Soon after we reached the inter-asteroid train, Jaclyn called us. A transparent picture of her appeared in my vision along with her name. We answered and with the obligatory greetings made, she said, “How far are you from us?”
“Don’t know the distance, but it took us about thirty minutes to get here,” Marcus began. Then he glanced over at me. “Does that sound right?”
“Yeah, I think that’s how long it took,” I said. “I bet it’ll be about the same on the way back—plus or minus traffic.” Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 7
I became conscious of her brown eyes watching my reaction. Running still sounded like the wisest choice. I stayed still and didn’t say anything.
After a pause, she said, “Was it the King? The Queen? The Warlord? The Wise Ones? The Schemer? The Beauty? The Traitor?”
I tried not to show anything more than curiosity on my face. “Are there more?” Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 6
We spent the next hour talking about jump, blink, and near-space physics and how they related to drive design. As we talked, it became obvious that she didn’t just know more than I did, but that her knowledge eclipsed mine. At the same time, she never talked down to me. It felt like the better sort of independent study. She asked questions and I answered, but from my answers she somehow noticed knowledge that I was missing and explained it to me.
The longer we kept talking, the more faster than light drives made sense. It felt like talking to my grandfather, Dr. Nation, or anyone who could talk about technical issues at exactly the level I needed to understand them. My mind burned as connection after connection fell into place. Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 5
I’m also fairly sure that decorative plants don’t give people “the frond” when someone cuts in front of them on the way out the door. Being no authority on rude galactic gestures, I might not have noticed, but the Xiniti implant was.
Marcus laughed as the door shut and the train silently pulled away from the station. “I wonder what it thinks of vegetarians?” Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 4
We watched him go. Gray skinned with big all black eyes, Lee wore a silver robe that would have made many UFO fans confident that they were right after all. What they wouldn’t have known is that the silver robe could reform into a Xiniti battle suit, complete with weapons.
I only knew it because my implant provided the information—just like it provided me the location of every Xiniti on the station. Aside from Lee and ourselves, that meant exactly one other, Katuk, the Xiniti who was meeting us here. Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 3
K’Tepolu lay ahead of us. It wasn’t a planet. It was a collection of asteroids connected by tubes. As statements go, that was an understatement. Two huge asteroids, one following another, lay in the middle, connected to each other by round, gray structures wide enough for spaceships to fly inside. That was the only attempt at a pattern that I could see in the construction. The rest of the asteroids stuck out from the main ones with no rhyme or reason, sometimes with a tube to another asteroid, sometimes isolated.
Even more disturbing from an engineering perspective, there were multiple levels. While some asteroids had a tube to only one asteroid, many of them had six tubes (four to asteroids on their level, one pointing up and the other down). Most had more than six tubes and they were almost always diagonal instead of straight. Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 2
From a Report by Agent 957 of the Human Ascendancy’s Genetic Management Office…
Location: K’Tepolu System
Date: Day 139 in year 9043 of the Human Ascendency
To: [Name Redacted], Director of Breeder Reclamation
It’s my hope that the War Council will no longer be involved in our operations, but rather that their involvement will be limited to providing assistance that only they can provide and making any requests they might have clear. As they’re not in my chain of command, they should not be making any sort of attempt to give me orders or use our resources for their own projects. Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 1
After passing through three more star systems, I was almost certain we were free of well, whichever of Lee’s people was watching the place.
I glanced over at Lee. “Do you know who it was?”
Lee shook his head. “I lost track of where everybody was long ago. That place was never part of the galactic main. It happened to be strategically useful to the Live faction at that time. I only ever came back because it was important to me—not because it was important.”
He frowned. “Whatever else may be true, we can be sure that they sensed something when Nick drew the sword even if they didn’t get the location. They think I’m out and about. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been watching there.” Continue reading Space: Part 8
Then he turned back to the group of us. “Nick might remember that when we talked about my people, I told him that I wouldn’t notice them, but that he would. That’s because I was assuming that they’d be hiding the same way I’m hiding. He’s not. He’s broadcasting his position so that anyone who can sense us can hear.”
I glanced over at him. “Would flipping into near space help? It wouldn’t with a starship, so I’m guessing it won’t…”
Lee shook his head. “It won’t help. Shifting into blink space might work, but depending on who it is, well, that still might not do it. Stay in normal space. Don’t speed up. Don’t slow down. Pretend you don’t feel anything.” Continue reading Space: Part 7
Lee watched as we flew over a piece of what probably had been a planet. Maybe it had only been a moon, but it was round on the outside, jagged on the inside and big.
“They tried to hide there at the end of it,” he said. “They didn’t know it was the end yet, but I’d gotten my forces out of the area. Once they were safe, I used a new weapon we’d devised to fight them. It destroyed their shields, broke apart magical bindings and protections, and shattered the system’s planets. It damaged the star.”
I looked out toward where the computer said the white dwarf had to be. I’d wondered about that. Continue reading Space: Part 6