004: The Oddity Principle Pt. 2
With a painful buzz, the request came through the system. The late night, the smoke outside, and being overworked made the sound all that more painful. Through bloodshot eyes and a fuzzy headache, Kaz looked at the request; it seemed more blurry than usual.
Bla bla, yadda yadda, it was the same old gulf until she saw the letters NG366 in the destination field. The crew had been going non stop for the past few months, it seemed with every discovery came four more, so the constant stream of requests could be all digested with the best of hangovers. But NG366, that was enough for her to wake up and pay closer attention.
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“Yakuda! You awake?”
Cantankerous, opinionated and never stopped eating that curried Ramen that make their ship smell like a curry house. But Yakuda was the best pilot Kaz knew, so that gave him a certain amount of leeway. Plus, he was cute.
“What?” Friendlier than usual. He mustn’t have drank as much as she thought last night.
“NG366. That’s that backwater no one paid any attention to until crews started to vanish there, right?”
Yakuda came over to the terminal and started at it, scratching in places Kaz’d prefer he wouldn’t; even though they often engaged in ‘crew relief’, she’d still prefer he wouldn’t, at least not when he stood so close. “Yea.”
“Looks like we’re going for a little trip.”
“Coo…. hold on!” Yakuda stepped back and had a look in his eyes. “To NG366? Whaddaya mean? They’ve lost two crews on that planetfall already. One of them was Sanchan’s, just in case you forgot.”
“You don’t have to remind me Yakuda! He was my ex. just in case you forgot? Anyway, you did see how much they are offering for this? A job like this not only gets us out of this shithole system, but gets the ship paid off plus change. So we’re going.”
“You’re the boss”
“Damn right I am…”
Planet fall was uneventful. Yakuda dove fast through the clouds on a long, smooth glide to the second team’s, Sanchan’s team, last ping location. From this altitude, the surface was smooth, with an odd reflective sheen, almost as if it covered in a shallow layer of water.
As the decent continued, the sheen became a shimmer, then a reflection; light was bouncing off in all directions, as if the whole place was animated. With her attention firmly on the data stream Kaz could not make heads nor tales of it. The data was telling her the surface was lifeless, barren, smooth, exactly as the reports had implied. From the numbers there was nothing here, yet visually, her eyes were telling her the opposite. And if it was lifeless, what had happened to the other crews?
Flaring hard, Yakuda brought the shuttle to the surface with an imperceptible bump, shutting the engines down before the shuttles had even settled on its landing gear. His military career well in the past yet old habits had a way of sticking around. Then, as if on cue, an uncomfortable silence hit the crew – suddenly everything became real, the way it does when you’re not skimming through the clouds, and no one liked mysteries.
“Okay then, let’s see what’s what.” Kaz didn’t sound convincing, even to herself.
As if by second nature, the byproduct of hundreds of drops, the minute the hatch opened they hit the surface and scanned their surrounds. It was only then that they noticed what they hadn’t, couldn’t, on the drop in – the entire surface was crystalline glass. Yakuda, very much out of character, soon after stuck his head out the hatch and looked around. Towering above them, a shard of glass, at least one hundred meters high rose into the sky and as they slowly looked around, spending more time than normal, they saw it; a horizon line that resembled the jaws of hell, glass shards rising into the sky like teeth from a crystal dragon.
“Well, that explains the lack of readings… and everything else. We’re damn lucky we didn’t end up becoming Shish Kabobs. There’s no way we could have picked up signatures from this stuff”.
Kaz got that feeling, the one that gave her goosebumps, as she realised the mystery was more like a nightmare…
“What the fuck happened here..?”