Friday, January 10, 2020

ItB 009: Details

For a moment, Tamimi fumbled with the helmet of her suit as she started to drift; then Walker caught her shoulder, and she cursed and yanked the helmet into place. "...Check my seals?" she asked. "Since I assume the rest of you can see?"

Walker's palms lit up, and they made a quick inspection of Tamimi's suit. Velaquez reclaimed her second drone and sent Scout back out into the corridor, while Siegel and Basque watched the door.

Captain? Are you seeing this? Shannon pulsed Caden directly, accompanying the question with an identifier for the imagestream that the Ultima Ratio was sending them. It's not just a hull breach.

Caden called up the video, frowned, and asked quietly: "Tamimi, can you feel what it's doing?"

There was a brief pause, and then she said: "No, and I haven't tried to reach out in case it's sensitive too. Why?"

"...Because it seems to be reshaping the station. It's twisting the surface on the far side into some kind of odd, fractal design."

"Well," she said as Walker straightened and gave her a nod, "that's ominous."

Siegel stopped looking out into the corridor, then turned and walked over to Tamimi. "What is it you aren't telling us?" she asked. "Something about what it is? Something about what it's doing? Something about how it got here?" Her voice was soft and gentle, and far more threatening than any amount of shouting would have been.

Tamimi stepped back, glancing at Walker, but Walker had gone completely still. Caden held a hand up to keep the others out of it as well.

"Something about how it got here," said Siegel, in that same quiet voice. "You said you were a lab tech. What kind of lab?"

"I'll be happy to fill you in after we're..."

Siegel was already shaking her head. "Now," she said firmly. "If there's more than one of these things, or more of them coming, we need to know. If this one is doing something that affects us, we need to know. What were you working on? It's something to do with the Majesty of Earth, isn't it?"

Tamimi was silent for a long moment. "Out of curiosity, what makes you say that?"

"The Ascendancy," answered Siegel. "A ship that size, being built alongside a research station all the way out here? That's not designed to give Hirakawa a trade advantage, or even for in-system conquest. It would never work. The only reason for a ship like that is if the Hirakawa Paracorporation intended to compete with the Majesty of Earth. You were trying to get to Tanivar and claim it for your own, weren't you?"

"Well," said Tamimi, "Not me personally, but yes."

"Keep going," growled Caden. "Explain."

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