The observation chamber was private and secure. Inside they found a half dozen others, including a tripodal reptoid with anemone-like hair that Max introduced as Chief Jaskarr (short, sharp vowels and roll at the end). The entirety of the floor, walls and dome ceiling displayed the expanse of space and only a grid of narrow blue lines provided an anchor for Caleb’s perspective. He did his very best not to puke.
“This is Caleb Farnsworth,” said Max to the Chief.
“Yes,” said Chief Jaskarr in a voice that made Caleb think of metal plates grinding against one another, “the human I ordered.”
“Another set of eyes,” said Max diplomatically.
Caleb nodded in Jaskarr’s general direction but otherwise did not react to the Chief. He scanned the others in the room. They were aliens of various sorts, some of types he had seen before and others he had not. An apparently cybernetic ostrich and something completely encased in a containment suit were talking nearby while father into the room a trio of rubber-mask humanoid aliens clustered. They were all looking at the structure that dominated the display on which he walked. There was no way to determine its size but his gut told him it was massive. It looked very much like an incomprehensibly large collection of cargo shipping containers, or possibly Lego bricks, in the form of a rhombus.
“Thi is Planet X?” Caleb asked Max. After taking a moment to parse Caleb’s meaning, Max answered in the affirmative. Caleb looked again at the aliens in conversation and at Chief Jaskarr, who was staring impatiently at him. “You didn’t expect to find this here,” said Caleb to Max.
It was Chief Jaskarr that replied, “The Spiral Hegemony has a lot of territory to cover and–”
Caleb waved his hand, which caused the reptoid’s hair tentacles to swell. Max started to apologize to the Chief but Caleb hushed the robot. “You didn’t expect to find it,” he repeated, “because you think you are the biggest, most advanced civilization in the galaxy. But, we aren’t on high alert and are in fact going toward this thing right now, which means you don’t think it’s dangerous.” He walked up to the Chief and said, “You didn’t expect to find it but you aren’t actually surprised. So this is what, the relic of some pre-Hegemony civilization?” he watched the reactions of the Chief and the other aliens. “And if you need a new perspective on it that means you have not seen it before and–” he trailed off. “You don’t know how to get inside,” he said after a moment.
Chief Jaskarr made a terrifying sound that Caleb assumed was laughter because none of the others ran screaming.
Max said to the Chief, “I told you this human was perceptive.”
“And insufferable!” guffawed Jaskarr. “Right on both counts!”
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