Day 61. 25 pages, 7,524 words.
“What did you do?” Lelhmak hissed, rising to his feet and leaning over the comm console.
“Nothing,” Predericon replied. “I was nowhere near establishing an actual connection.”
“Hello?” the warm human voice said again. “Is there somebody receiving this communication? I’m afraid I can transmit but not receive messages at this point.”
“Sounds like someone did some work to meet you halfway,” Gyden remarked.
“The Flesh-Eater’s receiving and communication systems are active,” Predericon confirmed, checking the outputs. “It wasn’t there a minute ago. I can close the system gaps and establish a two-way-”
“Wait,” Lelhmak said quickly as Predericon stood. “Leave it like this,” she frowned at him. “Think about it. At the moment, the Elevator can send information to us through a direct link to the Flesh-Eater. If we close the gap and send messages back, the platform might feasibly be able to collect other data from us.”
“He’s right,” Gyden said. “Right now, we’re just listening. And if the Demon is behind this, it won’t be able to find us.”
“Probably,” Lelhmak added warningly.
Predericon nodded. “I might actually be able to get some additional data in the same way,” she said, and checked her interfaces.
The Destarion’s next transmission rendered the effort unnecessary, however.
“Very well,” the voice said. “I have no recourse but to assume you have affected a partial reparation of my Flesh-Eater but have so far been unable to re-establish a full connection. Since it is highly improbable that such a restoration occurred randomly without outside interference, however, I will further assume that somebody is receiving this message. That is sufficient for my needs.
“I am Category 9 Convoy Defence Platform Destarion. My official designation is passenger and goods transport between the sovereign Firstmade territories of the Void Dimension. You will find in the attached data packet a full reckoning of my identity and alignments.
“In an addendum to this packet, you will also find a full sensor log of the incident which has resulted in my current situation. Perhaps you find yourselves in the same situation, or perhaps you are part of a salvage and recovery operation. I find the former possibility far more likely. In case you are unable to access or interpret these data packets, I offer the following brief summary.
“The worlds between which I was ferrying passengers and goods has undergone an abrupt and dramatic state-change. At least three of the flatworlds – the sovereign Pinian realms of Earth, Hell and Cursèd – were dismantled. At the same time, they were partially reconstituted into a solar system of spherical planets and moons. I have performed an emergency landing on one of these moons. The overwhelming majority of spaceborne technology and other functionality appears to have vanished altogether, along with at least one of my spacefaring Flesh-Eater vessels. Not to be confused with the internal drone you have recovered.
“The majority of the inhabited land-masses of Earth, Hell and Cursèd appear to have been reconstituted into planets within the inner part of this new solar system, which makes sense considering the light and heat provided by the local star at those distances. I am, unfortunately, unable to provide more detailed data owing to internal conflicts.
“My crew and passenger manifest is fortunately zero, owing to a timely rearrangement of resources. No lives were lost in the process of landing, and I have consequently been able to prepare a stowage-standby scenario until the situation resolves itself or I receive further instructions. Less fortunately, I have encountered a severe security breach which has resulted in the delay of my shutdown and – no doubt – in your recovery of my internal Flesh-Eater. This breach may have severe and lasting impact on my operation and lead to consequences more far-reaching than my current situation.
“And so, in the hopes that you are capable of receiving this information, please. I need your help.”