Thenos woke up. Sitting up and looking around, Thenos recognised one of the communications crew who had been at the recording.
“You okay?” the man said, “because you’ve been out for almost a day.”
“I’m fine,” Thenos said, “I’ve just got a headache, that’s all.”
“Right. Hope you don’t mind, but we’ve already transmitted the virus with your message. We’ve been told that it’s all over, and that the message has got through. All the other important people are on their way up for the little ceremony that’s been planned, so if you’re alright I’d like to head off.”
“Yeah, sure,” Thenos said, “go ahead. I’ll catch up when I’m ready.”
The virus had spread fast. The High Psintegrat had been given no time to react. Now the virus was gone, and with it, Knight Ilena’s support fleet.
Have it decreed that any of Knight Ilena’s ships are to be attacked on sight, the High Psintegrat told the woman nearby, and that all civilian ships attempting to reach the Daros system are to be persuaded not to leave. Make it clear that civilians must not be fired on. At worst, a few weak-minded members of the Unity flee to Thenos, but we must not lose the hearts and minds of our people. Have it spread abroad that Thenos is working with the TEC to further his own selfish agenda. That will be all.
The woman hurried away, and the High Psintegrat thought on the recent events. The virus had contained another piece of data within it, which had forwarded itself until it had reached the High Psintegrat, revealing to her a secret, coded, two-way comms channel. It would transmit along the path of the virus to return to the Daros system, where it would be picked up by the recipient, who turned out to be the High Psintegrat’s favourite operative in the Unity’s Hand. The High Psintegrat used the communications panel on the side of her chair in the bridge to send a transmission to the operative.
“Kraken,” she said, “Knight Ilena’s fleet will be arriving at Rebirth soon. One of the number that will be aboard that ship is fanatically loyal to the cause. Use this new resource carefully. I would like Thenos eliminated as…tactfully as possible.”
Captain Jard left the transmission room of the Temple. He started walking down the corridor towards the room where the celebrations had already begun, when he was joined by Teldin and the communications officer of the Revenge.
“Hello, Captain,” Teldin said, “you late as well?”
“I had business to attend to.”
“Yes, I never seem to find enough time either. We got caught up at security leaving Rebirth. Annoying, but better safe than sorry.”
“Yes,” Jard said, “I suppose.”
Thenos also approached the chamber in which the celebrations were beginning. He had no idea why a big ceremony was needed for the recent events, but as long as he didn’t have to do anything too taxing he was fine. His head still hurt, and he was a bit wobbly on his feet, and he couldn’t empty his mind of the words that he had heard in his dream. Ryat, Lord Pirate, White Matter. Ryat he had heard of already. The dream had shown Thenos many maps, charts. Different stars and planets had been shown to Thenos, and finally a Kostura Cannon, a strange object that appeared to be inside the weapon, and a man, who was presumably Ryat. Finally, Thenos had heard speech as if distant.
“Find the Prophet,” followed by words much clearer, as if nearby, “you cannot find the Nine alone.”
Thenos had no idea what this meant. Perhaps the voice had also talked to this Pirate Lord, this Ryat. Thenos decided that he would have time to think about this later. He was wanted at the celebrations, so he would focus on that for now.