â€œOh my, now that’s a relevant piece of information, isn’t it?â€ Amanpreet swallowed convulsively. “I guess we just have to hope that, given that this is ancient history, they’ve changed and no longer go in for xenocide.” She tried to ignore the churning in her stomach that said that would be a forlorn hope.
“It is a long time,” Mei agreed. “But from what the book says they must be very long lived, because, while they have access to hyperspace communication, they don’t seem to have hyperspace ships and yet they’ve spread their influence over several thousand parsecs.”
Midori sucked in a sharp breath. “To hold together a civilization with relativistic speeds…” she shook her head in wonder. “They must be biologically immortal.”
“Or extremely long lived at least,” Umi said. “But not very resilient in other ways if they can’t tolerate hyperspace. Did the book give any more details?”
“It said that these aggressors initially attacked this system but the inhabitants were able to fight them off,” Mei said. “When that failed they went to a nearby massive star that should have been only about halfway through its lifespan and somehow aged it prematurely. The people here were aware of the changes and tried to stop them but they only had a prototype hyperspace ship, so they couldn’t. So they took the final clutch of one of their strongest and most intelligent breeding queens, and hid it in the hope that one day their species could be resurrected.”
“I still don’t understand how the eggs survived,” Midori said.
“Shielding,” Amanpreet said. “In my vision they were shielding the egg cavern with some sort of super-dense metal. It would have stopped the radiation.” She frowned to herself. “They couldn’t make enough to shield the city in time so they went with Plan B.” She tilted her head at her own certainty. “Hmm… maybe there are some after effects of what happened to me.”
â€œPossibly,â€ Midori said. â€œBut more likely hearing this shook some details of what you saw loose.â€ She pinched the bridge of her nose. â€œI’ll contact the Council of Planets and pass on this and what Umi told us. Can you gather your crew and try to track that Fish like you said?â€
â€œOf course,â€ Amanpreet replied.
Mark frowned when Amanpreet explained the situation. â€œI’ve done a bit of hyperspace tracking when I used to work search and recovery on Cels.â€ The bronze skinned navigator frowned and shook his head. â€œBut it’s not easy, Am. We very rarely managed to recover a ship lost in hyperspace. Admittedly this isn’t exactly the same but it still might be too late to track them.”
“I’ve never done it,” Kane said. “I’ve heard of it, but I don’t think I could do it.”
“That’s okay,” Amanpreet said. “I can do it, so Mark and I will handle the navigation this trip – presuming we can find the trail. If we can’t it will be a very short trip.” She turned to Niobe. “If we do find them I’ll need you to talk to them and explain that the Mez have changed and don’t keep slaves anymore.”
“Do we know which Mez language these Fish are likely to know?” Niobe asked. “I’m sure they don’t know all of them.”
“I’ll find out,” Amanpreet said before turning to Nevin. “How are you on Mez physiology? Umi’s sister might be injured.”
Nevin looked dubious. “I can transform one of the medical pods for a hydrogen breather so she can breath and not overheat, but I’m not familiar enough with their physiology to risk medical intervention. Even a doctor probably wouldn’t be.”
“Yes, fix up one of the pods,” Amanpreet said. “That will be necessary even if she isn’t injured. I doubt she’s got an environment suit in the dome with her. We’ll just have to hope she’s unharmed. Have Vanna help you if needed.”
“Is that everything?” Niobe asked, then smirked as Amanpreet nodded. “Okay, then let’s save the Milky Way.”
“No,” Amanpreet murmured thinking of Mei’s discovery. “Leave that to the Council of Planets.”
“I was funning, Am. I know these Fish aren’t that big a danger.” Niobe narrowed her eyes. “There’s something else? Something to do with them?” She jerked her head to indicate Talis. “Spill!”
“There is,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œI’ll tell you about it once we’ve at least done our best to find Umi’s sister. This is far more urgent.” She looked over at Mark. “Do you want to take the first stint in the dome or shall I?”