up in the hands of Dynamix R&D, but portions of the Shard remain inaccessible or unexplored.
Drone Wars - There is a hanger bay in the Shard that is inaccessible, hidden behind magnetic seals and doors. Within the bay is a surviving squadron of robotic war vessels, short-range fighter types. They could be worth a fortune if uncovered, even more if activated - assuming they don't fight back.
Artifact 567-G440, "The Quad"
Another piece of the ancient shattered station, the Quad was one of the most recently discovered pieces of tech before Venator's disappearance. It is believed to have been an internal piece of equipment, a cube-like structure much smaller (300 m on either side) than other stations parts. It is notably more intact, though its make and equipment matches the rest of the technology in the area. Most uniquely, an active power source has been detected on it, though it's unclear from where or how this power is created. Not much research was conducted before Dynamix abandoned the Necropolis; it's unclear what salvageable material may be within the Quad.
Escape - While examining the Quad, an ancient artificial intelligence is activated. It infiltrates the systems of whomever is investigating it, replicating itself onto data readers, navigational programs, food replicators, anything it can find. What is its purpose? Who created it?
Object Theta-III 2, "The Tomb"
Buried beneath the surface of the moon's surface opposite of Sigma, this is a subterranean chamber of unknown purpose. The chamber itself is hemispherical, accessible only from an access tunnel created by Venator before his disappearance. The chamber is filled with strange obelisks of various sizes, arranged in a fractal pattern. The central portion of the chamber is largely empty with evidence of some piece of technology having been removed from it, likely dating to the time of the station's destruction. The site's nickname comes from the graveyard-like appearance of the geometric obelisks.
The Puzzle - While examining the obelisks of the tomb, one scan or examination triggers an obelisk to shift. All the other obelisks in the chamber shift as well, creating a different pattern. Is this some sort of lock? A computational device? A piece of art?