“I don’t think we can trust them, Maclin.”
Fred Maclin raised a brow at the speaker. “You don’t trust anyone, Whitmore. You need to learn to have a bit of faith.”
Mark Whitmore snorted. “You realise that if they’re not on the level, you’ve doomed the coldspace project.”
“The coldspace project is, to be honest, doomed as it is unless they can contribute.”
“More than we realised, commander.” the bannik at the console spoke up, “I just got a message from the station – patching it through to your datapad now.”
“Thanks, Voka.” Maclin frowed as he read the transmission. “This isn’t right. Whitmore.”
“It’s from Doctor Lynn Reynolds. She says the coldspace project was abandoned a year ago in favour of that damned black hole. Apparently, they figured out a way to go through it safely, back and forth. She’s talking about an amazing, empty system, ripe for colonization – except everyone who went through is now experiencing symptoms of hysteria – madness. The whole station is locked down.”
Whitmore cursed, and Voka just stared at the transmission on her own screen. Maclin shook his head.
“Voka, send them a transmission.”
“Very well – they won’t receive it until they come out of lightspeed.”
“Fine – so long as they get it.”
ENCODED PRIORITY MESSAGE RECEIVED
KEY VERIFYING. . . .
AUTHENTICATING SENDER. . . .
This is Maclin. We’ve received a message from the base that changes things drastically. Apparently, for the last year they’ve been conducting experiments with the nearby black hole. Somehow they managed to send people back and forth. What’s on the other side appears to be an empty system, but those who have gone through are experiencing some kind of mania.
It’s odd that only now they came up and told us about this, but we think it’s related to the call for aid we got. I think you four will be still be able to help. Do what you can to help out – look for Doctor Lynn Reynolds, she’ll be able to brief you in detail.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what to expect as I honestly don’t know. I trust that you’ll all do what needs to be done.
Good luck. Try and make it back – we’ve made some progress with your case. It looks like a Celodian run clinic has been having clients disappearing – and it’s in the same area as the Black Hole. We’re digging now to see what we can find, and I’ll let you know when we find something more.