Tikki pursed her lips without saying anything. “It is possible. All the motivators can tell people to do things, but it doesn’t change their minds and it wears off. They’d be able to tell people.” She stopped, frowned, and continued with, “And besides, the only motivator we have here is Jadzen. She’s one of the people who started the resistance and the colony. And she knows where the colony is, so if she were the spy, they’d be here already.”
Marcus nodded. “Okay, so not Jadzen, but there might be another motivator or someone with more invasive mind control powers.”
Tikki blinked and bit her lip. “The Human Ascendency has telepaths. Some of them can turn a person’s loyalties inside out or set a command that can be triggered later.”
Cassie shook her head. “We can’t trust anybody then. Too bad Daniel’s not here, right? That would make it lots easier.”
I sighed. “That would help, but supposedly we’d have to deal with a lot of problems if we had a telepath.”
Tikki nodded with so much enthusiasm her head blurred. “Yes. Oh, yes, you have no idea. The Human Ascendancy and all the ex-Abominator soldiers station telepaths everywhere to catch telepaths that aren’t aligned with them. They’re afraid of what would happen if the motivators change sides or if the motivators’ voice no longer works.”
“Oh,” Marcus grinned at her. “We get it. Believe me. There are telepaths on our world who have caused a lot of problems.”
“Except for us,” Tikki looked up at him, “they’re one of our last hopes. Them and the Celestial Ghosts.”
Marcus raised an eyebrow. “Celestial Ghosts? That sounds like someone was desperate to not call them Space Ghosts—which would have been kind of embarrassing. What are they?”
Even as he said it, I felt an data dump coming at me from the implant. Some faction of the Abominators decided they needed a force that could cross space without a spaceship, land on a planet unseen and spy or attack as needed. So, after considerable work, they caught some sort of being that survived in the depths of space. I didn’t recognize it even with the pictures. Like the Abominators, it changed shape, but unlike them it shifted universes and through states of hyperspace just as easily. The only guess that made any sense to me was that it might be a child of Lee’s race, but nothing I’d heard from Lee or “Kee” (the member of Lee’s species we’d met back on K’Tepolu station) gave me any hint that they still had young. It wasn’t unreasonable to think that there might be other beings that crossed space with a thought.
Whatever it was, the Abominators dissected it, analyzed its genetic structure, and spliced a variation of their genes into human DNA. I saw the Abominator birthing chambers creating the new gene line, all of the forms female. When they were decanted from the tanks, the lead scientist inspected them. In that moment, they all disappeared. The Abominators tried a few more times, always with the same result. Even when they created machines that prevented the Celestial Ghosts from disappearing, it only prolonged the inevitable.
The flood of data included dates, places, the names of the scientists, but I didn’t care about any of that. I just knew I wanted to talk to my sister and I had no way to do it. She couldn’t enter hyperspace on her own, but she’d told me that she could have shifted between realities in Infinity City, and I knew Grandma had.
Even as Tikki finished her description of them with, “No one knows where they go and some people don’t even think they’re real, but I’ve heard they worked with the Xiniti against the Abominators.”
“True,” Katuk said, nodding toward her.
He must have already known, but I struggled with a new sea of implant assisted enlightenment. Celestial Ghosts floated through the walls of Abominator ships attacking the crew while Xiniti attacked another section of the fleet.
When it was over, I realized that Cassie had caught my eye. “Pretty crazy, right?”
I struggled to find words and managed a “Yeah.”
Tikki glanced over at me. I said, “Sorry. My implant deluged me with data after you mentioned the Celestial Ghosts.”
She smiled and shook her head. “I’ve seen the look before. You all got it.”
Marcus grinned. “I ignored it, put it off until I had time. I’m going to manage the thing instead of letting it manage me—“
His eyes unfocused and then he blinked, saying, “Whoa. Nick, did you see what I saw?”
Jaclyn rolled her eyes. “We all did.”
Cassie shook her head. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but reel it in everybody. We’re not getting anywhere on the real topic. We need to find out who’s the spy, right? Here’s the beginning—we invite people our age over and get to know them. It can’t be very many, right? There’s only a few thousand people on the whole planet.”
Jaclyn laughed. “Your big idea is that we throw a party? They’re going to kick us off the planet.”