Cassie walked next to him. “How many of you are there?”
His mouth twisted and he cocked his head. “About… five or six thousand. We’ve got three different colonies on this world, all pretty close. I can’t say exact numbers for all of them, but that’s about right. We’ve been sneaking people out for about a decade now.”
Raising my voice since I was behind him, I said, “I’d heard you only needed about two hundred people to get almost all of humanity’s genetic diversity, and you’ve got that.”
Geman turned to stare at me. “Where are you people from?” Continue reading Between: Part 9
Katuk glanced toward the poles with no noticeable interest, his dark eyes flicking from one to the other. “They’re low energy use, air permeable shields optimized for worlds with large, ground dwelling animals. You’ll note that they’ve also made use of the air protection as well.”
I looked up. Glittering lines ran between the poles. From what I could see, they hadn’t filled in between the lines. So they weren’t afraid of normal sized flyers—only big ones. I supposed that might be good news.
Katuk stared at the ground. “If I remember correctly, they can be configured so that the lower ten feet are permeable to smaller creatures but not permeable to larger ones.”
I thought about it. “Can they be configured to work against aerial bombardment?” Continue reading Between: Part 8
I checked with the ship and could see Crawls-Through-Desert next to the refrigerator sized box in the ship’s cabin. In a moment, it was floating out the hatch next to him. I could see that as good news given how much space it freed up, but at the same time, I’d never meant to bring him here and I didn’t know what was in the box.
We all turned to see the plant on the box floating in the air next to the ship.
“Hey,” I used the stealth suit’s speakers to give me some volume. “What’s in the box?” Continue reading Between: Part 7
Jadzen blinked and her mouth tightened. I guessed that people didn’t argue with her under normal circumstances. Before I could say anything, Jaclyn started talking.
“We don’t want to argue, but we’ve got our orders. We’re supposed to escort you here, but we’re also supposed to stay until reinforcements come. My understanding is that they’ll come soon.”
Standing straight and looking Jadzen in the eye, Jaclyn acted as if this were a meeting of equals instead of whatever Jadzen thought it was. Continue reading Between: Part 6
Of course, they hadn’t mined the entire solar system—just the best places to come out of jump space. We’d appeared on the dark side of the planet. Mines surrounded the area in a sphere. Unlike a normal minefield, the people hadn’t designed the pattern to hide the mines. They’d designed it to make them extremely obvious.
Checking the sensors showed that that the mines weren’t close to us. A ship large enough for a jump or blink drive would have had enough space to turn around and jump out. So, this wasn’t so much an attempt to kill as much as a pointed invitation to leave. I imagined that all the nearest jump points had been mined. Continue reading Between: Part 5
“Monopoly?” Jaclyn raised an eyebrow and looked at me. “Seriously? Why?”
I shrugged. “To kill time. We’ve got a week in jumpspace and as you can see,” I pointed toward the infinite gray outside the window, “it’ s not very interesting. Plus, I was joking a little too. We probably ought to come up with ideas for how we’ll handle it if we have to defend the colony. There’s no question they’re being followed.”
Jaclyn shook her head. “Skip the Monopoly then. Let’s get prepared.” Continue reading Between: Part 4
Frowning at the goo, I decided that Crawls-Through-Desert could clean it up and wondered how I’d make that stick. Meanwhile, Jaclyn had thought of something.
“Seven of us in one room? For a week? That’s going to be interesting and by interesting I mean, it’s going to be interesting if we’re still talking to each other by the end of it. But that’s not all, do we have food for a week?”
Marcus held up his hand. “I’ve got this one. Yes. We’ve got food. The ship’s got a machine that takes biological matter and converts it into food bars based on its profile for different species’ nutritional needs—“
Jaclyn’s eyes narrowed and she stared at Marcus. “Whoa. Wait a second. Where’s this biological matter coming from? Because there’s only one place I can think of where we’d get spare ‘biological matter’,” she glanced at the bathroom in the back, “and I don’t want to eat it.” Continue reading Between: Part 3
No one waited for us when we came out of blink space this time. On the other hand, bearing in mind that we weren’t using the jumpgate system anyway, I didn’t feel the need to follow the standard paths through space.
I’d taken advantage of our speed in jump space to allow us to blink in a spot that allowed us options that jumpgates didn’t because they were still too close to planetary gravity wells.
We came out in system 2411 within Edge sector. The numbers instead of a name meant that it had no populated worlds and hadn’t ever had populated worlds during any recent civilization. Continue reading Between: Part 2
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