Balajang (Coord.: 02.00)
Balajang is a Nomad Planet that left The Canopy Sector less than 10,000 years ago,on a trajectory that some experts have claimed might take it dangerously close to the Lithus System (03.05) within a few hundred thousand years. No one is in much of a hurry to avert this potential disaster, especially since the Orəq remain skeptical that it will in fact cross-over into the Lithus System enough to have any real impact upon Lithus Prime. Conservative elements within the Glarus Commune on Lithus Prime have begun to issue bonds in order to fund the development and deployment of a long-range collision-avoidance protocol based upon the best designs submitted by teams of contestants and volunteers on a highly rated reality Netcast that combines engineering-under-pressure, improvisational combat and a range of viewer-submitted challenges. The Netcast takes place on the Isle of Zug, which has been cordoned-off by patrols of heavily-armored macrosharks. There are rumors that the producers of the show have been siphoning-off funds for several side-projects, but since they've secured official diplomatic recognition for Zug as an Autonomous Island-State...no one has clear jurisdiction, so most investigations into this matter have been derailed, deterred or discontinued.
What Is Currently Known...
Balajang has been all but forgotten in the wake of the mega-success of the Hammer & Tongs Netcast. Three separate missions have been registered with the Astronomical Analysis & Assaying Office at Tregio (Coord.: 00.03). The first mission was recalled after the shell-corporation backing it went bankrupt during a hostile take-over. The second mission was only able to orbit Balajang twice before having to return to Tregio (00.03) after sustaining massive damage once their ship's Meteor Rejector failed. The third mission was led by the famous Doctor Enrique Galthazzar and his once-fashionable team of Netcasting Xenoploitation Specialists. Team Galthazzar once produced one of the most highly-rated Netcasts available via subscription, rivaling even the Hammer & Tongs Netcast at the height of their popularity. Billions watched breathlessly as the team descended deep within a fog-shrouded equatorial rift-valley to discover a massive complex of cyclopean ruins that included a series of mile-high five-sided pyramids that extended along the rift for over half the diameter of the planet--and some speculated the series of pyramids (re-christened 'pentamids' by the team's publicist), might well entirely circumnavigate the world.
For five days Team Galthazzar conducted a thorough survey of the Rift Valley. A small network of geosynchronous satellites were left in orbit to help secure the Team's livestream IP, register their claim of the site for Speculative Explorations & Exploitation, and to conduct orbital reconnaissance. The satellites were able to map a considerable portion of the incredibly rugged surface of the world but the Team's AI Producers would not release any of that material until after they'd wrung every last bit of drama out of the process. Ratings counted for a lot.
Autoprobes revealed that the Rift Valley site was indeed part of a vast inter-connected system of rifts, crevasses, fumaroles and underground lakes that extended indefinitely. The probes were left on automatic and pretty much forgotten, their encrypted and scrambled reports trickled in to the central on-site datahub where the Team's AI processed it all into something presentable to the folks at home. But few viewers were interested over-much in the weird geology and rock formations surrounding the site, even if they might actually form some sort of belt all the way around the world. People were curious, intrigued, even smitten with the Ruins. Fans demanded that the Team go in and explore the site right away.
Probes were sent in ahead of the Team. But no one wanted to watch probes. That was considered boring.
So Team Galthazzar compiled all the very latest data, synchronized their GIS mods and boldly went into the Rift Valley Ruins. They recorded seven hours of stock footage and did a preliminary assessment of the site. They had located the entrance to what they were now calling Pentamid 3. The next day Team Galthazzar disappeared while exploring Pentamid 3.
The Team's support-AI crashed or were knocked offline but the cameras still recorded everything and the probes still reported in to the datahub. There just wasn't anyone on-site to access it, interpret it or to release it to the Net. And that was what killed the Team's Netcast. No new footage meant no new episodes and ratings plummeted. In the cut throat world of Netcast explortainment you either broadcast or perished. With the total cessation of all signals from the Team after they entered Pentamid 3 on Balajang, their entire Netcast empire has crashed. Backers have moved on to other infotainers and actual projects, those that haven't been tied-up in the courts or bankrupted by the sudden default of the Team and the predatory actions of the Insurers and creditors who stripped things down to the most minimal assets.
Other groups have taken their place and the sponsors have (mostly) abandoned Team Galthazzar to their fate. Sure the disappearance of Team Galthazzar was a mystery, but all the legal turmoil and behind-the-scenes shenanigans of their disgraced and dismantled management left them in a sort of limbo. No one remembers Doctor Livingstone or King Tut any more, but they do recall something about a team of exploiters lost beneath a pyramid on some godsforsaken world without a sun. Most of them just wonder why anyone would ever go to such a planet in the first place.
Immediate Repercussions and Subsequent Events
Quite a lot of Team Galthazzar's back-up equipment and legacy systems are to be found on various online auction sites.
There are a few hardcore fans of Team Galthazzar. Some scour the Nets looking for clues to some deep, dark conspiracy that they know was behind the disappearance of the Team, others just like to dress-up as their favorite Team members or produce fan fiction or build holo-dioramas of the Team's greatest finds. One of the more fringe-ward of these Fans, Jonn Sitchinson, who operates from his aunt's basement in Pleasant Valley on KII in the Kaaldu system (03.04), claimed to have discovered the smoking gun, the holy grail of Teamers everywhere: Evidence Of The Conspiracy. Unfortunately for Jonn, the 'evidence' he has discovered has in fact opened-up a forgotten back-door into a dead operative's secret cache of dirty secrets. Everyone connected to Jonn Sitchinson is beginning to disappear or die. Unfortunately for the Team, all this clandestine turmoil brought about by one of their Fans has brought altogether far too much covert scrutiny to bear upon the disappearance of Team Galthazzar. Each faction and service monitors everyone else's interest in the mystery surrounding the Team. Some have begun to release disinformation, others have tried to expunge all public access records, all in a desperate attempt to prevent their rivals from learning anything significant that their own analysts might have overlooked or missed. One major Intelligence Service, upon discovering all the activity going on surrounding the missing Team has initiated a secret mission to Balajang to get to the bottom of the matter once and for all. Several smaller agencies have instead opted to insert mines or pickets of deniable drones into orbit around Balajang. The whole situation continues to escalate as each group reacts to what everyone else is doing, is suspected of having done, or might do if no one stops them...
There are rumors of a live vidfeed still streaming out from Balajang. The team left a lot of equipment including a few high-end Automonitors in-place at their point of entry. Four of the Team's original set of satellites, customized decommissioned military-surplus recon-drones are still in orbit, taking readings, mapping the surface and demarcating the legal limits of the team's xenosite claim. Spurious mock-docs and outright hoax footage continue to get released via subculture-forums, Fansites and public vid-distribution services. So many fraudulent and low-quality 'non-transmissions' have been released in the wake of the disappearance of Team Galthazzar that the creation and release of such fake footage has become a genre unto itself. Only the footage posted by KM1818 seems to be legitimate. Even the most accomplished and respected debunkers and skeptics have not been able to find fault with this stuff. But no one knows who this person really is as they are incredibly paranoid and possibly have some sort of Black Ops background. Apparently they weren't paranoid enough. Your group is receiving encrypted pleas from KM1818 requesting your help...
Burt Graham, a third-rate Xenoploitation Auteur has recently found an anonymous backer. Graham has begun to buy-up all the available records and transcripts left behind by Team Galthazzar. He claims that he feels that he is their peer and comrade, not a rival, but he is continually denounced by Fans and several of the more excitable Fans have taken it upon themselves to sabotage Graham's efforts by selling him deliberate forgeries and faked materials in the hopes of derailing his efforts to legally acquire a majority share in what remains of the Team's corporate structure. It's a long shot, and an elaborate exercise in legal maneuvering, but Graham intends to gain legal access to the Team's assets and authority to assume control over the site on Balajang. No one is certain just who is behind Graham, nor where his funding is really coming from...
A transmission bearing authentic Team Galthazzar signifiers was partially received before Black Satellites around Balajang jammed it. It is...or was...a distress signal.