“We’re over the ships, Cederic,” Sybell said as she swiveled away from her consoles.

“Excellent,” Cederic answered, bringing the shuttle to a near motionless hover. “Have we figured anything else out, yet?”

“No,” Sybell droned, returning her attention to the consoles.

Cederic ground his teeth but managed to ask, “How deeply are they buried?”

“Fortunately, the ships are close to the surface” Sybell chirped. “We should be able to dig a path to them quickly.

Gliding the ship into position over the first ship Cederic ordered, “Start making the paths, Sybell.”

“Aye, sir,” Sybell answered.

Tapping at his comms, Cederic barked out a command, “Jeras, Ronald and Tegan, grab your gear and get ready to explore ship number one.”

“Yes, sir,” Tegan squeaked.

“What will we be looking for?” Jeras asked as his voice resonated in Cederic’s ear.

With a sudden lurch, the shuttle dropped, coming to rest, so the grass tickled the hull. Craning his neck, Cederic muttered, “How am I supposed to know what you’re looking for? These ships are ancient Larian ships, on a planet that doesn’t exist in the Larian database. Get in and get as much as you can. Is that understood?”

“Yes, sir,” Ronald answered. “How are we getting in?”

“I’ve just finished the tunnel,” Sybell chimed in. “Everyone who’s going should grab your climber’s boots.”

“Tana and Evans you stay here and help everyone get back in when they’re done,” Cederic commanded. “Meanwhile Colton, Elyas, Preston, Aiden and Giselle you all get ready for the larger ship.”

The crew replied, “Yes, sir.”

Wincing Sybell turned off her comms, “They could at least try to say it in unison.”

“Bah,” Cederic grunted as he maneuvered so the first team could head into the freshly dug tunnel. “I don’t care about that.”

“About what sir?” Tegan asked.

“Nothing, now get in and explore that ship team one,” Cederic said as he lowered the shuttle’s ramp. Once they delved into the mystery, Cederic moved the ship, and Sybell dug the second tunnel. Once dug out the second team similarly descended to the more immense ruins.

When her displays indicated the ramp closed, Sybell asked, “What do we do now?”

Cederic angled the shuttle into the sky, and it launched into the upper atmosphere, “Now we begin the aerial scan of the planet.”

“Yippee,” Sybell moaned.

“I know,” Cederic offered sympathetically. “But we need to know as much as we can about the planet.” Tapping his comms, Cederic asked, “Tana how many survey drones do we have?”

“We have five drones,” she replied instantly.

“Launch them,” Cederic ordered. “We’ll study the area surrounding the crash sights.”

A while after they started their survey, Sybell’s head whipped blurted, “Cederic, Tegan has news for you.”

Adjusting his comms, Cederic demanded, “What do you have Tegan?”

“Cederic, Laria tried to colonize this world,” Tegan babbled. “But when the attempt failed, they waited centuries before sending a second ship to investigate. But that ship vanished as well.”

“Then what?” Cederic asked as he started the scans of the crash site.

“I don’t know,” Tegan protested. “I’m piecing all of this together from the logs of both ships. Preston is on the older ship, and we’ve been trading info, but I figured you’d want to know what we’ve found so far.”

“Tegan!” Aiden’s scream sliced into the conversation.

“Yes, Aiden,” Cederic said as he smoothed out the flight after the jolt from the interruption. “What can we do for you?”

“Cederic come pick us up!” Aiden cried out, but his voice couldn’t drown out the sounds of weapons fire.

“What’s going on?” Tegan asked her voice quavering.

“We need to be picked up to Cederic,” Jeras cried out as he broke into the private channel.

More shots rang out before Aiden replied, “Monsters are charging our position. We need to fall back, Cederic come get us.”

Cederic abandoned his survey and went back to hover over the more massive ship. “Get as much of the ship’s database as you can and then use your climbers and get up here! Tegan we’ll be over your position in a minute.”

More shots rang out from Aiden’s comm, “We’re coming up now, Cederic and we have about fifty percent of the database.”

“Ramp is opening now,” Cederic altered his comms channel. “Tana and Evans, are you all ready?”

“Yes,” Evans responded. “And we have the first team onboard.”

Switching back to the open channel, Cederic asked, “Any injuries?”

“No,” Aiden replied. “But can we pick up Tegan’s team?”

“We’re getting into position now,” Cederic assured the rest of his team. “What was attacking you?”

“Monsters,” Aiden muttered. “Monsters and nightmares.”

“We have Tegan’s team,” Tana chirped. “And they appear to be uninjured.”

“Aiden, is your team, okay?” Cederic asked force, filling his tone.

“Strafe the ships, Cederic,” Aiden demanded. “We need to strafe the ships. We need to wipe out whatever those things are. We have some heavy weapons on this shuttle. Let’s burn everything.”

“Aiden, we will not burn anything,” Cederic decreed. “Bring up whatever you managed to copy from the databases.”

“Yes, sir,” Aiden said with defiance and contempt in his voice.

“We’ll be up soon,” Tegan added as if she was mediating between two angry children.

“Cederic,” Sybell whispered.

Cederic switched to a private channel with Sybell and asked, “What’s wrong, Sybell?”

“We’re getting data back from the drones.”

“We’re supposed to,” Cederic said, trying to dismiss her.

“We need to get out of here,” Sybell screamed. “Get us out of the atmosphere! Get us out now before it’s too late!”

“What do you mean?”

Sybell’s hands danced along her keypad and then an image flooded onto Cederic’s display. Large winged and scaled creatures stared out of the screen. “What are those he whispered?”

“No idea,” Sybell cried. “But they’ve destroyed two of our drones. Can we get out of here?!”

With a sharp nod, Cederic rocketed off towards the safety of space.