Star Guardian
Chapter 15: Hide And Seek

Copyright© 2018 by Duncan7

We left orbit of Baglogi-4 and were en route to Baglogi-6, travelling slowly and under full stealth mode to minimize the possibility of being detected. I did not know if we were being watched, but perhaps we were lucky and had not been noticed.

I had a growing sense of foreboding that something bad was on the way. I had no clue which direction it would come from, or how soon it would arrive, or the best strategy to deal with it. Do we run or hide? We could gun it to the border of the system and then use the hyperdrive to get out of here, or we could hide behind a moon. I needed to think.

I retired to my cabin to work out a way out of this mess. When making maneuvers in space, it took time. So I had time to think about what to do. I regretted encouraging Jem to visit her home world. We had a whole universe to explore, and it looked like a big mistake to come here.

“Ship, how long until your two cloaked probes reach their programmed destinations? And how long until we get a response from them?” I asked. I figured Ship was always listening.

“The probes should reach their destination in about 2 days, assuming they are not intercepted. As they get closer, they will search for evidence of any monitoring probe, and they will send a response some time after that. Until then, they are running silent, with minimal power to avoid detection,” said Ship.

“Thank you Ship. When will we be hidden behind a moon around Baglogi-6?”

“At our current speed, we will be there in about 14 hours.”

“Hypothetically, Ship, if we were to travel at maximum speed to the system boundary, how soon would we be clear enough to engage hyperdrive?” If there was a foe with the capacity to wipe out an entire Baglogi civilization, I did not see a compelling reason to wait around in this system for their arrival.

“About 6 hours,” said Ship.

“For preservation of the last living Baglogi, I might suggest you prepare a flight plan for an expedient exit of this system. If you sense incoming vessels, and their flight path suggests they know of our location, we may need to leave in a hurry. Also, if they have a way to track us through hyperspace, I would suggest a strategy of multiple jumps in different directions to confuse anyone who might try to follow us,” I said.

“Confirmed, flight plan is prepared and ready, pending command approval,” said Ship.

“Brian, what are you doing?” asked Jem. I turned around to find Jem at the entrance to my cabin. I had not closed the door, and she had just overheard me talking with Ship. Her tone of voice had me a bit concerned.

“I was discussing some ideas with Ship. Please come in and I will explain,” I said.

“We should include Koluna also. Ship, could you page her to come here please,” said Jem.

“Confirmed,” said Ship. Soon after, Koluna arrived. I quickly explained my thinking so far.

“So we are hiding, but you are also preparing for a quick exit?” asked Jem.

“Yes. It is possible that we have been observed since we arrived, and they are tracking us now. In that case, they will know where to find us. If we detect incoming vessels, and they head direct for Baglogi-6, we know they are aware of our location,” I said.

“And if they do not head for Baglogi-6, that indicates they do not know our location?” asked Jem.

“Yes. In that case, we can remain hidden and observe to learn what we can about the foe. If we later decide to leave, I suggest a trajectory that lets the planet hide our presence.” I said.

“Is it possible that this foe are long gone, and no vessel will arrive?” asked Koluna. We both turned to her. Jem looked at me, so I took that as she wanted me to respond.

“It is possible. I sincerely hope that nothing arrives. If our probes find nothing, and if no vessel arrives soon, then we could conclude that is the case. We could then resume our exploration of the system. Alternatively, we could leave immediately. There is no sign of life in the system or recent activity for a long time, so no reason to stay here.” I said.

“Ship, how soon until we are hidden?” asked Jem.

“About 14 hours,” responded Ship. I turned to face Jem.

“I am sorry I encouraged you to come here. After the happy reunion Koluna had with her parents, I thought this would be a good idea,” I said.

“No, it was a good idea. I was so focused on preparing for a homecoming, I walked into what is looking more like a trap,” said Jem. “Let’s get some rest until we arrive at Baglogi-6. Ship will alert us when we get there.”

We rested for a while. It was hard for me to ignore our situation though. As we approached Baglogi-6, Ship alerted us to new developments.

“Our interplanetary network is fully cloaked and operational. Communications are being kept to a minimum, but an anomaly has been detected,” said Ship.

“Ship, define the nature of the anomaly,” said Jem.

“The network has one more node than expected. As the new satellites established their orbits throughout the system and linked up, one additional node connected in to the network,” said Ship.

“An extra node?” asked Jem.

“Confirmed. The credentials are valid. Data indicates it to be a part of the original Baglogi system network,” said Ship. We were all curious now.

“Let’s take this to the main bridge,” said Jem. “Ship, have the locations of the network on the tactical display when we arrive.”

We all made our way to the main bridge and looked at the tactical display. The extra node was on a small planetoid on the far side of the system. The diagnostics and telemetry from the node indicated a weak signal, perhaps a damaged antenna array. It was the first sign of anything since we arrived.

“I have a question,” I said.

“Then ask it,” said Jem.

“This extra node, how do we know it is Baglogi or foe?” I said. My healthy paranoia was screaming out.

“Ship, can you confirm the authenticity of this node?” asked Jem.

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