Song of the Void



Chapter 27 - Old Acquaintances and New Problems


A note from Vihyungrang

Here we go. This chapter is a bit shorter on word count, but just as long on pages. An interesting result of having so much dialogue in one chapter. I'm just happy I managed to get this one out. As I mentioned, the practical just started, so the next chapter will likely come out next Sunday. I hope you'll enjoy!

”For all its importance, surprisingly little is known of phase space. It facilitates travel, though with certain dangers, is the source of new and exotic materials, new ones being discovered regularly, and it is one of the most important strategic factors in warfare. Yet, we do not understand it fully. Part of this is because we have explored only parts of the enigmatic dimension. Some think we have explored a large part, while some think we have only scratched the surface. Be that as it may, one very important question remains to be answered. If there’s a single different phase that is so important to us, what’s to say there aren’t more?”

- High Ambassador of the Mrrroww




The two were quickly moving towards their destination while being guided by Haven. “So, boss, could you let me do the talking?” Lilly pleaded with a slightly desperate voice.


The helmet of Selendil’s suit turned towards Lilly. “You do not understand the implications.” She stated firmly.


“You’re right! I don’t. However, if you tell me this item is dangerous, I believe you. And I promise to take this with the seriousness that you seem to be putting on the matter. I’d like to point out that I don’t think you quite understand my point either.” Lilly argued, knowing she had to talk fast as they were not too far from the old warehouse their target was using as one of his primary haunts.


That thought brought Selendil to a stop. “Alright, I’m listening. Do note though that time might be of the essence, and when I say that, I’m not just talking about something on a personal level. This is something that could have consequences ranging from a few lost ships to a destroyed galaxy or two, depending on the severity of the problem, and the stupidity of the people that brought this about.”


“G-galaxies? This could be galaxy-ending trouble? You're not just trying to scare me are you?" Lilly suddenly got extremely worried.


"That would be an extreme case, but entirely within the realm of possibility," Selendil stated in a voice that left no room for assuming she was joking.


“R-right. Ok. Time is of the essence." Lilly let out a breath she had held and shook her head a bit. She was still flustered and babbling. “This is crazy. Right. To the point. The person we are approaching is a fixer that can both make things happen and find items and materials not openly available. The best thing is that he does this without asking too many questions. It’s always useful to have a fixer on a ship, especially if we dock in places that are…less reputable. The fixer we are looking for is good. Really good. He’s not down here because he can’t make things happen in more high-brow areas, he’s here due to preference. The point is that a big part of a fixer’s job is to abide by a certain level of discretion. And if you burst into his warehouse and start poking around, then you’re going to go against his bottom line. We can throw away any chances of getting the guy to join on the crew and he most likely won’t be very cooperative either.”


Selendil nodded. “This is all well and good, I can respect someone who knows to keep things to himself. If he was a blabbermouth then he wouldn’t be very good at his job. However, this is much bigger than getting him to join. If I have to, I will pull the information I require from his mind.”


Lilly gave a small shudder. “Besides that being highly illegal, it might not be necessary, or even the best solution. Look, I told you he is a fixer, right? He acquires things, but he moves a lot of stuff at times and doesn’t ask too many questions. He usually does some due diligence on what he is acquiring to avoid unnecessary trouble, but he likely isn’t even fully aware of what he has. I mean I haven’t even heard of this ‘void energy’ before. So there’s a good chance the information you’re looking for isn’t in his head. But he might be able to find out. If we don’t give him too many reasons to be uncooperative.”


Selendil was forced to concede that the young Mrrroww had a point there. “Fine, I’ll give your way a chance. But be advised that I will get my answers, one way or the other. I have ways of ensuring his cooperation if necessary.”


“Understood.” Lilly nodded, and started taking them the rest of the way to their destination.


They soon reached a nondescript warehouse, which in this case meant a simple door built into the superstructure of this section of the station. It was likely that this place had not been a warehouse originally or at least wasn't planned as such as the area around the door was not exactly optimized for moving a lot of things quickly and didn’t allow the transport of very large things at all. Very unsurprisingly the building was guarded by a pair of what looked like large bi-pedal lizards in heavy armor. Selendil recognized them as one of the more hostile races on the station, the Dragh. One of the Dragh elbowed the other one who was looking in the other direction. He made a hissing noise that Selendil understood to be a warning.


“Well, well. If it isn’t Ensign Lilly. What brings the coppers to us? I thought you stopped visiting this section once you got your promotion. And who’s this with you? You aren’t likely to bring us clients and she doesn’t seem like a guard.” The other Dragh, the older of the pair judging by appearances, hissed in a barely understandable but surprisingly calming voice.


“We need to talk to your boss Do’go’nash. We know he’s here. It’s urgent and we need to speak to him privately.” Lilly replied curtly, not wasting time with banter.


“Such a spoilsport. Newbie! Watch the door!” The older Dragh ordered the younger one. “I’ll go fetch the boss.”


It only took a few minutes before the older Dragh returned, which was fortunate because Selendil was starting to get impatient, and her impatience was not helped by the younger Dragh sizing her up. She wasn’t entirely sure if the lizard wanted to fight her, or try copulating with her, but her patience was wearing thin either way. What surprised her was that the man that came out with the older Dragh was human, at least partly. Most of his body was made of various mechanical enhancements, which rather firmly identified him as a Cybran.


“Lilly, you old pervert!” The man greeted in a joyful voice as soon as he spotted the feline on her familiar floating pillow. “What brings you here? Old Nash mentioned you were looking for me.”


“Pervert?” Selendil looked towards Lilly with a certain amount of interest. This was not the first time she got hints that the Mrrroww girl might have certain tendencies. At first, she had thought it was a tacked on addition to the trumped-up charges that the Mrrroww had used to dismiss the young Ensign from her position to allow her to be planted as a spy. But she had been getting hints there might be more to the story. He also noted once again that the Mrrroww was not fond of her name, judging by her fur puffing up every time the name was mentioned.


Lilly blithely ignored both Selendil’s question and the man’s words. “Huang, we need to talk. Privately.”


"I can arrange that," Selendil interjected and a field of psionic energy suddenly surrounded the trio, shutting all sounds from passing through the field. It also made both sides of the field slightly indistinct, making it impossible to read lips. Not that doing something like that was simple in the first place considering the shape of Lilly’s jaw and the fact that Selendil didn’t even have lips. Not that anyone was aware of course, as she was wearing a helmet.


"That's handy, though I would like to ask you not to do something like that without asking first. It makes people jumpy." The man said warily, realizing that the woman in the suit might be a threat. Incidentally, the two Dragh on the outside were banging on the field of power without much in the way of results.


"Forget that Huang, we're in a hurry and this suits our purposes," Lilly stated, trying to move things along without focusing on Selendil's slight social gaffe.


“I’m listening.” The Cybran man stated, his smile returning, though it didn’t reach his eyes in the same way as before.


"Huang, I know you don't like to speak about your other business, especially with authorities, but this time you've got something in your possession that you really should not have. Usually, you know not to get mixed in the wrong things, but this is different. Dangerous different.” Lilly’s tone was very serious and a little agitated.


The man frowned with contemplation. He knew Lilly would not be here without a good reason, though that didn’t make her completely trustworthy. He didn’t remember being in possession of anything too spicy though. “You’re going to have to be a bit more specific than that.”


Lilly looked towards Selendil who in turn spoke quietly. “Haven, if you would.”


The voice of the station’s AI was heard within the field of energy without any problems. “Inside the warehouse, straight from the door for five meters and then you have a pile of crates on the left. New arrivals. There are three crates in this pile, and the one we need is the bottom one.”


The Cybran man grimaced. “I’m not sure I’m happy that the station is so aware of what’s inside my warehouse. The crates you talk about are indeed new though, which makes your story quite a bit more believable. I’m fairly sure I know the crate you’re talking about. It’s just a bunch of old relics. I’ve run a scan on them and didn’t notice anything odd. I’m certain they are inert and thus should not be a danger.” His demeanor relaxed as he assumed the two women were mistaken even if they were on to something. They were simply mistaken about the place.


"That's where you are wrong," Selendil stated coldly. "But to be fair, it would be odd if you did realize the danger. Void energy is not easily detected. It also takes a special kind of idiot to meddle in this field.”


“Void energy?” The Cybran man asked, finally realizing that this might be more serious than he assumed. He looked towards Lilly.


“Don’t look at me, I don’t understand either. Boss, I think you might need to give at least a cursory explanation.” Lilly said while shaking her head.


“Boss?” The Cybran man noticed the word that was decidedly out of place. Since when was there a being like this among the authorities? Had Lilly changed professions?


Selendil made an exasperated sound. “Fine! Have it your way. Have you ever wondered if there are other phases besides the one you use for travel?”


“Yes. We have run tests but so far we’ve found nothing.” Lilly replied carefully, and the Cybran man nodded. If this was going even remotely where he thought this was going, then this was definitely above his pay-grade. There was a problem though.


“Well, I can confirm that there are. We…my people found others. We made a doorway to one of these other phases. What most people don’t realize until it is too late, is that doorways can be used in both directions. And some doors should not be opened. Many lives were lost in glorious combat that day.” She looked towards the Cybran man, and they could all feel the anger radiating off her. “Imagine my anger when I sense the same kind of energy that originates from the other side of that now closed door in your warehouse. It means someone is toying with things they shouldn’t.”


Lilly turned towards the Cybran man. “Huang. We need the item and we need to know where you got it. I know confidentiality is a big part of what you do, but this is bigger than you.”


The man was silent for a while as his mind raced. Suddenly he looked towards Selendil. “That’s your ship outside the station that’s causing the big stir, isn’t it?” Selendil’s ship was in fact outside the station and it had caused quite a bit of trouble. So far no one had been stupid enough to approach but it was only a matter of time until someone did. She would need to make an example when that happened.


"Very astute of you," Selendil replied, not bothering to hide the fact.


He grimaced with conflicted feelings. “I’m not being uncooperative on purpose. I realize this is something I should not get mixed in, but this is a bit more complex than you might think. While the items in the crate are not sensitive, the source is. I've got a friend in the Cybran intelligence service that heard I was looking for items like this for a client. He does me some favors and I return them when I can. I have no idea where he got them."


“You’re going to have to come with us to make some introductions," Lilly stated, knowing that if she didn't force the man to come along, Selendil would.


“You’re asking me to betray a good friend and a client!” The man argued back.


“We’re asking you to make introductions, not to betray them. They may even benefit from this. At least they might be spared further trouble.” Lilly argued, sensing the impatience radiating from Selendil.


“I will find what I’m looking for eventually, make no mistake. The only question is, do I go about it in a way that is beneficial to everyone, or in a way that leaves behind a trail of corpses?” Selendil stated firmly.


“Fine. But this is not over.” He stated in resignation, sensing that the being in front of him had the power to back her words up. His face twisted a bit as he noticed his two guards firing their weapons at the energy field surrounding the trio. He had not heard or sensed anything, and it seemed the barrage of fire didn’t bother Selendil a bit. He gave a hand signal for the two guards to stand down.


The two guards seemed a little skeptical and tried to argue mutely but were silenced by the Cybran man. The field soon dropped as there was no more use for it. Huang led them to the door and sent a signal to it from a wrist computer, which caused the door to open just enough to allow the three to go through. He then led them to the crate in question, which Selendil fished out with her telekinetic abilities. The crate was closed and sealed with several security measures, so it took a moment to get it open.


As it hissed open, both Lilly and Selendil were greeted by a handful of old artifacts of indeterminate purpose. Lilly had no idea what they were but something about them tickled Selendil’s memory. That meant that at least one of the minds that she had stored knew what they were. She closed her eyes and once again entered the enormous library in her mind. She focused on the image of the artifacts and several books flew towards her from the shelves, indicating that those minds had the information she was seeking.


She went through the information quickly, the whole process taking only seconds, and what she found made her frown in displeasure. These artifacts were minor items from one of the races that served the Dhar all those years ago. That wasn’t the problem. It was quite feasible for such old items to survive as a part of a ruin that was later excavated by the current races. The items themselves were nothing really special, mostly just useless junk. Haven’s original guess that one of the items had been near something that originated from void phase seemed likely, so that wasn’t the problem either. The problem was, the race these relics originated from was not native to this galaxy. In fact, the race in question didn’t even originate from the closest neighboring galaxies either. There was a slight possibility that these items came from another source, but they were rather cultural in nature, so that was not all that likely.


“It seems we might have a bigger problem on our hands than I thought.” She growled.


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