The first Elder site chosen for exploration turned out not to have a comm node, so Colonel Joseph Bishop asked Skippy to look for uncatalogued Elder sites.
The first uncatalogued site turned out to have already been visited and ransacked in the past, so the Dutchman sent down some crew for exploration and training. However, the star system was discovered to be a frequent refueling stop for transiting ships, and before the landing parties could be evacuated a Kristang task force jumped near the site to practice fleet maneuvers while they waited for a Thuranin star carrier.The crew on the moon with the Elder site hunkered down while Kristang ships visited the site. When some of the ships were left behind from the task force to continue training, Joe came up with an idea to destroy the remaining ships by taking over one of them, freeing the Dutchman to rescue their landed crew.
The next predicted site had been scooped out of its moon long before the ship arrived. After a brief visit to the surface, the Dutchman flew on to the next two systems, which proved to have no Elder sites and a closed-down Elder site respectively. After arriving at the following system, there were no traces of an Elder site had ever existed there.
The next star system did have an Elder site, but it had been bombarded by asteroids that had been disturbed from their orbits. On the way to the next potential site, Joe and Skippy got the idea to mask the Dutchman as a different Thuranin star carrier that had gone missing 17 years ago to avoid raising suspicion that humans were involved in the Dutchman's disappearance.
Once arriving at the system, sensor data from the Flower (the Dutchman's Kristang warship used for scouting) indicated that the system was safe and there was an Elder site, so the Dutchman jumped to the location of the site. However, the ships were surprised by a Thuranin destroyer group who were hidden by the combination of poor sensors on the Kristang ship and strong magnetic fields near the Elder site. The Dutchman attempted to get away, but damping fields and weapons fire from the 5 destroyers ended up severely damaging the star carrier.
When Joe and Skippy determined that the ship couldn't get away by conventional means, Skippy created an artificial solar flare that destroyed the enemy and managed to jump away. The extensive damage to the Dutchman necessitated that the crew disembark the ship while it underwent repairs, which they did at a planet they called Newark: a cold, barely habitable rock that was found to be inhabited by a small Kristang group once the Dutchman arrived at the planet.
The crew set up camp and spent time training and studying the biosphere, which suggested that Newark had once been much more hospitable. A discovery of a tomb confirmed this theory, since it contained the remnants of a people who had lived on Newark more than 2 million years ago. Analysis by Skippy determined that Newark's orbit had been artificially changed using Elder Technology, but long after the Elders were thought to have transcended.
Skippy then discovered that the Kristang had an Elder AI and comm node at their camp, and Joe came up with an idea to attack the Kristang in multiple phases. The first phase of the plan destroyed the camp's two dropships by luring them, and the second phase involved a trip to the camp over land.
On the way, Skippy realized that a solar system the ship visited had indeed had an Elder site in the past, but it and its entire moon had been vaporized around the time of Newark's orbit change, suggesting that something was not right in the galaxy once the Elders left.The final phase of the assault plan proceeded flawlessly, once Joe had the idea to start infighting in the camp. The SpecOps assault force cleaned up the survivors and retrieved the 2 artifacts. A Kristang ship jumped in to pick up the Kristang at the camp but it was shot down through a microwormhole.
Once the Dutchman was rebuilt, it jumped to Newark to pickup the Merry Band of Pirates and the two Elder artifacts. Both the AI and the comm node appeared to be dead, and the AI looked like it had shut down around the time of Newark's disaster.
Before the crew set course for home, Skippy found out that a long range Thuranin surveyor ship was going to travel to Earth (without needing a wormhole) to pick up White Wind clan leaders who were now dead. This surveyor would have to be destroyed in a way that suggested it was random enemy action to avoid raising suspicion of unusual Earth-related activity. To determine the location of the surveyor, Joe and Skippy hid in a comet and rendezvoused with a relay station.
The data from the relay station gave the location of the 2 support ships that the surveyor would use to refuel before its trip. Joe and Skippy came up with a plan to hack the Thuranin ships by passing near the 2 tankers in a Kristang armored suit. After the ships were hacked, their rendezvous location with the surveyor ships was downloaded by Skippy.
At the rendezvous location, Skippy destroyed the surveyor ship, its destroyer escort, and one of the tankers. The other tanker had to be destroyed at a secondary location, and then its data recorder drones were hacked to suggest a Jeraptha ambush. The Dutchman then returned to Earth without further incident.