The Ghosts of Eden
Orion Starman, the duty psycho-correspondant monitoring Dallas Collinwood calls Miho, Andi and Robert early in evening. Only Miho and Andi wake up. Collinwood has woken up following a nightmare saying "She's dead, she's dead I tell you". His wife passed him a glass of water and went back to sleep. As Starman reports Collinwood gets out of bed and goes into study. Lee Siu, the duty clairvoyant, reports he is awake and pissed off. They keep monitoring for 10 minutes then Andi and Miho go back to bed.
Time passes. Robert is woken up by a premonition of doom. Seconds later his pager goes. Andi and Miho are also woken. There has been a shift change. The duty clairvoyant is Olwen Asarov and duty psycho-correspondant is Giles Luthor. Miho also has a bad feeling. Asarov is keeping up a running report while Luthor attempts to alert the strike team. Luthor has detected a psychic force external to the Trilon space station. Miho can not detect any energy source in the direction he indicates, but she is unsure of her range.
"He's backing away, he's backing away." Asarov reports that she can see a woman. Robert connects with her in order to see through her eyes. She sees a shadowy apparition of a woman in a dress.
Collinwood is talking "... machines said you were dead, I checked the pulse."
"Will you dance?"
Having alerted security and set the station systems to try and detect a spaceship in the direction of the psychic force, Luthor now attempts to contact Collinwood's wife. Andi enters the station's systems to check the sensor data for herself.
Meanwhile Robert perceives an abrupt change to Collinwood's vision
"Dance with me you little toad!", the apparition becomes shrivelled and wizened. It can't be alive. Asarov jumps. Robert falls over.
"The woman's a zombie, Dallas is on the floor", Asarov reports. The security team are at the Collinwood's apartment but they can't enter. Andi hacks the security systems and breaks the locks. Miho checks Robert. He is breathing and appears to have fainted, Asarov also looks faint. She puts in a call for a medic. While they wait Miho checks the star charts. There are no planets in the direction of the attack. There are some stars but none within a sensible distance. There are also a couple of vehicles a long way out in distant orbits or in transit within system. But, at first glance, none of these look like a potential threat.
The security team report that Collinwood has had a heart attack. They've sent for a medical team, but his heart has stopped and he's not breathing. Asarov is certain he's dead.
The team discuss whether anything could have been physically present in Collinwood's suite. The security system in the study was switched off but a security scanner in the living area wasn't and there is nothing to be seen on its footage. Collinwood's wife reached the body shortly after he fell. Asarov could still see an apparition at that point but Mrs Collinwood didn't react to it. Since the whole episode took seconds from start to finish the team deduce that the psychic attack came in on a tight beam using a lot of power.
Asarov unofficially does a quick check on Guillaume Antares and Oliver Xu. Both are well, awake, and talking avidly on consoles with aids. Xu is positively ashen. The next duty shift arrive. Andi opts to remain with them monitoring the situation everyone else, Asarov and Robert in particular, are sent to bed.
Komiko turns up at dawn. Nothing further has happened during night. She orders the ops area surveillance systems switched off and gathers the four psi corps managers to her: Luthor, Andi, Sirikit Korona and Herizo Ratseraka. There is going to be political fall out. Marika Kosmos has taken the news that the weapon was psychic badly and suspicion has fallen on psi-corp. Komiko reckons she will be arrested very soon. Luthor believes the source of the attack was within 1 AU of the station. The station sensors couldn't detect even a large ship at that distance if it was powered down. TriXi, around which the Trilon station orbits, is actually the twin planet of a gas giant although it looks a bit like a moon. Broadly speaking TriXi is Earth type and the gas giant is Jupiter type. Luthor reckons he could have pin-pointed the source if it were in orbit around either planet so he believes it to be in a solar orbit. Andi calculates it must be orbiting roughly on the ecliptic which places it in more or less the same place as the Trilon space station at the time of the attack. Komiko volunteers Andi, Miho and Robert to take a ship and find the source of the attack, preferably before some one comes to arrest them. As her longest serving employees they are likely to be top of Kosmos' list.
They rapidly pack and launch an in-system personnel transport about the size of a double-decker bus with Andi piloting. Miho downloads the details of the surviving Trilon board members. She is in favour of defection in preference to arrest and advocates that the team should pick a board member to offer their services to in the event of the worst. They keep their use of thrusters minimal, set off on the right vector and use power only to correct their course. In this way they hope to avoid detection both by Trilon security and the source of the attack.
Miho's researches reveal that the remaining candidates for the new head of the board are: Adoki Chandresakhar (Director of Finance) supported by Timaresco (Acquisitions); Andromeda Soloman (Resource Optimisation) supported by Evans (Logistics); and Peter DeLavalle (Production) supported by Tashmohamendov (research and development) and Christina Naylu (Exploration and Survey). With Greenburg's death Antares and Kosmos have lost their preferred candidate. Antares is tipped as a Solomon support and Kosmos is supposed to be for Chandresakhar. Since Kosmos is hostile to psi-corp this rules out Chandresakhar. Antares, as head of information is likely to have good use for three non-combat psychics. They are also known to him and don't think he is too hostile to them. Therefore the team agree that should defection prove necessary Soloman will be approached, possibly via Antares.
Miho practices detecting the space station and other traffic. By this means she establishes that her range is at least 100 Km but not 1 AU. Miho tries detecting planets and establishes a range of about 500,000 miles. Meanwhile Andi builds a program to triangulate a location based on where Robert is pointing as their own ship moves. Komiko contacts Andi to tell her to continue what she's doing. She's not been arrested yet but enquiries have been made about transports and all psi-corp have been confined to quarters except those Komiko has already managed to conceal.
The team arrange a shift system with Robert awake during night since the prime attack time is just before midnight. A morning bulletin from Komiko informs them she is being arrested and about to be knocked out. She does not expect to be able to contact them again.
Another day and night pass. It's the dawn of 4th June. TriXi has a day 2.9965 earth days long and is tidally locked (one side points towards Matye). TriXi will be between the ship and Matye in a few hours time. At this point TriXi will be as close to the ship as it will get. Miho gets Andi to set up the comms so she can contact Trilon on her behalf, since they may need her to hack into another ship's systems. Robert gets a sense of impending doom. Miho starts hyperventilating. Robert detects a source of psychic energy between the ship and the station. He starts pointing in the right direction and begins a mind probe. Miho lights up the transport and informs Trilon that an attack is incoming from between them and station. Robert gets a sense of insane rage, revenge for what was done to her. He gets an image of someone inside a small cramped capsule. She can't get out. She has tried to get out several times in the last 50 years. Its unheated. But she recognises the psychic contact and turns her attack to the new target thinking, "the bitch has had it anyway". Robert throws up a mental shield and gets a vision of a horrible wizened shrivelled mummy-like thing. It stops rapidly and he is left with a splitting migraine and exhaustion. He reports the situation and then sleeps.
Miho can't detect any energy fields close by. Andi detects a lump of rock in the right place. They maneuver close to it and realise it is an escape capsule. Andi tries to enter its systems but finds no working computer. A communication comes in from Trilon. The team are notified that they are under a restraining order which is in temporary abeyance since director Kosmos is incommunicado.
After a little discussion the team conclude that the escape capsule contains Eva. That Eva blamed Greenburg, Antares, Xu and Collinwood for whatever happened to her and that they certainly covered something up. Whatever is actually going on it is likely to be highly embarrassing for Antares if Eva is found now. Miho suggests they contact Antares with an encrypted message. They should outline the situation without mention of Eva merely stating they were sent by Komiko to track down the source of the psychic attacks and have encountered an object including a picture of the object. This gives him the opportunity to start damage limitation before anyone else knows what is going on and hopefully provides a route to his patronage. The rest of the team agree. They rapidly receive a tight beam live contact from Antares. He notes they have discovered an "inert rock" with a potential inhabitant and suggests that they make a rescue attempt that need not be monitored. Miho agrees to this. He informs them that Marika Kosmos has been assassinated and that the team are the only extant members of psi-corp. He suggests they should come to work for information services and then closes communication.
Robert wakes up at this point and reports that he dreamed of dancing with a lot of men, something then hit the dreamer and she fell and hit her head to awake in the capsule that has contained her ever since.
The escape pod is in a 50 year period solar orbit so the last few days presumably represent the first time it has come close enough to the Trilon space station for an attack. Its occupant appears to be a ball of rage wanting only revenge. The team conclude inaction is not an option. Miho is pretty clear that Antares wants them to get rid of Eva before Trilon security turn up. Fortunately everyone manages to rationalise this as a mercy killing. After much discussion, in particular how the capsule might be destroyed (the transport is unarmed) and whether Eva can actually be killed given she's already floating about in space in an unheated escape pod they agree to attempt to open the pod and release the body. Andi Vac Suits up and space walks to the capsule. It has no power and, in fact, the power pack appears to have been sabotaged. She opens it on manual. She gets a premonition as she pulls the lever. The lid opens, some sort of air comes out forming ice crystals. A wizened shrivelled carcass throws itself at Andi and wraps its arms round her neck. It then stops moving. Robert picks up some psychic twitches, Miho gets a sense of something going/being released. Andi vaguely thinks she hears something said in a Thisbee accent. She throws off the dessicated corpse and lets it drift into space.
The problem remains what to do with the escape pod. They agree to move away from it, making it difficult to locate. If they are questioned about the attack they reported the team will say they are working for Guillaume Antares and need to be debriefed by his people. They will not volunteer any further information. In the event it is clear that the security force despatched to meet them are more interested in arresting them than in the psychic attack and they are not questioned at all. Antares' name is already being mentioned.
Over the next few days it becomes clear the team are now officially a part of information services. All the rest of psi-corp have vanished. Marika Kosmos, it transpires, turned on an underling and was shot in self-defence. Kosmos was presumably the target of Eva's attack. Antares doesn't discuss what happened. After a few days, however, Xu offers to take them to lunch. Recalling that this is executive food and that Xu is good company, not to mention powerful, the team agree. He takes them to same place he did previously but this time they are in a private room. They get served proper food including Beekhu specialties. Xu says he hopes they'll regard anything he says in the strictest confidence. 50 years ago he, Greenburg, Antares and Collinwood were all young men starting high-flying careers in Trilon. A young senior manager turned up from Sol by the name of Eva, and there was something about her which attracted them all. Greenburg, however, seemed to be her choice despite the fact she was in the habit of playing the four of them off against each other. He held a party in his mother's personal habitat. Greenburg's family were Jewish and took marriage seriously. Xu and the others understood that he and Eva planned to announce their engagement at the party. However there was a scuffle during which Eva fell and hit her head. Dallas Collinwood put her in the auto-doc immediately but she was flatlining. They panicked. Antares contacted a young up and coming member of security forces. Kosmos took charge and made sure that the right questions were asked and the body was disposed of in a malfunctioning life pod. All five had unpleasant dreams in next 48 hours and Oliver Xu admitted that he always suspected something was still alive in the capsule.
Additional Notes supplied by Steve
Xi Ursae Majoris is a complex system consisting of 2 pairs of stars each pair orbiting each other with a period of 59.9 years. The first pair, Aa and Ab, orbit each other widely with a period of 1.83 years. However, Ba and Bb are much closer together, with a period of 3.98 days.
Trilon's HQ is in orbit around the planet TriXi. TriXi is a garden world but also one half of a double planet, the other being Matye, a gas-giant. Matye and TriXi orbit each other, just as the Earth and Moon, only with a period of 2.995 days [as opposed to roughly 28 for the Earth-Moon].
The twin planets orbit Ba and Bb, a G6 and M4 couple, so 2 stars would be in the daytime sky never very far apart. As it happens, TriXi is tidally locked to Matye and so it's day is also 2.995 earth days.
Eva's pod was put in orbit around the epicentre of all 4 stars. The orbit was in fact a chaotic thing, very difficult to predict the precise period but it so happened that Eva's pod intersected the orbit of Matye-TriXi after about 50 years.
The nature of their paths meant that Eva's pod slowly crept up on the Matye-TriXi sub-system from behind. TriXi orbits Matye with a period of 2.995 days, hence Eva's pod came closest to TriXi and the Trilon HQ once every 3 days.
Eva's pod was in danger of being captured by Matye but most likely it's orbit would have been disturbed to a new path and it's impossible to work out where it would have gone then.
This is pretty close to "more or less the same place at the time of the attack...." but I want the precise mechanics to be clear. I'm sorry the answer is so complex but I'm afraid the nature of the Xi Ursae Majoris system makes any question on celestial or orbital mechanics difficult. I hope this makes things clearer. :-)