Christ beams down to the planet to investigate the energy emission detected from orbit.
As the Heisenberg compensator released his particles, having made sure they were all at the right location, moving in the right direction and at the right speed, Christ squinted his eyes against the harsh glare of the sunlight. He also felt in that same instant that the heat from the sun was equally harsh, and oppressive.
Forcing himself not to give in to his instinctive reflex to unzip his jacket and dig out the shades that he had in his backpack he keyed the tricorder in his hand to a full scan. In a second or two the device had completed the sensor sweep of his surroundings and reported that, as far as the device could tell, there was nothing that posed an immediate threat to him within a range of 50 meters.
That was the queue for Christ to get his jacket off as quickly as he could and take out the shades and his cap from the backpack to slap those on his nose and scalp consecutively. Next he opened the top buttons off his shirt and stuffed his jacket into the backpack.
Feeling a whole lot better, and able to look around him without the light hurting his eyes, he did a full one eighty and gasped at the scenery. He had expected to see crumpled ruins and remnants of buildings. Maybe some decayed remnants of technological origin here and there or maybe vague outlines of those things covered in fauna that had overgrown whatever was left.
What he saw however was nothing like that in the slightest! He was standing in the middle of a wide boulevard with tall buildings on either side which looked as if their construction had been completed yesterday. In front of each of the buildings smaller constructions, all identical as far as he could tell, were facing what he assumed were the entrances to the buildings, which looked like they were made of some sort of metal.
Shaking his head a bit as if to force it to get out of the awestruck mode it was in he looked closer at the tricorder's display and the data that it had collected with its sensors. It had prioritized the list of information according to the preferences he had configured it to.
No life readings. No energy emissions other than the one they'd detected from orbit. No radiation. No chemical compounds in the air or anywhere else for that matter other than the atmosphere. No movement of any kind anywhere.
It was then that he noticed something else about his surroundings. The complete and utter silence that enveloped him. He heard absolutely nothing, except the sounds of his breathing. The gentle beeps that came from his tricorder that indicated the device was continuously scanning his surroundings seemed obnoxiously loud, violently and rudely interrupting the silence around him.
Feeling a need for something to distract him from the emptiness of the place, and the silence that emphasized it, he tapped the communications switch on his left wrist to set up a link to the Eagle.
"Christ to Nicky. I've arrived safely and confirmed there's nothing dangerous or harmful around me. How are things up there?" he said. Only a second or two later did he realize that the communications unit hadn't chirped after he had pushed the comm-button to confirm it had established a connection.
He scowled and uttered a heartfelt "What theffff..." as he switched the tricorder to show the communications unit's readout. A diagnostic showed the unit was working fine, and that it was sending out a strong signal. It just wasn't receiving anything in response. Switching from communication to broad spectrum reception revealed there was nothing to receive on any frequency, not even white noise on the old fashioned radio frequencies.
That deepened his scowl as if to express the confusion he was experiencing. At the very least he should be picking up the white noise of the cosmic background radiation but the device wasn't even receiving that! The only explanation for that was that there was something between him and the rest of the universe somewhere that was blocking everything.
He set the tricorder back to scanning mode and directed it to high resolution scanning upward, specifically looking for any form of dampening field or inhibiting energy shield that had somehow eluded the scans they'd done from the Eagle and the ones he'd taken so far from the surface.
It took the device more than thirty seconds, and Christ had to boost the sensors power and resolution far past its specified limits, but it finally showed a anomalous electron-magnetic "something" at an altitude of 2 kilometers. The only reason it showed up at all was the fact that the sensor "ping" that it sent up abruptly vanished instead of continuing to fade as it traveled further away.
Having found the anomaly though Christ began to shoot every imaginable emission up with both the tricorder's and the communication unit's emitters to see if there was anything that the anomaly did allow to pass through it. To his great surprise, and consternation, there wasn't. Not even light seemed to make it past the anomaly, which seemed to be shaped like a dome made of a film or sheath consisting of very thin electron-magnetic particulates.
The thing that was confusing about it was that while it didn't seem to allow anything through it from outside in and inside out, it had allowed the transporter to beam him down, and it had allowed the Eagle's sensors to scan the planet's surface when they'd arrived in orbit. That was how they'd found the city and the energy emission that he had come to check out in the first place.
"It only makes any kind of sense if there is something or someone controlling the dome's properties, and they purposely closed me off after i got here." Christ muttered to himself. He felt his annoyance with the situation turn into anger, followed by defiance.
"So you wanna play games huh? Well, i got some toys too. Let's play shall we?" he said out loud with an angry voice. He set his backpack down and opened the side sections of it, then keyed in some commands on his tricorder. From inside the cylindrical side sections a buzzing noise erupted in response. Then, like the shot from a shotgun shell, 50 small spheres, each four centimeters in diameter shot up out of the backpack's side sections into the air. At a height of ten meters they than buzzed off in all directions before vanishing from sight in seconds.
On his tricorder's display however there were now 50 dots fanning out from the center, each extending the map's range as they moved farther away. Each little ball was in fact a small drone with enough power and circuitry to give it limited range scanning capability, a transceiver to send and receive data from the tricorder and a small pulse repulse drive that allowed it to maneuver in three dimensions. The sensor even allowed it to send live image of reasonable enough quality to determine, and lock onto, objects as small as three by three centimeters from a height or distance of four thousand meters. It's limited autonomous functions made it return to it's point of origin except when it was locked onto an object when it lost connection to the tricorder.
On their own the little balls, as Christ referred to them, were pretty useful and impressive, but Christ's appreciation had turned to respect when he'd learned what the balls could do when controlled as a swarm. So far though they were doing what Christ needed most at that point, extend the range of his knowledge out as far as possible and to find the e.m.p. shield's borders.
Minutes later he was much more informed about the city, the energy emission that had lead him here, the e.m.p. shield's range and the slightly devilish grin on his face told anyone that saw him the confusion and concern that had gripped him earlier was pretty much gone now.
After having probed the e.m.p. shields circumference he had ordered the samballs, Christ's official name for the little drones after his love for "Balls of Sam"*, to converge on the location of the energy emission, which turned out to be at the absolute center of the e.m.p. shield's circumference. The information the drones sent back completed the picture he was beginning to form in his mind even more.
The shield, though impervious to emitted photons, did allow reflected light to pass through. You could look through it and see what was beyond it. The video feedback from the drones told Christ that the perfect preservation of the buildings and lack of decay and entropy that he found himself in as he arrived here ended exactly at the edge of the e.m.p. shield. Beyond it there was the complete opposite. Complete and utter desolation, a devastated flat plane sterilized by a global shock-wave of unimaginable force. It was an annihilated surface that had been subjected to forces and heat that had almost turned the surface into glass as far as the video sensors of the drones could see, in all directions.
And tempting as it was Christ resisted the urge to send one or more drones the command to try and pearce through the e.m.p. shield, with hopes of getting a comm-signal out to the Eagle, and his wife and child.
He assumed that who or whatever had control over the shield had to be observing him and his drones and he didn't want to provoke those in control into incapacitating the drones, or worse, the one in control of the drones. Not before he had more information about the energy emission, its location and anything that might give him a clue about the what, why, how and perhaps who questions that remained.
*"balls of Sam" is what i call "Sambal". An Asian in origin recipe for very spicy sauce made of hot peppers, onions and tomatoes.