With a sinking feeling, I followed the path. Low, blueish-green light illuminated the hall. Given the hall’s liquid metal material, bioluminescent light seemed unlikely. On the other hand, the Xiniti were aliens. They might easily light their halls with lifeforms outside my experience.
Collecting a little bit to analyze would have been interesting, but I had a bad feeling that the Xiniti wouldn’t approve. They were here to prevent us from gaining more technology unless we developed it on our own, and had the authority to commit genocide to prevent it if necessary.
The Xiniti felt like they owed the League somehow, but I wasn’t going to push it.
I walked down the hallway, wondering what the Xiniti wanted from Lee. Sure, they wanted compensation, but that could take many forms, ranging from money to execution.
I didn’t really think they could kill Lee, but they might imprison him, and it was remotely possible, they know that his own people wanted him back—badly. Neither of these possibilities would be a good thing.
I felt confident that Lee would object strenuously to both, and I didn’t want to find out what form that would take.
Haley glanced up at me. “You smell worried. Is it Lee? I’m sure they can’t kill him.”
“I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about what he’ll do after they fail.”
Her eyes widened, and she compressed her lips into a thin line as she thought, finally saying. “Okay, now I’m worried.”
We might have talked more about it, or maybe gone on, silently not talking about it, but we didn’t have the chance. A few steps ahead of us, Vaughn stepped into a room. His costume reflected the light. It wasn’t blinding, but it definitely was brighter.
In a quiet voice, he said, “Guys, this is amazing,” and slowly turned around the room.
As we stepped inside, we understood why. All four walls glowed, each showing a different scene—an infinity of stars, an icy plain, an alien jungle where the plants’ leaves were practically black in the dim light, and a strange city with aliens of more races than I recognized.
I doubted this could be real-time, but I didn’t know for sure that they didn’t have faster than light communication.
It didn’t change the fact that the pictures were moving though, or that the colors were real enough that I felt like I could step into the picture. “Three-dimensional” didn’t cover the quality of the view.
As we stared, a male voice said, “You will be able to view any information you need here. To control what you view or if you require refreshment, medical attention, seating, or any other needs, simply state what’s required.”
Vaughn turned around the room, giving a look at each screen before saying, “Any other needs?”
I said, “I don’t want to find out what you meant by that.”
Vaughn grinned at me. “Not that, but you know, it would be funny to find out what the Xiniti know about sex.”
In a matter of fact tone, Haley said, “What would be funny is if they got it wrong.”
The voice said, “Do you need to inspect our archives on the subject?”
We said, “No” almost simultaneously.
I decided not to let this go even further afield. With my luck the voice might start asking us to explain events in “The All Nude Heroes League.” That would pass my threshold for embarrassment far too quickly.
“Please show us all the ships that passed through the jump gate and had a realistic chance of contacting people on Earth over the course of the last year.”
The screens turned black, showing nothing.
Clearly I hadn’t specified what I wanted precisely enough. I began running through better options in my head.
Before I finished, Haley asked, “That’s all? No one? How do you know it’s no one?”
“The nature of our mission requires us to have the capability to monitor all probable forms of communication as well as a number of highly improbable, but possible communication systems. None were used.”
Haley frowned. “What about last year?”
The voice said, “None were used.”
Vaughn raised his hand, “Hey, the last ten years?”
A long, needle-shaped spaceship appeared on the screen. I remembered the ship. It had come nine years ago, and Grandpa visited it. It had been full of alien VIP’s from the Reclamation Alliance—or something like that. I’d been nine at the time.
“This ship contacted organizations all over your planet.”
It didn’t seem likely that a diplomatic mission would also be trying to destroy the planet. Well, maybe. But… since it had been nearly ten years I was inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I’d just come up with another idea. “Are there any spaceships that didn’t use the jump gate?”
The walls filled with spaceships of different shapes and colors, some of them in disrepair, all of them large.