‘The wider the smile, the sharper the knife.’
And here we go with the final update for this month. We’re back with a new chapter to The Hungry Stars. Lakhesis and her passengers have finally arrived at Nibiru and the crew make ready to greet their hosts and see humanity’s last free refuge in the galaxy for themselves. The hope is that this is everything that it could be, but there are still many unresolved questions about the Triquetran League, beginning with mistaking a multi-billion tonne warship for a human dead for two thousand years. In fairness though, Echo does fill out a uniform nicely.
The League has its secrets, but part of this mission is discover what those are. Red One hasn’t survived two thousand years by taking things at face value. At least, not more than once. There have been siren calls before, calling to her with human voices and wearing human faces. So far, Nibiru doesn’t appear to be one of them… but this is early days yet.
Below is an excerpt from the chapter, looking into some of the contingencies Echo and her party are preparing as they make their way to a groundbreaking diplomatic meeting. For the whole chapter and story, check out the links above. Enjoy!
As Lakhesis followed its honour guard in to take is position above Nibiru, a hatch on the strike cruiser’s underside opened. From it, nothing emerged. At least, nothing that could be seen. Wrapped in a cocoon of adaptive smart paint and sensor-absorbent material, with a small, irregular cross-section, it would be almost impossible for passive scans to detect and if they did, it appeared as nothing but a piece of asteroid debris. It produced no heat, nor did it have any active systems that would betray its presence, its course calculated carefully by Cerulean Two and its speed, no more than that of any other stellar debris, was entirely a result of its ejection from the strike cruiser during its course adjustment.
Despite all those precautions, there remained a risk of detection, but it had been deemed acceptable. Nibiru was fond of secrets, but the Confederate AIs were very fond of uncovering secrets… or at least having a contingency in place should that become necessary. There was hope, there was optimism and then there was blind trust. Red One and her odd little family could afford the first two. Not the second. Never that. Never again.
So, a gamble had been made. If the Nibiru discovered the probe, there would be uncomfortable questions put to Echo and her people, but if they didn’t… well. Contingencies. It would take several days to cross the distance between it and its destination, but once the small nothing landed upon the airless surface of Samhain, the real work would begin.