Ekanos moved quickly through the cold halls of the battleship. Fluted columns supported the ceiling high overhead and menials were hustling to attend to their duties. Battle lists of his company lined the columns displaying the many victories of his legion. The old parchment was stained with age and smoke from the braziers positioned along the hall.
He preferred his ship this way. It had been in control of the Nordics for hundreds of years and his legion had been stationed on it for almost as long. The ancient fires burning through the hall casting harsh light reminded him of warfare the way it should be, man to man. His massive frame was only increased by the armor he wore, rough gunmetal grey that covered every part of his body except his shaven head. Overlapping plates of plasteel reinforced at the joints with bundles of mechanical muscle fiber helping enhance his movement. The armor itself was like a second skin to him. He had trained in this armor for his hundred year service to the legion. His face, a mass of scar tissue and grizzled hair was testament to the many combat operations he had taken part in.
Upon reaching the bridge a large stone door with scroll work lining the ancient service grinded noisily up into the ceiling. He stepped through and the bridge fell silent.
"Report" He growled, his voice like a collapsing mountain.
"Sir we have just translated into realspace, we are en route to 13-3 Prime." A menial announced, cables snaking from his shaven scalp directly into the intricate ports of his computers. "We are being hailed by Winter's Breach."
"Put it on the Holo"
A grainy image resolved in the middle of a large pedestal that was central to the bridge. The display quickly resolved into a face. Clean cut and harsh with a hint of nobility. Behind him Ekanos could just make out the operations of the bridge. Attendants stationed throughout the bridge.
"Ekanos, we are currently moving the fleet towards 13-3 Prime" Announced Neleus, the veteran captain of Winters Breach.
"Aye." Responded Ekanos shifting in his command throne. His hands grasped the bronze arms of the chair. Neleus looked off screen for an instant and nodded briefly.
"We have confirmed reports." He let it hang just a moment to long "It appears there is something artificial on the planet."
Ekanos stared into the holo display. "What are you talking about?" He had always been a gruff man that dealt with problems head on.
"It would appear that something, or someone, was here before us. There are three concentric rings orbiting the planet on different axes as well as some sort of complex on the surface of the planet itself."
"Could it be natural?"
"No, the geometries are too perfect, the whole thing looks like some sort of installation." Neleus waited for a replay as Ekanos mulled over the implications.
"I guess the Council was right then. We aren't the only ones out here."
"Not only are we not alone but we have every reason to believe that this constitutes some form of superior technology to ours. We need to move in closer to verify but our long range scans are confirming that the orbiting rings are beyond even the TechGuilds ability to produce."
Ekanos sat up straighter and looked into Neleus's eyes. There was something he wasn't being upfront about. "What else is there?"
"Well the only other issue is that the Techs are not reporting any sizeable life forms on the planet. There is an intact atmosphere and it is supporting a local ecology but there is no sign of life that would be expected with that sort of society." Neleus looked off screen again "We need to move in closer if we are going to determine anything for sure."
"I will prepare the legion to accompany you to the surface." Ekanos left the implication in the air. If this became a combat operation then they needed to be prepared. Despite the most advanced AI's on earth running as many complex algorithms and simulations they could there was no way to be sure how a first contact would work. Worse this didn't seem to be what could even be considered normal. Wherever the builders of the vast complex had gone would only be a possible complication. Ekanos knew from years of warfare that no matter what happened preparing for complications was equal to survival, and survival was the first step in success.
"I will prepare the Techs for planet fall, we will be in high orbit in 12 hours. Neleus out." The link died and there was an eerie silence aboard the bridge.
"One more thing. Open the blast shields I want to see it with my eyes." The black metal shielding the viewports slid apart and the glory of the galaxy flooded into the bridge. "Enhance 13-3 prime." The view screen immediately highlighted the primary planet and zoomed in. scrolling data suggested the atmospheric composition as well as many other layouts that Ekanos had no need for right now.
His breath caught however when he realized exactly what he was seeing. Three rings circled the planet, their size truly mind-numbing. Who could build such a thing? They circled perfectly and even though there were no running lights on their surface the reflection of the systems binary stars highlighted the obvious architecture of the rings.
"Prepare to follow them in." Ekanos barked and stood from his command throne. The crew members reacted instantly. Good, he thought need to keep them moving so they stay sharp. He turned his back and walked sharply off the bridge heading towards his marines to prepare them for deployment.