Ori remained stationary for a few moments, staring at the box. Her mind was racing with questions, primarily what was it about the box that had Captain Riano spooked? With a heavy sigh, she turned about and marched out of the room, and although she couldn’t quite be certain, it seemed the lighting in the room dimmed as she departed.
The walk through the complex didn’t take Ori as long on the way back. She did make a couple of brief stops examining points of interest she had found during the descent. But with the way the Captain had spoken, she didn’t want to keep him waiting too long.
The air was beginning to feel warmer, indicating that Ori was reaching the surface. After a couple of minutes, she had reached the entrance, the bright light dazzling her and it took a moment for her eyes to adjust. Waiting at the entrance was Captain Riano, flanked by two security officers.
“Was anyone else in there?” the Captain asked.
“No Sir, just me.” It seemed an odd question, given that it hadn’t been too long ago the Captain had been with her in the chamber within the complex. From the expression on the man’s face, something about what Ori had found had him rattled.
“Thank you, Lieutenant” He turned to the guards. “Secure the entrance. Nobody in or out without my authorisation. The nearest guard nodded and the pair moved to take up a position on either side of the entrance. As they did so, Ori noticed something else – her colleagues were boxing up the artefacts they had found the previous day.
Ori’s eyes narrowed, a puzzled expression on her face as she addressed Riano “Captain, what exactly is going on here?”
“That is none of your concern Lieutenant. A shuttle is en route to take you and the others back to the Archaeological Center. This site is being marked as off-limits until further notice. Oh and Lieutenant, please leave your tricorder in the Operations Centre”
Ori was about to respond when Riano shook his head, discouraging further discussion on the topic. Ori simply nodded before marching towards the Operations Centre. Maybe they would be able to provide some insight into what she had found in the complex.
The doors to the prefab slid aside with the familiar swish as Ori approached. Inside she was met with members of the ops team busy packing up the equipment.
“What’s going on?” Ori asked nobody in particular.
A nearby Bolian paused what he was doing and turned to Ori. “Not sure, sir. Captain Riano was in here when your message came through. As soon as he saw the readings from your tricorder he disappeared into his office and returned a couple of minutes later. That was when he ordered us to cease operations immediately.”
Ori folded her arms across her chest, raising her right hand to her chin as she listened to the Bolian. Nothing was making sense to her.
“Thank you.” She lowered her voice before continuing. “Do you have any idea why the site is being shut down?”
The Bolian man shook his head as he spoke. “Unfortunately not.”
With that Ori thanked the man, unclipped the tricorder from her belt and placed it on the side. Part of her was considering downloading her readings for further study back at the Archaeological Center but opted against it. She would have to find another way to figure out what was in the complex.
With her head hanging low, Ori departed the Operations Centre and made her way back to the prefab that had been her home for the past few days. The camp was busier than before, with those not involved in clearing the Operations Centre being tasked with closing down the residential area. Seeing everything being cleared away made Ori even more curious as to what she had discovered. It was one thing to temporarily close down the site or restrict access, but to have everything packed up was something else. With Captain Riano being the one to give the order, Ori wasn’t sure who she could turn to for answers.
Ori had finished packing up most of her things – thankfully she had led a relatively spartan lifestyle since leaving the academy so there wasn’t much to bring in the first place – when she heard a shuttle shriek overhead.
“Just in time, it seems.”
As she stepped out of the prefab, she was surprised to see that the shuttle wasn’t landing at the designated landing zone as expected, but instead had carried on in the direction of the dig site. She watched in amazement, her mouth agape, as the shuttle descended near the site – a procedure that was only to be authorised under emergency circumstances due to the damage that could be caused to the site from the landing.