“ The dead shall live, the living die. I kill what lives; I save what has died. And I will tell you this: there are things worse than I."
– One that is a predator on all living things.
Billowing dust in the stratosphere is an omen of what is to come; 75kph plus winds as the storm spreads across the barren landscape, and the fine metallic dust like talcum filtering it’s way in. First order of business is to batten down the hatches, tarping off the vehicles won’t be much use, but doing what can be done to protect the equipment becomes everyone’s duty at this point. In the darkening gloom and moan of the rising wind of the oncoming sandstorm, Conn, standinging in the west vehicle park, sees a figure on the berm outside the base; at first it seems another one of the personnel from the base but after a seconds retrospect there is something wrong, the figure is in old Consular armor. Turning his head for one moment, the figure is gone, giving even more to the insubstantial quality.
Raising a hue and cry, brings in the others to come and see, climbing the berm to look for footprints, once up there it appears a fool’s errand, so many of the various team members, science and security, have left their footprints in the compacted sand.
“I don’t even know what I’m looking for!” Ty gestures palms up. “What in the hell do old Zho bootprints look like, anyone know the tread design?” Looking at Nagaimr, Nagaimr shrugging in response. “You know, this could just be first squad messing with us.” Finally giving up and jumping down into the sand, a long gaited run to the bottom, adding his bootprints to the sand, with the wind blown dust, just as rapidly filling them.
Later in the commissary, Dag and Ty, working on a good drunk from a bottle of clear liquor, the conversation wanders from nothing, to the days events and on to random musings.
“You know that sexy female android in the lab?” Ty speaking in a wry, conspiritorial tone. “It used to be a man from what I hear.” Pausing to let that sink in. “The dirt is that that is the Adam android, just reskinned. I don’t know if you read the news much, but the accident that killed the two technicians working with Adam a year or so back was no accident, it very well meant to kill them; a fault in it’s programming is what they blamed it on. It still is in prototype stage of development, who knows how many more bugs are rattling around in that tin bucket head. I’d hate to be Dav, working in the lab when a programming fault comes up behind you and snaps your neck.” A rather sobering nugget of information to sleep on that night.
The next morning, Iishka lays out the next week’s goals: primary is mapping and a cursory investigation of the crash site, with recovery of any data storage devices, hopefully to get crew complement and ship’s logs; that should be good to make a preliminary report for any follow up expeditions. Secondary is to look into the lifeforms found here, the life sciences people should be pleased with that back on Terrelay; and any extra preliminary reports will look good for the next expeditions budgetary requests. She also mentions there will be a small ceremony, and formation of the security squad, where they will emplace a small obelisk with a plaque from the expedition and a final word spoken by Republican Guard Major Tliablzhdiliepr.
The latter part of the day is filled with the monotony of duty, broken only by the tension of being out of communication with the Loreli and rest of the fleet; not knowing if when the dust settles, one will be staring down the barrel of a slave raider’s fusion gun. The eerie low moan of the wind filtering in from the storm’s howl sets the tone for anxiety in the back of one’s thoughts. Ghosts n’ stuff; the uncertainty principle like life, not wanting to look into the box in case the cat is actually dead.