As Riss prepares to surrender herself to Gennaji and Ildico, Sam helplessly watches the scene unfold…
From the command seat of his tiny shuttle, Weng silently watched the face off between the Artemis and the ships of the new Ceres Mining Council. He wished he knew what they were saying.
He also wished Gen were still in the shuttle with him.
Weng grimaced. He still didn’t trust the clone, but he would feel much safer if someone obviously as highly ranked as Gen were in the shuttle. It would reduce the chance of his becoming yet another target.
Apparently, however, this was all going to plan. He mentally recalled the conversation he had with Gen just prior to arriving at Ceres.
“Gen, why are there five hunter ships here? Are we getting ready for a fight?”
“Not to worry, Sam,” Gen had told him. “There will be no fight.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Because we control the Seven Sisters, and without them, there is no fight.”
“The Seven what?”
“Sisters, Sam. The crew of the Pleiades.”
“They, uh, they aren’t friends of Riss,” he asked. “Right?”
Gen nodded. “Affirmative. Their Captain is a former shipmate and rival. However, the Sisters are necessary to free Ceres, and therefore part of our plan.”
“Plan. What plan?” Weng frowned. “I don’t see how taking over Luna and Ceres has anything to do with the United Mars Colonies.”
“The plan was to control Ceres. This is where the clones are. This is where they have been used and thrown away.”
Gen sighed and continued. “Luna was not part of our original plan at all. One of the hunters must have gotten it into her head to involve somebody there, and then the UA had no choice but to defend their interests.”
“Sergey,” Weng said. He felt himself turn pale. What could he do to warn the old man? If anything happened to Sergey, how would Riss react?
“Sam. Weng-shi.” Gen’s serious demeanor brought his attention back to the present. “I will go to the Ceres Mining Council. We will be in control. But you must stay here.”
“Why?” A momentary thought of bliss passed through Weng’s mind, which he could not suppress.
Gen smirked. Or at least, came as close to smirking as Weng could imagine a clone to do. “Sam, put thoughts of Susan ‘Talbot’ out of your mind. She is not who she claims to be.”
Weng caught his breath. “The Seventh Sister.”
“The Seventh Sister is always hidden,” Gen said, without a trace of irony. “The Seventh Sister is also not a clone. However, she is a mother.”
Stunned, Weng kept his thoughts to himself. No emotions, he repeated in his mind. Think only of the situation.
“Well,” Gen commented. “You seem to have finally managed to block my readings. At any rate, your task is to make sure that Riss and the rest of the Artemis reaches Mars. Intact.”
Weng breathed out. “Mars?”
“Yes. And with a bonus.”
Weng snapped back to the present. Whatever the hunter ships had told the Artemis, he was not privy to. But it had resulted in something besides a stalemate. His console readings indicated that a tiny pilot vessel was detaching from what was probably the Artemis’s cargo area.
No idea how many were on board, but he would bet his life that Riss was on it. Meaning the rest of the crew complement still stayed on the Artemis. Was Riss being sacrificed for the greater good?
Weng ground his teeth. He had no way of knowing whether his surmise was accurate. Only his intuition. And that was dangerous.
Learning without thought leads to no result, said the sage, and thought without learning is adventurous. Weng had no plans to be adventurous. Ambitious, yes. Not adventurous.
What on earth was he doing in this shuttle?
He shook his head. Concentrate. Just follow the plan. Wait for the signal.
The ditrium was the key.
How on earth Gen knew that the Pleiades had ditrium, Weng had no idea. But if Riss could get her hands on it…
Their future. Everything he had done, everything he had worked and planned and dreamed for. It was within his grasp!
Idly, he wondered what “Sue Talbot” was doing at that moment. A pang of guilt? He shook his head. Simply concern about a person doing her job.
He thought of Sergey again. He hoped the old man wasn’t involved too much in all this.
Next: Bringer of Light, Chapter 30: Ceres – The mining station (Part 1). Gennaji and Ildico are waiting for their revenge, but Riss and her crew may have other plans…