Our Cast of Players:
- Alexei Makarov (Ian): Human Expert – Technician/Adventurer, level 1.
- Christian (Craig): Human Psychic – Adventurer/Psychic Researcher, level 1.
- Hilton “Hiltie” Jones (Max): Human Expert – Biotech Crew/Pilot, level 1.
- Jonah Priest (Alan): Human Warrior – Security Crew/Ground Forces, level 1.
- Lazarus Morgenstern (Dave): Human Expert – Noble/Adventurer, level 1.
- Munroe (Ricky): Human Warrior – Soldier/Merc, level 1.
Expecting to catch a falling body, Lazarus holds his arms out and is startled when the naked Ushan male catches himself mid-fall and then steps out of the upright box. He looks around with fear in his eyes and cowers into the corner, holding his hands up and gabbling in an incomprehensible language.
Lazarus backs off and Christian steps forward, arms spread with palms outwards and with what he hopes is a reassuring smile on his face. He points to each of you in turn, then to himself, then to the Ushan, smiles again and bows his head in greeting. This seems to reassure the Ushan somewhat, who straightens himself up and performs a small bow to Christian himself. He points to himself and says a single word in his strange language, which if you were to write it down in English, would approximate to “Naruma”. His voice itself sounds dry and rustling. You guess this to be the Ushan’s name and each of you points in turn, uttering your own name.
With both parties reassured, the Ushan points to the other upright box and mimes opening gestures. Christian nods and the Ushan steps forward and releases the catches. Inside is a naked female Ushan, also alive, and he helps her out, speaking quickly and quietly to her in reassuring tones, gesturing to each of you in turn.
Munroe is delighted at the discovery of the female, openly wondering to the rest of you what sort of price the pair would fetch as a breeding couple with an alien zoo or research establishment. Perhaps it is as well that the pair cannot understand him, and Christian hurriedly offers the female his jacket, which she accepts with a grateful look.
Lazarus is struck by a sudden inspiration and catching the male’s eye points to a bas-relief of two Ushans bathing. He then points downwards to the water and says in English, “water”. The male looks at where he is pointing and nods in comprehension, uttering a word in his own language. Lazarus shakes his head and points at the bas-relief again and then back to the male again, saying, “water”. The male nods and struggles to repeat what Lazarus has just said. It is barely comprehensible and he struggles to approximate the sound with his alien vocal cords, but it is a start. Lazarus tries a few more of the engravings, attempting to elicit Ushan attempts at the English words “star”, “flower”, and “hand”.
Lazarus now pulls out the white disk with black segment that he retrieved from the husk of the desiccated Chittik. He shows it to the pair. The female takes it, places it to her forehead, then points at an engraving of a star with a happy face. Lazarus is mystified. It is now the turn of the Ushans to try and ask some questions. They point at the Chittik’s body and then back to you, spreading their hands. Munroe steps forward and unholsters Beth, pulling back and releasing the slide with a click and a smile. The pair nod their understanding and point at the weapon, miming shooting gestures at the Chittik, then beckoning “follow us” type gestures.
You discuss the situation at length, while the Ushan pair approach the two tubs of soil and hold hands, rocking backwards and forwards in grief and making an odd keening noise. Eventually you decide to go with them and see where they take you. However, rather than following them, Priest mimes that he will lead the way and they will direct him.
And so it is. Priest leads the way through the bronze passageways with the Ushan pair right behind him. The rest of you follow behind them, with Munroe bringing up the rear, checking behind you constantly. You progress through what seems like a maze of passageways, but the pair obviously know where they are going as they direct Priest without hesitation. You pass many doors, but apart from the occasional bas-relief on the passageway doors, you see no sign of anything or anybody else until after a good 15 minutes travel you see a source of incredibly bright light ahead and the passageway opens into a perfectly square room, some 15 metres on a side.
A pillar of brilliant crystal glitters with near-blinding radiance at the centre of this large room. It seems not to bother the Ushans in the slightest, if anything they seem invigorated by it but it is so dazzling that you have to shade your eyes. The floor is covered with piles of crumbled, circular cushions and the Ushans direct you straight across to the other side where another passageway exits. They urge Priest on and as you round a corner you can see why. At the end of the passageway there is another square chamber, this one with no exits, and inside are six more Ushans, three males and three females. The groups rush towards each other and embrace warmly, followed by much pointing, gesturing, and chattering at yourselves.
You hang back, not wanting to intrude on the joyful reunion, and survey the room carefully. In the corner of the passageway, a mirror has been carefully placed to allow those in the chamber to see anyone approaching from the room with the crystal pillar. The chamber itself is high and vaulted, adorned with some of the most elaborate bas-reliefs you have seen so far and, like many of the others, is well lit from an indeterminate source. A dais at the far end hold an empty glass coffin, reminiscent of the one you found in the ice tomb. An ornate bronze fountain on one wall tinkles with the splash of water.
The bodies of three Chittik have been pushed against the other wall and this causes some eyebrow raising. Looking more closely at the new Ushans, you can see that these ones are armed with an assortment of improvised clubs, and that three of them seem to have firearms of an unfamiliar design.
To be continued…