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((Cone Structure Interior, Darime IV))
The Trill and Andorian stood on the winding staircase, ready to investigate the noise from the floor below. Jona paused on the stairs with Serren in the lead position. His head was nearly level with the second-level's floor giving him line of sight back to Mallora but not granting him much view of the room below.
ch'Ranni: What do you see?
Serren craned his head, looking around the area they'd occupied before investigating the living quarters on the second floor.
Tan: ::whispering over his shoulder,:: Someone's—some thing's—here. ::louder, to the figure below:: Greetings, my name is Lieutenant Serren Tan, I am with the Federation Starship Gorkon. We come in peace.
Despite the tension, Jona gave a half-smile in the darkness. Serren's by-the-book introduction checked all the boxes that some bureaucrat once listed from the safety of his computer screen.
There was no response from below so Serren cautiously crept down the stairs, eyes fixed below.
Jona got his first good look at the thing floating in the room. It stared at the blank wall and rippled with a translucent, billowing glow. It had a defined head but no discernible sensory organs. Two forearms with pincers completed the half-formed creature.
ch'Ranni: ::keeping his phaser drawn but not pointed at the entity:: Please respond.
Tan: I think it's a holoprojection of some kind, and I think it's waiting for something. Maybe it's only programmed to react to people coming into the house, or maybe it's on a timer. Either way, it doesn't seem to notice me, or be doing anything at all.
ch'Ranni: Maybe that's better than the alternative.
At the same time, the walls reverted to their prior transparent state, allowing the alien city's light to stream inside once again.
ch'Ranni: ::to Tan:: Back up.
The two men backed their way up the stairs as the figure moved toward them and began to slowly float upward on the circular staircase.
Vossti: I think I gained some sort of access to the PADD thing here. That doesn't mean I understand it though, sir.
ch'Ranni: Your efforts may have activated this.
He waved in the direction of the translucent figure that finally reached the bedroom level. It floated to the center of the room and paused as if programmed to follow a particular pattern of steps.
Vossti: ::to herself:: Woah. ::to her companions:: That thing isn't a threat, is it?
ch'Ranni: Let's hope not.
Mallora stood up, wincing a bit, and turned the PADD-like device's screen toward him. Rows of glyphs filled the screen. He nodded approvingly. It did appear that she'd gained some level of access. The new screen options and the announcement from the hidden speakers seemed to support it.
Vossti: Do you think I should continue to … experiment with this, sir?
ch'Ranni: You're on a roll, doctor. Don't stop now. ::pause:: No whammies though.
ch'Ranni: ::thinking for a second:: A whammy is an unpleasant outcome, bad luck, or a curse. It's an expression one of my Engineering professors at the Academy used quite often. As in, "Captain, our warp drive is shot and the ODN conduits are fried. So, double whammy."
Jona stared at the hologram for a second and then his eyes refocused past it. The color in his face drained such that he might be mistaken for an Aenar.
A slight bit of movement outside had caught his attention. Four of the floating, glowing searchers had buzzed down from the cavern ceiling while the walls had been opaque and now ringed the building they stood in.