[ITS] Chapter 4: The Hospital

She wakes, dull and heavy, from the death-sleep of general anesthesia, finding herself in a quiet and verybeige room. Without any idea why its beigeness seems remarkable to her.

A nurse is at her side, smiling, and says something to the effect of “everything went well, we’ll be taking you to your room shortly”. Holly nods dumbly and wants to go back to sleep, so she does. When she wakes up again, she’s in much smaller quarters – less beige and more white.

“What’d they do?” she asks, trying to sit up, but her body would still much rather stay horizontal. A different nurse is there, and goes to wrap a blood pressure monitor around her arm. She hits a button and it inflates.

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[ITS] Chapter 3: The Bout

“You want us to do what?

The woman’s voice on the other end of the line is cold. Her job doesn’t resemble HR so much as it does, say, a food inspector’s.

Galen’s chassis cycles a long draw of air, and he looks down at his four-toed feet as he stands on a lawn of clover, buttercups, and native grass that extends far beyond the bounds of the property.

“I’m asking that you pay for this girl’s treatment. That’s it.”

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[ITS] Chapter 2: The Beartooths

There’s only one more call before the start of Yellowstone’s busy season – a simple case of a father and son who didn’t make it back to their car before nightfall – and by May, Galen’s permitted himself to begin forgetting about the pilot of the Cessna. It’s early June when he’s summoned to what he, and everyone else, thinks to be an ordinary briefing for an ordinary rescue.

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[ITS] Chapter 1: The Cessna

They can feel the sensors coming online, the hearth-core slowly churning, and life returning to their stiff limbs as fluids struggle to move through old cabling, thick as sludge from the long sleep.

This twilight consciousness lasts for what seems like forever before voices begin to creep into the corners of their waking thought, signalling awareness. They sense that they’re laying on their back, and that the the others – the crew of the Ntassanek – are nearby.

As the fluids warm and flow more easily through their cabling, the Ntaarin’s foreprocessors begin firing up, and they sharply ascend now to alertness. And what greets them is… unsettling.

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[ITS] Chapter 0: The Crash

It doesn’t take a viewscreen to see the planet below the ship; it’s completely filled the view from the windows that jut out from the front of the bridge. And it’s a view that the crew of the Ntassntek, as it’s called in the common tongue, have been anticipating for a while now: since they departed for it from the other side of the galaxy.

The captain, a Ntaa of impressive stature, sits eagerly in their chair, staring intently at the vast, blue oceans of liquid water below, watching as their orbital speed has them gently floating above an enormous landmass now creeping into view. They’ve never been here – none of their crew has – but they’re here to do a job, and one that should never have needed doing. Get in and get out, is the only thing that’s on their collective minds right now.

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