Monday, 22 March 2010

Digging up the Past - I

“Every planet has a story, and it is our job to unravel that story and to tell the universe”. Once, a long time ago those words filled her with inspiration. Exploring planets lost for millenia or more, digging up the past, even treasure hunting for those lost artifacts. Back then she saw herself standing over the tombs of forgotten Emperors holding radiant crowns and everyone cheering her name. Reality was often somewhat different. Reality, as they say, bites. And for Shimmoa Masikiro, Archaeologist prime for the University of Khanid Succession, reality would very soon reveal itself.

“As archaeologists we deal only with facts.” Facts she mused, after three weeks she couldn't even remember the name of the planet they were on. Only the cold. The cold sapped the strength, chilled to the bone and beyond. Even in the heated quarters of the station, especially when the sun went down all you thought about was the cold. Luckily the computers liked the cold and the young caldari technicians who were experimenting with cold synapse memory storage for the bio-computers were doing wonders, if of somewhat dubious legality.

“Shimmoa, the satelite is due in one minute, standing by for uplink.”

The grey haired com-tech was buried behind a stack of power cores with the telemetry data and the dig site screens. Static filled the screens until the last power cable was connected, one by one the screens cleared their static and he checked them all. The last one was still showing static, the lastest camera at the dig site. He cursed and turned a few dials, tapped a few screens then pressed a button. Somewhere in the distance a low throb began pulsing.

“Uplink in five... four... three.... two....” He ended the count with a deft click of his fingers and turned back to the screens.

Shimmoa's fingers flew across the keyboard and began a grid by grid search of the area. She waited a few minutes then scanned again. Nothing.

“Casey, it's not working. Crank up the juice.”

“If we put too much in we may burn out the relays. We're still not sure how old they are.”

“Crank it Casey! This is my call!” She swore under her breath.

An excavation is like an operation, our dig site is the patient, haste will kill him.Always, always be patient.” As the fusion generator was ramped up to fifty percent power, the heavy duty lines that snaked away from the mobile into the dig site pulsed with power. They lead into burnished golden wall with a ragged hole burned into the side and disappeared inside. At the screens they watched as the next scan appeared and they held their breath. Her hand slammed the rescan button and the image that was faint appeared again, larger, more discerning. She licked her lips and grabbed the pendant hanging from her neck and kissed it.

“Casey, more power and break out the suits. We are going down to the digsite.”

“Shim, I want in to that as much as you do, but it's fifty below out there, there is a storm coming and one of the camera's is still out.”

She hit rescan and watched the image burn into the screen. At the highest resolution she could see what it was, knew what it was, could make out the subtle details that made it one of the most dangerous ships in the universe. The only question was why was it here, and what caused it to crash.

“Casey, I love you, but you are too cautious.”

“Hey, I'm just telling it like it is. You know the Professor would say the same thing.”

“Casey, “she kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear,”The Professor never found an perfectly preserved Imperial class Apocalypse buried under a hundred feet of ice. Get your coat.”

Turning away from the screens she grabbed her suit and began to climb inside.

“Everything is buried for a reason. How well is another matter.” Outside the wind was howling, but the sky was clear. A static discharge off to the far right illuminated the jagged ruins of the old city. The other teams were working there, the conditions were safer and at least they had the old starport and their landed transports. Pulling back her goggles she looked upat the stars.

“How magnificent, “she mused, tears already in here eyes from the whipped up snow. Casey was moving on ahead of her and dissapeared into the dig, she could see the warning lights on the elevator they had installed. It would take a few minutes so she looked back up at the stars. How long since her Professor had filled her head full of passion and desire to seek out the old. Archaeology, her new relgion, her science. Her life. She watched a shooting star fall and wondered what else was out there, what she would find next. A static burst over the com-net brought her around and she looked over at the elevator pad and walked towards it.

“Casey, you okay?” Silence. She got to the elevator and stopped. There, on the edge of the frame was a red smear that was not there an hour ago. She touched the tip of her glove to it and rubbed it between her fingers. Blood.


“Naturally, there will be those who do not want you to unveil the past for reasons they don't want you to know.” She called again, checking the frequencies they used and got nothing, only static. A chill ran down her spine that had nothing to do with the cold. Turning she ran as fast as she could though the snow towards the camp. When did it start snowing? Fat flakes were whipping past now and she could see the edge of the storm coming. It was a big one. She kicked open the door to the main lab and called to the other scientists. No reply.

“Tsuko? Ishima?”

Running through the lab she came to the station with the scan and noticed it had been turned off. Quickly she flicked it back on and hit rescan. Once more the bulk of the ship was now present, but as more power had flowed into it's power relays more things were becoming apparent. There was another structure below the ship. Another ship. A chill struck her and she looked around, a door to the rear of the station was open.

“Tsuko? What's going on? Ishima? Stop playing around, Casey could be in trouble.”

She tried the com-net again, it was quiet, static, uncommonly loud static. Her drawer opened and she went to pull out the weapon that was there, that was always there. That was now gone. Fear heightened her senses and she backed away to the door. There, on the wall, the panic button that alerted the main camp. Ripping off her glove she tapped in the code and activated the signal. Then, as an afterthought she downloaded a copy of the data into a mem-wafer and transferred it to the satellite launcher. A few moments of reprogramming and she launched the tiny satellite into space on a very, very strange orbit.

“Occasionally there will be things that Science just does not understand. So I am told.” She looked around and sighed. Anyone else would have sealed the station and holed up waiting for help. Scientists, archaeologists are supposed to be logical. Supposed to be. Casey however was another matter, and because of that she pulled her suit up and went out into the now blinding snow storm and headed to the dig site.

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