Watching the readings on my detectors, I whistled. The ship had just dropped out of hyperspace near my position. Thankfully I was powered down already and in a sensor masking asteroid field. My short range detectors worked out of the field thankfully. Based on what the readings informed me of, really thankfully.
The ship registered about as massive as an Alliance Stellar Navy light carrier. Heavily armed and armour plated, I decided I was damn glad I already was hiding. My little transport was certainly no match for anything this massive. A question haunted me about this ship.
Who were they?
So far, nary a clue in my possession told me who happened to have such a 'healthy' interest in me. I mulled over again and again what scant facts I observed. Simply nothing added up in my mind. Running them again accomplished nothing beyond grinding a layer off my teeth. Reason seemed to escape me at this point, and critical thinking was never a strong suit of mine anyway.
Watching the detectors, I noted the ship within visual range. Shrugging, I fired up my exterior vision and made a photographic record of as much of the ship as possible. Keeping a wary eye on the detector readings, in a minute the ship departed. Sighing relief, my thoughts quickly returned to my musing of earlier. I decided to review the information I collected on Sirrum.
Scanning through the history of space flight, I stopped suddenly. The section titled 'Rise of the Imperium' drew my attention. In this place I found myself, space travel was an older knowledge than in my neck of the woods. In the beginning, it seems there were no less than 170 small kingdoms scattered about this particular galaxy. The usual fare of power struggles ensued and the galaxy plunged into a galactic Dark Age of sorts.
About the time Earth first achieved hyperspatial travel, the forces of the Imperium started conquering star systems, bringing order and re-establishing communications. Reading over this information chilled me, with my amateur historian bent screaming bloody murder. All of it had an all too familiar lean to it, right out of the Earth history of dictators and empires.
Leaning back again, I pondered the last major intangible, that of my ground encounters. What in the name of everything unholy were these people using? No visible weapons...chanting...what the Hell! My musings brought me no peace of mind. Turning decisively, I punched every reading on the atmosphere of Sirrum. Giving the computer some marching orders, I focused my attention to leaving my hiding place.
Powering up, I plotted myself a leisurely course out of the asteroid field. Watching carefully as I made my way through, my heart hit my boots when the short range detectors commenced screaming. Company arrived in the form of the light carrier I saw earlier. Cursing myself, I accelerated as much as I dared. Managing not to hit an asteroid, I blasted into clear space.
Seeing three groups of 15 fighters converging on me forced a sudden revision to 'clear space'. Boxing me in, I grimly punched maximum intensity to my forward screens, firing maximum power ion strikes at everything dead ahead. Picking a target as the formation scattered, I screamed for the fighter at 95% sublight. Holding my breath, the fighter loomed larger as the collision alarm sounded. Turning blue, during the last second the fighter skated off to my port.
Exhaling with every thing I had, I gasped as oxygen hit my system again. Scrambling, I engaged the aft shields, listening to the symphony of things bashing my hull. Dialing the shields all the way, I watched the explosions form to my aft. Jumping to hyperspace, I bounced around jumps for an hour. Satisfied, I settled into a nice, tight orbit around a trinary star group.
Huffing my relief, memory kicked me swiftly in the ass. I remembered the analysis I asked of the computer. Transferring the readout to the forward display, I pondered over it. My science skills lacking, I punched a comparative analysis against Earth. In a short moment, I poured over a detailed breakdown of atmospheric components. Two readings caught my eye suddenly.
One seemed to be a radioactive isotope. Suppressing panic, I had the computer check and found it harmless due to my shielding. The other element registered as an inorganic compound. The odd thing I noted, was the inorganic compound scanned at high concentrations in the atmosphere, along with the radioactive isotope. The computer confirm that neither element seemed to be a product of the other, which made little sense.
I mulled over this poser. Something nagged me, saying how truly odd this occurrence was. I thought for a good long while, no revelation forthcoming. I flagged the data, keeping it fresh in my mind.
Searching the immediate area, the detectors found a dead moon floating through the area. According to scan info, the mining base showed no sign of habitation for 64 years. I brought the ship down and settled under a cliff. Troubled, I set the automatic warning, and dragged myself to my bunk.
I decided to explore the abandoned mining complex before departing. Hopping about in the weak gravity, I smiled. Looking every bit the old fashioned ghost town, a complete record of Life unfolded before me. Recording everything to an uplink on my ship, I decided I could sell all this upon reaching home.
Depression slammed me, stopping me cold inside a building. Emotion finally caught me, draining everything from me. I simply stared into the alienness of this deserted place. Home, a place seemingly in a dream. A place remembered, perhaps remaining a memory.
Minutes passed before I moved again. I spent a solid hour exploring, finding nothing but dust and ruin where ever my torchlight shone. Frustration lashed out a foot, kicking a wall. Snarling at myself, I fumed all the way back to the ship. I needed results, not pointless pottering about.
On a whim, I set the computer to analyze the soil of this moon. Waiting impatiently, the analysis presented itself shortly. To my utmost surprise, the same elements I noted in Sirrum's atmosphere appeared again. Frowning, I wondered what this could possibly mean.
Setting down on a world called Asxia, I exited my ship carefully. Looking about, certain no 'reception' committee awaited, I thought. The portable analyzer was strapped to my left arm, allowing it to take readings on everything. Remaining nondescript as possible, I described a circular course through the spaceport. I spotted a park, and entered. Despite the differences, seeing trees and grass of a fashion brought a smile. I spotted a bridge over a reddish stream and looked over it.
"Life is a flowing stream, never staying in place."
The soft voice startled me enough to almost leap right into the stream. Looking left a women stood close to me. She stared intently at the stream herself, lost seemingly in some thought. Locating my voice, I said evenly, "Indeed so. Change, constant, unremitting...unfeeling marching across the shores of Time."
The women turned purple eyes on me. Studying me a moment, she spoke again in her soft voice. "Wisdom of truth I find unfamiliar." She paused, her next words causing my heart to skip, "Strange, I feel no sense of you, yet see and hear you."
Turning, I stared in disbelief. A leap of logic told me that she was referring to a spiritual sense of me. My thoughts mounted a horse and rode off. Unsure of what may happen next, I managed a skillfully hasty retreat. Once certain no one followed, I used my recall and teleported back to the Stellar Rush. Safely inside, I received clearance for departure, wasting no time in the process. In minutes space stretched before me, along with an infinity of questions.
Frowning, I knew at least one answer I could get. Punching the scanner info in, in a moment the readout on Asxia appeared. Unsurprisingly, once again the two mystery elements appeared. Impulsively, I scanned myself and the air of the ship. No trace of those elements existed in me or the air of the ship.
Frowning deeper, I wondered. I could not place it, but something nagged me about this. Those two elements showed up in air and soil in three distinctly different worlds.
Why? What did they do?
Damn I hate mysteries.