West of Paradise, Galatia
Gideon cowers even lower to the ground as a bird suddenly flutters overhead. He casts a longing glance up to the creature and he momentarily wonders how such a helpless and frail creature could survive out here in the hybrid-infested wilds. As he eyes the bird, Gideon watches it hop between a few branches in the tree canopy before it takes flights and abandons him and his companions.
“I’m thinking that the place is abandoned,” Sylvia announces after a few moments of silence.
“Well that much is obvious,” Gideon sarcastically agrees and chuckles.
In front of him the vast concrete structure stands in stark contrast against the greenery around it. Vines, moss, and a massive array of small foliage are beginning to overtake the building and larger plants have long since retaken the area around the building.
The dark grey structure itself if situated in a valley that is surrounded by some smaller hills. Part of the building appears to have given way and fallen into the peaceful river whose banks must have risen since the building’s construction. Gideon isn’t certain, but he thinks that he can just make out the forms of several smaller outbuildings beside the large main building. However, thanks to the large amount of foliage, he can’t be certain.
“I meant there aren’t any hybrids,” Sylvia clarifies with a slightly irritated tone.
Letting out a strained breath, Meghan whispers, “I’m not so sure, something scared the birds on the far side of the complex and it wasn’t us.”
Clearly not dissuaded, Sylvia points out, “Well we can’t just wait here forever,”
“I’m not sure if we should just rush in either,” Gideon reminds her, “We decided to scout things out from up here first for a reason. We don’t have the manpower or the firepower to take on much.”
“Well we’ve got the womanpower!” Meghan exclaims unhelpfully.
Rolling his eyes at Meghan’s comment, Gideon sighs. When no one says anything else, he continues, “If we’re going to go in then we’re going to have to set some traps behind us as we go so nothing can sneak up on us.”
“We’re going to have to find somewhere defendable in there soon too,” Sylvia adds.
Nodding, Meghan agrees, “Yeah, night’ll be here soon, and I don’t want to get caught out in the open again.”
“What do you think this place used to be?” Gideon asks when no one makes any moves to descend from their lookout point. Something about the dark, overgrown buildings added an unneeded amount of spookiness to the entire setting.
“My guess is an old town,” Sylvia ventures a guess, “There are a bunch of old foundations all around that look big enough to have been houses.”
“All Pre-Inundation, I’d bet,” Gideon nods as he finally realizes why he couldn’t make the smaller structures out for sure before—they were just the remains of buildings.
“Yeah,” Sylvia agrees.
Shuffling for a moment, Meghan clears her throat and inquires, “What’s up with the big building though? It seems so out of place out here on its own.”
“Looks like some sort of open-air hangar,” Gideon notes as he looks at a series of large landing pads on top of and attached to the building. Most of the pads are nearly indistinguishable thanks to the plants that made quick work of most of the flat surfaces, but some concrete is still peeking out here and there.
“It’s a spaceport,” Sylvia announces confidently.
“A what now?” Gideon asks with a breathy and confused chuckle.
“It’s where spaceships used to land,” Sylvia answers.
“Spaceships?” Gideon presses, still very much confused.
“Yeah,” Sylvia nods.
Seemingly just as lost as Gideon, Meghan inquires, “You going to let us in on what you’re talking about, or are we just going to have to pretend that we’re following?”
Sighing, Silvia starts, “This little secret is what got me stuck in the Stalwart Program. As it turns out, we’re not alone in the galaxy.”
“You telling us there’re aliens out there?” Gideon laughs as he points to the heavens.
Nodding, Sylvia affirms, “Aliens and a lot more humans like us. The Coalition cut us off from the outside worlds for some reason. My mom let it slip once that there were other planets run by the Coalition and I just had to know more. I wanted to know why they decided to cut us off from everyone else too. They didn’t like me looking around, so they sent me here.”
“What all did you find out?”
“A whole lot of nothing.”
“Nothing? You just told Meghan and I a lot more than we ever knew.”
“But I didn’t figure out why any of this is happening. There are so many other planets that we could live on—why are they keeping us here?”
“Maybe we’re some sort of lifeboat for humanity?” Meghan offers.
Furrowing his eyebrows, Gideon probes, “Lifeboats? Aren’t those supposed to be safe places? Nothing about this planet seems lifeboat-like to me.”
“Well maybe that’s the thing,” Meghan continues down her train of thought, “Maybe they figured that no one would think to check a planet full of monsters for some humans that are hiding out.”
“And who would we be hiding from?” Gideon asks, wondering how Meghan could have come up with this whole scenario.
Laughing at Gideon, Meghan condescendingly answers, “The aliens, duh.”
“From the files I went through, I’d say that’s not the case,” Sylvia shakes her head.
“Then what is it, oh wise one?” Meghan demands in a demeaning voice.
“I don’t know for sure,” Sylvia shrugs, “It sounded like this was all some sort of sick experiment or something. I don’t know. All I can say for sure though is that this isn’t a lifeboat for humanity.”
“Eh, I’m not convinced,” Meghan shrugs back as she turns her attention back to the ruins before them. A moment passes and she rises to her feet and says, “Let’s get down there to find out what’s the big deal.”