Scott immediately looked up from his work. “Did you find somethin’?” he asked eagerly.
“I found… lots of somethings,” Kevérin replied, “I think you were right about this ship having potential. There’s a lot of technology here that I don’t recognize…”
“Well you’ve never even served on a ship, so there’s bound to be stuff that you don’t recognize, right?” Kaoné questioned.
“I guess, yeah,” Kevérin admitted, “but there are certain kinds of technology that I’m certain I’d know about if they were in use… the claimed efficiency of this ship’s systems is astounding as well. Not to mention its stated power, given its size and class.”
“Where are you findin’ all this information?” Scott responded, confused.
“The ship’s registry,” the Transfer Captain explained, “it took some time to find it, and then a little more to figure out what it was actually saying. It lists all of the ship’s hardware and related specifications.”
“Let me see this.” Scott quickly moved to stand behind Kevérin and began looking over the presented information himself. “Weapons, engines, generators — both power and shield. Life support, FTL drive?”
“And those are only the major systems,” Kevérin pointed out.
“Some of it lines up with our Frigate design specs,” Scott mused. “…I see a lot of ‘Chaos’ stuff though.”
“Yeah, this ship seems to have been designed to use Chaos Energy to its maximal potential, which is already a massive departure from most modern ship designs. Ever since the Chaos Quake, most ships have been designed or retrofitted with redundant non-Chaos Energy dependent systems and shy away from using Chaos Energy for major functions… but this ship goes all out. Chaos Engines? Chaos Generators? Chaos Cannons? It’ll be a powerhouse, that’s for sure, but if something like the Chaos Quake ever happens again then it’ll be useless.”
“You say it’ll be a powerhouse… compared to what?”
“Compared to other ships of its size and class, at least. Like Kaoné said, I’ve never served on a ship before, and I’ve never studied spacecraft technology extensively, but I do know a few things regardless. I’d estimate that its offensive power is somewhere between Battleships and Capital ships, and its durability is close to that of a Battleship. Certainly far better than any Battlecruiser I’ve ever seen. Maneuverability… might be as good as most Cruisers.”
“That’s, hmm…” Scott paused for a moment to let Kevérin’s words sink in. “That’s impressive…?”
Kevérin nodded in agreement. “It definitely is, especially considering that the ship is still in the Battlecruiser size and mass class. If anyone knew how to make Battlecruisers as good as this one, they’d exist, and might actually dominate current naval doctrine. …Now of course, I’m basing all of these statements on numbers in the registry and limited spacecraft knowledge, so you’ll definitely want to test the ship before putting it out in actual battle. You certainly shouldn’t take everything I’m saying as fact, at least.”
“If it’s even half as good as you say then SERRCom will likely want to sideline it, study it, and reverse-engineer everythin’ for mass-production,” Scott responded, and then sighed. “Either that, or they’ll be gung-ho about it and rush it to the front lines to try and show everyone that Earthians aren’t useless.”
“You’ll definitely want to keep this hidden from the CSA, at least for some time,” Kevérin advised, “the moment they find out about this ship’s tech, they’ll be down your throat with sanctions and offerings and whatever other bureaucratic bullshit they can come up with.”
“He’s not entirely wrong,” Kaoné affirmed, “it isn’t well-known, but the CSA will do a lot to try and keep their technological lead. They’ve done as much to us Nimalians, under the excuse that we don’t have a ‘unified galactic presence.’”
“In short, it’s bullshit, so watch yourself,” Kevérin added.
“…I’ll keep that in mind when I write up my report, then,” Scott replied, and then glanced back down at the screen. “Is there anythin’ else that you haven’t seen before? Wait… what’s this… ‘Personnel Transfer’?”
“That would be referring to how you transfer personnel from ship to ship, or from ship to planet, or vice versa,” Kevérin replied, “I don’t know why it’d be in the registry though. You have to use external hardware for personnel transfer, like shuttles. What’s this say about that… ‘Instantaneous Subspace Transfer’. …What?”
“You don’t know what that is?” Scott questioned.
“I’ve never heard of it before…” Kevérin frowned. “Subspace? Doesn’t sound familiar at all. But ‘Instantaneous Transfer’ sounds like it might be what the Drakkars use… They’re capable of essentially teleporting troops and tech from their ships to a planet’s surface. The CSA and Nimalia have emulated it by using Spacetechnics, but if we could get actual technology to do the same thing… wow.”
“Sounds like the beamin’ you see in sci-fi stories,” Scott remarked. “If that’s what it really is, then I can see how it’d be useful. Is there anythin’ else here that uses Subspace?”
“Seems to be a transportation technique, so… probably the FTL Drive, if anything,” Kevérin speculated, and then checked. “Well what do you know, this ship supposedly does have a Subspace Drive.”
“What does that mean?” Kaoné asked.
“It means… I don’t know what it means,” Kevérin admitted. “The one thing that’s consistently Chaos Energy-based in modern ships is the FTL Drive. It’s the only way we know how to exceed the speed of light. Ironically, this ‘Subspace Drive’ seems to be the one major system on this ship that’s independent of Chaos Energy… Hmm, I wonder if this could give any insight as to how the Interstellar Gates or Transpaces work…”
“Huh? You don’t know how the Gates or the Transpaces work?” Scott questioned. “But aren’t they all over the place? How do you not know how they work if you use them so much?”
“That’s a good question,” Kevérin remarked, “the Interstellar Gates and the Transpaces both predate modern civilization. Current theory is that they’re leftover tech from the ancient Aldredas, but… we don’t know anything else about them. Their technology is too advanced, and too foreign, to reverse-engineer.”
“And you think this ship might help you figure out how they work?”
“Well… maybe. I guess that depends on whether or not we can figure out what this ‘Subspace’ is.”
“Hmm, well that’s pretty interestin’!” Scott exclaimed. “Between that and all of the other tech here, I can’t wait to officially get started! I’m afraid I’ll need help though… would the Nimalians be willin’?”
Kevérin and Kaoné exchanged curious glances. “We can bring it up with our superiors,” Kaoné replied, “you should probably put through an official request though, like the one we responded to.”
“Just be more specific next time.” Kevérin smirked.
“You’ve certainly been more helpful than anyone around here has been,” Scott declared. “But, aye, I’ll keep that in mind.” He stretched and cracked his knuckles before moving back to the console he had been working at. “For now, though, let’s see if there’s anythin’ else we can find.”
“You weren’t kidding.”
Davídrius scowled. “Of course I wasn’t kidding. Why would I joke about somethin’ like this?”
Siyuakén didn’t respond. Instead she slowly looked around the small room on the far side of the cavern that hosted the four stasis pods, which were lined up against the far wall. The cylindrical pods were opaque, but not in the foggy, crystalline manner of typical cryogenic stasis pods.
“So these are stasis pods?” Shepherd questioned, entering the room shortly after the Electrotechnic.
“It’s not cryogenic stasis,” Siyuakén replied, “but I don’t know of any other stasis tech.” She glanced over at Davídrius. “How do you know these are stasis pods?”
The Velocitechnic shrugged. “Well, what else could they be? The kids inside clearly ain’t dead. At least, if they are, they’re pretty damn well-preserved. And judgin’ by the dust and residue everywhere, this place hasn’t been touched for a while, so if those ain’t stasis pods then we should be starin’ at skeletons, not bodies.”
“I don’t know anything about stasis technology, but I’m inclined to agree with him,” Shepherd commented. “SERRCom’s only had a presence on Sunova for barely a year, and we only started exploring these caves a month or two ago. The three of us are the first to explore the caves any farther than the location of that silver sphere, so these pods must’ve been placed here long before us.”
“Not to mention these things don’t look as boring as all the rest of your stuff.”
Shepherd gave Davídrius an annoyed glance before turning back to the stasis pods. “This is… definitely an unexpected find.” He pulled a tablet computer out of his backpack and began fiddling with it. “I’ll record this location and then we’ll head back to report this to the Colonel.”
“What? We’re just gonna leave?” Davídrius replied incredulously, “we’re not gonna get them outta stasis?”
“We’re already farther down the caves than any three-man team is allowed, especially without a dedicated researcher or cartographer,” Shepherd declared. “I’ve already caused one incident by touching the ‘Ayas’ without prompt; I won’t cause another by fiddling with unknown technology.”
“But… you ain’t curious? Shouldn’t we at least figure out where the shutdown console is?”
“They say curiosity killed the cat.”
“It’s an Earth saying,” Shepherd replied, “Get too curious and it’ll bite you in the ass… we need to at least be careful—?!”
As the Captain turned around to leave, the cave wall to the left of the stasis pods suddenly cracked and lowered, revealing a doorway to a dark room. Shepherd stared at the doorway blankly before giving the two Nimalians a suspicious glance; when they both shrugged in response, he slowly moved forward into the room. A couple lights came on as he passed through the doorway, revealing a computer console against the wall.
“For the love of… what is going on with this planet?” Shepherd scowled, but approached the console nonetheless with the two Chaotics in tow.
“I can’t read any of this,” Davídrius muttered as he glanced between the keyboard and screen.
“Even if we were in range of the relays, I doubt the translation tech would work,” Siyuakén pointed out. “If this console is as old as the stasis pods, then it predates Earthian presence and probably most other modern civilizations, so I doubt the language is in the RTV databases—”
“…It what?” Siyuakén glanced over at Shepherd.
“The keyboard’s in English,” he repeated, “I can read it.”
Davídrius crossed his arms. “What.”
“How— that shouldn’t be possible,” Siyuakén responded uneasily, “languages don’t— your language— it shouldn’t…”
“I know,” Shepherd cut in, “this is as confusing to me as it is to you. This can’t possibly be Earthian tech, but…”
“Well if you can read the keyboard, can you read what’s on the screen?” Davídrius gestured at the monitor.
The Captain looked up at the screen and paused for a second before reading slowly, “’you… are not the Keys.’”
“That’s what the monitor says,” Shepherd stated, and then held up a finger as the screen flashed static and reverted to black. Another line of text appeared, which the Captain read, “’Open stasis pods?’”
“I guess this is the shutdown console, then,” Siyuakén observed.
“It must be more than just a shutdown console,” Shepherd countered, “if its only purpose was to engage or shutdown the stasis pods, then why is there a full keyboard?”
“And an oddly functional one, at that,” Davídrius mused as he poked at several of the keys.
“What—!? Hey, what are you doing?!” Shepherd exclaimed, quickly grabbing the Velocitechnic’s arm and forcing him away from the keyboard. In his haste, however, he accidentally slammed his own elbow against the keyboard, mashing down all of the keys on the right side. Siyuakén facepalmed and sighed irately as the two men froze and stared at the keyboard.
After an uneventful moment had passed, Davídrius relaxed and drew back. He then smirked and glanced over at Shepherd. “See? Nothin’ happened. Everythin’s fine.”
“Wait— …no, something’s happening,” Siyuakén responded cautiously. “…Get back—!”
Before she could finish, the entire computer console sparked brightly as a streak of electricity arced to Shepherd, blasting him back against the wall.
“Are you okay?!” Siyuakén immediately knelt down next to the Earthian, though he recovered surprisingly quickly — and had no sign of any injury or electrical burn at all.
“Ow…” he groaned painfully as he began to pull himself into a sitting position. “…This is what I get for listening to aliens.”
“Tch!” Davídrius scowled. “Don’t try to pin this on—!”
“Davídrius, shut it,” Siyuakén cut him short as she helped Shepherd to stand up, “Shepherd was right originally. This is an Earthian colony, so it isn’t our place to explore everything.” She then glanced back at Shepherd warily. “In the meantime, we should get the Captain back to the base. He looks fine, somehow, but we can’t know for sure here.”
Davídrius crossed his arms and scowled, but remained silent as he followed Shepherd and Siyuakén back into the room with the stasis pods — only to find that all four had deactivated and opened up.
“It would figure…” Shepherd muttered, shrugging Siyuakén off before approaching the now-exposed children and crouching beside them. He looked them over briefly; rather than children, they seemed to be no older than two years old, with mildly tan skin and patchy black hair. With an apprehensive sigh, Shepherd gingerly reached for one of the boys to check his pulse. “…They’re alive,” he stated. “I can feel a pulse.”
“That… may actually be a problem,” Davídrius commented slowly as he looked out into the main cavern, “’cause, well, if we wanna get out of here—”
A deafening, menacing roar interrupted the Velocitechnic. The entire cavern shook violently as a large dragonesque creature dropped to the cavern floor, its attention focused on the small doorway to the stasis room.
“Well…” he finished apprehensively, “…we’re gonna have to go through that.”