A/N: Hi readers! Repeating this from Monday for anyone who only reads Whisper. Just a quick note to say thanks to all my regular readers. Thanks especially to my Patreon donors and to Alexander Hollins for the first review of Whisper on the WFG. Other readers please comment here if youâ€™d be willing to donate to my patreon with better/different perks (say what) or if youâ€™d be willing to give to a more traditional crowdfunding campaign to raise a lump sum to allow me to write full time for a few months (I need at least Â£1000 a month for this). You can also help by buying The Dragon Wars Saga books, recommending Whisper to your friends,Â reviewing or simply by voting. Thanks again.
Amanpreet and her crew were prepping the Whisper for departure the next morning when Midori appeared again. She looked very worried.
“We found the source of the meteors,” she said without preamble. “We’re warning all traffic into and out of the system because we’ve destroyed this one but we don’t know if there are more.”
“More of what?” Amanpreet asked.
Midori took a breath and bit her lip. “The meteor shower came from… well, it’s a rail system.”
“A rail system?” Vanna exclaimed. “You mean a rail gun? You’re telling us that someone used a rail gun to fire a bunch of large rocks on to a collision course with Talis?” She shook her head in disbelief. “Iron-nickel meteors I assume? How was it powered?”
“That’s right,” Midori said. “It was hidden in the second asteroid belt. And I don’t know how it was powered. It’s hardtech rather than biotech and not stylistically typical of any known species. We didn’t stop to take schematics because it clearly had some sort of AI on board that woke up and started to power up for a second wave as soon as we deflected the meteor shower so it wouldn’t hit Talis.â€
“Understandable,” Vanna said. “Have you brought in the parts? We might be able to learn something from them.” She paused thoughtfully. “You know if we are going to be involved in a war we could do worse than setting up railgun networks as part of the planetary defences.”
â€œThat’s not a bad idea,â€ Midori said. â€œBut I’m more concerned there might be more. We sent images of the gun to the Talis computer and it says it’s definitely some sort of automated system belonging to the race that wiped them out. It’s currently scanning to see if it also sent a message to its creators.â€
â€œThat’s a long term problem,â€ Amanpreet noted. â€œI assume you’re still on alert in case there are more.â€
â€œYes, and we’ve got multiple probes searching both asteroid belts and the Kuiper belt for any sign but you’ll need to take care leaving the system and I think you should do a survey of Corona’s asteroid belt when you get there. Check if they are booby trapped as well because, if they are, I imagine that them getting off planet might trigger it.â€
â€œThat’s a good idea,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œI’ll pass it on to the scientists.â€ She looked down at her console. â€œAll systems green, let’s get our guests aboard and go.â€ She turned back to Midori and shook her hand. â€œThanks for your help, Midori.â€
â€œYou are welcome,â€ Midori said. â€œLook after Sangat.â€
â€œMidori asked me to look after you,â€ Amanpreet said archly when her brother came aboard a few minutes later. â€œYou specifically and she knew your food preferences. Is there something I should know?â€
â€œNot yet,â€ he said lightly. â€œWe’re good friends. We’ve gone out together a couple of times. I like her, I think she likes me. We don’t know if it’s more than that yet so there wasn’t anything to tell.â€
â€œI see,â€ Amanpreet said before sobering. â€œShe told us something else as well, but we’ll wait for the others before discussing that.â€
â€œThat sounds bad,â€ Sangat said. â€œSomething to do with the meteors?â€
â€œYes,â€ Amanpeet said. â€œAnd it is bad.â€ She looked around as the rest of the human scientists came aboard. On the view screen she could see the expedition’s Mez and Ishtari scientists boarding Promise. â€œAh, here they are. Niobe can you raise our escort and Promise and patch everyone in once they are settled.
It was nearly half an hour before everyone was on screen. Promise was patched in no less than three times â€“ once for itself, once for the Ishtari and once for the Mez scientists.
â€œOkay, good,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œVanna you know more about the technical side of this, so would you explain what Midori told us?â€
â€œOf course, Am,â€ Vanna said. She took a breath and then explained what Midori had told them about the meteors being fired from a rail gun and that the aliens who had wiped out Talis and Corona were behind it. She finished with Midori’s suggestion that they probe the Corona system for similar traps.
â€œThat seems like wise advice,â€ Oni agreed. â€œAnd within our capabilities. It’ll be a good job for some of our escortâ€ He scowled to himself. â€œBut really these people are creepy. Leaving something like that just in case a species you wiped out comes back from the dead… what do they think they are? Some kind of space ghost busters?â€
â€œI don’t know,â€ one of the other scientists said. â€œGiven what the Talis and Coronan aliens seem to have pulled it off, they weren’t wrong were they?â€ She paused then added. â€œFrom their perspective I mean. I don’t think they were justified.â€
â€œWe got that Alice,â€ Oni said. â€œNo one is going to think you approve of them.â€
â€œIt seems this species is a major threat,â€ one of the Mez said. â€œWe need to find out where they are at the moment so we can plan defences to stop them invading and killing us.â€
â€œI’m sure the Council is already looking into it,â€ one of the Tkin scientists said. â€œWe should focus on our mission for now. There’s not much we can do about it.â€
â€œAn excellent point,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œKayla can you take the first navigation shift once we’re far enough out to shift to hyperspace, please?â€
â€œOf course,â€ Kayla said.
â€œThanks,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œNow is there anything else we need to discuss before we jump?â€
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