Synuefe EU-Q C21-10
The LLV Appaloosa dove out of the darkness, engines screaming to slow the descent out of the orbital glide. The Asp Explorer banked in a loping arc, the thrusters casting a pale glow over the broken and crumbling structures below. “Guardian Structure” was all the navigation panel would say about the location. Leon flicked a few controls and the heads-up-display switched to a night vision view. Green lines snaked out from their position, outlining blocks and arcs a kilometer away.
“Spotted an LZ.” Leon said. James, Leon’s co pilot, nodded and monitored the altimeter and collision monitors. The Asp thrust sideways and angled towards a clear zone just wide enough to fit the ship between the structures.
“Nothing on scanners. Looks deserted.” James said.
“Good.” Leon quipped, extending the landing gear. “Don’t want anyone interrupting this.” The Appaloosa touched down, pale lights from the ship extending only a couple hundred meters and illuminating a strange triangular arc. Leon unstrapped from the pilot’s chair . His magboots engaged, the gravity on the planet was only a dim .3G. Good for flying and landing, not so much for walking. “James, you’re on point defense and radar. Anyone blinks in within a few light seconds I wanna know about it.”
“PD?” James laughed. “What’re we expecting from these old buildings? Space zombies?”
“The dossier said to equip a couple defense turrets before heading out. Could be an over abundance of caution. Could be something else. I don’t want to take chances. Keep an eye peeled and stay off Galnet.” Leon said, adding a quick punch on the shoulder. James smiled and gave a fake salute.
“Aye, aye, Commander.” He said, deploying the twin missile defense emplacements. Leon snaked his way down the passages to the SRV bay. Within a few minutes, the Scarab was lowered on the hooks and released. The buggy fell a good few meters to the ground below, the repulsors on the wheels engaging. “Low Gravity Alert” chimed the COVAS. Leon nodded, switching a few power settings, the headlights flicked off and the night vision engaged.
“Confirm comms link.” Leon said as the Scarab slid from under the ship.
“I read you Commander.” James said. Leon opened a comm panel to his left and plugged in a small data stick. His mission dossier loaded, line by line.
“Well we’re in the right neighborhood.” Leon said, the planet and system were confirmed correct on the first few lines of the mission readout. The Scarab snuck around a corner, coming across a large ramp that lead to a central passage. A street?
“We got movement!” James said over comms. Leon leapt to switch the controls to the gun turret of the buggy. “On your six!” Leon swung the turret around and saw something burst from the ground about fifty meters behind. Leon fired two short bursts. The plasma shots bounced harmlessly off as the obelisk raised itself the rest of the way out of the ground. Something large, blue and glowing emerged from the top. Leon breathed heavily in his Remlock.
“Doesn’t seem to be hostile.” Leon said after a tense moment. “What the hell is this place?”
“No idea.” James replied.
“Stay frosty. If these things are still active, who knows what else is.” Leon took another look at the mission dossier. Then turned his guns back on the structure. A few quick shots, and the blue top of the obelisk floated down to the ground and puffed in a cloud of dust. Leon drove over and scooped it into the cargo bay of the buggy. “Apparently, these are important.” Leon said, noting that “Ancient Relic” had been registered into the inventory.
Leon drove the Scarab with great caution, only getting the wheel stuck on a bit of masonry once. He winced when the COVAS warned “Chassis integrity compromised.” He was still at 98%, but he wasn’t taking chances here. He came to what the dossier described, some kind of huge central structure. It looked like an altar, to Leon. But what would this be doing all the way out-
A blue light shot into the sky and the ground rumbled. Leon snapped his eyes to the right and left as two thin obelisks rose from the ground, a small blue ball shining in an opening. The next mission step read “POWER THE STRUCTURES. USE PLASMA BOLTS.” So Leon did, shooting a barrage of bolts towards the glowing blue ball. Something rose through the structure, and another blue light shot into the sky, this time broadcasting a message to the SRV. “STRUCTURE POWERED, RESET COUNTDOWN.” A ticking clock began on his HUD.
“Commander!” James’s voice pierced Leon’s awe. “Enemy contacts!” Leon swiveled the turret around. Sure enough, two red blips now appeared on the scanner. One slid from its position behind a wall. It was floating about five meters off the ground, it was some kind of triangular construction, interlocked and using no visible propulsion. It had a blue light on the front, some kind of visual sensor? Leon had three seconds to admire the strange machine before it opened fire. Strange blue projectiles shot forward from no visible weapon emplacement. The Scarab’s shields flared, Leon slammed forward on the accelerator and the buggy lurched and launched itself off the platform and towards the drone. The plasma bolts fired a staccato beat on the drone’s hull as leon diverted all available power to the shields and weapons. The drone shook and something rocketed out of the back of the machine. “MISSILE ALERT” the HUD warned, and warning alarms droned. Green point defense rounds shot out from the Asp, parked only a few hundred meters away. Leon made a mental note to thank James after he was out of mortal danger. The ‘missiles’ the drone fired spiraled out of control and slammed into the nearby ruins or exploded outright. Leon pushed full power into the Scarabs plasma bolts and laid into the machine. The drone spun, a small explosion sending it into an out of control spin, then it detonated sending shrapnel and huge chunks of its armor careening across the site.
Leon brought the Scarab to a stop. He took a moment to breathe, and then remembered there was still one more contact to be destroyed. A quick u-turn brought the Scarab face to face with the hostile robot. A minute and a number of spent rounds later, the drone burst into shards. “Timer’s ticking” Leon said, tapping his HUD. He rushed to each pylon in turn, making sure to keep his head on a swivel for any additional flying guards, which he was happy about when one burst out of the ground behind him when he was preoccupied with the pylon.
After repeating the process several times, the drones had been dealt with and the message that all pylons had been charged popped up on his screen. The next step on the dossier was simply “PRESENT RELIC AT ALTAR”. Leon drove to the ‘altar’ and dumped the relic out of the cargo hold. Lightning shot out, several moving doors split open and some sort of large, rotating ball structure shot out of the panels.
“James. You getting this?” Leon said, tapping the camera feed to the Asp.
“Yeah. That’s some next level shit right there.” The hired pilot said in a flat, amazed tone. The Scarab beeped, indicating that a data point had been found for transfer. Leon engaged the transfer and a confirmation appeared.
“MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, GUARDIAN WEAPON BLUEPRINT SEGMENT ACQUIRED.” New coordinates appeared, with the layout of a new site.
“James, warm the engines. We’re dusting off. New coordinates are uploading now.”
“Good, get back here ASAP Commander, you just lit up the whole site.” The scanner showed a handful of new hostile contacts. Leon pushed the engines to full and thrust off the platform as several blue projectiles impacted where he had just been.
The Appaloosa shot upward as Leon finished strapping back in. Several incoming shots were detected, and James did his level best attempting to fend off the numerous missiles. Leon spooled the FSD and in a moment, the ship was gone. The ruins were left to their stoic silence once more, as the Guardian drones returned to their state of readiness.