Not a lot is known about the place except what we can scan from orbit. The first expedition’s report described an incredibly temperate Earth-type M-Class planet under a yellow sun, very lush plant life, no sign of sentient beings, or any animal life at all. But their reports were disjointed and inconclusive from the start, and then stopped suddenly. All hailing frequencies have failed to prompt any further response from the first team so we are assigned to follow up and investigate. There has been no emergency reported, no hint of alarm, and the benign nature of this beautiful world suggests equipment malfunction. And as team Bravo systems engineer, my pack is the heaviest, containing replacement parts for their communications gear.
We parked our small lander and quickly found one of the ten entrances to this massive labyrinth, as that was the last reported location of Alpha team, and right away the debate begins, how can a natural formation be so symmetrical, and why, if no civilization has been found, is there a pervading sense of ruins everywhere you look?
All four of us are in high spirits though, the summer-like weather and the beautiful landscape lending an almost holiday mood to our outing, and for some reason the continuous heavy scent of flowers has seeped into our suits’ helmets through the re-breather’s atmosphere scrubbers. I am however becoming bothered by the closeness of the sheer vertical walls in this maze, and looking back toward the entryway, I have a profound feeling of having forgotten something.
Our first look at one of the monumental monoliths surrounding the core of this confusing place, the first impression to all of us was of a crumbling castle, but that has sparked numerous hilarious comments about Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest, merry men and the like. I seem to be the only one of my team trying to establish landmarks here. And we probably should pick up the pace, because judging by the angle, the sun appears to be sinking.
This formation’s resemblance to a staircase has given the comedians in our group even more to joke about, and on an inexplicable whim, I have decided to climb it to get a closer look at the nearest castle-like monolith. Giggling all the way to the top, I’m surprised that the floral scent is even stronger on the breeze up here, with just a hint of rose, and I am relieved to escape the steep walls enclosing the terrain down below.
I better get back to the team, judging by the angle, the sun appears to be sinking, and I seem to have spent more time up here enjoying the view than I realized. The warm sun and perfumed breeze are almost intoxicating. Well, I can hear my team members laughing uproariously in the distance, but they could have waited for me. I started to call out to them, but just couldn’t, it would just be wrong to disturb the utter tranquility of my surroundings. Good thing I got rid of that heavy pack and annoying helmet. Judging by the angle, the sun appears to be sinking, so now it’ll be easier to catch up with them.
Even in such a huge labyrinth as this, I am starting to feel like I’m in familiar territory, although my time sense is off. I am sure we started exploring first thing in the morning, but it seems like early evening now, yet there’s just no point in worrying, everything just looks and smells so good, and I see up ahead a very familiar curved wall, I know I’ve been in this area before.
Well, finally, I guess I wasn’t gone as long as I thought, I can see dozens of the castle folks waving me on to hurry inside, even though judging by the angle the sun appears to be sinking, I’m still in time for the feast. Everyone’s so happy, all my friends are here, and they remind me there’s the Vanishing Dance tomorrow, I’m so tired and everyone crowds around me and is so attentive and helpful, I’ll just have a nap before the banquet
The Vanishing Dance was this morning, just as fun as I remembered. We all streamed out of the manor to a clearing just outside and joined hands in a wide circle around a curious rounded metal house, and as we danced around it the vines and weeds and grass in the clearing sprouted and grew rapidly up the sides of the structure. Faster and faster around and around we danced, dizzy and happy, while the mound of vegetation thickened and enveloped the object completely and burst into fragrant blooms, and we all relaxed laughing, then, in the soft grasses, all together, bathed in warm sunlight, soft breezes, with just a hint of rose…