Gloueb had not seen the skies of planet Gurx in many years. Though born here, in this very city of Dalennep, Gloueb had spent more than half of their lifetime so far working in space. Gurx didn’t feel like home anymore.
And now Gloueb was stuck here, along with the large percentage of the Strondos who had been working as astronauts, but had now been called back to their home planets. They were being treated like they were Nexvar, being put away until they were needed again. But unlike Nexvar, Gloueb wasn’t being put into suspended animation between jobs. They had a chance here to fill their time with all sorts of experiences on Gurx, but did they want to?
That’s what Gloueb was wondering as they looked out the window at Dalennep. Then, rubbing a tapestry, Gloueb activated lights woven into the fabric and turned into the room. They wondered what it meant that they didn’t like it here. It was comfortable at least. Anyone credited as working on the New Gurx project could stay at any of the city’s hotels, so Gloueb had taken up residence in the hotel nearest the spaceport, as though, they thought, staying close to it would ensure that the news that they could get back into space would reach them that little bit sooner. But why did they want to go back? There were innumerable fresh experiences on this planet, lots to do and see.
The problem was how slow it was here. The stars, even Ahan, sat so still. Sure, Gloueb knew that planets and stars all moved quite quickly. But compared to spaceship with a buloggo engine? Gurx was a standstill.
Gloueb turned to a tabletop terminal and switched on a connection to the Knowledge Base. For the first time in their lifetime, they looked up what it takes to become a registered Nexvar.
Wise Chargan sat and looked out the window of their mountaintop home. They did not spend as much time on Gurx as they once did, but the automatic units kept the home in perfect order. It was a comforting feeling to sit in a familiar chair and listen to audio updates from the Knowledge Base. Chargan could use any comfort they could get.
The audio updates were full of the latest news approved to be heard by the masses, but Chargan knew things that had not, and may never, make it into them. Worrying things.
A Rootfolk armada found lifeless, recently destroyed, within Strondo space. It was a mystery how a fleet of ships designed by their most frequent enemies had made it so close to Gurx without being spotted. It was a further mystery how they had been destroyed without a battle being noticed. And it was the most disturbing mystery of all that their destroyer remained unknown. The Rootfolk fleet had been technologically advanced, Chargan had seen it. More advanced than anything the Strondos possessed at this time. Finding them dead was the best outcome. Certainly better than it would have been to learn of them only when they attacked.
Who killed the Rootfolk fleet? Where were these killers now? What could they want? What could Strondovarian culture do to protect itself? The Wise had agreed to decrease unnecessary activity in space for the time being, to avoid attracting attention, but construction of New Gurx had to continue. It was unrealistic to believe they could avoid notice for long. And whose notice were they trying to avoid?
Chargan could, for now, only worry about potential answers.