I finally managed to get a lock on the Caravel's homing signal, just as the flames overtook Ash and myself. The heat almost compromised my armor before my galvanic energy field encircled us. We reappeared outside the airlock. Had we materialized in inside the ship, our radiant heat would have sure caused an explosion inside the vessel. As the absolute cold of space dissipated the red heat of our glowing shells, Ash tried to hail Dr. Mason through Marconi transmission.
[Gematria, no response.]
We opened the airlock manually. Dr. Mason was not on board. We did however find his final transmission.
"Five months, Ash? He's been gone for that long? And you made no attempt to recover him?"
"I had strict orders to find you first, Gematria."
I shook my head. "I had to endure the taunts of those selfish creatures mutilating my name for far too long. Since, it seems, my Sister Qli-2 is no more, I will re-assume my given title of Qlippothic Projects."
"As you wish. We may now begin our search for Dr. Mason."
The video link buzzed as a wavering image took shape on the cathode ray monitor. "That will not be necessary, my children!"
I pressed my hand to the screen, staring up at his magnified features. Even through the distortions, facial recognition was stable at 85%. I recognized most of the laboratory equipment, and was surprised by the familiarity of the artwork behind him.
"Father? Can this be? Instrument readings tell me your coordinates are..."
"Yes, Qlippothic. They are correct. Do you honestly think I would let a bumbling world-dictatorship permanently derail my research? I need your assistance here, Qli. Ash, please monitor the energy readings from the Caravel. This shall be our family's finest hour!"