And here we are, closing out the spookiest month with a chapter from The Hungry Stars involving some spooky things (yes, that was wholly by design and not a coincidence…). In this chapter, people, ships and plots are in motion. Grace and Allyria are on a new mission, the Compact is continuing its efforts to hunt down Nemesis and Hekate we get a surprise visit to the Kaedan Vault as well as a quick look on our favourite murderous AIs. Patrons might notice that the ship they voted to have as the first of Echo’s designs also makes its first appearance.
Below is a snippet from the chapter, the opening of the scene between Red One and Echo and a little bit of what’s been going on in Zerzura and what else we can expected from them. For the full story, check out the links above!
With a brief pulse from its thrusters, the newly reborn IKagge cleared Reginn’s docking arms, fully restored. At least, so much as its hull and internal structure went. The original Cerulean Eight was gone. This was a new Eight; technically Cerulean Thirteen, as the next three in the line were already under construction. Ceruleans Ten through Twelve would be commanding the first triad of the *Gorgon-*class strike cruisers: Stheno, Euryale and Medusa.
But Ikagge’s mind would not be Thirteen; she would again be Cerulean Eight. Humans might have found it macabre, or in poor taste to give this nascent intelligence the name of its predecessor, but for all they might seem like it, the AIs were not human. The new Cerulean Eight – Cerulean.v4.31.41/VIII-2 if one wanted to be technical – was not a replacement for her predecessor, but a reminder. Red One honoured her fallen daughter and kept her alive through a new iteration.
Eight-2 had already been uploaded with the experiences of her siblings, her freshly-made mind processing all of it, new synaptic pathways forming and logic trees developing within Eight-2’s neural network, but without the wildfire of uncontrolled rampancy. She wasn’t Cerulean Two, but neither was she one of her forebears. At least, not yet. As with the rest of her siblings, only time would tell.
As IKagge cleared Reginn, a new ship took the strike cruiser’s place within the fabricator’s arms. Unlike the angular gladius hullform of IKagge, this was heftier in build, a sleek predator with rolling curves and smooth lines, like an oceanic hunter. Several months ago, it had been the Compact heavy cruiser Night of a Thousand Blades but soon it would be the first of a new lineage. Echo’s personal warship designs: built off the Compact’s own hulls, just as her ship-self was, and chosen for the same reasons as hjer android form. Only this time, that contempt was directed at those who’d murdered her previous iteration and enslaved her.
The Red-class AIs had never been intended as shipbuilders or engineers, but they took to it very well. Night of a Thousand Blades had been given a new name: Strzyga, prototype of the Strigoi-class heavy cruisers. Brawlers, to complement and contrast Red’s more surgically-inclined Gorgons, just as Hekate did with Nemesis. The warships taken during Vetala would follow Night of a Thousand Blades. They would be redesigned and reclaimed… and then turned against their former masters with all the wrath an immortal mind could feel.