The base was cool after the sweltering heat. It felt good to be safe again after so long. He and Anna had stood there for the longest time, just drinking in the sight of each other, embracing, not wanting to let go. Neither one had said a word- nothing needed to be said- they had made it. They were in the command center now, seated at the round table in the middle of the room, and he was eating the first real food in days. Anna watched him with a mixture of amusement and concern.
"I'm alright," he said. "Just hungrier than a... so did you come out right here?"
"Yes. No one here when I arrived. Figured you might be right behind, so I set the prox alerts and made myself at home."
"So where are we?"
"Eridanus 4. Remote sensor location. Middle of nowhere."
"Two technicians. One's pretty new, the other's more experienced."
"Where are they?"
"Missing. They were gone when I got here. Something about ruins to the northeast, couple days to survey. That was two weeks ago, according to the log."
"So... what do you want to do?"
"What about the technicians?"
"Not our problem, is it?"
"No. But they're people. Our people. You just wanna leave?"
"Well, we're not a rescue team. Don't you think it's best if we report back and let them send in the troops? We've got bigger fish to fry, arguably. Our own thing has gone sidewise about three times now, don't you think? Why push it?"
He sighed. She was right. It didn't feel right though. Who knew how long it would take the Alliance to send someone? If they even did...
She moved in close. "I know, I don't like it either. But I just got you back, and now we're going to hit some alien ruins we don't know anything about? That's not our deal."
"If it was us, I'd want somebody to look."
"Yeah, I know. I would too. But we're not really equipped... no body armor."
He thought for a minute. "Does Control know where we are?"
"I don't know. I haven't gotten a response. If they're tracking our beacons... probably." She threw her arms up. "Who knows?"
"Yeah. We could just Gate out I guess. Doesn't feel right though."
She took his hand, and they sat there for a while in silence. Then something occurred to him.
"Anna. Are the ruins Precursor- related?"
She just looked at him. That in itself was an answer.
"Eric. You're not going to let this go, are you?"
"Anna, if they're PreC ruins then they're technically Gate- related. We have every reason to at least check 'em out. And if we find the techs' bodies, at least we'll know. We can just take a look and bug out."
She got up with a sigh and walked away. Not happy. He felt a twinge of regret, but at the same time he'd seen the towers. If they were Precursor then the urge to explore was there, warring with his desire to get Anna and himself out of there. Tough call. He watched her as she paced around the room, pretending to check various consoles.
"All right." She turned to face him. "I'm not sure it's wise, but let's do it. In and out, and no extracurriculars. At the first sign of trouble..."
"We're out," he agreed.
That was when the proximity alarms went off.