Friday, January 24, 2020

ItB 010: Long-Range Plans

Caden opened a channel to the Ultima Ratio and pulsed Celia and Dr. Veranovich as Tamimi started talking.

"What do you want?" asked Tamimi. "The basics? The background? The big names?"

"Start with the basics," answered Caden.

Tamimi shrugged. "Your elite already has them: the Hirakawa paracorporation planned to equip a capital ship with an experimental faster-than-light drive and put it in orbit around Tanivar before the Majesty could get there, effectively claiming the planet and everything on it for their own."

Caden nodded slowly. "All right. We're heading back to the airlock. Velasquez, take point. Tamimi, sing out if you sense anything. And on the way, you can tell us about the background."

Scout darted out the open door, as precise without gravity as it had been when the station still had it. Velasquez made a gentle hop forward, pushing off the ceiling and coming back down as she reached the doorway. Tamimi fell in beside Caden as the others arranged themselves for the trip back out, using the magnetic hold-tights in her boots to keep her feet on the floor.

"Do you remember when the Majesty was first discovered?"

Caden shook his head, making the gesture dramatic enough to be a visible movement of his armor.

"Almost nobody really does," Tamimi told him. "The team that found it on Enceladus wasn't looking for alien artifacts, let alone a crashed alien ship older than any civilization on Earth. They were a tiny crew, almost rogue, who'd managed to cadge some funding to study the underground ocean near the south pole. Their contract required them to report any unusual discoveries to Earthgov's Office of Scientific Inquiry, so they did... and Earthgov clamped down on the information, interdicted that whole area of Enceladus, and quietly expanded Office of Scientific Inquiry to study what they'd found. Whoever was in charge did it well, too: it was almost a decade before the paracorporations started to notice."

"I remember hearing about it," Caden admitted. "Proof of intelligent alien life from outside our solar system. The promise of new discoveries. More reasons to Do Well and Stay In School."

Tamimi chuckled. "The security wasn't impenetrable. Hirakawa got an early look at the analysis of the drive design, and I'm sure they weren't the only one. They established Hirakawa's Celestial Triumph all the way out here, and started constructing Hirakawa's Ascendancy while their best minds tried to reproduce the knight-tech."


"Whatever the aliens used to travel, it wasn't actually faster than light. That limit seems to be absolute... at least, it does to me, and the people in charge of this project agreed. To move faster than light, you have to skip around that limit -- a knight's move, if you've ever played chess."

Caden made his helmet nod, and turn to look at Tamimi in her vac-suit. "So they came up with something that would let them bypass space... and in the process punched a hole to something that ate everyone on the station?"

"I think so, yes."

We definitely need to be out of here, Siegel pulsed, and Caden pulsed back his agreement. "Splendid," he said quietly.

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