Three weeks after arriving in deep space near an unknown star system, and travelling to said star system, the crew of the Epsilon VI sat in orbit of the system's fourth planet. Lucia stared at the front panel in the cockpit of the Epsilon VI. On the screen was a dark orange and green planet, heavily ‘forested’ by massive groups of tree-like plants. Niarith was busy performing scans. “This place doesn’t look very inhabited. No major settlements at all. Atmospheric scans came up as non-breathable. Scanning for any possible Ghostinite… doesn’t look promising… there!” She pressed a button and the front panel’s image changed to a wireframe map of the planet. A bright yellow dot pulsed on one small spot. “Hmm. not a natural deposit, that’s not surprising, FIC would be all over this place if it were. Looks like some kind of outpost. Ground penetrating radar indicates it’s an underground facility of some kind.”
Lucia stepped closer, examining the image on the front panel. “And this place has Ghostinite?”
Niarith switched the view back to the ship’s front cameras “Yep!”
Lucia gave Niarith a concerned look “And they’ll just… give us some?”
Niarith deflated slightly “Oh. Right. Didn’t think of that. Well, we can go down and ask. Can’t hurt, right? I mean, we’re lucky we ended up somewhere with any at all.” she walked across the cockpit to tend to some kind of flashing light. “Can’t imagine we’ll find any elsewhere in this system. And I don’t feel like spending weeks looking.”
“Uh, we’ve got an incoming communication from the planet. Guessin’ it's that place y’all were talkin’ about.” Lolanene’s hand hovered over the ship’s comm unit. “Should I answer?”
Niarith stepped over to examine the comm unit herself “I guess they’re coming to us first! Fair enough. Let’s see what they’ve got to say.”
Lolanene tuned the comm unit to the incoming frequency using a combination of dials and buttons. Lucia didn’t understand why it all had to be so complex. For a few moments, they heard nothing but static. An incredibly loud beep shot through the static and made everyone jump. After that, a synthetic voice began to speak. <MESSAGE BEGINS> <DETECTING UNIDENTIFIED STARSHIP> <MANUFACTURER BALTRAX > <MODEL X-10> <NO INSIGNIA> <NO SHIP ID> <POSSIBLE UNREGISTERED PIRATE> <DETECTING ARMAMENT> <THREAT LEVEL: SEVERE> <ALERTING PERSONNEL> <MESSAGE ENDS> another loud beep ended the broadcast, and it all faded back to static.
Everyone simply stared at the comm unit for a moment. Lolanene turned to the others “Uh, that don’t sound good.”
Niarith leaned over and began working on the comm unit. “Hello? Uhm… secret… base.. People?” Noticing the stares after saying that, she glanced at the others and mouthed ‘I don’t know!’ before continuing to speak. “Hi. We’re uh, we’re out of FTL fuel, and our scans indicate you have some, and we’d really appreciate it if you could help us out with that. Please don’t kill us. Thanks.” She stood upright again, her arms crossed, an embarrassed look on her face. Lucia and Lolanene just stared at her. “I panicked, okay!”
Lucia shook her head and said “Well, if nothing else, they might see us as less of a threat now.”
Lolanene began to laugh boisterously, a hand over her face as she leaned back in the co-pilot seat.
“Listen! I know how to speak eloquently! You saw me with Brocktazrolo, c’mon!” Niarith stamped a foot indignantly. Lolanene continued laughing, though it was forced now, clearly only continuing because it irritated Niarith.
Another loud beep silenced Lolanene’s laughter. <MESSAGE BEGINS> <COMMUNICATION RECEIVED> <PROCEED TO COORDINATES AND DISEMBARK> <BE UNARMED> <PERSONNEL WILL BE IN PLACE TO RECEIVE YOU> <MESSAGE ENDS>
“Why don’t they talk to us with a person? What’s with this robo-voice shit?” Lolanene gestured to the comm unit.
“I don’t know, but they’re letting us in at least. Let’s hope there’s someone down there that’s a real person.” Niarith spoke as she sat back down in the pilot seat and began preparations to move the ship.
Lucia left the cockpit and made her way down the hall to the equipment room. Gotta be something I can keep concealed. No way are we going into this defenseless. She searched through box after box of various items, none of them fitting what she needed. Searching through one particular box, she found a black, oblong case about the length of her hand. She opened it, and gasped. Inside were a pair of round, nearly opaque glasses. Red light flashed constantly on the inner side. These… these are the glasses Ninia put on Niarith. Why would she keep them? Before she had much time to think about this new development, she felt the ship landing. They had arrived. Lucia quickly closed the case and put it back where she’d found it. She grabbed her gravitic dagger and hooked it to her belt.
As she entered the hallway, Niarith stopped her. “Luci! They said to be unarmed!”
Lucia shrugged and said “Do you seriously think I’m going to abide by that? I won’t. I can’t.”
Niarith sighed “Do you want to spend weeks searching this system for Ghostinite that might not even be there?” She stepped closer “And what if there isn’t any? Which is likely, I might add. Just.. I know you’re nervous, honey, but please. Do as they say.” Something about the way she said those last few words made Lucia’s head feel funny. She felt dizzy and found it hard to remember why she was arguing. She went back into the equipment room and left her dagger there.
As she returned to the hallway, finding Niarith had already left, she noticed Lolanene leaning on the wall across from her. “What did I just see?”
Lucia was confused “What do you mean?” She stepped across the hall and stood closer to Lolanene.
“I mean, Niarith told you to do somethin’, somethin’ you wouldn’t just do, and ya did it. She said ‘Do as they say,’ and you just kinda flinched a bit, and immediately gave up arguing and did what she wanted.” She pushed off the wall and turned toward Lucia “This ain’t the first time I’ve noticed this since we jumped. Somethin’ is up with her.”
Lucia stared down at the shorter girl as she crossed her arms. “Niarith is fine. You barely know us. Don’t think that three weeks is enough time to be able to tell me you know us, that you know how we work. Niarith is waiting, let’s go.” She pushed past Lolanene harder than she needed to. As she walked down the hall to the airlock, she thought about the glasses, and what Lolanene had said. She’s fine… right? She hasn’t had a slip-up in a week. But why would she keep the glasses? What does all this mean?
She arrived in the airlock to see Niarith stepping out of the glass case inside, wearing one of the bulky suits she had seen in her first moments inside the ship. It was a brown colored, vaguely human shaped hulk, with a helmet that concealed all features of the person inside. A speaker squealed to life, and Niarith spoke from inside the suit. “Hey hon! It’s pretty rare I get to use these, I’m kind of excited! They're not the most comfortable things to wear, but they’ll keep us alive out there! Go ahead and get suited up.”
Lucia entered the glass case and walked around to the back of one of the two empty suits. A complex array of sliding switches greeted her. “Uhh…” She moved one, and the others moved with it, in different directions. Lucia began to get nervous, and started sliding the switches randomly, after a few seconds, the back of the suit popped open, revealing a dark cavernous interior. She reluctantly climbed inside, and it closed behind her. She stood for a few moments in the dark, open space, confused as to how to actually move, especially given she couldn’t see anything. The sound of releasing air pressure pounded in her ears as several robotic arms slid down and latched onto her limbs. She still had freedom of movement, but the suit now moved with her. The opaque helmet in front of her face lit up with a display of the outside. She saw Niarith, waiting outside the glass case, and Lolanene stepping into the third suit.
Once Lolanene was ready, the trio made their way outside. Lucia couldn’t feel anything from the outside from within the suit, but the cameras that were her vision of the outside fogged up immediately. It was warm, then. The suit’s feet seemed to struggle to pull out of the orange tinged mud with every step, and the tree-like plants dripped with moisture. It wasn’t raining, in fact the sky was perfectly clear, and greenish. It was simply that humid. Something long and thin burrowed up out of the mud before slithering back down into the earth. The sound of dripping liquid and pneumatics was all she could hear through the tinny, low quality interior speakers.
Visible in the distance, along a cleared path through the jungle, was a small, stark white structure. The wall facing them was slanted, which rounded off to vertical just before touching the ground. Inside the slant was a dark alcove, Lucia assumed it was where the entrance must be. There was no one outside, and no windows in the building. They approached, and nothing changed. The three of them stood there for a moment, not sure what was happening. Finally, the door opened, and a person in a much sleeker, nearly skin tight environment suit stepped out and motioned for them to follow. They did, and entered a sterile looking airlock. It was sparsely lit, and made entirely of some kind of shiny metal. The door to the outside closed, and the sound of rushing air sounded deafeningly in Lucia’s ears. The person in the environment suit disrobed, revealing a lovely looking red haired woman wearing a labcoat, white shirt, and white pants.
“Hello, spacefarers! Welcome to the Intigrelt Facility! I’m Doctor Fringaline Formolious!”