Gordon was in the mess-hall with the ten pilots afterwards.
(Sung to "Barrett's Privateers" by Stan Rogers)
God bless them all
I was told we'd cruise the skies in the dark and cold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
Now we're broken souls in a Vencume pier,
The last of Wainwright's Privateer
Very nice. Now teach them 'Wild Blue Yonder'.
I'm sure the Eagles could teach them better lyrics.
Flying high and low and fast
Twirling madly through the stars
The enemy's not meant to last.
The glory, soon, will all be ours.
(Orenda sings it back. The other pilots sing back in
melody and rounds.)
Stomp along across the sky
Or thunder through some poor ship's deck
Any method can apply
Just knock them off and leave a wreck.
(The pilots sing this verse. Redheads clap)
We've got a ship, we all have names
We showed those nasty beasts what-for!
Burning brighter than the flames
Of any sun, and then some more!
Other redheads had come in for dinner. They clapped and
snapped their fingers
or beat their thighs or the table and the rhythm became more complicated and
the blonde pilots took lyrics and sang them through one scale, then the next.
The melody and harmony fell over itself; one group chanting or singing a verse,
the others playing with more complicated tones.
iDana came in from the corridor. She scanned it all with narrowed eyes and the others stopped their singing and clapping.
You're all having a good time.
(the others laugh)
You stop your fun on my account.
I understand; my dour demeanor
Would bring a frown to any face
And stop any song or dance cold.
I stand alone and look upon you
And see myself reflected back so many times
So now, what should I do?
We are all cast from the same mold
And all of us raised in the same place.
Don't think on me as like you, only meaner.
I'm just like you, by some amount.
(The redheads whoop and cheer. Idana laughs. The girls continue their little celebration and it faces out.)
getting ready for bed when a visitor arrived.
SOUND: knock at the door
I'm on it. (pause) Hi, iMala.
Hey, kiddo, what's up?
Becca, can we talk about
It's like I'm not here at all!
No one wants my attention! Oh,
run along, Evie, and go do whatever it is you do; we don't need you.
I want to talk to Becca about
Can I go deal with this and
talk with you later?
Fine, fine. You're the one
they want...(she leaves)
What's going on, iMala? Are
you having a problem with your sisters again?
They went out into the
hallway. iMala was rubbing her right eye furiously.
OK. What's going on?
They won't stop torturing
it!(starts to cry) It's just helpless and
awful and they keep hurting it. And they're starving it and iDana keeps
sticking it with pins and then soldering the wounds shut and they won't stop!
What is 'it'? You mean that...that Tzikzik you captured! You mean iLyssa and iDana are tormenting that captured Tzikzik?
Not just them. Everyone is.
They all want a go at it.
They just go in there and hit it and kick it and they're all so angry...
Even the new pilots?
They're the worst.
(internal) Even the friendly
ones want to hurt something. I thought they were different.
We're like the prison on Peg-51; we've devolved to barbaric torture on a
helpless prisoner. It's not Human, but still...
I can't stop them. I just want
it to stop, but they won't
listen to me. They chased me out of the room.
Maybe they're angry because
they had to fight them. Maybe they're afraid and you know how bullies are
always afraid, right? They always pick on things that are weaker than them
because they can't fight the things that are bigger. (internal) I'm pretty
afraid right now. I'm terrified. We have to get off this ship and soon. If
they're going to act like that, then maybe the project is a failure. And
they're still just children! This would be so much worse if they were older.
All that hate has been brewing in them and now that they finally have a
release, they aren't going to let up.
I asked them to stop. I begged
them. But iLyssa told me to not interfere with her army.
Two more freighters were
recovered that week and towed to Leonis-83. Now that there would be no more
attacks, it was simply a matter of mopping up what mess was left.
Mirabilis was discussing this with the Shipping Authority. The new translators had been implemented and the conversation was smoother than before, with no false starts or corrections to be made. Becca and Gordon were still on hand, in case there needed to be any clarification.
(radio) We are overjoyed that there will be no additional
have brought in an additional three ships ourselves, so it would appear that
only four more are in need of recovery. We are sending the locations to you.
We are overjoyed that we have been able to so swiftly handle
this situation. We hope that this unfortunate time has reached an end and
that the relations between our peoples can be repaired.
(radio) Indeed! I must thank the efforts of the Vencume fleet
was sent on this mission. Tell me, how many ships did it take?
(chittering, whispering) Tell them five.
The five arms of the Vencume, have reached across the galaxy
and the five fingers of the Human hand have received it. May this symbol mark
our new partnership.
(radio) May this new Khamsa ward off all who attack us. Five
books, five pillars, five cloaks, five symbols. There is a God that has
given you such meaning. We shake hands firmly.
(chittering, whispering) The Khamsa is a pendant shaped
like a human hand with an eye in the palm and is supposed to serve as some
protection to the wearer. (internal) We found the one person on
that station who's religious...or superstitious.
Is shaking hands still the Human custom when they greet or
(radio) May this be our first true handshake. We wish you
prosperity and may our peoples never quarrel again.
gordon as they left the Comm Room.
Why did you say to tell them
It seemed a better number than
one. We don't want them to know
that we're the only ones taking care of this, do we? It also makes it look like
the Vencume are actually involved in this.
I guess that makes sense.
I think what is remarkable
are the only
this. What I mean to say is, why aren't there other Vencume
ships involved? Do you think our cover story about this being a rouge ship
wasn't too far off the mark?
(internal) He's right. This one
and the other are the only two ships that have been
present for any of this. Many of the same Vencume are involved. Sure,
we're on the outskirts, but Humans have been dealing with Vencume for a long
Didn't the Vencume give us the
borrowed time field?
We gave them wheat and rice.
It's the colony/colonizer
relationship. We give them raw materials and they give us technology.
We've been set up.
No, that can't be the case. Why
do something like that?
They've always been interested
in our affairs. And they helped us spread out all over the galaxy. Wasn't
Peg-51 a Vencume outpost? They just gave it
about with technology we've never seen before that's going
to push our spread even further. We're making it from one system to another in
a matter of weeks, not months. They're putzing around with our DNA and
making...people that can live in any environment. They
know how to suck information out of our heads and how to implant it. You can't
say they just want to...to serve man, now can you?
There's more than one Penemue.
That means that any
information that is given to us is from one individual. It's not a direct
connection to the Library. Our connections have been directed.
So we only have limited access
really going on.
And, Buer tried a direct
connection with me once. She said that
they had to pass on as much information as quickly as possible, like there was
some kind of time limit. They all keep talking about the 'schedule'. I'm
starting to doubt that this ship was ever headed to the Vencume home-world,
where ever that is.
Buer and Penemue are the names
Thanks for joining us, Eves.
Buer taught man medicine.
Penemue taught mankind the art of
writing with ink and paper... and thereby
many sinned from eternity to eternity
and until this day. For man was not created for such a purpose.
But it was iMala who gave them
taught the children of men the bitter and the sweet and the
secrets of wisdom. She found something in there and named it.
How long have the Vencume known
about Humans? Since before
That's stupid. You can't say
they've been directing Humankind
this entire time. You heard the girls. They said the Vencume didn't know about
internal skeletons until recently.
Maybe not that long...But this
is the kind of
divine intervention that people used to talk about in legends. We're making a
myth right now.
So, are these angels or demons?
Neither, because we're smarter
than that. We're just fitting
them into our own vocabulary. We grew up afraid of the dark and now we spend
months in it, aiming...for what?
We're looking for the back-door
to Eden. We do it because we
(pause) Either/or, here we
are. What are we going to do about it?
Renatus told me about an escape
pod before we did that raid on ΑΩE -CXV-236. He also said that the Shipping
Authority is following us and—
The other Vencume ship. We're on
158, if that gives you any
idea how many of these there are.
The Shipping Authority has been
following us. If they
already know it's only one ship, then why are they playing along?
They can't be following us.
We're moving at an advanced rate.
They might be transmitting information between themselves, but we would have
picked it up.
Who is 'we'?
The ship, of course.
Right... The Library might be
something up and not letting the girls know.
Which means...that the Library
might also be transmitting
something and no one would ever know.
Scene 6: Hallway
Becca was on her way to
the kitchen when she heard the three designers around a corner. She
stopped and leaned against the wall, listening.
Two of them are frigates. That means that
they're going to have weaponry, so we might have to use a collapser on them.
I dislike using it. We're not getting real information when
we do that.
That Library broke its own ship apart. Now we
have two of them. They've been discussing things a long time.
The ship still works. They're not going to kill everyone off.
We still have two million Vencume
on this ship that could turn on us at any minute. It's obvious that we're only
here by their good graces. It's not like we can reprogram the door.
Actually,... we can. We all
have the same basic DNA.
If we recode the doors to the sequence that makes our
shape, then nothing with more than two arms would be able to open a door. Or it
requests some of our hemoglobin...So, if it asks
for an iron sample from us, no Vencume would be able to get through.
The Library cannot live without the rest of the ship. It
the heat we provide and food.
It has to be kept fed and if we can control their access to that, we can control them.
We can make adjustments to the
doors and the lifts. I don't see that being a major issue.
It might affect our new screen. They can still cut that off.
It all feeds through them. We'd be flying blind.
I don't think they want to hurt us.
I don't think you know what you're talking about. If they
want to blind us, we can always starve them.
Why don't we just talk to them?
Why don't you just shut up? We'll handle this. iDana,
get working on the lifts first, then the doors. Start at the bays. I
don't want them running away.
Becca took the threat of
reprogrammed doors very seriously and hurried off to the factory. She
knew that if doors were designed to look for Evie's DNA, she would be unable to
get from point to point as she needed. She wasn't about to try to graft on a
new hand, but there might be another way around it. Pulling up the information
from the Library allowed her to set a tank to her specifications.
This is the
most clandestine thing I've ever done.
It was also
her way of warning the Library of what might be on the horizon. She
couldn't communicate with them directly, but they would be able to extrapolate
the purpose of what she was making.
Once they were done, Becca slipped the four gray things in her pocket.
me, one for Gordon, and two extra for...for who? iSkandar? Buer? Maybe just as
When Becca got back to
their quarters, Gordon and the twins were sitting at the
table, playing the board-game. Evie stuck her head out from her little
lab. It looked like she had finally given up on keeping her weight
control and now wore a voluminous gray smock.
Does everyone know how to play this stupid game but me?
It's not a stupid game at all. It's a lot like chess, but
if you capture a piece it starts to fight for you. But this has the extra twist
that if a piece is recaptured, it's pulled from the board, like you killed a
spy. And you don't keep the captured pieces in-hand and then drop them later
like in shogi; they turn instantly and they can capture any piece on the board.
Well, I'm glad you're
Yeah, you're going to beat me again. This isn't
You think. We return.
Too much water...
Becca waited until the twins had left the room before leaning over to Gordon. She palmed him a fleshy gray slug. Gordon took the four-centimeter thing from Becca.
I need to give you this. Try to keep quiet about it.
this? It's soft.
key. Hold that up to the
door-panels when you want to get in and out. Let me know if it wears out and
I'll see if I can grow you a new one.
because my hands are
still my own, right?
because you aren't Evie or an Evie clone. Please, hold
on to that and try to not be obvious about it. I don't know if we'll need it,
but it might come in handy.
slipped the object reverently into his pocket, like a dead mouse.
Evie came out of her lab in the spare room and handed Becca a cumbersome object with a large buckle.
Becca, here. Put that on and tell me what you think.
It's not much for fashion. What's this supposed to do?
Stand back, and witness some magic.
a button on Becca's belt.
Becca saw the room shimmer around her. Sounds were muffled.
And Evie took a swing at her
There was a sound, like someone had dropped a paper cup and Evie's fist was redirected to one side. Becca felt her head pressed slightly to the right.
Evie gestured to the belt. Turn it off, she mouthed.
Becca obliged and pressed the button.
That's a minor force-field. You won't be able to use it for
long periods of time because you'll run out of air.
You've been busy.
She's been in there all day.
This will toss off the rail-bolts and deflect a
bit from the laser. It will look like a miss.
You're as afraid of them as I am. How many of these did you
I made five. You, me, Gordon, and the
twins. Try to hide it a little. We don't want to be obvious.
not the only one who's worried.
Shh, the twins are coming back. I want to surprise them.
(chittering) Humans are discussing chichitiizi.
(chittering) You are expecting conflict and preparing for it.
The three adults followed the twins into their room. There
was a large map on one
Uma traced a line across the map. She tapped one location.
(chittering) There are many ways to exit
the ship. This path will be the most direct route to where the lifeboats are
held. In a panic situation, we must be able to get there before any others.
This is the ship we used to contact the Library.
It is not in the usual location.
Are those similar to our lifeboats?
(chittering) You will not leave us a second time. There is a
(embarrassed) I wasn't considering it.
(chittering) We learn from our mistakes.
The Libraries were still in
discussion, so Evie, Gordon, Becca, and the twins
went to check the new garden. The three designers seemed more interested in the
Libraries and how they connected to the rest of the ship.
iDana must be trying
to figure out a way to control them. It must bother those three to no end that
they aren't actually the ones in charge.
Buer, iSkandar, and Penemue had
joined them. The librarian was there mostly to
see how this new garden was going to keep the second Library fed. Buer was
there to see how a new section of ship was going to affect day-to-day
operations. iSkandar had come along because iSkandar made himself part of every
important event on the ship. There was a part of Becca that distrusted the
creature, but was resigned on how useful he was. She wondered if he felt the
same way about her.
The twins were ecstatic about the new garden. They danced and chittered between themselves.
Becca understood their excitement the moment the door opened. She did not understand Vencume plants, but she knew that they had not been as tall, nor as thick as the ones she saw here. The seaweed smell was not as choking, either. They seemed more vital than the rare sample she'd seen.
So this must be
creating a better yield. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a Vencume eat...
This is vast improvement! We
communicate with the Library when they are out of congress and send the
information to the others. If nothing else, this river must flow.
Capability is greatly increased.
Protein production is ten-fold.
Other Scientist did not inform
us of such advancement.
(chittering) I hope that this
will make things better back home. If you
get nothing more, at least there are plants that can feed your people.
There was a shadow that moved
through the garden. Becca saw it blink dark red
against the glittering blue.
This is a well fed Library. We
shall shift the diet over for
ours. This is a vast improvement.
The hairs on the back of Becca's
neck stood up. A tingling sensation crawled
across her shoulders, like impending nausea.
Other Blue Tzikzik have done
this. I am sorry to have left
the ship when I did.
Clever Blue must not apologize
for prudent behavior.
This is perfect work.
Indeed, Clever Blue must swim again and expose more garden information.
(chittering) I like how this can
grow anywhere. If the lessons from the garden
can be used, then Vencume will be able to spread to any planet.
There was a rustling to their
left. Becca fumbled with the controls on her
The Tzikzik spun out before them. It looked like a double-ended Vencume; there were five arms on one side, five on the other, and a spoke of five legs between.
For the first time since Becca had known them, the twins looked disgusted.
Ulan and Uma pushed the others back.
Everything happened at once.
Uma leapt to one side. Evie
grabbed Ulan's arm. Gordon grabbed Evie and pulled
her away, but because Evie had Ulan's arm she was pulled away as well. Uma
stopped to see where her sister was. The Tzikzik slashed out with two black
hands, striking Uma in the chest and Ulan across the arm. Uma fell stiffly and
iSkandar caught her and threw her at Becca in one swift movement.
iSkandar, Buer and Penemue fell on the Tzikzik, each turning deep red, grabbing arms and punching? No, stabbing the monster repeatedly with one hand that had formed a sharp spike. It was fifteen hands versus ten, and three of those hands were black and poisonous. They were pulping the monstrosity before them and water gushed out. A thick blue liquid rushed onto the floor, mixed with water, and it stained the shoes of those who stood and watched.
Ulan struggled in Evie's arms, broke free, and rushed to her sister.
Evie struggled in Gordon's arms.
Becca found herself praying
while holding Uma's stiffening body.
(internal) Our eyes shed
tears and our hearts grieve, but we must not say anything that is not pleasing
to our creator. Please, welcome this soul with open arms. Take these words for
the sake of the departed and not the soul that utters them.
Uma's face had turned blue. Her
eyes still locked with Ulan's. The twins held
each other tightly.
(internal) Prove to us that you
are most merciful. You must be
merciful if you are
all-powerful. You must be good if
you are everywhere.
iSkandar, Buer, and Penemue had
finished with the Tzikzik and left the bloodied
meat in a heap.
(internal) You allowed this to
be made. You must forgive it. You must not punish this. If you love us,
you'll love even this. This is a life. You
have to honor that! You have to honor what we made. You wouldn't have let us do
Gordon was still holding Evie
tightly. She thrashed and clutched the air.
(internal) Please, we're so
alone here. We're trying. Can't you see that? We're trying!
Why do you have to do this? Why do you have to test us so much? Is this how you
tell how good we are? Why are you so arbitrary? Why are you so capricious? Why
do you throw blind chance at us so often? We're trying! Why can't you let us be
and let us live our lives?
iSkandar grabbed Ulan's arm and
started a quick succession of massage. A thick
black liquid collected on her sleeve. The girl was pale and unfocused.
(internal) It's like you harvest
us at our peak. You take us away from our loved ones all
the time. Are you trying to teach us something? Fine! We've learned how to love
and you have to show us how to lose. We'll never be good enough for you! You
show us the dawn to prove how dark the night can be.
Penemue shoved Becca aside and
quickly grabbed Uma and Ulan's heads. The hands
(internal) Please, please, don't make me watch a child die. I
can't take this. I can't
watch a child die like this. They're so defenseless. Why did you let me love
something if you were just going to take it away? Don't destroy this.
Uma's fingernails were a dark
blue. She still gripped her sister and her lips
moved. Becca turned her belt off, but there was no sound.
(internal) Please. I'll make a
deal with you. You make deals all the time, don't you?
Aren't you always asking for some noble sacrifice? Do you always have to take
that ration of flesh?
Ulan shuddered and whispered
(internal) Don't you have
enough? Haven't we thrown a billion corpses at you? You have to
let them live. They never would have lived if you hadn't allowed it. You don't
just give us things to take them from us. You can't be that cruel. They only
have each other. Let them live. Please, I'm begging you. Just let them live
long enough to say goodbye.
Uma's eyes glassed over and she
Penemue released the heads of the twins and ran a slow hand over Uma.
Ulan formed tears and held her arm.
Evie broke free from Gordon and she scrambled to the twins, holding Ulan tightly in one arm, and Uma's lifeless form in the other.
It's not fair! No! No! No! It's
not fair! Give her back! Give
her back! Give her back!
(internal) You took my husband
adn now you've taken her daughter. We'll beat you at your
own sick game. Someday, I'll face you and you'll have to answer for
No, no, no! Becca! You're a
doctor! Do something! No!
No! Give her back. No...no. Please, please. Oh god. Give her back. That's not
yours to take. Give her back! Please, please. Give her back!
It's not fair! I had it all
They were supposed to be safe! You can't do that! That's mine! She's mine!
She's mine! Give her back!
Buer gave the Tzikzik body a
slight kick. It did not move. iSkandar ran a hand over Becca.
Ulan looked exhausted and held Evie tightly. The girl had dark circles under her eyes.
You don't do that! She's mine!
Give her back! You
don't do that! (whimpering now) It's not fair...It's not fair. Not like that.
like that. No. No. Please...
The parent should never mourn
the child. Your
Evie was clutching Ulan tightly
with both arms now and making inhuman sounds.
It was a keening mixed with chokes and heaves.
Ulan shut her eyes and held her mother as tightly as she could.
Scene 10: Human Quarters
The Reds did a sweep of the new
garden and found two other Vencume Tzikzik.
Five were found in the second Library, but it was the Library itself that had
exposed and expunged them.
Ulan spent the next few days in bed, recovering from both the chemical and emotional assault on her body. Evie spent most of her time curled up behind the child, stroking her hair.
Both Gordon and Becca circled the room, unsure of what to do. Evie was unapproachable.
Maybe they starved in that time of grief. Hunger seemed so petty.
Gordon fell asleep with his head on the table. He was surrounded by clay models and drawings. He woke with a start some time later and shambled to bed. Becca watched his pained steps.
He's so trapped. We all are.
Why didn't we feel
this when oDele was killed? Were there too many of them for us to make an
investment? Is it because the death was so removed from us? Is Evie directing
how we feel? Can't they grow another one? No. Even
iSkandar had said they were unique. Humans are isolated. They have no ocean.
But there had been that moment,
she remembered. Penemue had connected the twins
at the last minute. The librarian, that multi-bodied creature, let them see
each other off.
That death, no matter how small,
is going to be part of the
Library now. Was that the only reason for the connection? To gather what it
could? Will the grief be transmitted as well? We're so small. They're so
small, really. Why should I be so affected by this? They always scared
me. Is it because I had to watch it?
Evie came out of the room,
stumbling. She pulled the drawing of the two girls
from the door and crumpled it with one hand. She left the quarters and came
back a few moments later and collapsing in a chair opposite Becca.
(after a pause, almost
accusitory) You want to know about my sister, don't you?
(catching up) I...I've always
But you've never asked me. I've...seen you... wonder...but you've never
asked me directly.
I figured you'd tell me when the
time was right.
She was everything I wasn't.
Graceful. Pretty. My parents
thought the world of her. I was never going to give them grandchildren, so they
pinned their hopes on her. People doted on her. Everyone paid attention to
her...I guess I
was jealous. She wouldn't say a word, but had complete command of every
room she was in.
(internal) I'm sure she was
blonde. That Vencume model had to come from somewhere, not just Gordon.
Gwennie was born a couple years
after my accident. I guess she was
a comfort to my parents. At least they had a child they could keep at home; I
was always in the hospital.
But they visited you, didn't
Why would they? They had Gwen.
(pause) When I got out, I started on my
engineering degree and I was away at school most of the time. When I wasn't at
school, I was lost in my studies. I never interacted with my parents much. I
don't think I was ever good at dealing with people on a face-to-face level. Any
friends I had growing up either got better and left...or died. Only the doctors
stayed. Maybe that's why we're friends. I don't mean to cheapen it; I'm just
It doesn't cheapen it.
I might have gained a tolerance
to pain, considering the number of
surgeries I had, but I was never good at at putting any feelings behinds my
interactions with people. Too much scar-tissue? Hard to think about feelings,
Meanwhile, Gwennie was going out
and making real connections with real people
and forming real relationships.
Unfortunately, one of those relationships was
with a good-for-nothing several years her senior. He strung her along and
abused her, I'm sure. He called me a troll and we came to blows. By then,
he had decided to cut Gwennie away from us. He took over her life and we were
excluded from every aspect of it. Gordon reminded me of him a bit...the one
time I met that guy... Arrogant, self-centered, pretty.
That's why you always fought with Gordon.
Maybe. (pause) I wasn't devastated then, when she cut the family off. Somehow, I felt it served everyone right for doting on her for so long and ignoring me.
The way the designers were
always upset by the attention you put on the twins.
This was all idiocy, of course.
(slight laugh) So,
when Gwen came back, after that guy...spent all her money or beat her...or
it was he did, I found myself in the shadows again. (pause) But, that sun shone
little less bright. Gwennie was broken in ways we didn't see, and so no one
could help her because no one knew anything was wrong.
And then one day, she showed us all how broken she was by swallowing a fist-full of pills.
I'm so sorry.
It was...the worst kind of
sibling rivalry; no one
can compete with the image of someone who can never fail again. We speak so
highly of the dead because they aren't there to prove us wrong.
My parents put a new pressure on
me. Gwennie became a constant reminder of how
I had failed them. This was the same time I was testing for the
civil-engineering corps and I couldn't concentrate. So, maybe Gordon was right.
(pause) I failed there, so
I came here.
It's not your fault, Evie.
It's one thing to be
held up to some shining ideal, but it's another when you know how tarnished
that ideal was. Gwennie might have been sociable and pretty, but she was
silly, giggly girl who made stupid mistakes as an adult and failed everyone
when the going got rough. Maybe it was too rough for me as well, so I..I
She failed them in her own way, but I did as well.
It's not failure, Evie. It's a
Human reaction to want to get away from tough situations. No one can blame you.
I'm not the most sympathetic of
characters. I don't react
the way people expect me to. Maybe my response to a death seems too cold. I was
there. I felt it. I just chose to not fall to pieces.
I was there. You were Human
I'll be judged on that. Uma
isn't Gwennie. People will
That was years ago. You've had
time to think about it. You're
distanced from it.
Maybe....(she starts to sob)
Hey, hey, you're going to be
OK. It's OK.
(crying) I could handle
anything. Let them
tear me apart. Let them put me back together. I can take any pain. I can't take
this. You can't fix this. I'm such a coward. Why couldn't I hold both of them
You saved one. It could have
been both. You saved one. You're
Only Human. I failed.
Ulan stumbled from the doorway.
Evie held her arms out. She fell to her knees from the chair and clutched the girl tightly.
Don't cry. We're here. We still
Don't leave me.
We won't. We won't leave you.
Ulan stopped playing idiot since the death of her sister. The
everything with glittering brown eyes and furrowed brow. She was now a regular
at group meals and sat silently, eyes shut, listening.
Doctor-Doctor will be pleased to know that we're going to
handle the last ship
today. It's a cruiser, so you'll get to see some fancy
flying this time.
So there won't be any more battles?
Once the threat is fully neutralized, you'll be able to go
There's been some interesting chatter. I suspect they've
figured out we're only one ship, but that might be that Shipping Authority
officer we connected. People keep talking about how 'the blue dragon will
embrace the white tiger'. Does that sound like a friendly meeting?
(chittering) White tiger is female. Means misfortune and bad
White tiger is also the protector.
We'll be at the location in a couple hours. From what I've
heard, they've dropped out of field and the Shipping Authority is holding them.
No telling what will happen once we get there.
We'll know soon enough.
Becca and Evie were brought to the bridge by aNnora and aNaba
to watch the
final fight. The two redheads escorted them to the first section of ship and
opened the doors, but left immediately afterwards.
The Shipping Authority was waiting with two destroyers: DeYang and FuYang. The cruiser XingFeng was just out of their firing range.
They haven't even started. They're waiting for us.
They're keeping their distance. I figured they'd wait. They
to know how we do this.
(chittering) You have settled this already? Is there nothing
for us to do?
(radio) We can't get close to them. They already
took out two of our fighters. We don't want to just attack it. There may be
survivors and we can't get close enough to be sure.
(whining) We can't use the collapser. Again...
(chittering) We will send our fighters. Let us take out the
array and then you can land safely.
You're hiding who you are. Just say it. Let them know what
they're dealing with.
We're sending our fighters. We'll soften it and then you can
take it safely.
(radio) Who are we
We're launching! Take our help or
Ten golden fighter ships eased out of their bays and zeroed
in on the cruiser.
There was a flurry of weapons fire and the song over the radio pitched, rolled,
and yawed to avoid the bolts. They moved so quickly it looked less like
individual objects and more like a field-effect.
The two destroyers discussed this between themselves, overheard by three gray-haired girls with small blue eyes and long hands.
They're in awe.
A harmonic rose over the radio. Weapons were picked off
one-by-one. The sensors
on the cruiser were obliterated.
you want to land now? It should be safe to approach.
(radio) We have never seen this process. We yield the
field to the more potent warrior.
Launch the buzz-landers.
That's not a good idea. They're testing us. Don't launch
all of them.
They want to see a show. We'll give them a show.
No. If we launch everything at that ship, our forces are just
sitting there. The pilots can get out of the way, but ground-troops are stuck.
We're going to toss our teeth into a blender if we go about this carelessly.
You don't think the Authority is going to try to use
this to settle two fronts, do you?
They might. I would.
They aren't you.
I don't know what to tell them.
Let's not be stupid about this. They fear us; we know that.
we send out everything we have, we might have to take them out as well.
We can still send out a couple collapsers.
(meakly) And we can start a war anew.
This is the last one. We have to end this.
(radio)Were you going to land troops? We await your
We respectfully ask that the Shipping
Authority recover its own ship in this circumstance. We will stand by if you
need assistance. You should be able to safely approach them at this point. We
respect your right to privacy in this regard, in order that we may not
accidentally see any secrets or weakness. (pause) Let them take this risk.
They're going to know there's indecision over here. You
just let them know you're weak.
They don't know there are three of us.
Indecision in one person is the same as between three people.
Send out some buzz-landers. Tell them you're going to send
a portion of your ground-troops. If they think there are more, then they may
We'll send out five.
Who cares what the number
is? We'll send some over and that will be that. We're also re-launching half of
aRlene, can you send a
team of five over to that ship?
(radio) Only five?
Just five. We're doing a joint deployment on this. You'll be
fighting beside Shipping Authority solders.
(in the background) Prepare landing troops and we will join
And, aRlene...leave your channel open. I want to hear