Lieutenant Willis walked over to Ensign Hart's desk and placed a photograph there. 'I've been reviewing the sensor probe logs from Hycaron II.' He pointed at the picture. 'What's this shadow on the ground?'
Hart cleared his throat and raised his hand. 'Sir, we've tagged this location before. It's the site of a wreck, a Storm class blockade-runner.'
'I remember,' said Hart irritably, 'but all I see now is a smudge on the ground. There should be wreckage and debris.'
The Ensign shrugged. 'Shall I pull up the archive, sir?'
Hart nodded. In a moment, the main view screen had changed to show a grid of images, which Hart scanned in turn.
'Am I seeing things, or did that wreck just disappear?' Hart pointed at an image in the centre. 'How long ago is that image?'
'Three months, sir'
Willis frowned, 'Go back a month, and then move forward.'
'Wreck, wreck, wreck again, wait!' Willis pointed at one of the images. 'It's dissolving into the ground. Are there corrosive compounds in the atmosphere?'
Hart shook his head. 'None recorded sir.'
'Zoom in closer.' Willis squinted his eyes. 'Is that a pool of goo?'
Ensign Hart tapped some keys and brought up more data to the screen. 'The sensor log shows iron, vanadium, titanium, plastics, silicon.' Hart stopped and tapped more keys. 'I'm also picking up huge amounts of iridium, hundreds of tons of it, billions of credits worth.'
Willis turned around in astonishment. 'The wreck is made of iridium?'
'No sir, the iridium is concentrated in blocks near the wreck site, but as the wreck has disintegrated, the iridium has flowed into the pool too. Now there's something else there.'
'If you were to guess Ensign, what would you say that something is?'
Hart blinked. 'Sir, it might be a coincidence, but that smudge on the ground is exactly the same size and shape as a Storm class blockade runner, but made of a version of iridium I've never seen before. I'm thinking it's some kind of nanobot technology, but incredibly advanced.'
Willis's face turned pale. 'This has got to be some kind of Lazloi trick. Get me a line to the Bureau!'
Scene assembly and final rendering in Cinema 4D R15 Visualise. Post processed in Photoshop CS2