The Ushingi’s floodlights lit the scene as the figures of Yori and Case slowly propelled towards the surface of the megastructure the environment suits had small multi-directional thrusters. Yori glanced at a location next to the docking door and instructed her suit that it was where she wanted to get to and the thrusters started to release careful jets of pressurised gas. Case instructed her suit to follow closely behind Yori. From the ship, the ring had looked big. Still, the lack of perspective made it impossible to really comprehend it now that she was up close Yori could finally see how it seemed to stretch out forever in every direction, the Ushingi was behind them its bright lights making the bleached white surface of the ring look like a snow-covered field the lights on their environment suits lighting up the shadows that would have been caused by their own bodies.
“Remember to keep your orientation,” Yori instructed Case as they set down on the surface of the ring.
“Do you think we should activate the mag boots?” Case looked over the surface around the large door.
“No, we might need to get away quickly if any defences come on.” Yori floated off to the side of case watching the still scene like an owl.
“Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.” Case’s eyes stopped searching, and she moved closer to another spot near the door.
“Ushingi is everything clear from your end?” Yori asked while watching Case take a small tool off of her utility belt.
“Yep, all clear.”
“Now, let’s hope that that Fox knows what it’s talking about,” she popped a cover off of a small box then looked from side to side hand and then back at the now exposed wiring as though she were a squirrel. She pulled three probes out of the tool she had pulled off of her belt and attached the first one to a wire inside the box.
She stopped and checked her hud and then looked around again. She then looked back at the wiring and attached the second probe. Yori floated next to her watching energy pistol in hand.
“Okay here goes nothing,” Case attached the final probe. Nothing happened. Case squinted. Then a green indicator flashed on the device.
“Is it working?”
“Green means good, so I guess so.” A line of white light traced its way around the airlock, and a collection of small green, blue and, red lights started to shine and pulse. Yori and Case both backed away to get a fuller view as things came back to life.
“Look’s like we have power Ushingi.”
“Okay, confirm you’re clear of the airlock.”
“Transmitting.” Several seconds past in silence, Colin was watching the girls bio readouts, Yori’s breathing was deliberate and controlled, but her heart was racing, he strummed his fingers a moment and looked back out of the window at their small figures.
“The patterns changing,” Yori reported. As she said it, the door on the ring started to open, inside was dim orange light shone out.
“Good work, we’re gonna attach the modular dock.”
“Affirmative,” Yori replied, and she and Case returned to the ship.
Setting up the docking connection took another couple of hours to get in place and check. They were sat around the dinner table in the small but comfortable lounge, relaxing lighting, nice furniture and a table covered in empty plates and mugs of warm drinks. Along one of the walls was a large screen for group viewing and another wall had a food synthesiser, next to that was a couple of water taps that expelled water at various temperatures.
“So the ring itself seems to be a vacuum and near background level of thermal radiation,” Leah reported back the data collected from the interfaces on the alien airlock.
“Fox, how long has this thing been sitting here?” Colin dug for some more useful information.
“I don’t have that information I’d afraid.”
“Typical, what else have we managed to find out?”
“Well, they were proportionally similar to us given most of the rooms and corridors have the kind of dimensions and layout you’d see back home.”
“Any evidence that it will be dangerous?” Yori asked while she sipped at the steaming contents of a hot cup of cocoa, large eyes peaking from above the rim.
“Well, it’s a monolithic megastructure created by an ancient hyper-advanced alien species, so I’m sure it will be fine.” Colin chuckled to himself, and Yori shook her head slightly. Colin looked at his watch, “Should we go now or in the morning?”
“I’m not going to be able to get a moments sleep knowing we’re next to the biggest machine in the universe ever discovered,” Case hunched her knees up under her chin and sucked in a cheek.
“I’m with Case, let’s get over there and see what’s what,” Vivek chimed in.
“As much as I’d like to advise that it’s safer to go after resting I also know it’ll be challenging to get to sleep without medication that may just make the situation worse in the morning,” Leah reported one hand resting on the arm of the chair the other holding a cup of tea.
“What do you think?” Yori asked Colin a serene look on her face as she sipped from her cup again.
“Don’t put off tomorrow what can be done today is my saying.” She smiled.
“If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing now.” Yori nodded in agreement.
“And if it’s not worth doing give it to team joker?” Vivek grinned. Colin pointed at him, and Vivek smirked.
“We don’t know what we’ll face once we’re over there, but let us go prepped for trouble, according to the details from the fox we should be able to get to the bridge in a couple of hours if there are no major interruptions.”
“Yeah.” Yori looked at the fox again.
Stood in front of the inner hatch Case used the transmitter that the Fox had given her to transmit a code to the door and a second later the outer hatch closed and the inner one opened.
“I guess it doesn’t know there’s no atmosphere in there.” Colin looked at the now-closed outer hatch. The torches lit up a long corridor that looked like it opened up bits of debris sitting motionless in the air, nothing at all moved except their own bodies.
“Okay, let the drones do their thing,” Yori said. Vivek’s suit let out a small thrust that pushed him to the ground, he placed a box that he was carrying on his back on the floor then pressed a button on the side and a green light lit up a line of lights at the bottom of it, then the lid opened.
“Fly my pretties,” Vivek said with a smile as a dozen golfball-sized orbs lifted up from the box, and guide lights shone from the bottom of them they then headed down the corridor.
“Okay, let’s make a move.” Colin led the group cautiously forward their suits releasing tiny jets of propellant to push them down the corridor and into a vast hall that carried on left and right of them. Ahead were what looked like small stalls for checking people onto the station they looked like passport control, Colin looked either side.
“Anachronistic,” Leah observed, her voice coming over the suits intercoms.
“Yeah.” Colin led the group over the stalls from the ground to the ceiling it was about ten meters, and the stalls were about six meters tall, the other side there was more debris floating about. A message appeared on his hud, the drones had mapped their way to the station control room without encountering any serious obstacles. He gave the okay sign to the rest of the team, and they headed forwarded to the shaft that would lead them “up”.
“You hear that?” Vivek said.
“You can’t hear anything we’re in a vacuum,” Leah said scornfully.
“Yeah, I know, just something in the air.” He looked around the light from his suit reflected off of distant surfaces and the motionless debris.
“It’s okay to be creeped out first time on a ghost ship.” Colin reached the massive closed doors and looked around to see if he could find any obvious way of opening it.
“The drone found a small duct to go through.” Yori came up alongside him and pointed.
“Clever little guys, so what about this foxy?” Colin looked at the fox companion that had been jetting along with them.
“All these doors will have a manual system behind the metalwork on the right-hand side.” A beam of red light shot out of the companion’s body to indicate a panel next to the door.
“And it will work?” Yori and Colin manoeuvred down to the panel and used the energy pistols as cutting torches to get it open.
“The only reason it wouldn’t is if the stations had been under siege when it was shut down.” The two of them pushed the panel away from the group, a large metal cog with a square hole in the middle and massive interlinking gears around it.
“Anyone got a key?” Vivek asked as he floated a bit back from the others. They looked around.
“How about we cut away part of one of those stalls?” Leah asked. They all nodded and with the energy pistols moulded a collection of metal beams into a large T shape that fit into the hole well enough.
Slowly Yori and Colin worked to crank the door open, each turn got the doors another couple of centimetres apart, a new corridor was slowly revealed, and as it reached a meter, they stopped and joined the other team members. They arrived at the access conduit that led up to the command room and propelled themselves upwards into the darkness.
They had arrived at the command room and negotiated another set of sealed doors within it looked a lot like a command and control room for any station back home, there were dozens of stations with all kinds of screens and consoles. Everything though was still cold and silent, even in the freezing blackness.
“Nothing’s labelled” Vivek sat in midair and looking around the baron room.
“Hardly a surprise I guess the screens probably tell you when they’re powered up.”
“Yeah, I doubt we’d know which was which back home if a station was completely dead.” Yori floated next to a big transparent screen, it looked like a large piece of glass, she ran her scanner over it and hummed.
“Alright fox, now what?” Colin looked at the companion again.
“Now? Now we power the reactors back up,” the fox jetted across the room stopping at a console near the front of the room, a probe popped out of the foxes side and then plugged into something on the surface of the station control panel.
The five of them looked around cautiously concerned as to what may happen in the next few minutes.
“You think it’s going to work?”
“I don’t even know what it really is.” Case replied.
“I’ve got an incoming transmission from the ship,” Gura announced to Colin, the little holographic shark girl climbed over an imaginary threshold into vision.
The ship had detected motion near the systems sun. It magnified it, small black shapes had begun to move and align in space, everyone in the group could see it on their own HUDs, they watched as the objects appeared to get larger and larger, a massive dish like objects that covered a vast amount of space.
“Are they ships?” Colin asked.
“Solar satellites of some kind, but what are they doing,” Case muttered.
The ship’s sensors relayed that a vast laser beam was heading towards the ring. As the ship relayed the information the laser impacted somewhere on the megastructure, the laser didn’t seem to stop.
“Maybe it’s time to run away and give up on this?” Vivek suggested.
“Wait, I think it’s using solar lasers to provide enough power to start some kind of reaction.” Case said and was rewarded by consoles starting to come to life, in front of them what had previously been just a wall came to life and became a mammoth view screen that showed the scene outside with vastly improved magnification, huge solar collecters were focusing almost all of the red suns energy into tiny five hundred meters in radius laser projectors that were then concentrated again. More consoles lit up, and the fox turned to them all.
“We have power” as it announced that the room rumbled for several seconds.
“What was that?” Colin looked at the fox.
“Well, I think that may have been some power conduits erupting into white-hot flames as power was restored.”
“Just focus power on getting this jump gate running and us where you want us.” He directed and then looked to the other four, “we need to be ready to move fast I think. Vivek, Yori, Leah head back to the ship and get her ready to get us moving the second we need to.”
“On it,” Yori said and headed towards the door, the other two falling in behind her.
“Hey, Colin, don’t get blown up!” Vivek gave him a salute as he left.
“What a nuisance. Case can you figure anything out from these machines while we wait for this damn fox to get us out of here?”
The room felt like it was consistently rumbling now, the other three had reported they’d gotten back to the ship, Case was working on a terminal, and the fox had been silent for a good fifteen minutes.
“Got it!” The fox exclaimed.
“Right let’s move!” the viewscreen showed from external cameras a vast black void appearing to fill the centre of the ring.