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The Derelict was the defining moment of Vast Worlds history. Appearing from the out edges of the solar system, the only reason humanity didn’t notice it until it was too late was a faint call it was emitting[1]. Even so, we were only just able to intercept the monstrosity before it completed its inevitable dive into the sun.

An American ship, a prospector called the Valiant, was the first on the scene, and it was immediately apparent that the Derelict was not a ship of peace. The hulk was around two kilometres long and in a rough cigar shape, with metre thick armour along the sides and most of the nose was given over to shielding. Turrets lined the sides, some even managing to unsheathe themselves as the American scout approached, though none managed to fire.

As they drew closer the weapon damage could be seen. Entire sections were left open to the vacuum. Batteries of guns had been sheered off and the very backbone of the ship could be seen, broken, but still miraculously hanging together.

Docking was interesting to say the least, as none of the airlocks were designed to meet with a human craft and anyway, were completely inoperable. Not to mention that the Derelict was going noticeably faster than the scout, which was almost completely out of fuel by that point. In the end they winded up latching on to an exposed support and simply taking the jot down the axis of the ship.

The first major shock came when an EVA mission was taken into the Derelict[2], and the entire team hit the floor with a bang[3]. The knowledge that the Derelict makers had artificial gravity unnerved the team no end and further exploration was minimal, though this was also partly due to a lack of supplies.

With the arrival of the Chinese, and soon the rest of the world, the proper exploration began and it quickly became apparent that someone had beaten them too it. The main drive was gone, not destroyed, but simply removed, along with anything more dangerous that point-defence guns[4] and apparently all the thrusters. The bridge was never found, presumed destroyed, and the computer likewise. All in all, the technology the Derelict possessed was made up of anything that had not been worth salvaging[5], but this was not by human standards. As far as we were concerned a lot of the tech’ was simply beyond comprehension.

Grav’ panelling was obviously the first discovery, still holding charge after millennia in space, and the Null’ed areas of the ship were identified with infrared imaging and entire sections were torn out for analysis. Next, as the Derelict was nearing Earth, the humans started swarming over it, and quite a lot of technology was recovered clandestine by the various governments. Meanwhile, corridors were mapped, any scrap of writing gathered and the hull was stripped of anything that had been left[6]. Most of this was taken with intention of decrypting it later, though with what little information left on the ship not much progress was made.

After a few years the first Derelict based technologies started coming on line, and Vast Worlds began…

[1] This has been generally agreed to have been a distress call. Though it was so simplistic that it may have been the equivalent of Morse Code. No language has ever been derived from the Derelict makers.

[2] I think they made about three dozen movies based around this moment over the centuries.

[3] Ah, moving from zero-G to artificial gravity. Bringer of pratfalls throughout the ages.

[4] Which were admittedly bloody dangerous.

[5] Whether or not the Derelict makers salvaged the ship and then left it to float, or it was salvaged by another interstellar species who could not then retrieve it is unknown, and practically unknowable.

[6] The Jump Drive (technically a hyper accelerational device H.A.D. as the Derelict did not use a human style Jump Drive) was recovered almost as an afterthought from the hull, and was only loaded onto the last couple of ships that made it off before the Derelict hit the sun.


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