Dhueus looked down the long corridor to the patch of light beyond.
The group had stopped at the end of the tunnel after a 3 hour brisk walk. Clearly the deaths of their comrades had been an accident which hurt even more. To die so pointlessly while the enemy was escaping, or worse, just going about it's business.
Except for Indra, Dheus and Perk, the rest of the Rangers were all at 7 feet or taller, which was just average for a couple of cultures on Tarra but was tall for the Superpower nation the Rangers had originated from. It also made for good ribbing as the taller ones would just mock the shorter ones for being insecure and thus their bold adventures just a symptom of overcompensation for their height. It was this boldness that led to INdra being Captain. That said, Indra had very little power over the group. A Ranger was a Ranger because of their independence from each other and any Tarran laws. Zara had even set up a community on Terra where she was worshipped as “The Moon Goddess” which Indra thought beneath him or what a Ranger should stand for. Especially the way she tortured the population with her demands.-
Everyone had been walking with their robes hiked up their arms and legs and tied around their waist. Their white color had become a dusty brown after the trek.
“I want to rush in there and take em by surprise” Dheus told the group.
“We don't know if this is a trap, yet” Indra responded blandly.
“Yes, but if it is a trap I think going in with our defense rods at full power would eliminate any threat and we can get out of here. I can't believe I got my robes dirty on what was supposed to be an exploratory mission.” Zara said impatiently.
“Agreed. Partly.” Indra responded now thinking about the plan. “How about this. We keep the sticks at quarter power. That way we can hurt our enemy and still leave enough of them alive to ask some questions. We need to know what's going on above all else. They could be a threat.”
“Fine. Give me a second stick. I'm going in first.”
Indra, being the one with the most weapons on himself, passed him his lightning stick and took out his sonic plasma gun switching the lever from sonic attack to plasma pellets which was limited in number but very effective at burning a hole in an enemy at 400 feet. The chemically superheated pellets, propelled by a sonic-magnetic blast, had the power to embed itself in stone or metal and was a good way to cause damage to vehicles or start fires to enemy targets.
Dheus grabbed the stick and began to creep forward. The other Rangers began to follow is a line behind him at 10 feet intervals. In a few minutes Dhues at reached the end of the corridor and was scanning around outside while holding his hand up to tell the others to wait. Then suddenly Dheus charged.
Oh great. He's going solo.” Zara said with a sigh.
Yeah I thought he might.” said Indra and then suddenly with a startled cry, “Wait Theraq! No!”
Theraq ignored Indra and he cursed the newbie Ranger as he exited the mouth of the tunnel with the sound of electrical and grenade attacks going on inside the chamber. Theraq came out at a run and immediately lost the top part of his head as the remaining enemy fire was focused on the cave entrance.
“Now!” Indra yelled as the rest of the Rangers fanned out left and right using Theraq's rookie attack to their advantage to enter the chambers but by them it was almost over.
Dheues was standing behind a lagre column of stone which was blocking fire from the only remaining enemy in the chamber. There were bodies littering the chamber with the smell of burnt flesh. Indra counted 10.
“I saved him for you O great leader.” said Dhues
“Thanks” said Indra with a smirk as he tossed some coma gas towards the last enemy target.
The Alien yelled “For The Prorite!” and pulled a lever as the gas began to encompass him.
The was a blinding light and suddenly the band of Rangers realized they had been paralyzed. Then they thought no more.
Such are the vagaries of fate that our merry Rangers had walked into an alien cryochamber facility and to protect this classified project, the alien had done the only thing he could think of. Throw the entire facility into cryogenic time capsule mode before it was ready and then submerge itself, using explosives guided through another tunnel, into a deep trench in the sea nearby. The aliens plans were protected and our Rangers disappeared from history… for about 5 thousand years
Varun exited from hyperspace suddenly. He checked his systems to make sure they were all in the green and picked up his radio handset to contact Ares command.
“Ares Command. This is the vessel Varuna reporting a space anomaly that pulled me out of hyper-space well before my exit point.”
Varun began to scan the surrounding area for any sort of anomaly he could detect with his sensors or his eyes while he waited for his message to reach command and return. He detected a strong gravitic pull from a large asteroid several hundred thousand miles to his starboard side. Just as a reply came in.
“Vessel Varuna. Be advised that you have entered a military experimental area. Keep to a bearing of 2.1.4. Did you log your flight plan with Ares Command?”
Ah! The military must be testing a gravitic device to move asteroids. They were talking of how much easier it would be to bring asteroids into a closer orbit since the Science Foundation had begun using asteroid for mining purposes.
He set the coordinates specified by Ares Command into his navigational computer and began to compose his answer.
“Authorization 3545671. Classified mission parameters. Course corrected. Thank you for the information Ares Command. Vessel Varuna over and out”.
Varun was on a scouting mission for Orion High Command. Whom they always referred to as “Orion's Belt” making a pun on their location and strict policies at the same time. One of those strict policies was absolute secrecy on mission still underway. After a mission the records went into the Records Foundation which kept everything on public file. This meant success and being smart were of utmost important to the Science & Military Foundation’s as they tried to keep a good profile with the public to keep their lavish jobs and travel perks. Of course, Varun thought, there were times when the secrecy both organizations declared during missions could become problematic for the Rangers on the ground… or in space, as the case might be.
Varun cleared the gravitic anomaly and set his navigational computer for a short jump into Ares space. Minutes later he was heading towards a high orbit over the fourth planet of this newly found Solar System. Varun had heard stories about a mystical race of beings that lived on the third planet (Ge) with powers that sounded suspiciously like Ollie legend. Ge was the larger of the two habitable planets in the system and third from it’s sun. Ares had atmosphere but a red desert had overtaken much of the land. Soon Ares would be a desert planet.
“Hello Ares Command. Nice to see you guys. This is vessel Varuna. Authorization 3545671. Can I get a landing vector for Base 451?”
“Acknowledged Colonel Varuna.” Came back the almost instant reply. “Landing instructions are being set to your navigational computer”.
Clearly someone had been asking about him at Ares Command and had been obliged with some information. Varun wondered how much. Clearly they didn't know his name was different from his vessel, an uncommon choice on his part as most pilots just named their vessels after themselves so there would be no misunderstanding of who owned what vessel.
The data arrived on his screen and the computer automatically set the best course for his to follow. He accepted the course pattern and let the vessel take him in on automatic pilot.
Varun began to think about his mission. On the surface, he was tasked with scoping out Ge for good territory to set up colonies on. The inhabitants were sparsely distributed and, for the most part, primitive compared to the Ollians except for one distinct race that had created an advanced civilization on an island and who may have had attained spaceflight. How they had done so remained a mystery since none of the data compiled thus far made any sense. That was part of the reason he was there. “To find out”, in the words of a senior High Command official, “what the hell is going on there!”. After the dominant theory that Rangers of Ge were hallucinating had been debunked with concrete sensor data. Of course, the new discovery could be from elsewhere than that island but that would make even less sense.
Varun was an obvious choice to explore the situation as he was very familiar with Ge having spent some of his early Ranger Apprentice years in that area. The locals of one of the continents where the space vessel had been sighted knew him as Varuna. The God of Thunder and Lightning. Thunder for his vessels noise and lightning because of his foot long black colored Rangers staff which shot, amongst other things, a bolt of lightning to paralyze or kill one's enemy. Standard issue.
As he came in for a landing in the dome he thought about what he had figured about this system so far. The dome had been constructed over the base to deal with the Ares weather. Or lack of it. It was almost completely gone. Yet there were signs of high civilization of EXACTLY the type that existed on ancient Orrion. The Ge people and civilizations were new in many ways yet ancient in a way that suggested that the ancient Orion's may have come to or from this region. Probably Ares before it became almost uninhabitable. At least that was the conclusion from the Culture Studies Foundation but it was mostly derided by the public as most believed that it was their planet Ollie in Orion's belts was the source of the Ollie’s past. Varun had seen too much to believe the general consensus but he could understand the animosity to finding out you were not dealing with myths to heal the soul but rather actual events in ancient Ollie history. So Varun stayed neutral on the topic but a growing segment of the population was beginning to believe that there was fact to the myths. And if that was true then maybe the other stories were true. Thus Varun was sent to lead a team of Rangers in the region to discover if any benefit could come of it to the Military who. By this time, used to dealing with cold hard fact, were very on edge, both for the implications of the ancient texts and the implications for their future safety. This was a strange time indeed. Never had Varun seen High Command lose it.
Legend has it that the Orions had traveled across the oceans to escape from an enemy. What if they meant “space” rather than ocean? Then some of the architectural finds on Ares would make sense. Something bad had happened in this system several thousand years ago as Ge was showing extreme flood damage as well. That fit in with the Legend of the Ancient Enemy as having destroyed the Orions homeland. Varun hoped not but was too practical to let hope interfere with an investigation. Of course, everyone would prefer that this was just a parallel development by a similar race of beings because if this was their ancient homeland then the ancient beliefs of the Enemy was true as well and that was something out of childhood religious nightmare that even the strongest warrior found unsettling.
Just then a beacon went off somewhere on Ge. A beacon of the primitive type of signal the Ollies themselves used many thousands of years ago before quantum communication systems. Varun immediately set his plane on a new course to intercept this signal on the coastline of an inhabited Island and sent a message to Ares Command advising them of this discovery.