Broke 20k words today, should have broken 30k. I'm 10k behind. I can still make that up, but it's going to take some work.
(I'd like to apologize for any spelling errors in the following snippets, Scrivener's spell check in the windows beta is bugged.)
Days passed, and we weren’t allowed to see Trai. He lay in a hospital, and we had no idea what his condition was, other than that it couldn’t be good. He was quarantined, to keep and of the viruses that had leaked into his suit from infecting the rest of the ship. Unfortunately this meant that not only could we not see him, but his condition was kept secretive, and we could only expect the worst.
During the time we were waiting for word on Trai’s condition, Weq, Rios, and myself attempted to convince Yui’Req to let us return to the surface of the planet. Our ships sat in orbit, and continued to send drones down to the surface every day, but Drones were clunky, and difficult to use to gain any valuable information. We must have sent hundreds of them to the surface, all over the planet. We saw everything from lush forests, to frozen wastelands, to large stretches of nothing but sand. We even found more cities. They were just as abandoned as the first. Indeed, it seemed the only thing we couldn’t find were the people who had built the cities.
“Perhaps they’ve gone underground?” Weq suggested at one point, as we discussed where the population had disappeared to. “Or perhaps they devoloped space travel, and abandoned the planet?“ “But why?” I asked. “We can speculate all day long, but the fact remains, until we can get down to the surface, and actually have a chance to study the city… We can’t know anything.” “Then it’s decided.” Rios said, at one point. “We need to get back to the surface. As soon as possible. By any means necessary.”
“Steal a ship?!” I asked, hastily. “You’re utterly out of your mind Rios! Steal a ship? Do any of us even know how to-” “Fly?” He cut me off. “Yes. I do. You forget my Father was a pilot. I grew up around the controls of various ships. He always knew I’d follow in his footsteps, imagine his… Surprise, when I told him I wanted to study language.” He looked sad for a moment, before continuing. “I won’t make it fly loops and flips, but I can get us down to the surface, I’m sure of it.”
“Even then, stealing a shuttle? That’s impossible! I mean… They must be guarded somehow-” He intturupted me again, something which was become quite irritating. “The only security system they have is a built in tracking device to see where exactly the shuttle is. That’s where I fall short. I don’t know how to disable that tracking device, to keep them from instantly locating us.” “Well.” I said satisfied, “That’s that then. We can’t steal a shuttle, or we’d be caught instantly.” “Actually..” Weq began, “I have an idea.” “You too Weq?” I said, annoyed. “I don’t want to be no one again! I want to go down to the surface, and study these creatures! I want to find them!” “Fine then.” I said, “What’s your idea?”
“Well… um… That is to say…” He began, losing confidence in himself. “Yes?” Rios said. “Well… Trai would know. I mean, he is a computers expert. I’m sure he’d know how to disable the tracking device, and maybe he could tell us how…” Rios looked at me. “There! Don’t you see! He’s right! It’s brilliant! We ask Trai how we would disable the tracking device, and then do it ourselves. We get down to the surface, and they’ll never know where we are!” I sighed annoyedly. “You’re crazy. Both of you.” I said. “This will never work, and we’re going to get ourselves killed.” Rios looked at me, “Ourselves?” I paused and said with a small laugh, “Well, you two are pretty obviously going down there with or without me, and hey, you only die once right?”
“That’s the spirit!” Rios said. “But you’re forgetting one thing.” I reminded him. “Weapons. If we’re going down there alone, we won’t have Yui’Req to protect us. Where do you suppose we get weapons? We can’t just go down there unarmed. There’s all sorts of vicious beasts.” There was a long pause. “I… I hadn’t thought…”
“There’s only one place to get weapons on the entire ship, and I don’t think the armory is just going to give us guns because we asked nicely.” I said. “No… No of course not.” He said to me. “You’re right. Leave it to me. I’ll get us weapons. We won’t go down there completely unarmed.” “How?” I asked him. “I… I don’t know yet. But I’ll get them.” He replied.
I still remember very well going into Trai’s room in the hospital, still under quarantine, but allowing me to enter only with a suit similar to the one we wore down on the planet surface, and telling him of our plan. How Rios, Weq and I had a heated argument about whether or not we should return to the surface, or wait for clearance which may never come. I told him every word that had been said. I told him how I had argued that we should wait, and how Rios had told us that we would never return to the surface, and finally how we had decided to steal a shuttle. He lay there, weak, and listened. Only when I finally reached the point where I told him about the tracking device installed in the shuttle, and that we needed to know how to disable it, did he speak.
“Yes..” He said in a hushed tone hardly above a whisper. “I think I can help you. Get me… Something to record instructions on.” I paused, stunned for a moment. “You mean, you’ll help us? You’re not going to tell me that we’re crazy, or anything like that?” He slowly turned to look at me. “I’m dying, Tare. I lie here, hardly able to breathe. I know that I am in the last days of my life. But I don’t regret a thing. I have set foot on a planet inhabited by other, intelligent life. That’s enough. You though, you’re going to live, Tare. You have a chance to go down there again, and learn about the life on the surface. Maybe even find them. And you ask me if I think you’re crazy? If I think you’re stupid? I would think you were stupid if you weren’t willing to do anything to get back to the surface. I would think you were cowardly if you weren’t willing to give up everything to get back to the surface. I would… I would hate you if you weren’t doing exactly what you’re doing right now.”
I looked at him, and he looked back at me. “Trai…” I began, but before I could say anthing else, he said “Are you going to get me something to give you instructions, or are you just going to stand there?”
The time had come. I met Weq and Rios in an area of the ship which was near the hangar where all the shuttles were kept. Weq and I arrived first and waited in silence. I don’t know about him, but I was too nervous to speak, so I was glad he didn’t seem to want to talk either. We waited there for what seemed like an eternity, when finally we saw Rios turn a corner, and come into our vision. He moved quickly towards us, with a large bag that seemed to be holding something heavy. As he approached us he said, “Tare, you spoke with Trai, correct?” “Yes, I did.” I responded. “Good. We need to go. Quickly.” He said. I began to ask why, we hadn’t been seen, and truly we had nothing but time, but before I could say anything, he took off again towards the hangar.
Weq and I quickly followed, wondering why he was going so fast. Perhaps he was nervous too, and this was his way of showing it? I supposed. My question would be answered soon. As we reached the hangar, there was a large gate closing it off. “It’s closed off?!” I asked. “I thought you said that the only security measure.” “Yes, I did say that the only security was a tracking device.” Rios answered, as he held up a small pad to the scanner which unlocked the gate. To my surprise it opened. “How’d you do that?” I asked him. He ignored the question and took off towards one of the shuttles inside. The hangar was a large room with many shuttles within it. Again, the shuttle was locked, but Rios dug through his bag and got out another small pad and held it up to this lock. It opened also, and we hurried to the locked inside of the shuttle, and began to put suits on. As we were doing so, however, someone yelled behind us, “What are you doing?!” and we all three turned simutainiously. A guard stood there, holding a gun (a small one, not one like the one which Yui’Req had used on the surface, although also very lethal.), though not holding it up to us quite yet, apparantly not sure it we were actually supposed to be there or not. Obviously there was more security than Rios had told us about. I was about to surrender to him, and was trying to think up excuses when Rios started digging through his bag. He reached down into it, and pulled out a gun. He held it up and shot the guard before he could react. I was stunned, as I saw the guard evaporate into nothing but particles in front of my eyes. “Rios! What did you do!” I screamed at him. “You told me to get a weapon for just such a situation as this.” He responded, calmly. “I meant… I meant if we were attacked by beasts again not… You killed him!” “Get his gun.” Rios told me. “Get his gun?! That’s all you can say? ‘Get his gun’?! You just killed an innocent guard!” Rios continued to put his suit on. “We don’t have time for this.” “Are you insane?!” I continued to yell at Rios. “This isn’t right! You just killed-” I was intterupted by a voice behind me. “Stop!” I turned, and saw Yui’Req behind us at the entrance to the hangar. “Thieves! Murderers!” He yelled. Rios held up the gun to him but I knocked his hand down as an energy ball shot out and exploded in the corner of the hangar near another shuttle. “You are insane! That’s Yui’Req! He’s-” Something dawned on me in that moment. Rios turned and hit the button to shut the shuttle hatch, as Yui’Req dashed towards us.
The hatch to the shuttle closed just as Yui’Req reached it. He beat on the door, but to no avail. Rios started the engines to the shuttle, and we began to rise. He took off out the open hangar through the pressurization field into open space. “Tare, how do we disable the tracking device?” He asked me suddenly. “Disable the- Are you insane?! Why do you think I would even let you know now? Why do you think I don’t just want us- You! To get caught?!” Suddenly the shuttle began to shake violently. It knocked me to the floor, and Weq just barely supported himself on the wall before falling. “That’s why you want to tell me how to disable the tracking device!” I looked out the window. The ship had targeted us, and was shooting energy weapons, similar to the ones in our gun, but much more powerful, towards the ship. “Tare! Quickly!” Rios said, and I begrudingly handed him the information tablet Trai had given me with the information on how to turn off the tracking device.
Rios quickly began entering the commands into the computer system, while we continued to be shot at. The shuttle wasn’t meant to take a beating, and it wouldn’t last long agains’t the ship’s weapons. The ship rattled again, and there was a beeping from the computer console. “Alright, the tracking is off, they won’t be able to hit us again-” As he said that the ship shook even more violently than before. “I thought you said they wouldn’t be able to hit us again?!” Weq yelled, frightenedly. “They- I mean they- They must have gotten a lucky shot!” He said. “Hold on tight, this is going to be a rough time down!”
The next thing I remember was awakening in the twisted wreckage that was once our shuttle. I lay there for a moment, in shock. After regaining myself somewhat, I realized Weq was next to me, unconsious. I stood up, and realized there was something on top of Weq. I attempted to pull it off of him, and he gave a great moan, regaining conciousness, as I succeeded in pulling it off of him. He looked around and said “Urgh… Tare? Tare, are we dead?” “No, we’re not dead yet Weq.” Luckily neither of our suits had been punctured during the crash. We had landed in some sort of desert. It looked as if there were nothing around for an endless stretch, in every direction.
Rios was sitting the pilot’s chair. He too groaned and began to regain conciousness. “We… We did it.” He said. “We made it down to the surface.” I walked up to him and held him down to his chair. “What was that?!” I screamed at him. “’The only security is a tracking device’? That’s funny because it looked to me like there was quite a bit more security than that! And Yui’Req- Why was he here?!” Rios groaned as I held him down, apparantly I was hurting him, but I really didn’t care at that point. I was so angered at him, that I almost reveled in his pain. Almost. Rios was staying silent. He looked at me as I looked back at him with anger and disdain. “What’s going on?!” I screamed at him with rage in my voice.
He hesitated to answer, but I held him down (I was, and always had been, much stronger than Rios.) Until he answered. “You… You told me to get weapons.” He began. “What do you-” I began to ask him. But then I realized what he meant. “You… You stole weapons from Yui’Req.” I said. He stayed silent, but I could tell through his silence that I was correct. “Not… Not just that. I took… Passes. Into the hangar.” “Passes?! You didn’t even tell us the gate would be locked! You didn’t tell us about the guard-” “I didn’t know about the guards.” “How can I believe you? How can I trust you?!” I asked of him. “You… You can’t. I suppose. But it’s the truth.” He said. “I… I knew about the hangar lock though.” “How did you know?” “I had been to the hangar when it was closed before. My father was a pilot, remember?”
“Why didn’t you tell us about It then?” “Because… I didn’t think it was important. I knew Yui’Req would have a key. He was a leader of our unit. Every unit leader has a key. When you told me to get a weapon… I just decided I could take his while I was taking his pass cards.” I looked at Rios with disgust. I picked up the bag which was sitting next to him and looked inside of it. There were three or four guns inside of it. I pulled out the smallest one. “Here, Weq.” I said as I gave him the gun. I pulled out another one, and took it for myself. I looked at Rios. “You don’t get one. If you so much as step out of line…” I held the gun up to him. “You’ll pay.”
I took the bag, and I let Rios up. We looked out around the area we were in. There were some mountains out far off into the distance. “Where did we crash?” I asked Rios. “Near any known cities that we’ve found?” “I set it for the co-ordinates of the city which we landed in last time… Obviously we must have gone off course during the crash.” Rios replied to me. “How far off course?” I asked him. “It’s hard to say.” He said. “Give me an estimate. You’re the one who crashed us.”
He paused and said, “Well, it’s possible that we’re near the city and only went off course towards the end…” “Or?” “…Or, the navigation system was overloaded by the energy discharges we were hit with and we could be anywhere.” He said. “Well…” I began, “We’d better start moving then.”
So move we did. We traveled a long way, and for a long time. I thought we would never stop. Our suits were designed to keep us alive for long periods of time, in case you were stranded on a planet and couldn’t open your suit for long periods of time (as we were), so nourishment wasn’t something to be worried about, and they were climate controlled, so there wasn’t much reason to be afraid of overheating either, however after being attacked by those beasts in the city, it made me nervous of what might attack us in a place like this. The thought made sure I kept a firm grip on my gun.
Hours later we had finally reached the outskirts of the abandoned city. It was obvious that it was not the same city we had been to before. The city we had first come to was overgrown, this one however, was not nearly as overgrown. There were still plants scattered about the city, but they were only the same kind of plant that we had seen before in the sandy desert. They dotted the landscape, but otherwise this city was dry and barren. I wondered if it had always been that way, or if the climate had changed since… Whatever happened to the inhabitants. The buildings that made up the city were also quite different. For one thing, the building were much more spread out. The other city had building cluttered next to each other, creating a cramped feeling, but these buildings were far more spread out. There were even what seemed to be open spaces that could have once been fields if the climate had in fact changed this area into a desert.
“These symbols…” He said, “They’re the same as the symbols in the objects we found in the building where we landed last time…” I looked at him. “What does that mean?” I asked. “I’m… I’m not sure. But I think… I think that they might be written words.” “Written words? You mean stored knowledge, like we store knowledge on computers?” He paused for a moment. “Yes, similar. Our written word seems to be very different from theirs, but I think… I think it just may be something like that.” “So they stored knowledge on pieces of paper, and metal boxes? That’s so inefficeint. Why wouldn’t they store information on computers instead?” “Perhaps they hadn’t yet invented computers?” Weq suggested.
“I… I don’t think so. I… We need to find another building with those objects again. The ones with pictures on them… Perhaps if I could find more of them with pictures on them I could begin to decode their language.” “Wait, are you saying you could be able to decipher their written word?” I asked. “Well… It’s possible. The pictures in some on some of the paper we found… I think they might have been words for what the object it depicts is.” “Wait. You mean… If that’s true, we could be able to read the more complex ones, without pictures in them.” I said. Rios continued. “Let’s… Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I could still be wrong. First we need to find another one of those knowledge storehouses so I can try and... Figure this out.”