“Sean, Roe, how are you doing?” Kru was eagerly fidgeting from foot to foot, holding the transcomm.
“We’re passing through a hall… some crystals. They look like some… machinery, or… I don’t kn…” Sean was breathing hard.
“Sean!” Roe’s voice sounded worried.
“I don’t feel too good… this…”
“Sean!” Roe suddenly screamed. “…at’s that?”
“Where? …Roe, run! Run!”
The kids listened numbly to Roe’s screams and Sean’s indistinct yelling; and then something screeched, and suddenly everything went silent. Only heavy breathing came from the transcomm now.
“Sean?” Kru said carefully. “Sean!”
“Do NOT put on …suits… der any circumstances,” Sean said in a husky voice. “Listen to…”
“Sean!” Luna exclaimed, and covered her mouth with her hand.
“Look… device… Big button at the side … Press… when you see the big crystal… Remember … The red button … The biggest crystal…”
Something crunched loudly, and Sean’s voice went silent.
“C’mon,” Birike breathed. Luna casted fearful glances at Kru.
“Okay…” Kru said. His voice trailed off, and he had no idea what to say next.
“Why! Why do weird things always happen when I’m with you, Krude?” Birike groaned, clutching his ears. “Spaceships! Ancient, alien, unknown… We got out of one and now we’re trapped inside another!”
Luna was terrified, but curiosity prevailed: “Wait. What starship did you get out of?”
“It’s a long story. There was one on the outskirts of Callisto territory that we explored,” Kru said, and he liked how courageous it sounded so much that he calmed down. “I’ll tell you about it later. Let’s just say I may never eat cake or watch space movies again.”
His heroic approach to their adventures on Callisto also had a healing effect on Birike. He left his ears alone, stood next to Kru, and said carelessly: “Yeah, it’ll be better to tell the story later. Although I could tell you something now, about how I saved Kru from the jaws…”
“Later!” Kru snapped, and the simiano went silent. “I guess it’s our turn now?”
“Our turn for what?” Birike stared at him. “Sean said, ‘Roe and I will go, turn it off, and then we’ll all fly away’. C’mon! This isn’t what we agreed on! What do you think you’re doing?”
“Biri, what are you talking about?” Kru finished peeling out of his spacesuit and then threw it on the floor.
“Sean said not to put on our spacesuits,” Luna reminded Biri quietly.
Kru began prowling about into the depths of the dome. “What should I take with me? There are no weapons here, nothing…”
“Kru, are you serious? Are we gonna go in there?” Birike pointed to the blocked hatch.
“Yeah. Unless you have a better idea.” Kru looked at Birike, who shrugged helplessly. “We won’t get out of here except by getting rid of that power dampener, don’t you get it? And Sean and Roe are clearly in trouble. It’s not right to leave them like that.”
“Kru’s right,” Luna declared, wrapping her arms around her shoulders. “Anyway, we have to get inside. I really don’t want to go either, but…”
“Okay, okay,” Birike conceded. “Okay. But I won’t go just like that. We should take something with us… something for self-defense.”
“Like a broom?”
“Yeah, like a broo… Luna!”
Luckily for them, there was artificial gravity inside the starship, so the hall they followed was horizontal instead of a vertical shaft. It was bright inside the ship, and didn’t smell right. Luna commented on it right away. “That’s strange,” she said. “It smells like… well, it doesn’t smell like anything at all. It shouldn’t be like this, should it?”
“Sterile air. It happens when it’s just pumped in.” Kru touched the translucent crystal wall. “Let’s go. We’ll deal with the lack of smells later.”
They walked in a single file down the narrow aisles between the crystals. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Birike muttered. “They’re warm…” He put his hand on a transparent surface.
“Luna, Biri!” Kru’s voice was tense. “I found Sean and Roe.”
There were two spacesuits lying in the middle of the aisle. Luna screamed and Birike clattered his teeth loudly as he wrapped his long tail around himself. Naked skulls stared at them from open helmets.