There was only one suit on the ship, but that didn’t matter. They had passed through an airlock and been dragged down to a docking platform. The external sensors were deployed and detected a steadily rising oxygen concentration. There was the slightest shudder and a growing sense of something pushing them back into their seats. The detritus and discarded odds that they’d stopped noticing arced to the floor.
“It’s starting to rotate. We’ll have gravity soon.” YoungLady announced.
“I hope it doesn’t go higher than we can take.” JonPaul replied, “Rock normal is a bit lower than Earth.”
After a while BoyChild stood, wincing at the extra effort. “What’s the atmosphere like?”
“A little thin, but breathable.” GirlChild answered.
“I’m going out.” The others shrugged. After a moment they followed him.
The airlock was cramped for four. They held their noses and blew to keep their ears from popping. When the outer door opened they were greeted by dry, oily air. The step had to be hand cranked. JonPaul did this as quickly as he could, because BoyChild was leaning out and ready to jump.
The hangar was huge. A greater proportion of lights worked inside the ship than on its hull, but still they couldn’t illuminate all the dark corners. JonPaul felt a strange agoraphobia. They’d just crossed vast empty distances in space, but when he was inside anything he was used to it being a small packed box.
There were other ships in the hangar, larger and sleeker than their little Search vessel. However, they also had the dead look of abandoned technology. Large square pillars stood beside each craft, no doubt conduits for power, fuel and information when the hangar was properly functioning. The Search ship had been put down next to a free pillar. A section of the pillar detached itself and swung out. Everyone jumped and emitted cries of surprise.
The flat panel swivelled out and down to their level on a ball-jointed arm. There was a slight buzz, then the panel went a flat grey, casting an odd light on them. Symbols started to appear on the screen.
“More Old.” BoyChild pronounced.
“Can you read it?”
“No…. No…. Yes. I can read that bit there.”
“What does it say?”
“Welcome.” BoyChild tapped the screen on the word he recognised. The other symbols faded away and another message appeared in the dialect BoyChild had recognised. “Welcome to… the sayeed number… Umm, I was never much good with numerics, err, one.. three… three. Tetra… forming and colour… nigh…. sayshon ship.” BoyChild tapped the screen again. The message scrolled upwards and another appeared. “Please. Go after… the… guide.”
There was a beep. They looked down at the floor below the screen, where a small box on tracks had quietly placed itself. The screen folded back into the pillar and a light started flashing on the Guide’s back as it rolled away.
JonPaul scratched his head. “You know, children, I think you’re going to deserve real names before this day is out.”