Amanpreet didn’t have to wait until they returned to normal space to find out that Kayla and Rick had been able to hear her singing because with in minutes of her beginning to hum the main melody of her favourite song in her head she heard a male voice join in singing the complex harmony and then Kayla’s voice singing a counterpoint. They might not be able to hear the words but their music kept the three of them entertained through the journey.
As soon as they emerged from hyperspace Amanpreet signaled the other two.
“That was awesome!” she said.
“It was!” Kayla agreed.
“I certainly enjoyed it,” Rick said.
“That gives the words space opera a whole new meaning,” the escort commander joined in as his ship left Promise’s mouth followed by the other ships that Promise had carried.
“Wait, you heard us?” Amanpreet said. “How?”
“Promise thought we’d enjoy your singing so he patched it through to us.”
“Oh,” Amanpreet said. “I didn’t realise Promise could translate mental music to audible sound. I probably should have done.”
“You should,” the commander said. “But do you know how useful this is going to be, especially if we are going to have a war. We can set certain tunes to mean certain things and finally communicate in hyperspace. It’s just a shame that there’s such a limited number of people who can do this–” He broke off as an alarm went off in the background.
“Sir!” a voice broke in. “Railgun activation detected!”
“Almost as soon as we appeared,” Amanpreet said. “Not before.” She narrowed her eyes. “I think that the enemy set these up only to act if they detected an emergence from hyperspace within the system.”
“That makes a crazy sort of sense,” the commander said. “It’d conserve energy. But why haven’t previous visits activated it?”
“That I don’t know,” Amanpreet said. “But it seems to have taken the system at Talis and in the other systems a long tome to wake up as well. We can work that out later, but we’d better deal with the situation first.”
“That’s a good idea,” he said and began ordering ships to track down the railgun that had activated and deflect any attack it fired. “Let’s deal with this and get on with our actual miss–” He broke off as a coherent energy beam came from in system passed at tangent to their position and struck something in the asteroid belt.”
“I don’t think we need to, sir,” a female voice said dryly. “The Coronans appear to have it well in hand…” she hesitated. “And whatever created that beam just scanned us.”
“Greetings, designated allies.” A flat mechanical voice broke across their communications. “Thank you for your concern but please do not waste your reserves on this problem this system will deal with it as per its programming.”
“You are the system the original Coronans left in place?” the commander asked after a moment of stunned silence.
“I am,” it replied.
“How do you know our language?” Niobe asked.
“I have been monitoring your people’s visits for some time,” it replied. “And had already ascertained you were not hostile. Also the Talis system attached an information packet to your ally tag that filled in the lexicon I had been building.” There was a pause. “Are you planning to make contact with the children? They are probably ready. I was planning to reveal myself after their current spaceflight landed safely but the railgun required me to move sooner and they certainly know about me now.”
“The children are the current Coronans?” the commander asked.
“They are,” it replied. “That is how my creators designated them.”
“We’ll need to see what the Council of Planets says,” the commander said. “But I suspect we will be making contact soon then. The purpose of this mission was observation and we would have waited until they developed at least a theoretical hyperspace drive usually, but this is not a usual situation.”
“Aletheia is going to be a building site,” Niobe added dryly. “With so many new members.”
“It is far from the usual situation,” the system agreed. “Please contact me once you have spoken to your council. For now I need to sweep for more potential attacks.” The line went quiet.
“Well, that was interesting,” Amanpreet said. “We’d best send that message to the Council.”
“I’ll deal with it,” the commander said. “Everyone else just keep an eye out for anything the Coronan system might miss.”
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