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|Star Trek: Banshee Squadron episode|
|"The Black Gate"|
- While on a routine survey mission, the Banshees are pulled into a mysterious black vortex and hurled across the universe to a forgotten planet orbiting a dead sun in a lightless void. Now lost amid the crumbling wreckage of a long-dead civilization and beset on all sides by murderous natives and terrifying creatures, they must solve the mystery of the ages in order to escape with their lives!
01 - ProcrastinationEdit
02 - IntrusionEdit
The Banshees are still sunbathing. Matthew Cross shows up and wonders why no one is ready for their mission briefing. They get dressed and have their briefing. Cross explains the mission to go investigate strange readings around the Trojan planetoids. Dexter and Alex return from their date. It was a good one.
03 - PreparationEdit
Next morning, five Banshees and the Longbow fly to the planetoids. They begin scanning for the strange energy readings when a Breen ship attacks.
04 - The Black GateEdit
A fight ensues. The energy from the weapons fire excites the mysterious object the Banshees were sent to investigate. It is a wormhole aperture. They all fall in, including the Breen ship.
05 - Welcome to NowhereEdit
The other end of the wormhole is a void completely devoid of stars or anything else. There is no wormhole mouth at this end. Maxine Vasser names the wormhole the Black Gate. Jo detects a sub-stellar mass. The Banshees head in that direction, secretly followed by the cloaked Breen ship.
06 - RevelationsEdit
Dexter makes the chilling discovery that they are 1.6 billion light years from home with no apparent way to get back, and that the sub-stellar mass ahead is a black dwarf star.
07 - Sleepless In the Great VoidEdit
Josephine Schmidt is feeling useless because Dexter keeps making all the important discoveries before her, despite the fact that she is the science specialist. They find a dark planet orbiting the black dwarf. The Breen ship attacks again, but the Banshees damage it and the Breen run.
08 - House of AshesEdit
The Banshees land on the outskirts of an apparent underground city. They find a cave with a large closed door leading further inside, which Dexter figures out how to open to Jo's further annoyance. There are giant scorpion men carved on the door. The next room has many dark passages leading away. Jo hears a noise, moves away from the others to investigate. Something stings her and she falls to the ground. Unseen by the others, Jo is dragged away by many hands.
09 - Land of No ReturnEdit
The Banshees notice Jo's sudden absence, but just then they are surrounded by a group of rough men and their hulking leader, Nergal. Furious, Carter demands they return Jo. The natives disarm and hold the Banshees at knifepoint while Nergal challenges Carter to a fight. Carter is no match for Nergal's strength, but just as he is about to squeeze the life from her, a woman's voice commands him to stop. Nergal fears the woman, so takes his minions and leaves, taking all the Banshees' equipment with them. The woman calls herself Ereshkigal. The planet is called Kurnugi.
10 - The Sting of DeathEdit
Ereshkigal leads the Banshees into the city. She sadly explains that Jo has been killed by an Aqrabu, a giant scorpion-man from another part of the universe. She says her people have already dealt with the beast, but that there was nothing left of Jo's body to recover.
11 - Dining On AshesEdit
The Banshees decide their priority should be to retrieve their equipment. A gong rings and they get caught up in a crowd rushing towards the communal kitchen. The food smells horrible, and they are glad there is none left for them. They return to the entrance cave, but find the stone doors sealed shut and no way to open them without their phasers.
12 - Unorthodox SummonsEdit
The Banshees befriend a young urchin boy named Enki. He leads them to see Ereshkigal. She claims to know a way to escape Kurnugi.
13 - Mysteries of the AgesEdit
Ereshkigal explains that the Black Gate is one-way only and Kurnugi is a prison older than the universe. Fortunately, there is another gateway called the Stairway to Heaven, but to reach it they have to open the Mountain Gates in Nergal's territory, and tame Guardians which are the Aqrabu using the Heart of Tiamat. Then Ereshkigal will use a secret access code on the Stairway to activate it. She has the secret code, and she knows the Banshees can get past the obstacles, so they have to work together if they ever want to leave.
14 - Awakening to DarknessEdit
Jo Schmidt wakes up in a strange place. An old woman named Ereshkigal explains that she was poisoned and that all her friends were killed by giant scorpion men, and that she was able to save only Jo. Grieving, Jo thanks her, and Ereshkigal says there may be a way for Jo to repay her.
15 - Idle HandsEdit
Ten days later Jo is fully recovered from the poison. Ereshkigal takes her to the Great Library, left behind by the Builders, containing the knowledge of the universe. Jo is excited, but then remembers that there is no way back home. At Ereshkigal's suggestion, she begins her quest to find a way out somewhere in the ancient Library records.
16 - ConnectionsEdit
Jo finds records written in Sanskrit. She wonders how this place and Earth were connected. Enki arrives and befriends Jo, and suggests that maybe the connection is the Stairway to Heaven, and shows Jo the records about it.
17 - Ancient VoiceEdit
Enki helps Jo find a lost recording disk that contains complete instructions for the Stairway to Heaven including the access codes, and a visual recording of an Ancient. Jo cannot understand Ancient language, but realizes that Kurnugi must once have been an Ancient city, and that they must have built the Stairway to Heaven and the Black Gate as well. She goes to tell Ereshkigal the good news.
18 - Plans for the FutureEdit
Dexter has the great idea that if they could accelerate their ships to extreme sublight speed, then the trip back home would take less than a month of subjective time to get back home. Captain Cross points out that it would still take 1.63 billion years of objective time, so the idea probably wasn't so great after all.
19 - Fade To WhiteEdit
Alex is sad because her tan has faded in the lightless city. Max sends Dexter and Alex to get more water since they obviously have too much time on their hands.
20 - Cold ShoulderEdit
Ereshkigal tells the Banshees that her access code will be ready in a few days. Cross questions her why she and Nergal have never joined forces to escape, since each has half the puzzle. Ereshkigal explains that Nergal is a criminal and she is a hunter sworn to return him to justice on their world. Meanwhile, Dexter and Alex stumble across the Breen, who have been hiding all this time near the water source.
21 - Cold FeetEdit
The other Banshees go looking for the overdue Dexter and Alex, and a fight starts with the Breen. Matthew Cross is seriously injured. The Banshees gain the upper hand and the Breen use their personal cloaks to escape.
22 - The Shadow of DeathEdit
Cross' condition worsens until he is at the brink of death. Unfortunately, Jo had been the medic. Samantha Beckett and Max run to find Ereshkigal. Dexter and Alex keep a lookout outside. Carter is alone with the comatose Cross and expresses her feelings. She leaves to fetch some water. Cross has a vision of the boy Enki spreading his hands over his body and healing him. Sam and Max return dragging Ereshkigal after them. She goes into Cross' room, but Cross is sitting up, conscious, alive and well.
23 - Common Frame of ReferenceEdit
Cross tell Carter about his vision of Enki. Carter wishes Enki had been present when Jo had been killed. Cross and Carter share a moment.
24 - In the Library With the CandlestickEdit
Jo finally finishes decoding the instructions for the Stairway to Heaven, but she also finds a historical account showing entire worlds destroyed, the Aqrabu marching across burning continents, and being led by Ereshkigal! Opposed to the Aqrabu army is a huge man named Nergal, wielding a flaming jewel called the Heart of Tiamat. A heavy blow from behind crushes Jo's skull. She falls to the floor, dead, and Ereshkigal takes the decoded instructions from her and goes to meet the other Banshees.
25 - The Mountain GatesEdit
Ereshkigal tells the Banshees she is ready to use the Stairway to Heaven. They sneak into Nergal's territory and open the Mountain Gates before anyone can stop them. The Aqrabu on the other side begin pouring into the city, bent on destruction. Nergal emerges from his fortress with the Heart of Tiamat, just like the Banshees had planned. They move in to get it. Meanwhile, Enki revives Jo. He tells her that Ereshkigal is at the Mountain Gates. Jo heads off in pursuit.
26 - Heart of TiamatEdit
The Banshees move in to take the Heart of Tiamat from Nergal so they can gain control of the Aqrabu, but Ereshkigal reaches him first and takes it, killing Nergal. She betrays the Banshees and is about to use the Heart on Carter when Jo tackles her sending the Heart flying across the floor. An Aqrabu attacks Jo, but Enki intervenes and is killed. The Aqrabu turn on Ereshkigal and rip her to shreds. The Breen reappear and help fight the Aqrabu. Using the diversion, Carter gets the Heart of Tiamat and gains the power to soothe the Aqrabu. She leads the way to the Stairway to Heaven.
27 - Stairway to HeavenEdit
The Stairway to Heaven is a portal similar to the Guardian of Forever, and can connect to the Guardian. Jo activates it. The Banshees go through, along with the Breen, to prepare the way for all the people of Kurnugi to be finally rescued, even the Aqrabu, who are now freed of Nergal's and Ereshkigal's evil influence.
Several weeks later, the evacuation of Kurnugi is under way. A small urchin boy sits on a mountain slope watching. He is glad that there are people in the universe as compassionate and noble as the humans.
- "Oh my God! They killed Enki!" cried Jo.
"You bastards!" shouted Carter.
- While The Black Gate was written during the time the Banshees were still in their old email rpg, the story was entirely self-contained and separate from what was happening in the game at large, and so is the first Banshee Squadron story written as a story and not as a group of separate rpg posts.
- This is the first Banshee Squadron story wherein I tried to standardize the story illustrations to one certain size and style. I also tried to include at least one illustration in each chapter.
- I actually did some research into the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian gods and myths. All the alien names in the story are meaningful.