With the Polaris docked in a makeshift fashion to the alien, in the unknown sense, ship, the rest of the crew of the Polaris were able to come aboard and add their own expertise to the exploration of the vessel.
Arjun joined Ayato in the command center, if that’s what it was, while Mr. Todd moved back and forth between the scientist in the drive section and the Armor bay, where Carrie had gone to run a physical on the Chief. After most of an eight-hour working period the captain called everyone to the dining area for a meal and to discuss their findings.
Using the Kitchen, after Carrie had made as thorough an examination as she could and giving the food stuff she tested a clean bill, Ayato prepared one of his gourmet dinners which to all present was indistinguishable from the real thing. When asked Carrie explained as well as she could.
“The food I tested, about two dozen items I requested from the Kitchen, arrived fresh and as far as my medical gear can determine it is real. I asked Mr. Todd to check the kitchen machinery to see if we could get to the base ingredient.” She smiled at the engineer.
“Well she asked but I couldn’t solve anything. The interface would not allow us to get samples of what they use to make the food. And I double checked her readings and ran them through the computers I brought in my luggage as well as the Polaris’s, and the food is what it claims to be, right down to the molecular level. This is way beyond any sort of bio-replication printing we can do back home.” He chuckled, “ Really this is Star Trek level stuff, if any of you remember that old show.”
Arjun let out a little laugh after he swallowed the bite of food he had just taken. “I do I used to watch that as a kid.” He speared another vegetable but did not take the bite. “It really creeps me out the way this thing only lets us know some of what’s here. I mean on the bridge I have found what the Captain likes to call the Tactical station. I just call them guns,” he laughs again then gets a serious look, “ The thing is armed to the teeth. There are energy weapons, Kinetic weapons, Missiles, and while I can select them even play with targeting. They have a nice little program like a video game. But I can’t access the systems to even get it to tell me what the weapons are, what sorts of energy, what are the kinetic weapons. Hell, it wouldn’t even tell me where the weapons are located on the ship.’ He seems frustrated.
“We have been having better luck with the drive, or we were,” Said Rachel,” It let us know new things as we figured stuff out the as soon as Yseult seemed to really get the picture it stopped helping.”
Everyone looked at Yseult, she put her utensils down and dabbed her lips with a napkin. “It was giving us things regularly as we figured them out but as soon as I realized that we could make a drive that functioned pretty much as we think this one does with our technology. It stopped. I had some calculations I wanted to do I input them, and the computers stopped responding with anything beyond the most basic functions we originally received. I have the Polaris running those calculations, but it will take a few more hours, I think.
“What are the calculations,” asked Ayato?
“Whether or not our math is correct and that we can create the compression phenomena with our drive, modified of course.”
“Mainly software, “ interjected Rachel, “But there is some structural modifications we would need to do both inside and outside and unless we can figure out how to get this thing to make the parts …” she lets the sentence drop off.
There was a some more small talk but soon the meal was done and Ayato told everyone to head back to Polaris where they buttoned the ship up for the night and went to bed.
Sometime latter a soft alarm chimed and woke Yseult. She sat up and checked her computer the calculations were done. As she read over them, she saw that her and Rachel were right they could do it if only they could make the modifications.
As she ponder waking Rachel, a sensation of strange weight alteration occurred and she pushed off to the view port just in time to see the creation of a hole in space which the great ship fell into and carried the Polaris along with it.
The two women scientists poured over the readouts supplied to them by the mystery ship, not surprised by what they found but mystified by what they didn't.
They found detailed instructions and procedures for the equipment they knew yet nothing for those bits of technology that were new and unknown. It was like a puzzle and it was up to them to fit the pieces together.
Ayato had returned to the bridge and his own set of mysteries. He had come to the same conclusion Rachel and Yseult had, and a step further. He opened his channel.
“It is a test. It shows us what we know already gives us access and instructions to do what we already can do with our own technology and knowledge but it teases more. It shows us things beyond us and asks us, 'do you understand?'. This ship is a test.”
He changes channel to call the Polaris. “Arjun, we need to see if we can secure the Polaris to this vessel I need you and Mr Todd over here.”
“Aye aye,” was the reply from the Polaris.
“I think I can help with that”. The Chief's voice clear and sounding as if she were standing behind the captain, came over the radio.
In the immense room full of Armored suits, Karen had removed her own armor when suddenly three beams of light came from the open torso and touched her, wrapping her in and envelope of light. She felt her weight vanish as she rotated and was drawn into the machine which in turn began to fit itself to her and close up, sealing her inside.
A moment of claustrophobic panic which passed as the solid wall in front of her became a transparent veiwport and an elaborate holographic HUD appeared in the her vision. With a series of experiments she found she could access the HUD simply by looking at the various 'buttons', she found she could move and with a little practice found that it was as easy as walking without her normal armor.
Sensors, Communications, Armor and something that in her world was still the province of fiction, Energy Shields. Weapons both Kinetic and Energy, were built into the suit and also larger more powerful versions of both could be attached to hard points or held and carried like guns in the armors 'hands'. The Armor showed her where these tools of destruction were stored in the bay and when she plodded over to the armory aside from the cannon, rockets, missiles and unknown ray projectors she found large Axes, Pikes and swords. Another bay held tools of all manners.
Aside from walking and she assumed running the Armor was also equipped with its own flight systems and life support form a good long time. It seemed that for all intents and purposes this Suit was a mini space ship.
It was then that she had heard the captains instruction to the first officer and remember some of the tools she had seen realized that she could solve the problem.
“I think I can help with that”, Karen smiled in her new suit of Armor as she started grabbing what she would need.
Ayato stopped at the open door and stared.
He had followed the silver line out of the bridge/control center, it had led him to the left away from where the rest of the crew were and back toward the elevator and then past it. He noted in passing that when he stepped on the surface that rose it didn’t light up this time like it had before, regardless of how long he stood on it which he tested for about a minute. It never changed at all. After making sure the line to the top was still secure, he continued following the guiding light.
The room he stood before was white, pure almost blindingly white, so white that he literally could not determine the size or shape of the room. Directly in front of him inside the room was a sphere that had been slashed diagonally with the flat part facing him he could see that there were keys like on a keyboard, but mad of the same crystalline substance they had found in the first room they had come to. The silver guideline ran to the sphere.
He took a tentative step into the room and his foot found a solid floor and now with the contrast of his boot he could see it. The whiteness was a bit un-nerving. “Can you change the colors to show the room better for me,” he asked out loud remembering Karen changing the lights by asking. Nothing happened.
Steeling himself he continued to the sphere.
It was a keyboard laid out like a standard earth terminal although there were no symbols letters or any other kind of labels. After a few seconds of studying the board he reached out and touched the key in the corresponding position of the standard escape key.
A menu appeared in holographic form floating a couple of inches above the keyboard.
“These readings are so detailed this is more like what you would get from a top-line diagnostic bed in a major hospital, not a flight suit.” Carrie’s voice betrayed her amazement,” there are things showing up that are so specialized I have no idea what they are. Karen , you haven’t entered that new suit, have you?”
Yseult looked at Rachel and saw the same amazement and excitement that was on her face reflected on the other woman’s. They had found what for them was the heart of this vessel. They had found the engineering section.
It was a vast three-tiered chamber vaguely oval shaped not spherical as they had first thought from the hologram. Many of the machines were unknown but some were recognizable and bore resemblance to parts used on the Polaris and other earth ships but of different design and much greater size
And there in the center of the chamber held in place by the emerald beams was the small globe. Walkways extended from the middle tier out to the globe. The women found a ramp from the upper tier where they had entered and went down to the middle and approached one of the walkways.
Rachel and Ysuelt started comparing findings or rather just calling them out as each found something new thatthrilled her, when suddenly the Captains voice came over a loud speaker and not their suit radios.
"Ysuelt, Rachel, I have found something I want you to investigate it may be their engineering space." As he spoke a holo gram filled the room they were in showing another spherical space with decks lining the wals and in the center of the space a sigle globe held in place by multiple emerald beams of energy. Neither scientist couls se what was in the globe but compared to its surounding it was not a large globe maybe the size of a football*.
"Follow that silver beam it iwll lead you to where this is."
Each woman now noticed a thin silver beam coming out of the hologram and going throughthe door where it turned and went out of sight down the corridor.
Karen watched as the armors innards seemed to rearrange themselves and her own suit began to respond with new uplinks and diagnostics suddenly appearing on her HUD.
"Karen? Whats going on?" Carrie's voice came over her coms an anxious quaver to it. "I'm getting new signals some i don't know what they are but others are obviously medical diagnostics but where are these coming from?"
While the two women lost themselves in the wealth data overload streaming at them, the captain found that the chair responded to him adjusting to fit him as ergonomically as possible and then a 3-D holographic model of the ship appeared before him.
Karen watch her skipper from the entrance platform when suddenly in front of her a bright silver sphere the size of a softball appeared. It hovered about six inches in front of her face and then a silver line extended out from the sphere and curved around Karne's head and went out the still open door where it turned right and was lost to her view. As the chief had turned her head to watch the line the sphere followed her turn staying in front of her face the line adjusting by sliding across the surface.
Karen faced her whole body toward the door and took a step in that direction the sphere maintaining it position and distance moved with her. She took another step and passed through the door and the sphere kept the distance but it all so became translucent. she could see through it and see the silver line stretching away down the corridor.
As Karen spoke and before the sentences had left her lips the inner sphere divided into four different shades of red lighting. Shades she recognized as various alert lighting used through out the various services and ships or environments she had served in over the years.
While Rachel used her personal comm to access the Polaris schematics, Yseult looked at the crystals in the panel and wondered how to enlarge the image floating in the air when a thought occurred.
She stepped around the console and reached up and with her hand made a grasping gestured at he upper and lower opposite corners and pulled like she was enlarging the image. The image responded accordingly, and the once tiny unreadable letters revealed themselves.
Yseult looked at the writing and frowned, she could read the letters and numbers perfectly and they told her which iteration of the design plans these were and the date of publication almost three years ago when the Polaris was initially planned. Then her brow furrowed.
“Why is this in French,” she asked?
Her voice had been low, but it caused both Rachel and Ayato to look up at the larger schematic to see what she was talking about. “Well shit,” muttered Rachel. And Ayato shook his head, “I’m seeing English.” He looks questioningly to Rachel, “Yep, English here too.”
Meanwhile Karen had exited the room to reconnoiter the other room nearby in the corridor, the first four she entered were the same as the one the rest of the team was still in, containing consoles on pedestals with crystals in multi-color. But the fifth was different.
Yseult just stood and stared at the plans for her transducer and she noted it was one of the very first iterations and was missing....
Her mind just stopped.
It was missing the modifications she had made. Modifications she had made after exchanging a few words with a fellow engineer working in the lab. She hadn't thought of that, not once since it had happened. But now the memory was as clear as day.
She had been working on the problem late and the fellow had paused one the way out of the lab and spoke with her probably the only time the two of them had ever spoken.
"Staying late Dr?. He had asked in passing then he stopped and looked at what she was doing. "Hmm looks like a flow resistance problem. Well good night don't stay up too late." And with a smile he had gone.
Yesult had stared at he problem and her non functioning transducer with mounting frustration. It was late so she had called it a night and gone home. While she slept her mind had worked over time and she had dreamer and suddenly she awoke it had come to her plain as anything the solution. she had jumped from bed waking her husband and ran to her computer and by dawn had solved the problem.
"Mon Dieu!" Yseult gasped, it had been a flow resistance problem in the end, but there was no way that engineer could have seen that from what she had been working on not then. How had he known. She racked her brain , she couldn't even remember his name.
Yseult listened as she swept her eyes over the strange panel. Each crystal was long, about a hundred fifty millimeters in length, about fifty across, hexagonal in shape, the end facing her angled sharply. They were each a different color or shade of color and each glowed as if a light was shining through them from where they sat in the console. They looked movable.
One crystal in particular drew her attention. she didn't know why maybe it was the color but before she even realized it she had moved he gloved hand to that crystal...
"Or maybe they were already ready for us."
Everyone turned to Ysuelt and what she was looking at now.
In front of her console was an elaborate hologram image floating in the air. The image was of the Polaris or more specifically of her schematics and construction blue prints. The ship, her components, everything.
"They scanned our database..."
"No," the chief even more alert now, "ships databases carry diagnostic schematics not construction documents. Not like these. These are governmental archive documents. These are ship building plans."
As Yseults hand moved close there was no reaction then at three centimeters all of the crystals lit up, not only on her panel but on all of the panels and consoles in the room. Her natural reaction was to pull back and they expected the crystals to go out, but they didn’t.
Almost immediately their suits began to show a change in the outside pressure as the timeless vacuum was replaced by an atmosphere. And their auditory sensors started picking up a pervasive low level hum carried by the new atmosphere.
The Chief ran an analysis and whistled. “Paint this as eerie, this atmo is not only breathable, it’s perfect for us,” she said.