The Eye of HaldusEdit
Megan opened the door, revealing what looked like a small, dimly lit auditorium. Sybil could hear music playing. She entered the room and walked down the steep carpeted isle that led down towards a small stage and passed between two sets of seats. There were enough seats for an audience of about fifty people. Sybil reached the bottom of the steps and turned around. Portia, Set and Leone were slowly coming down the steps.
Leone had paused near the top of the steps and he still stood near Megan. He was gazing intently at the back wall of the room which was decorated with a mural showing a view of an ancient stone amphitheater as seen from the performer's perspective. From where Sybil stood, she could see that the color of the 50 modern theater seats had been selected to match the colors of the mural on the back wall. The side walls of the auditorium were decorated to look like a dark forest on one side and a twilight view across a valley on the other side.
Sybil turned around again and looked at the stage, most of which was hidden behind a curtain. At one end of the stage was an odd looking podium or lectern.
Portia said, "Stars."
Sybil turned around and saw Portia standing at the center of the room and looking up. Sybil's eyes had now adjusted to the dim lighting and she could see what looked like a night sky on the ceiling. Set had reached the edge of the stage and he now reached across the front of the stage and grabbed hold of the curtain. He pulled open a gap between the two sides of the curtain to reveal a blank wall on the other side. The "stage" was just a fancy cover for a standard display screen.
Megan spoke to Leone, "Take a seat." She said to the others, "If you sit down the show will start."
Portia asked, "What show?"
Megan explained, "It is a short history of the Haldus Order. I watched it when I first got here and I found it interesting, but then, I've always been curious about the history of Earth and the origins of our species."
Leone moved to a seat, "I'm also interested in Earth history."
Sybil went up the steps and sat next to Leone. Set and Portia sat in the front row, near the stage. Megan sat in a seat near the back. The lights dimmed further and the music changed. The stage curtain was pulled aside and the display screen at the back of the stage came alive.
A splash screen showed in large block letters of Galactic Standard text: The History of Telepathy, then images of ancient Earth came onto the screen.
A narrator had come out on the stage and stood at the podium. The robot spoke:
The earliest known visitations to Earth from Haldus are reflected in The Dreaming mythos of the Sahul, however it is likely that there were far earlier contacts, at least back to the time when the teleguide array was installed on Earth. The Dreaming is believed to have resulted in a population of human telepaths who were taken away from Earth about 20,000 years ago.
The Haldus Order grew out of another phase of intervention from Haldus, believed to have started about 10,000 years ago. These arrivals from Haldus appeared on Earth at the position of the land bridge between Africa and Asia. By 5,000 years ago, the teleguide site at Zenima was submerged by the rising ocean level and the Haldus Order Temple had been relocated to Saqqara.
The Zenima intervention involved descendants of the telepathic humans who had been taken off Earth at the end of The Dreaming. This was confirmed by DNA sequencing of the Dahšūr mummy. They may have come to Earth for no reason other than a desire to visit their planet of biological origin, but they interacted with Earth residents and there was cultural transmission. In addition, Haldus Order priestesses gave birth to several children fathered by the visiting humans from Haldus. The Zenima intervention seems to have ended about 4,000 years ago, but the Haldus Order priestesses were able to carry on their program of artificial selection for telepathic ability by making use of the Sun and the Eye of Haldus for identification of their descendants who carried genes for telepathic signal production. The first known telepathy technology on Earth was thus the twitino observatory at the core of the Haldus Order Temple.
The most recent known phase of intervention from Haldus seems to have started shortly after end of the Zenima visitations. Stricter controls seem to have been in effect for these more recent visits and there is no evidence of genetic transmission via the teleguide node in America. However, there was significant cultural contamination which seems to have continued until about 1,000 years ago.
The teleguide node in the South Atlantic ocean was used at least once as shown by the Lynch Icewoman, who was shown to be genetically similar to the Dahšūr mummy.
Real progress by the Haldus Order towards the development of telepathic communication was not possible until the dawn of the Space Age when it was discovered that the program of selecting for high levels of telepathic signal production was itself preventing telepathic communication of language-like information. This was understood after the Haldus Order members with high levels of telepathic signal production were all moved to Shackleton Base on the Moon. At that time, it became possible for telepathic sensitives on Earth to understand the significance of the Eye of Haldus. After exploration of the Haldus star system, the Haldus Order's program of telepathy technology research and development began.
The Haldus Order thanks you for joining our telepathy research program. We hope this short description of the special role of Earth in the history of telepathy was informative. If you have additional questions about the history of the Haldus Order, please consult the detailed sources that are available in the ship's digital library.
The display screen went black and the stage curtains closed. When room lights came up, the robotic narrator was gone. Sybil turned to Leone and saw a look of perplexity on his face. He asked Sybil, "Did that make sense to you?"
Sybil shrugged. "Not really, but I have heard of the Haldus star system. I've never understood the relationship between the Haldus Order and the star called 'Haldus'."
Portia and Set were coming up the steps towards Leone and Sybil. Set asked, "Where did Megan go?"
Leone stood up and looked to the back of the room where he had last seen Megan. "She must have slipped out during the 'show'."
Portia went to the door and pushed it open. She looked into the corridor but saw nobody. "It looks like we have been abandoned."
Set was stunned by the implications of what was said during the "show". He said, "Telepaths on Earth for thousands of years! It seems strange that the Haldus Order is being so open about their secrets."
Sybil observed, "This was apparently an orientation program for researchers who come to work here on this ship. It sounds like the Haldus Order has been researching telepathy for centuries. That research project is now just a routine operation."
Leone nodded, "And they have been able to keep their work secret for all this time. Amazing!"
Set wondered, "Does that mean we will not be able to take this secret information away from here?"
Portia asked Set, "Do you mean that we now know too many secrets and will not be allowed to leave this place?"
Sybil came up the steps and put her arm around Portia, "Before speculation runs wild, I suggest that we find Megan and ask some questions."
Leone said, "I agree. I'm baffled by this 'Eye of Haldus' mumbo jumbo."
Set also wanted answers, but he had not been impressed by Megan. If this was a Haldus Order base for the study of telepathy then where were all the Haldus Order telepaths? He cautioned, "I'm not sure that Megan will be able to explain much. She might be as much in the dark about these matters as we are."
Portia led them out into the corridor. She looked in both directions down the corridor and said, "I wonder who is in charge here."
Set pointed up the corridor, "I think I know where the main control room should be in a ship of this design. Follow me."
Set led the way to a forward compartment of the upper deck of the spaceship's disk section. Along the way, they saw no other passengers until Leone had opened a door at random. That door had opened onto a workshop where a squad of robots were building a complex piece of equipment. The robots did not even bother to look up from their work or respond to Leone's questions. Another room they had looked into was a well-equipped exercise room, but there had been nobody present using the equipment. Set commented, "This is standard equipment that you could find on any modern spaceliner." They continued on along the corridor.
Finally, Set stopped in front of a door. "This might be the main control room."
Just when Set reached to open the hatch, it popped open with a hiss. Standing on the other side of the doorway was a robot. The robot was holding a laser rifle. It said, "Halt, Sakkarans. If you want to enter, give me your weapons."
Set could see past the robot: this was indeed the main control room. He turned to Leone, "Well, should we give up our guns?"
Leone carried Bahney's laser pistol. He shrugged, "This robot looks serious. I don't care to argue with it." He pulled the pistol out of his pocket and handed it to the robot.
Set was not happy about the way things were going. He still could not detect any telepaths nearby, but he feared running into some Haldus Order members who would resent Set's past actions. After hesitating, he handed his gun to the robot. "There, now, can we enter? We are looking for the captain of this spaceship."
The robot stood aside and a woman stepped into view. She took the laser pistols from the robot and held one in each hand, pointing them at Set. She said, "I'm Captain Leto. What do you want?"
Set replied, "We recently came on board and-"
The Captain interrupted, "I know. What do you want?"
Set explained, "We just saw the little orientation show for researchers-"
Leto raised the pistols and pointed them at Set's head. "I know. Stop wasting my time. What do you want?"
Sybil said to Set, "This is useless. I don't think she can help us." She stepped past Set and said to the Captain, "Are you a member of the Haldus Order?"
The Captain chuckled, "What gives you such a silly idea?"
Set asked, "Can you answer our questions about the Haldus Order or tell us where to find someone who can?"
Across the control room, the communications technician said, "Captain, one of the ships is back in this sector."
Captain Leto shouted at the Sakkarans, "Get out!" She turned and examined a display that showed the crater and the positions of Ketar's ships as they moved through their search pattern. Portia took hold of Set's hand and pulled him towards the door, but Set held his ground.
The communications technician said, "Oh, no."
The Captain said, "Ready all weapons. Shields to maximum." She activated the ship's intercom, "This is Captain Leto. Alert level maximum. This is not a drill. Everyone to lifeboats, now!"
A piercing alarm sounded. The Captain checked the work stations of her pilot and weapons officer. She then noticed that the Sakkarans were still there at the door. "Get out of here! Get strapped into lifeboats. We might have to move."
Sybil asked, "Where should we go?"
Captain Leto cursed like a sailor. She ordered the robot, "Take them to Megan!"
The robot stepped into the corridor and calmly said, "Please follow me."
Set was reluctant to leave the control room. "Captain, please call my ship and tell them to dive."
The Captain again aimed a laser pistol at Set's face. She said, "Get out of here! We're on strict radio silence. There will be no calls."
Portia pulled hard on Set's arm and he finally went into the corridor. They followed the robot. Previously the ship had seemed mostly deserted, but now they saw several people running down the corridors.
Set said, "This could get ugly if Ketar detects my ship."
Megan came running along the corridor. She shouted, "Come with me!" She ran right past the startled Sakkarans. She paused and turned back, "Come on!" They went a short distance back towards the main control room then down a ramp to the mid-deck. Megan turned off of the main corridor and ran down a spoke hallway towards the rim of the ship. At the end of the hallway was a lifeboat hanger.
Leone asked, "Are we abandoning ship?"
Megan said, "Get in!" And she pushed Leone into the lifeboat.
Set did not follow the others to the lifeboat. He had suddenly started detecting a strong telepathic signal. He wondered: where did that come from? Then he recognized the pattern of that mind...it was one of the Haldus Order telepaths from Sakkara that he had been searching for! In the moment of that recognition Set heard the hatch of the lifeboat slam shut. Megan ran past him up the hallway shouting, "Come on, this lifeboat is full!"
Set followed Megan while trying to estimate where the Haldus Order telepath was. As Set ran, it seemed that he was getting closer to the telepath. They reached another lifeboat and Megan pushed him through the already open hatch. Set came face to face with the telepath. It was Kaleb. Kaleb said, "Strap in!"
Set swung into the narrow space that was his place in the lifeboat. Protective foam shielding expanded around his legs. Megan pushed in behind him and Set was sandwiched between Kaleb and Megan. Megan said, "Hatch sealed." She started helping position the restraining straps around Set's head.
Kaleb spoke into the intercom, "Report, Captain."
Captain Leto said, "Ketar's ship detected Set's ship. Set's ship is taking evasive action."
Megan said, "Lifeboat five...Sybil, can you hear me?"
Set could suddenly hear Portia, "...Ketar attacks, will this-"
Then Sybil speaking over Portia's prattle, "Yes, I hear you! What's happening?"
Megan explained, "We are in standby mode. If we get lucky Ketar will not notice us. Are you all strapped in? If we go it will be a wild ride."
Leone replied, "We're strapped in, but I'm looking at the controls for this lifeboat. This is not like any lifeboat I've ever seen."
Kaleb said, "Relax, Leone. If we go, your boat will be on automatic pilot."
Set saw that Keleb's head was now encased in a mind-machine interface. Set was getting strong telepathic signals from Kaleb. Set pulled one of his hands out of its restraints and by straining he was able to touch two finger tips to Kaleb's shoulder. There was a flash of yellow sparks and Set heard Kaleb "say": Don't distract me now, Set.
Set instinctively jerked his hand back. That was telepathic communication more powerful and clear than he had ever experienced before. Keleb laughed. Kaleb continued to communicate with Set telepathically, now somewhat "quieter": I'm using the full power of the experimental amplifiers on this ship and it also appears that you and I are perfect test partners. I'm a strong transmitter and you one of the best telepathic receptives I've ever seen....
The coherent telepathic message from Kaleb tailed off into a swirl of less organized telepathic signals. Set could clearly sense Kaleb's burning hatred, then Set realized that Kaleb was Kalid's son. Set had another revelation and he realize that he had "felt" Kaleb's mind on Flammis. He said, "Yours was the mind I first touched on Flammis. How can you shield your telepathic output?"
Kaleb now spoke and Set sensed Kaleb's T-particle output decline dramatically, "I've been trained to control my brain's production of T-particles. It is a trick that requires a special nanite implant developed by the Order." His T-particle output ramped up again. "But it takes concentration from me to suppress my telepathic output. Kalid claims that he can easily silence his T-particle output, like throwing a switch."
To Set, it seemed like the world suddenly changed when Kaleb said "switch". Set wondered if his eyes would pop out of his head. After a dozen seconds of violent acceleration there was calm and then another wrenching acceleration. Kaleb was shouting into the intercom, "Captain, report!"
Set reached out with his mind and felt a sudden shift in the T-particle flux. A decrease. He said, "Norshe." Set kept "feeling" for the pattern of Norshe's mind, but he could no longer detect it...it had been there in the background just before the powerful acceleration...
After a long pause Leto responded, "That was an antimatter bomb launched from one of Ketar's ships. We were briefly thrown out of the water. Stand by." Then a moment later, "It looks like it was a direct hit on the position of Set's ship."
Megan said, "I hope there were no innocents on board."
Set estimated that Glen might be the only "innocent" by Megan's standards, but he was saddened by the loss of his pilot and engineer. They had been loyal Futurist Party members and had followed Set's every order. Set thought: even if I deserve judgment for my actions, my crew did not deserve to die.
Then Set could hear Ketar's voice, patched through via the intercom from the control room: "This is Ketar of Azur, calling the cloaked ship below. My fleet has you trapped. We saw you clearly after that antimatter blast. Surrender now or we'll continue firing. You cannot escape."
Leto said to Kaleb, "We are still cloaked and I'm taking evasive action. Ketar cannot see us right now, but he's right. If they start dropping more of those antimatter bombs they'll either destroy us or at the least be able to see our new position."
Kaleb said, "Okay, I see the decoy you are projecting at our old position. Put the decoy on the surface and signal surrender. Have the ship's AI take us on a hairpin course to the teleguide vertex, ETA one minute. Get your staff to lifeboats and I'll see you on the other side."
Leto said, "Understood."
Keleb spoke via intercom to all the lifeboats, "Standby for hyperspatial jump. T minus thirty seconds."
Megan asked, "Will we make it?"
Kaleb replied, "It will be close. One of Ketar's ships is dropping down to the decoy."
Megan said, "Kaleb? I love you."
Kaleb said, "I love you, too, sis."
Set said, "We can't make a jump this close to Earth!"
Again they heard Ketar's voice, thick with rage. "Okay, I gave you a chance and you respond with trickery! I'm pulling my ships back out of blast range. Surrender at once or-" The communication ended.
Set felt a strong acceleration. He noticed another telepathic mind approaching. It was the telepathic pattern he had felt near Sakkara, the one that had transmitted a set of coordinates for a location here in h32, what Set now knew to be the Solar System. Kalid? Was Kalid still alive? Then the world shifted. Set wondered: is this what death feels like?
Felice was shouting at Kalid, "You're killing yourself!"
Kalid kept increasing his ship's acceleration. Really that was the only way to tell how much stress his arteries could take. He was swinging around the fat bulk of Earth towards the site of the antimatter explosion. Now he intercepted Ketar's message and it played over the comunit, "...surrender now or we'll continue firing. You cannot escape."
Kalid had been in telepathic contact with Kaleb for a few minutes. Kalid sent to his son: I'm targeting Ketar's ship. Don't surface. Stay down!
Kaleb sent back: No, you cannot defeat Ketar's fleet. Pull back. Save yourself!
Felice was watching Kalid's brain wave monitor, it indicated that in this hard acceleration his brain was starved for blood. "Kalid, stop this!" Via the comunit she heard Ketar again, "Surrender at once or-"
Ketar waited impatiently for the ship that had dropped down to the surface and had identified the decoy located there as being nothing more than a decoy. The ship now was pulling back to low orbit and was almost out of blast range. Ketar said, "Ready antimatter missiles!" Then Ketar ordered, "Fire antimatter missiles!"
Each ship of Ketar's fleet launched a missile. All six missiles moved rapidly down towards the crater, penetrated the surface of the water then detonated at a depth of 100 meters. There was then a hexagonal explosion that was 5 kilometers across and centered on the fourth vertex of the T-particle beacon array. Above, the ships of Ketar's fleet were struck by the shock wave. The AI in Ketar's ship said, "Cloaked target now detected at 235 mark 82, range 180 kilometers and closing."
Ketar wondered, How had the cloaked ship gotten up into orbit so quickly? He said, "It must be a decoy! Prepare a second volley. Three missiles from each ship, 15 kilometer radius from the vertex. Fire!"
That was the last mistake Ketar ever made. The approaching cloaked ship was Kalid's. Kalid saw the hexagonal blast and felt his son's telepathic signal wink out. "No!" He saw that the ships of Ketar's fleet were bunched together in low, sub-orbital trajectories above the Zenima vertex. He launched antimatter missiles from all four of his launch tubes and then engage a maximum right angle acceleration.
Felice shouted, "No Kalid!" But Kalid quickly lapsed into unconsciousness. Felice fought to free herself from her seat and reach the controls.
Twenty-two antimatter bombs detonated in close succession over the crater. Most of them exploded under water and the only significant damage they did was to destroy the spaceship that had carried Kaleb and Megan to Earth from Flammis. Kaleb had left it parked on the crater floor about 12 kilometers from the fourth vertex.
The other four antimatter bombs destroyed most of Ketar's fleet. Two of the ship's limped away with serious damage. The hull of Ketar's ship was split open and it fell to Earth as a falling star.
Kaleb said, "All lifeboats made it through."
Megan was elated to find herself alive, but there was sadness in Kaleb's voice. She asked, "What's wrong?"
Kaleb explained, "Kalid was rushing in to attack Ketar. He would not pull back."
Set was dizzy. He vomited.
Megan said, "Oh, yuck!"
A nanorobotic cleaning system was activated. Kaleb thought he knew what was bothering Set. He said to Megan, "He's disoriented. Haldus takes some getting used to for telepathic sensitives." Kaleb sent a signal to the other lifeboats, "Welcome to the Haldus star system. Just relax and enjoy the ride. Try to sleep. We'll reach the nearest Haldus Order base in about 18 hours."
Set asked, "How did we initiate a controlled jump from so close to the surface of Earth?"
Kaleb established a radio link to the lifeboat carrying Sybil, Leone and Portia. He said, "I'm going to explain a few things to Set."
Leone asked, "Who is this?"
Megan replied, "That is Kaleb, my brother."
Sybil asked, "Kaleb? Son of Kalid?"
Kaleb said, "Yes. We just completed a hyperspatial jump from Earth to the Haldus star system. That jump was made possible by the teleguide array on Earth and the transport grid here in the Haldus system."
Set complained, "You're not making sense. What is a "teleguide" and what do you mean by "transport grid"?"
Kaleb had grown up learning about telepathy and teleportation from his parents. He tried to imagine all the things that outsiders like Set and Leone were unaware of. He chuckled. "Hey, we have 18 hours. If I start using jargon that you are not familiar with, let me know. So, a teleguide node is a type of T-particle conduit. The ones on Earth have been used for thousands of years to allow people to travel between Haldus and Earth."
Leone asked, "What do you mean by "T-particle conduit"? How can they allow interstellar travel?"
Kaleb replied, "Well, I'm no scientist. Anyhow, I don't think the scientists have a working theory. It is an empirical observation that the conduits allow access to hyperspace. They are called "conduits" because they carry T-particles that originate at another location in spacetime. In this case, the source is the transport grid here in this star system."
Set had pulled a water tube to his mouth and was trying to clean out his mouth. The nanorobots had cleaned up most of his vomit. He still did not understand what a transport grid was. "Can you describe this 'transport grid'? How does it work?"
Kaleb replied, "That's pretty mysterious. It was discovered here in this star system, but nobody can figure out who built it or how. All we know for sure is that it can channel huge fluxes of T-particles into the teleguide conduits on Earth. There are two modes of operation, so travel is possible in each direction. Some people call it teleportation, but it is entirely analogous to making a hyperspatial jump with a spaceship."
Megan added, "Except there are no hyperspatial jump engines."
Kaleb nodded, "Right, the entire process is powered by the grid and guided by the T-particle conduit array on Earth."
Set felt like he was starting to understand what Kaleb was talking about. It helped that he could see into Kaleb's mind. "So, when we jumped away from Earth, how did that work? The conduits on Earth focus T-particles from Haldus and that transports -teleports- us through hyperspace?"
Kaleb replied, "Exactly."
"What controls the process? What determines which objects move between Haldus and Earth?"
"Going in this direction, there is now one precise location on Earth where you have to be in order to be transported."
Set could see the answer in Kaleb's thoughts. "You mean the fourth vertex."
Kaleb asked, "Fourth vertex?"
Now Set explained his terminology, "Well, that's what I've been calling it. There are three T-particle transmitters on Earth. The fourth was destroyed, but its position is what I call the fourth vertex of the tetrahedral array."
Kaleb said, "You mean the teleguide conduits."
"Do I? I'll call them by any name that has been adopted."
"Well, I don't understand why you called them transmitters. They just form a kind of antenna to guide bursts of T-particles arriving from Haldus. The three remaining conduits on Earth can focus T-particles at the position where the fourth conduit was before it was destroyed when a spaceship exploded on approach to Cairo spaceport."
Set wondered if the pulsed T-particle signals he had detected coming from the 'conduits' had escaped the notice of the Haldus Order. He asked, "So the conduits only channel T-particles during the teleportation process?"
Kaled nodded. "Yes. It works for teleportation in either direction. Through history the array has mostly been used to carry people from Haldus to Earth. In fact, it has been suggested that until the blast crater was formed, there was no way to use the conduits for transport to Haldus because all four transport points were buried underground."
Set asked, "But even when buried, the conduits can be used to transport people to Earth?"
"They could be used when the array was complete. Now, with one conduit missing there is not adequate control. If you tried to go back to Earth now, by making use of the conduits, you'd risk rematerializing inside solid rock. When there were four teleguides and the array was complete, fine control was possible within a few kilometers of the conduits."
"So, to travel in this direction, you just have to fly a lifeboat to the position of the fourth vertex and you are automatically teleported here, to the Haldus system?"
Kaleb continued his explanation, "No, it is not that simple. These are not ordinary lifeboats. And the spaceship that we were in on Earth was a specifically designed launch platform. That spaceship had to fly into the conduit array, to the exact position where the destroyed conduit once was, generate the transport code and then cycle all the launch platforms through the focus of the T-particle flux generated from the three remaining conduits of the array. The lifeboat launch platforms were all in a spinning ring, so it was possible to get all the boats launched quickly. With the existing damage to the conduit array, there is no fine positional control for transport into this star system, but fine control is not needed when teleporting in this direction." Kaleb got a value from the lifeboat's AI, "Still, all the lifeboats arrived here within a 40,000 kilometer radius of the teleportation target.
Leone commented, "Amazing! Interstellar teleportation from the surface of a planet!"
Set was stunned to learn about the existence of this teleportation technology. "I've spent most of my life trying to develop better space elevator technology for improved travel to and from the surfaces of planets. All that time the Haldus Order has been hiding this technology."
Leone asked, "Could we build these conduits on other worlds, like Sakkara?"
Megan replied, "You are missing the point. The conduits on Earth and the transport grid here in the Haldus System were not built by the Haldus Order."
Kaleb added, "They were not built by humans. And it is only recently that the Haldus Order figured out how to use the conduits. When teleportation from Earth to Haldus became possible, we replaced the Old Temple with that spaceship you found by using your scan technique."
Sybil asked, "Old temple?"
Kaleb explained, "It was a matter of pride for the Haldus Order to return to Earth and rebuild a Temple there after Earth became a green planet. That Temple was placed on the crater floor at the approximate position of Saqqara, where there had long been a Haldus Order temple before Egypt was obliterated."
Set suspected that this "old Temple" was the one Salvaje had described as a storehouse of information about the Haldus Order. Set asked, "What happened to that 'Old Temple'?"
Kaleb replied, "It was moved here to Haldus. It is now a museum ship with many ancient records for the Order."
Sybil said, "I'd like to visit that museum ship."
Kaleb nodded, "Of course, it is a popular destination for pilgrims. Unfortunately, for security reasons, few people outside of the Haldus star system know that it exists."
Leone noticed that Portia was snoring. "We put Portia to sleep with all of our talk."
Kaleb commented, "Sleep is the best thing. There is nothing to do here, packed into these lifeboats like sardines."
Sybil yawned. "I'm tired, too, and I'm feeling somewhat disoriented. I'm also going to try to sleep."
Kaleb said, "Okay, I'm going to close this com channel." He severed the communications channel that had linked the two lifeboats.
Set was still very dizzy. He had been trying to find a way to get his telepathic sense oriented. He'd finally realized that there was a tremendously powerful T-particle source in the Haldus system, apparently what Kaleb called "the grid". He asked Kaleb about it.
Kaleb explained, "I've heard of other telepathic sensitives who have reported what you describe. Almost certainly you are able to sense the transport grid. I've never been able to sense it, but then I'm mostly a telepathic transmitter. The transport grid is the most powerful source of T-particles in this part of the galaxy. There are about twenty others scattered around the galaxy. It is such a powerful source of T-particles that it can be detected on Earth. It was originally called 'The Eye of Haldus' and it is what allowed the early Haldus Order priestesses to locate people who were telepaths. Using the sun and the 'The Eye of Haldus' as two reference signals with known positions, they could triangulate on and locate telepaths on Earth."
Set thought: of course! He had long wondered how he could sense the location of telepaths. Apparently the human brain had evolved a way to use the positions of the Sun and Haldus as reference points that produced strong T-particle emissions. But he wondered if he could survive here in the Haldus star system, so close to the transport grid. His telepathic sense was over-saturated by the emissions from the grid. Although, if Kaleb could control his output of T-particles, Set wondered if he could control his sensitivity to T-particles. Set asked, "Is there some mind trick I could use to shield myself from the transport grid?"
Kaleb asked bitterly, "Why should I help you, Set?"
Set was having trouble sensing Kaleb's emotions against the glare of the transport grid, but he supposed that both Kaleb and Megan were disgusted by having to breath the same air with the man they held responsible for the attack on Flammis. For a long time there was silence. Then Set started to talk, first about Katherine and her death, then about the moment when he had first noticed Kaleb's telepathic signals on Sakkara. "That other telepath you were with..."
Kaleb said, "Logan. His name was Logan."
Set continued, "I could see in his mind that he had information about the destruction of the space elevators. I could sense him thinking about the Spaceship Guild and its role in the attack."
Kaleb nodded, "Yes, we had long been investigating the Spaceship Guild. The Spaceship Guild has been at war with the Haldus Order ever since Earth became a Green planet. We were on Sakkara because we were tracking a particular agent of the Spaceship Guild. Anyhow, immediately after the attack, Logan obtained evidence that agents of the Spaceship Guild destroyed the space elevators. My brother had the evidence, he had obtained it by means of his telepathic sensitivity. We did give that evidence to the authorities on Sakkara."
Set asked, "Your brother?"
Kaleb was silent for a moment then he replied, "Logan was my brother. He died in your attack on Flammis."
Set now saw that both Kaleb and Megan had tears in their eyes. Set asked, "Is it possible that the head of the Sakkaran Justice Department suppressed that evidence and never investigated Logan's evidence?"
Megan replied, "We may never know. His brain was mostly destroyed by poison."
Set asked, "What? What do you mean?"
"Aristark attacked Kalid and was arrested by the Martian Militia. His body was full of implants, including several poison reservoirs."
"He tried to kill himself?"
"The poison may have been released into his blood by remote control. He may not have even been aware that it was in his body."
Megan said to Set, "So, you assumed that Logan and Kaleb lied to you and then you set about hunting down and killing members of the Haldus Order."
Set replied, "Yes.
There was another long silence. Eventually Megan fell asleep.
Finally Kaleb replied to a question Set had asked many hours earlier. "I believe that there is a special nanite that sensitives use to shield against the grid, kind of like wearing sun glasses."
Finally, the lifeboats reached the docks of the Haldus Order base. When Set crawled out of his lifeboat he was met by a squad of robots who put him under arrest.
Kaleb watched Set being hauled away...he wondered if justice could really be served to Set...here or anywhere.
Kaleb and Megan were met by a local Temple Master. Kaleb asked the Master, "Has there been any word from Earth?"
The Temple Master replied, "Your father is alive. He is recovering in a hospital on the Moon."
Megan asked, "And Ketar?"
"It is not clear. His spaceship was last seen falling from orbit into the green clouds."
Leone, Sybil and Portia came walking along the docks and saw Megan. She introduced them to Kaleb, who they had only heard by radio and intercom. Portia asked where Set was.
Kaleb explained that Set would be tried for murder.
Captain Leto and her staff were the last ones to come up the docks, having confirmed that all the passengers from the research spaceship had safely arrived. All of the researchers were from the Haldus star system and they were met at the docks by family members who were happy to have them back earlier than expected from Earth.
Leto said to Kaleb, "I'm sorry I lost your ship, she was a beauty."
Kaleb nodded. "Thanks for getting everyone off before the ship was destroyed. Take a little vacation, now. If you feel up to it, I'd like you and your staff to fly me back to Earth in a few days."
Leto asked, "Is it safe to go back?"
Kaleb replied, "Ketar has not been seen since the battle, but we should soon know his fate."
The Temple Master said, "Come, I have rooms for you all," And he led them to the Temple.