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“It won’t happen again” the convoy leader repeated. “Probably.”

“What caused it?” asked Copeland.

“A malfunction in the remote guidance system.”

“I didn’t ask what it was. I asked what caused it.”

“These malfunctions are quite common in freighters, Captain.”

“I’ll try again. What. Caused. It.”

Pause. “We don’t know.”

“You can’t be certain it wasn’t Her.”

The convoy leader stayed silent.

Come on, Copeland thought, it’s only a double negative. But he didn’t bother to press for an answer.

It was Her.

In a convoy of thirty-one unmanned freighters, number Twenty-Nine had suddenly broken formation and embarked on a peregrination of its own for nearly three minutes, after which it had re-inserted itself in the line-ahead formation of the convoy. It was not uncommon for remotely-piloted freighters to do such things, and since returning it had responded perfectly to signals. There was absolutely no evidence that anything external was involved. And, at Copeland’s repeated insistence, they had checked and rechecked that, most thoroughly.

He knew it was Her.

“You can’t be certain it wasn’t Her! Probably Won’t Happen Again is no good to me!”

The convoy leader’s image, on Copeland’s small chair-side comm screen, showed none of the anxiety this outburst had caused among Copeland’s crew on the Bridge, only a dogged will not to be bullied; he was a civilian.

Copeland knew about civilian pilots, and knew about people who wouldn’t be bullied. He remained silent, and let his silence grow loud and long, never for a moment taking his eyes off the comm screen. Finally, the convoy leader started to fidget under his rancid gaze.

“Captain, I….”

“Until,” Copeland resumed, his voice now soft, “you can tell me exactly what caused the malfunction, I’m assuming it was Her. That means my ship remains on alert, and if any ship in your convoy breaks formation again I may order it destroyed. That includes the manned lead freighter. Your manned lead freighter.”

“Captain, I….”

“Stay on, I haven’t finished with you yet.”

Copeland was large and overweight, an unreasonable and fractious burden for his Captain’s chair, even though it was reinforced. He had the complexion of a piece of uncooked pork, and eyes like the heads of embedded maggots. His gaze switched abruptly from the chair-side comm screen to the main screen at the front of the Bridge, where the convoy of freighters, thirty-one idiot unmanned ships led by one idiot manned ship, stretched for miles, identical nose to identical tail. It continued to lumber on undisturbed, and Copeland continued to lumber in his chair, disturbed. He was not reassured. His instincts were usually pessimistic, and usually accurate.

He refocused his glare on the Bridge officers in front of him, silhouetted against the forward main screen, and barked “Status reports.”

“Scanners: there are no sightings. Maintaining alert.”

Copeland referred to his Bridge officers, and had them refer to themselves, by their function and not their name—an archaic military custom of which he was one of the few remaining practitioners.

“Weapons: everything powered up and on immediate readiness.”

“Engineering: immediate readiness on all drives.”

“Signals: maintaining open channels with Anubis 3 and 4. They detect no other ships.” Pause. “Convoy leader is waiting to report, Captain.”

Copeland swivelled to face the comm screen. His chair creaked as he did so.

“Convoy leader,” he intoned, “I’m pleased to tell you that I’m now able to accept your status report.”

The face on the screen started to frown, then thought better of it. Most ship’s captains took status reports at much longer intervals than this. Copeland took them every thirty or forty minutes; he treated them as recitations, to help him focus.

The convoy leader checked his own instruments. “We’re two hours twelve minutes from arrival at Anubis 4. Guidance systems are functioning. No further incidents. But…”


“But I respectfully request, once again, that you move your ship closer. We want a proper escort.”

“Respectfully denied.”

“Commander, Anubis 4 needs this convoy urgently.”

“Be precise. The convoy is going to the moon of Anubis 4. And it needs this convoy no more or less urgently than it needed any of the previous convoys.”

“Previous convoys were delivered before She started appearing. Do I have to remind you that you volunteered to handle the escort of this convoy yourself?”

“I volunteered because it was politically impossible to order any smaller ship to handle it.” And, he added to himself, no other ship in Anubis would have a chance, not if She appeared here. I won’t send others to certain death when I can send myself to, well, to perhaps not-quite-certain death.

“Captain, unless you give us closer escort I can only assume that you’re using us as bait! You’re inviting an attack.”

“I can hardly defend you without one.”

He slammed the channel shut before the convoy leader could see past the apparently clever rejoinder and realise that he meant Yes, I am. As the small comm screen went dark he scanned the unmoving silhouettes of his Bridge officers for any reaction. He found none. They knew exactly what he meant, but they felt his gaze on their backs and took care to remain like cardboard cutouts.

“Pilot, he said two hours twelve minutes until Anubis 4. Is that accurate?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“It’s too long.”

“It’s as fast as the convoy will go, Captain.”

Copeland’s disgusted snort was violent enough to jerk his body, which in turn brought a creak from the contour chair on which he was beached untidily and asymmetrically. Over the last hours the creak of the chair had assumed the character of a second voice, prefacing and echoing his shifts of mood (and of posture, which was the same thing) like an extra person, a familiar. The Bridge officers tensed when they heard it, then cancelled their tensing, then grew tenser in case he had spotted their tension before they cancelled it. It was a process which came close to perpetual motion.

Some members of his crew asserted that Copeland’s mind was as small as his body was large, others that it was as agile as his body was ponderous. He knew of the existence of both opinions and took care to ignore them equally.

Anubis and Isis were both ex-Sakhran systems: much larger than the almost negligible Bast, but much smaller than Horus, the Sakhrans’ home system.

Bast, where the Pallas had been destroyed, was light-years away. The Commonwealth spanned twenty-nine solar systems; but the MT Drive, discovered almost by accident three centuries ago, compressed the spaces between solar systems to nothing, and removed distances from awareness. So, when the other twenty-eight systems got news of what had happened in Bast, it was like hearing muffled sounds in another room of the same darkened house.

The news had reached the Wulf, Copeland’s ship, just after it passed the mid-point of its journey from Anubis 3, the system’s major planet, to the moon of Anubis 4. Copeland had promptly gone to full alert, dropped back from the convoy, and waited for the equivalent of footsteps in the hall and the turning of a door-handle.

He knew it was Her.

He knew She was in the system. Even before he heard about the events in Bast, he knew She would be coming, not just to this system but for this convoy. That was why he overrode the normal protocols and transferred escort duty from the small Class 072, which would normally have done it, to his own ship. The Wulf was a Class 095 cruiser, by far the highest designation in the small Anubis Fleet which, until now, had been more than sufficient for the security of the system. It was a silver needle nearly fifteen hundred feet long, as small and predatory in the wake of the freighters as a Sakhran stalking a herd of herbivores. It had three-percent sentience.

The Wulf maintained speed and distance from the freighters, enough of each to be ambiguous: it might be guarding them, stalking them, or playing them out as bait. Copeland wanted Her. It might be a match. Fifteen hundred feet was about the same size as She was; without Her extraordinary abilities, of course, but with his unusual instincts.

Copeland had commanded the Wulf for years. Now, for what it was worth, he could claim to be the greatest living authority on its construction and performance. It was his ship; he and it, like a long-married couple, had moulded their lives to each other. If it was physically possible, they would have started to look alike.

His brother, fifteen years his junior, had recently accepted command of a Class 097 in the huge Horus Fleet; he was the first of his family to leave Anubis for a century, but Copeland was not envious. Horus Fleet had problems of its own. An alien ship. Two alien ships, the first an Outsider sent by Earth to engage the second, sent by nobody knew who. But She hadn’t gone to Horus, not yet; She would come here first, or so his instincts told him.

How would She make Herself known? Her firepower and performance were at least equal to an Outsider. And, since nobody knew where She came from or what She was, there were other abilities which were almost unguessable: shrouding, communications, unprecedented tactical shifts. How would She make Herself known, in this system, when She moved against this convoy?

Anubis 4, the system’s outer planet, was a gas giant. Unusually, it had only one moon: airless and featureless, but with huge deposits of bauxite and associated minerals. This convoy, like the three previous ones, was intended to land on the moon where its cargo, and the freighters themselves, would be used to construct a large extraction plant and mining complex. Construction was already well under way; when it was finished it would probably get a proper city name, but until then it was simply called Khan’s, after the geophysicist who had founded it.

The freighters, like those before them, would be cannibalised for the mining complex; they would never leave the moon.

From time to time, communications had been disrupted by bursts of static. Copeland, suspicious enough already, had become even more so when freighter Twenty-Nine experienced its guidance malfunction. That too, they had told him, like the static bursts, was probably caused by electrical discharges from Anubis 4—normal on gas giants, and likely to increase the closer they got. He had not been reassured; nothing ever fully reassured him. After a particularly strong burst of static, they had even proved to him that there was a correlation with some sudden turbulence in Anubis 4’s atmosphere at exactly the same time. He accepted what they said, but then started watching Anubis 4’s cloud cover in case She was manipulating it.

He knew She was there. He knew She would come for them. He didn’t know what She would do, but he suspected it would be almost anything. She was like the bastard child of Moby Dick and Kafka: invincible and strange.

“Further orders, Captain?”

“She’s there somewhere. Worry about Her.”

For the next hour his orders were scrupulously observed. His eyes, from their two open graves in his face, watched the forward screen almost without pause. Occasionally other crew members would enter the Bridge on routine business, but they gave or took their messages in whispers and with glances back at him—an indication of his contagious mood. Even during a formal alert, the Bridge of any warship, except an Outsider, remained accessible for legitimate errands, and was usually bustling. The Bridge of the Wulf, without any explicit orders from Copeland, had become like the Bridge of an Outsider: quiet, withdrawn, a place where communication was sparse and nuanced.

The hour started to stretch out. His instincts had produced the mood which infected the rest of them, and made time pass so uncomfortably, but nevertheless most of them trusted his instincts—a trust justified when, just as the hour passed, he activated the alarms and yelled for battle stations, moments before the screen showed the convoy breaking up.

“Freighters Twenty, Twenty-Four and Twenty-Nine no longer respond to signals,” the convoy leader yelled. “This isn’t like the last time. They aren’t coming back. Their remote guidance systems have been completely burned out.”

“It is like the last time,” Copeland said, “because you don’t know what caused it or where it came from. Do you?”

“No, Captain, but I’ve ordered members of my crew to board them and take them in manually.”

“Cancel those orders.”


“I’m taking personal command of those three. Re-form your convoy without them and get under way.”

Copeland cut the connection and watched on the forward screen as the line of freighters moved slowly ahead; automatic filters on the screen compensated for the brief sequential blaze, one by one, of their crude chemical motors. The three which had broken formation stayed where they were, a tight huddled knot of spheres and girders behind the main line of the convoy, like the dot at the bottom of an exclamation mark.

It was as though someone had made a deliberate gesture, and Copeland knew who: not where, why, or how, but definitely who.

“Signals, I want that answer.”

“I’ve just got it, Captain. Anubis 4 have rechecked their satellites around the moon and the planet. They say there’s nothing out there, anywhere in the outer system. Except us and the convoy.”


“Nothing in the inner system either, Captain. Not even anything of ours. All traffic ceased when we lifted off, as you ordered.”

“And the convoy?”

“Nothing new to report, Captain. Our monitoring shows nothing to suggest that the breakup was caused by any external signal.”

“Alright. Maintain battle stations. Pilot, reset previous course and speed, and go back to our previous distance behind the convoy.”

He settled back lopsidedly into his chair. As it creaked, he added “And Weapons, destroy those three freighters.”

Coming to the end, Copeland thought. Or nearly the end. Always most vulnerable when it seems we might have made it.


“It seems we might have made it, Captain. Scanners still show no other vessels.”

“Alright. Get me Khan’s.”

“Convoy leader to Wulf,” piped the chair-side screen.


“The convoy is ready to go into landing formation, Captain.”

The forward screen showed the manned leader and twenty-eight surviving freighters strung out in a loose, miles-long line ahead. Beyond them, a similar shade of grey, was the naked single moon of Anubis 4 on which Khan’s gleamed like a dropped coin. Beyond that, and dwarfing everything else, was the planet itself, with a roiling opalescent cloud-cover of plum and ochre. Like most gas giants, its atmosphere made it look out of focus.

“Captain, the convoy is ready to go into landing formation.”

Copeland’s chair creaked; it, too, had felt the strain of the last few hours.

“Thanks. I’ll say when.”

“I have Khan’s, Captain. It’s Ms. Khan herself.”

Doctor Khan.”

“Apologies, Captain. Putting her through now.”

“Doctor Khan, this is Copeland.”

“Captain Copeland, you’re very welcome….”

There was a burst of static. Copeland was immediately wary, but said nothing.

“I said you’re very welcome. I hear your journey was not completely uneventful.”

“Yes, we lost three and it may not be over yet….Doctor, excuse any discourtesy, but I’d like to get the rest of the convoy landed and then we can talk. Agreed?”

“Of course. I’ll instruct my staff to make arrangements direct with the convoy leader. We’ll meet later, I hope.”

“Yes, I’ll look forward to it.”

Copeland shut the channel, and looked round at the unmoving silhouettes of his Bridge officers.

“I don’t have to remind you,” he reminded them, “that we’re not finished yet. Something caused those malfunctions. I believe it was Her. We’re still at battle stations. If She moves, it’ll be now.”

There was another wave of static.

“Signals, what is that?”

“Just more electrical discharges from the planet, Captain.”

“As strong as that?”

“….Yes, Captain.”

“Convoy leader to Wulf. Convoy leader to Wulf.”

Copeland realised the chair arm screen had come to life without his having noticed; he had been preoccupied.

“Yes, what is it?”

“I now have landing clearance from Doctor Khan’s staff. I need your permission to group the convoy and start landing procedures.”

“Go ahead. We’ll remain on standby until the last one is down.”

“I have your permission to go ahead?”

“I just told you.”

Another wave of static.

“So I have your permission to go ahead.”

Muttering, Copeland closed the comm link. Reminding himself not to relax for an instant, he relaxed for an instant and watched the forward screen. Slowly and solemnly, as solemnly as only mindless things could manage, the twenty-eight assemblies of spheres and girders were jerking and shuffling into a tight line ahead, the manned lead freighter marshalling and fussing them. A few minutes passed, punctuated by occasional bursts of static and an icily polite argument between the convoy leader and the Landing staff at Khan’s over the length of intervals between the freighters’ individual landings. This was something Copeland expected; it had happened with each of the previous convoys. The freighters were so large that ground around each one needed to be cleared before the next could be allowed down, since once they landed they would never fly again. Copeland, lulled by the detail of the argument, almost hotsoaking in it, started thinking things like Khan sounds OK, I’ve never met her, I’ll enjoy meeting her, so that the slowly gathering emergency did not immediately register.

It did not register when the convoy leader took seven minutes to get the freighters into landing formation, an operation which should have taken less than five. It did not register when the communications interference mounted gradually from being an exception to becoming the rule. It registered only when, for the third time, the freighters’ remote guidance systems malfunctioned.

And this time, it was all of them. The entire formation broke, and freighters cartwheeled solemnly across the screen as if from the centre of an unseen explosion.

“Captain,” Signals said, “we have a ….”

“Convoy leader to Wulf! Convoy leader to Wulf!”

“…a strong override signal. Those freighters are being jammed. It’s coming from…”

“Khan to Copeland. Captain, we have an emergency.”

“Coming from where? The planet?”

“No, Captain, from the moon. Planetside.”

Copeland swore and hit the alarms.

“Convoy leader to Wulf. Convoy leader to Wulf.”

“Somebody, shut him up… Weapons, stand by. Scanners, pinpoint that signal. Pilot and Engineering, ready for immediate move.”

“Khan to Copeland. Captain, we have an emergency.”

“Doctor, it’s Her. You bet it’s an emergency. This is the biggest emergency you’ve ever had.”

“But how? Where?”

“Just over your horizon. How, I don’t know. That comes later. Your people missed Her, and so did we until now.”

“Captain, handle this any way you like, but I need those freighters.”

“Been there all this time… Her shroud is perfect when She’s not moving...No drive emissions,” Copeland muttered, half to himself. “Scanners, I want that signal pinpointed! Weapons, Pilot, Engineering, I want immediate…”

“Captain,” someone on the Bridge shouted, “look at the screen.”

“Convoy leader to Wulf. Convoy leader to Wulf.”

The end of the emergency had registered as slowly as its beginning, but now it was over. The twenty-eight freighters were regrouping into classic landing formation; if anything, more smoothly and tidily than before.

Copeland subsided. His chair creaked.

“Convoy leader to Wulf.”

“Copeland speaking. Why didn’t you call?”


“Never mind. Just tell me, what was that? And if you say a malfunction in the….”

Captain,” the convoy leader snapped, “whoever is preparing this convoy to land, it isn’t me.

On the screen they were continuing to regroup, briskly and very precisely.

Copeland’s control came close to leaving him. You asked how She was going to do it, he told himself, and now She’s shown you. He was already seeing three moves ahead. Expressions of horror at what was about to happen were passing across his face like cloud-shadows across Anubis 4.

“Scanners, Captain. The override signal is unstoppable. Source is 02-05-03.”

“So. She’s closer than I thought.”

“Just below the horizon. Do we engage Her now?”

“Of course not! Don’t you understand yet? Copeland to Khan. Copeland to Khan.”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Doctor Khan, did you hear that last call from the convoy leader?”

“I did. It seems we’re getting our freighters after all.”

I’d really enjoy meeting her, Copeland thought. I wish there was more time.

The screen showed a very precise line ahead landing formation emerging; Copeland caught himself admiring its tidiness.

“Doctor, I need to know, very quickly, what defences you can deploy down there.”

“Captain, what you need to know is that we have nothing Down Here capable of stopping twenty-eight freighters from crashlanding on us.”

“Then you must….”

“No, Captain, there’s no time to evacuate, and nowhere to go.”

Freighter One was peeling off to commence descent. Freighter Two was moving forward to follow it. The rest held their formation tidily. One at a time, thought Copeland incredulously, She’s even going to observe that last detail and crashland them one at a time.

“It seems we’ve run out of choices, Doctor.”

“It seems we never had any, Captain. Go ahead. Do what She wants.”

“Copeland to convoy leader. Abandon the convoy. Take your ship out of the area. You have ten seconds.” Ten seconds during which Copeland reflected on his own slowness, the inadequacy of his scanners, and how he’d had the instinct to know She would come here, but not the imagination, or the strangeness, to guess how She would make Herself known.

“Convoy leader, confirm you’re now clear.”

“Confirmed, but….”

Copeland cut the channel. He took a deep breath.

“Weapons, destroy the freighters. One at a time, as each one peels off for landing.”

Freighter One had already commenced landing descent when the Wulf’s particle beam found it and reduced it to less than dust. The screen filtered out the momentary flare. Focus shifted. Freighter Two was peeling off downwards and again the particle beam stabbed out, again the screen filtered and refocused, and showed nothing; no wreckage, not even the afterimage of wreckage. Three moved forward and peeled off, and the beam stabbed out; flare, filter, refocus, nothing. Four moved forward and peeled off, and the beam stabbed out; flare, filter, refocus, nothing. It became a rhythm, the dispassionate rhythm of a culling.

Copeland had no language for what was happening. From the empty space on the screen where Three and Four had gone, and where Five and Six were going... his gaze wandered to a spot he couldn’t see, just below the horizon of Anubis 4’s single moon. He tried to imagine Her there, and tried in particular to imagine Her commander—for surely, whatever She was and wherever She came from, there would be something inside Her like a commander—who had done this.

She could easily have attacked the convoy direct. She could easily have destroyed the Wulf—though he would never, never have said this in anyone’s hearing—and then destroyed the convoy. But this had such flavour, such symmetry: to get them to do it for Her, while She scrupulously observed the one-at-a-time landing protocols which they themselves had negotiated. He had no language for it. Foord, he thought, if it’s true that they’re sending you to face Her at Horus, I hope you’re strange enough. I’m not.

Again the particle beam stabbed out. Again. Again. Seven, Eight, Nine. The freighters were unmanned, non-military and therefore defenseless, which somehow made it worse. The filtered wreckage-less frame on the screen, the dark area where the beam waited for them and where they entered passively, was like the curtain across an abattoir door.

Ten. Eleven. And then a roaring swamped the Bridge and something rose over the horizon of the moon.

It was a patch of empty space. Just like the empty space around it, but something was wrong. This was like a patch of empty space from another day, or seen from another angle. It was different; and it moved.

Copeland screamed as the forward screen erupted with light and a deep violet afterimage settled across his eyes like a piece of hot iron. When his sight returned, the screen was still shuffling filters and the Wulf was left bobbing in the wake of whatever had passed. The screen cleared, voices returned to the comm channels, and normality crept back, injured, to the Bridge. The disruption had been total but lasted no longer than a heartbeat. The Weapons Officer was first to recover and, without speaking, resumed firing on the freighters. Twelve. Thirteen. The screen filtered the glare of the explosions almost gratefully. After what had just passed, that was easy.

“Khan to Copeland.”

“Engineering! I want damage reports. Scanners! I want…”

“Khan to Copeland.”

“A moment, please, Doctor. Scanners! I want…”

“Yes, Captain, I have it. Unidentified ship, dimensions equivalent to a large cruiser; shrouded, but we can track Her drive emissions. Emerging from planetside of the moon and travelling on ion drive, about seventy percent.”

Fourteen. Fifteen.

“Travelling into the system.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Towards Anubis 3.”

“Yes, Captain. And She’s still putting out that override signal.”

Copeland’s head cleared like the screen, totally but perhaps too late. Suddenly the decision was easy.

“Captain, we have damage reports.”

“No time. Pilot, Engineering, I want immediate pursuit on ion drive at eighty percent.” He hit the alarms. “Signals, tell Anubis 3 what’s happened, and tell them what’s coming. Weapons, stop destruction of the freighters now. Copeland to Khan.”

“Captain, those freighters will crashland!”

“I said now. Copeland to Khan. Doctor, did you hear that?”

“Captain, Anubis 3 has defences. I don’t. There are two thousand people down here.”

“Doctor, I wish we were down there with you, it’s the safest place to be. If –” Copeland gasped as his impact harness whipped round him. All the seats sprouted impact harnesses; it looked like the ship was attacking its own crew. The alarms increased a semitone, and red Final Warnings flashed from screens and displays. On the forward screen, Sixteen was halfway through landing descent, Seventeen was following and Eighteen had shuffled into position behind it. “If you don’t see what She’s done, I can’t explain. No time.”

“Two thousand people, Captain.”

“I’m sorry. No time.”

The manoeuvre drives flared. The Wulf was wrenched round a hundred and eighty degrees in little more than its own length, but even before the ion drive cut in it was already moving too quickly for its own gravity compensators. Under the force of the turn Copeland was flattened in his chair, blood from his nostrils and the corners of his mouth running up his face, the turning screws of pressure in his eardrums drowning the roar of the drives which in turn drowned the blaring of the alarms, his eyes swivelling left-right-left as a swarm of assorted movable objects, under the force of the turn, slammed against opposite walls with the unison of a shoal of fish changing direction.

The turn was completed, the ion drive cut in, and the Wulf left for Anubis 3. The alarms ceased. The floor of the Bridge was strewn with rubble. Someone had activated the rear screen, but Copeland didn’t look back when, exactly as he’d expected, Sixteen veered away from Khan’s seconds before impact and careered off into deep space. Seventeen did the same. And Eighteen.

“And that,” Copeland told them, “is what will happen to the rest of the convoy. She never attacks undefended civilian targets, remember?”

The Wulf’s ion drive reached and held eighty percent. It was fast enough for the star field on the forward screen to start becoming a tunnel shot with rainbow colours; then the filters cut in and readjusted the spectral bands. She only gave us a fraction of Herself, he thought sourly, like a chess grandmaster playing hundreds of games. We only got a fraction of Her.

“Someone get this mess cleared up. Then I’ll take damage reports. Do we have a visual on Her yet?”

“No, Captain. She’s still shrouded. But Her speed’s dropping slightly.”

“Hold our speed at eighty percent. We stay at battle stations.”

“Signals, Captain. Anubis 3 has acknowledged. And we have a message from Doctor Khan. It says, ‘Thank you, I understand now’.”

Copeland laughed softly. A pity there was no time.

“Pilot, hold our speed at eighty percent. We’ll keep chasing Her.”

“For how long, Captain?”

“Until She catches us.”

A minute passed. There was no time.

“Well?” Copeland said.

“Like you thought, Captain. She’s stopping.”

“Is She still shrouded?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Right, listen. She’s going to turn and face us. When She does, She’ll drop the shroud. If you get a visual of Her, send it to Anubis 3 and keep sending it for as long as you can; it might help them later. Tell Anubis 3 to keep defensive positions only. After engaging us there’s a chance She’ll simply pass out of the system; that’s what She’s done before, and in any case, after us they don’t really have anything.”

No time. I should say more. I wish I’d met Khan.

“Captain, She’s stopped.”

“Cut speed to thirty percent. Hold battle stations. We have the rest of this time to ourselves.”

He settled back in his chair, which creaked loudly, and waited for Her image to form on the forward screen. As it started to form, he thought Face of God

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