A detail caught his eye that gave him pause then; the surface of the ship was covered with tiny pits. “Aru,” he said. “Scan this ship. The hull looks pitted to me.”
Aru chirped; he crouched down to examine the response. “Confirmed. The ship has taken damage consistent with micrometeorite impacts over an extended period of time, unshielded by an atmosphere.”
“So it’s been here for decades, maybe centuries,” Corwin mused.
“Unknown. The damage could have occurred elsewhere.”
Corwin chuckled, feeling a faint relief. “Maybe, but it seems most likely it was left over from a previous occupation, don’t you think?”
They pressed on, leaving the ship behind. The colony ring dominated the short horizon more and more with each step.
The heavy door was sealed and still, and for all Corwin could tell to look at it, may as well have remained undisturbed since the time the colonists called it home.
“So what do you think it is we’re after, Aru?” Corwin asked. It was rhetorical, of course; he knew perfectly well the little bot had no better idea than he did. He found himself hoping for some sort of physical artifact; ancient weaponry, tools or even written records. Such things turned up now and then; many of his tasks centered around authenticating finds like that.
Aru tweeted a reply; a quick glance confirmed the bot didn’t know either.
“Only one way to find out I guess.” He examined the exterior controls next to the door with a critical eye. Like the ship, they were pitted by centuries of micrometeorite impacts, rough under his gloved hands. “The pitting is a lot worse here. The ship was more recent. If it was damaged here,” he admitted, shooting a wry glance at the little bot.
Buttons depressed easily enough, but nothing responded. “Whatever powered this place gave up the ghost a long time ago, Aru.”