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Asteroid 60339-Bixby, The Asteroid Belt, Sol System

 

Asteroid 60339-Bixby was an unremarkable object in Earths solar system on recently found after 5 million years in the darkness it would have remained unremarkable until humanity made it's into space. But a passing ESA probe had picked up a faint signal of alien origins coming from the asteroid, they'd passed it onto the Freedom League who'd passed it onto CoVic station.

 

Seeing as it was probably a fairly innocuous signal, many systems had scattered remains of various von Neumann machines of pass explorations, the Praetorian had arranged for to check it out on their regular patrol. Just in case anything was found they'd arranged for a representative of the Sol System to meet them before they reached the asteroid itself.

 

Everything seemed routine, though this was like nothing they could have possibly imagined...

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Onboard the Praetorian vessel, Ditra was unpacking her somewhat dated EVA suit as they approached Sol's asteroid belt; while the design of her shell allowed her to operate in hard vacuum without it, she nonetheless rarely did so, as she somehow felt too exposed. Perhaps it was due to her humanoid cerebral cortex and its residual primitive fears?

 

The Nameless agent wore her usual white jumpsuit and boots, her curly, dark green hair bobbing loose and free as she crouched on the deck, methodically checking all the suit's seals.

 

"Once we've determined whether or not the signal poses a threat, perhaps we can visit Earth? I've studied it a great deal, but have never actually been there."

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Solar Sentinel nodded. "Earth is an interesting place. I'm sure you'd find some things fascinating." He had to admit that he sometimes felt a stranger. Even years after returning to Earth, the itch to explore overtook him. He loved being able to head out in to space and enjoy the sights. Especially since his speed meant he could go home to Earth. "There's no way to tell what's in this thing. Best to keep alert." 

 

He didn't need a suit, he could step outside and just look around it. He was prepared to push it or destroy it if need be, but he wasn't sure it was necessary. He started to fly slowly around the outside, checking for anything unusual. 

Edited by Thunder King

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Whilst Sitara wasn't the best pilot in the Praetorian she wasn' doing a bad job as she matched the crafts rotation to match 60339-Bixby. As she monitored the display she looked at the corner she'd placed a live feed of Earth, no more than a blue dot where they were right now. She would have prefered to be out dealing with the still-evolving refuge crisis the other end of Lor space, but it was always nice to come to her home that for a long time she destroyed.

 

"If this is as straightforward as it seems I'm sure we'll have time to have a quick visit. The sensor data is coming in now..."

 

Around the image of the potato-shaped object was the data gathered by the ship and whilst Sitara prefered her native Sanskrit the translation matrix was working perfectly.


"Something strange about the asteroid density, it shouldn't be so high and I'm measuring a Lor-Van standard gravity. The signal attenuation suggests the signal is coming from the centre of the body." she gave a slight sigh "We're obviously going to have to take a look inside, can you find us an entry whilst we EVA down? I not sure if it'd be safe to land the craft."

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Flying around the object Solar Sentinel could feel the gravity of the asteroid, that familiar gravitational tug of home. To explore the object didn't take long, it was only about a kilometer long and half as wide, and the surface was fairly unremarkable, apparently untouched in all the millennia it has floated out in the belt, apart from two large roughly oval craters that sat next to each other and seemed to mirror each other. It seemed like it was the best way to get inside the object.

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Ditra locked the upper and lower halves of her suit together and double checked her seals before squeezing her curls into her bubble helmet and locking it in place as well. These older Lor EVA suits were somewhat clunky and made everyone look the same, but they offered a decent protection from the perils of hard vacuum. She didn't bother to switch on the O2, saving it for any possible emergency, and fumbled her way over to the airlock, waiting for the Traveller to join her, toggling her radio to speak with her.

 

- "Ready when you are, Sitara." -

Edited by Heritage

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With a mere thought, Sitara's armour deployed over her body in seconds, encasing her the beautifully crafted white shell.

 

"Akasavani keep the ship at the same position, and if we don't report back in an hour inform CoVic of the situation." she gave her instructions to the ships AI as she made her way to the bridge's airlock

 

"We'll meet you down by the cave Solar Sentinel, shouldn't take us more than a few minutes."

 

With a nod to Ditra, she cycled the airlock to expose them to the stark beauty of space.

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Solar Sentinel regarded the object with fascination. "Roger that." he said. He wanted to go inside, but he knew they were more useful for this type of assignment. He was hardly stupid, but perhaps not the best for scientific exploration. 

 

He was keeping an eye on Ditra. Not that she was a fragile flower, but she was the most fragile of the three of them. He had a plan in place. Get her out of the area, cover her retreat, or even carry her himself. Not that he suspected things would go that way. He expected things would go fine. They might find something interesting, they might not, but he doubted there would be a fight. 

 

Still, he had been a soldier for nearly a century. At this point, he couldn't stop being vigilant if he tried.

 

"Any idea what we're looking at? Any theories? Wishes?" He said. 

 

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The silent beauty of space was breathtaking even for those who had experienced such things before, and even more with the gentle rotation of the other asteroids many kilometres away. All of them was fairly skilled so the spacewalk wasn't that difficult and it didn't take long before they touched down upon the asteroid, the sudden 1G underneath then was unexpected even if the sensors had told them about such things.

 

The lights of there suits didn't go far though it went far enough to show that there was a cave system beyond the entrance.

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Sitara examined one of the entrances to the caves below, it was strange how regular in size and shape they were, she didn't know quite what was going on but it was interesting nevertheless.

 

"I'm not sure but I think it's a little more complex than a von Neumann hive. But it looks that all the answers are inside the asteroid."

 

She put took off of her belt her two blasters and joined them together into her powerpike, though she didn't expect there to be any real trouble inside. Just a mystery to be solved.

 

"Let's go take a look shall we?" she gestured for the other to enter the cave system.

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Shoving off from the Praetorian vessel was a little unnerving, though she knew neither of her fellow travellers would allow her to drift off into empty space. Ditra's suit also had compressed CO2 jets for additional maneuverability, but she still felt very small and vulnerable as she glided across the void, flipping over to land feet first on 60339-Bixby with another blast of CO22 to slow her down. So strange to be standing in 1g on the surface of the barren rock tumbling through space!

 

The green-skinned cyborg joined the two Terrans at the entrance to the cave, the light of her suit's twin headlamps barely penetrating the gloom. She sighed out of reflex more than anything else.

 

 - "Well, we've come this far; might as well see it through. To be honest, at this point, I'd rather not speculate, though it's hard not to. Switching to IR." -

 

With but a thought, Ditra's beautiful mechanical eyes slid up the EM spectrum from visible to infrared, all colors disappearing in favor of simple heat intensities. Her two companions stood out brightly against the black of near-absolute zero. Turning her gaze towards the entrance, the Nameless agent made ready to climb in.

Edited by Heritage

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Solar Sentinel took a slight lead. He imagined if there was trouble, it made sense to have the most durable person in front. The darkness inside the caves made his eyes strain to see. He raised one hand and, after a few seconds of concentration, bathed the area in a bluish light. The color wasn't ideal, but blue was all he could do. He knew the others had lights on them, but he also felt a bit on edge with so many shadows around.

 

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The blue light illuminated a large cavern that seemed to be the entire centre of the asteroid, and at the centre of the cavern was what must be the source of the signal a spacecraft of some type.

 

The front of the craft was shield like protrusion that had two protrusions that came off down the side of the craft. Behind the shield like front, there was a segmented main body ending in two engines that seemed to match up with the caves they were currently standing within. The closest analogy to the nearby Lor-Val like planet was the extinct trilobite.

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With the visual clarification, Sitara was able to piece together all of the strange data that she'd been gathering so far. The data she was seeing on her display was something amazing.

 

"If I'm reading this right that craft has sat here since the asteroid formed, in fact, that the asteroid might have formed around the craft." her data also showed what Ditra's senses also told her "It looks like the craft still has power even after all that time..."

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- "That's...that's amazing,was all Ditra was able to stammer over her comm. Her database had absolutely nothing to say about this ship, which was both exciting and terrifying. - "I'm scanning for an entry point," she finally managed to say. - "Keep your eyes peeled for any sort of control panel or access port." -

 

Meanwhile, she attempted to probe the inside of the craft, sending both radio and telepathic signals out in both Lor and Galstandard, waiting for any response.

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"Oh!" Solar Sentinel said. "That's unusual." He said, in a massive understatement. "I doubt there's anything alive in here, if it's that old. Still, as we say on Earth, better safe than sorry." He still took the lead, looking around for anything that might resemble a door. He had neither superhuman senses nor sophisticated scanning equipment, relying instead on his excellent, if totally normal human eyesight. He had questions as well, but was less equipped to answer them than his comrades. 

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The ship seemed shielded against any scan, seeming as smooth as the hull itself, but there was the barest hint of a telepathic signal silvery and metallic in nature. The ship didn't seem keen to give up it secrets easily to anyone, but they weren't anyone and it wasn't long before they began to tease the secrets from the ancient ship.

 

After a few minutes of scanning Sitara, who whilst not as old did have centuries of experience, managed to get the ship to deploy a ramp. Rather than descend the ramp grew from the hull in an almost organic way, looking like it just had always just been there.

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Sitara had come across similar technology before, it was true that there was nothing new under the star, but it had been put together in a style. And even now the ship wasn't keen to give up any more secrets than it had too.

 

"The ship seems to have an interior, it created a corridor between this ramp and the main chamber. I'm reading a Lor-Van, or Earth even, standard atmosphere. The ships seem fairly welcoming so far if a little distant."

 

The corridor going into the interior of the ship was a stark plain white without any features beyond a faint glow of whatever the lit the interior.

 

"Shall we?"

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The Nameless agent mutely nodded and stepped into the corridor; once she inside, she undid the seals on her bubble helmet and happily shook her locks free. "This is all so amazing! Is the ship biological in nature? I experienced the briefest of telepathic contacts."

 

Ditra continued down the cortidor, her audio and visual scanners greedily recording everything; at this point, every second they were inside the vessel was historic. She continued to send out telepathic 'pings', hoping for some kind of intelligent response.

Edited by Heritage

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The white corridor swept in a gentle curve toward a similarly plain white ovoid room, if the internal dimension were fixed they were at the front of the ship under the nose shield.

 

Near the middle of the room was a feminine looking android, right down to realistic looking raven black hair, cased in a similar white to the surrounding ship. She looked at them with green eyes but did not speak or communicate in any detectable way.

 

Instead, the room filled with a high-resolution hologram showing real-time scans of the three of them in turn. Then apparently she had made a discussion and the hologram showed the Earth and around them was a multitude of screens floating around the planet showing innumerable broadcasts from the planet, as they watched the screens got less and the images black and white until finally there were none at all. This was apparently enough as the gynoid finally spoke in clipped English tones.

 

"Welcome we are the Seeker of Perpetual Harmony."

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Solar Sentinel was immediately confused and on alert. However, seeing the broadcasts put him a bit more at ease. If this were some sort of advanced AI, it may have sent some kind of signal out, or maybe picked up signals. He thought about things like this, and remembered hearing something about the Navagatrixi. They were guides and explorers. Probably harmless, he thought.

 

"Hello." He said to the gynoid. "I am Solar Sentinel. I come from the world you were observing, Earth, but I've been to many other places. Seeker of Perpetual Harmony. Hm. SOPH. Would it bother you if I called you Sophie? It would be shorter." He considered the AI for a moment. It would have to be exceptionally advanced to speak such clear, concise English. He doubted English was spoken yet when it was created.  He wasn't even sure if humans had language, or even existed.

 

"I'm curious about your purpose." he said, looking around. "What is it you want?"

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Ditra chuckled to herself; humans and their perpetual need to name things! But she was equally curious about this gynoid and what her purpose might be. "And I am Ditra Fifty-Five. My people don't really have a home, though our fates are entwined with the Lor." The cyborg paused for a moment to look at all the holographic displays before continuing, gesturing towards their surroundings. "How...long have you been in here?"

 

Meanwhile as she spoke, all her sensors continued to absorb data at an astonishing rate; there was so much to record!

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In her longtime exploring the universe Sitara had only come across on Navimatrix, and he hadn't been working having according to the owner being shut down after causing a lot of harm and damage. It had looked like it was still fully functional and operational if someone was foolish enough to reactivate it. Though she had heard other less destructive tales she was inclined to be cautious in this manner.

 

"We should be careful here Sophie here might not be functioning with a full positronic net, if you get my drift."

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"That designation is acceptable, I will add that to my data banks and respond accordingly."

 

Sophie inclined her head in a remarkably human gesture before answering the first question

 

"According to stellar drift, atomic decay and other indicators we have been here for 5,051,938 years, though I determine a 3-year margin of error. Our systems are however still recovering after being on standby for so long, please stand by..."

 

The hologram of the Earth once again returned and as they watched the resolution seemed to improve again, looking like they could reach out and touch the continents.

 

"Our task is to monitor and defend against dimensional incursion from potential threats..."

 

As she spoke the map zoomed into a city on the East Coast of the United States, though only Solar Sentinel would identify it as Freedom City. A graphical overlay showed a trace energy from the downtown area. This scan seemed to trigger something as hologram, looking like a more human looking Sophie, appeared and declare

 

"Potential dimensional incursion detected, please stand by for jump."

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This was all a lot to take in, even for a creature who's brain operated as fast as Ditra's. "'Dimensional incursions'? What exactly does that mean? And are we actually going to Earth?"

 

Despite the apparent gravity of the situation, the Nameless agent was full of childish glee; would she actually be visiting the ancestral homeworld of the humans? She'd dreamed of doing this for years! A chance to walk the surface of old Earth, maybe take in a museum or swim in one of the blue oceans. The possibilties were nearly endless!

 

Assuming, of course, they survived whatever threat they were about to face...

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