Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Xenophobia - Chapter 31
"H-How?" asked A'alan't 32 who appeared just as shocked as Illiquina.
Ferris and Darrian exchanged confused glances. They were certainly surprised that the Gorderians had somehow reached Mars before the Tulgucks, but still...
Jin'thun gave the group a hard look before he responded.
"Do you know anything about folding space?" he asked them gruffly.
"No?" Ferris offered unhelpfully.
"I know that it's great for traveling long distances, incredibly dangerous, and wildly inaccurate." A'alan't 32 added.
"All true." Jin'thun confirmed. "It's even worse when you're firing off into a solar system. But we made it through with minimal losses."
Darrian felt his throat tightening.
"How many-" he began.
"Four ships were lost in the fold." Jin'thun responded flatly.
Darrian responded with a soft nod. He felt a shiver run down his back as he thought about it.
Four ships. Four ships full of people lost well before fighting even begun. And if the Tulgucks could be talked down? Four ships possibly lost for no reason.
"I'm sorry." A'alan't 32 offered, taking the words from Darrian.
"As am I." Jin'thun growled softly.
Straightening himself up, Darrian steeled himself. They would need to think ahead for now.
"What do you need from us?" he asked.
"Not much you can do." Jin'thun said bluntly. "If I have someone nearby, we'll keep you up to date. But short of that, the Merrenians aren't worth much."
~ZZZT~ "I take offense to that, Fur-face."
As if on cue, the holographic image split into two. On the left, Jin'thun. On the right, Harris.
"Harris!" Ferris exclaimed.
"Oy." he responded with a nod before turning his attention towards Jin'thun.
"Harris." Jin'thun growled. "How did you-"
"My literal purpose is to watch and listen. You think I didn't patch into your comms the moment you ripped a hole in space, you're sorely mistaken."
"This channel is supposed to be secure..." Jin'thun responded with venom, his attention focused away from the imager.
"Don't blame your comms-officer." Harris interjected. "I'm just better than him."
The two images sat in strained silence. Darrian had seen Jin'thun's explosive temper more than once and expected another outburst promptly.
But it never came.
"Fine." Jin'thun snarled. "What do you want, Harris?"
"Better question: What do you want?" Harris responded snidely.
"Okay. What do I want?"
"I bet you want access to the Tulguck armada's intranet."
For once, Jin'thun seemed less angry and more flabbergasted.
"I'm talking to you on a spliced channel." Harris shot back with a smirk. "What do you think?"
Jin'thun considered for a moment.
"A'alan't 32." he said. "If you could arrange someone to stay nearby for the next cycle, I would greatly appreciate it."
"Of course." she responded before glancing to the others. "We'll take shifts?"
There was a series of nods in agreement.
"Fantastic." Jin'thun said gruffly. "It seems you and I have much to discuss, Harris."
Harris didn't say anything, but simply wore that same smirk. A moment later, the imager blanked out, leaving them once again in the dark room.
They sat in silence for a few moments before A'alan't 32 spoke up.
"So who's willing to start?" she asked.
"I will." Darrian offered.
"I'll do next shift." Ferris added.
They both agreed with little nods before settling back into their spots.
"Next cycle is going to be long." Darrian observed with a heavy sigh.
There was a mutter of agreement before everyone but Darrian started to make their way towards the door.
"I'll be back by early cycle." Ferris said as he left.
Darrian waved them off with a little smile before looking around the empty conference room. It had never occurred to him how cavernous it seemed without the other councilors or the old jud-
His attention snapped back to the closed door.
In the excitement, the group had totally forgotten to go over what Illiquina had found.
"I hope it's not important." he muttered to himself.
Start at the Beginning