Chapter 06: Once More into the Void

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"I don't like it. There's been too many traps lately," Allan said, staring intently at the oddly shaped metallic bulk floating in dead space ahead of them.

He and Callie had put on their armor about ten minutes before they were due to drop out of FTL flight. The ship was supposed to be a derelict, adrift in deep space, far from any shipping lanes, planets, or even solar systems. There was nothing for a hundred lightyears. Allan wondered how the Cyr had found the damned thing, but he was also deeply curious about what it was, who it had originally belonged to, and why it had been built.

From the Rogue Ops report, which he had read twice over on the way out, it seemed they'd found a few references to the ship in Cyr databases. They hadn't gotten around to getting a crew out there...or so the report said. The data was shoddy and in light supply and the last mention of it was over a week ago, so anything could have happened. Allan was at least glad that they had found the vessel, he half-expected there to be nothing out there once they arrived. But now that they had found it, he felt a discomfort settle over him, a slow creeping horror. He stared at the thing through the thick windows at the front of the bridge.

Although in naked sight the ship was little more than a dark dot slightly bigger than his fist at this range, he could tell that it was immense and oddly shaped. They were presently holding at a good distance out while they ran every scanning device and sensor their ship had. Initial scans had revealed something: a human energy signature, and there was only one group of people who should be out here. Rogue Operations.

"We've done well so far," Callie replied. "And the trap isn't sprung yet. We've at least gotten this far. We can handle it."

Allan hoped she was right. He had to fight to keep himself from pacing. It got annoying when you were in bulky power armor. The pair of pilots were working the controls of the ship, studying the results of the scans as they came in. Finally, one of them leaned back and waved Allan and Callie over. They crossed the bridge.

"What have you found?" Callie asked.

"Scans confirm it's a Rogue Operations vessel. Not very big, maybe a crew of forty or fifty judging from its size. All systems seem to be running but...there's no one onboard. I'm reading zero life signs on the vessel," the pilot explained.

"And the alien ship?" Allan asked.

"It's impenetrable to our scanning equipment. We can't even figure out what it's made of, let alone what's inside of it."

"So how the hell do we get in?" Allan muttered.

This had been a problem they'd been discussing since launch.

"The Rogue Ops vessel is linked to the ship. It would make sense that the crew could be inside the vessel and hidden from sensors," the pilot replied.

"And they left no one onboard?" Callie replied.

The pilot shrugged.

Allan sighed. "Well...take us in carefully. Bring us alongside the Rogue Ops ship."

"Affirmative."

Both pilots began working the controls, bringing them closer to the vessel. Allan stared at the dark bulk of the alien ship once more before turning away, feeling a ripple of cold fear shiver down his spine. He left the bridge with Callie and they walked the length of the small speedship until they came to the loading bay at the back. Hawkins had only been able to spare them three Spec Ops personnel, and all three of them were now in the back, finishing getting ready for the mission. Allan and Callie moved to join them.

He was already familiar with Malone and Donovan to an extent. The new woman was a medic, a Corporal named Parker. They stood near the rear section of the loading bay, where they would soon be exiting the ship via airlock. Allan quickly brought them up to speed, then did a check of himself, his suit, and his gear.

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