I decided it was time to move on from the Yassril system. While I have in no way seen everything on the planets there it felt like the right time to move on.
So I spent a few hours gathering supplies I assumed I would need going forward and tying up a few loose ends. I was ready to go but suddenly felt compelled to do one last bit of exploring on Theda. So I orbited the planet from space and decided to fly straight down when it felt appropriate.
I wandered around finding the same creatures and gathering more of the resources I have been for the past few days. I was just about to turn around and head back to my ship when I saw the side of a strange looking structure in the distance. It needed to be investigated so I made the trek over to it.
This is what I found,
This enormous monolith like structure loomed over the skyline as I approached. Interestingly my exosuit’s readout did not recognise it so no nav icons were displayed for it as I made my approach. When I reached it I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what this…thing was.
There was no way for me to interact with it. No computer panels or touch stones. No hum of energy that I usually feel when stand on monoliths. It was just sat there doing nothing. It has the same design and layout on both of its wide sides; a series of columns placed next to ramped stairs leading to a circular hole that was large enough to walk through at the base of the structure. I stepped through the hole, nothing happened. I walked around all of its sides and checked all of the columns but still nothing. I even tried using my jetpack to reach the top of it to no avail. I was constantly on edge expecting to experience a vision at any moment but none came.
So I decided to leave this discarded piece of history to gather dust. I prepped my gear and ship in its shadow. Took one last look around it. Then left Theda and the Yassril system.
I decided to deviate from the delineated path to the Centre of the Universe that my ship’s computer was keen for me to travel along. I picked the next closest system and arrived in what I decided to call the Calus system.
As soon as I arrived in the system an ominous nav point to a monolith appeared on my suit readout along with the following message.
Find us. Hear us.”
I made a quick stop in the nearest Space Station to assess who was in charge of this sector of space. It turns out I am in another Gek system so I am both happy and hesitant to learn more about them while I am here. Happy because I feel like I came to know and understand the Korvax while in Yassril. Hesitant because all I know of the Gek is that while friendly to me in person, they seem to like projecting the image of having a superior and aggressive empire behind them. At least their ancestors did in the Gek Plaques I have interacted with.
I left the Space Station and followed the nav marker from Atlas to the southern point of a large rocky planet. One that is covered in huge arm like bridges of rock the size of mountains. I named it, Spindaal. I should have called it, Death Trap.
I landed next to the monolith and climbed the stairs up to its ominous glowing orb. I touched it and learnt I was stood on the Ashes of the Sablinte-Refe.
As I lay my hand on the surface of the orb and it began to shimmer I felt a great sense of unease. Like neither I or the monolith belonged to this world. Suddenly I was stood before a giant Red Orb similar to the one I saw on Winkle. I felt both great fear and happiness looking at it. Atlas could be my maker after all so the response felt appropriate in retrospect.
I was shown visions of the vastness of space opening up before me. Strange planets. Space Stations that looked unlike any I had seen so far and black holes looming in the void. As these images flashed before me I heard a great, commanding and terrifying voice boom into my mind,
“SEEK THE CENTRE, OR GO WHERE YOU WILL. IF YOU WILL NOT FOLLOW US, WE WILL NOT AID YOU.”
I then saw a brief flash of what looked like lines of computer code and complex equations and then I was alone back on Spindaal. Stood once again in front of the monolith’s orb. Shaking uncontrollably. I had rejected the Atlas back on Winkle and this was it rejecting me. It had gone out of its way to tell me that.
I sat by the monolith as the toxic rain of Spindaal ate away at my exosuit’s shielding contemplating what had transpired. The Atlas has given me another choice. I can either do as I wish, continue to explore the Outer Edge and its many systems. Finding my place in the universe in the process. Or I can make the journey to the Centre of the Universe to find the answers I seek. I am on my own with both options because of my earlier choices but I am coming to terms with that now. I just have to decide what I want more, survival or answers. At the moment I fear that I am leaning towards trying to reach the centre.
I decided to go for a walk to clear my head and to see what Spindaal had to offer me. I should have climbed back into my ship then and left the planet. Instead I walked a good distance away from the safety of my ship’s life support and security systems.
I found an abandoned building which gave my shields time to recover from Spindaal’s acid rain. Sadly though the abandoned building was home to the Corruption I had seen on Theda.
Unlike Theda’s purple coloured mounds of ooze this was turquoise in colour but still as unpleasant to be around as before. I found another log in which the writer had seen a huge expanse of damage done to a planet with this ooze seeping from the wound. I wonder if the person who left this log brought the corruption to Spindaal with them from wherever they came? Or did it just find them here because they had been so close to a large quantity of it. More importantly though, is this…disease now inside of me due to being so close to it multiple times?
I left the abandoned building and continued on the path I was walking, away from my ship. After several minutes I spied a strange glowing orb on laying next to a rock.
I wandered over to it and picked it up. My suit’s readout unexpectedly lit up. Multiple hostiles, Sentinels, were headed my way. Expecting the usual wave or two of flying machines I switched my Multi-Tool to its offensive mode and waited.
A group of the flying Sentinels came over the hill firing their blasters at me as soon as they spotted me. I darted behind a large rock to catch my breath but the Sentinels were already on top of me. They can be aggressive if provoked but this time it was different. As soon as I took down one another took its place. Then I heard the clatter of metal behind me. I jumped and rolled out of the way just in time to see a large four legged Sentinel charge through where I was previously stood, guns blazing while it did so. Seeing that this new Sentinel was temporarily distracted I returned my attention to the flying ones. Taking down the remaining ones with a few bursts of gun fire. The four legged one was charging at me again. This time I stood my ground, waited. Then fired a very well timed and placed grenade at the foot of the mechanical beast. Trapping it in a small crater made by the impact blast. Using my jet pack I boosted over it to avoid its gun fire and emptied a whole charge of ammo into it. It eventually collapsed in a heap on the floor with the mechanical screech of metal scraping against metal.
This wasn’t the end of my ordeal though. As I sprinted back in the direction of my ship I kept encountering more Sentinels all of which attacked me on sight rather than keeping to their usual patterns. If I picked up any more of the glowing orbs more waves would descend on me. I had to fight my way back to the ship with dwindling resources and the acid rain eating its way through my suit. It took what seemed like an eternity of pitched battle between me and the groups of Sentinels that had appeared between me and my ship.
I eventually arrived back at the ship half dead. I pulled myself into the cockpit and hit the launch button with a bloody fist. As I broke the planet’s atmosphere and with the last of the acid rain evaporating off the ships hull, the warning systems engaged. Pirates had scanned my cargo and found it wanting. Two small fighter ships jumped into view ahead of me. I placed my bloody hands on the flight controls and gritted my teeth. Remembering my first taste of space combat I played it safe. Strafing and keeping my distance. Concentrating fire on one ship at a time. Both pirates soon fell to my persistent fire. Then with the last of my energy I pointed the ship in the direction of the Space Station and engaged the Pulse drive.
I do not remember docking in the Space Station. I woke up with a sudden jump in the cockpit clutching my wounds in the empty dock. Feeling cold, alone and in great pain.
I think things are going to get a lot harder from here on out. Atlas is waiting for me to try and fail in the task it has given me. I’m just mad enough to try and prove it wrong...