Lights and Shadows Update #14

Note: This is a continuation of Update #13. This particular section has been giving me trouble but I’m soldiering on. Enjoy. 🙂

She gave him a little grunt as she fine-tuned the image by turning a pair of twin knobs on the twin eyepieces. After several back and forth movements, she was rewarded by a sharp focus. “When you are finished criticizing my ergonomic choices, I would appreciate some of your out of the box thinking.”

Matson shrugged and studied the scanner’s attached monitor. “All right, I’ll bite. What do the computer records say?” he caught her look. “Be honest, we can’t be the first to run an analysis on this stuff.”

“Most of the files have been password protected. I can decode them but it will take some time.”

“Time is something we appear to have a lot of at the moment,” he turned his attention to the control console, “Now why would someone encrypt something that just about everyone on the exploration team would need access?”

Finch looked up. “If the recorders found something that someone decided shouldn’t be common knowledge. Something that would either be a huge gain or an enormous loss,” she stole a look outside. “I hope we can get out of here soon,” she went back to her work without another word.

“It’s times like these that I wish I were closer to my family,” he absently mused as he looked outside, “I have a brother in the Marines that I haven’t spoken to since he was assigned carrier duty on the Southern Front. Now that the Locknar War is over, maybe I’ll get the chance to catch up with him.”

“Anything’s possible,” she replied, “I read a while back that Earth was planning on relaxing the media controls soon.”

He nodded, “That would go a long way toward getting things back to normal. If you can call this normal.”

“Reality is subjective,” she slapped the scanner as the scanning beam flickered in and out, “Something about these crystals is definitely disrupting the scanner and I’m at a loss to figuring out why.”

“We have two people with us that may shed some light on the situation,” Matson pressed an intercom button, “Dr. Burke, Lieutenant Monroe, would you come to the Control Room, please?”

Seconds passed with no answer. Matson tried the intercom again. “They’re less than fifty feet away so why don’t they answer?” He cupped his hands like a megaphone and shouted across the room, startling Finch in the process. “Okay, enough is enough. Wakey wakey, you two.”

“If they were heavy sleepers, they aren’t anymore.”

“If they were ever sleeping,” he leaned over the console and flipped a series of switches, clearing the opaque cubicle walls and revealing empty spaces. He pulled out his pistol and checked the supply in the cylinder. He closed the cylinder and held the weapon at his side. “As much as I would love to accept the idea that they vanished into thin air, the skeptic in me thinks they are trying to escape.”

“Where are they going to go? The path back to the outpost is blocked and we don’t know with certainty what is up ahead.”