Starting Point: Forerunner Trash


I’m Doctor Jane Harlowe, I’m a¬†Xenoarcheologist. I dig up Forerunner trash. Most of it is. Worlds that intelligent life arose, peaked and then crashed with a mighty thud. And I dig through the pieces, looking for the Forerunner gold in the dross.

Today, I’m part of a group that’s looking at something that’s either massively dross… or it’s the motherlode. We’re on HG-W3115-W01889 c. It’s a nice world, 22% oxygen atmosphere, 77% nitrogen, 1% assorted gases. Plants photosynthesize, animals exhale carbon dioxide, eat plants, yada yada. It’s a garden world.

With effing big tombstones for the previous inhabitants. Like this one.

Based on our dating methods, it’s over 10,000 years old. Relatively recent in terms of age. Just yesterday for intents and purposes. Yet there’s no sign of whoever built it. None whatsoever. Did they all ascend to a higher form? Or commit mass suicide in their crematories? We don’t know. And what it is or what its purpose is, we haven’t the foggiest.

What I do know is that Doctor Belarius is fidgeting too much with the scanning equipment. I walk up to him, looking over his shoulder at the readouts. “Hubert, what have you found?”

Startled, he gives me a guilty look. “Jane… Doctor… I…” Shutting his mouth, he takes a deep breath. “Doctor Harlowe,” he said turning to look at the ruins, “whatever that is, it’s generating power.”

I look at the scanner’s readouts. “My god, it’s still turned on…”

It’s the return of Dr. Harlowe,¬†Xenoarcheologist. What have they found? Are the inhabitants still about, just not in physical state? Or is this a “great machine” that doomed the inhabitants of this world? Or is just a very well made power generator still operational 10,000 years later? How would you continue this story?

Written by John Reiher

Ruin of Metal @2013 Quentin Mabille

  • Leonardo Faria

    I just know the next step. Doc Belarius says:
    “And the waveform detected by the scanner shows a flow consistent with a b-b-biomass generated electromagnetic field…”

    • John H Reiher Jr

      Which may not be “People” but what it sounds like, biomass. Probably modified to provide lots of electrons to power things. Think of it as the electricity generating organs of an electric eel.

  • dibs

  • I leaned over the console, “Belarius, any signs of danger around that thing?”
    “n-no.. but there’s… no w-w-way for us to find out from here” but before Hubert finished his sentence, I had already made my way out of the observation deck of the temporary facility, and had taken an armoured hazard suit and toolbox from the locker next to the door as I left, leaving the good doctor to stutter to his hearts content. I stepped outside, and the built in comms crackled to life, the voice of Dr Belarius coming in loud and clear, his disbelief temporarily overriding his stutter. “What the hell Jane! we don’t what’s down there!”
    “shut up Hubert” I replied, and turned off the comms, mounting the All Terrain Speeder, a long, Bike-like vehicle, with a coat of black paint with a criss-cross of scratches, scuffs and mud stains, within minutes I had reached the ruins. I cautiously dismounted and approached the massive structure, which, over the years, had become overgrown with moss, creepers, and other miscellaneous green stuff. I opened my toolbox and produced a signal triangulation unit, a device that could detect the source of energy readings and such, with a bit of fiddling with the touchscreen display, the black box began to hum, and a holographic projection leapt out from the screen, it displayed an arrow, pointing to a panel on the side of the front ring of the structure. I placed the palm of my hand on the panel, and nearly had a heart-attack as the machine whirred to life, the front ring moving clockwise, the next moving anticlockwise, and so on, with energy arcing between pylons attached to the rings, the pylons aligned, and electricity arced between every pylon simultaneously, creating a god almighty roar, accompanied by a blinding flash of light, when my vision was restored, I could hardly believe my eyes. inside of the foremost ring of the structure, a sparkling liquid resembling the surface of a diamond was suspended, ripple emanating from the centre of the pool. once again, my comms system crackled to life, Hubert had gotten it back online “J-J-Jane, I’m picking up a signal from th-th-the other side, I-I-It’s in English… I’m patching you through to it, you are NOT going to believe this..” my earpiece went quiet, and then, a voice whose clarity and flow suggested an otherworldly presence “Unenlightened beings, please do not be alarmed, I am the one that is called Yahweh, and I am here to guide your race through the process of transcendence into the race that you call titans, and to help cut your physical bonds”…

    • John H Reiher Jr

      Michael, do you mind if I riff on your bit? To be honest, this pitch sounds more of snake oil than salvation. She is an experienced Xenoarcheologist. This may not be her first “Great Machine” she’s run into or heard of.

  • Brandon McCullum

    Sorry for the long comment. I just wrote out how I see it the events that follow where you left off.

    I don’t know is this good? I mean it’s a good thing? Hell, I don’t know …., Doctor Belarius stutters.

    We don’t know anything yet…. See if you can get anything from the other site. I want to go over some of these plans with Harvey. Keep an eye on those scans if any things changes let me know. I wonder if there some on off cycle, something that will tell us when we can go in. Are those readings being forwarded to my messages?

    Yes uhh..let me see every thirty minutes or so..I just sent all the new data a few minutes ago.

    And the pictures?

    They’re from this morning.

    That will work.. Update the messages as frequently as you can.


    Doctor Harlowe leaves the control and walks through the laboratory, and into storage.

    We still have suits unpacked. She looks out the window outside to the rovers pulled out of storage this morning.

    Dr. Belarus. Did Harvey say when we will get the drones out. It took us a week just to get the rovers up.

    All I know is they are having trouble at the other site. They had some trouble landing. They had to reboot the computers from a backup this morning.

    Doctor harlowe pulls open the door to her room and walks over to her desk.

    Computer can you load and send this mornings pictures of Site A to my desk.

    The images are loaded please enter your password.

    She types in her password as the computer does a quick bio scan. The images flash and fill the room with a glare of artificial light. She flips through the images.

    It couldn’t be. This structure looks so different. It is so much smaller. Computer upload the drone pictures we recovered from DM+….From the Forerunner 397 files and set up a split screen with this mornings pictures.

    I wish I had those composition scans or at least some drones.

    Doctor. Harvey just got in I told him you wanted to see him. He was just unloading his suit. He should be there in a moment.

    Jean..Belarius said you had something you wanted to show me.

    Yeah how are they at the other site.

    Not great. I mean everyone’s fine. I don’t know if we will be able to run it as a remote site. Anything above basic function is not happening. We can’t keep two split sites. Im moving base here. I left some senior crew and engineers there to see what they can do, but the rest of the team is on the way here. I went ahead to try and get some of the logistics set up. But we’ll figure it out. What is it you wanted to show me.

    Look …look at these two pictures here. One second let me zoom in. You see anything similar.

    No… Ancient ruins. And more advanced ancient ruins.

    Right. The architecture is very different. We re light years away, but look at these. These growths along the edges.

    These are the pictures of Site A taken this morning. You see those around the base and just here almost a quarter up here. Pay attention to the shapes the change in color. I don’t have enough angles but you can kind of see a pattern there. Now look at DM 397. You see the patterns, you see the shapes. The way the colors change how they look like they are branching out.

    No. DM 397… That was rock. I mean maybe. This is different.

    No you think it was rock. I think they were fossilized …whatever the hell that is out there. I bet you if we were to go inside that thing. We find what we found at the DM. We find another of those star maps.

    We couldn’t get those damn things to work. We even got help and money from the Fleet. Years and we couldn’t get it to work? What do you think is different now? We definitely won’t get help now especially.

    It has power, Harvey.

    I think Hanson was right. What we found before was dead. On the whole planet it was the only site that wasn’t wrecked. And still nothing was there but the map. And the droids. They were protecting something, looking for something. The plants living inside that thing. They were no where else on that planet. Nowhere. Nothing like them. They grew underwater, at high elevations, high carbon, low carbon, any poison we could think of, oxygen no oxygen, in pitch black, temperature changes, radiation the things either would die or grow back. they were no where else. And like nothing else.

    If we go into there with it powered up, I think we’ll get to see this Canary sing.

    • John H Reiher Jr

      A bit rough, but I love it!

  • Is HG-W3115-W01889 named after H. G. Wells by any chance?