With the alien menace poised to overthrow the galaxy a lone group of combateers is all that that stands between them and total annihilation. When one of their number is kidnapped by the aliens and their plans thwarted, the group must decide whether to mount a rescue and risk losing the war, or sacrifice her for the greater good of humankind...
Aesbion Witchspace Monitoring Station Nine was not the bright centre of the universe. One of the ten witchpoint entry zones at Aesbion, it tended to be the least used, primarily serving witchspace traffic to and from the backwater system of Aronar, rather than the busy route which ran to Aesbion between Isence and Qutiri. Sometimes days could go past without a single vessel using the link.
As such it wasn’t a posting that was fought hard over; in fact getting ‘Deep Space Nine’ was very much the booby prize on the roster, resulting in much callous laughter and derision on behalf of the unfortunate nominee.
It was dreaded for many reasons. Postings lasted for a month, not quite long enough for you to be able to successfully sue Galcop for mental health problems due to isolation, but enough to make you go just that little bit eccentric. Folks back in on Aesbion Prime could always spot a ‘niner’, and avoided them like the plague.
Second it was woefully dull. The witchspace corridor was underused. Since Aronar was an infrequent destination and most of the systems aboard the station were fully automatic, it left the supervisor with very little to do for the vast majority of the time. The only time things got lively was when the local pirates decided to stage an ambush, at which the supervisor was forced to turn something of a blind eye. It wasn’t as if they could do much; the station lacked any form of weaponry. Fortunately they were equipped with formidable shields.
Other than providing the occasional navigational fix, that pretty much summed up the role of a witchpoint monitoring supervisor in its entirety. On the plus side, the pay was good and there were some other perks.
Grebe Storenge was a native of Aesbion. A morbidly obese green frog with a hobby of breeding mega-drosophila for his own private consumption, he was generally unconcerned about the lack of stimulation from the outside universe. After paying scant attention to the instruments aboard he was now reclining in his favourite chair on the small observation deck, with his feet and lower legs propped upon the controls, unconcerned with the smudges of mucus he was leaving on the sensitive instrumentation. He was due to be relieved in under a week and had adopted a rather laissez-faire attitude to cleanliness as a result. The auto-mechs would sort it all out.
He was enthusiastically watching one of the Tionisla Chronicle’s more risqué entertainment channels. It specialised in species specific adult entertainment piped in from some of the more salacious amphibian planets in chart three.
Grebe’s tongue flashed out, impaling another oversized fly and sucking it back to its doom within his slavering lips. A wet slapping sound marked its demise along with an intestinal rumble, signalling rapt appreciation of the holofac images dancing before him.
‘Would you look at the glands on that!’ Grebe roared, sitting forward, his eyes wide. ‘You can drop into my pond any day, baby! Phreeeooow!’
Behind him, a series of yellow warning lights illuminated in sequence and messages flickered up on the comms array.
Warning: Incoming witchspace transfer. Unscheduled arrival, acknowledge?
Grebe was oblivious, until the show he was watching was interrupted by adverts. He waggled his feet in outrage, swearing at the holofac.
‘Frakkin’ algae sellers! Not now!’
Flashes of flickering light cast shadows on the bulkheads adjacent to the observation windows. Grebe stopped, frowned and looked around.
‘What the frak?’
In the distance he could see a series of faint points of light, a convoy of ships at extreme range, having apparently witchspaced into Aesbion without so much as a by-your-leave.
Part 1: Status Quo
Part 2: Mutabilis
Part 3: Incursio