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Outer Edge of the Lor-Van System 17 Hours After Destruction of Lor-Van The previous solar cycle's worth of hours had been among the worst in the lives of either Seikahiâ€™ino or Ana Plonsky. On shore leave from the Xeno, the human woman had chosen to spend it on the shining crown jewel of the Lor Republic with the more worldly Kahi'iru agreeing to tag along as a favour to their mutual acquaintance to make sure she didn't get herself into any trouble. There was no way either of them could have been prepared for the Communion's sudden, merciless attack on Lor-Van. There was no way anyone could have been prepared. They'd been among the lucky ones, making it to a spaceport and squeezing their way onto a mid-sized cruiser just as the bay doors closed and it made for orbit. They'd sat on makeshift benches formed from empty cargo containers while a panicked young man had asked over and over if anyone had seen his sister among the crowd and a frail grandmother had been unable to stop an infants plaintive wailing for even a moment. They'd been in the windowless hold when word had filtered down that the Star Knights had arrived in force, a moment of sudden hope and relief before learning that the armor clad champions had sacrificed themselves to give them and the other fleeing vessels time to break orbit. They'd been there when the air had begun to taste just slightly stale and those familiar with starships had begun muttering that the engines didn't sound quite right. There when a crewman had let slip that they'd fallen behind the rest of the extant fleet and wouldn't be able to jump to FTL until repairs had been effected. There when the panicked young man from before had to be restrained before he could hurt himself or anyone else. There when someone asked aloud what was stopping those terrible silver sliver ships from coming to finish them off. On the ship's bridge, Samran-86 ran a hand through her tightly shorn red hair and reminded herself to keep her breathing calm and steady. The Lor officer had assumed command of the vessel from it grateful owner, a cargo hauler with no experience with emergency situations. The clone mentat known to her fellows as Eject was beginning to think he'd had the right idea. "Any friendly vessels, this is the freighter Either Ore. We are venting plasma and require immediate assistance. Repeat: we require immediate assistance. Is anyone out there listening?"
Ready for anything, the heroes erupted from the pyramid ship, weapons raised as they prepared to do battle with unending robot hordes! But instead they found...stillness. The lights were bright, just as VINCE had suggested, the sharp white glow of the central spine overhead casting harsh shadows everywhere. There was a scent in the air vaguely like the stuff added to natural gas back on Earth, and everywhere there were robots! Eerie humanoid skeletons with three eyes and clawed limbs, ferocious-looking guardians of the Curator that were doing absolutely nothing. For a long time, Harrier eyed the robots, his armor having chunked open over his skin, before he spoke in a voice loud enough for them all to hear. "Look at them. They are not arranged. They are not armed. They are...immobile." And sure enough, the robots were silent and still, caught in the middle of walking, pressing buttons, circulating around the hangar bay, but not a single one moved a metal muscle. Harrier walked over to one, still wrapped in armor. "It does not react." "So what does that mean?" asked Quickstep, scrubbing her hands along her arms as she leaned out of the ship. "Is he waiting for something? Is this really his base? Are we were we're supposed to be?" She wrinkled her nose against the smell. "What do we do now?"