Thursday, December 5, 2019

ItB 007: Survivors

"Survivors, Captain." Padma's voice was crisp and efficient through Caden's implant. "Three were supposed to be ship's crew here on the Ascendancy. One claims to have escaped from the station, and keeps saying that we have to go now. He says the Ninety-Fifty is going to sabotage the ship and destroy the station."

Caden pulsed an acknowledgement. "Your plan?"

"Split," answered Padma. "Two of three. I'll leave Ngawa and hers to guard the docking bay, and take O'Bannon and Campbell to look for the Ninety-Fifty."

"Concur," responded Caden. "We'll send support as soon as we can."

"Shuttles inbound to landing bay this time," pulsed Celia. "Updating Majesty of Earth." Both Caden and Padma acknowledged that.

Caden's six had been moving along the corridor, and now they reached an opening.

"Careful," said Tamimi, as Shannon reached across to grab one of the metal rungs. "We lost gravity for about half an hour, two hours back. It's been stable since, but... it was hell trying to avoid that thing when everything was floating loose."

Shannon nodded an acknowledgement and started down as Scout raced past him. Walker patted her on the shoulder again, then moved to follow. Velasquez slipped down the shaft almost unseen, and Caden motioned for Tamimi to proceed. She grasped a rung, tested it, then swung out and started down. Watch her.

Shannon pulsed back an acknowledgement.

How does a station like this have gravity? Caden wondered, then tight-beamed the question to the Ultima Ratio. The larger stations simulated gravity through centripetal force, while smaller stations generally didn't bother. But this station had a very convincing artificial gravity, and its down was towards the planet.

Excellent question, Captain. The response came from the Ultima Ratio's astrophysicist, Dr. Veranovich. They appear to be tapping the moon's gravity well, in a way that doesn't pull them out of orbit. Quite unprecedented technology... outside of the Majesty of Earth.

That was enough to tell Caden what he needed to know: Hirakawa's Celestial Triumph has been built all the way out here in the orbit of Ganymede not just because they wanted to construct a massive warship, but because the paracorporation was testing -- and probably trying to equip their new ship with -- technologies that they'd stolen from the project that had produced the Majesty of Earth.

A pulse from Padma reached his implant: "Heading into the Ascendancy, Captain. Ngawa has the bay."

Caden grasped a rung and stepped out into the shaft. "Understood. We are proceeding towards vac-suit for survivor Valenzuela Tamimi."

A few moments later he was on the next deck down, and Basque and Siegel were coming down behind him.

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