Technical Engineer Whisen plodded slowly up the outside of the crater. The light from the nearby red giant sun was murky and easily absorbed into the thick atmosphere of Fell Star 7. Although it was somewhere near planetary noon and his bio-suit indicated the outside temperature was a muggy 35 C, the dim light made it seem as if he were climbing up a hill of red mud late in a rust colored sunset.
"You should get a tech job with the Company." His mother had said. He was from Galen, a planet wholly owned by the Syrch Corporation. On company planets, "The Company" was just the company, whatever company owned your planet. "It's a good way to get off planet." She'd persisted. "Get to see the universe a bit before you settle down."
"Yeah." His father had yelled in from the next room. "Maybe meet one of those girls from a zero-G asteroid." He made a 'boobs floating in air' gesture."
Pressure Field Technician had seemed like a good choice. Every planet with a toxic atmosphere needs bio-domes so 90% of all planets need pressure field technicians right?
Whisen's intercom crackled to life. *What the hell you doing down there Dinky Dick? Get up here and fix this thing, my ass is boiling.*
Up at the rim of the crater another figure in a red Syrch bio-suit stood waiting, hand on his hips. Whisen sighed. Then on the other hand, if your grades weren't that good, or you spent the night before finals getting really loaded with full-G girl you met in a club, you could end up at the ass end of the galaxy working for Technical Master Sargent Rollins, a guy who seemed to think you were named after his penis.
Whisen trudged up next to Rollins and set his pneumatic wrench to work on a large, white pylon that rose from the lip of the crater and disappeared in to the murky air above them.
*Come on. Prickless* Rollins chided. *This place gives me the creeps.*
Glancing out of the corner of his face plate across the kilometer wide expanse of the crater, Whisen had to agree that the place was pretty creepy. Pressure generators like the one he was working on were spaced every 100 meters around the rim and poured a steady pressure wave pool that glowed green and yellow in the sickly, red light. Beneath the pressure pool, several hundreds of thousands of gallons of Psix lived. Whisen didn't really know much about the Psix, some sort of semi-intelligent fungus spore stuff. What he did know was that if you put them under pressure, they leaked a chemical that people on main line planets liked to drink with alcohol.
Right now, with the pressure generators on low, the Psix were a swirling black ball held in the center of the crater, when the pressure was on though, they howled, a long scary ass howl that seemed to follow Whisen around for hours after he heard it.
With the plate off, it was clear that the pressure generator had switched to safety after a power spike, nothing unusual. He was about to flip the power back on when a long screech of static tore across the intercom. It stopped just long enough for Rollins to let out a stream of curse words, then and elderly woman's voice cut in; "Yeeehaaaw boys." It called. "This is the IDF Moth. You are under attack. We see you down there. You might want to duck."
A second later, the bases of two nearby pylons exploded with dull whumps. Both towers shuddered and careened wildly off into the dark, trailing crackling pressure field arcs. The men hurled themselves at the ground as dirt and debris came flying from two directions.
Out of the red haze above a ship appeared, pale gold in color, glittering redly in the light. The front was three hundred meters wide, a rounded two wing shape 40 meters high at the center. A hundred meters behind the golden wings, the insanity crystal hung glittering in its black steel mesh and behind that, the engineering section spread out like a smaller golden wing. It was an interstellar craft, not a big one, 400 meters total length, but it made a spectacular sight in the fiery sky of Fell Star 7. Whisen had just a second to notice a long clear tube jutting out from the front of the ship before another round of small missiles shot from the bow down into the bases of more pylons.
It went on for about another minute. When it was over the only pylon left standing was the one the two men were cowering under. As the pressure field collapsed, the ball of living Psix, rose, srpead, separated, and flew out of the crater like clouds of black, hissing smoke.
As the explosions died down and the last pebbles clattered down around them, the woman's voice came back over the intercom. "The Psix is recorded in the Turrlen Catalog as being sentient. As such, it is a violation of League of Planets law to restrain them against their wishes. They have been liberated in accordance with Inter-species Defense Fund rule 2344-16. Ya'll have a good day now."
Whisen rolled onto his back as the line went silent. Already the graceful, bird like craft was disappearing into the sky. "Did she say the Moth? She said the Moth didn't she? That was Seli Dryden. Holy shit. We just got attacked by the Seli Dryden." The smile on his face faded as he turned to look at Rollins. Behind the dust and dirt on his mask, Rollins was glowering at him blackly. On Sych controlled planets, Seli Dryden was public enemy #1.