Roaring from the friction upon hitting the mostly Helium atmosphere, the meteor burned red, then orange, then white in mere seconds. It fell with the intent of leaving its mark on the moons surface and struck it with such incredible force it could have annihilated a populated city and lay waste to the surrounding area.
Fortunately for everyone, this moon was barren as could be. The Helium atmosphere and lack of natural resources short of the silicon in the soil which gave it it's yellow coloring from space didn't really make it a prime location for terraforming. Another feature of the moon was an irregularity in its magnetic field, which drew a vast majority of the asteroids and meteors that came near straight to it.
In an underground compound on the planet, some 200 miles from the impact site, a red light blinked in harmony with a chirping alarm. The base was originally a meteorite examination facility with the purpose of gathering samples and learning what they could from them. Built to accommodate roughly 50 people, only 1 man remained in the entire base.
Derrik Hunt had been on the base for almost 2 years, and alone in it for about half that; the rest of the examination team left for better opportunities. Derrik on the other hand had a true interest in finding everything these space rocks had to tell. he had already submitted his discovery of fossilized single-celled organisms in a meteorite that had fallen not two months prior. He was hoping to hear back from the academy he had submitted his findings to soon.
He was a young man of 26, fresh out of college upon being assigned at the moon base. Majored in Astronomy, minored in Geology with more than a few credits in biology and basic medicine. He was of average height at 5'8", and made sure to keep an eye on his diet, though he was known to indulge in a weekly binge of cheese fries, he always took a month off them to work it off. Derrik's rust red hair was parted to the right, but it naturally went left, making him adjust it every so often. Even for someone approaching his thirties, his brown eyes were still bright with life and curiosity. His nose was bent slightly to the left from the time he broke it while working on his Geology final.
For the moment, Derrik was zooming around the garage on a small personal vehicle for getting around the compound, but he was using it to beat his record around the garage. He stopped at his make-shift finish line and looked at his watch to see his time. His disappointment was cut short when he managed to hear the alarm going off and brightened up right away. Derrik forgot the small vehicle in his excitement and ran to the express elevator and hit the button for the second floor.
The pill shaped machine rose through the narrow cylinder rapidly. At that speed, a normal elevator would have made those inside buckle to their knees and cause injury, but this elevator had a soft, mesh-like cushion for a floor, so Derrik simply sank about 4 inches into it while going up, and was spring boarded nearly twice that when it came to a rapid stop.
Derrik ran down the hall like a child on Christmas Day as soon as the elevator opened. The alert room was little more than a standard panel and a GPS screen depicting the near exact location of the impact site. He hit a string of keystrokes that deployed a data drive containing the coordinates for the retrieval truck. He returned to the elevator and went back down to the garage level.
Jogging across the maintenance bay where he had been zooming around on the two-wheeled vehicle, he made his way to the hangar where the five retrieval trucks were docked.
The Vehicles had two main parts, the cab, and the bed. The bed was currently folded up and looked like a trailer, 80 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 30 feet tall. inside were a set of conveyor belts that could be adjusted to place themselves under the meteorites and pulled up into the bed once it was deployed as well as multi-jointed arms to jostle the rocks into place over the belts, or keep it in place once it was on the bed. The cab was 15 feet wide and 20 long, complete with a bed, lavatory, and stocked mini-pantry and fridge for longer trips. all of them had been used over the last 2 years, so they were no longer the shiny white and blue they had been when Derrik was first stationed here, rather, they were yellow with the windswept soil of the surface.
He approached Unit 02, mainly because the seats were a little more comfortable, but also because there was a book he hadn't finished reading inside. After entering the cab and initiating the start-up sequence, Derrik inserted the drive into the computer.
when the computer came on, it prompted for vocal commands. "Derrik Hunt, Researcher 2nd class, Chief of Staff at Site '5 5 3 0 - 3 2 F', approves use of this vehicle to examine and/or retrieve the sample located at the coordinates provided in Drive F, file 'Coordinates D732 H16.6'." the screen explored the drive automatically searching for the file, found the data and uploaded it to the navigation program.
The platform the truck lay on pulled forward past the other trucks onto a track that eventually led the platform into another that it snuggly fit into. This Platform had several paths that lead to the surface, two of which had been destroyed from impacts, but the other 8 were still well intact. "Open Path 04. Unit 02, prep hover jets for surface travel." Derrik said flipping the switches to open the valves under the truck. The platformed turned until the truck was lined up with the path that had '04' over it, and finally, the truck lurched forward up the steady incline. A light appeared at the end of the 6 mile tunnel signaling the path was clear, so Derik picked up his book and turned to the last page he had read. He wanted to see how the young wizard would get the egg from the mother dragon.
Derrik was listening to the Stellar Radio, as he examined this 10th sample from the asteroid. So far, none of the samples had anything note worthy, unless you counted the unusual density of the iron in it. He had put it down as an irregularity, but it was possible that it was from a moon or planet that had since been destroyed from undetermined forces, and this fragment was from near the core. It would make it more interesting at least. Give him an asteroid with a pocket of water any day.
The song on the radio finished and the D J's voice came on, "Boy, the so called 'Prince of Darkness' sure had some CRAZY antics in his early days. Next on Class of the Past, we have a request for something about finding that special someone..."
Derrik found himself listening a bit more intently than he had planned, and soon found himself tearing up. It hit pretty close to home. He'd been alone on the base for a year, and it was hard enough keeping himself entertained with the constant care of a facility built for 50 people, but he'd had his share of heartbreak back in college.
The DJ came on after the song, "I believe there's somebody out there for everyone, and this guy- Hold on." the D J's voice disappeared from the radio, but came back a moment later, "Okay people, got some warning's from UEC forces, all vessels and settlements in the vicinity of the Kilern system be on alert. UEC ships are currently engaged with hostile forces. All private and commercial ships are advised to stay away from vectors..."
Derrik faintly acknowledged the warning, but convinced himself to move on to the next sample.
He had been examining the 37th sample from the asteroid when the impact alarm went off again. "Ooh, hopefully this one will mix things up." Derrik went through his normal procedure and was top-side in 20 minutes. Opening the book to just before the young wizard and his friends entered the maze.
Too enthralled in the climax of the book, he hadn't even looked up in the hour-and-a-half it took to get to the impact site. Derrik closed the book thinking about what this meant for the entire Magic society, and what might happen in the next one. He finally brought his gaze out the front window only to have his eyes widened in surprise.
He was staring at a massive pod of some sort, at least 60 feet in length, and 20 wide. He ordered the computer to do a scan of the pod. the readings that came up showed there was something inside, possibly a large group of people huddled together, but he wasn't familiar with the design of the pod. Unfortunately, the scans also indicated a small leak in the hull, it was filling with deadly Helium gas, with approximately 45 minutes before there wasn't enough oxygen for the people to survive.
Derrik hit the switches to deploy the bed and ordered the computer to retrieve the 'sample'. The pod was on the bed within an agonizing 10 minutes. "Computer, set coordinates and return to base with priority 1 speed." the screen dictated a warning about fuel versus speed and estimated a not so encouraging time of arrival. A mere 2 minutes of error threatened the lives of those inside, but he ordered the vehicle to go full speed.
Pacing up and down the cab, he kept an eye on the distance to the base. Some quick math and he figured it would take less than 22 seconds to reach the end of the tunnel once he reached the base. But that would be at top speed, not exactly the smartest thing to do. About 30 seconds should allow for a deceleration from 300 miles per hour, but the inertia from the sheer weight of the truck could double that.
Derrik stopped, giving his full attention to the distance from the base. He sat in the pilots seat and held his hand over the 'open' button while gripping the manual brake system with the other, waiting anxiously. Mere seconds dictated this situation.
The barren landscape held little to the imagination, but Derrik paid little attention. After what felt like hours, Derik suddenly slammed the button, then gripped the break release and pulled it all the way back.
The truck lurched slightly as the jets went out from under it, then they came back to life in full reverse, jostling the entire vehicle. Had Derrik not known that truck was built to resist tipping over, he would have been very worried. 15 seconds of breaking later and the truck tipped down into the entry way to the base. Derrik had little more to do then wait, so he calmly signaled for the base entrance to close. Each mile of the tunnel became longer as Derrikheld his breath, thinking positively that the truck would stop before he hit the opposite wall.
Even better, the reverse jets brought the truck to a halt at the end of the tunnel, with the cab sticking into the round-about. Derrik didn't relax yet, he pulled the truck completely on the round-about and had it turn to the drop-off bay entrance.
The bed opened completely as the conveyor belt adjusted to level off with the sample platform that retrieved asteroids were placed on. The arms in the bed assisted in pushing the pod onto the platform. as soon as that was done, Derik pulled the truck from the platform and jumped out of the vehicle and ran to the elevator for the control center of the Harmony Arms.
The Harmony Arms were a set of highly articulate mechanical arms whose primary controls were a set of arm braces with very delicate sensors along the fingers and hands of the wearer. Several were equipped with high-density drills and saws to cut through strong metals that could be found in asteroids, and others were simple three digit hands used to pick the cut pieces apart.
Derrik motioned with his ring fingers carefully. Two arms, each equipped with the saws, drew close to the pod on either of its side as he did. Worrying a bit about uneven decompression, he pulled each saw carefully along the parallel sides of the pod. The gas from within hissed as it was pushed out by the gas in the base, but the structure of the pod gave no hint of imploding. Soon enough, all was quiet after the exchange of atmospheric pressure.
Finally sighing in relief, Derrik began to work swiftly and precisely as he cut the pod apart. Holding the top of the pod with the arms controlled by his pinkies, he cut it off with those synchronized with his thumbs. Derrik lifted it away, and nearly ruined the harmony arms when he clenched his fists.
He was looking down at not a group of people, but a massive armored figure. It had a humanoid shape and was clad in white armor. It's shape was off though, the legs were quite a bit longer and the armor over the torso would have only gone half way down the abdomen on a person. His gaze finally came upon the head, which he assumed was facing him based on the visor, or half the visor in this case, because the other half was cracked open, revealing a blue, almost human, face.
Derrik was on the platform examining his latest 'discovery'. A 38' 5" humanoid with a body structure very close to that of a human female. He had removed the armor plating and discovered it to be wearing a seemingly comfortable fabric body suit that did little to dissuade him from comparing it to a human. Obvious key differences other than scale included leg and torso length, extended ear structures, and the skin and hair tone. Derik decided to forgo the scientific distancing and assumed the creature was a 'she'.
She had suffered some head trauma, along with minor cuts and bruises, based on Human physiology at least, but he had cleaned and covered them to the best of his ability while avoiding being 'intrusive'. Her chest was rising and falling at what seemed the same rate as a human and had no sign of trouble breathing the oxygen atmosphere. She seemed very, very human in most respects.
Derrik approached her head. With it laying back, the tip of her nose came level with his chest, and her ears were easily the length of his leg. He guessed her eyes would have been as wide as dinner plates, easily, and her hair was a platinum green. He examined her royal blue skin, taking note that even at the difference in scale, he could not easily recognize her pores, possibly an efficiency as to not produce sweat that could fill tea cups in seconds. He might have just dressed her wounds...but he hadn't really felt her skin...so he reached out, and touched her cheek.
It was warm and smooth. Surprisingly smooth, in fact. Derrik stroked her cheek with the back of his hand like he would to his girlfriend in college.
Snapping back to reality with a gasp he looked around, as though he expected someone to be watching. He straightened out his coat and stepped off the platform to resume his research.
An hour or so had passed and Derrik was examining sample #48, and still nothing. His eyes were straining so hard he was misjudging colors. He sat back from the display to stretch and rub his eyes. He returned to it and saw that he still saw odd colors, that or the screen could have been magnetized. Derrik changed the view point, but noticed the purple he was seeing was moving with it, and that wasn't normal. The camera adjusted and centered on the odd color.
It wasn't any material he was familiar with, nothing he could think of was this kind of opaque purple, but it looked familiar. Something about rocks or gathering. It hit him so hard he was out of breath.
Moss. A true, extraterrestrial example of ongoing photosynthesis that could survive in the vacuum of space, and he had just discovered it. Derrik was on the verge of hyperventilating when he let out a yell of utter elation. jumping from his stool and making an utter fool of himself; shuffling his legs in a ridiculous dance of glee, running around whooping like a sports fan whose team won the world series, screaming at the top of his lungs with no greater purpose.
Derrik suddenly froze as his eyes landed on his 'roommate'. His very conscious, very big, and upright roommate who's gaze was locked with his.