Now normally when archeological artifacts are found and recovered, the items in question go directly to a government-approved restoration facility (There are other labs on Earth and other planets that restore human artifacts and sell them illegally in the Black Market, which has amazingly survived all these years). When Sharia and her team departed for the facility under the 300 or so year-old hospital, they all expected to find some useless old 21st century medical supplies and remnants of the Gene Wars buried in all of the debris and rubble. Instead, collapsed corridors and darkness was all that greeted them, along with the smell of decaying cement and the almost non-existent air that had almost suffocated them during their journey. They had almost persuaded themselves to turn around.
Now having discovered a door and the tomb-like lair shut secretly behind it; Sharia and the rest of her team gather up the remains of those whom had resided inside the old capsules and carried them out with the assistance provided by the Artifacts & History Association, (a group dedicated to uncovering lost history and relics from distant to modern ages), upon Sharia's request. The dead were no problem, nor were the capsules that leaned against the walls; two dead capsules out of the hundreds were taken back for further study, but one capsule in particular was going to be hard to move: the one still in operation.
After some pondering on the problem from some of the best technicians that the Artifacts & History Association could provide, a creative decision was reached. Using a small hover-generator, the technicians hooked the generator onto the capsule. The technicians used old schematics found inside the decrepit, old facility and files obtained from the capsule itself (See Chapter 1), and long-story-short, they managed to wire the generator to the capsule and install two large hover-plates beneath it. It seemed like the capsules power-source was a nuclear fusion generator that resided somewhere nearby in another room in the facility. All the power had been manually rerouted to the particular capsule which Sharia discovered.
It was now ready for transport to the surface... and the new world above.
Sharia sat in the passenger seat of Tenner's van, her hand coming to rest under her chin and her elbow leaning upon the window panel. So many things had happened over the past three days... already they had their 'mystery capsule' all packed up in a white moving truck with local police escorts all around it. Both the capsule and her were on their way towards the same place: The StarDancer
"How long has it been since we made any kind of discovery, Lock?" Sharia asked her driving friend quietly.
"Nearly a year and a half, though I think we may have hit the jackpot! We're sure to win some award or something, I mean, we're going to a Federation Ship for this, right? It has to be something big, only a starship has the kind of tech to find out what's in there," Tenner replied hastily.
Sharia sat up from her 'slump' position and posed a question to Tenner, "Ok, riddle me this: Why is the technology we need, the kind to deal with advanced nuclear physics and nitrogen-based sciences, located on a Federation Ship? Why couldn't we just do this ourselves?"
Tenner shrugged and answered the best he could, "The only reason I can think of is that this kind of old tech is dangerous to handle. Picture yourself opening that thing, then having half your body freeze because of liquid nitrogen spewing everywhere after being held by a very delicate nuclear reactor for three hundred-some years," he paused for a moment so that Sharia could take it all in, "Not a pretty sight now is it?"
Sharia gulped as she pictured her whole body shattering in bloody crystals and ice, like in the movies, "Oh...."
Tenner smiled seductively at his friend, "Don't worry. I'll make sure that you stay your whole, sexy self!" The golden-brown fox dodged a swipe of Sharia's claws as some of the fox's head-fur was sliced off by the attack.
Sharia shook her head and yawned, "So, are going to ever get there?"
Tenner nodded towards the highway, "When we draw near to it, you'll definitely know!"
Tenner's van drew closer and closer every second to their destination. Sharia had slept most of the trip because of the sheer boredom, but Tenner kept pointing out the sights and locations that they passed. Sharia, however, was not interested in what lay ahead. The arctic fox morph was more interested at what lay behind them in a following transport vehicle. Thoughts and fantasies filled her mind as she imagined what the capsule would reveal, "What if it's some sort grotesque killing machine? The humans were conducting experiments, and they always sought to increase their military advantage." The sleepy morph's eyes slowly drifted up and down as Sharia tried to fight off sleep.
For Sharia, this was the worst time to fall asleep.
Sharia woke up inside a small concrete room, naked, cold and alone with no doors or windows of any sort. No vents, no doors: nothing. Nothing but one single light-bulb that hung in the air, attached to some wire that seemed to lead into the ceiling. The light-bulb slowly swung left and right, right and left, and in all other directions. Shadows cast themselves upon the walls as the light shone in different places at different times.
Sharia was in panic, she held her tail and stroked it (she did this in times of stress) as she looked around franticly, "Where am I?! Where’s the door?!"
The frantic arctic fox became aware that she was not alone anymore in the room, and she froze up. A low growl of a mix between a tiger and a bear made itself known behind the unlucky, naked arctic fox woman in the middle of the room. Though shaking with fright and weak in the knees, Sharia gathered up the last ounce of courage she had, looked behind her... and screamed. A grizzly creature sat in the corner on its haunches: half man, half lion, half bear, and some other things the arctic fox had never seen before, and stared at her with huge yellow eyes. The creature roared, the trembling arctic fox covered her ears and screamed at the top of her lungs. The monster rushed at her and pinned her to the floor. Sharia kept screaming, and knowing that she would die within seconds. The creature stopped and grabbed her left arm and started to shake it vigorously, yelling at the trembling fox women, "WAKE UP! WAKE UP SHARIA!"
The next thing Sharia knew, a warm body held her close, stroked her hair and talked in a soft tone. Sharia nudged into the body and realized it was Tenner, and upon realizing this she looked around only to find that she is back inside the van. Bright lights shown on the left side of the vehicle, and what appeared to be an airport terminal stretched before the vehicle, as they were parked right beside it. Other cars and things of the sort were pulling in and out of the stretch, dropping off and picking up a mix of humans, morphs, and chakats. Everyone seemed unable to stand still except for Sharia's van, and the two furs inside it.
Tenner looked at her with concern in his eyes and asked, "Are you okay?"
Sharia looked at her friend, nodded rapidly and sniffled, trying to regain her composure, "Yes....yes. I'm fine now. Thank you." The arctic fox wiped away her tear-stained cheek-fur.
The arctic fox waited a couple of minutes before getting out of the van and joining her friend Tenner as he escorted a huge box into the terminal loading entrance. No doubt the 'box' had to be watched carefully... though practically no one was there because the loading entrance was for big cargo and personal businesses only. No doubt that this was big cargo. The titanium box floated with the aid of anti-gravitational plates locked securely on the bottom of the large and heavy metal cargo. Swiftly and surely, the package reached the ship StarDancer. All ships, either they be Federation or not, always had bay doors of some sort. The StarDancer had huge bay doors and a monumental ramp for loading and unloading cargo, various goods, and even passengers. Sharia and Tenner, with a few other team members, guided their precious cargo up the ramp. Sharia thought that the docking ramp was amazing, and then she took one look inside the ship and was astounded. To her, it felt like 1/3 of the world had been crammed into cargo hold of the StarDancer. There was so much space that she had to crane her neck to see all the way to the top of the cargo hold. The calls of her teammates, however, brought her back to her senses. The arctic fox caught up with her fellow colleagues and ventured onto the elevator they were boarding and the doors closed swiftly. She almost caught her tail in the closing doors. The elevator went up, up, up into the ship. Sharia thought it would never end... until the sudden, smooth stop onto their destined floor changed her mind. The doors opened up to a hallway, with humans and morphs all with well-fitting, dark-blue uniforms strapped to them.
A portly human male with a slight tan and short brown hair stepped up to Sharia from what seemed like nowhere and spoke immediately, "Hello. I believe that you are Miss…" the man took a quick look at a note he was carrying, " Miss Sharia Meliuem, plus three?"
The arctic fox nodded her head politely, "Please, just call me Sharia, and yes. We're here for the certain matter in regards to this box." Sharia tapped her right paw's digits lightly on the top of the large box.
The portly man smiled and nodded kindly to Sharia, "Oh, yes, right this way ma'am."
Through the hallways Sharia and her team went, following close behind the portly man. The guide suddenly stopped, turned on one foot, and pressed a button on the wall beside him. A door opened up in the wall and the man stepped in, motioning Sharia and company to follow. Another, smaller, hallway lay beyond the door. Though the portly man seemed fine with navigation of the ship, Sharia wondered how anyone could have so many doors and hallways and not get lost or lose their minds. A few minutes of walking later and the man pressed another button, and opened another door. The room that was revealed turned out to be a small laboratory. The lab looked like an autopsy and a cat-scan room mixed together. There was a body-sized table in the middle of the room, and a large cat-scan-like machine in the back. All kinds of computers and things of the sort lay on the right side (her right) of the room, and the other side looked like it held medicines and tools any doctor would need to cut limbs off or transplant hearts. Sharia was instructed to bring the box beside the table, and so she did.
The portly man turned and spoke directly to Sharia, making it clear on what he had to say, "You are free to go now. I'll show you the way back to the elevator. Thank you for your time."
Sharia couldn't believe her ears for a second, but quickly regained her composure and spoke quickly, "Wait, hold on. That's it? Can we at least get a tour? Please?"
The man shook his head very quickly, "Oh no no no. You see, this is a restricted area. You can only be here for a short amount of time," the man pointed to himself in a dramatic fashion, "Even I don't have the proper clearance to be here for very long. Though you can ask for a tour, for we're are not leaving for a looonnnggg time, but right now I need for you to get out of here before our special clearance expires."
Sharia did not have the authority to argue, so she didn't. Though having been with her 'cargo' for so long, she wanted to see what would happen next. There were a few minor groans from her crew as they all sort of 'shuffled' to and out the doorway.
Being the one disappointed the most, the arctic fox walked slowly towards the doorway, only stopping to look back upon her discovery one last time before the portly guide urged her back into the hall.
To be continued.
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