“Tell me what you know about the Starlit Way.”
Avaren struggled against the binders around her wrists, but they held fast.
“I said—” Captain Cernea pointed the blaster at her. “—tell me what you know about the Starlit Way.”
“There’s no need to threaten me. I’m already cuffed.” She tilted her head. “Or do you routinely kill defenseless prisoners?”
“Tell me. Or I will shoot you.”
“I guess that counts as a resounding yes.” Avaren considered her options. She also considered the potentially crazy man pointing the blaster at her. She shrugged. “There’s nothing to tell.”
“So, tell me what you know.”
“Have it your way. The Starlit Way is a natural phenomenon that no one truly understands.” As Avaren talked, she slowly worked out a plan. “It consists of stationary parallel lines of glowing yellow orbs. They are too small to be stars, but too big to be space dust.”
If I could just get over to the computer console…
“Their internal temperatures have been tested and found to be too cold to glow that particular shade of yellow. Their cores are completely hollow. Yet, they are somehow capable of creating random shockwaves if they were disturbed for too long.”
She shifted her weight, subtly moving to the left. “The orbs in the Starlit Way are spaced just far enough to allow a medium-classed vessel through without any issues. Larger ships have to find a way around them.”
“The obvious issue is—” She shifted again, moving ever so slightly closer to the console. “—medium-classed vessels don’t carry enough fuel to reach the Starlit Way. Their fuel tanks are insufficient.”
He raised his blaster at her head. “I said, keep going.”
If he insists.
Another small step and the console was just a little closer. “They would need a bigger fuel tank to reach the Starlit Way. But! If their fuel tanks were any bigger, it would affect the size of the ship and they would be too big to get through.”
“So? What’s the trick? How can I get through?”
“Why would you want to?” She stopped. “There’s nothing there.”
He pulled the trigger.
Silver oil spilled from the middle of her forehead down into her eye down to her chin. She staggered back in a delayed reflex.
I can use this to my advantage.
Avaren staggered and stumbled backwards. She let loose a keening wail.
She staggered back.
Until, at last, she bumped into the console.
Captain Cernea marched over to her and pressed the gun against the side of her throat. “How do I get through? Tell me or you be able to whistle through your neck.”
“There is an old Earth saying that applies to this situation: Go. Fish.” She spun around and pressed her hands against the console.
Numbers and letters flashed across the computer screen in no discernable pattern.
He pulled the trigger.
Her cuffs clattered on The Medusa’s metal floor as Avaren disappeared into the computer matrix. She set up firewalls and defender drones as she descended.
Captain Cernea would probably try to contact her again. He would certainly try to pull her out of her domain again.
She created another firewall.
He would undoubtedly try to imprison her again.
She created another 15,000 defenders.
He would fail.
She would make sure of it.
The Starlit Way’s secret would never be betrayed.
Not by her.