Yuri boarded the Blazer. The serpentine Ussie greeted her at the airlock.
“Thankss for ansswering our disstresss call,” she said. “Iss the Cerberusss nearby?”
“It is not,” Yuri answered. “You ran a scan for it, I take it.”
Ussie nodded. “I need to know the optionss jusst in casse. I’ll esscort you to the engine room.”
“You are not going to ask why I am alone?” Yuri asked.
“I asssume that that matter iss your own bussinesss,” Ussie said.
She led Yuri to their engine room. Tools were scattered around the engine and it had already been opened.
“I’m trying to realign the power couplingsss to bring the enginess back on line,” Ussie said. “do you know how to do engine maintenance?”
“I will assist you,” Yuri said. “Do not worry about my capabilities. I have aided Grace with the engines on the Cerberus before.”
“Good,” Ussie said. “Let’ss get to it.”
“Can you access the controls from down here?” Ophelia asked.
“If she could she would’ve done it by now,” Leon said.
“She’s only been at it for ten minutes,” Kat said. “Have some patience. these things can take time.”
“Unfortunately,” Grace said “Leon’s right. Whoever built this station designed the computers to interact with each other only for very general things. For the most part, you have to access a specific terminal for a specific task.” She looked up. “I’m going to have to get up there to access the gravity controls.”
“Leon, you and I will lift her,” Ophelia said.
Leon and Ophelia carefully lifted Grace so that she could access the console.
“It seems like an illogical design,” Kat said. “What if something goes wrong with one of the terminals? what if there’s an intruder or accident and some stations become inaccessible?”
“I know the flaw,” Grace said. “Tell it to the morons who designed this place.”
“Sorry,” Kat said. “I didn’t mean to imply that you didn’t know. It’s just a really perplexing decision.”
“Not really,” Leon stated. “Ya’ll are thinking in the long term. Maybe this base is abandoned because it wasn’t designed for the long term. Maybe it’s supposed to be temporary and the choice was a deliberate security measure. Much harder to fuck with a base’s computer network when you’ve gotta do it one terminal at a time.”
“That… actually makes a lot of sense,” Kat said.
“Whoever thought that we would say that about something that came out of Leon’s mouth,” Ophelia teased.
“Well, he is an expert in not considering the long term,” Grace added.
“Very funny,” Leon said.
“Brace yourselves,” Grace said. “You’re about to come up. I’m setting it to reverse slowly so we don’t crash into each other or hurt ourselves coming up.”
She finished reversing the gravity settings and the four members of the Cerberus crew found themselves floating up to the ceiling. They managed to manoeuvre themselves and land gracefully.
“Not great security?” Kat asked.
Grace shrugged. “Would’ve been advanced about two decades ago. Really out of date at this point.”
“Either way, let’s grab whatever valuables we can find,” Ophelia said. “Grace, I want you to leave the primary systems intact.”
“I’m not going to tear them up while they’re running,” Grace said. “Besides, the equipment is pretty old. I’d only take it if I really needed parts.”
They began their meticulous search. They found a galley with a lot of dried rations that definitely weren’t made for humans. There was also some very basic cutlery but nothing of value.
They managed to locate a recreational room next. It had some games they didn’t recognise and some electronic reading devices loaded with various books. The language wasn’t one they knew.
“We could translate them with the universal decoder,” Kat suggested.
“We could,” Ophelia agreed. “But is it worth it? I don’t think anyone’s going to pay for a bunch of digital books.”
“The Luluces,” Grace said. “they’re obsessed with collecting anything and everything written. If these are stories they don’t have, they’ll pay.”
“The… Oh, right,” Ophelia said. “I always forget about them.”
“I forget them too,” Leon stated. “They’re more like cosmic librarians than any kind of power.”
“I rather like them,” Kat said. “It’s nice to see a civilisation based around intellectual pursuits.”
“They only manage it because they don’t have anything really valuable,” Leon muttered.
They took the readers and continued their search. Within the vacated crew quarters, they managed to find a surprising number of valuable items. Jewellery & antiques that looked like they might very well fetch a nice price.
“Jackpot!” Ophelia exclaimed. “But also worrying.”
“Because these things being left indicates that they were forced to abandon the base in a hurry?” Kat asked. Ophelia nodded.
“That was a while back,” Leon said. “Whatever it was, it’s gone.”
Farah was enjoying a bite of scone when she first saw the blip on long range sensors.
She waited for a moment to examine it before activating her communicator. “Captain!”
“Go ahead,” Ophelia responded.
“We’ve got trouble,” Farah reported. “A heavily armed ship just entered our sensor range. It’s heading here really quickly too. They’ll probably be on us in five to eight minutes.”
“We’re heading back,” Ophelia said. “Have the Cerberus ready to move away at a moment’s notice and make sure the weapons are ready to go.”
“We could try talking with them,” Paul suggested. “If nothing else, it might buy some time.”
“Make it so,” Ophelia agreed.