We had travelled here because of an obsession, a belief that something lived here in the void. Rhand told us of voices that spoke to her, about her conviction that they were the inheritors of the ancient race that spread humanity and other sentient species across known space.
An engraved monument on Hycaron II had guided us across a wilderness of destroyed star systems, an ancient map of intricate lines and alien mathematics. Rhand gave me access to old Lazloi data to help decode the stone. It was her belief that we would uncover something that might help the dying matriarchs.
In spite of her apparent prescience, I believe now that she was greatly mistaken.
My research is incomplete, but I believe that the structure we have uncovered is unimaginably old, while the aliens we have encountered are merely the latest squatters to appropriate it. I believe that these aliens, far from being benign, are the great enemy that the Lazloi fear most, the darkness that eclipsed their creators and who introduced the flaw that is destroying the white haired race. These are the aliens who now pursue us, and who have encircled our dying ship.
I’d never heard an alarm like that before. It was a piercing scream that had everyone working frantically at their screens and cursing profusely. The lights in the bridge flickered off for a moment before coming back again. Behind us, the sound of tearing metal echoed through the corridors, a groan that sent a chill down my back. In a few moments, the ship stabilised but was mortally wounded. Whether it was a catastrophic failure or aggressive actions by our pursuers, we may never know.
The alien behemoth was starting to lower itself back into the pit. Whorls of plasma and light leapt up from the interior and began playing off the sides of the ship. As a scientist I should have been excited, but instead I was consumed with dread. I imagined that we were easy prey for these predators, but the alien ships peeled away and returned to their mother ship, satisfied perhaps that we were no longer a threat.
Even with our wounded ship, we were able to change course and fly over the Megastructure. While we peered down into the shaft, we saw a shifting pattern of light, distorted and reflected like the patterns of a child’s kaleidoscope. The ship shuddered as though caught in an unseen current or eddy and our course and altitude changed suddenly. In a flash, the giant craft had vanished.
“They travel the ancient ways, built when the galaxy was young.” Rhand’s whisper cut through the silence that filled the bridge. “Something a Lazloi said to me once.” She fixed us with those bright blue eyes, “We go forward, never backwards.”
Rhand took the controls and used the last of our motive power to push us downwards into the maelstrom of light. I was overcome with space sickness as strange forces began to grip the ship, threatening to shake it apart. We passed the line of the surface and plunged deep into the planet, with the strange beacon of light ahead of us as our guide.
Now we are falling into darkness, a darkness without end.
-- Cyana Bristo, scientist, formerly with the Echolian Science Institute.
All models created in Hexagon 1.21 and textured in UV Mapper Pro and Photoshop CS2. Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 5 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2