Argain noticed how the walls of the vessel appeared to be made of a soft alloy of some kind. Runnels of crystallised gel appeared to run on the surface of the panels.
After what looked like an eternity of moving in a crouched position with nothing but narrow corridors in site his scanner picked up an opening.
"It appears to be an alcove of some sort..." he told Neddergard as they moved towards it. Maybe they would get more answers to the strange vessel there.

Crawling ahead of him, Tanja followed the passageway in an upwards climb; the two of them scrambling over and past dozens of other little tributaries to the main concourse, each no wider than about ten to thirty centimetres.

What if anything lay at the end of these was almost impossible to say. Some were filled with the blue-black gel that covered the walls and floor, whereas others were empty. Nevarra had scanned the first few they'd come across, but they had quickly become so commonplace that they had long since stopped bothering. One thing they had noticed, though, was that they seemed to be getting more frequent, but they could only guess at what this meant.

The climb was hard, and on several occasions, the two had to use the tributaries to heave themselves up before, finally, gasping for breath, they reached the apex.

Dakini >>This place is weird<

>Yeah, you got that right<

“We should have sent a probe in here first” Neddergard said as Nevarra joined her.

“I couldn’t find any that were still functioning; otherwise I would have done.” he replied, breathlessly “These passageways coil around like a nest of nalachee. How far do you think we’ve climbed?”

Isak >>Snake-like worms, native to Kish<

“We must have covered around half the height of the ship” Tanja shone a torch down the glistening, gently winding passageway beyond “Whoever built this thing must have been good at climbing”

“Insectoid, maybe?”

“Huh” Tanja nodded thoughtfully “That would make sense. What else?”

Isak >>Not a bad suggestion<

“They’d be about four or five feet long; maybe with human sized brains; at least two manipulative appendages...” Navara trailed off “This is just guesswork.”

“Interesting though” Neddergard gestured away down the passageway “After you” she was beginning to tire of him staring at her arse as she crawled ahead of him.

“Sure” Navarra flashed her a winning smile as he squeezed awkwardly past her to take the lead.

Dakini >>You’re so in there<

>Oh, please<

Dakini >>It’s been ages since I lowered myself to fucking a flat - I wonder if they’ve improved?<

Vidar >>Alright. Let’s keep our minds on the job. What’s with this alcove?<

>It doesn’t exactly sound thrilling, does it?< Tanja checked her own scanner as she crawled after Navarra >It’s an irregularly shaped space, around fifteen cubic metres in volume<

Isak >>Yeah, yeah - We can read the instruments<

“It should be just around this corner” Navarra called back, unaware of the other conversation going on in Tanja's head. He paused to recheck his scanner “That’s weird. The air temperature is rising”

The passageway curved to the right and downward, with the temperature steadily rising as they made their descent. By the time they reached the chamber at the bottom, it had risen sufficiently for the gel to have melted and they were splashing around knee deep in viscous black ooze.

Dakini >>What is this shit?<<

>It seems to be part organic<

Vidar >>Do you need to be coming into contact with that stuff?<

>I’m in a suit<

“Would you look at this place” Navarra said with a low whistle as he stood and shone his torch around room

>Are you guys getting this?<

Ambassador Hult shifted in his seat and frowned. Tanja’s stim feed was more or less live, but there was a little signal degradation >>What are we looking at?<

>It’s...< “This is weird”

“Yeah, you’ve got that right”

“It looks like the inside of a heart”

“What?” Navarra swung his torch around to illuminate Ensign Neddergard.

“Those are valves, right?” Tanja shone her torch on a section of the ceiling.

“These are just corridors” Navarra said, doubtfully “It’s not - Shit!!” he flinched and lurched backwards in the black ooze

“What the fuck!?” Neddergard wheeled to regard him.

“Something just swam past my leg”

Vidar >>Get out of there. Now<

“Argain?” Tanja started “We - Fuck!” she shrieked as a mass of pallid, thin tentacles erupted from the water and coiled around one of her legs.


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