Xiniti Space Station Batukti: Edge of Interdicted Space/The Human Quarantine
Nikataktuk of the Xiniti Jump Gate Command stood alone in his office. He’d rather be with the rest of his clan, but there were some things that were easier thought through alone—many things in his position.
He thought at the far wall and it changed. No longer a landscape of the jungles of his homeworld, it mirrored the stars outside the space station. He turned toward the wall to the right, calling up a map of known space complete with jump gates, military installations, and major trade routes.
Then he used his implant to set the third wall to follow the young on the park level. Their pack hunting tactics would distract him if he needed it. He let the park’s audio stream run in the background.
With that set up, he focussed his attention on the map of known space. Interdicted Space was where everyone expected to find problems, but the Issakass had a new weapon and were expanding out on the rim of the galaxy. All reports indicated that species that fought them were exterminated or at the least defeated. The Issakass had never been pleasant, but their borders had remained stable for the last two hundred years. That had changed only in the last two. Along with their expansion had come a tendency to fight internally. That had never been their pattern.
What had changed? He didn’t know, but he had his suspicions.
They needed more data. He used his implant, assigned teams to investigate. While it might not yet be his problem officially, he knew it would be soon enough.
He had a solution in mind. He’d had one since the being the humans called Lee or “Immortal” visited the Xiniti space station in the humans’ solar systems. That one would be able to handle the problem without having to involve the Xiniti themselves which was a good thing. There were only so many of them, and also the Alliance were often too slow to authorize them to move in themselves.
No, the Immortal could cripple the Issakass long before the Xiniti were allowed to act. Then when everything had been officially put in motion they’d be able to risk less hunters from the Xiniti clans.
He liked that idea.
The other matter associated with Lee required a bit more sensitivity. A few of his proteges had killed a notorious Xiniti criminal. When that had been reported, he’d followed Xiniti tradition. They’d done the Xiniti clan a service when they’d killed that creature, removing a stain on their name, and he’d had the local Xiniti inform Earth that the humans were now a part of the Xiniti nation.
While true, the humans were young. The clan reasonably expected the new clan members to undergo the same initiation as all others—to handle one of the clan’s assigned tasks on their own and without help from the clan.
He’d found one that seemed suitable, a simple mission that youngsters with decent training should be able to handle. A small colony of human refugees near Interdicted Space would be receiving new and highly controversial colonists. The youngsters would have to protect the new colonists and the colony for a few days to a week while forces for the world’s protection arrived.
There were so many aspects of the situation that made the newest members of the Xiniti Nation perfect for the job. They were human for one, giving them an immediate connection to the colonists that a Xiniti would not have. They had a fast, well-armed ship. He’d seen it in action.
Still, there were aspects that troubled him. This might require more diplomatic skills than he’d expect as they’d been traveling from one system to another at first. The new colonists were infamous enough that some government might attempt to collect on the bounty.
And then there was the other potential candidate for adulthood in the clan. The Xiniti who had been killed by the Immortal’s students had one child. By coincidence, that child was now waiting for its chance to officially become an adult in the eyes of the clan. At this time, it was the only eligible child from that clan that was ready, and given the age gap between it and the next group, it would remain that way.
Normally, if there were other Xiniti ready, he’d send them all out together despite any clan differences. He didn’t want to make any exceptions because they’d killed the child’s father.
The Xiniti had been bringing aliens into their clans practically since they ventured into space.
If there were trouble, it would be an embarrassment for the clan.
The Xiniti turned away from the map, staring out at the darkness of the stars that surrounded the station.
He’d made a decision. The Xiniti would go and so would the new human candidates.