The ship’s warning siren blared out. Sara hauled herself from her chair and scrambled towards the mess hall. Misfunctioning sirens, again. Only it wasn’t.
Armed and armoured guards stood at the entrance to the hall. Joss and Chu, it looked like, but she was waved through before she could say hello. As she looked around, everyone seemed to be in a similar state of disarray to herself. Some had clearly got out of bed, or the aquarec tank.
Ginko sat in the middle of the room, propped up on a large crate like it was a throne. She looked to be in charge of proceedings. The air crackled with tension. Despite the ominous feeling that this was some kind of mutiny, Shar was there, at the side, with the usual piles of manifests. It was as if Captain Kya-dono had received word that the usual all hands meeting was too dull, and had drafted Ginko in to give it some pep. On the other hand, there was that ominous sense of mutiny.
“Sara?” Ginko’s was curt. “I think that’s the last.” Kya-dono was, also ominously, not present.
Ginko turned slowly to survey the gathered colonists and started what felt like a pre-prepared speech.
“One hundred years yesterday, this ship left a small blue-green planet, known as earth. We all have the digitoids of families that still exist back there, ancestors we will never be reunited with.
“Our mission is a bold and brave one. We have been sent to rescue a dying species. The thrumbo lives for hundreds of years, and they are getting weaker with each successive generation. Who would have thought that a rare herb found only on Earth” - her tone was odd as she spat out the name of their Mother-world a second time - “would be the one thing that could stop the rot and start the next generation of thrumbo back on the road to genetic recovery. And on hearing this from the Oomazhi, our ancestors rushed to volunteer to help, out of the follow-love we have for all galactic life.... and the chance to get our hands on advanced mech tech by getting into the Oomazhi’s good books, of course.
“Our great-grandparents set off one hundred years ago yesterday, in these stifling conditions that so effectively reduce our live span. They trained our grandparents and our parents as they started to die off. We were born on this ship, into this life, to carry on the torch so that our children’s children can be the ones to deliver the cryo-preserved root to Taoro, into the mouths of the next wave of baby Thrumbos.
“So here we are on our historic quest. Only” she paused a long time for dramatic effect and drew the next few words out “no-one asked me if I wanted to save a takking Thrumbo.”
And then all hell broke loose.
Principles of good security
By Ghaazadin Bvat, Chief Security Officer ATIC7142V
The magi came from the west. Don't they always? The rumours were that the magi were descended from the Old Ones, but few people got close enough to find out, and those that did were too scared to ask.
The magi, were literally magic. The clue is in the name. It's a funny business though, magic, and often it seemed as if the magi's magic was a rather complex form of taking credit for things that were going to happen anyway. No-one mentioned this in their presence. I imagine that the rumours met their ears eventually, or their magic allowed them to feel it out from among the other data created in reality.
Magi socialised with the Shah, and other important dynasties. Whoever the current Shah was, they were always very polite about the magi in public. Us non-magic people didn't get to sense what they said in private.
The room is quiet. At first it looks like there is no-one inside, because Alana isn't moving. She sits totally still, in the dark. She is thinking.
At her right hand is a small notification board. It blinks quietly. The message is from her parents, who live hundreds of light years away. It is not a notice of a death, or a birth, or another family event. It is a detailed description of a new idea.
Alana doesn't talk with her family much. They are pleasant people, and interesting - if you get them on to the right topics. They just never feature in her life. They are too far away, and too self-contained.