In the Shadow of a Star

Why had Vega been renamed “Kurasawa?” Why was the Paul Steed operating alone? Why was it operating in this star system when the chances of life developing in the glow of an A0V-type star was extremely remote, and ergo, unlikely to be the home system of the species that had been harrying everyone from privateers to merchant navy in the last year?

“This sucks, you know that right?”

“We’re in space. Stuff blows. It doesn’t suck. That’s how vacuum works.”



“Shut up.”

Terri “Heartstrings” Dervishi knew that her wingman could hear her rambling. She also knew that the bridge crew of the Paul Steed could hear them too, as could anyone else currently in a bird. For all she knew, the hostiles reported to be in the Vega sector were also listening. Postulating that complaining was how humans communicated or something. A theory that, all things considered-

“That’s right, tell me to shut up. Course you get to keep whining. Go figure…”

…was quite accurate.

Of course, some said that bitching kept you alive. But with some also saying that the UEES was fabricating the recent hostile attacks in order to further clamp down on privateer actions, Heartstrings had decided that some (whoever or whatever “some” encompassed) could take a hike down a black hole.

At least Gemini had shut up. But as Heartstrings silently replied with a shortwave transponder to the Paul Steed that they were indeed still operating, it was bitching she kind of missed.

“You think they really are aliens?”

Heartstrings opened her mouth, then closed it. Gemini was talking. But it wasn’t complaining. Not yet.

“I mean, everyone’s thinking it but no-one’s saying it,” the pilot continued. “The brass keeps referring to them as ‘hostiles’ or ‘contacts,’ but…well, just saying.”

Heartstrings sighed, reflecting that she couldn’t fault such concerns, even if voicing them was another matter. “I don’t know Gemini. Just keep flying.”

“Yeah, keep flying. Right in the proto-planetary disc area.”

“Well, look on the bright side. If they are aliens, they’re unlikely to originate from here.”

It was a fact that she’d previously reflected on, and given the lack of response from her wingman, it was presumably an aspect that he’d reflected on as well. Vega was unlikely to give rise to multi-cellular life, let alone the kind that could build or fly spaceships. But on the other, Vega was a star surrounded by a debris disc, likely one formed from a dwarf planet impact. It made navigation difficult, and would be the perfect place for an ambush. If anything, separating the Paul Steed from the rest of Squadron 42 seemed like nothing but a bait operation. To draw out the aliens/hostiles and hopefully live to tell the tale.

Heartstrings just hoped she could live as well.

Leave a Reply