From the 3rd Book, Aya and Zimudar continue searching

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Aya investigates who is following them; Zimudar goes to disable planetary defenses

Aya was determined to find out what was going on. As she drew closer, she heard static from inside her helmet. She heard an almost discernable word, but couldn’t make it out. She stepped slowly towards the open end of the pipe and saw more small stones thrown out of it. Trying not to laugh, she shook her head. These creatures were almost like toys, like small computerized toys, still functioning 20 years after the planet-wide cataclysm.

Zimudar climbed up a sloped slide of the pyramid to the open window. Bright white light shown from inside. Objects thrown onto the building during the attack had melted and frozen, creating an uneven surface. The angled sides of the structure allowed her to climb, as if it were a rock face. She held on to melted globs of materials with her left hand, her right one being useless. The weapon fired again, illuminating the angled surface. She saw there was an open, smooth area just above. She would navigate around it.

A clump of material gave way under her left foot. She grasped at shapes adhered to the wall. Sliding downwards, her suit caught just under her knee. Feeling around she found another foothold. Her slide downwards, stopped, she waited for the computer voice to warn about the tear. But, no voice came. Instinctively, she looked down at her knee, now beginning to throb with pain, but it was too dark to see. So, she reached upwards with her one good hand to grab hold of another clump of material. Slowly, she inched her way upwards.

Aya stood there with her weapon pointed at them. There must have been at least 30 sets of blinking lights inside the pipe. She shined her light inside and saw them. They had vaguely human looking faces, some damaged and cracked. Others had no face at all. Made of composite metals, some had 2 arms and hands, others no appendages. Most hovered above the floor of the pipe, but some, their mechanisms damaged, simply rested on the metal. She saw the ones in front with stones in their hands. Twisted smiles were permanently set on their faces, at least on those that were not damaged. She gasped and realized they were made to look like Chava, like herself. They were toys, children’s toys, the computerized mechanisms having achieved a level of intelligence. They had evolved a survival instinct.

Pulling herself into the opening on the side of the pyramid, Zimudar realized there was room to stand. What appeared to be a window was actually a short hallway, an entrance to the structure. Bringing her left leg up to the floor of the entrance, she pushed herself up on her wounded knee. She was sure the flesh was scraped and bleeding inside her suit. Standing with difficulty, she finally heard the message she dreaded, “Suit integrity is compromised.”

She limped over to a recessed panel in the wall. Inside was a rectangular display with symbols she did not recognize. The display was lighted, active. This technology was foreign, probably installed by the Dusmanyu. Looking at the symbols she wondered what to do. Then, another message sounded inside her helmet, “Environmental suit pressure is falling. Initializing compartmentalization.” She felt the suit begin to restrict over her knee. Reaching up to a control on her helmet she pressed a round control.

“Aya, Aya, are you there?”

She heard static, inside her helmet.

“Aya, I cannot hear you. Please respond.”

More static, then a phrase, “Where are you?” Aya responded.

“Go back to the capsule, get a hover pack. I am wounded, I need your help.”

More static in response, and the word, “…there.”

She knew she should wait. Aya was more of a linguist. She may be able to analyze these symbols. The weapon fired again, the brightness almost blinding her. She leaned against wall with her eyes closed, allowing them to adjust the darker space. Opening her eyes, she looked again at the panel, staring until it came into focus.

One of the lighted controls looked vaguely like a plume of smoke. Perhaps pressing this control would stop the weapon. She brought her finger close, but hesitated. What if the weapon were to destroy the structure she stood in? What if it were to destroy Namazu’s ship orbiting at this moment? She withdrew her hand and looked at the symbols again, trying to discern their meanings.

Seeing movement to her right she looked. Aya was hovering at the entrance.

Once inside, Aya studied the symbols. “They’re antiquated. A reptilian language from the Sagittarius Arm, corrupted, but I think...”  She moved a finger close to a symbol resembling an X over a circle. “…this is it,” she continued. Looked at Zimudar asking for agreement, she held back.

Zimdar nodded.

She pressed the control.

The weapon flashed red and the power, including the display went dark. All power to the device was turned off.

“You’re wounded,” Aya said in the now darkened entrance way.

“We need to get back,” Zimudar responded.

“You are small, I can hold you in my arms. The hover pack will carry us both back to the capsule,” Aya said.

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