Ensign Hart knocked on the office door and waited, a slate and some papers in hand. Willis looked up from his desk and waved Hart into the room. He looked at the folios with a resigned air.
'It was gone by the time they got there, wasn't it?' Lieutenant Willis held out a hand and took the files gingerly. 'The Bureau must be mighty pissed about that.'
Hart nodded slowly. 'The dailies came in from Hycaron II today. There's some residual metals and organics in the area, but the ship, or whatever it was has definitely gone.' He gestured towards the slate. 'The artefact must have waited for the orbital probe to drop below the horizon, but it couldn't mask a radio spectrum burst. The probe made a recording.'
Willis separated the slate from the papers and tapped it. A blur of hiss and static filled the room for a few seconds, before it was joined by a jarring harmonic that grew in volume and pitch before reaching a screeching crescendo. The recording continued to play static until Willis touched the screen again.
'A Lazloi jump drive signature,' said Willis flatly.
'A perfect match according to the lab guys, sir.' Hart stepped forward and separated a photograph from the other sheets of paper. 'This is the last shot we have of the site. There's no doubt now, whatever wreckage was down there has been transformed into a perfect facsimile of a Storm class blockade runner.'
Willis blinked, 'You mean repaired?'
Hart shook his head. 'No sir, the sequence of photographs shows the wreck was consumed and then recreated. Whatever left Hycaron II is something entirely new, synthesised from the surrounding environment and thousands of tonnes of Lazloi metalÃ¢â‚¬Â¦' Hart's voice fell away.
'Except it looks exactly like the original, or least enough to pass casual inspection?' Willis let out a slow sigh.
'There's something else,' ventured Hart. 'Nobody has been detected approaching the planet, so that means the vessel flew out on its own.'
'Artificial intelligence?' Willis grimaced, 'Contact the Bureau, get an all points bulletin out for that ship.'
V4 figure with Mihrelle Faryn character pack, Mairy Nabia hair. Thunderbolt is an original model created in Cinema 4D.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Cinema 4D R16 Visualise. Post processed in Photoshop CS2