Canopus Station
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A Castle Style Defence

Posted on Sat Oct 24th, 2020 @ 1:26pm by Lieutenant Commander Amie Cerys & Lieutenant Jinn Tevran & The Narrator

Mission: S2:2: Best Laid Plans
Location: Arrow class Runabout 'Arrow Of Apollo'
Timeline: MD3: 1030

The runabout's pilot had taken one look at Bob, the two Intel officer's, and promptly closed himself off in the cockpit. Apparently he had gotten the memo that sometimes certain flight plans and passenger manifests just got lost in the databases.

That or watching Bob hanging from the ceiling bulkheads had unnerved him. To that end, the insectile alien was curiously investigating the spacious executive cabin of the Arrow class runabout. This meant climbing over chairs, crawling up walls, and tapping control panels which blessedly ignored him because they could not 'see' him.

Departing Canopus Station revealed the majesty of the place, black-lit against the candy cane stripes of the gas giant Tangerine Dream. Even now the skeletal bones of a shipyard complex were beginning to form, the pair of Curry class construction ships from the Starfleet Corps of Engineer's hovering over it like concerned chickens. Canopus was growing, expanding its footprint and with it Starfleet's presence in Messier 4.

The view suddenly clouded as the runabout began to descend into the atmosphere of Carpathia, and soon Canopus was lost in the plasma shell of the ships reentry.

"Boxes." Bob said, looking around the compartment. "You think in boxes, and live in boxes, and move in boxes. But you do not conform to the boxes shape."

Jinn chuckled at Bob's observation. "Our boxes don't even conform to the box' shape, Bob. Your own shape is pretty non-conformist when we compare it to the 'box' you used to crash into the remnants of the Traveller's sensor pod."

Bob paused in his manic observations of the interior and focused all four of his beady yellow eyes on Jinn for a moment. And then, in a very dog-like expression of confusion, cocked his head to one side.

"I do not understand."

"It would take a bit to understand," Amie said finally after sitting and watching for a bit. "But..." She stopped. "I honestly don't even know how to explain it."

"Cockpit to the cabin, this is your friendly reminder we're about to touch down. In the event, something breaks and we plummet to our deaths, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for flying Messier 4 Space Ways. We know when you travel in Messier 4, you have no other choice, so there will be no customer feedback survey."

Mechanical sounds filled the cabin for a moment as the undercarriage for the Arrow runabout lowered into place. Outside of the viewports, the golden sands of Carpathia's desert's suddenly vanished as the thick and expansive jungle canopy of the forest that surrounded the White Tower. It looked bright and alive down there, but sensor scans had revealed nothing but plant life down there. No small mammals, no insects, barely any single-celled organisms that didn't have chloroplasts.

The runabout flared before landing, entering the large clearing at the centre of the viridian sea of trees where the Tower arose. As it came down, the Prior structure was revealed. A tower that had once been a slender needle rising up to the sky with its tip jaggedly cut off, now looked like lightning struck street. Bone white and jagged spars of material shot out of it in a chaotic and maddening patterning. This had been the effect generated when the Reciprocity of Carcosia had deactivated the tower with their Logic Bomb.

It was also the reason they were able to land on the surface with a powered descent, instead of falling out of the sky like the first runabout to come close to the tower.

With a clunk and hiss of servos, the runabout landed, relaxing onto its struts, and the cabin door opened. And with it a blast of hot air, as the broiling climate outside strolled in to look around the cabin and get comfy.

Stopping as the hot air hit, Amie blinked. "What the...how...this can't be. It wasn't this hot when I was down here before. I'd call last time almost comfortable, other than what happened."

Bob scuttled past Amie, skittering down the ladder from the side of the runabout and onto the bone-white surface of the tower's campus. He then stood up on his two leg's, raising his four arms up until they were held directly out from his side.

And then Bob screamed, an undulating sound that seemed to wobble in the stomach before exiting the feet.

"What is he doing?" Was all that Amie could ask as she stepped off the shuttle. Between the drastic change in the surface and what Bob just did...she was not liking this more and more.

Bob then proceed to wave his arms, first to the left, and then to the right, as though warding off something.

Amie tilted her head, trying to figure out what he was doing. "Has to be something that we can't see that he's trying to get at." She stepped out and closer to Bob. "What is it?"

"Huum?" Bob asked, startled a little by Amie's arrival. Bob looked at his arms. "Oh!...OOOOoohhh!! I'm putting bees in a basket. But I can't, because I have no bees and baskets. It is very hard. My grandfather's father did this before he took a raft up to the moon. Put bees in a basket...hold basket this way bees snarl, so is safe. Hold them here..."

Bob waved his arms from one side to the other, plucking Amie's combadge from her chest and tossing it in the direction he was talking about. And not a meter from the combadge stopped in mid-air. Or...at least not all of it. Like a slow-motion display, the com badge came apart along its seams, and then its component parts flew away like an exploded diagram.

And then it passed a point, snapping back together and clattered to the floor of bone white tiles.

"See? No bees. No safety here."

"Bees..." Amie tried to sort it in her head as she watched her combadge fall apart and then snap back together again. Tilting her head to the side, she wondered now if there was a clear path to it, without being pulled into a million pieces and then together again. "I'm not sure I understand, Bob." She now wished she had the same things she did last time she was here, so she could see what was actually happened.

And Bob didn't seem to understand Amie. To be fair to both of them, they were starting out from radically different points of perspective. To each, the word's they were saying made perfect sense in their own private context.

"Fff-shaaa," Bob said, his multiple shoulders drooping a little. "My grandfather's father, who rode a raft to the moon, told me the story. That bee's helped those who walked through bone courtyards of the builders without being killed and left here, unable to ride the rafts to the moon. My fathers fathers showed me once the bones and armour plates of my kin, those who did not heed the old messages and walked where they should not. Builder relics are dangerous things, but they are not smart. They do not know sweet fruits, or fish oil bread. So in way, we are smarter."

Bob sat down, cross legged and leaned back on his two lower arms, his upper arms crossed over his chest.

"I wish I had fish oil bread," he said mournfully. "I had some. But I ate it. And then you found me, but no fruit or fish oil bread. It is...odd."

Still not sure what Bob was going on about, Amie just stayed there with him. "We can get you those things if you want them. But...all this? I don't quite understand exactly what is happening." She was taking the time to talk to Bob rather than grab her tricorder to run scans and see what was going on. She knew she should, but she wasn't.

"No one understands. Builders make things, leave them here, leave them there. Their relics are smart, but not smart as me. No. They do not even have names, so they cannot be known for their deeds," Bob let out another 'fa-shaaa' like sigh. He then raised a hand, and pointed to the far side of the towers. "They have names, though."

Across the other side of the towers, hidden by its rising sides before the had stepped down from the Runabout, were two people. Humans, dressed in the light blue coveralls of the Acharon Colony COrporation, the founders of the Carpathia Colony. They were...well it looked like they were striding towards the tower.

But they were not moving. Leg's caught mid-motion, arms mid-swing, one of them even had their head turned back towards the tree line.

"I understand the part about builders making things and leaving them in a place after they have left. But..." Amie's eyes turned to the not-moving people. "There...was no one else down here..." she said softly. "Trapped, like my combadge was? They aren't moving. Or a memory?"

Bob shrugged with all four shoulders.

"Not a memory!"

From the stairs up to the runabouts cabin, the pilot bounded down the stairs with a tricorder in hand. He was wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses and was already unbuttoning his uniform shirt's top button.

"No life signs, but thermal signatures. That why we didn't pick them up, because life sign detectors go for the full range of echocardiograms and electro neural signalling. Thermal by itself just doesn't light up the old pinball machine," he said as he trotted up beside her. "Muldoon, Lieutenant, and your pilot. Got bored and spotted those two about the same time you did."

He held out the tricorder and waved towards the area of space where the combadge had gone through. It trilled happily, and then grew silent as he edged it away.

"Infrared markers. Probably some sort of boundary effect of whatever field can take apart a combadge and then put it back together. Which explains the bees, that can see in infrared. Hold bee's towards the boundary and they get all buzzy and agitated, hold them away..." Muldoon gestured to Bob. "And your great grandfather gets to ride to a raft to the moon."

"That is what I said!" Bob said, dancing up and down.

"Oh, it so is not," the pilot quarrelled back.

Tilting her head to the pilot, Amie raised an eyebrow. "That explains a bit more. But no arguing you two." She looked at back towards her combadge and the figures. "This just keeps getting stranger and stranger. But the fact that they are giving off thermal signatures is something. And not anything we've seen down here yet."

"Maybe with a little work..." Muldoon said, lifting his tricorder up and presenting it the white tiles before them. Slowly a shimmer began to spread through the air, like that of air above a heated surface. Oily, hard to see or grasp, but there. It began to form a path across to the other side of the tower.

"Just pumping a little more energy into the system, pushing some of that infrared light into the visible spectrum. I'd not touch it-hey!" Muldoon said as Bob pushed past his leg, and raced into the maze of shimmering light.

"Damnit," Amie mumbled as she looked at the tricorder before daring to even step foot into the maze. "Is it safe for me to follow? We have to figure this damned thing out."

"I fly runabouts for a living," Muldoon said with an exasperated look. "I'm not the science guy. Unless your question is aerodynamics. But I'd say, probably? I mean Bob ran in there, so...yeah just don't touch the sides."

Amie swore under her breath, "I know you aren't, but thank you." She looked at the tricorder, "I don't think bringing that is smart. Something happens? Get yourself the hell out of here and back to the station, understood? That is an order." She didn't wait for a response and slowly started after Bob, being very careful to not touch anything but the path under her feet.

"Good luck! And...ya know....don't die or anything." Muldoon said.

The path wandered, and it was easy enough to follow. But a sense of wrongness was still there. Corners that seemed feet away seemed to take longer to get to, and long stretches of the maze seemed compact and close. It was as if distance and space were just slightly skewed, enough to make a conscious mind confused. Some sort of security system to deter the unwelcome or curious?

What could have been minutes or an hour or no time at all, she was at the other side of the tower and next to the pair of stop motion colonists.

"Oh...thank god..."

The one at back of the pair, a man with light coloured hair and skin reddened from long exposure to the sun, said through cracked lips. He looked the worse for wear, frozen in the act of walking, but his lips and eyes could still move.

"Please...get us...out of here..."

Amie watched the man, then looked to Bob, then back at the pair. "Getting you out of here...might not be so easy. It was dangerous enough getting to you." She looked for some way, some thing to help get the pair out. She wasn't going to leave them if there was even a small possibility of getting them back to the shuttle with her.

"We...we didn't know the field was here," the man said. "We're climatologists from the...from the colony...came to find out what had happened. Sand storms...the sand storms..."

He gasps, parched lips cracked and ruined, his eyes fluttering as he tried to speak.

"Easy, its okay. You can explain later." Looking to see if there was a safe way for the climatologists to get to them, Amie let out a shaky breath. "Can you get over to me, even if it is slowly? We have a path back to our shuttle."

"The sand storms...fractal patternings..." they muttered before their voice rallied with strength. "Can't move. Been trying for days. At first, we thought....thought it was a trick. Heat exhaustion making the air seem thick...must have been warning us away, trying to deter us..."

They let out a breath.

"A machine...a broken machine..."

"Broken machine," Amie said quietly, trying to sort it in her head. There were times she wished she'd focused on her non-Intel lessons. Not that she didn't, but had needed to do more. She wasn't a scientist. "Bob...do you know how to get them out?"

"Fathers father's great father got near a Builder machine once, didn't have bee's. His bones now forever as a warning. I walked past them with my wicker basket once, polished thin as reeds," Bob said, skittering back and forth behind Aime's legs. "I do not know."

Sighing softly, Amie watched Bob for a moment and then looked back to the two. Very slowly, she reached her arm out towards them, testing to see how close she actually could get to them.

The air around her fingertips began to shimmer with a pale pink light, and slowly a pressure like pushing through foamy suds fought against her. But slowly she reached out and took the mans hand. At this point, he'd lapsed into unconsciousness. As her grip took hold of him, that pink shimmer spread to him and with a boneless grace, he collapsed to the floor free. At the same instance, his compatriot also dropped, freed from the stasis field.

Letting out a small sigh of relief, Amie now knew she couldn't carry them both and make it safely back along the path. "Bob, are you able to carry one of them safely back to the shuttle?"

Bob was gone, skittering back straight to the shuttle. Apparently whatever she had done had taken care of the maze-like patch, shorting the distance considerable. Muldoon nearly fell over himself trying to get out of the way of the insectile alien creature.

"Muldoon! I could use some help over here!" Amie called out, lifting up the man so she could get him back to the shuttle.

"Okay!" the pilot shouted back, stepping forward before sweeping his hand out to feel the air. "Er...shouldI bring a medKit?"

"No, just, let's treat them on the shuttle and get back to the station. This'll be one hell of a report..."

 

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