“ Commander Gorthan, what news do you have for me ? “
“ As expected, Gunner Shields is maintaining radio silence till he reaches the hover-drone. He’s asked for minimal contact after that. No tel-communication whatsoever. Only ethernet transceivers on hypercrypted networks. He will periodically inform us of how much progress he’s made.” “ Then, there’s not much more than we can do. I hope the secondary is in place.” “ The operative is already scouting the pick-up point, awaiting Gunner’s arrival. The operative has been instructed to stay out of sight until necessary.” “ Let’s hope that the secondary will not be necessary. We cannot have Gunnar knowing about the secondary either. He is a rather proud man. And what of my other request ?”
“ Convenor, …it seems your suspicions were right. Four of the members of the Planetary Council made transgalactic data transmissions. One of them was to Coma Benedices, which incidentally, was the last reported location of the Zirkanians.”
“ Who made this communication ? “
“ The minister for Rabkali, Ashell Burndtree.”
Finalta smiled grimly. She’d always suspected Burndtree to be a liability, especially after what had happened to him.
“ Do you want us to extern him ?” “ No, but I want you to keep extensive surveillance on him. He might give us a clue as to how soon the Zirkanians will see through Gunnar’s little diversion. In which case, I need to be in a position to warn Gunnar. I think our secondary might be needed after all.”
“ Convenor, Gunner Shields has faced Zirkanians before, and he has triumphed. He knows their weaknesses. We must trust in him.”
“ Thank you, Commander Gorthan. You are dismissed.”
Commander Gorthan performed the traditional three-fingered salute and left the Convenor in thought.
He took his time walking through the corridors until he reached his room. Once there, he locked up the doors, and after making sure there was no one else there, he crooked his forefinger, which brought up the tel-image of a wizened old man, in a grey neo-plex gown.
“ What is it, Gorthan ? Have you found the location of the God-seed ?”
“ No, your Highness, but I know the location of someone who can lead you there. “
“ Aah, you know where Gunner Shields is ? “
“ Your Highness is indeed well-informed. But no, Gunner is being his usual untrackable self. But we have a secondary who’s going to be trailing Gunner. And I have the exact homing codes for the secondary’s neurosensors. They should lead us where we need to go. “
“ Gorthan, you do understand, Amenor will not be pleased if things don’t happen as they should. Keep that in mind.”
“ I will not disappoint, Archbishop.”
“ And what is this nonsense about a possible Zirkanian invasion ?”
“ It’s a possibility, which reminds me, your Highness. Make sure the Church is locked up and secure. There’s a chance the Zirkanians will attack there first. May Amenor protect you. “
Commander Gorthan disconnected, leaving Archbishop Velindur VII in quite a worried state.
When Gunnar reached the rendezvous point, he found the hover-drone waiting for him, as agreed. The hover-drone would essentially lock onto the preset vector co-ordinates of the God-seed and take Gunnar there. He got in and activated the ethernet com-port on the hover-drone.
Finalta’s voice at once appeared out of the com-port. “ So, Gunner Shields, you find the hover-drone to your liking ? “ Gunnar quickly corrected her pronunciation of his name, before testily saying, “ It could have been better. I hope the modifications I requested are present. “ “ Of course. Good luck, Gunnar.” “ I hope its not entirely upto luck. Over and out.”
With that, Gunnar revved up the hover-drone, as the on-board autonavigator set the fastest course to the target. While the hover-drone performed the preliminary start-up operations, Gunnar had a few minutes to look around him. Looking at the icy desolation, Gunnar couldn’t help but think that this would be the worst place to fight a war, with no cover and no camouflage whatsoever. Gunnar didn’t realize that one didn’t need camouflage if one had a Noxvis 2. The Noxvis 2 was a hybrid hover-drone coated with metamaterials that had a negative refractive index. Basically, it could bend light in all directions around it to give the impression of being invisible. That was why Gunnar could not see the Noxvis 2 parked 8 frades from his hover-drone, while the secondary operative piloting the Noxvis 2 could keep an eye on Gunnar. The secondary waited patiently for Gunnar to reach a safe distance before the Noxvis 2 silently started up and began to trail Gunnar’s hover-drone. Simultaneously, a light started beeping on Commander Gorthan’s vidcom, tracking the secondary’s neurosensors. Gorthan smiled, thinking that the secondary was going to serve some purpose after all.