Chapter 12: Beneath

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They were going beyond the Far Reach.

Allan had heard many names for the edge of civilization, that constantly growing ring of newly discovered planets and freshly constructed colonies, expanding ever-outward with Earth at its center. It was called the Edge, the Far Reach, and worse things by those people who found themselves hanging around it. It was dangerous, deadly, and often mysterious. Lots of disappearances tended to occur at the peripheral of society.

And here they were, going beyond it, following a star map they'd stolen from their enemies, who had in turn stolen and translated it from an ancient race of beings long ago wiped out. Allan tried not to think too much about the Cyr. They made him uncomfortable. If only because, for how powerful they were, he had encountered something even older, even more powerful, and had had to kill an entire planet to put it down.

He hoped.

Sometimes, in the dead of night, he awoke in a cold sweat, wondering if somehow, someway, the killer had survived, escaped its fate through some final trick...or possibly even being tough enough to survive being thrown into a sun. Since there was no good answer, he did his best to just not think about it, to try and let the thoughts settle. Like now, he was sitting on a small office onboard a speedship as it shot through space at faster-than-light speeds, bringing him as quickly as possible to his final destination, his final objective.

Well, hopefully not the final one.

The planet they were going to was large, rocky, and mostly barren. It had no atmosphere. Debatably, it was basically a giant asteroid that had gained a stable orbit around a distant sun. Data gathered from Cyr databases and info sent back from Rogue Ops recon teams indicated that everything they needed resided within massive underground tunnels and caverns, buried beneath the dead, rocky surface of the planet.

Luckily, they at least didn't need to scan or search. The data gave them a viable point of entry that should take them to the structure housing the Cyr technology meant to open the portal. After gearing up onboard the military cruiser and boarding the speedship, Allan had passed out the relevant data to everyone involved, making sure they all studied it twice over, memorizing it all in case any of it needed to be put to use, as well as the shutdown and self-destruction code for the Cyr site. He had no idea what they'd be facing there, so he wanted everyone ready and capable of completing the mission, no matter what the cost.

They'd been in transit for close to three hours now, with another twelve hours to go. Travel between the systems was usually pretty quick, especially for the speedships, which always employed cutting-edge tech and had access to all sorts of little tips, hints, and tricks to shave off the time it took, which meant that they were the absolute fastest vessels available. He'd spent almost all of those three hours at first overlooking their gear, making sure it was all accounted for and functional, then taking a taste of his own medicine and memorizing the data. But now he was finished, he knew it front to back, since there was so little of it.

Allan supposed he should take a bit and get to know his crew, get a feel for them, strengths and weaknesses and the like. He powered down the infopad and stood up, stretching, wishing he could just go take a nap instead. It'd go a long way towards easing his frayed nerves. Allan knew he would actually do that, and soon, just not yet. Instead, he left the tiny office and stepped out into the main corridor of the ship. Directly across from him was the door that led to the infirmary, which was open. He could hear movement.

Stepping inside, he spied Parker. She stood with her back to him, a slight Asian woman with short, dark hair and a sharp gaze. He hadn't had a chance to read up on any of his crew. All he knew about her was that she was a medic, and so was the other guy they'd picked up, Mertz, but Parker was alone in the infirmary. He had at least learned that she could kick ass with the best of them and keep her head in a hot situation.

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