An Archeological Expedition has landed in Aenas Crater on Dione, one of Saturn's moons.
The last messages indicated there were still some survivors left after the great Meteor Conflagration centuries ago which affected the Station's support systems and eventually disrupted all communication. Perhaps the Expedition can learn what happened to this once-great enterprise.
"That looks like their vehicle next to the cooling tower," the Expedition Commander says. "Maybe we can determine why they didn't use it to escape."
"Maybe we should check out the space craft first. Perhaps there may be some clues inside."
The craft has endured severe damage. Perhaps the Meteor Conflagration damaged it beyond use.
After their examination of the cooling tower, the crew begin the task of reaching the upper levels of the station. One by one, they use their self-contained units to propel themselves, level by level, to invesigate the mysteriously-abandoned complex.
The protective coverings for all the hydroponic garden pods are long gone, as are all their contents, whether as deliberate salvage or through damaging winds and/or fire from the Meteor Conflagration is not clear.
Despite all their sophisticated systems, the Expedition crew cannot penetrate the giant broadcasting tower. Whatever openings there were, are seamlessly sealed from any intruder or anyone not authorized to enter.
"They've sustained damage at some point, but we still cannot determine how or who or what did it."
Nothing within or without the massive Aenas Station yields any clue, so the Expedition radios Central Command, "Nothing concrete to report as a result of our survey, sir. We find no evidence of human or extraterrestrial life, and no clue as to what happened."
"Return to Base," they are told. "And we will close our files with the notation: NO KNOWN CAUSE FOR ABANDONMENT OF AENAS STATION."
And soon, crew and craft bid goodbye to Aenas Crater on Dione, one of Saturn's moons, still as mystified as ever ....
BUILDING JOEL'S MODEL:
After Joel's battle in the back yard with his opposing green and tan armies - see It's a Jungle Out There - I tell him about war gamers sites that have great construction and painting techniques. "You might find some ideas to make terrain for your army stuff," I suggest.
He spends considerable time checking them out, and just as I did, finds himself fascinated with a great site, http://www.terragenesis.co.uk.
"I want to do something like this, Nana," he says, pointing at a model called Archiotech, and we print out a picture to use as a guide.
Here's a sampling of junk I gather up for him to look through for what he thinks at this point will be an industrial dump ....
I had saved all the parts when the power supply on our computer went out, and he rummaged through that box, too.
He begins selecting potential items for his dump from all this stuff, starting with the largest pieces first. They are sitting atop a remnant of foam core which serves as a roughed out base. We decide to leave it as is for the time being, so that he has a good handle to hold onto until the final landscaping is done. Then it will be trimmed to fit the wood dome base.
(As it turned out, he eventually decided to leave it as is; that odd angular look suited his setting.)
One of the tutorials on industrial tech stuff suggests giving all the pieces a basic undercoat of black, onto which drybrushing, washes, etc. are then applied. I have used that technique many times, I tell Joel, and it works great.
Good idea, Nana, he tells me. He begins by painting his base black, so that there will be no glaring white showing through any small openings.
This empty ribbon spool has possibilities ....
Computer parts, shaker bottle top, chains, bits of this and that, all get a black undercoat, except for some neat copper and brass pieces, which he likes as is.
He experiments with drybrushing various metallics onto the black base coat.
This is cool stuff!
Still thinking it's going to be an industrial dump site, I talk about scale with him. I tell him that he can place objects in his setting that will help his viewer determine how big or small and where his dump items are supposed to be. "If you put a seagull perched on top, that will suggest how big these items are in the dump AND where it is located. Or if you put a couple of cats on it, or a section of chain link fence behind it, that suggests it may be in a warehouse section of a city."
I reminded him of some action figures that are in the playroom. "If you use a construction worker out there lifting some of this stuff up, then that also suggests size. BUT, if you put one of your tiny army men next to it all, then it becomes much bigger."
Hmm, he said, as he continued making selections.
Gluing various parts together created that interesting tower way over there on the right with its combination of brass pieces.
Hey, look what happens when one of those Cream of Wheat box spouts is turned inside out! Hmmm ....
"Look, Nana! Here's a space ship!"
And then the whole focus of his project shifted. This is not an industrial dump site; this is going to be some kind of space station that's been abandoned!
After this, our discussion about scale paid off. If this is the space ship, then all the other pieces must be REALLY BIG structures. With his focal point and his scale in mind, he begins making his final selections.
And that's how the story of Archaelogical Exploration, Moon of Saturn, came about.