The Ghosts of Eden
The crew discuss Eberhavn further with Fther Ruiz Sanchez. Fther Sanchez reports that the cases of depression started appearing about 8 months after the Eber made contact, however the distributed nature of the colonies on Eberhavn mean that it was possible that cases were appearing earlier and were simply unreported. Fthr Sanchez's Eber contact informed him that the Eber Shaman were making the colonists ill. He is troubled by the whole situation on Eber in particular the fact that the "Torang's have a perfect society but no concept of God" - this is doctrinally troublesome for the catholic church as a whole and it is implied that resolving this paradox may be a part of Sanchez's mission to Eberhavn.
3/4 of the settlements on Eberhavn are now abandoned and 2/3 of the population have been moved off-world. One of the three colonies is less seriously affected than the others. This colony is situated on a continent on Eberhavn which contains a major historical bomb-site. Each of the three colonies was sponsored by a different company Astra-Revira, Kurita and Virgin Offworld. It is the Astra-Revira colony that is relatively unaffected. No biological or chemical vector has been found that might account for the depression. Once they get to rho-eridani most of the Eber colonists appear fine. There are no physical symptoms.
The previously mentioned bomb-site dates back about 2,000 years from what appears to have been a nuclear war. The bomb-site is thought to be the location of a city and there are traces of silicon carbide in the ruins. According to Torang legend (as reported by Sanchez) the Eber became space faring and colonised local planets before they had a war. The Torang's themselves say (again according to Sanchez) that they travelled among the stars in their youth before they developed wisdom.
On approaching Eberhavn the Joyous Venture hails the OTS without response. The station itself looks undamaged but incomplete. There is one ship docked. Eventually after persistent hailing they manage to raise a response and are told to dock at Port 5. This proves to be non-functional and they are redirected to Port 8. The OTS itself appears to be in a poor state of repair. Andi does some digging and is shocked to discover that there were 8 deaths in the last year.
The crew get a lift down to the Sao Pedro spaceport. There are three other space planes in the hanger besides the two which run regular trips up to the OTS. It seems clear that these two are kept going by cannibalising pieces of the other three.
Robert takes his hand twanger with him to the planet. Komiko orders Antonio to take his gun. Ruiz heads off for the cathedral. The crew find a B & B style hotel and transport to the possible Ancients site. They seek out Ruiz to ask about any local Eber they might find. He tells them that Murb and Jan-Ganyr appear to be the terms for male and female Ebers although Ruiz says he has noticed no sexual dimorphism. Jan-Ganyr is the the spokesman for the local tribe.
The Ancients site is four days drive from the spaceport. The crew take food and water containers and first aid kits. They reach the site without incident thanks to Robert and Miho's route-finding skills. The site appears to be some buildings dug into a cliff face. An initial sweep reveals no trace of Silicon Carbide. Miho thinks, however, that the walls have been cleaned. She also notes that the building had working sanitation between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago. She makes a start surveying the building. There are marks on walls and floors suggesting the presence of furniture or wall fittings. Later on Antonio finds what appear to be a screw and rawl plug. These appear to be silicon carbide although something has interacted with the organic carbonaceous film over the rawl plug to make it dry and crumbling.
Robert, feeling he has little to contribute to the archaeological activity, goes exploring. He is about a mile away when he notices that the local insect life has fallen quiet. He ignores this and carries on, at a later point he allows Clarence, who he has taken with him, to eat an insect and notices a rustling sound in the undergrowth. He investigates but finds nothing. Nevertheless he returns to camp and reports that he thinks he was being watched.
Komiko arranges for watches to be set. Miho has the last watch of the night and in the early morning she notices that a rock formation has changed shape. This turns out to be an Eber who requests coffee.