Khorat is a colonist’s dream. It has everything a human being could want: rich deposits of ore and minerals, a hot but mild climate, a deep, warm ocean filled with fish and coral that show a conception of swarm mentality, sunny, sandy beaches, jungles with sweet fruit but no mosquitoes or poisonous snakes, and, of course, traces of mysterious ancient civilizations – or more specifically, one large trace, the Khorat Cupola. Before the “official” discovery, the planet was the source of exotic animals for the Galaxy’s black market. The planet was home to hundreds of astounding species that lived together in perfect harmony, and there were almost no predators that were dangerous for humans. Of course, the poachers weren’t about to give up the source of their fabulous income without a fight. The colonists had to take Khorat by force. After a few months of bloody combat, the poachers were totally defeated. A few leaders and their most trusted helpers, not wishing to surrender to the mercy of the court, hid in the Khorat Cupola. Not a single one of them came out. Their decomposed remains were found six months later on the other side of the planet. Should we be surprised that the cupola enjoys notoriety among the colonists and became a full-fledged tourist attraction? But the scientists give it as much attention as possible.
The cupola holds an ancient observatory built by the Kraken, a race of intelligent cephalopods that disappeared long ago. From there they gazed at the stars, and from there they gave orders and guided their space flotillas. The walls of the observatory were filled with murals that might have revealed many secrets of the Kraken, but shortly after the studies began, strange people wearing a military uniform that didn’t have an insignia showed up on the planet. They captured the cupola, took the scientists away, carefully removed the covering with the drawings from the walls, placed its fragments in hermetic containers, and disappeared. No one could figure it out. There are rumors among the Khorat that they were agents of the Earth Government, but up until now no definitive confirmation has been made. One of the most unusual things in the observatory is a dimly illuminated display panel that is surrounded by hundreds of panels with lots of different pictograms. Apparently, you need to enter some sort of code, a specific sequence of pictograms. What is the Kraken code hiding, what secrets is it holding? Until now, no one has figured out the correct sequence of symbols, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying. Perhaps the code will be cracked tomorrow. Perhaps it will never be cracked