Corwin handled most of the landing, only calling upon Aru’s automation to ensure he didn’t wreck the ship. He had little experience landing it on planets compared to docking with other vessels, so even though docking was by far the more delicate task, he was better at it than he was at landings.
He’d set them down a few hundred meters from the other craft, behind a line of small heaps of broken rock that passed for hills. The plan was to get to the other ship undetected. Even though they were close to it, the lack of atmosphere meant their approach and landing should have been silent.
Right after setting down, Corwin pulled on a lightweight but strong EV suit and did a quick check of the seals and breather mask. A small treaded robot joined him; Aru had disengaged from the ship. “You coming along with me? You’d better maintain connection with the ship remotely, just in case.”
Aru tootled an affirmative; Corwin checked the two weapons at his belt with a bit of trepidation, then depressurized the embarkation passage so he could lower the ramp to the outside. When the hissing and whooshing and movement of air ceased, the indicator changed and he slapped the ramp control. Within moments they were outside. He toggled on his suit comm.
“Gravity’s a good match for the ship. You reading me, Aru?”
He glanced down at the little robot; a display on its upper surface showed the text of his reply, “Yes, I read you.”
“Now I really wish I could afford to get you a new vocalization module. Or that the agency would spring for it.” On the airless world, he’d be totally dependent on reading Aru’s responses. The beeps and tones Aru produced were no substitute for language capability, but he’d become adept at understanding some of the bot’s more basic meanings. “Come on, Aru. Let’s move out.”
Their travel was slow, owing to the ground being rougher and more dangerous than it had appeared at first. Some of the jagged rock edges looked glassy and sharp as a knife, but Corwin didn’t feel like testing that observation. His suit was great against vacuum, not blades.
Before too long the other ship came into view around the rock heaps. The wall of the colony ring was visible beyond the craft, and showed what promised to be an entrance.
Corwin kept his distance from the other ship so as not to trigger any alarms. It was a tiny craft, dwarfed by his own freighter. “You know anything about what kind of ship this is, Aru?”
The display updated; “No. Make, model and class unknown. It’s a small craft, likely a one- or two-man vessel, possibly a strike ship or fighter.”
Corwin chewed his lip in thought behind the mask. “I don’t see anything that looks like armament, and whoever flew it here probably didn’t stick around to admire the sights. I’m betting we’ll find the pilot out there,” he said, indicating the colony ruins.