As the doors to the main science lab opened, Kordieh hesitated.
“You are fine,” Morgan said under her breath, encouraging.
It wasn’t for long, but long enough that both Darquin and Morgan noticed. Darquin patted him on the back before leading the way in. “Kim?”
Kim kept a glassed in office that felt like part of the room unless she chose to pull the doors shut, and the blinds. She looked up from her frowning inspection of the screen. “If you’re descending in the hopes of spectacular news, you’re out of luck.”
“Kinda the opposite,” Darquin said. “We might have something you can use.”
“Really?” She sat up straighter, waving them to grab any of the chairs on hand. Two were close by her desk, more pushed against the wall, supporting a box of crystals, or some oddity.
Kordieh sat down, taking a deep breath, and said, “Chief Darquin was telling me about some of the odd sensor data that has come in.” Morgan pulled a chair close to him, quiet.
Kim nodded. “Yes. I’ve never seen such a concentrated infrared reading before.”
“I’ve never seen it myself,” Kordieh said, “but it fits something I’ve heard of.”
“Yes?” Kim prompted.
“Back in school, we tried to project what various sorts of astrophysical constructs would look like. Simulations, things like that.” He smiled. “We built some pretty incredible things.”
Kim glanced at Morgan and Darquin, wondering if they knew what Kordieh was working his way up to.
“Constructs? Like a space station?” Darquin said.
“Right, exactly.” Kordieh nodded, glanced quickly at Morgan, then focused back on Kim. “Anyway, we did get that kind of concentration once — when we tried to simulate a Dyson sphere.”
Darquin blinked. “Hell of a construct,” he muttered, taken aback.
Morgan nodded. She didn’t have the theory in her head, but it had been common enough in her teen reading.
“That’s a lot more than a space station.” Kim pulled the latest data up on her monitor. “But I suppose it is large enough.”
“I never dreamed I’d ever get close to seeing such a thing for real,” Kordieh said.
“We’ll have to find out for sure,” Darquin said. “We could re-deploy one of the long-range probes, right?”
“We can try, but I don’t expect it to be easy.” Kim reached over and switched to a new window, showing several images of varying quality, ships matching what they’d encountered. “This is all I’ve found of them, in the whole archives. They’ve been misidentified as Vorlon.”
“That is the code for ‘we don’t know’?” Morgan sounded wryly amused.
“Exactly,” Kim said. “No communication logs, no contact, no overheard chatter… attempts to communicate were ignored. Though there’s been no record of the aggressiveness that we’ve seen.”
“Just that one big example,” Darquin added with a sigh. “So either we send in a probe, send a fighter to do recon, or we jump in close enough to scan that area.”
“A probe is safest… at least initially. But if noticed, it will announce our interest.”
“And if the hostile’s out there, they’ll sweep the area.”
“If it’s a Dyson sphere as Kordieh thinks, it isn’t something that can be moved. Only protected. And we’ve experienced their zeal.”
“We should perhaps think of an alternative,” Morgan said. “Either send something or somethings armed, or not be where they think the probe comes from.”
Darquin nodded half to himself. “A probe with an active signal in one place… while a second probe does the real work in a different location.”
“Could we dress the second one up with all little more stealth capability?” Kim said. “Maybe adjust the signature to better match their own tech? It is very similar to Vorlon — there’s good reason for the misclassification.”
“Maybe we can use a blacklight module,” Darquin said, “one of the spares normally used on the fighters.”
“Using the blacklight would probably be safer than trying to look too Vorlon,” Kordieh said, speaking very quietly.
“Mm… maybe so,” Kim said.
Darquin smirked. “We seem to look plenty Vorlon as it is.”
“Do we have anyone who can trick the probe out with the module? I know engineering’s overloaded. I just sent up what I have of my staff that has any training in repairs, to assist.”
Morgan looked at Kordieh. He looked back at her, then over to Darquin. “It’s been … a little while, but …”
“I can help a little,” Darquin offered. “Between our pilots and the flight deck crew, we can get enough people on it.”
“What do you think?” Kim asked Morgan. With the captain down in Medlab, she had command.
She only hesitated a moment. “I’ll authorize it.”
Darquin nodded and gave Kordieh another pat, quick and cheerful. “We’re on it. Let’s move.”
Kordieh took a deep breath and got to his feet. “After you.”
“I’m still waiting on one last run through the archives,” Kim said. “If I find anything… I’ll let you know.”
“Hey, it couldn’t hurt.” Darquin turned to Morgan on his way out. “I’ll give you our status in 10 minutes.”
“Will you please let Doctor Lanconi know I’ve been … temporarily reassigned?” Kordieh added.
“Done,” she answered Kordieh first. To Darquin, she cracked a smile. “I am counting.”
Copyright (c) 2005 Jamie Lawson, Joe Medina, Leslie McBride, and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.