I stumbled through the darkness and into the light, dazed by the shock transition into normal space and the dizzying freefall towards the planet. The Lazloi that met me at the entrance smiled simply, picking me up as though I was a child and putting me onto stable ground where Lazloi medical staff began treating us.
While the Lazloi were a hive of activity, their green simulacra stood still and attentive, without thought or volition of any kind. Those of us who were relatively unscathed from our ordeal gazed in despair at the broken form of our ship. The spine had fractured in two places, while the remaining engine pods had come adrift from the bracing spar at the top. This design was known for its cheap and modular construction, but in this moment of adversity, modularity had been its fatal weakness.
Siandhyha and the Lazloi claiming to be her mother were the last to emerge, to the attention of humans and Lazloi alike. It was then that my love broke down in tears and wept openly, as she saw her broken and mortally wounded ship. Before I met her, she had already owned this ship for years, struggling to earn the money to service the loans and running costs of a ship ill suited to trade and passenger transport.
Glances were exchanged between the Lazloi. Whether these were expressions of embarrassment or disdain I could not be sure, but Alisandra Zilaerion's fierce glare soon impressed on them that their duties were being neglected. Alisandra extended an arm around Siandyha, but my love flinched and stood away, extending a hand to me instead. Alisandra looked at me uncertainly as I held Siandyha close, but her faint nod seemed to say that she accepted the arrangement.
It took some two hours to collect what personal possessions could be recovered from the Thunderbolt, with Alisandra telling us in her broken galactic standard that we would be taken to her ship, the grandly named Storm Crow of the Dark Sister, a reference to the bird that stood on the left shoulder of their death goddess. That transfer of people and equipment was interrupted by the arrival of a small dagger shaped craft, clearly in the style of the Lazloi. I could see the puzzlement on the faces of the Lazloi turn to bowing respect as they all knelt to greet an older Lazloi, dressed in flowing white satin and surrounded in light.
The tone of the Lazloi's voices turned quickly to anger however; as the older Lazloi began directing the simulacra back to the Thunderbolt with another dagger shaped ship arriving and hovering over the rear engine pod. I glanced over to Siandyha who shrugged and wiped her eye. "They probably want the power plant back."
The Lazloi craft made quick work of the Thunderbolt's hull, with the callous efficiency of a fishmonger extracting the organs and spine of a fish. Siandyha's hand trembled in mine, but my attention was drawn to the angry words of Alisandra and the older Lazloi. I was beginning to understand that Alisandra knew nothing of this, and her open defiance clearly made the other Lazloi uncomfortable.
In the end, the seniority of the visitor overcame Alisandra's anger, and she bowed her head in acquiescence. Orders were given and we made our way towards the gleaming blue elegance of the Storm Crow, the gutted remains of the Thunderbolt burning behind us.
As we entered the Lazloi's craft, Alisandra caught up with Siandyha and I, fixing us both with a frown. "I must speak with you urgently."
-- Tara Alessia, Security Officer of the Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt and Storm Crow are original models created in Hexagon 1.21. Textured in Photoshop CS2 and UV Mapper Pro.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 8 Complete. Post processed in Photoshop CS2