A/N: I’ve made some tweaks to my Patreon – check it out.Â You can also check out a sample chapter of my Traditional Fantasy WIP “Shattered”. If pledges reach $50/month I’ll start posting on this site fortnightly (I have 20 chapters written so far).
“It’s likely to take quite a while for every representative on the Council to record their messages,” Lin said. “So now we wait again. We have had a message back that they concur with our idea and they want Promise to record its kinds message as it is the only one they currently have contact with.”
“I will do that,” Promise’s reply came over the intercom. “I think my kind can form a mutually beneficial relationship with them as well since they’ll need hyperspace ships and it will take a while to grow any for them.”
“And as a hardtech species they’ll struggle to master the biotech to grow their own,” Amanpreet said. “I know we still buy ships rather than growing them and all things considered we’re not bad at biotech.”
“That’s true,” Mori said. “Your people were starting to learn to grow things for medical purposes when we contacted you but you never really cared to practice it outside of medical technology. These people are not even that far along probably because they are more fragile than you and haven’t mastered transplant medicine either.”
“Human medicine is incredibly advanced,” Summer agreed.
“That’s why medical technology and techniques are our primary exports,” Mahir said. “Considering our past it could have been a lot worse.”
“Oh yes, you’re good at making weapons too,” Summer said. “I fear that’s going to be a good thing with what’s coming.”
“Yeah,” Amanpreet sighed. “We’re good at making armor as well. Now if only we could crack making weapons that worked in hyperspace.”
“You’d need to use biotech for that,” Summer said. “We have a few prototypes but we shelved them centuries ago. It doesn’t look like we’ll need them against this new enemy but if the Vaians are still out there we might need to resurrect them.” He paused and looked towards the screen. “Promise, do your people still have any of the prototype weaponry that our ancestors built into you?”
There was a long pause. “Some of us can spit a sort of venom in hyperspace but it’s a rare ability and growing rarer as it’s deeply recessive,” Promise replied finally. “I am not one of them unfortunately or I would have been better able to protect the Whisper when the Vaians attacked it.”
“Hey you did enough,” Amanpreet said.
Mahir in the meanwhile was thumping his forehead with his palm. “Biological weaponary! Why did we never think of that?”
No one answered because at that moment there was a chime indicating another incoming message. Lin immediately turned her attention back to it.
“Surely they haven’t made a response already,” Mori said.
“No,” Lin said. “It’s more bad news, I’m afraid and a weird coincidence.” She scowled at the console. “Weren’t we just discussing hyperspace weapons?”
“What about them?” Mahir asked in a sinking tone.
Lin sighed heavily. â€œIt seems we were wrong to assume the Kiath wouldn’t be affected by this mess. They were and are assuming it was us who attacked them and they’ve spent the time since the failed contact developing hyperspace weapons.â€
â€œThe Kiath are the species who refused first contact a century ago,â€ Amanpreet asked. â€œI thought their homeworld was outside the affected zone.â€
â€œThat’s the mystery,â€ Lin said. â€œThey should have been. No systems near them were affected, but we understand enough of their language to know what they’ve broadcast at us when they attacked. It’s weird.â€
Amanpreet narrowed her eyes. â€œIt is. What’s their homeworld’s environment like?â€
â€œThat’s an odd question,â€ Mahir said. â€œSurprisingly close to terrestrial, slightly lower oxygen and higher carbon dioxide. Fire is difficult there which is why they went the biotech route. Why?â€
â€œCould humans breathe there?â€
â€œYes, it wouldn’t be healthy but we could,â€ he replied. â€œWhat are you thinking?â€
â€œThey’ve been attacked but maybe it’s not the enemy. If I’m understanding where they are they aren’t far from the Vaia system.â€
â€œNo they aren– Ah!â€ he said. â€œThat’s possible, isn’t it? An interdicted system would be a good place to hide out and I doubt the Vaians would scruple about it. Lin send that to the Council â€“ if it is that they need to do something. What are the current orders?â€
â€œAvoid hyperspace in that area if possible,â€ she said. â€œMove in convoys if not. They expect to have some sort of armour against the acid weapon soon. They’re also trying to get the Kiath to talk to us instead of attacking.â€ She winced. â€œThey’re saying that’s where we’re going after we finish here.â€
â€œI’ll ask my people to provide you an escort who have the weaponry Summer mentioned,â€ Promise said suddenly. There was bleep as the Fish disappeared into hyperspace.