Outside the council building, alarms went off. At the very same time, a message that the implant informed me was a “local emergency notification” appeared in my head.
A flat, artificial voice sounded. “A Human Ascendancy warship and heavy fighter have exited jump space. Assemble your evacuation kit and be ready to leave.”
Marcus and Katuk sat up in their beds, Katuk going further and making it to the floor in the same motion. Marcus turned toward the light taps as Katuk’s feet touched the floor.
Meanwhile, my implant supplied video from the ansible. Two ships shot out of a glowing flash in space—probably at the same Lagrange point we’d come out of. One of the ships was a long gray cylinder and the other a much smaller wedge that had been painted black but with red stripes and accented lines that reminded me of a sports car.
The cylinder had a round hole in the middle of its front end that I recognized as its main gun. Since that wasn’t enough, it had four, evenly placed lines of turrets running down its sides. Without getting closer, I didn’t see any way to find out exactly what each turret fired, but they had a lot of turrets so I didn’t feel like I was in any hurry to check.
I did wonder how they’d handle the mines though.
From outside our room I heard Cassie and Jaclyn talking to Kals and Tikki, both of whom had slept over the night before. At the same time, Hal’s “voice” overlaid the real world noises.
[I’ve done several simulations. The heavy fighter and a wing of fighters from the warship will land within an hour. Even assuming the colony gets their two fighters as well as myself into space, they’ll only slow the ships’ down by about ten minutes.]
Okay, I thought back, what would be a good plan since a direct attack on a warship is a bad idea?
[If I fly away from the colony with the shields on, they’ll be unable to detect me and since it’s night, they won’t be able to visually identify me. I’ll contact you after I’ve found a place to hide. I need your permission for my programming to allow me to do so.]
Do it, I told him. They’d probably destroy the ship on the ground otherwise.
It didn’t take long before I heard the roar of its engines as it flew away. With that taken care of, I checked the ansible’s view of the Human Ascendancy ships. They had no trouble with the mines at all. In fact, the mines opened a path for the ships to fly through and then closed behind them. It was almost as if someone had handed the Human Ascendancy all the relevant passwords.
That said, something bothered me about the idea that Maru had turned on the colony. It wasn’t that it was impossible that he’d want to do it. It’s just that he’d apparently been turned away from his loyalty to the Human Ascendancy originally by Jadzen earlier. When people make that kind of change, they didn’t casually change back. Of course, it could be that he’d always been loyal and he’d never really changed to become part of the Resistance.
That made sense too, but you’d think someone would notice. Sure, he was a spy with the ability to mess with your head, but not everybody around him was affected and it seems like one of those people (better known as the Resistance’s leadership with whom he worked) would have noticed.
But what did I know? All I really knew was that I’d recorded him ordering Geman and Dalat to forget that he’d been the one to mess with their heads. It was pretty damning. If this idea had more going for it than idle speculation, I’d have to find out how he’d come to betray the colony unwillingly.
In the meantime though, we had to escape the Human Ascendancy first and make sure that no one was in the position to betray whatever they were doing next. That meant giving Jadzen the recording we’d made and hoping the fact that we were spying on him wouldn’t make her reflexively distrust us.
I got out of bed and touched the block of ceramic next to my bed. My pajamas absorbed it, transforming from pajamas into jeans, a shirt and a jacket.
Jaclyn knocked on the door. “Are you guys decent?”
Marcus looked at me and then over to Katuk who was now covered head to toe in silver, Xiniti armor. “Yeah, we’re decent, and we’re also loaded for bear. Well, except for me. I’m just in my costume.”
He’d put on his costume at some point between getting off the bed and now.
“Good.” Jaclyn opened the door. “It looks like we’re getting out of here. I got a message from Jadzen because apparently she’s decided that the I’m in charge of the group. The colony has a bunker and we’re all going there. Grab all your stuff. I’m grabbing the dog.”
She looked at us, waiting for us to say something. No one did.
“There’s one more thing you should know,” I told her and had my implant send her everything I’d gotten from the bots.
She shook her head. “I’d been wondering if this could get worse. Congratulations.”