The Mech Touch

 
 

The Mech Touch Chapter 347 Crystal City


The ground abruptly turned into an opaque white crystal that stretched from one end of the city to the other. It formed the base for the majestic spiralling structures that stretched out into the sky for at least two-hundred stories.

A large number of statues had been placed between the spiral structures. Most of them consisted of strange geometric shapes that resembles runes of some sort. They shone in a soft white light but otherwise showed nothing special at all.

The city would have looked impressive if not for its size. The tallest spiral structures merely reached a head above his own heights. The streets were so narrow and small that Ves would have to walk sideways if he wanted to squeeze between the spiral structures.

"It's like I'm the giant now."

He found the shift in perspective to be odd and amusing. Ves remembered some of the dramas he saw as a kid. Back then, giant aliens often showed up to threaten human cities.

The diminutive size of the ruins filled him with a bit confidence. It was hard to fear a dead alien species the size of his finger.

After shrugging off his idle thoughts, he resumed his attempt to find a way back home. The alien city would certainly contain a clue.

Ves tried to decipher the meaning of the runes but came up nothing. Not even his comm had been able to match the runes to its database of languages.

Humanity had never encountered these ruins before. The aliens who build this place must have lived a long time ago.

The galaxy was old. Aliens rose and fell since the birth of the galaxy many billions of years ago. It was a different time then. The universe was smaller and space seethed with excitement. Countless stars came into being and clumped together in vast agglomeration of galaxies centered around the largest black holes known to man.

Many theorists believed that the vast majority of exotics emerged from this time of cosmic turmoil. The first aliens who emerged from their planets and gained the ability to traverse the stars took advantage of the abundant amount of exotics within their reach.

Many aliens also evolved with the help of certain exotics, granting their races an unprecedented level of power in exchange for becoming dependent on their supply.

These early forbearers of the galaxy erected mighty mights that lasted for eons and changed many planets and even stars to suit their own species. Monuments of their works could be found everywhere in the galactic center.

Much of it had already been discovered and dismantled by humanity. As a race in ascendancy, it wouldn't do to leave the relics of other races alone. What if humans started worshipping the aliens?

Thus, true alien relics became something of a rarity in the galaxy. The galactic center had been scoured long ago while the purging of the galactic heartland still continued to this day.

The only place where people could reliably bump into undiscovered alien relics was the galactic rim. It was too vast, sparse and barren for humanity to control in its entirety.

The Komodo Star Sector happened to be one of humanity's most remote star sectors. Lucky prospectors constantly uncovered a handful of alien remains every standard year.

Most of them consisted of lifeless ruins, but a couple of remnants still possessed enough power to work.

Sometimes they even killed their discoverers. Ves almost shared the same fate.

Thus, even if the miniature city looked dead and frozen, Ves still kept his vigilance.

"Even if they're small, their technology surpasses humanity's in many areas."

Ves experimentally fired a spiral with his Amastendira. He dialed down the power setting to the lowest one possible.

The laser beam hit a spiral, and instead of destroying it, the spiral absorbed the entire beam!

"What?!"

The spiral structure glowed and pulsed until it released a strange white energy in every direction. Its spiral shape allowed it to hit every other spiral in sight without fail. Those spirals started to glow as well until they pulsed out their own lights, affecting other structures that hadn't been touched by the light before.

The entire city appeared to have been built like an array!

The strange phenomenon continued until each spiral structure glowed with white. They pulsed and pulsed, but the excessive splitting had dimmed the overall luminosity of the glow. There was too little energy to go around. After half a minute of flickering, the glows died down, and the miniature city fell back to sleep.

Ves almost had a scare when the entire city lit up. Something wonderful or awful might have happened and he hadn't been prepared at all. Who knew why the aliens turned their own abodes into energy emitters?

He didn't understand their purpose. He lacked too much context to make sense of the city. The only thing he knew was that if he pumped a sufficient amount of energy in the city, something drastic would happen.

"Is this a way home for me?"

On second thought, he didn't think it would be so easy. The entire arrangement appeared to be a defensive measure. If an enemy race came and tried to bombard it with directed energy weapons, they would probably receive a nasty surprise.

As for other weapon types? "They look tough enough to withstand kinetic strikes."

Ves experimentally picked up some rocks and threw them at the spirals with force. The crystals never showed signs of breaking.

After this, Ves considered his options. In order to escape his strange state, he should be doing everything he could to find a way back home.

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

He decided to brave the unknown because he lacked any alternatives. Without a map or any kind of overview of the terrain, finding another artificial settlement like this would take weeks or months.

Perhaps this planet might not even host any other signs of alien presence!

Thus, Ves distanced himself a fair amount and raised his Amastendira. He dialed it to a moderate power setting and fired again at the spirals.

The light show that ensued this time carried more energy. The spirals glowed as bright as the sun that had yet to fall below the horizon, a sign that this planet spun a lot slower than the Terran standard.

Rays of light bounced from spiral to spiral until it engulfed the entire city. The lights then began to pulse in unison as if they followed the beat of a drum. The pulsing pattern mesmerized Ves and Lucky, and if not for taking a lot of steps back, he might have temporarily blinded himself.

This time, the city gained a sufficient amount of energy. A small portal emerged above the sky. Ves could tell it was a portal straight away because it led to another location entirely. The portal cut a circular portion the size of his head straight above the center of the city at what looked to be some kind of open temple ground.

"Is this a religious ceremony of some sorts?"

The mystery deepened as Ves cautiously walked closer in order to peek at the other side of the portal.

It was dark there. Only the lights from the city illuminated the terrain on the other side. The portal on the other side appeared to look down on an empty plane that might have been the other side of the planet.

No spiral city existed at the other side. It was completely empty except for a single depression in the middle. The bowl in the ground appeared to house some sort of monument made out of alloy.

The object resembled a series of runes that strung out into an alien sentence. If scaled to a human, it would have been as large as a house. As for now, he could comfortably pick it up with his hands if he felt inclined to do so.

Nothing else appeared on the other side of the portal. Just as Ves lost interest, Lucky became excited all of a sudden. His cat meowed and jumped from his shoulders and flew straight towards the portal.

"Lucky! It's dangerous!"

Ves hesitated to come forward but eventually gritted his teeth and spent his diminishing amount of power to activate his suit's antigrav modules. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep up with Lucky's speed.

His cat deftly reached the portal and squeezed his body through the other side without bumping at the edges. Once he reached the other side, Lucky cut the base of the monument with his energy claws. The alien alloys parted easily this time, allowing Lucky to grab onto the runes with its teeth.

Once he secured the monument, Lucky manipulated the gravity being exerted on his body and flew back to the portal. He quickly emerged back above the crystal city before its energy fizzled out and the disappeared into the void.

"That was close, Lucky! What if you became trapped on the other side!"

Lucky behaved as if he never heard his scoldings and bumped the monument into his grip. Ves looked at the thing with a strange expression.

"What is this?"

Although he called it a monument, it might not have served such a purpose to the aliens that originally constructed it. Why would they go through the trouble of constructing a crystal city that could open a portal to another place entirely? Why would they leave nothing behind on the other side except for this string of runes?

As he inspected the metallic monument, he realized that the monument's runes corresponded to the runes placed across the city.

"Is this a key somehow?"

Ves had the sense that he got ahold of a passphrase that allowed him to unlock a secured data pad. He frowned a bit. All of this smelled like a puzzle or a test. What kind of alien species was bored enough to set all of this up?

These long-dead alien pranksters left a hell of a mess behind for him. If he wanted to make some progress, he had to follow the clues laid out before him. The runes looked like a good start.

"Hitting the spiral structures with a laser activates a mechanism. Since the rune monuments in the city are made out of the same kind of crystal, then I bet that they can be activated in the same way."

The aliens erected hundreds of rune monuments, each with their own unique shapes. Ves had already tasked his hazard suit to map them all out, so he understood their distribution.

Looking up from above, the runes corresponded with a spiral, but in the shape of a galaxy. It didn't quite conform to the galaxy's appearance in modern times, which made him suspect that this species must have lived an extremely long time ago.

"How many hundreds of millions of years have passed? This city stands as timeless as ever. How come it hasn't been buried beneath a mound of soil?"

Perhaps this planet used to be dotted with crystal cities, but time and neglect had buried them all under the forest and the soil.

"Maybe the place I originally emerged from also contains a means to go back."

If the crystal city didn't offer any solution, then he could only return to the deadly forest and excavate some clues from there.

He stepped closer to the city and tried to touch a crystal rune monument, only for his fingers to slip right through them. "Seems like they can't harm anything in a dormant state."

Ves stepped back again and shot a random monument.

Just like with the spirals, the rune monument glowed and pulsed in white. It persisted in this behavior for over ten minutes before fizzling out.

"I see. Nothing happens if only one of them is active."

He thought he should be able to get a result if he transferred power to the correct sequence of runes within this timespan. Ves looked back at the metallic string of runes in his hand and started to gain a headache?

"Do the aliens read from left or right, or right from left? Do I need to read top to bottom or bottom to top?"

What would happen if he lighted up the wrong sequence? What if he blasphemed the tiny alien's religion by enacting their ritual in reverse?

After several minutes of procrastinating, Ves decided to go out on a limb and read the runes from left to right, going down a row at the end.

He started to raise his Amastendira. Hopefully, he didn't invite a cataclysm with this experiment.

 
 


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